The Sunday Papers

By Graham Smith on December 15th, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

Don't call it a comeback. We do this every week.

Sundays are for work, for wishing it would stop getting dark at 2pm, and for panic-buying gifts for family and friends while wondering if you couldn’t just give them links to the week’s best game writing instead.

  • Paul Mason at the Guardian posits a game based on creating radical economies, imagining how players might exist outside of the economic mechanics of EVE Online, Skyrim, or a whole new game: “What I am proposing is something different. What if, just as in an Occupy camp, where they try to “live despite capitalism”, you could live “despite” the property forms and voracious market economics of a computer game?” A great article and design experiment. Also noteworthy: it’s about games, but it’s not in the Guardian’s games section.
  • Simon Parkin argues in the New Statesman that the term “gamer” needs to die, as its tribalism excludes some and marginalises others. “Players and commentators talk of the ‘gaming community’, as if the cross-cultural, socially diverse mass of humans who play video games is somehow uniform in gender, race, age and class. The idiocy of the term is only too clear when applied to other media such as literature (the ‘reading community’?), music (the ‘listening community’?) or film (the ‘observing community’?).”
  • I agree with Simon on one level, in that the cliques, stereotypes and stigma of gaming need to die. But “gamer” is still an occasionally useful word in conversation; the diversification of gamers that has led to the term becoming less useful and ambiguous is countered by using more specific versions of the term (“hardcore gamer”, “casual gamer”, “puzzle gamer”, “competitive gamer”); and other mediums do have equivalent words to denote a particularly passionate strata of consumer (“moviegoer” for film, “bookworm” or “booklover” for reading, etc). The persistence of the word “gamer” and its very specific stereotype – the late-teens/early-twenties man – is also probably because it’s a marketing group. Everyone watches films, but we can sell popcorn to “moviegoers”. Similarly, everyone plays games, but it’s “gamers” to whom companies can market energy drinks, crisps and microwaveable burgers. I understand that language and politics are linked, but I suppose I don’t think it’s possible to stamp out this specific word, and would rather people directly challenged the negative behaviours that the word has come to connote.

  • This man shouldn’t be needed, but I’m glad that he exists. Wired write about Peter “Durante” Thoman, a modder who fixes crappy console-to-PC ports. Wherever there’s a game locked at 720p, he’ll be there, as he was with Dark Souls and Deadly Premonition. “Still, it makes you wonder why companies would release such slapdash products in the first place. Thoman says that in his opinion, Dark Souls and Deadly Premonition weren’t really broken — they just went from game consoles to the PC without any enhancements. PC games don’t sell very well in Japan, he says, so when it comes time for a Japanese company to port a game to PC, they often underestimate what PC gamers expect in the way of features.”
  • It’s a week for good games writing from the mainstream press. The Boston Globe write about Miguel Sicart and his book ‘Beyond Choices: The Design of Ethical Gameplay’. “Sicart’s primary motivation in writing his book, he explained via e-mail, is “not only that games can be ethically meaningful, but also that game design can systematize that process, so those games can be made, played, and analyzed.” So just as there are now certain best practices for developers creating, say, a first-person shooter, Sicart wants to establish a smarter conversation for developers trying to push the frontiers of what he calls “ethical gaming.”” In the article, Sicart flags Unmanned as a good example, and he’s right about that.
  • On her blog, Polygon’s Emily Gera writes The Games Industry Is Just A Spectator Sport. I’m a sucker for the wise words of Vince McMahon, and this draws smart parallels between wrestling and the so-called console wars: “In the words of the venerable McMahon, the “crossover of whether [something is] entertainment or news is the biggest crock of B.S. in television today, because it’s all entertainment.” For McMahon, the face behind pro-wrestling behemoth World Wrestling Entertainment, that statement was central to the industry he helped build in the early ‘80s. His vision of the WWE was driven by a stoic sort of principle. “We [in the WWE] look at everything as an entertainment vehicle,” he said in a 2001 interview with Playboy. “Nothing is sacred.””
  • Cassandra Khaw spends her time between Bargain Buckets writing fine words across the rest of the internet. This week she took Wildstar to task for its female character design. Specifically, that the game’s enforcement of traditional ideals of female beauty limit the expressive and roleplaying potential of the characters. “Even ignoring the suspiciously human voluptuousness, the female Granoks make for, well, unconvincing Granoks. Their racial lore dictates that Granoks are boisterous, beer-swilling battle-addicts. They fight. They fall down. They get up again and charge into the new fray, exulting in the mad panic of their enemies. It’s fantastic imagery that is telegraphed perfectly in the gargantuan build of the males and the fact they have customization options that allow you to rather literally look like you have had your face smashed in.” This is pretty much the perfect example of why this stuff is alienating.
  • Also linked within, this similarly excellent piece – “Wildstar, Character Design, Female Objectification, Sexual Dimorphism and Biology in Video Games” – which takes a less experiential approach to the same frustrations. “Why does this species—a species composed of rock—have sexual dimorphism even more stark than mountain gorillas? What purpose does this serve? Come to think of it—why do the women have plant hair? It appears to be growing out of their skulls—so it must be parasitic. But this is a sentient species in a futuristic setting, meaning that if it were a non-beneficial parasite, they’d have removed them. So are Granok-plants an example of resource-resource mutualistic symbiosis? Wouldn’t the males then also cultivate plant-hair? Why is it gender-segregated?”
  • Over on GameChurch, April-Lyn Caouette writes about Sex as Play in Luxuria Superbia. I think the article is better than the game, so worth a read.
  • The tastiest looking food in videogames.
  • Music this week is Peggy Lee asking what we’ve all thought, and then to pick you up again afterwards, Craig reminded me of this. Don’t call it a comeback.

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152 Comments »

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  1. Greggh says:

    About porting straight from console to PC, anyone remember Onimusha 3‘s PC port by Sourcenext?

    It had a lot of broken bits and in this day and age of 64bit-ness it runs without proper controller support, but even back then (200X) they ported the game with proper hi-res and anti-alias support. Technology and know-how clearly is not an excuse for bad ports nowadays ;)

  2. Premium User Badge

    daphne says:

    Good haul this week. Thanks.

    EDIT: Emily Gera was kind enough to not approve my scathing comment on her blog post. For the record, I did not call her pretentious for her mentioning McMahon instead of Debord. In fact, my own mentioning of Debord, telling her to look him up so as to make a case for what she’s “saying”, was entirely sarcastic, but apparently that is too much to expect nowadays — I’ll make sure to suffix my expression with “/s” the next time I employ sarcasm in my commentary. /s

    • Premium User Badge

      daphne says:

      Here is the comment I had made, typed from memory because I did not perceive Gera to be particularly spineless and thus was surprised at her censoring my commentary (and thus, I don’t have a copy at hand). I’m sure she can voice her concerns if she feels I’ve misrepresented her.

      This is a truly hollow article. You’re not saying anything or making a point so much as you’re expressing a familiarity with concepts such as vaudevilles (why would you capitalize the word, I wonder?), “macronarratives”, zen koans, and such intellectual heavyweights as Vince McMahon. Good on you to reference and attempt to synthesize such disparate domains of knowledge together, but next time, try making a point. Unless your point is that the game industry, like any other entertainment industry, is prone to drama, and that drama is prone to be entertainment. Entertainment born of the follies of those that are maintaining and representing the producers of such entertainment. Mind-blowing. Yes.

