The 2018 Short List
“Core gamer,” “meritocracy,” “culture fit.” Words like backfiring shibboleths—the group deploying them distinguishes itself, but not for the good reasons it probably imagines. D’Anastasio’s reporting reveals them for what they truly mean: a culture built to stymie women.
Matters of representation are the opposite of niche, for they can reveal flaws in the foundation of prevailing thought. That means they’re everyone’s responsibility, as Iddamsetty’s piece makes plain, a fact that must be reconciled with if our art is to be humanized.
There are stories hidden between frames, between pixels, between the decimals of a version number. And as Jeremy Young’s inquiry into a Donkey Kong high score record shows, acts of journalism can be surgical enough to intervene and find them there. Jeremy’s Forum thread is linked to in this piece by Owen Good below. (Owen Good is not nominated.) Young’s Donkey Kong forum inquiry wiped out Billy Mitchell’s long standing high scores.
“This just feels like last month. And the month before that,” says a source in Farokhmanesh’s crucial exposé of developer overwork. They may as well be describing the inertia of labor rights in the games industry at large. The company profiled did not survive the year. That, too, is an old tune.
If being American means affiliation, on some level, with its gun death cult, then being an American who plays popular video games can feel like a slow realization you’ve been wearing its standard-issue robe and Nikes. But maybe, as Hamilton writes, “over the course of decades, we slowly fall out from under the thrall of something we didn’t even realize had enthralled us to begin with.”
Nathan’s reporting-back on the NBA 2K league strikes a perfect tone for coverage of a nascent eSport, skeptical yet not unkind, wherein a commissioner may be “well-suited” to bewilderment, and top-flight pros putting in 16-hour days must “battle to convince their families and partners” that their career is viable.
If a game is so incoherent that it evinces no headshot—that is to say, no “single, unifying anecdote”—how can a critic distill it for their readers? Smith begins by asking that question, but he’s already got a crafty solution chambered: anecdotes that distill that incoherence itself.
William Audureau, Maria Kalash, Mathilde Goanec & Dan Israel
As #MeToo wends through each new field, the idiosyncrasies of their sexism stand out (as does the bleakness of the commonalities). As intrepidly reported by these outlets, here the problem is at perhaps its most juvenile. (Note: links, where noted, may be NSFW.)
Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Natasha Singer, Aaron Krolik, and Michael H. Keller
Games are technology, with all of tech’s attendant issues, like reconditeness, and a sort of breezy attitude towards privacy and permissions. That makes the patience and clarity of the Times’ investigation invaluable: parents need the information, their children need the safeguarding.