The Monday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on May 14th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.


Sundays are for sleeping it off. Later, you realise you didn’t manage to round up a collection of excellent game-related links and writing from the previous week. Gods no! What can be done about it? Well, you can publish it the next day. Phew!

  • Brainy Gamer talk about the “wholesome cacophony” of the ongoing “dumbness” debate within games commentary: “If Theater is high art in an echo chamber, and video games are low art in a cacophony, I’ll take the cacophony. The great video game conversation is happening 24/7 worldwide – rants, fanboys, and flamewars included. It’s a wholesome cacophony and an irrepressible sign of life.” And that’s pretty much my take, too. Thanks, Internet. Keep making lots of noise. Related, here’s their list of smart games.
  • A History Of Videogame Narrative: “The culmination of years of basement film marathons and unrivalled technical prowess was in the slew of great science fiction titles of the 90s and early 2000s. System Shock, Half Life and Deus Ex, while borrowing heavily from the works of Ridley Scott in particular, are franchises which continue to this day in some form or another, and truly rival their source material in the stories and characters they develop.”
  • Blendo Games’ Day Z comic.
  • Why local beats online in multiplayer gaming. Not entirely sure I agree with this anymore. There was a time when I would have argued it, but now I get a greater kick out of playing with the army of online friends I’ve built up over the years than I do with people I have immediately to hand, and I am not sure the experience would be improved by having them in the same room as me. (Sorry guys!)
  • IndieGames offers “A Brief Tour Of Simogo’s Cancelled Projects
  • Kotaku discusses the issues surrounding MLB 2K12 Perfect Game Challenge. Another one of the great videogame stories for the archives.
  • Talk about arguing up hill. When recent times have seen total reinvention of the hi-score, Dino Farm argues the contrary: “You don’t care about videogame scores, because videogame scores are simply not well-implemented. Even without the “completion” element, scores are not built into games in a way that would make us care about them. The first problem is in the nature of the kinds of numbers videogame scores produce.”
  • Need boardgame discussion? Me too! Fortunately there’s the Shut Up & Sit Down Podcast. Side note: My brain insists that it should be “Sit Down & Shut Up.”
  • Split Screen looks at the “Game Of The Year” and Collector’s Edition boom: “Publishers are playing the role of an overachieving parent, making up awards for their children, then demanding we all acknowledge these imaginary accolades. It’s as crass as buying your mum a “Best Mum in the World” card for Mother’s Day when you know that some mothers have died for their children. I’m sure your Mum makes fantastic pancakes, but you need to have some perspective. Whenever a publisher can release Dead Island: Game of the Year Edition with a straight face, you know something is rotten besides the zombies. Are your relatives really going to be fooled when Christmas shopping if every single game claims to be the Game of the Year? Not everyone is getting it wrong: CDProjekt should be commended for The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition, which not only contains tangible enhancements, but was extended to everyone who had previously bought the game for free.”
  • Simon Parkin speaks with Jade Raymond: “Then, personally I’ve had a lot of good feedback from girls that have found it helpful to see me out there talking about my career in the industry. I think in some sense you don’t want to be the only girl in a job and so seeing other girls out there working in the industry helps that perception. You wouldn’t think that Assassin’s Creed is a particularly female type of game but I was at the core of the team. You know, that team had the highest percentage of women on it of any other project at Ubisoft at the time. Of course, when I was Producer on The Sims there was a very healthy gender balance. That reflected the number of women that play that game I think”
  • Brandon Sheffield speaks to CliffyB: “…there’s Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. That’s ironically one of the most innovative games with what we call “mingle player” that has had those kinds of blending and blurring of single player and multiplayer — and it came from Japan! So clearly some of the developers over there get that, because that game is going to continue to inspire a lot of Western developers to figure ways that you can have connected elements in campaign games, and have more of a blended experience. I would’ve loved it in Skyrim if my fiancee could have left a treasure in a chest in my house while she was playing, Animal Crossing-style. You know, Fable with the orbs in the world, that’s where we’re all going, right?”

Music this week is this Message To Bears.

I love you, Internet.

