The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on October 20th, 2013 at 10:53 am.


Sundays are for watching as cosmic symbols align, allowing you to perform the ritual which will invoke the universe’s superbeing. Also: reading about videogames.

  • The Man You’ve Killed The Most: “It was vocally stressful, but I just ploughed through the full four hours of screaming and killing and getting set on fire… going absolutely mad, and there was so much joy in it that my voice held out. I felt a lot more relaxed when I got out of that session.”
  • On Jedi Knight 2: “Every battle is completely unique. Some fights are hilariously brief, as a cocksure Reborn runs directly onto the point of your lightsaber, or mis-times a jump and plummets down a chasm. Others are epic struggles as your opponent matches you blow-for-blow, sabers crackling furiously as they clash over and over. Such fights are often interspersed with tense stand-offs in which the Reborn sheathes his saber and goads you into attacking. When one of you finally succumbs, you either punch the air at a well earned victory, or giddily reload to the point before the battle, wondering how it will play out this time. There’s no better indication of a successfully designed game than when losing is fun.”
  • The Guardian talks to CCP about Valkyrie: “We were much more interested in creating a playground, which would be self-reinforcing. But it became much bigger and has lived on for much longer than we ever thought, or even dared think. Now when we look at it, and think of the fundamentals of it, EVE in all its forms is going to outlive us all.”
  • US Gamer’s Cassandra Khaw talks about life with a former gangster father, in light of a similar character in GTAV: “Retirement for the average Joe tends to be a time for introspection, a space of years dotted with nostalgia and the brandishing of memory-tinted photographs. But it’s different for people like my Dad. The idea that anyone with a less-than-legal background would be forthcoming about their pasts is largely a Hollywood construct.”
  • Gamasutra’s article on Road Not Taken is worth a read: “I tend to think of the experiences of games as a probabilistic envelope of outcomes. Have you seen a pachinko machine?”
  • The Washington Post on a legal battle involving Mario fandom: “The gaming industry’s greatest loss from long copyright terms is the way they impoverish new video games. We only have to think of “Cinderella,” “Apocalypse Now” and the many film adaptations of “Romeo and Juliet” to see how new culture is often built on cultural innovations that came before it. Nintendo, of course, still creates new games in the Mario Brothers franchise. But in a better copyright regime, we could have lots of people creating clones, sequels and re-interpretations of “Super Mario Brothers.” Other classic video games of the 1980s, such as “Donkey Kong,” “Pac Man” and “Galaga” are ripe for the same treatment. But copyright law stands in the way.”
  • Tommy Refenes on the Steam controller: “One drawback to undefined physical buttons is that your thumbs need tactile contact in order to accurately know what button you are pressing. As the engineers and I were talking about this, the idea of little nubs being on the controller that would be noticeable enough where your thumbs would find them, but not so abrasive that the circle pads couldn’t comfortably used in mouse / trackpad mode came about. They had been thought of prior to my being there, but weren’t on the controller I was using. I expressed that they needed to be put in. They might show up in some form after my feedback…so…you’re welcome Valve / Valve customers.”
  • Carmack and others at Nvidia’s recent conference, contains Carmack’s comments on SteamOS.
  • Australian researchers on the positive effects of games: ”As a society we say it’s OK for children to play contact sports which can be very aggressive and inflict real pain but at the same time worry about the impact of violent video games,” he said. ”I’m not sure we should be so concerned about violent video games when there are a number of other activities which could be just as bad.”
  • I rather enjoyed this:
  • Music this week is by RPS chum Forces Of Good.

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    159 Comments »

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    1. KDR_11k says:

      Don’t really agree with the WaPo on copyright being an issue for old games, while the core of a story is copyrightable the same does not go for a game, the core game principles are not covered by copyright so you can make your own version and it’s happening all the time. You don’t need Mario to make a game that has the essentials of Mario.

      • SominiTheCommenter says:

        “But in a better copyright regime, we could have lots of people creating clones, sequels and re-interpretations of “Super Mario Brothers.”
        I totally agree with you, if anything there are too many clones and reinterpretations of Super Mario, and not enough of Looking Glass Games.

        • Grape Flavor says:

          Yeah, am I alone in feeling that this would not be “better” at all? I know it’s very fashionable to tear down copyright as being a solely bad thing, but I’d rather live in a society where holders retain the right to their IPs if they are still actively using them. Maybe I’m biased as a Nintendo fan, but I don’t want a world in which anybody is allowed to make a Mario game. (Commercially, I mean, not user generated content.)

          Copyright was invented for good reasons and while it should be open to reform, I firmly believe abolition is not the answer. It may seem to be “progressive” to just throw out willy-nilly every law that grants rights and protections to businesses but if those laws are for the overall good of society then it just isn’t justifiable to abolish them.

      • B1A4 says:

        But what about other side of this?

        That you want Mario, and Mario only, because of what he represents to people, and put him in new setting/gameplay.

        You want to show well known character reacting to new problems. Something like new (BBC) Sherlock.

        It’s not only abou cloning mario in traditional mario gameplay. It’s more than that.

        • GameCat says:

          Yeah, look at Braid. It’s basically a Mario game (princess, castles, pipes, “goombas” etc.) with HD graphics time-shifting gimmick and more detailed plot.

          PS. I don’t think that we need another excuse for indie devs for making another oldschool platformer.
          PS2. On other hand I hate copyrights that will be removed only years after creator/company death.
          PSP. Copyrights are also bad for perserving games for future generations (we’ve already partially lost some games with online features like Resident Evil: Outbreak where Capcom closed servers) although in case of Nintendo they’re doing great job to make sure people have access to their Famicom/NES/SNES/N64 era titles on modern gear.
          PS3. I hate “old classic movie/game reimagined ‘to fit modern times’/’as first person shooter’.” :x

      • Frank says:

        Yeah, I don’t think their expert knows what he’s talking about. The copyrighting of game mechanics was tested in court (by Spry Fox), and you have to literally clone the game, down to how points are rewarded and things are displayed on the screen.

        Also, there are tons of Mario clones. They would be even worse if they actually had Mario and company in them. Maybe there is a case for loosening copyright in games, but I doubt it and this has got to be the worst example of a case where it would lead to improvement in cultural output.

        And the copyright on the code itself (which they argue should be free in emulators)… I’m totally fine with that lasting longer than 28 years. If we’re talking about shortening US copyright for film or literature, then I’m with ya, but game IP? Yeah, they can keep that to themselves.

        • Shuck says:

          Yeah, clones are a well-tested part of video games, from the start: for ever Pac-Man you had a dozen Hangly-Men. That icon (Mario) may be important for selling games, but in terms of recreating and riffing on what’s important about a game, it’s of relatively little importance. Of course, given the absurdly long copyright terms (and absurdly short commercial lifespans of games), preservation has already been an issue. There’s a reason why the industry tends to be very, very relaxed about copyright issues and ROM emulations – they’re well past any commercial viability but the industry benefits from people remembering older games (that they own the copyright to and can make new games in the series).

      • Moraven says:

        You call Rayman a reinterpretation. Side scrolling platforming with jumping and bouncing off objects and enemies. And its great.

        Tim Lee usually has well written articles but this just seems a bit of a overstep and just seeking attention. There are new Romeo and Juliet, which are really only the same in name and similar premise. Do we really want Super Mario Bros by Konami or Super Mario Bros by EA? If we did that it would devalue Nintendo’s IP by a lot since they are constantly create new games with the IP and updating the gameplay every release.

        There a lot of new Cinderella stories, but none take the name.

        • Moraven says:

          If everyone came out with their own Mario the value is rather diluted and Nintendo would lose money on future releases selling fewer.

          Something like this that is essentially a port and adds a editor probably will not be damaging. But Nintendo has to protect their copyright and IP and I doubt the creator was not worried about getting permission. He knew it would get shut down since Nintendo tends to be a bit late to the internet content party and pissing off fans.

          Even if Super Mario Bros fell into the public domain, what does that mean? Nintendo still creates game with the IP but that newer games are not public domain. Just seems silly they would lose control and value on something that they still heavily invest in.

          • SominiTheCommenter says:

            Nintendo doesn’t really needs help with that.

            • Moraven says:

              Lose value? They have done great with their Mario.