      No.

      Also, look this guy called Guy Debord up, might help you make a case. Disappointed not to see him among all the references and mentions of spectacle.

      This sort of ivory-tower (and certainly you stand atop a tower here), pseudo-intellectual drek is so obnoxious that it inspires me to write a scathing comment rather than ignore it, as I do with articles that I don’t care for. This kind of thing, on the other hand, I would happily discourage.

      So there you have it. Congratulations on writing the words-equivalent of a can of Diet Coke. No sugar, no taste, no discernible benefit or harm, just something to be consumed and then gone. A page or two of concentrated nil — well, I suppose that too is something.

      • Amun says:

        I love a bit of scathing criticism! Keep at it, but next time try to keep it impersonal (ie, substitute the word “you” for “the article”) so they have less justification to hide from it.

      • Arbodnangle Scrulp says:

        Somebody here is butthurt . . .

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        You sound like a massive prick, so I’m not surprised your comment wasn’t posted.

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        ffordesoon says:

        I’d’ve deleted your comment too. Your points aren’t bad, but you express them in such a hideously condescending way that you end up coming across as exactly the thing you rail so vehemently against: an “ivory-tower pseudointellectual,” to use your words.

        And many more people know Vince McMahon than Guy Debord, so I dunno what the hell you’re talking about. Arcane name-dropping is the pseudointellectual equivalent of breathing.

        EDIT: And no, I don’t see how the reference to Debord was “sarcastic,” because you didn’t say one thing when you meant the opposite. It was condescending. And trust me, friendo, she picked up on that.

      • Talksintext says:

        At least she made a point… What’s yours exactly? All I see is a name-dropping, insult-ridden rant that barely connected with the article in any way.

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        Arathain says:

        I see this style of comment everywhere I turn on comment threads, and I can’t understand it. Why on earth are you undermining your points with such a confrontational and insulting tone? What is the intention behind writing this comment? It, by its nature, can influence nothing.

      • Merus says:

        This comment is just as pseudo-intellectual as the original post. Essentially it boils down to ‘I don’t think you’re saying anything’ in a really condescending and convoluted way, when the original post stated, without much backup, that business practices are serving as entertainment, and then making a tenuously-linked comparison to wrestling, which is widely-known for harvesting details from the business for its plots. But how does that tie into the games industry exactly? Is Microsoft planning on using the disappointment in its presentations earlier this year as part of its advertising campaign? Does Sony’s potshots at Microsoft during E3 count as a product, or just the usual cut-and-thrust of marketing? What exactly is the takeaway?

        Your comment refused to engage with any of that. It was just as content-free.

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        So there you have it. Congratulations on writing the words-equivalent of a can of Diet Coke. No sugar, no taste, no discernible benefit or harm, just something to be consumed and then gone.
        Diet coke does have taste. I like it, and so it millions of others. So there!

  3. Mags says:

    I read that Guardian article earlier in the week, and thought that it was rather silly. The basic points are sound, but Skyrim has a deeply silly economy, in which it is trivially easy to make enough money to buy every single thing a merchant sells. You can even do this without using “conquest, violence or the mercantile capitalist strategy of buying cheap and selling dear”.

    As a single player game, it’s the most ridiculous example for this that you could come up with, and rather devalues the whole article.

    • Geebs says:

      Skyrim is positively Randian, though, isn’t it – the reasons why you can afford to buy the whole store are:
      1) the sweat of the player’s brow
      2) the fact that the player character is inherently exceptional

      And now I’ve got this great idea for a railway-building mod…

    • BadBannana says:

      Mount and Blade had a good economic system

    • Niko says:

      Is there any good critique of Skyrim’s economy, by the way? I mean, as a non-expert I do find the fact that gold coin is a smallest denomination weird, but it’d be really interesting to hear from someone more knowledgeable.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        Not an expert, but I do dabble quite a bit in economic theory.

        As for Skyrim, their economy is all weird and terrible. I doubt Bethesda even really put any forethought or serious energy into it, because it has got some seriously obtuse logic (which is forgivable, really; Skyrim is an RPG, not a fantasy-economy sim) and there is little to no meaningful malleability nor scale to it. For the most part, Skyrim’s economy is massively stagnant.

        Asides from the oddity of gold being the only currency, there’s the issue that each merchant will be completely out of money after you deplete their finances by selling them all of your junk, but they’re right back where they were, financially, in just two days. Also, if you keep dumping all of your high-valued junk on them every two days, how can they stay in business? Are they getting loans? Where from? I’ve never seen a bank in Skyrim. Why is it always two days? If they have monetary reserves in their store, then why do I have to wait two days before they can start paying me again? How come patrons that I craft incredibly high-end armor for aren’t building up more significant cash reserves and renown? Surely more people would be interested in buying Flawless Orcish armor in Riverwood than regular old Steel in Solitude?

        So, yeah, the economy is Skyrim is pretty terrible. While it certainly wouldn’t be impossible to make a minimally decent economy that would at least provide a better veneer, it wouldn’t exactly be completely easy, either. It really depends on how deep you want to get with it.

        I can think of ways to fix it, to varying degrees. On the surface, make it so that items you sell are stored in a value for that store. Then slowly add that value over time. To make this more realistic, you could assign a value for each store that affects its rate of sales.

        for example: x=money added for the day, y=value of items sold to merchant, a=rate of sales, b=cash to be added, c=cash on hand, d=final amount. In this example I’m using 3 days, so that’s why it’s divided by 3.

        y/3=x, y-x=b, b+c=d ; would be the simplest.

        y/3a=x , y-x=c, b+c=d ; a bit better, as it would mean that there is now a fluctuating rate of sales to change things.

        But, how do we affect these sales? Check the gold value of an item. An item over a certain amount adds to the sales-rate value. You could even make it so that low-value items bring down the economic value of the store. I’m not sure of the exact flags and such, but you could just trigger on each time an item is sold and do something like below.

        get item_value;
        if item_value>=400;
        add, 0.1, merch_salesrate

        get item_value;
        if item_value<=50;
        add, -0.1, merch_salesrate

        This would need for each merchant to store their own merch_salesrate variable.

        Finally, to get the money to them, execute a script each day at a certain time. Or you could have it happen multiple times a day to try and simulate "rushes." AKA: times when a business is its busiest. For example, clothing stores are busiest on weekends and late afternoon. Restaurants are busiest around eating times. If so, then you would need to adjust the initial economic formula for each store. (eg: a store that has 3 rushes per day and scale of 3 days would be y/9a=x instead of y/3a=x)

        To do this you would just need to get some values, store them in your custom variables, and then execute the first-listed equation for each merchant. Which would just be a copy job, mostly, as you'd only really need to input the unique IDs for the NPCs. (eg: get npcid_123442; get npcid_6235234; get npcid_36516612;) It would probably be a good idea to apply a natural chilling-effect onto the salesrate, too. Do like -0.05 to their salesrate at the end of each day, or maybe even the end of each week. This will provide some natural resistance to you skyrocketing a merchant's currency reserve. Things like not capping a merchant's gold reserves so they don't get too high nor allowing them to drop too low would also be good.

