The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on March 22nd, 2009 at 7:18 pm.

Sundays are for every organ in your body giving up the ghost and lying still, slowly twitching, as an enormous firey orb in the sky mocks you with beams of light. And slowly – ever so slowly – compiling a list of interesting game related reading we collected across the week for your delectation, while trying to not pollute what’ll surely be my last will and testament with a link to something music related. I’ve got to try, even though my will – and, in fact, everything else – is weak.

Failed. But less failed than usual. It was almost relevant.

.

74 Comments »

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  1. hydra9 says:

    Quickly! Before we scar you for life.

    Too late. The mental image is enough.

  2. Chris says:

    PLEASE POINT ME TO YOUR DONATE BUTTON.

  3. jives says:

    NO ONE DONATE

  4. The_B says:

    Wait, what’s Alec doing during all this?

  5. Mike says:

    I’m with hydra on this one.

  6. Sum0 says:

    If RE5 is racist, then what about Empire: Total War – a game that has actively encouraged me to wipe out Native Americans, shoot them in droves, crush their religious beliefs, and taught me that Native American buildings had inferior bonuses to population and economy growth? To which the answer is – it’s only a setting.

  7. Kieron Gillen says:

    Sum0: Don’t knee jerk. Read the piece.

    KG

  8. Markoff Chaney says:

    I almost want for some eyemuffs and a memory eraser. At least I can hope for the one off where Leigh Alexander is on the floor of her kitchen and it’s more than just Kieron there this time… Something has to be salvageable or made enjoyable in my future projection memory creative synaptic explosion that went off due to that colorfully vivid imagery.

  9. Premium User Badge

    James G says:

    The Crispy Gamer column articulated a lot of my thoughts about the RE5 criticisms. Unfortunately too often the subtle arguments got lost among the people who seem to desire to polarise the debate. It was never a choice between ‘OMG! Vile racist game ban it!’ and ‘Sunshine and lolly pops, this game has now racial connotations whatsoever.’ Yet too many people seemed to treat it that way. As a result more nuanced debate is lots in the shouting, as people pile it in with strawmen and the misguided extremist. Discussion becomes more difficult, as people are forced to defend their corner, rather than consider it.

  10. jalf says:

    What’s wrong with kneeing jerks now?

  11. BrokenSymmetry says:

    The Gamasutra article about game writing was really interesting. Especially the idea that it may be best to let the player be the hero of the game, but have an NPC be the protagonist (with everything on the line). Games I’ve played that did this (Final Fantasy XII, Prince of Persia 2008) worked well in that respect, but it left myself at times thinking that I’m not really all that necessary…

  12. Del Boy says:

    Trust Alec to be watching. Always watching.

  13. hydra9 says:

    Brooker’s piece was fun (no sexual innuendo intended). And that gardening game looks very promising.

  14. loci says:

    re5:
    “I want more black people in my videogames”

    wonder if he interlocked his fingers and said “melting pot”

  15. roBurky says:

    Chris: You can find the donate button just below the search box on the right.

  16. Sum0 says:

    No jerking of knees here. I did read it, and it’s a well thought-out piece, but I’m still not clear on the problem. Yes, if you dig hard enough, you can come up with the conclusion that brutal savage zombies is a little close to the colonial image of brutal savage African tribes, but that’s digging too far; it’s making parallels that just aren’t relevant. They’re zombies!

    Granted, I haven’t played the game (and I know those are scary words), and if I do I may well change my mind, but Narcisse’s piece just failed to convince me that there’s a real issue.

  17. Mil says:

    Funny thing the EVE Mutual Fund (EMFi) being mentioned here, I just learned of its existence earlier today when I was reading [url=http://www.eveonline.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=940185&page=1#2]this fascinating account[/url] of two of EVE’s largest (at least as far as is publicly known) Ponzi scams. The account is written by the author of one of those scams in a fairly obvious self-aggrandising tone, and probably not everything in it is strictly factual (given what can be gleaned about the author’s personality), but the writing really works. And reading what people were saying in the EVE forums at different stages of the scams is very educational, if not exactly conducive to a greater faith in humanity.

