The Sunday Papers

By Graham Smith on January 5th, 2014 at 3:00 pm.

Sundays are for wiping the sleep from your eyes, clearing a holiday-worth of coffee cups from your writing bureau, and settling down in your favourite armchair for another round of the week’s best game writing.

  • Simon “Nice Man” Parkin visits with Chris Crawford to find out how his quest to fix videogames is going. Crawford is the industry’s Don Quixote and exactly as inspirational, depressing and comic as that implies. “Chris Crawford owns two jars. One is filled with the beads that represent his past, and the other is filled with the beads that represent his potential future. Every morning, Crawford takes a bead from the jar that holds his future days and places it into the jar that holds the past. While he performs the ritual he tells himself not to waste the day. This routine reminds him that life is finite. Each jar represents how much life Crawford has already lived, and offers an approximation of how many days he might have left.” You’ll have heard parts of this story before, but Parkin tells it well.
  • Parkin had a busy break, also finding the time to take a personal trip to Grand Theft Auto V’s Los Santos. I’ve been to Santa Monica numerous times also, but I’d feel more immersed in Los Santos if there was an “Apply Factor 50″ button and accurate sunburn modelling.
  • Which also leads into Eurogamer’s Developers’ Games of 2013, in which GTAV was uniformly loved by developers of similarly big, expensive games. Here’s Peter Molyneux expressing a deep affinity for the most unlikeable character in the entire medium: “The fantastic Trevor character. I just feel I am Trevor. I want to be Trevor! I’ve never empathised with a character so much! It was perfection.”
  • Finishing off the flurry of GTAV articles, Edge accomplished the impossible and got Rockstar to talk about their own game. Art director Aaron Garbut explains the process of building the city of Los Santos: “I love working with level design. As we’re laying out the world and blocking it in, we’re considering gameplay and coming up with mission ideas. I always do my best to push those ideas through, but I think the most enjoyable part of the project is when we start to place everything in the world. Once the locations are in place and level designers start to get everything to flow together and the cutscenes plugging in, it ticks over from being a series of disconnected elements into a game.”
  • Critical Distance did the hard work I didn’t, because I’m lazy and was out of the country, by rounding up their favourite games writing from the past year. There’s some good stuff in the list, although increasingly I think we need more recognition – maybe a meaningless, backpatting, borderline corrupt award, as per tradition – of the unsung and brilliant preview and news writing that happens all the time but which is rarely rewarded because its explicitly useful to the reader. My heroes are the people writing succinct, funny 25-word descriptions of videogames that no one will read, every month, in the standing pages of magazines.
  • Mattie Brice has been writing good games criticism for years, especially at the essential Border House blog. She writes on the value of anger as a tool to combat and stay vigilant against social injustice, and the difference between anger and insults. There’s a lot to like in the piece, although I think the waters are muddied by conflating broader industry diversity issues with a personal struggle to make a living as a games critic. “I witnessed personal attacks happen in the name of social justice yesterday, and no matter how complicated the issue, I didn’t say anything even though I felt uncomfortable. I was wrong not to say anything and I sincerely apologize for my hesistation. What we need is more nuanced discussion, and what happened was more of the same. This feels like a good example where valid anger is misused in the name of social justice.” Go read.
  • PC Gamer continued what is hopefully now a yearly tradition with Chris Livingston’s Text Adventures That Never Were. At their best, they’re as much criticism as comedy, and BioShock Infinite was my favourite.
  • The Washington Post interviewed Gabe Newell on what makes Valve tick. These stories about Valve’s internal structure should be boring by now, but there’s lots to take away from this one. Like: the Diretide fiasco was a trade-off of the way the company operates; Valve offer free internal training courses; and someone at Valve likes Ultimate Frisbee. “My wife, who worked here at the beginning when she was pregnant, is super annoyed about how most companies make it really difficult for their female employees to deal with raising kids so we’re sort of hyper vigilant about making that as easy as possible. She feels like a lot of women get forced out of the workforce because of the trade offs they have to make and it tends to be this fairly large gap. She now runs this organization dedicated to helping from birth to around three years, so she sees how hard it is for most families to keep the mother engaged with her career during that period. A lot of times, after three years they’ve just sort of fallen out. And that’s just another instance of a class of difficulties that we all have.”
  • Objective Game Reviews is, I’m almost certain, clever satire of what internet commenters on lesser sites have been requesting for years. That or it’s about to become the most successful videogame site on the internet. Check it: “The graphics in Mass Effect 3 are in a realistic style. There are many aliens that look similar to each other except sometimes they are wearing different clothes. The humans display more variation. The music in the game is orchestral. The sound consist of many different gun fire noises, space noises, and conversations between the characters. Many of the conversations are about the Reapers.”
  • Patrick Miller writes about videogames. In this instance, he writes about a panel from the No Show conference about the fighting game community. If you’re interested in communities or fighting games or the FGC or criticism and journalism or race and gender, read it immediately. “When Harper talks about King from Tekken as a ”Mexican wrestler with Jaguar’s head because why not?” King is used as kind of a throwaway joke about how weird and exotic and quaint fighting game characters are. King is a homage to legendary Japanese pro wrestler Tiger Mask, who was instrumental in the formation of Japan’s modern mixed martial arts culture (he was a founder of Shooto), and I’ve had the pleasure of training with Japanese pro fighters who told me about how watching Tiger Mask as a kid inspired them to continue training. King’s inclusion is part of what makes Tekken a decidedly Japanese fighting game in flavor, compared to Virtua Fighter or Street Fighter’s comparatively international casts.”

Music this week comes via Marc Laidlaw.

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111 Comments »

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  1. AngusPrune says:

    I think Objective Game Reviews must be the most effort anyone has ever put in to a one note joke. I’m not sure whether to congratulate or pity them.

