The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on January 27th, 2013 at 10:32 am.


Sundays might seem like they are for rest, but it’s a trick. It’s actually the busiest day of the week, as you attempt to cram in all those things you wanted to do but didn’t have the time. Perhaps, if you are extremely fortunate, you will be able to find time to browse some articles about videogames, too.

  • The Verge on the death of amusement arcades: “Though probably overstated at the time, pinball’s relationship to organized crime certainly existed. The end of Prohibition didn’t bring an end to the mob, but it did require the diversification of portfolios, adding the distribution of vending machines, cigarette machines, jukeboxes, and pinball to the “amusements” of booze and prostitution. LaGuardia’s mission gave voice to sentiments which hearkened back to the moral outrage of the Prohibition era, too, most of which had nothing to do with organized crime. Pinball, a “pointless game,” was attractive to children, and this worried parents and “concerned citizens.”"
  • Sunday seems appropriate to link to Jeff Wheeldon’s take on religious lore and iconography in games: “Diablo II expanded into foreign territory, incorporating multiple ancient mythologies, to mixed effect: in one sense they were successful, because they managed to blend these different mythologies together, giving them a sense of continuity; but on the other hand, this had a homogenizing effect, reducing these diverse and powerful traditions into mere variations on a theme and making them all weaker in the process. In trying to blend its rather good wine with other vintages, Diablo II ultimately ended up just watering it down.”
  • Proteus as a writing stimulus for children: “It was interesting to be present while so many screens were displaying the game – there were fourteen computers, each at different locations on the island, along with the electronic whiteboard. The sound from the main computer was played over the speakers, filling the room with David Kanaga’s amazing reactive soundtrack. Other children used headphones. Most were glued to their screens, whilst a few stood back, taking in the view and noting their observations from multiple machines.”
  • Blaming sexism for a lack of women in the games industry is a cop-out, argues EA’s Gabrielle Toledano: “Now let me be clear, issues around sexism or harassment are not something I take lightly. As the head of human resources, I enforce a very strict code of conduct, hold regular employee trainings and support other internal initiatives to ensure a safe and respectful work environment. The issue I have is that the video game industry is being painted as more sexist than other male-dominated workforces. I know sexism exists, but the issue isn’t just in video games. And it’s not what’s holding us back.”
  • RPS chums Leigh Alexander and Quintin Smith write to each other on the topic of Far Cry 3: “You accepted a generic tribal tattoo — oh, sorry, tatau — without complaint. You have a radio, a fully-functioning tablet and generous access to vehicles, so you could try to contact your family; you could try to get a ride to the mainland, get to an embassy, call for help and let your family know your brother has died, that everyone you love is being held hostage by pirates. You could spare a tear, even. Instead you are agreeably slaughtering tapirs for backpacks.”
  • John Teti’s take on Rotting Bikini Torso amused me.
  • Beefjack on the persistence and blurring into real life that happens around Neverwinter Nights 2: “I spoke with Troy, admin and creator of the Persistent World ‘Legacy: Dark Age of Britain’, and he puts it like this: “My goal as a player is to, as much as possible, play and understand the ‘role’ of the character, and understand what it must be like to live in the world he’s living. How his motivations, morality, fears, faith, etc. are different from my own given the circumstances he’s in and what actions should he take and what goals would he have based on those factors.””
  • Jubert on Little Inferno & Plato’s Allegory of the Cave: “The idea is that the slave’s journey mirrors our own intellectual journeys as human beings. We begin life taking the information from our senses to be the ultimate truth. Some never leave this state. Others look around and realise that there are greater forces at work which themselves explain the information received by our senses. As the slave leaves the cave and witnesses the real world, human beings are able to engage their rational thought and begin reasoning out the truth from the lies. Finally, we are supposed to come upon the ultimate truth, or the Form of the Good, which is analogous to the sun, and represents ultimate enlightenment for Plato.”
  • A robot programmed to carve two stools from a single log.

Music this week is Tim Hecker’s Balkanize You. Yeah, it’s old, but Hecker is all I listen to at the moment.

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113 Comments »

  1. LionsPhil says:

    That Bikini Torso article is indeed quite amusing, and kind of right in terms of it being an accidental cultural artifact to lock away as a curio, like the Star Wars Christmas Special.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      It’s an appropriately irreverent and reasonable reaction to a stupid chunk of plasticized video game promotional trash, and I wish more media outlets had treated the controversy with the same level-headed calm.

    • WhatKateDoes says:

      The sooner it’s forgotten about the better. It’s just another thing to elicit a huge sigh about. More depressing is the outraged outrage reaction from those outraged about the outrage. Yes. The comments on some website’s articles to that effect were frankly more depressing than the subject matter itself.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      It does have something of the Chapman Brothers about it.

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  2. The Smilingknight says:

    Thats not the point of the article. It only uses that crutch to nicely and directly point to real underlying pathetic reasons for the whole deal.

    such as:

    These are important cues in the visual vocabulary of Modern Game Studio artworks. They symbolize worship of the deities Dark and Gritty. According to lore, anyone who gazes upon these gods—and isn’t too much of a pussy to handle it—is granted the power of being a badass who nobody should mess with. On account of the darkness. And grit.

  3. Kynrael says:

    I just love that article on Proteus. It made my day :)

  4. SuperNashwanPower says:

    I used to love amusement arcades, but yeah having my hands stink of burnt tobacco after using the joysticks did kind of suck. Plus £3 to blow on Robocop was a lot for me back then.

    Also I am sure the rest of the Verge article is really good, it could just benefit from the skills of summary and brevity.

    • D3xter says:

      According to this: http://www.develop-online.net/news/42997/Game-industry-worth-83bn-by-2016-research-claims “Social Gaming” just imploded upon itself last year:

      “Social gaming investment plummets

      Social gaming was blamed for the sharp decline, with a drop in investment of $1 billion compared to 2011, a fall of 94 per cent.

      Digi-Capital noted that venture capitalists had abandoned social games investment during last year, excluding mid-core and social gambling, while some VCs even outside the social sector left the market completely.”

      While “Mobile Gaming” seems to be the “new thing” that lots of business type people pump their money into nowadays. I won’t be surprised to read about similar drops in that in 1-2 years time.

      And KickStarter accounted to over 6% of game funding last year:
      “Kickstarter was also mentioned in the report, accounting for six per cent, or $49 million, of all video game investment in 2012.

      The biggest concentration of investment through the crowdfunding site went toward PC games, which made up 63 per cent of all funding, followed by hardware at 23 per cent.

      87 per cent of all investment raised went into just seven per cent of successfully funded projects.”

      Although according to this it might be even more: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-01-09-USD83-million-pledged-to-kickstarter-games

  5. The Smilingknight says:

    And then leigh Alexander article. Hah.

