Spec Ops, FC3 Writers On Art, Treating Players Intelligently

By Nathan Grayson on April 11th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

When last we joined Spec Ops: The Line writer Walt Williams and Far Cry 3 writer Jeffrey Yohalem, they discussed everything from the problematic nature of modern escapism to Western culture’s disturbing disconnection from real violence. Today: art! Or rather, the process of creating it using someone else’s money when that’s not really what they wanted in the first place. Also, we delve into the notion that gamers (often rightly) assume games think they’re dumb, and how that factored into the receptions of both games’ messages. In the process, the likes of Mass Effect, Shadow of the Colossus, the Sistine Chapel, and Dante’s Inferno (the literary work; not the bizarre EA game) get ruthlessly dissected. NO ONE IS SAFE. Flee beyond the break while you still can.

RPS: There was an interesting phenomenon in both of your games. I think most people who played through Walt’s game got the message, but they had to get through the first part where they really were like, “Oh, this isn’t just another shooter.” That was weird to watch in the initial media coverage. And then with Far Cry, I think a lot of people played it and thought you were glorifying all those tropes. A lot of people said that very derisively – “I didn’t get that message from your game at all. I just thought this was a game about powering up this dude and being super awesome and racist all the time.” Where do you think your respective processes broke down?

Yohalem: I don’t know if it was ineffective as a process, because the French and the British have really gotten the deeper meaning to the game. I get tons of emails from people who say they understand it. I know it felt like people weren’t getting it, but… The idea was to construct a surface presentation, such that if you play the game without looking beneath the surface, the surface is broken. It’s broken so fundamentally that it makes you disturbed. It doesn’t hang together. It’s like the façade of a building where there’s no building behind it.

I think the game disturbed a lot of people… If that pisses you off, it should be a call that you want games that are different. 

If there’s anything I can say that I would do differently if I were doing this again, I think I would talk a lot more about what the game was trying to be before it was released. Everyone who I’ve talked to who knew it was a satire beforehand said that it was very, very clear when they played the game. Only people who didn’t know [were totally in the dark]. A lot of people didn’t know but still got it. There were some people who didn’t know who said, “Oh, it didn’t make sense, and then I replayed it knowing that and then it made sense.”

I was trying to hide it beforehand because I wanted people to have this experience themselves, and I still think that’s okay. I think the game disturbed a lot of people, and they take that out in anger at the tropes that are in the game. Some people say, “This game has every negative video game trope ever.” Yes, it does, doesn’t it? If that pisses you off, it should be a call that you want people to make games that are different.

In my mind they’re two sides of the same coin. People being mad at me and saying, “Oh, this is reusing all this stuff”… Well, keep saying that and game companies will say, “People want us to make something different.” Then if they say, “Oh, I get this, this is about where games are today,” it just leads to that call for people to do something else. Then that’s good too. I think that also, it’s not a critique, and that’s very important. It’s an exploration. If the player plays the game and says, “I love this! This is amazing!” then it says something to you about yourself. That aspect of the Rorschach is very important. If you’re disturbed by a game, to me it’s because of something in you. That’s exciting.

There are also references that happen when you’re making a game a lot, like you reference Dante’s Inferno or you reference Paradise Lost, and I intentionally did not put any of that in the game, because I think it’s important that the game be a democratic journey. All these secret things hidden under the surface and lines taken from other places, they’re all from mainstream culture. I was trying to democratize that analysis experience, so that anyone can analyze the game and figure out what’s going on. It’s not like, “Oh, you studied literature, so you can get what I’m talking about.” For me, analyzing literature is a game. It’s an exciting one. You go into this book and you think, “What are the many different things going on here in this work?”

I think as an industry we can do that interactively, where I live something, and then I say, “What happened to me in this experience?” There are resonances and all these ideas in our experiences at different levels. Then I can have conversations with my friends about it. One person on Twitter said, “Thank you. This game gave me an amazing conversation.” That, for me, is catnip.

RPS: But in the aftermath, you outright said you thought people didn’t get it.

Yohalem: You know what’s very interesting about that? I never said that. So that’s based on a Penny Arcade article. If you look at that article, they’re not quoting me. A journalist said that I was unhappy about people not getting it, and then the quote doesn’t say that. Or, no, it was Penny-Arcade. I think it’s Penny-Arcade. But then that one line, which is not a direct quote, was blown all the way out. Someone took that line and did a whole article about it.

Basically, I felt like a majority of people got it. If there was a small group of people that didn’t… I was talking about that. I actually was very happy with the response. I was also saying it would be neat to see more discussion online, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t getting it. However people choose to interpret it, it’s up to them. I think that the writer is one person in the conversation. The work is the center of the conversation. If people say, “Oh, the writer was intending this, what do you think about that? Do you think it was effective? Do you think it wasn’t?” then great. Seriously, I’m thrilled with how everyone’s talking about it. I think that I’m one voice of many. If people say, “Oh, Far Cry proves that I love shooters that have a broken story and are just about punching sharks,” then OK.

Williams: Honestly, I think a lot of the press response that didn’t really get what you were doing with the metaphor, it kind of proves exactly what you were going for with the narrative. I think it showed how much we have allowed ourselves to accept that it’s what we put up with from a game.

Yohalem: They saw the broken game and they said, “Oh, this is just what we expect. It’s a broken game.”

Williams: Or the ones that are like, “This has all the negative tropes, but then I got to punch a flaming bear! That was awesome!” And they didn’t see that connection between the two things in their own experiences that they made with the game. Which perfectly sums up what you were going for on the narrative. That we simply are willing to say, “Fuck the things that make this bad, I am personally having fun within this world. It’s about me and what I’m choosing to do.” In one way that’s kind of cool. When you’re able to look at me like, “C’mon, guy, you obviously get it, you’re just not getting it! It’s right in front of you! You just said it, but you’re not getting it!” It’s cool to see exactly what you’re going for mirrored in those things.

Yohalem: I think that as an audience, there are certain levels of subtlety that we like to think that we want in games and that we can find in games. But I don’t think we’re ready to see them yet, because we’ve never seen them before. That’s really what it comes down to. We see things in some games that we consider to be subtle, and those things tend to be a bit more on the nose than we really think they are. Truly subtle sorts of things, we have a tendency to just miss them completely, because we’re so used to games feeding us everything.

I mean, my whole life, 20-plus years or whatever, I’ve been playing games. Even then, a game is still going to start by telling me what my little controller does. To be fair, some people come into a game for the first time and they don’t know that, so that’s why it’s there. But we’re still used to a game feeding us information step by step by step. It’s more respectful if you open the world up for people to find things on their own. That was always the goal, to create something that respects the player’s intelligence. Players, I think, are very smart, and they can come up with all kinds of ideas about games in addition to what we have.

Williams: But I think players aren’t used to us treating them like that. Players assume we don’t give them the credit they deserve, and so then they expect a certain level of things from us. When they get a game like Far Cry where you can punch a shark – “Hey, badass!” – they’re thinking that you’re treating them like every other dynamic shooter they’ve ever played. They’re not thinking that you want them to engage further with it, because no one else has asked them to do that.

Yohalem: Also, the shocking thing is that a lot of people who were most upset by the game, they never once suggested that they could have turned it off and done something else. I find that fascinating. They’ll say, “There’s no choice! You just have to go through this.” You could just stop playing. That never occurs to them, I think, and that, again, is the addiction thing. But, I mean, we have the power to say “no.”

Williams: That was something I brought up a lot when we were doing PR after the game came out. There comes a point in the game where the ultimate real choice of any video game is not the choice that we’ve given you in the game. It’s the choice of, “Do I want to play a game where I do these things, or do I not like to play that?” Turning off the game is a valid player choice. Some people got what I was saying. Some people did not. Some people said, “What are you talking about? What’s the point if I just stopped playing?”

Turning off the game is a valid player choice.

But it’s about looking at what you’re comfortable with doing and realizing that you’re simulating truly terrible acts. Even though they are simulated, even though they are not in the world that we are in, you are still choosing to do them over and over. Admitting to yourself that you’re not comfortable with that and that’s okay to be not comfortable with that. I don’t have to do this if I don’t want to. Totally valid, and it’s something that we need to begin accepting as valid.

Part of it comes in as you get older, just in general. Over the past couple years, I used to start to feel bad that I wasn’t going out more, partying and going out more with friends at night and on the weekends. I was staying at home and living a more calmed-down life. And then it occurred to me one day, “Look. I’m doing this because this is actually what I want to do. I’m not doing that because it’s not what I want to be doing. There was a point in time where I did want to do that, and then I grew out of it. My life changed, and it’s okay that I’m not still doing the same thing I was doing. I’ve grown and matured.”

We as an industry, and as gamers, have to come to that same realization that there’s nothing wrong with those things at certain times. There are always going to be younger gamers. They’re always going to be exploring games that are more simply entertainment-driven, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Yohalem: We’re not going to steal those games and replace them with mature ones. It’s not like those games are no longer going to exist.

Williams: Absolutely. It’s just that we have such a broad spectrum of experiences that we have yet to explore as a medium. We can start to do that now, particularly as creators are getting older and maturing and becoming different people and doing these things. We can make our medium so much larger and so much more inviting to all people who want to interact with every possible kind of experience.

Yohalem: One of the major inspirations for us, which has never been discussed – I find it interesting that it doesn’t get brought up – is Shadow of the Colossus. Another game that was very much about how you couldn’t turn it off. I think it’s very subtle in that game. I think creators and journalists get it. That game has this idea that you have to kill your own horse to beat the final battle. Then they brought back the horse, but I felt like that was a producer thing where they were like, “No, you can’t kill the horse! Bring it back!” But the part where you jump across the cliff and the horse dies, you think, “Why am I doing this?! I’m winning at all costs, but what does that mean? Why don’t I just turn it off?” That fascinates me.

