The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on February 26th, 2012 at 10:42 am.


Sundays are for sunshine pouring in through the window. I am so looking forward to summer this year. To pass the time I’ve been reading the internet. Here’s some of the stuff I found.

  • Here’s an article about games that are not just for computers, but by computers: “Angelina uses computational evolution techniques to search design spaces for playable games. Using a fairly simple design language, Cook specifies certain parameters such as layout constraints and rule-set variations – effectively defining a genre. Angelina iterates through a vast number of semi-random permutations of these, where each permutation is a potential new game. The evolutionary aspect of the process comes in when the system selects the better candidates of each iteration – or generation – and combines them to form the seeds of the next. But in Angelina’s case, there are two phases to the process. First, selecting the component game-parts – layout, mechanics – and secondly; picking a playable integration of these. Cook refers to this as ‘cooperative co-evolution’.”
  • Dear Esther has provoked discussion all over the place. Here’s some.
  • The Art Of Homeworld.
  • The story behind Stalin vs The Martians: “You promised an updated version would be on the way, but several years have passed without a whisper of it, during which time no one has been able to purchase the game. What happened to this version?” “We lied.”
  • Eurogamer’s “The Rise and Fall of Sega Enterprises“: “At the start of the decade, Sega stood astride the gaming world like a colossus; it had smashed Nintendo’s vice-like stranglehold in the US and conquered Europe with its street-smart marketing. But by the close of the ’90s, the company’s reputation was in tatters, its user-base had all but collapsed and it was driven dangerously close to the yawning abyss of insolvency.”
  • A critique of Portal 2: “A few hours later, the game punts you into a dank brown cavern that is Portal’s equivalent to a boring FPS sewer level. Something happens while you’re down there. Instead of coming together, the game slowly begins to fall apart. Physics-defying gels introduce even more levels of secondary thought required to play the game. Portal-friendly surfaces are suddenly very scarce, very tiny, and very far apart from each other. During the first vital playthrough, the test chambers became a chore somewhere around Chapter 7. As they got increasingly difficult, they repeatedly screeched the finely-tuned pacing and flow of the game to a halt, reducing their place in the gameplay formula as elaborate obstacles.”
  • On The Love Letter: “…the game’s premise couldn’t be simpler: Read your love letter before next class begins. End of story. The whole set-up has extreme implications, though, due to the way the situation is framed. You MUST read the letter in its entirety to discover the writer’s identity; otherwise your opportunity to meet your potential love interest will vanish in a heartbeat. Given that you were absent during the day’s very first class, you know your schoolmates WILL now be eager to see what “SUP!”. Doubly so, should they catch you red-handed with a love letter!”
  • This week seems to have contained plenty of anger and lamentation about the idiots of the internet: “Every gamer with more than one brain cell was disgusted and outraged at the whole affair. Notice that I didn’t say they were surprised, because who would be? This is the gaming community’s elephant in the room: it’s got an ejaculating penis and a swastika drawn on it.”
  • And an article from Forbes on the subject.
  • While we’re with the mainstream press, here’s the BBC’s Front Row on videogames.
  • A great interview with the Limbo team.
  • Digital Foundry’s Alan Wake PC analysis: “On PC with max settings, there is a surgical precision to almost every single rendering element, and clearly, obviously, everything looks a lot whole lot better. But there is the argument that with much of the grime and haze lifted, the atmosphere just isn’t quite the same – and with very few (if any) improvements to the base artwork, some of the lower resolution textures are that much more noticeable too.”

Music this week is actually a video, filmed on location at Chernobyl and the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The expedition was organised by RPS chums Unknown Fields.

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156 Comments »

  1. philbot says:

    The second to last sentence desperately needs a check. The grammar on RPS has gone to the dogs…

    • Davie says:

      So he put “and” instead of “at”. I am well aware of the perils of poor grammar, but don’t start hooting about the dogs yet.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yeah, all the best sites are the ones with no typos.

    • Jimbo says:

      You’re mums gone too the dog’s.

    • Unaco says:

      Your Mum’s Gong 2: The Dogs.

    • ShowMeTheMonkey says:

      You are Mums, of which have gone to the dogs.

    • Captain Hijinx says:

      I find the odd grammar mistake endearing actually. I imagine Jim getting up on a Sunday morning and putting these posts together in that lazy Sunday morning sleepy haze.. Even though they’re probably written beforehand. Still.. My favourite posts on RPS are The Sunday Papers!

    • thesundaybest says:

      Not to mention that the mistake you point out isn’t a grammar mistake. In case you decide to start copyediting the site, you might like to know

      - spelling mistakes are not grammatical
      - replacing one word with another, when the mistake is clear, is not grammatical

    • ThinkAndGrowWitcher says:

      In the alight of such sleight mist steaks with spell hang, is it hack set table to you’s the well noon Dickensian frays: “who gives a flying fuck?”

    • Hoaxfish says:

      trapeze artists

    • noascvasu says:

      This is so cheap Apple accessories! So perfect!

      Apple the iPad the LCD Screen Protector is Guard the Ultra Thin $ 2.99 Free shipping! http://got.pl/www.flydolphin.com/gnmg7E

  2. thepaleking says:

    Admittedly I have not read the entire article yet, but this remark in the P2 critique summary caught my eye: “As they got increasingly difficult, they repeatedly screeched the finely-tuned pacing and flow of the game to a halt, reducing their place in the gameplay formula as elaborate obstacles.” Sorry, but, isn’t that the exact point of the test chambers, to be elaborate obstacles? Is that not what makes a puzzle a puzzle?

    • Cinnamon says:

      I’m not exactly sure what he is saying about elaborate obstacles but there is certainly more than one type of puzzle. Later on Portal 2 seemed to have more “pixel hunt” type puzzles where you where you were just looking for the one place where you could put the portal. With a pixel hunt the smaller you make the pixel and the more stuff you add to distract you from finding it makes it harder but it’s still a pixel hunt.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I really, really liked those bits. I never found the pixel hunting tricky as I was looking at everything anyway, very atmospheric and beautiful. But, my gf got proper pissed off with it at times.

      Still, the comment about the liquids is mad. The old test chambers were the highlight of the game for me, maybe the highlight of any game ever.

    • InternetBatman says:

      The criticism was too negative. There were some valuable critiques in it, like not knowing why Wheatley woke you up or the long corridor parts with cool stuff happening around you. The focus on the caves which were probably the best part of the game, makes it look like the author is just trying to criticize everything. The caves told a new narrative, they did it tightly, and they introduced new elements with some pretty cool mechanics changes. In essence, they did exactly what a sequel should do.

    • Dervish says:

      “Even a 4-year-old can play it” is actually a pretty good criticism of the first game. It’s especially funny considering he mentions “the depth and complexity that I was looking for” later on, but I suppose anyone who willingly aligns themselves with Valve’s playtesters isn’t the most demanding about that sort of thing.

      Other funny sentences: “It was a bold experiment in a new type of game design” (it’s true, first-person spatial navigation puzzles had never been done before), and “Portal was a game in the truest sense of the word.”

      I also liked “…gels introduce even more levels of secondary thought required to play the game” (secondary thought? I guess he didn’t want to say “complexity” and look silly) and counting lasers among the things that don’t sufficiently “visually communicate their purpose.”

      His point about Portal 2 having many of the same tightly-scripted, barely-interactive “un-game” elements as Call of Duty is the only good one in the article.

    • Skabooga says:

      I’ll admit that Portal 2 did drag a bit, but that was only at the beginning with the first round of test chambers, which felt more similar to Portal 1 than any other part of the game. Before things took a dramatic turn, I was worried that I would just be replaying Portal 1 all over again, and if I wanted to do that, well, I would replay Portal 1.

      And proportionally, I hit about the same percentage of action-stopping puzzles in the first as I did in the second.

    • NathanH says:

      Perhaps the puzzles should all be skippable?

    • Muzman says:

      I think the article is at least observing that as the chambers get more complex and and the story gets more complex, they don’t really work all that well together
      ***spoilerspoilerspoilerspoilerspoilersspoilers***

      I mean, you’ve got freakin Glados herself shackled to the front of your portal gun for a good portion of the running time and she only talks “between chambers” still? There’s all sorts of stuff she could tell you (but it’s obviously too hard to make it context appropriate). With the added complexity making the gaps between the portioning out of story even longer it really didn’t have the flow of the first.
      Indeed the whole test chamber pretense was stretched well beyond breaking point and you get into that sort of slightly silly winking, self aware writing to excuse the structure. Which is unfortunate. The deadpan black humour of the first was one of its great strengths.
      It’s not a bad game by any means, but I can definitely see that it lost something.

    • try2bcool69 says:

      Some people wouldn’t be happy if you hung them with a new rope.

    • bill says:

      Portal 2 was my favorite game of last year, but i mostly agree with what he says.

      It did drag in the middle, and while elements of the underground caves were great (finding about the history etc..) it was basically about spotting the panels or doors with the light on them and then jumping there. It was still fun (though i found the comedy voice-over in that section rather grating – because it was supposed to be a human. Glados and Wheatley were crazy, but they were AI!).

      I enjoyed most of the puzzles, but it never really had the freeform experimentation or the wonder of portal 1. The gels and other elements were fun, and added some variation – but on the other hand made almost every puzzle “fixed”. there was usually one set solution to find – whereas Portal 1 was about how you could use one simple amazing tool (portals) in any way you wanted to reach your goal.

      I don’t really see how they could have gone any other way with making a portal sequel, but his points mostly hold true. Though going into a game with a fixed idea (2001 vs Wall-E) tends to make such elements stand out more.

    • jezcentral says:

      Exactly @Bill. I think people get too concerned with thinking of a game as perfect. You can really enjoy a game, and still see things that could have been done better.

      Some people still seem to think of games in the same binary way others think of their football team: that you can’t criticise it, and if you do, you must hate it.

      I think the article hits the right notes, but then, Portal never overwhelmed me in the same way it seemed to so many others. It was a bloody good game, but not something that made me look at games in a different way.

  3. The Dark One says:

    Ah, so that’s what the “we won’t discuss it” topic was about. It seems about as terrible as the attacks on Jade Raymond around the time of Assassin’s Creed 1.

    • ThTa says:

      Yeah, I was wondering about it, as well.
      I was aware of the likes of 4chan and Reddit’s longstanding hatred for her (due to something DA2 related, if I recall correctly), but not of this more recent hate campaign.

      It’s truly appalling, but what’s even worse is that, as the article suggested, I’m not even all that surprised.

    • Aardvarkk says:

      I wasn’t aware of the what’d happened til I read it, bit I think the message of ‘Do nothing and they’ll think it’s ok’ is something to keep in mind.

    • woodsey says:

      I think my favourite comments about Jade Raymond (well, ‘favourite’) came with the release of the second game, where people started making comments about it being so much better now that she wasn’t working on the series.

      Apparently, none of them checked to see if she worked on the second game – which she did.

  4. SiHy_ says:

    I found the Portal 2 critique interesting but he didn’t seem to offer a solution to any of the ‘problems’ he raised.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      The solution offered seems pretty good and pretty obvious: Do it better next time.

      There’s no sense in this idea that in order for me to criticize game concepts and design I have to necessarily follow up with concrete solutions. Noticing a flaw doesn’t necessarily translate into finding a fix, as life surely as already taught you by now.

      Besides, that would ruin the career of anyone in the industry who lives off reviewing or commenting on games; their job would suddenly become much harder and only at the reach of expert game designers (who themselves introduce flaws into the game because they too can’t find a solution to something they know is wrong).

