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October 22nd

…isn’t difficult when the mind has already accepted that an oily clump of fairly abstract geometry is meant to represent rocks or a flattened computer rectangle stands in for a household door.”

Development culture

Crunch has been a major topic of discussion recently, and this week is no exception, as two writers address labor issues in fiction and in industry.

  • tacoma | malvasia bianca David Carlton highlights some of the aspects of Tacoma that make it remarkable for its time, and not merely a logical next entry in the walking sim genre.
  • Playing for…

This Year In Videogame Blogging: 2017

…of surprise and condescension that frames the mainstream success and attention that visual novels have gained.


  • Even in the Fancy Utopia of ‘Tacoma,’ Labor Politics are Still Hell | Waypoint – Dante Douglas Dante Douglas argues that the future of Tacoma has become almost feudalistic, and writes about the game’s explorations of labor versus capital.
  • Tacoma Is Immersive Theater for Completionists | Outermode – Oliver Fox Oliver Fox frames Tacoma through the lens of theater productions like Sleep No More, and examines what the virtual version affords its audience.

What Remains of…

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February 18th

Does it matter what console you play a game on? This week a number of writers look at the significance of platforms and ports, and how games deal with their cultural context. This roundup starts with reports on the conditions in which games are developed.


In two fantastic pieces of investigative journalism, labor conditions past and present are revealed, with nuanced and even counterintuitive conclusions.

  • Made in China: every new video game you love | The Outline Michael Thomsen’s story about outsourcing and labor conditions in China explores games industry stakeholders’ subjective feelings of

April 15th

…– not gameplay friction, but the deliberate exclusion of specific, expedient tools that we’ve come 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…
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    March 31st

    …TO WORK, IT BECOMES YOUR JOB – DEEP HELL 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

    April 7th

    …the past seven days.

    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

    June 21st

    …seven days.

    Industry Revolution

    We open this week 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

    January 2nd

    …Organizing for the Future | RLS Geneva Emma Kinema situates the need for labour organization in games in both immediate worker-level and broader social and global-level contexts.

    “Labor unions approach worker issues from multiple angles, addressing both economic issues like pay and benefits, as well as social ones like discrimination, harassment, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our economic and social issues are deeply linked with one another, and our personal day to day issues are connected to our broader societal goals for the use of our labor.”

    The Matrix ReDooted

    These next two pieces, discussing

    This Year in Videogame Blogging: 2022

    …grace with which it depicts that work. Objects float through space in gorgeous arcs, accelerating and decelerating in pace with the wide arcs of your grapple beam. Its reverence towards labor isn’t just aesthetically beautiful, but actively humanizing towards its characters. The joy of shipbreaking isn’t just satisfying gameplay, but an essential part of the game’s core belief in the possibility of a good world in spite of capitalism.

    • Incrementing Towards Finitude: Playable Portraits of Late Capitalism Part 1 | Medium David R. Howard surveys incremental games to share some thoughts about their themes.


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    January 24th

    …week the coming of a possible ‘second hand market for downloaded games’. That would be interesting, wouldn’t it?

    Latoya Peterson writing for The Borderhouse this week noted that ‘The Patriarchy Hurts Gamer Guys Too: The Rockstar Labor Controversy, Game Developer Wives and Work/Life Balance’. The most important idea being that while poor managerial practices (such as crunch) hurt everyone, men included; it doesn’t affect everyone equally and can have a worse detrimental impact on women in the game development workforce. Quotes from Erin Hoffman and Brenda Brathwaite appear in the article and both make appearances in the comments.