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August 27th

…a romantic, florid apologia.


Sometimes games hold up a mirror to what humans are—as individuals and as a people. Even when it isn’t their central focus, games can speak to us in meaningful, human ways.

  • Tacoma and the Stories We Leave Behind | Ploughshares Human lives are narratives which can be informed partly by the artifacts we gather over said lives, a point at Patrick Larose felt central to the story of Tacoma.
  • The People in Tacoma | shutupvideogames Human lives are in people, and in people alone. At least, as…
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October 14th

…of Lovecraft’s revulsion, the troubled white male heroes that contain his arrogance and his gross simplification of mental illness are recreated in video games with no subversion, no critical thinking. In doing so they are breathing life, again and again, into Lovecraft’s hate.”


Two very different articles this week tell very different stories about the storytelling process in games.

  • “The Nightmare Was Always the Same,” by Ed Smith – Bullet Points Monthly Ed Smith meditates on nightmares, dream work, recovery, and guilt by way of Max Payne.
  • Let’s Place: The Forest With No…

April 21st


“What if we instead didn’t think of being good at a videogame as a skill at all? It’s easy to buy into this idea if you belonged to the group of people who was routinely made fun of for being into videogames instead of the real sport of the hour, but this attitude was harmful when it was directed towards people who enjoyed videogames then and it’s harmful when used against people who would like to enjoy a game now.”

Narratives, Payoffs

Four articles this week thoughtfully examine the consequences of game narratives

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August 4th


We’re opening this week with four authors who are each concerned with how game narratives and worlds can be a little bit “extra” in their presentation or structure in the interest of more clearly articulating a connection back to the material world. This often involves the adoption of magical realist conventions, even in seemingly unlikely genres (military espionage, anyone?).

  • Unitary Urban Occultism – Spellcrafting the Revolution | RE:BIND Catherine Brinegar examines a game about dismantling capitalism, but as witch. Sign me up?
  • Death and Religion in Final Fantasy X – YouTube Alexandra Orlando examines the

November 17th

Welcome back, readers.

I’m thinking this week, as ever, about The Discourse, and specifically how narratives coalesce around games at an ever-more-careening pace, often before they’re even out and available. It feels increasingly difficult, in the early stages at least, to shut out the noise and keep it from overwriting the discussion altogether.

But that doesn’t stop so many talented writers who inhabit this discourse from pulling off that hard work every week, and it’s something I remain a little bit in awe of.

This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important

March 29th

…often more of the latter.”

History Makers

There’s quite 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…

May 31st

…just the very fundamentals of video game platforming on display here, but with a player character made to feel utterly unequipped to handle them.”

Games of Empire

I’ve borrowed the title of this book to introduce 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…
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Xenogears, Xenosaga, Xenoblade

…existential text in her master’s thesis for Ohio State. It’s a long read that’s heavily dependent on context the author creates, but to boil it down, Thomas sees the game’s mixture of psychological and religious themes as situating it alongside a very specific set of works. Yet it simultaneously rebels against them, mixing their personal narratives with the kind of grand epic that they’re typically opposed to.

L.S. Limanta and L. Djajadi, writing for Petra Christian University, don’t even consider Xenosaga from a religious/philosophical perspective. They approach it from a psychological one, uncovering Shion’s latent post-traumatic stress disorder and…

September 2020

…– Jacob Geller (25:07)

Jacob Geller contemplates how the dominance of cars in modernity has visually shaped what the player encounters in Flight Simulator 2020. (Manual captions) [Contains embedded advertising]

Sown Seeds

Videos about videogame history are rarely in short supply, but this month was a good one for short, alternative narratives about quietly significant designers and decisions.

  • Why “So Long Bowser” is Not in Super Mario 3D All-Stars – Video Game Story Time (3:51)

    VGST take a missing voice clip from the 3D All-Stars version of Mario 64 to briefly explore how

December 13th

…of 2020.

  • Creating Player Guilt in The Last of Us 2 and Spec Ops: The Line | Kat (Pixel a Day) Kat discusses why player guilt in popular games seems to be such a highly selecteive experience.
  • Crowded Apocalypse | Unwinnable Yussef Cole finds Fallout 76 to be crowded, convoluted, and loud–a step away from the games that preceded it, but not necessarily all for the worse.
  • Let’s Place: Narratives of Rebuilding – Haywire Magazine Daria Kalugina finds that even in dystopias as disparate as Death Stranding and The Last of Us Part II, a common survivor…