The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on January 20th, 2013 at 11:00 am.


Sundays are for rising from the dead. I have returned from the bleak wilderness of zero connectivity to light the blazing beacon of light reading on Mount Internet. Soon beacons will appear all across the skyline of the digital world, and writing about games will be read by thousands. It is a beautiful new era.

  • Over at Edge Online Steven Poole noted that the UK’s premier sesquipedalian, Will Self, had written an essay on videogames, and that – while flawed and inexpert re the medium – made some interesting points, such as why nazi zombies might not be good game fodder, and why being hunted might be a good theme for a game. (And it really is.) Thus: “Self’s essay muses on the theme of predation, endorsing the argument of Paul Trout that “our earliest mythologies” are based “in the experience not of being hunters, but of being hunted” by jawed megafauna such as the sabre-toothed tiger. He finds this a refreshing counter to the modern shooter that tells its customers they are alpha predators. But videogames have long played precisely on a tense alternation between being predated upon and doing the predating. (As Self could have noticed even in Pac-Man.) If we were only prey in games, they would be too depressing a phantasmagorical allegory of real life, since most of us are fundamentally prey to the rapacious dance of global capital, to crypto-psychopathic bosses, to barbarous bureaucracy.”
  • Hamish Todd looks at Half-Life’s barnacles: “The barnacle can do horror, action, and even comedy. It can assist you and puzzle you. To do all that, an object needs to have some pretty fundamental stuff in its design.”
  • SWTOR’s Gay Planet: “When I say it’s a gay planet I don’t mean that the planet itself is innately homosexual. Makeb itself is just a genderless, oblate spheroid of rock surrounding a sexy molten iron core, shuffled away in some dark corner of a far away galaxy. When I say that Makeb is a gay planet I mean that it is the only location in Star Wars: The Old Republic in which you can be gay. It’s the one planet in the universe where flirtatious dialogue options will appear in conversations with similarly gendered characters. It’s the only planet on which you can kiss somebody with similarly shaped genitals as the screen fades to black and “doing it” music starts playing.”
  • The Fun Boson Does Not Exist: “It all starts with the delusion of numbers. One of the axioms of the San Francisco Revolution, derived straight from lean thinking, is that you can’t improve what you can’t measure. In other words, if you add or subtract something and it does not cause a key metric to go up in some significant way, then that change was meaningless. This axiom is seductive because it promises to expose the game and stop it being treated like a mysterious black box. In theory it’s supposed to unlock a whole wealth of innovation, because we could then know a great deal about how players behave and think, and then use that. Measuring to find an outcome that might scale is, after all, what the entire lean method is about.”
  • Bioware’s David Gaider on romance in RPGs: “I dislike the idea of every character being sexually available to the player. Not that it cheapens them, necessarily, but it would lend itself towards their objectification. Take the first Witcher game, for instance— I enjoyed many things about that game, but the collectible sex card mechanic? Ultimately it rendered every female character in the game into a puzzle to be solved. What do I do to sleep with them? How do I get their card?”
  • Gamasutra on “The Game Industry’s Challenge for 2013“. This is an odd one, because it’s the kind of question I am inclined to answer with “so what?” Here’s how it introduces the “problem”: “At CES 2013 last week, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang succinctly laid out the challenge facing the games industry at large in his opening remarks at the Nvidia press conference on Sunday evening: “It isn’t possible for you to enjoy the same video game on any device.” Where the iPod, the Kindle, and the cloud have enabled consumers to consume music, books, and movies whenever and however they pleased, Huang said the challenge for the consumer tech companies is to invent the technology to make this happen with video games.” It then goes on to list those ways. And I find myself with that same puzzled face I had when people were suggesting we’d have one box under the telly that would “do everything”. If the last two decades of tech have shown us anything, it’s that we like have loads of different devices for doing loads of different things. Sure, there’s some convergence, but for the most part ideas stick around and evolve. Not to mention different games simply being suitable for different situations. I don’t want to play The Witcher 2 on the bus, or on my telly.
  • Ian Bogost thinks videogames already lost the gun control debate: “The truth is, the games industry lost as soon as a meeting was conceived about stopping gun violence with games as a participating voice. It was a trap, and the only possible response to it is to expose it as such. Unfortunately, the result is already done: Once more, public opinion has been infected with the idea that video games have some predominant and necessary relationship to gun violence, rather than being a diverse and robust mass medium that is used for many different purposes, from leisure to exercise to business to education.”
  • Kotaku asks why PC gaming isn’t a big deal in Japan, with some answers from Japanese gamers: “The image of PC gaming with many Japanese gamers is first-person shooters,” the clerk replies, agreeing that it is niche in Japan. “That,” he continues, “and they think PC gaming is expensive.” AND IN THE REST OF THE WORLD.
  • An interview with Richard Hofmeier: “I’m trying to, but can’t fathom what it must be like to play Hotline Miami as one’s first Cactus game. I really cherish all he’s done, so I’m staring at every nuance thinking, “Nice.” As though I have any reason to feel pride on his behalf. Blood and bombast almost never do it for me, but the scope of these things are never disavowed in a Cactus game – the slickness of the production is, itself, an audacious transgression. That music especially. Hotline Miami’s like a distilled post-mortal priapism in a victim run-down by a gleaming sportscar.”
  • Monopoly abstracted, with a bleak conclusion: “The game design of Monopoly is notoriously awkward. Everyone remembers Monopoly sessions that might have gone on for hours if everyone hadn’t agreed to stop. There isn’t a lot of strategy involved, and the conditions for winning have been described as ‘almost unreachable,’” Hollet writes. “I think this is why Monopoly comes in so many different themes (like Star Wars Monopoly or SpongeBob SquarePants Monopoly), because the theme is really the only thing that makes the game fun.”
  • It’s been a great week for insane journalism.
  • So why do game designers not set a few more games in the real world, eh?”
  • This incredible image of the Milky Way. (Why does our galaxy have to have such a stupid name? I vote for “Ultralaxy Alpha Prime: Home Of The Spatchcock”.)

Music this week is DJ Shadow’s All Basses Covered set.

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238 Comments »

  1. Valvarexart says:

    Thanks for a great-looking selection of articles, Jim! This is much better than the last one.

  2. Inigo says:

    Bioware’s David Gaider on romance in RPGs: “I dislike the idea of every character being sexually available to the player.

    “But I do it anyway.”

    • D3xter says:

      This is also interesting from another BioWare writer a while ago xD http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showpost.php?p=15098&postcount=32

      • InternetBatman says:

        Wow. That was all offense, little sense. Accusing someone of railroading because they won’t let you fuck everyone is just magical. Bioware is guilty of harem anime, and the way they treat romance makes sense for some characters, but not others.

      • AngoraFish says:

        Great link, thanks.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      That was basically my response too, how can he claim to not like romances while Bioware games are stuffed full of poorly written examples to the point that it’s the thing almost anyone ever talks about.

    • InternetBatman says:

      The whole article is basically saying “I supply what people want. Fuck off.”

    • Lemming says:

      I dislike the idea of romances that can’t be turned off at the start of the game. It’s been the status quo since BG2. Why can’t I be nice to people without them making a move on me? (and in the game). I don’t want to have to deal with it, I’ve got a world/galaxy to save. Why can’t we instantly turn our heroic epic stories into Saturday morning cartoons instead of Twilight?

      • dE says:

        Pretty much that.
        It’s really annoying when the game then proceeds to even punish you. Bioware Games are a prime example at that. So you build up loyalty with your folks. Loyalty influences the game outcome, thus you want it as high as possible. Yet once your loyalty has a high enough score, everyone in the party will suddenly turn into a sex predator out to fornicate with your character. And Bioware even has the gall to punish you for not wanting to engage in it, by taking off huge points from the loyalty score.

        • Koozer says:

          It’s pretty bad when my method for playing through ME1-3 without romance was to be as cruel as humanly possible to everyone of the opposite gender. And then in ME3 Kaiden and Garrus started making awkward sexy references after I was nice to them for 3 games. Ugh.

        • P.Funk says:

          This is why KOTOR will always be my favourite RPG from them. I didn’t even really acknowledge the romance options since basically if you didn’t pursue them with characters they were invisible, and even when you DID chase them it had little impact other than making some other story moments even more poignant.

          I think that sometimes the early days of when things were being done and explored were best, when things would reach that discovered and barely perfected equilibrium, before they became this fucking internet obsession and where every developer then had to try and up the ante on the sex games of the new RPG. Just look at SWTOR. Everyone kept bitching and bitching and now we have a LGBT planet. The moment they stopped treating romance as an organic element of story and instead as a transparent contrived game mechanic is when it stopped being a fresh and enjoyable conceit.

          The only sex I enjoy in games anymore is in GTA. They know that its a joke and poke fun at it. Everyone is too busy taking too damned seriously.

      • I Got Pineapples says:

        Dragon Age 2 made me realise how much I wanted this.

        I didn’t want to fuck these terrible, terrible people. I didn’t want Anders make suprise sex voice at me every time I did anything other than punch him in the throat. I didn’t want Captain Sexy Halloween Pirate making awkward double entendres at me. I didn’t want to have to deal with whatever goddamn iteration of the Immoen they shoved in this game. Nor did I want to do anything to any of the others. Except the Dwarf. I’m straight and the only one I was willing to hump is the Dwarf and I didn’t even get to do that. But in the end, I had to bang someone because this is a Bioware game and that’s what you do in Bioware games.