    • tetracycloide says:

      The FAQs are pretty funny.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        In my head I read them in the voice of the Stanley Parable narrator

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      Lambchops says:

      Bless their little heart, they really have OBJECTIVELY tried hard.

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        Lambchops says:

        Scratch that from the record. They’ve actually objectively tried REALLY REALLY HARD, there’s alt-text and everything.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      I think the demands for more objective game reviews deserve a fair amount of effort in their ridicule.

    • The Random One says:

      They say that if you start out with a joke, it’s funny, then if you stretch it, it stops being funny, then if you stretch it more, it’s really not funny, and if you stretch it even more it suddenly becomes funny again.

      They stretched their joke so far the concept of funny has become entirely meaningless.

      I like them.

    • Koozer says:

      I went there all prepared to chuckle, but…some of the reviews are actually quite good. All they need is an objective way to describe game mechanics like ME3’s shootybangs and it’d be brilliant. What have I become?

    • kwyjibo says:

      “In Battlefield 4 a player can spawn in a jet fighter, shoot down an AC-130 gunship, crash the jet fighter into an enemy helicopter, bail out onto the roof of a building, run inside the building and shoot the inhabitants, lay C4 on the walls of the building, jump out of the building and trigger a parachute two seconds before hitting the ground, detonate the C4 to kill other enemies who have entered the building to attack the player, and then capture the nearby objective by standing close to a flagpole until the flag on it changes color to designate that the point is now owned by the player’s team.”

      It might be a joke, but that paragraph sums up Battlefield 4 better than pretty much anything else I’ve read.

      I mean, you’re a writer at Gamespot, I don’t give a fuck about your opinions about the depiction of Chinese nationalism in Battlefield 4.

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      Gap Gen says:

      Worth pointing out that in the process of literally describing what happens in the games, those reviews contain a fair amount of spoilers.

    • radishlaw says:

      The reviews are (subjectively) better-written than a great number of reviews out there. And they get the facts about the games right from what I’ve seen. I guess what I’m saying is I will totally subscribe to their newsletter.

  2. bleeters says:

    “Here’s Peter Molyneux expressing a deep affinity for the most unlikeable character in the entire medium: “The fantastic Trevor character. I just feel I am Trevor. I want to be Trevor! I’ve never empathised with a character so much! It was perfection.”

    Well, that explains a lot I guess.

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      RedViv says:

      It is just confirming what we already knew for years – Molyneux gets excited by really pretty much everything.

    • Fiatil says:

      I ahh, quite like Trevor. Most of my friends that I’ve spoken with that have played the game do as well. Strong argument, I know! But what’s with the internet hate?

      • bleeters says:

        Well, sure, but I’m not particularly clear why someone would want to be Trevor.

    • dE says:

      Trevor is essentially “Videogame Player, the Character”.
      From random inexplicable acts of wanton destruction, mayhem just ’cause and violence to getting hung up on odd ideas about friendship, while always having an axe to grind.

      • Graham Smith says:

        This gets said a lot and I don’t fully agree. Trevor provides the player with ample justification for their care-free rampages, but his personality is nothing like the one I think of my actions expressing when I’m playing an action game.

        I think most players are more like a giant baby, playfully knocking over a house of blocks to watch it fall out of a sense of curiosity and a need for agency. It’s not coming from this place of malice or vindictiveness, which is where most or Trevor’s actions come from.

        I didn’t care for its characters either, but I think Bulletstorm’s drunken space captain is a better example of “Videogame Player, the Character” than Trevor.

        Or maybe it’s just that Trevor is a different demographic of gamer. He’s the Call of Duty player who posts comments underneath Gamespot reviews.

        • Greggh says:

          Graham uses low-blow.

          “the Call of Duty player who posts comments underneath Gamespot reviews.”

          IT’S SUPER EFFECTIVE!!!

          • Upper Class Twit says:

            OK, so playing Call of Duty does not actually make you an inferior human being, right? I mean, these are video games we are talking about. Fucking video games. How the hell did we get to the point where we can get all snooty and elitist about video games? Can you imagine how stupid this whole “oh, so you’re a *sniff* COD player” thing looks to people who don’t play video games?

            On another note, I’m not sure how many of you guys talking about who Trevor is have actually played GTAV all the way through. I haven’t, but plenty of folks that actually have played through his character arc say there’s a bit more to the character than what was present in all the adds. Depth, development, misunderstanding, something to that effect.

          • Archonsod says:

            “Can you imagine how stupid this whole “oh, so you’re a *sniff* COD player” thing looks to people who don’t play video games?”

            Of course not. I wouldn’t classify them as people to begin with.

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            Gap Gen says:

            UCT: I read it more as an insult to Gamespot commenters, rather than COD players.

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            drewski says:

            I’ve played it all the way through and for me he got a lot less likeable as the story progresses.

            There’s two or three things he did that made me basically want him out of the game.

        • dE says:

          You are right, I should have been more precise in that comment (something I frequently question people on as well, ugh). I was somewhat thinking about the dudebro yeti when I was writing that and forgot to clarify that it indeed doesn’t apply to all. My mistake.

          Something I find myself wondering about is this though: “It’s not coming from this place of malice or vindictiveness”. Maybe I did not connect with GTA5 in the right way, something that is quite probable, given I neither finished it or particularly enjoyed it either. If the malice becomes a stronger part later on, my comment is moot and really only applies to the yeti.
          Anyways, to me Trevor didn’t really seem about malice or vindictiveness but rather a sense of sudden impulses. In the vein of “Let’s punch you in the face, because I don’t know?”. A seemingly disconnected collection of random activities incurred by random distractions along the way, punch him, shoot these guys, search for Ufos, hunt immigrants, then circle around by shooting Coyotes on the street because someone asked nicely. Similar to me playing AC4:BF for example. I sail around on my way to a mission, then there’s a Brig and I capture it, because why not? Oh and a treasure dive, well now that you mention it. Ugh, that fort attacked me, now they’re getting it! I’m finally in town, time to get to the… Shanty. And that chest. And the assassination is nearby…
          A similar chain of random activities that seem to hold no other motivation than being there at the time and sparking a random fancy.
          But as I said, I may have just not gotten Trevor really, for lack of finishing it.

