Hello, Escapist readers! As part of a new partnership with curation website Critical Distance, we’ll be bringing you a weekly digest of the coolest games criticism, analysis and commentary from around the web. Let’s hit it!
First up, Errant Signal’s Chris Franklin has posted his latest video critique, this one comparing/contrasting Actual Sunlight and Depression Quest — two recent semi-autobiographical games about living with depression, and analyses how each approaches its subject and informs the other.
On Polygon, Jonathan McIntosh lays out in plain language much the same criticism of male privilege in games as other articles have done, and adds that it’s not about individuals’ privilege, but how men benefit as a group in society, including games:
I want to emphasize that this list is not meant to suggest that everything is always a cakewalk for male gamers. Male critics, developers, and gamers are also at times bullied or subjected to online nastiness, but it is not based on or because of our gender. This is a critical distinction. The pattern of unearned advantage also does not mean that all men are powerful as individuals or that all women are powerless as individuals. It simply means that men in gamer culture can, on average, count on these advantages, whereas women can not.
The invisibility of a lot of these systems and assumptions is part of why they’re so effective. On her personal blog, Kate Reynolds recently dug into Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls and discovered that the game subconsciously eases its players into participating in certain toxic attitudes, even if they don’t want to:
I didn’t question once while I was playing why I/Jodie never encountered a competent woman while I/Jodie was growing up in a secret government facility. I didn’t question why Cole (the black assistant scientist) seemed so inferior to the white scientist Nathan Dawkins. I never questioned why the entity attached to me/Jody was always referred to by a male name (what if it had been Adenia instead of Aiden?). None of those things were important to I/Jodie, only our survival was.
Lastly, Canabalt developer Adam Saltsman has dropped a great essay comparing Shinji Mikami’s critically dismissed Vanquish with the Wachowski siblings’ Speed Racer, as two works of little-understood, self-contained masterpiece. This is a must-read for anyone interested in in-depth analysis.
That’s all for this week! If you’re interested in more great writing, videos and podcasts from this week in games, be sure to swing over to Critical Distance to have your fill!