The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on August 11th, 2013 at 9:39 am.


Sundays are for listening to Nick Cave, early and loud enough to annoy the neighbours.

  • US Gamer talk to Firaxis about Civ: “We made a lot of changes to the core game. Jon Schafer set out to really change the experience and bring out something new, because the core experience hadn’t changed too much,” admits Shirk. “It was always refined. In III and IV there were new systems added, but he really wanted to change and mix it up a little bit. When you’re developing a game, the whole team has bought into it and we really liked where it was at. It ended up being a stellar platform for us to build on, but we definitely have some pushback from our hardcore fans when it came out. They didn’t feel like there was enough there. Hopefully, we’ve satiated that, but we’ve learned a lot from that core development.”
  • Two rather interesting essays, given the heavy nonsense of the past few months. I feel like they’re both missing something, but I can’t put my finger on it. Anyway, first we have, On Consuming Media Responsibly: “I often catch myself feeling about video games the way I feel about ultraviolent horror movies and “extreme” cinema: all is permitted, but all is especially permitted when a work’s creator demonstrates any self-awareness at all. I also strive for self-awareness as a consumer. I like to finish playing a game or watching a movie and, afterward, immediately seek out commentary, criticism, and analysis. Really good criticism is fun to read when it puts into words what I cannot for myself, when it can explain to me why I felt the way I felt.” And How To Be A Fan Of Problematic Things: “Especially do not ever suggest that people not take media “so seriously”, or argue that it’s “just” a tv show. The narratives that we surround ourselves with can subtly, subconsciously influence how we think about ourselves and others. That’s why creating imaginary fantasy and sci fi worlds that have more equal societies can be a powerful thing for marginalised people, who mainstream media rarely acknowledges as heroes. But even if you don’t think that media matters, there is still no reason to focus exclusively on unequal or problematic fictional worlds and narratives. If it doesn’t matter, why don’t YOU stop taking your media so seriously and stop fighting us on this?”
  • Polygon looks at the making of MOBA champions, which is an astonishing feat of forced creativity when you look at how regularly they are churning these martial buggers out, even if LoL doesn’t bring one in every fortnight anymore: “We’ve responded to player concerns that suggested we were releasing Champions at too aggressive a pace by slowing our release cadence considerably. We’re still in the process of figuring out the right number of Champions to release in a year, but with the overall slowing of new Champions, we’ve put more energy into creating Champions that have a significant impact on the way League of Legends is thought of and played.”
  • Also on US Gamer, some PC games for low-spec machines: “Gunpoint also features a noir-inspired story centering on espionage, murder, and mystery, complete with rain-soaked backdrops, trench coats, and smooth jazz music.”
  • Andy Kelly has been making some beautiful videos of videogames. Watch this one.
  • Alexander interviews Rohrer: “I don’t think it’s black-and-white for anyone who’s ever been in a situation where they’re faced with protecting small children or a pregnant spouse… I don’t even understand, necessarily, what this is about, I just needed to make this,” he says. “It’s not really logical. It sticks you in this mess, and lets you grapple with it. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing? Isn’t that what meaningful expression does?”
  • FTL and slavery: “Eventually, your boarding party, with or without the freed slave, will have to fight the slavers in hand to hand combat. If you kill the entire crew, your party may find the slaves in the ship’s cargo hold. According to the dialogue presented to you, “They look at you questioningly and one asks if they’re to be released. You could use more crew but you don’t want to force them all to work for you instead…” Face to face with a cargo hold of slaves, your crew is incapable of passing up the opportunity to bring a slave on board their ship. While they feel that claiming all of the slaves would be immoral, they justify owning one slave for the good of the mission.”
  • Seems like the only non-videogame thing I do right now is watch Jonathan Meades videos.
  • Remembering Starship Command: “Starship Command was released for the BBC Micro in 1983. I came to it a few years later on the Acorn Electron, the BBC’s beige little brother. As one of the launch titles for the Electron, it stood out among the various text adventures and chunky, colourful arcade clones with titles like Hopper, Snapper and Arcadians. This game seemed different, with stark black-and-white presentation and a notably unusual play mechanic. Your starship was locked in the centre of the screen, with the rest of the universe smoothly revolving around it: both a considerable programming achievement and an effective framing metaphor.”
  • It is a gaming podcast.
  • Judge Minty is quite the thing.

Music today is Red Right Hand.

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282 Comments »

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  1. Hasslmaster says:

    I propose My Devices as an alternative electronic music tip of the week.
    http://soundcloud.com/mydevices

    If you don’t care for Jim’s often unmelodic ghost house ambience (even though in this case Nick Cave is pretty cool) and like your music fresh, sophisticated and a little more mainstream, this is for you.
    Try to start with Launch, or Adjust Me, or Mold. My Devices is a lovely discovery.

  2. Utsunomiya says:

    >That’s why creating imaginary fantasy and sci fi worlds that have more equal societies can be a >powerful thing for marginalised people, who mainstream media rarely acknowledges as heroes.
    That is probably the most horrible thing I’ve read today.
    Thanks, RPS!

    • magos says:

      Yeah, I think the something that article was missing was the ability to view the world through anything other than the increasingly insane lens of liberal groupthink.

      • NathanH says:

        The second and third points raised are quite reasonable, but the first is indeed a bit silly.

        • Eight Rooks says:

          It isn’t that it doesn’t make perfectly good points, it’s the way they’re all delivered. It makes me think of people who take the kind of issues Sarkeesian raises as evidence that yes, creators should stop doing this kind of thing, ever. Stop doing all the things that make anyone sad. Do I acknowledge Game of Thrones as problematic? Sure I do, which is one reason I only own one of the books and I’ve never watched a single episode of the show, legitimately or otherwise. Do I think the mere act of creating a fictional society where women are, on the whole, downtrodden or oppressed is irrefutable evidence the creator is a raging sexist at heart and doesn’t care whose back they get up? Not really, but I suspect the writer of that piece leans that way, and that saddens me.

          • NathanH says:

            Well, I think the article is written from the assumption (I like x) AND (I think x is problematic). From that point of view it’s quite reasonable to take the tone it does for the most part, since it’s primarily about what you should do if you find yourself in a situation where that assumption holds. In the first section I think it falls down because it moves into arguing with people who think (I like x) AND (I don’t think x is problematic) but doesn’t adjust the initial assumption that x IS problematic. So then the tone doesn’t work at all–for this section you need to go back further and start with fewer assumptions.

            This often happens in these sorts of arguments: they just come down to shouting “your assumptions are wrong and mine are right” and there’s not much you can do there.

            In some sense it just needs to be a bit more careful: the people making “well realism!” arguments in the first section are, I think, people who believe something is problematic, but are more comfortable hiding from it using realism arguments. In that sense the tone is fine. But there are also going to be people who don’t think it’s a problem and use the realism arguments to justify rather than hide. The approach used isn’t really suitable for addressing them.

            En passant, there is an interesting point about realism and discrimination that could be made but I’ve never seen made explicitly anywhere. If someone is trying to make their work “realistic” then in truth they don’t want it to match reality but want it to match what the audience thinks is the reality. And the audience’s beliefs about reality could well be influenced by all sorts of bad things. Appeasing their sense of realism could be a bad idea for these reasons. Something to think about anyway.

          • zachforrest says:

            >If someone is trying to make their work “realistic” then in truth they don’t want it to match reality but want it to match what the audience thinks is the reality.

            well said

          • iridescence says:

            It all doesn’t matter in my mind. Artists should be free to create the kind of world they want. If it includes racism and sexism, there’s nothing problematic about that. It’s a *fantasy* world. It doesn’t mean the author holds those views in the real world. If fantastical racism and sexism makes you uncomfortable the simple solution is not to consume that media. Oh and also I’m sick of the term “social justice” being applied to criticism of games/movies/comic books. These aren’t social justice issues on the same footing as homelessness or starvation in Africa. Get over yourselves, Internet.

          • nearly says:

            One of the problems with Game of Thrones is that, regardless of however many people share that picture on Facebook from the interview where he calls women people, a lot of the women in the books (especially early on) are mothers and their characterization is almost solely “I’m a mother, I must protect my children!” It’s really very cookie-cutter and can be frustrating when you’ve got yet a another chapter from a woman who doesn’t budge from that one archetype–this one just happens to be from a kingdom in the south for once. There may not realistically be a lot of concerns for them other than family, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. That doesn’t mean all women characters should be out fighting but that women have concerns other than menfolk and family. And then there’s the part of the chapter from Daenerys’ perspective where she thinks about how her clothing feels against her breasts. Odd.

            Another issue is homosexuality being pretty much wholly absent from the books and sexual assault being directed solely at women (because the status quo will tell us that’s edgy and hardnosed). You’re honestly going to tell me that there’s a paramilitary organization made up solely of men and boys who are expected to remain celibate but half of whom are only there in the first place because of sexual assault, and nobody is touching or assaulting kids? There’s a very real double standard of what’s okay and what’s not, and you can justify treating women most any way with the excuse of artistic license. That’s why, to give an example from real life, Patton Oswalt has no sympathy for comics that complain about rape jokes but will stop to have a serious heart-to-heart about an act of terrorism. The fact is that it goes up to women and stops because ultimately, it’s okay to treat women this way.

          • Eight Rooks says:

            @nearly – yes, all perfectly good points. (Curiously, you mention the Night’s Watch – the videogame has a plot point early on in one character’s story with a character under arrest for raping a new recruit, IIRC. Maybe the writers were thinking along the same lines as you?) It’s just that while I’m more than prepared to sit and listen to people discussing how GRRM’s apparent attitudes to sexuality and gender roles and worldbuilding make them, well, somewhat uncomfortable I’m much less tolerant of people basically saying to him and every writer trying to follow in his footsteps “Well you have no real idea of how medieval society worked, because you weren’t there, and this is a fantasy, so it can be whatever and however you decide it should be, and I don’t want you to put X, Y and Z in because I don’t like those things, so obviously if you do decide to put them in that’s a personal attack on me and everyone like me”. It’s reductive, I’m pretty sure it’s none too healthy, and it’s not a part of the process of creating anything as I understand it.

            Lisping effeminate gay characters who live for nothing but preying on underage manflesh and exist to be the butt of gay panic jokes? (You want problematic? Hello, half the JRPGs I’ve ever played.) Sure, tar and feather the author as much as you like. A gay character who gets the crap kicked out of them because they prefer their own gender in bed, and they exist in a world where that’s frowned upon? I’m deeply, deeply sorry if you’ve actually suffered physical violence because of your sexual preference, I really am, but I don’t believe you get some automatic right of veto whenever any author wants to put a similarly traumatic event into whatever they’re writing, and I think I’ve got every right to get frustrated at your insisting no-one has any good reason for wanting to write it. Neither I nor the author are ever going to fully understand what anyone in that situation went through (at least, I know I’m not) but I don’t believe anyone should be prohibited from trying.

            And yes, I do think that article reads as though the author would like everyone to stop trying. I mean, seriously, I don’t understand how else to take it when they can in all seriousness say “I don’t like it that bad things happen and we’re not told loudly or frequently enough how bad they are”. No, we’re not. Because, for all GRRM’s faults, he wasn’t writing for bloody five-year-olds.

            It’s not as if I don’t think a story can possibly exist that doesn’t give people like the author at least some of what they want. Of the top of my head, take Guy Gavriel Kay’s A Song For Arbonne – despite his medieval fantasy tending towards the hot’n’heavy hetero bodice-ripping, the women in his world are frequently just as capable as the men, both genders are fully capable of sickening bias towards the other and it’s made perfectly clear neither of these biases is anything to be proud of, and while the only major gay character is very much a supporting player it’s still made clear he’s a capable warrior and tactician regardless of who he likes to sleep with and if I remember right the main character does actually have a brief moment of “I thought he’d be a wimp, you know, because he likes to bone dudes. Boy, that was dumb of me”.

            It’s just that, at the same time, I refuse (you heard me, refuse) to believe that saying “I want my fantasies to be free of everything wrong or terribad that troubles me in the real world. No matter how it’s presented. So why don’t you? Why do you persist in attacking me by not doing what I want?” is ever the answer to anything.

          • WrenBoy says:

            @nearly
            The gay angle is certainly a missed opportunity regarding the Nights Watch. It would have been more interesting if theyd gone Omar Little rather than Oz though, imo.

          • Reapy says:

            Really, women in game of thrones aren’t powerful and have no alternative motivations besides protecting their kids? Did I read the same books as you? There are many powerful women, some fighters, other master manipulators and expert at the game of thrones. All of the mothers are focused on their children, what parent wouldn’t? The fathers are just as concerned for their kids as well, honestly to me game of thrones is about the kids and growing up with all the existing crap they had. I hardly see any one dimensional similar characters in the literature. The world is a very hundred years world medieval society, prejudice and all, but the women certainly rise above the hands they are dealt, in many ways.

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            jrodman says:

            @Eight Rooks: A small point.
            “Sexual preference” is a politically motivated manufactured term, created to marginalize alternate orientations, attempting to equate it with a choice, and an inconsequential one. For example “my preference is to have my coffee with milk.”. The pressure around the term has probably gone away in the intervening decades, but it’s still an awkward expression at best.

            Better terms would include “sexuality” — which takes all comers, or possibly “sexual orientation” in specific.

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            drewski says:

            “homosexuality being pretty much wholly absent from the books”

            eh? Renly and Loras are the most obvious examples, but the books are littered with references to homosexuality and bisexuality.

        • Utsunomiya says:

          Eeeeeeeh, the third point is really a postmodernist thing. Which I wouldn’t call reasonable, but hey.

        • Eight Rooks says:

          There’s no reply button for your longer comment, but as I see it you’re basically echoing my point about the yelling and such. Not that I don’t agree with the rest of what you’re saying – me, I’d go further – I definitely think “realism” is a far, far more contentious and often misused word in videogames writing (EDIT: Or, well, any writing) than “pretentious”, to be honest. But when you’re writing your big takedown of problematic media and you come out with something like

          Well, guess what: bigotry is also boring and gross. But everyone is just dying to keep that in the script.

          then the only real reaction I can manage is a sort of dazed “Huh? How old are you? That’s seriously the best you can do? You actually think that’s going to win anyone over who didn’t think exactly the same way as you anyway?”.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        Yeah, I think the something that article was missing was the ability to view the world through anything other than the increasingly insane lens of liberal groupthink.

        “Things I don’t personally believe” = “liberal groupthink.” Gotcha.

        There’s an increasingly vocal minority round here who seem unable to understand that sometimes people come to conclusions for perfectly good reasons, based on their informed observations of the world, without being brainwashed, even though those conclusions are different than yours or even conflict with them. Please make all necessary arrangements for dealing with it.

        • Emeraude says:

          Well, there’s that whole subgroup making use of formerly progressive arguments and twisting them into very conservative ones – who look the same at face value, but have pretty different aim.
          I’ve said it before, but the whole equating of sexual, sexy and sexist in in some so-called feminists discourse I find terribly disquieting.