RPS: But let’s say you message that part or satire or what have you better. That’s still only reaching a small subset of people who will play the game. The rest – unless the message is more overtly expressed in the game – will just assume it’s another shooter with no underlying message. So how do we get past this point? How do we lead players to assume we’re treating them as though they have some modicum of intelligence?

Yohalem: Well, the surprising thing about Far Cry, compared to Shadow, is that Shadow was understood to be a lot more hardcore by us, the people who play games all the time. Far Cry, the mainstream press really loved the game and got that it had a message, because they can just see it as, “I’m playing this game. Maybe I should be outside with my family and doing other things like that.” It’s the hardcore players who find it difficult to look at it that way because they play so many shooters.

I can feel this all the time. You stop seeing the things you’re seeing. It’s just, “I want to feel that feeling again.” I think the difference between a game, like soccer, and an experience like what we’re making is that the game will have certain rules that you’re playing with, and the more that people playing stick with those rules, the better.

Williams: Absolutely. Obviously, as a creator, I really support authorial intent in games. I actually don’t really know if player intent is something that is genuinely true, in those games. Even though we like to think that it is.

Yohalem: I know! Don’t you think we should tell them stuff? That’s the funny thing, it’s the illusion. We’re illusion-makers. There are some games that do [hinge themselves entirely on players]. Minecraft is all about the player. “Here is a box of Legos in the shape of a world. Go fuckin’ wild.” The interesting thing about Minecraft, though, is that it’s also a Robinson Crusoe curated fantasy. It’s about surviving on an island and what you can do, and then it gives you the box. I think that was core to its success. If it had just been a box of Legos, it wouldn’t have have been as interesting.

Williams: Even a game like Mass Effect, it’s a game that is… Whatever you think about the ending or whatever, the rest of it, with the choices the team has created these six variations on the same story. You get to pick whichever one you want. That’s not your intent. That’s six paths where you have fun. It’s basically, do you want to eat your pizza with your hand or do you want to eat your pizza with a fork and a knife? As creators, we have much more power and intent than we like to think that we do. Using that to its potential, I think it makes stronger games. More immersive games.

Yohalem: I think there are different types of people, but when I go home, what I want to play is your experience. I don’t want to play my version of his experience. The more I can see what he sees, the more I’m going to learn about life, and the more we’ll be closer together as people. I think as a society we’re trying to be understanding and empathetic. Issues with stereotypes come about because you don’t understand another person. If that person makes something that causes you to understand something about their experience, that, to me, is what I’m interested in.

Williams: I agree, 100 percent. I think that games, more than any other medium, have the power to do that. Because you really are inhabiting someone else in another world and going through their experience. When the whole Mass Effect 3 ending debacle happened, I was like, “OK, I get that you don’t like it. That’s fine. You’re allowed to not like something.” But the idea of demanding someone rewrite it for you, I can’t even imagine that. I know what’s in my head. I know my story.

Yohalem: Yeah. Why should I want to see myself?

Williams: Yeah! I deal with that all day long. It’s exhausting! I want to see what you see, where you’re going to take me. The games I grew playing were RPGs, Final Fantasy. What I always loved about those games is that every time you picked up a new one, whether it was in the franchise or not, it was going to take you in an entirely new world that you had to completely rediscover all over again. That’s what always drew me into it. What am I going to find and learn this time, within this new place? That’s the way I see it now with other creators. Where are you personally going to take me that I’ve never been able to go before? I get that, from a business standpoint, you want to make a game that can be all things to all people so you can get all people’s money. I get that. That makes sense. And to be fair, we are very blessed that we get to make triple-A games. The only reason we get to do that is we’re spending someone else’s money. But that’s something players have to understand, too.

Yohalem: Say someone in the Renaissance commissioned a Jesus on the cross. If you were going to make a painting that is anti-Jesus on the cross, it’s hidden in the canvas because the person who commissioned it just wants a Jesus painting.

Williams: Absolutely. Things like the Sistine Chapel, that shit happened because Michelangelo had to pay some fuckin’ bills. That’s who was paying for things at the time. It’s a masterpiece of art, but it’s still a commissioned piece of artwork. That’s how artists work, when you’re working with bigger things. There’s nothing wrong with that, but when you do it, you have to work within that box to tell something. I also think that, right now, that’s what makes these stories very interesting that we’re able to tell. I’ve seen people ask, “Do you really think a shooter can be critical of shooters?” Only a shooter can be critical of shooters. Especially as an interactive medium.

Yohalem: Yeah. How can I talk about an experience if I’m not living it?

Williams: Yeah. Then I’m just being a hypocrite. Then I’m just being an asshole, to be honest. “How dare you play shooters!” said I in my platformer. With Spec Ops there were a couple of reviewers who thought it was an anti-war game. Which I get. There’s enough allusions to things like Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness that you can assume we were just making an anti-war statement.

Things like the Sistine Chapel, that shit happened because Michelangelo had to pay some fuckin’ bills.

But I’ve said it before, in no way was I making an anti-war game. Because I’ve never been in combat and I don’t think anyone on the design team has ever been in combat. We have no valid firsthand statement to make about what it is like to be in combat and we certainly don’t have anything to say about war. The game is about shooters because we all make them, we all play them, and we have real, earnest statements to make about them that are valid to listen to. Anything we said about war, ultimately, would have been secondhand, if the game was only about war. Things that we had read or had heard from other people. It would have been, while perhaps not inaccurate, slightly disingenuous for us to be the ones saying, “We’re the ones making the anti-war statements!”

No. We’re just adapting the experiences of someone who’s actually gone through it. But making it about shooters gave us, I felt, more of a real, valid platform to stand on and talk about it.

Yohalem: Right, because we did live that. That’s the thing. I grew up playing shooters and thinking about the way they make me feel. For me, the analogous experience in film would be playing Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. Because she’s so into the system of being a star that she goes crazy. At the end, when she’s being led away, it’s like, “Oh, I’m posing for the camera.”

To me, what’s exciting about video games is, in something like Far Cry you’re living that. You’re feeling the system and going, “I love this! I love this! Give me more! Let me kill my girlfriend because I love this so much!” And then you’re Norma Desmond. I feel what’s going on inside her the way I never could have felt in that film. Because in that film you’re just watching this person and going, “Whoa. That’s not like me. She’s a maniac.” But what if you were? That kind of being able to feel those kinds of experience is so exciting.

So we can embed it in the work. There are a lot of clues. Maybe, like you’re saying, we should have leaned out, but it’s all there. Originally there was a speech at the end where Jason talked to the audience and laid it out. It basically says, “If you didn’t feel this way about the whole thing, here’s how you’re supposed to feel.” And then it’s not fair. If people feel like the game supports all these ideas that they have, then it’s like the game betraying them.

There have been a lot of articles that have found some of the hidden stuff. There’s a French text on the internet that goes through all of the higher order of meaning. And so if you look at the game and analyze it contextually, you will see all of this. It’s not fake, in the sense that this is stuff that you can read into it yourself, if you can find it. In my mind, as long as that stuff is there, then the meaning of the game is fixed. Then, if you interpret it differently, you have to support that interpretation.

RPS: That’s another thing, actually. Earlier, you said you were trying to avoid making overarching references to academic works, so as to make your meaning accessible to all. But it’s ultimately couched in references to Alice in Wonderland and Jane McGonigal and stuff like that. How is that any better?

Yohalem: Academic things to me are stuff from the 17th century or 15th century. When you go to university and you pay $150,000 to be part of this academic elite that uses a certain code of references. This happens all the time in academic literature. Every reference that I used is something that is available for free to the culture without having to have gone to university.

RPS: Certainly, but there are many that I think a lot of the culture hasn’t necessarily sought out – especially not in the way you connect them. So you’re not speaking in an academic language, but it seems like you’re speaking in your own.

Yohalem: I’m trying to create this type of game language system. I’m trying to pin it on existing structures, which is how you analyze literature. You take that and bring it down to a more accessible level. And so this is my first experiment in that. You always, always have to keep growing, or you haven’t done anything. There are tons of ways that I could build on that experiment, but I do believe it’s the right direction, because it encourages people into a way of playing with a story that I think is very fun when you get into it. What I’m saying is, I could have been more overt with the rules beforehand. That would have meant talking about it beforehand, like, “Here are the rules I’m playing with.” But otherwise, I just think that this ultimately is more exciting. It makes games more exciting.

Check back soon for the thrilling conclusion, in which we discuss Spec Ops’ poor sales, whether or not this type of in-game criticism has any sort of future, and why triple-A gaming’s lack of a people focus might be the root of many of these problems. Also BioShock, because BioShock.

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120 Comments »

  1. jellydonut says:

    But what about Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon

    Because that’s looking about a million times better than actual Far Cry 3

  2. Drayk says:

    Yohalem is more convincing this time around. I’ll give Far cry 3 a fair shot, not dropping after an hour because I find it stupid to kill animals for bags and wallets…

    I loved Specs ops as an experience… I felt bad at some point, just as I felt bad while watching Requiem for a dream… But I wanted to experience what the creators made for me. I guess i am looking at games the way Williams do.

  3. Ernesto25 says:

    Please get rid of the chat boxes.

  4. Feferuco says:

    Turning the game off is only an option if you hand me back my money. You can’t make a game where the “winning” condition is not playing it. Well, you can, but it is a pretty crappy idea.

    Similarly, you can’t create an ending that makes the game worse but that means you “won” somehow. And you can’t ignore that it is normal people want to explore the game as far as they can.

    If you want to create a game about games, the morality of shooters, the use of violence, then you have to give the player options, worthwhile options. The entire game has to be well done, engaging, even the options that lead you away from the action.

    If turning off the game is an option, then it is worse than forcing the player through the crappiest level you can come up with.