          • Graham Smith says:

            That’s a good point.

            I think it’s that most games depict the player’s actions in the manner the player intends them. There’s something joyful about pursuing your whims in games like Ass Flag or Just Cause, even when your whim is to prod someone to death with a sword or dangle them from the underbelly of a helicopter with a grappling hook. You do it in your chair, at your computer, because you’re curious or it seems fun or funny. The characters carry out your actions either silently, or maybe with quips. (Take that, you pipeline jerks!” etc.)

            When Trevor performs his equivalent acts of impulse, he does not quip. He expresses the emotions that might more commonly be associated with violence: fury, anger, hatred. He screams and swears. He’s racist and misogynistic. He doesn’t tie someone to the back of a jeep and absolve you of the act of violence with a one-liner. He pushes a man to the ground and stomps their head to a pulp, in an uncontrollable rage.

            Which made it unpleasant for me to play. Trevor is not how I play games. It might be a literal representation of my actions, but it’s not an expression of my intent or motivation. I take your point though.

            Of course, to move beyond that for a second, this might have been Rockstar’s point. Trevor might be satire. Though if so I’d say: woop-de-doo. Best case scenario: they made the same point Postal did fifteen years ago. Worst case scenario: they just thought it was funny. In any case, they’ve created a horrible character that a lot of gamers – and Peter Molyneux – think is cool, which seems a lot like reading Fight Club and thinking, yeah, this Tyler Durden guy seems to have it all figured out.

          • BreadBitten says:

            @Graham I’m not sure I agree with the “racist and misogynistic” claim. Out of all the characters in the game Trevor comes off as the most accepting, I’m not saying he’s not offensive to others who are different to him but he’s just as likely to defend a woman from being referred to as a “bitch” as he is likely to call up a stripper for a roll in the hay. Also, lets not forget that the only character Trevor has associated with and NOT shown any signs of hostility towards is the Mexican gun-runner Oscar.

            Erik Kain wrote an article on Forbes on the eve of the game’s release that pointed out how GTAV, despite it’s offensiveness and crass stereotyping of certain groups, is refreshingly pro-immigration…

            http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2013/09/26/10-random-thoughts-about-grand-theft-auto-v/

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          strangeloup says:

          Until Saints Row IV came out, Bulletstorm was the most videogame-y videogame, if that makes any kind of sense.

          They’re both delightful.

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        Gap Gen says:

        I went to a talk by Peter Molyneux where he argued that game stories are better when the person playing the story is the lead character, citing the bedtime stories he tells his child. I have no idea if this is representative of what he meant or thinks today, or if this reflects on the article, but it’s an interesting insight into his development philosophy.

  3. InternetBatman says:

    The Patrick Miller piece knocked it out of the park. Outsiders cannot successfully change a community through criticism and arguing from a position of ignorance, especially feigned ignorance, is an insipid and useless tactic. His use of “option select” was tedious and unnecessary though; there are more graceful ways to show community membership than using jargon.

    • Pockets says:

      Yeah, it’s one of the best things I’ve read in a while. I wouldn’t quite agree with you that it’s impossible to contribute to change in community from the outside at all – external pressures can cause those within a community to be more willing to change.

    • King Eternity says:

      His use of “option select” was pretty much the most succinct way to describe what he meant.

    • Reapy says:

      I think what makes the FGC stick out from other gaming communities is basically how it formed up. Early on getting real human competitors in video games was local only. When your competition is on a local level, you end up with many small ponds of skill, you can be the big fish in town, but it just so happens that you haven’t met the next level of competition.

      If you look where the great players were coming from, they were from densely populated cities, the large amount of people insures there will be a sufficiently large variety of people to push the level of competition up enough that people could learn to play on the level that is close enough to ‘world class’ as you will.

      Out in the suburbs and small towns, there was no where near the population numbers nor diversity to create an appropriate competitive stage for skill the develop until internet gaming sprang up. I witnessed this big fish, small pond thing while playing warcraft 2 via kali. Regular players there would destroy most any newbie coming in, even if that person had played tons of local lan play. Even new matchmaking services that sprang up had a plethora of terrible players, nobody had been able to get online and develop skill.

      Over time this all normalized, but at first you were very, very rarely going to see a ‘local’ player be able to handle an ‘internet’ player that had a large pool of various opponents to play.

      Fighting games only recently have been playable online, leaving the only way to compete and gain skill by having a busy arcade with talent, or traveling to tournaments or get together, but really a tournaments alone won’t give you the hours of stick time you need to be great.

      This is probably why there was a divergence in the FCG vs PC / Console in terms of demographics and culture. It is pretty interesting to be honest, I love how pockets of competition or teams produce various styles and cultures, one of the great things about the world and diversity.

  4. Viscera says:

    Peter Molyneux confirmed for psychopath.

    • Greggh says:

      Peter Molyneux confirmed for over-joyousness

      FTFY

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      Gap Gen says:

      It’s kinda what you expect for someone who invented god games / the dog.

  5. Shieldmaiden says:

    Unfortunately, the Border House hasn’t been essential for a while, in my opinion. If it wasn’t for “What are you playing Wednesday” it’d frequently go weeks without any content whatsoever. It used to be one of my regular haunts, now I check in occasionally, only to find that nothing new has been posted. It’s sad really.

  6. rustybroomhandle says:

    A nice detailed look at how target group optimisation works in marketing http://howtonotsuckatgamedesign.com/2013/12/marketers-fear-female-geek-2/

    • Koozer says:

      That’s a great article. Informative without bashing the reader over the head with IMPORTANT ISSUES.