    • JackShandy says:

      It’s still useless to point out flaws like “The gels introduce another unnecessary new layer of secondary thought” without suggesting how else Portal 2 should have been made. No elements but Portals the whole way through again?

    • SiHy_ says:

      @Mario Figueiredo Maybe it’s my lineage of engineers but when I see a problem my first instinct is to analyse what is wrong and think of alternatives that could improve, or even fix the problem.
      I’m not even saying I necessarily disagree with the points he makes but he simply seems to say – this was different in Portal 1, therefore it doesn’t have the same spark of inspiration.
      Plus he seems to contradict himself by saying that the gels, taking stuff through portals, lasers, etc. aren’t as fun as the portals themselves and then goes onto say that he was bored of doing portal puzzles towards the end.
      Overall it just seems like a review he wrote and didn’t go back to edit in order to make it more cohesive.
      Oh, and when you say that to critisise something you don’t need to come up with solutions, I’d say that’s rubbish. You should at least come up with ideas. The construction side is what’s what seperates constructive critisism from simply deconstructive bitching and there’s already far too much bitching on the internet.
      Thank you and goodnight.

  5. povu says:

    I agree with some of the Portal 2 critique. Once you reach the cave for a while the game seems to switch from puzzle solving to ‘spot the portalable surface’ in a large open area.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah. I think they’d have done better if they just made everything portalable and made that section a proper spoilt-for-choice-indirection maybe-miss-a-bit-of-backstory-of-you’re-not-thorough exploration-fest. Having those odd daubs of paint or bits of exposed wall were like walking through a puzzle that’s already been solved for you.

      But that’s not what Valve make; they make rollercoasters, and in that section they mucked up and made the rails too evident.

    • Urthman says:

      But given the story of Portal technology (and the ending-spoilers!), having portal surfaces be rare in the underground ruins is an important plot point. If anything, there needed to be more of an explanation of why there were any portal surfaces down there at all outside of the test chambers.

      Even so, I agree that the way they did it made the puzzles seem much more artificial and contrived than, say, the backstage section of Portal 1.

    • gwathdring says:

      I feel like Portal 2 got so excited about making jokes and making cool things happen it forgot how to be a puzzle game. Solutions took me more time in Portal 2 than in Portal 1 … but mostly because it was difficult to find all the bits of the puzzle. Data collection became the primary obstacle to a speedy solution. I think Portal 1 offered more moments of genuine perplexity. More importantly, I feel like Portal 2 simply didn’t offer enough such moments–first game completely aside. The Co-op was better; the co-op felt like a coherent gaming experience with a respectable bit of challenge and odd thinking.

      The end result for me is that I cared less about the writing. The jokes were less important to me because I kept waiting for the game to take off. The environments were gorgeous, the lines were snappy at times, but my avatar had no character for me to grab onto …. the only personal connection I had to the game was gameplay, and the gameplay experience was well polished but not especially interesting. The game was an incredibly well produced but mostly unengaging blockbuster to me. I wanted to find the jokes funnier, but I just didn’t have much reason to be there. And neither did Chell, really. We were both just moving forward because it seemed like the thing to do at the time. Exactly what happened when we got there just didn’t seem particularly important.

    • bill says:

      I really loved portal 2 – but basically you are all right. I loved portal 1 more, and almost instantly replayed it. I can’t see myself replaying portal 2 even though it was a great ride.

      It was indeed the underground section that slightly diluted the experience (great idea though it was in terms of history).

  6. SuperNashwanPower says:

    That Angelina article put me in mind of Kurzweil’s Singularity.
    Also, maybe after millions of random iterations, gaming evolution will prove once and for all that Chuckie Egg is the finest gaming experience in the universe.

    • Mike says:

      Funnily enough, Chuckie Egg is one of a number of arcade games too complex for ANGELINA to create right now. For all I know it actually is the pinnacle of design. I’ll let you know…

      My other comment got eaten by Horace the Endless Spamfilter, but if you’re interested in the project there’s a blog where I put project updates, demos and games ANGELINA has made. For fear of triggering the spam filter again: gamesbyangelina dot org.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Oh hello :) Nice to see you in the comments! Angelina sounds very cool indeed. I think I am being a bit thick though because I can’t get GARNET to do anything after unzipping it. Do I just double click on the files that came down with garnet-0.11a.zip? My computer just seems to tut at me and shake its head. I am running a Windows based PC :)

  7. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    I do agree with the Portal2 critique in some ways. They did lose their way with the sequel.

    It wasn’t even in my top 10 PC games of last year.

    • jalf says:

      Well, it was a very good game. It just wasn’t a very good puzzle game, like Portal 1 was. You slogged through all the puzzle bits to hear more of the story and to experience the universe. But not because you were “thinking with portals”. (Note, co-op was much, much better in that respect)

    • mckertis says:

      “It wasn’t even in my top 10 PC games of last year. ”

      You still bought it, didnt you ? What else did you think matters ?

    • BarneyL says:

      I still bought it but six months after release and at a much lower price than the original, it was worth the reduced price not the full one. I wouldn’t even consider the third at full price so they’ve lost two halves of a full price sale there.
      I found a lot of the Portal 2 puzzles tedious, walk into room, hear joke, spot the only two points you can place a portal, place portals there, walk out of room, hear another joke, repeat. It completely lacked the sense of discovery the first Portal had.

    • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

      “You still bought it, didnt you ? What else did you think matters ?”

      I don’t follow. You’ll need to explain that.

      So….if I’ve purchased a game then its quality is irrelevant?

      I bought it and was disappointed with it, expecting it to be better.

    • bill says:

      It was my #1 game of last year. But it was slightly disappointing for all the reasons the reviewer mentioned.

  8. McCool says:

    The article about “that which must not be named” misses the mark. It is NOT a matter of egalitarianism, a matter of giving respect to same-sex relationships, or to women. The full truth of the matter is this: someone made an image, over a year ago, on 4chan making a cruel joke about one writer a community there didn’t like. Fast forward to a week or two ago, and the website that RPS has a submit button to at the top of every page got hold of that image, and a bunch of immature children decided to direct a hate-campaign against this woman for no reason other than they A. they are close minded, immature children and B. they thought it’d be funny. Morality, issues of gender, etc absolutely do NOT come into it. Dickish kids acted like dicks.

    What was done was horrible and unforgivable but should not lead to soul-searching on anyone’s part. The ultimate law of the internet is “Sticks and stones..” though I’m sure that isn’t much good for Helper right now. The only solution is to condemn that community for acting the way it did, and console the woman who was subjected to all this meaningless hate and make sure she really knows that, well, kids will be kids. It’s awful but that is it. The only other solution involves mass censorship, identity tracking and the end of freedom of speech on the internet. Just as we can’t let children from reddit ruin a woman’s life like this, we can’t let them take the internet away from us either. If we had another solution that would be wonderful, but “sticks and stones..” is all we have.

    • Apples says:

      It wasn’t about gender or sexuality at all, eh? Even though half the complaints were that she was ‘forcing’ gay relationships into the games and half the insults were that she was “a fat cunt” and a yaoi fangirl and a feminazi etc? did you read the link to the comments that were addressed to her? http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/02/21/mencallmethings-dragons-age-edition/ Have you seen fatuglyorslutty.com? Women do get a harder time because of their gender when it comes to games, it’s kind of hard to argue with. If you don’t agree with that then I honestly think it’s because you haven’t seen enough discussions of that by women rather than that it doesn’t happen and it’s relevant.

      Yes people will be cruel on the internet, but the fact that they chose to be cruel BY USING GENDERED INSULTS AND INSULTS ABOUT SEXUALITY clearly brings those issues into it. Did they just pick the most hateful, hurtful things they could think of? Yeah probably – but then we have to wonder why being a woman, and a fat ‘unattractive’ woman at that!, is so incredibly offensive to the majority of gamers that that’s what they picked up on first. If she’d been a man people would have been pissed about what she supposedly said too, but do you really think there would have been reams of comments about what how fat and ugly and slutty he was and about his genitals and how his wife must have got him the job? errrm no

    • DiamondDog says:

      Stupidity, ignorance and immaturity are not confined to adolescence.

      You know with absolute certainty that all of the abuse was in no way motivated by hate, and was just for a laugh? They were all kids?

      Seems like you might be shutting your eyes and sticking your fingers in your ears.

    • AndrewC says:

      If it was just ‘dickishness’ it wouldn’t be the same sorts of attacks on the same sorts of people over and over and over again.

    • McCool says:

      Of course if Helper had been a man the comments would’ve been different, and possibly less vicious. And childish actions do not necessarily just come from children. But my point still stands; the intention of these comments was to upset as much as possible. The moment you are even debating the direction of any of these comments or their content, the morons have won. You mention the comments about being “fat, unattractive” being somehow connected to Helper being a woman, but even there you are giving them too much licence. Communities on sites like this routinely make fun of beloved Gabe Newell for the same reasons, fans that love him to bits send emails to Gabe mocking his weight.

      The moral of the story is just this: as long as we have free speech on the internet, a certain type of person (normally adolescent) will find the most hurtful things they can think of about a person they dislike for the most spurious reasons, and try and spam them with meaningless hate. The sad thing is, soul-searching on gender issues, or calling these people sexist will just make them want to do it more. The only solution that doesn’t invite in mass-censorship is just to make sure everyone is steeled against this kind of nonsense. One solution is to counter-act campaigns of hate with campaigns of love/support at just the same time. I’m no fan of Helper’s work but I’d happily sign up to give her a e-hug over all of this. There is no perfect solution, but the moment we can get people to realise hate like this is truly meaningless, we are halfway to taking away their power.

    • jalf says:

      Yes, the terrorists will surely have won if we even dare to *think* thoughts like “why did this happen, and what, if anything, could we do to prevent it from happening again”.

      Bullshit. That argument was nonsense when it was used about Bin Laden’s gang, and it’s nonsense now.

      No one is talking about taking the internet away” or restricting your freedom.

      But if you are part of a community, and you are, which fosters these kinds of demeaning and childish attacks, then I fail to see why you shouldn’t at least *think* about it, talk about it, condemn it, let them know that it is not ok.

      If you really want the “terrorists to win” then you should absolutely do nothing. Let dicks be dicks, let personal attacks continue freely. **That** is when “they” will have won.

      You’re assuming that some people are just born dicks, and that nothing can possibly change that. And that’s not true. People generally do what their community encourages or tolerates. If their community urges them to do offensive shit like this, then some people will do it. If not, they won’t. So yes, the community *as a whole* absolutely needs to do some serious soul-searching. Not just 4chan or redditers or whoever, but gamers. And not least those who vehemently argue that “nothing can be done, I have no reason to look inwards *at all*, and besides, it had nothing to do with sexism or anything else”. You could, if nothing else, stop legitimizing it. Stop talking about it as a fact of life, as something we shouldn’t even *talk* about, or object to.

    • Gira says:

      I think the worst part of it is that any legitimate discussion that emerged from Hepler’s (telling) faux pas – pertaining to the fact that there is a toxic culture of lazy, cheap, regressive games design at BioWare – has been swept under the rug in light of all this. I’m sure Hepler’s a nice person, and I have nothing against her (well, on a personal level, anyway), but someone’s really gotta draw a line in the sand when people start earnestly talking about just providing a means to skip over horrible gameplay rather than, you know, making the gameplay not horrible.

