Today, Matajuegos turns 5. It never occurred to us, back in 2016 when we started the blog, to try to imagine what half a decade of sustained videogame criticism and analysis from a social, artistic, and Latin American perspective would look like. Much less what it’d be like to reach such a round and neat number in the middle of the most overwhelming global crisis of our generation (knock on wood).
During our last birthday, drunk on arrogance, we said (a) that the pandemic couldn’t alter the passage of time, and (b) that we wouldn’t give up the fight. The popular consensus indicates that the former is a shameless lie, or, at the very least, that it was one of the first social pillars to crumble. The latter isn’t that reliable either—we haven’t given up, but we’ve had to take extended breaks between rounds.
The pandemic affected us in a myriad of ways, both as individuals and as a group—or rather, as individuals and therefore as a group. Dealing with the pandemic and restructuring ourselves around this new normalcy took up a good chunk of the energy that in other years we would’ve dedicated to writing, editing, organizing, and producing content and criticism. 2020 wasn’t even close to being our most prolific year, and we trust that you will be understanding with us.
However, in this space, we’ll go over the projects that, against all odds, we managed to work on since our last anniversary.
In March, we released new episodes of Matajueguitos, our videos dedicated to virtual curatorship and quick game recommendations. Until then, there’d only been a single episode, and with the release of the second and third entries, we can now call it a video series without people giving us weird looks. The first episode, sadly, remains the only one available in English.
In April, we released a Spanish-only video about extremist right-wing movements in the Anglophone videogame world and the damaging impact they have on Latin American games culture. As tends to happen in these cases, we received many messages of support when we published the video, but also many declarations of war.
At some unregistered point in mid 2020, we began looking into one of the Matajueguian projects we’re most thrilled about—the constitution of Matajuegos as a workers’ co-op.
To be perfectly honest, there’s a lot of energy and time that we spent neither on blogging nor on surviving the quarantine; instead, we spent it filling out paperwork and having loads of enriching meetings aimed at obtaining—finally, after five years of hard work—juridical personhood.
In these five years, Matajuegos has demanded a lot of work from us, and it’s been sustained entirely by our free-time and goodwill, without a cent spent or gained. We chose to form a co-op because it will allow us to create a more sustainable project in the future, with economic possibilities (which would be more limited as a foundation or NGO) but without abandoning the horizontal and egalitarian structure that better fits our sensibilities (which we’d lose if we’d made a conventional, hierarchical, for-profit company). There were many months of planning and the process is still ongoing, but the bureaucracy is nearing its end and we’re already working on new projects as a soon-to-be co-op.
What kind of projects? Well, the idea of the co-op is to add a game creation wing to Matajuegos, on top of the critique work that characterizes us. This little analysis and culture blog is becoming an independent development studio. It’s an opportunity that excites us, but doesn’t surprise us—everyone at Matajuegos was a gamedev before we founded the collective, and we’ve all continued to make games since.
In July, to keep those podcast muscles from atrophying, we released a new episode of En busca de Porko, this time focused on the career of our most elusive member, Santiago Franzani.
We also made time to offer our public support and assistance to videogame activism that, while not part of Matajuegos, is still very much in line with our general perspective on the world. Two good examples were the Anti-fascist Game Jam in August, and the Arde el Delta GameJam in September.
In October we had the pleasure and privilege of being interviewed for ROMchip by Guillermo Crespi, a dear friend of the blog and an Argentine eminence on videogame history whose Spanish-language podcast, Modo Historia, we strongly recommend. The interview, released in December, goes into detail about the history of Matajuegos and the values with which we face the work we do.
We spent the last days of the year collaboratively creating Onda verde 2020, the second issue of our virtual march for reproductive rights in Argentina. This edition had a happier ending than the previous one, since the Argentine Senate had more sense than in 2018 and legalized abortion in the country, giving people important rights that they’ve been historically denied.
2020 flattened us like a steamroller and we weren’t able to do much of anything at all, and yet, we still managed to do all kinds of things. The list we just went over doesn’t even mention the games we released individually, like the Mapuche-inspired metroidvania that David and the Cuatro Assets team released in October, or, in a completely different style, the phallic and medieval inspired visual novel that Rumpel and the Orbis Tertius team released in November.
We want to work on the blog again when we have the mental and emotional resources to do so, but you also know that we love experimenting with new formats and creative directions. Last year hit us too hard for us to even try to predict what the future has in store for us now, but come what may, we promise to keep things interesting, and we hope you will continue to keep us company while we do.
Image: Morte di Giulio Cesare (Vincenzo Camuccini)