Welcome back readers.
This week I’m going to take a moment to plug friends-of-the-site Unwinnable, who are currently running their annual Halloween subscription drive. This is a great way to gain access to a wellspring of quality independent games, media, and culture crit. Also that print Zelda collection at the top of their stretch goals is taunting me, so…
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
This week we are opening with a section on games and software development, unpacking design, process, art, and more.
- A dev diary – Kimimi The Game-Eating She-Monster
Kimimi documents developing a text adventure game in C64 BASIC.
- The Joy of Silly Useless Software – The Candybox Blog
Nathalie Lawhead talks desktop pets, WinAmp skins, Clippy, and what these things can teach us about UX and playful design in an era where our interfaces are broadly more spartan, less personal, and on-brand.
“Sometimes “breaking the rules” is necessary because you have to ask who these rules are even designed for. Not everyone can thrive in these very standard environments. This is a big reason why I think it’s important to look back at older era software and kind of re-examine what we lost in our march toward progress.”
In keeping with the season, here are a couple of standouts from the past week in horror-themed crit.
- Review | Scorn (Xbox Series X|S) | 8Bit/Digi
Juno Stump sits with the friction in the fiction to see what Scorn might be getting at.
- The Horror of Deadnaming: My Recent Replay of ‘Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!’ | Epilogue Gaming
Flora Merigold reflects on being deadnamed by Monika a second time, four years later.
““Gosh,” Monika continued, “it’s been a while since you’ve heard that name now, hasn’t it?” This felt real. I was on red alert, no longer feeling at home in this otherwise familiar game any longer. I was being read by the game, not my computer’s files, and I needed to get out. Monika’s previously whimsical line, “I don’t even know if you’re a boy or a girl…” read entirely differently in this post-transition playthrough, having just been deadnamed and mocked.”
Death, grief, and emotional ties link together our next two critical unpackings.
- “There has never been anything smaller than me”: Agent Black, Iconoclasts and the Necessity of Grief | Unwinnable
Aster Shen dwells on emotional neglect, grief, and death in Iconoclasts.
- Mourning my cats with Stray — Gamers with Glasses
Roger Whitson meditates on grief, interspecies companionship, and Donna Haraway.
“While many games have focused on the loss of friends and family, playing Stray to process Buddha’s death felt incomplete, filled with gaps, and ultimately unsatisfactory. But when doesn’t mourning feel this way?”
Spine strikes again with another banger Fragment.
- Reinventing Harrier Du Bois | Into The Spine
Evelyn Grey compresses the shit–volumetrically.
“There is no good ending to Disco Elysium. Harry cannot escape being this kind of animal, a cog in the machine. Nor can I.”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!