The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on July 15th, 2012 at 10:21 am.


Sundays are for being on holiday, and still remembering to compile a list of the writings from the past week of the internet’s Eye-Of-Sauron-like concentration on the activities of games. Will a tiny person finally chuck an evil ring into the volcano of our gaming philosophy? Or will he get accidentally eaten by a giant spider? I just don’t know.

  • This is basically essential reading, whatever your level of interest in the game, Quintin Smith on DOTA 2: “I am Luke on the Millenium Falcon, being told to fight the drone blind. And when you succeed at that in Dota 2 – when you retreat down a lane, only to see some huge bastard with an axe burst out from the bushes to land, violently, where you just were – the high is outrageous. Two things: As of today, I’m not just curious about Dota 2 anymore. I’m having an absolutely incredible time. I’d also never have gotten this far if I wasn’t playing with friends.”
  • From Cyberspace to Composite: Two Fantasies of Hacking: “Watching the trailer for Ubisoft’s forthcoming Watch Dogs reminded me of those nights because I feel sure they couldn’t have come from the same planet. Ubi’s game belongs to the world of Foursquare, Girls Around Me, and geotagged Twitter posts, where I can sit on a train and watch my best friend’s kid nephew’s tween Twitter spats. But I didn’t get social networking until I was 18 and didn’t ‘get’ it for another year after that. My adventures took place in the world of another hacking game: Introversion’s 2001 classic Uplink. Existing more than a decade apart, these games represent two very different fantasies of what role technology plays in our lives.”
  • Joe Martin’s podcast series continues: “When discussing fear in games, it’s almost impossible to ignore the shadow cast by The Shalebridge Cradle, the infamously chilling mission from 2004′s Thief: Deadly Shadows. So, what better way to start Season Two than by talking to RPS co-founder and comics writer Kieron Gillen to tackle that topic directly?”
  • GI.biz examines Penny Arcade’s Kickstarter: “It isn’t financially motivated at all. We’d actually be making significantly less money this way, but we’re banking that the guys that used to do advertising will pitch in in other revenue-generating ways.”
  • What if Ultima iV came out today? [worth nothing that the subtext is "if it were done by one of the major RPG producers", rather than "wholly recreated by indies", which is much more like a counterfactual, given the idea we're talking about here]: “Just for kicks tonight, I played a little bit of Ultima IV. I don’t think that there’s a CRPG that is more legendary or revered than this one. It received rave reviews when it was released in 1985, and pretty much defies criticism today. It is a milestone for the genre and for gaming in general. And for many people, it represents a glimpse into what might have been – a step along an evolutionary branch of roleplaying games that was never fully explored. Seeking a peek back into this crown jewel of computer role-playing games, I sunk some precious time into this game to remember what the fuss was all about. And as I played, I began to wonder what Ultima IV would have been like if it had been developed over twenty years later. We can look at the later sequels for some answers, but remember that they were predicated on the success of their prequel. So let’s play a what-if and pretend that Ultima IV was a brand new game in a new genre. What would a newly-release Ultima IV be like today?”
  • Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Shooter“, Tom Bissell on Grantland: “I left the Blacklist demo sick and infuriated, which was a shame, because the person introducing the demo was a game designer I admire and have long wanted to meet. I really wanted to ask this man how he felt, demo-ing that. Ask the programmers and artists, too, how they felt, bringing that moment into this world. I wanted to ask them all what the deal is with this industry we’re a part of. I didn’t. Couldn’t. I know people who’ve been tortured. Someone I know was tortured because of something I wrote about him — a cold little bibelot I’ll take with me to my grave. I described my Blacklist experience to some gamer friends, a couple of whom thought I was overreacting. Overreacting to a blithe, shrugging presentation of the very definition of human evil, all in the name of “entertainment.” I spent a couple days feeling ashamed of being a gamer, of playing or liking military games, of being interested in any of this disgusting bullshit at all.” Can’t say I wholly agree with this, but some interesting material. I feel I need to revisit this topic myself in the coming weeks.
  • And on a similar subject, SomethingAwful’s Zack Parsons argues that you are the new Call of Duty villain: “This latest turn into the realm of modern politics is more disturbing than a heap of dead bomb vest guys outside a stairwell on a survival map. Goyer has managed to take the cold brutality of drone warfare – a terrifying reality – and somehow create commentary that we need to watch out for the gullible Occupy movement. It isn’t a creepy arms manufacturer or a rogue general, not even the drones themselves going haywire, it is literally the “Messiah of the 99%” who subverts our drones and starts shooting at us. Because you let him on Youtube. You did this. You broke our arsenal of liberty and it’s your fault.”
  • Walter Garrett Mitchell argues that Alfred Hitchcock would have made great games: “”Dialogue,” he told Truffaut, “should simply be a sound among other sounds, just something that comes out of the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms.” By the same token, a gaming auteur theory would prize the titles that express themselves, first and foremost, in gaming-specific terms: choice, cooperation, competition, challenge, reward, repetition, modification. Within this ideological framework, one could even argue that narrative in games should “simply be a sound among other sounds,” a side dish to the real meat of the interactive elements and gaming’s answer to the mise-en-scène. It goes without saying that story-less romps like Rayman Origins, not to mention Tetris and every other abstract puzzle game, prove the appeal of the narrative-free experience.”
  • David Kanaga on the bell game.
  • Split Screen on “the challenge”, which is a thought we have all had a variation of, I suspect: “Here’s the thing, though: I don’t know if I like playing Spelunky. I am compelled to play it in the same way I go to the gym- because it’s a goal to overcome. Yet I don’t like it when I’ve got two dumb bells suspended above my head. I like the satisfaction that comes after the training, but not the event itself. A lot of people don’t see the appeal of a gruelling gym session, just like many gamers don’t see the appeal of Dark Souls and its brutality. One of these enriches both body and mind, letting us experience things we never could have imagined… and the other is Dark Souls. I understand why people are dissuaded from playing tough games, and it’s not just a matter of taste. It’s about how we choose to spend our free time and how we derive enjoyment as individuals. Craig, for example, generally dials back the difficulty so he can enjoy the story- and also because he’s rubbish at games, of course.”
  • Yang on narrative systems.
  • Some interesting procedural generation thoughts on ProcWorld.

Music this week is the 1939 version of Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles.

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138 Comments »

  1. Tei says:

    Total Biscuit, if you are reading this. Do you plan to control all the drones in USA and use them to attack the McDonalds Hills of ‘Merica?

    • Phantoon says:

      I’d be more outraged by the presumption you can even attack our impervious hills if only I could remember where the Golden Hills are.

      But I am American, and we do not know geography.

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    Lars Westergren says:

    I don’t agree with the Ultima IV article. There are some companies that carry the torch for complex, non-streamlined worlds and plots. Let’s take Fallout:New Vegas for instance.
    - Combat: Injured intelligent enemies do occasionally flee.
    - F:NV has much better dialogue than that. Not to mention Alpha Protocol. If the examples he gave had been two choices (“Yes I will do that” or “Maybe later”) I would have guessed a Bethesdah game. Since they have a “Ha ha I’m Stupid Evil alignment” choice I’m guessing Bioware.
    - Quests: I’d say all in all F:NV handles it better. You are not the chosen one, not everyone you meet know you are on a “Quest of the Avatar” thing.
    - Virtues: F:NV have shades of gray in morality. Yes, there is a “good”/”evil” counter which I believe Obsidian have said they weren’t happy about. The interesting part is the factions. “Note that randomly walking into people’s houses and taking anything not nailed down doesn’t constitute an evil act… we need to encourage players to explore an interact with the world, you know!” It does constitute an evil act in F:NV, at least if you steal from “good” people.
    - The world: You are free to go anywhere, but unlike Fallout 3 expect to die if you stumble across strong enemies. You are gently herded in the direction of New Vegas so that major plot points can be introduced in the right order, but there is a very wide stretch of land on the way there and many many different paths.

    • DrGonzo says:

      The fact your only example is new vegas backs his point up somewhat. New Vegas is the exception that proves the rule.

      But I agree with your New Vegas points. The it was excellent.

      • Nix Nada says:

        I’d add the Avernum games from Spiderweb Software to the list. Okay, so that only makes it a list of two, but it’s Sunday morning, go easy on me. The morality isn’t black and white, the quests aren’t necessarily linear, and, crucially, you can often choose your own end-game – save the world, rule the world, or flee and leave the world to deal with its problems on its own.

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      Thirith says:

      Also, Ultima IV was amazing for its time, but already compared to Ultima V it’s not that great – and not for reasons to do with tech. The ideas (especially the virtues angle) are great but the execution isn’t fantastic. When I played U4 after U5 and U6, it already felt badly dated, since IMO the sequels improved on it in every respect.

