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August 25th

…its antagonistic forces are responsible for some of its funniest, darkest, and most intriguing moments. Their ideologies are sometimes a tad confused, but often align with sinister real-world ones.”

Bodies at Play

Two authors this week look at intersections of games and the bodies we use to play them. How can we create space in games for a wider range of bodies? How can we reclaim bodies from harmful or marginalizing representations? What are the stakes for thinking more critically about our bodies in relation to games?

  • How I Use The Xbox Adaptive Controller To Play Forza Horizon…
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January 13th

Welcome readers! Last week I was delighted to present a whole bunch of writing on queer game studies, but since no amount of queer games writing is too much (or let’s be real, enough), this week’s roundup opens with a section focused specifically on queer masculine sexuality.

Bodies in general are a recurring theme this week: queer bodies, Black bodies, bodies in love, bodies in grief, bodies in laughter, bodies and interface devices. . . bodies are important! We only get one each, after all.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our annual roundup by Eric Swain,

March 1st

…such as:

There is a resistance because bodies are complicated. Incorporating subject(ivitie)s decentralizes the game object and forces designers and critics to ponder the infinite relationships bodies can have with an experience. Controllers in particular throttle the ways bodies can be recognized in the design, and is probably the main agent in the absence of body subjectivity in critique. It is impossible to know how another’s bodily reaction will be to an experience, and that exactitude is only necessary for products that promise it. That class critique is also underrepresented might hint as to why these sorts of connections are

April 9th


  • “Glory to Mankind,” by Ed Smith – Bullet Points Monthly Ed Smith argues that Nier: Automata is misanthropic, nihilistic, and misses opportunities to embrace humanity’s complexities.
  • The Trouble with Bodies – First Person Scholar Cayla Coats makes a compelling argument for reading Nier: Automata as a transgender narrative.
  • “The entire conflict of the game is one of problematic bodies. The Gestalts’ inability to control their corresponding Replicants signifies a collective anxiety and mistrust of anatomy—the fear of the physical self rebelling against the mental self. In this battle between Replicants and Gestalts, bodies are the medium of power….

    This Year In Videogame Blogging: 2015

    …Thomas and Catt Small — to discuss in a letter series “Videogames’ Blackness Problem.” Samantha Blackmon of Not Your Mama’s Gamer followed up on Narcisse’s piece to discuss another “blackness problem” outside of stereotypes and representations.

    Several months later, Evan Narcisse came back to the issue in “The Natural.” Sidney Fussell at Offworld also continued the conversation, going into the dehumanizing stereotypes of black bodies games deploy and the real world damage this inflicts.

    Juliet Kahn talked with her non-“gamer” sister to get the outsider perspective of what drove her away and continues to drive her away from games. It…

    August 26th


    In writing about criticism, two pieces provide extremely useful background on how games are talked about.

    • Gamasutra – A reading list for game designers looking to expand their conversations Last week, Eron Rauch published a primer for game developers on critically evaluating games.
    • Auteur Theory and Games | Unwinnable Malindy Hetfield outlines the history of auteur theory, and its application in games criticism, and explains why it is sometimes a bad fit for the circumstances of game development.


    This week it struck me how strange it is that so little is said about the bodies

    June 12th

    …is a body—because “matter is an actor,” as Puar says—one that is tied to the bodies of the brothers and that is also tied to the body of the player, and through such connections all these bodies work together to act, to move through the game, to tell its story.”

    “Their deepest nature”

    Moving on from speculative relationships with technology, let’s ponder the uncertainty about game-mediated encounters in our relationships with each other.

    • Magic: the Gathering [June 6 – 10, 2016] | In Media Res In Media Res features a series of posts about card game narratives, aesthetics…

    August 16th

    …muses on the way we model bodies in games, in which their dynamism (or possibly, embodiment) is frequently overlooked:

    Animations are essentially flipbooks; when we flip through the individual pages or frames quickly, we create the illusion of motion. Computer animation helps automate this process by taking human-authored “keyframe” poses and generating the “in-between” frames, or even entire animation sequences through motion capture. Then game engines loop through these sequences of poses to transform bodies along predictable trajectories. When you walk in a game, you’re basically looping over those same 2 choreographed steps over and over.

    What’s totally missing is

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    June 7th

    …source of distress (Content Warning: discussion of violence, racism, mental health).

    Virtual Bodies

    At his blog Arms Folded Tight, Daniel Parker muses on the aesthetics of games’ “power fantasies,” many of which go beyond our conventional understanding of the term. In doing so, Parker surveys several recent articles on the subject of avatars and how these writers engage in a “power fantasy” of embodiment.

    Elsewhere on the subject of virtual bodies, Kat Hache opens up about their childhood affinity for Legend of Zelda‘s Link and how it continues to influence their self-image.

    Meatspace Bodies

    And at last, we come full…

    01: Subjectivity

    …the videogame review as a sign or signal, or as a simple tool, for the same reasons that I question the inherent good in maximizing the number of reviews published about a game. Materially, I think the review works to substantiate particular power dynamics between different bodies involved in game production—a circuit that might be reducible to: audience->designers->capitalists/publishers & distributors (broadly defined)*->reviewers->audience. Specifically, dynamics that concentrate wealth for a small community of capitalists who then seldom reinvest their capital into the community commons from which they exploit. While it may be difficult to gate what we might understand as the…