Wow. There must be something in the air because there has been a heap of good games writing this week!
Let’s start with the greatest thing to ever happen to Overwatch – here you can read about how anytime someone types ‘gg ez’ into the chat, the new test patch changes it. Just slightly. You know, into something like mocking their immaturity or their insatiable need to pull down others for the sake of their own ego. It’s amazing and hilarious and I am completely in love with it. Anything that contributes to the death of git gud is 100% in my books.
Whatever has been in the water this week, Kill Screen have been gulping it down. The first article from them I want to recommend can be found here. It compares the beautiful, desolate beauty of The Long Dark with Canadian literature. This piece is really beautifully written and really captures some of the essence of this game. Seriously, read it then get lost in TLD and be that special kind of lonely happy/sadness.
The next one from KS is entitled The Invisible Women of Videogames. This article highlights the ways women have been poorly represented in games: over sexualised and placed squarely in the male gaze, or pushed out of sight to the realms of first-person. We’re then treated to some subversion through gender and movement in an article that gets me hyped for Bound more than anything else has (and believe me, I was already pretty hyped).
And finally we have this in-depth look at the way magic and gender interact in Final Fantasy. I try to avoid linking multiple articles from the same publication in Sunday Swatch, but I’ve clearly broken that rule for KS this week because they have a gift for wonderful writing on topics I have never even considered. And that’s what I really want Sunday Swatch to be able – sharing articles and videos that make me/you think differently about the games we play.
Speaking of magic, Eurogamer has been thinking about ways fantasy literature could shake up the stale mechanic of magic in video games.I thought this was an interesting approach, and if any of these could be implemented it would be amazing. But, due to the way standard fantasy/RPG games are structured, I’m not sure if any of this is feasible. So of course the only solution is to re-imagine the whole thing… Have a look here and let me know of any cool literary magic systems you’d like to see.
You know, I really wasn’t excited about For Honors until I read this interview with the game’s director. I really loved the open discussion about how the game was researched and the way the team blended history and pop culture to create the best game visually they could. What really sold me on the game (and the dev team) was this quote: “This game is about you. And so what kind of warrior are you, right? You can change the skin color of your Vikings, too. You want to have a black Viking? Knock yourself out. It’s who are you. I want you to be able to be in that game.” This seems incredibly obvious – if they’re open to departing from historical accuracy in terms of costume or weaponry, why not let players make their character whatever race/gender/etc. they want? (Sidenote: Although saying that, they were definitely women warriors and black people in Europe in medieval times, but this argument of ‘historical accuracy’ is one often used against those arguing for inclusion in games. Even though it’s dumb and wrong.)
In case you have been living under a rock in some far flung planet – No Man’s Sky came out. Aaand it’s been a let down for a lot of people. Personally I’m excited to play it, but then I really have not followed the follow development saga and literally wasn’t interested in it until this week. I just wanna look at alien skies. But for some people, the game as it exists right now is not enough. They are demanding more, and demanding it NOW. To such an extent that Polygon had to write an article explaining to people that it takes more than a week to add multiplayer to a game. I shit you not. See for your own eyes here.
On the other hand, some people are really enjoying NMS. Not only that, but they are using it to commemorate lost loved ones. I think naming a planet that neither you, nor anyone else may ever see again after someone you lost is a fitting tribute. Read about these tributes here.
And finally, on the subject of No Man’s Sky – Unwinnable made the excellent point that this is not actually a game about discovery but colonialism. It’s so obvious, but I honestly had not thought about it and it’s kind of fucked me up.
I’m definitely recommending this article from Kotaku about black cosplayers. I’m not super into cosplay but it was sad to hear people’s doubts about cosplaying due to their skin colour. For fellow white people, it’s a reminder that these alternative spaces we create where we can be free to express ourselves need to be as welcoming to others as they were to us. And that means we all have to work hard to create a good atmosphere and support our black/poc pals.
Gita Jackson wrote this amazing and well received article on blackness and Dragon Age Inquisition. Pro tip: whenever you see Gita’s name, read. She’s an incredible writer and such an intelligent, thoughtful woman. I wish I knew her irl.
Gita also guest edited Kotaku last weekend and published some amazing articles. What really struck me was this piece on the Britney Spears mobile game. I never knew this existed, but it seems so obviously hollow. And that’s no shade towards Britney – I honestly regret laughing at her breakdown when I was younger. It seems so sad that her image is exploited in a way that goes so far against the reality she faced in the world of celebrities and pop stardom.
Finally I leave you with this video from ParagonDS about mental health and Dark Souls. As someone who struggles with mental health issues, gaming has been an excellent outlet and coping mechanism is some dark times. Watch his video below and I’ll see yous next week!