Welcome back readers.

There are a couple of updates I’d like to mention this week before we begin. First, the latest episode of Keywords in Play is now live! This episode’s guest is Dr. Brendan Keogh, talking about his new book The Videogame Industry Does Not Exist: Why We Should Think Beyond Commercial Game Production. Check it out!

Secondly, our Patreon-exclusive monthly recap is now live! Remember, now is always the best time to help us keep doing this work, especially as games crit becomes an even more precarious space at outlets of all sizes.

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

Player 621

This week our opening section spans several intersecting themes: agency, identity, and individuation amidst the player-protagonist divide.

“I think The Talos Principle serves to point us in a direction that has so far gone relatively unexplored as we argue in the public sphere about Chat-GPT writing first-year composition essays and DALL·E stealing images from DeviantArt. Conversations like these are important, but advancements in AI are also opportunities to interrogate cultural assumptions about the meaning of cognition—how we define the things about ourselves that are fundamentally irreplaceable.”


Next let’s highlight a pair of thoughtful developer interviews about both their recent releases and the circumstances of their production.

“Nelson laments what he sees as a trend from industry publishers and investors to demand that studios like his make their games less risky by effectively risking the physical and mental health of their staff. “The assumption around the process of building games is that it must be harmful on some layer for it to have the chance of being successful,” he says.”


This started as a section about Cyberpunk 2077, recently enjoying a certain critical renaissance amid the release of its singular expansion, but grew into a larger conversation about authorial intent, critical and commercial memory, and what it means to preserve games both as artificats and as discourses.

“I’m having fun in Cyberpunk 2077, and maybe there will come a day where I will have completely forgotten what it was before, and what it took to get here, and who was harmed in its production and release. And that bothers me.”

Watch Your Step

Next, let’s explore some of the (literal) pitfalls of spatial design in games.

“But what Baldur’s Gate 3 loses in creativity by being a simulation, it gains in slapstick. The game revels in the opportunities it gains by using D&D’s mechanics in a space represented visually and dynamically. Push every enemy off ledges, they say. It’ll be funny.”

Critical Chaser

Let’s sign off this week with something a little different.

“Sleek goth-banger DooM Dance pays homage to the band’s long love of first-person shooters. Both Haigh and Gingell got into level-modding through Doom and the band regularly hosts Quake matches on their Discord. “I really thought I was going to rain down ungodly rocket launcher deaths but I get owned most of the time,” admits Haigh. Unicorn takes influence from Sonic Mayhem’s soundtrack for Quake II while Trent Reznor, in particular his work on Quake, is a “huge influence on everything” Gunship does.”


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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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