Welcome back readers.

The thing I want to plug this week is a bundle currently running over on Itch: Games for Gaza. I have no affiliation with it other than wanting to see it do well–but it really would do my heart some good to see it do well! So check it out.

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

From the Source

This week let’s start with a trio of interviews, ranging in topic from game dev sustainability, to queer representation, to the intersections between games and climate activism.

“Nelson says that loss of potential, from teams failing to survive ever increasing demands, is something “we are being made terrifyingly aware of” right now. But he adds a note of optimism: The rising public awareness of the pressures of game development “gives us a unique opportunity to push against these systemic factors.””

Platform Agony

This grouping is all about platforms–hardware platforms, software platforms, design platforms, media platforms.

“Games that utilize the engine best focus on intimate moments of contemplation, quietness and repose. Far from the bombast of their AAA cousins (a shorthand term for mainstream game studios with multimillion dollar budgets and vast labour pools at their disposal, like Call of Duty), Bitsy games celebrate silence – both literally (since the tool doesn’t support audio without a plug-in) and figuratively: there is a hushed tone about Bitsy games, a whisper in the ear, pillow talk murmurs, airy soliloquies.”


Now for a game-specific section, on a title that has continued to recur in these issues as more writers unspool their thoughts about its deep-running themes.

“I want to learn everything my family has ever made for me so that when we are separated by distance or time or death I can make something that captures how they felt about me. And I can eat it.”

Missing the Mark

Our next three writers each productively unpack their disappointment with sequels in long-running franchises, each entry squandering some vital potential it might have better realized.

“This is the direct sequel to the original Silent Hill, and the game that came after James Sunderland’s emotional trip through the eponymous town. It deliberately reuses or references multiple people and places found in both of them, actively inviting comparison. Yet in spite of its highly regarded history there are too many unforced errors in here, too much of everyone’s time wasted on empty gestures towards self-aggrandising art and not enough on creating a real connection between the cast and the plot—never mind the player.”

Media Matters

Ok, now for a short section on curation and broader thematic analysis across genres and forms.

“These indie projects are telling our stories in real and authentic ways, backed by creatives expressing their own lived experiences. And while mainstream films may not be representing us directly, we can still take ownership of them.”

Story Beats

Here’s a pair of selections focusing on narrative and theme.

“I usually wait until I finish games to write articles about them, but Saltsea Chronicles left such an immediately strong impression that I’m willing to fully endorse it, especially if you vibed with Mutazione like I did. It iterates and evolves on some similar themes, ideas, and aesthetics in a way that scratches the itch of someone like me who kept wishing to wipe her memory and replay Mutazione for the first time again.”

By Design

Complementing the previous section, here’s one on design.

“It turned out, for me, that The Sims was a terrible game if I had to Go To Work, Pay Bills, Cook Dinner, and Clean Counter in real life. My Sim was always getting hungry, burning toast, and stomping her feet. Often it took so much time to Go To Work, Sleep, and Eat from the plate she left on the counter that she’d start to smell bad, and would take a shower without me telling her to. None of these things boosted her Fun need meter, and the things I did in my free time, ostensibly for fun—Practice Writing, and Paint—weren’t fun to her, at all. Her Fun meter was always in the red, and she’d give up on her writing and painting before I told her to. I ended up buying her a nice bookshelf—for +5 Fun points, out of a possible ten—but she didn’t think reading was fun, either. She left her books on the floor and started waving at me with a thought bubble over head, inside of which there was a television.”

Critical Chaser

This week’s closer is appropriately unnerving for spooky season.

“In The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, you watch them build the final dungeon. They build it right in the middle of the hub town over the course of the game. It isn’t hidden. It isn’t far away. It isn’t even ready for you when you show up outside. But it’s bound to be finished someday, like an office building slowly-but-surely being transformed into luxury condos. Aside from the temporary scaffolding and an architectural rendering filled with little stock-image people, it’s almost invisible. Something slow enough to give you all the time in the world required to understand that it is going to hit you and there is nothing you can do to stop it.”


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