Welcome to another entry in Worth Reading, our weekly roundup of the week’s best games writing. There’s nothing more fun on a Friday afternoon than an angry (and accurate) rant.
Hey, You Should Read These
Kotaku didn’t write about it, but you might have heard about this Kill the Faggot game that showed up on Greenlight before Valve took it down. The reason it showed up was because there’s nothing stopping a game from appearing on Greenlight until people complain about it, Valve takes a look, and the submission comes down. More than a year ago, Valve said Greenlight was a stopgap solution to something else, and everyone figured this meant the company would be opening the floodgates on Steam, and making their storefront more like the App Store or Google Play. In essence, anyone could have their game sold on Steam. Valve is a secretive company for understandable reasons, but its silence on this is frustrating.
“Of course, that praise is essentially saying “Valve did the best they could under the existing system”; as praise goes, it’s somewhat less glowing when you consider that Valve actually created that system in the first place. It was Valve who chose to allow anyone at all to pay $100 and upload whatever they like onto Greenlight; Valve who decided that there should be no pre-screening, no attempt to filter what ends up being available for votes. There’s a fervent ideological belief at work here, one which says that the most open system is the best system; kill the gatekeepers and haul open the portcullis, let everyone flood in and then allow a combination of the marketplace and algorithmic wizardry to sort the wheat from the chaff. Sure, it needs a bit of tending when some of the chaff turns out to be downright poisonous, but by and large the item of faith writ large by Greenlight’s policies is that the cacophonous roar of the community can be filtered through market logic and algorithms to become a clear, pure voice expressing the wisdom of the crowd.”
- “The tragedies of Telltale’s The Walking Dead give meaning to the game’s final choice” by Patrick Lee
I still think about the final moments in The Walking Dead’s first season. Even though I enjoyed playing through the second season, it was mostly forgettable. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you what happened, save for that grotesque moment in the supermarket. The relationship between Lee and Clementine was special, and few games are able to spend that much time having three characters—Lee, Clementine, the player—bond in ways that are meaningful for everyone. Despite being a game about choice, they each have agency, and you only get to nudge them in one direction or another. I desperately hope the upcoming Firewatch can be that memorable.
“In The Walking Dead, the world is fundamentally changed, and characters need to change with it, not just to survive, but to retain some shred of decency. The past is a burden on these characters, and detaching from it will enable them to better integrate into the groups of survivors that are the new families of this world. The zombie-apocalypse setting allows for an especially clear metaphor for that dangerous attachment to the past: In a world where the dead return to feast on the living, somebody’s past can literally come back to hurt them. Killing the undead, especially undead friends and family, becomes the surest sign they accept that the old world is gone. Refusing to accept this new reality—clinging to the old world’s relationships and rules—drives these characters to be reckless, selfish, and antisocial.”
If You Click It, It Will Play
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Bill Simmons described Madden 2003 as the most important game ever (back in 2002).
- Josh Sawyer reflected on the nostalgic development of Pillars of Eternity.
- David Chandler looked at Bloodborne as it relates to the history of horror.
- Heather Alexandra wondered if video games have become obsessed with darkness.
- Brad Williams encouraged people to throw a few bucks towards (free) games you enjoy.
- Patrick Carlson had recommendations for people who loved the world of Dishonored.
- Dana Goldstein highlighted a book that argues violent video games are good for society.
- Ian Bogost pointed out the potential problems in an Apple-centric world.
- Vidyasaur chronicled an attempt to play Castlevania: The Adventure with tough rules.