Before we get started, I want to briefly mention that this week we are running an essay jam on the topic of the pandemic and games – if this roundup brings up some thoughts about what 2020 was like for games, this would be a great place to try out a small piece of writing about that!
What can I say about 2020 that hasn’t already been stated in the form of exhausted tweets, quiet sobs on a lonely night, or furious screams directed up at the Sims player in the sky? At minimum, I can say that you got through it. So, here from the idyllic pastures of 2021, let’s review some of the highlights of writing from the darkest year.
First, a quick note on how this round-up was made. Your Senior Curator Chris Lawrence very kindly began this process, creating a longlist of articles from their selections for the weekly roundups. I took these, plus some suggestions from readers and contributors, and winnowed them down into a mere 100 links. We accepted submissions for video, but decided that video would be better served by a separate roundup drawing on Connor Weightman’s monthly roundups. I chose articles that stood out to me for saying something original or speaking to a perspective that is underrepresented, and tried to avoid repetition when it comes to either the points made or the people making them.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to include every piece of writing that I truly loved, but I hope the overall selection takes you on a worthwhile journey through the discursive landscape.
Part 1: Taking action in games cultures
Content warning: sexual assault and abuse in the workplace.
- What it’s like sharing your #metoo with Kotaku (a cautionary tale) | The Candybox Blog
Problems with Kotaku have been impossible to ignore this year; part of that has been focused on Nathalie Lawhead’s ordeal with the site, which they described in detail in this post in January.
- Some Thoughts About A Website With A Fake Japanese Name | Medium
After leaving Kotaku, Natalie Degraffinried described in detail her perspective on the problems there that led many to feel unsafe working there, and that contributed to what Nathalie Lawhead was put through.
- The Exploitation of the word | Huggle Hipster
Arielle Danan describes some considerations for writers aiming to provide a safe environment for people to speak up about what they’ve experienced.
Decentering and decentralization
- Learning How to Share | Unwinnable
Yussef Cole, with partner Vivian Chan, describes a working relationship that had gone unacknowledged until now. This piece uses both content and presentation to make visible something that was once invisible, amend a personal transgression, and challenge the cultural ideas that have made these acts of erasure common throughout the history of art and criticism.
- Unprofessional Game Criticism
leeroy lewin describes a way of approaching writing about games that both foregrounds the material political conditions that marginalize many developers and writers, and also refuses to limit its political horizon to “getting paid” and the industrial pressures that come along with that.
- La importancia de descentrarse | la era del videojuego
Tom Gradep describes the broken promise that sites such as Kotaku, Polygon, and Waypoint, as well as the growth of video criticism on YouTube, might lead to radical changes in how we talk about games, observing that the discourse remains obsessed with big mainstream releases and next-gen consoles and continues to ignore culturally valuable work happening elsewhere.
- There Aren’t Too Many Videogames: Indiepocalypse or the Eugenics of Art | calei2copi0
This piece claims a place and a value for “bad games”, seeing them not as a threat but as a site of creative resistance to expectations and labor conditions put in place by the toxic structure of the commercial industry.
- Thomas Malthus’s Video Game Industry Simulator 2020: Introduction | No Escape
Kaile Hultner shows how the hierarchy that places AAA blockbusters above “bad games” can be understood through an anarchist lens in connection to broader forms of exploitation and identity-based violence.
- Divest from the Video Games Industry! | Medium
Marina Kittaka calls on us “to expand the imaginative space around video games by tearing out The Industry Promise at its roots”.
- The Future Of The Video Game Labor Movement | Kotaku (Content warning: racism)
Sisi Jiang describes frustrations with the Games Workers Unite movement, describing what they saw as a reticence to center anti-racism out of a concern that to do so would risk losing the support of some game developers.
Content warning: harassment and domestic abuse.
- Anita Sarkeesian looks back at GamerGate | Polygon
Reflecting on the events of 2016, Anita Sarkeesian points out the connection between Gamergate and the Trump administration, and the broader strategies of the conservative political movements of recent years.