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88 Comments »

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  1. unangbangkay says:

    “Mingle player”. That’s a suitable term for that type of online integration – less direct than actual multi-player sessions and more participatory than pure solo. Given the way Japan tends to shy away from direct online play (at least compared to the west) it’s not surprising that they’re taking the lead in that style.

    • suibriel says:

      Can everyone stop latching onto fuckin’ terms for everything? It’s called multiplayer.

      • El Stevo says:

        We create new words so that we can express new ideas more succinctly and elegantly. Portmanteaus are useful because, even if the reader has never encountered the new word before, it’s usually immediately obvious what the meaning is.

      • IC says:

        God forbid that our language allows some fuckin’ nuance every once in a while.

      • unangbangkay says:

        Except in “mingle player”‘s case, it very much is NOT. Would you call a message written on the wall as “multiplayer” as a Quake 3 Deathmatch?

  2. McDan says:

    Phew, felt like an important piece of my life was mssing there. That shut up and sit down podcast was great I though, and the DayZ small comic was pretty true to life, though I wish someone would do a continual one, it’s too good that mod.

  3. pilouuuu says:

    Better late than never! I’ll keep on saying that while I think of Half-Life 3…

  4. Vorphalack says:

    From the Dinofarm article, last paragraph, in context of developers designing more compelling score systems into computer games:

    ”Videogames must do this, because single player games require some system of score in order to be endlessly replayable.”

    I had a quick look back at the games i’ve played the most over the last 10 years. Thief 1+2, Baldurs Gate 1+2, Deus Ex, Half Life 1+2, Mass Effect, Icewind Dale 2, Planescape Torment, Warcraft 3 + expac, Dragon Age, Civilisation 4, Age of Wonders, Diablo 2.

    The only one of those games that has any kind of final score is Civilisation 4, and I do not remember giving a single fuck about the final score. What made all of these games so repayable was solid game play, a good story or mechanical depth, and an appealing visual style. All of them provide room for improvement and mastery without the need to watch an arbitrary number go up, and all of them provide satisfying replay value without the need to watch an arbitrary number go up.

    Final point, we barely care about ”score” anymore because we found better ways to add depth and replay value to games.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      I’d agree with all of that.

    • JackShandy says:

      But how do you share your experience with friends if you don’t have a designated Winningness points quotient to compare?

    • fish99 says:

      Agree, and who wants their single player games to be ‘endlessly replayable’ anyway? I generally want to play them once, maybe a few times if they’re really exceptional. I can only figure they’re talking about very specific types of games, because as you say score would add absolutely nothing to a great game experience like say Thief.

      You know even a score driven game like Bulletstorm, I really didn’t care for getting high score kills, I was just doing stuff that was fun/funny.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        I would say that I’d love a game I felt compelled to play endlessly. Some games are like that for me even now. But it’s because of greatly enjoyable game play and very VERY rarely enjoyable storytelling.

        • Brun says:

          This. Any Elder Scrolls game is a great example.

          • fish99 says:

            I wouldn’t call Elder Scrolls games replayable. There’s a difference between having a game you want to keep playing and playing for endless hours until you’ve done everything, and a game you want to come back to, maybe multiple times, and repeat all the same stuff again and again.

            Can you really imagine playing Oblivion all the way through 5+ times? I can’t.

            I can’t really think of any game I feel compelled to replay endlessly. System Shock 2 is probably the game I’ve replayed most, once as each of 3 classes and then twice co-op, but there’s no new experiences to have with the game now, so if I play it again it’ll be mostly nostalgia. Even a sandbox like Minecraft, you eventually reach a point where you’ve experienced everything.

        • Vorphalack says:

          But you can also love games that have zero re-playability value. I cite as my example, The Longest Journey. Perhaps the only game Funcom haven’t managed to screw up, and one of the best point and click story games ever made.

          I will never need to play that game again as long as my memory doesn’t fail, but by god was it a great experience.

    • sinister agent says:

      Almost all of those games (I’ve not played Age of Wonders, and Half-life is an exception) have scores. What do you think XP is? And levels? Even Thief has money, which granted, is rather tenuous, but it’s doing essentially the same thing.

