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March-April 2022

You Died

The following collection of vods discuss death as motif, pastiche, and videogame mechanic, in amongst broader elucidations about game worlds and the experience of play.

  • I Beat the Dark Souls Trilogy and All I Made Was This Lousy Video Essay – Noah Caldwell-Gervais (5:05:39)

    Noah discusses his experiences of playing through every Dark Souls (and their DLCs) against the mythology of the series’ difficulty, and how these things contribute to an understanding of the game’s internal narratives and world-building. For obvious time management reasons I don’t make a habit of watching ultra-long videos

July 17th

…British protagonists into real or fictionalized countries populated by Black and brown enemies. But in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting, blaming games for violence more directly simply plays into reactionary narratives.”

Story Contexts

These next two articles aren’t really about story or narrative, but about its contexts–how its successes or failures influence our understanding of other parts of the whole.

  • Gacha Hell: Another Eden | TAY2 Hatman reviews the results when a gacha platform is backed by some ex-Square Chrono/Xeno talent.
  • Life Is Strange: Artificial Colors | Unwinnable Ruth Cassidy finds the…

September 12th

…half-answered questions about art and artist.

  • We Are OFK’s Marketing Belies a Larger Issue for Indie Games | Uppercut Ty Galiz-Rowe looks at We Are OFK and contemplates how Wholesomeness as a brand continues to shape how games are made, marketed, and sometimes misrepresented to an increasingly sensitive, at times even hostile audience.
  • The Hopeful Disharmony of Into the Doomed World | Unwinnable Phoenix Simms contemplates collectivity in crisis, via Into the Doomed World, contemporary anticapitalist indie games, and more.
  • “Narratives that center on the collective don’t let us off easy with regards to our…

    October 2nd

    …travel narratives are not and cannot be politically neutral, particularly in pop cultural products that have power fantasies ingrained into their design and writing. In the context of Genshin Impact’s first two years, the protagonist has served as a sword-wielding knight errant who has saved the people of three of Teyvat’s seven regions. What might save Genshin’s future and provide for a more inclusive community may not rely on their hero’s swordsmanship, but on inclusive engagement and a more honest rapport with critical fans.”

    Extended Play

    How about some crunchy, laser-focused critiques of recent popular games?

      December 18th

      …from the past seven days.

      Industrial Zone

      Our opening section this week is about industry trends, industry personalities, and pushing back against those dominant narratives in larger and smaller ways.

      • How Geoff Keighley Became Gaming’s Master of Ceremonies | The Ringer Lewis Gordon offers some illumination between the lines of one Geoff Keighley.
      • Locally Focused Art Like Norco Offers a Crucial Alternative to Corporate Media | Paste Grace Benfell identifies locality as key to what makes NORCO‘s storytelling resonate, whether it’s your locale or not.

      “Discussions of representation often revolve around mass,

      This Year in Videogame Blogging: 2022

    • Volcano Manor, Blasphemy, and Christian Nationalism — Gamers with Glasses Nate Schmidt parties hard with the perverse and the profound up at Uncle Rykard’s house of horrors.
    • Games are not gonna fix this | Malindy Hetfeld Malindy Hetfeld contemplates the role–and limits–of art in times of intersecting crises.
    • ‘Hardspace: Shipbreaker’ Understands the Joy and Grace of Good Work | VICE Renata Price mediates on how Hardspace: Shipbreaker pushes through and against the dueling, contradictory narratives of labour in the American popular consciousness:
    • Hardspace: Shipbreaker is unique in the completeness of its portrayal, and the

      July-August-September 2022

      …the specified calendar month/s.


      Our first trio here for this tri-month package consider knowledge, fan theories, the power of hiding things… and sometimes Zelda.

      • In Search of Mystery – Pixel a Day (31:39)

        Kat formulates a theory for the different ways that game worlds generate appeal through hiding information from the player, divided into ‘graphical mystery’ and ‘expositional mystery’. (Manual captions).

      • Every Zelda is the Darkest Zelda – Jacob Geller (40:07)

        Jacob Geller contemplates the pervasive tendency of fan theories to equate depth with ‘darkness’ by demonstrating how the narratives, settings and

      March 5th

      …at release, it’s that cis folks ought to pay more of us instead of just asking us what we think all the fucking time.”

      Systemic Bias

      Next up, three authors explore games as stories and systems, taking into account authorship, simulation, cultural narratives, and colonial biases.

      • Dead Space’s Unsettling Colonialism | Unwinnable Emma Kostopolus meditates on necromorphs and the white saviors who stomp them into submission.
      • The Pleasure of Translation in 4X Games | Why Not Games Nikhil Murthy contemplates translation–and simplification–of experiences and expectations in strategy games.
      • One Thousand and One Excuses…

      April 16th

      …new Mario movie lacks | Polygon Maddy Myers re-evaluates the chaotic, critically ambitious 1993 film.

    • The Last of Us on HBO | Unwinnable Amanda Hudgins unpacks the narrative of–and the narrative around–The Last of Us‘s narrative, as its weaknesses are passed down and exacerbated from game to show.
    • “What specifically though, is the problem with TLOU? Time is not kind to narratives, especially in an emergent media like video games, and a decade does not show The Last of Us in the best possible light. If anything, it’s interesting to watch the narrative failures of the…

      November 5th

      …it’ll surely dominate discussions about game narratives for the foreseeable near future. Most importantly, the player must understand that the story of Alan Wake 2 can only be told through the interactivity of games. But the metanarrative is only fascinating if you’ve never paid attention to these things before, which is hard because the game spells things out for you at every step of the way.”

      Spirit of Halloween

      Let’s keep the horror theme running a bit longer with a calendar-flexible approach to the spooky season and three selections about other games in the genre.