              New Super Mario Bros Wii – 28 million copies sold. (of 100million consoles)
              Galaxy 11.7 and 6.3 million sold.

              New Super Mario Bros Wii U – 2.15 million sold (of 14.4 million consoles sold as of June 30th) While not as good as of an attach rate, their games tend to gave long tails on sales.

              DS version sold 30 mill. 8.5 and 6.5 mil for the two 3DS games.

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            RobF says:

            “If everyone came out with their own Mario the value is rather diluted and Nintendo would lose money on future releases selling fewer.”

            Right, but after nearly 30 years I think that’s sort of OK and that they can move on to other things if they’re that bothered.

            I’m not really convinced it’s societies job to prop up a corporations profits forever and a day, y’know?

            • Moraven says:

              People have already done it is the thing. Are people that unoriginal that they need to create “Super Mario Bros, the NES Version with 35 new custom levels” and make money off it? People already make their own new platformers. Super Meat Boy is compared to Mario the Lost Levels.

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              RobF says:

              Well, why not? Aside from the whole copyright thing obviously but really, why not?

            • Stromko says:

              It provides no benefit. People that want to play a Mario game want to play a Mario game made by Nintendo, they are so keen that it have the same qualities and production values that even Nintendo takes flak when they don’t get it quite right. Having more games on the shelves with Mario in it would simply confuse the consumer.

              If copyright law allowed anyone to just take a character and namesake and put it in their product, consumers and content creators all lose. For a time, companies that want to make more money by using a well-known character without paying the original creators or their rights-holders would make a greater profit, but they would quickly kill their golden goose as consumers catch on or become cynical.

              There are cases where exclusivity deals make the industry worse off, like EA getting the rights to certain professional sporting leagues, but professional sports are incredibly corrupt and dominated by monopolistic concerns so that’s par for the course really. Sad that it deprives videogame fans of engaging in pseudo-professional sports that aren’t rigged, but welp. :P

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              RobF says:

              We’re talking after a reasonable amount of time for the original authors/creators to profit from here, say 28 years of whatever.

              So no benefits? There’s the legal preservation one, that’s pretty strong because at the moment we have to rely on piracy and that’s saddening. We get more stuff in the public domain to access. So libraries of these old games could be available for people to play under emulation if necessary. That’d be fairly beneficial, no? The ability to freely share these old games between us and learn from them for free.

              And people could be free to expand on them. You say people only want Mario by Nintendo? Well, that’s OK. They can still have Mario by Nintendo but if someone wanted to expand upon the world or characters built in the game they now could and maybe they could make something else Mario people would want. Given the popularity of (illegal) ROM hacks, given how many people write their own fan games -clearly- there’s a reasonable amount of people who would benefit from being able to do this legally and an amount of people who would benefit from being able to play these things legally too.

              Consumer confusion? After near 30 years? I think they’ll manage. The consumer can cope with Stephen Moffat’s Sherlock not being by Arthur Conan Doyle, can cope with series of books not by the original author, remixes with book title+zombies and all manner of other things without throwing themselves into the sea because they just cannot cope with more than one person making a thing.

              But let’s put Mario to one side anyway, let’s forget about him and think about all the other thousands of lesser known games that are sitting there in companies vaults, the original authors no longer able to profit from them, no longer able to benefit from their own works, people no longer allowed to play them legally, games that aren’t continually supported by new iterations and maybe haven’t had -any- new iterations. They get set free and within a lifetime too under a more sane regime.

              Like how we deal with older music that falls into the public domain, you see labels springing up dedicated to rereleasing stuff. Sure, some just slap a badly photoshopped cover together and throw them out untouched and unloved for money but you also get labels dedicated to restoring them to the best of their ability and ensuring they’re accessible on modern technology.

              So there’s commercial benefit there too. Maybe it’s in special editions, beautiful hard copies or just tatty old compilations with 50 games on to run through. All things we can’t have whilst games sit in the vaults of companies who have no need to know what IP they own in the main because who cares? They’ll keep fighting for extensions so they never have to worry about this stuff.

              So no, I don’t buy the “no benefits” thing. There’s just a few I can think of off the top of my head that trump a corporations right to sit on these things for as good as forever and ever and ever in my book.

            • LionsPhil says:

              Hear bloody hear.

            • frightlever says:

              “Like how we deal with older music that falls into the public domain, you see labels springing up dedicated to re-releasing stuff.”

              In the US the public domain music is prior to 1922 and in the UK it’s somewhere around the 1940s I think. I would be shocked if eg “The Beatles” ever fell out of copyright in the UK so you can reliably expect copyright terms to get extended ad infinitum in much the same way that Disney will never allow “Steamboat Willy” to fall out of copyright. You might even see a radical overhaul of the concept of copyright that strengthens corporate control of their creations and removes the threat of ever opening their cultural works to the public domain.

      • Baines says:

        Patent law is what cripples game design, not copyright.

        Not being allowed to use Mario doesn’t stop you from making a Mario-like game. And plenty of people make Mario games anyway. Nintendo usually doesn’t go after you unless you are trying to make money from a Mario game.

        It is patent law that stops people from making a game like Crazy Taxi. It is patent law which set back training modes in fighting games. It is patent law that let Atari, whenever it needed money years afterwards, go around to companies like Nintendo and say “You owe us X dollars for infringing on this list of Atari 2600-era patents that are industry standards now.”

        • LionsPhil says:

          Did I miss the part where game mechanics suddenly became patentable?

          Now, software, yes. And that’s hateful.

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            RobF says:

            There’s quite a number of game patents that are troubling, yuss.

            From playable games whilst loading that Namco hold despite very clear prior art with C64 stuff to Sega’s over-reach on Crazy Taxi and Midway also holds one (well, many) for ghost cars, it’s got to be quite the minefield out there over the past 20 years.

          • Baines says:

            Unfortunately, yes you did miss it. Software, hardware, and mechanics all form a big lump of patentable items.

            And it is just as idiotic as one would expect.

            Magnavox successfully sued pretty much everyone in the 70s, claiming that various Pong-style video games infringed on their patents. Nintendo challenged the patents in the mid-80s, citing Tennis for Two as a similar work that preceded even Magnavox’s claims, but Nintendo lost when the court decided that Tennis for Two wasn’t technically a video game. (Tennis for Two was played on an oscilloscope. It is arguably considered the first Pong/Tennis video game, with of course the hang-up being over whether it is a video game at all.)

            RobF covered the Crazy Taxi reference I made. As for training modes in fighting games, I was referring to Namco’s Tekken training mode patents.

            There are plenty of others. Square patented the sphere grid system in Final Fantasy X. Namco patented playing Edge Master mode in Soul Edge to get new weapons. Mass Effect’s dialogue wheel is also patented.

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      dangermouse76 says:

      Sundays are for making slow roasted Pork Char Siu drinking white wine and hoping they patch GFWL out of GTA IV.
      Edit : And listening to KLF Chillout

      Update: Pork Char Siu cooked for 5 hours low heat is amazing.

      • Notebooked says:

        Sundays are for cocoa, rain, and the cozy crackle of a nearby arson.

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        c-Row says:

        As the former webmaster of KLF Online I salute your great taste, Sir.

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        Gap Gen says:

        Sundays are for having a shitty head cold in possibly the wrong city.

      • edwardoka says:

        Sundays are for walking a big blonde idiot of a dog on the hills around Argyll Forest Park on a soggy day, and then taking him down to Loch Eck for a swim.

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        tigerfort says:

        Sundays are for… wait, it’s Sunday already?

      • Lemming says:

        Sundays are for going for a pub lunch before starting the evening shift.

      • Trespasser in the Stereo Field says:

        Sundays are for wondering if I should finish that last mission in GTA IV, you know that one where you’re supposed to press the jump button repeatedly to get into the helicopter but the game instead switches camera angles neurotically, dumps you in the ocean, and says “mission over.”

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          dangermouse76 says:

          For me the ending of GTA IV was a bit deflating. The wrap up I think was intentionally a dull so carry on kind of feel. A comment on expecting a “payoff”. I was left thinking oh is that it. I didn’t feel that connected to the story ( and characters ) by the end though.
          It could also be that they just got the pacing wrong for the narrative, something they have made a lot more like a series of gear changes in the new one.

