Welcome back readers.

Glad you could make it! We’ve got a bigger issue this week, with eighteen new-and-cool selections, so let’s get right to it!

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

Prior Entanglements

Be it pandemic life or late capitalism more broadly, the games we play comrpise a large part of how we make sense of the systems we’re entangled in. To open the week, then, are five meditations on how games reflect and refract our relationships with those systems and structures.

“It’s not that humans have nothing in common with ants. The problem lies in the idea that ants have a “civilization” that simulates and clarifies how human society operates. This view, exemplified by god games, reinforces the notion of a genetic, predestined order and implies that humans across history are all the same, motivated by the same sets of underlying functions that are more or less obscured or distorted by how society is arranged. A player of these games taps into this fiction of a fated order, even as the game semaphores that we are merely ant-size beyond it.”

Middling World

Blew all my energy on the title pun. Fuck terfs.

“See, gender is not the only type of thing that can be “performed.” Friendship and allyship can be as well.”

City Faux

Next up, we’ve got two meditations on virtual cities and the real ones that inform them.

Revelations is bittersweet because it showed me that games are capable of atmospheric Islamic design, but it wasn’t enough to redeem the white, European protagonism.”

Escape Routes

That’s enough pieces on escapism lately to warrant a tag, I figure. Here are two more alternating perspectives.

  • Breathe Easy: Future-Past Escapism with Breath of the Wild | SSENSE
    David Zilber complicates BOTWs relationship to escapism with a meditation on its foregrounding of nature, its echoes of Hayao Miyazaki, and its nondidactic approach to play.
  • Misanthropia | Unwinnable
    Ed Smith examines Stray as a critical touchstone in games discourse that brings together the disparate tensions of wholesome games, humanism, and a push for escapism that is increasingly isolated and lonely on both sides of the screen.

“If our mass, entertainment media, in this case specifically videogames, communicates stories that are humanistic, real and argue the value of life experience and people, not to crudify, but we may possibly all stop playing videogames, for escaping from life would perhaps feel less necessary, and so games would have less a purpose to serve as pain relief.”

New and Recent

Here are some of the most compelling reviews and reflections I read this week.

“I, a human woman with blood and bones, do not know what it feels like for an axle to break, but I do know how it feels when a shoulder is torn from its socket. The slow violence of vehicle combat becomes intelligible through a mostly human body.”

Pale and Paradise

Two new design meditations on esoteric modern classics.

“In this game so focused on interpersonal communication, you spend a surprising amount of time just looking at something—holding it in your hands, gauging your emotional reaction to it, and letting its history run into you, in a different way than in conversations with people. Some objects can literally talk to you. Others call to you from across the city, begging you to find them. I don’t know what to do with these objects, as compelling as they are. They seem to be a key part of Disco Elysium’s thematic contrasts between tangibility and immateriality, between memory and present, but how? In other words, what exactly are all these objects doing here—and why do I care so much about them?”

Critical Chaser

Two selections from Spine see us out this week.

“It’s a striking moment that doesn’t serve any major purpose other than to exist as a brief, exciting piece of environmental storytelling.”


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