The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on June 6th, 2010 at 12:07 pm.

Sundays are for writing about Norse Gods, reinstalling Windows and compiling a list of the fine (mostly) games related reading from across the week, while trying to avoid linking to what one of your favourite music critics have been recommending this week.

Failed.

.

173 Comments »

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  1. LionsPhil says:

    Hells yes Lemmings 3D! I tried to get that going in DOSBox a while back with limited success. Got pretty far into it back in the day, but IIRC it worked on a savegame rather than level-code system, so continuing where I left off might require digging out the 486…

    I wouldn’t call it “best PC game ever”, but it’s easily “best transition of intrinsically 2D gameplay to 3D” unlike, say, Worms’ attempts to add an extra dimension. L3D actually worked.

  2. Metalfish says:

    I know pointing out a typo is assholish, but “It’s been othering me” sounds like a pleasingly whimsical description of how something is altering one’s moods. I approve of this accidental coinage.

    • Mr Labbes says:

      You just got served.

    • Gwyn says:

      ‘Othering’ already has a meaning, and it’s perfectly appropriate to the sexism zeitgeist:

      “Othering is a way of defining and securing one’s own positive identity through the stigmatization of an “other.” Whatever the markers of social differentiation that shape the meaning of “us” and “them,” whether they are racial, geographic, ethnic, economic or ideological, there is always the danger that they will become the basis for a self-affirmation that depends upon the denigration of the other group.”
      http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/rww03/othering.htm

      Which to me sound like a pretty condensed summary of the “18-34 male” and “Casual vs Hardcore” pieces, as well as why female gaming characters are treated like shit. So yeah, it’s a pretty heavy concept, but relevant to our interests I reckon.

  3. pupsikaso says:

    I doubt that boy’s close encounter with the moose had anything to do with anything he learned in video games, let alone world of warcraft. It is a part of daily life for people leaving in such regions to know how to deal with wild animals. When I live back in Russia, next to some woods we liked to walk in, me and my brother were carefully taught from a very young age what to do if we come across a bear, and feigning death was what we were told to do. Indeed, even in cartoons it would often show humorously how a clueless hunter come upon a bear and then feigns death and sweats while the bear sniffs him.

    As for taunting? That’s another thing that was taught to us. Grab a stick or anything, get on your tip toes and wave your arms high above your head, make yourself as tall as possible, and you might be able to scare the bear off.

    So what this is is a boy who listned closely to his caring parents when they taught him how to deal with wild animals in the woods.

    • Auspex says:

      Maybe he doesn’t have caring parents though? The fact that he was left to wander around in moose land almost by himself could suggest he doesn’t. Also the fact his parents allow him to play WoW might suggest they’re not very caring….

    • jsdn says:

      Those are very big “might”s. Also, taunting and then feigning death isn’t something you do often in WoW. In fact, if the very same situation happened in WoW, the moose would have went back to his sister immediately after he feigned.
      The kid probably just drew a vague parallel and a journalist ate it up.

    • noerartnoe says:

      Ok, reading through the original (norwegian) article, the taunting == bullshit. He did no such thing. His sister bolted and he screamed at the moose to try and scare it away, not get it’s attention. And when the animal didn’t stop he ran as well. The moose caught up to him and hit/butted him in the back. The kid’s backpack absorbed the shock and he fell. As he rolled onto his back the moose was standing over him. This is the part where he supposedly played dead.

      He did say however that they (him and the moose) “had eye-contact for a while, and then it suddenly ran”. Right after this however there is quote where he says that he played dead, an idea he got from World of Warcraft.

      Naturally, there is no coherent conversation with the kid in the article, just quotes from an interview taken semi-out-of-context. Add to it the fact that I trust the (online)newspaper who “printed” it about as far as I can throw the Internet, you can colour me sceptical about the whole thing.

      (and guys, seriously, “moose-land”? (Minor) Preconceptions about Norway much?)

    • DMJ says:

      It was obvious that the moose was higher level than him, so he should have immediately hit [Demoralizing Shout] and [Thunder Clap]. Then stack five [Sunder Armor] and spam [Heroic Strike] until it’s dead.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      You silly people.

      Canada is moose land.

    • pupsikaso says:

      You are wrong. Canada is actually, officially, Loon Land. I kid you not!

    • Auspex says:

      I’m slightly worried that in my future post on RPS I’m going to have to write “(I’m being a bit glib here)” at the end of every sentence.

      Also, when I was talking about moose land I was referring to the “area of land” in the country which had moose in it. For example; where I live people might refer to certain areas of land as grouse country or grouse land because it is a good place to hunt grouse. It does not imply that the most prominent feature of Scotland is its large population of grouse.

      Anyone remember when posting on RPS was fun?

  4. Vague-rant says:

    The Deus ex influences article; I want to believe that’s a parody. It starts with a fairly reasonable point, but then digresses into things like “A reporter on a screen” and a city being reflected in someones eye (By the way I see no reflection in the Deus ex screen).

    There is an unknowable area between influence and coincidence. This is not it.

    • Sonic Goo says:

      I read it more in a ‘Cyberpunk game in cyberpunk trope shocker!’ kind of way. Also seriously lacking in Matrix pictures.

    • BigJonno says:

      I just read through it and kinda wished I hadn’t.

      ” It’s not simply this aesthetic either, Deus Ex 3 seems to be thrusting in that thematic area as well with talk of ghosts, proxy soldiers and pondering the nature of human existence in the face of dehumanising technological advancement.”

      Yeah, right. Dick, Gibson (and probably a host of others, but they’re the ones who spring to mind) say “Hi!”

  5. panik says:

    What a big pile of bollocks that Escapist article is.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      Why?

    • Chris D says:

      Yeah, the article is well written written and interesting. If you want to make a counter argument then fine but you’re going to have to actually make it, or at least point to someone else who does.

    • jsdn says:

      Hardcore I can agree being almost purely masculine motivation, but I fail to see casual as feminine. Casual doesn’t mean it is enjoyed by both sexes, it just means it’s non-stressful and non-intensive gameplay. As far as a feminist approach, in order for that argument to work you have to admit that female gamers are inferior and incapable of playing “hardcore” games, and suddenly the whole argument falls apart.
      Just more straw grasping from feminists.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      @jsdn I think you might have missed the point there, he’s not saying that hardcore gamers are male, or casual gamers are female. He’s suggesting that that is the common misconception, and that anyone who thinks in these terms tends to be a knobhead.

      Real hardcore gamers have got to be the People you’ll drop £80 on that battle of the bulge game…

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Point being, casual games are being dismissed by hardcore gamers in terms which stress the fact they’re girly. It’s not really about casual gamers.

      (It does strike me as a direct parallel for the Rock music=boys pop-music=girls, with rock fans being dismisive towards pop music for its stereotypical feminine qualities, etc)

      I also can’t believe anyone who’s ever read a videogame comments thread can’t recognise that the debate’s framed like this by a noticeable proportion of male gamers.

      KG

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      Hah, good analogy, Hardcore-ism is a lot like rockism really..

      BTW KG, is that baron zemo in your avatar?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Tom: No, it’s Impactor, the leader of the Wreckers from the 1980s Transformer comics. It’s him dying. Oh noes! Spoilers!

      KG

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      But the truth is casual games can be pretty hardcore…Take Dinner Dash – man, those demanding families with kids screaming when you are not attentive enough are waking me up deep in the night *shivers* I really enjoy some of these time-management games until the point where I become simply overwhelmed by the tasks at hand (e. g. Hell’s Kitchen is a really neat game, but I can possibly continue when the ovens come about – the timing required becomes too much of a burden)
      Alright, those games may be a bit on the feminine side and I feel slightly wierd talking about it :D
      Or I was REALLY apalled when one fella dismissed adventures on the ground that they are “kiddie games”, while the only true, “adult” games are TPS/FPSes…bluergh

    • Dinger says:

      Disengendered, then. Then it’s not a casual=chick and hardcore=male, but rather a casual/hardcore machismo scale. I mean, dude, who’s more hardcore that Stone, who writes a detailed review of a woodcutting sim? That dude must get all the babes.

      On another note, KG alluded to an issue that has perplexed the youth of the world for many years.

    • Anonymousity says:

      I think the problem with the escapist article is a semantic one, different people define hardcore and casual in different ways, so saying that it’s a source of misogyny in gaming is a difficult proposition to pose when more than half the people reading the piece can’t even agree on a definitions of hardcore/casual. I certainly wouldn’t consider madden or gears of war hardcore titles, most of the people I know who play those games I would consider casual gamers.

  6. Metalfish says:

    As for the apocalypse article, it made me remember how much I appreciated the aesthetic of Mirror’s Edge -a clean, sanitised police state that seems to be functioning perfectly well. An apocalypse of sorts had already happened, and yet most people barely noticed.