          • Trespasser in the Stereo Field says:

            I agree about the story losing steam. I guess that’s why I’m not all that interested in suffering through that last mission and the god-awful hell-spawned checkpoint system again to complete the game. Niko did provide me hours of good laughs though, and I like his character. But the story just seemed to get weighed down with too many characters and too many revenge missions. Most of the time I found myself asking, “Who wants who killed why with the heroin whatnow? Eh, I’ll just follow the captions…”

          • I Got Pineapples says:

            I think the issue, and GTA V’s last mission suffers from the same thing to a certain degree, is that the story has kind of already reached it’s climax before you get to the last mission. It comes across like you’re just kind of mopping things up, no matter how exciting they try to make it.

            San Andreas, on the other hand, did a great job on ending itself at the final mission.

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              dangermouse76 says:

              GTA San Andreas spoiler !!!!!!

              I left the burning building in that last mission with my health bar flashing and no armour left. And survived the chase after, brilliant ending to the game. Plus the scene up in the house in the hills at the end was a great wrap up to the game. Even though it was a long game and I did get bored, I stuck with the characters and saw it through in around a month.
              Vice city still rules though, although that may be nostalgia.

      • SomeDuder says:

        Sundays are for getting totally raging mad at Dark Souls’ Ornstein & Smough NG+ bossfight.

        Fuck sundays.

      • jonahcutter says:

        Sundays are for taking your bike through the twisties in the early morn.

        Then an afternoon of FTL/Incognita/Don’t Starve/XCOM/Space Hulk or some other game that can be played while you listen to your sport of choice on a stream.

      • The Random One says:

        Daylight Saving Time started today here in Brazil.

        So I don’t know what this Sunday is for, but I’d need at least one more hour to accomplish it.

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      AlwaysRight says:

      Was expecting Tim Hecker – Virgins to be music of the week.

      Also: Jedi Knight 2 was a great game, can’t believe it’s not talked about more often.

      • Drake Sigar says:

        Nice to see a focus on the single-player this time. I still complete it again every year, even after my first copy exploded in the CD drive.

      • empty_other says:

        Can’t believe they havent made a sequel yet. Or any Star Wars game with the same type of lightsaber battles.

      • rockman29 says:

        That was by far my favourite article of the week.

        I always have that game installed on my PC actually, such a small use of space for such an incredible Star Wars game.

        IMO it’s still the best Star Wars game to date.

      • LionsPhil says:

        That it were; up there with Republic Commando for “really, really good Star Wars games”.

      • bill says:

        It isn’t talked about because it was a rushed, Highly mediocre Fps that was one of the games that signaled the end of decent Lucasarts games.
        Also because it was a sequel to Jedi Knight – one of the best FPS ever made. (and possibly the last great game Lucasarts made? Although I guess that honour might go to mysteries of the sith? )
        God I remember being so disappointed by jk2. Tiny dull levels, crappy weapons, terrible main bad guy, awful story, no star wars vibe at all, less interesting force powers, Kyle & Jan romance (shudder).
        I mean, Raven have always been slightly above average developers for hire, and the suits at Lucasarts only gave them a year to crank it out, so it’s not surprising it came out more like Elite Force 2 than Jk2.

        The reborn saber fights were pretty good though, which I guess is why it’s more remembered for multiplayer. I can imagine that was better. Unfortunately I never played the multiplayer so I only have memories of boredom and disappointment.

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          Vandelay says:

          Although I agree partly with what you say, it was very well regarded at the time and still gets many people with fond memories piping up whenever it is mentioned. It does become a great game once they ditch the notion that you are going to want to use any of the weapons that aren’t a lightsaber. Unfortunately, that isn’t until after the first 3 to 4 hours of the game. By around Cloud City it becomes very enjoyable though.

          Doesn’t compare well to the first Jedi Knight though, which was a magnificent game.

          As for sequels, it did get Jedi Academy, which suffers from pretty much the same problems, but I personally found it more enjoyable. I imagine the Force Unleashed games were intended to be a spiritual successors, but I tried playing the first recently and only managed to put about 30 minutes into it. Absolutely abysmal controls and really awful level design made it barely playable. They also some how made playing as Darth Vadar in the opening level to be one of the most humdrum experiences imaginable.

        • BirdsUseStars says:

          The way you do it is you cheat to turn up the lightsaber damage to maximum, and then you turn on dismemberment. Even accidentally brushing your saber against someone will now result in cauterised limbs and torsos flying every which way. This also works for enemy lightsabers against you, so the tension during duels goes up a fair amount. I’ve never played the game any other way.

          • mickygor says:

            Clearly this went to the wrong place, sorry

          • LionsPhil says:

            I remember getting it going in the demo (along with finding I could spawn roomfuls of enemies to dice), but I could never make that cheat work in the retail game. :(

            • Josh W says:

              I played that demo for so long! There was a point where I’d saved up the money I needed for the actual game, but I didn’t get round to it because I was too busy making difficult fights for myself.

          • Muzman says:

            Yes this is the only way to play. They paint the fights as intense normally. Well try it with 1-2 hit death.
            Boy it’s fun.

            Sadly the reborn are a bit too easy to exploit. If you back off far enough they will always throw their saber at you. Which makes it trivial to step out of the way and throw yours back at them and chop their heads off. I always had to restrain myself from doing that.
            The guys with the light saber resistant armour on the other hand are quite the thing. There isn’t that many of them though.

      • Cooper says:

        Bow Nigga: A seminal piece.

        (I like the footnote: “Footnote: Also in the New Games Journalism vein don’t miss Jim Rossignol’s Eve Online piece.”)

    4. LionsPhil says:

      So at what point in that hour-fourty video does Carmack talk about SteamOS, and/or what’s the executive summary?

    5. Rao Dao Zao says:

      Jedi Knight II is more Star Wars than the prequels could ever dream of being. It captured the mood perfectly.

      Episodes 7/8/9 should totally be filmic adaptations of the Dark Forces stuff.

      • bill says:

        I agree with you on 7 and 8, but jk2 always felt too much like Elite Force to me.

        9 should clearly be Mysteries of the sith.

        Besides, if they made a movie version of the Kyle /Jan romance I think I’d be sick.

    6. Dave Tosser says:

      I’m surprised this didn’t make it in here:
      http://tevisthompson.com/on-videogame-reviews/

      It’s Tevis Thompson on video game reviews and Bioshock Infinite. Not a perfect piece, but an engaging and confident one that matches my own feelings. Great pieces this week, though I’ve always been bemused by the love for Outcast. At the time, I thought it was a lot worse than Dark Forces II.

      • Jim Rossignol says:

        I disagreed with too much in the article to post it here. And I say that as someone who does not rate Bioshock Infinite, or the reviews thereof.

        • wild_quinine says:

          I realise the Sunday Papers is your own project of curation, but I don’t personally read it because I agree with the articles. I read it because the articles are (usually) *interesting*, and often I’ve taken debates about their merits off the browser and into a cup of tea with friends.

          This Tevis article is a fantastic conversation piece. There are so many points in there which are incisive and on target that I can’t believe that it’s mere coincidence that I happen to agree with them… on the other hand, I disagree so strongly with other parts that I’m surprised to find myself warm on the article as a whole.

          It’s interesting because in one sense the article is about widening the spectrum of criticism, and it’s interesting to see that done in a polemic article that leaves me feeling so many shades between black and white.

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            RobF says:

            A small wooden penis on the mantelpiece is also a good conversation piece. It doesn’t mean you’d necessarily want to make a feature of it.

          • Niko says:

            Erm, a review which starts with the words “(game title) is the worst game of the year” is kinda off-putting. Compare to Film Crit Hulk’s take on BI – not whether he liked the game or not, but rather the tone of it: http://badassdigest.com/2013/04/03/hulk-vs-devin-vs-bioshock-infinite/

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              RobF says:

              I don’t mind that bit. It’s a bit of a prod and nowt wrong with a provocative statement here and there. Not bad for the worst article I’ve read all year.

              The descent into naval gazing tedious rambling about review scores led me to score the article a 2. Not that you should agree with my scoring. That’s the whole point. Now you see how the system is broken.

              As for the Bioshock critique? A collection of thoughts made far more eloquently, thoughtfully and with more conviction elsewhere. I should probably knock a point off for that but on the other hand, the grey background was nice.

