The best games writing from around the web.
The Weekly is your round-up of all the best in games writing and related spaces. Reviews, news, features, and more await you each week as the curators of Good Games Writing scour the Internet for the best of the best. Some themes are for older audiences.
We certainly don’t like being gone for the length of time we were. As COVID-19 rages out of control in Alberta, compounded by a government keen to sit on its hands, our individual workloads as educators became monumental as we juggled ping-ponging back-and-forth between online learning and in person.
In that spirit, our updates will still look different for the next while, while we juggle the demands of our profession and try to catch up on all things games writing. These entries won’t be our usual massive lists, either, and you’ll perhaps see them more often than weekly while we engage with and read the numerous pieces we’ve bookmarked of late. You can expect a handful of pieces from the last week or so paired with a somewhat different collection of pieces from the past 45 days. We anticipate “catching up” in June!
We’ll start things off with the most recent works to come to our attention before working backwards.
As Apple and Epic duke it out in court, there’s few publications we trust to give us the skinny, and high up on the list is The Washington Post. Their live updates are engaging and informative; too often, such updates can feel trite. Each of these feels like its own capsule capturing a very specific moment in time. If you’re interested in these proceedings this will be one place to watch.
At Upcomer, Aron Garst is tracking the news around Overwatch‘s Chinese teams boycotting of Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-ryeol of the Seoul Dynasty after he made remarks angering the Chinese intelligentsia and their censors. Much of the coverage encompasses translated versions of the teams’ various statements. This is one issue not likely to go away anytime soon.
Chase Carter analyzes criticism around MTG‘s new character–and something of a mascot of the Strixhaven set–Killian Lu. While fans were initially enthusiastic about the character, new card reveals indicate the character falls into just about every Asian stereotype there is, rather than chart new territory.
“It’s the Panda Expressification of Asian Culture,” [says Michelle Rapp], comparing the attempt to the American chain of fast food restaurants known for its vaguely Asian-inspired recipes.
The current hotness in games is obviously New Pokémon Snap. Extra-thicc Bidoof capture hearts and minds while our social feeds fill with goofy, adorable, and frightening scenes. If you’re jumping into the game, the guides at TheGamer are essential, with everything from large thematic guides to nitty gritty ones focusing on individual quests. There are spoilers–namely for certain special and legendary Pokemon–so beware of that. Otherwise, these guides are top notch: Accept no substitutes.
We also appreciated Jessica Howard pointing out that in New Pokémon Snap it feels like the series is allowing at least one character to grow up alongside those that play the games. Ash may forever be 10ish but seeing a once-prominent character enter adulthood successfully hits hard.
We like themes ’round here.
Kenneth Shepard explains how New Pokémon Snap doesn’t care about composition in the way we might expect. Its scoring doesn’t care about your feelings (sorry); rather, Professor Mirror wants centered shots showing the ‘mon doing something specific. If you’re a photography geek, or just have an eye for what looks good, this piece will put your head (and heart) at ease.
At Red Bull eSports, Jason Fanelli interviews eSports photographer Stephanie Lindgren about all things photography in general and in the games space specifically. While the interview is ostensibly about promoting a contest, we appreciate that it pulls back the curtain somewhat on a relatively new career path.
Over on Gamasutra, Jack Yarwood interviews the designers of recent indie games that feature a photography element, and the discussions on what works and what doesn’t in various games is downright fascinating.
Christian Donlan argues that “the best thing a game can give you is a camera” and the reason for that, is, well, that it makes it all feel more real:
This is the heart of it for me. An imaginary camera makes an imaginary reality more real, in surprising ways. They make me think: oh, I am here, and I want a picture of that. So ‘here’ and ‘that’ become real in a way that is separate from the game mechanics, from the idea of graphics and whether there’s too much bloom or if the grass looks convincing. They make me look beyond whether things are convincing, and so I am merely convinced by them.
If you’re feeling a bit nostalgic, Willem Hilhorst created a brief history of photo modes in games, and while it isn’t exhaustive, it is a trip down memory lane.
Alternatively, a throwback to February, where Rachel Watts informs us of the best photography oriented games on PC…possibly useful for those missing out on all that Bidoof action.
Finally, Lewis Gordon (and co.) make the claim that photography games may well have more in common with so-called ‘walking sims’ than most any other genre, while embracing the fact gaming is a medium of images in so many ways:
here are moments playing Nuts which resonate with what the art critic John Berger wrote in 1972: “In no other form of society in history has there been such a concentration of images, such a density of visual messages.” Since then, their proliferation has only intensified, and the three in-game cameras of Nuts, each recording the squirrels’ journey in real time, emphasizes just what an eruption of images video games actually are. What’s lovely about the game is the way it asks you to print out photos of its bushy-tailed subjects. By the end of your time in the forest, you’ll have amassed a small trove of freeze frames pinned to the corkboard in your virtual camper van.
That’s a wrap!
If you’ve seen writing on Assassin’s Creed (broadly), Loop Hero, or Stardew Valley we’d love to hear about it. Give us a message on Twitter @GoodWritingVG or use the SUBMIT button to your right.
Carter, Chase. “Magic: The Gathering players say Killian Lu is the “Panda Expressification of Asian Culture”” (Dicebreaker: April 29, 2021) <https://www.dicebreaker.com/games/magic-the-gathering-game/feature/magic-the-gathering-killian-lu-representation>.
Donlan, Christian. “The best thing a game can give you is a camera” (Eurogamer: May 1, 2021) <https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2021-05-01-the-best-thing-a-game-can-give-you-is-a-camera>.
Fanelli, Jason. “Meet Esports Photographer and Capture Point Judge Stephanie Lindgren” (Red Bull eSports: March 28, 2021) <https://www.redbull.com/us-en/stephanie-lindgren-interview-photographer-capture-point>.
Garst, Aron. “Chinese Overwatch League teams boycott Saebyeolbe after comments about China” (Upcomer: May 3, 2021) <https://www.upcomer.com/chinese-overwatch-league-teams-boycott-saebyeolbe/>.
Gordon, Lewis. “Games Like Umurangi Generation Bring the Moment Into Focus” (WIRED: March 23, 2021) <https://www.wired.com/story/umurangi-generation-photography-games/>
Hilhorst, Willem. “Long Shutter Speed – Over 20 years of photo modes in games.” (Nintendo World Report: April 28, 2021) <https://www.nintendoworldreport.com/editorial/57018/long-shutter-speed-over-20-years-of-photo-modes-in-games>.
Howard, Jessica. “Heart Container: 22 Years Later, I Am Still Todd Snap” (Uppercut: April 30, 2021) <https://uppercutcrit.com/heart-container-22-years-later-i-am-still-todd-snap/>.
Shepard, Kenneth. “New Pokemon Snap Pushes Against Everything I Learned in Photojournalism Class” (Fanbyte: May 3, 2021) <https://www.fanbyte.com/trending/new-pokemon-snap-pushes-against-everything-i-learned-in-photojournalism-class/>.
Watts, Rachel. “The best photography games on PC” (PC Gamer: Feb 2, 2021) <https://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-photography-games-on-pc/>.
Yarwood, Jack. “How some indies are approaching photography mechanics in their games” (Gamasutra: April 2, 2021) <https://gamasutra.com/view/news/379089/How_some_indies_are_approaching_photography_mechanics_in_their_games.php>.