Sundays are for coming back from holiday and crash-landing into E3 week. Before you click on yet another reveal stream, let's read this week's best writing about games.
For Polygon, Neda Marie Valcheva wrote about their family's 30-year long game of Scrabble and the unavoidable meanings of words.
We have never spoken about the significance of our never-ending game, but I know it means the same to everyone else in my family. We keep returning to using those perfect squares that branch off into words in all directions. They are a kind of visual metaphor in our respective artmaking, and I believe that speaks to a shared understanding. Spending time with the board, and the tiles, and the people at the table is a language of love. It is an expression of care and togetherness, which we then seek to share with the outside world — either through the art we’ve made, or through a simple invitation to play.
For The Guardian, Ellie Gibson wrote about why she started streaming video games on Twitch at the age of 43.
I feel safe here. I’ve streamed for more than a hundred hours now, and contrary to what I would ever have predicted, there have been only a few slightly dodgy incidents. A viewer who I’m pretty sure was up past his bedtime accused me of being a “MOM GAMER”, which I think was supposed to be an insult. But I wasn’t offended, because that’s what I am – a mum, and a gamer. You might as well try to insult me by shouting “BRUNETTE”, or “OLIVE HATER”.
Over on Eurogamer, Edwin Evans-Thirlwell wrote about the joy of treating demos like a finished game.
There are many ways to replay Exo One's demo. You can treat it as a time trial, of course, coaxing every last inch of airtime out of every rise, throwing yourself into driving rain. Or you can dial back your need for speed and turn it into an endlessly recurring final act of wandering and contemplation, comparable to Ko-Op Mode's Orchids To Dusk. You might slow to watch sunlight bronze the dunes and listen to the crackle of dirt under chrome. You can trace patterns in the clouds, particularly the shapes revealed by lightning flashes, instead of powering through them. And then there are those huge, geometric structures that burst from the sand - the usual alien relics, or something even more obscure? These are things you can puzzle over in the full game, of course, but as always in demos, your awareness of being deliberately hemmed in is a powerful goad.
I very much enjoyed Alice O's declaration of love for Elden Ring's ambulant urns, the vaseboys.
They're cute and all, but I also dig the idea that they may be another example of Souls using our knowledge and trained behaviours against us. While From didn't invent Mimics, their take on a monster which pretends to be a treasure chest to devour greedy adventurers sure put me on my back foot. I also quite like Dark Souls 2's red crystal lizards, which appear to be the same sort of elusive critter that we chase down and batter to get minerals - but these explode when you get near. It's a trick which only gets you once, but it's a great trick. And urns? If you see an urn, pot, vase, or other vessel in a Souls game, of course you're going to try to roll through it. It might contain treasure and even if not, it'll smash real good.
Also, here's the Elden Ring trailer I have watched precisely 42 times:
I thought this Yakuza merch looked nice.
Music this week is Brothertiger's "Dancer on the Water". A bop.
That's me. Have a solid Sunday everyone!