    – If we look cool, no one will know we have feelings.-

    Yes indeed. but the problem isnt just having feelings. Thats just a step leading us to fucking DO SOMETHING – which is difficult. And we want easy.

    Also:

    - On the other hand, I live in a country where, when I was a child in the 1980s, it was still normal to run around whooping and playing “Indians,” being shot by “cowboys.” Our history is so revisionist that I don’t think it fully dawned on me that I had been gleefully playing ETHNIC CLEANSING until I was, like, 20 years old. -

    I have to say, being a child in eighties in another part of the world, we played the same game – only nobody wanted to be a cowboy. Never – except forcing some to be practice targets.
    Our heroes were Cochise, Crazy Horse, Geronimo, Sitting Bull and all others not so famous, unnamed heroes fighting insane whiteys and blue shirts. Bird feathers in hair and makeshift bows and tomahawks.

    Funnily enough – we knew – mainly because we watched so many american movies.

    And i dont think you can actually find any kids in the whole wide world (baring parts of US i guess) who actually prefer to be on the cowboy side.

    -edit-

    - My favorite part of Far Cry 3 was taking a flamethrower to those pot fields and running like hell, and Jason’s silly commentary. -

    What? Are you kidding me?
    Isnt that the bloody point Leigh?
    Instead of smoking a bud and then realizing all that violence is bullshit and that there are much better things to spend your time on – you burned it all with a flamethrower?

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      Not to mention the childs version of that game is invariably bloodless

      “Nu-uh, you missed!”

      “Well your arrow bounced off my gun!”

    • MarcP says:

      Kid in the 80s as well here, and in France most children have always preferred to be the cow-boy; so much so that preference is well established in popular culture.

      I don’t think many actually knew the names of any cow-boy or indian, though. The appeal was being able to shoot a gun. Adults love to twist things so they can claim moral outrage, but for a kid all this stuff is abstract, the fighting is more important than the characters.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Cowboys are way cooler than Indians.

        — LionsPhil, five-and-three-quarters years old

      • Kitsuninc says:

        Not really. While it’s true that a kid who doesn’t know anything about cowboys or indians yet was told to play the game would go for whichever one uses the weapon they like, if they have any knowledge beforehand, they’ll go for whichever they think is cooler. I never played cowboys and indians, being a 90s kid, but I do remember playing loads of games we would base on shows we loved, and everyone always wanted to be whoever they thought was coolest, regardless of anything else.

        • SuicideKing says:

          I’ve been a ninja and a jedi.

          Yours Truly,
          Another 90′s kid

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            Joshua says:

            We always were a little over the top in our imagination: We walked in exoskeletons and battlemechs.

      • The Smilingknight says:

        meh…pathetic French wooses. What a shame.

        i guess it shows who is a part of that fine western civilization and who got too influenced by american propaganda and history revision.

        Kitsuninc

        not really – its just some adults are trying very hard to avoid being put into the same pot even if they never played cowboys and indians – because you are yelous somebody else saw the truth and did the right thing.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        France, land of Blueberry and Lucky Luke!

    • Michael Fogg says:

      Hey Quintin Smith, the tunnels under Saigon are not quite ‘on par with’ Auschwitz as a monument to the horror of war. Otherwise good article.

      • sinister agent says:

        I didn’t realise there was a competition.

        • Phantoon says:

          Everything is always a competition, and everyone always talks in hyperbole.

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          Joshua says:

          I don’t think it is about competition. They are just… uncomparable.

          The Cu Chi tunnels were of such strategic importance to the Vietcong that they won the war. It provided important logistics, such as weapons, food, medical aid, and troops. The tunnels as a memorial honours the strategic ingeniuty of the vietcong warriors against a technological superiour force.

          Auswitzch, on the other hand, is a camp were people were lined up to be either worked to death or exterminated due to insane racistic notions. This location did not gain the Nazis anything, it was just pointless extermination.

          The two things are just on completely different levels.

          • sinister agent says:

            If you want to be like that, then Auschwitz doesn’t even count, because it would have existed whether the war happened or not.

            Comparing horrors of human stupidity and violence is a pretty pointless endeavour. Neither was a thing anyone ought to wish on another human being, let alone force them into.

    • Lone Gunman says:

      Playing cow boys and Indians or some other variant has nothing to do with kids becoming racist or whatever. Playing is an important part of growing up an completely natural.

      It is like how kittens chase bits string for hours on end to hone their hunting skills.

      • lordcooper says:

        Native Americans are strings?!

        Holy shit, history is even more revisionist than I though it was.

    • Jenks says:

      Irony is an apologist calling US history revisionist.

      • Phantoon says:

        That’s not irony. Irony isn’t “this guy I disagree with said something I also disagree with!”

        And ALL history is revisionist. The most innocent incidence of this is translation error in ancient works, to people missing details when recounting the story later, to downright outright fabrications.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          It would probably be more accurate to say that all historical perspective is revisionist, wouldn’t it? Verified historical events at their base are ultimately grounded in reality — it’s personal interpretation of those events that causes inaccuracies and revisionism.

  6. ran93r says:

    I do miss playing actual pinball. Zen on the PS3/Android is great but it’s a poor substitute.
    I think the last time I touched a physical table was around 1992 in a motorway service station.

    • The Random One says:

      They took away the last pinball tables from the mall just last week. I was like, damn, they had Medieval Madness there.

      There’s a bar I walk past on my way home that has a pinball table inside, and often changes. I often want to stop and play, but I never do because outside of the pinball table it’s quite a shanty bar, and I don’t know why it has a pinball table in it.

      • Reapy says:

        I live literally 20 minutes from The Silver Ball Museum I need to get off my butt and go, I can never seem to find time. I’m lucky it appears that it survived Sandy.

        But also check out vpforums.org There are some serious pinball heads dedicated to recreating the experience of playing a lot of those tables. You can basically get emulators running the software for the tables so you get all the screen displays and sound effects. I think the real way to do it is to have a monitor that will turn the long way and play that way. Really worth a dive into.

        But this all comes back to why we don’t go to arcades. Near us also a place called ‘yestercades’ opened up, had like 10 an hour free play games from 80/90′s etc. I never went because of the existence of mame. My tv is basically loaded with every game from ps1 back (nes, snes, genesis, n64, mame, atari) that plays just fine on my 360 controller. I find I only like playing games I owned for nostalgia fueling the dated designs etc.

        So really the only reason to get out of the house to play these things and pay is if they are offering up hardware that is way too expensive to afford. I expect when 3D is done correctly and/or haptic feedback is good enough, that’ll draw some people out again, maybe, possibly.

      • El_Emmental says:

        They removed Medieval Madness ?? dagnabit damnit, it’s one of the best pinball EVER, how could they do this ?!

