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The Sunday Papers

Cut copy me, I'm all yours.

Sundays are for celebrating the week past by smearing yourself in Philadelphia cream cheese, listening to Petula Clark, and reading the week’s best writing about videogames.

  • Cassandra Khaw takes to the Daily Dot to skewer the low quality and nearly non-existent wages of esports reportage: “Yet, in spite of the adulations, the nerd cred, and the media’s enthused portrayal of the rapidly growing industry, only a handful are making an actual living. But while eSports’ high-tech athletes and their entourage of coaches, managers, and publicists are slowly being given their due, eSports journalists are still, by and large, community volunteers who subsist only on their own passions and the occasional approval of their peers.”
  • I missed this at the start of the year. Aaron Steed, designer of the excellent Ending and Red Rogue (which are donationware on PC), writes in defence of Candy Crush and the problems of being a snob. “Which is why we don’t have an Indie Candy Crush. We don’t have a version of this game that takes everything that’s great about it and explores it for its own sake instead of doing it for the money. Indie devs are all, LA LA LA, I’M NOT GOING TO PLAY THAT GAME I DON’T WANT TO LEARN ANYTHING I’M HAPPY IN MY LITTLE BUBBLE OF IGNORANCE. And then go on Twitter to decry the ignorance they see in a gaming article’s comments.” My bubble of ignorance contains a really comfortable throw which keeps warm late at night. The article is self-aggrandising, but Steed’s not wrong.
  • Steve Hogarty does his Steve Hogarty thing at PC Games N, writing about the five shapes of Steam Machine you didn’t see at CES 2014. It’s all quotable but: “By unmooring themselves from the prescribed tyranny of Microsoft’s solids-biased Windows gulag, Valve and their partnered hardware companies are now free to create Steam Machines that occupy any one of the three basic states of matter. And when the wide range of form factors of modern PC components allow for graphics cards in the shapes of bongs and big Gandalf pipes, the next step in Steam Machine tech is obvious: a cloud of nano-machines that form a sort of sweet-smelling inhaleable gas, one that is percolated through parallel pipelines to provide a straight-to-brain, no-nonsense gaming experience. Chonk down a next-gen guff from this fat doobie and you’ll be teleported to gaming nirvana, where up to eight Linux-compatible games await.” I fixed a typo in there because I’m sweet that way.
  • Leigh Alexander at Gamasutra talks to Mitu Khandaker about her game Redshirt, and the response that followed when one player wrote about their negative experience with the game. “But the response to Khandaker’s consideration was unexpected, she says. There was grumbling across Twitter about a supposed excess of sensitivity (the game is based on the “real world,” so expect “real world” problems!). There was media coverage that seemed aimed at placing Khandaker at the center of a firestorm, rather than at explicating a problem presented by someone and an apology and a solution offered by someone else.”
  • The Rust Is Hell blog writes lightly fictionalised stories about experiences in the survival sandbox, Rust. I normally find these things full of turgid, try-hard wankery, but this is good. “Visions danced in my mind. Visions not born of fantasy but of experience on this horrid island. When Wildcard opened the door, how would he die? Would he be flung backwards against the far wall of the shack by a thunderous shotgun blast? Would he be riddled with nine millimeter rounds, leaving him gasping and twitching involuntarily on the floor as bubbles of blood frothed from his lips? Or would multiple people be waiting outside, and would the whole shack suddenly be filled with whooping, crazed raiders?”
  • Kat Bailey is on USGamer this week writing about how Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 misses the mark in its evoking of sexual assault. “First, the way this scene is constructed isn’t accidental. When Cox talks about wanting to take risks and arguments with the marketing team, it’s clear that the scene was constructed with the intention of evoking sexual assault. It’s ostensibly there to show that Dracula is evil; but really, the imagery was chosen for its ability to provoke a strong emotional reaction. That it’s being used almost exclusively for shock value serves to trivialize a very real horror that women must deal with every day.”
  • This certainly doesn’t need the Sunday Papers push, but Passage and Sleep Is Death’s Jason Rohrer wrote about the ways in which he believes sales are harmful to gamers. I disagree, but it’s going to be interesting to see how The Castle Doctrine, which is about to leave alpha, does without them. “…if you’re planning to put the game on sale next week, you can’t announce it, because you will cannibalize this week’s full-price revenues. Even worse, people who would decide to wait upon news of a forthcoming sale may forget to come back and buy the game later. They’re at your website now, and you can’t afford to scare them away now. So, you have to keep the forthcoming sale secret. You have to surprise people. And burn people. The worst case here is pretty awful: the sorry person who buys the game one minute before the surprise sale price kicks in. You’re going to get an email from that person.”
  • Editing this with a late addition: Michael Abrash’s notes and slides from Steam Dev Days, talking about the future of VR and Valve’s role within it (PDF). “Looking at this on a screen (even when it’s not warped) doesn’t do anything for me, but whenever I stand on that ledge in VR, my knees lock up, just like they did when I was on top of the Empire State building. Even though I know for certain that I’m in a demo room, wearing a head-mounted display, looking at imagery of the inside of a badly textured box, my body reacts as if I’m at the edge of a cliff. What’s more, that effect doesn’t fade with time or repetition. The inputs are convincing enough that my body knows, at a level below consciousness, that it’s not in the demo room; it’s someplace else, standing next to a drop”
  • Fail Forward hopes to offer for pen and paper RPGs what Shut Up & Sit Down does for boardgames. My first pen and paper game begins next Friday.
  • Music this week is Kieron’s 2013 tracks of the year and the related Spotify playlist.

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Graham Smith

Editor-in-chief

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