    • vanarbulax says:

      Yeah I’ve always loved dystopias/utopias and spent the best part of two terms of English class creating an analysis of We (Zamyatin), 1984, and Brave New World along with an appropriated story. I guess the article of dystopias was right about the more bleak, literal, unambigious dystopias that we seem to be inundated with but I still find more ambigious dystopias interesting. The thing I love about them is they function as a sort of reducio ad absurdum for a society or idea: take a social trend or structure to its logical (but often irrational conclusion), explore the consequences and analyse why they are negative and where you draw the line.

      Mirror’s edge’s critique would be security and cleanliness and it nailed the aesthetics but rather superficially labored the point through plot and dialogue. It’s a great step in the right direction (and an awesome game) but I would love something more substantial than an arcade parakour game with some anticensorship themes.The thing is I think videogames are the perfect medium for this (though it would be tricky) create a society and place the player in it. They can see new social structures, technologies, aesthetics, beliefs and experience its affects personally. The game would be able to maintain and realise a section of this world. The even harder part would be for the player to influence it in a meaningful way (e.g a stand precarious and ultimately futile stand against authority like in 1984).

      The intro in half-life 2 is one of my favourite things of the game for exactly this reason, you didn’t have combat but instead were brought into and shuffled through a new world like you were just another inhabitant (well a stranger since utopias/dystopias are told from a stranger’s view).

      Heh, I’d right an article about it for the writer’s hive when I have some time but it will probably come off as uniformed back-seat designer waffle.

    • Stuk says:

      I don’t have anything to add, but I just wanted to say I thought your comment was really interesting vanarbulax :) Games would definitely be a good way for people to explore new societies, something I haven’t really considered before.

    • Metalfish says:

      Heh, 1984 is like one of those boss battles in JRPGs where there is no way to win whilst brave new world is like an extremely strict role-play server in an MMO.

      /Was going to say something very pretentious about potential adaptations of each book but thought better of it.

    • Dood says:

      While not perfectly on topic, I’d like to add that Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever War” would make an awesome background story for a Sci-Fi shooter/RPG. It even provides the developers with believable reasons for new player equipment. And the R&R bits are perfect storytelling opportunities with all the changes in society each time the protagonist returns home.
      Oh, and if you haven’t read it yet: Do so as soon as possible, if you’re even slightly into SF-lterature.

    • robrob says:

      @Dood

      Forever War as a Gears of War style macho shooter where you single handedly take on the evil alien scum in your sci-fi power armour would be the most amazing example of a developer not understanding their source material ever. I hope Epic don’t read your comment.

      @vanarbulax

      Deus Ex does this pretty well I think. It’s an interesting extrapolation of some traditional themes and even awkwardly crowbars some awfully-acted debate in places. It’s something that few other sci fi games do, although sci fi has sort of been corrupted – certainly with respect to games – to just mean action games in space.

    • Dood says:

      @robrob

      Yup, and when the final boss is slain the protagonist returns as a hero.
      Oh god, I hope we’re not giving them ideas. That being said, which developer could actually pull this off and make a proper game out of that?

    • manveruppd says:

      @Metalfish:
      “Heh, 1984 is like one of those boss battles in JRPGs where there is no way to win whilst brave new world is like an extremely strict role-play server in an MMO.”

      What an awesome parallel! :)
      I suppose that would make The Prisoner a text-based MUD… :p

  7. Jahkaivah says:

    Cracked needs a massive whack around the back of the head for 1#, did it not dawn on them that the those who pirate games and those who complain about DRM are not the same people?

    • LionsPhil says:

      The fact it was on the Escapist and wasn’t by Yahztee Croshaw wasn’t a hint?

      It’s not that I’m worshipping at an altar of the behatted, yellow-backgrounded one; more that The Escapist have to be one of the biggest piles of truly terrible gaming-related writings and “entertainment” on the planet.

      IT’S TIME FOR D&D
      DUNGEONS AND DOGS

      DUNGEONS AND DOGS

      DUNGEONS AND DOGS

      ZALGO, HE COMES

      (And if you want proper misogyny, go look at “I’d Hit It With My Axe”. Fuck the Escapist; I wish someone else would pay for Zero Punctuation to be made.)

    • LionsPhil says:

      …well, that’s a new one. I’ve not see a Reply get attached, but to the wrong thread. I don’t think I misclicked

      Clearly that belongs with panik’s post above.

    • Mr_Day says:

      @Jahkaivah

      You can’t blame him, though. Both the pirates and the companies inserting DRM have a very obvious “if you aren’t with us, you are against us” mentality going on.

      I am Petey, and I represent a third faction. You might not have thought about us all that much recently, but I would posit we are more important thant you give us credit for. We do not pirate games, nor do we believe DRM to be the way to handle pirates. We are called customers, and we would like value for money please. Also, pie.

    • subedii says:

      It’s a necessary false equivocation in order to prove your point, rather than post an actual analysis.

      I don’t want to be too harsh on the cracked.com article since I agree with half the things he said. The other half though clearly aren’t well thought out, and were posted in an attempt to get more “points” than actually to prove how right the author was as opposed to making something a bit more well thought out. I’d post more about that, but really, there’s probably better ways I could be spending my Sunday.

    • perilisk says:

      Cracked is a humor site, it’s not a surprise that they exaggerate or frame things for effect rather than writing thoroughly cited research works.

    • Fumarole says:

      Guys, it’s Cracked. Deep breaths for everyone.

    • Mr_Day says:

      That doesn’t stop a lot of it being spot on, mind.

    • Helm says:

      How is ‘I hit it with my axe’ misogynistic, pray tell

  8. LionsPhil says:

    Also: good old Cracked. Although since adventure games are dead (ho ho), good luck finding any non-casual game which ISN’T largely shooty-bangs padding. And I’m glad the “Mature game” == “hurr hurr more immature sexings LOOK AT DEM TITTIES” thing is annoying someone else.

    Rioting. Yeah, well that’s just Akira isn’t it? Dystopian future + Rioting + ultraviolent police = Akira.

    Bloody weaboos. Rioting and ultraviolent police ARE standard dystopian future. You can’t pin that on a particular anime. Hell, the original Deus Ex intro has military police unleashing security bots on the Paris resistance.

    Yeah, this whole “DE3 is made of these animes” is really, really reaching by the point he says “a skyscraper! There was one of those in GitS!”. And I say this as someone put off by how anime-esque the trailer looked (although rewatching the DE2 intro to see if they were regular choppers or heliplanes, I am reminded that the aesthetic could be a lot WORSE).

    (Falling through windows backwards? Watchmen? Seriously? Not, say, any action film that includes a window and some nearby dudes about to get beat up, right back to westerns?)

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      Well… that saved me writing it.

      The skyscapers and the window… seriously? Basically, good thesis with shoddy strawclutching execution.

    • Arsewisely says:

      Oh, man – you sound like my old lecturers. You keep asking ‘seriously?’ Maybe the answer is: ‘well, no – not that seriously.’ Thanks for reading though!

    • Uhm says:

      Seems odd to mention Robocop in the inspiration article without mentioning the famous scene where Robocop punches through the wall to reach the bad guy. And! Then punches him out of a window.

  9. pupsikaso says:

    LOL @ Actievil. Nobody needs to read any fine prints to see right through their “competition”.

  10. Spinks says:

    Speaking of The Escapist, what did you think of Greg Costikyan’s article on casual vs hardcode?

  11. robrob says:

    A couple of those links (the Cracked article, the Hey Baby nonsense, kind of the Privates thing) makes me think it’s weird how people who play games are either willingly or unwillingly termed ‘gamers’ and that this somehow carries expectations about their behaviour.

    I’ve read some books but I wouldn’t call myself a reader or a booker and that in no way suggests the kind of books I like or what kind of person I am. I don’t feel embarrassed to tell people that I enjoy playing games because it does not define me and it in no way associates me with the kind of idiot who uses that Hey Baby game to vomit a stream of sexist rhetoric into a comment box.

    I find the term ‘gamer’ cringe-worthy though. Not so much because it carries the social stigma (although that is definitely an issue) as I don’t think enjoying a certain type of entertainment needs a collective term. I very much doubt that any fellow RPS wags have much in common with the stereotype Cracked presents so why does such a broad pursuit as playing computerised games need to confer the title of “gamer”? I propose an RPS diktat forbidding its use.

    • Lewis says:

      One of the things I’ve done at Resolution over the last two years is systematically destroy each and every instance of the term “gamer”. I too despise it. If you’re referring to the person who is playing a specific game, then if anything “player” will do, but even that is almost always substitutable with “you”.

    • BigJonno says:

      I just see “gamer” as a comparable term to “muso” or “film buff.” It signifies someone with an active interest in the subject, as opposed to a passive consumer.

    • robrob says:

      Lewis – that’s commendable, it’s become one of those words which really burns my biscuits when I read it somewhere. It’s become the same with “gameplay”. It’s such a worthless word which conveys nothing at all. I really think one of the issues with academia involving games (whether from the internal design perspective or the external study of the medium) is a lack of a well-defined vocabulary.