        Have terrible sex with terrible people.

    • Yosharian says:

      “Ultimately it rendered every female character in the game into a puzzle to be solved. What do I do to sleep with them? How do I get their card?”

      I see nothing wrong with that, all romances in games can be boiled down to this key thing: what do I have to do to get them to like/love/have-sex-with me?

      These devs have such a fucking superiority complex when it comes to writing Romances. I’d take Witcher 1′s sex cards over many of the shitty ‘romances’ I’ve played through in Mass Effect 2 and 3.

      • kament says:

        The difference is that romance serves as a reward in itself. It’s all about talking, mostly, and thus about personality and good writing. With sex cards… well, cards are your reward. Objects, not interactions with the characters, which are essentially reduced to objects themselves. I can’t recall a single conversation with romancable characters in Witcher, though I recall some of the cards just fine.

        • JackShandy says:

          Let’s put romance aside for a sex – all relationships in these games are like that. Pick the right dialogue to make them like you. In Dragon Age you could even give people gifts to increase their Friend Rating, or whatever it was called.

          I don’t think it’s fair to accuse The Witcher specifically, because Games as a whole are shit at NPC interaction. It’s a shame, but we’re pretty awesome at PC interaction, so it works out ok.

          • kament says:

            I don’t think Gaider was accusing someone (I know I certainly wasn’t). And I think it’s obvious enough that while Bioware romance at the very least adds a little to a character, Witcher sex cards don’t do that. They’re disconnected from both PC and NPCs and, in fact, from the game itself.

            I mean it’s not about how good they’re doing romances. It’s about what they’re doing with them. And I think it’s saying something when devs themselves abandon their initial concept and go for more complex approach, creating side stories for romances.

          • jalf says:

            Let’s put romance aside for a sex

            Freudian slip? ;)

        • Yosharian says:

          First of all, there is some writing in the interactions which lead up to the cards being gotten, so to act like there is no writing is a an attempt at misdirection.

          Secondly, inferring that the quality of writing is what is important, rather than the achievement of having sex with the character in question, is laughable. You only have to look at some of the dialogue in Mass Effect 2 and 3, and DA2, to see how stupid such a suggestion is.

          Now if we’re going to talk about some of the dialogue in, for example, BG2, then that’s a different story, because BG2 has some exceptional writing in it.

          Shame that nothing Bioware has written since has even come close.

        • TimMc says:

          Exactly. They should, as in DA2, remove all ‘puzzle’ in the romances. Romances should be something the player wants to pursue as part of their story. They should not be a game, more a window into the character that can be opened if you wish.

          Maybe I just allow myself to get swept up in the writing too easily. I am (almost) always enchanted by story driven RPGs, and interact with characters in a natural fashion. I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t.

          • Yosharian says:

            Wow I disagree with all of that, and I can’t believe how anyone could think what you just wrote.

            This is just another example of non-gamers taking over and insisting all games must be reduced to storybooks with clickable pages.

          • TimMc says:

            Non-gamers taking over? All games? You sound like a 60 year old politician spouting bullshit about things you are afraid of.

            I’ve been pc gaming for over a decade, starting out with RTS and FPS. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to adore any game with a heavily story driven narrative, and strong character focus. Bioware games have been great, and recently loved the Walking Dead. I want more of these types of games, in addition to the occasional mindless shooter.

            What is wrong with a game having a story? One that makes sense and flows? It gives context and drive to everything. Why is presenting romances and relationships as something that happens as part of the story, rather than part of some contrived ‘gameplay puzzle’, so undesirable?

          • Yosharian says:

            Remove the puzzle from everything, why have to think to do anything in game, it should just be like a movie

            This kind of thinking is what is destroying gaming.

          • Phantoon says:

            Honestly, maybe some old fashioned thinking about building to destroy is the best idea here. Games are a pastiche of themselves at this point, and some of the same tripe is churned out every year. Do all games need to be games? Dragon Age the first may have functioned better as a choose your own adventure, really. If the gameplay isn’t good, and doesn’t advance the story, then why is it a game?

            Minecraft is a game about the gameplay building a story based on your own actions- inevitably, some of your discoveries, failures, triumphs will be similar to others, but the gameplay is the narrative. Dark Souls is a game where the gameplay lends itself to an oppressive, hostile environment. The music, ambience, enemies, environments, and gameplay itself are all married together terrifically, leading to a feeling of the player being oppressed, rather than just a character in front of them. Bastion has simple gameplay for favor of a story that follows mostly predetermined actions. Does it need to be a game? Yes, because the choice is required. If you break all the boxes right at the start of the game, Rufus comments on it. Make it across the falling bridge without falling? He comments on that too. The gameplay is as simple as the storytelling, making it a wonderful game.

            Those are games that are best as games. Could Mass Effect have been a trilogy of novels? Sure, if someone better at writing was in charge of them. In the first one, they had a moderately interesting and unique universe, with enough accessible common themes for general audiences. Every character is Shepard, as their abilities don’t affect the story. Do people make their own narrative? Only what they draw in the blanks, as the dialogue makes sure everyone has the same game experience. All the endings are basically the same. One way or another, Shepard doesn’t really stop all the reapers. Even Bastion, with its very narrow narrative (with great depth, like a canyon!) allows the player to make two choices at the end that change the entire ending of the story.

            To further ramble on about things people won’t care about, there’s a lot of discussion in both Souls series games about the meaning of things left in the world. It’s hinted that Petrus in Dark Souls is a follower of Lloyd, despite being undead himself. This is evidenced by the flavor text in the talismans, which can be found in a readily-accessible space underneath the elevator shaft next to him. It also has a talisman and morning star (which he has both of, and could be back ups) cracked red eye orbs (possibly for killing other undead) and homeward bones (to retreat back to firelink, like he did with Rhea). Further to support this is his evil statements about Rhea when she is lost, and his statements about her if you pay Lautrec for information. He DOES in fact kill her if you don’t end him first. You know how many lines of dialogue were used in all those interactions? About twenty. Thirty, tops. Natural clues in the environment lead to the story, not just “they said this and then did this and then this”. That’s good storytelling. Could it be unintentional? Unlikely, From Software is pretty good about smart placement of hints.

            Done rambling.

          • Reapy says:

            Just wanted to second that, the whole dark souls world is about discovery, from combat mechanics right down to the lore. All the clues are there, you just have to choose to find them. The world is done so well though that you can’t help but start to want to fill in all the cryptic messages.

            I think there is something to be said for being led into discovery vs being spoon fed it. Even if you are walking very solid hints, at least having the illusion of discovering something will make you think it is your own and leave that story resonating with you much more strongly.

          • Yosharian says:

            Storytelling in Dark Souls is awful, I can’t understand anyone that heralds that game’s story.

      • Zwebbie says:

        I think you can make a fair case of The Witcher’s sex cards being an honest deconstruction of RPG “romances,” which are, by their nature as computer interactions, limited to if-then constructions that cannot offer more than the most disturbing view of love. Both The Witcher and BioWare’s games have you provide the correct input to get a “romance” output, but while the Witcher presents such a mechanism clothed as shallow flings, BioWare presents it as if it were a representation of romance.

        There’s an article by Kim Moss on NightmareMode that complains about the creepy nature of BioWare “romance”, by arguing that not every NPC should be won in the same manner, or at all. There’s a reply by Adam Ruch that points out that any interaction in a game will take the form of if-then, input-output, and is thus ‘gameable’; the only option is to play along, make-believe that it’s not as creepy as it looks, because it’s all we’re going to get.

        Of course, nobody’s ever going to admit that video games can’t give a meaningful expression of love, because ‘this wonderful medium of ours,’ yadda, yadda, yadda. The result is that people keep trying to find a way to express it by calculation — which is all a computer can do. I’m reminded of Wilhelm Dilthey’s criticism of positivism’s ability to respectfully represent human beings: “Diese geistigen Tatsachen [...] bilden die Wirklichkeit, welche wir nicht meistern, sondern zunächst begreifen wollen.” (Boldness mine)

        My apologies if I ran off on a bit of a tangent here.

        • Yosharian says:

          That… sums up exactly what I wanted to say, so much more eloquently than I could. Thanks, bro.

        • Kitsuninc says:

          A great comment. I don’t think games specifically will ever be a good medium for romance, beyond the wish-fulfillment kind. The idea of picking a partner out of the characters in a game is odd, it feels like being given the characters out of the game and picking which one you want to be your waifu, essentially. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it per se, but it’s not really that great either.

          That doesn’t mean that romance in games is a bad thing, but where it’s successful is where it’s treated in the same way a romance is treated in books and movies; as a part of the plot.

        • The Random One says:

          Kim’s article was pretty bloody genius. The way I play games, the interaction “Shepard macked on Ta’li for three games so she put out to him eventually” is interesting not because of what it is but because of how I construe it in the ongoing narrative I’m creating for my character; therefore, the narrative “Shepard macked on Ta’li for three games but she kicked him in the balls because of his Geth-leaning policies” is just as interesting because if it doesn’t contradict the story I’m writing in my head it’s just a new development. In the meta-game, the fact that such an outcome is possible means that I’m not being a ‘nice guy’ as Kim identified it.

