Sundays are for spending your first weekend back in the UK in a while, and feeling a bit disoriented. Before you settle back in, let’s read this week’s best writing about games (and game related matters).

Over on the rest of the world, Viola Zhou wrote about how AI is already taking video game illustrators’ jobs in China. Sorry, it’s not the most heartening read to kick off this week’s papers, but it certainly puts the issues of AI in the spotlight once again.

The Guangdong-based game artist, who works at a leading gaming company, said that previously, employees could draw a scene or a character in a day; now, with the help of AI, they could make 40 a day for their bosses to choose from. “I wish I could just shoot down these programs,” the artist told Rest of World, after getting off work late one night. She said fear of impending layoffs had made her colleagues more competitive; many stayed at work late, working longer hours to try to produce more. “[AI] made us more productive but also more exhausted,” she said.

Te-Ping Chen wrote a post for The Wall Street Journal on the tech workers who were hired to do nothing. Another frustrating post, but an interesting one about tech companies that seem overhiring talent to prevent competition from snapping them up.

Some laid-off workers agree. “They were just kind of, like, hoarding us like Pokémon cards,” a former Meta worker hired in April 2022 says in a recent TikTok video about her experience at the company. In an interview, Britney Levy, 35, says she was hired as part of a yearlong training program dedicated to recruiting diverse talent, and she was frustrated to receive only one assignment shortly before being laid off in November.

On Waypoint, Patrick Klepek wrote about booting up a six-year-old Breath Of The Wild save. I’m fascinated by booting up old save files and rediscovering past selves, or other folks’ past selves. Forgive me for linking to my own piece, but I wrote about this for Eurogamer before I started at RPS.

These days, save files follow you around, in the cloud or attached to a console you own. But growing up, one of my favorite activities was important for video games and seeing what previous players were up to. Prior to the introduction of memory cards around the PlayStation era, save files were attached to the game cartridges themselves, and rarely did kids delete their progress. In fact, when I rented long role-playing games, I hoped and prayed that the next person who rented the cartridge kept my adventure intact by the time I could rent it again!

Over on VG247, Francisco Dominguez wrote a fun piece about being a Wario Kid for life. ONE OF US, ONE OF US.

I thought I wanted the Mario experience, but Wario turned out much better value. I expected to be gallantly hopping over Piranha Plants and roasting Goombas with fireballs. Instead, I found myself elbow smashing through brick walls, crushing enemies with my hefty rear-end, and matching Wario’s grin as he manically trashed his surroundings like a demolition crew on a deadline. Sure, he was collecting music-boxes to rescue some enigmatic figures in theory, but his real motive was pure greed. Having been raised to be impractically kind, generous and polite, I’d now meet the Game Boy’s Gordon Gekko.

Next up is Final Fantasy XVI’s latest State Of Play, which showed off a bunch more combat footage and lots of exploration things. It looks gorgeous! I mean, get a load of some of those shots from 5:27 onwards. Throughout, I was like, “Katharine is going to be supremely excited by all this”.

Music this week is Lazy Afternoon by Pete La Roca. Here’s the Spotify link and YouTube link. Simon and I heard a lot of jazz in cafes and restaurants in Japan, so here’s one we Shazamed as soon as we heard it.

I started reading Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead by Olga Tokarczuk on the shinkansen from Kyoto to Kanazawa. I’m not that far in, but so far I think it’s an excellent murder mystery/introspective commentary on likes, attitudes towards the elderly, animal rights, and beliefs.

Oh, and if anyone has any tips for learning Japanese or any new language, please do let me know. I’m likely going to sign up for one hour classes, once a week, for a 12 week block, but I’m a bit unsure as to how to supplement it with listening etc. I’d quite like to make it more than just a one-hour-per-week-and-that’s-it type of gig. I’ve got my mum to practice Q&A with, although I’m starting from a weird mix of absolute beginners, to know a lot of random words and have a good ear for when questions are flung my way.

I see a lot of stuff online that’s like, “I practiced for 6-8 hours a day!”, “I moved to Japan!”, “I listened to thousands of hours of anime!”, and “Just talk with Japanese people !”. Many of these things I can’t do, sadly. I tried SRS and a bunch of apps, but they don’t seem to work for me. And I struggle to fully talk with my mum in Japanese, as I don’t really know how to string together a lot of sentences, and my vocab is limited, so I end up getting frustrated and asking lots of questions in English. Anyways! Tips appreciated! Sorry for the ramble.

Finally, a big thanks to James, Rachel, and Liam for keeping the Paps production line running over my absence. You’re now stuck with me again for the foreseeable, so catch you next week!

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