Sundays are for being the best you you can be. Call your folks. Feed some ducks. Read the best writing people wrote about video games in the last two weeks.
On Eurogamer, Ellie Gibson made me chuckle by relaying her fondness for both Love Island and Breath of the Wild. She makes a good point, too – dismissing things because you haven’t tried them while they’re adored by millions is an easy trap to fall into. (Though I have watched one episode of Love Island since teasing a friend about it, and was treated to exactly the kind of soul-suffocating compulsion I thought I might be.)
Cut to one week later. I cannot wait for the kids to go to bed so I can get back to Hyrule. I have started secretly putting the clocks back so bedtime rolls around earlier and earlier. The children are initially confused by being told to put their pyjamas back on after breakfast, but luckily they are quite simple.
The minute their heads hit the pillow, I jump into my own bed with the Switch. Every time the door handle rattles, I hurriedly shove the console under the duvet in case it’s my son wandering in. Usually it’s just my husband, who begins to suspect I have developed a secret pornography addiction. He is disappointed when he finds out the shameful truth.
For the Guardian, Sam Greer spoke to various devs about their non-violent chill out games and their different routes to relaxation. I think it’s worth mentioning that there are plenty of violent games I find relaxing and non-violent ones that stress me out, but that doesn’t detract from what the games highlighted here focus on. I’m as psyched for Ooblets as I am for Anthem.
Without conflict or action, what it is that compels players to spend hours in more chilled-out games? Is it more difficult to explain a game without obvious goals like ‘shoot all the enemies’? Brie Code of TRULUV studios – makers of forthcoming iPhone game #SelfCare, a pleasant game about chilling out in a bedroom described this design principle as ‘tend-and-befriend’ as opposed to ‘fight-or-flight,’ and different developers approach that in different ways.
Everything Is Going To Be Okay creator Natalie Lawhead wrote about the abuse she receives for producing work about abuse, and why she’s going to keep making art anyway. The g-word has been soiled, for sure.
We see a space that is owned by a consumer audience fundamentally entitled to toxicity. It doesn’t seem escapable. Such anger is just a fact of life, and it might even manifest in ways that will threaten your well being.
I think there is hope here insofar that we need to reclaim what it means to be a consumer of this art. We need to create a discussion where the well being of the person that made it matters as much as the person engaging as a player.
Capitalism coined “the customer is always right” mentality. Applied to games it means that the artist takes back seat to the demands of the player.
On Waypoint, Christopher Williams wrote about his time working as a moderator, and what it taught him about how many companies treat players who harass others. He’s right: more companies need to be ready to reach for the ban button. It’s not just about the consequences for the abuser, it’s about firmly establishing what isn’t acceptable.
By making a point of quickly removing scammers and cheaters, companies send a very clear message about the steps they’re taking to protect the integrity of the game and its economy. By being silent on what is being done about harassers, they send a very mixed message about how they will protect the community. Are they serious about addressing toxicity, or not?
Greg Pak dug through the intricately detailed D&D world he created as a child, and gleaned many an insight into his adolescent self. It sure is odd to imagine accessing such a thorough representation of a person I previously was. I’m not sure I’d want to.
Thirteen-year-old me is doing what kids do when they’re given the space, time, and the all-important cover of privacy: thinking, writing, exploring, and having fun as they dream about who they might become. He’s creating representations of his own experiences and imagining an inclusive world that the culture around him failed to provide. He’s thinking about how to hold himself, how to treat other people, how to do the right thing. He’s roleplaying, making use of D&D’s greatest gift to young people trying to make sense of the world.
But roleplaying isn’t just for adolescents figuring out how to grow up.
It’s for writers.
Fredrik Wester did a month long Twitter thread about the 15 years he’s spent at Paradox Interactive, and the most significant things that have shaped the company. He reveals some surprising details and many that aren’t, like the fact that “Are you a Stark or a Lannister” used to be one of their standard interview questions for prospective hires.
This video by Electron Dance about how Cultist Simulator wormed its way into his brain is more relatable than I’d like.
The latest episode of Chris Bratt’s People Make Games is about Time Commanders, and is less relatable than I’d like. Maybe I shouldn’t have flicked past that show back in the days when TVs still existed.
I’ve found my spirit animal.
Music this week is still Mipso. This time it’s Marianne.