The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on September 28th, 2008 at 4:29 pm.


Having returned from the PC Gamer Showdown, feeling a little rough, there’s one thing I like to do. That’s play electronic videogames all afternoon. But what I’ve actually got to do is the Sunday-RPS staple of compiling interesting articles for the last week, publishing them in a list format and trying not to link to some Youtube video thing, or a completely self-serving interview on the subject of comics.

Failed.

.

24 Comments »

  1. EyeMessiah says:

    Re: Cunt

    Its certainly about misogyny and misanthropy, but these are both legitimate topics, worthy, and indeed in need of exploration.

    The game itself doesn’t seem to go very far in terms of exploration. But then most controversial art works don’t go much further. If visibly symbolising a particular thorn in the side of the mass-psyche, and thereby sparking discussion is good enough for Eraserhead, then its good enough for a free flash game.

    Also there is nothing wrong with depicting bouncing boobs! I have seen boobs, and believe me they bounce sometimes. Its just something that happens.

    (Yes I am a Gainax fanboy.)

  2. Ben Abraham says:

    Ladyhawke – best thing to come out of Australia since that last awesome band. Yeah, you know which one I mean.

  3. EyeMessiah says:

    RE. Warhammer coolness

    Personally I agree wholeheartedly. Some of those order chumps look ridiculous! Blood for the blood god!

  4. Gpig says:

    Re: Re: Cunt

    Don’t open this email attachment.

  5. john t says:

    I had kind of thought that c**t was just laying bare the subtext that already existed in games like Tempest. It essentially IS tempest with a new skin on it. If gameplay creates meaning, then it doesn’t matter what graphical skin is on top — a penis shooting a vagina is still a penis shooting a vagina.

  6. Wurzel says:

    Interesting points he makes about WAR, especially that people are more likely to play a class how it’s meant to be played if the look of the class matches their mental image of that archetype. You simply don’t expect a guy in a robe to be a tank, or someone holding a big gun in one hand to primarily use it to clobber people over the head. Mind you, it works if you’re aware of a class’s capabilities, and makes the setting feel a bit more unique.

  7. Gpig says:

    john t: Gameplay doesn’t create meaning, context does. Nobody except for like David Jaffe says that gameplay creates meaning.

  8. caterpillar's dream says:

    Pseudo-Bangs – I’m not really an intellectual, I guess. Being told that he has nothing to write about and great style then producing this nicely written essay with one sentence of content is the joke, right?

  9. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    So, C*nt’s author had no particular vision for his game, in the sense that it was more about an accident of circumstance rather than a conscious design wherein he dehumanized female genitalia (and women by association), and gets criticized. Meanwhile, Jonathan Blow makes a game that turns women into object lessons and is almost blatantly misogynist about it, and gets away as “art”.

  10. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    On the General Rule of Life: Yes.

  11. cjc says:

    Well done Thomas Sutcliffe.

    Sadly he hasn’t spoken to his fellow journalist Laurence Phelan, who writes a whole load of tosh here:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-rough-guide-to-videogames-ed-kate-berens–geoff-howard-942345.html

    I demand an open letter from RPS to the Independent on Sunday forthwith.

  12. Cooper says:

    Re: Cunt
    I’m glad it’s being picked apart. People will read what they want from the game – as with any cultural product – and I’m glad those issues got picked up (the ‘subtext’ of fear of the vagina seemed just plain blatant when I was playing…)

    Shame it was a dull game.

  13. malkav11 says:

    It’s interesting. I agree that Destruction is being picked in significant part because they are aesthetically cooler, but I’ve never noticed Witch Hunters trying to be a gun class (how would you even do that? Almost all of their non-Execution skills are melee, as far as I know.), or Swordmasters not knowing they’re a tank class. And every Warrior Priest I’ve grouped with was right in the thick of the melee – I know I certainly am, unless that would get me killed in short order. (I’ve also occasionally hung back to be resurrection-man.)

  14. Dinger says:

    On the cunt dissection: If you’re going to analyze images, you might as well put them up there. No sense being prudish, especially when you’re being so off-puttingly hostile.

    I mean, generally, when you encounter a line like: “What could possibly possess anyone to create such a game?” that’s usually a sign that the person doing the analysis “doesn’t get it,” almost, but not quite as compelling as guys with boobie-avatars declaring that they know what sexism is.

    Uncharitable readings only serve to weaken the particular argument while circumstantially weakening all the others. For example,

    He states that the things he finds interesting are things “that most people don’t talk about.” Imagery of the vagina/woman as a threat to the existence of the penis/man? That’s called misogyny, and people do talk about it. The fact that he can say that “most people don’t talk about” the themes evoked by the imagery in his game reveals that he is speaking from a position of male privilege. He can choose to be blind to misogyny because hatred towards women doesn’t affect his existence or identity.

    What kind of response would we expect the game author to give from that? “# you. Don’t go visiting my intentions. Ever.”?