      • Urthman says:

        Brainy Gamer claims Ultima IV is flat out unplayable by modern gamers:

        http://www.brainygamer.com/the_brainy_gamer/2010/09/unplayable.html

        • Kieron Gillen says:

          I find it really interesting to see that article dug up this week. The devs of the U4 remake said exactly the same thing and were slaughtered for it in the appropriate comment thread. Interesting!

        • Mman says:

          “Brainy Gamer claims Ultima IV is flat out unplayable by modern gamers:”

          That’s a big oversimplication of what that article is saying.

          • Baines says:

            It is a fair assessment of the Brainy Gamer article. The article is even titled “Unplayable” and includes the statement that “the required skill-set and the basic assumptions the game makes are so foreign to them that the game has indeed become virtually unplayable.”

            The article goes into why it is unplayable, but the end is still that the game is unplayable.

          • Mman says:

            It also explores alternatives like that there may be better ways to introduce people to the game, as well as still considering it an essential game to teach regardless of anything else. This article from the same site is also an interesting counterpoint: http://www.brainygamer.com/the_brainy_gamer/2008/10/fallout-3.html

    • The Godzilla Hunter says:

      Also, I really can not see how the example of the old type of dialog is supposed to be better than the new type of dialog.

      The problem I have with the article is that for the ‘Ultima now’ sections, it uses the worst examples of how an RPG works today (assuming that the UI will be terrible and consolized, that there would be no shades of morality, that the dialog trees would be simplistic, etc.)

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        FhnuZoag says:

        Yeah, it feels like a kinda cliched list of gripes. I’m not really sure what the point is – some of the things listed are pretty off the mark, too.

        (The virtue system in Ultima IV isn’t really a morality system, I think. It’s more a quest token/achievements system, and worse, one that in some cases you have to grind up. There is no advantage or point in being a bad player at all – you’ll just be kept further from achieving victory.)

      • N'Al says:

        To be perfectly honest, half of the items on the list I thought ‘now’ = better, half ‘then’ = better. Maybe I’m just not jaded enough.

        • sinister agent says:

          No, I agree.

          I also happen to think that nearly all of them presented insultingly simple-minded false dichotomies, but then, I don’t think it’s necessary to choose one platform and one genre and one niche within that genre at birth and then refuse to enjoy the slightest deviation from them for the rest of my life, so apparently I’m not a “gamer”.

    • InternetBatman says:

      The Ultima article was far too negative. I don’t buy that wiki conversations and having a million buttons for the same task are really better. The UI is one are where many games have definitely gotten better and its silly to think they haven’t.

      • LionsPhil says:

        I suspect the UI is supposed to be a bad/bad comparison, but perhaps that’s just because I have difficulty thinking anyone can praise “‘K’ for ‘Klimb’” with a straight face.

        Likewise dialogue. (Man, where’s Wizardry when you need him? Bloke really does seem to have wandered off.)

        • InternetBatman says:

          Wizardry loves the Ultima Dialog system. He thinks its better than dialog trees because it displays greater verisimilitude. He might be right about that, but I still like dialog trees better because it means less searching through dialog and far more of the dialog is important.

    • JackShandy says:

      I took offence at: “Unless you are already a dice-and-paper D&D player, and then you know… explore and kill things until the plot hooks begin to appear!”

      The players in my D&D game don’t sit there killing shit until I decide to throw some plot at them, they make the plot themselves. It’s sad that video games can’t really do that.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Since they have a “Ha ha I’m Stupid Evil alignment” choice I’m guessing Bioware.

      Tee-hee.

  3. Phantoon says:

    Indeed, on the playing DotA2 with friends. Most games like that are insufferable with random people.

    • Cerzi says:

      I dislike how often this is said as fact. I learned dota2 solo, and still play solo a lot (as I play more than my friends), and absolutely love it. I guess I dislike this attitude that gamers have these days that playing with strangers is guaranteed to be an awful experience. It creates in everyone this predisposition towards hating each other in pub games.

      It’s the same in MMOs. Back in the days of early EQ you grouped with strangers because you had to, often. And yeah, you’d encounter some creeps but you’d also meet a lot of cool people. Nowadays, “PUG”, pubby, etc are very much derogatory terms.

      DOTA is a fantastic game, with or without friends. You might run in to more bad apples in the lower skill brackets (once you get to High/Very High the number of assholes actually diminishes massively). But if my experience is anything to go by, you’ll have many more good experiences than bad ones.

      tl;dr: don’t be afraid to go in solo. If you play solo with a positive mentality, it’ll rub off on the strangers you play with, and you’ll all have a good time.

      • dE says:

        You must be from an alternate dimension. I’ve been there, done that. Go the solo route in a MOBA Game.

        What I learned:
        -Literally a thousand ways my familiy should die in horrible fires and I even learned a couple of new diseases I supposedly had according to Doctor Mc Nerdrage.
        -That racism is alive and very kicking in MOBAs, including quitfests because one of the team-members was said to be russian or french
        -Even if your team wins, you will be bitched at and reported, because your support type healing character didn’t have a positive K:D Stat. Because the A in K:D:A never quite counts apparently.
        -The pros are the worst at this, just read their posts or spectate some of their games. The only reason they appear different in tournaments is because they often have to shut up entirely during a game.

        My experience was opposite to yours, the higher I got, the more I had to deal with tryhards and the scum of the internet.

        • Cerzi says:

          Honestly, this is not something unique to MOBAs. I haven’t played any LoL so can’t really comment, but with regards to that specifically, it’s a F2P game – and F2P games, regardless of genre, often get a fair share of vocal scumbags.

          It’s the Internet. I remember back when I played the likes of Quake 3 or Counterstrike things were the same. All kinds of bitching and flaming of teammates. Youtube comments. Anywhere online you’ll find people who present themselves as utter shits. The thing about Dota is some people are inclined to become utter shits when they’re losing, because it seems so easy to some people to blame others rather than yourself.

          You know in Starcraft, there’s all this ladder anxiety because if people lose a game in the 1v1 ladder, they really beat themselves up about it. Well, in any teamgame that aggro has a tendency to be sent outwards rather than inwards (hey, it’s EXACTLY the same if you ever queue for random/solo 4v4 in starcraft).

          Once you play a few games you can start to distinguish between useful criticism and people being obnoxious because theyre losing and unable to blame themselves. But it’s surprisingly easy to either mute them or be a bit diplomatic. And much like a seemingly one-sided game of dota, moods can swing completely unexpectedly if you don’t fan the flames and just play on.

          • Reapy says:

            Strongly agree here. Internet is full of dushes, and it get s more apparent the older and less dushy you get. I was a full on try hard elitist (that wasnt even that good) when i was 16 playing warcraft 2 on kali. But we grow up and learn to behave, some of us anyway, but a whole set of other people arent there yet. Coupled with the dota design, which punishes your team for individual failures, it is ripe for exactly the typ of horror stories we all hear about the community.

            Doesnt mean the game cant be fun with the right people though. I am still waiting for another game to do something different with the 100 unique champions concept, as that is about the only thing i like about it.

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            Malibu Stacey says:

            full of dushes,

            older and less dushy

            And yet the ability to write the word “douche” (which is actually just French for “shower” but lets not discuss the semantics of your insults) is yet to be mastered.

      • JackShandy says:

        Yeah, I’m still not willing to go in there and learn by playing. Honestly, I just show up in some game and fuck around learning controls while everybody swears at me for forty minutes? Not my idea of fun.

        • Cerzi says:

          Well no, you obviously have to be respectful of the fact you’re playing with 9 other people in a game that could take an hour or more. If you don’t even know the controls and refuse to jump into a bot game for 10 mins just to get familiarized with things, or do a bit of basic reading about the game, then of course you’re going to shouted at, and rightly so. You have to make at least a bit of effort before committing to a game with other humans, because that’s 9 people’s time you’re wasting if you have absolutely no clue what’s going on.

          For me this meant playing with bots 3 or 4 times with Lich and other “beginner” heroes, before playing All Pick (and picking Lich every time) while I adjusted to the basics. I never played dota1, played maybe 2 games of LoL, and this worked for me. Sometimes I would be yelled at by angry people, but it’s often just a case of muting them if they arn’t being constructive.

          That was back around the start of the beta, now I’m pushing 500 wins and am in the Very High bracket and, like I said, get more nice people than nasty. And honestly people, it’s not hard to mute someone who’s being a dick. If you don’t feed their flames they just get on with it most of the time.

          • JackShandy says:

            Say I read the wiki and run around with bots for ten, thirty minutes before joining a game. Are you telling me – hand on your heart – that I won’t be yelled at?

            Edit: I mean, at what point would you say solo DOTA becomes a fun activity, rather than a stressful barrage of insults and confusing rules? Two hours in? Five?

