Some Pieces I've Enjoyed Lately
If anything has encouraged me to write about games, its the amount of quality writing that I’ve consumed on the subject, largely through the incredible people out there who continue to devote themselves to interrogating the medium and its culture.
I think I’m going to try to make a post weekly about some of that writing. By no means do I read the most or best games criticism and journalism, but I’d like to highlight the quality writers who I do find fun and exciting. If you’re interested in something a bit more contemporary and consistent, I highly recommend reading Critical Distance, who offer weekly roundups of a more comprehensive variety!
Maddy Myers’ The Inexplicable Sexiness of Ivy Valentine locates Soul Calibur’s Ivy, often derided by critics for her “ridiculous” body type, as a character that has also offered empowerment, especially for queer women. What makes Ivy more ridiculous than other characters in Soul Calibur, who are often as sexualized as she is? A good read and a great reminder of Ivy’s androgynous alternate costume from the first two games.
Matthew Burns wrote this piece for Gamasutra back in April, but it’s definitely one that remains relevant as people continue to engage in the “games as art” debate. At the core of it, its point as I see it is that the “are games art” debate is inherently built on bad faith and a bad understanding of art. Instead of seeing art as a binary determined by contemporaneous critics, the public or other gatekeepers, Burns notes that art is a process, and that games being art is similarly procedural, prone to the same fluctuations in definition that has elevated pulp fiction and folk art over the years, while once lauded works now languish in obscurity.
When I get the chance, I really enjoy Game Studies Study Buddies, a shamelessly academic podcast that covers large, mainly academic texts based around games studies. This varies from books on gender in games, what games are socially and sociologically and more. I haven’t listened to their newest episode, but Episode 5, on Callois’ Man, Play and Games might be one of their more ambitious episodes so far. With a mix of backgrounds in theatre and media studies, the two hosts bring their expertise and curiosity, as well as a soft touch of leftism, to a text that dates back to the mid-twentieth century. Perhaps the highlight is listening to the two dismantle an especially colonialist subtext in the way Callois defines cultures, and how they use that as a way to question text’s omnipresence excerpted in many games studies reading lists.
I’m going to try to keep doing these more