Vextro Reading List Vol. 4

Presenting a better representation for marginalized videogames feels so small. I dunno, maybe introspection isn’t good enough. Vextro has always been obviously political in our writings and will continue to draw those parallels, rejecting fascism and dehumanization.

Games listed in how long they take to finish.

continue to volume 5

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How it Feels to be Something On

My experience with anxiety is often a great apprehension, fear, stress, over things I’ve done before and will continue doing. I might even really enjoy the activity, like recording a podcast, but the night before I’ll be in survival mode. Tense and in knots, a part-rational part-irrational fear that this time I will screw up beyond belief, that somehow everything will go wrong, that I don’t even deserve the position or my friends. Fear of failure. At this point I know, like statistically, coldy, my feelings are unfounded. I have metacognition to know it’s just an anxiety attack. It still happens—though the intensity may much less than the first time—it still happens. While immersed in whatever activity my anxiety will finally dissipate, driven back without anything to hang on to.

I got sucked into Loop for deftly establishing that relationship. It’s not trying to represent anxiety or anything (my games do that, shameless plug), but a juxtaposition of horror and comedy instills a coping range of anxiety. In Loop the actor is an agent, their corps undefined, sent to investigate a haunted house. They’re told if they drain out the cellar, no more hauntings. Residents of this mansion are crudely drawn, goofy, nonthreatening, oddly comforting. Of hauntings they seem unconcerned, focused on sedentary tasks. Being haunted is an inconvenience, people still have to live.

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Why bother?

It’s ironic that art feels precarious and scarce because of cultural factors, when we live in an age where it’s freeing and easier than ever to connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime. When so much art is being made. It might be a confusion, the flood causing us to dig in, reinforcing the way it has been. Keeping order and sensibility, while adapting to thoughts humans never had to hear, never had to care about, never had to see. It’s too much but someday it won’t be, I think someday it will be a new normal, and it might be too late (or was never our ball) to define what that normal is.

To answer, in essence, why bother? Change is incremental, imperceptible, the amount of blood and sweat and risk put in doesn’t match the gains. Why bother?

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Unknown Portraits

support vextro

Dear is naïve art (hey look it up). It digs into a deep understanding of minimalism without really knowing or caring what minimalism is for. Little sketches of pixelart, that are intricate and communicative, are strewn about unevenly in the work. Sometimes the vast negative space is used to great effect. Usually it isn’t. At first I wasn’t even sure what I experienced at all, having no paratext blindsided me. There was no useful explanation of the game, no thumbnail, no theme; such an affecting work somehow existed without any statement of intent, or any acknowledgement that it could do anything at all. Such a brisk intensity of experience was hard to conceptualize without a stated framework by the developer. It’s ludically similar to Jake Clover’s sidescrollers like duck turnip, in that play is to facilitate a showcase of screens, aesthetic moments. Basically, a 2D walking sim.

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It starts in stark white, oddly cutting across a player’s monitor. Dear is rendered in a panoramic window, short and wide, a presentation I haven’t encountered before. In this way it rests into a gap of the computer, slotting in, distributing its existence, instead of being centered and demanding attention like the squares we’re used to. A deer, so a pun yeah, the titular deer, automatically walks across the screen. Space toggles its gait to a sprint, the only concrete interaction a player has, a transference that makes it not quite a simple animation. Pressing enter makes the deer leap into a run, autorunning until the end of a screen. An observing player can choose to inject panic or not into their viewing experience.

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Simple Fear and Flying

vextro is time limited and needs support

I have no knowledge or understanding of Korean and I can’t gauge the written or spoken content of this game. From what I can understand, it seems to be a goofy meme game, impulsively thrown together rather than maliciously or poignantly. My basic sense wants me to not write because I can’t really give justice, but it’s a good game. I like it. And so I go.


I remember first encountering skyscrapers. Mostly ’cause I’m made not able to forget it. For some reason or another my grandma needed to return to work and I was there. Living on base, in southern states, for years of my life, I’d never actually seen a city. Tall buildings creeped up over the horizon, and I yelled out (because all little kids yell) “I didn’t know grandma worked in New York City!” She laughed then and then weeks ago, as this story is inevitability whenever I’m in the same room with my mom and my grandma for too long.

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