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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for moving house, except you’re not really moving house, you’re just moving out of one. Don’t ask. Read the best writing about videogames from the past week.

Stephen “thecatamites” Gillmurphy blogged about the market, whatever that is. Parts of his post cut at the language people wield against market forces that don’t serve their interests, when the language itself stems from dynamics that serve capital rather than ‘consumers’. I think. I can tell it’s brilliant, but also that I’ll need to read it again when I’m less tired.

One of the recurring lines around the Epic store is that it’s anti-consumer, in part because it effectively has bottomless cash reserves to throw around. Which itself demonstrates how “the market” (the brief scuffle for position in the Battle Royale format) leads to positions which are “anti-market”, in the sense of having enough money to no longer have to play by those original imaginary rules. But in fact I suspect that the store, like Steam, and to an even greater extent Uber, Twitter, etc, is in fact just post-consumer: post ‘consumer’ as a meaningful economic category, after decades of widening income inequality gave a tiny few an ever more freakishly disproportionate amount of wealth and monopoly power. Maybe a more appropriate term now would be ‘user’: a basically passive entity for externally financed platforms to hoard and gamble with en route to ubiquity.

Continuing a theme, Liz Ryerson’s blog post also left me reeling. It’s also about creativity and criticism under capitalism, and (perhaps unsurprisingly) hits the same notes of despair tinged with pragmatic optimism.

i think we need to start to view criticism far less as an exercise in pontificating about the nuances of a work or as a venue to place personal narratives onto a work, and much more as just a form of preservation of culture. especially in the context where giant corporate conglomerates like Disney are doing everything in their power to keep audiences and entire critical industries fixated on them. if you can create curiosity towards an artist or cultural object that might have not existed at all before, people are way more likely to remember that and have it impact them later on in the future. really, the biggest obstacle is just getting people to care at all.

Nathalie Lawhead has released the sale figures for all their games, as well as briefly mentioning the nature of each game and the circumstances around each launch. I’m sharing it here mainly because it’s both interesting and a potentially useful resource for indie developers, not because she talks about how great RPS is. Promise.

Seeing how this (financial turnaround) has been snowballing it ALMOST seems possible to avoid Steam. ALMOST.
This speaks volumes to me because I’ve always had my skepticism about having my work on Steam. I view it as toxic and largely detrimental to indie games, at this point.
That’s a sweeping statement, but it’s hard not to form such conclusions when Steam regularly makes changes that directly hurt indies and do nothing to mitigate that damage. My fear of having my games on Steam largely has to do with the fact that they take 0 stance against managing the toxicity coming out of their platform. I do strongly believe that we would not have such a huge problem with gamers being associated with Nazi’s, GG, and hate mobs, if places like Steam (large culturally influential storefronts) took a stance against that. That lack of action makes everyone look bad for the ugliness that grows out of it.

For Polygon, Cass Marshall’s piece on the worst villain in gaming made me do one of those ‘no, surely that can’t be real’ gasps. Capitalism is weird, marketing even more so.

Not only does Austin pressure his parents into keeping the house, but he brings me into the scheme as well. Every colorful cavalcade of match-3 combinations turns into stars, which I have to spend on Austin’s whims. When his father’s PTSD becomes too uncomfortable for Austin, he renovates his dad’s entire garage and custom car to ensure that his father is properly shamed and pressured into driving again. His mom is a little harsh a few times, so Austin recreates the garden of his parents’ first date in their front yard.

I’m forced to participate in this. “This is a normal thing to do,” Austin tells me. “Give me the stars. I need everything to be like I am a sweet child.” And when I finish a level, my husband and I stare at the screen as Austin smirks and claps his meaty hands together and barks a weird, seal-like “WOW.”

Kim Kelly’s piece for the Columbia Journalism Review had me clenching my fists in anger. There’s obviously more going on than this, but the gist is that thanks to Fox’s Tucker Carlson taking issue with a tweet of hers, NPR will no longer use her as a freelancer. Believing you can separate the personal from the political is the purview of the privileged.

According to NPR, I should have tried harder to keep my activism under wraps — or at least done more to avoid being targeted by Fox’s preeminent propagandist. Trust me when I say that I was not exactly thrilled when a friend sent me a video link to Carlson’s minute-and-a-half-long tirade, during which he denigrated my work, implied that I was inciting terrorism, and took a brief moment to mention that I contributed to NPR. On the phone with the senior director, I was told that my “obvious” status as an activist violated their rules. I ended the conversation with the observation that, in 2019, they’re going to have an awfully hard time finding writers who don’t have a political opinion.

Music this week is definitely The Heb Celt Bounce by Face The West.

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Matt Cox

Staff Writer

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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