    • Apples says:

      As soon as I posted that comment I had a horrible premonition that someone was going to say “Yeah well Gaben gets called fat too!!!”. Seriously – even disregarding the intenet – have you ever in your life seen a man get as much shit for being fat as a woman? Have you genuinely and honestly? Are there constant trashy newspaper and magazine articles about men’s weights? Do people assume that a fat man is incredibly unattractive and probably weak-willed and bad at their job? Even you say that people don’t use Gaben’s appearance AGAINST him but rather as something they gently tease him about. If he ever does something fans don’t like I can guarantee that the majority of comments will not be about his weight, beard or gender because those will be seen as irrelevant but instead about WHAT HE ACTUALLY SAID/DID. Please pay attention to your surroundings and think about things. I swear to you that you will begin to notice that men and women are not treated equally especially when it comes to physical appearance and general competence especially in tech/science jobs.

      (edit: relevant to this, note the one tweet about her that says “you are fat ugly and female, please stop 2 of these things”. A fat or ugly man is fine; a woman may never be fat or ugly.)

      You:
      “It is NOT a matter of egalitarianism, a matter of giving respect… to women.”
      “Of course if Helper had been a man the comments would’ve been different, and possibly less vicious.”
      Ummm… so her being a woman DID come into it then, and she was given less respect because she was a woman? Would you like to retract/amend your overall initial point then?

      Your entire point of “ignore it, just realise it’s not hurtful” seems – and I didn’t want to say this because I’m going to get accused of being sexist myself and I wanted to avoid the potential misunderstandings that always seem to happen with ‘privilege’ arguments – to be coming from a point of privilege where you CAN ignore personal insults because they don’t saturate your life. You don’t have to worry about your gender and appearance CONSTANTLY being used against you; for you it is an isolated occurance when you get a personal insult. So it can easily be ignored, passed off as that one guy being a dick. For women this is seriously not usually the case; it’s not ‘some people being dicks’ and randomly targeting certain indvidual aspects of a person, it’s an entire culture/group that encourages people to be dicks to women as a whole in specific and targeted ways. It’s really hard to explain this if you don’t already know it, but again, I have never seen a person who started paying attention to how genders were represented and treated in society who came away saying “Nope, women are totally equal and their gender is rarely relevant!”. It’s always “Oh shit, you people were right all along and this is awful!”

    • Archonsod says:

      “but then we have to wonder why being a woman, and a fat ‘unattractive’ woman at that!, is so incredibly offensive to the majority of gamers that that’s what they picked up on first.”

      I’m wondering more why these are considered a “majority of gamers”.

    • McCool says:

      @jalf

      You misunderstand my point. I’m saying we should talk about it, we should do something. The one thing we should never do is take up the argument on their terms. My point is, bringing up defences against what these people say is only going to make them do it more. This is childish behaviour, playground bullying on a horrible scale. They want a reaction, that is it. The only reaction that will work, is a cold-shoulder, and a dismissal of their actions as irrelevant.

      You are right that I am part of a community that used to do things like this. Most of us have grown up now and by and large, it doesn’t happen any-more. What is interesting to note is a whole new generation has taken to websites like reddit, and are using the same cruel methods, only even more organised. If you can think of a way to make children stop being cruel when there are no consequences, I’d love to hear it. I’m just offering what, in my experience, is the only pragmatic solution that works. It is an uncomfortable and imperfect solution, but it’s all we have. I honestly, truly wish for a better solution, but I know these people, I know why they do what they do and I know what makes them stop and what makes them do it even more. I’m not saying some people are born dicks, but I know you know the people I am talking about. The sadistic types in school, in later life they generally hide their misanthropy. The internet is like a playground to these people, when they all get together (and the young and naive see it happening and want to join in), this debacle is what we get.

      The other solution to stopping kids being cruel is to give them consequences. But in the modern web this translates to the tracking of identities, mass surveillance, and so on. To invite that infrastructure in was the purpose of SOPA. The very lack of it is what makes the internet so precious. Is there another way? I hope so. But the solution I see, and its one everyone on “the bottom side of the internet” learns, is “Sticks and stones will break my bones but trolls can never hurt me”.

      As Gira says, one of the most interesting parts is that the legitimate unhappiness that actually started this has been completely lost in the storm of shit. People disagreed on an aspect of the philosophy of games that Helper commented on (though there were many figures in Bioware disliked more). Then some children (or child-minded people) decided to start a hate-campaign, no holds barred. Reason will never work in response to this. It’s bile, bile bile bile.

    • AndrewC says:

      Some people skip past perfectly well-written dialogue, so there you go. People sure like different things for different reasons. Isn’t it great that games are things that can embrace such different styles of play. Isn’t it.

    • Apples says:

      archonsod: Sorry, bad wording on my part. I guess I meant more ‘the majority of commenters’ than the majority of gamers (the majority of gamers probably has no idea who Jennifer Hepler is, to be honest).

      McCool: why do you think reason does not work? Some of the people commenting might be too young and flippant to actually understand why what they’re doing is wrong; but a sustained and majoritive dislike for what they’re doing will at least stop them feeling as if there is widespread support for their actions (and this does not exist – look at any offensive youtube comment about women and it wll probably have more thumbs up than down), and if that dislike is shown in reasonable posts I believe it WILL eventually get through to them. As for those who are old enough to know better and just don’t, uh, maybe that’s because they never had people explain to them why what they’re doing is stupid, wrong and hurtful and they need that?

      I too would rather keep internet anonymity and freedom than have artificial safety from those big meanies. But I don’t think we need to say “well, the only way to fix this is to take away anonymity and monitor everyone!”. Reason does get through to people. And yeah I used to be a moron on the internet too but I heard so many people talk about why they found these things to be wrong and, yes, why it hurt their feelings, that eventually it somehow hit home and I stopped being such a horrible person. So I don’t just give up hope and think “hey, nothing to be done with them – kids will be kids, no fixing their attitudes!” because it worked on me and it will probably work on them if we don’t give up. Fear of punishment/consequences is NOT the only reason normal people don’t do things and I don’t think we can assume that the majority of internet commenters are complete sociopaths, no matter how much people joke about that.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I think in some context David Gaider has received a similar level of distaste, and mockery of anyone involved in SWTOR promo-videos certainly got it.

      The thing that set it all off “this time” was perhaps the most unfortunate or blind flamebait wording anyone could have picked, apparently bragging about gender (using vulgarity) and job-position.

      If another staff member of Bioware had done a similar level of tweeting (and one pushed very close in an attempt to defend), I’d honestly expect the same result… maybe not focusing on gender, but on some equally “targettable” point of reference.

      Acceptable? Not really. Predictable? Yes.

    • McCool says:

      @Apples

      Again, you miss my point. As I typed the Gaben comment, I kind of expected that response. The reason I brought Gaben up, is to say that whenever the trolling starts it will be as vicious and as insulting as possible. The fact that people tend to have more horrible ways to getting to women than to men is a problem of society as a whole, THAT is a feminism issue, outside of the scope of this. But men have been driven to suicide by campaigns like this too.

      Dissecting the logic of this bile is precisely what we should not do. The logic is plain and simple to anyone who wants to hear it: cause as much upset as possible. Your whole tirade about a position of privilege is a straw-man, and completely off. If you must know, I’m a bisexual man who, although never having to suffer the sorts of pressures and abuse that so many women face about their body, knows what it’s like to be the subject of hate regarding, ones body and sexuality. Regardless, feminism is an important issue, in my humble opinion it is THE most important issue we face within our society. If you are interested, I write exclusively feminist games. But the moment we try and drag issues as vital and important as this into a discussion with a group of people who are specifically going to ignore everything we say, and use all of it to cause more upset and bile, and heap misery on innocent people, it belittles us, and the argument.

      The point is, the way the internet is structured right now, if you enter into it with your real identity, you are opening yourself to hatred, or mock-hatred. There will not be any way to tell the difference. They will use whatever they can. If you are a woman, they will call you a whore, if you are black, normally-adjusted kids will become mock-racists, if you are gay, then you are a faggot who needs to die of AIDS. This behaviour is as universal as kids killing insects with magnifying glasses. One day there might be a solution to this, but I don’t know what it is. For now, we have just this: they will say whatever they can think of, to get a reaction. Don’t give them one. And, I guess, expect hugs from the people who don’t act like this. I think the e-hug system is a good one.

      @Apple’s second comment
      You are right, on one level. Eventually almost all of these people will grow up, and stop doing it. The problem is, even as they do this, the next generation is coming up and trying to be even worse than the last. The kids will figure it out eventually, and there will always be backlash (but for a long time, this backlash will fuel their trolling, not the other way around). My point is we should attack this problem from the other side first. I honestly think the only way forward for humanity on the web is too accept, eventually, this general rule not to take attacks like this personally, to see them for what they are. I can’t see them going away before the make-up of what it means to be human drastically changes (or the structure of the web does).

    • AndrewC says:

      If you can’t tell the difference between the ‘mock’ and the ‘real’ it’s because there is no difference.

      You do something about it by not accepting it. This stuff happens because it is seen as acceptable. As normal. As ‘just what happens’. You change it by changing your attitude.

    • Gira says:

      Dialogue isn’t gameplay in and of itself. Skipping past window dressing is acceptable. Dialogue can be gameplay when it’s not just fluff roleplay and actually results in (and is caused by) genuine mechanical interactions, but this is never the case in a BioWare game.

      This is beside the point, anyway – BioWare have always been awful at combat. Even when they had a decent combat system to fall back on in the Baldur’s Gate days – even then, they relied on waves upon waves of pointless trash mobs to pace out their Emotional Story Choke Points.

      And the “gaming can be anything” argument is the weakest, most flaccid retort ever conceived by the various unwashed white knight hordes that comprise a sizeable percentage of the games-buying market. Books can be anything! See this? It’s a series of moving pictures projected onto a screen, but it’s a book! You’re just holding back what books can be, man!

    • Apples says:

      OK. I guess I find it very hard to understand how anyone can see a sustained attack on a group of people and just think “welp, that’s how it is, I guess I’ll just ignore it” rather than saying “Fuck, this shouldn’t exist, I’m gonna try and take it on”. That’s why I made an assumption about you which I apologise for. I also don’t see how you can say that the fact that they used sexist and homophobic insults is a problem but not a relevant one; for me it’s completely tied up in the entire debate, especially because unfortunately the idea that “women don’t like games” gets entangled with “Jennifer Hepler doesn’t like gameplay” and inflames the entire thing. I don’t think it can be separated from society and sociological problems as a whole at all. But yeah if you think it can then I guess there’s no point really arguing with that.

      And yeah I had to learn the hard way not to take anything personally and I totally advise it, but at the same time I can’t just let it go because I feel like that will breed more of it. For me the best way is not to be offended by it on a personal level but still to attack it and try and destroy it when you see it, whether it’s directed at you or at someone else.

    • AndrewC says:

      Games can be anythinng.

    • McCool says:

      @Apples

      Ah, one thing I should have been more clear on, you are right. We should not ignore this kind of thing, but the victims like Helper should be, um, helped to. We should do everything in our power not to be Internet White Knights, but to reassure people and help them understand that these attacks say nothing about the victim and everything about the perpetrator. Engaging with the content gives weight to the hate. And this is a constant battle, something we should never stop doing. Being on the end of something like this must be unbearable, but the solution is to make like Caine in the show Kung Fu, and bend like the willow in the wind. If we can get just that one aspect of Buddism engraved into the laws of the internet everyone knows, alongside “If it exists, there is porn of it”, then a whole world of good will be accomplished. I’m sorry if I appeared flippant about this at any point, I just honestly believe this is the best solution.