            • The Random One says:

              Yeah, he essentially starts out by making the point “critics” made several months ago, and then making the point that New Games Journalism made years ago. It’s kind of weird how he demands reviewers engage their public as if they were mature regardless of what their actual reaction is while also defending that “we are not ready” for reviews that don’t use a number.

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          deathcakes says:

          I for one would be interested to hear more about your disagreement.

          EDIT: I haven’t played the game in question but have read reviews, and it strikes me that although the points made may not be accurate or well made, they seem to at least merit discussion.

        • honuk says:

          I suppose this is why the sunday papers has become little more than a depository of milquetoast eurogamer and guardian links, sprinkled with occasional innocuous curios. If the feature is deliberately bleached of unendorsed discussion, you might want to note that somewhere at the top. If the writers of this site continually lament the one-tracked idiocy of ninety percent of their readers regarding vaguely political or social issues, they might want to consider what draws those people to them in the first place.

        • AngoraFish says:

          It’s a sad reflection on the failings of the internet, and increasingly on the media generally (Fox News, anyone?), that we cloak ourselves in furious agreement.

          To quote the great Tim Minchin, “A famous bon mot asserts that opinions are like arse-holes, in that everyone has one. There is great wisdom in this… but I would add that opinions differ significantly from arse-holes, in that yours should be constantly and thoroughly examined. We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat.

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        puppybeard says:

        I’ve really enjoyed a lot of the criticism of B:I although I enjoyed the game.

        That particular piece I found unreadable though. Too much attitude I think.

      • rargphlam says:

        The invective tone of the article is honestly what spoils it more than anything, and I would go as far to say that I agree with a good portion of it. I even deeply enjoyed Infinite despite the parts of it that left a sour taste in my mouth.

        If anything could be taken from that particular piece, it would be that reviewers as a whole should discard numerical scoring, and that a confrontational tone will only interest those who are already keen on listening, such a tone will only alienate everyone else.

        • GameCat says:

          Complaining about how everyone else was wrong for saying things about B: Infinite like “10/10 GOTY”, “like Skyrim with salts” and then starting article with “BioShock Infinite is the worst game of the year.” is just ridiculous.

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            AndrewC says:

            How to point out the ridiculousness of the overwhelming majority of the culture, other than to throw the ridiculousness straight in the culture’s face.

            Yes, it’s polemic. That’s the point.

            When a culture, in the main, is horribly skewed in one particular way – with games, it is towards uncritical hype, and a refusal to judge a game on its thematic and narrative content – when you attack the one pointing out that horrible skew – for being ‘ridiculous’ for example – you are endorsing the mainstream view. You are saying the mainstream is, by default, correct.

            That’s culture change for you. It’s messy, and you have to choose a side. Thinking you are not on anyone’s side means you are endorsing the status quo. Tough.

            • dE says:

              Dear Internet Activist. There are always more than two sides. If you choose to proclaim a rigid friend/foe dialectic, you’re painting yourself as an extremist nutjob.

            • Premium User Badge

              AndrewC says:

              You’ve chosen then. All sides are equal. This is the sort of false-equivalency thinking that allows massive majorities to characterise themselves as oppressed.

              Also you should keep calling me names, as this helps you look good to everyone reading.

            • dE says:

              I have not chosen one of two sides. I have chosen a side and it’s not one that seems to be in your spectrum of possibilities. Even in this case, it’s entirely possible to for example disagree with mainstream reviews yet also disagree with what that angry person says.

            • GameCat says:

              Polemic: “I don’t like Bioshock: Infinite because…”
              Ridiculous statement*: “Bioshock: Infinite is the worst game of the year, because…”

              *as bad as everyone giving 10/10 scores.

            • Premium User Badge

              AndrewC says:

              When you criticise the one criticising the status quo, you side with the status quo. That’s how power inequalities work. That’s politics. It’s tough that way. You can certainly pretend you are being all independent, but that is not the effect of your actions.

            • I Got Pineapples says:

              I thought you were trolling but no.

              This is an actual real thing you’ve decided to do.

            • Premium User Badge

              AndrewC says:

              Yes, it really is.

            • I Got Pineapples says:

              I’m not sure you’ve thought this through.

            • Kitsunin says:

              The enemy of your enemy is not, in fact, your friend. Sometimes he may be the lesser of two evils, and under certain circumstances, even worth siding with, but if his views are problematic too, blind agreement devolves debate even further into uselessness.

              Now, having no opinion or refusing to act at all, is siding with the status quo, but refusing to side with the majority party going against the status quo isn’t necessarily, as long as you still do take action.

            • Frank says:

              “When you criticise the one criticising the status quo, you side with the status quo. That’s how power inequalities work.”

              Wow. Okay then, enjoy being blocked by me and anyone else who doesn’t have time for Marxism or whatever bs is guiding your world view. Judging arguments on their merits is the mark of an independent mind.

            • dE says:

              That’s politics.

              No. It really is not. It’s a rhetoric used by politics. Small but rather important difference. It’s a rhetoric meant to incite conflict, silence moral doubts and increase animosities. It goes hand in hand with “Us versus Them” rhetorics.

              This is not how you solve an issue, this is how you start one. Source: Every serious conflict since the dawn of mankind. Also popular scientific essays on conflict resolution. Once you start simplifying a topic to this level, you’ve forgone any hope of solving the issue. At this level, you’re not viewing people as people, but as a homogenous entity they belong to, according to you, and upon which you subject all negativity on. At this level, you’ve succesfully dehumanized not just the polar opposite of your own opinion and identity, but every bit of opinion inbetween.
              Funny you think you’re fighting the good war. Funny in a sad way. For example: The whole sexism thing came into this world because humans started to identify as either male or female and attached negative values. It was no longer Markus arguing with Irene, but some man of the many arguing with some woman of the many. Heck, much of the suffering of the LGBT community comes from stubborn people that use this either/or friend/fore rhetoric to deny the fact, that there are more sides, spaces, views and identities besides strictly male and strictly female. Unless you also want to claim there aren’t…

            • The Random One says:

              “When you criticise the one criticising the status quo, you side with the status quo.”

              What do you do when the status quo uses its power as the status quo to set up a complete imbecile as its opposition, making sure that your side is forever associated with the frivoulous bullshit and complete lack of understanding that said imbecile pushes? Should you not try to separate yourself from said imbecile to make sure your side is still considered valued? Because avoiding criticizing the imbecile is exactly what the status quo hopes you’ll do. Divide an conquer.

          • wild_quinine says:

            Why ridiculous? Isn’t it more ridiculous to assume that everyone in the world finds one specific game to be good on a scale that more or less operates between 9 and 10, than that there might be a handful of people with very, very different opinions? Half the point of the article is about the value of a reviewers own subjective opinion, and then you go out and call him on being *wrong* about his opinion?

            I enjoyed some elements of the Bioshock Infinite story, obviously more than Tevis did, but I did not know what game it was people were raving about when I played it. Tevis condensed into strong polemic some very genuine flaws that I experienced when playing the game – a game that was pretty average, in my opinion, and maybe not even that.

            Even though I wouldn’t have been quite as down on Infinite as he was, I’m reminded of that other universally acclaimed title ‘Dragon Age II’, which I would have rated about that level myself despite little opposition from major gaming sites.

            • Stromko says:

              To give a game the worst possible score because other reviewers gave it the best possible score is not responsible or accurate, at least not unless your desire is to invalidate scoring entirely (a not entirely bad thing but at least be honest about it). Bioshock Infinite is not, objectively, the worst game ever made, therefore to say so is hyperbolic language and nothing more. Hyperbolic is another way of saying untrue, which is a way of saying it’s a lie.

              If I’m caught between two lying reviewers, one who gives a game a trumped-up score to please their advertisers, the other who writes a bunch of words that don’t really have anything to do with the game in question, then their works are useless to me. I can’t properly determine or even estimate how I would enjoy a product from comparing two dishonest accounts, even if they seem to be diametrically opposed.