  18. Mil says:

    Ok, so I messed up the link. I’m now logged into the forums and still no edit button. Halp?

  19. Gap Gen says:

    Sum0: Interestingly, Empire is the first Total War game in years not to include slaves as a tradable resource.

  20. Xercies says:

    Charlie Brooker is one of those people that you like online and on his TV show but you know will get up your nose if you ever met him.

    Also having played a bit of Resi Evil 5 i can’t say its racist, but it does use tired African streotypes very easily and almost at every single encounter. It is a good discussion to have, and not be ignored by the gamers who would probably just say no or the people who are hard lined to say its racist.

    And also finally someone actually posts up what a game costs them, this has always interested me. And any budding creator would find this kind of information a gold mine and very invaluable. everyone should do it. Including all media, on the extras of DVDs there should be a “how much this movie costed” guide same with games. i would find it so interesting since I’m going to have to figure it out when I start creating stuff.

  21. roBurky says:

    Sum0: At least the first trailer I saw, they didn’t act like zombies at all. They were just angry mob people.

  22. The Hammer says:

    “If you don’t want to see Walker working my shaft while Jim cradles the balls lovingly”

    Best image ever.

    @Sum0: Go read N’gai Croal’s comments. Srsly.

  23. Oak says:

    Sum0:

    Give the article another once-over. Narcisses’s point was that you don’t have to dig hard at all.

  24. Dozer says:

    The Hammer: be banished from the Internets for causing the scarring image to be repeated!

  25. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    In the comment thread, Narcisses makes the point that further humanizing the zombies (and doing so beforehand, setting up the context of the drop-into-action) would have made the tragedy sharper.

    More emotional gutpunches in games can only be a good thing.

    EDIT–On the topic of the good Mr. Meer: Someone has to hold the camera.

  26. Gap Gen says:

    What was the point of Charlie Brooker’s article again?

    As for the Eve article, it’s an impressive tribute to how a) it’s all very interesting to peer into from the outside and b) I will never play it. I suspect normal financial sites don’t use the phrase “Ghost Emperor” that often, though.

  27. Gap Gen says:

    As for the RPS porn, I just had an idea for a pun based on “Tim’s Stones” then wished I hadn’t.

  28. Ian says:

    Will there be knee-jerking in the porn?

  29. Hajimete no Paso Kon says:

    Every time I see one of these Sunday Papers I think of the Omnibus, and shed a tear.

  30. DigitalSignalX says:

    The RE5 topic touches on something we were discussing today about US pres Obama’s offhand remark on his bowling score and the Special Olympics. How quick everyone was to pick up and plaster the lable “gaff” and “insensitive blah blah” across the mediasphere. A celebrity ex-terminator’s wife said something to the effect of “what’s even more sad is everyone in the audience laughed.” We had to basically roll our eyes at that.

    Being TOO sensitive is just as annoying as not being sensitive at all. Speaking of which, I second the Leigh/kitchen thing.

  31. Ian says:

    On the Resi 5/racism thing, I really wish I knew where I stood on it. The suggestion in the article is that the problem comes from us not having seen the Africans in the game prior to being reduced to mindless savages by whatever this game’s bio-MacGuffin is called. But has ANY Resi game? Would it have seemed better or worse if Capcom had gone, “Fuck, we don’t want to seem racist. Better if show some happy black people before the events happened in case we get in trouble.”

    I realise I’m simplifying the issue, and I do see where the accusations/concerns are coming from but you start to wonder sometimes whether people are already looking for racism before they get stuck into it.

    I haven’t played the game, so I don’t know. Perhaps things are a lot worse than what I’ve seen in trailers and gameplay videos.

  32. Down Rodeo says:

    “If you don’t want to see Walker working my shaft while Jim cradles the balls lovingly, get donating. Now! Quickly! Before we scar you for life.”

    D:
    Consider it done.

