What was it like working a Nintendo hotline in the 80s?

This week, our partnership with Critical Distance brings us reading on parenting via Tomb Raider, the utility of the word 'gameplay', and experiences from Nintendo 'play counselors' from the 1980s and 90s.

First up, Melody Meows takes a stop at Haywire to write to/about Tomorrow Corporation’s Little Inferno and Human Resource Machine. Meanwhile, Not Your Mama’s Gamer regular, Bianca Batti, analyzes how mother and father figures are presented in games through the lens of Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Writing for the A.V. Club, Annie Zaleski interviews former “play counselors” for Nintendo America who in the late 80’s and 90’s worked a hotline for struggling gamers.

We would take the same call over and over and over again—or you would get stuck in one of those games, where you’d have to spend 10 minutes just trying to figure out where they were. [...] And we didn’t have any more information than the public did, except we had done our own research. It was very, very rare that we would get things that weren’t available to the public. Everybody always thought we had these secrets or cheats or different things like that. The only thing we had—we had all the available information in front of us, or we had some amazing people who would literally hand-draw these maps.

J.H. Grace describes the history and aesthetic of brutalist architecture on his dev blog, noting how games like the Assassin’s Creed series and Kairo communicate with the harshly functional architecture.

Lastly, over at Gamasutra, Katherine Cross argues that videogames more closely resemble opera than film based on 19th century composer Richard Wagner’s vision of the “total work of art” that encapsulates emotion in the synthesis of many art forms. For Cross, play is how games express this idea:

I’m on record as deeply disliking the unspecific nature of the word “gameplay” but in this case its capacious and slippery definition is actually quite helpful: everything that constitutes an interaction with the gaming environment is covered by “gameplay” here so far as I’m concerned. That vastness is our music.

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