          A problem I have with the “How to be a fan of problematic things” article, is that it’s trying to use some Jujutsu mental trick by making one concede that what s/he likes is problematic without fist debating it, amalgamating being problematic to someone to being problematic in the absolute (Example: upon reading the “Lord of the Rings [is] pretty fucked up with regard to women and race”, I tend to think that I do not agree with the proposition. I’m willing to debate the point. I’m not willing to agree to the existence of a problem a priori. I don’t think that one having a problem with something necessarily means there is a problem with it.)

          It also presents engaging in the debate as a responsibility of those that have no problem with the object/subject at hand (“You need to be willing to engage with people about it! “), while absolving those that do of the same (“Also, as a fan of problematic media, you need to respect the fact that others may be so upset or angered by media you love that they don’t want to engage with it at all.[…] [T]rying to convince [them] to give it another shot would be disrespectful and hurtful.”)
          Which I find quite weird.

          • Captain Joyless says:

            I think gender part of LotR is one thing – probably problematic, but open for some debate. It has a token shield-maiden.

            For race, I think it’s beyond obvious that LotR is deeply problematic. We are talking about openly colonialist writers. The only debate is which is worse: LotR or Narnia? Ie, is it better for non-whites to be villainous hordes lurking at the periphery, or is it better if they are mostly evil and cruel people who can occasionally aspire to the lofty heights of the Noble Savage?

          • Emeraude says:

            You’re missing the point: the article demands that one concedes that something is problematic *before* any debate has taken place, by sole virtue of someone having an issue with it.

            Which may just be me being overly sensitive to form over content, but it does irk me the wrong way.

            Amusingly, I myself have some issues with how Tolkien handles class. But race ? Not so much.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            I’ve said it before, but the whole equating of sexual, sexy and sexist in in some so-called feminists discourse I find terribly disquieting.

            People keep saying this or variations on it, but I have to wonder if it’s misunderstanding of feminist critiques, or encounters with poorly-worded feminist critiques colouring the rest for them, because I’ve actually yet to encounter an actual anti-sex feminist. In fact all the avowed feminists I know, whatever their gender, are pretty bonkers about sex, because sex is great. (I might even go so far as to say that sex with people who are actively trying to shake off old gender roles is, more often than not, even better. Just my personal experience, though.)

          • Emeraude says:

            @GunnerMcCaffrey

            Actually to me it does seem like there is a re-appropriation of some nominative elements of feminine discourse by conservatives that are misusing them to further other agendas.

            Just look at the whole Dragons Crown backlash for example, when suddenly, it’s not the lack of variation in the signal of feminine representations that was attacked (i.e – and it’s true down to the basic linguistic units – the masculine is neutral, and allowed to take any shape, but the feminine is marked/marker and only allowed more narrow categorization, when it is not the definitive category in itself), but the very existence of some content. Invariably of a sexual nature – it’s interesting to note that the Holy Mother iconification and its variations are seldom if ever attacked (Recent example I can think of: the Empress in Dishonored… or the outcry raised when one dares to say that Yorda in Ico is built following terribly sexist vectors). It’s always the sexual representations that are made problematic in those media outcry.

            At least it seems so to me.

        • Captain Joyless says:

          Seriously, we got some workout on the block cannon this morning.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      Dunno about the most horrible thing, but yes, there was something deeply, deeply disturbing about the tone of that piece. Is it just that people who feel like that lack the eloquence to get their views across as anything other than the textual equivalent of ceaseless yelling? Or is it that reality really is so bad they don’t feel like they’ve got any other option? Depressing either way.

      • DXN says:

        Didn’t see a problem with the tone myself, especially not one that made it “deeply, deeply disturbing”. I mean, really? Rilly? Were you disturbed? How so?

        Seems to me like the ideas are more important than the tone anyway. And the ideas sounded about right. Thanks for posting ‘em RPS.

    • JackShandy says:

      Here’s a pretty thorough takedown of that piece:

      http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/things-arent-problematic-people-are.html?zx=590ca7c7d3af9441

      “The idea that a fiction can be problematic is based on the notion that it’s healthy and acceptable to generalize from an event that happened in a fiction, (or even in real life) to all of human existence”.

      I think I agree with zak’s rebuttal, but one of you handsome internet people could probably convince me otherwise if you were so inclined.

      • Utsunomiya says:

        It’s really hard to read, damn! I’ve yet to encounter another article that’d take good chunk of minutes to read a single paragraph from.
        But then again, I’m a marginalised person, who mainstream media rarely acknowledges as hero, so what do I know.

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        FhnuZoag says:

        The author doesn’t need to claim that generalisation from fiction is particularly healthy, only that it is an incredibly common way of perceiving the world. As a species mankind isn’t exactly “Shaka when the walls fell” but we are pretty damn close. I mean, look at the importance of Orwell’s 1984 to debates about surveillance, the 1920s German hyperinflation to debates about fiat money, Asimov to discussions about robot ethics, even Hitler and the third reich to Civ 5 (!) elsewhere in the comments. Heck I just did that right there in reference to that star trek episode…

      • InternetBatman says:

        I truly hate the format of that rebuttal. The constant shift from bold to normal to strikethrough makes it unnecessarily hard to read. However, these parts had some gaps in logic:

        For instance, it criticizes a piece about questioning the value of sexuality and racism in popular media by:
        What kind of person learns life lessons about other peoples’ sexuality from movies and never questions them?
        If the act of criticism is valuable, why criticize the critic for critically thinking about material.

        Assuming that popular culture is completely divorced from class and economics is just foolish:
        Pretending popular and unpopular culture are major drivers of unequal treatment of marginalised groups is just one tactic self-righteous people use to avoid talking about the issues of class and economics that actually underly the oppression of any available Have-Nots in the service of Haves.

        Also, by this metric every discussion about marginalized people must solely involve class.

        The issue is not whether people should generalize from fiction, because they do, and nothing can stop that:
        the idea that a fiction can be problematic is based on the notion that it’s healthy and acceptable to generalize from an event that happened in a fiction, (or even in real life) to all of human existence–it isn’t.
        If popular fiction cannot be generalized, then why is it popular? And I think the author is completely wrong on this point, because if you cannot generalize something you have consumed, then you have not learned from it. To take that a step farther, I believe that if you have not learned from your consumption then that consumption is effectively valueless. So the author is effectively arguing that all consumption should be meaningless (which makes sense from a fan of Faceoff).

        And really I think the following quote is emblematic of the whole piece:
        admitting that they were just letting their emotions get the upper hand over their brains
        The author is implicitly arguing that a reason-emotion duality exists, which is antiquated view of how our brains actually work.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology_of_reasoning#cite_note-20

        Largely, this whole piece seems driven by the idea that we are separate individuals from what we consume and our culture at all. It seems to be about categorizing and compartmentalizing all components of society rather than recognizing that they affect each other. The degree of effect varies, and can certainly be overstated, but the existence of the collective consciousness and social discourse which informs our opinions does not.

        • Zak S says:

          At Internetbatman:
          The reason “How To Like Problematic Things” is bs is because the “things” in question are no more prejudicial (and often less) than having to live a real life full of confirmation bias (i.e. doctors mostly meet sick people, psychiatrists mostly meet people with mental health problems, etc).

          If an adult person can’t reject _fiction labelled as fiction_ how are they ever going to do the normal everyday moral adult work of rejecting _fiction labelled as fact_ or cherry-picked facts you have to do to watch the news or what’s going on in front of you before it gets to the point that it’s affecting actual actions that affect other people?

          I get it: some people can’t do that.

          These people have a problem. The solution is not to soften the inputs going into their uncritical brains, the solution is education and a culture of rationality.

          An adult _needs_ to be able to watch Dune and not walk away racist. It’s an essential life skill that applies to things way more important than Dune. If someone doesn’t develop that skill it doesn’t make Dune racist.

          • Ansob says:

            My God; Zak S is just as terrible a poster on RPS as he is on SomethingAwful, RPG.net, Google+ and everywhere else on the Internet. Amazing!

          • The Random One says:

            That may be true on average, Zak, but what about the outliers? If I read a book, and the book is fiction, but is describing things that happen in real life, I will assume that the author knows what they’re talking about and have done the research, and so the real life things he talks about have happened, even if the specific events they are talking about haven’t. I’m not saying that I’ll read Dune and walk away racist; but if I have never given any thought in my life to (say) transexuals, and then I read a book (or consume any media) in which they are briefly portrayed in a negative light, it wouldn’t be insane for me to assume that the events relayed on the book are based on, or at least a logical progression of, the actions of real transexuals. This will inform a bias that would otherwise not have and my cause my views to look for confirmation bias later, snowballing it into a bigger thing.

          • Zak S says:

            “If I read a book, and the book is fiction, but is describing things that happen in real life, I will assume that the author knows what they’re talking about and have done the research, ”

            Then you are disastrously naive and that’s on you, not the author.

        • walldad says:

          Also, by this metric every discussion about marginalized people must solely involve class.

          Oh for fuck’s sake, dude. In the absence of a critique of capitalism and the coercive structures of the state and other institutions it perpetuates — especially as it relates to marginalized groups for whom they claim to speak — these writers fall short in making a compelling case to people outside their bubble. As a real-deal leftist, I have a big problem with the social justice industry’s approach to this issue, especially with the clickbait routine that passes for activism on gaming blogs.

          It’s easy to understand why hating someone only for their race, sexual orientation or gender is a Bad Thing, but much harder to understand what reproduces these attitudes and what purpose they fulfill in the broader picture of a society of deep economic and social inequalities. The media and the entertainment industry has its role in all this — no doubt — but is it the crux of the issue? Hardly. This is where the hard boring stuff like an actual education, introspection, empathy, political action and lived experience comes in.

          At bottom, this pop culture social justice crapola is a neoliberal (fundamentally capitalist and reactionary) approach to activism, also one that presents itself to some extent as apolitical: “Our sole cause: we can convince individuals through our editorials about these here video games that individual creators produce products that reflect problematic attitudes toward other individuals that society treats poorly for no good reason.”

          Essentially what they’re up to is this: directing consumer demand for products depicting fictional worlds unconsciously reflective of the real one’s social relations toward works that portray a world to aspire to, or one sensitive to the suffering marginalized individuals feel in real life. I mean, okay, the extent to which art should be socially responsible is debatable, but for them it’s tacitly framed in terms of consumer hygiene — “we can still consume, and our responsibility here is fulfilled as long as we cultivate a self-awareness about these fictional depictions” …emblematic of real problems going on around us every day … in products the vast majority of humanity has no access to or interest in … and so on. In approaching the problem this way, they reduce what was once a critique that necessitated genuine political struggle to a mere bourgeois piety, an idle faith in The Good, and, well, the goods.

          Of course, the most visible of these articles and posts are yet another product for consumption, to draw in revenue from advertising on their site or in their publication. They’re contributing a commodified activism palatable to implicit boundaries of the “marketplace of ideas”, so to speak.

          So their reads/commenters will generally chomp down on this bait pretty hard (ad revenue ahoy!). Yet we’ll have the vehement criticisms directed at pop culture SJ come from a position that will also make similar implicit assumptions justifying (in this case, consumer) capitalism — “individuals will consume as they please, but in our view it has no effect on anyone else”.

          The critics go on to point out that hey, obviously adults should be able to discern fact from fiction, and if they cannot, then it isn’t the responsibility of the creator, but rather someone else – education, the parents, etc. Well, obviously..? I guess that’s a fair enough objection within the limited scope of the discussion that pop culture SJ has staked out — ones still built on the flawed assumption that all that’s at stake here is the business of creating a more ethical, self-aware consumer. It’s a debate then reduced to the tritest conventional wisdom imaginable.

          In other words, they all want it both ways. They want to be able to feel righteous (or at least apathetic) at the checkout counter or online shopping cart, while letting us have nothing to do with addressing, or even contemplating or accurately identifying the source of actual problems. Using a commercial media outlet to chastise nerds for liking stupid (racist, sexist, homophobic, cis-sexist) shit is what will make the world a better place after all! Or OTOH it’s not such a big problem, after all it’s only a game, right?

          No, you’re all wrong, and dangerously so. Good day.

          • Emeraude says:

            /bow

            If anything, I wish I still had that rage in me.

          • Eight Rooks says:

            Hmmm. An awful lot of words for what as far as I can tell is pretty much “How dare you waste precious column inches on this nonsense when there are bankers walking free who should be doing time/government agencies infringing on our civil liberties/people dying in Syria right now, etc.” by another name.

          • InternetBatman says:

            Quite honestly, I’m not sure where I stand on much of this stuff. I merely pointed out flaws in the critiques.

            I brought this particular point that you responded to out, because the mention of haves and have-nots seems like a disingenuous dodge. If it is important enough that it should have been mentioned in the original piece, then it should have been mentioned in the criticism. Instead the criticism was worse than the verbose, winding, passive-aggressively forceful piece itself. Instead it read that the reader should only look at macroscopic discrimination, because people should be responsible for themselves at a microscopic level. That’s akin to saying you can only fix incredibly complicated big problems before fixing small ones.

            Furthermore, I find the idea that creators have no moral responsibility for what they create (because adults should distinguish fantasy from reality) abhorrent.

            Just because something is missing the intermediary step does not mean that it is entirely valueless. Yes, there is a certain subset of individuals who make their living off preaching to the choir with sententious homilies. Yes, some of those people are hypocrites who work to support the same system they rail against (Jezebel is the worst offender). However, there are valid arguments and valuable ideas to be found even in these circles and a complete disregard of them is even more foolish than falling down the post-modern ism-hole.

            They just need to placed in the proper context:

            Media comes from a creative group that draws heavily from the affluent, white upper classes. This is because the people with money to consume their products are largely white and affluent.

            This group reproduces their own worldview when they create, including some negative stereotypes that are self-perpetuating ideas.

            People see these depictions and generalize them. They probably shouldn’t, but they do. We’re built to generalize. Generalizing is integral to learning and intelligence. It’s how you know that you shouldn’t touch all fire, instead of knowing that you shouldn’t touch the fire you just touched.

            Once dark-skinned people are unconsciously viewed as violent or primitive, Tyrone Jones gets a lot less job interviews than Mike Jones for the exact same resume.

            Tyrone Jones gets a less desirable job, and can afford to live in less desirable part of town, and can’t spend as much money to consume products that he wants.

            His daughter Quanah Jones is friends with people from her neighborhood, doesn’t learn how to download photoshop for free, her family doesn’t have an old computer to giver her, and she doesn’t get graphic design tips from a friend’s mom as a teenager.

            Quanah Jones works hard, and studies to become a teacher because teachers have high social status in her community. She stays in the middle class.

            Mike’s daughter Amanda learns all those things, becomes a graphic designer with a stake in an indie company that explodes. Her creative voice reaches millions while Quanah’s reaches thousands. Both worked hard. Neither hate each other. Both are good people. Amanda has far more power.

            So yes, placing undue context on the second step (as a whole circle of people does), doesn’t properly examine the entire chain of events, which involves both social and individual processes. Yes, some other parts of the hypothetical chain have far greater effect. Better housing options, a job process that looked at a candidate’s qualifications, and better education would be far more effective than changing the depiction in media. But, even fixing that small injustice creates a greater amount of justice everywhere.

