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This Year in Videogame Blogging: 2019

…climb now that did not exist just a matter of years ago, such that even critical darlings struggle to stay afloat. Many this year also questioned the continued centrality of the Game Developers Conference, something Emily Rose compared with a sepulchre of the damned.

Also there’s a Twitter account about pettable dogs in games now, and as David Shimomura says, it might be making things worse? Everything is terrible and we’re still in the first section of this roundup, but hang in there, we’ll get through this together.

Broader Labor Concerns

Of course, labor and games goes beyond unionization. It…

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This Year In Videogame Blogging: 2018

…them. Yet, beyond just the people they affect, the working conditions cannot help but set the tone for the wider medium both in and out of the games themselves.

Labor

  • When did we forget people – not brands – make games? | Eurogamer – Wesley Yin-Poole In the wake of Telltale’s closure and the reaction that the developers should finish their games for free, Wesley Yin-Poole asks a question that should have been asked long ago.
  • The labour of games | I Need Diverse Games – Tauriq Tauriq Moosa highlights the effects of the firings of Jessica Price and

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July 26th

…she wanted recognition of housework as labor specifically to bring it into the realm of things that can be refused and revolted against. To radically reorganize affection, love, and care in the labor market is no simple task, and Diner Dash and Kim Kardashian: Hollywood certainly offer no solutions. What they do offer is a first suggestion, incredible in its existence on a mass-market scale: to make affective labor count, to think critically about our fraught relationships with our work, and to playfully reimagine what might be.

And back on Gamasutra’s blogs, industry veteran Robert Fearon warns against the frequent…

April 24th

…but generational constructs are as well. Grandparents, parents, and children are all bodies experiencing war in varied ways, challenging the normative perceptions of what war is, what war means, what war does, and who survives war.”

Companions

Discussions on the gendered (and species-dependent) division of emotional labor emerge in writing on relationships in game narratives.

  • Even More Daddy Issues: Fatherhood and Gendered Labor in The Last of Us | Not Your Mama’s Gamer Bianca Batti critiques the tropes of dad games.
  • Jak and Daxter: the search for Player Two | Kill Screen Jess Joho draws a…

August 7th

…video about Sonic and a stellar essay on gamer identity.

  • It’s Not Easy Being Blue – YouTube (video: auto-captions) Innuendo Studios riffs about Sonic’s lack of identity, and how it relates to subjectivity in the social media age.
  • Distraction, Consumption, Identity: The Neoliberal Language of Videogames | Sufficiently Human Lana Polansky calls for mass resistance and coherent labor politics, as an alternative to the divergent identity organising that can so easily be absorbed into the leisure and consumption of games.

“The spectacular dimension of capitalism has a way of defanging and absorbing any form of resistance or dissent

February 25th

Emotional labor

In a remarkable little bit of serendipity, this week brought two separate investigations of emotional labor in games that portray romantic relationships between women and men, both of them nuanced and enlightening.

  • How to (not) save your boyfriend: examining gender roles in Mystic Messenger | Medium Giada Zavarise argues that the behavior of NPCs in this dating game places gendered expectations on the player-character, who is assumed to be female even if the player chooses to state otherwise.
  • We need to talk about Florence and emotional labour | Tumblr Mahli-Ann Butt describes the gendered affective labor

April 15th

…to expect in certain genres or settings.

  • The Pleasure Paradox of Big Buffs | The Psychology of Video Games Jamie Madigan argues that uncertainty and incomplete knowledge make powerups feel better.
  • Labor

    In writing on capitalism and corporatism, three critics highlight the portrayal of economic issues and the economic conditions in which games are produced.

    • Gamasutra: John Krajewski’s Blog – Economy as Gameplay: The influences and impacts of player-run economies in Eco. John Krajewski details some of the social dynamics that are driven by economies in games and in the wild.
    • Tacoma, Surveillance, and Confronting My Fear…

    June 21st

    …with four authors with their fingers on the pulse of the industry along different axes, all identifying erasures, injustices, and wrongs, and projecting a path forward to a better future.

    • In Celebration of Black Videogame Composers, Part 2 – Paste Dia Lacina continues her series looking at and spreading the word on some incredible Black musical talent in the industry.
    • The Future Of The Video Game Labor Movement | Kotaku Sisi Jiang reflects on Game Workers United’s unwillingness to act in support of marginalized developers and communities and projects a more just and equitable path forward for labour organizations

    April 7th

    Daily Grind

    This week four selections look at the intersections of labour and games from a variety of angles. In addition to new developments on the labour organization front, there’s excellent work here on in-game labour and gamification.

    • The Amazon Games – Postyn Smith – Medium Postyn Smith reports from the unique brand of hell that is a gamified Amazon warehouse.
    • Game Workers Unite Argentina: Labor organization in the videogames industry | Matajuegos David T. Marchand announces the formation of an Argentine branch of Game Workers Unite with a call to action.
    • Shenmue’s Much-Hated Forklifts Feel Revolutionary Today

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    March 31st

    …Skeleton tempers Capcom’s comeback tour with questions about why the labour conversation in games so far hasn’t really extended to Japanese companies.

    “It’s profoundly interesting that the labor conversation didn’t really trend towards Japanese games – of which stories about labor mismanagement are rife, until a more recent developer had positive words to say about needing an IV drip to continue making the new Super Smash Brothers.“

    Art on Art

    I haven’t included a lot of purely creative works in my time at Critical Distance yet, but this week’s two artists were just too good to pass up.