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01: Subjectivity

…— in the service of homogenizing or calcifying the fluid formulations of community activity.

I hesitate to qualify 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…

Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

June 7th


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 circle, back to the subject of the faces behind the screen. On Gamasutra’s Expert Blogs, Laralyn McWilliams writes bracingly on the “culture fit” of the tech world and the creative diversity this mentality has helped suppress. Speaking as an educator, Not Your Mama’s Gamer’s Alex Layne reflects on the games brought into the classroom and how they may influence the…

August 16th

…of asexuality in games. Meanwhile, in Aevee Bee’s ZEAL magazine, developer and games educator Robert Yang 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

This Year In Videogame Blogging: 2015

…— Austin Walker, Shawn Alexander Allen, Natasha 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…

June 12th

…left thumbsticks, the right and left triggers, we move and act through the two brothers simultaneously, together. The controller, then, 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…

August 26th

…is said about the bodies of videogame protagonists, after two pieces expertly highlighted the way the body’s movements convey narrative meaning.

  • Shenmue’s World Is Full Of Wonderful Junk | Kotaku Heather Alexandra describes the importance of material objects and heavy bodies in a recently re-released Dreamcast game.
  • Opened World: Fragility – Haywire Magazine Miguel Penabella sees the spectre of death in not just Hyper Light Drifter’s videogame cycles of death and respawn, but its portrayal of physical traces of life-threatening illness.

“At points throughout the game, the drifter will hemorrhage blood when health is

October 18th

…the basis of those exclusions, stereotypes, and microaggressions.

  • Platforms and Pitfalls Episode 27 – Queer Male Bodies with Jeremy Signor — Idris Effect Rowan and Jeremy Signor chat about queer masculine bodies in Dragon Age, Strange Flesh, Tusks, and more.
  • Extra Puzzles: Navigating Dungeons & Dragons as a Queer Black Woman | AIPT Holly Woodbury recounts the barriers and stereotypes endemic to tabletop fantasy gaming that Black and Brown players must navigate in order to enjoy the games they love.

“I love fantasy. I love DnD. I long for the day when it fully

April 18th

…stunt/shitpost is also genuinely good queer representation.

  • Nier Replicant Still Portrays Queer Bodies with Brutal Honesty | Paste Austin Jones unpacks Nier Replicant‘s themes of ostracism, queer acceptance, and found family.
  • “Queer people are often told that their bodies are unworthy, ugly, or loathsome unless they are somehow useful. Because of this, young queers often fear rejection unless they present some sort of functionality—are they entertaining? Do they ascribe to popular beauty standards? Do they have some kind of talent that contrasts their otherwise repulsive selves? A queer person fitting into mainstream society is possible, but…

    April 25th

    …pieces here, loosely tied by an emphasis on bodies and embodiment. Timss’ work this week riffs of a theory of embodied play as explored in Keogh’s book, while Diaz chronicles the experiential fallout of Wii Fit with regard to body image and the narrative of thinness-as-fitness.

    • Trace Then Describe – No Escape Braden Timss keeps the good book review times rolling at No Escape with a look at Brendan Keogh’s A Play of Bodies: How We Perceive Videogames.
    • Here’s the lasting impact of Nintedo’s Wii Fit | Polygon Ana Diaz discusses the legacy of Wii Fit‘s weight-and-BMI-focused

    April 10th

    …Interview with Caro Asercion | First Person Scholar Olivia Popp chats with illustrator and tabletop game designer Caro Asercion about the TTRPG scene, intentional design, representation, and more.

  • Unmaking and Undoing | First Person Scholar Julie Fukunaga identifies structures and themes of queer resistance in Katamari Damacy‘s embrace of non-normative, non-default modes and structures of play.
  • A Boy Is A Gun | First Person Scholar Oluwatayo Adewole unpacks how white western constructions of binary gender are weaponized against Black bodies–both cis and trans–in videogames as well as wider popular media.
  • “Black bodies will never fully…