The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on June 24th, 2012 at 8:44 am.


Sundays are for waking from dreams about how international finance is an abstract mess based on superstition. Thanks, unconscious, we already knew that. What do you want me to do about it, exactly? But perhaps we can divine some truths among the entrails of another pseudo-science, that of writing about the strange family of activities we call games.

  • What does Quintin Smith do these days? Well, he writes odes to in-game menus: “I love this stuff. And if you do pore over it like some bizarrely specialised future archaeologist, it loves you back. The range and depth of talent packed into Arkham City’s menu, where characters are caught mid-fight, in the rain, as the camera pans past them, got me more excited than anything in the game’s marketing. There was no risk of disappointment anymore. The game would be a tour de force from start to finish.”
  • Stuart Young is a PC gamer discovering MMOs for the first time: “So I went down the rabbit hole to MMO Wonderland. And it is a wondrous land indeed – a world where po-faced genre fiction collides with constant fourth-wall demolition. A world where strange game mechanics intersect with a stranger secret language. This was the gamiest of games, Tetris with a plot, the slowest of RPGs, and an odd but strangely compelling experience.”
  • Gamespy, meanwhile, asks whether we have simply outgrown the MMO: “An open, explorable world? TERA, Lord of the Rings Online, and even Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising have that in some form or another. A fulfilling story? Star Wars: The Old Republic had that in spades, but six months later the limited appeal of adding engrossing storylines on the standard MMORPG experience seems all too apparent. The pieces, it seems, are usually in place; developers just exhibit varying degrees of competence when getting them to work together. But even when they do a decent job, as in Rift, the MMO itself rarely succeeds in snaring new souls like they used to.”
  • Yannick LeJacq concludes that Diablo III means that gamers need a bill of rights: “Even the most radical libertarian would probably agree that a government must perform two essential functions: keep you alive, and protect your property. Blizzard, then, failed in both tasks once users began losing control of their virtual selves or the goods they had earned. To its credit, the company has already gone to great lengths to repair this. But a more pressing issue is how gamers themselves process these concerns. Maybe the arbitrary cultural taxonomy “gamer” itself is defunct. Instead, a new notion of citizenship is needed as people enter into these increasingly elaborate digital universe”
  • Emily Gera over at The Verge looks at where The Two Guys from Andromeda got to during their 21 year hiatus: “It was very difficult to try and sell a publisher on the idea of doing another adventure game because they all assume the genre was dead. We always wanted to do these things but there were no opportunity with publishers. It became Generation Xbox,” says Murphy. “There was really no interest in it.”
  • Meanwhile Kotaku examines the case for games as music:
  • Also at K-mart, this fascinating interview with EA’s Peter Moore: “I remember going to a lot of going-out-of-business sales in 1999, south of Market, but this ability for us to learn from the lessons of music… Maybe we don’t sell our games up front and it’s all about [making money later]. Maybe it is like music. Music is now all about going on tour and concerts, go do corporate appearances, sell your merchandise, build your online website, find ways to do it that way, because they don’t make much money after Apple takes its cut, and that’s where most of us get our music.”
  • An essay about System Shock: “Terror is the anticipation of something being revealed; horror is the realization or exposure of something once hidden. Each requires the other.”
  • Curt Schilling has begun to talk about what happened at 38 Studios.
  • Was the sound design in Max Payne 3 a big deal?
  • These “psychology of Diablo III” articles don’t say anything you won’t have noted, at least implicitly, whilst playing. But hmm.
  • This explanation of the Curiosity Mars lander is extraordinary. Also: Phoenix lander.
  • This story is somehow the best and worst story at the same time. People are scum. People are amazing.

Music: I’ve linked to Nils Frahm in the past, and this isn’t new, but I am listening to Familiar this morning, and oh, so beautiful. Sigh.

Got something for the ‘papers? Email me via the link at the top or get on the twitters.

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158 Comments »

  1. Spengbab says:

    I enjoyed that Gamespy article regarding MMOs, and its a view I share – WoW was pretty much perfect (Aside from the bugs) those first few years, until Blizzard found out that normal people have money too.

    And a games journalist that’s NEVER played a MMO since their invention? Really?

    Also, check the alt-text on the System Shock article.

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      And a games journalist that’s NEVER played a MMO since their invention? Really?

      Researching the medium is a foreign concept to a lot of game journalists.

      But The Newbie Perspective Is Valuable, they would reply.

      Not as valuable as knowing what the fuck you’re talking about, I would say.

      • Inglourious Badger says:

        It’s surprising but not really necessary. You would presumably expect all games journalists to have played most facebook and mobile games as well? I think there’s enough variety in modern gaming for a journo to specialise and ignore the more populist stuff.

        That said, I agree with you. I think every gamer should experience EVE at some point in their life, just to get a glimpse of what online gaming could be like.

        • TillEulenspiegel says:

          You would presumably expect all games journalists to have played most facebook and mobile games as well?

          I would certainly expect them to have played FarmVille and Angry Birds, yes. Perspective and understanding of the industry is important for a journalist, especially when many veteran developers of “traditional”, “hard core” PC games are moving in that direction.

          You can hate that sort of game (I do), but you should *understand* them.

        • Shuck says:

          As a game designer I certainly expect that of myself. Obviously one can’t play all games, but one can play enough to understand how all the various types of games function. I expect no less from anyone working any sort of analytical role in the industry. The side effect is that one doesn’t play games for fun anymore, but that’s the risk when you’re a professional.

        • Saiko Kila says:

          I think that every gamer should experience real drugs at some time, just to have a glimpse at how drugs are bad. And every gamer should play Chessmaster at some point, because, you know, all gamers need to experience it. Obviously.

          • Neurotic says:

            Just make everyone play MYST, kill two birds with one stoner.

      • JackShandy says:

        Yes. I keep hearing grizzled veterans spew phrases like:

        strangely compelling experience.”

        Was he here for Diablo? Did he notice that every game in existence now has a level-up system? Does he understand anything about what makes WoW compelling, or is he just going to marvel at the mysteriousness of it all? (“Fucking game design, how does it work?”)

        It’s ok for a journalist to not play a certain genre of game. It’s not ok to have no idea what makes games compelling.

    • FCA says:

      Well, I’m no games journalist, but I’ve been playing games since the end of the 80′s, and my first (and only) experience with MMO’s is a stint with a demo (starter? F2P? I’m not sure about the naming) version of Warhammer Online a few months ago. The experience was pretty much the way it is described in the article. I had read much about MMO’s obviously, and it just pained me to see that all cliches are in fact true. All the downloading, patching, registration… The monster guns I had disabled were back up and shooting within 5 minutes, the enemies not noticing I was killing their compatriots 10 meters away, etc.

    • Tritagonist says:

      I thought the GameSpy article was quite garrulous, but it did make some interesting points. However, I don’t think we’re past some sort of MMO highpoint. I think there’s still plenty of people who want to participate in a persistent online action RPG kind of game, but that, as the article points out, an increasing number of people is bored with the, by industry standards, ancient game-play of fixed targeting, hotkey-combat and the rigmarole of 10% drop chance on a once-a-week fight for new items that becomes the only way to advance your character’s strength.

      • Batolemaeus says:

        That’s my take on it as well.

        Personally, I’m utterly tired of fantasy grind massively singleplayer online games. They leave me disinterested, bored and with a feeling of having my soul drained.

        Maybe the wow bubble has finally burst. The genre of Everquest clones is coming crashing down, like a gigantic blimp with too many gadgets attached and myriad leaks patched up with bubble gum.

        The concept of massively multiplayer games, that is, many people playing together isn’t out. I thought the constant barrage of social-this and social-that proved that already. The problem is how many mmos aren’t designed to foster interaction, I think. Oftentimes there are even incentives in the design to be as selfish as possible, to be hostile to newcomers and to keep playing only with a very small circle of e-friends.

        • sinister agent says:

          Mount and Blade would make a great MMO, except I hate saying that because “make an MMO” stil means “make exactly the same terrible mistakes as every other MMO”. But if you could have masses of people playing as soldiers, and suddenly have a hostile AI army invade the land… suddenly you’d need a few hundred people to gear up and march out there to stab the crap out of them.

          Although not actually Mount and Blade, because I only play that single player anyway. But, y’know, something like that. Proper combat, and proper o-operation needed because of sheer weight of the enemy, not because the enemy is identical to every other enemy, but level 300 and has 23 in Resource, 45 in Sly, and 3.320 in Blongdiblongblong.

        • InternetBatman says:

          I just think we need different designs for MMOs. Imagine a minecraft-like MMO where you could make any thing you wanted, but it would be out of blocks so pedophiles would stay away. DDO has a vastly different design from the norm that succeeds on a ton of levels. Neverwinter Nights (and 2) had their player created MMOs. Spore with more capabilities would make a great MMO. Or you could have something like Dwarf Fortress that allows a ton of players to connect.

          I just think that most MMOs should ditch the games as a service idea, and embrace the idea as a MMO as a platform for massive play and exploration.

          Hell, I’m trying to something like this with an online D&D campaign, create a world where any player can create a new experience for everyone else. If it works it’ll be fun for four people, but why not four hundred.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      I played a little Anarchy Online when it first went free, and I played a 14 day Eve trial. Both left me with the impression that the only thing there for me was the enormous spaces to explore – the actual gameplay was so dreadfully abstracted that I had no connection to what was happening. It took me ages to create a character – it always does, I love that stuff – but then it was like the difference between driving and controlling a remote controlled car. I play games largely to be immersed; MMOs are not for me so long as they keep the game at arm’s length from the player.

