Hey all, and welcome to GYGO! I’m Kael, your local wayward spirit, and I’ve been howling into the dull crescent moon all this week. The rare moments I could tear myself away I sat down to watch The Haunting of Bly Manor on Netflix. At the moment I don’t have any game to devote an unnerving amount of attention to, so I had to sate myself by collecting all this news for you. Enjoy!

Riot’s Fake Influencer Breakdown Had People Feeling Not Great

League of Legends has a new character named Seraphine. She’s a pop star singer who casts magic with her voice. To build up hype for this character, Riot Games created social profiles for her leading up to the release, building her up as a virtual influencer. I kind of love the idea of an ARG character announcement, but, of course, it got weird.

As Gita Jackson wrote for Vice, something people look for in both pop stars and influencers is a parasocial relationship, or the fantasy that you are the star’s special friend despite not actually knowing them. Riot tried to create this relationship between League players and Seraphine by making her relatable. But instead of posting some quirky selfies and giving her a hobby or two like most pop stars, they crossed a line when they staged a public struggle with her mental health as she quit her day job to start a music career.

This bizarre plot line could absolutely be used as a tool to bring awareness to mental health struggles (Jackson pointed out that Barbie has done this successfully in the past). But Seraphine, being an imaginary advertising tool designed to get people to play a video game, was never supposed to spread awareness of the impacts of stress on mental health. Instead, she directed fans to send words of encouragement to her Twitter, some of which went on a cute Pinterest-y cork board. This strange marketing approach trivializes mental illness by attaching real concerns to a fictional character in content designed to go viral without attempting to raise awareness or support real people with actual mental health concerns. Instead of being a genuine opportunity to direct people toward ways to help those struggling with mental illness, it’s a schlocky marketing tactic to gain social media interaction.

CD Projekt Red Crunching More Than Previously Thought

An anonymous developer posted on Reddit that many at CD Projekt Red have been working weekends and 16-hour workdays since June 2019, much longer than previously thought. The identity of the developer was confirmed by Jason Schreier on Twitter. According to the developer, there was never any conversation about crunch at CDPR. In fact, communication as a whole was an issue, with many developers learning about Cyberpunk 2077‘s highly publicized delays through Twitter announcements.

The US Army Is Silencing Critics on Facebook Now

The US Army has been less present on Twitch this week, instead doing most of its streaming on Facebook. I’ve been pretty vocal about my bad feelings about using streaming as a recruitment tactic. In fact, this is the fourth consecutive month I’ve written about it now. This time escalates things, of course, since the Army is potentially violating citizens’ First Amendment rights.

This is the opinion of the Knight First Amendment Institute, which is looking into the constitutionality of a series of bans the Army doled out as viewers criticized them for their recruitment tactics. For those familiar with the American Constitution, the First Amendment is pretty clear that the people’s right to freedom of speech and to “petition the government for a redress of grievances” shall not be abridged.

In Other News…

PlayStation will no longer be selling PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita products through the web and mobile stores. To be clear, because I was very confused at first, PS3 and PS Vita products can still be purchased on their respective consoles, just not on the mobile app or website. PS3 users will also no longer be able to message users of other consoles, and no alerts will be shown when a friend starts playing a PS3 game.

This week Square Enix trademarked the name Forspoken, which had Final Fantasy 14 players in a frenzy wondering if it’ll be the name of the next big expansion.

And a PlayStation 5 feature was accidentally revealed this week and put a lot of people on edge. The feature allows people to send a recording of party chat conversations to Sony when they file a harassment report. To do this, the PS5 records a running five minutes of audio in every chat, which cannot be turned off. PlayStation 4 users found out about this feature when an update pushed a warning to their system that their Party Chats were being recorded (which is not true for players on the PS4 console) and could be monitored by Sony. A panic online brought Sony to clarify the usage of the recordings and confirm that no active monitoring of conversations would be done.

Three unions representing Blizzard workers in France called for a strike. Blizzard recently announced the closure of its Versailles office, which will cost 285 jobs in the middle of a pandemic. In a statement to PC Gamer, the unions announced they had reason to believe the closure was planned but unreported to employees.

Those ever so tempting Homescapes and Gardenscapes mobile ads (the ones with the pins you have to pull in a certain order) have themselves been pulled. The UK Advertising Standards Authority declared that they didn’t closely enough match the actual gameplay, which is largely a Candy Crush-style match-three game with only a few pin-pulling minigames mixed in.

In the world of game updates: Morrowind Rebirth, a massive overhaul mod for The Elder Scrolls Morrowind that launched in 2011, received a huge content update this week. Similarly, Minecraft characters hit Super Smash Bros, and they have some players stumped. And finally, Stardew Valley is set to get split-screen co-op, and also bananas.

Both the Monster Hunter movie and Spider-Man: Miles Morales game got trailers this week.

Feminist Frequency compiled and analyzed data on how many AAA games with female leads were announced between June 11 and September 10 (in other words, games that would have likely been announced at 2020’s very cancelled E3), and it was tentatively hopeful.

An as of yet unannounced Mass Effect Legendary Edition received a rating in South Korea this week. This follows rumors of a remaster showing up on a Portuguese game retail website last month, and has fans wondering if EA has something on the horizon.

And to finish off, it was surprisingly healing to read Todd Harper’s piece for Vice about sexism in old GameFAQs articles. As a kid, I developed this uncomfortable itch in the back of my mind while looking up old JRPG tips, and hearing someone else acknowledge the flood of “Hehe, sexy girl character” comments as not okay was a hugely satisfying scratch.