      BigJonno – I think it’s a little different with the term muso or film buff. Film buffs tend to be those people who are really into films and spend a lot of time watching them whereas anyone with an XBox and a copy of Halo is immediately a gamer. Muso or film buff convey some level of knowledge of the subject whereas gamer does not.

    • Bowlby says:

      I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with the term itself, as word to describe a video games enthusiast, but it’s how it’s come to be associated that’s the problem – i.e., with smack-talking, homophobic thirteen-year-old boys obsessed with violence and female nudity. Luckily, it’s not exactly a worthwhile term, anyway, and clearly isn’t necessary to the critic’s vocabulary.

    • BigJonno says:

      It’s more how I, personally, see the term. When I hear or read the word “gamer” I associate a certain hobbyist/enthusiast mentality with it. I don’t feel that it’s synonymous with “someone who plays games.” That use of the term is pretty much obsolete; we need a word from someone who plays games about as much as we need a word for someone who reads books or someone who watches TV. I’ve written lots of words down there somewhere about how people can quite happily play games for hours on end and not consider themselves gamers.

      As far as I’m concerned, someone with an Xbox and Halo isn’t a gamer. Someone who reads articles about the development of Halo, or can talk about its significance in the rise of FPS’ on consoles, probably is. It’s just how the word mentally evolved for me as gaming turned from a dirty, geeky little pastime involving swapping copied Amiga floppies into a medium that, like TV or music, is so massive that it just fades into the background.

    • Octaeder says:

      BigJonno – I always say “gamer” as being used in the same way as a news item may say “moviegoers flocked to see…” It’s a completely redundant word, usually used in articles where the context would give it away anyway.

      The difference being that gamer can all-to-often be used, in mainstream journalism, to be dismissive through to showing outright contempt. If even in the best case scenario it’s just pointless noise we can probably do without it.

    • robrob says:

      Jonno – that’s interesting, I personally find the term too broad to refer to the sort of specialist you describe. Since gamer also happily applies to tabletop gamers, collectable card gamers and board gamers, I don’t think it’s even a particularly useful term to encapsulate video gamers. I think this lack of consensus on what it refers to reinforces its redundancy. Like you say, there are definitely people who play a lot of games without thinking of themselves as gamers, but I think a large part of that is the stereotype built around gamers which certainly doesn’t apply to the middle-aged female Popcap enthusiast. And this divergence from the stereotype is why they are not tarred with the same brush.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      It’s really just a word. And it seems, yet another word which true meaning is being lost in a cloud of misuse and a certain level of language advocacy.

      But a gamer is a gamer is a gamer. Someone who plays games. Now, one can either look at gamers that way and try to use the word “gamer” in every context where it fits (which is dominated mostly by innocuous texts), or they can try to avoid using it fearing misinterpretation, on which case they will be doing the exact opposite; they will be feeding the misinterpretation even further.

      I use and will keep using the word “gamer” to refer to people who play games. A word which origins can be traced some 30 years ago and that always meant one thing and one thing only. If someone finds this word offensive, I’m sorry but really I don’t give a…

      And “player”… if anyone’s problem is they feeling offended by the word gamer, I can think of at least two reasons not to use the word “player” too.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      The idea of my being defined by what I choose to do in my free time rankles. I don’t like “gamer”. I prefer “person”.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      The idea of my being defined by what I choose to do in my free time rankles. I don’t like “gamer”. I prefer “person”.

      Do you not think thats a tad pretentious? You are defined by what you do in your spare time, you are entirely defined by what you do and nothing else. If your hobby is cycling you are a cyclist. If you play chess you’re a chess player.
      This isn’t difficult.

    • Lewis says:

      In short: I find the term isolationist and segregatory. Obviously whom you’re addressing depends on where you’re writing, but as a rule, I hope that people can read the words I write or publish and not feel like they’re being targeted at a specific and impenetrable culture. To extrapolate hugely, I recall reading back in a high school food tech textbook, circa 2000 or something, “There are many herbs and spices for the housewife to buy.” This was in a book published in the 80s, if I recall correctly, but it’s obviously awful. And the context is clearly different, in that those who might take an interest in videogames haven’t been stereotyped and looked down upon for hundreds and thousands of years, but it is still a logical comparison to draw, and the sort of thing I’m always eager to avoid.

    • BigJonno says:

      The different perspectives on the term “gamer” are enlightening. I think I’d find it difficult to shed or alter my usage of the word, because it does go a long way to help define who I am. Gaming (and I do include other types of hobbyist gaming in there) has been my primary pastime since I was about five. A large amount of my free time is spent doing it and a probably equally large time is spent reading about and discussing it. It’s driven my interest in technology and influences my taste in other forms of media. Much of my working life has been spent working with games, from early employment as a retail spod to working within the industry itself. I now study games at university and plan to make a career of helping other to do the same. It even colours my politics; much of my interest in freedom of expression and the government regulation of information technologies stems from gaming.

      I can quite honestly, and without hesitation, pride or embarrassment, say that without gaming I would be a completely different person to the one I am today. I can’t even begin to imagine what I would be like. I read for pleasure on a daily basis, I have a sizeable movie collection and I love listening to music, but none of those things has had such a massive influence on my identity.

      If I wasn’t a gamer, I don’t know who I’d be.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      “Do you not think thats a tad pretentious?”

      No, not really. In my experience being defined as a “Gamer” isn’t the same as “Cyclist”. It’s used in the same way “Homosexual”, or “Atheist” might be used. Which is to say, it’s a damaging oversimplification, and it also happens to come with a lot of associated baggage that doesn’t necessarily apply to me.

      The oft-cited “I read a lot of books, I’m not a bookreader” argument also holds true.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      @Daniel,

      The way you defined the word “gamer” is solely your responsibility. Not that of the one who writes the word “gamer” on an usually completely innocuous context. If that bothers you, you are the one having to come to terms with it. Usually this is achieved by trying to place the word in its context.

      Because you see the word gamer as prejudiced as “Homosexual” or “Atheist” as you put it, it doesn’t mean everybody else has to see it like that. For most of us, those words aren’t negative at all. It seems you are the one drawing borders here. I’m sorry.

      Necessarily, you don’t see nothing wrong in the word cyclist. But a change of heart on these matters usually happens by constantly building the wrong references. If the media and the population in general starts using the word “cyclist” as a reference to doping, soon enough the word “cyclist” would gain a bad enough rep, so you would not like it anymore. Possibly join that to your “Homosesual” and “Atheist” list of words not to use. Yet, cyclists would not be happy with it. Because, you know, they are cyclists. Not people on drugs.

      I suggest you reevaluate your stance on these matters. This type of… policy… is actually at the core of much of what is wrong in our societies.

    • Zwebbie says:

      @robrob: I agree! It’s actually even worse when your native language just picks up the English gamer.

      To be honest, I think it’s coming from the inside more than from the outside. There seems to be an attempt to create a gamer culture, with its own memes, language, hierarchy (i.e. casual vs. hardcore) and what-not. People are proud of playing games. It’s also why they need to vehemently defend that games are an art form while they still get excited over heavy ordnance in games. I find it rather baffling, but I suppose it’s much like music did back in your parents’s days.

    • Fumarole says:

      Atheist has negative connotations? Not where I live. I’m really curious to know where it might be applied negatively.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Fumarole: In short – America. Admission of Atheism in American political life is still pretty nuch a suicide note.

      KG

    • Psychopomp says:

      We can be backwards like that, I’m afraid.

    • Fumarole says:

      But… I’m American. I suppose living in California insulates me from the worst of the bible belt.

    • Archonsod says:

      “I’ve read some books but I wouldn’t call myself a reader or a booker and that in no way suggests the kind of books I like or what kind of person I am”

      I agree to an extent. Most people, if not everyone, has watched a film, but would not classify themselves as or fall into the usual definition of a film buff. I think gamer is the same; it’s not just someone who happens to have purchased or played a game, it’s the people who have an active interest in games.
      Or in other words, it’s the difference between the guy who goes to the cinema once a year / plays minesweeper when it’s quiet at the office and the guy who spends a significant amount of time watching, reading and discussing film / games.

      The whole hardcore / casual split makes little sense to me in generic terms, although admittedly whenever someone uses it I immediately associate them with an insecure mid-teen, which probably says more about me than anything else.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Naw, Kieron.

      A fair percent of the population (I believe it was 8%) has no religion, or is atheist or agnostic.

      Sure people shout really loudly, but half the time it’s either because A: They are stupid or B: They want to be on TV (This applies to both sides). Just stay in a more liberal area next time for a different feel. I think next time you visit you should stay out of the red areas. Plus you’re liable to be killed and eaten by a chainsaw family.

      ‘Cuz, y’know. Got a perdy mouf.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Oh – I know. I suspect 95% of my American friends are Atheists. But any time I’ve seen polls about the subject, Atheists are by far the least trusted faith denomination. Even – and this is the one I remember – beneath Muslims, just after 9-11, when the anti-Muslim hysteria was at its height.