          • Cerzi says:

            You’ll be yelled at, sure, but not all the time. You’ll have games that go smoothly and games that go badly. Often in the games that go badly, there will be one person yelling at whoever made any semblance of a mistake in that particular moment. But you’ll quickly notice that that one person is yelling at EVERYONE not just you, and he’s just a dick. You’ll mute him, keep playing, and have fun. If you can keep a cool head then you’ll have even learned something about the game.

            Maybe it’s just a case of having a slightly thick skin, to understand that these people are just frustrated individuals, and to wield the mute button with fanatic enthusiasm.

            edit: I enjoyed DOTA from my first 10 games as lich, although admittedly I was lucky enough to go something like 9-1. I imagine someone who went 0-10 would be more likely to get put off. It really depends on how motivated you are to learn dota and get into it, because obviously anyone who has only a passing interest in it probably won’t make the effort to get past the teething phase. This is true for any game with a learning curve and infinitely high skill ceiling, though.

            I’m now pushing 1000 hours of dota2 and very rarely get upset by other players. The games that I don’t enjoy and get me frustrated are ones where I’m just playing awful, and it’s the same frustration I’d get when I play a bad game of SC2 or RA3.

          • JackShandy says:

            Ok, you’ve won this little corner of the internet.

          • Reapy says:

            Had a run at trying lol. Did bot games till i understood wtf was going on. In real games at first at super low levels found lots of people learning and a very casual layed back atmosphere…that could have been the match making thoug. After about 20 games though hit a band down low with the people that are bad at the game but blame everyone but themselves and will always be down there. That was the rougher area and where i tapped out…but mostly because at that point i knew enough about the game to see i wasnt as into it as id hoped.

            Still the popularity makes me want to try dota 2, so might try it at some point.

          • abandonhope says:

            I spectated and did the bots thing for an hour or so until I learned fuck all, and then eventually uninstalled. I’ve also watched a fair number of let’s plays, so I’m not totally unfamiliar with the game, but it strikes me as one that is played in its quirks. The kill denies, that was a turn-off.

            I can proudly say that I never ruined anyone else’s game. But I will never have an opportunity to improve one, either. I would have appreciated the ability to play and learn with other noobs.

        • sinister agent says:

          If you yell at people because they’re not as good at a game as you want, you are an infantile prick. It doesn’t matter what the game is.

          Edit: Proverbial “you”.

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        Hanban says:

        Wish I could say differently, but I share dE’s experiences. The amount of racist slurs directed at me for being a noob was a bit too much for my liking so I leave the MOBAs to people who don’t mind that sort of stuff.

    • LionsPhil says:

      The most noticable thing I’ve spotted yet from that article is the screenshot showing the killfeed as “X just pwned Y’s head for Z points!”

      I don’t think it’s using the term ironically.

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        jrodman says:

        I admit I was pretty shocked that they were using that verbiage as their default when I first saw it in Dota 2. Then after around 20 minutes of googling and options surfing and eventually code diving I finally came to accept that this text was not intended to be able to be switched off. I don’t really know why they want to keep it.

      • JackShandy says:

        It’s from the original mod, as far as I remember. They want to make it a straight port as much as possible, I guess.

        • Vorphalack says:

          Yep, even down to the enforced 100ms lag and inability to surrender : | Compared to that the usage of pwned is a minor problem.

    • Malk_Content says:

      I know this may be a bit late coming, seeing as it is Monday and all so maybe nobody will check here, but I am more than happy to help people out with their first game or two over mic, did so with a group last night and as far as I can tell everyone enjoyed it and came out with more confidence about the game. I’m not constantly connected to the RPS mumble server, as quite often when I’m online I’m chatting to non-RPSers but if you leave a post on the steam community page ( http://steamcommunity.com/groups/RPSDota ) or PM in the forums (less reliable) we can sort things out.

      As counter balance to this niceness, did have to suffer a game with a player called Pls_go_back_rushGAYans who not only was very mean because for some reason he thought the four of us were Russian, but intentionally fed and went AFK because for the first 10s of the game he had to share a lane and didn’t want to. Luckily the other team was understanding and we all quit the game.

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    Tom De Roeck says:

    What are rings? We Just Dont Know.

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    stahlwerk says:

    This might be the first time that I tab-opened all the links in a sunday papers. Excellent compilation!

  6. mckertis says:

    “What if Ultima iV came out today? [worth nothing”

    Pretty much.

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      FhnuZoag says:

      What if Mass Effect came out in 1985?

    • mckertis says:

      I’d be more interested to learn what would all the Nazis and Brits in the 50′s think, if you told them that the primary use of their rocket trajectory computation machines will be mindless entertainment for adolescent squirts.

      • JackShandy says:

        I’d like to think they’d believe providing mindless entertainment is better than calculating mass murder.

        edit- wait, that is what they used computers for, right?

      • dE says:

        It always struck me as somewhat ironic and funny that the 1961 founded (still ongoing) science fiction Series Perry Rhodan had a certain opinion on things.

        In that series, the mighty alien space empire of the Arkons, a dynasty spanning a history of hundreds of centuries and countless systems in the galaxy – all but failed and crumbled because they invented video games and as a result degenerated physically and mentally. And game they did, all day long, unable to focus on anything productive whatsoever, not even to defend their own planets and opinions and had both taken away from them by a cold and faceless machine. Not like they cared, they still had their games.

        So since Perry Rhodan was invented amidst the whole rocket to the moon idea, that’s pretty much how at least some folks thought about what would happen. I’m wondering if they were that wrong on that part (minus the aliens of course).

      • RegisteredUser says:

        They’d be overjoyed to hear that almost every game ever made the next 60 years is completely about them(albeit sometimes slightly zombified, perhaps).

        Talk about the 1000 year Reich..they’re off to a good start, videogame wise. :p

      • FFabian says:

        *sigh* another Brit that doesn’t realize that WW2 ended ’45

        Glory old days are over. Empire is lost. Won the War – Lost the Peace

        • Apolloin says:

          In another fifty years the disparaging commentor that types “Glory old days are over” will most likely be referring to ‘Murica – and you’ll have to read Mandarin to understand it.

        • Fiyenyaa says:

          I don’t think all us Brits would agree that the days of Empire were “glory days” at all.

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            phuzz says:

            They were glory days for a privileged minority of the population, say, 1% of it?

  7. Kollega says:

    First Rainbow Six, and now CODBLOPS. It’s kind of an obvious move for the “modern warfare” shooters: military-industrial complex is obviously a big part of the establishment, and there’s nothing worse to the establishment than all the people at once refusing to obey them for some reason (be it wealth disparity, rigged elections, warmongering additudes, or whatever else). And obviously, war games of today are for the military-industrial complex rather than against it (because without them, there wouldn’t be military operations without rhyme or reason, killer robots patrolling the skies, and various super-electro gadgets to put on the players’ guns). So, it all makes sense, in a depressing kind of way.

    • abandonhope says:

      AFAIK the military also acts as a free consultant on many of these military shooters, so long as it approves of the tone of the project.

      • RakeShark says:

        To be somewhat fair, a large number of veterans want to get into game development, as we’ve played video games to pass the time on a daily basis. Most of them are non-combat arms vets (supply, c3, intel, etc) and are for the most part not exposed to constant fighting and combat arms experiences. But there are plenty of infantry/armor/artillery/mounted vets that get into the industry and have enough experience/anecdotes developers can use as reference. Though in my experience they go ahead and rent out a military adviser since the defense department has plenty of liaison infrastructure to accommodate this. And for the most part, they tell the developers what they want to hear.

        But I’ve personally never heard of the “military industrial complex” influencing the vision/direction of developers, unless those developers actively sought out and requested the guidance of such things. It’s not like the NRA, gun manufacturers, or the military stood up for video games when the violent video game California law went to the Supreme Court and got shot down.

        It’s kinda how people seem to think CoD or BF3 are secretly Army recruiting tools. Then only people CoD and BF3 bring to a military recruiting center are dumb people who can’t pass the entrance exam.

        • Apolloin says:

          Military Industrial complex interfering with Military simulator shooters? NOPE – that would be the regular old Industrial complex, as always.

    • Cryo says:

      Maybe Activision should just go and merge with Fox News. Foxtivision!

    • MasterDex says:

      Technically, there are no killer robots in the sky. There are giant killer RC aircraft in the sky being controlled by gamers with a killer instinct. ;P

  8. The Dark One says:

    In true goon fashion, I only learned about an article on the SA front page when an entirely unrelated site linked to it. Thanks, Jim.

  9. Asokn says:

    Reading that Ultima article has made me realise that very few games I’ve come across actually make playing a bad or evil character a legitimate choice. It seems that in most games 90% of the quests require you to be fundamentally good and if you don’t do them you lose a lot of the actual game let alone the XP etc for actually doing the quests. I’m not sure why an RPG can’t be developed that allows you to progress as a bad character.

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      FhnuZoag says:

      Because it’s striking difficult to present a scenario where a good and evil character both have motivation to progress. You can design a game for an evil character, you can design a game for a good character. But designing a game for both?