          Don’t really buy Adam’s retort. Any interaction in a game can be gamed, but you can obscure it to draw attention to different parts of the game. You can play WoW as you would play chess but it takes a lot of work so few people do it. If your gameplay is structured in such a way that you’d need extensive preparation to game the system and there are no outcomes presented as failures then the only people who would game the system would be people whose fun in games come specifically from gaming the system, and the problem would be moot.

          • Phantoon says:

            I cared more about the people in Harvest Moon than I ever did in Mass Effect or Dragon Age.

        • AngoraFish says:

          up vote

        • Premium User Badge

          ffordesoon says:

          Oh, horseshit.

          No, with current technology, we can’t do romance as a game mechanic (as opposed to an opt-in narrative device) very well at all.

          A) That does not preclude the possibility of technology advancing to the point that it can do romance well.

          B) So it’s a narrative device. Who cares? If the narrative is well-done (that is to say, is well-written and isn’t dissonant with the gameplay), what’s the problem?

      • Universal Quitter says:

        As he was explaining the thought processes “what do I have to do to get her (V) card,” I couldn’t help but think “Isn’t that how a very large number of males think?”

        It seems silly to hate something when, if you think about it, it’s actually sort of realistic, just not in a way that’s very uplifting to the psyche (or soul).

        (full disclosure: never actually played The Witcher 2)

        EDIT: Removal of nonsense

    • scientific socialist says:

      ‘Ultimately it rendered every female character in the game into a puzzle to be solved. What do I do to sleep with them? How do I get their card?’

      A problem solved by Dragon Age 2, which removed the puzzle by having a glowing heart sign telling you how to sleep with them.

      Oh, and had achievements for sleeping with characters.

      And another one for sleeping with all of them.

      • Yosharian says:

        Exactly

      • kament says:

        You really just missed the whole point he was making. Ah well.

        • scientific socialist says:

          Would you kindly explain how?

        • Yosharian says:

          No he didn’t.

        • Phantoon says:

          I think his point was “I am not a hack, I better jump on the accusations that don’t exist before they do, I am great writor!”

      • Phantoon says:

        Actually, you know what bothers me more than the guaranteed nature of it, and the complete ridiculousness of it all? Every single one is safe friendship into relationship. Which is generally what the unwashed (and since I’m proselytizing, I’ll say literally unwashed here) masses want, because they generally complain about how hard it is to find dates, or how often they get friendzoned. Dragon Age relationships are about people that profess their love to you, because you’re a great friend. Note that Shepard and the DA protagonists can generally, at best, be incredibly dangerous to be around. At worst, they’re selfish, vain, greedy, murderous, uncaring sociopaths. So it’s a game where you can be as horrible as you want, and your waifu will sleep with you anyways.

        I hope that makes sense. I am terrible with words.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          I see what you’re saying. It’s somewhat pandering, and in a way that can make you feel like game designers assume that you, as a user, have basically no knowledge of how relationships actually work.

          But when I think about it harder, maybe the problem is that the game designers themselves, or at least the people that are in charge of these projects, are the ones that have unrealistic, and occasionally misogynistic views about relationships and women.

          Put flashy graphics on a box and someone will buy it, so it’s hard to put a stop to that kind of thing with your wallet. Especially since any sensible gamer puts fun and gameplay WAY above some abstract, subjective opinion about ethics.

        • Yosharian says:

          The thing I remember most about the romances in BG2 was how they went against this type of thing, for the most part anyway. Viconia flirts with you and then treats you like shit and shit-talks you, Jaheira spends most of the romance saying how its the wrong time and she can’t do this blabla. Aerie is probably a pushover though, I never bothered with her, she really irritates me. Also in KotOR Bastila point blank refuses to even engage in a discussion about it for most of the first half.

          In a lot of games since then, it just seems to be people falling in love with you left right and centre with very little effort.

    • kament says:

      But he doesn’t. Why lie?

    • JackShandy says:

      ———-

    • greenbananas says:

      Ah… Oui, mais c’est David Gaider.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYfhTbNM-2Q

      Quel horreur!

    • Jake says:

      The only Bioware RPG I have played is Dragon Age and I didn’t really like the way relationships with the other characters worked in that – far too much like a minigame where clicking the right response gets you more dialogue options until eventually you win.

      Playing as a pragmatist that wanted to save the world rather than flirt I didn’t really have very good relationships with anyone (to the extent that by the end of the game I was quite dependent on my dog to make up the numbers and break me out of jail). The problem is that if you don’t do the whole ‘buy gifts and ask about their backstory in a sympathetic manner’ mini-game you feel like you are missing out on a lot of content, so there ought to be an equally rewarding negative relationships too. Instead of just positive = more dialogue/sex scene, negative = they don’t talk to you/you have to kill them, it would be better if you could build bitter rivalries, make enemies out of associates, turn friends into villains etc. And not just you’ve said so a few mean things so they attack you and you have to kill them, but a more fleshed out negative storyline.

    • Kadayi says:

      Pretty sure you couldn’t romance certain companion characters in DA2 regardless of orientation tbh.

      • Phantoon says:

        What, like the dog and your sibling?

        There was a dog in the second one, wasn’t there? I don’t even remember at this point.

    • Phantoon says:

      His wig is more interesting than his writing.

      Because it’s incredibly awful, but in a funny way. The wig, I mean.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    Mr rustybroomhandle of this very parish did a good write-up on growing the market for Linux gaming, for those inclined. I did mean to submit it to Jim for the Papers, but the wind was against me or something.

  4. phelix says:

    Loved that selection of unreal-yet-real photographs. Really makes me sad we’re destroying it at a massive pace, though.

    • mondomau says:

      Took me a while to work out which link you were referring to, I’d assumed that was just another article. But my word, they are stunning.

    • Rich says:

      Take heart in the knowledge that while we may be able to make the world unsuitable for us and many other species, the Earth itself and life on it are beyond our control. We’re not that influential.

    • Koozer says:

      Terrain in games is always rubbish. Noise map coloured green + random lumps of grey on top = world. They’re still on the level of old Star Trek sets, with polystyrene rocks hacked into a vaguely lumpy shape. Dwarf Fortress has the most realistic terrain in games for god’s sake.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Yes, they are indeed astonishing. Also, there is a photo of me and my girlfriend at the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia on our living room wall that is almost identical to the one in that link. Brag ends. It’s a crazy place, though – feels like walking in the sky.

  5. mondomau says:

    That article about Monopoly needing a re-design to make it a better game would have held a lot more weight if they hadn’t ignored the fact that nobody is actually playing the game correctly in the first place.
    http://www.criticalmiss.com/issue10/CampaignRealMonopoly1.html

    As for the ‘insane journalism’ link, I was initially irritated by the promotion of what I saw as another lazy attempt to emulate HST in a wholly inappropriate genre, but then I realised I was being a grump and would rather read something like this (that actually succeeds in getting some valid points across about the strangeness of these events) than pretty much any of the more pretentious meta-analysis and moralizing navel-gazing that game journalism has been plagued with recently.

    • jalf says:

      Huh, what? I’ve played it “correctly”, and it still stinks. And unless you have proof that the author of that article hadn’t done the same, this seems like a really really dumb strawman.

      Monopoly is a terrible game. If you disagree, you really really need to try some non-terrible games.

      • Premium User Badge

        Joshua says:

        Agreed. I have played the game for a week, with one or two or three gmaes a day, using all the proper correct rules.

        The game is no fun.
        At all.

        • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

          Were you forced to participate in an evil science experiment?

      • mondomau says:

        It wasn’t an attack, strawman or otherwise, it was an observation. calm down and have your Sunday coffee.

        • jalf says:

          Not an attack? Well, you are saying the article holds less weight because you assume that it ignores something that you don’t in fact know that it ignores.

          I don’t know what else you want to call it, but it certainly seems like a strawman to me… You know “I don’t in fact know if this is the case, and I have no particular reason to assume that it is, but *if* it is, it’ll strengthen my argument that the article is wrong, so I’m going to assume that it is the case, and therefore the article is wrong”

      • Baines says:

        I agree that Monopoly isn’t particularly fun, but mondomau is right.

        Every article that I’ve seen that attacks the game design of Monopoly has been written by someone who doesn’t know the rules. The biggest complaints always include issues that are not present if you follow the rules.

        I’m not a fan of baseball, but if I wrote an article about how bad baseball was, and my prime complaints were about the length of the half-time show and the flagrant abuse of the red card penalty system, then people wouldn’t take me seriously. But people churn out these Monopoly articles, sometimes putting significant effort into them, and they are fundamentally flawed. And they are generally accepted because almost no one likes Monopoly and very few actually played by the rules enough to realize the articles are flawed.

        • Phantoon says:

          Well, that’s true for everything, though. People are very opinionated about things, especially when they have no idea what they’re talking about.

        • gwathdring says:

          ” The biggest complaints always include issues that are not present if you follow the rules.”

          See, if you enjoy Monopoly … I can see why you would say that. But I have yet to hear a convincing argument about how proper auctioning rules fix the game. I’ve played both ways and had exactly the same problems. I’ve played without Free Parking (don’t use Free Parking = cash variants … just don’t do it) and with Free Parking. I’ve played all kinds of home-made variants and I’ve played the version straight out of the rulebook.