        Of course, these are just loose generalities and I'd have to actually mess with the Skyrim SDK to give more concrete examples and methods, but these are really just meant to be loose illustrations of how you could achieve a richer veneer for a merchant's fluctuating income and your potential affects on it.

        The problem then becomes that 1) you're creating additional processing overhead and 2) you're creating even more data for the game to keep track of. These might not seem like that big of issues for the PC, but it could create a problem for consoles, especially the older 360 and PS3. One of the big problems in Skyrim is that it has a lot of data to store in its save files. There was a bug a while back causing huge save file bloats because the game wasn't properly removing shot arrows from the game world, so when you'd save the game it would also save the location of every single arrow that was stuck into the ground or a tree in the entire game world.

        So, really, a decent economic simulation in Skyrim is certainly do-able. It would require you writing a few of your own scripts and doing a bit of digging and tinkering. I think the reason the economy is so flat in Skyrim really has more to do with the limitations of the consoles and how intensive Skyrim already was. It might also have to do that Bethesda just didn't really care about making a robust economy-simulating script system.

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          ffordesoon says:

          I think the systems underlying Skyrim’s economy show a lot of thought – probably too much. I suspect the real problem is that each of the systems was designed in isolation, with little thought given to how they all fit together until late in development. It was at that point that they were Krazy-Glued together in a slapdash manner.

          For example, the merchants who have a finite amount of gold. There’s the ghost of a good idea in there, but it doesn’t work with Skyrim’s economy as it is. I’d bet money that buying out shops and getting a percentage of their profits was going to play a much bigger role in the game earlier on in development, and that the merchants with a finite amount of gold are a remnant of that system.

          You are probably right about the console thing, though. In fact, that may be the real reason a lot of that stuff was removed, now that I think about it. I bet they overestimated the consoles’ abilities early on in development, overscoped, and then had to yank a bunch of stuff out at the last minute because of the memory issues.

          Huh. That would explain a lot of the weird shit in Skyrim, actually, such as the way certain quests seem like they should have more branches than they actually do, or the dudes who beg for their life only to fake the player out every single time. It would certainly explain why they solved for the higher install base and released PS3 Skyrim broken. I bet it was either that or strip features out of the game.

          Man. This makes a creepy amount of sense.

          • Niko says:

            Console limitations can’t explain gold being the only currency and ridiculous prices, though. If anybody remembers Betrayal at Krondor, its prices and currency types made much more sense, despite the game’s age. Items in bad condition dropped in price rapidly, and going to a far away store to buy a bunch of damaged greatswords, repair them, and sell in another shop, was a viable method of obtaining wealth.

          • Ich Will says:

            Hey, Dragonborn – go take this letter to someone in the same tavern as me – yes him, over there. Did it? Thanks, have 1000 Gold!

            Hey Dragonborn, go tromp halfway across skyrim, climb halfway up a mountain, enter a cave and slay some of the most dangerous vampires in this world. Did it, thanks, have 150 gold.

          • plugmonkey says:

            Lol. I dipped back into Skyrim yesterday for the first time in over a year, and was thinking this exact thing as I collected a king’s ransom of 1,500 gold for running an errand.

            And again, as I dumped a hundred weight of priceless artifacts into a chest in my house, because I couldn’t find anyone rich enough to sell them to. Is that even possible, within economic theory? For one person’s assets to be valued at more than the entire economy? There isn’t enough money in the world to buy me out.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Surely, you mean “Buying cheap, and selling Deer.”

      This being Skyrim, and all…

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      Gap Gen says:

      I tend to find macro more interesting than micro, anyway – Imperialism’s trying to balance everything flowing through your factories while not going bankrupt and building enough cannons for war is fascinating, and feels broadly like a command economy to boot.

  4. pilouuuu says:

    Undoubtly Skyrim have the tastiest food. But wait, oh but those Pikmin food looks really great!

  5. Bull0 says:

    Somebody’s linked that guardian article on here recently. I actually thought it was pretty weak. Might’ve gone over my head, I guess, but there wasn’t much meat on it for me. Yes, games often have economic structures as part of their gameplay, and yes, players are often quite constricted in how to manipulate them (particularly in single player games like Skyrim, which is a big weakness of the article – the comparison between EVE and Skyrim doesn’t work). I think that’s about making it a game as opposed to a simulator. However, in games where players can organise themselves with other players capitalism isn’t usually a big feature – when was the last time a guild paid its’ members to turn up to raids, etc? There’s a lot of anarchic socialism going on in player groups, in my experience.

    • Lone Gunman says:

      If only us gamers had overthrown Lenin :p

      • Lanfranc says:

        I’ve defeated Stalin who knows how many times in Civilization, so that’s got to count for something.

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          Don Reba says:

          I prevailed with Stalin against Martians in another game.

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          Gap Gen says:

          Currently playing Black Turn against the Man of Steel. Even the easy missions are hard, the challenge being doing the levels as fast as possible over the vast distances your tanks have to race.

          Edit: actually, the game is good at projecting the idea that in Barbarossa you’re not fighting Stalin, you’re fighting Russia itself.

      • Bull0 says:

        Well, once they nerfed him with the october revolution patch he was more or less doable on 25-man, if your healers were good enough.

  6. mrbeman says:

    If/when you guys get a chance to talk to the Wildstar devs,please talk with them about their female character design. I really am interested in the game, but the uniformity of gender design across races and lack of customization for the female characters really bothers me. Especially because not only do they do the “all women MUST be a certain kind of specifically targeted “sexy”,” they also do the clothing dimorphism thing, so women kitted out for combat make sure to leave their cleavage bare. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrfgfgd.

    I think a lot of things about the game look interesting and fun, but why oh why haven’t we moved past this point yet? How can a game have been in production this long – have had this many people working on it this hard – have reached this point with female character designs from off the covers of pulp paperbacks from the 60s?

    • Koozer says:

      Unfortunately I think it’s more likely a marketing thing. Similar to how MMOs these days are obliged to have a human race, a big burly race, a small irritating race, and poncy elf race.

      • KDR_11k says:

        They could just have given one or two races the marketable females and let the rest get all the weirdness they need.

    • F33bs says:

      Is this really going to stop you from enjoying the game, though? I’m a thin, male decidedly absent of beefcake and yet most of the male characters in games are the opposite of me. I think you may have a great argument under the guise of ‘realism,’ where the goal is to be as close to what reality is, but I don’t think Wildstar is meant to be realistic. Ultimately, none of us are physically represented by characters in games. I’ve certainly never felt that way. But I think a lot of people, men and women, still manage to enjoy gameplay and over time, infuse the characters with their own hopes and desires. I think characters like Link from Zelda are perfect examples of this.

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        RedViv says:

        First, false equivalence. Secondly, the male characters get to have a LOT more variety in looks in this game, as in oh so many others. Point does not stand.

        • Tacroy says:

          Yeah, it’s not even funny – I wouldn’t be surprised if all the female characters share the same skeleton at the same scale, they’re so similar.

          It kinda makes me think that the root cause of these articles is a case of the designers phoning it in on the female design for whatever reason; maybe some misguided thought that “as long as it’s sexy it’ll do well”.

          • fish99 says:

            Misguided as in it doesn’t work?