            Thus it is not valueless, even if the motives of the people pushing it aren’t exactly pure. And consumption is a fact of life. It’s existence is neither negative nor positive. As ethical consumption is better than unethical consumption, a world where people try to consume ethically is better than a world where they don’t. Even if that’s the only thing they try to change.

            The author of this criticism did something which I myself was guilty of. Saying a solution to small problem did not adequately address the big problem and then committing the same mistake again.

          • walldad says:

            You’re misrepresenting my point Eight Rooks, which isn’t surprising. The context in which those “wasted” column inches are placed can’t really become a productive format for activism. The broader picture is not topical to their site and more importantly, not marketable. In some respects, their job depends on not to grasping this.

            So perhaps qualifying myself is in order. I don’t think it’s a waste for people to do their job — it’s likely you don’t have much of a choice — and there are far worse things you could be doing than writing about racism or sexism in video games.

            You bring up “criminal bankers” as an example of what I might think is more important, yet I’d prefer that people consider a more fundamental line of thought. What societal conditions give rise to the phenomena of “criminal bankers” or the civil war in Syria, Dumb Video Games, or whatever other issue you’d like to trot out — how do they affect each other, if at all?

            To quickly summarize part of what I said: the intent behind pop culture social justice is to call attention to one aspect of social injustice within one industry. In doing this, their analysis leads to a “discussion” that revolves around a single issue. As a result of this over-focus, the discussion transpires at the expense of a broader understanding.

            From my perspective, as someone much further to the left, people leveling these critiques go about it as if they want a product to be created with themes that represent a more tolerant and accepting world, while still tacitly granting support to an intrinsically exploitative economic system that creates injustice as a matter of course. I can’t actually speak for their true political views, but that’s the context they create by addressing the problem this way.

            Treating social problems symptomatically is a strategy those ever-so-slightly left of center have run with for many decades with only marginal gains politically (some of which have been reversed, others perverted, and yet more in the process of being reversed). I feel like the criticisms they level necessitates something more but shrinks away from that responsibility for the sake of commercial and personal expedience while absolving “consumer guilt” (as if that were a useful thing to have at all).

          • InternetBatman says:

            I agree with that 100%. My counter was that people dodge their responsibility at a personal level by pointing to necessary macro-level changes (especially when they don’t name the specific change needed), and that is just as useless as focusing on micro-level changes, especially extremely specific micro-level changes. Both changes reinforce each other.

            Although honestly, with society as incredibly fragmented as it is, even slight macro-level changes look increasingly impossible to effect. In this climate, an undue focus on micro-level change is an attempt to gain control that is lacking at a social level.

          • walldad says:

            I was addressing that Eight Rooks guy, by the way.

            InternetBatman, you raise some useful objections to what I’m saying. To put it simply I feel there’s an implicit political quietism that pop culture SJ represents, and it has its own tendency to thwart changes on what you might call the systemic or macro-level.

            I’m not all that amenable to the idea that we can look at purchases as if they lie on a spectrum between ethical and unethical, at least not in a consistent fashion — again by coming at it like that you are looking at it in isolation and not the system in which that purchase occurs.

            The “buy and enjoy now and analyze later” line of thinking suggests we can have it both ways — that it is solely a matter of individual behavior and consumer demand. For people without a broader commitment to social justice (some of whom are racist and sexist assholes), it seems like an utterly trivial objection to raise… and for people with this commitment, like you say, it is preaching to the choir.

            The particularly absurd part about this is that the corporations that develop and publish video games would love to offer you your gender slider and your fictional portrayals of marginalized groups. It addresses the problem in the most nominal way possible and costs them very little in the grand scheme of things.

            Sure, I’ll concede to Rook that to some extent it is a bigger fish to fry argument. You know — nevermind the person making $9.50/hr with no benefits worked 60 hour weeks to test the game, or all the contract artists and programmers that got laid off at the end of the game’s development, or the women or people of color not hired in the first place — no, the lack of race or gender sliders or the absence of an option to play as a gay or trans person in my $60 toy is what we’ll collectively shell out over $100,000 to hear about from someone with a Kickstarter.

            You are welcome to argue people model their behavior off fiction, and develop ideas about other people through engaging with fictional portrayals, and sure that’s correct in a limited sense, but also one that reduces the problem to adequately educating individuals, while not necessarily changing the conditions that give rise to these portrayals themselves. I’m coming at it from a perspective that inclines me to see fiction as simply one element of an individual’s social environment and much more a product of it than its cause.

          • JackShandy says:

            You’re probably right, walldad: representation is an easy issue for game-makers to clamp onto and say “By doing this, my game is making the world better in some small way”. I still think it’s a fairly noble goal: You’ve got to do good in whatever way you can, right?

            Chris hecker plans to make Spy Party the most diverse game ever created. Is there something else he should be focusing on in order to make his game more ethically sound?

          • Reefpirate says:

            “Is there something else he should be focusing on in order to make his game more ethically sound?”

            I think what walldad is saying, and please correct me if I’m wrong, is that the developers, critics and consumers should all wake up and go join their local black bloc or other revolutionary group. Get out in the streets, and dismantle capitalism by whatever means necessary.

            I may be exaggerating a bit (I’m not so sure based on the language I was reading), but it seems that he thinks commerce in the entertainment industry is the last thing we should try and inject social justice into because the whole system is corrupt. And by injecting faux-social justice we are only cheapening the efforts of the real heroes who are struggling to unionize a sweat shop in Mexico.

            I happen to think commerce in this industry is just like commerce in any industry, and that while not perfect, does provide livelihood and ‘food for the brain’ and I do not feel guilty in the slightest for participating in it as a consumer. That poor bastard getting paid $9.50 and hour to do QA on a game wouldn’t be getting paid anything at all if it weren’t for people enjoying its consumption and being willing to part with hard-earned cash to do so.

      • Captain Joyless says:

        “thorough”?

        more like “epileptic”

    • Michael Fogg says:

      >>>The narratives that we surround ourselves with can subtly, subconsciously influence how we think about ourselves and others.

      This is a big red flashing “CITATION NEEDED”

      Also, can you see how easy it is to use it as an argument against violent games? As in, ‘we surround ourselves in narratives that celebrate violent solution to problems, that’s why there is bullying, rape, mass shootings etc”.

      • zachforrest says:

        I think it’s probably a fair assumption, but surely the way it influences is too subtle and variable to make any assumptions on how that influence might manifest itself in people.

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        FhnuZoag says:

        I think it’s rather unreasonable to claim that fiction cannot affect people’s world views and attitudes. I mean, it forms an important part of the culture people are brought up in, and why a child from Iran, say, might have dramatically different attitudes than people brought up in the UK. If nothing else, because states have constantly attempted to indoctrinate their population through the power of propagandist fiction. While it is oversimplified to claim that if violence in media did not exist, or problematic media did not, there would be no social problems, I think the only intellectually honest way is to admit that at least on a social aggregate level, fiction has an effect.

        This does not mean that the price of banning violent media is worth it, or that the media has the same effect on everyone in every situation. But it does suggest the production of narratives that subvert the standard structure can be worthwhile.

        • Machinations says:

          I think many of you miss the point that media is a product to be consumed. It is also an art form, but ultimately, media is made that appeals to the lowest common denominator. This means that there are endless tropes about the underachieveing hero saving the world, despite this never actually happening.

          • Eight Rooks says:

            There are also endless tropes about filthy brown people wanting to take our freedoms (general “our”, I’m British, not American) and hey, look what a distressingly large portion of the Western world is alarmingly ready to believe. To paraphrase what Grey Cap said below, I’d be surprised (and alarmed) if there was a direct link between violent entertainment and being driven to go out and kill someone, but the idea popular culture has no effect on the people that consume it just strikes me as ridiculous.

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        Grey Cap says:

        “The narratives that we surround ourselves with can subtly, subconsciously influence how we think about ourselves and others.” Actually, I think that statement is so self-evident as to become practically meaningless.

        No, I don’t believe that playing CoD will make somebody commit murder. But there are plenty of myths that cross over from the realm of ‘stories’ into common beliefs about the real world. Just ask people about how firearms work: chances are high that many people (at least, people who don’t use guns themselves) have gotten most of their information from film or television. I know I have.

        • sinister agent says:

          See also: CPR at accident sites.

          • InnerPartisan says:

            Or, perhaps even more to the point: People not rescuing victims of vehicle crashes out of a fear that the car might “explode”.

          • NathanH says:

            Well, these are questions of fact. It’s not really to be contested that people who see something that explicitly claim that x works in a particular way might be inclined to believe x works in that way. That’s something rather different from the question at hand and is rather distracting.

          • sinister agent says:

            It’s not really though, is it? If people think that cars explode from watching them explode in films since they were kids, it’s not much of a stretch for people’s attitudes to also be influenced by the media of the culture they live in.

          • NathanH says:

            It’s not implausible, but it also doesn’t follow. We can’t reason based on matters of fact to work out what’s true or not in this case.

            Here’s an example to show you why we can’t. Suppose I know how guns work. Suppose I see a movie in which guns don’t work like they should. I do not change my beliefs about how guns work. Now suppose I know that sexism is bad. I then see a movie with “problematic” attitudes about women. If we can reason on the same lines as we reasoned for guns, I will not change my beliefs about sexism based on this movie. But I don’t imagine you will believe that.

            Matters of fact in media are going to be taken in in a different way to matters of “cultural conditioning” or whatever you want to call it. They work by the system: “Do I know how this thing actually works in reality? If yes, then I will ignore the media. If no, then I’ll assume they’re not lying to me unless I have reason to think otherwise.” Cultural conditioning from media is going to work in a different way: you’ll have a big mess of stuff in your head from your culture and the things you see will add to them in subtle ways that you don’t really control or necessarily even have any appreciation of.

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            Grey Cap says:

            [Meant as a reply to NathanH] You’re right, of course. I was looking for an example of people ‘learning’ misleading information from fictional sources. And my example (like the things sinister agent and InnerPartisan mention) are only tangentially relevant to the article.

            My point was: I think that (some) people end up believing a fiction that is repeated often enough. There are some common examples of this happening. Thus, if (for example) women are repeatedly shown as weaker, needier, and more emotional than men, some people will end up believing this.

            Edit: And yeah, cultural norms are not absorbed in exactly the same way as the ‘knowledge’ that cars explode willy-nilly. It is however important to keep in mind that they are absorbed.

          • The Random One says:

            Conversely, Nathan: I don’t know how guns work. I watch a movie with guns. I know that is fiction, but I don’t know to which point it is fiction, so I assume they got the gun part right. From then on, I’ll hold a wrong belief of how guns work because nothing has challenged it.

            Likewise: I have lived a sheltered life and have never seen sexism. I see a movie in which all women are manipulative bitches. I know that is fiction, but I don’t know to which extent, so since there are more women in the movie than I know particularly I decide most women outside of my sphere of influence are manipulative bitches. From then on I’ll hold a wrong belief of how most women act. But unlike my wrong gun beliefs, I won’t need to have training before I interact with real women.

            Granted, most people won’t go into any media without any biases on how women, men, black people, Mexicans etc act, but some minorites are more obscure – there’s a reason I mentioned transexuals in my response above.

          • harbinger says:

            Pretty much this. I sometimes feel like I’m some sort of ultranationalist in some of these debates just because I dare to question these apparent “truths”.

            Which couldn’t be further from the truth, I’m green, against nationality being important, for social protections (basic income, minimum wages, fair medical care for everyone), against the way huge corporations behave (lobbyism, tax evasion, put investor profit over everything, building monopolies etc.), obviously for the same rights (especially political, judicial and in the workplace) for everyone, against overbearing government surveillance and intervention into personal lives, legalization of easy drugs etc.
            Been active in some leftist political parties (lately the Pirate party) and also helped organized some protests and the likes.

            If you take a test like from politicalcompass.org
            This would be my result: http://abload.de/img/politcompassi4uax.png

            But, for instance most of the world as a society has decided that even though it might kill millions of people and is preventable people be allowed to both drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. During the failed prohibition people also did it anyway and bypassed the laws.
            It sounds insane for me that people demand that something which is a) entirely optional as entertainment, b) there is no proof that it actually harms anyone (see violent games debate), c) would lead to censorship and free speech issues is to be prevented because it isn’t “inclusive” or it might hurt their feelings.
            Haven’t people very recently protected the rights of others to say or depict what they like despite a lot more serious consequences: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Westergaard

            I can already envision great book and media burnings because they weren’t “inclusive” enough and that couldn’t possibly be more far away from what I want.

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            FhnuZoag says:

            Contrary to what endless movies about naxos would seem to suggest, criticism re minority issues do not have to lead to book burning. The current fight is if anything more about fighting industry self censorship (we must do this to sell! or people might complain!) and also conservative groups who want to remove books from libraries.

          • harbinger says:

            I’m not sure what naxos is, but it isn’t only movies I’m referring to.
            This short story for instance from back in 1961 is rather to the point: http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison.html

            I’m already kind of afraid that some people here would consider it a desirable utopia instead of the grim dystopia it was meant to portray.

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            FhnuZoag says:

            I meant to say ‘nazis’, but my phone autocorrect apparently thinks that’s a swearword. Anyway, this all supports my point really – this stuff matters, and awareness of it is important. It’s naive to pretend that there’s a strict dichotomy between ignoring the impact of everything, and book burning/censorship.

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        PikaBot says:

        Ask your friends and family whether or not they think a defibrillator can restart a stopped heart.

        Now think for a moment about why they almost all are so totally wrong.

        Boom, there’s your citation.

        • magos says:

          Forgive my ignorance, but what do defibs actually do? I ask because my town has just recently installed public ones and I’m now terrified I might kill someone with good intentions.

          • Fred S. says:

            “Fibrillation” is a condition where the heart is twitching randomly instead of holding the usual steady beat. This happens because the nerves which control the beat get disorganized. The defibrillator shocks that nerve cluster and causes it to “reset” itself. The kind of defibs they install in public will try to detect that irregular heartbeat before they do the shock thing so they’re relatively safe for use without special training.

          • Emeraude says:

            Think of the defibrillator as some form of specialized taser.

            The purpose of the shock is not to somehow magically kickstart back a heart that isn’t beating, it is to *stop* a heart that isn’t beating properly – dangerously so.

          • Shaun239 says:

            You needn’t be afraid. The defibs stocked in Supermarkets, gyms and the like are all entirely automated. You need only apply the pads as instructed and the machine will do the rest – and should the machine detect a regular heartbeat it will not ‘fire.’

          • Gundrea says:

            I have visions of a zombie game where you use a supermarket defibrillator to shock your enemies back to life.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        “This is a big red flashing “CITATION NEEDED””

        And sometimes, using the “CITATION NEEDED” meme as a snarky passive-aggressive way to dismiss someone else’s views is a big red flashing sign that you need to read a bit more and think a little more about how culture works.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          To be honest, if you need a citation proving that we are subconsciously affected by the media we consume, you are a complete idiot, or you’re being facetious.