      Presuming most people want to play good characters, and so you have a plot based around saving the world/defeating the villain, or whatever, how would you shoe-horn in an evil character in there? Why doesn’t the evil PC just join the bad guys? Why doesn’t he kill off all your NPCs? Why do the plot important NPCs ignore the PC’s obvious evil and aid him in his quest? How do you expect the player to engage emotions in the characters and situations you created, when he’s already decided, upon confronting your game world, to go screw everything up for the lols for apparently no reason?

      • Asokn says:

        Putting the unnecessarily aggressive tone to one side, you’ve sort of made my point really; why indeed? Why not have NPCs who similarly don’t want the good guys to succeed and will help the evil PC to stop that from happening? You can absolutely keep the basic plot of ‘some group is trying to stop some other group from doing something bad’ but have a more faceted plot so that the player can think “actually, I *want* that ‘bad’ thing to happen and will help those trying to make it so”. It’s not about whether you can just randomly kill everyone, I’m not interested in a psychopath simulator masquerading as an RPG, but instead it’s about creating a story with a bit more nuance so that you can pick either side and still enjoy a well told story.

        It almost harks back to the original Deus Ex which happily flipped over the definition of the good guys and the bad guys halfway through and made you really think about who was in the right. Obviously that was far more scripted than I’d like a modern sandbox RPG to be but, also, its about a decade later!

        • JackShandy says:

          Well, probably because about 20% of people will finish your game, and about 4% will replay it. Making two different campaigns doesn’t make sense financially. Games cost more and more money, so financial sense becomes more and more important.

          I’m more puzzled by why RPG’s that do have two different sides always go out of their way to portray one choice as the “Bad” option. If you spent a lot of work making an option, why would you want to discourage people from taking it? Wouldn’t you want both sides to be valid, instead of saying that someone who goes down a particular path is a horrible person? Deus Ex spends so much time chewing you out for taking the lethal option the developers spent so much time on.

        • Premium User Badge

          FhnuZoag says:

          If you are doubling the amount of content, by implementing whole new NPCs whose purpose it is to guide and assist the evil players, and creating whole distinct new encounters, why not just make two separate games? Then you can be sure at least that your players actually play all your content.

          And if you are making a single game, why do the good-evil distinction? It’s more practical in that case to have two separate pseudo-good campaigns, because then at least you can reasonably have the majority of NPCs be neutral and reuse content across the routes. See Mass Effect, the Witcher games, Nethergate, etc…

          The Deus Ex example is a good one – it shows the *benefit* of not having multiple routes. Because saving all that detail that players don’t see means developers have more time to implement nuances and redemption arcs and reactivity to the route they are focusing on, allowing more complex and interesting storylines based on more subtle differences. Technology may have progressed, in any case, but technology just doesn’t make some things any easier.

      • dE says:

        I think it’s somewhat of a philosophical problem. The terms good and evil in games follow the age old dichotomy of good and evil in the religions (alternatively D&D if you’re somewhat churchophobic – like I am). It’s the idea that there is good and evil and that these are attributes that can be attached to something or someone.

        It boils down to good being equalled to a reasonable person. How could a reasonable person ever do something vile and harmful? The evil side of the coin is thus unreasonable, barely concealed anger and rage, a murderous thirst for destruction. This is how good and evil is generally shown in games in my opinion. Thus the evil options that games try to provide, rarely go past the stage of “be the rebel punk, punch the system, show it all your rage!”.
        As long as games follow that route, that definition, there can never be proper good or evil in a game. They need to be attributes based on point of view. Some persons good will be someone elses evil. In that sense, I kinda disagree with the idea that good and evil in a game would be two completely different paths. What games do need is actual information and more than anything – contextual motivation, anchored in the story and background of the game. So that every decision is both good and evil at the same time. And if there are “evil” characters, there need to be proper reasons as to why that person is doing something that the players faction sees as evil. And please for crying out loud, if it absolutely has to be puppy kicking evil, make it smart evil at least.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      Infamous on PS3 did it pretty damn well but since it’s PS3 exclusive it’ll be ignored by 95% of the commenter’s here.

  10. Mr. Mister says:

    how could you not post about the Just Cause 2 Multiplayer test that is currently happening for the whole day? http://www.jc-mp.com/

  11. Jason Moyer says:

    I don’t worry about someone hijacking all the planes. I worry about Oliver North selling them to Iran.

  12. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Read Tom Bissels article.

    I just finished Spec Ops the Line, And I hated it.

    I think Toms article is a long way off the mark.

    Or maybe I’m still bewildered that I just spent 6+ hours or so playing a game I didn’t really like, I’m not sure yet.

  13. Premium User Badge

    JohnArr says:

    Pretty sure I could listen to KG talking about The Cradle for ever.

  14. InternetBatman says:

    I loved the Parsons article, but I normally enjoy his stuff.

    I other news, Oliver North should have been executed for treason. That’s normally what you do when you find people selling weapons to your enemies.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      Except Iran-Contra was a careful bit of geopoliticking designed to maintain the balance of power by preventing one side from losing the Iran-Iraq War. It’s not like the US was ideologically aligned to either side in the war, they simply wanted to prevent one side from dominating the region, as they have now thanks to the Coalition taking the fight out of the Iraq Sunni-dominated establishment prior to the Iraq War.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        You say ‘a careful bit of geopoliticking designed to maintain the balance of power’, I say ‘treason’. Potayto, potahto.

        • Apolloin says:

          I’m pretty sure that the definition of a soldier doing the job he was given by the POTUS is not Treason.

      • Arglebargle says:

        The USA was also feeding the Iraqis intel on how well their chemical attacks were working against the Iranian soldiers. So they could do it better, ya’ know. Some people might feel that makes you an accessory to such things.

      • InternetBatman says:

        It was careful bit of geopoliticking that broke the explicit law, and engaged in a good deal of foreign policy behind congress’ back. He took an oath to defend the Constitution and instead broke it to further his own agenda.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          Oh sure it was illegal and amoral, but whether or not it was treasonable depends on whether a) the President was involved (probably) and b) whether not telling Congress counts (and I think the President has a pretty free hand in foreign policy affairs). But obviously the US didn’t arm Iraq because Saddam Huissein was such a cool dude, so cheating on him was “all in the game”, as a fictional drug dealer advises.

          But yes, it’s an interesting question as to whether geopolitics is necessarily shitty or whether it’s shitty because of shits like North.

    • meatshit says:

      I think a better reason to hate Oliver North is that he knowingly funded terrorists who raped, tortured and murdered countless innocent civilians. The fact that he can show his face in public, little less get paid to appear in an advertisement, makes me ashamed of my country.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Old Ollie working as a ‘journalist’ and being thought of as some sorta Right Man, after perjoring himself repeatedly on a stack of bibles and being convicted of numerous felonies (getting off on the classic ‘technicalities’) is pretty telling.

        My father, a 30 year career army officer, called Ollie North a classic ticket puncher politico: An officer who does the absolute minimum of field deployments that are required to progress in the service, and then continually heads back to Washington to brown nose the politicians.

        He’s scum.

  15. rustybroomhandle says:

    Re the Penny-Arcade Kickstarter and the topic of “overhaul[ing] gaming media” – it’s not a new concept. In the US, public broadcasting works exactly in this way. There are several fund drives a year, and all content is funded by these donations.

    At this point one can break into an argument about little factoids like how the Bill & Melinda gates foundation plop a chunk of money into public media every year and argue whether its motives are pure, but that’s a different discussion.

  16. Dominic White says:

    Still absolutely no mention on RPS of the launch of Playism and the release of the La-Mulana remake? That’s kinda the biggest news in indie games this week by a large margin.

    • JackShandy says:

      Holy fuck, La-Mulana!? You’ve spurred me to try and finish it again. (That is, get further than the starting village).

      • Dominic White says:

        Yeah, full remake. Much better (and somewhat harder) combat, more intuitive puzzles, some new content, etc etc. It’s kinda the biggest story on all the indie sites. How RPS have missed it is baffling.

        It launched via Playism, which is kinda like an indie-focused GOG, leaning towards localized Japanese indie stuff. No DRM, minimal fuss. Just one of those ‘sign up, pay, download’ sites. No clients or special downloaders to worry about.

        La-Mulana was already rejected by Steam’s completely scattershot approval process. It’s been re-submitted, but if it fails again, they’re just going to try via Greenlight next month.

        • Xerophyte says:

          The La-Mulana remake is absolutely fantastic but I’m not surprised that it’s not mentioned in the Sunday Papers. It’s a game and not an article, after all. I assume it’ll get a blurb after the weekend and hopefully a what-someone-thinks; it surely deserves one.

    • Jay says:

      Blimey, I hadn’t heard a peep about that whole Playism launch. I am a bit out of the loop at the moment, to be fair. Thanks muchly for the heads-up.