    • bwion says:

      Freedom of speech does not, does not, does not require that we accept that ‘kids will be kids’, even and especially when those kids are adults who long since should have learned better. It does not infringe upon anyone’s freedoms or rights to say “that thing you said? That was a horrible thing to have said, you should not have said that”. It gets a little murkier when you talk about actively banishing people from communities, but only a little; I can respect your right to say whatever terrible things you want to say and hold whatever terrible opinions you want to hold without welcoming you into my home.

      And, as people have said, you can’t simply dismiss the sexist, homophobic, etc. nature of this stuff under a cloud of “well, yeah, they’re just idiots, why are we giving them this much attention?” These are not fringe beliefs, as much as I wish they were; and the nature of the society in which we live gives them an unnatural power. These beliefs need to be countered, they need to be mocked, they need to be argued against, and, for that matter, the people who hold these beliefs need to be engaged with, talked to like they were real people. Contrary to popular belief, ignoring a troll will not make them go away; it is, in fact, the worst thing you can do.

      The thing is, I do agree with you that the first step needs to be “be better than the hateful people”. Fight fire with marshmallows. Answer hatred with love. (Ideally without being paternalistic or creepy in the process by virtue of overcompensation, which is always a bit of a risk.) I am convinced that the only way to change the world is to concentrate on making the portion of it immediately around you a little better. And for everyone to do that.

      But dismissing this stuff as irrelevant, even with the intention of denying the haters their power, isn’t, to me, the right way to go about it. Dismissal may not seem to be the same as acceptance, but it can have the same net effect. You may not change SexistLoser999′s mind by calling out his bad behavior (though you might; people do change their minds, people do grow up, and being called out on the stupid things you say and do is all part of that process), but you might give the 20 people watching you and SexistLoser999 something new to think about, whereas by saying nothing, by ignoring it and hoping it will go away, SexistLoser999′s views are the only ones that will be seen and heard, and you will have (unintentionally) sent a message that, hey, it’s okay to say and do these things, because no one ever challenged them.

      (Edit to add: I see, McCool, that you’ve clarified your position a bit. While everything I wrote still stands, I do see that you weren’t actually endorsing ‘ignore it and hope it will go away’ so much as’ if you’re a target of this stuff, don’t let them get to you’, which I think is a fine ideal to strive for. Although I’m not sure that I, who will never be the target of the same sort of attacks that Hepler has had to endure, can ever meaningfully tell her to shrug it all off, as awesome as it would be for her to be able to do so.)

    • steviesteveo says:

      @Gira:

      Oh no, that’s not what she’s saying at all.

      She says she wants to skip over the bits of the game she personally doesn’t enjoy. She wants to skip the action bits that, due to her limited time and just not being a 13 year old kid on amphetamine, may stop her progressing through the story.

      “Hardcore gamers”, on the other hand, want to skip the dialogue, which they personally don’t enjoy, so they can get back to the bit they do enjoy. Which is the exact same thing. There’s already a button to skip over what the characters are saying.

      TL:DR, who died and made you king. It’s her f’ing game and she can play it how she likes.

    • McCool says:

      @bwion

      I think I’ve answered the majority of your points well enough in my last two posts, but your comment about free-speech is telling. High minded philosophy does not come into this, nor does absolutes like the supposed freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is a de facto side effect of the structure of the web. We are not going to solve issues like feminism, racism and homophobia in conversations with bands of internet trolls. There will always be backlash, and White Knighters, and you are right that this is probably part of the solution and for the best. But if we ever want to win, we need that piece of Buddhism, or if, you like, Christianity on our side. Turn the other cheek. This needs to be enshrined as a law of the internet, drilled into kids as soon as they are old enough to work a smartphone. Current campaigns against internet bullying make me weep. This is a defining issue of the early 21st century, and we need to solve it right.

    • McCool says:

      As a side point, RE: the actual argument about games design, Helper is wrong and should be decried because her idea invites in sloppy design, and sums up everything wrong about Bioware. Honestly, it really does come from the mind of someone who would rather write books than games. Story and gameplay should never, ever be seen as divorced. To make a game where skipping one for the other is even imaginable is to fully admit you have no idea how to make games. Not to say a game that works on this principle isn’t possible, but the amount of expertise it would require to tell the same story in two completely different games rolled into one is something far, far beyond Bioware at this point.

      Helper and people like her should leave Bioware, and make games that they want to play, story-based games with dialogue, character, plot and emotion the currency. These games should stand side by side with actiony shooters (and games that incorporate the both). Truth be told I’d much rather play the game Helper has in mind than what Mass Effect 3 will probably be. Though possibly not if Bioware wrote it…

    • cHeal says:

      Seems the abuse was a 5 parts people being dicks, 2 parts people genuinely angry about the “decline” and 1 part genuinely homophobic/sexist dick.

      What does it matter that her appearance was made fun of? So what? That is part and parcel of bullying and no more than it wasn’t “sexist” in the schoolyard, it wasn’t necessarily sexist in this instance. Mostly I think people were just raging at her and wanted to hurt her some how. I can understand the whole “decline” concern, and why Hepler was targetted over this, not to justify in anyway but I understand why she received such terrible treatment. She is being viewed by the gaming community as a sort of succubus, stealing their best friend away from them, changing bioware!!! She’s a woman who doesn’t like playing games. SHE DOESN’T BELONG!!!

      It greatly erks me when these things are so quickly turned into another debate about sexism/racism/homophobia. Reading the forbes article it was noted that GB gets abuse over his weight and appearance, but apparently that is not the same because he is rich (or maybe its not the same because he is a man and is viewed by this particular commentator as more able deal with the abuse…) which is a terrible argument, but then dismisses the line of argument and goes back to using the attacks on her looks as evidence of sexism. Basically doing all he could to justify his position, which was simply wrong.

      The Wretched hive article was just terrible. The article borders on fascism, everyone is right (except those crazy creationists… apparently) and everyone is respected and all the gays and blacks and hispanics are allowed join us on the internet (and in the world) without us being racist/sexist/homophobic. he even goes so far as to suggest that it is good that EA forum accounts are linked to the game account, and gamers can be banned. The problem with his analogy of the football hooligan, is that the hooligans get banned for breaking the law. Like in the real world, the laws created by our democratic representatives. As opposed to getting banned for using the word c*nt, which incidentally CAN’T get you banned from attending a football match… His article reminds of the worst of the melting pot liberal mentality. He’s the sort of unthinking student sort who would actually utter the phrase “we won’t tolerate in-tolerance”, once famously parroted by the war criminal Tony Blair. Interesting company to keep. Yeah that Wretched Hive article is really really awful. Forbes was much better and I think got to the root cause of the anger but then conflated it with “ism’s” possibly to make it more worthy of its place on the forbes website…

      I have no love for Hepler and I certainly do not agree with her views but what happened to her was absolutely wrong, but I do agree that this is 90% people being dicks and that’s it. The people who actually cared about the genre are on sites like this, writing long winded arguments about why she is so incredibly wrong and why bioware have fallen off the “decline” cliff. The people calling her up and throwing abuse at her, are just dicks, and little more and I think trying to turn this into an “ism” is wrong. It’s bullying, it’s wrong and those who engage in it should be shunned.

    • InternetBatman says:

      @Gira That’s how I felt too. The Bioware design model right now is fighting – dialog – fighting. They’ve lost focus (except maybe in TOR) on world building, character building, and exploration and have reduced games to just dialog and fighting. The last three games especially haven’t gotten the balance right between creator control and player agency, probably because they treat combat as something you have to do and content as something that is delivered. People are unhappy because Bioware is clearly on a trajectory to interactive movies, and that is a valid criticism because Bioware is one of the two companies that can write an RPG well in the West.

      Then some misogynist and homophobic idiots had to ruin this sentiment by jumping on.

    • bleeters says:

      Things being what they are, I’d welcome the option to skip past the combat sections of, say, The Old Republic. Not that such a thing would really be practical given the fact it’s an MMO, but the concept of leveling all eight independent characters (and, in turn, slogging through a mad several hundred hours of mundane fighting) just to see all the story sections drives me to hypothetical despair. I’ve taken to just watching a few of the class stories on youtube, which is by no means comparable.

      Of course, I’d also rather that ‘story’ and ‘combat’ weren’t increasingly two effectively mutually exclusive elements in Bioware titles that just alternated between one and the other, but whatchagonnado.

    • Apples says:

      “She is being viewed by the gaming community as a sort of succubus, stealing their best friend away from them, changing bioware!!! She’s a woman who doesn’t like playing games. SHE DOESN’T BELONG!!!”
      “It greatly erks me when these things are so quickly turned into another debate about sexism”
      What’s wrong with you, seriously. seriously how can you say the community’s attack on her was not about her being a woman but also that they view her as a ‘succubus’ and a horrible woman infringing on male territory. wat teh fuck. You’re just completely incoherent.

      “everyone is respected and all the gays and blacks and hispanics are allowed join us on the internet (and in the world) without us being racist/sexist/homophobic. ” er… yeah… they should be. Unfortunately they aren’t but they should be. Again, what the fuck is wrong with you if you think that’s a bad thing?

      actually i guess you’re trolling because you’re being really absurd (WAR CRIMINAL BLAIR) but this is some poe’s law shit right here

      p.s. it’s “irks”

    • Ritashi says:

      The thing to remember is that the particular choice of insults is completely irrelevant. Yes, sexism racism and homophobia are among the most common insults chosen. Why? Because those are EASY insults to make. “You’re a gay nigger slut that should go die from AIDS.” That took no thought to write. It is completely meaningless, and I can apply it to ANYONE I want to. The other common insult within actual games is “noob”, which requires only slightly more thought based on the context of the individual game. You know an insult that is hard and requires actual thought to make? An insult about actual content, one that insults intelligence. Because when you call someone stupid, but your reasons for saying that are not founded in at least a superficially logical critique of some content, then you just look stupid. (Obviously you can tie in “you’re stupid” behind an array of sexist/racist/homophobic slurs, but then the insult is actually just the slurs themselves). That’s why you see so much sexism etc. on the internet, because it’s really easy to come up with slurs based on that. Yes, sexism like that is wrong and abhorrent. Yes, women, LGBT people, and minorities get more shit on the internet than anyone else. That’s terrible. However, it’s important to look at why those groups are targeted. It’s much less based on any actual hatred of those groups than it is on the fact that those groups are extremely easy to target. Compare people’s behavior in real life to their behavior on the internet, if you’ve ever personally known people who acted like that on the internet. Generally, in real life, they’re assholes – but they’re not particularly homophobic/sexist/racist. That’s what I’ve seen anyway. Sure, there are such people in real life, and those people need to be confronted by having the content of their hate thrown back at them with logic and reason, showing them why what they say is unreasonable and wrong. However, people who are just generally assholes do not need the same kind of treatment. They need to be confronted, sure, but they need to be confronted not on the content of their hate but on the very fundamentals of that hate itself. They need to be shown how their hate hurts people. They need to be told that hurting people is not okay, even people they don’t know. Eventually, that message might sink in.