    • Ernesto25 says:

      “Turning the game off is only an option if you hand me back my money. You can’t make a game where the “winning” condition is not playing it. Well, you can, but it is a pretty crappy idea.”

      I guess he played the Stanley parable but in that we didn’t pay for it! I agree with you alot of the time i see “yeah well lots of people liked it because they bought it” around message boards which seems silly to suggest because you bought something you absolutely love it.

      • Feferuco says:

        Stanley Parable did what they should’ve done, in it every choice lead you to something interesting, even your refusal to follow the game’s rules. It made all of that part of the game, even escaping the game itself is part of the game, when you find a glitched wall. That game will get you thinking about it in every way, even invite you to consider the “not play it” option, while being an interesting game to play.

    • Colonel Mustard says:

      “But the part where you jump across the cliff and the horse dies, you think, “Why am I doing this?! I’m winning at all costs, but what does that mean? Why don’t I just turn it off?” That fascinates me”

      This quote in particular I struggle to really grasp what he’s saying, when he plays games and something emotionally challenging happens, is he suggesting that rejecting the media and turning it off a legitimate reaction to this? is that what he’s actually saying?

      Its a story. its got a beginning and an end, you don’t sit there and say, nah fuck it, I don’t want to see the ending now, my horse is dead.

      I must be missing something surely?

      • elgonzo says:

        Colonel Mustard, you obviously have not seen Mr. Y. going to watch a movie. Right before the first half hour passed, and exactly at the time of the first fatal gun shot in the movie, you see him running out of the cinema… …and he wonders like a child why other viewers are not following him…

      • Snidesworth says:

        He’s also assuming that the player is very much of the mind that they are the character they’re controlling. There’s always going to be some level of distinction between player and character (which can differ from person to person) and I doubt most people felt that [i]they[/i] had killed Agro. Though I doubt most people felt that Wander had killed Agro either, given the nature of the scene where the horse meets her demise.

        I felt the same way in Spec-Ops when the game asks Walker (and through him the player) “why are you here?” My own reasons didn’t line up with Walker’s, though the question itself did carry some weight. In my case I wanted to see how the tragedy played out, but I figure there’s many different reasons people saw it through to the end.

        • sass says:

          Ok, fair enough. For me though, I absolutely loved Shadow of the Colossus. I never identified with the hero (or felt like I was him during my play-time, cos my mental health is reasonably intact), but I was quite affected by the game: from the moment of the first kill to several kills later. Enough that I did turn it off. I never finished it, but that doesn’t lessen my love for SOTC.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Exactly. If ‘turn the game off’ is his one option then he seems rather blind. Why not make a deeper game instead? Give the players enough agency so they can act on changed perspectives within the game world.

      Well, unless it’s all meta about ‘you really should think about games and that they’re just entertainment, go outside and play, really’.. but then it probably should be a free indie game.

    • Zwebbie says:

      The best way not to commit any of the atrocious acts in these games and still not lose any money is not to buy the game in the first place. That’s what I did. I was and am really curious about both these games and the way they handle their themes, but I refused and still refuse to shoot digital people in order to see it.

      I, and billions of other people, are the proverbial choir that doesn’t need the preaching, and they didn’t; but instead they’re preaching at an atheist’s convention and being surprised at how they can’t get anyone to convert.

      I think that might be the key to these two games: they’re not talking of the glory of FPS to people who love FPS, nor are they talking of the bad things of FPS to people who dislike FPS (that would’ve been the satire they abhor). Instead, they’re presenting its horrors to people who traditionally love the genre. Whether it worked or not, you tell me — I don’t play games that want me to shoot. If it gets people to talk, that’s good, but it’s a horrible way to draw conclusions such as the one where nobody seems to have given up on the game half way through, since that argument overlooks everyone who gave up on it before playing.

    • vatara says:

      Amen. If you continue this reasoning, how is Call of Duty any different? Just because they intend it to be satire?

    • wererogue says:

      Making this kind of statement isn’t exactly new. There are plenty of books and films that are difficult to watch but make interesting statements, and part of the message is that the difficult content is ignoble.

      FC3′s message reached me loud and clear – with Jason’s friends already strongly questioning his behaviour, a side-quest sign asked me to kill a bunch of dogs with an RPG, and I thought: “No. I’m not going to do that.” And then I moved on with the plot, and it felt like I’d won.

      • strangeloup says:

        I knew what you really meant, but “killing dogs with an RPG” gave me mental images of bashing an Alsatian with a copy of the Monster Manual, or throwing d20s at them or something.

    • Phendron says:

      Not once did he say it was a good option, just highlighted that we have more power and free will at our disposal than to just blindly absorb uncomfortable content for purely economic reasons.

    • P.Funk says:

      So I take it you’ve never walked out of a movie?

      You paid for something, didn’t like it, done deal.

      I don’t get you people.

      • The Random One says:

        There’s a difference between “I didn’t like this so will not partake of it anymore” and “Characters in this make decisions I don’t morally agree with, so I must not partake of it anymore, regardless of whether or not I like it, because otherwise I will be complicit.”

        The difference is that one of them is batshit bonkers.

    • Josh W says:

      Exactly, if you really want to make a point about how we can turn off the game, put it in the demo, so we can decide if we want to play this game that tells us we should not be playing it. On the other hand, earlier he said that it was not a criticism, but an exploration. In other words we are dealing with a new model of “non-critiquing explorative satire”, that revels in some problem simply to be an example of something terrible.

      Shadow of the colossus was much more impressive because it held an ambiguity about whether your actions were justified, rather than containing real world problems within it referentially, then gleefully saying “I know, aren’t I being aweful”.

      Anyway, the other thing is that the game is fundamentally compromised if that is it’s objective, partially because a game “not holding together” really doesn’t send the signals he thinks it does but also because it doesn’t make a strong enough link between the themes he apparently wants to address; adrenaline, achievement mindset and repitition, and the content of the game. Placing those in more substantially as objects within the world would have worked better I suspect.

      I’ve found it seems to work much more consistently as a game about the dangerous of stubbornly trying to have a lovely holiday in the midst of chaos. (I’m sure someone else on rps made that point before)

      Stanley parable in contrast does hold together very well, and repeats it’s statement loud and clear.

  5. norfolk says:

    “In no way was I making an anti-war game. Because I’ve never been in combat and I don’t think anyone on the design team has ever been in combat. We have no valid firsthand statement to make about what it is like to be in combat and we certainly don’t have anything to say about war.”

    Wait, what? Not having actively participated in combat shouldn’t preclude an artist from talking about war – that’s ludicrous, no?

    • emorium says:

      He was talking about himself and his refusal to make a statement on war. He never mentions that other people can’t have an anti-(or pro)war sentiment without being there. He just doesn’t comment on it because he feels he doesn’t know enough.

      • Unrein says:

        And here I thought writers and creatives were supposed to have an imagination. I’m sure Edgar Allan Poe committed a couple of murders to feel justified in writing The Tell-Tale Heart.

      • qrter says:

        Actually, what seems to be happening is that they have made a statement about war (by making a game heavily featuring a war and the effects of such a war on the people participating in it), but the team isn’t prepared to acknowledge that.

        • Phendron says:

          He mentioned that all of the war/combat content was based on first-hand accounts of people who have experienced it. The point is that the design team took great care not to filter those accounts.

        • P.Funk says:

          Actually I think the point is that the angle wasn’t about being anti-war, it was about addressing how our culture handles representing this kind of violence and the way the player participates.

          Maybe Yohalem is right about the whole University education thing….

    • Unrein says:

      I was equally baffled by that. They obviously made a statement with the game, but apparently it didn’t have diddly shit to do with war. It was all about shooters? What a fucking disappointment and a cop-out.

    • Grargh says:

      To me, this sounds like cognitive dissonance. He says he grew up in military family, so most of his friends and relatives would be staunch supporters of military action. Even if you realize what a completely fucked up thing war is (and always must be), in such an environment it’s hard to fully admit that to yourself and to take an opposing stand to all the people you like and the attitudes you grew up with. So you start beating around the bush, acknowledging the horror but never actually considering yourself “anti-war”.

  6. cpt_freakout says:

    Yohalem hints at some sort of American anti-intellectualism being responsible for people not “getting his game” and then he says the Sistine Chapel happened because Michelangelo had to pay his bills. And then, to top it off, they both fall into the anti-intellectual error of saying that you can’t know a thing you haven’t made or haven’t experienced yourself. Yes, because that’s how we know how plants reproduce, because we make them, or how we know the galaxy is moving, because we made it / directly feel that movement. Hell, it’s not even a thing with science or knowledge at large: most of us don’t know how our cell phones make their magic, and yet we know what they are and how to use them.

    I’m sorry, the weather is shit here, and I needed to point out I’m still not buying their arguments because they contradict themselves AT EVERY TURN. Another example: they say authorial intent should be everything, that player intent might not even exist, and then they wonder why lots of people find some of the references redundant or completely non-satirical, answering it’s because it’s never been done before, but ‘having never been done before’ doesn’t mean players are clueless to their own experiences of different games at different times, even when it comes to the structure of said games. They speak like their sole audience is a bunch of kids with no self-reflection, which I don’t think might be the case given most gamers are 20+. They’re fighting a stereotype, which is to say they’re not fighting against it – they’re throwing punches at ghosts. Like when Williams constantly throws the disclaimer that he’s not anti-war, and that his game isn’t anti-war… well, sorry for the newsflash, but it’s hard to play Spec Ops and think “oh yes, war is a necessary thing, the military is a great institution”. As with the literature and films they so much like to vacuously talk about, multiple meanings are always in play, and some are more easy to create (yes, create, not “discover” or “identify”) than others.

