Every other Thursday, we’re going to be featuring some of the resources that inspire, provoke and delight our writers. These websites, twitter accounts, podcasts and books will help you to be more thoughtful about popular culture.We recommend them to you, especially if you find yourself interested in the subject at hand.

Websites

  • Gamasutra – If you’re looking for serious-minded and thought provoking news, analysis, and interviews about the games industry, Gamasutra has you covered. Because it’s primarily meant for game industry professionals, it provides an incredible amount of insight behind the game industry curtain. (We should also point out that our own Richard Clark writes a monthly column there about video games, religion, and morality)
  • Giant Bomb – This site pulls off something that few gaming sites do: they manage to focus on “fun factor” while retaining a sense of journalistic integrity and intelligence. The site is respected primarily because the focus is on the consumer alone, as demonstrated by their unflinching willingness to call a bad game a bad game.
  • The Brainy Gamer –A few years back, a couple of blogs began to pop up that were devoted to thoughtfully discussing and considering video games. They were unfortunately dubbed “the brainysphere,” and The Brainy Gamer became the defacto headquarters for that movement. Written by a theater professor, this blog is full of thought-provoking articles and impressively smart commenters.
  • Critical Distance – Every week, this blog provides an absolutely essential roundup of the most noteworthy writing about games. Their standards are high for what’s featured, and you can count on it being thought-provoking and intelligent.
  • Moving Pixels – A part of Pop Matters, Moving Pixels will provide you with a steady stream of worthy articles. Subscribe to this blog, and you’ll never want for more video game articles.
  • The Border House – A gaming blog for a “marginalized audience” including “those who are feminist, queer, disabled, people of color, transgendered, poor, gay, lesbian.” You may not share their religious or ethical views, but the longer you read this blog the more you’ll find yourself surprised to be in full agreement with many of their complaints about how women and various minorities are often treated in games.
  • Edge Magazine – Edge is sort of the UK version of IGN or Gamespot, only far more thoughtful in their game coverage and reviews.  Particularly good is the “keynotes” section of their website which includes op-eds about where the medium is at, what games are challenging it, and ideas for pushing the medium forward.
  • Eurogamer – Simply put, the most consistently great game reviews you’ll find on the internet.

Twitter Accounts

  • @simoncarless – Simon Carless works for a lot of interconnected things: Gamasutra, the Game Developers Conference, Game Developer Magazine. Still, he’s known by most as a champion for all things indie-game related and his twitter feed will let you know about hidden gems you must try, as well as provide a bit of behind the scenes information about the industry.
  • @killscreenmag – This is a twitter feed for a print magazine, so they can’t just link their own articles all the time. Instead, they use their twitter real estate to direct our attention to some of the most interesting and surprising video game articles and discoveries on the internet.
  • @jasonkill – Jason Killingsworth writes about videogames for a number of outlets, including Paste Magazine. His tweets are a careful balance of family life, video game thoughts, and reflections on music and film.

Podcasts

  • The Experience Points Podcast – By far the most underrated video game podcast on my radar, the experience points podcast is hosted by two friends who choose a topic every week and discuss it to death for 30-40 minutes. Scott and Jorge are clearly smart guys, but their real strength is in their jovial banter and their evident friendship.
  • Mobcast – Each week, a group of 4-5 people choose one topic each. Then, they discuss. Because the guests are usually smart, it works.
  • The Brainy Gamer Podcast – Michael Abbott has a guest (or several guest) each episode, and while new episodes are few and far between, they’re always incredibly dense and well worth the wait. If you were smart, you’d start by downloading a ton of old episodes.
  • A Life Well Wasted – Another podcast that’s hardly ever updated, this one feels like a video-game version of This American Life, but manages to feel very much like its own thing as well.

Print

  • Extra Lives by Tom Bissell – It’s not so much a scholarly tome on the subject as it is a personal exploration in light of the influence of video games. Still there’s a lot of great thought about the medium here, both from the author as well as various industry voices. Read Rich’s deeper thoughts on the book.
  • Replay by Tristan Donovan – There are a number of video game history books, but they often are too focused on hardware, too surface level in their approach, or both. Replay looks at the medium as an art form, and delivers an incredibly thick book full of fascinating stories and a detailed account of how the industry started and how it evolved into what it is today.
  • Kill Screen – It may seem pricey for a magazine, but what you’re really buying is a subscription to a quarterly McSweeney’s style book of various authors writing some of their best work about the subject. Some of it is deeply personal and moving, and every bit of it is worth reading. Subscribe to this magazine and you absolutely will not regret it, whether you’re interested in video games, or just culture in general.