    • MSJ says:

      The division of Blizzard that is in charge of WOW seems to have a bad habit of listening to the worse parts of its fandom. Remember that they made the male Blood Elves a bit more muscular likely because some beta testers told them the Belfs look “gay”? Blizzard has over time worked to make WoW much more friendlier towards new players and casual players, which is what contributes to its high number of subscribers. Then, due to pressure from the hardcore, they undid these improvements in various ways and it sees their subscriber number drop. I don’t know if this has changed recently, but I hope that bringing the Pandaren out of the realm of jokes is part of their move to slap those complainers in the face with naked camp and silliness even more so than in previous expansions.

      • subedii says:

        I hate to break it to you, but I’m pretty certain Pandaria is just a kind of desperate attempt to try and get more of the Chinese demographic on-board and keep them from leaving.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I think that a lot of their working to make the game more accessible is just fine, but a lot of the work they did was just to simplify things for their own development. The classes have become far more similar over time, which takes some of the fun out of the experience. Also, they ran out of ways to out-epic themselves and the story is really, really, really tired.

        Less individuality in characters and a boring story that’s far outrun its course make for a really shallow experience.

      • Jenks says:

        They brought the Pandarens out of the realm of jokes and made them canon 9 years ago. People whose first experience with Warcraft is the MMO can’t seem to grasp that.

  2. Bob says:

    Heh, the Phoenix Mars lander video was illuminating. The quality of the video itself was superb. I can’t recall any “drama” about it at the time. I was a bit disappointed there weren’t any tri-poded, three story tall, craft roaming about.

  3. KDR_11k says:

    I’d say the big problem with MMOs is that MMO nowadays doesn’t just imply a server setup but also a specific gameplay. A gameplay that was usually inferior to other games.

  4. Cargo Cult says:

    Phoenix Mars Lander? Old, conventional and it worked (a second time). The really frightening one is the nuclear-powered Curiosity Mars Rover currently on its way to Mars. Largest supersonic parachute ever! Sky-crane! Rover winched down to the surface! Arrives early August.

    It’s utterly terrifying.

    (Gratuitous self-promoting link: Sunday SPAAACE on my blog-thing.)

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Huh, that is actually what I meant to link. Googled up the other one in my sleep.

      Seriously, why did I agree to work Sunday mornings. It’s madness.

      • Cargo Cult says:

        It’s still fun to compare the two videos – same editing techniques, similarly dramatic music, near-identical titles.

        I’ll expect a similar [PROBE-NAME]: Seven Minutes of Terror when NASA gets round to sending another lander… ;-)

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Yep. That thing is crazy insane. But it’s what makes space great. Also what makes most sci-fi so far from the mark of reality. :P

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        You can write everything at a different time, then set it to post on sunday morning, while you sleep. A lot of other blogs work that way. :)

      • Torgen says:

        “Seriously, why did I agree to work Sunday mornings. It’s madness”

        Because that’s when the robotic overlords take the day off at the club, and it’s safe to come out.

    • Tritagonist says:

      From a technical standpoint this is obviously quite interesting and an commendable achievement if they manage to pull it off, but I do wonder how many more times the US (and presumably some partners) can justify spending US$2,500,000,000 to “study the climate and geology of Mars”.

      • byteCrunch says:

        Well ultimately discoveries we make on Mars could benefit mankind, but we won’t know that unless we are willing to spend that money to explore it.

      • Koozer says:

        GOD I wish all those scientists hadn’t bothered messing about with that electricity business and focused on more useful things like bridges.

        • byteCrunch says:

          Transistors? They’ll never catch on, vacuum tubes are the way man.

          • TechnicalBen says:

            So right, they are the future! http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/24/nan_vacuum_tubes/

            (Don’t joke about anything. Reality will always trump you!)

          • byteCrunch says:

            Except for the fact it isn’t technically a vacuum tube. Nor does it replace the transistor under most circumstances, one current extreme application in space due to their resistance to radiation. We are going to keep cranking what we can out of silicon until we hit is 10Ghz limit.

            In any case superconductive materials and by extension quantum computing are probably up next, but ultimately finding a material that is superconductive at room temperatures probably isn’t going to happen any time soon.

      • Pertel says:

        Your comment comes off as ignorant of the fact that space exploration in general has yielded an enourmous amount of spin-off technology and innovation that benefits all of civilization. Just looking at the Wikipedia article
        (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_budget#Economic_impact_of_NASA_funding)
        about NASAs budget, this is easy to see.

        As others will probably have explained in the time it takes me to write this comment, the incredibly small amount of federal money that goes into NASA, not just the Mars rovers, is well worth the money for society.

        Neil deGrasse Tyson explains this really well inthis video http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=d43_1312648118

        • Tritagonist says:

          I specifically said ‘US (and presumably some partners)’ because these projects are almost uniformly state-funded, and state budgets are under increasing pressure in a lot of countries. Now you can argue, as Tyson did in that video, that the cost of NASA etc. is minor compared to other expenses and that funding it should therefore continue, but at the end of the day it still needs to be paid.

          All I attempted, and apparently failed, to say is that the funding of NASA etc. is probably more dependent on politics than on the supposed technological ingenuity of its creations.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Space exploration provides a whole host of new problems, and the effort to solve those problems creates a lot of solutions that are useful for a lot of problems on earth.

      • Gap Gen says:

        The USA presumably wants to make sure it has access to space, and as such keeps funding NASA. The US military certainly has access to a lot of tech that isn’t publicly available – for example, they gave NASA 2 spy satellites that they weren’t using that were better than Hubble, while the JWST uses military tech that has been in operation for years on secret programmes. Space access is an important part of national security when planning for the future. Sure, some scientific research won’t have any direct application ever (with or without trickle-down techs) but states still have a reason for funding it.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Engineers talking over the Inception soundtrack actually works.

      Thought at the end that this sort of thing would make a good videogame intro sequence to a space game. I love it when games give you that sense of mystery, that you genuinely don’t know what’s out there. The talking heads give a great impression of it being something on the unexplored edge of technology (even though they’ve successfully landed rovers on Mars before).

    • Easy says:

      I must have been living under a rock. Fantastic. Ah, to boldly go… I really should read the mars trilogy again.

      • Yargh says:

        I want rovers and rocket sky-cranes in Kerbal Space Program now.

      • Cargo Cult says:

        More information on how Curiosity will land on Mars. Something I hadn’t appreciated before is how the spacecraft acts as a lifting body and literally glides through the planet’s atmosphere, accomplishing this through shifting its centre of gravity around by jettisoning a total of 300kg in lumps of tungsten. (To compare: the Mars Exploration Rovers were just 185kg each, ignoring their landing systems. Curiosity is a chunky 900kg, ignoring its landing systems.)

        I really really really hope it works. ‘Cause if it does, NASA has a way of doing near-pinpoint landings of arbitrarily shaped objects on Mars, at much higher altitudes than before…

  5. RvLeshrac says:

    The bus monitor : The problem is that those kids aren’t actually going to be punished in any way, and will just go back to bullying other kids. They simply won’t record videos next time.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      The story says there’s a police investigation, so perhaps there will be punishment for them.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        She’s not pressing charges, and they can’t take the kids to court without her testimony or an assault charge. Though the prosecutor is trying to find something else he can charge them with.

        The school is going to suspend them, which just means “Woo, we don’t have to go to school.”

        The parents obviously aren’t going to do *anything*, because they clearly haven’t given two shits about their kids’ behaviour up to this point.

        I went through this with bullies in school. They’re going to get sent home for a few weeks, show back up at school, and continue doing the same thing – they’re just going to pick “the weird kids” instead of an adult, and not create so much evidence.

        I’m hoping 4ch’s war on the kids will teach them not to be dicks, but not hoping *too* much there.

        • RobF says:

          You got all that from a short video? Wowsers.

          • Terragot says:

            He’s quite clearly drawing on past experiences, which if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of bullying is a claustrophobic, terrifying, alienating experience. Looking at your teasing comment though, makes me think you’ve probably only seen this situation from the kids point of view.
            I don’t care what anyone’s excuse is; making another human being feel pusillanimous horror at their own identity – online or offline – is a moral choice I passionately object to. So please, in future, keep those kinds of narrow-minded little comments to yourself.

          • ReV_VAdAUL says:

            Perhaps, unlike yourself, RvLeshrac has put the mildest amount effort into reading more into the story, perhaps by reading this article that was linked from the Guardian article: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20120620/NEWS01/306200023?nclick_check=1 which gives evidence for pretty much everything they said and perhaps they even did more research than that!

          • RobF says:

            I spent most of my formative years formulating ways to get from one end of the road to the other without getting my head kicked in by the local bullies.

            I grew up the rough end of town, businesses mostly long gone, shutters and unemployment abounds, where most of the bullies had the shit kicked out of them on a regular basis by their families and no-one gave a fuck about them. Parents fighting with each other also, drunk and/or caned off their tits.Or at least, that was the case for a couple of them, every one has their own story. Some of them carried on, some of them didn’t. Some of them got pulled by the cops and changed, some didn’t.

            I’m not excusing the kids behaviour in the slightest, it’s reprehensible but outside of what we know so far of what has happened, you can’t say “oh, they’ll just do it again” or “their families won’t do anything”. Well, you can, but you’d just be talking from your own prejudice rather than about any individual case. And *that* is what I take issue with. Writing them off just like that because they’ll never change. Gross.

