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November 18th

…the much larger project of pushing back against narratives of marginalization and erasure in general–the narratives we are seeing more of in the news cycle these days.

Because messy people play games.

Because messy people make games.

Because messy people write about games.

And so I’ll allow myself a little messiness as I do my best to promote and honour all that messy writing.

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

Gaming Games Crit

Two authors this week each offer insightful, relational meditations on games…

October 7th

…examine its representations of queer masculinities.

  • Game Studies – “Why do I have to make a choice? Maybe the three of us could, uh…”: Non-Monogamy in Videogame Narratives Meghan Blythe Adams and Nathan Rambukkana examine representations of non-monogamy in AAA games.
  • “Do representations of non-monogamies in game narratives break with or reinforce mononormative and heteronormative tropes? How might challenging the normative dynamics of compulsory monogamy open up new and more complex game dynamics and narratives?”

    Second Screen Experience

    A pair of authors this week offer some great insights on how our modern digital devices are themselves represented in

    The Last of Us

    …the status quo when it comes to gender representation in games. But Carolyn Petit remains critical of this kind of praise .

    Simply presenting women as people is hardly something that should be considered incredibly praiseworthy. Rather, it’s the bare minimum that we should expect from our narratives. To shower a game with praise for doing the minimum is to set the bar extremely low.

    For the Guardian, Keith Stuart suggests that The Last of Us presents a masculinized vision of the apocalypse in which “the future will be ruled by men of violence and fervor, and that we…

    Assassin’s Creed III

    …the freedom of all men, the Patriots fought for themselves, and in this aftermath, Conner sees the futility of his fight and the Assassins’ fight.

    Despite AC3’s anti-colonial accoutrements, Adrienne Shaw asserted that the AC3 story could not deliver emancipatory narratives because its “realism” served up a teleological view of history, in which Native Americans were swallowed up by an “inevitable” historical process involving their defeat and dispossession: “The game ends ambivalently; all of Ratohnhaké:ton/Connor’s (and the player’s) work in the game didn’t accomplish much for him. The ending was most certainly realistic, but why did it have to be…

    Kentucky Route Zero

    Critical Distance is proud to present this Critical Compilation of Cardboard Computer’s Kentucky Route Zero, written by Nicholas O’Brien. Nicholas is an artist and researcher that makes video games, digital animations, and installations addressing civic history, urban infrastructure, and overlooked narratives of technology and labor. He currently lives in Brooklyn and is Assistant Professor in 3D Design and Game Development at Stevens Institute of Technology.

    When Kentucky Route Zero, the episodic magical realist point-and-click adventure from Cardboard Computer (Jake Elliott, Tamas Kemenczy, and Ben Babbitt), first reached players in 2013, critics were struck by its intricate narrative, distinct visuals, labyrinthine

    October 20th


    Genre Royale

    Two articles this week take aim at grand narratives in games and games discourse–be it forever games like the battle royale, or the sorts of overarching narratives that emerge in the discourse like games-as-art.

    • Sexy Fortnite? Gamers Are Making Horny Battle Royale Games | Daily Dot Ana Valens examines the state of thirst in the Forever Game genre
    • Gamasutra: Sophia Gardner’s Blog – All the discussions about the artistic nature of videogames overlook these three crucial aspects Sophia Gardner examines the critical limitations of games-as-art discourse.

    “No distinction is ever made between big titles…

    August 19

    …concerns with two Twitch streamers, and discusses gaming’s ongoing issue with inclusivity and toxicity.

    • Remothered: Tormented Fathers perpetuates horror’s harmful anti-trans stereotypes — Unwinnable Bryan Cebulski highlights the anti-trans history in the horror genre, and considers the long term issues of stigma that form around narratives. In particular, how Remothered: Tormented Fathers carries that torch forward such a bit further.
    • Who We Are — Unwinnable Jeremy Signore visits the intersection of queer identities and role-playing, and how the history of Harlem Balls shares connective tissue with modern role-playing games.

      Games take on a similar role to

    January 29th

    …Medium Emilie Reed talks about the strange categorization of junk in games.

  • Due Diligence: Sublime Filth – Haywire Magazine Leigh Harrison talks a lot about “bags of sick and poo” in this remarkable account of experiences that oscillate between gaming and situationist drifting.
  • “Pokémon Go, just like most videogames, is about isolation; about madly acquiring intangible goods because we’re told having more stuff than other people is good for us. Geocaching asks us to dig deeper into our surroundings by allowing us to see previously hidden narratives and experiences.”


    For some thoughts on how inclusion and exclusion

    May 31st

    …two articles which mediate on the ideological influence the largest (see: wealthiest) forces in the games industry bring to bear on popular narratives about what games are, where they came from, and what they mean.

    • Midlife Crisis Optional: Pitfall II: Scene 2: “Good Game Design” LeeRoy Lewin takes the long view, starting with the origin story of Activation, to work against canonical narratives of progress in the games industry.
    • An Assassin’s Creed – Spencer Yan – Medium Spencer Yan identifies a cynical mythologization of war and warriors running through virtually all of Ubisoft’s contemporary catalogue.

    “Few other major

    March 29th

    …a bit of spread in this section, but generally the pieces gathered here delve into some kind of historical analysis, either looking at where trends in games got their start, the underlying origins or structures of popular narratives in the industry, or even reflecting on how “history” in games is constructed and framed.

    • Who gets to write video game history? • Florence Smith Nicholls reflects on the recent auction of the Nintendo PlayStation and asks what smaller, more vulnerable artifacts, texts, and creators are out there in need of the same kind of attention and preservation support.
    • LGBT