      • Grargh says:

        The way I read it, the article talks about score as a measure of how long you can hold yourself against the game, tetris style, replaying for the main purpose of getting a higher score. That’s far from the concepts of the above mentioned games.

      • Vorphalack says:

        Counting any of those games as having scores, other than Civ 4 witch does, is rather tenuous. I would argue it’s simply wrong. All scores are numbers, but not all numbers are scores.

        • sinister agent says:

          How are they not? Achieve objectives; get points. Higher numbers mean a better performance. It’s more tangibly tied to the game, but it serves much the same purpose, and more.

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            FhnuZoag says:

            Experience points are not a score mechanic. Rather it’s an auto-balancing mechanic. “Game too hard? Then you can go do some tangentially related stuff to improve the damage you do and make it easier.” It’s also a way to gate the dispensing of content to the player, so that he has more time to enjoy each new spell individually instead of being overwhelmed by choice.

            The article is talking more in terms of score as a measure of success, and specifically, the *only measure of success*. None of the games mentioned do this.

          • sinister agent says:

            Like I said, they’re not just scores. But I do think they serve that purpose. And come on, when are you ever playing an RPG (as most of those games are) and not making some kind of progress towards more XP/skills/levels? The first thing most WoW players (as a convenient example) say about their character is their level.

            But yes, the article does seem overly binary about it – I think a lot of the games you listed are actually good examples of linear or semi-linear stories that still offer score and other measures of performance (even morality systems can be considered stand-ins for score in a sense), as well as replay value.

            The point it makes isn’t perfectly expressed, but I do think there’s some truth in it.

          • Vorphalack says:

            I think you are starting to derail the topic arguing over semantics. The point is that all the games I listed have more compelling mechanics than score to provide completion satisfaction and replay value.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      The author is discussing from the perspective of developing a roguelike, which are by nature designed to be single-player, endlessly replayable games. The problem is, he’s wrong even there. The first goal of a roguelike is to win the game. Then, once you do that (which can take a great amount of effort, and not a little luck!), you try to win better. Use a different class, a different race. Put restrictions on yourself. Complete optional objectives, visit optional areas.

      “Score” is pretty much irrelevant for all but a tiny fraction of players, because it’s only relevant once you’ve acquired a tremendous mastery over the game. Completion is the real goal, and he’s making a huge mistake if he doesn’t realize that.

      P.S.: dungeon level is relevant because it determines the strength of the monsters that’ll spawn. If you fall through a hole, it’s important to know immediately whether you landed on level 5 or level 10. In many roguelikes, you’ll end up going up and down quite a bit – dungeon level isn’t score, it’s location, and that’s important information to provide when there aren’t other cues (like Spelunky’s changing tilesets) for it. (And didn’t even Spelunky have level numbers…?)

  5. frenz0rz says:

    I’d be interested to see exactly how many games per year release a GOTY edition. Its prevalence has more or less devalued the label to simply mean ‘the main game with a few snippets of DLC that you didnt get before’.

  6. rustybroomhandle says:

    Also, all about GW2 and boobs:

    http://gw2wvw.com/main/2b-2b-guild-wars-2-sexual-dimorphism/

    • Crackbone says:

      Heh, Boobs then Wife aggro too :D http://gw2wvw.com/main/avoiding-managing-wife-aggro/

    • Apples says:

      Note that even with the Charr, which came out well, they still thought that they simply MUST make the female one more ‘universally attractive’. That’s just a given somehow.

    • Grargh says:

      What I don’t get is… the internet is absolutely bursting with porn in any form you can or cannot imagine, never more than a few clicks away. Why then would anyone still need sexually appealing beast races in those games? Do people somehow jack off during a raid with a hot troll priestess? Will your Goblin be better liked and treated if she has a lot of cleavage? And can there ever be a point of saturation in breast exposure to internet users, so that we might overcome this weird state of things?

