The 2019 Short List
Khee Hoon Chan
Seismic changes which have recently resonated out from the Chinese games scene are affecting those within and without. Chan’s reporting finds both those outside who’ve felt the shocks, and the ones inside, working within their new reality.
See: China Forced One Horror Game Publisher to Close, But the Whole Region Felt It.
We could perhaps append “monetize the rot” as slogan for the decade that was, post-hoc. And to a collectible card game? If it’s not something you might think you care about, Partin–and recent history–will show: every small hustle can be writ large.
See: ‘Artifact’ Isn’t a Game on Steam, it’s Steam in a Game
Even on our predominantly digital medium, we trace a physical story. “Provenance” is the wonderful word DeSpira uses for this—and reveals it through forensic examinations of old arcade cabinets and archival clippings.
See: Pac-Man: The Untold Story of How We Really Played the Game
Harwell’s reporting on the use of pregnancy-tracking apps (at Activision-Blizzard among other companies), deftly demonstrates how surveillance capitalism’s ambitions go even beyond cradle-to-the-grave.
See: Is Your Pregnancy Tracking App Sharing Intimate Data with Your Boss?
If #MeToo were only a declarative (”this happened”) that would be enough. But Penny’s writing draws out its interrogative sense, too: ”…and how much longer will we allow it?” As for the imperative, that should be plain.
See: Gaming’s #MeToo Moment and the Tyranny of Male Fragility
The Split-Screen Man, like much of Billy Mitchell’s story, puts me in the mind of The Prestige, and its “Transported Man.” “No one cares about the Pac-Man who goes into the exit on the side of the maze,” you could say. But Harmon’s writing is all care.
See: The Split-Screen Man
Donlan’s enthusiastic imagery brings so much forward from games that one half-wonders whether you’d be doing yourself a disservice by simply playing them, rather than seeing them through his eyes.
See: Night Call Review