  33. skizelo says:

    Pah. The Dev Blog of the week is now and forever will be Toady’s (he of Dwarf Fortress). That game will, eventually, become more detailed than life itself.
    Actually, that was a bit knee-jerk. I hadn’t got to “Dispatch, there’s a plant in my way, please advise”.
    And, since the coin came down heads, RE5 is not rascist.
    ALSO: Kieron… did you just write slash fan-fic of your own web-site?

  34. john says:

    “I want more black people in my videogames. I don’t even care if they’re good guys or bad guys, shallow or deep characters. But I do care if they remind me of ugly, racist stereotypes, even if that wasn’t the intent.”

    reminds me of the way the police pad the “racist incident” figures here, if the “victim” thinks something is racist then its irrlevant what the actual truth is. I perceive mr Narcisse is a halfwit, so he is! Great way of thinking.

    As for those ugly stereotypes about Africans, well being “African American” an having a “minor in Africana Studies” doesn’t mean you know anything about Africa, mr Narcisse, and the reality is often a lot uglier than the sterotypes.

  35. Nick says:

    The point of Brookers article was to be entertaining I think..

  36. Unlucky Irish says:

    On the Resi 5 issue, I think it’s weird how many people belive that Resi 4 was not racist as it was “just” Spaniards you were gunning down. I mean the image of a heavily armed foreigner massacring inferior, degenerate Spanish peasants brought forth images of Guernica and Facist “volunteers” during the Civil War.
    I actually thought Resi 5 could be seen as a rather brave way of addressing recent atrocities in the African continent, the Rwandan Genocide or the abuse of “witch children” in Nigeria for example.

  37. Unlucky Irish says:

    Damn, I appeared to have buggered up the tags their……..

  38. Electric Dragon says:

    “Quickly! Before we scar you for life.”

    Failed.

    (But I donated anyway)

  39. Gap Gen says:

    I’m holding out for the Porn version of RPS, personally.

  40. qrter says:

    Good piece on Crispy Gamer. A lot of nuance gets lost in this debate, first and foremost that it’s actually a debate, not some kind of hearing, at the end of which the world will decide whether RE5 is a racist game and everyone who has played it are then racists by default.

    I think people are scared of talking/thinking about this stuff, what does it say about you as a person if (historically) racist imagery pops up in a medium and you didn’t recognise it as such? People are scared of being tarred by (and through) a debate like this. Maybe it would seem better to try and ignore the whole question, say “look, let’s get over all this race stuff”. Which is a sad thing.

  41. symuun says:

    I haven’t played RE5 yet, and I’m kind of disappointed that I’ve heard about the controversy beforehand. If I play it now and decide that I can see a racist subtext, I’ll be forever wondering if that’s because I’m looking for it or if I’d have seen it anyway. The debate interests me, but I think it might be that bit more difficult to have my own opinion on it now.

  42. FhnuZoag says:

    You could have told us too that the “Night of the Cephalpods chap” is also “the chap who did the back cover of Scott Pilgrim 4, and who’s making a game with that as the goal of the art direction”.

  43. KBKarma says:

    Rule 34 has been upheld.

    I actually read/heard of most of those. Allen Varney has an article in the Escapist this week about online gaming vs real-life gaming, and expounding on the virtues of the latter while partly-mourning the death of the former. Read here.

  44. Radiant says:

    N’Gai Croal wrote a smashing commentary on the racist underpinnings of Resi 5.
    Essentially it’s that the imagery used has history.

    And I’m very much inclined to agree with him.

    It’s like cg artists using the slanted smoke imagery of the World Trade Centre.
    There it is purposely used to invoke an emotional resonance; you are pre-conditioned to feel a certain way when you see it.

    In Resi 5 it may not be intentional but god damn is it a massive mistake.

  45. poe_if says:

    skizelo said – Kieron… did you just write slash fan-fic of your own web-site?

    Its not fan fic if its their own website. Its canon.