              Also Dragon Age II was not unanimously popular, from where I’m standing it seemed to be roundly hated by critics. I knew it was an absolutely terrible game from what I was reading and listening to within days of its launch, in fact I didn’t encounter any opinions that said otherwise. I’ve met more people in real life who enthused about that game as though it were worthwhile to play than I’ve seen in gaming magazines and on websites. However, I should note I do not read IGN or Gamespy or GameBros or the numerous other websites that I consider nothing more than sponsored review-mills, and I know some stupid people who like terrible things on occasion.

              If you thought Dragon Age II was good going into it, I should hope you’ve changed your bookmarks since then. That’s all there really is to gain from that, unfortunately.

            • wild_quinine says:

              To give a game the worst possible score because other reviewers gave it the best possible score is not responsible or accurate

              That is one possibility, and I’d agree that it was unnecessarily hyperbolic if so. But there is another way of looking at things. Isn’t is possible that the sum of the flaws of the game reduce this game to being a 2/10 for this reviewer? Isn’t that entirely possible, and can’t we admit that?

              Because I’d like to present the notion that it’s time to stop assuming that a majority of the workload of creating a game being done properly or to standard means that a game is automatically ‘OK at worst’.

              Think of all the movies out there that you’d not find it disagreeable to be rated 1/4, or 2/10 or what have you. Don’t you think the majority of the work of creating them was done competently, or at least to standard? Don’t you think that there are movies where all the acting is passable, but the movie still stinks? Don’t you think there are movies that really only fail on a couple of major points – fewer points than Bioshock Infinite, certainly – which still fail so badly as to be almost impossible to recommend to anyone at all?

              And if so, why is that not allowed for video games? Why the assumption that a 2/10 rating *must* be a reaction?

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            Complaining about how everyone else was wrong for saying things about B: Infinite like “10/10 GOTY”, “like Skyrim with salts” and then starting article with “BioShock Infinite is the worst game of the year.” is just ridiculous.

            Congratulations on missing the whole point of the article.

            • GameCat says:

              So, enlight me then. What’s the point of this article?

            • Stromko says:

              Is the point of the article that people on the internet can write anything they want about a game regardless of reality? I guess that’s a point.. a useless, kind of obvious point that sort of wastes everyone’s time, so hopefully not the point they’re going for.

        • Premium User Badge

          AndrewC says:

          The ‘tone’ argument is very common in political discussions – where the oppressing majority says ‘we’d totally listen to you, but you’re just so angry. This means it is your fault when ignore what you say and keep on oppressing’.

          See: angry black people, angry women.

          On the infinitely less important level of computer games, the argument still holds. Instead of using their anger as an excuse to ignore them, perhaps first ask why they are so angry. It’s one of those useful life skills that stops you being an arse.

          • dE says:

            You’re using the tone argument here unironically? Especially in this context? Also bonus points for irony that you call me out for name calling and then go ahead with full name calling here.

          • rargphlam says:

            And yet tone is still a valid criticism of any weighted argument. You can agree with an argument while still criticizing it’s method of conveyance, in fact, that is in part what the author of the above article is attempting to convey underneath a thick layer of harsh sardonicism.

            I don’t disagree with what he says about the issues of the portrayal of the Vox, the halfhearted nature of many current reviewers, the issues with Elizabeth, or even the idea that there’s a lingering male centered culture that still manages to somehow hold the centre, and despite all that, I find his venomous tone damages his argument more than anything.

            I’m not ignoring him, I’m lamenting the fact that the above author damaged his position by lowering himself to the standards he decries.

          • Premium User Badge

            FhnuZoag says:

            Personally I find the tone counterargument to be as tiresome as the tone argument. Mostly because it’s built on a bunch of assumptions of bad faith and so on, which may well be commonly true, but do not contribute to good conversation.

            Personally, as part of an oppressed minority, an article with an angry tone is irritating, because fundamentally, all angry people sound the same. This is regardless of whether they are angry with positions that are right-on and that I agree with, or they are angry MRA nerds, or angry tea partiers, or angry why-haven’t-they-banned-the-guardian-yet not-really-crypto-fascists. Do I really want to peel back the layer of rhetoric to unveil ‘why are they so angry’, when at least 50% of the time it’s because ‘they are a scumbag’? Do I want to engage with these guys, when all too often what that anger signals is that they wouldn’t accept even a tiny deviation from their own position?

            Being angry is just not a good communication technique, at least with some people, like me.

        • Runs With Foxes says:

          Really, you think getting rid of numerical scores is the takeaway from that article?

          How about how the game reviewing business, with a miniscule number of exceptions, is nothing but a transparent PR mouthpiece for publishers, a completely uncritical cesspit of idiots with no talent or knowledge between them?

          Nice job ignoring that article, Jim, doing your bit to ensure game reviews remain one massive joke.

          • I Got Pineapples says:

            Yes. Clearly the only way to fix game reviews and game writing is to make it resemble such daring, experimental publications as Slate and the Huffington Post.

          • Premium User Badge

            drewski says:

            If he doesn’t think the article progresses the discussion, or disagrees with the premise, why should he link to it? He’s not a puppet for angry internet men with an axe to grind.

            I would have linked it, but Jim can link whatever he damn well pleases. If he didn’t like it, he didn’t like it.

        • harbinger says:

          This was a rather good video critique of the whole game and why those 10/10 reviews are ridiculous: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdNhwb7iuI4

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            What a horrible critique, even worse than the Tevis Thompson one. The guy is, in part, judging BioShock Infinite on his own strangely personal interpretation of how events should have been portrayed in the game. Arguing that he didn’t see enough lynchings or hear the word “nigger” enough for the game world to be convincing is just an unbelievably thoughtless complaint.

            He’s demanding complete and total accuracy (both scientific and historical) in a fantasy-based video game. What a fucking tool. I agree that Infinite certainly never deserved any of those 10/10 scores, but come on.

      • I Got Pineapples says:

        It’s one of those awful ‘We are the Cool Kids and these other people are the Uncool Kids and we should be in charge of what is happening because we are the Cool Kids And We Matter Because of our Coolness’ pieces of writing that really needs to stop happening in video game writing, particuarly in the service of what is the same generic writing you see in every other goddamn corner of the internet.

        • LionsPhil says:

          But I did like the phrase “she’s a companion cube in a corset”.

          • I Got Pineapples says:

            It’s not without it’s moments and I am in no way saying that games journalism is particularly great but the piece is essentially an argument that writing at games should resemble the same generic pablum you find on every other general interest internet site.

            It’s essentially the same line of thought that’s turned the majority of mainstream film criticism on the internet into terrible, mindless shit because it’s writing with no sense of awareness of anything but the self and how clickbaity we can make it.

            It’s not that games writing is great but this is the exact line of thought that’s going to strangle any chance we do have to say anything interesting in the crib because it’s being presented as the cool or mature alternative rather than the easily digestible gruel that it is.

            • LionsPhil says:

              Indeed. Shortly after that point I was tired of his “you’re all sheeple and I’m the only one with any integrity” raving.

        • Premium User Badge

          drewski says:

          Yeah, the whole “Everyone Who Disagrees With Me Is Wrong” tone really set it up to fail. For a guy who’s complaining about gaming not representing a variety of opinions, he sure doesn’t have much time for anyone who doesn’t share his.

          I think Bioshock Infinite got such good reviews because a lot of people liked it, warts and all, but that doesn’t seem to be the sort of perspective that’s welcome.

      • Trespasser in the Stereo Field says:

        The amount of perfection in a PC game required by some fans and critics is astounding to me. This guy sure has some esoteric critiques:

        ” It has mastered the safe subversion, never mind its conservative heart. ”
        “Elizabeth may clear the very low bar set for women in games, but she’s not a complex character. ”
        “You have to cross over to a parallel reality to experience it. It’s like admitting: at least both sides are equivalent in some universe!”
        “Infinite doesn’t know how to humanize the white citizens of Columbia and make their vile perspectives comprehensible. ”
        “Infinite’s use of racism and oppression as window dressing, its indifference to the suffering and injustice it portrays, its dropping of it entirely once its sci-fi engines get going…”

        I understand that this reviewer is more or less critiquing the critics, and fighting the good fight against mindless reviews being nothing but advertisements. But come on, aren’t we taking ourselves a bit too seriously? What exactly are we expecting from a PC game? What’s wrong with simply taking a game for what it is, which is something that should provide me with 40-50 hours of entertainment? Am I really looking towards Bioshock to teach me about moral equivalency, racial equality, and social injustice? Can’t a game present these ideas without solving them for you?