      That kind of rambled, but it boils down to this. We should do something about the hatred that spews from the internet. We should explain that hatred hurts people. We should take a stand to say that hurting people is not okay. However, we should not stand up and fight the hatred on it’s own terms. The people spewing hatred on the internet are not generally invested in their arguments. You can successfully explain to them why sexism is wrong and illogical, and they won’t care. They didn’t pick insults and slurs because they thought they were true, they picked them because they get reactions. Don’t give them the reaction they want. Ignore the content of their insults. Instead ask them why they are throwing insults to begin with. Point out that their insults are causing actual people to feel hurt. Tell them in no uncertain terms that it is not acceptable to hurt people, especially people who you don’t even know, people who have never hurt you or anyone you know. Most will ignore you and continue on with their bile. Let them. But maybe, just maybe, a few will understand. There is no way to actually stop hatred from coming in, at least in the short term. Some people will simply act like that. Taking a stand like this is not primarily about stopping hatred from happening on the internet – it’s for the sake of the few who will listen, and understand, and can then be freed from their senseless hatred and cruelty.

      For the victim, this is critical to understand, just as it is critical to explain that there is nothing wrong with them, but rather something wrong with the people who are spewing such hatred. Give them a hug – it’s the best way to deal with this sort of thing. A hug to say that this isn’t your fault, that there’s nothing wrong with you, that not everyone is an asshole. And then, sadly, they’re going to have to weather the storm. The victim can only be shielded so much, much as I wish it could be otherwise. We can hope for a future where there is no more hatred, and we can work towards that. But for the moment, hatred exists. The victim has no choice but to work their way through it. Give them an e-hug, as an above commentor suggested. Show them support, express your sympathy for them. Don’t tell them to toughen up, or to be more thick-skinned; that’s not helpful. Show them support, and they’ll have to find their own way to get through events.

      Love and Tolerate! <3

    • Pamplemousse says:

      tl;dr

    • cHeal says:

      Hi Apples, and thanks for proving my point.

      People don’t like a woman who doesn’t like video games, to be in a position of power within their favourite developer. A woman with pretty retarded views on gaming if I’m to be honest, views which run almost totally opposite to the fanbase of her employer. Of course their being sexist? Right? That is indeed what a busy body know it all would tell us, that is the opinion you have just stated.

      Yet if we look at the situation (with an iota of intelligent dissection) we will find the fact she is an overweight female is totally incidental. The reality is what people fear is not /females/ taking over, but CHANGE. It’s not sexism that drives the dislike of this woman, it is that she happens to be alien – different. If Women who don’t like games and can’t be arsed to play them had created BG 1 & 2 and Planescape and various other oldskool RPG’s, i.e. if Hepler was typical of RPG writers and developers, then it would be straight white males which would attract this visceral response. The fact is that this is all about the decline of the RPG genre. I don’t expect anyone would called it sexism then since men straight white males can’t be discriminated against, we all know that.

      I don’t expect to change your mind, such things don’t tend to occur on the internet in these debates especially when people like you have the weight of worldwide public stupidity behind them. You will of course continue to believe that because she is a woman, and she is hated, and because she is being called a whore, rather than a d*ckhead that this is definitely driven by the internets latent sexism. That’s fine, and I’m sure you’ll feel plenty superior to us folk who live in the real world (the one which actually exists, not the one we would like to exist) for the rest of your days and while I don’t like the smell of my own farts, I bid you all the best in your pursuit of the nicest smelling farts, EVER.

      As for the Hispanics/racism comment, while it would be a better world if racism/sexism/homophobic didn’t exist, i don’t believe that people with such views should be jailed or killed in some sort of ironic “final solution”. You are clearly very in-tolerant of many peoples views, and no doubt you know better than everyone else. get it yet? I live in the real world, and lots of people hold lots of varied views and No I do not want to censor such views because those people have as much of a right to their view as you have to yours. No doubt you were very much in agreement with the “wretched hive” article. So lovely dream land aside we live in a world where racism/sexism/homophobia exist and I favour education over criminalization and my point was really that speaking about eradicating such views is just about the most utterly pointless thing one can speak of. It’s a huge subject, but apparently just telling people we shouldn’t be racist/sexist/homophobia is going to add something, anything to the greater debate? It borders on narcissism tbh.

      PS. I was holding off on calling you a Nazi but….

    • Chris D says:

      cHeal

      You try to dress it up nicely but all I see is a playground bully trying to justify themselves. You say bullying, sexism and homophobia should be tolerated in the name of free speech but then shout down anyone who attempts to say otherwise. Your hypocrisy is overwhelming.

    • Mman says:

      “it’s important to look at why those groups are targeted. It’s much less based on any actual hatred of those groups than it is on the fact that those groups are extremely easy to target.”

      You know that the reason that minorities are an “easy target” is pretty much entirely rooted in hatred?

      “If Women who don’t like games and can’t be arsed to play them had created BG 1 & 2 and Planescape and various other oldskool RPG’s, i.e. if Hepler was typical of RPG writers and developers”

      This hypothetical is ridiculously pointless, because the very nature of society as it is means it’s literally impossible that this could ever happen.

      Also, that whole last paragraph is nothing but “you’re the real racist!”. Hate speech is one of the few things generally exempt from “free speech” (at least in public) specifically because it frequently overtly harms people affected by it and/or indirectly contributes to harm against them as well.

    • cHeal says:

      Excuse me but I took no part in the hate campaign against Hepler, so I’d like an apology for your implication that I have engaged in any abusive behaviour. It doesn’t surprise me that people of your view would attempt to slander me, rather than refute my points. I am not shouting down anyone. I am pointing out the horrible hypocrisy in the “we can’t tolerate intolerance” crowd. I’m not saying the Sexism or other should be tolerated I am saying that as long as these things are just thoughts and word then they MUST be tolerated. We don’t have to like those views, or respect them but each individual human being on this planet and in our cozy democracies has a right to their opinions. Without such basic acceptance of the right of free speech (and free thought), we could no longer consider our societies enlightened.

      When you argue that sexism/homophobia should not be tolerated what do you mean? Are we to kill people who hold such views? Criminalize them? Or are we to battle ignorance with education and debate. Should we not be better than those we are right now pouring scorn on? If we are to make this a better world through education and debate then we must tolerate views we disagree with, so that such debate can take place.

      Now, please apologize for your slanderous insinuation.

    • Apples says:

      Guys, I’m pretty sure he is trolling, cause who seriously asks people to apologise for their ~slanderous insinuations~ and straight-up Godwins themself? I was gonna reply earlier but decided not to because the argument was so obviously idiotic and offensive. If he’s not trolling then I dunno where he’s getting all the “FINAL SOLUTION! CRIMINILISATION!!” stuff from cause literally nobody has said that. so yeah

      also down with postmodernism, not all opinions and viewpoints are equal!

    • cHeal says:

      The analogy is stupid, of course but it illustrates that Hepler being a woman is incidental, it is the fact she is considered alien, an outsider (and her views being wildly opposite to Bioware fans views) that singles her out for abuse. If a man had said such things, he likely would have received quite a lot of abuse. I think Hepler was seen as an easy target because of her appearance and so a bandwagon was formed, populated predominantly with d*cikheads.

      I didn’t call him a racist. I pointed out that he is intolerant of views he dislikes, making him no better than many actual racists and sexists and so on. Calling a woman a fat slag is not hate speech. Some of the abuse was threatening and could be considered hate speech and should definitely be followed up from this angle, but mustly it was just plain old bullying. Which rampant on the internet and needs to be tackled, but it should not be conflated with “ism’s”.

      I agree with Hate Speech laws, provided it can be proven to be genuine malice and intent to cause harm to ANYBODY, in the speech.

    • RobF says:

      “Calling a woman a fat slag is not hate speech”

      DUDE. You do *not* get to decide that.

    • Chris D says:

      cHeal

      You may be waiting a long time for that apology. I am not accusing you of taking part in the campaign against Hepler. I am accusing you of justifying it and trying to shout down other people in this thread.

      Your attempts to insinuate that any opposition to sexism, homophopia et al must involve killing or criminalising are ridiculous. We should oppose them in thought and in word. We should oppose them by not tacitly approving or becoming complicit by saying nothing. We should make it clear that holding such attitudes is not acceptable and while you may be free to think or say what you want you do not get to avoid the consequences of those words and opinions. Such as being considered to be a hypocrite and a bully.

    • Mman says:

      “If a man had said such things, he likely would have received quite a lot of abuse.”

      Correct, the difference is that if an average looking Straight White Male said that the insults would be everything in the book but not specifically targeted at things about him, whereas when a Woman does it things instantly go to being about her being a “Cunt who needs to stay in the Kitchen” (etc) and stays there. To be fair, there would be some parallel if he was fat, but that would still draw much less targeted hate than if they were fat AND a Woman.

    • cHeal says:

      @Chris

      Who decides on the consequences? Your entire argument here is totally incoherent. You say we can’t tolerate these thoughts or words, but what does that mean? If you don’t criminalize that thought or speech then you ARE TOLERATING IT!!! Tolerating does not mean ‘liking’ something, or ‘approving of it’, or ‘condoning it’. It means you tolerate it. People whom hold ignorant views will be seen as ignorant and their views will be challenged and rightly so. This is absolutely what I have said all along. Even though such views MUST be tolerated, ALL views (including evolution and religious views and racist views) MUST be challenged and debated. The essence of not tolerating the existence of these view would be to outlaw them. So just as society must tolerate the existence of religion and the billions of fools who follow and support these horrible institutions, so too we must tolerate views of all hues. And just as people like you will crusade to make it known that these views are “unacceptable”, I will endeavour to remove you from your high horses, because I high horses are my pet hate.

      I absolutely HAVE NOT justified what happened to Hepler. I would ask once again for an apology but you clearly lack the maturity to give me that apology so I shall not bother, nor shall I respond to you again.

      @Mman, I agree, i have already said as much in the very next sentence. from the start ihave said there is at least some genuine sexism going on here. but she has received extra abuse not just because she is a woman, but because she is an outsider. GN has being insulted about his looks, so that is not exclusive to females, but it is definitely more common, which as noted is a larger social issue. The guy from epic got massive flaming for stuff he said about the PC format years ago. The point being that the sexism angle of this issue is being made a bigger part of this colourful picture than it deserves

    • Chris D says:

      cHeal

      You appear to be on a high horse about people being on high horses.

    • Mman says:

      “The point being that the sexism angle of this issue is being made a bigger part of this colourful picture than it deserves”

      The reason is because “being an Outsider” and “being a Woman” (or any minority) are heavily interlinked in the industry as it is, and most of the things directed towards her being an Outsider happen to be targeted at her being a Woman as well, which makes it pretty much impossible to separate those two things, by extension, the sexism is in no way getting “more attention than it deserves”.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Some of you guys are really making my head hurt. The fact is that Hepler was subjected to some of the most horrendous bullying afforded by the remote anonymity of the internet. The bullying, whether sexist, homophpobic, or otherwise, should be uniformly condemned. Whether or not we instigate sweeping social changes is irrelevant. Bullying is wrong.

      Also, let’s not make this about the quality of Bioware’s products or Hepler’s contributions to them – it’s just crass and no one cares if you don’t like Mass Effect right now.

    • dysphemism says:

      I’m noticing that people who would justify the ire towards Jennifer Hepler tend to use the argument “I don’t agree with the methods — but you must admit she is a symbol of everything that’s wrong with Bioware.” It seems to miss the point that she’s not a game designer, but a writer. So why are people surprised that the writing is her favorite part of games? Artists would probably love if the game included a “virtual museum” mode, where you could wander environments and see every model and texture on luscious display. Etc, etc.
      Beyond that, and this should go without saying, but it’s wildly unfair to pillory a writer and use her as a scapegoat for a game designer’s choices. Whatever her wishes for game design may be, it’s ultimately not her call/job/fault. Whether or not you agree with her philosophy, the fact is she isn’t responsible for the design of Bioware’s games.