    • The Random One says:

      Nice article.

      An interesting thing is that in the real world things are even worse, because in the real world there’s no such thing as “we split our marketing budget 50% for men and women, and 40% of men bought our candy, while only 10% of women did”. In the real world we get either “40% of man we showed this ad to said they’d buy our candy, and only 10% did, so even though we are going on their words we won’t publish this ad on magazines that focus on women” or, a lot more often “Our market share amongst men grew 4% and amongst women only 1%, so we will focus our marketing on men, even though it’s literally impossible to know if it was our marketing actions that caused our market share to grow or any other events we may not control or even know about.” The truth about marketing is that no one knows how far it really works, and all of its theory is not focused so much on convincing the public to try your product but on convincing your boss that your ads will make the public buy your product.

      Also, I don’t know if using drop quotes for titles is brilliant or horrible.

    • aepervius says:

      “There never was a moment in the history of geek media, when geek media was advertised equally to men and women and there never was a moment in the history of geek media, when it was equally culturally acceptable to be interested in geek stuff for men and women.”

      I think the point this article misses, and most people misses, is that women and men are different in how they perceive the world. Sure there is a lot of overlapping of the gaussian, but the fact still stays that statistically women and men brain as a whole function differentely. There was even an article recently presenting that hemisphere linking is privileged for women, whereas intra hemisphere linking for men. Nurture/society has an influence but so does nature.

      Yes there was never a point where advertising was targeted to men and women, because there was never a point in which men and women were interrested in the same things as a whole.

      Now does that means it should be exagerated “up to 11″ as it is today ? No. I am pretty sure if advertising was not as exclusive to men as it is today there would be far more than today. But for certain game category you will never get parity. In fact some game category may be far more itnerresting to women than men.

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        Gap Gen says:

        I’d still wager that gender roles are mostly socialised. Sure, like you say there was that article that suggested that brains are wired differently according to the sexes, but it doesn’t dictate what that means about behaviour for sure, only that the structure is different. And people are pretty flexible; if you create social boxes over hundreds of years, I suspect most people could be shoved into them, and likewise if certain behaviours are innate I’m pretty sure you can train people out of them.

        In the scope of the article, there’s no reason why, say, beer is a more masculine drink – it’s a perception created, or at least enhanced, by the marketing. Sure, there’s usually the seed of something there, and you’re possibly right that, say, teenage hormonal imbalances can be used by marketers, but the article’s point is that marketing has a strong role in fostering distinct demographics in order to sell to them. I’d bet you could sell violence to women if you had decades and a large marketing budget.

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    Lambchops says:

    Spotted this in amongst that long list of articles might be of interest to those who like to ponder the definition of Rougelike:

    http://www.fortressofdoors.com/2013/12/on-procedural-death-labyrinths.html

    • Greggh says:

      “those who like to ponder the definition of Rougelike” – for 500 points

      That’s easy Mr Trebek: “Who is commenting on RPS and has with a lot of spare time?”

      CORRECT!

      XD

    • dE says:

      I have given up on the issue and am now willing to call comment sections Procedural Death Labyrinths. What? Don’t look at me with that axe to grind.
      They’re procedural, the majority of it is dynamically generated from code with little designer input, and only occasionally reacts to user input. We see the user input as part of the confines of the game. Each comment path we take, we open up a new branch in this comment section, pardon me, PDL. They’re also most assuredly deadly, each time I read a rather stupid comment, I can feel some of my braincells commit suicide with a heartfelt “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore”. And about the Labyrinth part, have you seen RPS comment sections after one of those long and tiresome discussions (Are games really art? And why are artgames more art than games are art? GO! *waves that comment bait like a baseball bat*)? It’s a regular maze!

      PDL it is. I hereby motion to rename “Comment on this story” into “Engange the PDL”.

      • Greggh says:

        You forgot about John’s trap-articles where he inserts the word gender and comment-war ensues.

        :P

      • The Random One says:

        RPS’s comment sections certainly are procedural death labyrinths, because they’re difficult to navigate and sometimes your post will get killed for a random reason. Mention that famous ARPS series by Blizzard? BANNED.

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        Lambchops says:

        :-D

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        Jackablade says:

        So you’re going to relegate Roguelikes to be called “Piddles”? I’m not really sure that I’m ok with that.

    • Velko says:

      One of these days I’ll make a game about ’70s Cambodia. Then the word Rougelike finally means something.

  8. brgillespie says:

    Yet another Sunday Papers without any mention of sexism. According to the other RPS articles I’ve read of the subject, various selected games completely subvert my view of the human female population due to depictions of impractical armor and body proportions. This subversion is apparently so subtle that rational men are powerless against it.

    How can this True Evil be stopped without more articles! Save me from myself, RPS, in the true UK parliament fashion!

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      Stellar Duck says:

      I know I really shouldn’t continue being surprised, but really? Christ.

      Edited for spelling due to a bad hang over.

    • Geebs says:

      *tumbleweed*

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      Hidden_7 says:

      See, it’s funny because not only is this a bizarre point, the complaint being something akin to “RPS writes about sexism too much, the fact that they haven’t mentioned it here PROVES it” which is… you know, silly, but it’s also incorrect. The info about the Valve article specifically mentions a common area of gender discrimination and how Valve has attempted to correct it.

      Come on, dude, it’s like you’re not even trying.

    • Vinraith says:

      It’s funny, because while pretending to plead for more writing about sexism it demonstrates the need for more writing about sexism.

    • Shieldmaiden says:

      I usually stick close to a “Don’t feed the trolls” ideal, but in this case I’m going to make an exception. Get over yourself. Seriously. The depiction of women in games isn’t about you, it’s about me and all the other women who like playing games but dislike being presented as sex objects without need nor context. I apologise that my desire for basic respect and dignity is such a terrible inconvenience to you and I’m ashamed that the dastardly knaves at RPS have forced such extreme viewpoints into your brain via whatever arcane means they use to compel you to read every article and click on every link on their site.