    I find Williams more reasonable in general though. I think the underlying problem here is not with players (“we’re making something new, which they obviously don’t get”) or the games themselves, but with the writers. It was also the case of the interview with Dragon Age’s Gaider: they think that tackling these serious, smart issues makes them smart and serious, while the execution is completely lacking. The most irritating part of it is that they can’t just acknowledge that the path to any goal is full of failures, and both their games could be considered failures given their aims. Yet, they just can’t accept that and think of how they could do better, they just pin it down to the stereotypical image of the ignorant videogame kiddie.

    • Feferuco says:

      I also disliked how they said you can’t criticize a genre without doing a game that is in that genre. By that logic people shouldn’t even be able to talk about those subjects without making a game.

      I see those guys had some interesting intentions but I don’t think they thought things through.

      • Drayk says:

        I don’t want to defend them on this point. But it’s sometime more interesting to try to criticize something from the inside. Plus I felt like Spec Ops was something truely special, even if flawed.

      • aldo_14 says:

        I think they may been better to say that it’s often far more effective to criticise (or, specifically, do so in a more analytical manner) a genre from within that genre, using the conventions and familiarity therein, rather than without.

        • Feferuco says:

          Drayk, aldo
          That I agree with, depending on what the game does yes using the genre can be more interesting. But for me what they said felt like an excuse, as in “we had no other option and all perceived shortcomings are a consequence of that”.

        • cpt_freakout says:

          Like Feferuco, I agree with you, but that’s not what they said. Williams says he’d be a hypocrite and an asshole if he didn’t criticize from the inside, which is reductionist and dismissive. The end result of such a position is that, like Feferuco also said, it becomes an excuse for both mediocrity and cheap defenses of one’s own work against any kind of engagement from anyone else but oneself. I liked both games, and I thought Spec Ops was particularly good, but they’re far from great in the sense they both speak of their goals. What I intended to say is not that they have to make perfect games, because many times it is the flaws what make some things truly interesting and worth of debate, but that they’re unable to acknowledge that maybe, for all their smarts and all their analysis, they just failed to do what they intended to. Failure is something good as long as the thinking behind it isn’t pervaded by pride, which I believe is the case with these guys, with all the excuses they throw around about doing something new or that the Europeans ‘get it’ because, you know, Europe is “sophisticated”.

          • The Random One says:

            It looks like they tried to say something which makes sense and it came out as something stupid and borderline offensive to its audience, which I think is their calling card.

      • stillwater says:

        Yep, he’s basically saying “you have to fight fire with fire”. Which is an impressively dumb way of looking at things.

    • Ernesto25 says:

      Yeah i also hate the term “hardcore” for people who are perceived to play more games than a “normal” person.

    • qrter says:

      Yohalem is insufferable. He never, ever will take any responsibility for his work, it seems.

    • Captain Joyless says:

      cpt_freakout pretty much nailed it.

    • Mungrul says:

      I think that it’s also possible to extract a valid point from a work that the creator never intended.

      I’m not really talking about Far Cry 3 here, as no matter how many times Yohalem insists there was some sort of clever self aware satire gong on, I never really got that. To me, it felt like some interesting characters inhabiting the Ubi Standard Game Template. I enjoyed the game, but the very visibility of the mechanics over-shadowed any message the creators were trying to get across. It very much felt like Assassin’s Creed: FPS Edition. Unless they’re going to turn around now and claim that was the intent. Eh.

      Anyway, no, this is more to do with Spec Ops and the fact that I very much did interpret it is a commentary on war and its horrors. Yes, it made me think about the games I play and why I played them, but the bigger message to me was very much anti-war, no matter what Williams says. Once a work is out in the wild, the interpretation is as much the audience’s as the creator’s. Especially in the case of an interactive medium like gaming, where you’re giving players a palette of their own, albeit limited.

      I had a similar reaction when I first watched 28 Days Later. My friend and I enjoyed the movie, respecting its modern take on the zombie genre and the performances of the cast. And after the credits rolled, we decided to watch the extras only to discover that Danny Boyle was intending it to be some deeply pretentious social commentary, distanced from films like Dawn of the Dead.
      Bollocks; it was a zombie movie, and while good, not as adroit as Romero’s classic at exposing the fears of society.

      • Snidesworth says:

        I think Williams intended the game to show that war isn’t a glamorous thing like it’s often presented to be in both games and other media and also that there’s serious consequences for all involved. It may be justifiable at times but it certainly isn’t a noble, glorious endeavour. That said when a story shows the only consequence of the protagonist’s continued meddling to be a continual worsening of the situation for all involved it’s hard not to take it as a statement about military intervention.

      • gregorsamsa says:

        I bought the game, my first full price AAA for a long time, after hearing/reading good reviews, my fondish memories of the first two FCs and reading Yohalems comments about it. Needless to say, to anyone who has actually played FC3, I was disappointed. I don’t think I’ll be buying anymore full price AAA games again.

        My main problem with the game was that it just felt like a typical committee-made AAA game DLC delivery vehicle with a smattering of pseudo-”satire” thrown in as an after thought (or maybe as a pre-committee thought?). Overall the game just felt shallow. At first I thought that was the point and the game would get interesting at some point, but it never did. Maybe that was what Yohalem was going for, but so what? I just stopped playing, but doesn’t that mean the game has failed on a fundamental level? What good is satire if it’s indistinguishable from the things it tries to satirize? I still paid $70 for a big stupid FPS, one that I couldn’t even be bothered to finish.

    • Shooop says:

      This is the post to end all posts on this subject.

      Is it really so hard to just say, “We tried to do something, and weren’t as successful at it as we’d have liked. But maybe we’ll get it in the future now that we know we can”?

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Yeah, but it’s not the author who gets to decide whether their work is successful. Plus, he would be speaking for a very large group of people who put a lot of time and effort into making the game, which would be pretty unfair.

    • noclip says:

      I can’t help but wonder if part of the problem with Far Cry 3 wasn’t that the other thousand people on the team had no idea (or didn’t care) what kind of game the writer thought they were making.

    • Josh W says:

      I actually thought that idea about making sure you use popular cultural references in your intertextuality is a really good point, loads of works that have substantial resonance to them feed off and reference one another, and there isn’t any particular reason to use old texts aside from copyright/trademark issues. (which is another story in itself)

  7. Captain Joyless says:

    Wait wait wait wait wait

    The guy who led off last time with “irony is finished” is now whining that “nobody understood my satire”??

    Sounds to me like the inferior craftsman who blames his tools.

    • Stijn says:

      He’s not whining? On the contrary, he’s saying a lot of people actually did get it, and that his quote about how people didn’t was paraphrased wrongly and taken out of context.

  8. elgonzo says:

    Dear Mr. Yohalem,

    regarding your quote “I think the game disturbed a lot of people…” i would like to point out that it seems more people were disturbed about your talks than about the game.

  9. Brun says:

    You could just stop playing. That never occurs to them, I think, and that, again, is the addiction thing.

    Ever consider that people are hostile to this idea because they’ve already sunk $60 into that game and don’t want it to go to waste? It has nothing to do with addiction.

    • Harlander says:

      I don’t see how turning off the game can be an option in the game anyway.

      Once you’ve turned the game off you’re not in it any more; it’s no more a valid response to an in-game situation than suddenly melting into mist and fading away, never to be seen again is a response to a bad real-life situation.

      • Snidesworth says:

        I think it’s more of an option than it is for any other media due to the interactive nature of games. You’re more complicit in what’s happening on screen then you are with a film because you’re taking part in it to some extent. Not to say that it’s much of an option, however. I think Spec-Ops would have been better served if it gave the player the option to, within the game, turn around and walk away. Maybe that option would be removed after certain events put Walker on the path of no return, but it would give the ending a lot more clout if the player could have turned about and left Dubai but chose not to.

        Though such an option would be open to similar criticism, since walking away may cut you off from a good deal of the game you’d paid however many monies for.

        • Harlander says:

          I’d be satisfied with an option to walk away in the game.

          Though to be honest I’d probably still go back and play it the way where terrible things are obviously going to happen, just to see how it pans out.

          • Brun says:

            The notion of “walking away” from the game should really be about the ability to “walk away” from the story, which some sandbox games already provide (Elder Scrolls games). If you don’t like where one of the storylines is taking you you’re more than free to stop pursuing it while still playing and enjoying the game in other ways.

    • meatshit says:

      It’s exactly what I did with Far Cry 3. After the Vaas storyline finished and the narrative got unbearably stupid (as opposed to before, when it was bearably stupid), I quit doing story missions. I would have done it sooner, but you have to complete them to unlock all the toys and the full map. After that, I conquered the rest of the outposts, did a few side missions and haven’t touched the game since.

      I would have preferred a non-idiotic narrative, but at the same time, I feel satisfied with the portion of the game I experienced. If it had been a linear game that forced me to endure the story to enjoy the gameplay, I’d be far less pleased.

    • TCM says:

      Sunk cost fallacy.

      If I pay for something I don’t enjoy, then I don’t force myself to continue just to ‘justify’ that purchase by wasting more of my time. I take it as a lesson and move on.

      (Note: I enjoyed Far Cry 3.)

      • The Random One says:

        Again, this is not a matter of enjoyment. What they are saying is that not playing the games to their completion is akin to boycotting a brand that is known to use slave labour. Which, I’d like to reiterate, is batshit bonkers.

    • SuicideKing says:

      I was thinking about this too. I see someone here says that you know, just because you’ve payed for somehting that turns out to be shitty, you don’t continue to expose yourself to it, which is fine, but game developers can’t expect that.

      I mean, i don’t sell you something, and when you find it bad/against your morals or find it making you do something that you don’t want to, say that “hey, you can always stop using it”, unless i’m prepared to issue you a refund.

      I did enjoy the open world parts of FC3, but that torture mission made me absolutely sick. And i stopped killing animals after the most important crafting was done (i wish i didn’t have to kill animals in the first place). But could i have said, no, i don’t want to play this anymore, Ubisoft will have to take the game back?