        Anyone can write an essay about what’s wrong with anything. Complaints like this bring to mind the immortal words regarding Joel Robinson:
        “If you’re wondering how he eats and breathes, and other science facts;
        Just repeat to yourself ‘It’s just a show, I should really just relax…'”

        • wild_quinine says:

          What exactly are we expecting from a PC game? What’s wrong with simply taking a game for what it is

          Depends entirely on what the game is, as you recognise yourself.

          Am I really looking towards Bioshock to teach me about moral equivalency, racial equality, and social injustice? Can’t a game present these ideas without solving them for you?

          Of course it can present complex ideas without solving them for us. We haven’t solved those ideas in any other medium, after all. And in fact, in art and in life, it’s usually the case that when people claim to have the answer they are part of the problem.

          But if a game courts praise for handling difficult subjects, as BI so clearly does, then it’s no longer immune to criticism on those fronts – rather, it is *inviting* criticism on those fronts. It’s no defence to present racial oppression as in integral part of a world, and at the first sign of tension to hold up your hands and say ‘but it’s only a game!”

          • Trespasser in the Stereo Field says:

            I hear you. That’s a fair argument–if a game is going to broach the subject, it should deal with it tactfully. I suppose my overarching concern with professional critics like Thompson is that Bioshock Infinite would not only be required to deal satisfactorily with ageless questions like moral equivalency, racial equality, and social injustice. It would also need to be a fully interactive open world, have unique imaginative mechanics (whatever that means), a functioning economy, a revamped death system, an explanation for the one-man army FPS, and a complex and emotionally connected AI partner. Oh, and it needed cooler guns with more awesomer upgrades, too.

            • wild_quinine says:

              Ha! You’ve read that article up and down, then. My take on that is that you could argue it wouldn’t have been a perfect game without all of those things – from the point of view of that one subjective reviewer – but it would have been a better game for having any of them.

              And I think he’s right about a number of ways it could have been better, and if it had stumbled a bit even so, it could still have been a solid title.

              And while I wouldn’t have all of those same things on my own personal list, even from a mechanical standpoint I would sure as heck have improved the shooting, and the vigors, and made the upgrades to both or either worth having. or even just worth wanting.

              Actually one criticism I have of BI which Tevis doesn’t really put forwards, and it’s also a criticism that I personally would have of Mario Galaxy, which is considered to be the pinacle of mechanical gaming for some people, is that I hate how disconnected it feels. It doesn’t feel holistic, to me.

              By placing ‘on rails’ connections between parts of the same level, you break things up into arbitrary boxes and it breaks the illusion of freedom for me. I don’t see a city in the sky. I see pre-designed sets connected only by thin and entirely linear threads. To some degree all games are like this, but disguising that is the art of games. Breaking things up the way BI or Mario Galaxy did is, for me personally, the Deus Ex Machina of level design.

      • bill says:

        Phew. At least someone ages with me on jk2.

      • AngoraFish says:

        His argument on false equivalences was spot on. Bioshock’s conceit, effectively that we’re all equally arseholes and therefore that it makes no difference whether you’re the oppressor or the oppressed, is an offensively convenient first world conceit.

        It’s the same convenient line that is continuously trotted out in a great many third world conflicts where one side is being funneled tanks, helicopter gunships and cluster bombs by the west, while the other has to make do with Molotov cocktails and the occasional improvised explosive device, with casualties inevitably, disproportionately, inflicted against the oppressed group. We are then encouraged to ignore the power imbalance and disproportionate death-rates amongst the oppressed with the convenient rationalization that “atrocities have been committed on both sides.” Nothing to see here, folks, move along, move along…

        • wild_quinine says:

          But, speaking of false moral equivalencies, either you challenge evil everywhere or you have just picked a side. Surely? So whilst claiming ‘they’re just as bad as one another’ as a way to divert attention from injustice is certainly wrong, isn’t it just as wrong, and possibly more so, to excuse the evil comitted by the oppressed, simply because they are oppressed?

          And make no mistake, in any bitter conflict there will be evil coming out of th walls.

          This is why, with age, I am more and more interested in what can be done, rather than what should be done.

          • AngoraFish says:

            … to excuse the evil comitted by the oppressed, simply because they are oppressed.

            No, you’re missing the “moral equivalence” side of the argument. Nobody is excusing anything. The problem is pointing out the reaction of the oppressed in the same breath as acknowledging transgressions of the oppressors, and thereafter leaving the distinct impression that both sides are just as bad as each other.

            Both serial killing and negligent homicide are bad. Both dropping cluster bombs in populated areas and taking pot-shots at civilians with an antique rifles are bad. Both rape and shoplifting are bad. All of these things are bad, but they are not equally bad.

            To pretend that any of these things is morally equivalent is to rationalise the horrendously evil by placing it alongside significantly lesser evils. This is the moral equivalent of arguing that a bullied child lashing out at a bully is no better or worse than the bully himself.

            The pretense that all moral evils are equally immoral is to invalidate the entire basis of western legal systems, yet it is something we regularly fail to blink an eyelid over when it comes to conflicts involving groups rather than individuals.

            What can be done is to draw attention to the causes of oppression when one sees them. Rationalising victimization on the basis of what one feels is politically palatable is the problem, not the solution.

          • WrenBoy says:

            @Wild_Quinine
            Surely it’s less about good and evil and more about unequal distribution of power. If one group of people has power over another group it is inevitable that this power will be abused.

            This doesn’t mean the first group are more prone to wickedness than the second and it doesn’t mean that the oppressed group are saints. If the situation should be reversed we would see the same oppression but in the opposite direction.

            If you recognise that the evil is due to the situation rather than the character of the people you won’t be surprised when saintly victims commit horrible crimes once they have the opportunity to do so and you can recognise that the real solution lies in reducing the opportunity, ie ensuring that there are no imbalances of power.

            • AngoraFish says:

              Well said…

            • Grape Flavor says:

              “This doesn’t mean the first group are more prone to wickedness than the second and it doesn’t mean that the oppressed group are saints. If the situation should be reversed we would see the same oppression but in the opposite direction.”

              I see people failing to apply this to history all the time. Why were Group A so cruel to Group B? Why were Group A responsible for all this carnage? What is it about Group A that made them act this way? Answer: Because they had the advantage, and because their society’s ethics were not, on the whole, sufficiently developed to deter them from doing so.

              Usually applied to the incredibly vast and gruesome fucking over Europe gave the rest of humanity during the age of exploration, colonization, and imperialism. Why? Because Europeans are uniquely evil? No, because they could. There is every reason to think that had it been the Aztecs or the Zulus invading Europe with superior technology during that time period, the result would have been just as brutal.

              (If you take offense to this you are mistaken, I am in no way attempting to excuse or diminish colonialism, merely seeking to properly attribute the causes.)

      • Focksbot says:

        I just want to say: thanks for posting that. Fricking great piece of critical writing.

      • Grape Flavor says:

        That’s a terrible, offensive article in so many ways (Help, help, I’m being oppressed! Other people gave good scores to video games I personally disliked! There ought to be a law!), but I think the part that really made me want to puke was where he argued (and AndrewC’s feeble defense of it in the comments) that in any social conflict you can divide everything into binary, black and white factions of “oppressor” and “oppressed”, and then after that point any criticism of the “oppressed” faction is considered unacceptable and merely serving the “oppressor.”

        This is wrong in several ways. First, it’s highly unrealistic – he criticizes Infinite’s portrayal of the Vox Populi as highly morally flawed in their own right, but this is how things usually work in real life. During and after any revolutionary change, particularly violent ones, it is incredibly common for the “oppressed” faction to do heinous things, and to suggest that any evil should be simply handwaved away because the other side was “just as bad”, is despicable.

        I would go so far as to say that this has been more the rule than the exception – in which revolutions, exactly, have the insurgents been paragons of virtue either during the struggle or after taking power for themselves? French? Russian? Chinese? Really, I’d like to know. The Tsarist system was very oppressive, yes, the Ancien Regime was very oppressive, yes, but because of that the psychopathic Lenins and Robespierres of this world are above any criticism? If you do take exception, you’re really in league with an oppressor? Bullshit.