      • Apples says:

        Nevermind why we need to find them sexually appealing, why do we even need to know that a beast character is male/female? Why do we immediately need to know that a more humanoid avatar is male/female, for that matter? What difference does that make, when the two genders rarely have gameplay differences? Players might find one or the other gendered model more appealing, but in that case they might as well let either gender play with either character model, especially in the case of beast races; but in most cases game devs seem to think it’s of vital importance to clearly define different male and female silhouettes for gender identification even though it’s actually of no importance whatsoever. Remember Mass Effect with the devs freaking out that they would have to make female Turians identifiably female if they implemented them, when they could actually have just looked (and sounded, tbh) exactly the same as males?

    • Donkeydeathtasticelastic says:

      This is one of the reasons I like FFXI.

      Everyone’s a little pretty, everyone gets full body armour, and everyone gets to wear tiny metal lace panties if they really wanna.

  7. Apples says:

    The ‘score’ article is really prescriptive and starts off on a rant about how games should not have linear storylines, and should be ‘mastered’ rather than ‘completed’, and compares them to board games. That is not how games “should be” – those are the types of games the author likes. Trying to implement a score in anything other than a pure-gameplay game is a pointless, meaningless exercise – exactly how would you quantify a score in Deus Ex? Monkey Island? Planescape: Torment? STALKER? Okay, in some of those you get stat increases of various types as a ‘score’, but anyone playing FOR the score, and restarting them just to see what numbers they can jiggle about, is kind of a niche type of guy and probably not engaging with what I would consider the ‘core’ of those games. You could do it on ‘number of people shot’ or ‘number of puzzles solved’, but those should be inherently rewarding, not something requiring a big number to make the player happy, and usually miss the point of the game (shooting people is not the ‘point’ of Deus Ex).

    Also I’ve played Catan and I didn’t give a flying toss about my score. I was playing because it was something to do in the background while talking to my buddies, and I was practically making random moves. The action of screwing over my friends in funny ways by messing up their plans was rewarding without knowing what my score was. The score was necessary because it allowed people to quantify how much they ‘won’ (not necessary in a narrative game, but the author doesn’t seem to consider those games) and give them a goal to work towards, but it was NOT the motivator of the game in the way that they assume it is.

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      FhnuZoag says:

      Right, exactly.

      This attitude in the article is just idiotic.

      In roguelikes or other similar games, the “fake goal” is “getting to a higher (deeper) dungeon level”, which is a vestigial thing from our unfortunate history of tying games and stories together. The real goal is getting a high score, but I’ve had arguments with many who say that they don’t care, that they really care about getting to a higher dungeon level.

      For AURO, our solution is to not even show what dungeon level number you’re at. Neither during the game, nor at the end of the game, would you see this information. Why not? Because it’s irrelevant! You should just as soon ask that the game display how many times you “canceled a spell” or “walked north”. It’s not relevant to the goal of the game, and displaying it only confuses players.

      This is not at all why roguelike players are interested in D Level instead of score! Getting to a higher D level means you’ve met new and more dangerous monsters, especially if you do so without much grinding – and so a low score. Getting a high score means you’ve just spent more time farming.

      Moreover, offering additional statistics to the player doesn’t confuse them. It offers multiple ways to play. Look at spacechem – while your solution might not be the fastest, maybe you used fewer components than other people. Or vice versa! Presenting an unified score would be much worse.

      • Kaira- says:

        You sir said just the things I was about to say. To claim that “score” is the most important goal in roguelikes is purely idiotic rambling from a person who doesn’t understand the genre.

        • jlivius says:

          It’s not that he doesn’t understand it (he did, after all, make the genre’s best game in 10 years); he just has a unique way of expressing his opinions.

          • Josh W says:

            Making games which are really complex but in logical ways so that people seek mastery? Awesome.
            So that they can get points that show off their mastery? Meh.

            Seems what I like is a prequisite to what he likes.

      • JackShandy says:

        “unfortunate history of tying games and stories together”?

        Oh god, this guy! I remember him arguing that making mechanics from a thematic basis naturally weakens them. He should play Solium infernum.

        • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

          First time I saw him was him making absolutely sure that everyone on Something Awful knew he was not whining about Kickstarter in a blog post he wrote. He is one special guy.

