The 2020 Short List
The excesses of AAA game production—reliably profitable for shareholders—always come at a broader cost. Schreier’s reporting has been a balancing of that ledger, accounting for the losses to personal finances…and to personal health.
English teachers and popular editing software often exhort plainspoken, unadorned writing, but they sometimes neglect the role that personal experience plays in it. Myers’ recapitulation of games industry misogyny could not have been written as forcefully, were it not for the hard-wrung experience of a decade-plus on the beat.
In Cards Against Humanity, the casual bigot found the premises, prompts, and thin veneer of deniability needed to indulge their impulses. Carpenter’s reporting describes a managerial staff callowly committed to that bit, asking its marginalized employees to just laugh it off.
How many perspectives on violence are truly available to a prestige shooter game, which (as Truffaut said of anti-war films) must inevitably ennoble its subject matter? Of the angle The Last of Us: Part II opts for, Maiberg writes, “…the myth of the “cycle of violence” is one that benefits the side that can survive the status quo.”
Samurai, “Japanese society’s violent landlords,” left a living legacy that can’t be captured in a photo filter or a line about honor. As Hashimoto writes, in dipping their pen into that deep inkwell, Sucker Punch unknowingly invoke a modern strain of nationalism.
Claire L. Evans
Evans’ telling of Patricia Crowthers’ connection to the first text-based adventure video game, is, among other things, an exploration of the origin of networks—physical and virtual—and the people who are ultimately written out of them.
Within a string of asterisks, Street finds a complex treatise on identity. With a work like Disco Elysium, so boisterous with theorism, contradiction, sexuality, and self-deprecation, it takes a rare writer to unpack meaning with so little pretension.
Sports have always been political; it will surprise no one reading to hear that eSports are political as well. But Morgan’s thorough reporting describes a fascinating dynamic, as the outspoken vanguard of the young industry faces off with nations looking for a new venue for “soft power.”