          • RvLeshrac says:

            Dunno how it works in the UK, but here in the States, the kids who are regularly abused are usually more concerned with keeping a low profile than starting shit at school. They know that if they step out of line, they’re going to catch yet another beating at home. If someone sticks them in a hole, they’re going to keep digging, but they’re not going to be the ones breaking ground.

            Hughes (RIP) captured the finest details of it, with a bit of comic relief. Other than ‘zero-tolerance’ policies that automatically punish victims, I doubt anything has changed since then. We’ve always had the same players, just with different variations on the rules.

            The parents encourage this behaviour. They relish it. They want their kid to think he or she is ‘better’ than everyone else, even if that means screwing everyone else over. Especially those “weird kids” who try to keep to themselves. Administrators encourage it. Teachers encourage it. Coaches encourage it.

            But, at the end of the day, the parents and their hellspawn hold FULL responsibility. I want to see the children held responsible for their actions. I want to see the parents held responsible for their inaction.

            Someone a few days ago suggested that every single student on that bus that day should be punished, albeit in a more minor way than the offenders, by banning them from the bus for a year – to teach them that if they aren’t going to step in and stop it, they’re just as responsible. I liked that idea.

            The problem with your line of thinking is that it gets us cases like the one in Atlanta where some teenagers were on trial for hog-tying a puppy, spray-painting it, then baking it alive. One woman hung the jury because she “didn’t think one mistake should ruin their lives.” That’s right – she believed they were guilty, but did not feel they deserved the punishment ‘because it was a mistake.’

          • RobF says:

            You’re talking about kicking the shit out of kids and having everyone else on the bus punished for their actions. You’ve fabricated an entire fiction around their lives to justify this. I mean, cocks to the thousands of kids who do something wrong and then don’t go on to burn a puppy or something, forget about the thousands who do turn their life around and certainly we’ll forget about treating the situations that helps lead these kids here, *they might do something terrible again* so that’s enough for you. Kick ‘em, make them suffer, make them pay.

            No way, man. No way. I can’t get on board with any argument that hinges around battering kids, making the parents pay for their kids actions too and an entire bus full of people getting thrown into the retribution pit for good measure. There’s no justification for that beyond your own selfishness because it’d make *you* feel better.

            Still gross. Sorry.

          • RvLeshrac says:

            I recall people that thought like you. They were the parents of the kids who beat the hell out of other kids because they were gay, goth, too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, or just weren’t popular enough. When they weren’t beating on kids, they were spreading rumours about them or setting them up for ‘accidents.’

            Their kids had rules, and they followed those rules – as long as their parents were watching them. They knew that as long as mommy and daddy couldn’t see it, mommy and daddy wouldn’t believe they had done it.

            When their kids were punished, they’d rage into the school demanding that all punishment cease immediately, and they always got their way. They defended their kids to the last. ‘They would NEVER do anything like that.’ ‘That other kid must have started it.’ ‘You’re going to punish *MY* kid? Look at all that make-up that other kid is wearing!’

            The end result? Now if anyone, anywhere, is caught in an altercation, both students are punished equally – the victim is punished for being a victim. If the victim fights back? Assault charges are pressed by the school district.

            You think there’s some ‘made up’ story here? Fine, go interview some kids in a school of your choice and see what you come up with. You’ll hear stories of kids who go to faculty and are told to “suck it up” or “deal with it.” If you talk to parents of kids who are bullied, you’ll hear stories about how they approached the bullies’ parents and were told to “mind (their) own business,” or endure insults about how their bullied kid “needs to learn to take it.” If you talk to the few members of faculty who try to make a difference, you’ll likely hear stories of a system that is less interested in stopping bullying than it is in sweeping it under the rug. The one thread tying everything together will be that bullies a) Don’t actually see any punishment and b) Are shielded from the consequences of their actions.

            This is becoming a slightly bigger problem year after year because people are sitting around having “focus groups” and developing “community action plans to combat bullying,” but they aren’t actually *DOING* anything. In the mean-time, the bullied kids are killing themselves or killing others. Not because they want an easy way out, but because they look around and no one with the power is doing jack to back them up in the *real world.* Celebrities and politicians “speaking out” certainly gives a few the boost they need but, for most of them, the only light they see at the end of the tunnel is yet another train come to run them over.

          • RobF says:

            Yes! True. You caught me there. Here was I thinking I was bringing up a lad that believes in treating other people with respect and understanding, which all evidence so far seems to point towards. Amazingly done by showing him respect, treating people around me as humans and never, not once ever raising a hand at him or assaulting him in anyway.

            I see now how mistaken I am. I’ve been cultivating an abuser all along. Because obviously thats how it works. Teaching kids tolerance teaches the opposite. Showing empathy to fellow humans propagates the opposite. Never raising a fist or even so much as a slap promotes violence. Clearly he’s just acting up in front of me, those times when I think he’s stroking the cat upstairs, he’s tearing it’s claws out, laughing, safe in the knowledge that there are no consequences in life because he’s never been beaten. His politeness a ruse!

            What a fool I’ve been! If only I’d known that tolerance and understanding and compassion were such hateful traits, I’d have beaten his sorry arse and shown him the discipline he clearly lacks for his own good!

          • RvLeshrac says:

            If you’re capable of keeping an eye on your child, you’re certain that he understands the lessons he’s been taught, and he’s not engaging in behaviour which will negatively affect him for the rest of his life, that’s fine.

            For at least one of these kids, I guarantee that your “easygoing and verbal” parenting method has failed. Time to try something else.

            I’m sure the victims of bullying out there breathe a sigh of relief whenever they discover their bully has experienced a specific parenting style. Those bruises, black-eyes, and deep-seated psychological and emotional scars just *melt* away when you discover that your assailant is working through some issues of their own.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Well chances are you aren’t one of those parents (RobF). They are people who don’t pay enough attention to what their children do and probably neglect them to a degree. Because they don’t actually see their children actively being violent, when they are told their children are doing nasty things, they react by going into denial, denying that it could be possible, and assuring themselves that even if it is true, their child must have had a good reason to have done what they did.
            As for the idea of banning everyone on the bus from using the bus for a time, I’d have to say that doesn’t sound good. It’s more of a punishment to the parents than the children, and if there are any busy parents that need the bus to get their children to school…well, sucks to be them. Besides, while teaching people that standing up for others is a good thing, the fact is, high school is a horrible place, and it’s understandable that they wouldn’t, since kids who stand up to bullies often become the bullied (In my experience).

          • RobF says:

            @rvleshrac

            No, you can’t guarantee any such thing at all of how these kids were brought up, how they got here and you certainly don’t know what the future will hold. You know nothing of the lives of any of these kids, you’re just off on a bizarre-o flight of fantasy.

          • PopeJamal says:

            “Writing them off just like that because they’ll never change. Gross.”

            Fuck those kids. The world is a “Gross” place

            I went to school with kids like that, I lived around people like that, I have relatives like that, and I still know people like that. The amount of people like this that see “the error of their ways” and make a change for the better is small enough as to be practically non-existent. Do I feel sorry for these children? Sure, I have a vague, non-personal type of pity for them, but other than that, they can go get hit by a fucking bus.

            Sometimes a kid has “issues” and “extenuating circumstances” or whatever, but in my personal experience, 9 times out of ten they’re just mean fucking assholes. They’re old enough to start, at the very least, taking responsibility for not being a fucking cunt. How much lower should we set the bar?

          • aerozol says:

            I work on anti-bullying and violence prevention projects and resources for children (and schools, and adults), and Rob’s approach to parenting and this situation will undoubtedly cause far less future problems than more ‘heavy handed’ approaches would. Responding with violence (even ‘only’ verbal violence) is leading by the wrong example. The statistics are there.

            On a personal note, I’ve both bullied the bus monitor as a youngster, and later was the bus monitor myself, dealing with similar problems. I’m in no way trying to demean this lady’s traumatic experience (it’s not to be taken lightly), but do want to mention that being a kid is complicated, and I hope these kids get the SUPPORT they need to become better people, rather than just ABUSE trying to show them their place. Support is much harder to give than just meting out retroactive punishment, but in the end it’s worth it. Hopefully someone/people take the time to approach it in the right manner.

      • subedii says:

        What punishment could come is likely only going to come from the state. And I can all but guarantee you right now: For most of these kids, their parents are going to back them up in court 100%, and likely claim that their children have been unfairly targeted in this mess, that the video tells “one side of the story” and the woman was just as abusive to them and brought it upon herself, we just don’t see that part. Those involved feel no real pressure to stop acting like this as a result since hey, their parents aren’t going to do it. As it is, they’ve already got a temporary reprieve from any action until the start of the new school year, by which point most will have forgotten and few will care.

        The only reason it came to attention now is because of that video, which people outside this small circle found and then reacted to. Events like this do not happen in isolation. That woman’s pretty clearly been a target of this behaviour for a long time.

        These activities only come out in public because the antagonists get so comfortable with the behaviour (and act so ridiculously stupid) that they then post it online for others to see and laugh at. But there is a vast sea of abuse that occurs before that point. And after that point… Honestly? I think the only thing that really changes is that they’re now slightly less freaking stupid and will do it without recording it.

        • Lowbrow says:

          The father of one kid has already come out to apologize for his kid’s behavior. They’re getting death threats.

          http://www.ksdk.com/news/article/325168/28/Dad-apologizes-for-son-bullying-bus-monitor

          • RvLeshrac says:

            Yeah, death threats cross a line.

          • PopeJamal says:

            “They’re getting death threats.”
            You mean like the death threats they were giving the old lady?

