Abstract

ABSTRACT:

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.

pdf

Share