      With regards to tolerating irrational hatred and bile: There will always be havens like 4Chan for that. But we don’t need to put up with it here. Which is why RPS censors the comments section when they feel it’s appropriate. It’s not done with any kind of malice and it’s not done thoughtlessly, but it is done without hesitation. Because the community here does not support or engage with hate speech; it sends a message that if you want to participate here you have to play by the rules. And one of the rules is: Treat people with respect. If a body can’t manage that, I’m sure there are plenty of like-minded communities where they can go to engage in baseless vitriol.

    • NathanH says:

      Allthough there is an interesting intellectual discussion to be had about how much of the comments are “she is bad and part of this is because she is a woman” vs “she is bad and incidentally she is a woman so I will use that against her”, I’m not sure it’s a distinction worth making in practice. We oughtn’t be fighting sexism by trying to identify the actual sexists and doing war upon them; this would be too difficult. It’s much better to try to create an atmosphere where using sexist language is taboo, regardless of motivation. It’s why we tend to prosecute people for using racially-aggravated language rather than being dirty racists.

      It does mean that some of us have to sacrifice some “insult power” in what can be argued to be an “unfair” way. For instance, you could launch attacks on me for my sexual preferences and you wouldn’t get called out on it very much at all, whereas McCool, say, would have more protection. You can consider this unfair. But since the main reason some groups have protection is because they’re under more attack than I am, I’m happy with this state of affairs, because it’s the only plausible way to reach a better society.

    • cHeal says:

      With regard to free speech I was speaking of the wider society. RPS absolutely reserves the right to censor comments. Their house, their rules. You’re absolutely right about her being a writer and thus not having any real power over design, which actually marks this whole saga out as rather odd. But I think the complete /epic fail/ that was DA 2, and her close association to that was likely a significant factor in this.

      @NathanH, with respect to your view, I actually think you are wrong. It is an important distinction. If we were to criminalize sexism, it would be perfectly valid to just ban the use of words such as “whore”. Absolutely. However if you want to look at Sexism from a social point of view, and you wish to solve the underlying issues which cause Sexism, and analyze its social impact then it is vitally important that you make the distinction. That’s just good science. If we don’t make the distinct then we bloat statistics on the issue, which influence the legislative process. If we want to know the levels of real actual discrimination against women in our society, then rounding up 13 year olds who called their teacher a b*tch is simply not good enough. It takes research and investigation and complex calculations of how a survey can be extrapolated to reflect a larger trend. So while I agree that these people should be condemned there really is absolutely no point pretending that these people or this event is evidence of anything more than the internet being full of d*cks.

      Disagree with your last paragraph. That is the sort of argument that justifies a status quo where men can suffer horrific domestic abuse and society turns a blind eye because it distracts and detracts from the campaign to highlight domestic abuse of females. I support gender quotas in politics for instance, but only at the candidate selection level. There should not be a gender quota for the parliament such a thing would be undemocratic. Positive discrimination is still discrimination and should be avoided as much as possible.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Internet ate my post, so I’ll sum up:

      How the hell did we get here? A woman was horribly abused and now we’re having a debate about positive discrimination? The internet makes more than one kind of dick, it seems.

    • gerbillover says:

      It wasn’t about any of that, it was mostly about her bad/fan fiction-like writing till she brought her vagina into it “I just figure they’re jealous that I get to have both a vagina AND a games industry job, and they can’t get either.”, THAT’s when it got really bad.

      Think about what you are saying, there are dozens and dozens of women in the gaming industry, from Jane Jensen known for making the Gabriel Knight series to Ree Soesbee that worked on games like forever, loved them and works on Guild Wars 2 yet there wasn’t any “backlash” against any of them, to the contrary.

      There’s also hate directed towards Mike Laidlaw, David Gaider (there are dozens of similar pictures about him and his love for Twilight) and Stanley Woo (just search for “DING DONG BANNU” on Google) or Chris Priestley and his figure: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3238/3287652183_cfd6f34f07.jpg , this is about Bioware and not her and while it is unfortunate that this happened, it is just disingenious to make this about “women rights” or anything of the likes and the only reason this was as prominent in the general media is because it was portrayed as such.

    • NathanH says:

      The problem is that it *is* about women’s rights, and it would be even if every insulter wasn’t actually thinking she was inferior for being a woman (which I think is ludicrously unlikely—there is a big problem with sexism in society in general and my experience is that it is particularly bad in the gaming community online). When you make a whatever-ist insult, you’re doing two things: you’re insulting someone and you’re cementing the beliefs of anyone watching who thinks that whatevers are inferior.

      Even if your goal is only to make the insult, you’re doing the second thing by default and you can’t escape that. Therefore the badness of your insult is absolutely dependent upon how widespread the prejudice against whatevers is among the audience of your insult. Pretending this isn’t true is just giving something for the bigots and scumbags to hide behind and look like they’re Not So Bad After All. Let’s not do that.

    • MD says:

      gerbillover, did you read this link? http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/02/21/mencallmethings-dragons-age-edition/

      It looks like it was already fucking terrible well before she made that comment.

    • rambythezombie says:

      I would just like to say that what the most effective strategy would be depends on the reason people were reacting the way they were.

      If it was ignorance, then it created anger. Because of the anger a no tolerance approach wouldn’t never work because it doesn’t really teach anything. It masks the problem, but that isn’t a solution. The solution would be to allow them to blow off some steam too allow them to discuss the problem rationally after they calm down. It is not possible to do anything but make someone more annoyed and hateful if they are not thinking rationally in the first place, the amygdala and hippocampus prevent that quite thoroughly. The concept of the amygdala hijacking applies here quite well.

      If this was created by a want for attention, then any attention will do. Negative or positive; because, in that case either type of reaction creates a reward, that is to say, it adds something that the person finds enjoyable, or removes something that they find intolerable. In which case, ignoring it is in fact the best option. To give them no reward would make it worse in the short run, but by not getting what they want, they would stop. If there is no reward, then there is no reason to perform the action.

      Either way, reacting with a force of “you cannot do that!” simply doesn’t help. Reason, if used, is the solution, but the most that can ever be done, without causing longer term problems, is to let the person blow of steam, then act, only after it is sure that they aren’t just seeking attention.

    • ffordesoon says:

      @Gira:

      What if it was a series of moving pictures of me flipping through a book slowly enough that everyone could read it? If you can read the whole book, isn’t it a book?

      Also, what a load of pretentious twaddle.

      @McCool:

      I’m sorry, but this is driving me nuts:

      IT IS HEPLER. HEP. LER. NOT HELPER.

      Sorry to be a jerk, but man.

  9. Hanban says:

    I miss Homeworld so terribly much. I would have loved to see a third game with today’s technology. Homeworld 1 & 2 are still the most engaging experiences I have had in gaming.

    • subedii says:

      It’s pretty bizarre to me that even now there still doesn’t seem to be a single DD outlet selling the Homeworld games. They’d be ideally suited for the GOG treatment, providing the manuals and soundtrack and such as well.

      I also feel that the gameplay formula is ripe for an upgrade, I’m sure there’s a few things they could do with the gameplay mechanics. I realise it’s more of a niche RTS in some ways, but I really wouldn’t mind a lower budget title as long as it had that gameplay going.

      I never contributed to the DoubleFine kickstarter thing (Wasn’t a huge fan of Psychonauts unfortunately, and I’m not sure I’d be a big fan of the new adventure game), but I suspect that if Relic started one up for Homeworld 3, that’s something I’d be interested in.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Kharak is burning…

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Homeworld.

      *wistful sigh.*

      That is all I have to say on the matter.

  10. DrGonzo says:

    Poor old Sega. It was their desire to innovate and make great games that killed them. They should have done a Playstation/Apple and made it a lifestyle choice. Or a Nintendo and churned our the same shit over and over.

    Of course they shouldn’t, they at least crashed and burned with dignity, knowing they had produced the greatest console and games the world would ever see.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Or a Nintendo and churned our the same shit over and over.

      *cough* Sonic. *cough*

    • Hoaxfish says:

      One thing I like about Sega (not just because I had a gamegear, now broken) is that they actually released some of their games on PC, even while they were still making consoles. It’s not something Nintendo seem to do.

      As a publisher, and non-1st party company, I’m still pretty happy with their game output. Picking up Spiral Knights/3 Rings, Jet-Set Radio being re-released, Binary Domain, even Sonic Generations, personally show me they still have a nice “desire” for their place in the industry.

      I’ll forgive them the Sonic Cycle, as I personally stay well away from it, and the fanbase.

    • Orontes says:

      Not forgetting the Total War Series.

      Game Gear… brings back memories- Sonic, Super Monaco GP. I also had the Mega Drive, and played Sonic 2. Such good times.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      >> Poor old Sega. It was their desire to innovate and make great games that killed them.

      That’s not what they say in the article you read. What killed them was bad business strategy and little desire to innovate, but always follow someone else’s lead.

      We can — and I think it could probably be interesting — discuss whether that article does a good job at summing Sega’s history so far. But whatever you wrote there isn’t what that article is discussing.

  11. Jumwa says:

    The “A Wretched Hive” article spoke to me a bit. How I yearn for game communities that are compassionate and welcoming. The closest I’ve been able to find is seclude myself and friends to small communities (i.e. guild) within a larger community (a MMO).

    How I wish for Gabe to find a way to reward positive players, and punish the jerks as he spoke about before. It’d be nice to have a few more games at my fingertips where I can socialize in a relaxed, casual manner without facing ridicule and bile. And that’s me speaking as a privileged male with a female partner, I cringe to think of the poor people who aren’t so fortunate to fall into those groups but wish to share their love of gaming with others.

    • subedii says:

      What can truly be said? The internet is a vast ocean of human interaction, but with anonymity and largely without any restrictions on social acceptability except the standards that people apply to themselves.

      Playing with “randoms” and “pubs” is pretty much always going to butt against that, and often in some fairly horrible fashions. And it’s not just with regards to how people treat each other either. Devs have to work extremely hard in their game design in order to, say, promote cooperation and teamwork any way they can. And more often than not they fail there as well.

      In the end, like you, I prefer to play with established communities of likeminded individuals. There are plenty of communities out there which are very welcoming of everyone, and where things like skill levels don’t really matter as long as you treat people well and are in it to have fun. You find one of two you like, and gaming together is usually pretty awesome. Realistically, I don’t see what can be done to force people to act differently in such circumstances, at least not without great repercussions elsewhere.

    • Jumwa says:

      If you’re trying to say that nothing can be done, so why dwell on it, I think that’s a bit shortsighted. Gabe Newell spoke a while ago about trying to find ways to reward positive players, because they bring in more customers, and disincentivize rude players as they drive customers away. Will it be easy to do so? If it were he probably wouldn’t have just posed it as a hypothetical, but if there’s money to be made in it, I say there will be strides made towards it in time.

      And yes, one can work to make little enclaves in multiplayer games where you surround yourself with other other people rich with respect. However, that takes a great personal time investment. I spent years with my partner developing a guild in WoW that championed mutual respect and cooperation. However, once the game itself grew tiresome and it was time to move on, we were reminded of just how hard it can be to find that elsewhere without a long, arduous process of creating it yourself.