            “We’re going to stab you…”

            GOOD. I hope they get more death threats. I personally wouldn’t do it, but I’m glad that someone is giving them a taste of their own medicine.

          • eclipse mattaru says:

            *The father* apologizes to the lady. Yeah, that will teach the brat a lesson. “You do something like this again and both your father AND YOUR MOTHER will go apologize to the victim, you hear me!?”

          • Slaadfax says:

            Good lord, people just can’t seem to do anything halfway.

            A pile of soulless wretches on a bus harass an old woman who apparently (according to some of the other news sources) didn’t even catch half of the insults because she’s bloody hard of hearing.

            So the response from other just *wonderful* examples of humanity is to spam the family of the little vermin with death threats.

            No wonder I rarely go outside =(

    • Jesus H. Christ says:

      that video is going to follow them for the rest of their lives, or at least until they’re 30.

      I do have to wonder what kind of person can look into the face of a truly distraught person, and then try to make their pain worse. clinical sociopaths/narcissists prolly.

      I am glad that that women is getting enough money to quite that job. Fuck rich junior high kids.

      • Phantoon says:

        Not literally, but fuck anyone wealthy that didn’t work hard for it.

      • subedii says:

        I don’t really see how that video is going to ‘follow them’. They’re not identified during it IIRC, and you can’t really make out the faces of the few who do appear. Youtube’s already taken it down anyway. They’re not going to be identified should anything legal ensue either since they’re minors.

        Even on the presumption that it remains online and well known, what effect is it supposed to have? Nobody’s going to tie it to them In Real Life if they didn’t already know about it.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          4ch identified them, and there’s a pastebin with names, addresses, and other PII.

          I’ll not link to it, because RPS doesn’t need a lawsuit, but Google will get it mighty quick.

          • subedii says:

            I’ve seen it. Frankly, I didn’t want to discuss it when you brought up 4chan.

            I saw it and I thought, oh good, they’ve started on another of their jaunts by prank calling and sending death threats in the literal THOUSANDS. That’s really the correct response.

            You see I believe these kinds should be held to account for what they did. Swamping the school with prank calls and sending death threats isn’t the methodology of doing so.

          • RvLeshrac says:

            I agree, but right now it looks like that’s all the punishment they’ll be getting. I’m willing to take an imperfect justice that acts swiftly in the face of the most overwhelming possible evidence over a ‘more perfect’ justice that fails to act at all.

            We live in an age of evidence that the founders of our legal systems never *dreamed* would be possible While I’m fully against allowing law enforcement access to our phones and other electronic devices, I think that once you’ve posted clear and damning video evidence for the entire world to see, the punishment should require substantially less hand-wringing and debate.

          • Skabooga says:

            I’m wary of any form of vigilante justice. Theoretically (although I wouldn’t dispute that there are problems with our justice system), court cases take so long not only to ensure that the involved parties are guilty but that their punishment fits the crime. Mobs have little appreciation for context, restraint, or reason.

    • Hanban says:

      That was a scary article. Not only because of the mean kids, but the comments some people put:

      “If this was my kid… I would get out of jail before they got out of the hospital…”

      “lol that’s the problem.. No discipline these days..I would be beaten like hard core and washing floors with a tooth brush and given bread and water.”

      • RvLeshrac says:

        The only kids I’ve ever encountered who were as bad as these were never subject to any sort of physical punishment. For /anything/.

        This is one of those things you should beat the holy hell out of your kids for, because there are a LOT of people who would have thrown the kids off the moving bus instead of just trying to ignore them. A little bit of pain from the parents is going to save the kids from being shot or beaten to death one day when they screw with the wrong people.

        These are also the kind of kids who push mentally ill kids around until they snap and shoot up a school; a little punishment now might save some other lives, too.

        • KDR_11k says:

          Bad kids are often the result of a dysfunctional family. Those fail at many more things than just disciplining their kids.

        • RegisteredUser says:

          That is one of the most disgusting – and idiotic – arguments for physical abuse I’ve read.

          “Its fine to beat your kids into submission, because, really, its for their own good as someone else will do much worse if I don’t do it now.”

          Crystallizing the most idiotic approach to parenting into a post: You have managed it.

          Leading by example(the core learning mechanism of any growing child is assimilating behavior) and addressing emotion, empathy and reason actually work, too, but they just take SO much more effort.

          Better to just use a nice, swift beating, eh? For their own good, for their own good.

          Just by the by, chances are it wasn’t the absence of physical punishment, but rather the lacking of being given ANY restraint, structure, rules, respect and form during the “parenting” of the kids.
          I’ve seen quite a few kids being raised with plenty of “But I just want him/her to have it all” and none of “If you don’t, then” => actions have consequences, and they turn out the snot kids.
          And I have just as much seen parents that are loving 80% of the time, but utterly strict and focussed the 20% when the kid tests their bounds. And, without any violence, and without fail, they have trained them to understand what boundaries and respect is.
          Crucial bit: They emphasize and refer to the warnings and rules given and don’t go erratic; they stay consistent, they explain the logic and they relate it to everyone else, too.

          What an incredible concept, trying to treat the next human being as just that. And to think that it works even with parenting..

          • RvLeshrac says:

            Whipping your kids is something you do to emphasize that an activity is dangerous. When you pull your kid’s hand away from the stove and smack it, you’re doing that to emphasize that putting your hand on the stove leads to pain.

            They need to be taught that inflicting *ANY* kind of pain on others leads to others inflicting pain on them. That’s the Golden Rule, the single most basic principle on which all of modern human civilization is founded. One of the major problems in the first-world today is that people aren’t punished swiftly for actions against others unless a physically violent crime is committed. We’re teaching kids that you can do anything you want to anyone you want as long as you don’t touch them.

          • FhnuZoag says:

            That’s not the lesson such behaviour teaches. The lesson such behaviour teaches is that people in positions of power can use violence against others with impunity. The statistics are pretty strong – such treatment just creates horrible, horrible people. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2002/06/spanking.aspx (and other such studies)

            You misunderstand fundamentally the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule is a matter of putting yourself in the shoes of others – in short, to develop that sense of empathy. You are thinking of more of ‘an eye for an eye’, or the rule of the strong over the weak. That’s the sort of thing civilisation has developed to avoid.

            You may think that you are showing that ‘inflicting any pain on others means others inflict pain on you’, but the child will observe, quite reasonably, that hey, look, no one is, in turn, inflicting pain on *you* for hurting them, are they?

          • Apples says:

            I was going to seriouspost about this but the guy above already did it, so instead: WHIPPING your kids? How’s the internet back there in ancient Egypt? And you are incredibly wrong for all the reasons everyone else is telling you.

          • RvLeshrac says:

            @FhnuZoag:

            The problem with that study, and most psychiatric studies, is that they’re almost entirely uncontrolled.

            If you beat your kid when he drops a piece of bread on the floor, he’s going to grow up to be a miserable human being. If you whip your kid when he abuses someone, physically or emotionally, and state why you’re doing it, they’re going to understand.

            There’s a reason that countries with swift, *FAIR*, and harsh justice systems have lower crime rates than those countries whose systems are missing any of those qualities.

          • FhnuZoag says:

            It’s rather ironic of you to moan about uncontrolled experiments in a meta-analysis by the APA when your opinion seems to be based on nothing but personal anecdotes.

            I’m not sure what countries you are thinking of with harsh punishment and low crime. But the typical reason is this – those places have *terrible* policing. With terrible trust in police, crime rates go down because people stop even bothering to report crime. And because crime investigation is so poor, authorities resort to ‘making examples’ of those few unfortunates they do catch, leading to a downward spiral into something reminscent of the victorian times. And it’s funny you picking out cross national comparisons, when there are far more confounding factors in such analyses.

          • j3w3l says:

            I really dislike meta-analysis as they are a notoriously bad form of statistical analysis, simply because it is very easy to inflate results to attain a significant result. I would be far more interested in the main effect size and how much of the variance they explained…I am guessing it is quite small.

            I am not advocating this type of punishment and it probably does have part in child behaviour but their are a myriad of other factors involved

            As for these children, I just think they have an underdeveloped sense of empathy which most children are and were under the whole peer mentality/group think. Going from the public appology I think they learnt there lesson, I am equally disgusted at many others going overboard about it and harrasing them and their families

          • Milky1985 says:

            FhnuZoag have you actually read the article that YOU yourselve linked?

            It states quite clearly in the article :

            “The act of corporal punishment itself is different across parents – parents vary in how frequently they use it, how forcefully they administer it, how emotionally aroused they are when they do it, and whether they combine it with other techniques. Each of these qualities of corporal punishment can determine which child-mediated processes are activated, and, in turn, which outcomes may be realized,” Gershoff concludes.”

            It doesn’t say anywhere it creates bad people, in fact it even admits that the kids behave more if this is used. Not sure how you drew your conclusion from that article unless you had already drew that conclusion before reading and wanted to reinforce it.

            As a disclaimer i was spanked if i was bad as a child and i’m fine now!

            Apart from the regular bed wetting and dominatrix visits.

          • FhnuZoag says:

            Yes I have read it. The original paper, too. The overall effect is pretty clear:

            “Gershoff found “strong associations” between corporal punishment and all eleven child behaviors and experiences. Ten of the associations were negative such as with increased child aggression and antisocial behavior. The single desirable association was between corporal punishment and increased immediate compliance on the part of the child.”

            Increased child aggression and antisocial behaviour is what I would associate with ‘creating bad people’. The overall results are that corporal punishment is always bad, and sometimes worse.

