Sundays are for watching back to back episodes of Come Dine With Me. Before you settle in, let's read this week's best writing about games.
For The Architect's Newspaper, Ryan Scavnicky wrote about how brutalism bolstered Control's success, and then asks, "but why is the movement so trendy?" Cheers to Rek80 for the pointer.
Interrogating the specific instances of the sampled architecture reveals the game is about more than just Brutalism. In Control, the Bureau refers to the Oldest House as a “place of power,” a paranormally significant structure that acts as a nexus to potentially infinite alternate realities. The game signals this property by centralizing each space you visit, which is codified through mass, structure, depth, surface, repetition, and symmetry. Combined with the borrowing of so many varied works, this results in an architecture that’s less a vague commentary on Brutalism’s ability to overwhelm or alienate, but more about institutionality—even the midcentury, Mad Men–style office furniture reinforces the banality of the bureaucratic work that typically goes on in this eldritch structure. This desire has been achieved not only in video games but in recent films and television shows. The same institutional vibe of the Bureau of Control is given off by the Time Variance Authority (TVA) in the new Disney+ series Loki. On the show’s captivating visuals, production designer Kasra Farahani said that “because the TVA is a bureaucracy and I think, archetypically, so much of what we know a bureaucracy to be is that post-war, highly funded institutional look.”
Over on Wired, Edwin Evans-Thirlwell wrote about how SimCity wasn't built for the climate crisis, but there are some city-building games which are.
There has been a surge of games in the past decade that reinvent the genre, departing from the build-produce-expand formula laid down by 1989’s SimCity. Some try to fix the damage: Terra Nil is a “reverse” builder in which you rewild wastelands. Others explore cynicism and despair: Frostpunk sees you pitching tents around a coal generator in the Arctic circle, while Industries of Titan is about raising huge factory-slums on a polluted moon. But most curious of all are the games in which cities are mobile – nomad fantasies that blend awareness of a dawning age of climate refugeeism with the utopian or satirical visions of twentieth century architects and futurists. These games come in many shapes and sizes, but they all ask the same questions: how much of contemporary urban existence can be salvaged when cities can’t afford to sit still? And what idea of society arises in the process?
For Eurogamer, Alan Wen took a look at Takeshi Kitano's legacy in video games.
Better known by his stage name Beat Takeshi in Japan, Kitano rose to prominence in the 70s as a comedian. He later crossed over into film with his international debut as a sadistic prison officer in the 1983 Japanese POW drama, Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence, before becoming a filmmaker in his own right with directorial debut, Violent Cop. But among his wide variety of credits, you could also say that he was a one-time game developer too.
For Vice, Joel Golby chronicled another London rental opportunity of the week, this time set in Dulwich.
I think the only thing you’re legally allowed to do in Dulwich is get caught in a conversation with a 41-year-old graphic designer who regrets having kids about the minutiae of the school run and how he can never quit his job because he’s making “shitloads” (he is yet to buy you a pint, though, despite you including him charitably on your round the last time you went to the bar, but your glass has been empty for a really long time now and you don’t really know the etiquette here: can you… buy one… just for… you? Surely he knows how rounds work. He’s 41. And yet… and yet) before he leans over to you and says, “Listen, mate… and don’t tell the wife, but… have you got any coke?” Buddy, it’s 12.30—
Also, can I just say that it's really nice to have Alice O back. You should read her piece on being showered with the viscera of a dying mousepad.
This is messy. This is goop. This is guts. This is rot. Every drag and every click creates microtears in the gel, the filling which once easily held my wrist aloft now weak and gouged by its cruel movements. My pale arm a glacier cutting through rock, depositing lumps of terminal moraine and spraying flecks. This spatter clings to me. I brush at the viscera on my leggings and it does not shift. My thigh the gory neck of a vulture rising from a rib cage.
Archipel offshoot Cutscenes put together this wonderful doc on Final Fantasy. Specifically, how illustrator Kazuko Shibuya took on the daunting task of translating Yoshitaka Amano's illustrations into pixels.
Finally, here's Harry Hill's tribute to comedian Sean Lock. I was hit pretty hard by the news that he'd passed away. I hadn't seen any of his stand-up, but I'd watched so many of his appearances on 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown. Whenever he was on a panel, I'd light up with laughter. He was wickedly funny.
That's me. Have a solid Sunday everyone!