Welcome back, readers.
The past and future feature heavily in this week’s issue as writers re-evaluate prior legacies and weigh in on future trends. No major updates around the site to discuss this week, unless I’ve somehow missed something myself as I begin to flounder in lesson planning at the beginning of the semester and my other professional commitments threaten to engulf my sense of time. Anyway!
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
Prophets of the Dark Side
Usually when you’re trying at a temporally-themed issue it’s customary to start with the past and end off on the future. Anyway, here are four pieces looking forward at some of the dark places current trends in games have been leading along cultural, commercial and legal axes.
- Fortnite Turns Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream Into a Sci-fi Nightmare | Hyperallergic
Dan Shindel wonders about the viability of any future “Metaverse” when their attempts to capture the history of this ‘verse are themselves so ahistorical and critically fraught.
- That Bad Bloomberg Piece Rules Actually – No Escape
Kaile Hultner notes that Tyler Cowen is asking some worthwhile questions about the relationships between videogames, culture, and economies, but is far from the first to ask those questions and far from the most satisfactory in his largely unsourced answers.
- Take-Two Interactive Bullying GTA Modders Hampers Creativity And Innovation | TheGamer
Stacey Henley weighs the fallout when billion-dollar corporations exercise their legal right to stifle creativity and punish modding communities.
- IMMATERIAL VALUE – DEEP HELL
David Teraoka contemplates the inflated, overspeculated, and ultimately rigged market for nostalgia in games–be it at auction, digitital distribution, or contemporary collector’s editions.
“We are seeing an unprecedented amount of commodification this year. Gibson is selling shares in guitars. You can buy a single shred of fabric from a collectible sneaker. NFTs have people paying millions of dollars for some really hideous JPEGs. Pokemon cards can now be considered intergenerational wealth. This has anyone with the perception of value grasping at straws; people are really out here trying to manipulate the aftermarket for less than $300.”
End of the Line
Our next section this week deals with endings along both narrative and mechanical dimensions, both clean-cut and ambiguous.
- Insert Coin to Continue – Into The Spine
Lucas Vially delves into the history and shifting relevance over time of Game Over screens.
- Paradise Killer: On Detectives and Knowledge – Death is a Whale
James muses on how Paradise Killer breaks with both videogame and detective fiction conventions with its unwillingness to offer perfect information or easy endings.
“It pushes against the core of the detective genre – it doesn’t give you that payoff at the end, that catharsis of clean, unambiguous knowledge. In that sense, despite being about gods and demons and the possessed, it’s surprisingly close to realism.”
Next up on deck, two conversations on representation in games this week, whether it’s the latest pre-release outrage or the more personal experience of feeling seen.
- Your problem with God of War’s Thor is because of fatphobia | Gayming Magazine
Aimee Hart asks when, where and how videogame characters are allowed to be fat in 2021-present-date.
- Life Is Strange: True Colors Showed Me It’s Okay To Be A Straight Trans Woman | TheGamer
Jade King reflects on her time smooching Ryan, and the importance of Alex being established as a firmly bisexual character.
“Alex Chen being defined as bisexual in True Colors as opposed to playersexual is a breath of fresh air, because my attraction to all genders is reflected in her romantic outlook. Throughout the game she makes vocal remarks about being attracted to both Ryan and Steph, providing them with compliments or lining her inner monologue with playful comments about being thirsty over them or deciding who she wants to pursue a relationship with. The ultimate choice is still up to you, and you can even end the game without smooching anyone, Alex is still a bisexual young woman finding her place in the world like I’m a transgender woman trying to come to terms with my own identity and not hate myself all the time.”
A Wider Net
Our next two featured pieces this week take single games as starting points to broader conversations around marketing, merch, and our attachments to characters.
- Have you ever gone to great lengths to save an NPC? | Eurogamer.net
Grace Curtis talks to makers, artists, and games people from all walks of life about the characters they’ll go to hell and back for.
- Animal Crossing’s Merchandising Efforts Tell Me That Suffering Yields Stuffing | Sidequest
Elvie Mae Parian contrasts Animal Crossing‘s aggressive merch push with its recent dearth of content updates.
“Aggressive push for Animal Crossing merch despite stagnancy in the most recent mainline game will continue to raise a lot of questions, but I know I am partially part of the problem as I fiddle with my Tom Nook toy. Perhaps I am trying to fill a void in my own lack of regularity playing New Horizons. Or maybe I just think it’s all so damn cute and there’s nothing more to think about.”
Old Game Plus
Casting our gaze backward now, here are three critical re-examinations of yesterday’s games and the developers and companies that made them.
- And you were there: loneliness and community in Yume Nikki | KRITIQAL
Eve McLachlan contemplates isolation, community, fandom, and metatextuality in the dreamlike Yume Nikki.
- Custer’s Revenge And The Atari 2600 Porno Games: The Full Story | Kotaku
Kate Willaert delves into the intrigues of the company–companies–company??? that produced porn games for the Atari VCS (content notification here: Custer’s Revenge is infamous for featuring rape and anti-Indigenous violence).
- Love for the broken – Kimimi The Game-Eating She-Monster
Kimimi, playing Vagrant Story, thinks through the ragged edges left behind by deadlines or circumstance in even the most celebrated classics.
“If we can see what it took to make what’s here almost work then we can learn to appreciate the hard work it took just to reach this briefly semi-broken state and how much of a struggle it is to make anything at all.”
Well is he?
- Game Pile: Is Sonic The Hedgehog Good? | press.exe
Talen Lee exhausts every conceivable methodology in the pursuit of objective critical truth.
“Sonic The Hedgehog, I loftily state. The blue blitzball. The quilled quickold. Knuckles’ boyfriend.”
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