        Secondly, this argument is often little more than the convenient refuge of tyrants and crooks, even today. In any of those revolutions, the new regime made extensive and malicious use of the labels “reactionary” or “oppressor class”, or “counter-revolutionary” as hollow justifications to torture and kill anyone who got in their way. You’re with us or against us – if you’re criticizing the revolution, you’re serving the (previous) oppressor!

        So when despotic regimes in North Korea and Zimbabwe malign and kill their own people, do they take responsibility? Of course not. They use the ugly historical specter of imperialism to pawn off their own mismanagement of their countries into ruin, onto shadowy external forces. They use the allegation of “agents of imperialism” to execute the very dissidents who are seeking an end to their human rights violations. In this way, they can reframe themselves as the oppressed, who are merely defending themselves. When Maoist revolutionaries drag an “unduly” prosperous farmer from his home to starve and die in a gulag as a “class enemy”, are they “oppressing” him? Of course not! No, they are the victim, protecting society from the threatening oppressor. Using this rhetoric they can turn reality on it’s head and excuse their crimes.

        So yeah, there may be some danger of casting false equivalencies between oppressor and oppressed, but I would argue that is nothing compared to the danger of this black and white worldview where we fail to effectively hold the parties advocating for change to the same standards we criticize the old system with. Not all change is good change. Not everyone who fights an oppressor is fighting for freedom, and not merely the chance to oppress you themselves in their own way. It would be suicide to forget this, and yet I feel we are.

        EDIT: Was trying to edit this and it ate the end of my post, so I’ve tried to piece it back together. Why is the comment system still so awful and glitchy? How many years has this been, now?

    7. phelix says:

      A thousand thumbs up for the Jedi Outcast retrospective. I hated Star Wars and loved that game because the combat is ace.

    8. Jockie says:

      I met Yuri Lowenthal at the MCM Expo once, lovely bloke who takes a great deal of joy and pride in what he does. Nice to see EG give him some recognition because pretty much every gamer in the world has witnessed his work.

      • bill says:

        It seems he’s the voice of the Prince in Sands of Time. If so, he is definitely awesome. His voice was one of the things that made that game as amazing as it was.

      • The Random One says:

        He’s also married to Tara Platt, who if memory serves is the crazy russian lady voice for the Boss in SR3 that they replaced with a mostly forgettable French accent voice in IV. Bring her back, Yuri! Use your background extra powers!

    9. LuNatic says:

      “Every battle is completely unique. Some fights are hilariously brief, as a cocksure Reborn runs directly onto the point of your lightsaber, or mis-times a jump and plummets down a chasm. Others are epic struggles as your opponent matches you blow-for-blow, sabers crackling furiously as they clash over and over.”

      This. This is what modern singleplayer FPS is missing. I remember playing through JKII and having difficulty in a number of fights. And then I got to the end boss and he mis-timed a strike and spitted himself on my light saber 10 seconds into the fight. I won, and it was good.

      Not every fight should be EXTREME BRO and last ten minutes, because of respawning wave or enemy bullet sponges. Let the AI do it’s thing, don’t prop it up.

      Games don’t have to be easy, but it really takes away from the immersion when I have to reload the level 5 times because a wave of dudes has spawned in a room I’ve already cleared, or some bad guy arbitrarily only takes damage when shot in the left foot, or one dude with slightly shinier body armour than his chums will take 75% of my total ammo supply to kill.

      Give us sensible and feasible fights, and don’t worry if we luck out and clear it more quickly than the marketing department says is optimal.

      • Dave Tosser says:

        I can always tell I’m really enjoying something when I’m making regular saves with the intent of revisiting those sections because they’re so much fun. In the likes of JKII, Stalker, Fear and others, I’ll hit F9 not because I’m disappointed with the outcome, but because I want to play that section again. It’s one of the things lost with checkpoints. EXTREME BRO 24/7.

        Then there’s the fumble, where you hit quicksave where you meant to hit quickload and end up buggered over. I remember an RPS piece on that.

        • Rao Dao Zao says:

          Or the fumble when you hit quickload instead of quicksave after a spending ages on a really difficult bit. :(

          • LionsPhil says:

            ‘Tis silly this should still be a problem, given Max Payne 1 solved it all those years ago. (Two alternating quicksave slots, so you won’t overwrite the most recent. Quickload requires a second press to confirm unless you’re dead.)

            • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

              Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine did this even earlier (or maybe around the same time?). Of course I had to panic and double tap quicksave when I fell into that chasm that one time…

              Vampire Bloodlines had 12 quicksave slots I believe. Truly a game made by gamers.

            • Dave Tosser says:

              I dursn’t quicksave in any Troika game, not after Arcanum: Of Crashes and Saves Corrupted, and Temple of Elemental Save Corruption. Replaying the latter this month, it’s happened to me twice.

    10. SuicideKing says:

      The really interesting discussion between Carmack, Sweeney and Andersson was about Mantle.not really SteamOS.

    11. identiti_crisis says:

      That presentation by Ian Bogost is very interesting. I don’t know if it’s just my naïvité or ignorance or what, but what he says makes so much sense to me.

      I’m not likely to articulate myself very well here, but the high-level standpoint he takes on “what is fun?” validates so many ideas and beliefs I have about why I play games, and, to an extent, why giving us “what we want” isn’t necessarily the right thing to do – or at least the only thing to do.

      Briefly: he says, in respect of games, fun is interacting with the unexplored “space” in systems artificially constrained to present an arbitrary and unnecessary challenge. It is not an experience, or emotion per se, although it can cause these, and it is not something you add, or design in, but is inherent in “taking things seriously” (for their own sake) and exploring possibilities and finding the unexpected. A guitar could be a kind of prototype for “fun”, and I think jokes might follow a similar principle, which ties in with “acting the fool” (a possible ultimate source of the word “fun”).

      • Tams80 says:

        It’s a great presentation and I also agree with his ideas.

        I found the notion that it’s constraints rather than freedom that allows fun to exist. The, fun is ‘taking things seriously’ comment would explain why competition is perceived by many to be ‘fun’. People who are competitive, take things seriously.

        It is almost half an hour of your time, but I would encourage people to watch, or at least listen to it (you’ll just miss a few of the jokes).

      • Eight Rooks says:

        Haven’t seen the Bogost video yet, but I wholeheartedly believe “giving [the players] ‘what [they] want’ isn’t necessarily the right thing to do – or at least the only thing to do” should be one of the first things every aspiring game designer at every studio in the world is forced to accept as gospel. I am firmly convinced the very idea anything else could be true is one of the biggest, most glaring flaws in the videogames industry, right up there with endemic, unthinking prejudice and over-reliance on AAA visual spectacle or monetisation.

      • Cooper says:

        It was interesting that his go-to examples were competitive games (golf, tennis).

        I understood a lot of Bogost’s talk as counter to the ‘add shiny things’ of development. The Peggles of the world. Or that video a couple of months ago on Sunday Papers about making breakout all flashy and glitzy. He’s right on this count: Those additions do not make the game more fun. That’s not the essence of fun.

        But I had a problem with his anti-Poppins stuff. He is right; the sugar hides the drudgery. Only hides it.

        But he is wrong about the virtues of giving oneself over to arbitrary restraints in order to find the pleasure of those systems of restraints. If you consider almost all forms of labour, work, the jobs Poppins was talking about, as acting within arbitrary contrsints then Bogost’s argument veers very close to a lineage of thought that claims labour as necessarily redemptive, enjoyable and freeing; if only one gives oneself over fully to work.

        For me the figure of the fool is the figure of the situationist; one who works within arbitrary rules in order to find the novelty within the familiar in order to critique those arbitrary rules as being arbitrary, not necessary. The fool cannot be a player because players are dupes. They have voluntarily submitted themselves to the arbitrary authority of rulesets. If the fool does not act as critique then the fool is complicit, the fool is a player.

        The lesson Bogost seems to want to teach is the virtue of being a player and, counter to what he claims, not the fool. There may be a virtue in being a dupe to the rules of tennis or golf. or, if not a virtue, then at least a personal fulfilment. but it is no great leap to replace the rules of tennis or golf with those of systems of capitalist labour, in which case Bogost’s seemingly apolitical arguments become systems of repression.