      KG

    • malkav11 says:

      I think there is a substantial proportion of the US populace for which the idea of atheism (and indeed homosexuality) is very deeply scary or offensive in some nebulous and ill-defined way – for the former, I think all too many people assume that the only possible source of morality is a supernatural entity known as God, so if someone doesn’t believe such a thing exists, that someone must naturally have no morals and thus be some sort of raging psychotic.

      But the thing is, just because some people have a negative reaction to the label homosexual or the label atheist or the label socialist or the label gamer does not actually make those terms epithets, nor does it make them inaccurate. I -am- an atheist. I am also a gamer. I find gaming (in most non-sports formats) fascinating and devote a significant proportion of my time, energy, and thought to it. And I am a reader. I don’t just read occasionally when something socially significant comes up, or for school, or whatever. It’s a significant part of my life, and I am continually seeking out new books to read for pleasure or information, and old books to reread for the same. I don’t care if to some people those perfectly descriptive words carry images of things I am not.

    • RedFred says:

      How do you think Anti-theists fare in America?

  12. monkehhh says:

    No idea Teenage Fanclub had something new coming out, thanks! I’d heartily recommend ‘Grand Prix’ as an amazing album which everyone should hear.

  13. Moke says:

    Absolutely no idea what Gaming Daily are on for half of that feature. Spotlights are a cultural reference nowadays? Really?

    Some of the links were interesting, but there’s a temptation to overdo it to stress the point, and all you end up doing is finding tenuous links that really only weaken your argument. Deus Ex is set in a sci-fi near-to-middling future. There are tropes. That’s not stealing ideas (for the most part).

  14. BigJonno says:

    I found the last paragraph of the Hardcore/Casual article particularly interesting.

    “There is one term which contains an identification which can compare with the term “hardcore gamer.” It encompasses regular Call of Duty players, FarmVille fanatics, Bejeweled addicts, and your raid healer in World of Warcraft. It stands as entirely distinct from “non-gamer” or “person who happens to play games.” It is a statement of frank identity, instead of a loaded, coded and confusing claim of maleness. It is, simply, “gamer.” A person who declares that they are a gamer, that playing games is a part and parcel of who they are, implies as much or more about their relationship to the game industry as “hardcore” does. Why not use it instead?”

    Every single example used in that paragraph is one where you’d find large numbers of people who spend massive amounts of time playing a game who would in no way classify themselves as a gamer. Farmville and Bejewelled are obvious. My mum plays Bejewelled for hours on end, but certainly wouldn’t consider herself a gamer. We all know people who wouldn’t touch a console with a ten-foot pole, but are still utterly devoted to their little collection of Facebook games.

    Call of Duty and World of Warcraft are a little unusual. When labels like “hardcore gamer” are thrown around, FPS and MMORPG are two of the genres that come to mind, yet those two examples are ridiculously popular, well beyond the scope of a game that only appeals to “hardcore gamers.” If they were “hardcore” there wouldn’t be that many people playing them. CoD is hugely popular in the male, 18-30, “plays console games every day but certainly isn’t a gamer, those guys are nerds” demographic that emerged during the Playstation era. Guys whose game consumption consists of sports, racing, FPS and anything that resembles Grand Theft Auto and can get sufficient ad space in Nuts.

    WoW is like the black hole of gaming. Its massive popularity tends to drag people in. Friends, co-workers, siblings, significant others; they all end up sampling WoW due to the immense amount of time their gamer associates put into it. There’s no barrier to entry, because just about everyone has a PC capable of running WoW. They get hooked by the colourful, attractive graphics, the smooth levelling and the undeniable draw of the social aspect. They hit max level, stumble into their first raid and before you know it they’re raiding for four hours a night, three times a week and spending the rest of their time running dungeons for emblems, gathering mats and helping each other out. Before they know it, they’re spending upwards of 20-30 hours a week playing a game, but they’d still not consider themselves a gamer.

    What’s the point of this waffling? For me, it signifies gaming’s acceptance into mainstream culture. If someone can spend a couple of hours or more a day doing something, but have no in-depth knowledge of it and not identify with it, then it’s most certainly mainstream. The same way that someone can listen to the radio all day and not be a muso, or go to the cinema every week but have no interest in or knowledge of the movie industry. Playing computer and video games is now something that people, not just children or boys or geeks or men, do, without having to be who they are.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Jonno: I think a big part of the thing is that even if they don’t self-identify as Casual Gamers, they’re identified by others – in the arguments, case “Hardcore Gamers” – as casual gamers. In other words, not like them.

      KG

    • BigJonno says:

      From my experience, “casual gamers” don’t self-identify as gamers at all, even though their gaming habits, in terms of time and dedication, would certainly meet the requirements of the term “hardcore” in it’s normal usage.

      Gaming, like politics, is an arena where the usage of terms and labels very rarely matches their actual meanings. The whole “hardcore gamer” and “casual gamer” thing is irrelevant. “Hardcore gamer” has become another mark of pride for the casually racist, homophobic and mysogynistic idiots who see gaming as another way to prove their alleged superiority and “casual gamer” is another missile for them to hurl at any who don’t meet their standards. Or disagree with them. Or call them out for their disgusting behaviour. Or beat them. Anyone who the term “casual gamer” might actually apply to simply doesn’t care, or would actively distance themselves from the label “gamer” as it’s still not seen as socially acceptable, regardless of how popular gaming has become.

    • Jimbo says:

      I’ve never had a problem with the Hardcore / Casual terms. Sure, in reality it’s not quite as binary as that, but they still seem to me to be very appropriate, accurate and descriptive terms to easily distinguish between different parts of the consumer base. Of course, there is also everything in between, but the terms serve as a useful point of reference.

      If you have regularly bought games over an extended period, then you are literally the ‘hard core’ of the consumer base. It’s only when people (and ironically, it’s usually hardcore gamers themselves that do this) start to mistake the terms for meaning Good / Bad, Smart / Dumb, Male / Female, Shooty / Flowery, etc. that it becomes an issue.

      The 10s of millions of people who just buy the odd EA Sports games or Wii x every year are the ‘casual’ audience. Those of us who tend to buy games every couple of weeks or so are the ‘hardcore’ audience. In much the same way that you might be a hardcore moviegoer – it doesn’t mean you only watch ‘hardcore’ movies (whatever they might be), it just means you go and watch a lot of movies.

      People have started to believe that the user is defined by whether they are buying ‘hardcore’ games or ‘casual’ games. No. The games are defined as ‘hardcore’ or ‘casual’ games by the purchasing behaviour of their typical purchaser. You can’t then take that definition and transfer it back to the user, because that’s circular logic and entirely redundant.

    • BigJonno says:

      @ Jimbo

      I’d suggest that the reason that the “hardcore/casual” thing has been so quickly subverted into a badge of pride/insult relationship is that no-one was really sure what they meant in the first place.

      For starters, is a “hardcore gamer” a gamer who is hardcore or one who plays hardcore games? Is someone who buys lots of games, but only plays for an hour or two a week hardcore or casual? What about someone who plays one game for hours a week, every week? What about someone who religiously buys every single update to FIFA, Madden, Halo, CoD and GTA, but nothing else?

    • JuJuCam says:

      Interesting discussion. Personally, I’ve always felt the hardcore / casual dichotomy to be strangely limiting and non-inclusive of the way I perceive my “gaming identity”. I actually take quite a while and have to consider someone a quite close friend before I open up about the extent of my life as a gamer. I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps I carry a degree of shame at having allowed it to consume my life to the point that time and energy is stolen from more fruitful pursuits. Anyway that’s for another discussion.

      I’d describe myself (and probably a lot of people here) as a “gamer geek” first and foremost, meaning it in the same way you’d define a music geek or film geek. A connoisseur, a gourmand. A wanker, to use a less polite term. The thing is I enjoy a lot of what the hardcore would call casual, and what probably amounts to a four chord pop song in the industry. I enjoy my Wii immensely, and regularly gorge on PopCap snacks, and I still enjoy fake plastic instrument games even though most people consider that particular cow milked dry. I’m mixing metaphors horribly here. At any rate I appreciate the purity of a simply well made game, that allows me to do fun or funny things that I wouldn’t normally do.

      I consider “hardcore gamer” a term that applies to people who devote inordinate amounts of energy mastering a particular game, or a particular genre of game. I think a hardcore game is any game that has just the right balance of technical difficulty and systemic depth to allow that level of mastery to distinguish the best from the rest. I really have no interest in achieving that level of mastery, and therefore have little interest in games that pander to it.

      Also, as mentioned by Jonno, I reckon a lot of the “casual gamer” market don’t realise that someone is calling them a casual gamer, or any sort of gamer at all. I think our hobby has reached a level of normalcy by now that is at least on par with board games. Anyone ever mention board gaming to a friend or family member and wind up suffering an evening of Monopoly? That’s where video and computer gaming is at. The future for us holds rounds of Wii Golf every time we go over to Aunt Shauna’s because she heard we’re interested in video games, and she got a Wii for free with her telly. Aunt Shauna is the very definition of the casualest of gamers.

