I agree, to an extent, with the fictional character of Marenghi—not so much that subtext is for cowards, but that to say something outright in plain, unadorned speech, is a kind of bravery. It’s much harder to wear your heart on your sleeve than to pretend you don’t have one at all. This speaks not only to the series’ roots, but to the roots of the characters as well—Constantine came from a working-class background and performed in a punk band, where honest, straightforward speech is part and parcel for the genre. “Nazi punks f–k off,” is hardly subtext; sometimes you need to say things loud and earnestly if you want to be understood.
Review: I Am Not Playing Variations on Your Body – Sidequest
In March of 2020, I started my fourth attempt at therapy.
The previous ventures failed for a variety of reasons—poor fit, lack of money, the delayed onset of trauma. I hoped the same wouldn’t be true of this attempt, because I’m 31 years old and I’ve been carrying grief and trauma around for my entire life, and it’s grown very heavy.
But this is a game review. Or rather, it’s a review of what I think it may be like to play games, someday, because I’m not ready for them yet.
Teaching Crunch – Unwinnable #111
As conversations about labor have continued to develop in the gaming community, the discussion has largely focused on established developers and corporate culture. But many of those employees are coming directly from colleges that teach them these practices. Game design education, according to the students in these programs, grooms them for crunch, for homogenous design, for a culture that doesn’t care about mental or physical health. Employees are specialized cogs in the game production machine – when they wear out, they can be replaced by a cheaply manufactured new one.
Nicole He isn’t a game designer.
That doesn’t mean she can’t, or doesn’t, or won’t ever make games; it means that the games she does make aren’t what you’d expect. They might be intentionally broken, or they might play with nontraditional elements.
“I’m really interested in technology as it exists today, and then also our ideas about what technology should be and what it should do,” says He. “And then the gap between those two things is something that I think I like to play with in my work.”
In theory, the time is right for experimental games to enjoy more mainstream attention and sales, but few do. It’s tempting to blame an oversaturated market or a lack of interest on the consumer’s part, but that isn’t the whole picture. Experimental games—those games that push the envelope, whether mechanically, visually, narratively or in any other fashion—exist and can be enjoyed by anyone. So why aren’t they getting attention?
Grow Up: Gone Home is Wonderfully, Perfectly YA – Sidequest
Because Gone Home, despite being about young protagonists, despite having a happy ending, isn’t juvenile in its message. It’s a game that is—dare I say it—deeply subversive in both form and message. A walking simulator about teenage lesbians may be a critical darling, but that in no way makes it a dominant narrative or structure, particularly when that narrative tempts your inclination toward cynicism and ends by saying, “Ha! Sike. Not everything sucks, after all.”
But the frustrating truth at the heart of the Harry Potter series is that wizards don’t see Muggles as equals. It’s easy to ignore Muggles because wizards have the ability to fully isolate themselves from Muggle society, just as white, straight, or cisgender people tend to look at themselves and their peers and proclaim that everything is fine, despite what might be happening outside of their own communities. The passive concern for Muggles echoes how those with privilege in the real world only care about oppression and violence when it happens to those considered peers. Few people seemed to talk about this during the peak of the series’ popularity, but the conversation has become more consistent as conversations about inequality, privilege, and partisan politics become more commonplace.
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