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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for going on wholesome walks with family you haven’t seen in months. Not for reading the best writing about videogames. If you do that you are bad.

On Waypoint, Patrick Klepek profiled one of UKIP’s candidates for the European Parliment. That candidate is Carl Benjamin, one of Gamergate’s most prominent figures. Klepek highlights the depths of Benjamin’s hatefulness, then stresses that we shouldn’t take his defeat for granted.

It’s unclear if Benjamin could win — it’s still early days for the upcoming election — but in a post-Trump world, take nothing for granted. That he thinks he could win is scary enough, and shows how far we’ve come since GamerGate, a hellscape all its own but one where the implications were beyond the grasp of too many. It’s easy to dismiss these types of figures as fringe, or merely trolls from the internet. It’s racists openly marching in Charlottesville, it’s a mass shooter in New Zealand streaming on Facebook.

Annie Forsman-Adams & Kate Ring wrote up a lovely piece about how the Dwarf Fortress developers foster a safe community, in the face of both heartfelt support, and abuse from those opposed to the inclusion of transgender dwarves.

In a world that is seemingly full of toxicity, Dwarf Fortress tries to be the antithesis of that. You aren’t going to find debates about who is or isn’t a real gamer, dehumanizing conversations about personal identity, threats or any other efforts to exclude people. Some could argue, illogically, that this excludes people who have divergent ideas about race, gender, sexuality, national origin or that it promotes a culture of censorship. But the priority has been, and always will be, the safety and support of the community members. The boys, the moderators and the entire Dwarf Fortress family works hard to set this example. Losing might be fun, but when we choose to fight toxicity by providing a healthy space for people to learn and grow; everybody wins.

On Deorbital, Matthew Koester explored the tension between Crazy Taxi Tycoon’s progressive writing and the inherently dystopian nature of micro-transaction powered clicker games. It’s a game that profits from the same kind of alienation that its character’s criticise.

At the core of Crazy Taxi Tycoon, then, is a game that clouds itself in an anti-capitalist paint job, but ultimately is a neoliberal power fantasy of global capitalism, trapped in its license and genre. The Clicker is a deeply capitalist genre, and Tycoon can’t really deconstruct it. It has no win or lose state, just a point at which the player loses interest.

Half of England is owned by less than 1% of the population” is one of those headlines that makes me angry enough to place it here, slap bang in the middle of all the videogames. Rob Evans’ article for the Guardian has brought back all kinds of thoughts. Society really fucked up when we decided it was okay for people to own a resource you could equate to air.

Shrubsole estimates that “the aristocracy and gentry still own around 30% of England”. This may even be an underestimate, as the owners of 17% of England and Wales remain undeclared at the Land Registry. The most likely owners of this undeclared land are aristocrats, as many of their estates have remained in their families for centuries.

I liked Skeleton’s blog post from last month. I’m tempted to describe it as Skeleton wrestling with their affection for Capcom, but the idea of regarding companies as praiseworthy because of their output gets body-slammed in the article’s opening salvo.

It’s profoundly interesting that the labor conversation didn’t really trend towards Japanese games – of which stories about labor mismanagement are rife, until a more recent developer had positive words to say about needing an IV drip to continue making the new Super Smash Brothers.

This is fun. It’s okay. A few years ago, a producer and director who worked for CAPCOM collapsed at an event, and even went on record to say that upper management had nothing to say about it.

I’d never heard of Ogre Battle 64. I’m not sure why, because Avelene Perry’s article for Fanbyte is about its neat moral chaos system. It’s like Dishonored but better, where the ‘good’ ending requires you to carefully balance an army of units with conflicting viewpoints – though some of those viewpoints sound overtly immoral, so I’d argue it’s a tacit endorsement of the kind of bothsidesism that makes me very tired. Spoilers below!

Ogre Battle 64 has five possible endings, and if you play it in the way that is most obvious and intuitive, you get the worst one. Your friends, the protagonists of the first Ogre Battle game, ambush you on the road. They call you a monster, a cruel mirror of the same injustice you fought against. Their attempt to stop you is too little too late, however, and you cut them down with relative ease. Your brave comrades-in-arms fall before your blade one by one, damning you with their last ragged breaths.

I wish I could wander, explore, discover in one borderless world, but teamLab Borderless is so very far away.

Music this week is Woodfordia by the East Pointers. I do enjoy how much thought I used to put into choosing something with a (slim) chance at broad appeal, and now the music is basically just the best fiddling Spotify puts in front of me each week. Sorry not sorry!

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Matt Cox

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Matt is the founding member of RPS's youth contingent. He's played more games of Dota than you've had hot dinners.

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