      But I imagine with time they’ll find more ways to reward cooperative, respectful behaviour and, perhaps, punish the negative. As Gabe pointed out, there’s money at stake, and that’s all it takes to motivate innovation.

    • pandiculator says:

      I agree – the article examined a particularly tricky elephant in the room, and raised an interesting point that I don’t think anybody has commented on yet (apologizes if I’ve missed it) – that of removing people from one activity based on their activities in another, ie trolling in the forums gets you banned from accessing your games, for example. And, I know it’s something that needs to be approached with intellect and care, but, why shouldn’t we use a system like this? No loss of anonymity, and no real loss of any perceived freedom. Our beloved freedom of speech doesn’t really apply to this sort of mindless hatemongering, anyway. Want to play games? Keep your stupidity to yourself, or go use your pent-up aggression at *chan or wherever and leave the rest of us alone.

      I don’t think it’s too much to ask to play nicely if you want to play at all.

    • McCool says:

      Interestingly, the gaming community of the most infamous of all sites is actually the most loving and fun to play with I have ever encountered, in its own funny way. Its a bit of an inclusive club though. Once everything becomes bile, nothing is, and its like hanging out with a bunch of best mates, people who could sprout the most hurtful and insanely offensive things at you, and the two of you would still be friends. Not that this is a model for the internet or anything, just an interesting anthropological point.

    • Jumwa says:

      I don’t think we’ll ever see an end to some of those dark corners of the internet where bile is all there is, you swim in it and live it as long as you’re there. And you know what? I think that’s how it should be.

      I’m not for imposing a strict regimen of courtesy and cooperation on everyone in every game. But I would like to see more games where active measures are taken to encourage positive behaviour, and even dissuade negative.

      And yes, I don’t see an issue with negative forum behaviour barring you from multiplayer in attached games. I know one frustrating thing from my time in WoW, were griefers who used the disconnect between the forum moderators and the in-game moderators to keep up their harassment of a group of RPers. In game they’d always lie and use the excuse that they weren’t trying to harass a group of RPers by crashing their events, they were just having fun with their disruptive behaviour. Then on the forums they’d brag about how they were extinguishing the RP community, and nothing was done. That seemed absurd to me.

      Now, I know in the case of EA and Origin there was a different case that led to someone getting banned from their single player games, and that’s a whole other issue which I don’t agree with.

    • Apples says:

      Honestly I’m glad 4chan exists because a) it showcases the absolute freedom of the internet, even to say the most awful things and b) you know exactly what you’re going to get when you go there. Yeah, I hate some of the things they say, but they should definitely be able to say those things somewhere. I just wish that the things they say stayed contained in niche groups like 4chan rather than being liberally (or conservatively lolol) pasted all over most gaming forums and blogs and therefore seeming like majority views. (Actually I just had a look at 4chan /v/ right now and it looked MORE polite and progressive than a lot of game site comment sections! jesus!)

    • Consumatopia says:

      I love that the internet has super-offensive, anything goes corners. In fact, I’d like to see more cryptography and peer-to-peer networks so that those places could become truly anything goes.

      But it is kind of galling that even corporately controlled video sites, chat channels and forums sometimes feel like anything goes with regards to harassment, but copyrights are strictly enforced. If your video site can take down videos because I had a radio playing in the background with some pop tune or because I got a little bit too naked, then it shouldn’t tolerate the kind of outright bigotry that’s become the norm. If you get kicked out of the game for posting serials, cracks or porn, you should get kicked out for homophobic taunts.

      The point isn’t to make it impossible to express these opinions, the point is that a community itself makes an expression in what it chooses to tolerate. If a community bans some kinds of expression, like copyright infringement or porn, but permits bigotry and harassment, then this is an unmistakable assertion that bigotry and harassment are acceptable. If you’re gonna be free, then be free with my blessing. But if you’re gonna censor, then I will judge you by what you choose to tolerate.

    • Jumwa says:

      Definitely, Consumatopia. All well-said.

    • bill says:

      The obvious solution would be to use something like facebook accounts. People are much less likely to be dicks when their name and face is attached to it. One of the main reasons a lot of sites are starting to require facebook accounts to post comments is that it cuts out most of the spam and abuse.

      Then again, I don’t like facebook and i don’t like it’s growing ubiquitousness and effects on privacy. And i remember what happened to that guy on the blizzard(?) forums when they wanted to have real names only.

      Rock and hard place.

    • Jumwa says:

      That’d mean I’d have to get a darned Facebook account…

    • bill says:

      No-one said it was perfect. ;-)

  12. mckertis says:

    Will you people stop ninja editing the page and adding new links ? How many times do you want me to refresh ? Is there a time limit after which i could be sure i wont miss a new article ? Or at least add the new stuff to the end !

  13. Easy says:

    (sigh) Homeworld (sigh) I still remember my amazement… and, that voice!

    • The Dark One says:

      And the music. I never understood why other people thought it was sad…

    • Hanban says:

      Many times it was! But that may have been because it was a very sombre game most of the time, and rightfully so.

      Oh dear, words are never enough to describe that game. Homeworld 1 & 2 are to this day my two favourite games.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      Was Homeworld 2 as good as Homeworld 1? I haven’t played it yet and if I can recapture the feeling of pure joy I had the first time I played the first I think I’m going to have a crotch malfunction and a little cry.

  14. Mike says:

    Hey RPS, thanks for featuring the Develop article about ANGELINA! If it’s alright I’ll post a link to the project blog: http://www.gamesbyangelina.org – you can play some of ANGELINA’s games there, and read about what I’m currently working on (which includes some stuff on automatically designing point-and-click adventures!)

    I also made a thread in the RPS forums a while back, so if anyone wants to chat about it please do (I’ve removed the link due to spambot detection, but if you search the forums for ‘ANGELINA’ it’s there)

    If it’s not alright then feel free to edit this post to include My Little Pony pictures a la John’s nervous breakdown of a few weeks back.

  15. Mike says:

    Hey RPS, thanks for featuring the Develop article about ANGELINA! If it’s alright I’ll post a link to the project blog: http://www.gamesbyangelina.org – you can play some of ANGELINA’s games there, and read about what I’m currently working on (which includes some stuff on automatically designing point-and-click adventures!)

    I also made a thread in the RPS forums a while back, so if anyone wants to chat about it please do (I’ve removed the link due to spambot detection, but if you search the forums for ‘ANGELINA’ it’s there)

    If it’s not alright then feel free to edit this post to include My Little Pony pictures a la John’s nervous breakdown of a few weeks back.

  16. noname says:

    I’m confused by something in that piece on the love letter. I just don’t get the jab at Rockstar being soulless. Does anyone have any input?

  17. hypercrisis says:

    this bioware helper thing is such a non-story. are these people new to the human reality thing? assburgers will do as assburgers are wont to. this whole event says alot for the desperate garbage that constitutes games journalism.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      I’d like to flag this as a non-comment, and point out to anyone replying to it that they are wasting their time.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      It’s not a non-story, it’s an unstory.

      The only thing I see about it is people defending her, and in some cases incorrectly doing so (not everything held against her was “photoshopped”), which in turn extends the longevity of the discussion. They’re effectively arguing against nobody. Taking the moral high ground against barking dogs.

      Any ongoing “attacks” are simply the background radiation of the internet as usual.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      >> Any ongoing “attacks” are simply the background radiation of the internet as usual.

      Which unfortunately affect the real lifes of real people in ways I hope you never come to understand. So, no it’s not an unstory (whatever that means) either.

      It’s a real story and one that should be exposed over and over again as a reminder to anyone that this type of bullying isn’t acceptable and should be (one day will) harshly punished.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      It’s RPS, that’s why I made a joke about “un-”.

      Also, focusing on a single incident does not really bring the point to bear. All it does is flag that single incident as “shock horror”, rather than try to encompass the underlying issues.

      There are plenty of other articles which do not come across as knee-jerk reactions to “this happened this week and you should all be ashamed!” And those are more likely to have a meaningful impact on the long term development of people because at any time in the future you can refer back to them and it won’t just be “oh, yea, that happened, but then everyone got over it”.

      It’s not “one incident which we should mark in our calenders” because people can argue against that single incident, or justify “why” they think some of it was “acceptable”, etc. If you’re going to try and tackle an underlying culture, then you don’t use a single person as a martyr or the cause.

      Last week was basically “a bunch of kids acted like dicks, a bunch of industry people white-knighted”… with no outcome. Maybe a few people, prone to such things, wrung their hands in despair.

    • Apples says:

      What did you want the outcome to be? I can’t envision one that isn’t just “everyone posts about how awful this occurance was and hopefully some of the people see it and some of it gets through.” I think it’s good to focus on individual occurances because if you simply go “Being sexist is bad!!” it’s so vague and nebulous a concept (what IS sexism? When you call a woman a bitch? Not according to previous RPS comment discussions. When you call her a cunt? A fat cunt? When you hit her? Everyone who is sexist will just go “Well, I didn’t do [the next sexism step up from what they did do] so I can’t be sexist! I was just namecalling! Trashtalking!”) that nobody will pay any attention. Hopefully if everyone actually pays attention to the individual occurances and says “HEY GUYS THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE, FOR THESE REASONS” people might eventually take notice! Or probably not but hey.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      At the time, a lot of the “defense” I saw essentially poured fuel on the fire, arguably making it worse than it would’ve been otherwise. Especially the ones which blindly repeated “facts” they’d heard along the grapevine, which opened those articles up to attacks on errors that spawned from that (a lot of the articles didn’t feel it right to repeat some of the core tweets that sparked this, because of their obviously “controversial” nature, which meant a lot of it came across as “hearsay” or simply assumed you knew who was “right” in the scenario).

      Even an online petition in support spawned an even larger petition furthering the aggression.

      A number of articles covering the actual widespread issue, the causes, would probably have been more effective than coverage of one particular symptom. As I said, putting it on one person, isolates it to that one person, and removes it from “everyday happening”, and can simply act as a red rag for circling bulls. There are plenty of initiatives trying to tackle this sort of thing, on the internet and in real life, that probably do not find it very helpful when “amateur” coverage (in terms of this, not in terms of “gaming”) starts throwing its weight around because of current events.

      Ultimately, I would’ve liked to have seen people try and increase the awareness of ongoing movements to counter this, without accidentally dropping even more of it onto one person’s personal event.

  18. caddyB says:

    In the end most of the people who ridiculed that woman are the ones paying for the games, so I expect this to have more consequences in AAA game design.

    I agree that you should be able to skip combat, I played the last half of dragon age on easiest difficulty because fighting was very boring and repetitive. But the solution to that is making the game more “fun” to play and less of a “movie with boring fighting bits”.

  19. Heliocentric says:

    In answer “A critique of Portal 2″ He’s sad it turned into a puzzle game? Its true that it could have easily leaned hard on timing based puzzles and degenerated into an action game. It didn’t, it did have a few moments where you needed to stop and desperately look for the patch where you are meant to put the next portal.

    But anyone reviewing portal 2 “has to” have played the coop, its awesome. So much better than the luke warm core experience.

    • bill says:

      He’s sad it turned into a “find the correct solution” puzzle game instead of remaining a “find a solution” game.

      I’m sad that everyone keeps saying how amazing the co-op was and I have no opportunity to experience it. So sad.

  20. Chandos says:

    About the Wretched Hive article: it actually reminded me of the homophobic band scandal with WoW/Activision. There was a lot said after that one too, as there has been with this incident, but still are we really doing anything differently? We all agree that gaming community needs to clean up its act, and that morons are ruining our gaming experience but at the end of the day we don’t really do much about it.