      • brgillespie says:

        Lifetime won’t be producing shows about guys hunting deer. That’s not their audience. They’d lose money.

        So it goes with games.

        If there was a large portion of the audience (indicated by market research), we’d see more female-power-fantasy games, instead of the current trend of male-power-fantasy games. What a female-power-fantasy entails, I do not know. I am a male. I can easily tell when a female has been inserted in the game’s art/plot/whatever as a sex object, but I can’t easily tell what was wrong with Lara Croft’s portrayal in the last Tomb Raider… which was seemingly derided as falling into the category of games we’re talking about.

        It comes down to the bottom line: what sells the most making us the largest amount of profit. It also explains why my wife doesn’t enjoy videogames. They’re not marketed towards what she likes.

        • The Random One says:

          As you can see in the excellent article rustybroomhandle posted above, the reason women are not considered a significant part of the videogame market is because marketers and executives deliberately exclude them, because it’s easier to market to a narrow audience. Furthermore, your analogy is wrong because while Lifetime doesn’t make TV shows aimed at men, several TV stations do, and men who like watching TV have a lot of options; if Activision made games aimed at men and Square-Enix made games aimed at women then your analogy would make sense. Furtherfurthermore, games are not only a commercial venture, they are also a medium of communication, so the lack of a market audience does not necessarialy imply a lack of interest by that audience; for example, even today you won’t find a marketer saying that transexuals are a great untapped market for game-making tools, but TWINE spread like wildfire amongst that audience anyway. Why? Because it was used by a few people prominently connected to communities that had a lot of transexuals in them, because it was simple enough for people without programming background to learn, and because it was free. Since the fact it was free is an important part of its success it means its popularity isn’t a market niche, (since market niches are about money spent rather than people), but it also means there are audiences the industry hasn’t tapped yet.

          tl;dr You’d find out how wrong you are if you started thinking about people as people rather than wallets.

          • brgillespie says:

            Perhaps. But those producing entertainment don’t think about people as people. They think of how to make them spend their money.

          • dE says:

            {{Citation needed}}

          • brgillespie says:

            No more than the random one’s post.

            It’s a response on a gaming journalism’s comments section, not a thesis for a master’s degree. Shall I include a bibliography, as well? :P

          • dE says:

            [quote]No more than the random one’s post.[/quote]
            -> http://howtonotsuckatgamedesign.com/2013/12/marketers-fear-female-geek-2/
            Here’s a start on that marketing argument. Worth a read at least. If that’s a tad heavy for a Saturday, you can also read this over here (pardon the reddit):

            http://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/1hxqr9/
            It’s a collection of reasons why people create games. I picked games, because it’s a game focussed website. What you are refering to, may exist in upper management. May, because even there the reasons are quite varied. I wrote citation needed, because you essentially used a single broad brush for an entire group of people, which is a pet peeve of mine. Pardon the snappy tone.

          • brgillespie says:

            Understood, thanks for the additional articles.

        • honuk says:

          it’s good to know that you view people as receptacles for marketing information and social issues as reducible to economic demographics

          it’s also good to know that you don’t think anything should aspire to be better than lifetime programming.

          for those of us who aren’t automatons and sociopaths, this is irrelevant.

    • subedii says:

      What’s kind of sad is that you think you’re actually being cuttingly witty and humorous in that post.

      Given the responses you’ve received so far, I’m wondering whether:

      a) You’re going to realise that the problem is your post and that you’d have been better off simply stating whatever point you wanted to make directly, instead of aiming for ham-fisted mockery of what you think the topics and articles have been about so far. Or

      b) Whether you’re just going to attribute those responses to more of the apparently irrational viewpoint you seem to be railing against.

    • brgillespie says:

      I’ll take option A.

      I submit my thoughts in no particular order: I’m not a supporter of the “games = sexism” train of thought. I’m also not a supporter of “games = mass shootings” train of thought. I see the two different arguments related in that they’re largely emotional in nature and seem to lack any scientific evidence that the given examples of sexism or violence actually do cause sexism or violence in the real world. I believe that consumers of video entertainment take from the medium what they wish.

      I roll my eyes at the “ipso facto” declaration of games featuring attractive women causing real world degradation of the female sex. My eyeballs roll so hard they almost fall out of my head when someone claims social justice must be applied to entertainment.

      I don’t mind the gaming industry being called to task over frequent efforts that amount of B-movies on late-night Cinemax.

      Still, I don’t mind the articles. This is, after all, RPS. The site belongs to them. I’m merely a consumer.

      I enjoyed this Sunday Papers for the link to the round up of good gaming journalism.

      Apologize for any irritation or confusion.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        If you don’t think that the media, including videogames both reflects and influences social attitudes then you literally have no idea what you are talking about regarding media theory.

        • brgillespie says:

          I could not explain to you what media theory is.

          However, if media – including videogames – reflects and influences social attitudes, then why does media mention of “violent video games” get universally panned by gaming journalism? Why does the same gaming journalism (note: not necessarily all publications) agree that “sexist video games” (read: video games that a portion or ALL of female gamers dislike) absolutely contribute to real world sexism and degradation of the female sex?

          I make a post on a random RPS article claiming that ultra-violent games are terrible for young, impressionable minds. I’ll get the standard disagreement supported by examples such as “I played GTA when I was 13, I turned out fine”.

          I make a post on a random RPS article claiming that sexist video games are terrible for young, impressionable minds (and perhaps reinforcing social views in grown, mature minds!). No real proof, just my personal view.

          I’d probably get agreed with (along with trolled :).

          It’s this contradiction that causes me to dismiss the argument.