          • The Random One says:

            Misguided as in “whatever audience we lose from people who are squicked by unnatural mannequin women we’ll gain back in horny teenagers”. I’m pretty sure the horny teenagers are all playing CoD and Frank’s Hentai Adventure on Newgrounds.

          • fish99 says:

            They’re not all playing COD though, that’s just a crude generalization, and it’s not only teenagers who this kind of marketing works on. You’re basically saying all of marketing is wrong about this, because they all seem to think sex sells across pretty much every industry. Five minutes watching TV will show you that.

          • The Random One says:

            There’s a small difference between selling beer using ladies in bikinis and shoving ladies in bikinis in your face when you’re trying to drink beer.

            But you’re right – what I’m saying is that all marketing is wrong. The chances of someone saying “That beer makes me horny – I’ll buy it!” are roughly the same as of someone saying “I’m so thirsty – I wish I had some refreshing toothpaste to brush my teeth.”

          • fish99 says:

            You don’t think by now they’ve researched whether it works thousands of times? And not just with sample groups and surveys but they also look at sales. Also using sex to advertise beer isn’t a direct analogy because if a video game has a sexy female character on the cover, and you buy that game, that character is in the game. You get more of that thing that made you want to buy the game. A better analogy would be porn magazines.

            One look through my game library tells me using sex to sell video games works. I never played a beat-em-up in my life, and yet somehow I own Bayonetta. I own Blades of Time and that’s not even a good game, but take a look at the cover. Sorry to say this but men are ridiculously easy to manipulate with sexualized marketing. I’d say it’s the easiest, cheapest and most successful way of helping sell a mediocre game, and were I making a game and it was my mortgage payments on the line, I’d have to consider using it too.

            If you’re trying to tell me Tomb Raider would have sold just as well with a less attractive, or more covered up Lara, sorry but that’s very naive.

          • SuicideKing says:

            Well, i’d argue that games would still sell equally well without needlessly sexualised females (and inclusion of sexualised males). Now i’d be able to prove that to you, by showing you your own library, if at all most games were made like that.

            Also, one look at my games library would show you that sex doesn’t sell. In fact, i haven’t ever bought/played a single game because of boobies.

          • fish99 says:

            It’s hard to prove the point either way. Even if it were true that games would sell equally well without the sexualized female characters, there’s still a widespread perception that it does boost sales, and for that reason it’ll continue to happen. You also have to accept that it’s not done to offend, oppress or persecute. The motivation is primarily financial. There’s also an element of the artists being mostly male and naturally creating what they find attractive.

            Also remember I’m primarily talking about mediocre games that have little going for them. The good games will sell regardless. If you have a game to market, and it ain’t that great, or your don’t have a big marketing budget, I can understand why you’d go down that route.

            There’s worse offenders than games. You see lots of unattractive women on TV or in films? Music videos are especially bad. Our society is just very superficial.

          • SuicideKing says:

            I won’t deny that, fish99…just saying that the perception we should be reinforcing at all times is that “good games sell regardless” and that even if the motivation is financial, it’s doing everyone who games (“gaming society”?) a disservice.

            That’s it. In the long run, it’ll benefit everyone. It’s just like us flaming CoD or BF these days. We want better. We want equality. As games become more influential in real-world society, messages that are transmitted via games have to be more mature, and games themselves have to be more responsible about how they go about stuff.

            I don’t mean this in a censoring way, though. Games don’t need to be moral compasses, but they shouldn’t reinforce very strongly held negative social stereotypes and stigmas in the real world. Sexism is perhaps the most deeply rooted of all.

        • hungrycookpot says:

          I think he has a point in saying that none of the fantasy mmo’s out there allow male gamers to represent their actual body type either. I have never seen a character creation screen that allows you to create a morbidly obese orc with a neckbeard and psoriasis, but no one writes articles about that?

          • Grargh says:

            But it’s not about projecting your exact likeness into the game, it’s about having an avatar that represents the character you want to play. In the current Wild Star universe, women can never look strong, or fearsome, or cool, or clever, or wise, or respectable, or innocent, or evil. They can essentially look like incapable bimbo whores with slightly different textures. In my eyes, that’s an incredible turnoff for a role-playing game, and one that seems decidedly less severe for male characters.

      • nmarebfly says:

        Yes, it’ll stop me from enjoying the game. It’s gross enough to be distracting and troublesome every time I see a female character run past, worse so if I want to play one myself. Look at the robot lady. Just look at her! Who the hell thought that waist was a good idea?

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          Don Reba says:

          (googles the robot girl) Looks pretty good to me. It makes sense, too, because a robot would not be constrained by having been born ugly.

          • Ich Will says:

            Robot tits make sense to you? Are they all sexbots then, if so, see all the comments about appealing to horny (people with the minds of teenagers)

          • hungrycookpot says:

            This comment is actually for your replier, who I can’t reply to directly: how are robot tits any less sensical than a fully developed and simulated robot humanoid biped? If you’re building a robot with anthropomorphic characteristics, why WOULDN’T it have robot tits? If we’re talking sensibility and realism here, why isn’t the robot built in the simplest, most efficient form, like a lightweight armored ball with tank treads or hover pods? Because it’s a game, and they can do what they like.

          • SuicideKing says:

            Female mammals have mammary glands that produce milk (i’m not trying to be accurate about the biological process here) for their young. Female birds don’t have tits. Why? Birds don’t suckle their young.

            I’d guess that robots, humanoid or not, don’t suckle their young, and i’m yet to see anything that suggests otherwise.

            You’d also note that there have been humanoid droids in Star Wars that had female personas but looked identical to their male counterparts, except maybe in colour, that too probably so that audiences could keep a track of who’s who.

            EDIT: Also, “the most efficient” robot design would be dictated by what you want that robot to do. There is no single most efficient design. Context, damn it.

        • SomeDuder says:

          You must be a real fucking joy to be around.

      • Shieldmaiden says:

        There’s a fundamental difference between a game in which take control of an existing character, like Link, Ezio or Gordon Freeman, and a game where you create your own character. In a game where I’m controlling an avatar who is, on some level, representing me, customisation is massively important. I was going to say that it’s even more important in multiplayer games, but then I think about how much time and effort I dedicate to tweaking Skyrim characters.

        I think there are two parts to this; representation and aspiration. The first is about having a character who is like me, the second is about having a character I want to be like. On a very basic level, I want my character to be female (representation) and I want my character to be badass (aspiration.) There are very few games that manage both. Of course my preferences are going to be different to other people’s, which is why choice is important.

        The really irritating thing is that with a game like Wildstar, it really wouldn’t be hard to do. Granok males are big and burly with smashed up faces? Make Granok females big and burly with smashed up faces? Drakken males are hunched and demonic with long, thick tales? Make Drakken females hunched and demonic with long, thick tales. Now that I write it out, it seems absolutely ludicrous that anyone would do it any other way.

        • The Random One says:

          I mean – it’d be OK if you could make a traditionally sexualized Granok female, as long as you could also make a burly, muscular, gap-toothed Granok female. Choice is the most important thing here. There was no need to alienate the people on this thread to avoid alienating a (possibly imaginary?) group of people who demand all women look like supermodels.

          • Shieldmaiden says:

            I’ll admit, sometimes I want to make a character look sexy; my Saints Row character is seriously hot (funnily enough, her body slider is somewhere between “strong” and “fat.) But yes, it is about the choice. If we can’t have a bunch of body sliders, at least give us some variety between races. Wildstar has bunny girls, for Crom’s sake! They can make those as supermodel-like as they want!

