Welcome back, readers.
Let’s get right into it, shall we? We’ve read a bunch of cool stuff this week and I’m looking forward to sharing it!
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
Decolonising Queer Games and Play
First Person Scholar recently hosted a special issue on queerness in games through an intersectional, decolonising lens. Let me get the Curator’s Disclaimer out of the way here: I was involved in the (very early) planning stages for the CFP and hired Khee Hoon to organize, edit, and solicit contributors for the issue, but shortly after retired from FPS and had no further editorial involvement in the work you see today. At any rate, I think this is great work and very much worth your time, so here it is!
- Decolonising queer games and play | First Person Scholar
Khee Hoon Chan sets the tone for FPS‘s latest special issue by identifying both an overwhelming whiteness the queer characters and structures represented in contemporary and the need to meet that whiteness with a multifaceted, decolonised, and truly intersectional queer approach.
- Interview with Caro Asercion | First Person Scholar
Olivia Popp chats with illustrator and tabletop game designer Caro Asercion about the TTRPG scene, intentional design, representation, and more.
- Unmaking and Undoing | First Person Scholar
Julie Fukunaga identifies structures and themes of queer resistance in Katamari Damacy‘s embrace of non-normative, non-default modes and structures of play.
- A Boy Is A Gun | First Person Scholar
Oluwatayo Adewole unpacks how white western constructions of binary gender are weaponized against Black bodies–both cis and trans–in videogames as well as wider popular media.
“Black bodies will never fully cohere with Western notions of gender, and with that carry an intrinsic power. The power is compounded in Black trans bodies; if white trans people are Frankenstein, then we’re the Colour Out of Space. Neither notions of whiteness nor gender are accessible tools in humanising us, and that makes us dangerous. When that power is employed in service of non-Black people, we are stripped of our agency and identity, becoming weapons to be used and disposed of. Instead, it is when the power is put in our hands and not theirs, that the potential becomes limitless.”
Next up, gender and culture tensions emerge in games (very) past and (very) present.
- [3/3] Militaristic Fantasy, Narrative Drift, and the (Sea) Stalker | Gold Machine
Drew Cook unpacks some wildly fraught gender dynamics in Infocom’s mid-80’s foray into junior interactive fiction.
- ‘Horizon Forbidden West’s’ post-racial world turns culture into costumes | Input Magazine
Reid McCarter examines Horizon‘s continuing practice of mining surface-level aesthetics from real-world cultures in service to an already thematicly-shaky post-racial storyworld.
“Though Forbidden West wants to present an alternative vision of an abstracted, nobler westward expansion, its use of Indigenous cultures as blanket aesthetics and the context-stripped recreation of 19th century horrors its plot offers speaks to a cultural blind spot whose implications hinder a proper understanding of the past, and present day.”
Our next section this week explores and unpacks hype in the industry from both historical and contemporary perspectives.
- Miyamoto’s Quote, Pac-Man, E3, and the Role of Hype Culture in Video Game History – The History of How We Play
Ethan Johnson explores the genesis of the “release date” as a concept in games, the attendant growing cultural backlash against developmental delays, and the famous misattributed quote which responds to both.
- The Curse of Content, or Burying Your Friends – No Escape
Jeremy Signor positions Unsighted‘s time-buying mechanics as a rejection of FOMO-culture and Limitless Content.
“What many developers who tout player choice in their games seem unwilling to do is introduce the friction necessary to make the player feel something once their choices bear fruit. The choices you must constantly weigh in Unsighted are terrible, even cruel. But they all make you feel something.”
This only-slightly-disingenously-organized section in fact constitutes one piece about Tokimeki Memorial (the second one, specifically) and one piece about the nature and state of art criticism, which happens to take for its object text a longform review of Tokimeki Memorial. As you are, then.
- Konami’s second go at first love – Kimimi The Game-Eating She-Monster
Kimimi celebrates the subversions and excesses of TokiMemo‘s sophomore outing.
- The Itch Scratches Back | aromatasemebro
aromatasemebro, in the wake of Tim Rogers’ six-hour Tokemeki Memorial video review, contemplates the relationships we form with critics and criticism when they share with us their own relationships with a text.
“This six-hour digital film is the physical form taken by a 26 year personal relationship between a man and a game, and all of the attendant impressions, thoughts, memories, and tears. When we meticulously render our entire relationship with something into art, what shape does it naturally take? How much of this idealized response is amputated by the formal limitations of a novel, a personal essay, an album, or a film? The recent surge in popularity of literary autofiction, and the heated contesting of its definition and parameters, strongly hints at an answer. We enjoy art located at the fault lines of form as long as it is comprehensible to us. We trust good writers to keep us engaged as they self-mythologize.”
Modes of Play
Gathered together here, we’ve got three pieces on (mostly contemproary) games, the ways in which we engage with them, and the questions they leave us to ponder.
- Preview: Glitchhikers Meditates on the Journey, Not the Destination | Sidequest
Elvie Mae Parian eschews more goal-directed play to appreciate her time with Glitchhikers.
- Sumire asks us to confront grief, without being consumed by it – Uppercut
Monti Velez spends some time with a cute game asking existential questions that go unexpectedly hard.
- The Visceral Voyeurism of Horror Playthroughs and Silent Hill | Sidequest
Natalia Lopes reflects on how the horror and lore of the Silent Hill games are recontextualized–and made more accessible–by watching the games rather than playing them.
“The series acts mostly as an anthology, yet there are underlying story elements that remain consistent through most of the games. Starting with Silent Hill 2 allowed me to fully understand what makes the first three games so strong as a standalone trilogy. After watching Silent Hill 2 I ended up doing more research about the series, and realized there were connecting storylines between the first and third games, so in a way I was grateful that I chose to watch the first and third back to back rather than in order of release. Viewing them in this order also gave me immediate insight into what makes the second game so beloved and so special.”
I should check out KOF XV.
- Iori Yagami – press.exe
Talen Lee unpacks an all-time, definitely-not-gay rivalmance.
“Iori Yagami is the rival of Kyo and he feels like the kind of character a boy like me designs when a boy he likes designs a totally sick character and you want to have an excuse to always be around him, hahah, but not in a gay way, right?”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!