Hello, and welcome to GYGO! I’m Kael, your local gaming bard, and I’ve been playing more D&D than anything else. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve touched a video game console in weeks, though I did learn a few Final Fantasy songs on kalimba for role-playing purposes (and Sadness and Sorrow from Naruto). When not practicing my scales I’ve also been scouring the net for some of that hot, fresh, sweet, and surprisingly squishy gaming news.

China’s Game Industry Feeling Effects of the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

According to Junxue Li, CEO of Sunny Painter (a game art outsourcing company), things have been rough in China since the coronavirus outbreak. People are staying indoors, the recent Lunar New Year holiday was extended by a week to help with quarantine procedures, and businesses are being affected.

One of the sectors most affected is the game industry, but it’s not universally bad. After all, people need entertainment after so long trapped indoors. CNN reports that Tencent’s flagship MOBA, Honor of Kings, has reached an all-time high in daily traffic. Many online games like the MMO Nishuihan and Overwatch have given free trials during the holiday. Other companies have run charity drives and mask donations to places like Wuhan, where the virus’s effects are felt the heaviest.

There have been negative effects on the industry as well. Large esports events like the Overwatch League were canceled or postponed to limit the risk of large crowds transmitting the virus. Companies have also experienced a labor shortage over the holiday and quarantine periods. The epicenter of the outbreak, Wuhan City, which Li says is a center for the romance game industry in China, was hit especially hard by these events.

Fans Hype About Games Teased by Stardew Valley Creator

And Eric Barone, also known as developer ConcernedApe, is not having it. I have to admit I was today years old when I found out that the Stardew Valley creator was not involved in Witchbrook (created by Chucklefish, publisher for Stardew Valley—it’s a whole thing). Now I’m excited for both that and these two new mystery games that Barone is creating.

It’s a tempered hype, however, because Barone himself asked people to stay calm and keep their expectations grounded. He said he wants to create the kind of game that comes naturally to him, and it sounds like it can be hard to do that with the pressure of a particularly passionate fanbase. While the mystery does have me more excited than anything, I’ll have to find some way to refrain from @ing him my fan theories about romance options.

Yes, I’m Going to Talk About Politics in Games

Trust me, I get it, listening to game development executives talk about how games should be politically neutral has me tired, too. But in this week’s case, which has Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney stating that games should be divorced from politics, there are some really interesting points made by Kotaku and Ars Technica on the subject.

First of all, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney talked about a lot of things during his DICE Summit, notably that companies should divorce themselves from political statements, that politics should be the realm of individual creatives and not marketing departments, and that Chik-Fil-A becoming a divisive fast food choice is stupid.

Kotaku pointed out that what Sweeney’s hopes is impossible. Companies are inherently political because they are built on interactions between people. The entry bar for playing a game is expensive (game systems, internet access, et cetera), and that is political. Fortnite itself mining Black culture for dance inspiration is certainly political.

Even if a company wanted to place all political decisions in the hands of a creative team, Ars Technica argued that Epic is failing at that. If a creative team at Epic wanted to release an erotic game on the platform, they would find that they couldn’t, based on an (inherently political) policy decision affecting the whole company. Whether or not erotic content should be allowed by Epic doesn’t really matter here, only that it is a deeply political decision not to publish it.

Both articles reached a similar conclusion by the end, which is that video game companies and fast-food chains are not actually the same thing. I personally think this should be the hot new debate moving forward, but I don’t control the discourse.

In Other News…