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        I’m sorry, but wanting a refund for a piece of art is absolutely ludicrous. Can you imagine the state of the games industry if this was common practice?

        Edit: Major bugs/performance issues are, I think, a grey area.

        • DXN says:

          Right, it’s completely impractical, which is why it’s not a valid approach for Yohalem/Williams say that they’re giving us a deliberately bad example of a Dumb Vidya Game and then challenging us to turn it off.

          If you want to give us a contrasting choice to the Dumb Vidya Game then there are many ways you can do that. You can make a game that deliberately contrasts with a Dumb Vidya Game and gives us the option to play that. For example, I’d say Journey deliberately reacts against violence and over-systematization in mainstream games by going pointedly in the other direction and showing us the beauty that that can lead to. The Walking Dead takes a refreshingly thoughtful approach to a typically brainless genre, reclaiming some of the intelligence that is started out with in Romero’s hands.

          You can give the player ways to deliberately reject the Dumbness of a Dumb Vidya Game. For instance, Stanley’s Parable gives us ways to push against and break the self-consciously videogamey choices and flow that it presents us with. GTA and (of all things) Postal gave us the option to live as a law-abiding citizen, and made you deliberately flaunt the law/human decency in order to have fun. Thief made it the apogee of skill to kill no-one, not everyone.

          Or you can tackle the same subject matter as a Dumb Vidya Game in a thoughtful and reflective way, using skilled and intelligent design to force you to understand it differently. Shadow of the Colossus confronts the would-be monster-hunter, raised on grinding and “fighting evil”, with an enormous and ambiguous emotional impact to taking monsters out of the world. By stripping away the usual cruft and grind and shallow, cliche storyline, you’re challenged to actually look at what you’re doing. (Completely the opposite approach to FC3). Half Life personifies and calls attention to the essence of creating a videogame power-fantasy, where you both empower and deliberately limit a hero to make them unstoppable, as a real in-universe force — the G-man, ensuring that Gordon can only walk one path, but that path is the one that will lead him to achieve the G-Man’s ends, which are similar to but not the same as Gordon’s. The G-Man is Gabe. I find that interesting. Sometimes the G-Man even taunts you in the way that he shuttles you down his set path, wryly adjusting his tie behind the door he just closed.

          And I daresay there are other possible approaches, too.

          Spec Ops does pretty well with the last option by slowly dissolving the Heroic Framework that would normally support what you do in a video game. It also signposts what it’s doing to the player by alluding heavily to Apocalypse Now/Heart of Darkness. It states its case firmly.

          Far Cry 3, to me, fails in all respects. Far Cry 3 isn’t a parody because it doesn’t exaggerate and distort in any interesting way. Pushing things up to 11 isn’t enough. Dumb Vidya Games already push it up to 11 at the expense of all subtlety and intelligence. That’s one of their hallmarks. (At least Blood Dragon is trying to really twist the knob until it breaks. It’s a good old-fashioned parody. Not particularly sophisticated but it’s a solid and reliable way of commenting on something.)

          So FC3 isn’t a parody, it isn’t a commentary because it deliberately avoids explicitly saying anything interesting. And its satirical elements, which I guess are pretty much confined to Jason’s narrative being “broken”, is just.. weak. It’s not stunning or affecting, it’s just a little “huh” moment nestled in amongst a landslide of gameplay that nullifies it.

          Man, I ain’t never gonna give that videogame a break!

  10. HadToLogin says:

    “Turning off the game is a valid player choice.” True. But why nobody gives a damn about money player had to lose to be able to turn game on?

  11. i saw dasein says:

    ” Also, the shocking thing is that a lot of people who were most upset by the game, they never once suggested that they could have turned it off and done something else. I find that fascinating. They’ll say, “There’s no choice! You just have to go through this.” You could just stop playing.”

    Yeah, that’s exactly what I did. I played maybe an hour, felt like FC3 was really insultingly stupid both on a narrative level and on a game play level, and turned it off. So I feel like my time was wasted, my money was wasted, and to the extent that there is some point to the game I never go to that point, because (as Mr. Yohalem himself apparently recommends) I turned the game off as soon as I realized how dumb it was.

    Thanks for nothing, Mr. Yohalem! How about next time you just make a game that isn’t dumb?

    • elgonzo says:

      I don’t think Mr. Yohalem was really involved in making the game. If he would, i think the game would have subtly provided you an option for powering your PC off every time you look down the rifle’s scope.

      • The Random One says:

        Now I think you’re being insane. I can’t imagine anything Yohalem would do can ever be described using the word ‘subtly’.

  12. elgonzo says:

    “Turning off the game is a valid player choice.”
    Well, then i think, consequentially, it would be the very best and morally superior choice just not to buy the game at all. Ubisoft, please don’t blame me for not buying your product. All the praise shall go to Mr. Y.

  13. Shooop says:

    As much as I love the story Spec Ops tells, Williams really doesn’t get what it actually does say to players. And Yohalem doesn’t get anything at all, period.

    Far Cry completely failed as a satire because it didn’t even understand how satire works. Making a character be horribly abused for no other reason than to give the protagonist motivation to keep stabbing people is not satire. An acid trip in which an antagonist yells he didn’t make you do anything is not satire. Throwing in a cryptic metaphor for playing a game at only one of the two endings is not satire.

    It never once asked you to look back at what you were doing, it just kept telling you via a very persistent pop-up message box to go somewhere and kill someone. Yohalem is full of shit and himself. Why do you even bother talking to him?

    Spec Ops worked not at making the player out to be a monster, but at making the protagonist one. Williams doesn’t understand what his own work is really saying.

    You’re not Captain Walker, you’re along for the ride. You the player can’t be considered responsible for what happens because the game itself has already determined what Walker will do. You just go through the motions and watch what happens. Konrad doesn’t berate you the player, he berates Walker for any and all choices the game determined he could make. When the loading screens ask, “Do you even remember why you’re here?” it can’t be a question aimed at you – because you know where you are – you’re in your living room/office/bedroom playing a game. If not, then you need to seek professional help.

    The actual message that resonates from Spec Ops is – “Do you want to be an action hero? Here’s what’s probably really going to happen.” The game/Walker makes classic movie cliche decisions that in Hollywood and most games ends with the hero saving the world. He wants to be a hero. Spec Ops takes those decisions and uses them in world more like the one we actually live in.

    And if you expect people who paid $50-60 for something to never use it you are irredeemably stupid and should never work in any industry which sells things to people.

    • Feferuco says:

      Yeah, I like where these guys are trying to get but I don’t think they’re seeing the whole picture. Really, what needs to be done is something like that famous Milgram experiment or the Stanford prison experiment.

      A game that always gives you the option to turn away, to fight back, to question, to do the right thing, but is also always subtly leading the player towards becoming a bad person. A game that shows how ordinary people can become part of something awful.

      And it’d be perfect in a game. We players are trained to accept certain things as truth, like, we never question quest instructions we find on a mission menu. Example, during tutorial levels you are taught that the crosshair turning red indicates an enemy, later on the crosshair indicate innocent people are enemies and if you’d just stop for a second to see how they act you’d see they aren’t hostile or dangerous.

      All of these things in video games are authorities for every gamer. People may question the characters in the story but they’ll never question what the all mighty crosshair tells you.

      I recall there was actually a game, not a video game, that did that. You had to manage trains in the most efficient way you could but if you looked inside the train miniatures you’d see a bunch of people stuffed in there, and realize you were transporting people to a concentration camp.

      • bhlaab says:

        Super Mario Bros is actually a dangerous screed advocating violence, as at any time the game gives you the choice to murder a person while playing.

      • elgonzo says:

        No, seriously, you want a Stanford Prison Experiment again?

        If you want to engage players in game situations that will and must make them uncomfortable to bring a message across successfully, you must make them invested in the characters that enact the story, and you must provide context, so the player not only hears/sees the actions, their consequences and the underlying message but also understands it. You can let the player enact amoral actions if it fits, but it is not necessarily a requirement.

        And that puzzles me: While books, movies, and TV series alike can be very successful in bringing a message across, somehow games like FC3 do not seem to be able to do the same (ignore for a moment the fact that there are other games that do it more competently).

        Why? Just because games are interactive? That would be a poor excuse. Games such as FC3 actually try to utilize a narrative to bring their message across. However, they are awfully sloppy with their narrative (which also includes the latest Bioshock). Well, obviously most games are about gameplay, with the narrative existing for the sole purpose to support the gameplay (which is okay with me). Rarely they try to bring a message across, which might explain why the narratives are mostly so sloppy.

        However, if you really want to tell something with your game, you have to work on the narrative, not on the gameplay. And that seems to be not understood. In order to improve the quality of the narrative, you have to improve your craft (hello Mr. Y.!).

        Making things just looking more real will not be the answer to this, if there is no character in all these polygon models, if they don’t behave lifelike, but rather like automatons controlled by a script with a just a dozen lines of code. It is not believable. And FC3 (sorry, don’t know SpecOps, hence can’t say anything about it) does little to nothing to suspend our disbelief. When cutting the throat of that girlfriend, i was not cutting a person, not even a virtual one. There was just some scripts that made some animations, that told the moment in a story where a boy slices the throat of his girl. Yeah, it is quite the bad taste. But there was no emotional response or any connection, because the game/narrative failed to invest me in any of the “characters” in the game, nor did it provide any kind of echo chamber for emotions or thoughts to well up. So, what was i feeling then, at that moment? Nothing. Because there was actually nothing to feel or think about, except maybe: “Whoa, those game designers are really sick.”