- The Cost Of Being A Woman Who Covers Video Games | Kotaku (Content warning: this piece cites two figures who have faced credible allegations of abuse)
Maddy Myers reflects on a decade of misogyny in the discourse surrounding games, witnessing the voices that were lost to the hostile environment of online harassment as well as the positive change in the representation of women in games.
- Beyond Gamergate | Ellaguro
Liz Ryerson critiques the tendency to externalise systemic political injustices onto events and social groups such as Gamergate, arguing that it shifts blame away from those who actually have an interest in keeping oppresive structures in place.
- Who gets to write video game history? | Eurogamer.net
Florence Smith Nicholls reports on the curation strategies of archivists and historians who are working to allow untold stories about videogames to be heard.
- The Flash game movement, my early Flash work, and how Flash games informed what we have in indie games today | The Candybox Blog
Speaking of important art history on the margins of videogames, Nathalie Lawhead describes the tension and creative exchange between flash netart and videogames in the early 2000s and 2010s.
- The Incredible Story Behind The Barbie As Rapunzel Video Game | Kotaku
Ally McLean investigates a 1990s CD-ROM game, uncovering complex contradictions about cultural value, corporate power, and the significance of aspirational role-play in human societies throughout history.
- Extra Puzzles: Navigating Dungeons & Dragons as a Queer Black Woman | AIPT
Holly Woodbury talks about the complex dissonance and frustrations of trying to enjoy tabletop roleplaying using systems that have deeply racist underpinnings.
- It’s not easy being green: a brief history of orcs in video games | Eurogamer.net
Nic Reuben digs into the xenophobic and racist origins of orcs, and the recent projects aiming to reimagine them from an intersectional perspective, such as Bitter Berries’ Salting the Earth and Mitch Alexander’s Tusks.
- D&D Doesn’t Understand What Monsters Are | Throne of Salt
Beginning with the story of the Champawat Tiger, this piece explores the real-world motivations of creatures that come to be imagined as monsters, looking for the foundations of good storytelling about monsters in games.
Part 2: The bleak big picture
Content warning: discussions of genocide and subjugation of Indigenous people.
- The Game Changers: Decolonizing video games | Play the Past
Archaeologist Franki Webb provides an overview of how colonialism is re-enacted through videogame stories, showing that rather than just designing better representations of fictional Indigenous characters, decolonisation in the context of game development entails finding new ways of financing and producing games, and collectively changing whose voices and experiences are privileged.
- The Oregon Trail  | Arcade Idea
This piece takes you on an journey with the author, beginning with their childhood memories of this famed edutainment game, examining its procedural rhetoric in contrast to a critical history of America, eventually leading to the conclusion that “The Oregon Trail game is, point blank and very straightforwardly, white nationalist propaganda.”
- Chasing the anti-colonial video game | Uppercut
Zeb Larson talks to developers Jon Ingold (80 Days), Stephan Naujoks (Pathway), and Santo Aveiro-Ojeda (Don’t Take the Night, 1870: Cyberpunk Forever) about how their games have challenged the colonial narratives and mechanics that are so common, highlighting some design strategies that flip the script.
- The Coronation of Meghna Jayanth | EGM
Samuel Horti’s profile of Meghna Jayanth covers her work decolonising narratives in games such as 80 Days and Sable.
Content warning: discussions of possible future ecological catastrophes.
- Let’s Place: Narratives of Rebuilding | Haywire Magazine
Daria Kalugina’s almost poetic exploration of Death Stranding and The Last of Us evokes a phenomenology of climate collapse.
- Sorry, Wrong Apocalypse: Horizon Zero Dawn, Heaven’s Vault, and the Ecocritical Videogame | Game Studies
Megan Condis is critical of the way videogames’ speculative ecological futures are often blunted by an assumed obligation to give the player the agency to solve problems using violence and technology.