      Interestingly enough, by my own definition, people like myself who are “experiential gamers” in that we like to try many different games and see what they’re like, probably wind up spending more money on games than anyone else who isn’t paying some sort of subscription. We’re fatter cash cows than either hardcore or casual gamers, and the industry can’t see us cos they’re stuck looking in these two pigeonholes they’ve already got.

      Anyway I’ve waffled on a bit but that’s to be expected. Wanker, you see?

    • Will Tomas says:

      I feel the whole hardcore/casual thing is rather like the whole gamer/person who plays games issue being discussed above. I hate the terms because while I have played games since I was a small kid, know a lot about games, have played a lot of games, regularly read games journalism, the idea of being identified as one of the small-minded mentally-teenage socially-isolated angry-internet-kids type of people who flood the internet is just too depressing. I am not one of them, and so want nothing to do with the – and I stress the next word – stereotype of the hardcore gamer.

      I’m interested in new experiences, new things to enjoy, new things to engage me, and fun. I think that the sort of people who seem to want to define themselves by the fact that the console they own is obviously better than all the others, that don’t realise that no matter how badly it was made things like Hey Baby not only have a point but should be encouraged, that waste their lives griefing in multiplayer games, obviously bring the medium down. If they’re hardcore gaming, count me out.

      However, what I increasingly feel is that they’re mattering less and less, and will continue to do so the more mainstream we go. Farmville is brilliant, as is WoW, purely because they open the doors to the people the ‘hardcore’ loathe, because they feel that their special toy is being taken from them. Much like the group of Liverpool Beatles fans who started to hate them once they moved to London. Or Spurs fans who chant racist chants at Sol Campbell because he moved to another team they don’t really like very much.

      Fortunately, now, and with increasing speed, gaming isn’t about that niche anymore. It isn’t about the gang of teenage boys who know L33T (and, by my calculation, we’re onto at least our third or fourth generation of gaming teenage boys by now). It’s become about more.

      I for one am incredibly thankful for that.

  15. Severian says:

    I enjoyed the Wong article on Cracked (in general, I’ve thought his articles to generally be insightful and interesting). The difficult for me is always defining the nature of the PC gamer community. Who are we? Does it even make sense to cite statistics on our demographics (gender, age, race, etc.)? Will companies always cater to the lowest common denominator (sex and violence) because it’s easiest and most attention-grabbing? What can we do to help change the trajectory of PC gaming – to save it from drowning in its own moral decrepitude and self-entitlement? As an older gamer, are my opinions mostly irrelevant? No point to this comment, really, just confused over my morning coffee.

    • Bowlby says:

      Couldn’t stand that Cracked article. Among some of its problems, “we” (which seems to include everybody) don’t all have entitlement issues, don’t pirate games and do support the industry. Sure, Some people do.

    • Bowlby says:

      Ugh, terrible English. Would edit but can’t find the forum post. You get my point, though.

    • Severian says:

      @ Bowlby.

      I think this is exactly what my brain was trying to deal with. Why is it that I know so many responsible, mature gamers, but our stereotype hasn’t changed? Do I engage in any “entitled” behavior, perhaps without knowing it? As a parallel: you can meet lots of people who aren’t racist or bigoted in any “significant” way and yet carry around attitudes and belief systems that still contribute to societal problems having to do with race and gender. Is our community simply too heterogeneous to make generalizations about? Or are obnoxious, entitled teenagers and college students really the most vocal and dominant contingent of our community – the ones who influence the marketing decisions? etc.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “Will companies always cater to the lowest common denominator (sex and violence) because it’s easiest and most attention-grabbing?”

      Yes

  16. IdleHands says:

    That escapist article was a little silly, you can’t definately attach definite meaning to those words when they are so vague to begin with. I’m not pretending that there aren’t some forum dwelling trolls think of ‘hardcore’ and ‘casual’ games / gamers in those terms, but it’s just them really. I never really cared about the whole ‘hardcore’ vs ‘casual’ games but as a rule of thumb I assumed;

    Hardcore – A game with a specific market that have experience in other related games (FPS, RTS etc…). And can rely on using (usually without mentioning it in the tutorial or manual) gameplay elements from other games (bunnyhopping etc.).

    Casual – A game that is trying to be accessible to everyone, with simplistic graphics, controls, and gameplay. A game that tries to let anyone pick it up and be able to play, not requiring previous experience with games or needing to devot alot of time to learn to play, a pick-up-and-play game.

    While it is easy to assign each to a gender it’s more down to the individual to decide to do that and not inherent in the words meanings. The points made about language used ingame was interesting though, wished the article was focused more around how such common language used in gaming culture (like ‘rape’) is keeping women away, as it is used more often to point of being commonplace and part of the language than someone using pre-existing words and attaching their own specific meaning to it.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      I think the point is not actually about the terms so much as the mindset of the faux-hypermasculinity and that if you judge people based on their gaming habits, you’re a bit of a dick. Which is basically how I go on the issue, I’m a student so I have a vast amount of free time to play games and I’m pretty literate about my hobby and can discuss it fairly lucidly, but I’d never consider myself hardcore. I always associate the term with griefers.

    • IdleHands says:

      Re-reading the piece with the mindset that they were talking about people identifying themselves and others as either ‘hardcore’ or ‘casual’ gamers made more sense than when I read it using it to define games rather than gamers.

      Still feel the article is a little redundant though, don’t most of us think those that care about ‘hardcore’ games and ‘e-peen’ are dicks already. Isn’t this article coming way late to the discussion of ‘hardcore’ vs ‘casual’ (to be honest I haven’t heard those words for ages before today). Does anyone really say their a ‘hardcore gamer’. Like I said before I think the article would’ve been better focussed on ‘gaming language’ and if it is still too masculine a language that excludes women.

  17. Shrike says:

    Wow, point #1 of that cracked article was incredible annoying. He says “I don’t want to get into an argument about piracy” and then later essentially says that the apparent “death of PC gaming” is entirely piracy’s fault.

    Personally I find the piracy debate to be an incredibly confusing thing to think about, so I’m not reacting to him as someone holding the opposite opinion at all, I’m just reacting to the fact that after a very sensible-sounding article he spouts off a sequence of assertions as though they are well-known facts, when in fact each one is either unknowable or clearly nonsense. And to use Spore as an example is ridiculous. The fact that it was at the center of some enormous DRM debate cannot be ignored just because you linked to an article in which some guy discusses the issue whilst only arguing for one conclusion, and in a completely non-factual manner.

    Personally I suspect that a lot of people never even got as far as caring about Spore’s DRM one way or the other anyway, since the game was universally received as a mediocre disappointment.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Chaz says:

    No comments on the Hey Baby thing yet, is everyone too scared to?

    I’d say something myself but I’m worried that the forum brown shirts / commissars, might find fault with my politics and have me taken round the back of the chemical bins to be shot.

    • Rakysh says:

      I’m sure there are plenty of places over the internet where that discussion is welcome; it seems to have become clear that this is not one of them. That doesn’t mean you’re being oppressed.

    • IdleHands says:

      Please do not turn the comments back into that again, it’s why the comments of those posts are locked. Your free to post in the forums where the discussion lives on, but here in the comments it is dead. Please understand and respect that.

    • Rakysh says:

      Sorry boss. Couldn’t help biting.

    • Mil says:

      @IdleHands:

      Excuse me, are you speaking in any sort of official capacity for RPS? Because it seems to me that Mr. Gillen brought up the subject again and this time he didn’t say anything to discourage discussion (certainly a welcome development).

      As for Hey Baby, I didn’t have a problem with the game. Topical games are not my cup of tea, but some people seem to enjoy them. Not a big deal.

      I had more of a problem with the reaction and commentary in this site. To my mind celebrating this game while complaining about the “rampant sexism” of relatively mild sexy content in other games was a fairly obvious double standard. The fact that the discussion wasn’t exactly illuminating wasn’t a huge surprise, but the claims that there shouldn’t be a discussion at all (with the closed comment thread on top) again seemed like a disappointing double standard. Obviously many people in RPS feel strongly about gender politics, but they also do about DRM or piracy and as far as I remember that never led to closed threads.

      My hope for the future is that both sides, but especially the side self-identifying as feminist, will learn to be more tolerant of opposing viewpoints. I look forward to future polite and respectful debates on this subject.

    • IdleHands says:

      @Mil

      My mistake there, for some reason I completely overlooked the Hey Baby links. Seeing Chavs wording though just made me worry that things were going to go downhill fast and wanted to at least try to prevent things getting too nasty. Sorry shoud’ve double checked for those links before posting.

    • Premium User Badge

      Vandelay says:

      This topic is most definitely not been completely blocked by RPS. Take a look at the forums and you will see that there are two threads discussing the issue on the front page, something you very rarely see on here.

      I’ve not read either of them*, as it is a safe bet that it will be two groups yelling at each other and no one making any impact on the other group’s beliefs, but I can’t imagine there is any censorship going on. It is a very sensitive issue that is in no way comparable to DRM or piracy and I can understand completely why they would have the comments closed for the follow-up article. I took it very much as Keiron saying he didn’t want to discuss the issue anymore, but we are free to. He even said in the piece “Go to the forum if you want to chat.”