          What I think many Monopoly-critique-critiques fail to take into account is that a game critique doesn’t give a full, line-by-line statement of which rules were used. I haven’t read this article, because I’m not interested in reading yet another Monopoly article (I’ve read a number of articles from both sides as I’m a bit of a tabletop design nut), but I’ve had my own writings attacked becasue, obviously, I wasn’t using the proper rules. Even when I HAD used the proper rules much to the embarrassment of said attackers. Again, it might be quite obvious this writer did not use the full, official rules–just wanted to mention it.

          Monopoly is also an old enough game that the official rules don’t matter as much. That said, talking about “design” gets a bit silly in that context. I don’t talk about the design of Chess for similar reasons except as a convenient shorthand for discussing it’s mechanics–sort of how we talk about events in a novel like they really happened in certain types of literary criticism. It’s easier, and people know what we’re talking about. Anyway, it’s an old game and if enough people play it the “wrong” way … then it’s valid to discuss the merits of the “wrong” way as though it’s effectively the real Monopoly.

          Mostly, it’s a very old game that’s changed over the years and found it’s way into many homes becasue it’s a thought of as a classic and people grow up with it and parents pass it down … but to someone who’s played games with the design elegance of Hive or the sheer joy of Dixit (controversial, that game, I know) or the unrepentant silliness of Cosmic Encounter, or the brilliance and novelty of Space Alert … Monopoly looks and plays like a piece of shit. It’s not an objective statement, but it’s an easily defended one nonetheless. Flaunting the rulebook in the face of critics doesn’t change that.

    • LionsPhil says:

      With or without that rule, the only outcome of Monopoly is tedium and squabbling.

      • sinister agent says:

        But don’t you see, this is why it is in fact excellent. It’s not a game. It’s a simulation of an unrestrained capitalist economy. Everyone starts out the same way, but due to blind chance and sheer ruthlessness, some will do better than others. The result is that eventually one person has all the money, everyone else has nothing, nobody really has all that much fun, and everyone hates everyone else.

        It’s perfect.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Indeed, Comrade. But when we already know the failings of decadent capitalism, there’s no need to play the message any more when we can play good games (produced through the investment of capital with the expectation of reward beyond proportion of others).

          • P.Funk says:

            You two just played out everything I had rush through my mind as I saw his comment about the tedium of the game.

            Its funny, Monopoly is really the most honest education of western capitalism and we all suffer through it blindly at an early age.

            I can see me with my kids one day, sitting down, playing the game, after 15 minutes they want to get back to their social games on Google Facebook XXX+, I insist they sit through all 14 hours of us pounding away at it. When its over I ask:

            “Did everyone have fun?”
            “No”
            “Do you want to play again?”
            “No”
            “What if I told you you had to, everyday for the rest of your lives?”
            “…”
            “This is why we vote social democrat, children.”

          • gwathdring says:

            Supposedly earlier versions of the game before Parker Brothers had a second act that proposed an alternative land-tax system and this first act was designed to show what was wrong with typical landlord/tenant relations. The first half was more popular (maybe it made a better game?) and was eventually taken up and modified by Parker Brothers.

            At least, according to a small number of sources I’ve been able to find–one of which is Wikipedia. It’s a cool story, in any case.

        • Reefpirate says:

          Somehow I knew this would come up in RPS comments… But no. Monopoly is a very poor metaphor/simulation for capitalism unless you’re a Marxist. But in that case you may as well just masturbate while reading Das Kapital.

          In capitalist economies, you don’t roll a set of dice and then you’re forced to pay the owner of whatever square you land on. You can compare prices and choose the best product or service in probably 95% of cases. You can play real life like Monopoly if you want, but most people weigh the costs and benefits of different hotels before they CHOOSE one.

          You don’t randomly land in jail with another roll of the dice, nor do you randomly take train rides based on random dice rolls. Monopoly is a very anti-capitalism board game but it’s a blatant strawman when you look at it that way.

          • sinister agent says:

            In capitalist economies, you don’t roll a set of dice and then you’re forced to pay the owner of whatever square you land on.

            Not literally, no. Jesus, do I really have to explain what a simulation is? Or unrestricted capitalism?

            Oy.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            Will everyone please stop saying “strawman”?! It’s really getting on my fucking tits.

          • Phantoon says:

            Well, it’s sort of redundant, anyways. Most speech now is hyperbole in some way or another, including this comment I am typing right here.

          • Reefpirate says:

            You don’t have to explain what a simulation is… But you have to explain why they chose to simulate consumer choice as a roll of the dice instead of, you know, players actually making choices. There, we have two different simulations, and I would argue one is more accurate than the other.

            Monopoly is one of the crudest and simplest capitalism simulations ever made, which yes, makes it a great STRAWMAN for people who like to circlejerk about how terrible capitalism is.

    • Bob_Bobson says:

      I play Monopoly with my family fairly often and it is not a tedious and doesn’t lead to squabbling. It helps that we are all good players of the game and use the actual rules not some duller variant. Good players can recognize that player A has a winning position and thus the other 3 (or however many players) must find a partner or a 3 way deal to get a set, even if it’s not totally advantageous. And be sure not to provide player A with the funds they need to get up and running.

      Creativity with deals is very important too. The rules are very light on what is or isn’t allowed so a deal such as: “You give me Park Lane for free, and for the rest of the game I give you any rent I collect on it, and furthermore don’t charge you rent when you land on it or Mayfair” is fair within the rules and a decent way of two players to get half a set each (after some bartering, naturally).

      • jalf says:

        Well, yeah, even a bad game can be fun if you’re playing with good people.

        … but wouldn’t you still have more fun if you played a *good* game with the same good people?

        Really, if it had been a video game, not a single commenter on RPS would have a nice word to say about it, because it’s just terrible game design.

        But sadly, a lot of people have this notion that board games are just not very good games, and that that’s ok, that board games are *allowed* to suck mechanically, because, “well, they just are because they do. And anyway, we can have fun with a game even if it sucks”

        There are really really fantastic amazingly good board games out there. Play them! Show them to your Monopoly-playing family. You’ll still have fun because you’re playing with fun people you care about, but you’ll have *more* fun because you’re playing a game that’s actually fun *in itself*

        • LionsPhil says:

          Monopoly Deal is a great way to show people how much better games can be than Monopoly, since it takes the same fluff and concept and puts it on a completely different, better, much tighter and faster, game.

        • Koozer says:

          I think it’s because boardgames are naturally subject to the same phenomena as coop games are: take any game, add other people, and voilà, it is instantly 100x better, regardless of how good it is! (mileage my vary)

          • Phantoon says:

            Isn’t that the name of a French card game about driving from one place to another? I loved that game as a child.

          • jalf says:

            Definitely, but probably also because 20+ years ago, board games *did* generally suck. Most classic board games really are no fun at all mechanically, and rely 100% on the “coop factor”

            Today, that is no longer true, today there are a lot of family-friendly board games which are also fun *in themselves*. But people still believe that the likes of Monopoly are the pinnacle of board gaming, that the mechanics of a board game are something you endure because you’re simultaneously having fun with your friends.

      • KevinLew says:

        Implementing house rules is certainly a good idea, but to me it just shows how flawed Monopoly really is. It’s basically saying that the only way the game can be fun is by making up new rules which removes some or most of the boring play and poor game design. The most bizarre thing about Monopoly to me is how fundamentally bad it is, yet it’s marketed as one of the greatest games of all time.

        • P.Funk says:

          So maybe now you can see that the phenomenon of popularity being no measure of quality isn’t the modern turn that some of us may believe it to be.

    • Saarlaender39 says:

      In regard of Monopoly: my dearest Edition is the Junior Edition:

      http://www.amazon.de/Parker-00441100-Monopoly-deutsche-Version/dp/B00006RT8Y/ref=pd_cp_toy_0

      It’s a nice designed, funny, fast playing game, which you can enjoy with the whole family.

      All the other Versions out there you can kick in the bin regardless of the “theme” sticked onto it (naturally just my humble opinion).

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      All of you arguing about Monopoly need to go play the Discworld board game first.

  6. cowardly says:

    >AND IN THE REST OF THE WORLD.

    Hmm, maybe not everywhere. In Germany console gaming has the reputation of being for White Trash, while PC gaming has the reputation of being socially acceptable even for “normal” people.

    (BTW, I am not even sure if PC gaming really is more expensive than console gaming in the long run.)

    • D3xter says:

      Yeah, there’s some bastions for PC Gaming around the world, for instance:
      http://www.newzoo.com/infographics/infographic-2012-russia/
      http://www.newzoo.com/infographics/infographic-2012-germany/
      Aswell as Turkey, Poland and I’d bet China, South Korea (but they have no numbers).
      And there’s a lot of countries where it’s about equal with “console gaming”.

      • frightlever says:

        Bastion of PC gaming usually equals no official console release due to piracy concerns.

        • JFS says:

          Yeah, like Germany. The Somalia of Europe.

        • JakeDust says:

          I’d say the bastions of PC are mostly countries that had worst access to consoles in the eighties-nineties, like the whole ex-Soviet block, some East Asiatic countries and others. There are lots of piracy in Latin America, but consoles were always strong (specially in Brazil, where there was a import ban on computers during the 80s to “foment the local industry”).

