Timestamps and topics:
35:25 to 38:00: The Arcana
38:45 to 39:21: Assemble with Care
10:10 to 35:10: Darkest Dungeon
1:35:55 to 1:37:37: Disco Elysium
3:00 to 4:00; 1:30:00 to 1:35:55: Duolingo
1:00:54 to 1:02:15: Gloomhaven: Jaws of a Lion
1:09:45 to 1:30:00: Jenny LeClue: Detectivú
55:06 to 57:36: Merge Mansion
38:30 to 38:45: Monument Valley
58:28 to 1:00:54: A Plague Tale: Innocence
52:00 to 55:05: Pokemon Sword & Shield
1:02:15 to 1:06:22: Remember August
38:00 to 38:30: Sp!ng
41:00 to 52:00: Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator
1:08:22 to 1:09:20: Spelltower
1:38:38 to 1:39:25: Stardew Valley
39:30 to 40:43: Tangle Tower
1:06:22 to 1:09:44: Wordle and Lewdle
Pieces we mentioned:
Review: Cleaning Up the Chaos of Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! by Melissa Brinks
Grow Up: Unlikable Characters in Jenny LeClue: Detectivú by Melissa Brinks
Living with the Specter of Death: What Darkest Dungeon Tells Us About Stress by Oluwatayo Adewole
Pieces we didn’t mention but you might like:
Heart, Kidney, Pancreas, Shard by Maddi Butler
Realism, Catharsis, and Why Pyre Works by Zora Gilbert
Theme music is Bass Thee by Alexander Nakarada, used under Creative Commons 0.
Naseem Jamnia: So is it critical of these things? Or is it supposed to be tongue in cheek?
Maddi Butler: I think just by virtue of being what it is, it is critical of a capitalist system that, you know, prioritizes—like the people have to turn to organ trading to a) make money and b) receive healthcare.
Naseem: OK, yeah.
Maddi: But it’s also very humorous, so it’s definitely tongue in cheek about a lot of things as well.
Zora Gilbert: It doesn’t sound like it’s moralizing so much as kind of extrapolating, like, critically.
Maddi: Yeah, yeah. And I think the interesting thing is like—there have been a lot of games are—I mean, particularly Kentucky Route Zero is one of the games where I feel like you can really see the “capitalism is bad” sort of thing. I think it’s hard to—like, people kind of know that at this point. So I think—
Naseem: Does everyone realized that capitalism is bad, though? Because sometimes I wonder.
Maddi: That’s true, that’s true, yeah.
Zora: But these games aren’t going to be the thing that radicalizes somebody.
Maddi: I think it’s doing something where it’s like, yes, the people who play it know capitalism is bad. And I don’t think a video game is going to solve that. And I don’t think at this point that saying capitalism is bad is particularly like—
Maddi: Yeah, it’s not really profound, which I think makes the things that Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator is doing feel more profound by forcing you to engage with the tension in the game. So yeah, that’s my experience.
Missy: I haven’t played it yet, but I feel like… I’m gonna try to remember the name. Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator?
Zora: Nailed it.
Missy: There’s a lot of words in there. I feel like that game kind of—it sounds like it kind of indulges—like, maybe this is just my urge—our urge to sometimes just lay down in a garbage pit and roll around a bit.
Naseem: I definitely have that urge, so. I feel you.
Missy: Like, sometimes you’re like, “Fuck, I live in a capitalist hellscape. I want to play this game about selling organs. I’m going to be as bad as I can be.”
Zora: “What if I leaned in?”
Maddi: Yeah. Yeah. Like it forces you to lean in.
Missy: That’s what they mean by lean-in culture.
Zora: Trade organs.
Maddi: Trade organs… and profit.
Zora: Speaking of Hannibal…
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Melissa Brinks is Sidequest’s editor in chief, co-creator of the Fake Geek Girls podcast, author of The Compendium of Magical Beasts, and an aspiring beekeeper. She once won an argument on the internet, and tweets at @MelissaBrinks.