            It’s notable that the full paper also details efforts to distinguish corporal punishment from abuse – but argues that corporal punishment frequently escalates to child abuse.

            “Parents who had abused their children revealed that as
            many as two thirds of their abusive incidents began as attempts to change children’s behavior or to “teach them a lesson””

          • FhnuZoag says:

            “I really dislike meta-analysis as they are a notoriously bad form of statistical analysis, simply because it is very easy to inflate results to attain a significant result. I would be far more interested in the main effect size and how much of the variance they explained…I am guessing it is quite small.”

            You guess incorrectly. The model for predicting aggression from record of past corporal punishment seems very successful, explaining 86% of the variance.

        • tourgis says:

          @ RvLeshrac

          “Whipping your kids is something you do to emphasize that an activity is dangerous.”

          Thank you for this advice. At last I understand why I was beaten as a child. I now understand that having a point of view is dangerous; that being angry is dangerous; that being forgetful is dangerous; and that being small and vulnerable is really the most dangerous thing of all.

          It is exactly this kind of perverse and vengeful thinking that keeps us stuck in cycles of abuse, neglect and dissociative behaviour. To follow your line of reasoning, the parents of the children concerned will no doubt be feeling guilty that they didn’t beat their offspring hard enough and often enough, rather than having helped their kids to have a sense of self respect through love and secure attachment.

          • RvLeshrac says:

            Yeah, beating your kid for no reason whatsoever =/= whipping your kid for beating another kid, or whipping your kid for being brought home by the cops after shoplifting, or whipping your kid for setting fire to the house.

            But thanks for playing “criminal behaviour apologist.” I’m sure that the next time a bullied kid kills him or herself, the victim’s parents can take comfort in the lack of physical punishment meted out by the bully’s parents.

          • Hanban says:

            @RvLeshrac

            I’m sure the victim’s parents will feel awful knowing that the death of their kid could have been avoided by a child rearing method that has never been proven to work. Way to go there, buddy.

          • Leandro says:

            I’ll somewhat agree with RvLeshrac here.

            It’s simple to bash his argument by putting sensible spanking in the same bin as “physical abuse” like most here have been doing. That makes for an easy argument, but it’s also a fallacy. These are far from the same thing. I’d wager these researches don’t separate the two either.

            Saying people often do it wrong is not saying it is impossible to do right. Disciplining children is getting less and less politically correct because people are on edge from seeing abuse and violence, but that’s putting the blame in the wrong places.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Negative reinforcement should be avoided. There are times for it, of course, but you need to be REALLY careful, and I personally think beatings are never good. A smack to inform them their doing something wrong, or that you’re really pissed off, is okay. But if you’re going for pain, rather than shock, that’s bad. In my upbringing’s case, my dad only spanked me VERY occasionally (When I was straight up ignoring him otherwise), and it didn’t hurt at all when it happened, however it was so uncommon and shocking that it made me realize I wasn’t being okay.
            It’s like teaching a dog: If it runs off, and you go catch it and punish it, it doesn’t work, because it thinks you’re punishing it for being caught, not running off. If you get upset at it every time it does something wrong without giving it treats when it’s good, it gets stressed out, doesn’t learn anything at all, and become more aggressive too.

    • Lowbrow says:

      You clearly have no idea about internet vigilantism.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        They’re being “punished,” after a fashion, but ‘The Internet’ isn’t an authority in their lives, and will move on. The punishments meted out, or not meted out, by parents, faculty and staff of the school, and/or local/state prosecutor are going to be what has a lasting effect on them.

  6. abandonhope says:

    ‘In addition, Schilling said he was puzzled by comments accusing him of being hypocritical for seeking the loan guarantee and tax credits from the state of Rhode Island, despite his political advocacy for smaller government. He noted that tax credits were available to all companies that invested in film or video-game production in the state.

    Schilling added, “I don’t have any problem with government helping entrepreneurs and businesses.”’

    Right, because that clearly always works out well for everyone. What an asshat.

    • NathanH says:

      Frankly I’m tired of people being accused of hypocrisy for saying both “I think the system should be X and not Y” and “Given that the system is Y, I will make use of it to my advantage”. There’s no hypocrisy there at all.

      • ReV_VAdAUL says:

        Haha, the guy is a small government Republican who thinks the free market is king except when it comes to him making even more money when suddenly the state “meddling” in the free market is perfectly fine. Schilling has actively campaigned to change the system so most people get much less from the state but believes he deserves far more.

        I’m sorry you’re annoyed people expect others, especially the rich and powerful, to hold consistent and reasonable views rather than behaving like spoiled children.

        • NathanH says:

          I’m not sure what he believes in and I don’t really care. I address only the argument “Simultaneously saying “I think the system should be X and not Y” and “Given that the system is Y, I will make use of it to my advantage” means you are a hypocrite”. This is lazy and wrong.

          It’s like the opposite situation when some rich guy says “you know, people who make as much as me should probably pay 10% more tax” and everyone says “oh and why didn’t you just give that 10% to the government this year instead of keeping it then? HYPOCRITE.” It’s ridiculous. There is no inconsistency in these positions. You can think the system could be better and you can say the system could be better but while it’s the way it is you should be free to use it like everyone else does without being criticized for it.

          • Mattressi says:

            I know exactly what you mean. I’ve seen many people try to use the argument that people like Ron Paul and Ayn Rand are hypocrites and should be ignored because they are/were on social security. There is no hypocrisy in saying that you want something to be another way, but taking advantage of it as it is. If some of these people who are filthy rich are able to take from the system, it’s clearly as broken as they say it is. Then again, I don’t think anyone should be able to take from other people using the force of governments, but that’s a different topic for a different flame war.

            That said, from what I can tell, the person the OP is talking about actually said that he wants the system to continue to favour him. That’s hypocrisy and idiocy. At least Democrats don’t pretend to be small government like Republicans do. If only they’d realise that they both want as big a government as possible (and then some) and really only slightly differ in what they think the issues are, but both fully agree that whatever the problems are, the government is the solution.

          • InternetBatman says:

            That would be true if people elected their officials based on their philosophy and the effectiveness of their governance. On a national level they elect officials because of mistrust, tribalism, slander, and xenophobia, and the system encourages this in a bunch of ways.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        You mean to say that e.g. if you don’t like beating people to get submission, but it works if you do it, you’ll do it?

        If you have a belief that something is fundamentally wrong, but go against it, then you either don’t have an actual strong belief or..well there’s nothing past that, is there.

        This is why we haven’t had proper rebellions against pink paste in our burgers, the banks after blowing up, governments for going too far into debt, the food industry for replacing ingredients with aroma and fake analogue, etc pp.

        Because if people were truly confronted each time someone did something to attack what is right, then we’d constantly have a real struggle.
        But we work in a way that we constantly try to be “efficient”; and with that comes complexity reduction, little convenient lies(“I don’t like it / agree, but WHAT CAN YOU DO?”) and passivity.

        Its kind of a shame, because in a lot of these cases there would actually be a majority.
        But as John Stewart already pointed out: For a lot of these things, it isn’t that people aren’t angry or disagreeing. They just have jobs, homes, kids. I.e. shit to do 24/7 already. Its hard to protest everything that’s wrong now that we’ve accumulated a world of shit already, and it explains why it has to be something mindbending and fundamental to elicit any grand scale reaction anymore at all.
        And even then I get the feeling we’re letting more shit slide than back in the 60s/70s when being active and outspoken about stuff became popular for a while.

      • Corporate Dog says:

        The hypocrisy lies in the fact that what he REALLY means is…

        “I think the system should be X for SOME people, and Y for OTHER people.”

        I’ve met precious few advocates of “smaller government” who didn’t use it as a code-word for getting rid of domestic spending programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and SNAP (food-assistance) which help the least-privileged, while retaining strong military spending and tax breaks for big business.

        That he takes advantage of the system “as it is” is just dick-flavored icing on his hypocrisy cake. Because, honestly, do you think any of US could go to the state of Rhode Island, and get the same sort of sweetheart deal?

        His words and his actions are internally consistent. That doesn’t stop his core beliefs from being a sort of hypocrisy.

        In a just world, this fiasco would kill any attempt he might make at running for public office. If he can’t be trusted to get paychecks out, why should he be trusted with (say) running a state. But given his own loss of personal wealth from this effort, I bet that’s exactly where he turns next. And the people of New England do love their baseball hero.

      • InternetBatman says:

        There might not be hypocrisy, but there is certainly the possibility of a fair degree of amorality possible in that statement. This is especially true of groups that spend significant amounts of effort to find and exploit flaws in the system.

        For instance, the use of the double-Irish is both legal and entirely amoral.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Irish_arrangement

      • abandonhope says:

        It isn’t even hypocrisy that I’m most concerned with. It’s the growing saintly regard for the job creator class. (One could say “we’re the job creators” in the same tone that one says, “they took our jobs.”) The rapid and catastrophic demise of 38 Studios is a prime case for NOT dumping all government aid into the top with the expectation that corporations, given the opportunity, will flourish, create jobs, and improve the livelihoods of all their employees.

        This notion that we simply need to enable the job creators to provide–as if this somehow their natural inclination or primary concern–is patently ridiculous, and it’s the underlying assumption to Schilling’s point of view… unless he just thinks entrepreneurs and businesses should get more help from the government for no reason at all.

        I’ll refer you to an apparently banned TED talk from Nick Hanauer (early Amazon investor), who says it better than I can: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKCvf8E7V1g

        • Revisor says:

          The talk was not banned, it simply wasn’t deemed good enough.
          See http://tedchris.posterous.com/131417405

          No conspiracy there, move on.