          • dE says:

            It seems like you’ve got cause and effect mixed up.
            A game with scantily clad women that have no character whatsoever to them, does not turn a hapless young male into a raging mysoginist. That male however, may be drawn towards that game because of his sexistic inclinations. Just like videogames don’t turn people into murderers, but may entertain a murderer too, because that person is so inclined.

            Furthermore, the bigger issue with this is actually how it actively discriminates female players. Imagine playing a game and being told at every corner that your only worth is the dick between your legs and if it isn’t nice and meaty and chunky, you’re worthless. Nothing you do or say has any influence on your worth but the size and shape of your dick. And if you even dare to not flash it constantly, it’s done to emphasize how stuck up and backwater your character is. And then imagine looking at women in these same imaginary games, strong and independent, they make the decisions that matter and your entire role is delegated to flashing that noodle and occasionally affirming how great and awesome those women are and how little and helpless and utterly worthless you are in comparison. Imagine that, only with reversed roles and you might see what the actual issue is.

          • brgillespie says:

            That does indeed sound terrible. Given that argument, I understand the call from female gamers – and male gamers, too – for higher standards in the entertainment medium. Sort of like a new Michael Bay film.

            However, where’s the part where the female gamers are forced to deal with this dreary statement? That – in my opinion – would make it a true social issue.

            If a movie sucks, I get up and walk out. If a videogame is terrible, I turn it off and use it as a coaster. Or, uh… delete it from my HDD. If I don’t like a book, I stop reading it. I may post my opinion on the internet. I know that the true statement that the company will listen to is the lack of my purchase in the future.

          • The Random One says:

            I remember RedViv saying that she likes MOBAs, but every MOBA that’s out right now is mysogynistic to some degree. Are you saying that this is not a problem because she has the choice of not playing any game in a genre she likes at all? Women who care about these things may not be literally forced to play this games because they have the option of not playing any games at all, but they are forced to play those games IF they want to enjoy the medium.

            I’d also add that, if women (and men) don’t call out the games they don’t like, then how will games that they like be made in the future? Ignoring media you don’t like in the hopes that media you do like will be made in the future is a pointless endeavour.

          • dE says:

            /edit:
            @The Random One:
            grrr, don’t post in the meantime while I take far too long to make a post :P

            @brgillespie:
            So in the end your argument boils down to “don’t like it? well, women get out of games, I tell ya!”? Are you sure you want to make that argument?
            Because it’s a very silly binary argument where there are only two possible outcomes. You either absolutely adore something and forfeit any right to ever criticise any part of it (for example you may never say “this part is bad, I don’t like it”), or you unquestionably hate something and forfeit the right to ever appreciate any part of it. Criticism does not work that way, reality does not work that way. One can simultaneously appreciate the visual effects of a Michael Bay Film while criticising the plot and characters on the other hand. There’s always good and bad.

            There’s nothing wrong about calling out the bad parts while praising the good parts. And if you go back to the articles you seem to have taken issue with, they’re always a balance of what they like and what they didn’t like. People are vocal about this, because they DO like the good parts in games, but don’t want to deal with the bad parts in them.

          • Premium User Badge

            Unknown says:

            Your mistake is that you are looking for a black-and-white cause-and-effect scenario such as “I hit my girlfriend BECAUSE video games.” The real world doesn’t work like that. Sexist video games ARE sexism in the real world. Objectification of women in the media is an example of real-world sexism. If you don’t believe that art and media reflect society’s values, just take a look at some TV, films, or books from the 40s or 50s and see how women are treated and depicted there.

            Now imagine we are talking about a 50s TV show in which the main female character is depicted as a subservient housewife who knows her place and cares about nothing more than pleasing her husband, who is strong and independent and blah blah blah. Now, you may say “It’s just a TV show, I want to see some scientific evidence that this type of media causes sexism in the ~real world~.” But again, society’s relationship to media doesn’t work on a one-to-one cause-and-effect basis, and it should be obvious that the media of the 50s reflected society’s attitudes towards gender at the time, and the reason we don’t see the doting and obedient housewife on TV anymore (or at least, not as much as we used to) is because society’s values have changed since then.

            And so it is with games and other contemporary media. The depictions of women (and men) in media don’t just pop out of a black hole in the creator’s imagination. They reflect the values and attitudes of the society in which the creator is operating. And it’s up to us to analyze and criticize those depictions when we feel they are ignorant, outdated, or just plain offensive.

          • taristo says:

            misogyny (mɪˈsɒdʒɪnɪ, maɪ-)
            — n
            hatred of women

            I believe this word you are using to describe something is very far away from what you are probably trying to say in that you apparently don’t particularly like the visual designs of specific characters in MOBA games.

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            Hanban says:

            Time to close up shop fellas. There’s a guy with a dictionary here.

          • taristo says:

            I’m sorry that I have a very hard time getting how someone can get from “I do not like this character design” to “the developers of this game (and by extension the players too!) hate women”, especially when the given character designs also seem to be what a majority of women seem to prefer in the very same game as per the developer: http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?p=31555980#31555980
            For context, did you know Miss Fortune is the most popular character among female League players? Sona is #2 – something that is appealing to the eye is more aspirational and has a higher “cool quotient” than things that are not – even without hormones in the equation

            I’d likely have the same problem if you said that some developer *murdered* someone when in fact they only patted someone on the back, since words usually mean things. But maybe you can explain how the one thing actually connects to the other.

            To add, the closest official body that agrees with your arguments is the Iranian government: http://www.vg247.com/2013/08/28/league-of-legends-female-characters-banned-in-iranian-tournament/
            That should probably give you something to think about, but most likely will not.

          • Premium User Badge

            Hanban says:

            Yes. Asking for better depictions of women in videogames is the exact equivalent of Iran banning female LoL characters.

