Sundays are for turning on the extractor fan before you hop in the shower. Before you hear the low rumble, let's read this week's best writing about games (and game related things).
Over on Vice, Renata Price wrote about Overwatch 2 not being a very good sport. Echoes a sentiment I've always harboured about Overwatch's viewability in general. I had a lot of fun playing the game back in the day, but it's a horrible, messy watch - especially if you're new to it all.
With all of these frustrations in mind, it is worth considering what professional Overwatch actually looks like for a new viewer—which is to say a chaotic mess. Overwatch is a fast, fun game, with a significant amount of verticality and intricate map design. This makes it fun to play, but extremely difficult to follow as a sport. When three distinct fights are going on at any given moment, each of which relies on understanding different angles which are only readable to an audience from a first person perspective (which is itself extremely disorienting), the game loses all cohesion as a viewing experience.
For Eurogamer, Alan Wen wrote about the emergence of Indonesian indies. Really nice to hear how experience portingor assistance with outsourcing can help build new talent and celebrate Indonesian culture.
It's telling that Asian developers can feel like they have to second-guess whether representing themselves authentically is going to alienate a Western audience when little is often said about Western developers taking from Asian cultures, such as with games like Ghost of Tsushima and Sifu. Nonetheless, we can also see that the past few years has seen a healthy appetite for more diverse games, with publishers like Nintendo also making a conscious effort to promote developers from around the world in its digital showcases.
For Inverse, Willa Rowe wrote about the worst gaming trend that's more boring than you think. Reaffirms what I imagine a lot of us think. Game studios being bought up by big companies and taking less risks is bad. Cheers to the live service model.
For Square Enix, the problems don’t derive from the Western studios; the real problem is a focus on cash instead of creativity. Balan Wonderworld, developed by a Japanese studio was universally panned by critics. Creator Yuji Naka says this is Square Enix’s fault. In a Twitter thread, Naka says he knew the game wasn’t ready for release, but the publisher pushed for its release anyways.
Over on GameSpot, Saniya Ahmed wrote about why video games are lagging behind in South Asian representation. Ahmed talks to South Asian devs about the barriers to authentic South Asian representation in games. One point I found particularly interesting - among literally the entire article - was Chandana Ekanayake's observation on South Asian characters in AAA games being limited to PVP games, for instance, Symmetra in Overwatch. Symmetra's story isn't included in the game in a meaningul way at all.
Jayanth added, "There are few precedents for South Asian characters, stories, design thinking, and games development--especially when money and publishers and corporate interest are involved--in a risk-averse space. A huge barrier the industry faces is a deep-rooted notion that white players--who are still considered the core audience--will be reluctant to inhabit a racialized protagonist." She added, "Another barrier is the overwhelming whiteness of the games industry, specifically in key decision-making positions. In my opinion, the industry, its processes, and its fundamental ideas of what makes an interesting protagonist and what constitutes agency will have to be transformed for us to design truthful and interesting South Asian protagonists."
Over on Into The Spine, Ryan Easby wrote about grief, friendship, and Final Fantasy XV. A touching tribute to a friend.
The game might have flaws, god does it have flaws, but it’s a damned true portrayal of friendship and the bonds that you share with your closest, regardless of what happens between you, thanks to shared context and experience.
I've finally started watching Better Call Saul. It's very good! That's all I have to say, really.
Music this week is Kendrick Lamar's latest album Mr. Morale and The Big Steppers. Here's the YouTube link and Spotify link. After five long years, he's back! Definitely worth the wait. Kendrick understands albums more than a lot of artists out there.
That's it for now, catch you next week folks!