Welcome back, readers.

There’s a lot of discourse this week on art–the value it creates (or doesn’t), the responsibility it bears (or doesn’t). Some of it is frankly tiring, and I don’t mean that as a value judgement. I’m grateful, however, that people still make and talk about art, be it the videogamey kind or otherwise, even and especially in perilous times. And thank you, readers, for continuing to read, write, and share those conversations.

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

Old Wounds

This week’s opening section takes both personal and collective trauma for its theme–how popular media engages with it, works through it, and reflects our own experiences with it.

“Shivers, the investigation, Harry’s own internal discourse and final testimony. All of it in service of producing narratives strong enough to cope with trauma after trauma, and realizing that, despite all the broken things inside of you, you can still touch and be touched by other people. Yes, Harry is a fuckup. But he’s still going. He wants to be better, and I cannot help but think he will do it.”

Out in the Open

Next up, we’ve got two meditations on virtual worlds and spaces, what makes them real, how we navigate them, what they afford us.

“In a game where you can be the most terrifying cowboy in the land — shoot anybody you come into contact with, kill every animal, steal every wagon, fence every stolen good — I was off taking my horse for a bath. I was admiring the drawings I’d made of squirrels and crabs. The game told me cowboys weren’t really allowed anymore and I said don’t worry, that’s okay. My heart can’t handle it anyway.”

Rogues’ Gallery

Roguelikes are front-and-centre in this section, with questions of design, accessibility, fidelity, and storytelling in play.

“This is a game focused on conversations, arguments, building trust; it’s one where Zagreus wants a better world yet yearns to leave it. Why renovate a place you’re trying desperately to leave? Why build relationships with those who would see you dead or won’t hear from when you leave? Because, I suppose, you never really leave home – do you?”

Maker Fair

This next section deals with the experiences, challenges, and barriers of working in games, either independantly or with a company, as expressed both through popular media and personal testimony.

“I personally don’t like our cultural metrics for success. I think it’s terrible to weigh the success of a game or tool based on how much money it has made, how much the retention is, how many players it has accumulated, how much you can milk your userbase for… To me, success is the value people find in it. The time they spend in it, and what it brings to the handful of people that it has become meaningful to.”

Sonic Boom

Super Chart Island dropped a collborative issue with features on every game included in Sonic Mega Collection Plus. You can check the full issue out for yourself; here are two selections that I took a shine to and which I thought paired well together.

Blue Sphere is a Sonic the Hedgehog game. This seems like a perfectly reasonable statement to make, but it’s also one in which every noun is to some degree debatable. Firstly; “Sonic the Hedgehog”.”

Ball Is Life

Our next feature examines the intersections of sports and ideology, either told straight or with a side of snark.

FFX shows a world constantly under duress. In the face of the fear and destruction that Sin brings are two major institutions embraced by the people of Spira: religion and sports. None of this is subtle.”

Delving Deeper

We’re featuring two more pieces on Boyfriend Dungeon this week, as critics push past its attendant discourse to look at what the game actually offers, implements, and even teaches.

“Throughout all the choices you make, the friends you connect with, and the weapons you eagerly romance, Boyfriend Dungeon never stops trying to teach you that your boundaries matter. Mechanically, it never stops pushing you into narrative choices with characters who want to protect you — not in ways that allow them to be seen as saviors, but that instead show genuine love and care. Seven and Isaac routinely step in to protect me from Eric, ask if I’m okay, and reaffirm the toxicity of the stalker’s behavior.”

Critical Chaser

If you’ve read Bad Game Hall of Fame before, you already know you’re in for a good ride here.

“What do you get when you combine a mock cult, Dolemite, surfboarding, and multiple failed distribution deals? Why, a Game Boy Advance cartridge about cryptids, obviously!”


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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!