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      Wisq says:

      As a child, I always had a sort of fundamental objection to arcades. The notion of paying continuously to be entertained seemed like a complete waste when I could just buy a game outright and pay much less in the long run, never have to wait, and immerse myself in my game in peaceful solitude. Plus, arcades would often let you substitute money for ability (by buying lives, or buying back in at game over), and that seemed both unfair to those with skill, and a slippery slope to those without. A no-win situation, really.

      Nowadays, we’re exceedingly fortunate to have two working pinball machines at our office, with a third being refurbished and almost ready to go. (Also, a Pac-Man table.) It’s not exactly a proper arcade (variety is a bit lacking), but at least it’s free and we’re keeping the thrill alive. And I’m also rediscovering the social aspects of the arcade, small as ours may be. It’s not uncommon to have four-player pinball games, or mini tournaments. It’s almost enough to make me regret not playing in arcades while I had the chance.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        There was a time when you could only dream of owning a machine capable of matching the arcades, you would go home to a Dragon 32 and dream of Neo Geo’s! That is why they were so popular!

  7. Lemming says:

    Is it me or does “Jeff Wheeldon” sound like the Bizzaro version of Joss Whedon?

  8. ocelotwildly says:

    Arcades are dead because Hotline Miami killed them all

    • noclip says:

      That’s quite possibly the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.

    • Chorltonwheelie says:

      That’s ace.

      The 50p Man killed arcades ’round our way.
      This character lurked around the arcade on Piccadilly Gardens (next to Lewis’s) and that definitely wasn’t a gun in his pocket.
      “you’ll give me 50p to do WHAT?”
      Alas, this was the only place, barring a trip to the seaside, that had a Cosmic Guerilla machine so the pervy gauntlet had to be run.

      Gods Cop, James Anderton, closed it down.

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    Shakermaker says:

    The article about arcade halls is great. Nostalgia overload. And not a word too long. I love extensive reads.

  10. frightlever says:

    The Beefjack article on role-playing on persistent NWN2 servers was interesting. It’s an area I feel would be fun to get involved in, but I always seem to end up role-playing a brusque, bad-tempered character that doesn’t want anything to do with other people. Which isn’t strictly speaking role-playing.

    • dE says:

      Well, that bad-tempered character is a rather typical reaction when you’re new to a world. Everyone is part of social groups – except you. You’re the odd one out, no matter the background you’ve created, people don’t know it yet. Folks are quick to dismiss new players in roleplay, sometimes not even intentionally. If people don’t know you as a player, they will assume the worst – because frequently new players are the worst. Let me rephrase that, they’re not fitting to a server. So new characters spent an awful lot of time trying to connect to other people but bounce off existing social structures.

      The whole bad tempered part is a reaction to that, a simple “well f-u, I don’t need you anyways”. My advice as a former long term roleplayer and gamemaster is to not work on your character background and personality when you start out – but social contacts. Before your character can engage in roleplay, you as a player must engage with the other players. Prove that you’re not one of those.

      The simple question “hey, I’m new, would you mind showing me around?”, generally breaks the ice. Even if you know what you’re doing, something like that might be necessary. Show them that you’re interested in interacting with them. Even though the golden principle should be to never blend IC with OOC, it’s necessary to do so on some level. And once they know you’re a decent person, they will be inclusive. Even a bad-tempered character will suddenly be included and you’ll find people trying to look past the cover.

      • Jockie says:

        Yeah, it’s an easy trap to fall into, making the anti-social character. My last few attempts to play NWN2 were duoed efforts, meaning I made a character with a friend, who had some aspect of a shared background. But we always end up making grotesque unpleasant people and find ourselves instantly shunned.

        If you want to play a sort of horrible character whose more socially acceptable, playing someone with a hidden agenda, who is outwardly acceptable is a better choice, then you can peel back the layers over time once they’re a part of the fiction a given server.

        (glad you found the article interesting frightlever!)

        I would quickly add that the article mentions the ‘Legacy’ server – if you’re looking to start out it’s a pretty niche server, in that it’s a unique setting (dark ages Britain, arthurian times but with a ‘realist’ bent) and features permadeath. On the other hand the staff there are helpful and lovely and very welcoming to new players.

        • Troy says:

          That’s me quoted in the article. As to our lore, anyone who’s ever read the Winter King novels by Bernard Cromwell will feel right at home with the setting. 6th Century Wales with magic. It gets a lot more intricate than that (2 years of player actions will do that), but the setting is actually quite amenable to the ‘gruff-doesn’t-talk-much’ warrior motif.

  11. BreadBitten says:

    “We can all rest easy knowing that while this woman tits may have met her tits end, she died tits for tits queen and country tits tits.”

    You owe me a cup of tea for that one, Mr. Teti…!

  12. Low Life says:

    So I clicked a Polygon link again, and I would like to thank RPS for having a sensible layout. They’re not making a very good first impression when the entire screen is devoted to the subject line and I can’t even see the summary without scrolling down (and this is on a 1600 x 900 screen). This might sound silly, but it’s small things like these that make me come back to RPS.

    Another thing I noticed, and this is also for RPS, why are the share/like buttons placed at the top of the article? If I’m going to share an article then that’s going to happen after I’ve read it, so surely it’d make more sense to have those at the end?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I think Polygon and The Verge have a bit of a problem in terms of “what we can do/what should we do”. The over-abundance of pictures in that article is probably about trying to break up the walls of text with some visual flash, but I don’t think it required screen shots of every game mentioned (and a picture of Linkin Park) to do that sensibly. If you tried something like that on RPS or “normal” sites, you’d end up breaking out of the layout borders.

      Their other “straight information” posts follow a much more sensible article-layout.

    • ascagnel says:

      Verge/Polygon links are trying to openly ape glossy magazine layouts with these photo- and video-heavy stories, so the page layout gets a pass in my book. It’s also way easier to forgive the insane layout when stuff like Readability and Instapaper work great with the site, so a bookmarklet can disable the worst offenders.

      That said, the two sites do a great job of putting together stories that are more than just the day’s news with a bit of opinion. It may not be the best journalism per se, but it makes for good reading.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    On the article on women in the games industry, how are the figures for women entering the STEM fields relevant to games faring? It’s one of those things where even if institutional gender roles vanish overnight, you still have to train people up in the relevant fields, which can take years if the socialisation begins in school (or before). But yes, I agree that this isn’t about men letting women into their club, but rather the responsibility of both men and women to fight socially conservative ideas in the long term, and weakening pervasive ideas about what it means to be male or female.

    • ascagnel says:

      She brings up STEM largely as a point of comparison — it’s another almost all-male industry where a big push is being made towards gender equality.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      My initial reaction was that it was basically shifting the blame to every step on the way to joining the games industry. I think mostly it was the phrase “If we want more women to work in games, we have to recognize that the problem isn’t sexism.”, and particularly that “the” that got me bent out of shape, and I think I’m probably reading more into it than is actually there.
      The fact that sexism, discrimination, cultural bias and shitty learning and work environments strip out 80%+ of women who might work in video games before the industry proper has a chance to be shitty to them doesn’t absolve the games industry of it’s responsibility for the biggest problems for recruiting and retaining women that it has direct control over.
      It’s possible to bring attention to the wider issues without minimising the specific issues within the industry’s own zone of control like this article feels to be doing.