  17. Ironclad says:

    First we won a match against Normal and Easy bots, leaving every one of us feeling like an oiled gear in a elegant machine. We were thrilled. So thrilled, in fact, that we decided to go online.

    It was time to take on actual humans.

    I was expecting us to get our teeth kicked in. What happened was much, much worse than that.

    Quinns will be returning next week with the second instalment of his Dota diary.

    I hate you Quinns.

  18. Apples says:

    Tom Bissell is a confusing guy. He complains about violence in games and trivialisaton of violence, but constantly indulges in that ultraviolence-as-entertainment while on hard drugs. A lot of his stuff, including his book, devolves into “ooh it’s bad but I like it, woe is me” whinging. Take some personal responsibility, man!

    I liked the Watchdogs/Uplink article. It is interesting that our fears have gone from the digital realm luring people away from ‘real life’, to the digital merging seamlessly with reality and the problems of that merging.

    • JackShandy says:

      You are smart, and correct. That general attitude of feeling guilty for playing games, but still continuing to play them… it’s real frustrating. You could have dedicated your time to writing about something else, Tom.

      That self-hate swings around into praise for games that make you feel guilty for playing them. A shooter that hates shooters? That’s idiotic. If you hate shooters you should make a puzzle game. Why do people mire themselves in this weird turgid self-loathing? It’s like a bunch of stoners sitting on a couch, complaining about the show that’s on TV, unable to get up and change the channel.

      • Apples says:

        I think he’s just one of those people with an addictive personality; he admits that he just seeks ‘pleasure’ from games, and that the ones he likes are ‘childish’. He even wrote a whole article on the guardian about being literally addicted to videogames (and coke), to the point of being unable to do anything else. Unfortunately that makes anything he writes about the medium highty suspect, since you get the idea that he’s looking at everything through a lens of “does this make me feel good?”, and that he’d rate Big Rigs 10/10 if you attached an automatic morphine injector to it. Which is sad because he is an enjoyable writer most of the time, but when he comes to write about games he just writes about… himself.

        On the other hand I think a shooter criticising shooters could definitely make sense, in the way that Videodrome (“Why would anyone watch a scum show like Videodrome?”) makes sense. If you really dislike something, it is fair to make a parodic/subversive criticism of it rather than simply ignoring it – especially since I kind of think that Spec Ops is not trying to criticise SHOOTERS as in the genre, but military glorification shooters and by extension all media that glorifies militarism and violence (though I can’t comment on its effectiveness, haven’t played it yet). And I think video games are a really good medium for inducing feelings of guilt and self-loathing, some of my favourite moments in games have centered around that. But, I guess, just seek it out healthily; if a game makes you feel bad about something, try and fuckin’ think about why and do something about it, not just wallow about in your self-indulgent addictions and keep writing pointless, messageless (unless perhaps as a cautionary tale), repetitive pieces about those addictions. Damn it Bissell.

        • JackShandy says:

          Well, really I think Tom Bissell continues to write about games because games are awesome, and the Spec Ops guys made a shooter because they love shooters. Sitting around feeling guilty about it afterwards is dumb.

          • Apples says:

            Well maybe, but from a guy who is a writer and wrote a book about games subtitled “Why Video Games Matter|”, I expect something a lot more insightful and thoughtful than “games are awesome, I like running over pedestrians in GTA when I’m high even though sometimes I feel bad about it”. Not exactly Slavoj Zizek, is it.

          • RegisteredUser says:

            I liked the bit where he put philosophical meaning / reflection of cultural mentality about the way people take a shit and design their toilets around either allowing the turd to still be seen and contemplated and fussed over, or directly disappearing into the water.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Why do people mire themselves in this weird turgid self-loathing?

        I sure hope you’re feeling guilty about your carbon footprint, you decadant well-fed well-sheltered well-entertained healthy first-world middle-class citizen!

  19. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Split Screen’s The Challenge: “I hate people who are unsporting or excessively competitive: campers, organised squads of hitmen and women in online shooters…”

    Wait, what? Where did the women in online shooters thing come from? Is this latent misogyny on the part of the writer (which I doubt, given the following paragraph), or another article waiting to be written on the flipside of the women-in-games thing?

    • Atalanta says:

      I think it’s just confusing — the meaning is probably supposed to be, “organised squads of hitmen and hitwomen in online shooters”

      • Eddy9000 says:

        I believe the proper term is ‘hitpersons’.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        You are entirely correct. I blame my being an idiot.

        • RegisteredUser says:

          No, you’re not.

          It should have been “hitmen and -women” to be correct.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          I’d like to clarify that I was being slow rather than pedantic.

    • Apples says:

      I like that sentence because it sounds like he’s talking about “organised squads of hitmen and women”. Are the women dressed like sexy nuns?

  20. rockman29 says:

    That’s the first non-stupid article I’ve read from a new player about Dota 2.

  21. RegisteredUser says:

    So I don’t get that Alan / The Challenge guy.

    First of all, if a game is so terrifyingly geared towards making me frustrated, I _will_ be frustrated.
    I beat the first world of Super Meat Boy, and then thought to myself “This is an exercise in punishment, not challenge, mastery and joy. That’s not how I want to spend my time.”

    I’m not against challenge(and I love the guys who made SMB, I saw the indie movie, bless their hearts for hating on commercialism and Halo and being neurotic / highly individual people, though I sincerely wish worry-man would be able to enjoy himself more and worry less), I actually think its finding that fine line between not just handing the gamer a win and not frustrating the living shit out of him completely that makes a compelling game.
    But the actual process has to be enjoyable, too, and you have to let up sometimes.

    If you have no moment to enjoy, indulge and breathe, you can’t really relax even for a minute. And that means every moment spent with the “challenge” is you spending time tensed up and working yourself up for a headache, muscle pain and wrong posture from gaming.
    Kinda not the ideal outcome.

    So that extreme I don’t understand. If you annoy me too much, I don’t cherish it, game. I just give you the finger and move on to a well-balanced game.

    I’m just going to split this into another post..

  22. RegisteredUser says:

    As for the rest of the moralizing/philosophical nonsense.
    I’m going to skip all that “harder to unite than divide” stuff and “people who make games tough are bullies and jerks”(if I even understood all of that correctly) and his opening up topics, without actually making a point of it (sure there are cheaters and offensive players; but is it an age thing? A game culture? Everyone? Can we get around this via incentives, matching algos, “reputation”, etc? Is it the people, or is it the way we structure systems? Tons of stuff more interesting than just “ohnoes, idiots, man do I hate you all”. Again I’m not sure what exactly he’s after in that rant.).

    But to close on “Why do we so willingly procrastinate via escapism instead of tackling” – and here is the zinger – “real issues like ONLINE bullying” . By, well, I guess, more online blabbering? And docus? And kickstarters? And boo-hooing over poor, poor victims vs evil evil internetmen bully hitsquads? Or what?
    Also where is this culture of advocating violence against women? Did he mean anyone who is online? Any male? Anyone who plays videogames? Makes them?
    Who exactly creates this culture or is part of it? (If, by a far off chance, he’s actually referring to something plausible like tradition and historicity/real social culture/regionality/upbringing etc, as opposed to the same old “gaming/online/media” then oh wow and my bad)

    As I’ve already tried to get across in the Great Thread Of Endless Aggrevation (aka hide your children from the sexist videogame monster aka the one that killed the comment system thread etc) and elseplace, thinking you are being a righteous hero by clicking donate, by writing “Oh she has such a point” or otherwise indulging all of the sillyness is not gonna do dick(hah!). Unless of course we admit that stuff is mostly for feeling good about ourselves(or passing time), then of course you’ve done exactly what will fill that purpose. Cozy, convenient and easy to do.
    Unlike real, actual change.

    So, of course, in a way Alan/he’s got a major point. Namely when he says we’re hiding from really addressing this shit.
    And here’s my point: Even Miss Supervictim is.
    Because we’re sure as fuck not going to solve Mysogyny by whining about it on the internets(or blaming it on them, or videogames, or “the media”..how is it we’re smarter than that when it comes to “murder games”, but I get legions of gamers – who, a second ago where in shock from being accused of being as-good-as murderers, from anything like the local tabloids to the pretend-hard-hitting news shows etc pp – now nodding in sage agreement for games creating real-world sexism?), be it via comments, youtube or shoving money down an individual’s throat.

    What WILL make a change is actually bringing these things up in real life(and no I don’t count youtube to “real life” as its not a competitor to someone with real world social power capable of relating value, but just more signal noise next to a whole raft of the same in any other direction), educating kids around respect, how to talk to and treat one another and some of the core principles of what it is to be human, alone in the world(which, in the end, we all are) and mortal(even the biggest jerk/bully/whatever will one day be too weak for anything and require assistance).