          • The Random One says:

            Exactly! This is why Saints’ Row is my go-to game for an example of enpowerment done right; the devs might have grasped to player customization with bloody fingers because that was the one thing they had that GTA didn’t, but nowadays they clearly understand that part of enpowering the player is making sure they can play a character they enjoy being, or pretending do be. SR achieves the kind of equality RPS would like to see not by doing away with sexy ladies in improbable outfits, but by placing them next to all sorts of crazy crap and letting you choose the precise degree to which your character is sexualized.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        Yeah, this kind of thing creeps me out. Imagine if there was a fun game where you had to defeat The Jew, who was stealing all the gold, or a game where you have to capture people to work on your cotton farms.

    • Iceman346 says:

      As a male who usually plays female characters im MMOs I have to say that the character design shown in those Wildstar articles really is atrocious. I don’t know how the human(like) females look but those beastlier races are so exaggerated that I find them really ugly. The combination of paper thin waists with flaring hips and breasts come together for a look that’s just plain horrendous.

      And as I guess that Wildstar is another of those games where you are able to customize your head to a large degree but have minimal influence over your body I guess I won’t play most of the races the game offers…

      • Geebs says:

        I agree; I think WildStar’s problem is more that it looks like a committee sat down with a mandate to produce the most generic-looking characters ever made. “What’s that, girl-with-bunny-ears-and-a-tail, you say that steampunk-guy-with-goggles-and-trenchcoat and burly-rock-man are in trouble?”

        They’ve done cartoonish proportions, probably to try to make characters more identifiable per silhouette, and the female models probably ARE all the same to cut down on rigging and animation – for the same reasons that, say, Brink didn’t bother to include any female characters at all. On the other hand, people lauding other MMOs for having male-female equivalence have failed to notice that it’s actually the same model with a different skin, and therefore might well only have happened because of a different approach to budget restrictions.

        TLDR; WildStar is more painfully dull and generic than it is disempowering; the best thing you can say about its character design is that at least it doesn’t contain a bunch of characters that appear to have been designed specifically for pervs. If you want to get upset about a game being stripperific, you’d do better aiming your rhetoric at another WoW sorry, MMO.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      In episodes of Tom and Jerry and indeed many cartoons, the female animal has luscious ruby lips and a pretty pink bow. That’s what I see in games all the time when it comes to fantasy races. Rather than graduate to the next level, we’re simply presented with a similar set of imagery using the same insultingly basic presentation. Well I am not five years old anymore and I am not amused.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      Yeah, I really struggle to see how even people who aren’t normally bothered by this shit wouldn’t be annoyed by the character design here. Even ignoring any “Tumblr-friendly” rhetoric, the character designs straight-up do not make any sense.

      This should annoy people concerned with simple internal consistency.

  7. Gassalasca says:

    I just want to say I love how Graham presents the Papers.

    • Graham Smith says:

      <3

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        I just want to say I love how much Graham’s avatar reminds me of Demetri Martin, but with a fuller beard.

    • Premium User Badge

      Earl-Grey says:

      Yes, I concur.
      More of this, Graham, please.
      Hugs!

    • The Random One says:

      Graham, you are good at selecting Sunday Paper articles and should feel good.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        So beard. Such Graham

        • Premium User Badge

          Earl-Grey says:

          Sodding hell this meme needs to crawl back to the 4Chan sub hell that spawned it and die, die like the utterly unfunny flatulent, diseased swine of a dog it is.

        • Premium User Badge

          Earl-Grey says:

          Yes yes, sorry for the outburst. It’s all in good humor, though, I assure you =)
          …but ARSE do I despise that meme.
          Such angry. Much…THIS IS HARDER THAN IT SEEMS!

  8. Rii says:

    I’m glad we have a Professor of Video Games to tell us that Bioshock’s ethical choice system was pretty shit.

    Of course he’s being consulted by a writer who is under the impression that said ethical choice system was amongst the game’s most praised elements…

  9. Viroso says:

    Movie goers, readers… there are names for people who like these things. I don’t think it’s a big deal. Some people play games, others don’t. It’s a label that identifies people who like to play video games, nothing more and nothing else. Being a gamer doesn’t mean you can’t be something else and if you don’t play video games it doesn’t mean you can’t become a gamer.

    I think it’s practical, which is why I use it. I think lots of people seem to hate it because of other things that they associate with “gamer” not for the role the term actually serves.

    How is “reader” different from “gamer” after all.

    edit: Oh, is see.. RPS raised these exact same points but I didn’t read it in my furious haste to post :(

    • Premium User Badge

      draglikepull says:

      Everyone I know reads books and none of them refer to themselves (or others) as “readers” except in the very broad sense that anyone who is engaged in the act of reading is a reader.

      • Shuck says:

        Yeah, terms like “reader” and “moviegoer” are presumed to apply to nearly everyone. Although some small part of the usage distinguishes those who read or watch movies from those who don’t, they primarily describe either someone in the act of reading/watching a movie, or the audience for a particular book or movie. It’s telling that in American English, at least, we don’t even have a term for someone who watches television – we only talk about “viewers,” who again describes those who are in the act of watching, or are the audience for a particular program.

      • Fluka says:

        Wouldn’t the videogame equivalent of “reader” be “player”? In most circumstances both are much more neutral expressions, conveying “person reading a book” or “person engaging with a game”, rather than carrying with it a whole host of cultural baggage.

        • Bull0 says:

          Calling people who play games Gamers is like calling people who read books Bookers.

        • Premium User Badge

          Harlander says:

          I think “player” has its own, somewhat-unrelated-to-computer-games cultural baggage…

      • Viroso says:

        Nobody I know who plays games refers to themselves as gamers either. No one goes like “I’m a gamer” or something like that. But people use the term when talking about people who play video games, just like they’d use when talking about people who read stuff.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          “I’m a gamer! Because playing video games is what defines me as who I am!”

          I’m a person that likes to play video games. I don’t need to self-identify with some notion of culture by proxy of hobby. I enjoy drinking beer, too, and I’m quite knowledgeable on my ales and lagers, but I don’t go around saying, “I’m a beer drinker.” No one in their right mind identifies themselves as a moviegoer. And that’s the difference. There’s gamers, as a market share (just like how moviegoers are a market share) and then there’s the self-identifying culture of “gamers,” which really seems to be increasingly becoming nothing more than market fanaticism masquerading as self-identity.

          “Yeah, I go to a lot of movies. I’m a moviegoer.” – No One, Ever

          • malkav11 says:

            That’s because moviegoer is a general term for someone who goes to a movie. There absolutely are people who engage with film as a hobby and a passion and there are terms for those people, such as cineaste, film geek, movie lover, etc. Gamer may not be the best term to describe someone who engages with games in such a way, but it is nonetheless the term in use and because it is still far less common for people to dabble in videogames or tabletop gaming in the way that people casually consume movies or television or books or whatever, there isn’t really a general use term for that other than maybe “player”.

          • BooleanBob says:

            Bookworm, cineaste, muso, foodie.

            This is a thing. So can everyone please stop with the hand-wringing and the arms-up-inning.

