Kotaku publishes lots of stories, but we are not, as it turns out, the entire Internet. It's easy to miss some of the wonderful criticism, commentary, and observations about games and games culture that's put online every week. No more! Every Friday afternoon, I'll be your guide.
It feels good to be back. This was one of my regular features at Giant Bomb, and one of my favorites, too. As part of my reporting, I follow lots of people in the industry all day. Many of these people say, write, and share interesting things. Worth Reading about sharing it with you.
For a little while, I thought about renaming Worth Reading, but I'm terrible at coming up with names. Looking for the best and most reliable information possible, I asked Twitter for help
Fortunately, my former boss, Jeff Gerstmann, gave me permission to keep the name.
I didn't run those terms past everyone else at Kotaku. Too late now! A deal is a deal.
In any case, let's get on with the show. I've been plucking various links since Worth Reading went offline at Giant Bomb, so this reflects some of my favorite stuff from the past month or so.
- "The Packers of Catan: Green Bay's Board Game Obsession" by Kevin Clark
I have no reason to like the Green Bay Packers, the notoriously (talented) rival to my (less talented) Chicago Bears. But it's hard not to smile while reading Kevin Clark's account of the Super Bowl-winning team becoming obsessed with the board game Settlers of Catan. While there's a mild air of condescension towards the game throughout the piece, it's full of amazing observations, especially when it comes to passing on the personality quirks of various players.
"Backup quarterback Matt Flynn said he was interested in the game because it was "a nonviolent version of Risk," referring to Parker Brothers' notoriously lengthy game of world domination. But Flynn said the players take it so seriously that when he stopped by to play for the first time after a win last month, he was shocked by what happened when he attempted to turn on some celebratory music.
'I was just trying to play some music—some Pearl Jam, and [Bakhtiari] wouldn't let me. He wanted to hear the players talk and strategize. He was very serious,' Flynn said. 'They take it to a different level.'
The competitive nature of the Green Bay's Catan tradition is now legendary in the locker room. Two weeks ago, Linsley won the game, but Bakhtiari, who typically hosts the games at his house, had briefly gone outside to cook a chicken for the group. He furiously protested Linsley's victory because of this. 'He put an asterisk by it. I didn't,' Linsley said. Backup quarterback Scott Tolzien is famous for slamming the board in frustration when he loses.'
The video game industry's relationship with race isn't an easy topic to address, which probably goes a long way to explaining why the industry doesn't bring it up very much. That said, Jessica Conditt does a pretty great job speaking to a wide range of folks within games—academics, designers, etc.—to outline where we're currently at and how very far the industry has to go.
"Gaming culture is a direct reflection of our society. The only reason racism and sexism run rampant in gaming is because racism and sexism run rampant in society. But in physical spaces, mostly, it's not overt. It's subtle. It's covert. So, yes, these issues manifest in a similar manner in gaming, but I contend that they present themselves worse. It's not subtle. It's in-your-face racism. A black person may not be called a nigger to their face, but they can almost guarantee it will happen in virtuality."
- Anna Megill wants to show (and tell) you what it's like to make a video game.
- Shadowrun: Hong Kong only asked for $100K, but it's weeeeeeeell over that by now.
- Drift Stage might be the coolest-looking racing game I've seen in a while.
- Kieran Yates explored how some games are exploring politically-charged topics.
- Nich Maragos tried to play Fantasy Life without resorting to violence.
- Adrian Chmielarz disliked just about everything I enjoyed about The Talos Principle.
- Alex Wawro spoke with Swery 65 about trying to impute D4 with emotion.
- Janine Hawkins tried to understand what "content" means in today's open world games.
- Matt Martin managed to hit rank 100 in GTA Online by being a total jerk.
- Joshua Brustein profiled how GameStop is trying to survive the next decade.
- Roy Graham reflected on gaming violence, in light of the recent CIA torture report.
- Simon Parkin wrote about how gaming is especially prone to obsolescence.
- Katherine Cross provided another perspective on the sexual agency of Bayonetta.
- Mike Williams dove into the Internet Archive to find the worst of the worst.
- Patrick Lee argued Mass Effect's paragon choices tend to coddle players.
That's it! We're back. The plan is to publish earlier on Fridays, by the way. I'm also happy to accept reader submissions for this, whether it's a cool story you came across or one you wrote!
Image credit to Kyle T. Webster.