This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Joe Köller on topics ranging from depictions of grief and loss in games to the legacy of Metal Gear Solid.
The Leaf, Still Green
On Medium, Gabby DaRienzo talks about death positivity, and looks at several videogame examples that are in accordance with its philosophy of accepting mortality:
There’s a relatively new movement that’s slowly gaining popularity called death positivity (or “death acceptance”) that is encouraging people to face their own mortalities and to be open to talking about death, addressing it, and demystifying it. The movement was started by a group of young morticians whose goal is to lift the veil on death, and encourage us to explore our thoughts, feelings, and fears about mortality.
In a similar vein, Ashley Barry talks about death, deathcare and grief on The Mary Sue, using Final Fantasy X's Yuna as one of her examples (Content Warning: suicide):
In Final Fantasy X, a game about a woman’s pilgrimage and a blob-like monster that terrorizes her world, Yuna, the heroine, is so much more than a summoner. There’s an important scene in which Yuna performs a sending, a ritual that puts the dead to rest. As Yuna dances atop the water’s surface, a group of coffins bobbing just beneath her, there’s an incredible display of grief from the crowd encircling her. One woman clutches her stomach as she sobs while another collapses to her knees.
Yuna has fostered a safe space where open grieving is accepted and encouraged.
On a more figurative note, Owen Vince takes a very detailed look at the life and death of urban environments.
It's mutual. Free market!
Jake Muncy proposes that GTA IV is perhaps Rockstar's best effort at storytelling, because it deliberately eschews any upwards mobility for its protagonist Niko Bellic:
He might have earned some money, doing things he’d rather not discuss, and a few houses to his name off the backs of those he’s killed. But he’s gained no status and no real place to call his own, just a ledger of ugly acts and the untimely deaths of people he’s cared about. Niko Bellic’s story is a cynical one, Rockstar’s blatant evisceration of the American dream from the perspective of an outsider for whom that dream has no place.
Kent Sheely talks about game cloning as an instance of remix culture, looking at some variations of the popular Five Nights at Freddy's series.
Ashly and Anthony Burch recently published a book on Metal Gear Solid, and our own Cameron Kunzelman helpfully provides a review.
Elsewhere, Jake Muncy talks about the series' VR missions as the root of the recently released Volume.
If, like me, you don't know the first thing about any of these games, you might appreciate Aoife Wilson's spoilerific plot summary (video).
Speaking of weird mechs, Stephen Beirne has a new Two Minute Game Crit about Zone of the Enders 2 and AI (video).
And Then There Were Videogames...
On Gamasutra, Dave Hagewood gives a Game Design Deep Dive on rocket flying in everybody's favorite soccer car (soccar?) game, Rocket League.
Our own Riley MacLeod has compiled a lovely list of queer Let's Players you should watch.
In a swift one-two of truth punches about mental illness, FemHype's Pluto talks about trauma in Life is Strange (Content Warning: discussion of abuse), while FemHype's Lindsay uses Dark Souls as an allegory for depression.
Carli Velocci has created an excellent primer on the Twine genre of gender horror for Bitch Media.
Over on Offworld, Christina Xu looks at some of the gaming lingo that has bled into Chinese vernacular. Speaking of language, Jenni Goodchild's VideoBrains talk about gaming's language problem (based on this post from last year) is now available online (video).
Must Someday Fall
That's about it for this week folks!
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