      *Yes, I did create one of those threads, but as I said in the original post “I don’t think anything else really needs to be said.”

    • Premium User Badge

      Chaz says:

      @ IdleHands

      Don’t worry yourself, I was just having a cheeky poke.

      When I came across the article and the follow up, the comments were already closed, and I just found it a rather odd and draconian thing for this site to do. There’s been plenty of other incendary articles and angry ranting comments threads on this site before, so it just seemed odd to me to single out that particular article for the kid glove treatment. On the other hand, I think said treatment has provided a more interesting basis for discusion than the original article itself.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I rather think it’s the way the opposing viewpoint has been expressed, rather than the viewpoint itself, that has been a problem in the comments threads on that issue.

    • Kadayi says:

      I’m finding the whole thing laughably metrosexual. By far geeky PC gamers are the male demographic least likely to engage in public bouts of overt sexual cat calling, so this idea that we should all be mentally wringing our hands over the bad social behaviour of other male demographics (knuckle draggers) is frankly hilarious. I don’t think we need to be told it bad form. The message is wasted on us. Instead of making a bad game about it, make a poster campaign.

  19. pimorte says:

    The point is that the people claim they are not the same, but really they are.

  20. pimorte says:

    @Jahkaivah

    The point is that the people claim they are not the same, but really they are.

  21. Jimbo says:

    There’s something in it for Activision?? Well that isn’t very Humble of them at all is it?

  22. Sobric says:

    Wow, Activision seem to be trying their damnedest to fill the role of Evil Corporation.

    Aside from the first right of refusal thingy, this also seems pretty dubious for Indie developers:

    “acknowledgement of Sponsor’s development of game concepts that may be similar to entrant’s Submission”

    To me, that reads as, “We might steal your idea if it’s good”.

  23. BooleanBob says:

    I really like the thought of pixelated Richard Cobbett and Dave Tosser arguing about games in the Pheonix Wright courtroom.

  24. Wulf says:

    I love casual games, me. After all, Free Realms is one of my favourite MMORPGs. Love me some Popcap now and again, too. Bit of Peggle on the DS is divine.

    I suppose this makes me a girl.

    I’m completely fine with this, as it isn’t the first bout of gender ambiguity I’ve ever suffered, nor the most extreme. Everyone exposed to my voice before actually meeting me makes that assumption anyway.

    Wheeee.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      Hahaha, I was discussing casual games with my mate in the pub a while back I was surprised to learn that I’m not the only gamer I know who has most of popcap’s games on their hard drive. A real coming out of the closet moment for me, only to discover that everyone else has a well maintained Zen garden.

    • BigJonno says:

      I’ve found that most people who are really into games have a high opinion of Popcap’s output. They’re kinda like Nintendo, in that they make inclusive, accessible games that usually have a “kiddie” aesthetic, but they’re superbly designed and generally have a lot of depth. Their imitators usually get the look right and it’s often enough to sell well, but they lack the underlying quality that gives the originals such wide appeal.

  25. Xercies says:

    I have to say that cracked article 4 of the 5 reasons i liked and are still quite relevant. But the last 1 well lets just say it seemed more like a rant against a issue which i don’t agree with then something else. i don’t agree with it, sure I think the people who pirated the Humble indie Bundle should be shot but please don’t put them in the same people that complain about DRM and Ubisoft. Its to general. The opother 4 was things outsiders think of us and its kind of true that outsiders think of us and theres some in the community that project that even though its not true. But the last one well its what Ubisoft and Activision is saying. No word that people pirated Spore because of the DRM and hated it because it was medicure. Ergh it pissed me off because before that was a not bad article.

    I kind of have to agree with the escapist article with that, whenever I hear a gamer say Hardcore and casual I do hear the word Boys and Girls its even in the description of what they think the casual player is(theres always that its your mum thing) so i have to say I did really agree that it was about the masculinity of gamers coming through. As for me I don’t particularly care for Hardcore and Casual, since I hate people who go for the hardcore route which usually I’m not invited because I’m rubbish. I like games…I’m a gamer which enjoys both Peggle and Gears of War 1 for different reasons. I agree we should use gamers.

    And as for apocolyptic isn’t it already kind of known that when humans hit rough times e.g recessions the amount of apocolyptic stories goes up. I remember seeing an article and a graph about that. Its kind of simple really, when we are scared to death about our own way we will think mre likely that the world will end and what that will be like.

  26. Jimbo says:

    The Crimes Against Gaming article is amusing me already: “You won’t find the obvious stuff here!” … Issue #1 Quick Time Events!

    The only thing more cliche than complaining about QTEs is complaining about Escort Missions, and… *scrolls through* …yep, they’re in there too.

  27. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    A lovely bit of casual prejudice in that third Hey Baby responce, a bad week. Unless its paradoy im not getting.

    Also, very glad to see that second one posted. Sums up my feeling on shutting down the comments section, though i can see why someone would justify it, what with your typical ignorant answers abound on a subject like this.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I went to the forums after a couple of days to check on the thread. Wanted actually to participate in the debate. But the level of it, as perpetrated by some of the posters, felt like a cold shower to me. I completely lost my interest.

      It’s always an interesting (and sad) thing to witness exactly why games like that are indeed perfectly adequate parodies in response to our societies look on women. And nothing like seeing stuff like that thread to be sure the game author is right.

      Oh, it’s also very funny to see irony and satire being totally discarded, when just a few days some of the same names were supporting Privates press release saying that it was all just irony and satire. Right! So it’s only satire when they are not the target. Hypocrisy much.

    • Eamo says:

      I wonder if the irony of much of the response to the whole Hey Baby thing is lost on the creators and on Leigh Alexander. For every man who is genuinely ashamed of their behaviour by proxy there are twenty others who chime in saying that they too are saddened to hear such things about their fellow men because of a forlorn hope that the woman they are replying to will notice them and validate their existance. In effect, half of the “oh you poor girls putting up with us horrible men” responses are the exact same, crass, crude, thinly veiled come-ons in inappropriate places that the article was railing against. Yeah, we get it guys, you are the nice, sincere, sensitive types that those women should be looking for *wink* *wink* and not some jerk hoping to get laid by pulling a good guy act. Hope that line works out well for you all.

      I am also surprised that not a single author has mentioned the culture of rejection your typical male must go through. I would love to see someone make a response game called “Would you like to dance?”. A guy in a nightclub walks up to random women and says, politely, “Would you like to dance?” getting a string of replies “Fuck off loser!”, “I have a boyfriend”, “You’re not tall enough”, “I’m with my friends”, “Get lost”, “I’m not that drunk” etc. etc. after which the guy blows them away with a shotgun leaving a tombstone with that slogan. The simple reality is that approaching women, even in an appropriate setting is a pretty harrowing experience and the only way to deal with that constant rejection and humiliation is to do a wee bit of mental gymnastics such that you can view it as a game. Allow me to paraphrase KG here “If you’re a woman, and you’ve acted like this, the man you do it to, beneath the polite smile he has to offer, has probably fantasised about you dying”. Playing that game in situations with no chance of success is a subconscious way of reinforcing how little the outcome bothers you and since you know you will be facing that outcome many times that is for many men a nescessary form of densensitisation.

      Of course, this being real life a good rule of thumb is that whenever a woman calls one man a jerk any man who hears will chime in with how much he agrees. It is the law of the jungle out there and if a guy can make himself look good by making another guy look bad then many will jump right in. It is easier to paper this over with a blanket label of sexism than it is to dig deeper and ask why guys do this. Theres a whole slew of reasons you could list, it might be to have a laugh (poor sense of humour), to look cool to your mates (low self esteem), to cause offense to the woman (just being a prick), because you think it will work (stupidity), not knowing the correct way to approach women (poor social skills) etc. etc. Calling it sexism is just plain wrong, I suspect it is very, very rare for any guy to do an over-obvious come on because they think women are inferior, which is pretty much what the motivation would have to be for it to be sexist. It might be representative of a societal double standard but a double standard, even if the standards are applied accross sexual lines is not nescessarily sexism, In this case it is much more of a manifestation of the societal expectation that the man is the one who approaches the woman and the feelings of objectification that causes in women and the nescessary attitude a man needs to adopt to deal with the rejection he needs to put up with to get by in that system. The amount of, otherwise well-written commentators whose response to this goes no deeper than “you guys are assholes” is kind of depressing.

    • Helm says:

      Eamo, thanks for this post. I feel similarily. It seems there was a lot of surface tension that obstructed any attempt at moving deeper to the whys of this situation in the past thread. It was kind of shocking to see so many people (males and females) use this excuse to demonize the Other (and therefore the aspects of themselves they find detestable).

      The most shocking reply was over at SVGL where a user wrote [I paraphrase] “yes those smelly ugly bad catcallers, I hate them too.

