Welcome back, readers, and thanks for your patience as I took a little extra time to prepare this week’s issue.

While I’ve got you, we just recently celebrated a book launch for Sickness, Systems, Solidarity, a free anthology bringing together 35 pieces from our earlier Pandemics and Games Essay Jam, edited by Zoyander Street and Joey Eschrich with a foreward by Yussef Cole. This is an outstanding culmination of years of very cool work, so I encourage you to check it out!

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

Industry Perspectives

This week we open with three selections about the the making of games, the labour involved, the barriers encountered, and the contexts at stake.

“I wanted to juxtapose my experiences with Foster’s to drive three points home. First: the Philippine game worker space exists. Second: Filipino game workers can work at the same caliber as everyone else in the industry. Third: our existence and capabilities are constantly undercut by systematic racism and oppression. The problem instead is that we are in the wrong country.”

Representational Matters

Next up, two pieces on inclusion and representation, considering both characters and character creators.

Elden Ring understands the appeal of cosmetics and fashion, as well as why players are so infatuated with those concepts — a fact that makes its unnecessary shortcomings all the more perplexing. For the life of me, I cannot understand why they can have such a robust character creator yet one of the most despairingly weak options for Black people in a game, especially in 2022.”

A Wrinkle in Design

Here we bring together three pieces on the ways in which the rough edges of different design features and priorities can brush up against one another.

“Game characters and game soundtracks are almost uniformly designed to inspire in us senses of coolness and extreme competence, whereas controls and mechanics are designed to challenge us and make us fail — give us something to develop a mastery over so we can also have the satisfaction when they become something we eventually “beat”. And I’d suppose these two things don’t especially, effectively, mix.”

Novel Ideas

Time for a genre-focused section, well, sort of, Visual Novels and Dating Sims are not the same thing even though they are often invoked interchangeably and actually I’m not helping things on that front by. . . ok, know what, read the pieces, they’re good.

“I was so shocked by how pleasant and stress-free the whole experience was I honestly wondered if I’d unwittingly done something to break the game. I hadn’t of course – all I’d done was take the game at face value, enjoying and engaging with what it was actually offering instead of crushing its breezy innocence under the weight of the emotional baggage I had previously brought to the table or treating the expected multi-girl dating aspect with unfounded suspicion due to the wider gaming industry’s famously backwards way of incorporating females into games, especially in romantic scenarios. In this context – a trip to the zoo being a trip to the zoo, a day out shopping nothing more than a day out shopping whether you end up looking at dresses or electronic components – choosing to do those things with more than one girl (more than four, five, or six girls too) isn’t leading anyone on, it’s just a nice time with someone you know.”

States of Play

Two fresh player perspectives on recent and popular games.

Elden Ring has taken the experience of getting absorbed in old-school fantasy literature and translated it into something special: flawed and imperfect, like all art, but a perfect analogue for the inherent solitude and emotional resonance of reading a transportive fantasy novel.”


For our next section this week, here are a pair of pieces excavating the histories and narratives of games, developers, and media.

“Video games were born of war. Trajectories, competition, elimination, drilling over and over again to improve performance and self-discipline. That’s not every video game, but it’s never far away.”

Communities at Play

We now prepare to delve into the topic of fan communities with a pair of wide-ranging pieces on fanon, relationship with creators and original works, and more.

Final Fantasy 7 ship warriors are obsessed with which girl ends up with the hero, because we have been taught that if she does, she is the better woman. Aerith isn’t just herself — she’s also Lenna and Rosa and Yuna and Terra and Elly, part of a lineage of pure healing princess girls with staves. Tifa, on the other hand, represents forcefulness and sexuality, like Kid and Celes and Lucca and Layla and Ayla. Bolstered by the same anime industry that responded to the success of Neon Genesis Evangelion by cloning a million aloof Reis and hot-and-cold Asukas with all their fury and sexual subjectivity edited out, Japanese media fandom has always loved identifying a type and using it, not as a lens, but as a box to lock stories into.”

Material Matters

Now for a pair of perpsectives themed around “retro” aesthetics, traditions, and logics in modern games.

“See, on Itch, it’s Halloween 1998 every single day.”

Critical Chaser

This one goes hard.

Are you wearing pants right now? Well, you’d better take them off fast, because you’re about to shit yourself. Get in the bathtub, right now, and get ready to rinse that shit off, because it’s time for the manliest video game matchup of all time: DUKE NUKEM versus SCORPION!!!”


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