This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Joe Köller on topics ranging from the discussion of body image in Robert Yang's NSFW Cobra Club to player reaction to Rust's recent update randomizing the race of player avatars.
An Ouroboros of Trouser Snakes
(Content warning: sexual discussion and imagery.)
Continuing his series of gay sex games, Robert Yang released the dick pic simulator Cobra Club this week, accompanied by an artist’s statement detailing his intentions to explore both the aesthetics of these images, and concerns over sharing them opposite the game’s fictional dating platform and twist ending.
Patricia Hernandez shared her own experience with the game, and many, many screenshots on Kotaku, while Todd Harper responded on his blog, arguing that the game may accurately represent the weirdness of taking one of these pictures, but that its inconsequential interactions with would-be matches fail to capture the inherent dread of sharing them.
[W]hat’s missing from Cobra Club that problematizes it as a “devastatingly honest” look at the relationship between dick pics and gay male identity is the dick pic as a measure of a person’s worth. At no point in the game is the player’s cock or pictures of said cock given any sort of real, qualitative evaluation. Every potential viewer engages it at the level of acceptance: “I asked for a dick, you gave me one. Thank you.” And there it ends.
What Is Love But A Second Hand Emoji
Last week saw an interesting triptych of mediations on the state of our medium.
On Offworld, Leigh Alexander described, among many other things, the personal effects of working in an industry more concerned with achieving legitimacy than with achieving permanence and stability: "Our ongoing memory crisis [...] means we are all afraid to stop lest we be swept away and forgotten. If I were ever to stop, then five years from now, someone quite like me will not have known of me."
Responding to both, but also responding to neither, Stephen Beirne examined his own reasons for writing about games, and whether we should even want to preserve them.
Sick Bio Warez
Writing for Gamasutra, Katherine Cross compares the systemization of morality in D&D, Pathfinder and Bioware games. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Sampat wrote a blog post about othering, fantasy racism and the evolution of the portrayal of the Qun across the Dragon Age series.
Written between 1937 and 1945, The Lord Of The Rings was actually the final story in a world Tolkien had been working on since 1917. His work was inevitably influenced by the end of Britain’s “Imperial Century” and the beginning of decolonization, which lead to waves of new immigration.
Over on Femhype, Jillian looks at some of the stereotypical writing and problematic comments (Content Warning: transphobia) that turned her off Sera in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Exciting news broke last week when EA announced that women's soccer would at last be included in the latest installment of their FIFA series. Mary Hamilton talked about the predictably terrible reactions to this absolutely minor effort at inclusion.
In Fifa 15, the last instalment of the franchise, there are more than 16,000 players. All of them are male. (Many of them are not as good at football as the women’s World Cup players.) There are 23 players in a World Cup squad. This suggests that approximately 1.7% of the players in Fifa 16 will be female.
Elsewhere, Megan Condis looked at the consequences of Rust's decision to randomly assign skin colors to its players. Chief among them "a definite uptick in overtly racist language."
Time for some poetry. Take it away, Savannah Winter.
And Then There Were Videogames...
Chris Franklin looks at the mess that is Only If and is left wondering if an absurdist videogame (video) is even possible.
In case you're curious what the kids are playing these days, you may want to check out David Wolinsky's interview with a 13-year-old gamer in the latest issue of Unwinnable Weekly.
Holly Green shares her experience playing games with OCD.
Ultimata Ratio Regum developer Mark Johnson examined the advantages and disadvantages of unlocking additional content over time in roguelikes, arguing that it ultimately distracts from the intention of learning through failure.
Reminding us not to get carried away with our analogies, Amsel von Spreckelsen points out that Bloodborne is nothing like an abuser (Content Warning: discussion of abuse and domestic violence).
Kim Foale examines the tendency of both video- and boardgames to gloss over problematic aspects of history.
G. Christopher Williams has found the game design equivalent of trashy movies: making them play fast.
Making a different analogy than the usual film or book comparisons, Naomi Clark asks: Where is the Brie of videogames?
On The German Side of Things
Ally Auner has a recent radio interview she did on gender roles in games available online for listening.
Nina Kiel reviewed the LGBTQIA* documentary Gaming in Color.
Video Game Tourism's latest monthly discussion covers Bloodborne and the Souls series. It includes an essay by myself, which I won't link, but do check out Agata Goralczyk interpreting the games using Camus' Myth of Sisyphus, and Robert Glashüttner's contrary opinion to the games' critical adoration.
Another One Bites De_Dust
That's about it for this week folks! Until then, why not listen to the latest two episodes of our podcast? Blogs of the Round Table just wrapped up, but this month's summary and the announcement of next month's theme is going to be out soon.
Lastly, a reminder: Critical Distance is funded entirely by you, dear readers. If you appreciate our work, or have an interest helping with our own curatorial and preservation efforts, please consider pledging to our Patreon. My birthday is coming up soon, hint hint.
See you next week!