The Sunday Papers
Sundays are for squinting because you forgot your sunnys and now your forehead hurts. Before you lament your mistake, let's read this week's best writing about games.
For Eurogamer, Tom Phillips wrote about his adventures in Pokémon Go. It's a lovely piece focused on the people he's met in his searches for rare Pika Pikas.
These people had come out of their house - the last house on the edge of town - after seeing a torchlight go past at midnight. They thought I was a burglar. I held up the Snorlax on my phone screen. "Oh!" was the response. "Really?" After a minute we were chatting about the area and swapping names and then I was scurrying away. I remember one of them was called Badger. The Snorlax ran.
For Wired, Susan Arendt wrote about Returnal and why games need more badass middle-aged women. Yeah, I like this a lot.
I bought Returnal, a video game from developer Housemarque, without knowing a thing about it. Well, that’s not entirely true. I knew from the trailer that it had something to do with escaping a time loop and there was some futuristic-looking technology and monsters or something. None of that mattered, because I wasn’t buying it for the gameplay, I was buying it because of its protagonist, Selene. Selene is a fairly ordinary video game character in most respects: agile, capable, smart, facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge. It’s unusual for the playable character to be a woman, but that’s not what makes Selene special. It’s that she’s middle-aged. I finally get to see myself in a video game.
Over on the Washington Post, Jordan Oloman wrote about how games are entering a fashion-forward phase. I'd actually wear that Gunslinger jacket, to be fair. And the hoodie. The Death Stranding baby capsule and the two crates? Maybe not for me.
Timing meant the vest wasn’t actually built outside of the game, but the two studios would go on to develop a physical “Death Stranding” variant of Acronym’s flagship J1A-GT jacket, which Shinkawa wore to his first meeting with Hugh. “He’d sent us this perfectly rendered Photoshop version of [the jacket],” Hugh told The Post. “That was probably the fastest design collaboration to ever happen. Literally opened the email and typed ‘yes.’” When it launched in April 2020, the jacket retailed at close to $2000 and sold out instantly. “It was one of the fastest-selling items we’ve ever, ever done,” said Hugh.
For Ubisoft's blog, Mikel Reparaz wrote about how they created Assassin's Creed Valhalla's tabletop mini-game Orlog.
After ideas had been sent back and forth for a while, the idea of an Old Norse name was deemed too difficult for a modern audience. “It was hard to read,” says Henry. “There are all these special characters that they have in Old Norse that we don't have, and so it was always a bit awkward.” So instead, an English name was officially adopted: Luck Bones. This name was based on a historical kenning (a poetic way to describe something, especially favored by the Norse) for dice, which were made of bone – but it still didn’t quite sit right with Henry.
For the Guardian, Oliver Holmes wrote a longread about how China censors the video game world. A beefy, insightful read.
The Chinese body responsible for censorship, the National Press and Publication Administration, has some very clear rules – no copyright infringement, for instance, and no sharing state secrets – but most of its guidelines are less precise. Works that “endanger social morality or national cultural traditions” are banned; as is media that “promote cults and feudal superstitions”. This vagueness gives the censors almost unlimited power and flexibility when it comes to deciding what is and isn’t allowed. Many of the rules come down to the “moral paternalism” of Beijing’s leadership, says Lokman Tsui, an expert on Chinese censorship. “They really see themselves as moral authorities – not just the authority on the truth, but also the authority on morality.”
And here's a bonus Kotaku article by Leah Williams that really cracked me up. It's about how wrestling fans are waging a silent RPG war on live TV. Apparently "Final Fantasy 8 is filth" and "underrated". There's no holding back here.
Music this week is Chaise Longue by Wet Leg. Hilarious, catchy, please watch the video.
That's me. Have a solid Sunday everyone!