          • Apples says:

            If you read some other posts of his, he’s also an egotistical prat. He compares thinking that games are not yet as good as other mediums to racism and sexism, doesn’t understand what a story is (thinks it can only be a straight path of unchanging narrative and that hitting predetermined story beats makes everything ‘fake’), and tells other developers to follow his lead. Yeah mate, I’m sure Valve and Bioware will be renouncing their narrative games and following the development path of your indie games any day now.

            edit: lol took a long time to write that and now this is awkward. Sorry guy but I don’t like your posts!

  8. Freud says:

    I enjoyed the CliffyB interview. I don’t get worked up over tweets and remember him more as a level designer on Unreal and Unreal Tournament than the Gears of War guy so I guess I’m not as mad at him as some PC gamers are.

  9. fakename says:

    “I think in some sense you don’t want to be the only girl in a job and so seeing other girls out there working in the industry helps that perception.”

    Sounds like sexual discrimination to me.

    • Grargh says:

      When there’s only one “isolated” girl in a group of people, conversations can quickly shift towards the bawdy and the plain rude, and this is not any more pleasent among socially awkward types like computer people. I witness this once in a while among fellow IT students, and it’s not a role I would like to put myself in as the girl. Having more than one female in a group makes it less likely the males will gang up on one, I guess.

      • fakename says:

        When there is more than one woman in a group, conversations can move away from work and towards fashion, childrearing, and cosmetics. I also find that the presence of women judging the men in the office on their looks creates a rather uncomfortable atmosphere. Therefore I try not to hire women.

        • Apples says:

          That’s a false equivalency you’re trying to draw there. “Sometimes it gets awkward when guys talk about women sexually and you’re the only woman, so it’s nice to have more than one woman in a group along with the men” is not equivalent to “Women can talk about things I find boring so I make sure there aren’t any.” Sorry.

          edit: also I would probably feel pretty sympathetic for a dude if he were the only guy among a company composed of 99% women, in a stereotypically female industry, and the women used typically female conversation topics/sexual topics to (deliberately or not) exclude the guy! So it’s not like I’m trying to say “women can do no wrong”, your equivalency is just nonsense.

          • Droopy The Dog says:

            I think you’re taking your stereotypical man from the 1950s there. I’m quite certain that any men in the games development industry who constantly go about loudly talking about sports(?) (I’m a little vague here, what’s a “male topic” and why?)/their tackle are the rare exception rather than the rule.

            Therefore, “hire more women” isn’t the correct egalitarian response, “hire less douchebags” is. Case in point, it would be fair not to hire fake name on account of the poor debating skills or the slight hint of victim complex since they’re likely to impact on everyone else’s quality of work, not just because of owning testicles.

            Every time someone argues “hire more women” as a solution to workplace inequality it just gives some eedjit the chance to attack the flawed arguement rather than adress the less flawed idea that being a dick to someone because of their sex is bad.

          • fakename says:

            ” I would probably feel pretty sympathetic for a dude if he were the only guy among a company composed of 99% women, in a stereotypically female industry, and the women used typically female conversation topics/sexual topics to (deliberately or not) exclude the guy!”

            Actually, this has happened to me with only two women in an office. They’d keep talking about what kind of men they liked (tall, slim) and didn’t like. It made me feel rather inadequate, and introduced an element of inequality into our office (in favour of the tall guys).

  10. killingbutterflies says:

    Call me old fashioned but I like to hire based on ability rather than gender. Why is this an issue?

    • Apples says:

      “well I’M not a sexist so there’s no problem with sexism!” is not even an argument. Even you probably find it harder not to hire by gender than you think: http://www.princeton.edu/pr/pwb/01/0212/7b.shtml And it would be old-fashioned to do the other way round from what you do, surely?
      I guess you’re referring to the Jade Raymond article even though it had nothing to do with ‘hiring by gender’. If you think “it will be good for women to see that women can be successful in games careers” means that you have to hire women because they’re women, what can I say except that you wildly misinterpreted it.

    • Grargh says:

      Nobody demanded hiring by gender. On the contrary, the point was that (potentially very talented) females could hestitate to even apply in the games industry, because they fear being the only woman in a male-dominated environment. Regardless of whether that fear is justified or silly, when hiring by ability you usually want every “able” worker to apply or you risk losing out on some real talent.

