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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for hoping your kid stops being sick sometime soon. Writing, videogames, go.

Headline of the week: The Runescape players who farm gold so they don’t starve to death.

More and more Venezuelans are growing wise to the benefits of gold farming. Earlier this year, a local newspaper published an article on the process. Runescape players, meanwhile, continually report seeing dozens of gold farmers crowding up locations like the Blast Mine and East Dragons. This has resulted in growing tensions, with players doing everything from regularly demanding that developer Jagex ban all gold farmers to publishing a guide that helps other players more effectively hunt, kill, and insult farmers.

At Motherboard, Emanuel Maiberg did a little searching for the hate groups that populate Steam. Remember: as Gabe Newell is fond of saying, people are content.

I’ve also reached out to Valve asking why the Steam platform is filled with racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic curators, groups, and other content, but have not heard back.

Meanwhile.

The founder and CEO of Valve was valued at $5.5bn, up from the 4.1bn Forbes estimated in its March 2017 Billionaires list – not bad for a Harvard University drop-out. His net worth has increased fivefold from the $1.1bn it was reported as in March 2013.

Aztez is a sidescrolling, stab-happy indie game that was in development for seven years and accrued lots of buzz in the run up to release. Then it sold poorly.

“If I was paying attention to Steam, maybe I wouldn’t be so blindsided by what happened, but I’m also not necessarily sure what I would’ve done differently,” Ruiz says. “If I’d have known like, oh, it’s a saturated market now — what the fuck do you do?”

The Magic Circle is a first-person puzzle-exploration game set within a half-finished, in-development game by some of the bods behind BioShock. It gained a lot of buzz before release… then sold poorly.

“The role of Coda Soliz, the fan who gets a job on the game-within-the-game and in her mind is going to save it from its own creators, her role darkened a lot. Essentially, this whole wave of pollutants had come to the surface of gaming culture. My friends were getting death threats, and it meant I couldn’t see game fans as true innocents any more. In hindsight, this might have made it difficult for people to find any character in The Magic Circle with whom it was easy to sympathise. But I couldn’t unsee all this, even if I wanted to.”

Pip might not work here anymore, but she continues to do great work for the cheeky RPS fanzine. This week she turned the PC Gamer team into flowers.

I thought it would be nice to create a plant-based team photo for the UK writers of PC Gamer so I ordered seeds for everyone’s name. There’s a Phil, a Pip, an Andy, a Joe, a Tom and a Sam. I was so excited! But the only pots I had for multiple plants had three slots. I divided us into online and print and started planting.

Patrick Klepek writes about South Park: The Fractured But Whole, arguing that the game has an identity crisis and so does the TV show.

Here’s the problem: you can’t recognize the rights for marginalized people to publicly identify themselves in a way that feels true and mock those very same people for asking others to self-examine the language they’ve been using because it undercuts that very identity.

Also at Waypoint, Cameron Kunzelman writes about how mortal danger permeates every inch of Stalker. I will happily continue to read praise of Stalker for another ten years, I reckon.

It’s rare that there will be something so dangerous that you will be forced to reload a previous save game to extricate yourself from a bad situation. It’s rare that you will fail so severely that you cannot simply flee and start over in ten minutes when the alert meters go away. By contrast, the very act of traversing STALKER’s countryside, of simply getting from A to B, is harrowing. The player is always encountering an existential threat. The Zone is a place that kills, and each encounter drives that home.

This past week’s big news is the closing of Visceral, developers of the Dead Space trilogy, and the effective cancellation of the story-driven Star Wars game they were making with Amy Hennig. Instead of reading hot takes about the death of singleplayer games, watch this Chris Bratt Here’s A Thing video from February on the Dead Space 3 the developers wanted to make. There’s lots of interesting detail in there about the conflict between EA and Visceral, between commerce and design goals, and it paints a picture of the kind of relationship that can exist between publisher and developer.

Music this week is Fever Ray, who it seems likely is about to release her first album in 8 years. For now, there’s a new song and a new NSFW music video.

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Who am I?

Graham Smith

Editor-in-chief

Graham is to blame for all this.

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