    And not “ohnoes ALL the things could be offensive”. No.

    So want I want is I’d rather teach through virtue and positive ideals, understanding what it is to be human, to feel, how you could be the person on the other end: empathy and what that really means; Kant. Rather than avoidance, fear of missteps, must-do correctness and all the false pretense of “right and wrong” that’s just mindnumbingly misdirected, bad circumstance-stabilizing bullshit, constantly reproducing rather than resolving the conflict.

    Change stuff by standing up and telling the “Let me play that for you” people WTF, have you completely gone off your rocker(dito obviously for hatemongers, death threat authors etc pp) and speaking out when its called for.
    Not hiding from confrontation, but also not seeking it(have you ever tried to get along or have a good time with someone who constantly finds flaw/offense/negativity at _everything_? Perfect example of self-reproduction of an issue that can’t cure itself until one actually let’s go of it, first.) .
    By just plain being visibly decent human beings and calling others out on not being so. Leading by example, in action.

    All of this in reality, in social relationships, with social relevance. Not by telling people that if they like to look at Shooty McJigglytits jump around on their videogame screen they are bringing forth and supporting both the downfall of womankind and sexist assholes who dare enjoy seeing/thinking of/drawing up/creating the opposite sex in a sexualized fashion. Something which women would ne’er stoop to.
    After all, we’re not animals who are born with a drive to seek pleasure, procreate and subsequently love and protect;we’re here for equality workshops and feeling guilty for being able to enjoy things that don’t always 100% correspond with “norm” and PC-ness!

    Beh. Makes me sick. And type a lot, I guess.

    -
    And to his closing:
    Simple answers actually exist, by the way. At least in the form of generalized, simple concepts. And they can require quite a lot of progress and personal development. Its just a mistake to think that a simple answer(how about that cited “do unto others” idea, e.g.? Or respect everyone ::alike::) in real life is also easy to actually live and implement.
    Those kind of things however would definitely be worth the effort.

    That in gaming its not very satisfying to have “press X to win” is of course something I can agree with.
    -
    I seriously wish we’d be more outraged about young women who are shamed into abortion / cast out of families and shunned due to becoming pregnant after being seriously undereducated about sexuality(hiding it under increasingly flowing robes, unable to speak to anyone about it, often committing suicide); places where you can still merrily stone women; forced female circumsizion, etc pp.

    But no, its “Man, nobody is going to believe that she’d wear that armor into combat. But damn those tits sure look tasty” that we must fight with vigor, I guess. Best place for our energies, ey?

    • Apples says:

      Hi I don’t have a lot of time to reply to this because I’m at work but I will quickly summarise:
      Your arguments mainly boil down to “but there are starving children in Africa/abused women, therefore how can we care about anything else!” and “Well I like it therefore it’s fine!”.
      To begin with, think about WHY the standard male sexual fantasy as shown in games is alienating to women. Does a male sexual fantasy HAVE to be alienating to women? Is the fact that it often is, related to the fact that women are abused and disrespected in general? Do you think that the two symptoms could have a common cause, and that combatting any of the symptoms helps to erode the cause? “Whining about it on the internet”, as you put it, actually often equates to “education” – the thing is, it’s not like there’s some conspiracy of eeeeevil men making women feel excluded, the people making women feel excluded are regular dudes (and even ladies!), and if they read things that other people are talking about relating to gender issues, then THAT IS EDUCATION. There is no way to change attitudes than by, er, changing attitudes, and that can’t be done except by talking about issues. I mean, we can give charity to other countries, but that will only help in the short term. We can give aid to abused women, but that will only help in the short term as the attitudes that enable the abuse are still there and are pretty normalised or even idealised. Yes, we should take that off the internet too, but middle class white internet-having guys are not exempt from sexism and need to see these discussions too.

      “sexist assholes who dare enjoy seeing/thinking of/drawing up/creating the opposite sex in a sexualized fashion. Something which women would ne’er stoop to.” LOL why do you think women are trying to be ‘better’ than men and tell them off, when they’re actually trying to make the majority of media less alienating and dismissive towards them? They’re not trying to take away your precious porn, dude, they’re trying to make it so that maybe one day most people will think that clothing one gender in full armor and one in metal bikinis is kind of weird and gross and exclusionary to half the audience, not ~awesome~ and ~hawt~ and totally fine because hey as long as *I* can enjoy it, who cares about anyone else?
      Also women are just as guilty of creating kinda-sexist media as well but that doesn’t give anyone an excuse. However I think USUALLY the female fantasy helpfully coincides the the male one – as in, both genders can like Garrus because he’s a cool, powerful, funny dude, or Snake because again he’s cool and powerful, whereas if a female character has to be half-naked and submissive to be a male fantasy then it’s unsurprising that women will complain about her being a crap, transparent character.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        The girls killing themselves out of shame of having gotten pregnant are actually living right here, in my own, very much industrialized, “civilized” country, and it makes me sick to my stomach that we choose cleavage in videogames as a problem over them and I don’t think any amount of blabbering about it will make me feel better about that.

        And no, for the culture and problems involved in those cases, it matters sweet fuck all if Rockstar Games allowed you to hit hookers dead in GTA or video trailers showed tattooed hitgirls in nun outfits going after Agent 47 or if armor is depicted in a useless, sexualized fashion. Because the problems sit elsewhere and the relevant parties involved very likely never spent a minute in that videogame world, let alone modern media outside of TV in the first place.

        We didn’t need videogames to have sexism or violence against women before, and trying to see them as a cause rather than a reflection of what already took roots, is a big, but trendy and fashionable, mistake.

        • Apples says:

          Please tell me more about how media representation of women doesn’t actually affect me! I think you completely skipped over the stuff I said about how media representation reflects and reinforces attitudes towards women and are part of the same problem, so if you’re not going to engage with the points I raised and just keep going “BUT PPL DYING”, why bother continuing to post apart from the fact that it allows you to rant? Listen: what makes those girls, in a first world country, feel so much shame about themselves? Could it be partially… media representation and the societal attitudes they normalise!? What makes it so that the normal state of women in media is ‘partially clothed rewards for men’? Could it be societal attitudes towards women? It’s a cycle that feeds back into itself, and cutting off the cycle at some point is A GOOD THING, not a thing that enables you to sneer patronisingly at anyone who cares while proclaiming that you only bother with IMPORTANT things.

          basically you dont get to decide whats important, and people can (and should) care simultaneously about physical abuse of minorities and general societal attitudes towards minorities

          And yes it all existed before video games, so what? If video games are perpetuating and normalising problematic behaviour, it is still bad whether or not that behaviour existed beforehand.

          • RegisteredUser says:

            “it all existed before video games, so what? If video games are perpetuating and normalising problematic behaviour, it is still bad whether or not that behaviour existed beforehand.”

            If it existed before, it can’t be rooted in videogames, but merely also reflected.
            Therefore if you want it to go away, you are not going to do diddlysquat by removing media, because media only transports the problem wider and faster, but doesn’t remove the origins and social mechanisms.
            Which is why its pointless to argue about that stuff, as it can simply be dulled/eliminated by someone smarter than thinking they must now live sexism when they see sexist images.
            People aren’t going to turn into Nazis by being allowed to read “Mein Kampf”, but those that want to be Nazis may seek to read it.
            This whole stupid discussion is approaching the issues ass-backwards, and that’s why I didn’t “address” it.

            The problem isn’t media, its the actual people and whether or not we encourage these things. We can control and change this stuff via our habits, consumption and social validation, we don’t need to ask someone else to censor it. And if we don’t do it, its because we’re not over that hump yet. And we in our ways need to change, not the reflection of them.
            Sure there’s an element of reinforcement, but nowhere as ultimately powerful as the direct social relationships(parents and value peers) who will say yay or nay and with a single snub destroy _any_ power of any media in a heartbeat.

            People don’t seem to understand that.

  23. wu wei says:

    Wow. One comment on the Penny Arcade KickStarter, with no mention by anyone of the hypocrisy of PA going the KS route when they’ve been nothing but critical of it, including some direct attacks on active projects and the legitimacy of the KS approach while they were setting this up. Hey, don’t give your money to some douchebags you don’t know when you can give it to douchebags you do know, right?

    Can all of the assholes who posted here saying their only issue with Anita Sarkeesian was in her asking for “so much” money at least have the decency to now admit it had nothing to do with that?

    And where are the endless legion of KICKSTARTER IS DOOMED I’M CALLING IT NOW dickbags that come out for every other posting abut KickStarter projects? Why are you not as critical of this, it’s the absolute poster child for frivolous, abusive uses of KickStarter.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      Unsure about this one. Note that Penny Arcade will continue to be updated, so it’s not vapourware, whereas many games on Kickstarter will inevitably be.

      • dE says:

        Guy is on a holy mission. Best to move along.
        Although we do get a lot of guys on holy missions lately.