    • Saarlaender39 says:

      [Cowardly]:”In Germany console gaming has the reputation of being for White Trash, while PC gaming has the reputation of being socially acceptable even for “normal” people.”

      *Hrmpf*…Sorry, but I have to disagree…

      In Germany, Console-Gamers are classified as “white trash”(as you put it so nicely), ONLY by some elitist PC-Gamers.
      While PC Gaming as such (thus including the Consoles!) is still seen as an hobby for people who are mostly young, male and with certain problems with their personal hygiene.

  7. tossrStu says:

    This whole Will Self imbroglio is epiphenominal.

  8. Ansob says:

    I would like to remind everyone that Monopoly is bad and drags on and has shitty win conditions by design: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Monopoly_(game)

    Let it never be forgotten that Monopoly is the best worst boardgame in existence.

    • baby snot says:

      … shitty win conditions? What do you mean?

      • mckertis says:

        He means he’s never won in Monopoly.

      • wu wei says:

        The original game had a different end game that was designed to show how negative monopolies were, so it was cut from the game we know when picked up by Milton Bradley.

    • derbefrier says:

      Monopoly is awesome. That is all.

  9. mzlapq says:

    You did not mention that your comment is Self promoting!

  10. eks says:

    I actually dislike sexual content in my video games, but I also dislike it in every other medium apart from straight up pornography. ~Romance~ and relationship building would be nice in theory, but I’ve never played a game where it was actually meaningful in a way other then as some sort of “progress bar” to having sex.

    • Low Life says:

      I thought the femShep + Garrus (so that would be Mass Effect 2 and 3) romance had some of the most fun dialogue I’ve heard in a video game. Oh, the awkwardness..

      All their romance dialogue being about how to do it does make it fit into your category, but I still thought it was enjoyable nonetheless.

    • tobecooper says:

      Some of the old games of Bioware/Black Isle didn’t have sex in them. Instead romance was a mean to find out more about your companions. The prime example being Torment (I’m thinking Baldur’s Gate and KotOR too, but I’m not sure).

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        Joshua says:

        Baldur’s Gate 2 had sex (and ToTSC had too, but I never encountered it since I never played trough that portion… yet) but the sex was neither the beginning nor the end of the romance (in case of Viconia anyway).

  11. LionsPhil says:

    The barnacle article’s a pretty good analysis.

  12. frightlever says:

    I’m fine with the gays. I don’t approve of gay marriage, but I don’t approve of straight marriage either. Apparently my lack of approval doesn’t count for much because both are still the subject of much debate.

    In the UK a fraction of one per cent of the population is in a civil partnership. Homosexuals make up around 3% of the population. There are more “straight” foot fetishists than gay men. I don’t judge either for how they get their kicks. These are simply numbers. Numbers are not prejudiced.

    That a game acknowledges the gay player at all should be applauded, rather than being derided for half measures. I imagine it’s a paid expansion so that knuckle-draggers can’t claim their kids are being forced to witness homosexuality. I really doubt it’s a calculated effort to milk the pink dollar.

    99.9% of games completely ignore homosexuality. You can see why, when sticking your head up results in someone shooting your face. So to speak.

    • mckertis says:

      “Homosexuals make up around 3% of the population.”

      And yet, lately, it seems that nearly every entertainment show in UK MUST have a gay presenter or a guest. It gets very weird sometimes. UK is on full PC mode now. Now they actually have people with speech impediments be regular guests of RADIO shows ! I have no idea what they are saying most of the time as i cant possibly even read their lips to check !

      “There are more “straight” foot fetishists than gay men. I don’t judge either for how they get their kicks.”

      Except they are completely different cases.
      I’m not saying anything should be done with gays, but this prevalent and ridiculous belief in Western societies, that being homosexual is simply an “alternative” of a kind to heterosexuality is, frankly, completely baffling. Its not the same as one person loving pears and another loving apples.

      • iucounu says:

        I remember someone arguing to me once that it was ludicrous that Blue Peter’s presenters were selected according to ‘political correctness’ – in the context of a disabled presenter being hired for the show. “Disabled people don’t make up so much of the population that they should be one in four of the presenters,” or something like that. It was over-representing disabled people.

        Of course that’s sort of missing the point – it’s not that children’s TV presenters should be some kind of direct demographic microcosm of Britain; it’s that it seems to be a good idea if all kids can see people like themselves as full participants in culture and society.

        Oh, and:

        “this prevalent and ridiculous belief in Western societies, that being homosexual is simply an “alternative” of a kind to heterosexuality is, frankly, completely baffling. Its not the same as one person loving pears and another loving apples.”

        I don’t get what your problem is with that idea. What’s ridiculous about the idea that homosexuality is equivalent to heterosexuality?

        • Salix says:

          I believe he is talking about equating homosexuality to a fetish and how ridiculous that is, as opposed to saying that it isn’t equivalent to heterosexuality.

          • iucounu says:

            I was hoping that, but I can’t put that construction on “the belief that … homosexual is simply an “alternative” of a kind to heterosexuality … is baffling”

      • Phantoon says:

        I could spout rage and bile at you for being so ridiculous. I’m talking about your misuse of the apostrophe, of course.

        I also cannot change your mind about anything, because you’re on the internet, and people are convinced they have the right to spout whatever meaningless bigoted drivel they want to with no repercussions. Which, generally, they do.

        So instead, I’ll say that homosexuality is no more of a fetish than heterosexuality, because you cannot disprove this any more than I can convince you that you might be wrong about something in your life.

    • Vorphalack says:

      ”That a game acknowledges the gay player at all should be applauded, rather than being derided for half measures.”

      It’s only too easy to deride SWtOR when you realise that by evading all homosexual content for launch, they have now achieved segregation by design. I can only assume that the lack of any gay characters at launch was done through fear of a negative reaction. After all they spent years getting the script down for the dozens of heterosexual / non-sexual NPCs, it really did make the promised homosexual NPCs conspicuous by their absence. That’s what the article is really pointing out. If they had committed to this at launch, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as big of an issue, especially considering BioWares history of supporting homosexual content in their RPGs.

      • Premium User Badge

        basilisk says:

        “they have now achieved segregation by design”
        And thus a new monetisation model emerged: Pay2Gay

      • Hoaxfish says:

        If I remember correctly, Bioware initially spouted that there were no gays in Star Wars, something which was supposedly handed down by George Lucas.

        At the same time, this new content has arrived just a little while after George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney.

        I still think it’s poorly handled, and am vaguely amused by how mangled SWTOR is as time goes on.

        • Vorphalack says:

          I forgot about the possible influence of Lucas. Regardless, I doubt there will ever be any tangible evidence to prove he actively blacklisted homosexual content for SWtOR, even though the speculation is pretty convincing. However, about a year before launch BioWare were talking about how SWtOR would continue their tradition of providing homosexual dialogue and romance content. I can’t remember for certain, as I didn’t have access that early, but there might have actually been some in the very early beta tests. But come open betas it was either removed or never implemented. For a while they promised inclusion before launch, but then it became obvious that it was never going to materialise, and they just stopped talking about it. If they had been able to say something to the effect of ”we wanted to do this, but we are no longer allowed under conditions of the license”, then they might have been able to save face. Going silent and then suddenly resurrecting the idea a year after launch doesn’t look particularly good, even if it wasn’t all their fault.

          • Hoaxfish says:

            Yea, there was definitely talk of added homosexual options around launch, though I can think of no real reason why it couldn’t be included at the same time as the heterosexual options.

            I would speculate that they didn’t want to basically tell the truth about Lucas-blocking, and hoped to dangle the idea to retain some of their userbase who’re interested in that sort of thing.

            It was around that time that EA also came up with that whole “we’re being targetted by anti-LGBT groups”, made that petition in support of themselves, then used bots to vote on it. They also had that “EA is the most equal place to work for LGBT” award (while generally being a horrible place for anyone to work at).

          • Phantoon says:

            Well, it wasn’t untrue, was it? It was equally horrible for everyone!

      • Lemming says:

        The correct move, would’ve been to have existing characters have gay romance options, whether they were originally designed straight or not, and ask the player-character’s sexuality during character creation (if the player is age appropriate).

        The NPCs become your character companions, so it has no impact on the game as a whole if some have a ‘straight’ version of an NPC and some do not. It doesn’t impact on other players at all. In SWTOR you and your NPCs are in an RPG bubble.

        • derbefrier says:

          sure but thats not what happened and to go back and add all that dialog and voice acting for all the existing characters would cost boatloads of money. personally i think this is a stupid thing to argue about its in the game and i would imagine it being only on one planet is more a matter of time and budget constraints then purposely segregating gays rom the rest of the game as people seem to want to imply. people wanted gay romance options, so they got it but its still not good enough. just goes to show you can never please the PC crowd so why even bother? Just make the game you wanna make. reasonable people will be happy with that.

          • Lemming says:

            Why would it need new dialogue and voice acting? I’ll bet anything that 99% of it is non-gender specific. ie. the characters don’t say things like ‘you’re beautiful…FOR A GIRL!’.

    • distrocto says:

      This was an interesting article in regards to that http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/05/americans-have-no-idea-how-few-gay-people-there-are/257753/
      Apparently about half of the US population thinks that 20-25%+ of the US population is gay when according to statistics it is closer to somewhere below 2%.

