I also don't think discourse about gaming has reached a level that's good enough or interesting enough or impactful enough to be valid. The last thing I remember reading that made me go "this is good writing on videogames" was posted by cov. That was 99 days ago.
This is a few year's older than the article cov posted but its one of the best things ive ever read about a game. its an analysis of metal gear solid 2. it would help if youve played metal gear solid 1 and 2 but i dont think its 100% necessary to enjoy it. (being an analysis its spoiler heavy, of course.)
heres a passage from it that i think is great:
Actor refers to a character in a videogame whom the player presumes to control. Character refers to the identity of a fictional person within the game’s narrative context. All actors in MGS2 are characters, while only two characters are actors.
By extension, I have distinguished between Player Objectives and Actor Objectives. The former term describes the literal demands that a game places upon its player in order to complete the game’s objectives, including physical manipulation of hardware and the resulting in-game actions. The latter term describes the actor’s responsibilities as informed by narrative context and as they create the narrative.
The videogame Ms. Pacman illustrates how Player and Actor Objectives traditionally contrast and complement each other. The player must manipulate the joystick to guide Ms. Pacman through a series of mazes, meanwhile avoiding ghosts and eating pellets. In her narrative context, Ms. Pacman must survive her trip through the maze and consume. Ms. Pacman affirms that the Player Objectives fulfill the Actor Objectives since the player’s success guarantees the actor’s success.
The game splits the rewards: his score increases, and she lives to eat another day. Ms. Pacman has as little practical use for the score as the player has in her survival. He will leave the arcade without regret that she has repeatedly died, and she, in context, becomes no happier when he breaks the high score.
However, each reward affirms the other. Ms. Pacman’s survival guarantees that he will increase his score. The player’s increased score can earn a 1up, prolonging her desperate lease on life.
its strange reading this because before id never heard these essential parts of a video game described in such a way.