          Of course we don’t literally consciously believe everything we read/see/hear, neither are we subconsciously made racist by depictions of racism, but you can’t say that it all bounces off. The human brain is a sponge, after all.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        Pick up any book on modern literary criticism or semiotics and you’ll find loads. I’d recommend anything by Barthes, Baudrillard, Derrida, Fiske to name a few. Terry Eagletons ‘Literary Criticism’ would be a good start. To be honest I’m amazed that you don’t realise that culture and media are influences on each other, it’s gone beyond academic acceptance into the realm of common sense. Direct cause-effect relationships between media and behaviour is a red herring and academia moved on from this years ago, the arena now is how the media influences wider social attitudes, discourses and the behaviour allowed by these.

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      strangeloup says:

      I think my first clue that the article was going to be awful was the ‘social justice’ in the URL, something which is entirely admirable as a concept but is now forever associated with crazy people from Tumblr.

      • Muzman says:

        See also ‘Liberty’ and ‘Benedict Cumberbatch’

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        HAHA no. Tumblr is a brief flash in the pan. The concept of “social justice” has older and deeper cultural roots by a few orders of magnitude. Measuring its value by what people who didn’t give a shit about it in the first place currently think of it for a passing moment (because of Tumblr? give me a break) is just silly.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I didn’t think the article was well-written, but I don’t see the problem with that specific sentence. The idea of a better world is a powerful image and device for marginalized groups, and science fiction and fantasy as genres are adept at visualizing them. Martin Luther King was a fan of Star Trek for exactly this reason.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        I don’t think it’s a very good approach to creation to imagine the perfect world you’d like to see largely for the hell of it – and yes, I do worry that “Because the real world is demonstratably horrible to me” is doing it pretty much for the hell of it. And I definitely don’t believe you should ever criticise anyone solely for wanting to create a world where a significant section of one race or colour or creed or whatever is horrible to another, if the creator’s plainly trying to handle it relatively responsibly and the only real reason for objecting you can come up with is basically “But I don’t like seeing people be horrible to each other” (regardless of whatever terrible real-world horrors you’ve actually seen for yourself, and yes, I mean that in all seriousness). My mother can’t stand seeing pretty much any kind of simulated violence or unpleasantness on screen beyond Disney slapstick, for God’s sake, and she still wouldn’t presume to tell people to stop doing that just because it makes her upset.

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          Gap Gen says:

          This isn’t the point of the article. The point is that the worlds we create always reflect on ourselves. For example, is the casual racism of Tintin incidental to Hergé’s view of skin colour and nationality meant?

          Personally, I thought it was fine. I didn’t see anything wrong with the premise – self-awareness is an important part of not accidentally making shit, after all. That’s not to say the author is suggesting a legally mandated self-awareness programme for directors and game studios, obviously, and I’m not sure why some of these comments seem to be suggesting that it’s saying that.

          Also, further up the comment chain: “liberal groupthink”. Made my afternoon. Comedy gold up in here today. But still, they’re right – if people believe in gender roles, the superiority of one race over another, that homosexuality is somehow troubling or wrong, then yep – liberalism is out to destroy your way of life. Soz, and all.

          • magos says:

            Hey man, I don’t believe that gender roles should be imposed on any individual. Nor do I think that any race is superior to another. The horrendous racial abuse my mother suffered in her youth showed me the ugliness of that ideal. My having a problem with homosexuality would be incredibly hypocritical of me.

            I do, however, have a massive problem with the assumptive and reductive liberalism that paints anyone who expresses a differing view as a chauvinist. It’s a form of groupthink, it’s incredibly dangerous, and you’ve expressed it quite admirably right here. Sorry.

          • Utsunomiya says:

            O, ye The Grand Inquisitor, show mercy!

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            PikaBot says:

            …Magos, what would you propose, then, that we call people who argue for rigid gender and racial roles?

          • magos says:

            By all means, call chauvinists chauvinists, but don’t assume that I’m one of them because I think a lot of liberalism on the Internet is too radical and too widely scoped.

            Edit: replaced reactionary with radical.

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            Gap Gen says:

            Magos: What views in particular do you have a problem with? You don’t articulate why in particular you disagree with the article, or my comment (in fact the only time you mention specific arguments, you support my comment, as far as I can see).

            To clarify my position: I don’t believe that social role should be determined by physical characteristics. I believe that people should be free to do as they please as long as they don’t impose on the rights of others. I believe that people who impose or propose social roles based on gender, race or whatever should be opposed accordingly.

            EDIT: Gah, just realised I’ve conflated the two articles in the same paragraph in my head. I grant that the condemnation of bigotry is stronger in the second article, and is probably the more objectionable of the two if you’re going to object to either of them. In defence of the second article, it’s voiced at people who already feel concerned about the message of what they’re watching, reading or playing, which, to be fair, everyone should at some level. I mean, people have expressed moral outrage at things since forever – the trick is to consider why you feel moral outrage and to determine whether that response is reasonable.

            I’d also agree that the *depiction* of bigotry in, say, GoT, doesn’t imply that the show promotes those values. By contrast, I’d argue that something like Dr Who/Sherlock *does* promote conservative gender roles, although the effect is fairly subtle and becomes more apparent over time and repeat occurrences (the fact that Moffat is writing two existing aloof, intelligent white men doesn’t help matters, of course, but there’s more to it than that).

        • InternetBatman says:

          I think the larger issue the author raised is why these things are included in the first place? Why are they? It’s right and proper to question the reason behind including them, and that reason is solely titillation or “because I’m a bad author who lacks subtlety and can only show the extremes of human interaction” are not handling such issues responsibly. (I’m looking at you R.A. Salvatore.) The determination of responsibility is a critical step in proper consumption, by your own words. The larger point, that realism is not a good defense since the elements of realism are defined by the author, their audience, their history, and the historicity, is also a valid.

          • Eight Rooks says:

            Okay, I’ll make it really clear. Here Is How I Interpreted That Article:

            “Why are you including so many oppressed, marginalised characters in your fictional world? I don’t like it when anyone is depicted as being marginalised in any work of fiction, without clearly, loudly calling attention to that marginalisation as being wrong and unacceptable. I have to deal with that marginalisation in the real world each and every day of my life, therefore I don’t want to see it anywhere in the creative media I consume. It’s frustrating and upsetting and maddening to me, therefore I don’t want to encounter it anywhere else outside of the circumstances in which it’s forced on to me. No-one should get away with this sort of thing in real life, and if I had the power I wouldn’t let them get away with it, therefore if I choose to experience a fictional world as a means of getting away from real life I don’t want to see that sort of thing in any shape or form. I don’t care what anyone’s reasons would be for wanting to see that sort of thing; if they could feel how badly it affects me they wouldn’t want to see it any more.”

            I’m sorry for being so dumb, but hey, sentences like “and often I find that its in-text condemnation of patriarchy isn’t obvious enough to justify the sexism displayed” mean I’m simply unable to view the article any other way. “But when you say that sexism and racism and heterosexism and cissexism have to be in the narrative or the story won’t be realistic, what you are saying is that we humans literally cannot recognise ourselves without systemic prejudice, nor can we connect to characters who are not unrepentant bigots”? Yeah, how about no? Perhaps the people you’ve talked to mean that, but I bloody don’t.

            I mean if I write a story set in the far future, say, where a gay character experiences prejudice because of their sexual orientation I do it because I genuinely, deeply believe that some human beings will never, ever stop looking down on people who are different, and I find it interesting and fascinating to see how the people who are looked down on prove they’re above that kind of thing by the way they react, and yeah, that shows I’m a dyed in the wool cynic, but that’s not the same god damned thing as HUR HUR I LIEK MAKING TEH GAYS SUFFER BECAUSE I R TEH CISPATRIARCHY SCUM. Sure, GRRM could take some lessons on how not to present sexuality in a grimdark world quite so… queasily, but the progression from this to “Oh, God, why does that man hate women so, so much” is such a god damned leap it makes my head spin.

        • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

          “liberalism on the Internet is too radical”

          Oh god, wait until you find out what liberalism actually means, and encounter some actual “radicals.”

          • Grape Flavor says:

            So much this. The word “liberalism” has been so widely misused and misinterpreted as a catch-all term for “left-wing” and it’s maddening. The precise, proper definition appears to be disappearing.

            Not everything left-wing is liberal. In fact, I’d go so far as to say a lot of the people who call themselves “liberals” and their opinions “liberal” are not really very liberal at all.

            But, like any other word, the definition eventually becomes merely how people actually use it. Alas.

          • Deviija says:

            Goodness, I was thinking the exact same thing!

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            Gap Gen says:

            It’s worth noting that, say, Paul Ryan is a liberal, albeit a classical liberal. Indeed, social liberals are often fairly centrist, and the right to economic freedom is fairly central to liberalism as a whole (indeed, defining what that freedom should be is pretty much the rift between the classical liberal and social liberal stance).

            And granted, Stalinism is not liberal, but it is left-wing in terms of centralising all economic activity (and, hell, a lot of personal freedoms to boot).

          • Premium User Badge

            Rikard Peterson says:

            “Not everything left-wing is liberal.”

            Those associations are very much regional (American?). Here in Sweden, the politicians describing themselves as liberal are right-wing. (And due to cultural differences, pretty much all these political terms have different connotations here than on the other side of the Atlantic.)

          • Grape Flavor says:

            @Rikard Peterson:
            Yeah, I’m American and am referring to the word from that perspective. Liberal around here is often used to refer to anyone who’s not a conservative.

            I’m no expert on UK politics, but in Britain, it seems much easier to make a clear distinction between something like the Liberal Democrats (more my kind of thing), and say, Old Labour. But in the US, it’s all just dumped under the term “liberal” and it’s difficult to explain the difference to some people.

            Of course, that’s a symptom of the rigid two-party system we have here and our partisan, binary political culture, but nonetheless I resent being lumped in the same box as people with whom I find little in common politically.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            I think it’s more indicative of politics as demagoguery than the two-party system. Liberal became an insult some decades back (in U.S. politics), so everyone’s a liberal.

            Of course I think it’s easy to make the argument that the two-party system makes demagoguery more effective.

          • Premium User Badge

            Gap Gen says:

            Liberalism, strictly speaking, is the belief in rights and freedoms. And I imagine that you’d be hard-pressed to get even the most die-hard conservative American to suggest that people should have fewer rights and freedoms (even if they in fact believe in restricting the rights of certain groups of citizens). America is a liberal country in the strictest of senses, founded chiefly by liberals. People suggesting otherwise are largely dishonest demagogues (or just not very well-read, granted).

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Well, we have a lot of politics which is based around giving lip service to rights and freedoms (of individuals) but in reality actively tilting the rights towards the other rights and freedoms (corporations).

            So it’s a question of which rights and freedoms you believe in more.

            Obviously Liberals are anti-business!

    • Tasloi says:

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that statement on it’s own while also respecting a wider variety of scifi/fantasy depictions. Unfortunately this is usually where the problems begin. Based on my twitter feed and what I read elsewhere alot of people striving for more equal depictions don’t want that wider variety at all. That’s pretty much the whole point of Sarkeesian’s video series and why she loosely ties the by now well over a hundred games mentioned to everything from toxic attitudes towards women to domestic violence and even rape.

      Far too many people with this belief system only want variety that doesn’t offend, alienate or is otherwise problematic to women or minorities in any way. No, the same courtesy isn’t extended to men and no it doesn’t matter who the target audience is. That’s why many others can’t afford to stop fighting them on this.

      • Premium User Badge

        PikaBot says:

        That might have something to do with the fact that ‘fiction for men’ is about as in need of advocacy as the endangered mosquito.

        • Tasloi says:

          I probably should have phrased that part better or left it out entirely. I only meant that in the general framework of modern feminism, the belief system many of these people embrace, proclaiming to be a movement for genuine equality of both women and men.

          • jpvg says:

            And that is the problem with modern feminism, reading Equality as the same terms, where life only gives equal terms. Just as life only provides equal terms in comparison between being born as a poor white male and as a rich white male. You simply don’t get the same terms, only equal terms.

            It used to be about equality although but 3rd generation is messed up, chasing rainbows but while they are at it, do you think they could fix region pricing on steam, it turns out that all those yellow fellows is getting everything at a constant x% off!

            I also want the same terms or do I want the same terms? Am I perhaps just a part of a small minority that is vocal about the problem, being an ass for demanding something that isn’t possible to achieve? Maybe I should look deep inside myself and realize that while it’s not the same terms and I may have to look for a longer time and accept something that might not fit me perfectly and most of it is way out of my league, it’s still equal terms.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            I think this is a useless conflation. The people, whatever fraction they are, who may believe that only things which don’t offend are acceptable can be safely ignored without raising a fuss.

            Meanwhile the people who are pointing out that a rule of exclusion and silencing is the norm are important to heed.

            It seems like these groups are frequently confused by those who stand for the status quo. Sometimes the confusion may be innocent. Sometimes it’s clearly not.

            What’s undeniable is those who say “the problem with feminism is that some of them have unreasonable demands” are not really listening to anything.

          • jpvg says:

            First rule of discrimination is that you have to prove that it has an effect -> http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/things-arent-problematic-people-are.html?zx=39992ec00e099fc4 .

            Prove that there is discrimination due to companies serving a specific target audience until you do, you’re vaguely in the same camp as the fellows who screams for banning video games due to violence/school shootings, _claiming_ that there is problems but not _proving_ it.

            The only thing we can agree on as of right now is that there may be a new market that has opened up for you to take advantage of, that is a new vocal group of minorities that is not being served enough games as it is and someone should provide for em and I sincerely suggest that you do it because you believe in the cause.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Is it your standard practice to try to change the argument midstream to paint the other person in a bad light?

            This is a standard misdirection attempt. Racism doesn’t exist unless you can prove it!

            I thought you were commenting in good faith. *plonk*

          • jpvg says:

            You comment on what I’m saying with a predetermined disposition -> “The patriarchy is keeping women down”, I would like to get that verified before proceeding. It leads to the core of the debate namely that it’s in the eyes of the beholder just as my conflation, I believe it’s equal, I believe it’s fair, I believe it’s reasonable.

            _If_ I’m incorrect and there is discrimination, you need to point to it and prove it and I will be 100% in agreement with you, something needs to be done but the disposition that “The patriarchy is keeping women down” needs to be backed up otherwise it’s not a discrimination as shown per earlier link.

            It’s not a matter of oppinion, it’s a matter of whether or not that there is any discrimination. You say there is, alright fine, where? Do I have to take your word for it just like I do when I speak with creationists or can you point to something slightly more factbased?

      • Eight Rooks says:

        I haven’t watched Sarkeesian’s videos, but that’s not really to do with latent patriarchal prejudices – I just don’t like watching people talk about games. I’m a speed reader, I get really impatient when people don’t get to the point and would much prefer a transcript.

        At the same time, as I understand it she presents a much more reasonable take on the “Eh, I find problems with all these things, but I still enjoy plenty of them” approach than that article did. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I haven’t read that many people have been attacking her tone, just that they panic when they hear her ideas.