      Couldn’t really fault them for believing that though, since every other TV series, story and increasingly game nowadays has to feature at least one, if not more characters that fit that particular niche.

      And there’s also strong lobbying organizations at work, a few of which are quoted in the article.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Homosexuals seem to be roughly going through the same process in the media as black people once did. First sinister, then funny (e.g. the lisping guy in Independence Day), then daring and edgy (Torchwood’s idea of “adult” is about as sophisticated as Postal 2′s), then token (we’re inclusive!), and fiiinally seems to be settling down toward normal. So the good news is that it might be over within a few decades. The bad news is that mass media doesn’t learn. But “mass media is an horrible, exploitative machine” isn’t a huge surprise.

        I’m wondering who’s going to be next through the process of being “that” social group.

        • DXN says:

          I’m wondering who’s going to be next through the process of being “that” social group.

          Trans people, bisexuals, and in general queer people who are not simply “gay”. Polyamory, polysexuality.

          You could argue that the groups to come after that are probably still in the “invisible/unacknowledged” state at the moment and can’t easily be identified.

          • Phantoon says:

            Probably in that order. Had a bisexual friend who got targeted by other people for being a “slut”. By gay people, who were suffering the same exact bigotry.

            OH WELL!

        • Hoaxfish says:

          Maybe next’ll be gamers… we’re already at the “funny” stage with shit like The Big Bang Theory. TV hasn’t made it past the nonsensical technobabble in general though.

        • I Got Pineapples says:

          Asians.

          In all seriousness, Asians do not do well in the western media.

          Even black and gay people get to lay the boot into Asians.

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            I’m sure with the continued rise of China as a global power that won’t take too long.

          • Baines says:

            China has stopped being the villain, with that role having moved to North Korea.

            The remake of Red Dawn was originally going to have China invade the US, but it was switched to North Korea because the studio didn’t want to lose China as a viewing market.

        • sinister agent says:

          I’ve pondered this notion sometimes too, mostly in the light of the realisation that future generations will view Alan Carr as the homosexual (as opposed to black) equivalent of the black and white minstrels.

      • I Got Pineapples says:

        The issue is it’s a very political number and both groups of people with an interest in gay rights, on both the pro and anti sides of the matter, want there to be seen to be talking about a decent sized demographic slice of the population.

        But yeah, around 2 to 3% being seen as roughly accurate. Which does make me wonder what the Homophobes are angry about, given that you could, y’know, just turn your head in a different direction and see vast vistas of people who like different genitals to their own.

    • DXN says:

      1) The number of non-straight people in the UK is closer to 5-6% (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_sexual_orientation#United_Kingdom) and may be higher due to underreporting, partly due to the discrimination against and invisibility of queer culture which is partly due to underrepresentation in media and satistics. In any case, it’s millions of people.

      2) Non-straight content is of interest to more than non-straight people.

      3) If you think “every” show/game/whatever has openly non-straight people in it then you’re operating under selection bias.

      4) Even if that was the case or even if they are at least overrepresented, it wouldn’t be a bad thing.

      5) Getting back to games and media, including non-straight options in, let’s say, half of games is not the same thing as overrepresenting queer sexuality.

      6) Queer sexuality is not always included in ways that give it the same normative weight, e.g. the overrepresentation of queer villains/queer characters being more likely to die or get maimed/generally being kept separate from actual heroism and protaganism/tokenism.

      7) PC Madness is not a thing in any meaningful sense you silly goose.

      8) mckertis, glad to hear you don’t think anything “should be done” with gays. You’re too kind. If you do need us to all go jump in the sea some time, let us know. Least we could do.

      9) Haha, are you really unsure of the concept of sexual orientation? Good on you man. Top dollar.

      GAY PEACE OUT.

      • iucounu says:

        Excellent.

      • JFS says:

        Thank you.

      • Lemming says:

        The trouble with gay people in the media, is not that they are there, it’s that often their entire reason for being there is the fact they are gay. ie. Graham Norton, Alan Carr.. Take away the camp innuendo and you are left with a pretty mediocre talk show host who’s not any more funny than the average man on the street.

        As counter examples: John Barrowman, Neil Patrick Harris, Jim Parsons. All gay, but none of them ‘sell’ it.

        Come to think of it, does that mean our American cousins are fast becoming more enlightened than us here in Britain, or does it mean they don’t like openly gay celebrities? Who knows.

        • DXN says:

          Plenty of camp, straight celebrities (e.g. Ainsley Harriott) and non-camp gay celebrities (Simon Amstell, Ian McKellan), and people in between (Stephen Fry?). If I knew more about celebrities I could be more comprehensive. Point is, ‘campness’ is just part of the British TV persona and of performance/entertainment in general, really. Graham Norton and Alan Carr are pretty lame, but that doesn’t mean much on its own. Is NPH “better” for not acting camp (except, you know, when he does?). I don’t think it has much bearing either way.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          How would you explain the presence of the many rubbish talk show hosts in the UK who aren’t gay, what would you say the excuse for their employment is? Baseless accusations of positive discrimination are a really insidious form of prejudice if you ask me, because not only do they marginalise people by depriving them of judgement through their own merit, they present them as privelidged at the same time, legitimising the marginalization of them. Whether Alan Carr is funny or not has nothing to do with his sexuality, as the gentleman above me points out innuendo is not the sole preserve of the gay community and many straight comedians like to whip it out.

      • Arren says:

        ::applause::

      • Premium User Badge

        tigerfort says:

        Thank you for saving me the trouble of writing this.

      • Low Life says:

        You should totally go jump in the sea. I’ll join too, we’ll have the most awesome beach party ever!

      • Phantoon says:

        I imagined that being all said with a lisp. Does that make me a bigot, or just really unfunny?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      99.9% of games completely ignore homosexuality.

      99.9% of games completely ignore sexual preference entirely.

      Nobody knows if Doomguy likes other Doomguys or not.

      • Jim Rossignol says:

        “Nobody knows if Doomguy likes other Doomguys or not.”

        He totally does.

      • LionsPhil says:

        We do know he takes a strong stance on the responsible disposal of nuclear waste, however.

        • Phantoon says:

          Do you think that’s one of his only interests outside of “murdering the hell out of all the demons from hell”, or that he’s a deep and complex individual when he’s not ripping the spines out of zombies and using them to club imps to death?

      • I Got Pineapples says:

        Doomguy doesn’t even have genitals.

        Genitals take up valuable space that can be used to store more guns.

      • Premium User Badge

        psepho says:

        One word — Masterchief. Clearly a portmanteau of ‘masturbate’ and ‘handkerchief’. Handkerchiefs are often scented with lavender. It’s pretty clear if you read between the lines.

        More seriously — surprised no-one has mentioned Anna Anthropy’s ‘game of the article’ which went up on http://www.freeindiegam.es yesterday. Brilliant little satire on KOTOR in the context of this story. ‘Hunt for the Gay Planet’. Check it out!

        EDIT: Hunt for the Gay Planet is actually mentioned in Porpentine’s free games round-up. Doh.

  13. limimi says:

    I have to say, that real monopoly link was enlightening – not because I now know the real rules of Monopoly, but because I’ve never played these other rules.

    And while I can see these ‘no auction’ rules being boring, I’ve never played a game of monopoly that didn’t end with – at the very least – shouting, insults and the words NEVER AGAIN screamed by two or more people. Good times.

  14. Low Life says:

    So first I was thinking that I’m not very likely to read an article if the summary includes a word I don’t know. Then I googled ‘priapism’ and wished I hadn’t.

    • sinister agent says:

      Will Self really should be selling dictionaries. He’d have cornered the market decades ago.

      • Vorphalack says:

        He’d have only called it an ”Expounding of the English Lexicon”, forcing us to buy a regular dictionary to work out what he was trying to sell.

  15. eRa says:

    Never would have expected to find a link to the Bad Astronomy blog here. Space and video games, doesn’t get much better than that.

  16. Agricola says:

    Oh man, the insane journalism link is pure gold. I don’t read the Sunday Papers every week expecting to laugh this much!

    • McDan says:

      It is a brilliant, article, one of the reasons that I shout at all my friends to read the Sunday Papers every week are articles like this. They may not be in every weeks papers, but when they are, it is a very good day.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      It was so hilarious! :D

      But I came away from it with a question for the games journalists: Do Germans have a reputation for asking weird questions at game presentations? I am german, but I don’t know much about our games journalists, and I’m curious.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        I would say there’s always a chance of that with anyone from a different culture, especially if they haven’t fully mastered the language they’re trying to speak in.

        • Premium User Badge

          Bluerps says:

          Sure. I mean, apart from that kind of problem (also, then it wouldn’t be specific to Germans, would it?).

    • LionsPhil says:

      I particularly like his comment reply about Assassins Creed 3.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Andy_Panthro says:

    I’ve been playing Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade alongside The Adventure Gamer this weekend, and made this:

    http://imgur.com/gallery/gNmeJMA

    Just thought I’d share it with you good folks!

  18. Premium User Badge

    Stellar Duck says:

    I can’t help think that Gaider might have had more of a point if not Dragon Age had had a bar that counted up to sex that would be filled by giving people gifts. Only some gifts were better than others so it became about figuring out what gifts were best so you got to have sex.