          • abandonhope says:

            As if that was the point of why I linked to the video. Note I said “apparently,” as in I didn’t investigate the matter further because it’s irrelevant both to my existence and to the discussion at hand. But don’t let me stop you from trying to save people from believing in conspiracies. The Internet needs superheroes like you.

  7. LionsPhil says:

    The introductory sequences, figured as moving through computerized space – the essential skill for gamers, trained since DooM – prime you to identify the player character as yourself

    I don’t think I really agree with that. SS2′s not a very roleplay-y game somehow, despite having aggressively enforced RPG mechanics.

    It got a lot more fear/immersion mileage out of mechanics that replaced some common gameisms, like not being able to instantly syphon the ammo out of dropped weapons by running over them. Scrabbling for shotgun shells from fallen foes takes a moment of frenetic interface-driving and makes you vulnerable. Hacking leaving you vulnerable, too.

    It also, contrary to that article, has a pretty standard power progression. By the time you have an assault rifle in good condition with training and the right kinds of ammo, you can basically kill anything. (Which is probably why the latter sections switch from pipe-wielding mutants as your antagonists to the environment itself—at least up until the very last (crap) room.)

    • sinister agent says:

      But that only happens if you went for assault rifles. The first time I played, I had the EMP rifle by the end instead, and fighting the Many right before their main chamber was a bloody nightmare. Nigh-unkillable floaty brain things that respawn, and only one, very narrow passageway to their spawning device thing? And that’s just to get inside the boos room. It was close to impossible. I must have run around that chamber chipping away at those monsters for about forty minutes.

      But then I got to the very last boss and utterly obliterated it within seconds. So I er… um. I had a point a minute ago, I’m sure of it.

  8. felisc says:

    I love those sunday papers introduction text. They smell like sleep and tea infused with soft madness.

  9. sinister agent says:

    The problem with MMOs is that there’s only one way that people play them, because the same people and attitudes to playing crowd out every other way. Consequently, there’s only one audience, and as a result of that, they’re all made in the same way.

    Horrible combat, bad controls, impenetrable language, immersion-destroying mechanisms (watch the exact same four monsters spawn every 90 seconds in the same spot, forever) that would be bad enough even without the curse of Other People removing any possibility of getting caught up in the game without being constantly reminded that it’s a game and your job is merely to exploit its system in the most efficient way, regardless of how boring that is.

    I’m sure it wasn’t always thus, and I bet as the article says that the first heady days of WoW (and probably a few others) were brilliant, before the Standard Way To Play was discovered, and players and devs were locked forever in that model. I read an account of some people playing City of Heroes years back hat was just hilarious. But actually playing them is just the dreariest, most frustrating chore if you’re not already inured to the horrible tropes of the genre.

    If they want to move forward, they need to get new players in, and that won’t ever happen as long as they’re stuck with the same horrible combat and player interaction. New players will be put off by the same old mechanical crap, however lovely and promising and full of character your world is, while existing MMO fans will eventually just go back to something else.

    Day Z is the closest thing to really significant innovation that’s happened in the genre for ten years, and it’s not even an MMO.

    • hello_mr.Trout says:

      why doesn’t day-z count as an mmo? (apologies if this is a stupid question)

      • sinister agent says:

        Heh, no apologies needed. I wasn’t sure myself, but I suspect it doesn’t (although I don’t actually care if it does or not, as the definition really doesn’t matter to me), because the numbers are too small, and the servers reset so often.

        But I mentioned it because it arguably is an MMO; I just thought it might not be because of some technicality or something.

        • subedii says:

          I don’t mind the technicalities people like to hold onto for these things anymore.

          People like to call STALKER an FPS but not an RPG because it doesn’t have explicit experience points and levelling. But in real terms it’s far more of an RPG than most of the titles I’ve seen that hold that designation.

          I think things like Minecraft and DayZ are games that show the potential of what could really set MMO’s as something unique and making use of their scale and structure. I also think they’re models that are very hard to adopt with explicit monetisation, which is why companies instead opt for the making the MMO grind the core focus of gameplay instead of the really interesting stuff that can happen when you’ve got a lot of actors running around in a single playspace with either matching or conflicting objectives.

          Conventional MMO’s are a dichotomy. They exist because of a desire for large scale, but all their mechanics are geared towards individual achievements and not larger scale ‘societal’ (for want of a better word) projects, achievements and interactions.

      • Baines says:

        The best reason I could see to not call Day Z an MMO is that “MMO” has come to mean a particular sub-genre of “mass multiplayer online”.

        The same thing happened with others, where “FPS” doesn’t mean “first person shooter” in general, but rather particular styles of first person shooters. Then you have a first person game with shooting come along like Metroid Prime, and people scramble to come up with a new name like “First Person Adventure”.

        And of course this catagorization is self-perpetuating and shapes games that are being made. So you don’t see real time action adventure Roguelikes, instead you either get Diablo-derived games or you get action games with some RPG traits and random loot drops. Why? Because Diablo *is* the genre as far as many are concerned.

    • GameCat says:

      Don’t forget about Minecraft.
      It get rid off with some very, very bad MMO mechanism like “instances”. If you loot the dungeon it stays looted forever. If you mine every piece of coal and iron near your base/home/castle – it will not respawn again.
      In Minecraft time flows, in most of MMOs it stuck in infinite loop, constantly respawning everything, so you can’t really interact with world. Every interaction you will take will soon be restored to pervious state, no matter what.

      Also – “everyone is a hero” thing is another wrong turn. Being hero should matter something. For example: you’re a hero because you find unique, powerful artifact and you can beat everyone now. But stay alert, if some players find that your sword is uniqe – they will be trying to kill you (hello, Day Z) and become hero too.

      • sinister agent says:

        That’s a good call, I forgot about that.

        My only experience with multiplayer minecraft was wonderful. When Minecraft first came out/was starting to get big, a bunch of people on a forum started playing it. I bought it, but for boring technical reasons couldn’t play it at all. So I watched them discuss what they were doing for months, hating them all. About a year later, I could afford to sort out my technical problem, and asked someone to put the server they played on back up. They kindly did.

        I started in the water in the dark, splashing around and swimming to shore on a huge, abandoned dock. It was night time, and sinister figures were moving in the distance among the hundreds of torches dotted about. The land was full of huge, elaborate, massively varied building, all of which were devoid of human life, and crawling only with monsters. I felt like I’d stumbled into some post-apocalyptic fantasy city where some terrible, mysterious catastrophe had left nothing but hostile monsters – the creators had been building without any monsters in the game, so this world had simply never seen them before. And I had no idea where anything was, and most of the resources were of course stripped out. I had to scrabble to make a safe haven and put together some tools to explore and try to clear out this strange world.

        Within a few days of course, it was pockmarked with craters and blown up buildings where I’d been ambushed by unfamiliar monsters, doorways were boarded up, hasty bridges were constructed, the clear paths and gardens were ruined by crude shelters of earth and wood and a few caches of basic supplies. It was wonderful. I really wanted us to band together and try to clear out this world of monsters, but unfortunately I was voted down by people who just wanted to look back at their old creations (and of course, they already knew where their huge stashes of advanced equipment were, plus they knew the land inside out, so there was no sense of wonder or scrabbling).

  10. Greggh says:

    Did someone say something about Phoenix??

  11. jplayer01 says:

    I think it’s absurd to claim that MMO’s are on the way out. I think people are simply tired with the current and traditional concept we have of an MMO. Take a look at games like League of Legends or the multitude of Facebook games … games with a focus on social interaction and/or teamwork are *big*. Unfortunately, until now, MMO’s have been going in a completely different direction: “Story” and solo leveling in order to make you feel like “the hero”.

  12. RegisteredUser says:

    The bus monitor story is a pathetic example of us being easily emotionally manipulated drones.

    The sum ended up far over 300k. As various others on a reddit thread accurately put it, it is saddening and maddening for anyone who ever tried to drum up more than 10k for a cause like cancer, starvation, orphans etc, trying to benefit more than one person at once, to see someone who – ohnoes, WORDS!!! – got bullied get 30-40 times as much as a single individual.
    Not to say that those people are not evil twisted fuckers and that words can’t hurt, but if you live in shit and dirt as a homeless person or under daily agonizing pain from your sickness or run around with a bloated stomach from hunger, you’d take daily verbal assault for being fed, housed, healthy in a second(or, rather as a homeless person you get that for free most day anyhow).

    To me this is just more proof we have no idea of proportion and are as already said suckers for media and emotional manipulation. Actually makes me furious, because everyone, including RPS, is cheering this shit on when we need to get a lot better(as human beings) and a lot better with our perspective than this.

    • KDR_11k says:

      As the saying goes, a dead man’s a tragedy, a million dead men is a statistic.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      This is also the reason why charity appeals always focus on a single very sympathetic individual for any kind of disaster or large scale problem. People are actually less inclined to donate if you state a hundred thousand people are in desperate need of help than if you say one cute looking child needs it.

      The thing is though this is a holdover from the fact humans evolved living in small groups and are only really capable of employing empathy in small scale comprehensible scenarios. We can comprehend the idea of being bullied on a bus, hell a lot of us probably have been bullied on a bus. The large scale problems of cancer and the complex nature of the investment and research needed to combat it is much harder to comprehend on a human level.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        I know. There’s that whole “We can only keep so many factors/people in our mind at once” research attached to it and everything.

        I’m still kind of hoping that with all the other stuff we’ve achieved, reserached, built etc, that we can reflect and rationalize efficiently if we just try.

