I had a very hectic week trying to get back into writing the one PhD chapter that is yet to be fully drafted while also dealing with a backlog of assorted crap. At the same time, though, I somehow managed to have some stuff published that I’m pretty happy with. So here is a small breakdown of the stuff I wrote this past week:
1. I wrote this small piece at my scrappy blog Ungaming about how we talk about the length of AAA games. It was mostly about the discussion on The Order 1886 that was happening at the time, before reviews were available, where the short length in and of itself was seen as something negative. Since then, the reviews have been published and it does sound like an entirely mediocre game! But the idea that it is bad just because it is short is a problematic notion and I discussed why. One afterthought is that someone made the good point to me on Twitter that a lot of the complaints were likely by reviewers who had played the game but weren’t yet allowed to say they had played it. So maybe they did have reasons they thought it was actually ‘too’ short that they couldn’t elaborate on, which is fair.
2. I wrote this op-ed for ABC’s The Drum on Adam Baldwin’s inclusion in this year’s Supanova festival. The backlash from both Baldwin and gamergaters was about as predictable as you’d expect. Threatening legal action, comparing me to Stalin, calling me a White Knight, etc. Of course, the backlash would’ve been much worse and harder to ignore if I was a woman writing on the same subject, as I reflected in a followup post. Most remarkable was how Supanova itself decided to deal with the criticism. After 20 hours of radio silence, they asked me on Twitter how many Supanovas I have been to, and then pushed for me to provide years. The next question they would ask was obvious: “Have you seen someone get abused at our expo?”.Over on their FB page, meanwhile, they decided it was a piece of ‘hack journalism’. The short-sightedness and immaturity is astounding. Instead of working to understand how they are contributing to an ongoing and systemic problem, they decide to take it personal and demand proof of individual instances. Unsurprisingly, when multiple women responded to the tweet (as bad PR often does, the tweets blew up a bit) to say they had been harassed at Supanova before, there were no more tweets. They essentially, and disappointingly, acted like any of the one dudes that make up movements of Gamergate in the first place, taking a critique of their privilege as a personal slight. You can see this most clearly in Mark Serrels’s look at who is no longer supporting the Expo due to Baldwin’s involvement, and Zachariou’s absurdly defensive responses. Ultimately, the expo has shown over and over that it not only doesn’t care about inclusivity, but that nobody involved in running it even understands what inclusivity actually entails.
3. I wrote this essay at Reverse Shot about FIFA, videogames as moving images, remediation, and realism. I’m really happy with it, as it gave me a chance to discuss how visual things that are often dismissed as stylistic flourishes and fundamental to how a game like FIFA is engaged with. I wrote the first draft of this back before Christmas (it’s publishing got delayed due to my wedding and honeymoon and moving house etc.) but I’m happy how timely it ended up being. Firstly, it fits well in conversation with a few different articles about the relationship between videogames and cinema this weekish: namely, Gita Jackson’s piece on framerates for Paste and Ed Smith’s piece on how games can never be cinematic (an argument I fundamentally disagree with) for Vice. It also fits well with ongoing formalism discussions, as my main issue with ‘game formalism’ currently defined is that it fails to account for a vast range of formal elements of the videogame (namely, audiovisual elements). But that’s a different essay. Anyway, I’m real happy with this essay and I’m looking forward to writing for Reverse Shot somewhat more regularly this year.
4. I recorded this Critical Let’s Play video of Proteus for the 2015 Digital Writer’s Festival. I’m actually really quite happy with it. Recording it on my macbook was incredibly easy, and I enjoyed the one-episode-one-game format, as opposed to my previous Let’s Play videos of longer AAA titles. This is something I might do more of in the coming months. I still have my Patreon account for Critical Let’s Play videos up if that’s something you think you might want to support.