Not only is it Friday, but it’s time for another roundup of the best writing in games from this past week, too.
Hey, You Should Read These
- “Planned to Fail” by Taylor Hidalgo
No one wants to be a bad teammate, but c’mon. I can relate to Taylor Hidalgo confessing a desire to help those around him, but knowing it’s about his own survival. Anyone he’s able to save along the way? That’s just icing on the cake. It’s not about ego, though—it’s an inability to execute The Plan. It’s one thing to prepare, it’s quite another to execute. It’s why I’m enjoying Splatoon so much right now. I’m sure that game, like most others, benefits from players working in tandem, but even when we lose, I feel like I’ve contributed. Not many team games make playing solo a satisfying affair.
“Once it comes time to execute a plan, the pieces unravel. I train myself to be a steady hand with aim, to suppress panic when I’m faced with mortal danger, and to survive as best I can in a wide range of circumstances. This is true in survival horror, this is true in first-person shooting, and it’s likewise true in strategy games. No matter the situation, I’ll outfit myself to survive as best I can come hell or high water. Unfortunately, it also makes me a horrible teammate.
Teams are about trust and communication more than personal ability, and that is a metric that I will fail almost religiously. I have difficulty explaining abstract concepts succinctly, and that results in making me bad at communicating in panic situations. When I’m expected to swarm around my teammates during large encounters, I’ll instinctively navigate to the most open position, poised to flee at a moment’s notice. For my own survival, that’s a perfectly viable strategy, but for my team’s survival, that might mean putting the entirety of the enemies between us. If given the option of a high-risk rescue, or no-risk escape, I will unconsciously favor no-risk every time. Even when it means probably getting my team killed.”
- “I Slay My Grief In The Digital Fields of Slaughter” by Jenni Miller
I lost my father a few years back, and it was difficult to care about games. Yet, it’s all I wanted to do. Not because I wanted to play games, mind you, but games offered escape—enough mental friction to remove me from overwhelming grief. Some people indulge in simpler games like Diablo, where the quest for loot and hack ‘n slash grinding is enough to keep emotions at bay. Myself, I prefer games like Dark Souls or Spelunky, experiences requiring your full concentration—physically, mentally—to progress. By throwing myself into these games, I was given a moment of peace.
For some reason this coping mechanism is more embarrassing than the others I cop to, from benzos to binge-watching Gilmore Girls to choosing a career that allows me to work without pants (OK, that last one sort of chose me). I will never regret taking enough Klonopin before my father’s funeral that I tried to drown out some senile distant relative during the Kaddish, but gaming? I cringe to admit that sometimes I’d rather pick up my Xbox controller than free write about my feelings.
Aren’t I supposed to be more emotionally evolved than that? Shouldn’t I be, like, meditating or something instead of firing up a video game? My vision board fell down in the middle of the night a few weeks ago, and I haven’t bothered to put it back up. Trying to emotionally evolve is goddamn exhausting.
Trawling Diablo III’s dungeons makes me feel like I’m in control of something, even if all I’m controlling is a culturally insensitive “Witch Doctor” character who can summon zombie dogs to maul enemies.
If You Click It, It Will Play
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Ben Wilson investigated the technology behind women being added to FIFA 16.
- Wesley Yin-Poole profiled a player who’s spent five years re-translating Final Fantasy VII.
- Liam Butler examined how Deus Ex may have accurately predicted the future.
- Gita Jackson looked at how video games do an exceedingly poor job of archiving history.
- David Wolinsky spoke with a 13-year-old to discover what’s up with kids these days.
- Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson chronicled the sale of Minecraft to Microsoft.
- Tauriq Moosa took a closer look at the “historical” argument for people of color in games.
- Andrew Pellerano provided a deep, reasoned response to Steam refunds.
- Alec Meer went down the rabbit hole that is crafting and collecting Steam trading cards.
- Jacob Van Lunen explained how Magic: The Gathering saved his life.