      Oh, ps, your eyes are cute”

      It wasn’t irony to the best of my irony-detecting abilities because Mrs. Alexander had mentioned comments on her eyes in her rant.

      So yes, what you said. How about trying to understand why others behave badly and why we behave badly and how we can communicate better on our social fears and unease and find some common ground instead of playing the blaming game. Point of fact is: any human being that exists in a society will affect other people’s lives daily: sometimes they will be a nuisance or a burden. Self-flagellation is useless in understanding why they did what they did and how to be better in the future. And condemning the Other for negatively impacting us isn’t any more helpful.

    • Wulf says:

      I didn’t post on the Hey Baby thing because all I would’ve had to offer was a bleeding heart, really. Which is pretty much what ended up in Leigh’s article, but it was more well-placed there than with this community. There are times when, yes, you do get just a little bit fed up with people who feel a little too entitled to both closed-mindedness and unethical pursuits, so creating a joke game targeted at these people was a pretty great response. It’s not the first time it’s happened, either.

      It’s understandable, and it’s also extremely, I’d even say vividly satisfying, it’s therapeutic, and at the end of the day we’re all just predators anyway, so having a punching bag helps us deal with our position in society. If there’s no real outlet for it, and you want to just make light of how you feel about something, then Hey Baby pops up. A crude game that made a rather amusing point.

      Myself? I don’t like rich people, especially rich kids, politicians, and even the bourgeoisie can get on my tit a bit, I’m a true hoi-polloi and proud of it. So I like games that let me prey on these people, as a predator. Vampire is a fun bit of therapy, especially with what one is able to do with the Camarilla in the ending, and my werewolf in Champions Online likes tearing ARGENT, Mind Inc, and anything else that looks remotely like a corporation to shreds.

      I’d never do it to real people, of course, and I’m the sort of person where no matter how little I might respect someone, I’d give them all the rights that any human being that I like would deserve, there can be no distinction with this, because to be unethical is to be no better than whatever one may dislike. So this is personally just a way to deal with my own, personal feelings, which are personal and have nothing to do with reality. I’m human, so I have my own prejudices as everyone would, though they’re not as pronounced as some, and they’re not quite as shallow as race/gender, but they ARE there.

      What I saw Hey Baby as was basically someone, just like me, who had something they were fed up with, and they wanted to vent, they wanted release. They wanted to show people how they felt. Not in a really serious way, perhaps in a way that’s a bit silly, but they had to express that. Hey Baby’s creator has an understandably deep seated issue with sleazy guys. Not men in general, men in general are fine, but very specifically those who’ve felt that they have the entitlement to inject themselves into their life, who feel that it’s their right to have the person listen to their catcalls, their compliments even, and the like.

      And why not? Who doesn’t do this? Is there anyone that’s never enjoyed a bit of therapy in this way? Has no one ever mentally placed the face of someone they strongly dislike on a game’s foe? I wouldn’t be surprised if the characters in the game were visually based upon repeat offenders that the creator is familiar with. And the thing is, this is healthy, it’s perfectly healthy and reasonable. Better to enact these things as a fantasy than in reality, because, again, we are predators, and there’s just no getting away from those instincts, it’s part of every human being. From the best to the worst.

      To me, that’s all it was, and I completely understand it because I’m the same. Some people are really good at making you hate them, they’ll do all they can to make your life miserable, and if they’re aware they’re doing it it’ll often make them just try harder, because these people can’t keep things to their fantasies, they’re unethical, so they act them out on real people. Just as those sleazy guys couldn’t keep their comments to their own heads, and test them out on imaginary ladies, they had to stride up to one, get in their face, and drop their comment, waiting for approval.

      And really, it would be hypocritical to speak out against this if you actually do it yourself, if you’ve ever done it to anyone in your imagination then you’re not innocent of it, and you really have no right to complain. I know my inner werewolf has peeled some people like an orange, or a grape, to my utmost satisfaction, and that keeps me sane. I know all of the people I’ve approached and talk to about this pretty much enjoy the same thing. For some, it’ll be a gun, or a broadsword, or whatever, but you’ll simply have that fantasy of ending a truly annoying/obnoxious/cruel person.

      So that’s that.

      Also, Mario, I think you’re misrepresenting Privates, so I’m going to call you on intellectual dishonesty because this was pointed out to you, unless you’ve forgotten. Privates happens inside males and females. You keep pushing the notion that it attacks females by targeting females only, which isn’t just a fallacy, it’s an outright lie. I supported privates because I thought it was funny, regardless of the target of the gender. I have no problems with your opinions on Hey Baby, I even agree with you, but I don’t like obvious lies being used to attack something completely unrelated.

      You have a great point, don’t ruin it with that nonsense.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      @Wulf

      I get tired of having to say this the whole time. My issue is with that press release. And every time you say I’m talking about the game.

      It’s boring already. Give up.

    • Wulf says:

      I didn’t say you weren’t talking about the Press Release, now did I? I just picked up what I thought was your problem with it, because the last time I saw you ranting like a madman was about how women were unfairly abused and persecuted by the press release, despite it targeting both genders (which is what I said).

      I was calling you on witch-hunting, Mario. I don’t like witch-hunting, I never have, I never will. It’s full of all those little things that irk me: intellectual dishonesty, unethical behaviour, trying to assassinate the reputation/personality of something just because you don’t agree with it, and so on. So don’t expect me to roll over and let you get away with it any time soon. :p

      You don’t agree with Privates, so you say, so stop bringing it up in completely unrelated posts and trying to assassinate Zombie Cow’s character with every chance you get. Give it a rest all ready!

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I stop when I feel like it. Sorry if that spoils it for you.

      Anyways, you completely failed to see why I brought Privates in that comment. I wasn’t even saying anything bad or wrong about the game. But instead pointing the fact irony and satire is often lost when you are the target. Intellectual dishonesty… Call me that again. I like it.

    • Muzman says:

      Late comment.
      Good to see the ‘White Knight libel’ show up finally. For a while I thought males could discuss sexism without it. It just wouldn’t be the same.

  28. BigJonno says:

    My somewhat tongue-in-cheek list of things that I have learned this week because of Privates and Hey, Baby.

    1. Feminist is apparently the opposite of sexist and there is no grey area. You’re either one or the other.
    2. A woman who talks about her oppression by men is automatically right.
    3. Advocating equality isn’t good enough, which implies that feminists don’t want equality.
    4. A large number of otherwise intelligent men think that acting hurt and saying “But I’m not like that!” is a worthwhile position to take when confronted with an account of misogynistic behaviour.
    5. It’s never okay to strike up a conversation with someone in a public place. Ever.
    6. It’s not okay to suggest that high rates of teen pregnancy and STDs are bad things.
    7. Referring to infections as “grotty” is misogynistic.
    8. Suggesting that pregnant women waddle is misogynistic.
    9. Prejudice and hatred work on quantity. Basically, misandry is okay because there is more misogyny.
    10. A game that consists solely of shooting and killing a class of people who annoy and intimidate you isn’t a revenge fantasy if you can apply an agreeable socio-political commentary to it.
    11. The worst legitimate complaint you can level to someone who accuses a group of people she’s never met of “being dead set on regaling us with their hatred of women” is “bad journalism.”
    12. A man who identifies himself as a feminist is insincere. See point one.
    13. Radical feminism doesn’t exist.
    14. Chrome doesn’t even recognise “misandry” as a word.
    15. I should have started reading Leigh Alexander’s blog a long time ago.
    16. Someone, preferably at least one man and one woman working together, needs to write a Gamer’s Guide to Acceptable Female Interaction or something, because the number of guys who can’t tell whether they’re being creepy misogynists or not is kinda worrying.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Oh. And I thought you actually had learned something new. Instead you are just saying what you always felt.

    • Metalfish says:

      @Mario

      No, no -I grew BigJono from a vat of cloned cells cultivated from several secret donors. A week ago he didn’t feel anything.

    • BigJonno says:

      @ Mario.

      I’m not sure exactly how some of those can be things I’ve always felt when they’re things that I don’t agree with and are on the list because I’m taking the mick.

      @ Metalfish.

      Well, that explains a lot.

    • Gwyn says:

      16

      see 1-15

    • Grape Flavor says:

      I was about to say something, but I can’t distinguish for sure just HOW many, exactly, layers of irony BigJonno is operating with here, and how they are applied, so I’ll just keep my big mouth shut to be safe. :)

  29. Mario Figueiredo says:

    @BigJono

    Oops. Completely missed the irony. Sorry :(

  30. Frosty says:

    Lewis: I failed to realise how much damage and insult satire can bring until you discussed it in your article. Thanks. Now I know better.

    • Lewis says:

      I’m reading that as a sarcastic comment, which, if that’s the case, I’m not sure I quite understand.

      Of course, if you’re being genuine, then my apologies: the internet can make even the most fervent enthusiasm sound cold.

    • Frosty says:

      @ Lewis: It’s genuine, no need to apologise though. At least you’re kind enough to explain how you’re reading it.

