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This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
Our opening section this week unpacks both thematic and structural queerness across a variety of games, alongside the lasting influence of these titles on players and developers alike.
- The Powerful Queer Horror of Rule of Rose | Paste
Madeline Blondeau makes sense of the tangled and messy childhood sapphic friendships of Rule of Rose (content notification for sexual abuse).
- How choosing ‘Girl’ in early RPGs inspired today’s game designers | Polygon
Juno Stump chats with designers and creators about the diverse and inclusive games that helped inspire their own contemporary works.
- Dark Souls and Trans Closets: Self Discovery Through Failure | Sidequest
Evelyn Grey breaks the ruinous cycle of the world and overthrows the mouldering institutions of Empire.
“Dark Souls presents us a dead and decaying world built on power structures that have long since ceased to function, if they ever did. Like a shambling corpse, they trudge on and demand you play along, too. They demand that you care about them and sacrifice yourself for their sake while—and I cannot stress this enough—the game never gives you a reason to care about the Prophecy you are meant to fulfill. There’s an overwhelming stink of compensatory masculinity and bravado to the whole thing that jars against the desolate, quiet, and depressed nature of the world. The hero’s journey of Dark Souls is, at first glance, a relatively stock-standard one. First glances, like an illusory wall, are never to be trusted.”
There hasn’t been much to read here on the site about the recent unravelling of Twitter, but there are some direct impacts for the games industry to talk about here, as highlighted by our next two featured authors.
- Pushing Buttons: If Twitter breaks down, the games industry won’t ever be the same | The Guardian
Keza MacDonald muses on the consequences for the industry as Twitter continues its chaotic decline.
- It’s the End of Games Twitter As We Know It | Paste
Phoenix Simms sees a less centralized, less coordinated, and less toxic near future for games discourse as industry professionals emigrate from Twitter.
“What I’m more interested in is how the context for how we all gather, talk and create for the games industry will change. In some ways, the online games community is going back to a previous internet model of being distributed over a number of different forums. Games releases and the discourse surrounding them will still be a common denominator for these different forums. But talk of games will be more segmented, idiosyncratic, and in some instances depending on the platform more private.”
These next two pieces unspool some larger ideas about community and commons.
- Moving Forward Alone – Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII | PixPen
Sam Howitt unpacks how FFXIII the third’s storytelling structure subsequently supports and subverts a solitary sojourn.
- Common’hood: Figuring Things Out Together | Minidoshima
Kastel plays a game full of open-ended questions about the housing crisis and the commons.
“There’s no WikiHow in distinguishing Good and Bad Leftism. This ambivalent tension never goes away in this game because you don’t know if you are doing something good or not. All you know is that you’re doing something.”
This section is all about personal playstyle, on both micro and macro scales.
- The Joys of Getting Lost in the Myst | Unwinnable
Jay Norton gets into character by tackling Myst with naught but a handwritten journal, and debriefs on what is gained and lost by eschewing walkthroughs for a frustrating game.
- The Trouble With Playing Games “Buffet Style” | Epilogue Gaming
Flora Merigold reckons with the sheer number of games on her plate right now and frankly she could just @ me next time.
“I feel as though my issue with gaming in 2022 has been the unconscious decision to play video games “buffet style,” where I put a little of everything on my plate and am surprised when I don’t have an appetite for second helpings right away. The buffet style gaming approach is far different than how I’ve typically played games in the past. Rather, especially when I was actively Twitch streaming, my previous approach to playing games involved playing one game through to completion before moving onto the next temptation on my list. This year, I have given into the temptations all at once, spreading myself thin over a number of massive games, many of which are quite similar in their third-person action adventure design.”
A somewhat loosely-organized section, these next three pieces are all in different ways about curation.
- Atari 50 Might Be The Best Video Game Anthology Ever | Kotaku
Carolyn Petit explains why context and curation are key when it comes to anthologizing retro gaming history.
- On Organizing My Skyrim Library and Living in a Human Body | Unwinnable
Deirdre Coyle muses on mortality and library curation while perusing the Arcanaeum.
- 024: Kamaitachi no Yoru | canon fire: an alternative history for games
Amr Al-Aaser explores the history, legacy, and patchwork localization history of Chunsoft’s sound novel games.
“One day I hope to see fan translations of these Super Famicom Sound Novels, their imitators, and maybe even the titles that followed on the Playstation. For now, I stay grateful to the remake’s translators, and the video creators who make it possible to experience, at least in some part, these moments in history.”
We close out the week with some solemn advice for Snappers everywhere.
- Using your phone on the toilet? Don’t sit more than 10 minutes. | Launcher
Mikhail Klimentov makes the best of a shitty situation.
“So remember: Think about how you’re spending your time, and wash your hands. And if you’re playing “Marvel Snap,” do no more than two matches if you’re doing number two.”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!