This week’s writing allowed me to reflect on the way that gaming and life affect one another as well as how we look at games through time and space. I hope you enjoy what we’ve curated for you this week!
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From the Inside Out…
Just like any other form of media, video games help us parse our navigation through life.
ZEAL – Medium
Ruben Ferdinand examines Yoko Taro’s execution of affect in the Drakenguard and Nier series.
Joshua Cauller uses the YOLO-esque nature of Torment Tides of Numenera to temporarily escape the major stressors in his life.
Not Your Mama’s Gamer
Jynx Boyne distinguishes setting aside a work’s harmful implications (shutting off) and completely denying them (shutting out).
Zach Budgor contemplates the concept of suffering in the artistic indie game Den vänstra handens stig.
First Person Scholar
I promise this isn’t about the classic Internet insult; rather, Nick Taylor argues that “getting good” at video games transforms both the mind and body.
That said, proficiency with games does not just modify how and what we know about them. Proficiency is also an embodied process that works to shape our sensory abilities, our capacities for attention, and our propensities for proprioception – our awareness of our bodies’ internal workings. In other words, the process of getting good is one which alters not just our knowledge of the game — it transforms our bodies.
…To the Outside In
Economic and social structures and the infinite potential of technology have a major impact on our conceptualization of games.
Cecilia D’Anastasio overviews the issues that online video content creators currently face and suggests how they can resolve them.
James Somers muses on the power of predictive programming, such as that used for chess, and speculates on its impact for the future.
Alana Massey compares the competitive nature of crowdfunding for charity to the mechanics behind games in our daily lives.
Daniel Joseph examines the growing importance of platforms for capitalism’s success as well as the expression of class struggle and control via code.
Linda Besner explores the distinction between magic and technology as well as how much of a distinction there actually is.
The fact that technology continues to feel like magic, even when we acknowledge its earthly origins, seems to suggest that the rational veneer over this aspect of our lives conceals a deep well of uncertainty — a fear that the hierarchy between ourselves and our devices may be less immutable than it appears.
Ghosts of the Living…
These pieces explore the concept of death in both real and fictional contexts.
Bullet Points Monthly
(Major spoilers for Nier: Automata and the Ghost in the Shell manga/anime) Reid McCarter compares the plot of Nier: Automata to the Buddhist concepts of samsara and nirvana.
Janine Hawkins reports on the NierDeathExperience Twitter bot, which collects and generates Nier’s enigmatic death messages.
Play The Past
Josh Howard discusses memorials in MMO gaming and how game historians can record them.
Normally, if someone experiences loss in the “real world,” then most often family and friends will band together in the mourning process. In contrast, once a digital world closes then most outlets for healing are closed off excepting message boards and chat rooms, most of which offer a poor substitute. When a company closes a digital world it rips away the digital places of memory, memorial, and commemoration.
…and Ghosts of Nostalgia
Now that we have so many years separating us from our favorite classic games, we can look at them in a completely different light.
Heather Alexandra argues that Yooka-Laylee’s downfall is its attachment to the negative features of the nostalgic games that influenced it.
In light of the recent remaster, Mike Diver reevaluates PaRappa the Rapper in the context of newer rhythm games.
Jake Tucker interviews three developers who participated in the Playstation-era Net Yaroze indie development community.
Something in the Direction of Exhibition
Vincent K. plays the 1991 shooter Griffin and ruminates on its portrayal of war and violence.
Abstraction, meanwhile, is something Griffin readily embraces. I never once remember the game giving me any context for my actions. I never found out who the enemy was, who I was, why we were fighting each other, the state of affairs prior to my entering the fray, etc.
Back to the Here and Now
After switching through all of these paradigms, let’s fall back to bare bones analysis of specific design elements in games.
Wesley Rockholz explains how For Honor’s mechanics both promote and obstruct a fair and balanced gameplay experience.
Exactly what it says on the tin–Doug Stewart gives some tips and examples to help guide one’s choice of color for game design.
Chris Totten describes the thought processes behind level design in his game Dead Man’s Trail.
Florencia Minuzzi stresses the importance of good dialogue in video games and provides some food for thought for designers creating their own.
Miguel Penabella interviews Bela Messex about the influences behind his game Little Bug.
Outside Your Heaven
Matthew “Sajon” Weise relates The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s design to the series’ origins and the Japanese viewpoint on open world design.
Zelda 1 was meant to be a simulation of having a big backyard for kids who didn’t have one. And backyards don’t come with maps or tutorials. Life doesn’t either, which is what backyards are supposed to teach you.