        • magos says:

          Thank you! I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who prefers my journalism written rather than spoken. It’s one of the reasons that I like Polygon, in spite its pretty blatant biases.

          • NathanH says:

            There is a transcript of the videos available if you want to read it. I can’t stand videos either. I want to read things.Particularly if something contentious is being said. I want to read it again and again and again until I understand it. Videos are really tiresome for doing this.

          • Eight Rooks says:

            @NathanH – thanks for that. I hadn’t even been to her site (obviously, I suppose) so hadn’t seen it. I appreciate the heads up.

    • Koozer says:

      Psst, we invented quotation marks for a reason!

    • DXN says:

      That is probably the most horrible thing I’ve read today.

      How so?

    • cptgone says:

      while i agree that “media matter”, we shouldn’t repeat the mistakes of socialist realism.
      L’art pour l’art!

  3. Premium User Badge

    Anthile says:

    I was surprised Fear is the path to the dark side didn’t make it into the last papers but there you go.

  4. zain3000 says:

    If Nick Cave annoys the neighbours, I simply suggest that they fling open the windows and doors… and let love in.

  5. faelnor says:

    I am a fan of the sexy cards in The Witcher 1. Is that problematic? Do I need to read the article before being able to talk properly about them? My technique usually consists in shutting others off by telling them they are idiots and I get the feeling I have been doing it wrong all this time… but not anymore! Thanks Social Justice League!

  6. Chris says:

    Asking Denis Shirk about Civilization 5 is like asking Joseph Göbbels about the Third Reich.

    The suits at 2K fucked Civ5 over big time, and Sid Meier let them whilst he worked on his CivWorld vanity project.

    The three main problems with Civ5 are:

    1. Crappy tactical AI. One unit per tile was a great idea, but you have to back it up with an AI capable of using it. The actual AI is incapable of both attacking and defending.

    2. Long turn times, especially towards the end of the game. By end of the game I mean 1900 onwards, in terms of playing time this starts around 20% in to the game. In other words the last 150 years takes up 80% of playing time, turning what should be a thrilling game into a drudge.

    3. Diplomacy. Diplomacy in Civ5 is a joke. Friendly nations suddenly declare pointless wars on you, then agree to peace, then go back to being friendly. Diplomacy in Civ4 was superb, quite why they had mess it up so badly in Civ5 I do not know. I still don’t know what Denouncing does, and I don’t really care. And what retard dreamt up the mechanic of voiding deals after 30 turns?

    Hopefully they won’t mess up Civ6 like they did Civ5.

    We need a leader of Firaxis who cares about Civ, not his silly vanity project. And a lead designer who’s contribution to Civ4 was the espionage system, that was horrible, clicky, busy work.

    • AngoraFish says:

      All of those points are valid criticisms, but none have stopped me putting in 400 hours on Civ V so far. As a veteran of the original, IMHO this is easily the best iteration of the franchise to date. Which is not to say that there’s no further room for improvement.

    • Koozer says:

      All of those criticisms could be levelled at Civ IV too – godawful AI, turns get longer and longer and CRASH and longer and longer, and the AI is awful at diplomacy..

    • soldant says:

      Every Civ game ever more or less has the same argument.

      Incidentally, turn times can be shortened quite a bit by disabling “Show other civ moves” from the options menu, even if you aren’t seeing many moves within the revealed map area. It’s still a bit ridiculous on large games towards the end, but it does make it slightly more bearable.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      Regarding turn times:
      1. Put Civ V on an SSD if at all possible. Most games benefit from it, but the general speed-up Civ gets from SSD load times is absolutely enormous.
      2. Apply this fix. It helps.
      3. Downgrade graphics quality. The impact on visuals is fairly low, but it improves performance considerably.
      4. Some people swear on putting the game in strategic view (F10 or F11, can’t remember which) before ending turns. I don’t find that necessary, but it might be helpful.

      With all that, you’ll get decent times even on huge maps and with fairly average hardware.

    • iridescence says:

      My biggest problem is still the one unit per tile. That just doesn’t feel like Civ to me. I always loved the army building in Civ. Stacking a lot of units together in preparation for a great war. It felt so imperial. Honestly, I don’t know if I want to buy the Civ V expansions even though they seem an improvement just because I loathe the new combat system so much.

    • Captain Joyless says:

      Where Civ 5 really goes wrong is that 80% of the game relies on the same mechanic: full up buckets. Fill up the food bucket, get a new citizen! Fill up the production bucket, get a new building/unit! Fill up the beaker bucket, get a new tech! Ok, that’s normal and traditional civ, and quite enough bucket filling on its own. (Edit: oh, and gold bucket: fill it up, get a thing. The elimination of “commerce” and the ability to split commerce between gold and science was one of the worst design decisions in the history of pc gaming.)

      But then what did they do when they totally revamped governments/civics into culture, and totally revamped religion?

      MOAR BUCKETS. Fill up the culture bucket, get a special power! Fill up the religion bucket, get a special power from a different list!

      Tourism? Fill up this bucket to win the game!

      It is absolutely the laziest and most uninspired game I have seen in years. The civics in Civ 4 (and especially some of the mods, like Fall From Heaven) were a thousand times better and more interesting. Plus, the lack of good modding support and tools means we will never get good mods like we had for Civ 4.

    • Emeraude says:

      You know, cross-pollination from those other articles: one reason I love Alpha Centauri over other Civ-like is that it defines fictional political groups in conflict in ways that tries to remain interesting and believable. And even when it somewhat fails to process the content into something that makes sense, I can infer explanations, or forgive the creators for no hitting the mark on their aim.

      When I play a civilization game, I can’t but feel revulsion in some measure with the way it handles cultures that exist or have existed.

  7. GameCat says:

    Pretty weak Papers today. The only one article that interested me was “On Consuming Media Responsibly”. I said “was” because after reading first line I gave up. It have bad words starting with “f” and “m” letter. Ugh.

  8. MrThingy says:

    Saw Judge Minty on the big screen at a showing in Edinburgh. Was pleasantly surprised at the production quality for a small film like that.

    MOAR DREDD PLZ

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Is it just me, or is “Minty” a ludicrous name for a Judge?

      • malkav11 says:

        It is, but it’s apparently a character straight from the pages of the comics. Albeit a minor character who only featured in one or two stories.

        By the way, as someone who only really knows Dredd by reputation and the recent film with Karl Urban, is the Cursed Earth stuff at all prevalent in the comics? ’cause I thought that was really cool and I’d originally had the impression that it was pretty much all located in MegaCity One.

        • Premium User Badge

          maninahat says:

          I’ve been reading through the first few issues, and though I haven’t so far seen much of the Cursed Earth yet, Dredd does move around quite a bit beyond Mega City 1. He even goes to the moon for an extended period of time (it’s basically the Wild West in space).

  9. BrokenSymmetry says:

    I’m surprised RPS hasn’t mentioned the current Dota 2 tournament “The International” this week. It’s such an incredibly well-organized event, with for once, a very good, professional presenter. Dota 2’s in-game spectator mode is incredible as well, with a choice of several commentators; it by far surpasses anything I’ve seen in any other game.Also, most games have been pretty exciting (unless it’s between 2 Chinese teams who do nothing but farming for 90 minutes).
    Only drawback is that the most important matches are played in the middle of the night for Europe. Right now I’m watching the replays of the semi-finals between Na’Vi (Ukraine) and Alliance (Sweden), which were played last night.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      None of the regular staff on RPS have any interest in DOTA2. Not something we could or should fake, I think.

      • tobecooper says:

        But isn’t Cara into Dota2?

        Missed opportunity for a nice feature, there :(

        • Captain Joyless says:

          Cara’s “Gaming Made Me” about dota was awesome, but she doesn’t seem to really play dota 2 (judging from steam).

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        Y’can always haul @casskhaw in for a guest feature. Just a thought.

      • Synesthesia says:

        It’s quite the thing though. Now that this guy mentioned it, i’m surprised cara didnt cover it.It’s a great event! Ando nobody writes about it without being boring about it. Maybe next tournament? Give us sum dota 2 cara!

      • pakoito says:

        Ex-members do, as their twitter tells me. Anyway it’s a big overlook on your side, a 2.6m dollar tournament plus Valve documentary is news. You also don’t like many other things yet report on them.

        Your blog, etc.

      • Leb says:

        I would rather read about huge gaming news like multi-million dollar tournaments rather than an article every time a new AAA trailer is released (I’m looking at you Splinter Cell… and you RPS writers who cover it)

    • Moraven says:

      Nor they cover SC2 or anything else in eSports. They had the partnered posts from ESL? I think it was for awhile…but everyone just complained about how confusing it was… since most readers and writers here probably don’t follow the scene.

      Other sites do it better with full coverage and sites like Polygon do some features time to time on eSports. RPS can’t fill every hole and best they cover what they have the most interest in.

      Now having no interest in DOTA 2… the WCS SC2 regional finals have been fantastic games. Finals at Gamescom should be great.

  10. povu says:

    Any other low spec PC games you guys can recommend that the article didn’t cover? Like Papers Please and Spelunky that just came out. Going back a bit there’s also Terraria, Mark of the Ninja, Little Inferno, LIMBO, Defense Grid and all sorts of point and clicks….

    Somehow the low spec PC games article put Hotline Miami and Machinarium under the ‘PC Versions of Console Games’ section. It’s the other way around. :P

    • Premium User Badge

      tomeoftom says:

      Cart Life, N (the minimalist platformer from Metanet, recently at v2.0), basically everything on GOG.com – yer Planescape Torments and so forth, Zineth, FTL, Kentucky Route Zero, Don’t Starve, “Ben There, Dan That” + “Time Gentlemen, Please!”, Braid, Cave Story+, Gish, Monaco, Quake III Live or hell – just Quake, Doom and its insane WAD scene, Revenge of the Titans, SpaceChem, Starseed Pilgrim, VVVVVV, and, of course, Crysis.

      But, basically, Teleglitch.

    • Premium User Badge

      DrScuttles says:

      Dustforce, all the Bit.Trip series, 1000 Amps, Lone Survivor, Waking Mars, Doom the way id Did and the beta of Doom 2 the way id Did is out now. Shadow Warrior is free on Steam. For point and clicks, Beneath A Steel Sky and Flight Of The Amazon Queen are both freely available on the ScummVM website. Also, anything by Wadjet Eye is worth playing. If RPGs are your thing, Spiderweb’s games provide hours. Hours. Of stuff.

  11. Premium User Badge

    tomeoftom says:

    Jason Rohrer very recently posted a personal and quite harrowing account of his experiences defending himself and his family from the vicious dogs he lived around:

    http://thecastledoctrine.net/seedBlogs.php?action=display_post&post_id=jasonrohrer_1375813898_0&show_author=1&show_date=1

    It’s really a very sad state that a city can become so deeply embedded with apathy to violence. This is also the first good justification for ownership of self-defence weaposn I’ve come across. Obviously, though, the intentional breeding of violent dogs and the subsequent negligence of their safekeeping is a social rot that should be addressed with legislation, not an neighbourhood arms race.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      I’d say over half the dogs I’ve encountered in city living are bad dogs. That is, poorly kept, untrained, willing to harass or attack any strangers they encounter on the public sidewalk, etc.

      It seems like most owners don’t know what it takes to keep a dog. Probably it should be restricted by license in city limits.

      • Koozer says:

        I have never met or seen a single ‘bad dog’ in my life. I’ve seen plenty of yappers, a few lead-pullers and some oh-my-god-I-must-run-over-to-lick-that-person-ers though. I am glad I live in the UK so there’s little chance of a family being devastated by these types being shot by an imbicile.

        Opinions!

        • Hematite says:

          The UK has a different relationship with dogs than most countries; apart from anything else if you were attacked by most of the dogs here you’d need some serious stitches but wouldn’t be maimed or killed. There’s a much larger variety of breeds, particularly the small ones, than I’ve seen in my (limited) experience (of other western countries).

        • timethor says:

          Dogs running towards me (in places where dogs aren’t allowed to be unleashed) is a common occurrence. Every few weeks a dog finds it necessary to jump against me when I’m just walking down the street. Never been bitten, but it’s already quite intimidating. If I had been bitten like Rohrer’s wife, all those “oh he just wants to say hi!” dogs would completely freak me out.

          A dog has the ability to maul someone. If you can’t control your dog, and it’s storming towards a random guy on the street, that random guy is justified in doing anything (including lethal force) to repel the dog, imho. Don’t want your dog to get hurt? Teach your potentially deadly animal some manners.

          • lordcooper says:

            You have the ability to stab/shoot/bludgeon people. Is it okay for me to kill you if I see you moving quickly in my general direction?

          • JackShandy says:

            If you see a guy holding a knife and running towards you, self defense might be warranted.

          • TCM says:

            If I see a person running at me, frothing at the mouth, with either a weapon out or with obvious intent to harm (getting into a shoulder charge, looking to tackle, etc — there are body cues for these things), then I’m going to be able to sleep fine at night if I Pepper Spray them, yeah.

          • Skabooga says:

            Well, when I see 5 weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of the park in full view of 100 people, I shoot the bastards. That’s *my* policy.

        • TCM says:

          That’s not opinions, that’s privilege.

          Ohhh, I got to trot out that word! I’ve been looking for a chance to use it against people forever. Finally, my chance has come.

          You are privileged to live in an area where there are neither aggressive nor feral dogs, things that do exist, and CAN cause grievous harm to a person. Would you really call a person an imbecile for shooting a rottweiler or pitbull that had its jaws on his leg, because it would “devastate the family”?

          If so, man, your ability to empathize with human beings is warped at best and scary at worst.

          • Koozer says:

            Oooh, ooh, let me throw a popular internet word at someone too: strawman! I don’t believe you can be that disingenuous on purpose. I clearly didn’t mean the cases where a dog is currently chomping on your limb, I mean when a jumpy gun owner shoots an innocent dog just for running towards them. Dog-related deaths are so rare (only 10 a year in the US! http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/images/dogbreeds-a.pdf) that I’m pretty sure that there would be more accidental dog deaths than prevented human deaths. More opinion!

            Despite popular belief, throwing the word ‘privilege!’ at someone doesn’t magically invalidate all opinion they hold by the way.

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          Dogs who excitedly yap occaisionally or run up to meet new people aren’t the problem (although really you should train your dog better than to have it running up to strangers in a public place on a regular basis, certainly it’s understandable for a youngling). That’s why the test shouldn’t be “could someone be afraid?” because that can be true for anything.

          The test should be: Does the dog owner know how to ensure the dog feels included in their family unit so it doesn’t go NUTZ being left out on the back lot day after day and destroy property and possibly injure people. The test should be: does the dog owner have any concept of training for obedience at *all* and can they demonstrate basic competence of interacting with a variety of strangers in public?

          The list of things you need to know as a dog owner isn’t really that long, but if you don’t you’re being cruel to the dog and possibly a danger to others.

          • Koozer says:

            “The test should be: Does the dog owner know how to ensure the dog feels included in their family unit so it doesn’t go NUTZ being left out on the back lot day after day and destroy property and possibly injure people.”

