Sundays are for cheering the water with a drink of your choice. Before you raise a glass to yourself, let’s read this week’s best writing about games (and game related matters).

Over on Kotaku, Sisi Jiang wrote about how the mum who didn’t know she was in a $250k Candy Crush tournament. Jiang speaks to Erryn Rhoden on how she became an accidental pro, but also explores her past as a former lover of all things PVP.

Rhoden knew that the King held such contests every few years, but he was never interested in competing. As a purely free-to-play player, she ignores the various pop-up ads that tried to entice her into spending money or participating in events. “I’m clicking on the [exit buttons and] not paying attention. And then I apparently clicked yes instead of “no.” A week later, it was like: ‘You qualify.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, that’s nice’. I didn’t even know I was playing.” Since progress was tied to game scores rather than PvP results, Rhoden kept getting pop-ups for milestones such as passing the quarterfinals, and then entering the semifinals as she was just casually taking part in her regular Candy Crush routine.

Nicole Carpenter wrote a post for Polygon on how cozy games are getting darker. Carpenter examines the cozy/terrifying Dredge as an evolution of the cozy subgenre, alongside Don’t Starve, Night In The Woods and more. There’s some interesting insights from the devs on what “cozy” means to them, too.

Rose emphasized that cozy really is what you make of it. “Some people find farming simulations to be the peak of coziness, while others get stressed out by the fast-moving days and endless to-do lists,” she said. “Really, whatever game makes you feel cozy is a cozy game.”

Another one from Polygon comes courtesy of Kaile Hultner, who wrote about surveillance in MMOs past and present. It’s interesting to read how the intelligence community views online games like MMOs as fertile grounds for “fresh data”. They believe that folks will let their guards down, basically. I hope no-one spied on me when I was a tank who led their entire party into a wipe.

According to Stevens, the absurdity is the point. Spy agencies know that suspected extremists operating online are both tech-savvy and aware of good operational security practices. But games, places where nothing is inherently supposed to be taken seriously except maybe in the context of the in-world lore and story, are also places where one might inherently let their guard down. According to one of the Snowden documents linked above, NSA analysts wrote, “These applications and their servers however, are trusted by their users and makes a connection [sic] to another computer on the Internet, which can then be exploited.”

Over on The New Yorker, Matt Alt wrote about how anime confronts a new apocalypse. Back in the day, the manga was hopeful and positive. Now? Lots of the biggest players are dark and cynical. Alt’s piece examines how and why recent times have changed their outlook. A crack read.

“We’re off to outer space, we’re leaving mother Earth, to save the human race,” the opening lines of the theme song to “Yamato” and “Star Blazers” went, but modern audiences seem more interested in escaping into inner space and saving themselves. Part of this is simply due to changing tastes and styles, inevitable in any youth-oriented medium, and part to how even the most radical subcultures inevitably get co-opted—witness how hip-hop and punk, so edgy and threatening in the eighties , morphed into mainstream pop. Days after Matsumoto’s death, a column about the artist expressed concern about how “cold and cynical many recent anime seem to be.” But is this a criticism of the current crop of animators and fans-or a reflection of Japanese society itself?

Music this week is Blood And Butter by Caroline Polachek. Here’s the Spotify link and YouTube link. It has a solo bagpipe! A BAGPIPE SOLO THAT WORKS. Polachek, to me, is elevated pop.

This week’s bonus track is Vasquez by London Elektricity. Here’s the Spotify link and YouTube link. If you know my music tastes by now, you know I love a bit of liquid dnb, and that I’m a sucker for anything summery. London Elektricity delivers both in spades. Here’s a TikTok (watch the volume if you click this link), which shows him recording the track with his son who does the trumpet hook!

That’s it for this week folks, take care of yourselves and see you next week!

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