Room to Reflect

Video Games, Meritocracy, and Toxicity

Paul Cover

Content Notification: online harassment/abuse

When I wrote my new book, The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games: Why Gaming Culture Is the Worst, I knew that I would be poking at a soft spot and would get a response. The title alone is designed to provoke and the content within it encourages readers to consider a variety of issues related to game culture, meritocracy, and structural privilege. All of these things get a reaction from people, but the primary argument I want to advance in this essay is the need for all of us to reflect on game culture, game studies, and on how the choices we make reproduce the defensiveness that is so readily seen in discussions around video games. Continue Reading

From Passion to Power

Game Unions and Historical Lessons from Media Labor

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The standing-room-only roundtable on unionization at the 2018 Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco occasioned a meeting of minds across industrial sectors. On one side, the roundtable represented a recent groundswell of labor consciousness in the mostly-unorganized field of video game development visibly spearheaded by Game Workers Unite, a grassroots pro-unionization group whose buttons and advocacy literature had already spread throughout the conference (Williams, “After Destroying”). On the other side, invited speaker Steve Kaplan from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) educated the crowd on practical steps for organizing, and encouraged them by saying that “unions focus leverage…. If you’re not at the table you’re essentially on the menu” (Orland). Continue Reading

The Strength of Heart Required to Face Oneself

Persona and Recovery

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Content warning for illness, anxiety, and surgery.

It’s hard to know what exactly you should do the hour after you’ve been diagnosed with kidney cancer. I was in that awkward time between the shock and terror of receiving the initial diagnosis and reaching out to my friends and family for support; it was still too soon for me to tell anyone about it. Once my dad and I got into the car and started the long journey back to his house through the city, I stared outside at all the people going about their lives, perhaps walking from one class to another or running a little late to lunch, and craved that sort of normalcy. For me, that meant gaming. So I asked my dad to take me to Gamestop. Continue Reading

First Person Podcast Episode 29

Reflections on Surviving Subterfuge

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Will FPS ever be the same?

Probably, but the experience nonetheless caused the participants to consider the porous nature of the magic circle. How can we navigate the rhetoric of games that reward betrayal, dishonesty and colonial domination, all of which run contrary to our own principles? To what extent do we perform ourselves in the games that we play? How can we be ethical actors while still engaging in a spirit of play? Continue Reading

A Pace of Walking

Silent Hill, Trauma, and Mapping

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It occurs to me that some video games might have a “soul” or a thesis kept out of sight, locked away from interactive or procedural elements. And to access this soul one might have to look at these story elements not as a whole but working in their constituent parts.

Think about the painting, Conscience, Judas by Nikolai Ge, that depicts Judas in a moment swiftly following Christ’s arrest. Continue Reading

Hauntological Remediation

within P.T. and Resident Evil 7: The Beginning Hour

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In the decade following the release of Resident Evil 4 (2005), each successive entry within Capcom’s flagship horror series began to become more focused on producing action set pieces rather than genuine scares. This all changed with the release of The Beginning Hour, a short demo released in 2016 for the then upcoming Resident Evil 7: biohazard (2017). Continue Reading

An Interview with Tina Chan

On Applied Health Sciences, P.A.S.S., and the 3MT competition

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Tina Chan is currently a Masters of Science candidate at the University of Waterloo’s (UW) School of Public Health and Health Systems. Her areas of interest include computer based mental health solutions as well as peer to peer support and… Continue Reading