- Semicontinuity (A framework of analyzing videogame space) | ambient-melodic
Melos Han-Tani uses the Dark Souls trilogy to demonstrate a way of thinking about experiences such as disorientation, tension, and cohesion. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what section to place this pretty unique piece into, but I like reading it alongside pieces about the way our own landscape is in a state of tension and discontinuity.
Content warning: discussions of labor exploitation and possible futures where things continue to get worse.
- On the Lonely, Gentrified Streets of Neo Cab | Paste
Holly Green explains the theories of gentrification and alienated gig economy labour that describe the future as portrayed in Neo Cab, and hopes that our own urban destinies might be able to escape this trajectory to at least some extent.
- I’d Like to Buy the World a Nuka-Cola: The Purposes and Meanings of Video Game Soda Machines | Game Studies
Jess Morissette sees in branded urban furniture a kind of ludocapitalist realism that connects the escapist worlds of videogames to the material conditions of their production and consumption.
- ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ Is Not the Game We All Need Right Now | VICE
Gita Jackson describes how the altered temporality of the pandemic has brought a change of pace to the way people approach Animal Crossing, and is concerned that it goes against the message of the franchise.
- Darkest Dungeon is a Landlord Simulator | Fanbyte
Vrai Kaiser describes the alienation and despair of Darkest Dungeon in terms of its delegated labor mechanics and the parallel horrors that we face in the real world.
Content warning: this section describes the rise of far right conspiracy theories and hate mobs on the internet.
- What to Do When Your Video Game Gets Co-opted by Neo-Nazis | OneZero
David M. Perry talks with the developers of Crusader Kings III about how their work has been co-opted by the alt-right, and how they view their responsibility as they plan future updates to the game.
- What ARGs Can Teach Us About QAnon | mssv
Adrian Hon analyses the connections between ARG participation and the rabbit-holes of conspiracy theories that have consumed ever more people this year.
Part 3: Standing with each other
Content warning: discussions of anti-Black racism.
- The Pillars of Privilege – I Need Diverse Games
Tauriq Moosa talks about white privilege and guilt, and challenges the expectation that games ought to be an escapist space where moral responsibility is never brought up.
- Black lives have always mattered in the fighting game community | Polygon
De’Angelo Epps highlights support for Black Lives Matter in the fighting game community, and explains how the history of racial injustice and inequality in America is connected to the Blackness of the fighting game scene.
- ‘Catch These Hands’: The Black Boxer Trope in Fighting Video Games | Level
Joshua Adams takes a critical view on the portrayal of Black characters in fighting games, showing that the reliance on vintage ethnic stereotypes in character design has led to the reproduction of harmful tropes that have been used to justify centuries of violence against Black bodies, and pointing instead to cultural references rooted in Black achievement and heritage.
- State of the Discourse: a survey | GMMaS
Ash Kreider reports on their work surveying marginalized game developers, finding that “more than half of game developers of color feel unsafe in existing communities” and identifying specific issues with community mangement that lead to tribalism, abuse, and harassment in online communities.
- Where Are All the Video Game Boyfriends? | Uppercut
Alan Wen looks at the role that romance quests play in establishing the agency and power of videogame protagonists, and looks at why writing boyfriends is not as simple as simply reversing the tropes that structure romance quests with female NPCs.
- Yakuza’s nuanced discussion of masculinity makes its treatment of women more disappointing | Polygon
Sam Greszes argues that the Yakuza series presents a fight against toxic masculinity, despite failing to give its female characters very much agency.
- Breaking the Cycle: How Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Imagines a New Masculinity for Force Users | Uppercut
Ty Galiz-Rowe muses on how The Force Unleashed imagines an intergenerational process of healing from toxic masculinity.
- Hard Lads as an important failure | Radiator Blog
Robert Yang’s reflections on the game he made about working-class British masculinity references multiple moments in the history of art and grassroots politics, and illustrates an approach to parody that is rooted in sympathy and solidarity.
