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The Sunday Papers

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A plain white mug of black tea or coffee, next to a broadsheet paper on a table, in black and white. It's the header for Sunday Papers!
Image credit: RPS

Sundays are for watching the Tokyo Olympics and turning into an armchair critic who's actually an expert on every sport. Before you say "I could probably do better than that", let's read this week's best writing about games.

Over on our very own PC Gaming Weekspot, Colm and Matthew discussed the Steam Deck. I liked Matthew's realism here, in that, look, it's probably not going to be a Nintendo Switch killer, folks.

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No comments about the literal meaning of the word writing, please.

For Eurogamer, Chris Tapsell got hands on with Playdate, the pocket-sized, crank-based console. I think it looks supremely appealing, yet I also can't see myself forking out cash for one.

What I didn't find as frustrating as others might, too, was the screen. Playdate sports a 400x240 1-bit display, and it's utterly gorgeous. The effects that developers have managed to get from it are quite stunning, all pointillist backgrounds and hazy wipes. It's pinprick sharp, and the blacks and gameboy silver-green-grey background just sings next to the lovely sweet yolk of the console itself. I adore it. The problems some might have will be the lack of a backlight (gasp!) but unless you plan on playing it in your home in the dead of night with all the lights turned off, or maybe in the middle of some rural farmland, I can't see where that'd be much of a problem. In fairness, maybe the back of the car, if you're a child or a millennial still clinging to hope of time-travel back to the '90s, but otherwise, I had no issues with it - the weird, metallic reflectiveness to it is just part of the charm, a nostalgia play that honestly works just fine for me.

Over on the Guardian, Keith Stuart wrote about how video game artificial intelligence is evolving.

Electronic Arts is currently looking into developing systems that can use machine learning to replicate facial expressions, skin types and body movements from video and photos, rather than having to bring actors into a mo-cap studio. In theory, this should expand the range of genders and ethnicities that can be produced in games, and Jayaram says EA is committed to using diverse data in its R&D projects. The company is also looking at employing user-generated content in games, and allowing players to make a unique avatar by capturing their own likeness and expressions on a smartphone or webcam and uploading it into the game.

Also on the Guardian, Hassan Al Kontar wrote about how he lived in an airport for seven months.

Getting regular coffee became an obsession. I made friends with a cleaner who, for a fee, agreed to make regular trips to Starbucks on my behalf. I paid other members of the cleaning staff to take my clothes home to wash, and learned to shower in the disabled toilets in the early hours. I started sleeping under the escalator, creating a sense of privacy by surrounding myself with plastic maintenance barriers. There were many things, though, I couldn’t control – the ever-present lighting and the airport announcements that jerked me awake.

For RPS, Imogen wrote about Activision Blizzard being sued by California over an alleged culture of sexual harassment and discrimination. She also took a look at Kotaku's lengthy report on Ubisoft's Skull & Bones and its eight years of troubled development. Content warning for the former.

The State of California is suing Activision Blizzard after a two-year investigation into the company has revealed an alleged culture of sexual harassment, discrimination, unequal pay, and more disturbing allegations besides. The lawsuit, filed by the State's Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), alleges the company has a "frat boy" culture that has created "a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women". Activision Blizzard have staunchly denied these claims.

And for, Rob Fahey wrote about how Netflix's games wont be the Netflix of Games.

What details we've seen have confirmed the second most important thing about Netflix' gaming ambitions, beyond their mere existence: nominative determinism be damned, Netflix doesn't intend to be the "Netflix for Games" (gods, this is going to get confusing to write). It's starting relatively small, focusing initially on mobile titles that tie-in with its movie and series IPs in creative ways -- viewing games as a way to boost the value of those IPs and fans' engagement with them, while also building some extra value into people's existing Netflix subscriptions.

Music this week is Roundabout by Yes. I was first introduced to this when I watched the anime Jo Jo's Bizarre Adventure (of all things) and my word is it good.

That's me. Have a solid Sunday everyone!

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