Article ID: CBB682164355

The Politics of Wholesome Games: Conservative Comforts and Radical Softness (2024)


Wholesome games are those that eschew dominant fight-or-flight logics and instead embrace softness, kindness, and warmth. While most academic and popular writing on such titles frames wholesomeness as an aesthetic or affect, in this paper I emphasize its politics in an effort to understand how these games variously reify and combat systemic oppression. My analysis focuses on the competing discourses that emerged from the first Wholesome Direct, a video showcase of then-forthcoming cozy video games. I read these perspectives from industry professionals through critical concepts from feminist media studies and queer art spaces, including nostalgia, exit, and radical softness. Through a distinction between what I call comfort and rest, I conclude that wholesome games must wear their politics on their sleeve if they wish to address the systemic issues that make many people seek them out.

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Article Edmond Y. Chang; Ashlee Bird (2024) Introduction to the Game Studies Issue: A Metagame. Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology (pp. 73-78). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Ashlee Bird
Campbell, Nancy D.
Engels, Jens Ivo
Sarah Dillon
LeMieux, Patrick
Peter D. McDonald
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
Social Studies of Science
Engineering Studies
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
Science as Culture
Science Communication
MIT Press
Oxford University Press
The MIT Press
University of North Carolina Press
Technology and politics
Energy resources and technologies
Entertainment industry
Recreation; play
Latour, Bruno
Leckie, Ann
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
20th century
United States
Great Britain
Massachusetts (U.S.)
New Mexico (U.S.)

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