  24. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    I’m not sure if Rayman Origins is storyless, or if it just has the most batshit insane story around. I mean, I think things happen and characters come and go. Is that a story? Unsure.

  25. Contrafibularity says:

    ” I spent a couple days feeling ashamed of being a gamer, of playing or liking military games, of being interested in any of this disgusting bullshit at all.” Can’t say I wholly agree with this, but some interesting material. I feel I need to revisit this topic myself in the coming weeks.

    Hmmm, perhaps RPS isn’t what I thought it was after all. I thought this was, among other things, a sort of thinking person’s site about games. A thinking person would be, or have been at some point, ashamed about how videogames (especially AAA) have become tools of the killers of this world, and how gamers have become willing receptacles of this below-the-lowest-point-of-lowness-lower-than-low drivel. If that’s not shameful, then nothing is. NOTHING.

    Sure, videogames are “just games”. The same goes for film, books, etc. So why is it that we gamers have this enormous hyper-tolerance for EPIC BULLSHIT? Firstly, it’s not that violence in videogames is wrong of harmful. However, it would take a fool to think games are not influencing the player in other ways. Again, the same goes for films and other arts. I know my reaction to Hollywood machismo “patriotic” action drivel well enough (the hideous dramatic kind where people in slow-motion do.. ahem.. patriotic and “courageous” things “for country and god” while flames burn in the background and every colour-graded scene cries out “DIS IS BRAVE MERICA HOME OF TEH FEREE PROTECTIOR OF FUREEDOM AND SAVIUR OF THE MANKIND“) well enough to avoid it for the rest of my life, and I know that this is 1:1 with what propagandistic AAA videogame titles emulate (your Tom Clancy games, Call of Duty, etc. America’s Army even goes one step further, to sign up poor dumb kids to die for Uncle Sam, milsim indeed) even insidiously, even sometimes pretending to question these things while in fact promoting them. To say that this has become a problem, would be an understatement. Deny it altogether and, well..

    Obviously, they do this with full support of the US military, which grants your Activisions, EA’s, DICE etc. a spectacular amount of access and assistance in building assets (actually they can just copy-paste most 3D models from the military, source: Dutch docu-series “VPRO Backlight” 2009). It’s become par for the course that the US military and their private contractor and industry buddies promote and advertises their latest bio-grinder face-splatting manshoot technologies in these videogames. Result: people are completely over-exposed to a supremely one-sided, homicidal and demented version of events, while subconsciously being conditioned to think about the world the way the US government, military, and industrial complex do; a zero-sum game where the US is justified in everything they do. Everything.

    One thing that’s been bugging me for years now; why is is that in the US, there’s no (actual) resistance among the youth to US foreign policy and genocide? It’s not like people in the US are completely powerless. They might be, on the whole, sheep, but there’s nothing stopping them from rallying against their leaders when they act like retards and kill a few million people in another part of the world. Or is there? Is there a continual stream of shit and malefaction being jacked directly into their sensory organs on a daily basis?

    I know the answer, of course, I know it’s a rhetorical question, but I’m afraidcertain I would, HERE and NOW, stop pursuing a career in videogame development if I would think about it more, which would essentially mean turning my back on my last passion in life (career wise). So yes, I’m living in denial about the state of videogames, but I do so with the intent of making videogames myself one day that don’t lend themselves to advertise genocide, war, and the AmericanMultinational Way of Death.

    I hope that one day game developers will wise the fuck up and refuse to make these hideous products any longer. If you want to make a war game, make a game about WAR, don’t be bullied into becoming an extension of your Dear Leaders machine, not even to feed your family. Please. Think.

    • Apolloin says:

      Jesus, man – you just wrote a whole hell of a lot about developing manshooter games whilst completely missing the frakking point about developing manshooter games.

      Shooting people is the game. The whole of the interface and gaming experience is devoted entirely to shooting people and that means that shooting people is going to be the majority of the player experience. Why all the jingoistic “My country ’tis of thee” bullshit? Because unless the game is a serial killer simulator you need to justify all this digital bloodletting and just about the only scenario in which we have been culturally prepared to find the organised wholesale slauighter of other human beings morally justified is WAR.

      I notice how, in your Grauniad reader anti-military rant you completely miss the fact that, other than the SWAT games, America’s Army is one of the few milsims that tries to add some context of service and sacrifice to the manshooting. It’s also one of the few milsims that tries to give the friendly fire mechanic some teeth. I’d like to see them *really* prosecute ROE breaches, but until you can convince people to play grannies out shopping in the marketplace, I guess that’s pie in the sky.

      The most depressing part of the whole thing is that you self-identify as a Game Developer. If you’re a Designer who hasn’t spotted that you’re never going to make an ethically challenging manshooter because it’s very hard to step around the fact that you kill more people in a single level than most squads of soldiers do in their whole careers, then I weep for the industry.

      Seriously! The rampant killing is what causes the horrific distortions that are endemic to the manshooter genre – it is not the other way around!

      • rockman29 says:

        Yep, games reflect reality more than the other way around.

      • Contrafibularity says:

        What the. Your definition of an ethically challenging shooter is one where the “friendly fire mechanic has teeth”. What a way to spectacularly miss my point. Did you even read Bissell’s article of did you just kneejerk-post as soon as you saw someone criticizing one of your favourite games? Because we’re not even on the same book here, much less debating the same page.

        If you honestly think the reason for abundant jingoism in AAA games is that it’s there to justify the massacre of the player (ehm…what?) then you’ve clearly got things totally backwards. Do a little reading on the “military entertainment complex” (yes, that’s a thing). At least read the article, it even has a (incomplete) list of games which he and I think at least TRY to address the issue in some way or another, because developers are smart and sensitive people and they don’t want to make something horrible which rewards repetitive killings of virtual arabs through feedback loops made of achievements and unlocks.

        Also, I don’t care how “true-to-life” you think America’s Army is. It’s a RECRUITING TOOL. It lures kids into joining the military and to become killers, broken people, and to die. But even AA is beside the point, because it’s a niche product for people flirting with the idea of killing muslims halfway across the globekilling for god and country. I was mostly talking about how triple-A manure like Call of Duty influences people in their thinking about ‘wars’ like Afghanistan and Iraq. Games which have you “embedded” firmly on the side of the US military, looking through their empty eyes, hearing your virtual voice-acted and convincingly reverse-kinetic animated squad-mates comment on how shit this assignment is, virtually slaughtering everything older than 16, and especially everything and anything wearing a beard or something that looks like someone in a scorchingly hot region would wear. You could almost get a sense of being in the shit. Except you don’t. Not even remotely, not even close to remotely. But that experience, it’s now there, in your head, in your dreams. In your thoughts, you visited these places as a US soldier, and that’s an experience more powerful than a hundred Michael Moore documentaries (admittedly not that hard) and a warehouse full of The Guardian issues. But hey, it’s just a game right? It’s also a carefully sculpted $200m blockbuster practically developed by the US military, issues coming out on an almost monthly basis… which sell like 5 billion copies. Nah, I must be imagining the problem here.

        • Deisenberger says:

          You really should leave AA out of the discussion of “secretly jingoistic games.”

          Yes, it’s a recruiting tool. But it’s not like it makes any qualms about it. It’s quite literally built around the very concept of being a recruiting tool. It outright tells you it’s a recuiting tool.

          And, firstly – you sound like those desperately screaming pacifism at the face of actual people being actually killed and asking for your help and the help of your government. While we here, in our comfy rooms like to think that anything can be settled peacefully, the truth is that, while yes, more things can be settled more peacefully and the geopolitical ramifications of war need to be severely reconsidered, there are still actual people being actually killed and many of them ask for armed help. You need to separate that rhetoric from the point of there being a hidden propaganda machine. Many too quickly take the position of “armed responses are never right” instead of the more correct “we have armed responses for all the wrong reasons.”

          Secondly – these things are never going away because some sort of quasi-conspiratorial military entertainment industry is brought to the light. It’s much more likely to go away as the realization of exactly how shit this sort of thing is from a purely creative standpoint. The consumer is becoming less and less interested in there being a designated bad guy(s). As the world becomes a more politically complicated place, so do we crave such from our entertainment. The CoD series is living off the fat of being the first to really “get” being a summer blockbuster in game form, it will not only wear out itself but also any others trying to follow in it’s footsteps.

        • RegisteredUser says:

          Similiar to the sexism debate, I think you’re attacking the smoke, not the fire.

          Sure, movies, books and games from the western world all to a very good extent portray america’s army favoribly, usually because to get any kind of information, detail, help, feedback etc from them, they will vet your production thoroughly and only greenlight the stuff which they are okay with PR wise.
          And from a corp standpoint, who can blame them. Why help someone who would portray you as a tyrannical, emotionless death machine.