- The Big Shark from Maneater is Gaming’s Newest Feminist Icon | Fanbyte
Speaking of the best comedy being rooted in sympathy, I think Natalie Flores’s hyperbole and absurdity in this piece is very much enhanced by the sincerity that seems to shine through it.
- Where Are All The Fat Queer Video Game Characters? | Gayming Magazine (Content warning: brief descriptions of sizeism / fatphobia)
Aimee Hart asks for more body diversity in the representation of desirable queer characters, pointing to fat stereotypes in games such as Borderlands and Left 4 Dead, and narrow beauty standards in queer-coded games such as Hades.
- Is Madeline Canonically Trans?. Well, yeah, of course she is. | Medium
Maddy Thorson talks about how Madeline’s, and her own, transness became more clear to her during and after working on Celeste.
- We Need More Stories of Trans Happiness | Gayming Magazine (Content warning: transphobia)
Astrid Johnson gives an overview of some recent examples of trans representation in games, including The Last of Us 2, Night in the Woods, and, infamously Cyberpunk 2077.
- Pride Week: Towards more speculative sex | Eurogamer.net (Content warning: brief descriptions of sex acts)
Noting that games have been a more open space than other media for portrayals of unexpected, other-worldly forms of sex, Sharang Biswas gives examples from tabletop and digital alike, including Consentacle, several LARPs, and work by Robert Yang and Avery Alder.
- Geralt of Rivia: A disabled protagonist | Eurogamer.net
Sara Thompson makes a strong case for The Witcher’s identity as a disabled character, drawing heavily on the books, and hopes that future adaptations of the stories will explore this in more depth.
- Sick, Slow, Cyborg: Crip Futurity in Mass Effect | Game Studies
Adan Jerreat-Poole reads Mass Effect through a lens informed by critical disability studies, looking for tension, discomfort, and interruption in gameplay as the signs of a “willful body” that does not easily fit into neoliberal demands for efficiency.
- Crusader Kings 3: Eugenics at Play | GlitchOut (Content warning: descriptions of Nazi eugenics policies)
Criticising the portrayal of disability in Paradox’s recent release, Oma Keeling calls for a stronger understanding of eugenics as a “mode of supremacist thought about the human body”.
Part 4: Fear
- Ruminations on a ‘World of Horror’ – No Escape
In the context of a horrifying real world state of affairs, Celia Lewis praises a game that provides a space to feel afraid.
- You’ve Met a Terrible Fate: How BEN Drowned’s Return Has Reignited Horror | Uppercut
Marn Silverman reports on a Let’s Play creepypasta-turned-ARG that recontextualises The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask to portray game software as an uncanny, malevolent entity with agency of its own.
- How ‘Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice’ Made Video Game Horror Work
Gretchen Felker-Martin describes horror as a reversal of the usual videogames fantasy of player agency and success, arguing that Hellblade reframes combat victory into a “deferred failure”.
- Creature Feature: Carrion – Team Shapeless Horror 4lyf | Gamers with Glasses (Content warning: suicidal ideation)
Tof Eklund relates horror to queer childhood, identifying with monsters and seeing the shapeless, unknowable deep as a better destiny than attempting to survive a confined existence.
- ¿Pueden los videojuegos criticar su propia violencia? | GamerFocus (No spoilers)
Aiming to better understand the discomfort of violence in The Last of Us Part II, Julián Ramírez gives an overview of design strategies that several writers have argued gave games such as Hotline Miami and Spec Ops: The Line a critical position in relation to the violent acts you have to carry out in order to play them.
- Do We Really Need Combat? Systems of Interaction in AAA Games | Sidequest (Spoilers for The Last of Us Part II)
Emma Kostopoulos reflects on combat in games such as TLOU2 and The Outer Worlds, arguing that offering players different ways of solving problems avoids awkward situations where the player-character is “a stone-cold killing machine right up until she need[s] to suddenly have conflicted feelings about murder”.
