Welcome back readers.

I’d like to echo more than a few sites in my critical orbit by dropping a quick plug before we proceed for the Queer Games Bundle on Itch, which you have a whole month to pick up. If recent discourse on the coverage and exposure indie games receive has you feeling like we’re going in rhetorical circles, the bundle’s a pretty simple way to support a whole lot of smaller games and independent artists creating cool, weird and vital stuff.

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


A running theme in this week’s issue is the interaction between games and the broader structures of Empire and late capitalism. We start with broader perspectives across multiple games, evaluating narrative structure, hegemonic tropes, and design practice.

“To exist as a marginalised person in video games is to be cast in the role of activist, which is not always comfortable. And I think about bell hooks’s insights about marginality. That marginality should not be regarded a place of pain, but a space of possibility and resistance.”


Next, let’s move into more game-specific critiques and conversations carrying over some of the same themes and tensions.

Hardspace: Shipbreaker is unique in the completeness of its portrayal, and the grace with which it depicts that work. Objects float through space in gorgeous arcs, accelerating and decelerating in pace with the wide arcs of your grapple beam. Its reverence towards labor isn’t just aesthetically beautiful, but actively humanizing towards its characters. The joy of shipbreaking isn’t just satisfying gameplay, but an essential part of the game’s core belief in the possibility of a good world in spite of capitalism.”

Structural Perturbations

Now, onto some analyses of games which push up against structural design trends in larger and smaller ways.

“Takeshi’s Challenge is a cornerstone example in the world of “bad games.” It fits strangely in with its companions, because most infamous bad games get that regard through some kind of failure of implementation. Takeshi’s Challenge, by contrast, is an unambigious unqualified success on its own terms. It’s just that those terms are alien, grotesque, and hostile.”

Critical Chaser

Our closing segment tends to bounce between short and longform. This week it’s the latter, with Cassidy’s latest column.

  • Spirit of Speed 1937 – Bad Game Hall of Fame
    Cassidy takes a long and determined look at a Dreamcast racing port with an especially convoluted publishing history, which bears all the appearance and reputation of a bad game but which, for a very specific historical racing audience, might still have something to it.

“What I mostly imagine would keep folk invested in the game though – besides whatever love of the setting and the classic cars they bring in with them – is the satisfaction of overcoming all the odds in order to squeak out satisfying wins. And believe you me: Scoring wins really does seem to come down to the very last second, if not something contingent on a fair bit of luck. But when you can manage the feat, it really does leave you feeling like you’ve accomplished something — like you’ve tamed some unwieldy beast, and emerged victorious against invincible competition.”


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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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