          You’re forgetting however that just as much as america has its manufacture of right-wing-ism, it built the equivalent for the left. Through radio, tv, paper, really any kind of newsmedia. And you’ll find quite a lot of “liberal/left” drift stuff in games as well. Arts and media have a very tangible slant.

          The trouble is, its again an issue of a) the culture its embedded in, inherently limiting the perception of what you experience in the first place and b) your overall educational levels and therefore options to be able to supercede the initial “culture goggles”.
          To reflect not just other cultures, but your own, you need a whole damn lot of IQ, cultural knowledge, understanding of society, tradition, etc pp. And midwest highschool kids are a touch less likely to get there than e.g. east coast ivy league-ers.
          But as I said – you can just as easily succumb to left vs right, just because, well, that’s how you’re raised. That’s where you live. And so forth.

          So for a lot of the things you rage about?
          Its enough that you were just born into a neighbourhood and culture that makes you susceptible in the first place. Its not the game that converts you. It just reiterates the same “America, oooorah!” spirit you’ve been celebrating since you were able to hear as a toddler.

          And should you, through education, luck, experiences abroad, anything at all, manage to get a broader picture of it all, and see how idiotic the whole 50/50 division of the country into ultra-this and ultra-that is, how reductive and unproductive the whole thing has gotten, and how its hurting not just one, but both sides, you still have nothing there structurally to allow you to have any kind of alternative within the same system, as the defensive mechanisms of once-established systems are pretty damn powerful, especially if on such a scope and constantly medially reinforced.

          You say why wasn’t there more uproar about warstuff “somewhere, but not at home”. Pf, that’s overseas.

          There was no real uproar when quite literally the whole country lost the security of where they LIVE and how they will spend the rest of their lives, because some jokers scammed the world as a whole
          via specialized financial schemes. Five college kids sat around and shouted blockupy a couple of times, that’s it.

          THAT should make you think and worry about the fluidity, potential and leftover power of “the population”, in my mind. But then again there is so much ongoing stuff that might also make better examples, I could be selecting wrong.
          Still, for me personally the hugest omgwtf how can this be moment in the last 10 years, even over the Iraq war(which at least had some ambivalence, the financial crisis didn’t).

          I’ll add this: Almost every american soldier I have ever met, has been a jovial, friendly, caring and kind person in everyday life. That they will have some more extreme views of duty, fatherland and country at times will be no wonder(and just like any male of any country, they can be dicks, too, but usually not in any special way you couldn’t just as soon find in a random jock or other kind of guy being a dick).
          But a really good chunk of them will be doing it because they feel they are doing something useful/helpful for others, or simply taking a role that suits them personally as who they are. A lot really think they are going somewhere to help people.

          They are by no means all Stormtroopers Of Death, chanting racist slurs and pew-pew-ing their guns like Yosemite Sam, while rampaging through the countryside unaware of any nuances besides where the next whorehouse and boozery is.
          (The real assholes tend to usually be the folks sitting cozily in well furnished office, shaking hands of other people smiling at them while torturing/oppressing/censoring the folks back home. Deciding that well armored vehicles or body armour are minor details for such expendable, irrelevant things as human soldiers sent off to war)

          Then again I learned that a lot of them enjoy playing videogames, and we all know into what kind of sexist/killing machine monster THAT turns you into.

          -
          In short, here, too, I think that the media just reflects a culture that has grown over 200 years and that the problem sits in a mentality and culture, not just in one of the manifestations. That it will course through the veins of everything encountered within that culture is no surprise.

          • Apples says:

            So is this just a very long-winded way of saying “Too bad, we can’t do anything about it”? I see where you’re coming from when you talk about inescapable ways of seeing the world with no structural alternatives, but some of it seems outright contradictory to me. Like, you say that the game reiterates American jingoism that permeates American culture, but also that people are able, through education and experience, to be able to recognise parts of this supposedly inescapable ideology that appear maladaptive, wrong, destructive, or just uncomfortable. So how, exactly, is publically criticising such jingoistic media (i.e. educating people) pointless and incapable of altering public perceptions of the culture they are in and thereby feeding back into that culture and media? I mean if you’re going to stick with “yes well you see, but there is no alternative to that ideology EVER” then fine, but that’s pretty much (lol video game analogy) the starchild going “synthetics will definitely kill everyone i swear!!! there is no alternative and i refuse to consider one!”

            It’s not attacking smoke instead of fire, because smoke is incapable of influencing the fire. It’s more like you’re trying to grab the wood from the fire, trying to take away the fuel wholesale, constantly burning yourself and declaring it to be absolutely impossible to put the fire out; and we’re trying to pour water on the fire. Sure, it might not work, but it’s a lot more workable than your “have to alter society/culture outside of media (somehow???)” plan. Media is, especially in the first world, the easiest and most widespread way to widely influence attitudes. But nope it must be a one-way system according to you!

            Also: “To reflect not just other cultures, but your own, you need a whole damn lot of IQ, cultural knowledge, understanding of society, tradition, etc pp.” Did you mean “reflect ON”? Cause otherwise this sentence is just incorrect.

          • RegisteredUser says:

            Hey.
            Yea, I guess the proper english wording is reflect on. In my language “reflecting” can also be used synonymous for “thinking about”.

            And I’ll admit the smoke/fire thing isn’t perfect.
            But yea, the dilemma is that you may very well be able to influence _current_ attitude to some extent via media, but you’re not going to shovel value systems and culture away with it.
            You can’t trigger emotions that aren’t already “readied” beforehand, like patriotism. Or at least not broadly, if the underlying sentiment isn’t there, first.
            And in turn you can have your own rationale protect you from being influenced too much by having a very independent, well reflected (there it is again. I mean thought-out, thought-about) standpoint.
            If you have that, they can run “War is the BESTEST best thing evar” on tv 24/7 and all it will do is make you shake your head. Or tell you that cheese crust is something you simply must eat. Or or or.
            That’s why I tie it back to education and how you learn to see and think about stuff.
            Unless you’re taught a more guarded and questioning standpoint, you can destroy as much media x y and z as you want, you can just attack from another angle and you’ll have the people succumb to whatever you want again regardless.

            That’s why I don’t think its the most efficient thing to attack, or, at least not to JUST attack, media and communication if you’re angling for change.
            You need to change the actual people. And I never would dare to say that that’s not possible; we’ve had the major changes over the years in many a place.
            People becoming less racist, more tolerant, smarter on average, etc pp.
            But it takes time, and established structures balk at change.
            And, again, I don’t think it sat in the media(I’m pretty sure there was no ban on racist literature etc), but it took the actual people to confront the things that were wrong, learn about them, contact and communicate in person and evolve past them(noticeably, most/all? of the major rollovers all involved people taking to the streets – war, gender equality, segregation, oppression – and even the so-called facebook revolutions still needed the actual protesting, streets filled with people etc).
            Sure, media can help transport and amplify all of this, but unless the foundation is in itself stable and capable of sorting through manipulation and “good vs evil”(both of which are hard enough to home in on), you’ll just have it be the wind to blow and bend around the straws with.
            You need to have something “in the people” wanting/not wanting something.

            Maybe a small, more concrete thing.
            Instead of pointing out “jingoism” and how bad everything is, which in itself just creates internal frictions, make sure people learn about other cultures, are exposed to them and realize they’re not alone on the planet in the first place. This obviously already happens in some/many places, because contrary to belief, there is, as with any country, a very good chunk of open-minded, nice, worldly, educated people. America is not Rednecklandia, nor Republicantown nor Jingo-World by a long stretch.
            Its just not uniform, and the media, as we already said, amplifies/exaggerates(perception, too).

            You asked how it feeds back, when you criticize it?
            Well, the local media “echo chambers” simply will demonize you for being anti-american and twist your – even if objectively justified – arguments in on themselves.
            All of this only works, because people eat this shit up, and have grown into trusting “their side”.
            If you teach them that there are no “sides”, but just “all of us, trying to live together best we can”, not just for America, but in the next step even the whole world, then all of that trash, all of those talking heads lose their power and sway.
            But that needs structural, systemic change, and good luck with an easy, quick fix on that. :P

            What I am trying to say is that trying to “weaponize” what already exists is pretty futile from both sides(in terms of changing anything. In terms of recruiting people and carrying on with the bullshit, its of course golden and works too damn well).
            Changing people so that it becomes nonsensical to be jingoistic/racist/sexist/etc pp in the first place is what you want, not becoming part of the actual self-perpetuating problem cycle.

  26. pipman3000 says:

    If Ultima 4 was released today it would of been released on June 16, 2012.

  27. pipman3000 says:

    I hate military fps games and the CoDBLOPS2 plot is dumb as hell. BLOPS3 will be about US Servicemen patrolling the streets of San Francisco gunning down anyone who isn’t a hard-right muslim-fearing black-lynching immigrant-hating republican and it will sell 30000 billion copies and be game of the year.