- An Assassin’s Creed. An examination of violence as ideology in Ubisoft franchises | Medium (Spoilers for multiple Ubisoft titles)
In this deep and leisurely read, Spencer Yan returns again and again to the notion that “nothing is true and everything is permitted”, presenting a view of violence as a type of freedom afforded to privileged agents, and war as a “force through which all things become alienated from their original associations and contexts”.
- The Righteous, Musical Violence of Ape Out | Haywire Magazine
Stephen Mansfield relates the portrayal of “creative violence” to the development of free jazz music in the civil rights era as an expression of Black “anger, desire, violence, despair” that could not find an outlet within the constraints of established norms.
- Dead Things Matter Too, Abzû | Venoms. Die. Twice.
This piece revels in the beauty of conflict-free exploration along the currents of an ocean, but recognises that in order to facilitate a constant state of flow, death has been all but removed from the game’s cosmology.
- So You Want a Pantheon For Your Game | Emily Short’s Interactive Storytelling
Emily Short offers important historical and cultural notes on how a pantheistic religious practice is enacted through social systems and personal actions that should be of interest to game developers trying to portray a world with a pantheistic belief system.
- In DOOM we have faith | Bullet Points Monthly
Diego Argüello reads DOOM Eternal through the lenses of philosophers such as Nietszche, Althusser, and Feuerbach, to understand doomguy’s relationship to mortals and gods, heaven and hell, and the conflicting interests of the player.
- RAIN WORLD – Introduction: Reaching Enlightenment through Unfairness | The Experienced Machine
In this remarkable longread, Leslie Brooks examines Rain World through the lenses of Buddhism and Transhumanism, as two possible answers to the problem of human suffering.
Part 5: Specific places
- A Summer’s End is a rare queer romance that goes where most games won’t – Polygon
Bonnie Qu describes a visual novel set in Hong Kong shortly before a joint treaty between China and the United Kingdom set off a period of upheaval and ambiguity, and discusses “the strange freedom that comes with uncertainty”.
- Still fighting: meet the developers of Hong Kong protest games • Eurogamer.net
Following Blizzard’s suspension of a professional Hearthstone player for expressing support for the Hong Kong protests, Khee Hoon Chan covers games created in solidarity with protestors, including Liberate Hong Kong, Herstory’s Karma, and Spinner of Yarns’s The Revolution of Our Times.
- How ‘Raji: An Ancient Epic’ Falls into the Indian Far-Right’s Trap
Adesh Thapliyal argues that the attempt to achieve cultural legitimacy by responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demand for a specific kind of authenticity gives creators ambiguous goals that are “hard to disentangle” from the “ascent of the Hindu right”.
- How video games consistently fail Gandhi | Rock Paper Shotgun
Nikhil Murthy describes the cost of simply using Gandhi as a figurehead representing Indian national identity: it conceals Gandhi’s active efforts to forge such an identity, and the papers over the limits of his success.
- Game Hihyou / Game Criticism Magazines – Gaming Alexandria
Dustin Hubbard describes one magazine’s attempt to bring the hihyou criticism movement to games writing in Japan, and the eventual neutering of its critical voice.
- Loving in a World Already Written – Emilie M. Reed
Emilie Reed discusses a 1997 game recently localized from Japanese, looking at its metaphysics of love as the active effort of meeting someone where they are.
Part 6: Specific games
Spoilers for each of the games named in this section.
Ghost of Tsushima
Content warning: discussions of the far right in Japan in WWII and today.
- ‘Ghost of Tsushima’ was a battleground for criticism and fan reaction – The Washington Post
David Shimomura argues that centering non-diasporic Japanese voices closes down conversation about portrayals of Japanese history by forcing critical voices to prove their cultural authenticity, and even discourages criticisms of ideological stances that have in fact been voiced in Japanese-language writing published within Japan.
