Welcome back, readers.
Are we all still here? *Exhales* Okay, good. Between the annually mandated pivot-to-horror and a lot of people otherwise having something just dang interesting to say, October’s been a bountiful month for essays about videogames on youtube. I watched a lot, included many. My thanks again to everyone who sent in recommendations. If there’s a video you want to recommend for inclusion in a future roundup, email us, tag a link with TMIVGV on twitter, or use the dedicated channel in our Discord group.
Have you listened to this month’s Keywords in Play yet?
This Month In Videogame Vlogging collects the best videos about videogames from the previous calendar month.
Lets begin with a couple of fascinating essays about how games depict the possibilities of revolution.
Judicial Opinions: What Makes Disco Elysium a Modern Classic? [Full Spoilers] – Noah Caldwell-Gervais (1:23:11)
Actually, Disco Elysium is quite serious about being revolutionary, argues Noah Caldwell-Gervais. (Autocaptions) [content warning for discussions of alcoholism; suicide]
I’ve heard people say Disco Elysium is cynical – in places it absolutely is. Its core, I think, is not. Disco Elysium is not expecting a right answer to the questions of life, the universe and everything – it’s trying to tell us it’s normal for it to be this painful to have to choose an answer anyway.
Metal Gear and Why Revolutions Fail – Huntress X Thompson (46:05)
Huntress X Thompson looks at how the (inevitably) authoritarian structures of military operations are a problem for revolutions aiming for political systems based on equality – as depicted through the Metal Gear series – and contemplates how this reflects on Trotsky’s position that revolutions must go beyond state borders in order to ultimately succeed. (Autocaptions)
These three pieces lightly touch on notions of godliness, spirituality and deification in different ways, but each is very worth your time.
ECHO: Self-Transcendence in Space – Pixel-A-Day (15:20)
Kat discusses how boundaries and permutations of the self are refracted and questioned through the religious undertones of ECHO. (Manual captions) [spoilers]
Hades & The Gods (Story & Theme Discussion) – Super Bunnyhop (16:13)
George Weidman uses Supergiant’s Hades to think about how adapting and reinterpreting has always been intrinsically part of the canon when it comes to Greek mythology. (Autocaptions) [Contains embedded advertising]
Size Matters – Exploring Scale in Games – eurothug4000 (11:16)
Maria discusses the affective power of comparative scale in games, particularly in terms of how some games position the player to reflect on their relationship to the non-human world. (Manual captions)
A lot of well-thought-out ideas about how the specificity of a game’s appearance does (or doesn’t) affect the feeling of play in this group, I do think.
Hard Aesthetic | The Brilliance of Nintendo’s Crafted Worlds – Transparency (47:01)
Transparency explain the emergence of a hard ‘skeuomorphic’ aesthetic – in which the intent to appear in a way to evoke another (older) technology or material ends up informing the game’s core design decisions – in certain Paper Mario, Kirby and Yoshi titles. (No captions)
Art Restoration (and the Biggest Mod in Resident Evil History) – Jacob Geller (21:27)
Jacob Geller compares Albert Marin’s work on creating a texture upgrade mod for Resident Evil 4 to processes of classical art restoration. (Manual captions) [Contains embedded advertising]
The Genius of Mafia: Definitive Edition (Critique/Analysis) – Writing On Games (18:36)
Hamish finds Mafia 1’s remake to be a rewarding thematic lift, but muses that it could have gone a bit father re: addressing the dissonance. (Manual captions) [Includes embedded advertising]
Never far from the discourse, the relationship of players and player-choice to the identity of player-characters was a hot topic in October.
The Problem With Seraphine – Alexandra Orlando (6:12)
Alexandra Orlando takes Riot to task over their recent tone-deaf guerrilla/social-media marketing choices of League of Legends character Seraphine. (Autocaptions)
Who Gets to be Awesome in Games? – Game Maker’s Toolkit (14:01)
Mark Brown identifies the tension of mastery against living the fantasy in action games, suggesting some ways developers can go about making their games enjoyable for both player types. (Manual captions)
Mass Effect Expanded What Games Were Capable of (For Me) | GTDM – First Five
Alex remembers how Mass Effect solidified the concept of role-play and story in games for a generation that largely grew up on consoles. (Autocaptions)
Is The Last of Us Part II One Big Guilt Trip? – Games As Literature (21:23)
The Game Professor argues that player agency and character choices are too often needlessly conflated in contemporary games criticism. (Manual captions)
How Much Does Multiplayer Population Matter? – Raycevick (14:40)
Raycevick reckons the bottom-line of player numbers does sometimes affects the player’s core experience of multiplayer games, but far less frequently than is decried by “game is dead” online commentators. (Autocaptions)
Scary Month is Real
I didn’t get around to playing any horror games this Halloween, but I did enjoy watching a whole bunch of videos about them.
Unhaunted Houses | Static Canvas – Thomas Ife (8:25)
Thomas Ife records four brief impressions of potent liminality in empty house settings of games Sagebrush, Gone Home, PAGAN3: Autogeny and PT. (Autocaptions)
The Polite Horror of Pamali – Errant Signal (25:16)
Chris Franklin walks us through the four episodes of Indonesian folklore-horror game Pamali. (Autocaptions)
The Real Horrors of Silent Hill 3 – Eurothug4000 (16:58)
Maria reflects on the particularly feminine horrors of Silent Hill 3 and the way the game plays on common unspoken fears. (Manual captions) [Spoilers for Silent Hill 3, content warning for difficult themes]
The Devil | Tiny Terrors – Soft and Hollow (4:39)
Horror-specialist Soft and Hollow put out several short videos about scary games in October. Here they recommend free lo-fi spooker The Devil for its masterful tension-building. (Manual captions)
Or if horror’s not your thing, here are some pieces on more comforting topics to finish up.
The only mechanic every game needs (is petting dogs) – Polygon (9:54)
Dogs are the new Chekhov’s gun, insists Jenna Stoeber, who also speculates that perhaps petting dogs in games is particularly nice because it’s usually something done for the sake of joy rather than progression. (Manual captions)
A Love Letter for A Short Hike – Screen Therapy (5:57)
Courtney Garcia recommends A Short Hike for as an effective “comfort game” for its mix of aesthetics, story and player-engagement. (No captions)
Blips: A Not So Spooky Halloween Warm Up – Errant Signal (26:06)
Chris Franklin talks through the merits of five spooky-ish indie titles (Necrobarista, Cloud Gardens, Post Void, Spirits Abyss, Fatum Betula) for those wanting to get into the spirit of the season without going the full horror. (Autocaptions)
Big Boxes. – Ahoy (22:33)
Stuart Brown recounts the origins and influences that lead to the “Big Box”, the iconic packaging of 90’s PC gaming. (Manual captions)
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!