        As a counter example, which i just remembered now, i would like to mention the scene in the 1st episode of The Walking Dead (the TV series), where the sheriff walks through the park and sees a torso of a female zombie. He has met her before earlier in the episode in the same park, when he took a bicycle that was lying next to her. And he stops, and watches how she crouches over the grass, a bizarre gory silly zombi torso, and it is made very clear that this was once a woman/girl. The whole scene is cross-cut with another scene, where a father of a boy decides to kill his former wife, which turned zombie, and how he struggles to execute his plan. And yes, it includes head shots and blood and stuff. But it is very emotional and touching.
        The thing is, this not pulled of because of special effects, action or shooting and such, but because there was a build up (which works as explanation to what happens), characters, a fitting (!) setup, and context (by how which things are shown in what way, the music, the serenity) so to make the message of this particular scene clear and elicit a response from the viewer.

        While this situation is not exactly comparable to what happens in FC3, it shows how a good narrative works, despite the clichees of zombie kitsch and doomsday scenario. That is where many games fail, since their narratives are underdeveloped. (There are notable exceptions, amongst them the games from Valve. Or To The Moon. Or Starcraft 2, whose gameplay is not about individual characters, but still puts some serious effort into its narrative.)

        You don’t have to turn people into real abusers, (or real killers) in another Stanford Prison Experiment just to tell that people can become violent and that it is bad and hurts, and etc…

        If you want me to feel bad or guilty about the actions i have done and caused in the game, then give me a believable reason to feel bad. Give me proper characters and context. Craft your narrative properly. And then i will feel bad and shitty for that moment. And if the gameplay is any good, i will come back, play it again – and probably still do the same bad things again – because it is part of the game, right?

    • geerad says:

      I think you’re right. I’ve never understood the argument that when the protagonist does horrible things in-game without any giving me another choice, I am complicit merely for continuing to play the game.

      Even if I have a certain degree of control over the player character, if I have no choice about him committing those horrible acts (other than to stop playing), I am no more complicit than for continuing to watch a movie where the protagonist does the same.

      Of course, even if I do have a choice, I’m well aware the game is fictional, so choosing immoral things in-game is not immoral anyway and doesn’t necessarily reflect the choices I would make in a similar real-world situation.

      But if the author insists that I am complicit by continuing to play the game, what does this say about the author, who chose to continue working on a game which forces the player to commit virtual atrocities or else stop playing a game on which they already spent a not-insignificant sum? Is the author not thus more culpable than the player many times over?

      However, for an example for this sort of morality done better, I would point to Brenda Braithwaite’s Train, where the moral choice (ignoring that the game is still a fiction) is not to stop playing but to sabotage and subvert the game.

    • KenTWOu says:

      Spec Ops worked not at making the player out to be a monster, but at making the protagonist one. Williams doesn’t understand what his own work is really saying.

      This is ridiculous. You completely ignore any connections between the protagonist and the player, you completely ignore suspension of disbelief, you completely ignore the fact that the player should temporarily accept the game as reality in order to be entertained. The player should identify himself with the protagonist for the same purpose. And after this silliness you said that Williams doesn’t understand his own work? Really?

      Konrad doesn’t berate you the player, he berates Walker for any and all choices the game determined he could make. When the loading screens ask, “Do you even remember why you’re here?” it can’t be a question aimed at you – because you know where you are – you’re in your living room/office/bedroom playing a game. If not, then you need to seek professional help.

      You can play the game on the effing moon, it’s completely irrelevant, because the game talks to you through the fourth wall!

  14. Casimir's Blake says:

    These people want to know how to treat players intelligently?? *Cracks knuckles*

    Don’t force us through a hour-long tutorial, even if it’s part of the main game.
    Allow us to save where we want.
    Don’t write a novels’ worth of exposition to pad out the gameplay with unnecessary cutscenes.
    Allow us to work out the rules of the gameworld ourselves. There should be some beyond “bang” and “die”.

    Go play Dark Souls, King’s Field or – preferably – System Shock 2. These games never hold the player’s hand, outside of SS2′s entirely skippable tutorials. They do not shower us in unnecessary, pointless detail and exposition. Or at least take a look at Thief for a good example of a game that gives the player just enough story to give purpose to what is already tremendously deep and satisfying gameplay.

    Design gameplay. Write your story and plot so that it augments the gameplay, and doesn’t get in the way of it. I don’t want to be “playing” a film. *Spits on the new Tomb Raider*

    Oh and sod it, while I’m at it: Someone, please, for goodness sakes make another first person Immersive Sim like System Shock or Ultima Underworld.

  15. Skeletor68 says:

    I’m having a very tough time discerning what is meant to be crap in Far Cry 3 now and what is just poor design.

  16. walldad says:

    The problem with FC3 is that it creates no context in which a player can infer that it’s highlighting the absurdity of its mechanics and narrative.

    Could the objective pop-up every few minutes be simply be a oversight, or deliberately highlighting the absurdity of games that continually tell you what to do, and where to go, in an open world with the trappings of “freedom”? As a player, all I know is that it’s doing that and it’s annoying, and I’d like it to leave me alone already.

    An even broader example: there’s no indication that something like the HUD in FC3 has anything going on beyond the surface. It shows and allows me to manipulate the little abstractions, numbers and knicknacks I’ve collected divorced entirely from the game itself, but there is no shortage of games that handle inventory this way. It’s stupid and I’ve come to expect that degree of Stupid from video games as a whole.

    Yohalem seems to think he’s inserted clues to some kind of clever Dadaist 5-dimensional chess that permeates every aspect of the game, but always handwaves the key point from the last interview: FC3 does not exist in a vacuum, away from other games that do things in similarly absurd ways, but implement these things straight-faced. This renders his tirade about empathy even more hypocritical and hollow. From my perspective, the game starts off by doing stupid game-y things, and that’s the type of experience I’m in for. Any reasonable player, even an intelligent one aware of the intrinsically absurd gamey-ness of open world games like Far Cry, is going to assume the game’s “stupid” mechanics are just that, and have no reason to look for his cherished rhetorical fallback of “search for clues” or allusions to Alice in Wonderland.

    He describes his game as a building facade with nothing behind it, like a movie set. Ok, that metaphor applies to any game subjected to a similar level of logical scrutiny. Developers all build facades with nothing behind them, and having already checked behind these facades I’m well aware that this is the artifice I’m choosing to explore when I load up a game. So, how is anyone supposed to know he placed this “facade” with the intent of calling attention to that fact, when it’s just one facade adjacent to countless thousands? It would’ve been like Duchamp placing his readymade “fountain” in a random bathroom, mounting it on the wall next to all the other identical urinals, and then calling us stupid for not seeing “R. Mutt” written on the bottom.

    • cpt_freakout says:

      I think you and the rest of the posters here just completely destroyed both guys’ arguments. Nicely done, everyone! :)

      Let’s see how the last part of the interview goes.

      • elgonzo says:

        My guess, it probably continues in the same tone and display of lacking self-awareness as in the first two parts.
        I am just starting to wonder whether Nathan could maintain a straight face during the interview(s).

    • Ernesto25 says:

      That’s how i felt. Next he’ll be saying : “we deliberately made a rubbish quick save and added annoying popups saying you are leaving the mission area! in an open world game” i assumed the last one was meant to be a meta joke. I enjoyed the game but it did feel messy at times in terms of ideas , storytelling.

    • The Random One says:

      Quite so.

      Yohalem has essentially designed a bad Disneyland ride and is now shouting at people, “How did you not NOTICE that every building was just a FAÇADE????”

    • ffordesoon says:

      This, a bit. John’s “But everyone else is being stupid!” line in his interview with Yohalem pretty much sums up the problem. He seems convinced that bashing you over the head with the satire would have been the wrong approach, but shooters have become so stupid that a sledgehammer to the head is what we need to even realize it’s satire. Nothing subtler would do the job.

      I will give them props for one legitimately disturbing moment that I thought worked very well: the jeep chase scene, when Jason and his girlfriend escape the burning building. He’s killing all their pursuers and laughing and whooping and spouting macho action movie bullshit, and the girlfriend’s just horrified. I thought the interplay between them in that scene encapsulated the themes Yohalem’s describing quite well.

    • DXN says:

      Word. The R. Mutt thing captures perfectly how I feel about FC3′s attempts to present itself (or rather, Yohalem’s attempts to present it) as somehow setting itself apart from the norm.

  17. Megakoresh says:

    This is such a good topic and more devs should listen. Although I don’t see how Far Cry 3 is relevant to this because it really didn’t do anything like The Line did. It was a very straightforward game. A fun adventure. It was fun. Spec Ops the Line wasn’t fun. It sacrificed everything fun it has to bring this message to the players and succeeded. It is the longest lasting impression that any game ever left in me, and I played thousands of them.

    Far Cry 3 is more of a standard hollywood style game. I saw no attempts of the game to make the player feel uncomfortable about the actions they’re performing. Neither did it raise any important moral question is a very well concealed, almost sub-concious manner like The Line did. I did wish for FC3 to go a bit further down the route that The Line did. The Line pushed a bit too far, it’s a nightmare of a game, I couldn’t play anything but Rayman Origins for a week after I finished it, but Far Cry 3 could have gone down that route a but more IMO.

    • elgonzo says:

      FC3 might be quite relevant for the topic, if maybe only for this reason: Mistakes

    • The Random One says:

      I would agree with you if I thought Spec Ops wasn’t fun by design. But it isn’t fun because it tries to be fun and fails. It has elements that would be fun if well applied (different enemies that require different strategies, crushing people with sand etc) but they don’t work. Conversely, Far Cry 2 consists entirely of ‘go here and shoot these dudes who are hanging around with guns’ and I feel was more succesful at not being fun, while making me feel it was deliberate.

  18. cunningmunki says:

    Its ironic that Far Cry 3 turned out to be such a schizophrenic game in itself. It really felt fragmented and diconnected, like the designers of each aspect of the game were trying to make it something different, and the story was just shoehorned in at some point. Some wanted it to be an open world survival game, others wanted it to be Crysis, someone else wanted it to be COD (as usual), and to top it off the writer doesn’t think people should play violent games.