            One small nitpick: dogs don’t go crazy because they don’t feel part of the family, they go crazy because they feel so much a part of the family that when left alone they feel abandoned. They will also attempt to defend their territory by barking at old ladies on the road. Interestingly, having a dog tied up may also increase their aggression levels, as the restricted movement makes them more anxious when possible intruders are around.

            There is also more to aggression than being left outside and not trained well. It also depends on actively bad owners, teaching their dog to be aggressive and working them into a frenzy when they feel threatened. Breed may play a part too according to some studies, but I’m unconvinced – personally I think that big, mean looking dogs like Pit Bulls have such terrible person-attacking statistics because the kind of people who want an aggressive dog and will encourage them to be so will buy the big, mean looking dogs.

            As a counterpoint to the breed arguments, my own current dog is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier/ Boxer cross, and he doesn’t have an aggressive bone in him. He hides from Yorkshire Terriers. He will still bark at next door’s dog though (which they keep in the garden all day to yap its head off), and will wag his tail furiously at anyone coming to the door. When on walks he will stare and wag at anyone he sees approaching, his tail frequency increasing with closeness, but you can see in people’s eyes they are unsure or even nervous purely because of his appearance. I don’t want these people getting guns.

            Well that turned into an essay.

    • WrenBoy says:

      That post was incredible. Dog attacks kill about 10 children per year in the US. Motor accidents kill several thousand children per year.

      That moron left his child in the middle of the road to protect his family from a dog. That is not the optimal choice but in heat of the moment it can happen to anyone.

      But of course, despite the fact that he knows the figures and the relative lack of risk he learnt nothing from that mistake, going on to pick fights with dog owners while carrying his infant hidden under his hoodie. Its like watching a candidate for the Darwin awards audition his family.

      • TCM says:

        You’re going to have to tell me when he “picked a fight with a dog owner”, since in the first case it was neutral (if you fear for your own safety when around an animal, you will let that animal’s owner know), and in the second case he was legally in the right (warning a dog owner that having a dog off leash was against the law, and that if he felt threatened by the dog he’d use spray).

        Jesus, some people. It’s like you’ve never had to deal with any threats or hardship, ever, and the opinion you give to anyone traumatized by an experience is “Well, the numbers don’t back it up, be less traumatized you loser.”

        • WrenBoy says:

          “It’s illegal to have dogs off leash in the park,” I told him. He’s a member of three kennel clubs, don’t tell him what the law is, and so on. The whole time, he’s screaming. Periodically, he looks like he’s about to punch me. Other times, he reaches into the back waistband of his pants, but then calms himself down and reconsiders. (Reaching for what, we wondered afterward. Imagine me being punched in the chest with a sleeping infant under my hoodie, we realized afterward.)

          The worst parenting was leaving an unattended infant in the middle of the road but the above example is pretty foolish also. In both cases he seems oblivious to the fact that he is putting his family at risk rather than protecting them.

          Illegality has nothing to do with it. Winning a Darwin award doesnt get you jail time.

          Edit: And of course when he tried to protect his family using pepper spray on a dog he sprayed himself and his child instead. Of course this did not stop him carrying pepper spray, which seems to have never proved useful in protecting his family but instead caused injury to himself and his family on multiple occasions and also provoked disputes with his neighbours.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Aside from the fact that he is *explicitly* documenting his mistakes that you are trying to use to attack him.. (which doesn’t reflect well on you, at all) , you are suggesting that, those who see the need for change because of their vulnerability should always be quiet.

            Talk about blaming the victim

          • WrenBoy says:

            If when a child is left in the middle of the road by a father who feels the need to posture in front of his neighbours, Im gonna blame dad, yeah.

            If a father pepper sprays his child cause hes scared of dogs, Im still blaming dad.

            As I said from the beginning, I can understand someone making mistakes. But after each mistake he appears to have doubled down. Both himself and his self defence weapons appear to be the largest risks in his childrens lives. I really hope he doesnt own a gun.

            Im pointing this out because the post was being used as an argument for self defense weapons.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            In an environment where you have regular, identifiable threats that are definitely addressable via self-defense weapons (eg loose dogs), they probably *do* make sense.

            In a lot of environments there are a number of questionable results around self defense weapons. I don’t want to ignite that debate however.

            However, you don’t have to mischaracterize the situations to disagree with the worldview. I certainly don’t agree with the target point, but I recognize that telling a dog owner that he’s breaking the law isn’t an attack.

          • WrenBoy says:

            In every single instance the weapons increased the risk rather than reduced it. He even recognises this and describes them as ineffective against the target and dangerous to those he is trying to protect. But he still continues to use them. I dont understand the mentality. It is just stupid behaviour.

            I never claimed he attacked dog owners. He certainly picked fights with them by challenging their behaviour and threatening their pets. Whether he was within his legal or moral rights to do so is neither here nor there.

            His stated aim was to reduce the risk to his family. His actions increased it until he made the decision to move house. This was the only act which was likely to reduce risk to his family and was also the only one which avoided both weaponry and macho posturing. This is not a coincidence.

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          Since it was already pointed out to you that telling people that they are overshooting the law and common decency is not “picking a fight”, but you persist in claiming this fabrication, it is now apparent that you are either a deliberate liar or delusional.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Colonel J says:

    Great memories of Starship Command from my childhood, I haven’t thought of it in many years.

    Ah, that last desperate moment when you jabbed Esc and hoped your escape pod would get clear of a screen full of enemies.

    “Your escape capsule was launched and returned safely from the combat zone”.

    “After your performance on this command the Star-Fleet authorities are said to be “disappointed”,

    • AngusPrune says:

      My chief memories of childhood days playing Starship Command were accidentally launching the escape capsule from the wrong side of the ship and ploughing headlong in to an alien starfighter.

      But hey, at least Starfleet command were kind enough to chalk up my human torpedo runs as a kill when writing my epitaph.

    • Caiman says:

      Nice to finally read some recognition of Starship Command. I loved that game as a kid, and still have an emulated copy on my PC that I fire up now and then. As a devout ZX Spectrum owner, it was the only game on “Another System” (TM) that I ever really, really wanted, so the occasional opportunity when a friend acquired a BBC temporarily (nobody actually seemed to own one, except the local school with its bizarre Kingdom simulator) was snapped up eagerly. It might be a fairly simple concept, but the detail at the time seemed remarkable – all those different ships you could pilot, the way the enemies often disintegrated in different ways, the mesmerizing sound field, the risk/reward balance of not knowing when to eject (and you always had to eject eventually), the scary invisible ships with their gatling guns that could strip your shields in moments… I loved it. Never really found anything like it since. I had no idea there was a Kickstarter remake out there, I’d have been all over that if it hadn’t been on iOS only.

  13. Gwilym says:

    Red Right Hand is also the worst Hellblazer story

  14. Jason Moyer says:

    I’d just like to go ahead and suggest that people not take media “so seriously”. Take things you do or create seriously. Things you consume…not so much.

  15. rustybroomhandle says:

    That Borderlands 2 vid reminds me of this one featuring Whiterun in Skyrim http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZHKcCZmCD0

  16. Machinations says:

    Civ 5 was beyond terrible, a cash in with simplistic mechanics and ooh shiny!

    I shuld thank this guy though, he cnverted me into a paradox gamer..doubtful I will purchase a civ game ever again..if they cant do multiplayer right, as they clearly cant, why bother.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Good luck with that crapshoot. In terms of quality, Paradox strategy games are all over the place.

      • iridescence says:

        The games Paradox develops themselves, at least recently, have all been of very high quality. The games they just publish on the other hand have been more of a mixed bag.

      • Leb says:

        Kind of funny making a quip at Pdox’s quality when the quality of Civ V is utter garbage in comparison.

        Bugs… lack of MP mod support… ignoring the community etc.

  17. pakoito says:

    I hate how LoL is imposing its lingo into the genre. It’s not a MOBA, they are not champions and Antifun is not a thing.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Are they actually imposing it? Seems like they’ve just called it whatever they wanted and by virtue of their popularity its entered common use.

      I don’t really pay attention to the game outside of playing it, so maybe I missed all the aggressive marketing from Riot.

      • pakoito says:

        You have missed all the aggressive marketing from Riot, at cons and websites for years since release. They have a gigantic budget and never hesitated to use it. It is common knowledge.

        It gained traction with popularity, as this things do, but it wasn’t a surprise thing like Minecraft, but something crafted as Angry Birds.

        • DiamondDog says:

          “It’s common knowledge.”

          If you’re invested in the scene I guess. I try my hardest to stay away from all the crap that surrounds these games. I get enough partisan squabbling from following football.

          Not surprising that Riot would throw their weight around though, seems like they’re in this for keeps.

    • InnerPartisan says:

      The only correct term for the genre is, naturally, Lords Management.

  18. pakoito says:

    “And How To Be A Fan Of Problematic Things” is what happens when you remove all basic thrills from a someone’s life by covering all his primary needs, free, forever, isolating him in a bubble, and has to start looking for problems in others’.

    There’s a world outside they don’t know about and this makes me sad, and annoyed.

  19. Moraven says:

    I was glad LoL started to slow down on champion release. If you played it sporadically he was hard to keep up with the new champions.

    Also I feel if they would release more skins for existing champions with only 2 skins, they would make a more money. Alas that is hopeful thinking. They know what champions people own, play and buy skins for. Reason why we have 50 Annie skins, Amumu, Teemo, etc. And plenty of boobalicious.

    I wish they supported user made skins. The one Morgana skin came from a player who applied his/her skin in game for himself (of course only he/she could see the skin).

    • Koozer says:

      That’s part of the reason I never went back to LoL after a few week’s break – I just new there would be a millionty one new champions I wouldn’t know about and I didn’t fancy getting ‘noob!’ screamed at me every time I died to a new sparkly move.

  20. PopeJamal says:

    This makes me sad. It makes me sad, but this discussion about troublesome media also perfectly illustrates what I feel is the biggest problem with the “gamer community” as a whole: the seemingly near total lack of empathy.

    To illustrate this problem, I’m going to ask you to see things from my, perspective as a “black” person. Mine isn’t the only problem of course, and being male is certainly an advantage, but I think the problem probably manifests itself in similar ways to other marginalized groups.

    I shouldn’t have to do this, (but that’s the way it is when you’re in a marginalized group), but here’s my required disclaimer to ensure that people actually read what I have to say:

    **I understand that most people aren’t being actively racist, or sexist, or whatever, but the end result is still that large groups of people who aren’t white men feel left out. Excluded. Not considered or welcomed.**

    Now, as I was saying, please put yourself in my shoes for a moment:

    I like video games. Quite a bit actually. I’ve liked them since I was about 7 years old playing Space Invaders in the back of a neighborhood bar that my dad regularly snuck me into on early afternoons after school. I’ve been a gamer ever since then, but I started to notice something when I was about 10 years old:

    -This game is AWESOME! I’m going to choose another character and play it over again. You know what, this time, I’m going to choose a character that looks like me. LOL, that will be fun. Awwwww. That sucks. There’s no characters that look like me. Oh well.

    -Wow, this game has like a MILLION customization options, I’ll be able to make a character that looks like me. Sweet! Awwwww. That sucks. There’s no characters that look like me. Oh well.

    -I feel like a bit of escapist fantasy. What should I play this time? You know what, I don’t have anything in particular in mind, so I’ll just see if I can go with something that has a character that is similar to me. After all, I can usually find games that let me tailor my characters personality similar to mine, so I’m sure that I can find a game that lets me create a character that is a virtual representation of me in both mind and body. Awwwww. That sucks. There’s no characters that look like me. Oh well.

    -Hmmm. Something fishy is going on here. Why can’t I easily find games that have people that look like me in them? In fact, the only games that regularly have black people in them are games about sports and I HATE sports. Arrrgh!

    So after realizing this, I had no choice but to come to the conclusion that I was not important as a customer or even as someone to whom they were trying to communicate the “message” of their game to. I was at best, invisible and at worst, not worth “speaking” to or considering.

    Now, I say all of that to ask you these final questions:

    How am I supposed to feel as an individual, as a human being, whenever I walk into a room (internet forum) full of my contemporaries (other gamers) and they’re all foaming at the mouth and ranting because people who aren’t “white” or people with ovaries just ASKED if maybe they can be included and considered as a part of the community sometimes?

    How are we supposed to feel welcomed into a community that only seems to acknowledge us whenever it’s telling us to shut up and f%^& off with our “Liberal Groupthink”?

    THAT is the reason why I don’t read articles here on RPS as often as I used to, and the reason I feel like I’m finally being squeezed out of the gaming culture overall.

    I play games and read about them to have fun and relax, not to listen to angry white men rant about how, by me having an opinion about something, I’m “ruining” it.

    Ultimately, game makers and gaming communities can do whatever they want, but if one of the things they actually WANT is to include women and “minorities”, a good place to start would be to actually make us feel like they want us around. Toning down the “STFU” and “GTFO” atmosphere would be a good start.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      To almost all of these points:

      When someone creates a character that “looks like you,” regardless of minority-race or gender, reviews tend to focus on every single negative of that character’s portrayal. They’re either decried as “Not X Enough” or “Too X” in the reviews, Social Justice articles are written, and the company essentially loses sales.

      The alternative? Straight White Guy. Why? Because you’re going to get stuck reading a shitload fewer articles about how the Straight White Guy is “Not White Enough” or “Too Guy.”

      You’re not going to have to answer questions in literally every single interview about why you allowed the Straight White Guy to be depicted with a spike through his head in a death scene.

      You’re not going to have to answer questions in every other interview about Straight White Guy’s ‘racist’ accent when he’s portraying a homeless person.

      You’re not going to have to answer questions in every other interview about what Straight White Guy says about your sexuality and the sexuality of the rest of your team.

      This has been happening for 20+ years, so it shouldn’t come as some surprise that Media tries to avoid these topics entirely. They get beaten down far more when something *does* try to cater to Social Justice demands than when they just stick with the formula. I’m all for using the Stick when the Carrot fails, but this is a case where there’s *never* been a carrot.

      • Koozer says:

        Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try harder.

        On on infinitely more trivial level than PopeJamal is talking about, I can never create myself in games as whole worlds are populated only by right-handed people, and the only type of curly hair developers know about is the afro.

        • Laurentius says:

          You certainly can create left handed characters in Virtua Tennis.

      • PopeJamal says:

        I see. I guess being a hetero white male in our society is really tough and unfair.

        • Premium User Badge

          JoeyJungle says:

          I really dislike dismissive comments like these. It always reads to me as “Le sigh, my life is SO much harder than yours cisman.” It’s a snide remark that tries to invalidate any challenges that someone may have faced that aren’t related to race or sexuality – abuse, drug addiction, death of loved ones, mental illness, violence, etc.

          Which is upsetting, because your post before this made a totally valid point. Although I think RPS covers feminism, sexuality, and race in games much more than most other sites that are about video games in general (as opposed to sites specifically about video games and race, for example).

        • BAshment says:

          i don’t see how assumptions help anything. If you always view isues based on race you will always see inequality. I doubt there is many white male hetrosexual charicters in nigerian soap operas and thats fine. most media will cater to the largest consumer demographic.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Because videogames are only sold in countries consisting of only white men.

