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October 14, 2019
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Playing in Heavy Systems | This Week in Videogame Blogging

by Critical Distance on 11/06/16 06:52:00 pm   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


It's a new month and a time of shiny new treats for games writing. This week saw the launch of Waypoint, which seems to have allowed the Vice Gaming crew to grow a bit and build their own set of interests and themes separate to the larger magazine. This week also brought us a new issue of Game Studies, one of the main academic journals that overlaps with our part of the blogosphere. Meanwhile, amid all this newness, we still have a lot of writing to look at that reflects on our relationship to the past.

A Certain Self-Confidence

Two of Waypoint's first features look at conditions in workplaces and in a prison, giving us a solid look at how games intersect with some of the fundamental institutions that underpin American society.

  • The Curious Appeal of Crunch - Waypoint 
    The influence of personal investment and heroic narratives on labor conditions in gaming are laid bare, forcing readers to confront the uncomfortably fuzzy boundary between individual free will and social control.
  • Dragons in the Department of Corrections - Waypoint 
    In a remarkable and rare feature, Elizabeth de Kleer interviews D&D players in prison, learning how the game's co-operative and communicative qualities represent particular challenges and potential.

"Currently, Bey plays a female halfling (he offers in a high-pitched tone—clearly his role-playing voice). Role-playing a female character in prison seems like it would take guts, but Bey isn't worried. 'When you're in a setting like prison,' he says, 'where so much depends on bravado and presenting a credible threat, to sit down and play a game that has the word 'faerie' anywhere in it takes a certain self-confidence that I think demands respect.' "

The Larger System

We continue learning about histories of America and other world powers in these pieces about simulations old and new.

"Even when surprises present themselves, like current events changing public opinion or political factions calling you and promising to donate to your campaign if you support their cause, they never threaten to disrupt the system, as it's built to accommodate them. All in all, you get the feeling that whatever thoughts the developers may have for this specific campaign [...] they believe the larger system works [...]"

This is an extract from a full weekly roundup posted on Critical Distance. To see the full post and other great writing and podcasting from the world of games criticism, check out

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