  19. Javier-de-Ass says:

    I didn’t buy and didn’t play spec ops. I win.

  20. P.Funk says:

    I REALLY hated that thing about the “Academic allusions” and shit. It comes off as pretty anti-intellectual the way he talks about $150, 000 educations being required to understand literary allusions, and as such you should only refer to things that the majority of the inbred hick majority are already aware of, like overly familiar fairy tales or something.

    Its just stupid. Part of what makes dense and educated allusions so good in some work is that as you age, learn new things, read more stuff, the more you come to understand these allusions. I can go back and play Grim Fandango today and probably have a few epiphanies about what the writers meant because I played the game when I was 12 and hadn’t read practically anything at the time. Sophisticated allusions make something have greater longevity than to just make it mickey mouse simple.

    If there’s nothing difficult to interpret or nothing new to learn from something; if everything comes readily and the allusions are in no way demanding of you, then why do I care? What am I learning if I already know everything?

    Maybe all this stuff wouldn’t be so “elite” if it was actually routinely referenced in mainstream culture. If you don’t reference it, then nobody knows it. Cartoons when I was young (early to mid 90s) often had blatant references to Shakespeare, something you wouldnt get awareness of until high school at least mostly.

    Its a pretty disappointing argument, especially from someone who’s supposedly trying to talk about making some big point about our culture.

  21. Davidsve says:

    Far Cry 3 was insufferable. Addictive gameplay, but the setting, characters, story, and – lastly – this attempt at giving it some deeper meaning or value post-release, is just pointless.

  22. ffordesoon says:

    I think that Yohalem is absolutely right to say that the ending where Jason Brody adddresses the player directly is a poor ending. However, it is a poor ending for anything other than Far Cry 3 – which, in its narrative portions, is mainly a series of unskippable monologues about philosophy directed less at the character than the player. In other words, using one of those as the capper where all the themes are addressed would’ve actually been the right choice in this one instance. They could’ve even done a deconstruction of that tremendously aggravating thing all Ubisoft games – FC3 included – do these days, where you just follow a slow-moving character around from cutscene to cutscene as they monologue at you.

    Like, what I’m envisioning – and this is probably nowhere near what Yohalem wrote – is that you get to the final ceremony, and you’re about to get the last part of the tatau, and then Jason yells “Nope!” And you’re like, “Wait, what?” And then the director – who could be played by the actual director – goes, “Jason, what are you–”

    And then Jason literally steps out of you, complete with that glitchy, Goldeneye third-person to first-person fade effect, but in reverse. And then he walks off of the set – oh, and it turns out it’s a set. and then you get this pop-up that goes, “Uh, follow Jason, I guess?” So then you’re just this disembodied consciousness, and you’re looking at your monitor going, “Wait, what the fuck just happened?”

    But you do what the nice disembodied voice tells you to, because of course you do, and you follow Jason. There’s even a lovely little objective marker that tells you exactly where he is, maybe with the word “Follow” next to it.

    So you follow, and you see what seems to be a film crew milling about, talking about various things like how hard “the annual releases” (a thinly veiled reference to AC) are on the crew, and boring office politics you don’t understand, and blah. And every time you get too close to them, their unblinking heads swivel toward you in that creepy way that only happens in games, and they say things like, “Oh! Howdy, Mister Player sir! Uh, I mean, ma’am. Or I guess you could be a guy… Shit, I dunno, we’re kinda… I mean, we’re down with equality, uh, at Ubi Films, but– Look, send me a JPEG, and we’ll—”

    And then a woman co-worker covers his mouth, smiles and nods, and says, “Ma’am.”

    So there’s a bunch of little vignettes like that you can choose to pay attention to or not, and then you can follow Jason down this white hall to the director’s trailer, and people are walking by you and smiling and nodding, and you’re pleasantly confused, and you start to hear Jason yelling stuff at the director about how he’s sick of shooting and stealth kills and racism and animal murder and all the rest of it, and the director’s yelling at him that this is what people want, and Vaas walks by you in the hall, and you’re like, “What…?”

    And then you continue to follow Jason and hear all the arguments for and against what you’ve just played, and you start to think about those arguments. And then you get an objective marker that just says. “I’m gonna get some lunch, be right back.” And you’re like, “This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever played.”

    And then you get to Jason and the director, and they’re about to come to blows when they notice you outside the door to the little room they’re in, and they’re both facepalming and going, “You weren’t supposed to see that…”

    And then Jason takes you aside and explains that you should be repulsed by what you’re doing in this thing, and tells you about all the endagered animals you killed, and how you killed his friends just to advance the story, and how there are so many stupid and horrible things you overlook in the name of “fun” and blah.

    After Jason’s done talking to you, the director takes you aside and talks about how none of the things you did in the game matter as long as you’re having fun. “You had lots of fun killing all those people, right? The part where you stabbed that one guy, and he rolled off the cliff – that was awesome, yeah? Morals shouldn’t get in the way of you unwinding at the end of the day, right?”

    And then Jason tosses you his gun, and says, “Here, you make the choice. We’re just digital, we can come back to life. Shoot him if you agree with me. You won’t get the achievement for beating the game, but does that really matter to you?”

    And the director’s like, “But you do want that achievement, don’t you? How will anyone know you beat the game if you don’t have it on your profile? Who’s gonna believe you? Don’t you want people to know you finish games like you always say you do? Hm? Shoot him, and get that achievement! I’ll give you a bonus one, too! And a couple skins in multiplayer! And infinite ammo, how about that? Fun fun fun, all for you!”

    And then you can shoot either one of them, or walk away. That option isn’t made clear to you, but it’s there. Maybe you get a separate secret achivement for that, or something.

    Credits roll, and then you’re back on the island.

    I dunno, something like that. Seems more fitting as an ending than the stupid ones they went with.

    All that being said, it’s the easiest thing in the world to Monday-morning-quarterback a clearly massive undertaking like FC3. I do genuinely respect what Yohalem was trying to do, but he’s too in love with postmodern rhetoric without really getting it, especially how it might apply to games.

    • davorschwarz says:

      Brilliant – well done sire – love it. All Mr. Ho-HUm could muster with all of his $150.000 education is giant glowing monster head that needs to be shot at with fire arrows and unconvincing coitus scene. By the way whose arse did he pulled that $figure from? Did it take him 30y to get that degree due to lack of functioning brain cells from smoking pot?

    • Josh W says:

      Exactly, there’s nothing much wrong with the things he’s going for, and the game itself is pretty fun, sold well and I think has done a lot to push forward expressive psuedorealism in characters.

      The problem is that he has a strange inability to recognise how close or far he was from delivering his intentions, which is either not a good sign about his skills at writing for games, or a way to paper over the inevitable compromises that led to the slightly half-hearted direction of the game.

      I think the latter is more likely, but if so, my old discomfort at it’s use of stereotype returns:

      It should be reasonable to say that if you mess around with something dodgy in a big budget piece of art, it should have enough redeeming qualities in how it deals with that to compensate for the lazyness of using those unhelpful cliches. If compromises in the work are going to compromise that clever or careful treatment, then perhaps it should be reconsidered or not embarked on.

      That is an extent to which a work can not only be compromised but perhaps fatally compromised, drifting from an intelligent treatment or commentary on certain cultural problems to a simple license or excuse to indulge in them.

      Something that is to social and cultural awareness as “greenwashing” is to proper environmental understanding.

      Yohalem has mentioned those problems, but hasn’t actually found a solution to them it seems, and perhaps some of the flaws of his commentary, as well as the work itself, form from seeking to simultaneously ignore and justify that compromise.

      Paradoxically, it is his very satisfaction with already being clever that is a danger of mediocrity, either in not being able to learn from failures in his own work, or recognise where that work has not meshed with that of his colleagues.

  23. The Random One says:

    The “if you don’t like it stop playing” line is complete and utter bullshit. Let me tell you why. You either imagine that the fiction of the game is real inside its own ‘universe’, (which is what you need to do if you want to think about fiction in any way) or you don’t. If you don’t, it’s just a bunch of polygons shaped like atrocities and what they do is of no consequence because they are just programs. This is, of course, a completely pants way to look at view. The alternative, of course, is that you imagine they are real… in which case, walking away from the game is not a “choice”… because THE STORY CONTINUES. If I stop playing Walker will not have a change of heart and safely flee the city to become a Franciscan monk, nor will Brody suddenly realise the error of his ways and take a boat to Somalia to help them rebuild. Nor will they be locked forever in stasis, with the atrocities suspended midway. If I am thinking these universes are real inside themselves, then they will continue to exist, and they will commit all the attrocities they will, just like a character in a book will always do something whether I read it or not. The only difference is that I won’t be a witness to what they do. I won’t be complicit. For the sake of that, I will not learn their stories, and will refuse to lend my assistance to perhaps steer them towards a more amenable ending. If it’s a choice indeed it’s the most selfish one.

    • Fred S. says:

      That’s taking the suspension of disbelief a bit too far. I can read a story or play a game on its own terms, accepting the rules and conditions as set forth, and enjoy it or not as may be, but I still know that it’s not real. If I put down the book or quit the game, that’s just saying “well, enough of that, I’m not enjoying this any more”.

    • Bolegium says:

      Disclaimer: I haven’t and don’t want to play FC3. I thought Spec Ops was flawed, inconsistent, and confused, but still very great (not having to pay for the game, and the terribleness of other military shooters elevated my opinion of it). I don’t want to defend the “stop playing the game is part of our game mechanics!” cop-out, but I have some issues with your argument.

