The Sunday Papers
Sundays are for learning how to dad. Does it involve reading some of the week's best writing about games?
- Emily short wrote about the challenge of including personality stats in interactive fiction, and the different ways you can approach them. Interesting and useful:
- Kate Gray returned to the Guardian to write about what videogames get wrong about love and sex.
- Giant Bomb continue to feature guest writers, and this week it's the lovely Rob Zacny's turn. He writes about the state of strategy games. I've been listening to the Three Moves Ahead and Idle Weekend podcasts recently, which means I have Rob's voice in my head more than my own inner monologue now. If you'd like to be the same way, you might also want to try this supplementary Giant Bomb podcast to the above.
- At Electron Dance, Joel Goodwin continues his tour of where previously covered developers are now.
- At Digitiser2000, Mr. Biffo continues to entertain, this week writing about gaming: the only society that makes sense. A rare opinion.
- I have not finished reading this article, and it is not about games, but it's worthy of inclusion for the first couple of paragraphs alone. In Search of Alternatives by Kate Robinson.
- Have you heard? Newsletters are the new Twitter accounts, or whatever. I subscribe to about two dozen, and the best at the moment is hautepop's Disturbances. It's about dust.
- But of course you should be spending all your time watching daily trucking videos. Adam and I are.
As I’ve mentioned here before a few times, I’m working on a project for Choice of Games, and it’s once again brought me up against a challenge I’ve run into a few times before when writing for Fallen London and to some extent with Versu. As mental shorthand, I’ve come to think of this as “the check-or-set problem,” though really it should maybe be the check-set-or-gate problem. It is as follows:
When you’re writing in a choice-based medium backed with stats – so ChoiceScript, StoryNexus, Undum, Ren’Py, possibly a hand-rolled Twine system, or inklewriter if you choose to use variables extensively – you have to decide how to treat choices that relate to personality stats.
Video games, a relatively new medium, are still struggling to get the ingredients right. They have, by their very nature, tended to gamify love and this has led to a goal-centric understanding. What, exactly, could function as a win state in the game of love? Sex. Obviously.
Here's what worries me: In all of 2015, I can think of maybe one major, new strategy game that made any impression on me at all. That was Total War: Attila. City management games are kind of their own weird little subgenre, but let's go ahead and add Cities: Skylines to the list.
There’s good news for the Broughphiles amongst us - or perhaps we’re BroughBros, yeah, that sounds like a label which is gonna work. “I have been working too, making a new game called Imbroglio, which I'll hopefully get out within a couple of months. It's a big small game, a tight roguelike in the vein of Zaga and 868 but with a lot more options - different characters, item builds, that kind of thing. It's been my main thing since late 2014 with prototypes going back well before that so, yeah, long project.”
But in a world that I feel increasingly detached from, I feel closer to gaming than ever. In the years when I wasn't writing as Mr Biffo, I knew something was missing from my life - and it was this.
It was the summer of 2013, and I was engrossed in an online essay extolling Severus Snape as the greatest example of female heroism in the Harry Potter series. While acknowledging Snape’s obvious maleness, the author insisted he was infused with symbolic femininity, among other things, demonstrated by Snape’s preference for potions over “phallic” wands.
While seemingly trivial, the argument made sense within the context of fandom. Concerned posts and essays proliferated about whether the popularity of white male characters was holding back the socially transformative potential of fan culture, prompting an outpouring of pieces from fans arguing their favorite characters had hidden subversive qualities — that superficially white and male characters were actually coded as queer or feminine, or even as people of color.
"Thus, the appearance of the dust enhances Bodie's air of authenticity, while dissuading visitors from the reality that many of these artifacts were actually arranged by the Park staff In fact, part of the power of the policy of arrested decay is to naturalize itself, even for Bodie's staff: because they are currently prohibited from moving or arranging artifacts or from disturbing dust, many Bodie staff members assume that this was always the case and do not realize that, though the artifacts are original to Bodie, much of what they and the visitors view was arranged by previous staff members."
I have read all your hot takes and music this week is still Beyonce's Formation.