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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.

It’s Just Business

The main games news on the docket this week are the layoffs at Microsoft, Riot, and elsewhere. We’re opening this week with a series of reflections and commentaries on an industry that, with few exceptions, seems to attach no value to its people.

“Microsoft just doesn’t have enough, you see, nobody does. It’s a scaling ladder of ranked competition with no failure, only the word “competition” doesn’t so much imply an outing of good sportsmanship, but a pitched, bloody battle where the people who push the shit to market get turned on in the end, a debtors war of libel and sales figures encircling and turning everything into a Market to capture Numbers. More consoles, more homes, more players, more money. It’s strictly business, and is it wrong to hate Microsoft for being simply Too Good at business?”

Palin’ Around

Next up, let’s talk about the viral game of the last (and maybe next?) five minutes. Consider this a suggested reading order to approaching both the game and its contexts.

“I described Palworld as an ‘interactive shitpost’ before release, and I still think that description stands. The idea of ‘Pokemon with Guns’ is, in and of itself, kind of silly. The game feels like the answer you would give to someone who asked ‘Hey, if a world has singing and dancing animals, where do we get hamburgers from?’, and it feels self-aware enough to know that’s what it is meant to be. It’s not something that takes itself seriously. Don’t think about it too much. Just give the chipmunk a full clip and let the God Tree sort it out.”

Behind the Beaded Curtain

Here let’s look at close studies of adult games past and present.

“If Kukkoro is the dark side of “You are not immune to hot lady knight,” The Scarlet Demonslayer embodies pulls a double reversal: “This hot lady knight is immune to you.””

Play Off

Up next, a pair of play reflections of popular games that also touch upon design.

“What other games have taken from Slay the Spire are its branching pathways, its random events, and its graded difficulty tiers. But what I wish they would learn from it is the joy of embedding little surprises, introducing random and sometimes hostile changes that run the risk of annoying the player in service of a larger goal of novelty.”

Legacy Media

In a way, both of our next selections are about legacies, be they of genre, of literature, of access, of cultural baggage inherited or rejected.

“None of these games are about race — not Baldur’s Gate, not most of these “Lovecraftian” titles, and not Dungeons & DragonsEl Paso, Elsewhere is also not a game about race. James and Draculae’s relationship is never examined through that lens. Just like Draculae’s whiteness is only noteworthy juxtaposed against James’ blackness, El Paso Elsewhere is a commentary on race only when juxtaposed against the rest of the medium. Instead, it is an incidental course correction, a natural result of Black creators working within genre and outside of franchise.”

Breaking Cycles

Here we’re featuring a pair of interviews, both of which touch upon charting a path out of closed loops.

“Something that this series of games gets at, both textually and through the way each release has evolved and changed, has been that element of growth, of change, of searching for that freedom to seek meaning from creation. Getting locked into patterns creates a sense of entropic degradation; finding ways to become something and learn something new, to be metaphorically reborn, allows us to flourish.”

Critical Chaser

Reminiscence and reverie close us out this week.

“Rambalac videos are old, and sad, and Russian, like the very beginning of film. Backrooms videos are young and dumb and full of computers, like its future. But both of them are consciousness porn. Both of them are the internet, slouching towards us, trying to understand the work of art in the age of mechanical subjectivity. From its side. As we try to figure it out from ours.”


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