      • Archonsod says:

        Yup, because the reason there are so few female students going into applicable disciplines, after over two decades of pushing to get them there, is definitely some form of discrimination. Obviously if asked the entire female population would love to be doing science or engineering. /sarcasm.

        • SuicideKing says:

          Well in India, parents usually segregate professional fields on the basis of gender:
          Boy=engineer/doctor/lawyer
          Girl=doctor/lawyer/architect

          talking about professional courses of course, and not all of them, because this is usually the most common stereotype.

          Or they rather that girls get a liberal arts degree and get married and become housewives or teachers.

          That’s changing, but it’s one of the things my generation has to grapple a lot with.

          Then within engineering colleges, the sex ratio tends to be (in terms of women):
          IT > Computer Science > Electronics > Electrical >= Civil >> Mechanical (there’s only one girl out of 160 people in our year in the mech dept).

          Don’t know how it’s like in the west, though.

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          FriendlyFire says:

          At my university, there’s I believe a 30/70 split in favor of men in the physics dept. That’s despite the friendly atmosphere (the group is small enough each year that everyone knows everyone else, basically) and the insane amount of grants directed specifically at women. You can easily get a couple of grands a year as long as you do average.

          This makes me wonder, what’s the problem exactly? There’s plenty of incentive. Having been friends with just about all the girls in my year, I have not once seen any form of sexism at play. So then what? Could it perhaps just be that women aren’t attracted as much as men by certain fields? The shock, the horror.

          I think I’ll always remember that one time where, during a party, some chemistry girls (the guys didn’t even bother) came over and left 15 minutes later because we were speaking of science too much…

          • LionsPhil says:

            While it’s fun to speculate idly, there must surely be an extensive, existing body of research into why this continues to be the case, for those willing to actually persue it.

          • Phantoon says:

            I’m going to begin rambling, so hang onto your panic bar and ensure your seatbelt is secure before you jump on one part of my comment, because I’m going to go straight through the dark caves to the other side of the planet, and then take a plane trip home with these ideas.

            Stereotyping is an ugly word, really. Since every mind is built out of preconceived notions on both the surface (getting hit by lightning is bad because I’ve been told this and there is no reason to believe otherwise) and rudimentary (this meat smells bad even though I just bought it, I shouldn’t eat it because the primate part of my brain is warning me not to) levels, it stands to reason the same notions (whether justified or not) would be pervasive in culture.

            That is to say, because women previously haven’t been the majority of scientists, it’s going to take a while before it really evens out. These stereotypes are by virtue of nothing more than history in society. No amount of sanity would change these things naturally. One doesn’t have to go further than the shitty “novel” Fifty Shades of Grey to see how gender roles are themselves outmoded. But it’s a best seller. Why? Likely because of that stereotypes by history. Historically, women have been submissive to their husbands (especially centuries ago when marriage meant “I am taking this woman, she is mine”) and it’s a hard, despite illogical, idea to shake. 50 Shades is probably one of the most unhealthy relationships possible, as it’s basically jumping into an abusive relationship from the start (not to say kinky stuff is abuse necessarily, but the actual interactions are so far removed from mentally healthy that we need a psychologist for fictional characters). Part of this submissive behavior is that women tend to go back to their abusers even when they get free. That is because it’s easier to survive than to change. In fact, we’re made to do exactly that! Is it okay? Of course not, but it’s easier to do knee-jerk reactions when something goes wrong (which we’ve historically done for all crises) than to actually address all related elements to find the real root of the problem. Probably because that is a LOT of work.

            It doesn’t help most language is now at least partially hyperbole, and our language is filled wall-to-wall with metaphors, similes, and other forms of non-direct speech. We can mostly blame the media (mostly news) and our leaders for amping up rhetoric until absolutely everything is a crises. This also desensitizes us to it. Then, when we DO have a real problem, it becomes masturbatory. In fact, it’s binary to these crises- you either enjoy it on a sick level, or don’t care at all. Take, for instance, the recent school shooting. Did you need to know the details of that? I didn’t, so I didn’t tune into the actual details. Sure, it was a tragedy, but I know those people as much as I knew the people in Darfur. People engrossing themselves in every tidbit of news the 24 hour news networks vomited out didn’t actually consider all the elements at hand. The base factors leading to the massacre were: Mentally abnormal child, easy access to guns, lack of first responders on the scene before it happened, and the threat of moving to another state to be put into a mental asylum. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d find the idea of being putting inside a mental asylum terrifying, but I’d wager you do. Why? Because generally, getting mental help is seen as a weakness, and going into an asylum is see as akin to going to prison. For more information, see incidences of PTSD in returning soldiers. Whether or not the kid knew of the prejudices of entering the asylum are irrelevant, because he probably assumed it was a terrifying place.

            I’m starting to really ramble now, so let me summarize- the best way to get more women into higher math-related careers is not incentives. It’s changing the view on those careers, so they don’t appear as “lame” or “nerdy” or male dominated. And to sum up my OTHER sort of non-sequitor, the best reaction to the massacre wasn’t to panic about guns. It was to start a dialogue on mental health, which was not done.

        • dE says:

          I read about an experiment at a technical university here. They changed the names of courses from “Information Technology” or “Programming” to things like eCompetence, while keeping the content identical (well except for updates due to new versions, dead links and stuff).
          The eCompetence named courses had a significantly higher participation ratio of women than the old ones.
          As prime reason for that, they cited reputation as a pretty big factor. Supposedly the students had next to no interest in being associated with them but were really interested in the actual matter, wanting to study technology.
          I’ll try to find the newspaper I read it in, but chances are slim. It’s been about a year I guess and I’m usually not that lazy at paper dispensal :D

  14. ascagnel says:

    Re: Gabrielle Toledano:

    She never once mentions that the male-dominated games development world is largely self-fulfilling. No amount of training and enforcement is going to get around the fact that most women don’t like working in an environment that’s almost entirely men.

    • Premium User Badge

      Rikard Peterson says:

      I wouldn’t want to work in such an environment either, and I’m a man.

    • Shuck says:

      She works in HR for a large publisher, and moved there from another industry not that long ago. Development is a completely different world. In other words, she’s in the most female-friendly part of the industry, and pretty well insulated from the rampant misogyny that’s aimed at developers from players and from developers themselves in smaller companies. So in a very real sense she doesn’t have any first hand experience with the environment she’s talking about for one thing, and is unaware of how hostile and male-dominated it really is.

      • El_Emmental says:

        While it’s true, not mentionning many other professions are “hostile” toward a gender, and either female-dominated or male-dominated, is wrong. Try going to a nurse school: 90% are females students.