- Ghost of Tsushima, Kurosawa, and the political myth of the samurai – Polygon
Kazuma Hashimoto finds serious limitations in the game’s vision of both the samurai themselves and Akira Kurosawa’s films about them, and sees in these limitations a worrying tendency to reinforce myths that prop up conservative and far-right views in Japan.
The Last of Us Part II
Content warning: transphobia
- The Cisgender Voyeurism of The Last of Us Part II – Paste
Waverly Wilson argues that trans character Lev is the only character whose story is defined by identity-based violence in old world as well as new world settings.
- The Not So Hidden Israeli Politics of ‘The Last of Us Part II’ | VICE (Content warning: occupation of Palestine)
Emanuel Maiberg criticises the fatalistic ideas about human nature and cycles of violence that emerge from attempts at “both sides” centrism, and questions whether intense hatred of a whole group of people is really a “universal feeling”, as TLOU2‘s co-director and co-writer Neil Druckmann claims, or in fact “a learned way of seeing the world” that depends upon historical conditions and ongoing power differences.
- Destroyed in the Cut | Bullet Points Monthly
Cameron Kunzelman argues that regardless of the politics narrated by the game, its formal elements make it structurally anti-Black.
- The rest of us: revenge, prestige, and putting The Last of Us: Part II in its place | Overland literary journal
Noting that “Pierre Bourdieu once wrote that those creators that hold the dominant position […] ensure their cultural field is popularly imagined as only their own work,” Brendan Keogh argues that AAA games such as TLOU2 routinely lack competence as a serious consideration of the nature of violence and hatred, because their obligation is to be affecting, not reflective.
Tell Me Why
- ‘Tell Me Why’ Smothers Its Representation in Bubble Wrap | VICE
Dia Lacina argues that Tell Me Why ends up in an awkward position around Tyler’s transness, by centering it in a way that other marginalised identities in the game are not, while also failing to say anything unexpected about it out of a desire to tick every box and not break any rules.
- Tell Me Why and the Limits of Positive Trans Representation | Medium
Carolyn Petit argues that what is needed is for stories about trans characters to allow them to be messy in ways that have nothing to do with their transness.
Content warning: racism and transphobia.
- When It Comes To Representation, Trans People Don’t Need Your Excuses | TheGamer
Bella Blondeau calls for the perspectives of marginalized people to be respected when speaking about harmful representation of their identities.
- Fear of a Yellow Planet: Why We Need to Actually Understand Cyberpunk | Fanbyte
Alexis Ong puts the sinophobia of cyberpunk as a genre in the context of historical and contemporary American orientalism, from “yellow peril” discourse to racist narratives about the pandemic – and points out that racism is not always the conscious personal failing of an individual developer, but something that emerges from the context of racial inequity.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Content warning: transphobia and homophobia.
- Final Fantasy VII Remake Gives Cloud’s Honeybee Inn Makeover The Update It Needed | Kotaku
Todd Harper praises the fact that the Wall Market scene depicting drag performance has been updated from the original somewhat fraught material, but also finds it expected and outdated, reflecting early 2000s expressions of LGBTQ+ Pride in mainstream media and stopping short of the contemporary horizon of inclusivity.
- Wall Market Isn’t Burning | Unwinnable
Trevor Richardson argues that Cloud’s experience in Wall Market is presented as an ordeal rather than a source of joy and freedom, reflecting subtle the homophobia and transphobia of seeing queerness as a cause for discomfort.
- Why Final Fantasy VII’s Trans Story Resonates – Uppercut
I wanted to include two pieces by Grace Benfell on this game, because to choose only one or the other would miss some of the nuance and complexity of the point she is making. First of all, in this essay she discusses how Cloud’s identity crisis is relatable for a trans player.
- Final Fantasy VII Remake Misunderstands the Power of Drag | Sidequest
Analysing the narrative context and cinematography of the Wall Market scene, Benfell points out that despite being framed as a character-building moment, Cloud is not given a chance to find himself through this experience of gendered performance.
