Welcome back readers.

First, the most important stuff:

  • Check out the ways in which you can support protests against anti-Black and Brown police violence in the US and abroad.
  • Thread collating ways you can support Mi’kmaw fisheries.
  • Legal Fund for organizers fighting commercial exploitation of Haudenosaunee lands.

Two new updates from around the site this week. First, we’ve got a new episode up of Keywords in Play, this time featuring indie designer and artist Mal Abbas! Be sure to check it out!

Second, Critical Distance is hosting a Bitsy Essay Jam in collaboration with Emilie Reed! This is gonna be hella cool. Follow the link for details and dates.

This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.

Scary Month, Scary Year

Still Scary Month, eh? Here are five more horror-themed highlights from around the Internets.

“Everywhere in the latest Amnesia, empire and birth are twisted together to form new, diseased monuments to the worst of humanity. The game, as oppressively pessimistic in tone as it is aesthetically dark and brooding, suggests that our species moves inexorably toward evil and self-perpetuation. It’s our defining animal trait, Rebirth posits, as uniquely a part of us as our too-big brains and opposable thumbs.”

The Girl Who Was Plugged In

Three articles this week look at parasociality and fandom within games, as well as how brands leverage both. Maybe this was the horror-themed section this week all along…?

“This wouldn’t be an ethical hot ass mess if Seraphine had a social media identity similar to that of the Animal Crossing social media where, depending on the time, Animal Crossing fans receive dispatches from either Tom Nook or Isabelle. While not at all encouraging such parasocial interactions like Seraphine, the tweets are written in the voices of Tom Nook and Isabelle, but that account still has the fourth wall firmly intact. Riot, however, crafted a persona that was seen at one time as independent and genuine and continues to foster such an intense relationship with her fanbase that some underpaid Riot employee took tweets from real people to covered them in translucent tulle and placed them above fictional characters wishing another fictional character well. I say this emphatically and academically: Yuck.”

Text to Hellworld

Three writers this week look at simulations, simulacra, and satires, and their allegorical implications for the present moment.

“you take a bite, tentatively. you don’t want to give this your all. rooms/chambers/levels/bites wash over you. a decent/ascent through things you’ve done a million times. you accumulate whatever meaning there is here to gather, hardly stopping to savor the taste, and eventually: it’s done. you die/finish and it’s time to start again. the leftover refuse? toss it in the pile growing in the corner.”

Games in Time in a Year Out of Time

This section brings together thoughts and words on hacktivist dev circles from the 80s, legacy content and platform, yesteryear’s indie darlings revisited, and a really cool interview.

“Replaying the game as an adult, I can’t find the same emotional weight in this ending. It shows me two traumatized teenagers deciding that their love will destroy their town, and says “this is true, actually.” It’s a tragedy they reach that conclusion, in the face of violence and police corruption, but it’s baffling that the game world bakes it into its reality. Life is Strange isn’t only played through the viewpoint of a teenager – it requires that lens to hold.”

Queer Bodies and Tensions

We’ve got three more quality critiques examining queer issues in popular games since, by Jove, is it Wrath Month already?

“It’s 2020 and people are still arguing over whether Mei from Overwatch is fat or not, whether fat people have the right to exist and be represented in video games in the first place. That is not only ridiculous, but it further shows that we still have a lot of work to do when including fat characters in video games, particularly when it comes to queer games.”

Critical Chaser

Any questions?

“You will read a lot about myself yet again, but this story is different. In fact, you could consider it an anthology of sorts – one on my relationship with horror games, and on ghost stories. I’ll let you decide if they’re fictional or not.”


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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!