November 15th

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.
  • Legal Fund for organizers fighting commercial exploitation of Haudenosaunee lands.

Around the site this week, we’ve got a new episode of Keywords In Play, this time featuring Dr. Lindsay Grace. Check it out!

Also, remember that Bitsy Essay Jam I keep hollering about every Sunday? That’s happening this week! You can sign up here.

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

Trendsetter/Transgressor

The four pieces gathered here for our opening segment are quite diverse in their topics, but united by a perspective anchored in the industry at large. Whether it’s the legacy and impact of a single series (Blondeau), the technological trajectory of digital media and the market forces that lean heavily upon that trajectory (Lawhead), or reflexive critiques on how we choose to write about these things (Kiernan/Lewin), each of these pieces asks us to devote some of our attention to a bigger picture.

“I feel like there’s a lot to learn from Flash. As an example of what technology enables for “the little people”, as an example of what it takes to destroy that and basically eradicate a huge portion of digital history, and as an example of how easy it is for something like that to just happen.”

Number One Dragon

I ended up featuring a lot of reviews this week, in this section and elsewhere. Look, buddy, it’s not my fault so many writers this week are elevating the genre. Anyway, here’s four awesome pieces looking at the Yakuza series, alternately identifying and problematizing its theses on ethics, people, and communities.

“When civilians need help, I have to stop. To be clear, I often don’t want to. Like killing hordes of nameless, low-level NPCs in RPGs—it’s just not for me. But every single time, I stop anyway. Actually, I stop becauseYakuza 0 turns anyways and despites and after alls into reasons to care and thus play in specific ways.”

Hashtag Resistance

I’m getting the impression (and hey, it might just be me) that Watch Dogs: Legion is shaping up to be one of those games where the critical writing on and around the game turns out to be a lot more interesting than the game itself. Perhaps this is in part because the dissatisfaction writers are associating with the game is also a microcosm for broader grievances in an industry that for the most part hasn’t figured out how to articulate and commit to a meaningfully progressive ideological framework without all kinds of caveats and asterisks. Anyway, here’s three of this week’s highlights unpacking difficulties and tensions within the series.

“It falls short of every one of its ambitions. It neither succeeds at being a politically cogent, ripped-from-the-headlines thriller, nor as a bold new design experiment for open world games. It isn’t a disaster either, a game where you marvel at the gulf between ambition and reality, and find your own joy sifting through the wreckage. Perhaps most damningly of all, Watch Dogs: Legion is simply a Ubisoft open world game.”

Built and Rebuilt Experiences

We’re featuring a trio of design-minded critiques this week with an emphasis on the impact of design successes and failures on the feelings players bring to and take away from their time within the magic circle.

“For survival horror, mastery is a superficial fantasy that covers over the player-character’s vulnerability to their environment. The Dead Space series, and Dead Space 2 in particular, positions players so that they’re caught between the drive to master their surroundings and the acknowledgement that survival is a best-case scenario.”

Critical Hits

We’ve got a varied selection here of three great pieces unpacking key critical themes at the hearts of games big and small.

“When this happened in Manchester, I remember being a city over and searching the news for… I don’t know what. I could not believe what had happened. In a dark and (what I hope is an) honest way, I think what I was looking for then (and what I’m maybe always looking for when I click on a trending event like that) is what I found here in this game.”

Critical Chaser

Some poetry to close out the issue, as a treat.

“Will no one blare the Deku pipes, the five-belled horn?
We need a dirge. The Deku Butler comes to mourn”


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