Sundays are for taking a breather, aren't they? A deep, cleansing breath before it all starts again. Tomorrow. Quick, let's read about some games.
Keza McDonald, editor of Kotaku UK, is going on maternity leave for around a year. The looming departure (and arrival) has put her in a reflective mood and she's written about why she plays games.
My mother, of all the older people who have ever been sceptical about my love of video games, is the one that I have been most determined to win over. She had her reservations when I moved away from home at sixteen to work on a games magazine, but she says that it was when she was clearing out the cupboards in my room - stuffed to bursting with the memorabilia of my Nintendo childhood, torn-out magazine pages, fan art sketches, notebooks full of ideas - that she realised that what I was doing was something I’d always wanted to do, and resolved to support me in it. She remained unconvinced by the games themselves, however, and every few years I have sat her down in front of something that I hoped she might enjoy - something that, by extension, might help to change her mind.
Gamasutra's Lena LeRay took a look at the indie game development scene in Saudi Arabia, which faces many challenges.
The backing of the government and the university were instrumental in creating a safe space for females to participate. "We have girls here who win international arts and animation competitions... and yet they remain nameless and faceless for fear of breaking society norms," Mukhttar says. "They risk family backlash, and society calling them out. Now, as someone who organizes events, and who sees the huge potential and remarkable skills girls have, I have the difficult challenge of reaching out to them and getting them to participate.
Almost a month old but new to me, Simon Parkin at Eurogamer wrote about Japan's "once bountiful vintage game stores", which have been stripped of stock, closed down or forced (or encouraged) to raise prices.
The influx of foreigners has had more than a diversifying effect on Tokyo's vintage game stores. Last year, Wired's Chris Kohler posted a photograph onto social media showing the shelf where Super Potato's PC Engine games once lived. It looked like the scene of a recent looting; only a clattering of discs remained. "Akihabara is being scoured clean," he wrote. A year later, I popped my head inside to find that the shelves have been restocked, but the prices have risen precipitously, presumably to ensure there's still something around to sell to the waves of cooing customers. Throughout Tokyo, the cost of sought-after vintage games has risen to match those found on eBay, the place where, for years, savvy Westerners would sell the games they found in Japan with a fat mark-up.
At GamesIndustry.biz, Dan Pearson spoke to former BioWare writer and Beamdog creative director David Gaider about diversity in games, as both an important and often thankless part of of game development.
"Suddenly whatever flaws the game itself had paled in comparison to the idea that we were shoving the gay down players' throats, or not paying enough attention to our 'real' audience. That line of commentary continued all the way through to Dragon Age Inquisition. In that game we had eight available romances, including bisexual and relationships. Like Mass Effect, we had some relationships which were only available to same sex player characters. Note that I say player characters, not players. From the telemetry we have, it's very unlikely that only gay players played these storylines. Either it wasn't just gay players engaging in those relationships, or we have a lot more gay players than we realised.
At Kotaku, Gita Jackson wrote about the weird things Sims players do to get the perfect baby. I love the stuff players end up caring about and the lengths they'll go to min-max everything, as well as the ways in which The Sims has basically turned out to be even more like Crusader Kings.
While the jury’s out on potato chips, fancy beds, and hot tubs, the cheesecake thing is, against all odds, 100% true. The Open For Business expansion added cheesecake, with the official game guide noting that it would increase the chances of twins. What actually ended up in the game was that eating cheesecake would guarantee twins if eaten after conception. Modder TwoJeffs made a patch that fixed the bug, confirming the cheesecake thing’s existence in the process.
I probably wouldn't be learning Unity just yet if it wasn't for Code Liberation – an incredible non-profit organisation that teaches women, non-binary, femme and girl-identifying people how to code. It's an initiative driven by the founder, Phoenix Perry, a lecturer and game developer who has taught hundreds of women already, mostly in New York, and is now bringing the foundation to the UK. They opened applications recently, and tens of people applied. That list was eventually whittled down to just 18 – and I was amongst the lucky ones.
Music this week is... nothing. Take this podcast instead.