        But then again we’ve also got the oceans about to keel over, huge ass oil spills and are using Agent Orange on the rainforest. So, ehhhhhhh.

    • sinister agent says:

      Have you considered the possibility that the massive numbers of donations for things like that happen because the stor resonates with so many people even more so than a fatal illness? People getting bullied and abused and generally fucked around may not be cancer, but it causes just as much suffering and harm (probably more so, really), and the legions of people who’ll donate to something like this suggests just how widespread that suffering is.

      Plus the fact that it’s caused by people unnecessarily being shits rather than just Nature’s cold indifference, well. That makes it more important that people stand up and say “no, fuck you, we’re better than that.”

      I get where you’re coming from, but seriously. If you’re going to look at a Good Thing and people being nice to each other, and denounce it because they’re not being nice in exactly the way you think is best… well. It’s a pretty joyless existence, doomed to constant frustration.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        I think my point goes towards: It would be nice if people stopped equating giving money to making change in BEHAVIOR.

        If you want to make the world better, start confronting people in real life on their bullshit, for example when people gang up on one lonely soul. Or when someone is bullying someone else in real life.
        Don’t throw emotion based money towards someone who doesn’t need it, so YOU can feel better for having walked on last time someone was abused and you saw it.

        • sinister agent says:

          Hm. Fair points. But you’re making a bit of an assumption that people who donate to this (or similar things) do nothing else.

      • Yosharian says:

        @sinister Well said.

    • subedii says:

      To me this is just more proof we have no idea of proportion and are as already said suckers for media and emotional manipulation. Actually makes me furious, because everyone, including RPS, is cheering this shit on when we need to get a lot better(as human beings) and a lot better with our perspective than this.

      Taking pity on an old woman who suffered abuse =/= ignoring all the rest of the world’s problems, and there’s no freaking hierarchy that says that people should clamp up about one event until all the other more ‘worthy’ ones have been fully addressed. It’s not an either-or. The video in itself is a hot button topic since it’s not just about an old woman, it’s about the question of societal standards and how children are raised. And this is coming from someone that has no intention of donating to that fund because I believe that I’ve got better things to donate to. I’m not going to castigate other people for doing so.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        Taking pity != throwing money as solve-all.

        Send her a nice card with honest words instead; don’t go into six figures to finance something that helps overall mankind in no way, shape or form.

        And if only it DID raise that issue. What happens is people use the donation to FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES, not change society.
        If you do the easy thing, i.e. give money, you can sleep sound and can enable yourself not to do anything real about it.

        Instead of anyone donating $1000, you would have done a million times more if you arranged a public speech every sunday about it, volunteered for teaching empathy classes at a local school / big brother or sister program, made a plan to speak to at least 100 strangers about the subject etc.
        Or just went through life more aware and active and verbal about it.

        Anything real, social, tangible whatsoever, really.

        Not cheque-book shit.

        • subedii says:

          The event draws media attention to the issue. Donating her money is an immediate emotive response by those who, let’s be honest, have never met this woman and almost certainly don’t live in her area. But aside from helping her, it does also lead to pressure for reform, not just in structures but in societal and personal behaviour. I mean you talk about “talk to 100 strangers about it”, this has already reached far more people than that hasn’t it? People are discussing it right now, moreso than they ever did because of someone sat on a sidewalk with a loudspeaker on Sundays yelling at people for how they need to change. I’ve seen “that guy”. Practically every week. He’s doing something, he feels he’s doing his obligation but I can’t say I’ve seen him ever reach anyone.

          Donating to her was never about “helping mankind”, and frankly if it was, that was a stupid reason for doing so. People rarely donate for those reasons, they donate because they’ve either been emotionally affected by what they perceive, or because they believe in that specific cause. I can think of a 1000 charities and collections designed to alleviate immediate suffering but which don’t hold the overall benefit of “mankind” as their remit. And if they did they’d shut themselves down because there are more direct actions that can be taken to save humanity.

          I don’t agree with the current situation, but I can appreciate that people didn’t do it out of malice, just out of emotion. Nobody ever sent her money expecting it would reach into the hundreds of thousands. They just wanted to help her out. In that respect, it’s hard for me to be upset at them.

          Other actions need to be taken. This is always the case, but it’s a separate issue. As it currently stands, there’s more likelihood of change now and genuine societal soul-searching on the subject than if people had simply dropped the topic because it’s not as serious as Darfur.

          • RegisteredUser says:

            I still stand on my points that
            a) people did it for their own feel-good benefit and efficient “do something when really they are doing nothing” conscience-soothing

            b) this doesn’t have the power to change anything as an isolated incident. Nor does “attention” to it do anything on its own. There are anti-bullying laws since 1999. Clearly its not a problem of just legal framework or political agitation, media hubbub.
            You need to actively raise awareness and value in the relevant kids / groups. Sending one lady on a vacation is not related to this in any way, shape or form. As for relief, you could have stopped at a fraction there.
            I still hold this to be wasteful, disproportionate, ineffective and unjust.

            As for the organizations of instant relief vs “general mankind”: Organizing to help immediate suffering in my eyes IS helping mankind, because unlike here, it doesn’t need you to create an individual sob story and bio first. You’re off badly, you get help. That’s a general help and element, and thus works quite differently as a structure and mechanism.

          • subedii says:

            I don’t think we’re fundamentally in disagreement about much, perhaps just whether these people should really be castigated for the heavy focus on this one incident.

            I don’t believe it’s an issue of legal framework. There are plenty of countries in which this kind of behaviour isn’t tolerated but which don’t have laws to that effect. It’s not a question of legislation, but of changing societal attitudes. I believe we are probably in agreement on that point. I also agree that the volume is disproportionately targeted at a single emotive instance. If you see another 10 videos of similar events happening elsewhere, then whatever donations are just going to dry up like a small puddle.

            Basically I view it as something in a larger sequence of events. If people become more aware of it, people’s demand for action increases. The question is one of whether they start holding themselves up to those demands.

            Have to disagree regarding relief. An organisation to help feed people in Darfur is doing jack-all to “solve” the problem whilst political instability still exists (that happens at other levels). Next year, we just see a repeat of the same. We can all think of any number of drives and charities that had aimed at helping the victims of this famine or that civil war. These have been in-place for decades, and the way things are, they will continue being in place for decades more. Nothing has been solved, and humanity isn’t any better off.

            We still do it, because people are suffering and we want to help them. But actually changing things has to happen with action elsewhere. It’s the latter that never materialises. Partly because it’s a shed-load more complicated than giving directly for immediate relief.

  13. Salix says:

    I call bullshit on Schilling losing his entire fortune. Doing a little bit of checking shows that he earned substantially more than that over his career and while it’s possible he squandered the rest of it I seriously doubt it.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/schilcu01.shtml
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/leaders_salaries.shtml

    • Grygus says:

      Maybe. People often adjust to their incomes. It is easy to believe he might have been dropping several hundred thousand a year just on “living expenses”. I am guessing that he probably lost a nice chunk to taxes. Probably also gave away a lot of money to friends and/or family, at least early on (seems like most people who come into serious money end up doing some of that at some point.) I don’t know; thinking that he somehow went through half of his salary over the last 21 years just doesn’t seem all that implausible to me.

      Also, I will point out that once you’ve had $50 million in the bank, your definition of “broke” may differ from most peoples’. Maybe he still has a million or two left, but that would feel a lot less secure going forward.

      • Dilapinated says:

        Really? Broke is broke. It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve had in the past, or how much is ‘comfortable’ for you. If a person with $2000000 told me that they’re “broke”, I would laugh in their face, because they’re a flagrant liar who’s most likely never had any experience with actual poverty.

      • Shuck says:

        I’m sure he also saw some of his money go towards his agent, buying real estate, etc. But when he says he invested “everything in his name” into the company, I have to wonder what he’s living on now. He must have some money still.
        Having previously read that his investment in the company was paid back by the loans, I’m glad he actually had something substantial invested in the company, though relatively speaking I doubt he had as much invested as the employees. They not only found themselves in the position of having missed paychecks, having their healthcare disappear (some while in the middle of serious medical issues), but also discovered they were on the hook for mortgages for their previous homes (that the company had supposedly sold) that had gone unpaid. I’m sure some of those people are far close to broke than Schilling, having seen savings eaten up by a company in which they were employees, not owners. I’ve seen employees of game companies get screwed over like this before, but what makes it even less forgivable in this case is that Schilling promised to give everyone a couple months warning should the company be in dire financial straights – instead he waited several months after the employees had been fucked over to let them find out for themselves. That’s simply inexcusable.

  14. Veracity says:

    That isn’t about System Shock, it’s about System Shock 2 (mostly). Yes, that’s a pet hate. Yes, it’s long past time I got over it.

    • GreatGreyBeast says:

      I feel you. I mean SS2 deserves most of the good press it gets, but the original needs love too. It was just as atmospheric for its time, and – I think – better paced its story and gameplay, and had a more satisfying ending. Plus it does an amazing job of balancing a litany of features that basically includes everything that any FPS has ever done, ever. There is that little thing where the UI is utterly bananas, but as long as you have about 10 fingers on your left hand, it’s pretty much the perfect game.

  15. Vegard Pompey says:

    Never thought I’d feel bad for a person who made millions hitting a ball with a stick or whatever baseball players do. KoA, while not exactly a masterpiece, deserved to be at least a minor financial success.