        It’s not that players, or workers, cannot have fun in their games and labour. And, yes, that fun may well be intrinsic to those syetsm rather than drawing on something external. But urging us to find fun by submitting to arbitrary authority is, fundamentally, a repressive, political position. The fool (as the one who finds the novel within a given system in order to disrupt the system, rather than remain complicit) can also have fun and, I would argue, a fun that is more freeing and generative and generous.

        • identiti_crisis says:

          I didn’t personally get that vibe, and I guess the kind of fun you get from systems depends on how you regard them: I don’t particularly like golf or Tetris, but I still love other games, challenges, competitions etc. I don’t know that there’s anything inherently wrong with “committing” to work (as a constrained system) itself, it’s just a matter of whose benefit that’s for. Maybe. I’m not well versed in politics.

          I think his overall goal, though, was to get people talking about this stuff more concretely, rather than claiming to have the full answer (he did seem to go a bit abstract towards the end). For example, at what point does a “system” become overbearing in the way you describe, and how can we “design” inherently “fun” systems from the get-go?

          Bogost doesn’t think that’s possible, at least in terms of the usual “design” process, but I bet that there’s lots of fun to be had just messing around with ideas, like there used to be in the early days of video games. Although that’s now sounding a bit Peter Molyduex.

          If emergence is a hallmark of fun (think about his example of the interaction of sense of humour and conversation), then would an emergent design process inherently lead to “fun”? That sort of implies open betas etc. would always lead to better games, where open feedback allows the final design to “organically” solidify from those parts which are most enjoyable. But then that comes full circle to my “don’t give us what we want” comment…

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          Llewyn says:

          I see your point, but I’d say he’s actually urging us to find fun by submitting to the arbitrary authorities we choose to. It’s the separation between tyranny and challenge.

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          cpt_freakout says:

          I like the way you think! I believe that, perhaps, the issue with this kind of enquiry is the framework itself, which basically still stems from cybernetics. Games can exist outside the systemic and could be understood, for example, also as discourses, which could lead to other kinds of analysis as well as opening the sort of politics that are more or less embedded in cybernetics to new and even radical challenges.

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          HighlordKiwi says:

          He does make the point about the ‘play’ of a system though. I took that as being a very important part of the talk. The fool can use the play within the system to do all sorts of interesting things: optimising it, critiquing it, breaking it. Without working within the rules you can’t do any of those things.

          I think the point about work, compared to games, is that the constraints often aren’t arbitrary and/or the system has no play in it. Probably the main problem with gamification – to make a business system fun you need to add constraints that make it sub-optimal.

        • Josh W says:

          I think the problem is that fun is really not about an arbitrary constraint.

          Saying that a good game is not the most efficient way to achieve the goal is not a way to reveal it’s structure. It’s an amusing way to show how intentionally clueless you are about a game. “Dude, why are you putting those pieces on a board? They’ll only come off again.” All that tells you is where the heart a game isn’t.

          Ian goes some of the way there by saying that the games must be worthy of it, and he almost disappoints himself in his notes at the end by inverting that. If you watch the last bit, he excitedly says that games are worthy of it, then checks, and realises he meant to say that they’re not worthy but we make them so.

          And although there is an attitude you can take to a game in order to give it a chance to be fun, it has to take that chance itself.

          Everyone knows the disappointment of a bad game. That disappointment is that of failed teamwork, of you intentionally committing to enjoying a game, and finding it not revealing it’s secrets.

          He says something clever when he talks about the fool who says, “what else is here?”.

          This is why the stanley parable is fun, and why dark souls is fun, but in different ways. The latter gives you an impossible situation and more options than it seems, options you can dig up and try to apply. The former gives you something similar, but not in the service of completing known goals, defeating known enemies. It’s just exploits and subversion.

          And that is why games are not just about obstacles to your goals, because sometimes you don’t quite have them, other than “Onwards!”.

          This is not the only kind of fun. There’s a kind of monotonous fun, a pure competence mixed with old memories, the perfect rhythm game of levels you’ve played loads before, flashing by. It’s a kind of re-enactment reminiscence, particularly suited to “the arcade” and the games that go by those rules. Or the rhythm games, which swap out the reminiscence of old levels with the structure of old tunes, and after you clear a hump, allow the same re-enactment to kick off.

          But. There is a kind of fun that is about “structure”, about “depth”, about imagination and freedom unlocked from the tiniest corners of reality. You design to let the cool bits shine, and let people play about with them and agree how cool they are.

          And if you can’t make it actually be cool, scrap it. That’s a little important aside he put in there.

          So in general, we are not talking “Sisyphus pushing his boulder up the hill” here, although some of the rhetoric is similar. That exists precisely in the domain of satre-style existential human-supplied-meaning that obscures the essence of games. Instead we’re talking about “someone gave Sisyphus a boulder and infinite life, and that patch of ground over there looks a lot more interesting than this rut he’s been pushing for the last hundred years, so let’s do something else”. It’s about what can actually be done with the actual situation, what leeway there is, what goals can be chosen that widen the field of possibility, like doing random stupid things in arkham asylam or deus ex.

          That is way more radical an idea than Ian makes it here, because existential “make whatever meaning you want out of things” is a substantial 20th century idea, especially the gnawing pressure of sustaining values out of willpower alone.

          The cool thing about games is that you put them on, and if you’re in the right mood, find something that you didn’t bring. They supply values to your situation, and often as game designers will say, things that are a suprise even to them.

          That’s huge, it means that after all this death of god, death of the author stuff, the audience is still getting surprised by an inanimate object outside of them that is helping them to have meaningful experiences. Something is still surprising you, teaching you in some ways, and enriching your life. I mean obviously, that’s what happens!

          And sometimes that is totally compatible with grinding drudgery, but it has to be right kind of grinding drudgery. Dark souls is not as hard as it could be, and I’m sure in many cases enemies were balanced back. It’s about making them something that pushes you to go further into the unknown, to exploit the game in every way you can think of (and some of them get patched too) to find this middle point of exploration and discovery.

    12. Mr. International says:

      JK2 is one of my favorite games of all time. Oh the nostalgia, clan server on that matrix reloaded map… good times

    13. Wedge says:

      I wish I could’ve gotten through the shitty FPS they make you play early in JK II to get to the theoretical good parts. You already became a Jedi in the (excellent) first one, why do we have to go through this crap again?

      • jonahcutter says:

        You can cheat in a lightsaber right from the get go, if I remember correctly.

      • Rich says:

        Aye that was a pain. It didn’t help that I never had enough ammo for anything other than the ridiculously inaccurate storm trooper blaster.

      • Svant says:

        I am on the complete opposite side of this, more Starwars FPS with guns and less jedi/lightsaber bits please. More Han Solos less Luke Skywalkers etc.

    14. Jason Moyer says:

      I suspect I’ve knocked Stephen Russell unconscious and/or robbed him blind far more than I’ve killed Yuri Lowenthal.

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        RedViv says:

        Depends on how many hours one ends up spending in Skyrim. That one has an average of 51.8 RDph.

    15. nancy478 says:

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    16. jonahcutter says:

      A while back the source code was released for both Jedi 2 and Academy, but all the links I can find seem dead. Anyone know of the legal status of these now?

    17. reetaangel5050 says:

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    18. stupid_mcgee says:

      “The idea that anyone with a less-than-legal background would be forthcoming about their pasts is largely a Hollywood construct.”

      I see this author hasn’t seen the documentary, The Act of Killing. Or countless other interviews, articles, and various pieces of reporting where numerous people have done just that.

    19. Baines says:

      Its not really Sunday in most of the world anymore, but it seems failed Kickstarter game Dark Matter has launched on Steam to a bit of a scandal and complaint.

      When its Kickstarter failed, Dark Matter was continued as a planned episodic game.

      Dark Matter has released on Steam, and there is no mention of it being episodic on its store page, despite it only being part of a game. The game apparently ends abruptly mid-storyline with a text screen saying that the game is over. It even allegedly has an unobtainable Steam achievement, because the enemy required doesn’t appear in the game.

      People who bought the game have not been amused.

      A dev has posted on the Steam forums defending the release state of the game, but does not address the Store description. The dev does address the abrupt ending, describing it as “not of the standard we would expect”. Which is a bit strange, as it is the ending that they chose to release the game with.