  46. Muzman says:

    On the RE5 race thing (a little late, but whatever):
    While I don’t think the game is likely to be racist per se, the thing that really seems like an unfortunate coincidence is how the virus has apparently progressed, or something.
    I haven’t followed the series but in every video for 5 I’m seeing the most active and tool using zombies yet. They even dodge attacks and back pedal and do all sorts of thinky stuff. Combine that with poor black Africans, machetes and so on and the imagery becomes a little startling after Hotel Rwanda, Black Hawk Down et al (actually I can’t think of anything else go go in that al, off the top of my head, except the news but there you go).
    I haven’t played it, so maybe others can comment on this, but aside from dodgy eyes and open sores it looks like you’re facing not zombies but hoardes of angry drunk people. Angry, drunk poor black Africans. This is the nub of it. If you were facing rotting, shambling zombified locals in rural Africa I doubt anyone would bat an eyelid.
    As it stands there’s a great opportunity for a Night of the Living Dead ending scenario on a large scale. Have the heroes not know quite when to stop shooting and wipe out a few uninfected villages along the way.
    I guess the game doesn’t do this or we’d be talking about its social commentary genius instead of ‘racist:notracist’.

  47. Cunningbeef says:

    “I haven’t played it, so maybe others can comment on this, but aside from dodgy eyes and open sores it looks like you’re facing not zombies but hoardes of angry drunk people.”

    Which is where the crux of the “nothing new” argument lies: they were exactly the same in Resident Evil 4. Just downtrodden Spanish farmers (who’s heads sometimes exploded into massive tentacle monsters), who seemed more irate than infected.

    I think the fact that this argument has even developed is a sign that people are actively looking for things to complain about, and the entire thing reeks of liberal bullshit.

  48. perilisk says:

    “As it stands there’s a great opportunity for a Night of the Living Dead ending scenario on a large scale. Have the heroes not know quite when to stop shooting and wipe out a few uninfected villages along the way. I guess the game doesn’t do this or we’d be talking about its social commentary genius instead of ‘racist:notracist’.”

    Yeah, a game that suggests that a normal person wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a drooling, hyper-aggressive zombie and a normal African would probably sidestep the whole “racism” debate and go into “genius”.

  49. Matzerath says:

    They should have set it on Wall Street.
    “Are you sure those are zombies you’re shooting?”
    “No!”

  50. Deadend says:

    Perilisk
    “Yeah, a game that suggests that a normal person wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a drooling, hyper-aggressive zombie and a normal African would probably sidestep the whole “racism” debate and go into “genius”.”

    You forgot about the lovely history of Africans being painted as subhuman savages who want to eat the flesh of the living. So yes, the game can both be racist and not racist. It uses very loaded imagery that apparently no one at Capcom has ever seen before. It also had some guys in grass skirts chucking spears and arrows at you while you were in a boat in the marshlands. It’s like what ‘Heart of Darkness’ the game would be like!

    The gold farming article forgets the real reason why people buy gold.

    People buy gold because they want to play WoW and do their raids or their PVP. But to do so at the high level of quality that is demanded, they not only need all the epic gear they have EARNED, they also need consumable goods. Such as potions of strength, armor repairs, enchantments for every piece of gear, gems, glyphs, more potions for different uses, and high level food items that give buffs that stack with the buffs from the potions they need.

    One of my friends buys gold, I can see why, he spends a few bucks every few weeks so that he can get the potions and other junk he needs so that he can play the damn game without having to spend hours doing the daily quests again and again to get money… which he will have to do again and again.

    WoW is full of money sinks to take money out of player circulation, hell, that is the reason why most gear is unsellable. What is left of the ingame economy is selling 3rd rate gear, potions, gems, food and glyphs. Of those things, only potions are consumable. So when it comes down to it, the only thing players need money to trade with other players for are potions. Which have sense gone up in price as they are the only real commodity in WoW, and even then only useful for the hardcore.

    Also, the biggest reason companies hate gold selling? They are not the ones doing it. As if they did, people would call them out on all the bullshit money sinks in the games.