      • Emeraude says:

        The reading equivalent of “gamer” wouldn’t be reader, but “bookworm” though.
        And we have similarly loaded – cliché and all; there’s a reason I can say “this is music for mustachioed people” to my friends from the conservatory, and they understand what I mean and laugh – terms for music or movie people that are just in the same ways invested in their medium of choice, though I don’t necessarily know the English equivalent.

    • WrenBoy says:

      I feel we must have been reading different articles. This was the most clear headed, convincing piece of writing I have ever been fortunate enough to read.

      Why only last week I witnessed a film buff make a highly inappropriate defense of statutory rape after a viewing of Chinatown. However I now realise that, despite their common interest, film buffs are not all white middle aged males and some of them may not even be pedophiles. The problem here is clearly that a phrase exists to imply shared perversions among a group of people who, bizzarely, may only have a single shared interest in common.

      Now that I think of it the word reader is even more problematic. While some readers may well be sweaty, overweight housewives we would not be obliged to imagine them as a homogenous 50 Shades of Grey loving group had language not dishonestly supplied us with a simple word which would ideally reveal nothing more than what they do of an evening but which actually fools us into believing they were all of the same gender, race and level of sexual dissatisfaction.

      Clearly what is needed is education. People need to be taught that words are chains which bind us by their imagined meaning. We must stop using them at all costs.

      • marlin says:

        It’s ‘paedophile’….sorry.

        • Shuck says:

          I’m afraid you’re wrong. Didn’t you know that the American spelling of everything is the “correct” spelling? ;P

        • WrenBoy says:

          I am tempted to say that being neither British nor American affords me the right to pick preferred spelling but to be honest I use Google as my spell checker. I thought of double checking, decided against it, and am happy I made the safest choice.

        • Michael Anson says:

          Actually, the correct term is “hebephile.” A pedo- or paedophile is someone specifically attracted to those who have not yet hit puberty; a hebephile is someone attracted to those who are past the beginning of puberty but have not yet fully matured. Since pretty much every case of statutory rape (as opposed to violent rape) occurs with a teen, hebephile is the correct word.

  10. nmarebfly says:

    I can honestly say that I was curious enough about Wildstar to check it out, but that shit is so egregious that in a single article any interest has evaporated. It approaches the realm of parody and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone defended it as such, but — holy moley, look at that Draken shot compared to the Charr. It’s not like this is impossible to get right.

    • Horg says:

      Honestly, that article was the equivalent of a cold shower for the Wildstar hype. The company have been working their asses off to sell the game over the last year, and then something like this comes along and shocks us back to reality. They are making an MMO, and no matter how much we want to believe this one will break the mold, it probably wont.

      • aepervius says:

        That remind me of Tera in a way. The elin, and elf, and female in general. I like the game because it is action oriented, but heck, the blatant flounting of breast and ass is getting on my nerve. Why could not Tera (or wildstar) make real armor and covering, and normal looking men and women ? Or even fat one ? I am guessing that this is the screenshot/trolling problem. They want their game to look very good, so buffy men, sex bomb women, this is better showing off n screenshot, than normal clothed and proportionned men and women.

        • Tancosin says:

          I played a bit of TERA (not too much though, I discovered I’m really not much of a fan of MMOs) and didn’t find it that bad myself, mainly because all the characters are fairly sexualized, both male and female. I just remember looking at the demon-esque male character, who bared quite a bit of cleavage himself :P I thought it was pretty fair in its depictions.

          I would say though, the best game I know of for regular depictions of women would be Dark Souls. Most of the armour (especially the heavier ones) are exactly the same; the armours that are changed look like the changes would actually be useful and more comfortable for a woman to wear (for example the chainmail top), and the stuff that is revealing is equally revealing for both (when naked, the male’s thong is actually probably a bit worse than the female bra/underwear).

          • Malleus says:

            “I would say though, the best game I know of for regular depictions of women would be Dark Souls.”

            YES

            I’d also mention Dragon Age 2. The armor design is too fancy sometimes, but at least the armors properly look the same on both genders. This was a nice change from the retarded molding titty armors of DAO.

    • LionsPhil says:

      They made the female Granoks look like that?

      What happened to the one painted on the ship’s hull in the cinematic teaser thing? Big, chunky, kickass musclegirl (screengrab). Missing a front tooth. Yes that image is sexualized, it’s fighter-jet iconography, but the actual species on display at least looks like the same one as the big, chunky, kickass blokes (with missing front teeth).

      • The Random One says:

        It would be interesting to imply that a species of burly, warring creatures can’t find their females sexy unless they have some sort of battle scar.

    • kalirion says:

      Out of morbid curiosity, I couldn’t help but google for pics of the female Chua. It wasn’t easy, but located this beauty: http://wildstar-central.com/index.php?threads/id-like-to-take-a-second-to-talk-about-boobs.3817/page-15#post-89457

      (too bad its not real)

    • taristo says:

      Looks cool to me, mostly in line with other NCSoft games like Aion, Blade & Souls, Lineage II and Guild Wars. Will make sure to check it out.

  11. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    I am very much torn between admiring the sheer STYLE!!! the team behind Wildstar have going, and being annoyed by how it leaves the female character models behind in terms of variety. I can’t even have a one-eyed battle-scarred warrior lady in the species of big burly warriors? Pah.

    • Geebs says:

      I think that a “one-eyed warrior” character is against the EULA. It certainly was in Spore.

  12. Dubbill says:

    This is my Dexy’s/hip-hop mashup of choice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6U5fveu_CUA

  13. sandineyes says:

    I dislike the term ‘gamer’ as well. I prefer to say that I am a ‘video games enthusiast’, although I’m not sure if that is less tribal sounding. I wouldn’t say it is a term that identifies many aspects of me, except for the part that enjoys video games. And I’m not sure that it is so uncommon for people to describe parts of themselves in terms of their hobbies and such ( like ‘film buff’ or ‘music lover’ or ‘bookworm’ and so forth).

  14. malkav11 says:

    Thank you. I get so irritated by that “but we don’t call people moviers” style of argument against the term gamer. There are absolutely equivalent terms for other hobbies, and film, books, etc all have hobbyists . To me the difference between a gamer and a nongamer is basically whether games are something you happen to interact with in passing the way many people do with movies or books (i.e. every now and then as a timewaster, or if it happens to be there and you’re bored, or if it’s an event), or if it’s actually an interest of yours that has a carved out role in your life, that you follow, that you care about. It’s about a level of immersion in the medium that gives you vocabulary and context that people who happen to play a sports game now and then or play a lot of Bejeweled but not much else won’t have.

    • Shuck says:

      I think using degree of activity is still problematic, though – we don’t have a term for someone who watches a lot of television, for example (except, perhaps, “loser”), nor for readers or filmgoers. What distinguishes a “film buff” from the average person who watches films tends to be not (just) a matter of hours spent, but a more active, even participatory role – structured discussion, analysis, and the like, at the very least. The concept of “hobbyist” is still bound up with the idea of “amateur” – the implication is that you’re doing something productive, engaging the activity with a degree of seriousness that’s almost professional. Simply spending more time on something does not, by itself, make you more serious about it, especially if we’re talking about consuming entertainment. If someone says that their hobby is games, I assume they’re making mods and games, not just passively playing them.