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      Mo says:

      A diversified team creates creatively diverse products. People of different gender, culture, race, etc. look at problems from a different perspective. And yes, even seemingly technical jobs like engine programming, are creative endeavours.

  11. Berzee says:

    The Split Screen article about collector’s editions is alright (and “Game of the Year” is a comedically meaningless phrase at this point) but this sentence:

    “Play that copy of Dark Souls I bought you for your birthday instead of reading inconsequential lore or playing with a fake doll from a fake world!”

    I wish I could be certain was tongue-in-cheek, but am not sure.

  12. Nighthood says:

    Wow, that list of “smart games” was awful. It was just a list of games that people liked, with no real basis on what is and isn’t “smart”.

    EU3 is smarter than Victoria 2 or Hearts of Iron 3? The Uncharted series is smart? “All the Call of Duties”?

    Why not just call it “games that people have played”. Because that’s all the list was.

    • Berzee says:

      Oh garsh, I hadn’t read that one. I just scrolled down to the “All of the Call of Duty Games” one because I was curious, and the words accompanying it are hilarious.

    • JackShandy says:

      “Even a “dumb” game relays a variety skills and experiences.”

      So really, every game is smart. Even dumb ones, like call of duty. That’s why it’s in this list of smart games. Right.

      • Nighthood says:

        Maybe we’re just looking at it wrongly, and Call of Duty is actually a dark satire of American imperialism and the triviality of war.

        • Brun says:

          Even if it were, that would hardly make it smart. That particular satire has been so overdone it’s actually making me yawn just thinking about it.

      • NathanH says:

        I think that the point is that a “dumb” game may not be a dumb game, it may just be a game that has been determined to be “dumb” by the Makers Of Taste.

      • Consumatopia says:

        Although NathanH’s people-with-taste-are-oppressing-me-by-not-liking-what-I-like position is trivially idiotic, and although CoD is a relatively dumb game, we can’t dismiss that it may have smartness within it, so to speak. If archaeologists uncovered CoD thousands of years from now, they could probably learn a lot about our culture by playing it.

        If one could imagine an alternative world in which video gaming were never invented until the day someone programmed CoD (perhaps as some kind of government propaganda), the critics and the general public would, alike, find it utterly amazing. Although that’s not relevant to how we should evaluate CoD in this world in which most of the stuff in it that is smart has been done before in other games, it does show the problem with tarring gaming itself as “dumb” just because most games are dumb–part of the reason we find those games dumb is because other games are so much smarter.

        EDIT: Also, that list seems to be a compilation of many people’s response to the “smart games” question, so finding one odd example on the list doesn’t mean much.

    • NathanH says:

      Actually “games people have played” is an extremely good criterion for a list of “smart games”. The list is a very good rebuttal of the cultural fascism inherent in the initial discussion of “smart” and “dumb” games, in which “smart” is a term used to describe a very particular type of game that is considered smart for entirely cultural rather than logical reasons (a “smart” game is one that resembles the sorts of things that would be considered “smart” literature and so on). The list shows that video games are far too broad and cover far too many interests and skills for such a narrow definition of “smart” to be in any way useful, except as a sneer-generator.

      The cultural “elite” wants to dictate to you what games you are allowed to think are smart and what games you are allowed to think are dumb. Do you want to surrender or do you want to take a stand?

      • JackShandy says:

        Words need useful definitions. “Something people liked” is a useless definition of smart.

      • Consumatopia says:

        The list is a very good rebuttal of the cultural fascism inherent in the initial discussion of “smart” and “dumb” games in which “smart” is a term used to describe a very particular type of game that is considered smart for entirely cultural rather than logical reasons (a “smart” game is one that resembles the sorts of things that would be considered “smart” literature and so on).

        In no way does the fact the people disagree on what is smart imply smartness is entirely cultural. That argument would apply to all applications of the word “smart” in which some people disagree, including the science, mathematics and ethics.

        You tried to make this argument earlier, I explained what was wrong with it. Smart (deep) and dumb (shallow) may have normative connotations, but positive definitions.

        The cultural “elite” wants to dictate to you what games you are allowed to think are smart and what games you are allowed to think are dumb. Do you want to surrender or do you want to take a stand?

