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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 accidentally scratching your wall and then obscuring the evidence with an anime figurine. Before you tactically position, let's read this week's best writing about games (and game related things).

Over on Polygon, Pearse Anderson wrote about how to let a metaverse die. An interesting look at MMO universes dying and what corpo metaverses can learn from them. Especially interesting is the idea of MMO spaces designed without the need for constant engagement and a clear shutdown time.

It’s early to say how future iterations of the metaverse might fit into this. Building a virtual village home or decorating an island takes work. Grinding to level 40 takes dedication. Wouldn’t you be more willing to build a community in a game if you knew servers would be open for a defined period of time? A land trust stewardship, in which a fund is set aside for consistent, long-term management of a site, is one way for this to become a reality. A guaranteed minimum metaverse lifespan would be especially helpful for worlds helmed by corporations that frequently cycle through products and strategies, like Google Glass becoming defunct, or Facebook’s pivot to video.

Another one from Polygon by Cass Marshall which takes a look at Epsilon, a mod for creating custom Worlds Of Warcraft. Makes you wonder if WoW will ever receive support for roleplay stuff like this.

If World of Warcraft is the main source of canon and Hearthstone is a series of spinoffs, Epsilon is like wandering through the aisles of an AO3 fanfiction archive. There are no rules as to the thematics or canon status of an instance; everything is fair game, including other franchises like Star Wars or completely original works. Diplomatic romance AU where Sylvanas and Jaina marry each other after the invasion of the Burning Legion so the Horde and the Alliance can form an alliance? Sure. Coffee shop AU where Anduin and Wrathion run a cute little breakfast nook with great lattes? If you’d like. Alternate history Darnassus where Queen Azshara still rules over the Night Elf empire? Hell yeah, I’d love to explore that girl-boss palace.

For The Washington Post, Nathan Grayson wrote about how a pink-haired anime girl become one of Twitch's biggest stars. Once again, the piece raises questions about Twitch's culture and history of sexism. There is a positive layer to it, though, especially in the streamer (Ironmouse's) alleviation of loneliness.

Inspired by a Japanese Vtuber named Kizuna AI, Ironmouse decided that she, too, would slip into the ageless skin of an anime character. But even then, she didn’t intend to create a backstory and persona for her character, or to become part of the Vtuber cinematic universe — then a gleam in the oversized cartoon eyes of a few personalities, now an industry full of collaborations and overlapping storylines that spans multiple countries, thousands of characters and even a handful of Vtuber-specific talent agencies.

Over on The Guardian, Keza Macdonald looks at why there's still a bizarre social stigma to playing games. I wouldn't say it's a revelatory read for those of us who like games (hopefully many reading this), but there's definitely something nice in reading a piece that reinforces some of, if not all of your viewpoint. A bit like watching a reaction video on YouTube to some music you enjoy.

How we play games often reflects how we approach life in general, and where we find our joy. One of the great things about games is that they allow us to express and explore who we are and how we like to behave in all sorts of interesting contexts. I certainly don’t feel like a rat in a cage when I’m playing them (unless I’m playing some awful free-to-play thing won’t let me continue unless I pay some money, and if that’s the case, I’m gonna stop playing pretty quickly). I feel like an adventurer, an explorer. It might look like I’m just pushing buttons, but actually I’m learning, thinking, experiencing, reacting. I might even be bettering myself, if developing superhuman Guitar Hero skills or crafting a full set of Rathalos armour in Monster Hunter counts as self-betterment.

Music this week is Never Been, Pt II by Wiz Khalifa featuring Amber Rose and Rick Ross. Here's the YouTube link and Spotify link. I'd like to pretend I've shared this track as a joke, but I unironically like it (and a surprising amount of Wiz Khalifa + Rick Ross' music). Yes, it's about money and weed and yada yada. But how can you NOT like that Chrono Trigger sample?!

That's me, catch you next week folks!

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