    • Gwyn says:

      I wish more of the other commenters in this thread had realised it applies to them as well, though. There’s still an awful lot of ironic guffawing and entitled whingeing around even though this whole mess has supposedly been resolved.

      Nobody’s learned anything, which is the real upsetting thing.

  31. Amanda says:

    Well I really liked the article on game architecture, even if no-one else seems to have done so enough to comment :) How a collection of pixels and collision polygons can become imbued with all of the emotions we associate with real world places (and places you’ve only dreamt of) – places we miss, places we dread, places we feel at home within, and places that have secret meanings for me and not for you – is a very powerful tool in a game makers collection, and one that certain devs do much better than others.

    • Zwebbie says:

      Amanda: I had to make a presentation in school once about the function of ceiling height in games. It’s quite interesting how many designers use the same ideas. Basically, low ceiling is intimate, high ceiling is epic, that’s a basic architectural idea. In Portal, the room where you dispose of the Companion Cube has the lowest ceiling in the entire game, whereas the final battle doesn’t even have a ceiling. An astonishing amount of games also have a final level with high ceilings and a boss fight in the open air, or a first form boss in a high room and final form boss in the open air – from HL2 to practically any Zelda and from Max Payne to Vampire Bloodlines. I daren’t say if it’s all intentional, but there’s quite a bit of emotional manipulation going on in level architecture.

  32. Ted says:

    That Post-Hype article goes on forever and as far as I can tell never gets around to saying a single interesting thing. He thinks there was too much background chatter in some Splinter Cell game I guess. Do people even play those horrible pieces of shit games on PC? Did he really need 8000 words to try to make that inane point?

    • cmbreault says:

      It’s only 4000 words!

      I digressed a lot, but I was trying to explain how bad dialogue can kill a game’s atmosphere, and shed some light on the circumstances under which that writing is done. I wrote more bad jokes than usual, I admit.

      SC: Conviction isn’t so terrible that it becomes not worth talking about. Some parts of the game are very polished, so the awful secondary lines really stand out; they’re much more than “background chatter.”

      Also, thanks for linking to my tiny site, RPS!

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      Delisiously ironic how your monologue killed the point about dialogue.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      I’ve liked everything on post-hype so far, and this latest is no exception.

      So, well done, and stuff.

    • Thants says:

      I thought it was quite good.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I enjoyed it too! Well done.

  33. ChampionHyena says:

    Seems like David Wong always seems to work the fact that he’s got some bug up his ass against PC gaming in every article he writes.

  34. PleasingFungus says:

    Linked from the incidental dialogue article: Fischer-Fest 2010 is informative AND entertaining.

  35. Cinnamon says:

    I actually see apocalyptic science fiction as a healthy, if depressing, way of mentally preparing for the worst. Raising a generation of ascetics rather than a generation of nihilists. Steampunk is much more nihilistic in my opinion.

  36. Freud says:

    For some reason I got into Lemmings 3D much more than the other Lemmins games. Despite the clunky interface, bad graphics and things such as only being able to turn my lemmings 90 degrees. I guess those were the days of 3D where the gamer was able to connect the dots mentally (and with no need for anti aliasing) and it somehow worked.

  37. Robin says:

    There are so many reasons why that Cracked article is shit that my brain protectively shuts down when I try to think about it for too long. David Wong knows very little about games and has some frankly weird ideas about women. Just the most crashingly obvious, wrong-headed, selective, puritanical, hand-wringing armchair punditry pish. It’s a shame as the rest of Cracked’s output is very entertaining.

    Regarding the exhaustive Formspringing: I am starting to think that Duncan MacDonald was responsible for a lot more than he’s given credit for.

  38. Lucas says:

    Quintin Smith’s Eurogamer retrospective on Startopia: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/startopia-retrospective

    “It was Babylon 5 run by the Muppets.”

    Absolutely spot on. I still love this game.

    • Dominic White says:

      Startopia has aged shockingly well. Run it at modern resolutions, and it looks as good as you remember. The writing is still brilliant, the voicework spot-on, the gameplay remarkably well balanced and the campaign varied and interesting.

      The fact that it bombed terrible despite it doing absolutely everything right is almost too horrifying to consider. I’d imagine it’s the same kind of feeling a devout religious person would feel after discovering in no uncertain terms that there is no god(s).

    • Sonic Goo says:

      I agree with all of this. This game is one of the earlier and best examples that style is more important than fidelity. A lot of older games turn me off because of graphics, interface and such, but this game is still up there with the best of them. 9/10 indeed!

    • Gap Gen says:

      Startopia was great. It’s such a shame that the ending was so soul-wrenchingly horrible.

    • matte_k says:

      Tried running Startopia not long back, seems my system creates this horrible glitch whenever you try to place an item, the blueprint appears and the game screen flickers at a stupidly high rate and slows the framerate to a crawl, rendering the game unplayable. Most disappointed, was looking forward to playing through again. The terraforming garden deck was one of the best ideas i’ve seen in a game for years, quite frankly.

  39. geldonyetich says:

    Apparently Sociologists can publish books and articles or secure research grants from their experiences playing online games. Methinks I got the wrong degree.

  40. DrGonzo says:

    “Could you please add a “view ALL comments” option into RPS?

    I do not have enough mana to cast that spell.”

    Thought that was funny.

  41. Premium User Badge

    jaheira says:

    @cmbreault

    Excellent article on Splinter Cell. Very funny. Interesting to hear candid thoughts from a game writer. I’m gonna keep an eye on your blog.

  42. Breaker Morant's Ghost says:

    Oh, we’re allowed to comment again. Thanks Stalin.

  43. sredni says:

    Someone posted angrily in the comment thread of the original ‘hey baby’ post about how the game had helped him identify idiots (those people who weren’t angrily opposed to it). I too have found it a useful exercise. It has helped to separate the wheat from the misogynist chaff.

  44. Kevin says:

    Let’s not forget that pretty much everyone who watches movies or listens to music pirates them every now and them. At least as gamers some have a moral code.

  45. Risingson says:

    The article on Splinter Cell:Conviction could be allright if it didn’t mention those examples as supposedly good dialogues. Far Cry? FAR CRY?

    • terry says:

      Played it through twice, can’t remember a word of the dialogue beyond “he’s over here!” The hawaiian shirt spoke louder than any voices.

  46. Grunt says:

    “I think it rhymes with clucking bell…”

    The Cracked article had a link to The Aphrodite scene from God of War III, which actually ASTONISHED me with how utterly puerile it is (Is this is? Am I finally turning ‘old’??). That scene is the game equivalent of paying hookers to visit gamers houses and fellate them while playing, and ply the happy male with the kind of ego-boosting comments porn stars build their careers on. It’s gratuitous in a way that Cliffski can only dream of. I mean….seriously??

    God, no wonder feminists think we’re all dyed-in-the-wool misogynists.

  47. cheal says:

    “acknowledgement of Sponsor’s development of game concepts that may be similar to entrant’s Submission”

    This sentence in the Activision thing is the most worrying as it appears to give them full permission to just steal your idea.

    On the Hardcore/casual games thing, it’s pretty simple. Test Drive Unlimited is a casual game, because I can play it casually, just starting it up for maybe 10/20 minutes play and still derive plenty enjoyment from it. GTR2 is a hardcore sim because it takes months of work to get really really good at it. 3 weeks ago I done a full 3 hour race without stopping. I’ve done this about 5 or 6 times now. That is hardcore because it requires a level of obsession and commitment beyond the norm. I don’t see how either term is a reference to a specific gender. Creating “gender neutral” terms would make no difference because they would still take on the same meaning. I don’t see how “casual” is a gender specific title and when I use it to describe a player or game, gender does not even come into because I still live under the impression that girls don’t really play games. Certainly the term was around before girls made up a significant proportion of the gaming community.

    Some “casual” games are seen as girlie, like the sims or such, but I own the sims and on occasion play it, casually. There are however plenty of games out there, for men which are casual in nature. I would consider Psychonauts pretty casual, football games seem pretty casual to me, though some take them very seriously. In fact I would consider most console games to be pretty casual but that’s just me being a diehard PC gamer I guess. Never have I heard the term being used to describe girlie games or female gamers exclusively. Nonsense.

  48. Johnnemann says:

    Hey,

    I wrote that second piece on Hey, Baby. Thanks for your kind words. Re-reading it today, however, I think I misrepresented Kieron’s actual views a little. He did close the comment threads, but he told me via Twitter that he believes the conversation is valid to have ‘eventually’ but not immediately. Basically that any kneejerk response a male made would be flawed. I think my article painted him as being more anti-discussion than that. (Since that’s part of what I was focusing on). I’m not sure yet that I agree with him, but I just wanted to clear up his position as much as I can. (Perhaps he’d like to do more?)

    But then I wrote that piece just really as a private diary entry to get my own thoughts in order – as you can tell from the rest of my blog, I’m not exactly used to having others read it. Thanks to everyone who did.

  49. Johnnemann says:

    Ugh, obviously this was supposed to be a reply to Peter Radiator Full Pig above. Comment fail.