Welcome again, readers.
It is my last video column for the year, already, somehow – though of course not my last column about the year. This one’s going up a little early because I’m taking a holiday from tomorrow, unless something else happens to intervene between now and then – which, I mean, if there’s one thing 2020 has taught me, there’s always the chance that something might happen between *now* and *then*. But let me pre-emptively state that, no, I’m not intentionally going on holiday to get away from the much-marketed release of a certain videogame, or to be off the internet at a time when said videogame seems to have taken all discussion channels hostage. It’s just happily worked out that way.
Anyway, readers, thankyou for joining us during this singularly strange and difficult year. I hope you found something to like from this column. And my special thanks, as always, to everyone who sent in recommendations of videos to consider.
This Month in Videogame Vlogging is a roundup of the best vods about videogames from the previous calendar month.
We begin with a trio of videos examining the emotional and personal experiences that games evoke.
Playing the Last Guardian – John Battle (20:14)
John Battle reflects on how their emotional responses to The Last Guardian are informed by personal memories of animal companions. (Autocaptions)
A Virtual Place to Call Home – eurothug4000 (12:07)
Maria looks at which attributes make “home” spaces in games feel, well, homely. (Manual captions)
Getting Over It | A Meditation on Frustration – Cyril Focht (10:00)
Cyril Focht discusses how Getting Over It With Bennet Foddy reveals some of the hidden complexities of frustration as an emotion. (Manual captions)
Backward and Forward
Our next picks consider videogames and history from within the political moment.
Reaching Beyond Dreams | Pendragon (Game Journal) – Intelligame (16:19)
Intelligame thinks about Pendragon’s portrayal of restoration and hope in the context of the US Election Day, 2020. (Autocaptions)
THE ATOMIC CAFE: Coronavirus, Ducking, Covering, and the American Cultural FALLOUT – KyleKallgrenBHH (1:12:04)
Kyle Kallgren looks at the 1940s-60s messaging around nuclear weaponry which influenced the aesthetic of the fallout series, and how the perpetual trauma of misinformation resonates in this time of pandemic. (Manual captions) [Notes: distressing nuclear images and depictions]
The Objective Review | A Helpful Guide for Gamers – Transparency (37:31)
Transparency try to have the last word about the spectre of calls for “objective” reviews. (Autocaptions)
Where Do Heroes Come From?
I enjoyed both of these longer pieces that charted the rise and evolution of some 80’s icons.
The Unauthorized Biography of Mario – Movies with Mikey – FilmJoy (42:22)
Mikey Neumann charts the rise of Mario as “an icon” from a series of accidents, incidents and intentions, to remind us more broadly that “no one knows what they’re doing”. (Manual captions)
ACTION BUTTON REVIEWS PAC-MAN – Action Button (2:55:57)
Pac-Man stands out against its 1980 contemporaries because it is like Sports – is one of the arguments Tim Rogers puts forward in this very long and typically freewheeling essay. (No captions)
Through the Looking Device
This is a bit of an unwieldy clump of a category, but – these selections are bound by an interest in camera angles and pixel fidelity.
Game cameras are changing Hollywood as we know it – Polygon (12:23)
Clayton Ashley looks at some of the more concrete examples of cross-pollination of camera style influences between cinema and videogames. (Manual captions) [Includes paid promotion]
Remakes & Demakes | Horror-Scope – Soft and Hollow
Taking the debate over whether the Demon Souls remake graphics constitute “an improvement” as a starting point, Soft and Hollow reminds us why “more” doesn’t always equal “better” when it comes to visual overhauls of videogames.
Darkwood: A Love Letter to Slavic Horror – RagnarRox (1:27:04)
RagnarRox unpicks what he feels makes Darkwood a tense experience of survival horror. (Manual captions) [Contains embedded advertising]
Space & Time
To end November 2020, a couple of neat essays about videogames that play with understandings of space.
The Shape of Infinity – Jacob Geller (26:23)
Jacob Geller returns to the representation of conceptual infinity, this time in the game Manifold Garden, which he considers alongside the artwork of Piranesi, Roman Opalka and literature by Borges and Susannah Clarke. (Manual captions) [Contains embedded advertising]
How Zelda’s Puzzle Box Dungeons Work – Game Maker’s Toolkit (12:46)
Mark Brown explains how the Zelda series often employs a dungeon design that requires the player to think holistically about an adventure space. (Manual captions)
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