Sundays are for slapping your knees and saying "Right!" just before you leave. Before you announce your exit, let's read this week's best writing about games (and game related things).
Over on Eurogamer, Christian Donlan reckons Slime Rancher 2 is glorious and ghastly. A classic Donlan joint contemplating a game about happy jellies through the lens of a turkey farm and a book on capitalism and consumption.
Neat. And efficient! But think about this: the vacuum you're given in Slime Rancher 2 is cute, but it's also absolutely gun-like, which makes me think that the experience of being vacuumed up in the first place might not be completely delightful. So to be vacuumed, expelled, and then re-vacuumed and re-expelled just because I am too lazy to sort creature from waste in the real world - might it be that the game is encouraging me to interrogate my own behaviour?
For Vox, Rebecca Jennings wrote about The Instagram capital of the world being the worst place to be. Jennings travels to Positano and has an awful time, all thanks to being suckered in by the algorithms. More often than not, a good holiday lies in ignoring the noise and striking out on your own.
The problem of travel at this particular moment is not too many people traveling in general, it is too many people wanting to experience the exact same thing because they all went to the same websites and read the same reviews. It’s created the idea that if you do not go to this specific bar or stay in this exact neighborhood, all the money and time you spent on being here has been wasted, and you have settled for something that is not as perfect as it could have been.
On The Guardian, Edwin Evans-Thirlwell wrote about Ukrainians making video games about Russia's invasion. Games as therapy and counterpropaganda and reaching out to the unconverted, with an example of one that's been republished on Russian anti-war blogs.
Some of these games are more “lighthearted”, as Stepan Prokhorenko, one of the organisers of this year’s Ukrainian Games festival on Steam, explains. Ukrainian Farmy casts you as a tractor driver stealing tanks, while Slaputin is about whacking Putin with a sunflower. But even these “therapeutic” plays are “weaponised” artworks, he says, devised by people who now split their days between their vocations and volunteering or active military service. “I believe that games are storytelling, and storytelling is how you make ideas survive,” Prokhorenko says. “The idea of a free and independent Ukraine is something that russia [sic] despises and wants to erase. So games become yet another battleground, in a way.”
For Time, Amy Julia Becker asks: Where are all the children's books featuring kids with Down syndrome? My brother has Down syndrome and this piece resonated with me a lot. Inclusion and representation benefits everyone.
But what about the kids whose intellect is not their superpower? Even in a world that is becoming more inclusive, we struggle to receive people with intellectual disabilities as fully human. The r-word is still used as a slur. Bumper stickers make fun of riding the “short bus.” And our children’s literature still seems to prefer stories about people with brilliant minds “trapped” inside bodies that an able-bodied world sees as broken or impaired to stories of kids who learn slowly.
On IGN, Rebekah Valentine digs into how a Plants vs Zombies game died so a Star Wars game could live (and then die). Not only an interesting look at a cancelled game, but dips into the trials and tribulations of game development. Also comes with an accompanying vid you can watch over on YouTube.
What they came up with was Project Hot Tub, a story-driven action-adventure game that focused on a teenage boy named Eddie and his bond with one of the iconic Plants vs. Zombies plants: Peashooter. According to the project materials IGN has seen, Project Hot Tub’s story would have followed Eddie and his sister Tessa on a summer trip to the familiar PvZ locale of Neighborville, where a zombie invasion quickly ruins their vacation plans. After Eddie befriends a friendly Peashooter, the two set off across town to defeat the invasion leader, Zomboss, only to be caught up in a nefarious time-traveling plot that flings Tessa and a number of Neighborville’s landmarks through time.
That's it for now, catch you next week folks!