          • taristo says:

            Better depictions according to whom? Who exactly is allowed to set these inviolable rules for everyone? According to numbers from… you know actual women playing these games they seem just fine with how the depictions are right now. They actually prefer sexualized characters and you will encounter the same phenomenon in other games, like for instance WoW where female players complained that horde characters were all too ugly, which led to the introduction of the Blood Elf faction and its popularity: http://i.imgur.com/N0tWJqx.png

            As far as I can see it seems to be a very vocal minority that brings this argument up every time since it doesn’t coincide with reality.

            Other than the matter of taste in regards to the visual design I don’t see how you could extract that the developers “hate women” in any other way either, since they seem to be perfectly capable characters and don’t have any specific gender-based nerfs with about the same amount of backstory and capability as the rest, some might even call them “empowering”.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      The quoted Valve article contains stuff on maternity leave (which might seem like a trivial thing, but it’s been blamed for Italy’s population decline and Germany’s impending demographic collapse). Sexism really is something that can sink a country’s future economic competitiveness.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Sup. I haerd u leik tedium.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    “There’s a lot to like in the piece, although I think the waters are muddied by conflating broader industry diversity issues with a personal struggle to make a living as a games critic.”

    This has always been Brice’s weakness and it shows up in every article. Her style is to always osccillate between “broader argument” and “my personal story” (confessional writing), which is a very hip way to write, but the problem is 75% of the time she does it it’s not only unnecessary but actively works against itself; she makes it seem like she’s trying to prove her argument with anecdotes.

    Admittedly I haven’t read Brice in a while for this reason, so for all I know she’s gotten much better, but Graham’s sentence certainly struck a chord.

    • Geebs says:

      Yeah that was a weird article. I think the message was, “gizza job”? With a side order of evidence that Twitter will rot your mind

    • Dave Tosser says:

      That’s precisely where the majority of people on the internet writing about video games go wrong.

    • The Random One says:

      I wouldn’t call that her weakness. It’s a feature, not a bug.

    • dE says:

      Although I find myself wholeheartedly agreeing with this aspect:
      “I witnessed personal attacks happen in the name of social justice yesterday, and no matter how complicated the issue, I didn’t say anything even though I felt uncomfortable. I was wrong not to say anything and I sincerely apologize for my hesistation. What we need is more nuanced discussion, and what happened was more of the same.”

      It’s similar to my old “shouting matches don’t solve problems” argument, for which I got bombarded.

    • Pockets says:

      [quote]
      This has always been Brice’s weakness and it shows up in every article. Her style is to always oscillate between “broader argument” and “my personal story” (confessional writing), which is a very hip way to write, but the problem is 75% of the time she does it it’s not only unnecessary but actively works against itself; she makes it seem like she’s trying to prove her argument with anecdotes. [/quote]

      That’s definitely a great way of putting it. I find a lot of her work really frustrating to read for that reason, too.

      That said, the first half of the article linked is good before it takes a (clearly marked) turn into that territory, so if you’ve discounted it already it might be worth a read of that part at least. It’s still pretty twitter-centric, though.

    • Terragot says:

      “When seeking advice from friends, I knew it would be hard to get a gig anywhere, especially as someone who only does opinion pieces. ” – from Brice’s article.

      I think it’s her intention.

  10. DanMan says:

    Someone tell Chris Crawford that “if you build it, they will come” is not enough.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Earl-Grey says:

    Coffee?!
    Blasted colonists.

  12. The Random One says:

    The dragon Christ Crawford is trying to fight has been killed by Christine Love years ago. He’s stabbing a skeleton.

    • ChrisGWaine says:

      No, he’s trying to do something quite different. Putting it briefly, a system to satisfy Crawford would at least have to allow for procedural generation of the decisions that allow the player to take part in a story. The games that Christine Love makes are of the common sort for which the creator has to decide and author logic and data for a finite number of ways the story can significantly change according the player’s choices.

  13. Premium User Badge

    thedosbox says:

    PSA – For those who enjoy Cara Ellison’s writing, she’s setup a Patreon fundraising effort: http://www.patreon.com/carachan

    Hopefully this will result in some sunday papers worthy articles.

  14. Shieldmaiden says:

    Mattie is absolutely right about the need to remove the toxicity from the conversation about social justice in games. Unfortunately there are some angry people on hair triggers out there, who seem to be completely unaware of concepts like “giving the benefit of the doubt” and “honest mistake.”

    Someone in a prominent position says something wrong or potentially offensive and they’re met with personal insults and abuse. Try to point out that such a reaction is unhelpful and someone will immediately resort to the tone argument* defence. All that happens is that the trolls are fed, the bawling man-children feel vindicated in their dismissal of the crazy wimmins and the potential allies are pushed away by the sheer hatred.

    *The tone argument thing can be summed up as: if you tread on someone’s foot and they yell at you to get off, you should get off and not complain about their shouting. What some people seem to miss is that at no point has anyone suggested that the correct response to having your foot stepped on is to punch the offender in the neck, wrestle them to the ground and proceed to beat them with a handy blunt object while screaming about how hateful and ignorant they are.

    • The Random One says:

      Yeah, but if, after being shouted for stepping on your foot, that person’s response was to shout “I didn’t step on your foot! I’d never step on a foot! Someone stepped on my mother’s foot once so I’m very sensitive to foot stepping! In fact, I don’t believe feet even exist!” while still standing on your foot, hitting them with a blunt object quickly becomes a more sensible response.

      • dE says:

        It’s not that lashing out isn’t understandable, it’s just that instead of solving problems, it creates new ones. So lash out all you need to, but be aware that it doesn’t help an awful lot except for venting anger and frustration.

