The best writing from around the web.
Good Games Writing Weekly is a round-up of the best writing on games and related fields from around the web. Some themes may be for older audiences.
The dog days of summer are starting to hit and that means the release schedule of new, major games is beginning to dry up somewhat. In their place are announcements upon announcements–too many to track, surely–but the writing mustn’t stop. Nor should it.
In Depth Reporting
Leading this week’s update is the (essential) reporting by Ethan Gach and Kotaku on Ubisoft’s culture of abuse. The reporting is the tip of the iceberg that has been led by Kotaku, non-gaming publications like Bloomberg, and French-language media both in Canada and Europe. A number of high profile resignations and firings have followed.
The LA Times should also be given credit for digging into the recent abuse allegations–specifically around Ubisoft but broadly in the gaming community–with its use of academics to help frame and contextualize the story. It’s part recap, part reporting, and all scathing.
Over on CBC is new reporting, albeit with delay, on allegations in and around the gaming community. Jackson Weaver goes in depth on the Smash Bros’ scenes attempts at self policing harassment and sexual abuse. While some of the piece is contextualized around Canadians this is great general interest reporting by an international publication.
Only two usual suspects this week: A bit of Animal Crossing and a bit of The Last of Us.
Over on WALL JUMP, a brief musing about home ownership (that never attainable goal for so many of us) and designing our home-away-from home in New Horizons.
A much larger, sprawling, comprehensive take on all things The Last of Us is this week’s “get comfy, grab a cuppa” read as Jess Joho dives into female representation in the series.
All of it is endemic of just how little Last of Us II cares to explore Ellie’s interiority — unless it’s related to Joel, of course. Everything else is, at best, left to vague subtext. But no amount of subtext is louder than the text, which overtly and repeatedly positions Joel as Ellie’s sole concern.
Okay, that’s not the only #longread we have on tap for you this week: There’s also John Walker’s blistering history of PopCap that should be hailed as essential for industry history buffs, mobile enthusiasts, and anyone else wondering how we sold our souls to puzzle games.
The article even contains this startling admission:
“I can’t deny it, we definitely were inspired by Puzzloop. We thought it was dead, we found it in some MAME archive from 10 years ago, and had no idea it would be missed by anybody if we borrowed some of the mechanics.”
Time to edit Zuma’s Wikipedia page, we think.
Odds and Ends
No real theme to this category so let’s dive in. At VideoDame, brief vignettes dovetailing the virtual with the real–cities with bodies–creates a poignant, punchy piece on maturation and identity.
Ape Out, jazz, and bebop swirl together–and inspire a playlist of sorts–over on Game Grooves:
The undercurrent of APE OUT, by and large, is incredibly quick. The constantly rumbling ride cymbal and shuffling on the snare give a very real sensation of perpetual movement. Though you are playing as an ape, the constant energy of the music makes you feel more like a shark as you have to keep moving otherwise you will die. The sound responds to this anxiety, ramping up as the action on the screen becomes more frantic and sitting back onto the beat in moments of respite. This level of craft goes beyond simple soundtracking and audio editing. It is an ecosystem built for a very specific purpose
Aron Garst, meanwhile, takes a spin at Call of Duty: Warzone, which puts the massively multiplayer into, well, anything with the initials MM, noting the lack of tension and diminished experience of having too many players in one game.
Old Games Writing
A look back on old games writing helps us understand where we were and where we’re going. This week’s Old Games Writing is Jordan Minor’s tribute to the (then recently) departed head of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata. It’s a fitting reminder, five years on from the man’s death, of both his contributions and Nintendo’s to the industry, and the need to keep things a little weird. Prescient:
With Iwata gone and sales slowing down, Nintendo will once again be under pressure to either conform to the rest of the video game industry or finally leave it. But what Iwata understood, and what critics still fail to understand, is that Nintendo’s weirdness is vital to this industry.
Bloch, Violet Adele. “Neverwinter (Cities and Identity) ” (Video Dame: July 8, 2020 ) <https://videoda.me/neverwinter-cities-and-identity-3b685607a91b>.
Gach, Ethan. “Ubisoft Employees Have ‘Grave Concerns’ Over Toronto Studio’s Misconduct Allegations” (Kotaku: July 6, 2020) <https://kotaku.com/ubisoft-employees-have-grave-concerns-over-toronto-stud-1844277486>.
Garst, Aron. “Forget 200 players, 150 was already too many for Call of Duty: Warzone” (PC Gamer: July 10, 2020) <https://www.pcgamer.com/forget-200-players-150-was-already-too-many-for-call-of-duty-warzone/>.
Joho, Jess. “How ‘The Last of Us Part II’ fails its women protagonists” (Mashable: July 10, 2020) <https://mashable.com/article/last-of-us-2-female-representation-dad-game/>.
Martens, Todd. “Resignations and reckoning: Game industry’s existential quest for a more inclusive space” (The LA Times: July 7, 2020) <https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2020-07-09/game-industry-reckoning-sexual-harassment-ubisoft-chris-avellone>.
Mirlach, Matthias. “Home Sweet Home” (WALL JUMP: July 8, 2020) <https://wall-jump.com/home-sweet-home/>.
Walker, John. “From Bejeweled To Plants Vs Zombies: How PopCap Got Just About Everyone To Play Their Games” (Kotaku: July 10, 2020) <https://kotaku.com/from-bejeweled-to-plants-vs-zombies-how-popcap-got-jus-1844338169>.
Weaver, Jackson. “How one video game community is trying to ‘police itself’ amid sexual assault allegations” (CBC: July 9, 2020) <https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/super-smash-allegations-1.5640449>.
Weber, Michael Leopold. “How APE OUT Continues Jazz’s Evolution in a New Digital Frontier” (Game Grooves: July 9, 2020) <https://www.game-grooves.com/blog/ape-out-jazz>.