        Sexism is taking gender into account when making a choice or decision, it affects both women and men, and is done by both women and men (even when it affects their “own” gender: women still look down on female gamers, men still look down on male secretaries).

    • P.Funk says:

      The solution is obvious. Some insane billionaire needs to form a half dozen all female game development studios, fund them through a couple projects each, train the ever loving crap out of them, make their skill sets competitive with the highest level of the gaming industry and then pull the plug forcing them all into the unemployed game maker’s market.

      If the gaming industry REALLY isn’t sexist then they’ll get hired and dilute the gender gap further.

      My question is though, has anybody ever stopped to ask if its perfectly alright that there may be some things that are more male dominated ultimately? Can we acknowledge that men and women CAN be different and not necessary expect perfect gender balance in everything? Could it be normal that men may ultimately enjoy gaming more than women without that reality being ultimately a limiter on women’s potential to compete in the gaming market?

      • Xocrates says:

        As ascagnel, the problem is self-fulfilling. So it’s not a case of “it be[ing] normal that men may ultimately enjoy gaming more than women” so much as we have no way of knowing that because people are actively (if not consciously) working to maintain the status quo.

        And that’s the thing, I’ve read the article days ago, and by the time I did so there were multiple articles by female industry members calling it out, including one where the author pointed out that she found resistance against her as soon as high-school, to eventually conclude that society forces these specific roles into the genders so strongly that only the most dedicated will ever get through.

        Even Kim Swift made a blog post not long ago pointing out the need of a larger visibility for the female devs we do have, in the hopes that maybe in twenty years women working on games could be seen as normal.

      • Snargelfargen says:

        Achieving some sort of perfect balance is impossible and enforcing rules to enforce such a situation would do more harm than good. It’s a false goal and I don’t think anybody takes it seriously outside of extremely radical misogynists/feminists.

        Making workplaces friendly and welcoming to both genders however, is something that needs to be done. There is also a large gap between average wages for men and women in the same positions in most careers in the western world. These are the real issues that need to be solved, and the ratio of men to women is a relevant statistic only in context.

        As for gaming, it’s as varied as books and tv. You could perhaps argue that males and females might gravitate towards different genres. Stating that women don’t like books or films would be pretty dumb though, and frankly it should be dumb to say that women don’t enjoy gaming or programming or QA or any other facet of the games industry.

        • PopeJamal says:

          “There is also a large gap between average wages for men and women in the same positions in most careers in the western world.”

          I think this illustrates the larger point of the article that so many people seem to be missing:

          A horrible lack of women IN TECHNOLOGY is the bigger problem. Trying to say that this is something unique to the game industry is embarrassingly short-sighted. Or put another way:

          Generally speaking, our western society only values women in roles that have something to do with reproduction. In any other area of contribution to society, their contributions and potential to contribute are marginalized if not outright ignored.

          “Don’t be a dick!” and “Stop telling tit jokes!” are not big enough changes to magically create a flood of female game developers. Our society has been ACTIVELY steering women away from technology for DECADES.

          Granted, anecdotal evidence is anecdotal, but I’ve worked in technology for over ten years as my primary source of income and here’s what I’ve seen:

          -I’ve met maybe 20 women who work in “true” technology, basically people who aren’t managers, but actual “techies”. A full zero percent of them have had any real interest in their work other than just as a paycheck. Women in our society aren’t allowed to like things that haven’t been approved as acceptable for women by some arbitrary group of men. This conditioning begins in early childhood.

          -I only know a handful of women who play games of any sort regularly, and NONE of them have any interest in technology as a hobby, nor do they have any interest in game development.

          Again, just anecdotal evidence, but women risk being labeled any number of horrible things by expressing an interest in technology. I’m frankly surprised at the number of women in recent years who have felt comfortable enough to embrace their interests in technology.

          It’s a little self important for the game industry to think that “We’re the only ones that can save everyone!”, but you get that alot from groups that are predominantly made up of middle-class Caucasian males.

      • Shuck says:

        In US game development at least, a lot of breaking into the industry and getting jobs has to do with knowing people, not skills. Experience is greatly valued (more than skills), too. It has a long tradition of hiring people just like the ones already in it (so men interested in making certain types of games), that has not only kept women out, but also made it harder for them to find further employment. Most of the game companies I’ve worked for have ended up filling positions with guys that were friends of, or had previously worked with, one of the leads. Logically this makes sense – you hire the people you already know can do the job. (You might hire low-level positions with unknown people who can demonstrate their skills, but a lot of low-level positions have been outsourced.) So a hypothetical female developer training company would find its employees having great difficulty finding further work.
        And it’s not an issue of women not wanting to be in the game industry – I know a lot of women who wanted to be developers but ended up being shunted off to office jobs because the gate-keeping was so effective, but also women who managed to get into the game industry and found the experience so hostile that they left (to go make more money, in a less hostile industry) in tech.

  15. Premium User Badge

    psepho says:

    To me, Toledano’s article reads straight out of Corporate HR for Dummies. I’m sure it’s perfectly sincere (HR directors spend a lot of time training to be sincere at all times); however, it would be interesting to know how far it reaches throughout the business. Her characterisation of women as an important target market, and their need to access that target market, does indicate a certain degree of pigeonholing.

    Separately, I never thought I would see Plato’s Republic discussed in the Sunday Papers — it was my gateway philosophy text way back when so that makes my day!

    • sinister agent says:

      HR is traditionally where large companies stash their unsackable incompetents, or people with the perversely impressive ability to spout too much bullshit for a job in PR, so I am skeptical from the start, to be honest. She does make some plausible claims though – I can quite believe it’s difficult to find very many women to hire in the first place. But hey, maybe if you join the dots you’ll see that a significant reason for this is because several fields related to games (engineering, computing, etc) also have a sexist culture.

      Maybe she’s right that her company isn’t so bad. Maybe there are other companies who are fine, too. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a lot of sexist bullshit around, and not everyone wants to be a pioneer.

      • Snargelfargen says:

        The other thing to keep in mind is that HR is in the business of minimizing risk to the company by keeping employees content and productive. It’s not a philanthropic endeavour. It is in EA’s best interest to even out the male to female hiring ratio, and it has little to do with ethics or gender. I don’t intend to belittle Toledano’s article though. She’s probably very happy to have a job whose goals match up with her outlook on the world.

        As a sidenote regarding harassment, HR usually weighs the cost of a termination and lawsuit versus simply promoting or transferring one of the involved parties. If you are a victim of some sort of harassment, it’s important to remember that HR is only on your side until it pays more not to.

    • Josh W says:

      Exactly, the “dirty secrets” thing is a structuring device, and the actual set of points are a kind of reverse interview for female employees.

      IE, this is why we want you, when you come to an interview, make these points back to us with examples and we’ll hire you.