    • Shuck says:

      I feel bad for the employees who got seriously screwed over by his withholding of information that he had promised them; I’m pretty sure Schilling is in a much better position than any of them are.
      I’m not sure he can be given any credit for KoA, either – the game was well under development when he bought Big Huge Games, and besides making them insert Amalur elements and backstory into the game, his big contribution seems to have been to have laid off the management of that company, mid-production, making it that much harder to get the work done. (The management were supposedly laid off when they dared to point out that the unrealistic sales projections for the game were blatantly unrealistic.)

  16. Shooop says:

    “because they don’t make much money after Apple takes its cut, and that’s where most of us get our music.”

    Only idiots pay for MP3s. MP3s are compressed, low quality files with massively inflated price tags. The ones from Apple are even shackled with restrictive DRM unless of course you pay them even more for an inferior product. You can buy CDs through Amazon 3rd party sellers for $5-10 and make however many files in whatever formats you please and never have to worry about having to buy them again if you have a HD failure.

    This partial quote alone really shows the kind of mindset EA as a company has and why anyone with any financial sense should stay far, far away from them.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Apple dropped their DRM 3 years ago, actually.

      • Shooop says:

        I’m really behind on the Apple times. Well I’m still not missing out on much, most their songs are 79 cents each and best-sellers are a ludicrous $1.29. Each!

        Buy a CD from a 3rd party Amazon merchant and you’ll pay about $10-13 including shipping and be able to rip it in FLAC for your home audio and as many MP3s in any quality as you want, whenever you want.

        • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

          People don’t pay for the quality, they pay for the convenience.

  17. InternetBatman says:

    The interview with Peter Moore was pretty poorly written. I would prefer far less narration and far more content. It’s a hobbyist site, we already know what’s happening in the industry.

  18. JackShandy says:

    “Think how vapid an experience it’d be to get a game in the post, the box a totem of years of anticipation, and when you put the disc in you just start… playing. World 1-1.”

    Yep, Braid’s starting screen sure was vapid. A real game would have opened with WELCOME TO BRAID PRESS START TO PLAY *Bloi-oing!*

  19. deadly.by.design says:

    Gamespy wrote something worth reading? It might be the first time since Fargo left, if true.

  20. Rii says:

    “I have three suggestions for Blizzard (or anyone else developing a similar system) based on well established psychological phenomena. ”

    Note the complete absence of anything resembling an ethical sensibility here.

    • Yosharian says:

      Yeah that was kind of weird, it was like seeing into the mind of a psychopathic game developer

      THEY WILL NAWT BE ABLE TO RESIIIIIIIST

      DE WORLD WILL FALL UNDER MY INFLUEEEEEENCE

  21. Jimbo says:

    Giving somebody a pile of money because children said mean things to them is about as nuts as leaving all of your money to cats, but whatever makes people feel good about themselves I suppose. How about just solve the issue at hand here, instead of trying to make everything better with money?

    Also, I’m not entirely sure what the role of a Bus Monitor is exactly, but presumably she is being employed as an adult to control the children in her charge – a role she clearly is not equipped for. If you pulled that shit with any adult in a position of authority (which is to say, any adult) in my childhood they’d have been stomping your guts out in a heartbeat. Adults shouldn’t put up with shit from children, ever.

    • hilltop says:

      I don’t know what the role entails but I think it’s a fair assumption that she is probably barred from physically imposing herself on the kids or being harsh with them verbally.

      I don’t see what recourse that leaves her/

  22. TheManko says:

    The sound in Max Payne 3 was a disappointment for me. The author of that article seemed impressed by it, but it was clear he didn’t know just how much had been lost from the sound of the second one to the third. Max Payne 2 was the first game to use 5.1 tracks during cutscenes, so it was truly “cinematic” in its audio design that way. It also used EAX and had carefully balanced acoustic effects for each and every room in the entire game.

    Max Payne 3 has sloppy use of acoustics where about 80% of the game has no echo effects of any kind. This is a significant step backward since even subtle acoustics will help draw you into the world and make the sound match the visuals. Completely flat and dead sound is “gamey” while acoustics add realism and believability. Remedy got that in Max Payne 2 and even Half-Life 2 with its software sound did it in 2004. Yet here we are in 2012 with a game that might sound worse than what we had 10 years ago.

    Even the placements of sound is sloppy in Max Payne 3. A movie mix usually centers all dialogue in the center channel, music plays out of the front speakers and ambient sound and acoustics are enhanced by the surrounds. In Max Payne 3 everything plays out of all the speakers at the same time producing a kind of mushy mess. Dialogue is almost never playing out of the center and they don’t have any excuse visually for it. When you’re playing Rockstar made the baffling choice of making the 3d sound “center” be the Max Payne character model and not the camera. What I mean is that if something is standing right behind Max Payne, but is in front of the camera it will play out of the rear speakers, even though you’re seeing the source of the sound in front of you visually since you’re playing a floating camera.

    I haven’t even gotten to how all the weapons in Max Payne 3 sound worse than in 2. Remember the iconic Ingram sounds which made dual wielding them feel almost magical? That’s gone and replaced with some subdued crap sounds. When it comes to audio Max Payne 3 is worse than 2 in every way. It’s still above average I guess, but there shouldn’t really be any articles praising it. It’s regressive technically and sloppy.

    • mikmanner says:

      @TheManko The jump in sound quality from 2 – 3 is incredible. The echo you’re talking about – reverb – is much more accurate and realistic. I played the game in stereo so can’t comment on the 5.1 mix – 5.1 mixing in games is a weird thing to do, especially in 3rd person but if they made the errors you’re commenting on then that’s very bad.

      Technically though it’s a super impressive game to hear, as a sound designer myself I am just blown away by the ambient sounds in the game check this out – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7UeLahFx5c&feature=plcp

      This is not simply one recording of a city, a large chunk of this ambience is broken down to individual elements and attached to realistic sound sources, a lot of which you can see. The reverb for example of the party in the background is perfect, listen to how it changes as Max moves around the environment. If you really concentrate on the sound in this one throwaway section you’ll notice a remarkable level of detail which is frequently absent in games.

      • TheManko says:

        During key scenes like that and the club for example the sound is just right, no doubt about that. My complaint is about all the action segments of the game. For example the entire Hotel and Police Station has no reverb at all, despite the areas being full of hard surfaces. It’s too inconsistent to me. Some areas are great, while others feel rushed. Max Payne 2 didn’t have that problem.

    • Luke says:

      “Dialogue is almost never playing out of the center and they don’t have any excuse visually for it. When you’re playing Rockstar made the baffling choice of making the 3d sound “center” be the Max Payne character model and not the camera. What I mean is that if something is standing right behind Max Payne, but is in front of the camera it will play out of the rear speakers, even though you’re seeing the source of the sound in front of you visually since you’re playing a floating camera.”

      This annoys the crap out of me. It’s certainly not the only game to do this. If I can see the character that’s talking, dialogue should at the very least be coming out of my front speakers. If, for whatever reason, it’s not simply centred.

  23. DickSocrates says:

    I know no one will read this 120 comments deep, but the idea that Arkham City was a tour de force is a joke. It fell apart spectacularly toward the end and there were multiple brain dead pacing problems. I’m not going into it all again, but the game is massively flawed in many areas and not a patch on the first game.

    • TheManko says:

      I haven’t finished the game, but my impression of the game a few hours in is that while it has more things going on than Arkham Asylum, those things it added also somehow took away from what I liked in the original. It’s still good, but I can’t muster the same enthusiasm about Arkham City as I can about Asylum.

    • Avish says:

      For me, the biggest problem with the game is that, six months after playing AC, all I can remember from it are big green question marks all over the place. I have vague memories of an interesting story and fun and varied game-play, But those question marks seem to obscure it all.

  24. eclipse mattaru says:

    My first experience ever with an MMO was the beta of The Secret World. I didn’t even know about the 1-9 attacks and using keys to rotate the camera instead of the mouse and whatnot. And quite frankly, it was a cockslap in the face. While yawning. I can’t believe anyone can enjoy playing a game with these controls –let alone so much that they’ll pay a monthly fee to do it.

    Tastes and whatnot, I guess.

  25. Wisq says:

    Bit late to the party, but …

    Even the most radical libertarian would probably agree that a government must perform two essential functions: keep you alive, and protect your property. Blizzard, then, failed in both tasks once users began losing control of their virtual selves or the goods they had earned.

    While I do disagree with what Blizzard’s done, I think the analogy to a government is complete crap.

    In most games these days, the game itself is constantly trying to kill you and/or take away your stuff. The only caveat is, they have to kill you while following the rules (and you have to survive while doing the same), and it’s only those rules that the “game government” has to enforce.

    The problem here is, the rules are defined by the game maker. Hardcore character killed by lag? If they define lag as a valid way to die, they’ll call that perfectly fair. Lost all your items in a scam? EVE Online would just consider that part of the game, from what I’ve heard.

    The “Declaration of the Rights of Avatars” was obviously written to apply to MUSHes and MOOs and the like, and has no relevance for modern MMOs. Heck, it didn’t even really have relevance to MUDs at the time. MUDs and MMOs are not like our world today. They’re more like a sort of blood sport, where the only job of the police is to make sure that everyone’s playing fair while they kill each other and take each other’s stuff. What would a “Declaration of the Rights of Contestants” look like in the movie “The Running Man”? Either satirically short (you have none), or satirically long and full of exceptions for all the various ways your rights can be violated / anulled.

    IMO, you just can’t make a universal list of gamers’ rights without either being too strict and ruling out a whole class of (potentially very fun) games, or being too loose and instead allowing for loopholes that make the whole thing an exercise in futility.