        You’re allowed to think whatever you want. But other people are allowed to think that you’re wrong. You’re the fascist, trying to silence criticism. You employ “elites” in a Sarah Palin sense–not the people wealthier or more powerful than you, but the people cooler or smarter than you. So it’s not the people polluting your air or water, it’s not your boss threatening to fire you, it’s not the policeman threatening to beat you, its not church ostracizing you who are the fascists–no, it’s people who dare to like some things better than other things, who are open to the possibility that there could be something transcendent in beauty and art, who are oppressing you. Why? Why does it offend you when others find something they value? Is it because you’re afraid that they might be right? Or that they could find something that you gave up looking for?

        That first Brainy Gamer post is exactly right. I’ve disagreed with a lot of the “dumbness” posts in one way or another, but wrestling with each of them (even NathanH’s) has opened up new ways to the see the problem. Thinking about games from a frame of “smartness” has revealed things that we’ve missed in the “fun” frame. (Funny that hardly anyone raises objections to arguing whether or not a game is “fun”, even though “fun” is even more culturally dependent than “smart”.)

        • NathanH says:

          I’m not exactly sure why you seem to want to pursue me to the ends of the comments threads, but if you’re going to harass me at least try to pay attention to what I am saying rather than what you keep wanting me to say. I have no problems with other people’s opinions, except when those opinions are being used to denounce other people for their legitimate likes and dislikes. I want to focus on talking about and celebrating the vibrant and diverse world of video gaming, where there are games to suit any one and any mood, rather than prowling around calling stuff “dumb” if it doesn’t suit my particular tastes.

          (OK, admittedly sometimes I call stuff I don’t like “pretentious twaddle”, but only when I’m feeling like a grumpy killjoy)

          Lots of love xxx

          • Consumatopia says:

            I’m not exactly sure why you seem to want to pursue me to the ends of the comments threads,

            It bothers me when fascists call other people fascists.

            but if you’re going to harass me at least try to pay attention to what I am saying rather than what you keep wanting me to say. I have no problems with other people’s opinions, except when those opinions are being used to denounce other people for their legitimate likes and dislikes.

            (Emphasis added). Immediately after accusing me of misreading you, you contradict yourself and repeat what I criticized you for.

            You do have a problem with other people’s opinions. You label people “cultural fascists” for not liking things that other people like. You shout down dissent.

            I want to focus on talking about and celebrating the vibrant and diverse world of video gaming, where there are games to suit any one and any mood, rather than prowling around calling stuff “dumb” if it doesn’t suit my particular tastes.

            First of all, you can still celebrate diversity while observing that some things have more sophistication that other things. Indeed, that is the core of the “dumbness” complaint–not merely that commercial games lack sophistication, but that so many of them are lacking sophistication in the very same homogenous way (either celebrations of violence or fake-accomplishment Skinner boxes). A “smarter” game industry would make a wider variety of games, “dumb” games included. (The truth is I like lots of dumb games, I just don’t deny that they’re dumb.)

            Secondly, take that quote you just wrote, cross out “video gaming” and write in “religion”. You can celebrate the diversity in religion if you want to, but some religions define themselves in opposition to other religions–they have beliefs that they deem correct while other beliefs are incorrect. If you rule out criticism of religion, you rule out some (most?) religions.

            (OK, admittedly sometimes I call stuff I don’t like “pretentious twaddle”, but only when I’m feeling like a grumpy killjoy)

            You shouldn’t apologize for that–your position logically requires you to do so. As I pointed out above, some games developers self-consciously design their games in opposition to the way they perceive the gaming industry as it is. In other words, their objections to dumbness–which you find morally offensive–are built into the very design of their game. Thus, it’s only logical for you to oppose their game just as you oppose my argument.

            You want to celebrate the diversity of developers and players, but reject the diversity (if not the entirety) of criticism. Developing and playing can be acts of criticsm, and by ruling out criticism, you rule out certain kinds of games.

            Gaming could be–and will be–much more than it is today. Part of the process of completing that transformation is openly discussing why we’re dissatisfied with the way things are today.

