Welcome back, readers.

We return this week, as always, with another issue of timely, valuable, offbeat, fun, difficult, and important criticism. There are no major site updates to discuss this time around, but I want to extend my thanks to the readers, supporters, and writers who continue to make this project possible.

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

Sitting Down to Chat

We begin this week with a pair of interview-focused pieces, looking alternately at an underappreciated genre and the ongoing developments around the Activision Blizzard workplace abuse reports.

“All 15 current and former employees Polygon spoke to, as well as the majority of workers that emailed statements through a representative, said that pay is exceptionally low, with rates as low as $12 an hour. During crunch periods, some people said they worked up to seven days a week for at least 10 hours a day. Some workers said they struggled with their mental and physical health during these times, yet felt compelled to work anyway, simply because they otherwise were not paid enough to survive.”

Cyberhunks 2021

Next up, two authors this week look at the state of queer representation–and queer agency–in games past and present.

“Kate develops a stronger personality across the series, with her dramatic break from heteronormative capitalist expectations serving as an allergy for the realisation of a lesbian self. The isolation, struggle, and dangers of the new life she chooses, appeal to Kate. They pale in comparison to the loneliness and immense disconnect that her old life contained.”

Style, Story, and Structure

Our next section this week threads together ideas and analyses about storytelling structure, narrative choices, and game design in a variety of forms and contexts.

“If you want active, agency-holding characters, that means knowing which character wants what – or which character fears what; how they’re trying to get it; and what incidents happen as a consequence. Only sometimes do game mechanics or tech come into it at all.”

Being There

Here we’ve got three authors asking thorny questions about the spaces we visit and occupy in games, framed through the lenses of presence, photography, colonialism, and the tourist gaze.

“If the advent of photography heralded the increased conceptual portability of places, what does the representation of those places in video games mean? What are the ethical implications of engaging with video games as a form of digital tourism, especially when the ‘tourist gaze’ is so intertwined with colonial fantasy? Moreover, how should we consider sites of trauma or suffering in video games as digital tourism experiences?”

Finest Fantasies

Coming up next, a pair of authors survey the PS2-era Final Fantasy games, unpacking their critical themes with an eye for both grand narrative movements and smaller-scale vignettes.

FFX believes that more is possible. Together, with the families that are chosen, not forced, with communities that support not exclude, with a vision beyond the day-to-day problems of survival, we can make a sustainable world.”

Critical Chaser

This week we’re ending off with a pair of fun and very different selections, both reaching back through time towards different ends. Enjoy!

“Most folk inclined to cover the Virtual Boy’s history are simply content to write off Virtual Lab as unfinished, borderline unplayable, and unworthy of any other further comment. But here on the Bad Game Hall of Fame, we take our studies very seriously. What this scientific paper sets out to demonstrate are the known circumstances of Virtual Lab’s development, to describe the depths of its gameplay, and to measure its ultimate impact on the planet (or at the very least, the games industry).”


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