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.
In a busy week for games media we saw a number of Xbox Series X world premieres, Nintendo sales data revealing just how well Animal Crossing: New Horizons is selling (it’s doing very well), and raved in Fortnite’s Party Royale.
On that theme, NME‘s Vikki Blake writes about her experiences playing Destiny each week, while the time commitment and diminishing returns made it begin to feel like homework. She pivots the piece to discuss battle royale games–the Fortnites and PUBGs of the world–and how they bring “no demands on your time or wallet”. making them “the sweet, succinct antidote” to the bloated games-as-service model.
While we’ve seen one battle royale embrace music–Fortnite’s Friday night concert was a blast when emotes weren’t blaring over top the music–a different game in a very different genre has inspired music of its own. Writing for USGamer, Niall O’Donoghue examines how Dark Souls has shaped the metal genre. The reporting pairs lyrics with interviews from the writers and performers, and the narrative themes and sense of oppression make for good metal fodder.
Andy Astruc also takes us to a dark place: discussing the death of animals in art. He explores the issue through other media including films such as John Wick, books like Old Yeller, and even positions the argument against other games. Astruc is, of course, responding to The Last of Us 2′s decision to allow players to kill dogs, and with gravitas. He writes:
“Killing dogs, for example, is an undeniably terrible action on paper, but if a game’s only message is that it’s a shame you need to kill these dogs while also very much encouraging you to kill them if you think you need to, then there is no message. Thoughts and prayers for the game universe.”
Over on Bullet Points, Jon Bailes delves into the thematic resonance of both Final Fantasy VII and its remake, uncovering the environmentalist and otherwise radical themes present in the game. It’s as much capitalist critique as it is a scathing condemnation of games that don’t embrace their political nature, simultaneously managing to look forward and back with a critical sense.
Stacey Henley also found rich fodder in Final Fantasy VII: Cloud moves away from his stereotypical masculine traits as the game progresses, and not just through the act of cross dressing. Whether it’s fetching lost cats, turning the damsel in distress trope on its head, or dancing the night away, Cloud challenges masculine norms.
“No, Cloud isn’t trans, and he doesn’t ‘yas queen’ down gender barriers by smashing the binary or rocking the cistem. But he does challenge the norms of what it means to be a man in a video game, and characters who move the goalposts by inches can be more important than those who move them by miles.”
Animal Crossing also got its fair share of interesting reads. Our own Evan McIntosh tackles the notion that Tom Nook is a capitalist crook, applying the lens of utopian socialist Robert Owen to Nook’s recent endeavours. Meanwhile, on the CBC, Jonathan Ore, keeps the discussion light, discussing the low stakes and massive popularity of the most recent installment.
Two different pieces examined the real world economies spinning off of New Horizons: USGamer dives into the vast array of services available to players while on ArsTechnica the focus is more on farming to generate profit through selling the in-game currency.
While news broke that the Vancouver Titans dumped their roster, the best voice to follow was ESPN‘s Emily Rand, who breaks down the loss for both Titans management and Overwatch League fans. “It’s not surprising that the RunAway-Titans tenure ended in a spectacular implosion, but that doesn’t make it any less sad,” she writes, noting that this was the result of poor communication. The history on the RunAway crew is essential to understanding this major blow to the Titans.
Finally, we hop over to TechRadar for a review of the new Google Pixel Buds. The review does well to situate the headphones in the current market, offering advice to would-be shoppers on comparable products, but we most appreciate how thorough, comprehensive, and easy-to-digest it all is, especially the embedded video review.
That’s it for this week’s Good Games Writing weekly! If you see something worth sharing don’t hesitate to hit us @GoodWritingVG on Twitter for our consideration.
Astruc, Andy. “Let’s talk about killing animals in video games” (Debug Mode: May 8, 2020) <https://debugmode.io/lets-talk-about-killing-animals-in-video-games/>. Content warning: M rated game, mature themes.
Bailes, Jon. “Fighting for lost causes” (Bullet Points Monthly: May 6, 2020) <https://bulletpointsmonthly.com/2020/05/06/fighting-for-lost-causes-ffvii-remake>.
Blake, Vikki. “Battle royales are changing the way we play for the better” (NME: May 6, 2020) <https://www.nme.com/features/battle-royales-are-changing-the-way-we-play-video-games-for-the-better-2660317>. Content notice: strong language.
Henley, Stacey. “Cloud threatens gender norms through way more than cross dressing” (Into the Spine: May 1, 2020)<https://intothespine.com/2020/05/01/final-fantasy-7-remake-crossdressing/>.
McIntosh, Evan. “Tom Nook is a socialist” (Liftoff!: May 4, 2020) <https://liftoffmag.com/tom-nook-is-a-socialist/>.
O’Donoghue, Niall. “How Dark Souls inspired a new generation of metal bands” (USGamer: May 6, 2020) <https://www.usgamer.net/amp/souls-metal>. Content notice: M rated game.
Ong, Alexis. “How Animal Crossing’s fake industries let players afford real rent amid COVID-19” (Ars Technica: May 6, 2020) <https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2020/05/how-animal-crossing-has-become-an-experimental-playground-for-irl-business/>
Ore, Jonathan. “How Animal Crossing helped boost Nintendo’s profits while calming the world” (CBC: May 8, 2020) <https://www.cbc.ca/radio/day6/how-animal-crossing-helped-boost-nintendo-s-profits-while-calming-the-world-1.5559300>.
Pino, Nick. “Google Pixel Buds (2020) review” (TechRadar: May 4, 2020) <https://www.techradar.com/reviews/google-pixel-buds-2020>.
Rand, Emily. “The RunAway roster was wasted on the Vancouver Titans” (ESPN: May 6, 2020) <https://www.espn.com/esports/story/_/id/29143693/emily-rand-runaway-roster-was-wasted-vancouver-titans>.
Van Allen, Eric and Matthew Olsen. “Inside the wild, sometimes shady world of Animal Crossing’s trading sites” (USGamer: May 8, 2020) <https://www.usgamer.net/articles/animal-crossings-trading-sites-report>.