It’s been a few years since the “are video games art” question has been raised and pretty much resolved. Yes, video games are art. But with that question out of the way, we’re left with “what’s next?” To that end, I believe we are lucky that many outlets (such as our own) are more than willing to discuss games as an art form, in a similar vein to the way we discuss books or movies. For this week’s web crush, I want to highlight Vice’s gaming division: Waypoint.
Waypoint gets into more than just reviews and press repetition to focus on the industry and community surrounding games. In their words, they will “cover the culture, passion, and politics of gaming.” Their strategy involves editorial posts, podcasts, videos, and live streams—something for almost every taste. In these pieces, they cover a variety of topics surrounding games, whether it be social commentary such as race or gender, something “artsy” like how the vast reaches of a game’s landscape were worth losing yourself in, or discussions about meta narratives such as the fixation Sega Genesis games had with environmentalism (an idea I’ve always enjoyed). Additionally, they feature pieces involving commentary from content creators doing interesting things, whether it be developers themselves, fans creating modifications for games, or the surrounding fandoms. For example, some fans have been doing voiceovers for Link from the Zelda franchise. After all, it is often fans of a property that propel it to something “more,” as with the sprawling fandom of Overwatch.
As I previously mentioned, they also have a podcast portion, aptly named Waypoint Radio, which you can watch live on their Twitch channel or follow the podcast a few days after. Editor-in-Chief Austin Walker is typically joined by Managing Editor Danielle Reindeau and Senior Reporter Patrick Klepek. Twice a week, they discuss the games they are playing, present relevant community news/events, and answer viewer questions, which usually follow the same style of deeper critical analysis about a particular game or gaming phenomenon. In particular, I enjoyed how they did extended question sections around the presidential inauguration, as that had an effect on both people’s moods and also on developers’ strategies: depending on laws and regulations passed, independent developers could have different resources to work with, thereby impacting their games. Additionally, “politics in games” is an increasingly discussed topic in many corners of gaming media, so this particular discussion was timely and relevant. The combination of news, discussion, analysis, and a diverse set of voices gives Waypoint Radio a unique and refreshing feel.
Overall, the viewpoint from Waypoint is one of enthusiastic, diverse critique. I think they bring a fun and important voice to games media. We are pretty well covered in consumer advocacy, corporate worship, and mechanical obsession, but they should not come at the cost of the art itself and its surrounding community. Sites like Waypoint are keeping us aimed in the right direction, and I hope they continue to produce thoughtful discussions for a long time going forward. If you enjoy artistic and community-aimed critique, I highly recommend checking them out. You can find them on Vice, Twitter, and Facebook!
Hear more from BrothaDom on Character Reveal, the podcast he cohosts with Lady Saika!