      Firstly, “Stop playing the game when you start to not like it” IS a valid option, then again so is “hack the game to turn it into something better”, “replace all audio with fart noises”, “pirate, and freely distribute the game”. It can be a meaningful and interesting choice in some very specific circumstances, but when a game creator does that, what they are doing is abdicating all responsibility of making a good game and dumping that on players. Then somehow, they argue that that player interpretations are only secondary to what the author intended. The first of many hypocrisies.

      As for making the player “complicit”, the industry doesn’t really seem to care what you DO in a game, or what you thought about it, as long as you bought the game. The attitude of these guys (and their games) is not much different. If you bought a game, you’re complicit in supporting companies making crappy games. Well actually, maybe companies should stop making crappy games and stop blaming players. And maybe companies should stop making crappy games that supposedly are deliberately crappy to draw attention to how shit other games are.

      There is so much hypocrisy, and ignorant denials of hypocrisy, from Yohalem that Williams looks reasonable in comparison. Anyway, reading back it seems like I don’t disagree with your comment, just felt differently about why these things are ridiculous.

  24. davorschwarz says:

    Hello, woa some heavy sht here and people so geting worked up about it all. It’s so sad when people get stuck in jobs they are not suited for like Mr. Ho-Hum or whatever his name is. Its also sad when people try to convince themselves that they are not who they are and that they are much better than that. Its even sadder when some “know it all educated punk writer” just because he thinks he can and should, tries to teach us all a lesson about something we are all aware off but frankly don’t give a sht about.

    Thats how i feel about FC3. A game i was so looking forward to and so disappointed by. FC the original was the reason i got back into PC gaming. It was awesome. Well the beginning was until the story kicked in and monsters showed up.

    Being an art director with architectural and art degree and “European” background I can appreciate Mr. Ho-hums attempt at trying to do whatever he tried to do here. But being a gamer fascinated by games from the days of ZX spectrum and Commodore and trying to get and try every game ever released from than to present time i can’t help but wonder why do that to FC3?

    Let me explain. I do/did “get” what Ho-hum tried to do with the FC3 but… my response to it and all violence in games debate is SO WHAT and GO AND EXPERIENCE than PREACH. I don’t like horror movies so i don’t buy/rent/watch them. I don’t like reading books that are about human suffering and pain so i don’t read them. If you are going to buy a game that is about shooting and don’t like shooting (which incidentally is what S in FPS stands for) and expect to find yellow brick roads and rainbows and spend hours feeding unicorns and coming their hair in it than my friend you are delusional moron.

    I DO NOT WANT TO BE FORCED TO STOP PLAYING THE GAME. To me games are entertainment based on problem solving. Thats what i like about FPS you have a problem now solve it. If you fail you go back and try again. Wrap that into entertaining setting while tapping into my primal genetic code (survival through violence) and package it into beautiful looking world full of surprises and wonder and I’m in.

    Shooting/stabbing/killing is a violent act. It is a mechanic that is programmed in our Human Animal genes as a mean of survival. And its something that due to our evolved state we don’t require any more. Violence and our (FPS gamer) fascination with it is no different to teenagers/grown men fascination with sex/porn, women’s fascination with shoes, or bogans fascination with cars and tacky hairstyles like mullets. Its all genetic, we are programmed for it its all part of survival and survival in its most basic form is something that modern society and lifestyle has robbed us off. Violence is something we don’t need anymore to survive but our genetic human animal instinct desires. This is in my opinion why we like shooters and why they are so popular. They tap inside something primal thats part of each and every one of us.

    FC3 like its predecessors started great. I as Jason was introduced to the beautifull MAKE BELIEVE world. The shock and horror of seeing people die and having to kill was brilliantly executed. And than Mr. Ho-hum instead of making a fun/challenging MAKE BELIEVE environment and story to serve as a guiding path through that MAKE BELIEVE world decided to teach us a lesson about something he has no fkn idea. About influence and effect of Violence.

    What i didn’t mention in my intro is that i have been in the war. Been shot at and been shooting at others. I have been “Jason”.

    I remember watching TV news from 1st Iraq war. Scenes where soldiers are shooting from cover across the street covered in bulletholes and granade shrapnel, granades and rockets exploding in the distance and amidst all that mess mother and child walking with a bag of grocery in hand.
    That image stuck in my mind. I could not understand how the fk would you not leave the war zone after realising whats going on and finding out there is violence all around you and you are in danger.

    And than it happened to me. Im Croatian, i was in war and not in such war where a soldier is shooting at another human he never met and don’t care about, who’s words he can’t understand and who wears towel on its had. I was not a soldier, and i was being shot at by people like me, people i new, people i went to school with, people i lived next to for years and i was shooting back.

    It was scary it was unbelievable, it felt like zombi apocalipse. All this people infected by ideology behaving like brainless animals. We hid in cellar during air-raids. We shock and cried every time there was a loud bang in the distance. 2 weeks later I/no one cared any more. I would stay up and watch my favourite tv shows during air-raid. Bombs falling – it was either going to fall on me or not. You know what happened. I got used to it. I got used to the fact that there is a war, death, and violence and that i need to survive. I got used to the fact that i might or might not. The fact that whatever was going on is real and I’m part of it became every day normal thing. I was walking down the same shrapnel covered streets bullets flying around taking home bag of groceries. It was no more insanity than its insane that we go to work and spend 8hrs doing some sht we don’t want day after day week after week. Do you know what is the definition of insanity?

    That my fellow FPS players was the reality for me. And when you strip out all the BS that someone who has not experienced it and is driven only by moral/educated/artistic/idealistic belief of what it would feel like to be in the situation like that – you end up with confusing pointless garbage story like FC3.

    So Jason had a choice to kill his GF. Wooptie doo. Big deal. I/we should feel bad about it? Shocked? Are you fkn serious. I mean its 2013 and political correctness, morality and similar sht is all the rage but come on, lets pull our heads out of the sand and stop pretending. If Mr. Ho-hum bothered to create a character that I playing Jason actually cared about due to the fact that that character like say my wife showed signs of compassion even attempt at trying to understand and have feelings for what was happening to me as Jason maybe i would have had a chance to stop and think about my actions but as it is i was actually pleased i had a chance to eliminate that stupid boring nagging and annoying creature. Its pitty i did not have that option in other parts of the game.

    Also that last rescue thing – i have no idea what kids (was it the younger brother) name is as i as most of other people here did not give a flying **** about the characters and the story – it was so annoying going through that mission fighting waves of enemy having to rescue that kid that would just not shut up.

    FC3 is a sarcastic Alice in the wonderland or Alice behind the mirror look/statement about violence, gaming, FPS, insanity and political correctness. Oh i forgot to mention racism as well as islanders are portrayed as uneducated tattooed warriors with dark skin and we all know that island tribesman drive Ferraris and wear Prada while doing distant education in Masters Of Business and Technology.

    Please give me a break unless you can honestly tell me that while being stuck in cinema watching Sex and the city with your better half a violent thought towards boring, annoying and frustrating protagonists of that shitty experience has not crossed your mind.

    At least in FC3 i got my revenge. Pity Jason’s GF didn’t look more like that horse faced chick from Sex and the City.

  25. noclip says:

    I felt a stronger sense of revulsion and guilt at running over innocent bystanders in GTA 4 than I did at anything I was spoon-fed in Far Cry 3.

    • bit.bat says:

      I absolutely agree with that. The way you could so easily kill innocent bystanders but the tone of the game really dissuaded you from doing so was one of GTA4′s greatest successes in my mind.

  26. davorschwarz says:

    I know – all this talk about morals/violence in games is making me re-think.
    Should I be feeling bad about killing monsters in Quake?
    Do they have wife and kids and what are they like when they are not chasing me down the dark coridors?
    Did they feel bad when they managed to kill me before i restarted the level?
    Who is the real monster, Me or them?
    Is Mario Super or just a stereotypical italian mustashed psychopat tied to the “Family” who hates mushrooms?
    And whats with all the urge to collect golden coins – was that ment as a statement on our hunger and need for capitalistic craving?
    Are angry Birds and the way they are promoting pig slaughter just a cleverly disguised propaganda against vegetarianism?
    Is Crysis a statement about the global warming?
    Does Cara Eliston really exist or is she a cruel product of bored game reviewers messing with our heads?

  27. Runs With Foxes says:

    To me, what’s exciting about video games is, in something like Far Cry you’re living that. You’re feeling the system and going, “I love this! I love this! Give me more! Let me kill my girlfriend because I love this so much!”

    Is Jeffrey Yohalem a real person

    can’t really imagine a real person saying stuff like this

  28. SuicideKing says:

    Yohalem: Also, the shocking thing is that a lot of people who were most upset by the game, they never once suggested that they could have turned it off and done something else. I find that fascinating. They’ll say, “There’s no choice! You just have to go through this.” You could just stop playing. That never occurs to them, I think, and that, again, is the addiction thing. But, I mean, we have the power to say “no.”

    So, we buy a game, and then stop playing it, without finishing it?

    If they’d give our money back, maybe people would start doing this.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      I’d have thought the concept would be more appealing to someone named “suicide king”. Hm?

      • SuicideKing says:

        You clearly haven’t served with the 242nd, pilot.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Oh great, now I feel jealous that I never got into Freespace back in the day. This keeps happening.

          • SuicideKing says:

            Well, it’s aged very well, and the source code project’s done amazing things. You should try it. Some of the dialogue of FS2′s campaign is a bit off now, by a few seconds, but only in some places. Nothing big, events still happen as planned.

            I’ve started the Freespace 1 campaign, since i never played the original.

            But you should play! Everyone should! I love the game :3

  29. grenadeh says:

    Spec ops isn’t an FPS.

    • davorschwarz says:

      Thank you I was wondering what is bugging me about discussing specs ops here. You are right it’s not an FPS same as ARMA can not be a war simulator if you can change your view to the camera 10m above the ground

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