          • NathanH says:

            Kindly stop inventing lies about what I am saying. I made my position clear in the text you quoted, and then you made up some more lies about what I said.

            I’d address some of your other points, but until you stop making up lies, what’s the point, because you’ll just lie about what I’m saying again.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Kindly stop inventing lies about what I am saying.

            Did you not call your opponents “cultural fascists”? Were my quotations inaccurate? Because that’s all I attributed to you, and if those were accurate, then you’re misreading me, perhaps deliberately.

            I also noted some other things that are logically implied by what you said. I’ll repeat: “I have no problems with other people’s opinions, except when those opinions are being used to denounce other people for their legitimate likes and dislikes.” So you have a problem with certain kinds of opinions–as best as I can tell*, you find any sort of criticism at all to be “cultural fascism”. Thus, dissent is ruled out.

            Kindly point out some lies, lest I think you’re just throwing out accusations because you have no argument.

            *(feel free to clarify on this point if you like, but if I’m wrong the fault lies in your ambiguity, not in my honesty.)

            EDIT: Let’s go back here: “The cultural “elite” wants to dictate to you what games you are allowed to think are smart and what games you are allowed to think are dumb. Do you want to surrender or do you want to take a stand?”

            This is, as you would put it, a “lie”. Nobody here or in any of the linked articles is throwing people into prison for thinking the wrong thing is “smart” or “dumb”. Nobody is censoring the internet or fining you or in any way forbidding you from saying that anything you want is smart or dumb. So if you say we are trying to dictate what anyone else is allowed to think, you’re wrong. (Oh, sorry, “lying”.)

    • Wizardry says:

      I find the lack of CRPGs disturbing. The list is full of JRPGs and modern “guns and conversation” games. There are multiple entries for Final Fantasy but not even a single Wizardry is there. Pathetic!

    • eclipse mattaru says:

      Personally, I find it appalling that the one mention of Bloodlines is just a brief Wikipedia copypaste. FOR SHAME.

  13. Salix says:

    That music is rather nice, although it appears to be pissing off the birds outside my window.

  14. costyka says:

    Hope you guys don’t mind if I prompt you another cool read. Hope you like it too since it’s tangentially about the power of “aww” in games.

    Here you go: http://geekysnippets.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/aww-how-the-lost-vikings-turned-into-trine-2/

  15. keithburgun says:

    Ooh! Thanks for the coverage, RPS!

  16. Radiant says:

    Sunday Papers legacy RUINED.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Petethegoat says:

    Message To Bears! Wonderful.

  18. Bobby Oxygen says:

    “A History Of Videogame Narrative”
    …albeit one that completely disregards the existence of early text adventures.

    • doswillrule says:

      I’ll grant you that. I originally wrote that piece for uni, naturally with a word limit. I felt more comfortable expanding on areas I did know about, rather than the relative (albeit researched) unknowns of text based adventure games. Hence the abridged bit.

      There’s a nod to Infocom, but yes, I would ideally have spent some more time on researching and including those games. I appreciate the inclusion and feedback though; haven’t had internet in the new house until today.

  19. Greggh says:

    “Local Beats On-line in Multiplayer Gaming”

    Only when playing with best-friends, GF, etc.
    Socializing within the games has become a lot easier since the times of those ghastly Diablo II chat rooms.

    Thank you Facebook and Skype :D

  20. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    Being mercilessly and repeatedly assassinated by some faceless 14 year old Call of Duty protégé half way around the world somehow isn’t quite as fulfilling.

    If that had occurred during a game of on-line FIFA I would just be a sad and lonely individual covered in sick, instead I now have an amusing anecdote to share with you good people.

    when my competition is expanded to include the rest of the world I find myself humiliated on the pitch, lapped on the track and mere target practice on the battlefield.

    Playing games with friends more entertaining than playing with random strangers! News at six!

    Seriously, this article could not miss the point harder if it tried.

    I’m tempted to dismiss it as an extremely limited viewpoint from a console-only gamer — except that I’ve heard consoles have more “playing with friends online” integration than PCs, not less, which makes the author’s apparent inability to play with friends online all the more inexplicable.

    Honestly, I’m a little surprised to see it featured on RPS.