            Pro tip: the largest demographics are Chinese and Indian. I guess all the protagonists should look like them.

            (Personally I would find this an interesting change.)

          • BAshment says:

            sorry but i think you are wrong, here is the sales figures for uncharted 3: drakes fortune a big aaa franchise couldn’t find any figures for pc titles. steam does not have any charts on user locations but i would hazard a guess at it being EU/US centric

            http://www.vgchartz.com/game/49054/uncharted-3-drakes-deception/

            biggest sales are America and Europe. now i’m sure most publishers are quite ignorant towards china and India but you are always going to target your home audience in a familiar language over trying to get a big push in Asia, Seems quite logical. Far as i know china has a massive home produced market for games i cant speak for India but i know the steam box was aimed in that direction.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            The potential market is definitely not defined by those figures.

            Now, we get to the crux. It’s not about selling the most games, it’s about wanting to sell games without undergoing any potential change.

          • BAshment says:

            it’s risk vs reward of course big company’s are against change just look at hollywood cinema, if the formula works why would you change it?
            as far as i’m concerned there is no big moral issue with this. Race to me is irrelevant if a game has good mechanics and/or a decent story i will most likely play it.
            If people really feel alienated because the character they are playing as is a different race than them, i think they need to put less value on the colour of their skin, it’s meaningless.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Do you ever feel marginalized for your race? Do security guards follow you around (and not other people) because of your race?

            If not, that’s just privilege talking.
            If so, you’re a very unusual person.

          • BAshment says:

            so because a security guard somewhere is allegedly a racist, anything i say is a moot point because i may possibly be in the majority race of a certain country?
            I find it offensive that you think not being racially profiled is a privilege (even thought being judged that will you not commit a crime based on race is equally racist) I feel marginalized for a lot of different reasons, but it’s is still meaningless to the argument that it’s some racist conspiracy to keep ethnic minority out of gaming. I think it is just a result of marketing. Of course just like you these people make grand assumptions about gamers and what they will a won’t buy.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            So you *are* speaking from priveledge.

            The issue isn’t that *one* security guard is a racist. The issue is they act this way *as a rule*.
            That you haven’t noticed this already shows your lack of perspective.

          • BAshment says:

            you know nothing about me. Don’t make assumptions i’m not telling you what race i am and what race i am is irrelevant. All you are doing is proving how flimsy your argument is. Frankly i find your sentiment disgusting you don’t tackle any of the points i raise and just try and judge me by my race (with no information) that is racism.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            I didn’t assume anything about your race, you’re making that up entirely. Your privilege is documented in this thread.

          • BAshment says:

            I don’t look at not being discriminated against as a privilege, It’s a basic right. Why not instead of trying to debate whether i’m “privileged” or not you tackle the argument. Just calling me privileged and ignoring any of the points i raise is very childish. I provided evidence to prove my point all you do is name call.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            You are confused. Privilege is not an insult.
            It is also not an invalid concept just because you personally don’t believe people should experience prejudice.

            The fact that you don’t believe that such prejudice is as common as it really is stems from the fact that it is not a problem for you personally. This means that your personal experience deviates from the norm in a positive direction. That’s really an undeniably good thing. The problem is that you act like this deviation doesn’t exist. That’s where you need to self-educate.

            Please read about privilege so that you can stop trying to argue that people are saying things that they are not saying.

            The patterns here are that you are in denial of widely recognized problems, because you don’t believe they exist in your experience. This doesn’t actually mean the problems don’t exist, but it does mean they are almost certainly not happening to you.

            That just means that you have a lack of awareness of the problems.

            This isn’t “dodging the issue” or “name calling”. Nor do any of the “points” you raise really have any relevance. You claim things like “racism doesn’t exist where I live”, which doesn’t deserve addressing because it’s farcical, but also impossible because I don’t live where you live. Nor do I even know where it is. But since the problem is pervasive globally it’s not a stretch to just ignore your claims as wrong.

          • BAshment says:

            I have never said racism is not prevalent. I think you are the one who misunderstands.

            When i say race is irrelevant i’m not saying racism dose not exist. To deny racism existed would be very ignorant.I do think race is irrelevant when talking about video game avatars. I still believe that the majority of people buying games developed by E.A or Activision ect are played by white male Europeans and Americans. The majority of dev’s (that i have seen in interviews or images of) have been white males. I understand your point about the potential market’s of India or Asia. But there is still very large cultural divides between the west and the east. I very much doubt a company is going to go through the rigors of developing new supply chains, hiring marketing teams for foreign regions, supporting a vast array of different languages, competing with existing companys with a hold on the local market and many other important factors. As for the western games market I think developers and publishers are catering to the majority. Look at the hong kong film industry for instance. Most of the leading stars or han Chinese or at the very least asian. are these films inherently racist?
            I don’t think so.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Comparing actors to game avatars seems fairly disingenuous. Actors are real people, so in an area where a particular race is predominant, the movies there ending up with a majority of people of that race is not racist. A pattern of deliberate exclusion of other races or marginalized and stereotyped characters for minority races might be racist.

            Game avatars aren’t people, so there’s no such restriction. For a game that is trying to tell, for example, a personal story like Gone Home, it is pretty reasonable for a small team of creatives to “write what they know” and have their creation be similar to their own stories, which might mean white people.

            For AAA titles with enormous budgets, there are no such limitations. It might be more profitable to create only white avatars, but it is also racist.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        Shorter: Everyone in games has to be a white dude so RvLeshrac isn’t literally held down and forced to read things that make him think about other people’s experiences of the world, and so white people don’t have to do anything awkward.

        • NathanH says:

          That’s not really a fair reflection of what RvLeshrac said at all.

        • JackShandy says:

          Completely unrelated to what RVLeshac said. They’re saying that, if you include a member of a minority group in your game, people will go through their actions with a fine-toothed comb and decry you as discriminatory over the tiniest of imagined faults

          For example, Deus Ex: HR includes a black homeless woman who talks strangely. In order to get to her you have to walk past black security guards, civilians, terrorists, scientists, prostitutes, doctors, and homeless people that talk normally. But because this one person talked strangely we got high-profile news posts condemning the game as racist. Apparently, it’s racist to imagine that any black homeless person would ever talk strangely.

          Swap that to a white homeless person, and Eidos Montreal would never have had to go through that bad publicity. For a company who cares about public image, the choice is clear.

          Comments like yours are part of a similar issue. When the subject is sexism or racism, anyone who has a different view to yours immediately becomes a Bad Guy, which means it’s fine to argue in bad faith, use straw men and talk over them without listening to what they’re saying.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            Comments like yours are part of a similar issue. When the subject is sexism or racism, anyone who has a different view to yours immediately becomes a Bad Guy,

            Hmm. Not that I’d expect you to follow my comment history – obviously – so I know I’m just asking you to take my word, but this isn’t true for me. There are all sorts of people here I disagree with but have, I think, pretty respectful and productive conversations with. And then there’s the comment we’re referring to here which, after a third reading, still feels like a dismissive apologia or rationalization for what is basically a racist trend. If I misinterpreted RvLeshrac’s intent, and they let me know, I will happily apologize. I was reacting to what came across to me as a distinct Father Knows Best tone. If I’m wrong, I’m happy to be wrong.

          • JackShandy says:

            Let me apologize. Your reply is completely reasonable and surprisingly nice, given that I was just saying you were arguing in bad faith, so I shouldn’t have made assumptions based on a single comment. Obviously I was wrong.

            I can’t say what position RVLeshac was arguing from, but I think what he talks about is a real issue. If a game includes a minority character, everything about them will be closely analyzed and reported on. If it doesn’t, no-one will even mention that lack of representation, because it’s the default stance. A company that cares about PR could easily see this as an issue.

            Obviously you shouldn’t let that stop you, and the examples PopeJamal was using came from Character Creation, where this whole discussion doesn’t really apply.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Oops, the comment that was supposed to go here was:

            @JackShandy: The obvious solution to the problem is to do it *more* so that it’s not such a special event to draw such scrutiny.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Hmm. I guess some people think that having an unchangeable straight white male protagonist is not avoiding the issue, but exacerbating it. In any case I think your logic is flawed, and that people will always celebrate great characters, whoever they are.

      • Premium User Badge

        FhnuZoag says:

        I don’t remember anyone saying that of Lee Everett. Or Jade of BG&E. Or Faith of Mirror’s Edge. Or FemShep of Mass Effect. Or the Persona 3 female main character.

        Why do I feel like you are full of shit?

        • Blinky343 says:

          He found a way to assign the blame for the general lack of diversity in games, on the people who want more diversity in games. It’s breathtaking in a way

    • Eddy9000 says:

      I’d stay away from Morrowind then:
      – Hey, an open world RPG boasting huge amounts of character customisation, I’m sure to be able to make a character that looks like me! Hey I can play a character that looks like me! Oh…the character that looks like me has high strength and low intelligence, representing the kind of ideas that caused people that look like me to be enslaved not so long ago and reflects social attitudes that will reduce my average salary, reduce my quality of life and have been show to put me at greater risk of both mental and physical health problems…

      • Lawful Evil says:

        And You would be wrong. Redguards do not have “low” intelligence, but somewhat “lower” than some other races in the game. And in a fantasy world, having lower intelligence does not necessarily equate to being absolutely disadvantaged. Imperials, I think, also have lower intelligence than, say, High Elves, but they have conquered entire Tamriel, and have ruled it for quite some time.

        It is a fantasy. And yes, I am aware that is somewhat reflects tropes and prejudices common in certain parts of the world.

        • Premium User Badge

          PikaBot says:

          “You’re wrong. Allow me now to describe all the ways in which you are absolutely right.”

      • PopeJamal says:

        I learned to mostly just ignore things like that, but sometimes you just grin and bear it because you want to play an otherwise awesome game. :/

      • faelnor says:

        This is the biggest pile of crock I’ve read all day. Intelligence in the Elder Scrolls lore determines the base amount of Magicka as well as governs all Magicka-related skills (except security), in other words it’s the magical affinity of the character.

        Redguards are a race of cultured, fast-thinking, highly social and refined warriors. If anyone’s considered brutish by the lore it’s the Nords and even then Skyrim showed that there was more to them than stereotypes. Furthermore, Redguards have been shunning magic use for centuries, explaining their low affinity towards it hence lower base intelligence.

        Redguards: I fuckin’ love these guys.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          “Redguards are a race of cultured, fast-thinking, highly social and refined warriors”

          You’d think they’d have more than the minimum in intelligence, wisdom and personality then. I mean if I wanted to present a race as cultured, fast thinking and sociable then I would probably not max all their physical attributes and minimise their mental ones. Just sayin.

          Strength 50
          Intelligence 30
          Willpower 30
          Agility 40
          Speed 40
          Endurance 50
          Personality 30
          Luck 40

          • TCM says:

            In today’s news, RPG characters are defined wholely by their stats, and not by any form of roleplaying, interaction, or design. That’s why Ignus in Planescape is the most erudite and intelligent party member (19 intelligence!), why Morte can’t ever tell you anything useful (Low wisdom!), and why nobody in the world likes Minsc from Baldur’s Gate (crappy charisma!).

    • timethor says:

      A developer may find it a horrible thing that 99% of all heroes are straight white males, but he also knows that straight white males just sell more. Both because a larger part of the audience can identify with them, and because they’re just less likely to be offensive, in the manner that RvLeshrac explained. You can have your straight white male do anything in a game, and no one will care. Have a gay black woman, and suddenly all the coverage of the game will involve the gay black woman, instead of your fancy cover mechanic or your 40000 polygon-gun, or..

      I’m personally very much in favour of character creators. Character-driven stories bore me. But if you have a fixed character, and the race/sexuality/gender of your character isn’t essential to the story, just using a straight white male makes the most business sense. Bit sad, but reality.

      • Premium User Badge

        PikaBot says:

        Note that this is developer’s/publisher’s perception of the market and may not be perfectly contingent with reality, much like toy companys’ insistence that toys of girls will never sell. It’s more ideological than informed.

        And yet another example of why the dominance of AAA titles is toxic to the industry.

        • Deviija says:

          Bingo. It cycles around on itself like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

          Companies make Straight White Men protagonists by the droves, some of these games sell well and become popular, thus Straight White Men protagonists must be a driving selling point! So let’s make more.

          Look throughout the history of gaming at how often minorities have been protagonists of games. By comparison, not a lot at all. A gay protagonist? A black woman protagonist? Practically unheard of. But the moment a company tries to make a game with a non-straight white male protagonist, and the game doesn’t hit ridiculous returns, suddenly the reason to blame the game is to blame it on the protagonist not being a Straight White Man. This is really seen in the realm of women as protagonists. The industry loves (well, less now than it was five years ago) to claim that women protagonists do not move game units. Yet comparatively, the amount of women protagonists to men protagonists is much smaller. So when a game doesn’t sell well or if it isn’t received well, then the old dead horse is pulled out and beaten to the tired tune of ‘women protagonists don’t sell.’

          Thus, a game doesn’t sell well with x minority character, then obviously x minority character is the problem. Rather than, oh, the myriad of bugs that might be part of the game. Or shoddy gameplay. Or horrible dialogue. Or poor world-building and plot. Or the host of other issues that could be the real issue.

          That games with Straight White Men protagonist games have sold well doesn’t mean that they are a key in the selling factor. Their games could simply happen to be great. Gameplay. Worldbuilding. Plot. Innovative mechanics. Certain power fantasy freedoms offered. Any number of reasons why a game could be received well. Doesn’t mean that the Straight White Men protagonists are the main factor in success. Moreover, that there is such a LARGE pool of these kind of protagonists means there are plenty more chances for some to be best selling hits, and to reach critical acclaim and so forth.

          There is no formulaic key here. If minorities were given the same large pool of games to star in, then there’d be plenty of critical success and high selling games in the hit or miss pot as well.

        • timethor says:

          Some of the arguments in favor of diversity don’t help: “I would like to play a character that looks like me”. Understandable, but if some black guys want to play characters that look like them, it’s not such a stretch that some white guys also want to play characters that look like them. And that second group is probably larger.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Please explain how this comment is relevant.

            The context is games where you can explicitly customize your character to suit your desires, choosing their appearance is usually the largest part of this. How is it relevant that there might be more white purchasers than people of other skin tone ranges? Does that make it impossible to include those other options?

            That you aren’t even addressing the context is kind of embarassing.

          • timethor says:

            It’s still relevant for games with limited character choices (if there are only 3 premade characters, having a skinny white guy, a bulky white guy, and a white woman, would be immersive for more customers than exchanging any of those characters for a black guy).

            For western-made games with relatively free character creation, having the ability to make a black guy seems a bit of a no-bainer, and to be honest I can’t think of any games that I played that didn’t include the option. I’m sure they exist, but the original post made it sound like there is an avalanche of games where you’re looking at a character creator with 513 facial styles for white guys and none for black guys. That’s something I don’t recognize.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            In a significant number of MMOs, the darkest skin tone I could select is a mild tan.