    So here is an idea… how about starting up an organization of some sort to actively combat this? Call it the Progressive Gamers Society or something, a body that engages with the trouble makers in a dialogue, sets better examples, creates educational material to help kids understand what is and is not acceptable, encourages the growth of clean gaming communities, fosters sense of responsibility for self-moderation, lobbies platform holders to be more accountable (I lost count of reports I sent to Microsoft, Riot Games, etc for blatantly abusive players, with no reply whatsoever), awards platforms and communities that make the effort to stay clean, etc.

    Because interestingly the change that might come through an effort like this could have societal benefits beyond just gaming. As awful as the toxicity of gaming communities is, the situation also means an opportunity: the bigots, the racists, the hate-criminals of the future are all engaged with gaming. And if we ever hope to win them back as human beings, what better way than to engage them through gaming?

    I would be seriously interested in making this happen if I can find others to commit to it too. Anyone?

    • nootpingu86 says:

      I am halfway into the idea. I’ve been thinking more along the lines of a consumer advocacy group, since the writers will never undertake it due to the fringe benefits that come with writing about video games. I’m reluctant to promote any sort of worldview, but maybe trying to set an example would be the way to go. Start game servers with a more welcoming environment and discussion venues with a low tolerance for hate speech.

      The organisation you describe could easily develop into the internet opinion police or misconstrue injokes in established communities etc, cause needless drama and so forth. It’s just the nature of the double edged sword of lack of consequences for being an idiot on the internet.

  21. nootpingu86 says:

    Let’s ponder a few things here, so we can see the massive amount of contempt on display this week for ‘gamers’ as a whole is unfounded. I think it speaks volumes that people commenting on the story barely understand the context here.

    -Hepler’s writing was something a particular subset of gamers disliked. Her comments on games were spun into something that may have merited an explanation, but not a campaign of threats. Nonetheless, 4chan’s angry Bioware fans baited reddit into communicating this hate speech directly on forum with persistent threads. A lot of the userbase is similarly immature, but reddit tends toward the earnest/gullible side of things. Reddit is also the very essence of mob rule and a popularity contest due to the comment karma system.

    -Both sites are notorious for producing hate speech and indulging paraphilias. Reddit in particular had several popular sub-boards for ‘jailbait’ aka suggestive images (often stolen) of underage girls that were shut down in the past month. Since anyone can make a subreddit, and there are popular subreddits for white supremacists, racist/misogynist humor and men’s rights*

    -We finally arrive on twitter, with Hepler trying to defend herself against this onslaught. The gaming news blogs report, and ultimately produce several condescending editorials that try to pin it on the gaming audience as a whole That may be the case, but we do not know because very few people actually comment or respond to anything on ANY blog or forum whatsoever. Commenters make up a tiny percentage of unique hits on websites, making it a fallacious and somewhat upsetting assumption. It also amuses me because the gaming press has often had no leg to stand on when it comes to integrity, and is attempting to curate a discussion on identity politics based on a vocal group of jackasses.

    Let me also add: gaming journalists as a whole are not educators. They have no business trying to foster a political discussion because historically the sites condemning hateful gamers have promoted the same climate. Also most of them are poorly educated and a write articles that read like a well-edited freshman composition paper. The amount of apologetics they engage in and free PR they give the gaming industry is a problem that needs to end before anyone tries to assume some kind of moral high ground or teach people about things — either way.

    RPS usually pretty great, but I’m afraid the problem crops up from time to time. <3 this site though, really.

    *as an aside: the climate on reddit is such that awkward nerdiness takes on a political dimension, augmented with hateful views toward women and minorities. r/shitredditsays was a sort of clearinghouse for up-voted hate speech so people could show up and mock it in a non-threatening environment. The moderators were then outed by r/mensrights and received threats of real life harm and had to step down.

    • AGBear says:

      Disclaimer: I am the author of ”A Wretched Hive’ (and I’ve really enjoyed reading the discussions here).

      “Gaming journalists as a whole are not educators. They have no business trying to foster a political discussion because historically the sites condemning hateful gamers have promoted the same climate. Also most of them are poorly educated and a write articles that read like a well-edited freshman composition paper. The amount of apologetics they engage in and free PR they give the gaming industry is a problem that needs to end before anyone tries to assume some kind of moral high ground or teach people about thing.

      This is utter nonsense. There seem to be a couple of points here:

      - Games sites have adopted a laissez-faire attitude to discrimination in the past; therefore, it is hypocritical for journalists to speak out against it now.
      - Games media suck up to the industry: this is a bigger problem than discrimination.
      - Games journalists are uneducated and therefore ineligible from taking place in a serious discussion.

      The obvious nasty rebuttal is that I’m an unpaid, degree-educated writer with ten years’ experience who has never been lucky enough to suck up to games publishers and has never had the opportunity to foster discrimination (we’ve never been popular enough!) but I believe you’re referring to games media as a whole and not my article, which you may or may not have read. Possibly the latter.

      It’s a daft notion to decree that games journalists are in no place to take the moral high ground. I think they are in the perfect place to do so, since their words carry a lot more weight than a Z-list blogger such as myself. As I said in the article, passivity solves nothing. Being defeatist and complacent is never going to change the world. That’s ultimately what we’re talking about, here.

      There is a big difference between something like 4chan, which is both vile and yet somehow tongue-in-cheek, and Twitter or Steam. There is a massive gulf of civility and there is an understandable difference on how we conduct ourselves. I think gamers, as a whole, are better than this. We should actively speak out against bigots and cretins; we should drive them out of our lovely gaming utopia. I don’t understand why anyone would want anything else. It’s not about ‘censorship’ or ‘freedom of speech’: banning someone from Steam for hate speech is not the same as executing them, no matter how addicted you are to TF2. People have the right not to be bullied and intimidated on a paid service, and companies like Valve and Microsoft need to do more.

      Additionally, a brief ad-hominem: I don’t think you’re in any place to complain about uneducated writing, given your comment read like a badly-edited high school scribbling.

    • ffordesoon says:

      @nootpingu86:

      You seem to be engaging in exactly the kind of behavior you decry. It’s a mite disingenuous to call out “the games press” – a vast, multifaceted collection of people in many different countries, each with their own opinions and beliefs and ways of writing about games – for generalizing, isn’t it? RPS is not Kotaku is not IGN, to name just three.

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  23. BobsLawnService says:

    While I condemn the sexist attacks, I really don’t think that someone who doesn’t enjoy gaming and who literally thinks that “Press ‘X’ to see the cutscene” is viable gameplays should be part of the creative process of game development. There are enough industries in which she can embrace her ideals.

    Also, that profanity laced outburst of hers was a little unprofessional.

    A last comment – to ascribe all the ill will aimed her direction solely to sexism is a little disingenious. Remember that dude who got the same treatment for dumbing down Spore?

    • nootpingu86 says:

      The calling someone a cunt or a bitch is motivated by sexism. A lot of those communities encourage casual usage of words most people consider deeply offensive. Reddit is rife with borderline-politicized misogyny. It’s not a stretch that they just didn’t care about what they were saying.

      She said things that were obviously contrarian and a little upsetting to someone who cares about video games, but that doesn’t excuse personal attacks or the usual misogynistic nerd rage routine.

    • Muzman says:

      To my eye the interview clearly had a subtext of what is her merely lamenting how little time she had and how she’s not very good at games. This gets twisted into “she hates games and is against their very nature!”. As some articles pointed out, elsewhere in the interview she explains that she loves the games industry and has never been happier, creatively.

      Anyone who thinks they can divine the entirety of someone’s point of view on something from an edited paragraph of text is a moron. The internet has no shortage of morons, of course.
      Also I don’t think you can call yourself a game fan if, past a certain age, you haven’t wished you could somehow keep up with everything that you no longer have any time left to play. People in the industry and journalists, I would suspect, feel this almost constantly.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      If you don’t want to play a game but want a story may I suggest you read a book or watch a film. In one of her profanity laced rants she said gamers must get used to non-gamers being catered for in games. That just proves that the opinions expressed in that interview weren’t taken out of context.

    • Muzman says:

      It proves nothing of the sort. The interview appearing was as a result of people digging up dirt on her and trying to blame her for those story-only features in some games.
      Her pointing out the way mainstream games are going in order to get more players (the chief area of complaint) does nothing to support the idea that she is against games and just wants story or is actively campaigning to reduce the amount of non story gaming in Bioware games.

    • bill says:

      When it was discussed on RPS recently you had something around a 50:50 split between people who thought it was a good idea and people who hated it. Infact, if my memory is right, it was more along the lines of 60-70% in favor.

      And that’s on what is supposed to be a pretty “hardcore” (urgh.. sorry) gamer site. When at last half of gamers would like to be able to skip some parts of games i don’t think you can claim that it’s some kind of outrageous or anti-gaming idea.

      The interesting thing was that those people tended to have different reasons for wanting to skip parts of games. Some had no free time, some for difficulty, some for focusing on their favorite parts, some for skipping filler, some for replaying and alternate endings.

      All i know is that there are endless comments on gaming sites about how people have loads of unplayed games, or how they rarely finish any games they start. This seems like a perfectly acceptable OPTIONAL IDEA to throw out there.

    • ffordesoon says:

      What expletives did she use? Vagina? The clinical name for a part of the female body is not an expletive. Well, perhaps if you call someone that, maybe it could be considered an expletive, but calling the word itself – a word that would be used many times in any credible biology textbook – an “expletive” is just, well, rather odd. What was she supposed to say, “no-no place”?

    • ffordesoon says:

      Excuse me, “profanity”. Which is an even weirder thing to call a part of the female body.

  24. bear912 says:

    The Hepler stuff is important, but sadly boring to comment on, so I shall merely quote His Illustriousness Gillen:
    “Generally speaking, if you’re the side of the argument with people spewing sexist shit, you’re on the wrong side.”

    As for something that is fun to comment on, that Dear Esther article is quite excellent. Smart writing about smart games = something I think I can get behind.

    And here is my link-ish contribution to this week’s Sundays: Ben Kuchera’s write-up about one of the most famous minutes in competitive gaming. If you haven’t checked out the new Penny Arcade Report, you should probably do so. Excellent stuff, and that article is a good sample.

    • bear912 says:

      I want these edits to be moderated! Don’t keep me in limbo for eternity! The ambiguity would slowly tear away at my soul and eventually leave me a wreck of a man with nothing left to live for but ramen and bad television. You don’t want to be responsible for that, do you?

      Please?

  25. Muzman says:

    -yeah I screwed it up. kill away-

  26. pipman3000 says:

    if they actually cared about the state of bioware’s writing they would of directed all their bile towards david gaider instead of jennifer hepler. maybe if he was a woman someone would of taken that josh whedon worshiping manchild to task?

    • bill says:

      But everyone on the internet worships Joss Whedon…

    • ffordesoon says:

      You mean the very successful, very beloved Joss Whedon, who has an army of fans ready to defend each and every move he makes simply because he made some TV shows they dug? The Joss Whedon currently finishing up a summer action movie that will take in a billion dollars worldwide even if it sucks?

      Gosh, can’t imagine why anyone would want a piece of that action.

      (Full disclosure: I love Joss Whedon and all of his shows. Even if I hated him and everything he’s ever produced, however, there are very valid reasons why someone would attempt to emulate his style.)

    • Kdansky says:

      What does “would of” even mean?