        Actual progress and change for social issues is brought about by people with the patience of saints that interact with individuals. No us versus them, no threats, not insults. Interact with people and show them, personally, in what part they’re wrong. And the essence is, treat them like human beings with a capability for rational thought even though they might not have shown any signs of being such. The moment you start using a condescending tone or try to attack someone elses identity (by saying they’re mysoginists for example) the conflict has escalated to another level and is now much less likely to be resolved.
        Yes, the other side is condescending as hell, yes they insult, they threaten, they try to make you lose face but what can you actually gain by going down there as well? No, seriously, can you list one beneficial side-effect other than venting anger, of going down that road?

        Remaining calm in the face of the storm is a sign of superiority, having the highground in a discussion and strong self esteem, and by god is it hard to do. But this is how you win people over, as tiresome as it is. Threatening, insults and personal attacks? Not so much. This applies to any kind of argument as well, not just gender issues.

        • The Random One says:

          My point was that, while it’s true that responding angrily to people will not cause them to change, there is a point where it’s clear that they will not engage you regardless of how calm you are addressing them. At that point, continuing to be calm will work against you, since it’ll make all the accusations that you are a “white knight” or doing it for “tumblr cred” seem more real, since you’re defending an emotional point but without emotion.

          Responding to toxic people with the same toxicity may not result in healthy communities, but in some cases can give those people rope to hang themselves.

          At any rate, Brice isn’t really arguing against anger, she’s arguing against toxicity. It’s possible to be angry without being toxic, and there are a host of reasons why being against anger itself in discussions of sexism is actually taking the sexists’ side, because of the societal undercurrent that being emotional is an inferior female trait and that real progress is only made when people discuss things coldly like men.

      • Deadly Sinner says:

        Yet when you are inevitably booked for assault, few people will want to be on your side.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          Depends; the suffragettes used violence because they felt that the legal options open to them were insufficient. Women have a great deal of legal rights now, but they’re still heavily constrained by everyday sexism. When society is constructed against you at a deep level, is easy to get angry.

    • Premium User Badge

      Unknown says:

      Wait, you’re talking about toxicity in the “social justice debate” and you’re putting it on the side of those fighting against sexism/racism/homophobia/etc? Which side is known for sending women death and rape threats, again?

      • Shieldmaiden says:

        Well, that’s what the article was about. It goes without saying that the bigots are going to be toxic, but Mattie wasn’t writing for that audience and neither was I. The fact of the matter is that there are death threats coming from the social justice side too and that shit has got to stop, or at least stop being ignored and even defended by a larger group within the community.

      • Machinations says:

        C’mon now. The histrionics of the tumblr slactivist crowd are well known, as is their frothy rage and joy in tilting at windmills.

        I suspect over time the schism will only deepen, because the fact remains that the language used is so over the top as to be dismissed by anyone with an ounce of rationality.

        A good example is found above, where it is pointed out that describing LoL female character designs – the ones actually preferred by female players of the game, as shown – as ‘misogynistic’ which is pretty strong, in fact ludicrious language to use to describe what are – in your opinion – simply over-sexualized designs. Instead of simply saying that, you use a buzzword which means hatred of women. I’m sorry, but I do not think the creators of LoL hate women.

        If the female characters were worse than their male counterparts in some way, less capable, etc. you would have a point – but instead, as is typical of slactivists, you use inflammatory language to describe a rather banal complaint, instead of describing it properly. This kind of language baits those who prefer to be more precise in their descriptions – what you might call the more erudite – and with reason.

  15. Darko Drako says:

    That article by Mattie Brice was one of the most boring rants I have ever read.

    She seems to have such a massive sense of entitlement. Why should mainstream gaming press pay her to write? Has she considered that perhaps she does not receive many commissions for work, because her articles would put people off reading said publications/ websites and lose them money.

    • Shieldmaiden says:

      She addresses that in the piece. She gets told her writing is excellent, but it’s not commercial enough, or she hasn’t “earned” the right to write opinion pieces by doing the news and reviews stuff. It’s an issue with games writing that isn’t specific to her. Heck, it’s why RPS exists.

      • Premium User Badge

        drewski says:

        Not writing “commercially” enough is fair enough – you can’t expect a for profit website to pay for content nobody will read.

        The whole “do your time” thing is a bit snobbish though. Games writing is hardly the only industry to suffer from it, mind, which doesn’t make it right, but it does mean it’s a fairly entitled argument to try to make.

        • Laurentius says:

          That part was phrased wery unfortunate in my opinion. It didn’t even try to acknowledge the fact that in commercial way, news about esports events or reviews of Peggle 2 or FIFA XX are actually paying salary for opinion pieces.

  16. Sunjammer says:

    I enjoy reading Mattie’s stuff from time to time, but in the end, simply, I don’t find her writing very engaging. I’ll read her work because it’s topical and she is well articulated, but, boringly enough, I do look for aesthetics in writing. I look for drama, flair, I want to be sold on an idea rather than flatly informed. Mattie’s writing comes off as academia to me, whereas Leigh Alexander, Simon Parkin, Cara Ellison et al manage to drive my interest with their writing style. Maybe this is super CRAZY lame of me, but is it too much to ask that a writer’s product be an actual good read?

    I’ve come to my own sort of understanding about the diversity debate the past year. 1. I’m from a progressive enough country that I simply can’t fully relate to their trauma and 2. I have nothing to contribute as a result.

    I just can’t take real part in that discussion because it seems oh so North American. Is that a bad assessment?

  17. BreadBitten says:

    “Here’s Peter Molyneux expressing a deep affinity for the most unlikeable character in the entire medium…”

    Au Contraire, Trevor was one of the most likeable characters I’ve encountered in any medium. So lovable.

  18. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    I liked Trevor a lot, but that’s because he’s totally unpredictable, the guy who plays him acts the part ridiculously well, and he’s repulsively fascinating. The idea that he’s somehow “relatable” in any way has never occurred to me. Michael and Franklin, I can see, but Trevor is only “relatable” inasmuch as he is an exaggerated reflection of the GTA player’s worst impulses.