The Sunday Papers
Sundays are for discovering that coffee bags exist and having to sit down for a moment to process the news. Let's have a brew together and read the week's best writing about videogames.
For NME, James McMahon asks the question: where do gaming's urban legends come from? It reminded me of when players thought Bigfoot roamed the woods in GTA: San Andreas, and how it led to lots of videos with hard-hitting titles like " San Andreas: The Truth About Bigfoot".
Hundreds, if not thousands of urban legends exist within the gaming landscape. Some are plain ridiculous, like the belief that the Lavender Town section of 1996’s Pokémon Red and Blue was responsible for hundreds of children taking their own lives. This legend was born in 2010, after an anonymous creepypasta story claiming so went viral. You might be forgiven for thinking, “maybe there’s something in it”. After all, the segment of the game is set in a Pokémon graveyard, while the music – said to contain frequencies of mind control, at a pitch beyond that which adults can hear – is some of the creepiest chiptune that the Game Boy has ever spewed forth. That is until you access logic and reason and accept that Nintendo really has no desire to kill the people who play its games.
For fans of the Hitman games, Andy Kelly's chat with IO Interactive's game director and executive producer is well worth a gander. They talk level design, research, and lessons learned.
I ask the developers how they keep a hold on everything in these massive, complicated levels. There are so many parts to the mechanism, surely it could all fall apart at any moment? "I'll let you in on a secret," says Engström. "A Hitman level is crap all the way until it's not. And that can be a long time. It's easy to break, and when it's breaking it's awful. That's because there's so much to keep track of."
For GamesIndustry.biz, Rebekah Valentine spoke to nine current and former employees of the Montreal-based Scavengers Studio. Scavengers recently announced the game Season, which generated some positive buzz, but all of the employees who spoke to Valentine described a horrible workplace.
Almost every source we spoke to described Scavengers as an environment hostile to women -- a "boys' club" culture that was largely permitted by its co-owners or, in Darveau's case, actively led by. Several said women were frequently degraded by male employees including Darveau, or infantilized and treated as if they did not know what they were talking about even when speaking from a position of expertise about their own work. This was said to have happened in casual conversations, public team meetings, and on the studio's work Slack.
The studio has since responded to the allegations and suspended Simon Darveau.
I know Graham's a big fan of Archipel, and I am too. These folks make excellent documentaries on Japanese artists and creators. The one I've linked below features chats with game directors on the state of the Japanese games industry, but also on what gives Japanese games their identity. Stick on subtitles, recline, and enjoy.
In a piece for Fanbyte, Bonnie Qu wrote about how she loves women who don't like her back in video games. A really interesting look at how women are often portrayed in games, and what lends relationships authenticity.
Storytelling in games is unlike any other medium. You, the player, don’t just witness the story. You live it. It’s important for the characters and world around you not to feel inert, like they were just waiting around for you to get there, which is conversely an acute challenge games face. Characters like GLaDOS, Bea from Night in the Woods, Megaera from Hades, or Vivienne from Dragon Age: Inquisition enrich their own stories purely by having goals and personalities that conflict with yours. All of these characters have good reasons not to think highly of you. By establishing that they’ve formed their own opinion of you for their own reasons, there’s a sense that the game’s world exists outside the boundaries of the plot.
Every morning this past week, I felt like I'd washed ashore before I sat down at my work desk. If you need pepping up like me, Get Down Tonight by KC & The Sunshine Band should do the trick.
I have a strange fondness for the shrill call of cicadas. I find it quite soothing, probably because I associate it with family trips to Japan when I was younger.
Anyway, a while back I went down a big internet rabbit hole of cicada-related articles and I thought I'd share one of my findings with you. It's a piece by Natalie Zarrelli which explores why classical poets wrote odes to cicadas. Even if you're not an insect fan, it's a fascinating read.
Alright, that just about wraps it up. Hope you're having a grand weekend everyone.