      • Shieldmaiden says:

        I think it’s about engagement, more than anything else. There are plenty of people out there who spend more hours per week playing games than I do, but I wouldn’t think of them as gamers. When I hear that term, I think of someone who is deeply interested in not only the games themselves, but the industry, the social and cultural impact of games, the history of the medium, that sort of thing.

        I probably spend almost as much time watching movies and listening to music as I do playing games, but other than checking release dates or looking at IMDB because I’m sure I saw her in something else, my relationship with them is limited to consumption and little else. With games, it’s different.

        • The Random One says:

          I agree with that entirely. I have an engagement with games that I don’t have with movies and surely don’t have with music, but certainly do have with books. For a single, random example, I have no interest in listening to old music to understand how genres came about, but I have a lot of interest in doing the same for games and books (being decades-old games and centuries-old books).

        • malkav11 says:

          Yes, this. Engagement is the key bit, in my mind.

          I don’t think being actively involved in the creative end is necessary, though it certainly might be part of it. I think people who actually code games or make mods are a much smaller subset of the enthusiast gamer spectrum and conceivably not even necessarily part of it. I could easily envision someone who makes games never actually playing any other games, much less participating in the culture and societal elements that surround them.

      • Jack Mack says:

        Couch potato.

  15. mauzed says:

    I like this version more: http://youtu.be/aah5LIvMwmk
    More british too.

  16. Rii says:

    Not to detract from the excellent points made in both of the articles regarding Wildstar’s character design, but something else I took away from them was the fact that I have no further need to investigate this game because it looks, well, terrible. All of the characters shown are entirely unappealing; it’s as if a machine has been directed to create stuff wot is ‘cute and cheerful’ and the resulting output is so soulless as to be disturbing.

    • pepperfez says:

      I quite liked the smashed-up Granok face. Everybody’s body shape was pretty unsettling, though – the males too, although a wider variety of unsettlings.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Honestly, I think the second article is pretty weak. It’s first mistake is to consider Wildstar sci-fi, when it’s pretty evidently going for space-fantasy whee rayguns and aliens.

      And breasts and mammary glands are different things. The fat buildup is beyond that needed for simply producing milk, hence theories that they are, in fact, just plain old sexual indicators, by one line of thought mirroring the rump that was no longer at eye level once mankind started walking upright. Lizards with tits aren’t dumb because lizards don’t lactate; lizards with tits are dumb because it’s the wrong kind of sexy for lizards.

      • Shieldmaiden says:

        Guild Wars 2 isn’t exactly hard sci-fi, but they’ve managed to create a bunch of varied races with sensible male and female character models.

      • The Random One says:

        It’s still weird that every single space-fantasy race in the galaxy-realm happens to find gigantic jugs and itty bitty hips sexually attractive… even the robots.

      • Moraven says:

        I liked it when on Sci-Fi TV shows had some creative alien costume design. More interesting ones were the non human looking ones that did not have straight up muscle for male and boobs, curves for female.

      • Premium User Badge

        strangeloup says:

        I am curious but also a bit scared to investigate what the right kind of sexy for lizards is.

  17. dethtoll says:

    I just want to say that terms like “hardcore gamer” need to die — because despite the diversification of the “gamer” demographic terms like “hardcore gamer” and “casual gamer” only serve to be divisive. You’re either a gamer or you’re not — and we still haven’t completely agreed on what being a gamer entails either. There are corners of the internet that insist that they’re gamers even though the closest they ever get to a game is watching an LP on Youtube.

    • pepperfez says:

      “Hardcore” and “casual” also don’t pick up the divisions they think they do. Playing a “casual game” rigorously and learning its ins and outs makes you a hardcore gamer.

    • Emeraude says:

      Actually I want more divisions. I want more precise tools to discriminate the various profiles by which people consume games.

      Saying “we’re all gamers” is nice and all, well intentioned for certain, but there *are* different profiles of players, and so far our shared critical vocabulary is so poor that in spite of all the errors they can bring, the terms “hardcore” and “casual” are still useful shorthands in discussing the subject matter.

      • The Random One says:

        Yeah – just like there are different words for people who like rock, funk and hip-hop, and very different communities that are centered on those styles but not solely about them.

  18. dE says:

    I wouldn’t mind if the term gamer disappears from existence. It has turned into a symbol for unreasonable, sexist, racist, childish and just plain crazy people. I haven’t seen it used in any positive light in recent years. Everytime I see it, it’s always as a prelude to a scattershot against them. Whomever they are, with the term gamer, the shoe always seems to fit. And best of all, no one can ever argue against the scattershot.
    I’d even go as far as to say that using the term gamer, we do a much better job at discrediting games than the Sun, Bild and FOX News of this world ever could.

    Standard Disclaimer since I struggle with properly translating tone: This comment contains no ill will towards anyone. If anything I wrote hurt you or somehow infringed on your personal space, I’m sorry. I certainly didn’t mean to.

    • tormos says:

      dE I feel bad when I see you post that disclaimer but i’ve also seen you get jumped all over by people who misinterpret your tone, so do what you have to.

    • WrenBoy says:

      It seems a little like disliking the comic book stereotype and so insisting on calling them graphic novels.

      It doesnt change what they are nor how they are perceived in my opinion. A rose by any other name and all that.

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s a description or a category. There’s nothing inherently pejorative or negative about it as a term unless you believe being into games to be an inherently negative thing, which seems doubtful on a gaming website. Your offense at its use reminds me of the way American conservatives have decided that terms like “liberal” and “socialist” are inherently bad and insulting while the rest of us go “um, and? That doesn’t mean what you seem to think it means.”

  19. hilltop says:

    I found it odd that the writer of the ethical gaming article had not played Unmanned. Not to suggest he should have heard of it beforehand (I hadn’t until this Sunday Papers) – but it takes all of a few minutes to experience. Given he had gone through the trouble of an email-interview which specifically mentioned the game as an example of what the article was about (the only positive example supplied), it seems strange he did not take the ten minute diversion of experiencing it.

  20. korsaka says:

    That Guardian article … Heehee, oh dear.

    For the best responses, see the comment section at http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2013/12/correcting-your-gameplay-for-the-greater-good.html

    • The Random One says:

      Does one of those comments that essentially boil down to “communism, LOL” has a link to those best responses you mentioned?

    • hilltop says:

      … I suppose it was slightly entertaining to read a succession of people vigorously missing the point.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      Korsaka, that was excellent, thank you. Glad to see there are still a few sane minds on RPS.

      It’s good to laugh, yes, but in doing so I think we run the risk of not taking these people and the threat they increasingly pose to free society seriously. Which is why most of my posts strike a distinctly less amused tone.

  21. PopeRatzo says:

    PC games don’t sell very well in Japan, he says, so when it comes time for a Japanese company to port a game to PC, they often underestimate what PC gamers expect in the way of features.

    Wait. Japanese car companies have no trouble estimating what Western drivers expect in the way of features, so why should game developers have this excuse made for them?

    Maybe someday, when it becomes possible to translate one language into another, and to do market research across borders, game companies will be able to figure out what PC gamers expect in the way of features.

    Why is it so hard to just say they have taken PC gamers for granted, and that amateur modders are just enabling sloppy game companies?