- Degendering the Dress | Bullet Points Monthly
Autumn Wright argues that the Wall Market scene portrays an essentialistic attitude to gender, and only uses queerness to entertain the player, rather than portraying an authentic space where everybody present is able to play with gender.
- QUARANTINE GAMES: UMURANGI GENERATION – DEEP HELL
Writing about a game about photography gives Skeleton space to reflect on the act of photography in the context of the experience of public space during the pandemic.
- What a video game about a futuristic Tauranga can tell us about our present | The Spinoff
Dan Taipua discusses the art direction and architecture of a game that presents documenting and witnessing as a form of resistance against colonial erasure.
- Anodyne 2: Return to Dust is human-made magic — KRITIQAL
Nate Kiernan discusses the labor practices of mainstream games in contrast to Melon Han Tani and Marina Kittaka’s work on this narratively rich indie game.
- another world is possible: meditations on anodyne 2 – lotus root records
Referring to feminist theories of the body, labour, and sickness, Lotus analyses Anodyne‘s narrative about desire and work.
- Undeath and Still Life | Bullet Points Monthly
Violet Adele Bloch draws comparisons with the work of Liz Ryerson and Nathalie Lawhead, as well as the experience of having COVID-19, in an analysis of liminality and undeath in Necrobarista.
- The Uncanny Valley of Culture | Medium
Damon Reece talks about “cultural cringe”, post-colonial hegemonic assumptions, and the complicated position of responding to people who misunderstand Necrobarista as a futuristic cyberpunk story just because they don’t know what Australia is like.
Kentucky Route Zero
- Busy and Poor: The Gentle Violence of Kentucky Route Zero | Sidequest
Madison Butler explores how Kentucky Route Zero uses magical realism, horror tropes, and the liminality of in-between places, to explore the everyday violence of capitalism.
- ‘Kentucky Route Zero’ Pays Off on Nine Years of Hope and Doubt | VICE
Austin Walker walks through the whole series in the context of his own life experiences over the past nine years, showing that the game’s strength is its simple relationship to day to day life through magical realism.
- Name a Game about Kentucky | Bullet Points Monthly
Amanda Hudgins is more critical of this widely adored game, pointing out that it’s more difficult to have an uncomplicated relationship with it if you have a personal connection to these places that are treated as isolated, provincial, and strange.
- Opened World: Kentucky Route Zero Act V – Haywire Magazine
Miguel Penabella describes how Act V completes a shift from the individual to the collective, and creates space for collective memory and the mourning of shared losses through practising solidarity.
- The Essential Workers of Death Stranding | Into The Spine
Joe Ostrander draws parallels between the worldbuilding of Death Stranding and living conditions in the pandemic.
- Easing the Long Trek | Bullet Points Monthly
Shonté Murray-Daniels describes the harshness of winter as pathetic fallacy in this bleak, snowy game.
- The Storm-Cloud of Death Stranding – Uppercut
Matteo Lupetti’s piece about Death Stranding is also a little bit about Asobo Studio’s A Plague Tale: Innocence, but mostly it’s a very thorough art history of the sky in Western painting, with particular attention paid to John Ruskin and the connection between the industrial revolution and climate change.
- Unearthly Forms | Bullet Points Monthly
Cian Maher reads Death Stranding through comparison with work by Romantics such as Shelley, Wordsworth, and Ballard.
- Difficult Stress | Bullet Points Monthly
Yussef Cole writes about the difficulty of writing about Pathologic 2 in a world where the idea of a life-altering pandemic has gone from speculative fiction to reality.
- Scars of the Risen God: Healing in Pathologic 2 – Uppercut
Referencing Brooke Larsen’s essay “Scars”, Grace Benfell describes the costly healing system in Pathologic 2 in conversation with Christian theology and the painful process of creating a better world that has healed from colonialism and capitalism.
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