    Here’s a more enlightening exegesis that reinforces the core thesis without the need to accuse the game designers of being a clueless yoniphobes and phallocrats:

    The game itself is a commentary on the antifeminist subtext of “Boss battles” that has been structurally present since the beginning. Compare the repugnant depiction of the female pudenda with some of the collections of classic video game bosses. Cunt clearly has artistic ties to many of them. In fact, Cunt points out what’s been going on for nearly three decades, without discussion: that the “evil bosses” that trap the player, preventing him (for the player is masculinized in these neighborhoods) from going forward, is almost always vaginized. The Cunt boss is a dead ringer for the box-art depiction of Karateka‘s Akuma, and it gets worse from there.

    So, yes, the game Cunt, whether the creators intended to or not, points out to us that running underneath a transgenre videogame convention pulls a strong current of misogyny and gynophobia. Indeed, that’s what makes those encounters so emotionally powerful to the (males) they are targeted at.

  15. qrter says:

    John Keefer of Crispy Gamer trying to start a debate on whether Embargos hold back games journalism in a harmful way. I’m not entirely on side with John with a couple of key points, but it’s worth thinking about what he’s saying.

    I’d like to hear what you think, Kieron. Most of us (including myself) are still people standing on the outside looking in, so it’d be interesting to hear a different perspective from within the industry.

    As a Member Of The Public I do find the whole ‘exclusive review’-thing more than slightly insane.

  16. Bhazor says:

    That interview reminds me of the reason PC Gamer ran a regular Gillen baiting section.

    More importantly will the Singles Club feature the 30 page wank Undress Me Robot writers were waiting for?

    Aside: Wank is unrecognised by my spell checker. I was sure it would have learnt it by now.

  17. Jody Macgregor says:

    Re: Ladyhawke

    Did you know she’s a bit of a gamer? Apparently she’s into Medal Of Honour 2: Heroes and good old Mario Kart, among other things. See here.

  18. Muzman says:

    That word filter baiting shooter game seems to me a ‘gamification’ (gamorisation? any worse neologisms out there?) of your fairly typical lunchtime conversation in your average working class business concern. There’s a lot of amateur gynocological analysis that goes on there into the diseases and maladies of the female reproductive system, with special attention paid to observing and describing anatomy and symptomatic issue that one might find there. It’s amateur but thorough and enthusiastic none the less.
    In my humble experience this sort of dialogue is almost universal among work environments, outside of the polite female dominated office (but not always and certainly not the male dominated boardroom) or the school. This might be an Australian thing, I don’t know.
    But to me, calling this game an exposure of the misogyny and gynophobia at the underbelly of gaming is missing the big male picture in a pretty singular way. And even then it’s overstating things. It’s mostly a gross-out contest. And while people going for the easy win with female body parts tells its own story it’s not quite as cut and dried as these guys hate women or have unresolved psychological issues surrounding them (most of the people I’ve known were married with children). There’s a large amount of tradition involved and people’s actual behaviour does a lot to undermine any negative signs the cultural studies folks might find.
    The game’s a gross out absurdity, and guys all over are going to love it because they do this sort of thing anyway in other forms (not that I’m fond of this fact). Others have probably mentioned this, but the ‘ship’ being a pathetic little underdog of a willy is pretty funny too.

  19. Okami says:

    I agree with most of the article on Warhammer coolness as well as with most of the objections raised in this comments section. I’ve never seen anybody play a Witch Hunter as a ranged class. I guess that’s because you just can’t do it – I play one myself and you’ll never get to level 3 if all you do is use your gun.

    Though you do see a lot of Witch Hunters shooting their pistols in RVR quite a lot. But that’s because it slows down fleeing opponents (very important to stop fleeing casters and flag carriers) and sometimes because it’s all you can do at the moment (when your feet get stapled to the ground by one of those bastard spellcasters for example).

    Concerning Warrior Priests: If there’s a problem with people not using the class’ potential to it’s fullest, it’s usually because they mistake themselves for tanks and forget to heal their party members and not the other way round..

    But all in all, the article is spot on. I know that my first reaction when a Black Orc or Chosen comes charging at my Witch Hunter is to turn tail and run – “My puny blade will never be able to hurt this behemoth!”. It was a purely psychological reaction based on the sheer size and brutality of the model, not any logical thinking on my side.

    During my last few RVR scenarios I’ve begun to actually stand my ground against tanks (but only if there are allies around – I still don’t take them on 1on1) and lo and behold, I can actually kill them every now and then.

  20. Kieron Gillen says:

    Bhazor: “That interview reminds me of the reason PC Gamer ran a regular Gillen baiting section.”

    That I started it?

    KG

  21. Bhazor says:

    Reply to Kieron

    But that doesn’t explain why people responded to it.

  22. Nick says:

    Because Gillen sightings et al were a fun injoke.

    Like Loughborough.

  23. Pete says:

    Keiron, without wishing to come across as a tragic fan boy, have you got a last.fm stream or some such? Your taste in obscure catchy pop impresses.

  24. Kieron Gillen says:

    Bhazor: Because I was pretty good at crafting running jokes. Especially when I know that I should be mocked.

    Pete: http://www.last.fm/user/BremXJones
    I don’t listen to everything on my last.fm music player though. A load of CDs. A load of Myspace and Youtube pages too.

    KG