    If I see that a certain game is great but the PC version is only playable with Mod X, I refuse to pay anything like full price for the game unless the publisher gives half the profits to the modder. Don’t hold your breath. I’m happy to make donations to modders whose work has given me great entertainment, but as far as I’m concerned, the developer doesn’t deserve my money.

    • Shieldmaiden says:

      It’s not just about language, but culture. Microsoft had Japanese-speaking staff and I’m betting loads of market research, but they still ballsed up promoting the Xbox in Japan. It can be largely attributed to a bunch of screw ups and misunderstandings over things that wouldn’t even have occurred to them. It’s the same thing here; if a Japanese developer has no understanding of Western PC gaming, they probably don’t even think about this stuff.

      I’m not saying it’s an excuse, or that they shouldn’t be called on it, but it seems like a valid reason.

  22. Grape Flavor says:

    I was about to try and take the piss out of Graham’s tiresome and ridiculous political bent to this week’s papers, but then I realized that it’s already indistinguishable from parody already, so there’s simply nothing for me to do. I just hope to god you kind of people don’t fancy yourselves as “liberals”, as so many of your American counterparts do, because the odious mindset that you keep pushing is pure anathema to everything that word stands for.

    And talk about “alienating”… It’s rather amazing how the content on a website ostensibly about video games can be so unpalatable as to necessitate me stepping away from the computer and breathing deeply to suppress the urge to vomit… So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be going for a brisk walk now. I’ll be back for the weekly articles, because there the increased focus on the particular topic at hand more effectively disguises the smell than in the Papers, to the point where those are usually consumable without much nausea.

    • The Random One says:

      Ha! A post satirizing the people who call RPS’ politics “extreme”, that starts out by accusing the article itself of being satire! Bloody genius! To think there are people who actually think like that!

      • Grape Flavor says:

        “How Skyrim can help us overthrow capitalism”? The words “gamer” or “gaming community” are offensive now? What games really need is an ethics police? Help, help, Wildstar’s characters are too attractive? Oh the horror, a game designer made the male and female rock golems look different?

        I’d say it’s pretty damn indistinguishable from high parody at this point. Also, people characterize RPS’s politics as “extreme” because they are extreme. If you can’t perceive that, it means you’re so deep within the ideological bubble that you can’t see a damn thing.

        Sure, they try to dress it up nice sometimes for the public, but their true colors always shine through in the end. RPS writers occupy the batshit leftmost fringe of the political spectrum, and if you can’t realize that then I feel sorry for you.

        • Stardreamer says:

          “RPS writers occupy the batshit leftmost fringe of the political spectrum, and if you can’t realize that then I feel sorry for you.”

          My turn to vomit. Getting really sick and tired of the constant insults being hurled at the writers here by commenters unable to find even the barest minimum of respect or manners, whose ego-driven arrogance presumes that only their opinion about any given subject could possibly be worthwhile, and who challenge others’ opinions with snark and belittlement. Your attitude stinks, Grape. It won’t be missed.

        • The Random One says:

          Oh man, you’re on fire! I especially like how you point out how people who actually think like that are just like the ones they criticize – like how treating “Occupy Tamriel” as a threat to society is the same sort of freshman naivety as thinking such things can actually overthrow capitalism. Your bit on the gamer article that ignores Graham’s comments worked pretty well too – hurf hurf this is Ultra Liberal Hour and they agree on every point! Although I must say your critique of American politics fell a bit flat – it’s true that American politics are so eschewed to the right that RPS’ political stances would be considered far left there, even though they’re barely center left in places with saner politics (well, less insane) but remember the site is British so that might not come through – maybe try calling them Democrats next time although that might be a bit too much on the nose. Oh, but I won’t bother you any more – you’re playing your character too well! Cheers!

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      ffordesoon says:

      You know what, why don’t you stay away.

      • Grape Flavor says:

        Yeah, you know what, that’s a good idea. I think this Sunday Papers might be the last straw. I’ll wait for the rest of the advent calendar but no promises after that.

        At the very least, I’ll turn on my ad blocker so they can stop getting paid for this dreck. (Aww, don’t cry, John, I’m just trying to help overthrow capitalism!)

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          Bye bye.

        • Lemming says:

          ” I’ll wait for the rest of the advent calendar but no promises after that.”

          Don’t do us any favours…

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      And talk about “alienating”…
      Yes. Get this through your thick skull. You are not wanted here. You disgust us. Go away.

    • Shieldmaiden says:

      It’s quite delicious how completely the point of the Papers have been missed here. It a round-up of interesting articles. “Interesting” does not imply agreement; in actual fact, whoever is compiling the Papers often briefly refutes an article immediately following the link. Like Graham did in this one.

      I read an interesting article this morning on how Sarah Palin believes that atheists are a threat to America. It’s a load of bollocks, really, but still interesting. Reading it, or even sharing it with other people, doesn’t mean that I endorse the views being espoused.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      Wow, I really blew a fuse there, didn’t I? Funny how what seemed fitting at the time becomes rather cringe-inducing after a good night’s sleep. I think I’ll just slink away quietly and unplug this keyboard and stuff it in the closet for a while.

  23. Lemming says:

    I was quite looking forward to Wildstar, but those female models are fucking lazy, nevermind sexist. What a missed opportunity for a game that is trying to appeal to a large age-range. A damn shame.

    • SirMonkeyWrench says:

      I do not think you know what misogyny means.
      But I do agree they are certainly lazy and uninspired.

      • Lemming says:

        I did know what it means, but it’d been a long day. Edited before I get ten thousand replies all concentrating on that instead of my point.

    • DRoseDARs says:

      Rock boobs. Rock boobs! *facepalm*

  24. Kubrick Stare Nun says:

    What do you guys think of the term “post-gamer”? Sounds cool right?

  25. Strangerator says:

    I think Mr. Mason is making a bit too much of game economies. Most game designers build their economies around “what makes this the most fun?” Reading anything into Skyrim’s economy is laughable, as the world entirely revolves around the player’s convenience. I’d go so far as to say Skyrim’s a bit too generous if anything. If the focus of a game is not economic modeling, then there is no real chance of even scratching the surface of useful commentary on any particular model.

    Now let’s say you design a game where the focus is the economics… surely NOW you can start to make interesting points about real world economics? In practice, the bias of the designers will always bleed through and influence how the game turns out. Every deviation the designer makes away from reality (intentional or not) will tend to reflect a particular bias in belief about one system being better than others. Or perhaps the game’s goal will be made something like “minimize income inequality.” The way in which a game evaluates the success or failure of an economic system will inherently contain the bias of the designers.

    Finally, let’s say you build this sort of commune simulator, in order to demonstrate how great it would be to live that way. This would fail as a game for precisely the same reasons this system fails in reality. There is nothing to strive for, and no reason to achieve. You could expend hours upon hours of extra effort trying to develop a new innovation that will make whatever task you and others perform easier. Or, you could just knock off early and go to the bar. Both will yield you an equal personal gain of zero. However, if I were a betting man, I’d wager that there would be some form of (definitely NOT MONEY) currency so that the player can monitor just how much goodness he is contributing to the collective. This would be the ultimate irony, because these “goodness points” would inevitably be used to unlock (buy) things to provide the game a sense of progression. I’d also wager this simulated communism would involve far less accurate depictions of mass starvations, and no mini games involving being forced to feed your dead children to those who are still alive.