March 7th

Welcome back, readers.

Plugging these calls for submissions one more time this week:

Hope everyone’s doing okay. As for me, I’m now playing four different MMO games, three of them with live human beings. What does that say about how I’m doing? Who knows! On with the show!

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

Context-Sensitive

This week we open with three pieces exploring games, genres, and trends by incorporating the various wider contexts that inform them, whether it be shared national and artistic trauma, the wider critical trajectory of a studio, or, you know, a collective and ongoing global catastrophe. Starting on a light note this week, folks!

“More than just the mindless time drains of yesteryear, today’s mobile games aren’t just fun, but also worthwhile social experiences: they let players stave off the one-two punch of isolation and “always online” fatigue.”

Alternative Play

We’ve got two fresh critical perspectives this week approaching Doom and Super Mario World from new angles, looking at how mods and hacks enhance out-of-focus elements and ideas that were there all along.

“Super Mario World is a horrifically broken game that’s held together by duct tape and a prayer. But you wouldn’t know it just by looking at it, as Nintendo did a very good job at hiding the jank. But the truth is that so many exploits and glitches are lurking just beneath the surface, complicating the creation of new content for the game. But what if you made a game that leveraged these glitches and turned them into stable mechanics?”

Making (and Playing) History

The years that separate the PS2 from Ultima VIII utterly pale in comparison to those that separate the PS2 from today. If that wasn’t enough to crumble you instantaneously into a pile of dust, the PS2 actually overlaps with the tail end of big-box retail game packaging. I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m trying to delete it.

“The Mega Drive was “retro” when the Dreamcast was still available – a decade and just one Sega console separating the two – so why shouldn’t the PlayStation 2 – now three Sony’s and two decades behind not be considered retro too?”

Villagers and City Folk

Two examinations this week of queer characters and spaces in popular games, both narratively-wrought and player-made.

“these characters are clearly and deliberately positioned opposite each other, in a game all about the opposites of fate set in motion as early as birth. One person, born a woman, whose only stated desire is to be like a man. The other, born a man, whose only wish is to be like a woman. It’s silly, but it’s also very real.”

Show and Tell

We’ve got a variety of pieces this week exploring different ways that games successfully (or not so succesfully!) communicate their ideas, including but also extending beyond traditional narrative structures.

“I told myself it wasn’t bad, that they maybe didn’t even die, really. Because I certainly couldn’t release them back into the wild, that was far too dangerous.”

Critical Chaser

We close the week out with a return to lightness and fuzzy feels via these two fine selections.

“Once upon a time, a naive editor in chief sat down in the Sidequest Slack, gazed upon her writers, and asked, “What, dear friends, is a worthy followup to Witch Moms and Sword Dads? What might we rank, to be referenced for generations to come, that sits on par with those parental figures we love so dearly?”

Silence echoed in the great Slack halls, until a single voice rang out: “Frogs.”


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