The Sunday Papers

By Graham Smith on January 19th, 2014 at 1:30 pm.

Cut copy me, I'm all yours.

Sundays are for celebrating the week past by smearing yourself in Philadelphia cream cheese, listening to Petula Clark, and reading the week’s best writing about videogames.

  • Cassandra Khaw takes to the Daily Dot to skewer the low quality and nearly non-existent wages of esports reportage: “Yet, in spite of the adulations, the nerd cred, and the media’s enthused portrayal of the rapidly growing industry, only a handful are making an actual living. But while eSports’ high-tech athletes and their entourage of coaches, managers, and publicists are slowly being given their due, eSports journalists are still, by and large, community volunteers who subsist only on their own passions and the occasional approval of their peers.”
  • I missed this at the start of the year. Aaron Steed, designer of the excellent Ending and Red Rogue (which are donationware on PC), writes in defence of Candy Crush and the problems of being a snob. “Which is why we don’t have an Indie Candy Crush. We don’t have a version of this game that takes everything that’s great about it and explores it for its own sake instead of doing it for the money. Indie devs are all, LA LA LA, I’M NOT GOING TO PLAY THAT GAME I DON’T WANT TO LEARN ANYTHING I’M HAPPY IN MY LITTLE BUBBLE OF IGNORANCE. And then go on Twitter to decry the ignorance they see in a gaming article’s comments.” My bubble of ignorance contains a really comfortable throw which keeps warm late at night. The article is self-aggrandising, but Steed’s not wrong.
  • Steve Hogarty does his Steve Hogarty thing at PC Games N, writing about the five shapes of Steam Machine you didn’t see at CES 2014. It’s all quotable but: “By unmooring themselves from the prescribed tyranny of Microsoft’s solids-biased Windows gulag, Valve and their partnered hardware companies are now free to create Steam Machines that occupy any one of the three basic states of matter. And when the wide range of form factors of modern PC components allow for graphics cards in the shapes of bongs and big Gandalf pipes, the next step in Steam Machine tech is obvious: a cloud of nano-machines that form a sort of sweet-smelling inhaleable gas, one that is percolated through parallel pipelines to provide a straight-to-brain, no-nonsense gaming experience. Chonk down a next-gen guff from this fat doobie and you’ll be teleported to gaming nirvana, where up to eight Linux-compatible games await.” I fixed a typo in there because I’m sweet that way.
  • Leigh Alexander at Gamasutra talks to Mitu Khandaker about her game Redshirt, and the response that followed when one player wrote about their negative experience with the game. “But the response to Khandaker’s consideration was unexpected, she says. There was grumbling across Twitter about a supposed excess of sensitivity (the game is based on the “real world,” so expect “real world” problems!). There was media coverage that seemed aimed at placing Khandaker at the center of a firestorm, rather than at explicating a problem presented by someone and an apology and a solution offered by someone else.”
  • The Rust Is Hell blog writes lightly fictionalised stories about experiences in the survival sandbox, Rust. I normally find these things full of turgid, try-hard wankery, but this is good. “Visions danced in my mind. Visions not born of fantasy but of experience on this horrid island. When Wildcard opened the door, how would he die? Would he be flung backwards against the far wall of the shack by a thunderous shotgun blast? Would he be riddled with nine millimeter rounds, leaving him gasping and twitching involuntarily on the floor as bubbles of blood frothed from his lips? Or would multiple people be waiting outside, and would the whole shack suddenly be filled with whooping, crazed raiders?”
  • Kat Bailey is on USGamer this week writing about how Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 misses the mark in its evoking of sexual assault. “First, the way this scene is constructed isn’t accidental. When Cox talks about wanting to take risks and arguments with the marketing team, it’s clear that the scene was constructed with the intention of evoking sexual assault. It’s ostensibly there to show that Dracula is evil; but really, the imagery was chosen for its ability to provoke a strong emotional reaction. That it’s being used almost exclusively for shock value serves to trivialize a very real horror that women must deal with every day.”
  • This certainly doesn’t need the Sunday Papers push, but Passage and Sleep Is Death’s Jason Rohrer wrote about the ways in which he believes sales are harmful to gamers. I disagree, but it’s going to be interesting to see how The Castle Doctrine, which is about to leave alpha, does without them. “…if you’re planning to put the game on sale next week, you can’t announce it, because you will cannibalize this week’s full-price revenues. Even worse, people who would decide to wait upon news of a forthcoming sale may forget to come back and buy the game later. They’re at your website now, and you can’t afford to scare them away now. So, you have to keep the forthcoming sale secret. You have to surprise people. And burn people. The worst case here is pretty awful: the sorry person who buys the game one minute before the surprise sale price kicks in. You’re going to get an email from that person.”
  • Editing this with a late addition: Michael Abrash’s notes and slides from Steam Dev Days, talking about the future of VR and Valve’s role within it (PDF). “Looking at this on a screen (even when it’s not warped) doesn’t do anything for me, but whenever I stand on that ledge in VR, my knees lock up, just like they did when I was on top of the Empire State building. Even though I know for certain that I’m in a demo room, wearing a head-mounted display, looking at imagery of the inside of a badly textured box, my body reacts as if I’m at the edge of a cliff. What’s more, that effect doesn’t fade with time or repetition. The inputs are convincing enough that my body knows, at a level below consciousness, that it’s not in the demo room; it’s someplace else, standing next to a drop”
  • Fail Forward hopes to offer for pen and paper RPGs what Shut Up & Sit Down does for boardgames. My first pen and paper game begins next Friday.
  • Music this week is Kieron’s 2013 tracks of the year and the related Spotify playlist.

