Essay: Rise of the Video Game Zinesters

I really enjoyed reading Chapter 1 and 7 — Chapter 1 in particular had many points that really hit home for me that I would like to discuss. I have never thought of the idea of zine-ifying games and game production, because when I think of games, I think of highly polished works of incredible technical caliber. But I realize that things that are made from a purely hobbyist standpoint can be equally enjoyed as well — I watch streamers play games and demos from individual lone wolf hobbyists, and although they are usually more unpolished, there is still incredible dedication to the craft, beauty in the simplicity of certain mechanics, and still maintains high levels of player engagement (e.g. Roblox, Gamejolt). There are so many opportunities for mediocre art in other art forms that I participate in as a creative writer and a music producer myself, but games have always been an art form that I have been intimidated to break into. I enjoy consuming other works by hobbyists — fanfic writers, fanart creators, buying zines, doing writing exchanges — but I have never seen anything on this caliber for games. The author brings up a really interesting point of zine-ifying games and creating space for mediocrity. Exchanging writing snippets, headcanons, and short stories with other writers and participating in zines has exposed me to a diverse set of writing styles, different universes, different tropes and ways of spinning a story that has been instrumental in my growth as a writer. Normalizing something like this for games is something that I never realized I wanted — there is a high barrier to entry (I still feel it despite being a computer science student), and a high barrier to distribution and investment due to high cost and commercial obligations. I think the connotation of games will become much more positive and move away from the whole “games encourage violence” stereotype that so many parents tell their children once the population of those who create games becomes more diverse. Mediocrity should be encouraged, exchanged, and built upon.

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