      It’s not about blame or diagnosis, it’s a generic complement to their other job postings.

    • Josh W says:

      Also, about the plato thing, my favourite thing about the allegory of the cave is when plato starts using it to explain why he knows very little about pop culture!

      • Premium User Badge

        psepho says:

        Yes! It’s also a microcosm of the wider issues of elitism and social conservatism the work. Much as I love Plato, I can’t help feeling that if was alive today he might be voting UKIP.

  16. Bobtree says:

    PA have a great writeup (from October) on reward systems by the developers of Don’t Starve: http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/intrinsic-vs.-extrinsic-rewards-in-kleis-latest-game-dont-starve

  17. Michael Fogg says:

    Missed the most important news of the week
    http://kotaku.com/5979242/tim-schafer-creator-of-psychonauts-shaves-his-beard

  18. Jason Moyer says:

    Article on sexism featuring lead picture of hot chick who doesn’t look like she knows how to hold a controller. Awesome.

  19. sinister agent says:

    Only saw the first couple of hours of Far Cry 3, and much of that was of course spent pissing about because “open world game” means shut up shut up shut up shut up lemme play shut up don’t care shut up, can I play now shut uuuup.

    But yes, that was quite enough to have me going “what. Spend weeks or months making myself a FEARSOME WHITE WARRIOR MESSIAH for the helpless magic-dispensing black guy… or get the fuck off the island and call my friends’ rich parents, who will probably have an outfit of Marines tearing up the island by Tuesday? Well gee….”

    Also I’d be suggesting that they give magical tattoos not to the idiot whiteboy who openly admits he’s never fired a gun, but instead to absolutely everyone. Why are the ‘rebels’ sitting around partying? Get some magic tattoos on the fuckers and go rip the pirates a new arsehole.

    Edit: Oops. Reply fail. Oh well.

    • Misnomer says:

      I would really like someone to explain to me how Far Cry 3 is that much more of a “bro” story than STALKER. It is upfront about being bro at least. The magic tattoos give you the ability to do…well normal non magical things. Things that you get in STALKER from weapon upgrading and artifacts (ooh magic) I suppose. Then again most of STALKER interaction is just pointing and clicking. So, STALKER allows you to do less but still spends the entire game worshipping the ground you walk on as you are the messiah of the zone who apparently has a gun fetish and needs clothing with as many pockets as possible to store his glowing rocks in.

      So is the argument that you would much rather be unable to do things like knife throwing instantly or that you should be able to do those things like zipline shooting instantly because you are captain badass? I mean everyone is uncomfortable with how good Brody is with a gun instantly, but technically as you get more tattoos you have learned things like faster reloading and better first aid skills.

      I believe this is the real issue with open world games and at least Far Cry 3 seems tries be honest about it. Has anyone tried playing the game without “gaming it.” Namely being content with a single weapon slot and ignoring the tattoo things beyond just the quest missions? I mean you could play the game like you actually want to get off the island and reject almost everything the NPCs tell you.

      So is it that Skyrim and STALKER take place in fantasy worlds that makes them less bro? The complete lack of real female characters in STALKER lets you avoid criticism of the Bro-ness?

      To me, Far Cry 3 pulled Bioshock on the open world people (Bioshock did it to linear shooters) and they don’t like it because there are no easy answers to that criticism. Just as you realize in Bioshock that you never really had a choice anyway and if you replay the game you get stuck doing the same things with Ryan still chuckling at you for being a moron (just try to imagine Bioshock where you can ignore Atlas…what do you even do in the game? Go make sculptures in Fort Frolic to pass the time?) Games that mock you for doing what they require are insightful on the nature of gameplay, but not really any development on the genre because until you change how games require users to interact…its just a pot calling itself black.

      Oh, also “The Sims”. I wish game writers would stop pretending like this game doesn’t exist when discussing domesticity and vacation simulators without violence. I suppose they won’t be happy until the Sims is in First Person perspective.

      • sinister agent says:

        …who on earth are you meant to be talking to?

        Edit: Actually, I’m sorry, this was a rather rude reply. I don’t really have a response to your questions because I’m not really … well, I don’t have a strong opinion on the “bro games” thing. I didn’t get an impression from my limited time with Far Cry 3 that it was satirising or exploring the theme of manshooting, though, just stapling on a story about some rich kids I’m supposed to care about because … life of imaginary strangers is precious? Iono. I saw enough of the plot to know the protagonist is a moron and his tutorialiser is a magical negro. When I play it again, it won’t be for the writing.

        As for Stalker, well, it’s one of those games I try again every year or so, then give up after a couple of hours because I’m sick of the broken sidequests, useless weapons, and having the exact same fight every single time I walk past an area. Tried the various overhaul mods and none of them fix the broken bits, so it’s back in the rejects pile for another year.

      • Premium User Badge

        PikaBot says:

        A question: have you ever actually played STALKER? Because I’ve only dabbled, but that sounds like the exact opposite of my experience with the franchise.

        • Misnomer says:

          I have played STALKER SoC and CoP. Thought CoP was better, wasn’t a huge fan of SoC because I literally was able to get through the entire story without finding out who I was and then got the greedy ending. So after 30 some hours in the Zone I had actually found nearly no plot whatsoever.

          And to Sinister, the big reply wasn’t exactly to you, but I had one reaction to something you wrote (the magic stuff) and it went in with my general issues with the Polygon article.

          • Jim Rossignol says:

            “So after 30 some hours in the Zone I had actually found nearly no plot whatsoever.”

            I think wanting a great story might be missing the point of playing Stalker.

          • Misnomer says:

            I think you missed my point there. My fault in the wording as I am trying to avoid spoilers for people. I finished STALKER SoC and had no clue what my character’s name was. I literally missed the plot (good or bad) and went to read on Wikipedia afterwards because I had no idea what I just wasted my time on. It wasn’t just going to youtube to see alternate endings, I couldn’t even understand those without reading the Wikipedia page as apparently I had skipped over an important chunk of the game.

            I get the idea of exploring, but I am not sure I was that entertained by wandering about the zone killing things that tried to kill me. If I didn’t have an objective of getting better weapons, glowing rocks, and going to objective markers, that realism aspect of not wanting to go find dwarves that throw things at me would have taken over.

            It is probably a higher form of gaming, but I don’t have the kind of time to spend 30 hours wandering about to find that I “failed” the plot at the ending and better start another 30 hour session if I want an alternate ending where I get to see the content of the story. But that is a different criticism of STALKER altogether. My point here is that I don’t see it as superior to Far Cry 3, instead it just foregoes the obviousness of its plot and mechanics so as to hide its bro/messiah complex.

          • Dominic White says:

            If you managed to actually get the good ending of STALKER without finding out what your name is (half the story revolves around finding out what your goddamn name is!), then you were probably playing the game blindfolded.

