Sonic on SNES, the porn game dilemma, and how to order BBQ in 2020

It's time you learned what "burnt ends" are

[Hi, I'm Chris Plante, and you're reading Postgame, a weekly newsletter collecting the best games, stories, and videos in the video game community into a fun, digestible package on Wednesday and Sunday mornings. Learn more on the Postgame About page. Postgame is edited by Stephie Grob Plante. If you like the newsletter, please consider subscribing and sharing Postgame with your friends!]

Sonic the Hedgehog' Release Date Pushed Back Following Backlash

Welcome to the mid-week Postgame, where I collect stories bubbling across the games community!

For the meatiest issues of Postgame, be sure to check out the weekly Sunday digest.

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Following up on porn games

On Sunday, I recommended Jess Joho's introductory guide to the world of porn games. Around the same time Ana Valens, who has been a leader in the adult games conversation, wrote a critique of games media's prior coverage of the space. The headline gets to the big question: "Games journalism is still ashamed of adult games. How do we fix it?"

From Valens' piece:

To be clear, fixing the larger online editorial industry is at the center of this issue. When Google controls how your content is seen, and Patreon dictates what sort of porn you can discuss, that causes a chilling effect on adult speech. But nothing is going to change until writers and editors come together and start pushing the boundaries of what their advertisers will allow. If you put up a fight, you’ll see where the line is and learn how to push back against it. And if the higher-ups publishing your work aren’t thrilled, that’s not an invitation to give up; it’s an urgent warning to push back.

For Polygon, it's not as simple as "no porn games because they upset advertisers." I've never considered advertisers when building our edit plan. And frankly, I don't think most advertisers would even notice porn games coverage. Maybe I'm naive?

I'm considerably more concerned about reader interest. Do any porn games attract a level of interest that's comparable to other pieces of media we cover? How many people want to read about porn games? (I'm assuming the average adult who enjoys porn doesn't spend much time reading about porn.) And how much of the audience would prefer to keep their mainstream criticism and porn critical separate, similar to how we don't see much porn coverage in the arts section of newspapers or magazines. I can think of several reasons people might prefer the separation: for example, a ton of folks read Polygon at work and would probably prefer the site not to get blacklisted by their corporate I.T. team.

Which is to say that lots of people like porn, but they expect it in different digital locales.

I do think adult games are an area of potential investment for larger publishers. But if anything, porn games coverage feels like a significant opportunity for a reporter (or entrepreneurial group) looking to own a beat via freelance or through a paid newsletter.


FreeFortnite

The Epic/Apple/Google showdown, explained

On Sunday, I waded into the weeds of the biggest fight in video games.

If you'd like an easy-to-read F.A.Q. on this debacle, Samit Sarkar wrote a layperson's explainer at Polygon. It's a helpful summary, primarily if you've found this entire news cycle overwhelming or you're simply looking for someone to connect all the dots.


Can a video game be an act of heresy?

The folks at Digital Foundry have found and analyzed a Super Nintendo port of the quintessential Sega Genesis-exclusive, Sonic the Hedgehog. The gods of 16-bit gaming will smite us for this sacrilegious indiscretion.

What if Sonic the Hedgehog was ported to Super NES? What would it look like? How would it play? Could an engine designed specifically for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis transfer gracefully to Nintendo's 16-bit machine - even without Blast Processing? After 29 years, we finally have some answers and we've seen and played a convincing SNES port of one of Sonic the Hedgehog's levels.


The appeal of (and trouble with) an MMO that uses real cash

People Make Games locate quirky corners of video game culture and investigate them with curiosity, empathy, and good humor. I encourage y'all to subscribe.


Vice has published a bunch of great stories this month

A few of my favorites:

Black 'The Sims 4' Players Are Changing One of the World's Biggest Games

Gita Jackson via Vice

The Sims 4's black players have had enough. After years of complaining and coming up with their own makeshift solutions, they spoke out louder than ever and demanded developers give them better tools to make Sims that look like themselves. They have coalesced around the "#EAListen" hashtag on Twitter, collected tens of thousands of signatures, and enlisted the support of prominent players in the community.