    • PsychoWedge says:

      Dunno, I think Gaider’s post might be the most amusing thing out of Bioware’s depths I’ve read since their reaction to fan reactions to Dragon Age 2. His words have this fascinating quality of self-illusion and being far, far away somewhere in ones own head. It’s amazing. Truly amazing… xD

      • Premium User Badge

        Stellar Duck says:

        That’s basically anything out of Gaiders mouth. It’s always comedy gold and examples on just how far removed from reality one can be.

      • gritz says:

        A week or two ago, he wrote an article as a reaction to someone calling the Bioware Social Network “toxic”. In it, he said it doesn’t bother him that people are so critical and have such high expectations of his games.

        Because that’s why people hate Bioware Social: they’re too critical. Not because they’re a bunch of fawning creeps who write 6000 word essays about the flavor of Tali’s sweat.

        Gaider’s complete lack of self-awareness is pretty astounding.

        • Phantoon says:

          For more information on David Gaider’s self delusion, look up pictures of him with a wig.

    • Grygus says:

      False.

      The friendship bar was a mechanic for deepening any relationship, whether it was romantic or not. If you wanted a best buddy in Morrigan with no interest in romance, you filled up the same bar with the same gifts. All romance was initiated/rebuffed in dialogue choices that were clearly signposted, assuming you paid any attention to the dialogue up to that point.

      Romance in Dragon Age was supported, not forced. It wasn’t even encouraged by game mechanics; there was no advantage in-game. Leliana noting that you are good friends and then asking whether you could be something more isn’t rape.

      • gritz says:

        And yet each sexable character had a corresponding achievement with their picture on it, not unlike a certain other game…

      • Premium User Badge

        Stellar Duck says:

        The cards in The Witcher served no in game purposes and granted no bonuses, as far as I recall. They were certainly not forced either.

        My point is that if you wanted sex (because that’s what romance is, right Gaider?) you need to find gifts and ply the men/women with them in order to get to the toe cringing animations.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      The “gift giving” was an alternate complementary game mechanic to making your companions like you more, one that is much faster and simpler to implement than deep dialogue trees. It was probably intended as a way for people who wanted their companions to have positive views of them but screwed up in dialogue or moral choice situations to rectify the problem without having to reload or wait for the opportunity to apologize to pop up.

      I don’t think it was put there to help people “reach sex” (though some used it like that) but as one way of interacting. You could give gifts to Sten for instance even though you couldn’t romance him, and personally I thought the fact that he liked classical art gave his “bad ass stoic warrior” character some extra nuance.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        I liked the idea of the gift mechanic as a very basic first principle and I agree that it wasn’t a sex meter. Sten liking classical art was one of the nicest aspects of it. However, it was an atrociously executed mechanic that rendered all companion “relationships”, whether romantic or not, into a meaningless number crunching exercises.

        Oddly, I like what gaider said in his post by and large but I found it just odd how it bore no relation to any of the games they have made. His example of Thane, which was a great example by the way, is probably the only such example from any bioware game I could think of.

  19. The Smilingknight says:

    Here is a crazy idea.

    How about someone makes a research into how gun violence and violence in general affect video games?

  20. Spengbab says:

    So yea, space is too damn big. Unacceptable.

  21. Cinnamon says:

    When I read the title, “the fun boson does not exist,” I started to feel a bit miffed and was priming myself to make a post about how fun describes a higher level emergent property of playing games that only breaks down when over analysed in too much fine detail. I was surprised when the article made a similar argument. I was expecting a typical anti gameplay argument from the story telling people, you see.

  22. Hoaxfish says:

    Just a bit more fun on the “women in games” issue… male gamers make a pin-up calendar in response: http://www.p4rgaming.com/?p=942

    (be aware that most of the site is parody)

    • mondomau says:

      “most of the site is parody”
      including the comment section, hopefully.

    • iucounu says:

      WHY CAN NOBODY SPELL CALENDAR

      • Hoaxfish says:

        I don’t know what you’re talking about, thanks to the power of comment-editing

  23. Jason Moyer says:

    “Ultimately it rendered every female character in the game into a puzzle to be solved.”

    Which is more realistic than the way romance has been portrayed in any Bioware game.

    • Tim James says:

      Yeah, I’ll take the direct childishness in The Witcher 1 over the tropes in every Bioware game.

      • Rich says:

        Indeed. There are actually real people who behave like Geralt. Quite a lot of them in fact.
        To its credit, The Witcher also has examples of quite complex relationships, i.e. with Shani and/or Triss.

        Bioware games generally just descend into anime dating sims.

        • Phantoon says:

          I think my personal umbrage with Bioware is they’re so easy, and nothing goes wrong. And even if something does go wrong, you can just fix it by doing all the other dialogue options. That’s not what a real relationship is. But I’m sure the excuse of “well how much depth can go into a video game” can be put in, even though it’s really an excuse for laziness.

          I think the rule of thumb going forward should be, if Bastion was more dynamic while having a completely linear story, then you are doing it wrong (not saying anything bad about Bastion, but there was only two choices, and they were both at the end of the game).

          In fact, Dark Souls has more dynamic storytelling than anything Bioware has put out in the past ten years, and it has next to no dialogue.

  24. Eddy9000 says:

    I have a spatchcocked chicken under the grill right now. I mainly prepare them like this because it gives me an excuse to say ‘spatchcock’.

    • sinister agent says:

      Spatchcock is a terrific word. Not only does it sound fun and feel good to say, but it’s both very rude and not at all rude, so you can fit it into pretty much any context and still have a bulletproof defence if someone tries to get arsey about it.

  25. rb2610 says:

    “why being hunted might be a good theme for a game. (And it really is.)”

    Nice subtle endorsement for Sir, You Are Being Hunted ;P

    Although I do agree, more games need to make the player feel hunted that aren’t Survival Horror games.

  26. guygodbois00 says:

    Saved by the paper, not the bell. Thank you, Mr Rossignol.
    Also, that chap Grant Howitt not-from-Guardian (is this the same http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/grant-howitt ?) can write a mean story. Got instantly transported in the PC Gamer times of yore. Happy days…
    “…Being hunted might be a good theme for a game.” Self-promoting again, are we? Better make that a silly good game, or else…well, nothing really.

  27. Hoaxfish says:

    The Kotaku article has a little bit more to the story, in which Luke Plunkett gets in a tweet-fight with an actual Japanese Dev (Hideki Kamiya of Platinum Games): https://twitter.com/PG_kamiya/status/288816739297419265

    It’s worth remembering that Kotaku doesn’t exactly have stellar coverage of PC gaming either.

    Also, Stephen Totilo (of Kotaku) gets angry on a Reddit thread about Polygon/The Verge being treated with respect, while Gakwer media is banned from Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/16tyee/why_are_polygontheverge_allowed_sudden/

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      Indeed, when it’s utterly obvious that both should be treated with equally withering contempt. Mostly. Polygon is sometimes okay.

      Then again, it’s Reddit.

      So I’m not sure who I should be hating in this case.

      Probably the Gawker network. That’s usually the right answer.

      • Dominic White says:

        Nah, Gawker are in the right on this one. They ran a story on a very high-ranking Reddit mod/administrator being a pedophile and running several specific sub-reddits related to it. In response, Reddit banned all mention of any Gawker site, forever.

        • Kaira- says:

          “Pedophile” my ass. Also, Gawker went full witch-hunt mode during the whole violentacrez-hulabalooza, exposing private information of random people. Gawker is full of shit, double-standards and clickbaiting, to put it shortly.

        • I Got Pineapples says:

          He wasn’t a pedophile. He was a dude who took creepshots. Which is still terrible and creepy and unpleasent and suggests some really problematic attitudes to women but not exactly the same as kiddie fiddling.

          The issue I have with it was that Andrew Chen had taken a few swings at a Clickbaity Reddit hit piece for Gawker before which makes this feel a bit…gross to be honest.

          Not that I’m a fan of Reddit by any means, it being a pit of beardy fedora wearing types and their terrible opinions but still…the Gawker network exists to make us all that much stupider.

        • Phantoon says:

          That’s funny, because Reddit had a sub-forum that was apparently dedicated to pictures of children. I’d call it child pornography, but it was not… legally. Morally, ethically, etc, it was. So really they had a child pornography board, and hell, if Gawker were the ones to expose it, I guess I owe them one apology.

          One. Still a shit website.

        • Premium User Badge

          Lars Westergren says:

          I’m with Dominic on this one. This as one man who was violating personal privacy of thousands, posting “upskirt” pictures of underage girl, and creating pro-rape subreddits, but that was apparently ok, I guess since it was mostly women who were affected? But when Kotaku runs an investigative journalism piece, the fact that Violentacrez privacy has been invaded is the greatest moral outrage ever, and mentioning the article in question on Reddit could get your account permanently instabanned.

          http://gawker.com/5950981/unmasking-reddits-violentacrez-the-biggest-troll-on-the-web

          I decided this weekend that I’ve had it with Reddit, after discussing this with Deimorz, the mod of r/games who is adamant about upholding the ban on any Gawker content. I spend too much time online already, I should use my time to read original content.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        I enjoy The Verge, mostly for their vergecasts. Polygon has some weird issues with the front page’s layout that I just can’t wrap my head around (within the articles it’s much cleaner). I’d certainly put both ahead of anything Gawker… though I still read Lifehacker and io9 occasionally for lack of anything better on the same subject.