          • Misnomer says:

            I got the greedy ending (money falls on his face he thinks and then he dies under the rubble). So no, no good ending for me.

      • F3ck says:

        I know very little about true Russian culture, but my suspicion is that STALKER’s biggest crime (I’m speaking of CoP – since it’s been too long since the others for me to really comment) is some poorly delivered VO work (‘it can be fun around heeeere‘) yet it’s the emptiness and despair of that beautiful, cold, dead land combined with the loneliness and solitude (admittedly, I liked to mod for ‘realism’) that make some folks love it…

        …FC3 is, in every sense of the word, a story about ‘bros’. From actual brothers to the tribal tattoo, trucker hat wearing, perpetually tank-topped, ass hats we all know and despise and the dialogue, while professionally delivered, is cringe-worthy stupidity…every syllable.

        These kids (and initially you as Jason) are the teens driving to the campsite at the beginning of the horror movie. The dialogue is intentionally sophomoric and we’re supposed to empathize with, but not necessarily like, these characters. Jason becoming a sociopathic killer is actually preferable to whoever this spineless, hen pecked, wannabe was before.

        I think it’s pretty clear the game’s a dark satire, but then I think a lot of shit is obvious (which isn’t).

        Too bad the game force-feeds the linear bits and then leaves a big bunch of nothing to do…the island, while undeniably beautiful, does not hold a candle to Pripyat (which has an inexplicable spell on some of us) and is less tolerable once the story mission[s] is unavoidable.

    • iucounu says:

      I actually have some sympathy with the ‘it’s all a satire’ argument because all the scenes with the Rakyat/Dennis etc feel like you’re being manipulated. Jason’s voice actor always seems a few notches dumber than anyone he talks to. It’s nuanced. I think it’s fun to have a story that’s set up so that the hero is this kind of decadent aimless beefcake who is bamboozled into being a one-man army and it actually works; it does a much better job of making things interesting than, say, Dishonored did.

      • sinister agent says:

        I’ve not seen very far into the story, so I wouldn’t know how far you’re being manipulated. It wouldn’t be difficult, though, as based on his cut scenes, Jason America could likely be outsmarted by the average blade of grass.

        I’m just unconvinced that the “it’s satire” argument is all that plausible when your writers start out with a textbook, literal Magical Negro and expect to get anywhere.

        • Misnomer says:

          There is a woman outside a store in Badtown who just keeps repeating at you that you are being used and manipulated or something like that. It is pretty obvious. If you read the logs, it is obvious that a lot of what you are learning in the game is pretty messed up too.

          People talk about the writing failing, but I think quite often it is people who have played too many games just skipping over bits. I know I am tempted to because “I know how all this works and just want to get to the good bits.” But if you stop and look around at the world and let it talk to you, the rabbit hole is pretty darned obvious.

          I think games writers went looking for trouble once they saw race and gender in this game and they thought they were above it all. The truth is probably more like this is the first open world game that made them feel guilty for playing it the way they play open world games. Unless you are willing to give up the genre or declare this to be a bad game altogether (which it very much isn’t because it does so much right with open world mechanics) the only response is to say that all the things that make you uncomfortable are poor game design.

          • sinister agent says:

            I saw a black man rescue me and then call me, some clueless rich whiteboy, a warrior spirit. He then gave me a magical tribal tattoo and told me to save his people.

            I didn’t feel guilty. I felt a sharp pain in my eyes when they rolled too hard.

            And it’s clear the protagonist is a fucking idiot as well, who’s happy to leave his vulnerable friend in the care of a clearly mentally ill junkie, because apparently leaving her with an emotionally unstable stoner is “safer” than taking her to the village full of armed rebels. I didn’t skip bits (not least because you can’t, and I looked around and rather than seeing satire, I saw a protagonist who’s a goddamn moron. That doesn’t make me think “deconstruction!”, it makes me think “Welp, fuck the story, then”.

          • Misnomer says:

            They aren’t his people other than by association as far as I remember. He even talks about racism while working at a garage in the U.S. and how the Rakyat made him feel special when he arrived on the island, especially how Citra unlocked his mind to his true identity. Yet, because you see a black man talking to a white man your brain starts looking for racism tropes. No one here actually talks about Dennis’ discussion of racism in the game, they would rather reduce the character to a magic black man because that fits the racism trope. What if he is a participant in a cult and wants to get other people in on it as fast as he can? The game definitely makes it clear that Jason is ready to drink whatever Kool-Aid is put in front of him. That is Western bias against tribal religion then right? There is always something you will find as long as one person in the game has a different appearance or ethnic origin.

          • sinister agent says:

            Yet, because you see a black man talking to a white man your brain starts looking for racism tropes

            No, because I see an incredibly racist trope as this character’s introduction, I see a racist trope. If someone puts an apple on the table in front of me, I’m going to call it an apple, not think “well gosh, maybe I’m looking for apples too hard. I will watch this apple for three hours in case it turns into a banana.”

            There is always something you will find as long as one person in the game has a different appearance or ethnic origin.

            Okay, that’s just absolute bollocks.

          • Misnomer says:

            So did the whole… Sam is guy with a German accent but is not a bad guy (a video game trope since we kill everyone with German accents in shooters). He is an American by birth, but raised in Germany and jokes about getting a promotion just for his accent once…. did that just roll off your back? That seems to be the epitome of the game telling you that nothing is what it seems….not even the apples.

          • sinister agent says:

            Seriously? You’re equating “has a German accent” with “presents the heroic white outsider with a magical gift to help him save the day, then fades into the background of his own story”?

            I don’t even know where to start with that one. But let’s see… how many German people do you know who speak with a German accent? All of them, yes? And how many black guys do you know who have magical tattooing powers that they use only to help random rich white people rather than themselves or their friends? I’m guessing maybe only one or two.

          • Snargelfargen says:

            @Misnomer-
            I think you are taking a literalist approach to the game which is ignoring the subtext. It doesn’t really matter what comes out of the characters’ mouths when the game mechanics, setting and characterization gives an entirely different impression.

            Ubisoft may have intended to tell a positive story about race, and perhaps even provoke some discussion and make the player uncomfortable with their actions. That does not, however negate the tired racist/colonial setting. Any coherent message in the game is basically shooting itself in the foot.

            Perhaps a story about a white saviour in a land of savages could be done well, but I really doubt Far Cry 3, or any video-game today is equipped to deal with subject matter that serious. Heck, even Conrad’s Heart of Darkness has it’s own set of problems.

            Full disclosure: I have not played Far Cry 3.

          • El_Emmental says:

            You’re usually able to climb out of your first impression foxhole, sinister agent.

            In my opinion Misnomer really cornered the real issue with the attempt at satire in FC3: technically, all the scenes have the ingredients for a terrible tropes-filled game, but the game is *supposed* to be a little bit more than that, and it’s down to each players to make the extra effort of extracting the existing satire out of the game.