Gita has been reporting on The Sims community for years, including some harrowing narratives of her own Sims' teenage nightmares.

Lead History's Worst Raid Group in 'A Total War Saga: Troy'

Rob Zacny via Vice

This headline! ^

This lede!

If you have ever questioned how you'd make a strategy game based on a war epic that's mostly about violent, depressed narcissists standing around longship parking lots to argue about their violence and colossal egos, A Total War Saga: Troy isn't a bad answer. 

'Astrologaster' Asks if Bad Medicine Can Make a Good Doctor

Elizabeth Ballou via Vice

You likely missed Astrologaster, a wry narrative game that got lost amongst a bunch of loud Spring 2019 releases like Days Gone, Dauntless, and Rage 2. I really dug the game but had forgotten about it amongst, you know, everything. I didn't expect to see a feature-length culture critique in 2020, but I'm grateful nonetheless! Ballou does a superb job explaining why this little game from last year matters so much more today.

Astrologaster came out last year, accidentally a year ahead of its time. It’s funny, it features an original choral score by Andrea Boccadoro, and it’s satisfyingly presented in the form of a pop-up storybook, with players flipping the pages between charts of the stars and Forman’s house. But what makes it most remarkable is its relevance in 2020. Playing the game in the summer of 2020 means placing “Dr.” Simon Forman’s concepts of health, medicine, and wellness in conversation with our own. His reality and our reality both show that when a medical system breaks down, its patients stop trusting that system and turn to the fringes of medicine instead.

The Pentagon Wasn't Ready for Gamers to Push Back

Matthew Gault via Vice

A large portion of the civilian population and portions of the U.S. government are pushing back against the Pentagon ways that haven’t happened since before 9/11. It’s no longer a given that the military will be welcomed with open arms in any space it enters. The bans on Twitch, the dithering about what is and isn’t recruitment, and its insincerity in the face of criticism reflect a military that doesn’t know how to have difficult conversations with the public. For twenty years, it hasn’t had to have them.


Has a survival game ever been released in "good" shape?

Grounded has a ton of promise, but plenty of flaws. The unfinished nature of so many popular survival games continues to keep me away from the genre.


The Besties | Podcast on Spotify

This week on The Besties

If you want to learn all about the new hit game Fall Guys without reading a single word, here's your chance!

Spoiler: I adore the game. It's a busted bust and unbalanced but, for now, that's cool by me. Not everything should be polished within an inch of its life.


Ephemera

How to get the world's best B.B.Q. during the pandemic

I recently learned my favorite B.B.Q. spot ships across the U.S. I'm telling you this for a few reasons:

  • We're entering peak B.B.Q. season

  • Kansas City has the best B.B.Q. on the planet

  • Most of you have never had KC BBQ, which is a shame

  • You can now order KKC BBQ during peak B.B.Q. season, which is a blessing

The shop's called Joes Kansas City B.B.Q. (formerly Oklahoma Joe's — a confusing name considering the shop originated in Kansas). The first Joes still stands inside of a gas station on the Missouri/Kansas border and is painfully charming. If it weren't for this godforsaken pandemic, I'd just encourage you to make the road trip.

That's not an option, so shipping B.B.Q. must be the second-best choice. Everything on the menu will tickle your tastebuds, though your best bet is burnt ends, ribs, and pulled pork. If you're going for the authentic K.C. experience, grab some of the seasonings and dust your favorite takeout french fries. Maybe toast some white bread and smother it in melted butter. Treat yourself.

Listen, pal. This isn't an ad. It's a P.S.A.

(I wish it were an ad. I need free BBQ.)


That's a wrap. Have an excellent rest of the week. Wear a mask. I'll see y'all Sunday morning!


But what do you think?

Send links, tips, comments, questions, games, and cheeky court documents to @plante.

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