Welcome back, readers.

Anyone else at the “I’m just going to play videogames and meeet the functional minimum for my work commitments until something meaningfully changes for me” stage of pandemic living? Just me? Cool. I cleared Diddy Kong Racing last night in one go, so that’s how I’m doing.

Anyway! Twelve cool articles from the last week are gathered here for your perusal. In spite of the thing I just said about work commitments, I promise I did not slack here! I liked reading these and I hope you do do.

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

Industry Machine

Let’s open this week with a pair of meditations on how games might do things a little differently, which is to say, outside of the established frameworks laid out by the popular industry, both in terms of game design and game distribution. These pieces touch upon capitalism, distribution, critical practice, and more.

“The annual Haunted PlayStation Demo Disc, and the spin off Madvent collections, offer fewer games, less frequently. In exchange, they get a specificity, weight, and tactile difference. Many of the games in the 2021 Demo Disc are first person, exploration horror games. In a highlight reel, it might be difficult to really sort through what each of these games do differently. When you can play each of them, it is far easier to weigh their differences in your mind.”

Roll Speech Check

Next up, two pieces interrogate common practices of worldbuilding and choice design in popular games, looking at both the ideological implications developers think they’re designing for and the ones that actually emerge in practice

Mass Effect is a power fantasy for the player – and one particularly invested in defining power in strength and influence and agency. Shepard’s xenophobia and its invisibility are both tools to give players what they want: as much access to the game’s world as possible, without the social cost. Their critics are only depicted as acting in bad faith, spanning the spectrum from obstructive bureaucrats to tabloid journalists to literal terrorists.”

Artful Time Battle

RPGs and especially JRPGs are front-and-centre in this next pairing looking at poetic and experimental design decisions in key games.

“In presenting themselves as separate structures – martial dioramas, sealed off from exploration and the narrative behind loading breaks, with their own scenery and soundtracks – these skirmishes invite a reading of their games not as over-inflated sagas or scenic hikes spoiled by the presence of a million Giant Rat reskins, but as collections of combative, poetical devices that come alive in the repetition.”

Craig’s List

I’m catching up on some of the recent critical examinations of Halo brought about by the latest installment, Infinite. Here are a few standouts!

“Faced with the opportunity to be Master Chief without Cortana, a Master Chief with freedom in an open world, Infinite skitters back into a cave, the very limits of what make this entire operation work laid bare like sandblasted concrete. At the end, Weapon takes the name Cortana. Master Chief says we have to finish the fight. Whatever the interregnum was, it’s gone now. Unmastered no more, never again.”

Relatable Subject Matter

Next up, two authors reflect on games that spoke to them and met a vital need, be it in terms of representation, outlook, acknowledgement, or all of the above.

“Finally – even if it’s just in some digital game world or etched onto the page of a widely read comic book – my community got the protector it deserved. And if I timed my dodges right or tapped a button enough times to save innocent people from danger, I could be that protector too.”

Critical Chaser

Poetry Corner is back two weeks in a row!

“My Keyblade
is a brilliant star
that slashes


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

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