            I think the biggest problem with such attempt is how It’s featuring overused and really strong tropes/stereotypes, without ever putting an “satire” barrier in the player’s path : you can easily finish the game and not see the satire at all, you can easily believe in the “Magical Negro” trope and not have your belief challenged during the game.

            This is mostly due to the commercial nature of the game, who can’t afford “ruining” the fun of “bros” playing FC3 to shoot bad guys in the face while looking cool.

            => You can’t sell a game, openly deconstructing the Magical Negro trope and magical tattoos, to people who actually HAVE such tattoos on their arms and body, who will pay (and enjoy) a night show in a tropical island with “natives” wearing costumes made of palm trees leaves/fronds dancing/juggling with sticks and balls on fire, while sipping on their cocktail.

            You could say Ubi is guilty of trying to have a cake and eating it too, but that’s basically their role as a publisher (= making money while not destroying 100% of the cultural value of the game), and what the vast majority of gamers are asking from big publishers: make better games, with a deeper meaning/message.

            I think it’s not fair to call out all the CoD clones for their stupid, dumb, poor contextualization of their gameplay and violence, and not acknowledging FC3 is a genuine attempt at being better than that.

            There’s no point in asking publishers to spend all their money on a single “good” game, making the satire pretty clear, make gamers and game journos feel better, and see the company shutting down 12 months later because it sold very poorly (how surprising !).

            It happened to countless dev studios, and that’s the main reason why Beyond Good & Evil (<- it's even in the title), Psychonauts, Oddworld series or Mirror's Edge still hasn't got their sequel.

            You can't ask the publishers to sacrifice themselves and take the bullet of commercial viability, for the sake of being remembered as "one of the last good game", especially when the indie sector is big enough now to do that job.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      I think Far Cry 3′s story is very dumb. It tries to be serious, but fails horribly and ends up absurd (in a bad way). However, I found that I don’t really care – the game is fun to play, and the setting is beautiful. I certainly don’t regret the time I’ve spent on that island.

  20. Ostymandias says:

    Tim Hecker! You guys really have great taste in music

  21. Josh W says:

    This reminds me of something I was going to say on the previous far cry articles:

    There is a way to make the game designers contradictions in statements of intent make sense; it’s not a game about referencing shooting in real life, but shooting in games.

    It’s not an exploration of realistic shooting and how it affects characters, it’s supposed to be a reflection on how shooting affects players.

    And it is, by pushing certain assumptions of why we play, it proves itself wrong.

    What do I mean by that?

    It thinks that we justify game’s violence with the narrative of saviour heroism that allows us to do terrible things.

    Rubbish, we yawn through the generic claims of saviour heroism, feel good when we obviously help characters in the game world that need it, and enjoy doing weird things and collecting stuff.

    And that’s the big thing, most fighting in games isn’t about killing the bad guys. It’s about killing the other guys; the ones that shoot at us.

    A game that critiques that behaviour is actually kirby’s epic yarn, where no-one can actually hurt you, and so all combat is rendered truly morally meaningless.

    So all far cry 3s umming and arring about saving the natives is misplaced. Is anyone here actually impressed by the idea of “saving the natives”? It doesn’t matter, and so subversion of it doesn’t matter either. Contrast that with any game that actually gives you a way to help people, within the actual game logic, and the level of feeling is totally different.

    And that’s because the feeling doesn’t come from the position and status of being the saviour, from some badge or tatoo, it comes from that other kind of power-feeling; I am being useful and needed. It comes from “quest completed”, but more than that, it comes from actually considering the change you’ll have produced. In half life, when some character is being threatened by a head crab and you save them, yeah you now have them on side, but basically you’re just happy to have saved some dude.

    A game that properly critiqued that would have a world full of problems that you are secretly creating so as to make people need you, and would be tied in some cute way to selecting the difficulty level.

    Far cry 3 is a game that doesn’t functionally critique video games, but in it’s attempt to, it lays out all it’s symptoms on the surface. You know how people say that you can learn a lot from a bad novel? Far cry 3 is a game that is intentionally bad in that way, but it doesn’t actually give you the lesson it’s expecting.

    There is a wonderfully astute point that Quinns makes:

    You play far cry for the holiday, but you never quite get it.

    Far cry 3 in my memory is trekking up and down and around an island, doing quests occasionally to activate the world, and basically going “ooh that’s lovely”, “ah I hate those raptor birds”.

    I played it with a friend and I don’t think we completed it, we just ran out of interesting world depth and moved on to other things.

    I remember occasionally going “that’s going to turn into a twist”, at various things, but not actually being interested in what those twists were going to be.

    Now you might argue that that made us unable to critique the game and the points that it made, and I thought so too, but after reading some of the articles that have followed about it, I’ve changed my mind.

    Far cry 3 says
    “but this is what we’re like, we just go for the quests and the status and completion of the game, but it’s actually really evil! Yet we still have this compulsion to do it.”
    whereas I say
    “don’t be ridiculous, we try to get our value for money of being in some weird wonderful place, doing interesting things, and sometimes the bullshit level gets high enough that we give up and find better things to do”.

    If I’ll give the games philosophy one credit, that’s the first time a game has made that option seem heroic!

    • Misnomer says:

      I think that is a pretty fair response and I think you described Bioshock’s criticism of player agency as well. It really isn’t deep or meaningful, it is just on the surface saying “Hey look what you are doing, it is horrible, now go have some fun you silly player you”

      The trouble with that is that it is patently bizarre to actually accept that what you are doing is horrible, because that would mean you stop playing the game if you actually believed it because there are no non-horrible choices available to you. It is like that moment in the Throne of Bhaal expansion to Baldur’s Gate 2 where it tells you that you are clearly going to be the lord of murder because you leave a trail of bodies behind you…. well duh, that is the whole point of the game and the only option for interaction.

      On a silly side note, your mention of the raptor birds reminded me of once when I was sneaking up on a guard at a camp and heard him say “At least we aren’t on that dinosaur island.” Making me wonder, is Jurassic Park real in this universe? Did these guys go to the Bond villain school of henchman armies? And then I filed it away in parts of the island I didn’t understand and hoped I would later.

      • GameCat says:

        I WANT dinosaurs in Far Cry 4. I want to take .45 revolver and shotgun and go into the jungle to hunt goddamn T-REX and then skin him and make sexy T-REX’ leather weapon holster and then raise a war cry to show everybody how baddas I am.

        Yes, there definitely should be a FC spin off named WAR CRY: DINOSAUR HUNT.
        Imagine survival game in DayZ style, but with raptors, t-rex, diplodocus, allosaurus, pterodactyls and many, many more build on FC3 engine. Heaven.

  22. mikmanner says:

    Fuck yeah Hecker that’s the shit. I alternate between him and Fennesz a lot at the moment.