            There have been a number of discussions of this trend on other genres I don’t actually play on this very website.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      Thank you for posting this.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      My opinion? Beautifully argued, and the kind of thing more developers should have printed out and stuck up on their cubicle walls. It’s just that I didn’t see either of the two linked articles specifically dealing with that side of the issue at all.

    • Serenegoose says:

      This is such a good post. Thanks for making it.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Great post, thank you. I’d like to add that, although I am a white, (mostly) straight male and so have no idea what it’s like for marginalised people, I do still feel routinely insulted by the lack of diversity in games. I am still, after all, a human being.

      Edit: I think.

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      That really is a beautiful piece and I can see why you’re getting alienated. And I’m for more diverese casts in gaming. Black or Asian or even just not freaking American (British is a type of American) for once. I have absolutely no issues with female protagonists as long as they aren’t Kickass Female Heroines or written by Rhianna Pratchett or wearing goggles.

      I’d actually really like another No One Lives Forever.

      But I’m going to admit something horrible.

      I’m kinda becoming one of those angry white guys

      Hrm.

      Okay.

      Dragon’s Crown. It’s not a game I’m particuarly interested in buying or anything, but it was a game with an art style slightly beyond what’s regarded conventional and it’s not really my thing, to be honest.

      But the attacks on it kinda moved into an area I’m not comfortable with. They kind of moved, like that awful goddamn problematic media article, to a place where there’s this idea that Everything Must Be Acceptable And Inclusive of Everyone. That if you stray outside this zone, if you include Quirk outside the designated Indy Quirk Zone or do something that may be vaguely offensive to someone, you are Worse than Hitler.

      Now, I also realise that complaining about It Must Be Acceptable to Everyone means that I’m by default going to favour gamings white male default and it’s kinda shitty. But by that same token., it’s also a concept that ruins gaming as a whole. It limits the stories we can tell and the sort of games we can make and kills anything but the Mannered Wacky of something like Saints Row III or Self Concious Quirky Indie Puzzle Platformer #3648 (The little girl you are playing was dead all along and also symbolised high school alienation) or Twine.

      Fucking Twine.

      Now I realise you probably don’t hold those views I’m complaining about and I almost certainly a shitty person for reacting to them with irritation because they’re coming from a decent place. But lately, yes, I have been having the urge to tell people complaining to maybe use a bit less of a wide brush because sometimes those legitimate concerns do turn into awful social justice kid pablum.

      So, I’d like to apologise to you because, really, it isn’t at all fair and you shouldn’t be alienated from a hobby you love.

      • dE says:

        It’s something folks around here don’t like to read: That there are almost always more than two sides to an issue and nothing can really be divided into friend or foe with no inbetween. It’s also the reason discussions about this quickly spiral into ad hominem territory.
        Let’s just say I’ve received a lot of flak and ended up on a lot of blocklists for occasionally disagreeing with aspects from both sides at the same time, which makes me, according to RPS Feedback, a mysoginistic radical feminist nazi.

        It’s this extreme point of view on things that has folks rallying for a full on confrontation. One that is entirely pointless and counter-productive. Making enemies out of neutral people doesn’t solve problems.

    • malkav11 says:

      I can definitely understand wanting a more diverse cast (and more diverse options in character customization) in games. There’s really no downside as far as I’m concerned. But I personally wouldn’t want to play myself in most games. Escapism, to me, is at least in part about exploring what it’s like to be someone other than me, ideally in a context other than mine.

    • faelnor says:

      I sympathize with your plea. I think you tackle two different issues:

      1. Character customisation
      While I think that, historically, there have been interesting experiments about customisation of the main characters when their appearance didn’t matter to the plot (Deus Ex comes to mind), ultimately we’re bound to see customisation not as widespread as we’d like to see it. Sure, if immersive escapism is a huge part of the interest of the game –which it is less and less nowadays– as a developer you’ll make the main character as customisable as possible, as seen in many RPGs, or as transparent as possible. But if it’s not the core of the game, you’re spending time and money on things which are not essential. Today, all character dialogue is spoken and even motion capture is becoming so detailed that you can tell whether it was done with a man, a woman, an african, an asian, etc. As much as I’d like them to do it, studios are not often going to offer customisation and do everything multiple times for economic reasons, so most games will continue being fixed-character.

      2. Lack of varied characters (sex, race, behaviour traits) in fixed-character games
      But having a non-custom character doesn’t mean they can’t be black, right? Well, to put politely, fuck no it doesn’t. And that’s the main issue I have with industry games regarding sex and race in general. 10 years ago, I expected games in 2013 to show an explosion of colors, women and interesting character traits in the player’s avatars but we’re not quite there yet. We need more character diversity in mainstream games, we need more Lara Crofts, more Lee Everetts. more Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, more Jade/Shauni. If there’s one thing video game social justice blogs can be useful at, it’s making publishers feel guilty for pressuring developers into resorting to white males (which I suppose they sometimes do) as well opening devs’ eyes to the diversity out there.

      Hang on just a bit more, I think that diversity is coming.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Just want to add my 2p worth: I worked in the industry for a long time and I was a lead in a game in which the designers had chosen a black character.

      I distinctly remember a meeting where a screen of 20 or so black actresses were shown of various shades and the question was posed, which shade shall we attempt. Various ones were immediately eliminated for technical rendering reasons – our engine could not render shiny things, including the shine on certain skin which is apparently crucial to making it look natural. Cut a long story short, you won’t be surprised to learn we settled on the palest skin tone available, something akin to Lewis Hamilton.

      Here’s the thing though – that room was filled with people of all colours and creeds – I would say, at a guess, the best representative race was Japanese with a full half of all leads being from there, but even they were not uniformly the same colour. We didn’t settle on that skin tone because we were being racist, nor did we settle on that skin tone because it represented us or the majority of us. We chose it because we had access to sales data which demonstrated that this skin tone would sell the best. The vast majority of us had pushed for a much darker tone, Janet Hubert as I remember but the guy who had been tasked with working out how the tone would affect sales made a very convincing fact based argument.

      Should we have taken a stand? No. It was our jobs to make a game which would sell as many copies as humanly possible. We had investors who needed a return on their money, teams of colleagues and friends to whom the success of our game meant their job security. This is capitalism and I agree that it sucks that our artistic vision was affected by the need to make profit but at the same time, our game, and the industry in general is only acting as a mirror. The game would only sell with a paler skin tone because of the racism in society. I apologise for this, now, to you but hopefully you understand my position. For my part, I am incredibly grateful to you for putting up with the games I and my contemporaries have made and having fun with them regardless.

    • Fluka says:

      Thank you for posting this. RPS, I love you, and you’ve exposed me to so many wonderful parts of PC gaming. But the comments here have made me feel unwelcome on more than one occasion.

    • Deviija says:

      It is a very good piece! Thank you for it. I completely empathize with where you are coming from.

      In fact, I touched on some of what you did in my post the other day, on the RPS article for Wasteland 2 and how it’ll handle discrimination and prejudice and so forth. As I said there, as a multiple minority myself, I really don’t come to games to be reminded of how Othered I am in the real world. I want to come to games to play them for the same reason non-marginalized people do: for escapism and enjoyment. Why does me not wanting to feel excluded or erased or otherwise revilved in-game somehow ‘ruin’ games? Why does diversity and wanting more heroes and protagonists to be something other than grizzled brunette white straight men mean that ‘everything is too PC and it is ruining everything?’ (I’m still amused how ‘politically correct’ has come to be known as such a negative thing. Respecting those other than the majority and their position is somehow negative. I see.) Sometimes it can get really exasperating in comments sections.

      But I’m here with you, and there are many others that feel the same way out there in the lanscape too. :)

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        PikaBot says:

        Of course the opposing argument to that is that construction of worlds without racism and other unpleasant realities are just papering over the ugly reality, and making it seem like racism is solved when in fact there’s always more work to do.

        It may seem that you can’t win: include racism and some people will be upset about it. Exclude it, and other people will be upset about that. And the reality is that no game can please everyone, because everyone wants different things out of it. Minorities aren’t monolithic, and some members of it want representation of their daily life while others want escape from it.

    • Leb says:

      You have my thumbs up OP

      The only time I – an arab ethnicity & muslim gamer – can decide to play someone resembling myself it comes down to me picking the OPFOR/terrorist side in my manshoots

      Thus, back to Trouble in Terrorist town I go!

      • I Got Pineapples says:

        To be fair, there’s a middle eastern game scene that exists and they have put out a fair few games with Arab and Persian protagonists.

        On the other hand, they don’t tend to be…good.

      • lordcooper says:

        Prince of Persia?

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          maninahat says:

          The Prince of Persia is neither Arabic or Muslim.

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            jrodman says:

            Does the game tell us? Or you mean if we know our history and geography (ethnogeography?)

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            Harlander says:

            If the protagonist is the titular Prince, a naive reading would suggest he’s Persian, and most likely a Muslim, or a Zoroastrian depending on when the games are set.

            It’s really a sort of ‘fantasy Persia’, though, and the series probably doesn’t mention religion much..

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        Malibu Stacey says:

        Try Crusader Kings 2 maybe?

    • Faxanadu says:

      So you can’t be immersed, because of your characters skin color?

      Damn, that’s too bad. I wish you were like me, who doesn’t care about skin color.

      Well, that was mean. Putting that aside, as someone already mentioned, all the attention this gets is doing more harm than good. If we’d just do something when someone does something racist, and leave it at that, I’m CERTAIN we’d be rid of this problem faster. But if we demonize everyone and everything it just ends up hurting and prolonging all the more. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel this is the kind of problem that solves itself slowly. You can’t rush it, I think.

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        jrodman says:

        “Don’t push for things you believe in, just know your place and wait.”

        That might not be what you meant but it’s how I read the comment.

        • Faxanadu says:

          You read it right, except the wording you used was self-centered. A more correct form would be:
          “Don’t push things you believe in UNTO OTHERS, just know your place and wait.”

          Making others think the way you do is HARD, and if you blame them for not thinking the way you do, they can easily turn against you. If the way you try to turn them, is by massive demonizing in the media and witch hunts, …you will have a slim chance of success, I feel.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Huh? How is that not just being perversely defensive?

            Working for change has to be working for change, or it is pointless. Unless you mean by posting his or her viewpoint he was attempting to *control* your viewpoint, which is paranoid.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            “know your place and wait”

            Ah yes, the professional wrestling school of social change.

            I might never understand people who experience others simply sharing their experiences as a form of attack. Or people who think that someone else’s well-being would somehow be a threat to theirs.

          • Faxanadu says:

            What the hell? No of course I’m not talking about his post. I’m talking about the overkill that easily happens with this issue in general, media etc. About how easily people BLAME.

            Same answer to Gunner. Please read more carefully. >_<

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            jrodman says:

            Not only did I read your post carefully, I specifically asked you what you meant because it sounded so implausible. Then you confirmed it.

            I don’t think this is a good point to complain about other people reading uncarefully.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        “Damn, that’s too bad. I wish you were like me, who doesn’t care about skin color.”

        Probably because you’ve never actually had to.

        When people say things like that they think they are saying “Look how great I am,” but they’re usually really saying “Look how ignorant society has allowed me to be.” The unwritten message here, intended or not, is: “Hey, person who’s probably had to deal with racism and white supremacy their whole lives, stop thinking about skin colour! Even though almost everyone around you is still going to be thinking about yours. Just be more like me! You know – white.”

        • Faxanadu says:

          Yeah, or, maybe, just MAYBE, I live in an environment where nobody gives a damn about skin color and before all this blooming racism witch-hunt I never looked twice at a black guy, or a fat guy, or a chinese guy.

          But no, that’s impossible, not without a great fight against racism and forcing people to understand the great WRONG that is ever present!

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            jrodman says:

            Racism is everywhere. I’m racist. You’re racist. You’re not getting out of this life alive without getting some on you.

            The best defense is to be aware, recognize, and takes steps to mitigate, reduce, defuse. Denial is just avoiding it.

          • Faxanadu says:

            “Racism is everywhere. I’m racist. You’re racist. ”

            Exactly the overkill I was talking about. Thank you for proving my point, you’re part of the problem, not the solution. I’m done here.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            I’m not sure what happened in your mind there. There’s nothing even close to “overkill” going on. Racism isn’t some fantasy boogeyman that we accuse people of in order to burn them. It’s a real problem that goes on all the time and affects all of us. You’re just very strongly in denial about the reality, which makes you a much larger contributor to the problem.

    • Damien Stark says:

      Great comment, I’m glad you posted it, and I agree with about 90% of it while respectfully disagreeing about a key point.

      “Awwwww. That sucks. There’s no characters that look like me. Oh well. … So after realizing this, I had no choice but to come to the conclusion that I was not important as a customer…”

      I personally do not play games to have “a character that looks like me”. I’m default-cisgender-white-male-guy, but I’d rather play as Samus or Lara Croft or Jade or FemShep, given the choice. Even when not given that choice, to say that Kratos or Nathan Drake or Geralt of Rivia “looks like me” just because they’re white would also be dismissively racist.

      Of course, you are welcome to rebut that “that may be how/why *you* play games, but I *do* want to play someone who looks like me.” Fair point indeed, but just because that gameplay urge isn’t being served does not imply that “you are not important as a customer”. It isn’t a sign of disinterest or disrespect towards men that Super Metroid doesn’t let you replace the character with a man. Featuring specific fixed protagonists has been a common trait of books, movies, and video games for a long time, and as someone who opens with a plea for empathy, I would think you’d be able to enjoy media featuring protagonists different than you.

      The diversity of those fixed protagonists is certainly lacking, for a wide range of reasons, most of which I’d argue aren’t actually racist or even negative and close-minded. So I wouldn’t actively complain that Uncharted/Deus Ex/Dishonored are being racist or exclusive, but I do think it’s worth celebrating games like Walking Dead which make an effort to present diverse and sympathetic characters, including the protagonist. I for one would be thrilled to see more of that.

      Now, when it comes to games like Mass Effect or Saints Row, which explicitly allow you to build a custom character, if they don’t include black, asian, hispanic options, that seems pretty objectionable to me. It is some defense to say that adding options adds development time and cost, but not much of one. Clearly time is being spent to add options, so the absence of race as one of those options would be a clear expression of its low priority…

      Lastly, we are fully in agreement that the tone of Internet forums has far too much STFU and GTFO, and that anyone who actually complains about the existence of black or female protagonists is… well let’s just say “negatively impacting the discussion” (since I just said we shouldn use “STFU and GTFO”).

  21. Furius says:

    Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are literally my fav band ever. I love all their stuff. But I’ve never got Red Right Hand. Its dead boring and too long. Its even on my one of my favourite bad Seeds albums. I get unsuitably annoyhed cos it’s always the song that people bring up when talking about the Bad Seeds. If you want a song about a mad murderer listen to Song of Joy, O’Malley’s Bar, or basically anything off of Murder Ballads. Or just listen to Henry’s Dream, Let Love In (apart from RRH), or bloody No More Shall We Part aka the best album ever produvced.
    Also, PC games are ace.