        However, I certainly wouldn’t back the Reddit-ban on them, especially given that Reddit has its own flavour of disgusting on the same level. Both have terrible layout/navigation as well… and so does Twitter infact.

        Reddit’s argument for its own content in light of Gawker’s exposure articles seems to support the reason why Gawker should be allowed on there as well.

    • hypercrisis says:

      I should hope so, backlash is deserved for such a weak and shallow article. I’m surprised asto why it was even featured, given that it amounts to glib remarks from random passers by on a Tokyo high street. You could easily interchange Japan for any country if that’s the approach you take.

  28. Thoric says:

    The funny thing about the Gaider blog excerpt is that the “solving people for a reward” philosophy is the bread and butter of character interaction in BioWare games, especially the romances, while side characters in both Witcher games act quite independently from Geralt and actively pursue their own interests.

    • Phantoon says:

      Oh, hey. That’s the words I wanted. Other games have characters as people. Bioware has characters as objectified things to be sexed.

  29. Premium User Badge

    Dilapinated says:

    Those two on enemy design and environment are amazing. Haven’t checked the others out yet.

  30. Lemming says:

    The thing that always bugged me about the Half-Life Barnacles is how the hell do they breed/move around? I get that they are teleporting in randomly in the first game, but what about the second? And how would they breed/move around on their homeworld?

  31. rockman29 says:

    Fun Boson does not exist sounds really interesting, just skimmed it down, looks like a good criticism of social games.

    Social games ftl!

  32. Tams80 says:

    That Toughbook article is great. Just my kind of humour.

  33. hypercrisis says:

    I have a fantasy in which guns are regulated in video games, forcing devs to be creative, rather than use the FPS as a crutch.

    • LionsPhil says:

      They will all be replaced with magic wands that shoot fireballs and lightning.

      So it’ll be a little more ’90s and a little less SO REAL, but that’d be about it.

    • El_Emmental says:

      In Mafia 1 (Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven), whenever you’re seen carrying a firearm (even the smallest self-defense pistol you could find) in public, any member of the law enforcement forces will try to arrest you (with handcuffs).

      The only legal weapons are baseball bats, metal poles and perhaps (I can’t remember) brass knuckles along with switchblade knifes.

      A mission is built around the fact you can’t carry a firearm whenever you want.

      If you manage to outrun the policemen (by car or by foot), which mean being out of sight and at a long distance from them, they’ll forget about you (after a short moment, 20-30 seconds).

      But if they only lose sight of you (but stay relatively near), or if you take too long to get away, they’ll call for reinforcements. It means you’ll have to find a place to hide out of sight (and far away enough from any road/street) for approximately 2 to 3 minutes.

      … and if you are foolish enough to use your firearms (even once), all policemen will open fire at you until you’re dead. If you fail to kill all the policemen in sight in less than 20-30 seconds, reinforcements with Thompson SMG and shotguns in car will chase you.

      Many many times I had to run away from a cop because I forgot to check left and right before pulling my 1911, or because I tried to carry 2 two-handed firearms (1 hidden in the coat, 1 in the hands).

      It means you always have to make sure no cops are around you when you pull out your gun, and if there’s one, you’ll need to quickly eliminate him.

      Hopefully, most missions involving heavy use of firearms will be on private property or ending in a private property (where policemen can’t enter), allowing you to escape easily.

      But even in that case, thousands of players complained about the “bullsh*t about firearms” in the game. Same with the speeding tickets, and the credible (= a little realistic) vehicles specs (acceleration, top speed, torque, etc). Hell, the devs even added a “Skip” button for the racing mission in a patch.

      That’s why you won’t see regulated guns in a commercial game anytime soon: kids (minor and adult ones) want to shoot at things, if you put any obstacle on their path, they’ll automatically complain.

      • Premium User Badge

        Stellar Duck says:

        And now I feel like playing Mafia again. It was awesome that you could get fined for speeding and not run around with a gun willy nilly. And the cars could run out of gas. Nothing more silly than stealing a car, going on a car chase and the stalling in the middle of it.

        • El_Emmental says:

          You could also break the steering, overheat the motor (when breaking the radiator) and kill the transmission. Along with losing mirrors, car emblem, windows, flattening tires, lost tires (nb: really, you can still drive a little !), roof structure.

          They also coded each fuel tank like the barrels in the game: the leak would only go as far as the hole is, so if you landed a shot on the top of the fuel tank you would only lose the fuel above that hole.

          Shooting again below that level would make it leak again (down to the new level).

          True story (ingame): I once drove away from a cop, laughing as he tried to shot at me.

          Karma bit me in the bottock, as the last bullet of his Smith and Wesson Model 10 Revolver did hit my car, right on the lowest part of the Lassiter V16 Appolyon’s fuel tank, ruining that perfect beauty of white open-top cabriolet.

          I could only fill the tank once before it ran out of juice in the middle of the road.

          Screenshot of the Lassiter V16 Appolyon (rear view): http://mafiagame.wikia.com/wiki/File:LassiterV16Appolyon-Mafia-rear.jpg

  34. iridescence says:

    Bioware’s idea of romance in RPGs is pretty much “Most companions are bisexual sluts and you only need to figure out the right dialogue choices to get them to sleep with you” Given that, I don’t think he should be complaining about objectification in “The Witcher”, You know what they say about glass houses and stones.

  35. Srethron says:

    The Game Industry’s Challenge for 2013 sounds like universal ammo from Deus Ex: Invisible War all over again. Must you learn this lesson again, Game Industry?

    • Phantoon says:

      Maybe they’ll learn a conversation starting with “this is your fault, how are you going to fix it” isn’t a conversation to be had.

      Actually, no media form will ever learn that. Guess it doesn’t matter since knee-jerk reactionism is how anything gets done anymore, rather than prevention and planning.

  36. I Got Pineapples says:

    Japan does have a pretty decent PC gaming industry, with a lot of small developers and so on. It’s just got nothing to do with the western PC gaming industry. They make Japanese games for Japanese people.

    It’s just kind of viewed as the province of the japanese equivalent of basement dwellers.

    So not really that different from Western PC gaming, on reflection.

  37. EmiliaJackman22 says:

    uptil I looked at the receipt for $7046, I didn’t believe that my sister was like they say realey receiving money parttime at their computer.. there best friend haz done this for only about a year and resently cleard the morgage on there place and bourt Mini Cooper. go to, Fox76.com

  38. Universal Quitter says:

    Thanks for another Sunday Papers, RPS. This is my favorite feature on your site. Well, other than the original Warface article, before the whole thing got super-meta and memed to death, resurrected, and killed again.

  39. Gnoupi says:

    About Monopoly, I will just put this here: http://www.criticalmiss.com/issue10/CampaignRealMonopoly1.html

    Monopoly’s games are awkward mostly because no one plays it by the actual rules.

    • jalf says:

      I’m pretty sure that was already mentioned: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/01/20/the-sunday-papers-248/#comment-1176931

      And again, I don’t see how you arrive at that conclusion. Monopoly games are awkward because it’s a bad game. The actual rules are better than *some* of the unofficial rules, but they don’t magically turn it into a *good* game.

      Other than that, I will never ever understand why people feel the need to *defend* the game. I mean, who cares if it’s an *extremely* crappy game, or if it’s merely “not worth playing”?

      • Phantoon says:

        Because people are wrong on the internet, and that one time when they were a kid they had fun.

        • El_Emmental says:

          I never had any fun playing Monopoly when I was a kid, we were “forced” to play it (to “calm down” when were playing outside, or to “do something else” when we were playing video games) by grown-ups.

          Meanwhile, I do believe that having the Auction rule could have made the game much more interesting, but since it would have generated anger, frustration and resulted in a very tense atmosphere, parents castrated the game to keep us bored and calm.

          ps: I read about the Monopoly thing through mondomau’s post too.

      • El_Emmental says:

        Be cool jalf, it’s just a famous board game.

        Video gamers have Call of Duty, board gamers have Monopoly – we both should learn to live without it and tolerate normal people.

        We all know there is bazillions of much better games out there, I too played quite a few, and I’m the first to suggest something else when someone is trying to launch a Monopoly game. But you’re going too far.

        Jumping on every comment mentionning it it to remind everyone how you hate it and how it’s crap and shouldn’t be played, is going too far. Do you seriously want to become the Khemm of boardgames/Monopoly ? :/

        “Other than that, I will never ever understand why people feel the need to *defend* the game. I mean, who cares if it’s an *extremely* crappy game, or if it’s merely “not worth playing”?
        Other than that, I will never ever understand why people feel the to *attack* the game. I mean, who cares if it’s an *extremely* crappy game, or if it’s merely “not worth playing” ?

        I’m sorry to say that, but you sound like a very angry comic book store guy, telling a 8 years old kid playing with a Spiderman figurine in the street that he’s the sole reason why superheroes comics are all worthless now. Chill out man.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        I like Monopoly….. I’m sorry

  40. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    For what it’s worth, Hotline Miami was my first Cactus game. I dreamed of it for days; and I normally never remember my dreams.