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146 Comments »

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  1. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Also of potential interest is this Hairpin interview with sometime RPS contributor Porpentine: http://thehairpin.com/2014/01/up-all-night-to-get-porpy

    • frightlever says:

      Good read! The end of the article links to:

      http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/beautiful-weapons/

      From summer of last year, but I don’t remember reading it before. Focuses more on her work with Twine – I SOOO want to make a TWINE game this year. I require to validate myself through creation and babies are sticky.

  2. rustybroomhandle says:

    If you have a Commodore 64 emulator handy, there’s a demo with a new Rob Hubbard composition at http://csdb.dk/release/?id=127815

    Party like it’s 1985!

  3. rustybroomhandle says:

    “where up to eight Linux-compatible games await”

    Shut up Steve, you’re high.

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      Bugamn says:

      Yeah, Linux has, like, twelve games!

      • Cockie says:

        I didn’t know that twelve equals 294. Nice to know for my math exam. :)

        • aoanla says:

          More than that, if you count the vast majority of games that run fine in Wine, increasingly without any fiddling about with settings. (To the extent that I still haven’t installed Steam For Linux on my Linux desktop, since running Steam For Windows in Wine is just as easy and lets me play more stuff.)

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            Bugamn says:

            Just so you know, I was kidding. My Steam library counts 114 Linux games, and that doesn’t include some games from Humble Bundle or games that I have gotten through other means, such as Neverwinter Nights and Unreal 2014.

          • Cockie says:

            My apologies then, but there are quite some people who say that kind of things and mean it, so I wasn’t sure. :)

  4. Chris Evans says:

    Some good links, especially the one about sales being bad, haven’t read it yet but it is on my list. I think Cliffski has a similar theory, which is why his games rarely go on sale.

    Of potential interest to Football Manager players is my Editor’s Blog piece on taking Welsh Premier club TNS into Europe – http://thereticule.com/editors-blog-even-more-words-on-football-manager/

    A bit of a broader topic is this on whether gaming is mainstream – http://thereticule.com/is-gaming-the-new-mainstream/

  5. FFabian says:

    about the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2-article: Why do people getting their knickers in a twist about depictions of sexual assault? We’re playing games where people get murdered, dismembered, tortured (or, as I’m Sleeping Dogs right now, hacked apart with a meat cleaver) and no-one bats an eye over the whole bloodshed but sexual assault is suddenly a big no no?

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      RedViv says:

      The article mentions why. It is a crime with a rather extraordinary amount of victim dropping going on, whereas you can’t really leave a murder victim behind in emotional support.
      The producer’s reasoning as to why this scene has to be done in such a way is rather flawed as well. Supposed to shock, okay, but then claiming it is not alluding to sexual things when the entire vampire theme is that already? How?

      • FFabian says:

        … and that’s different to games like Max Payne (just as an example, it was the last FPS I played)? In most FPSs the killing and set action pieces with slow mo bullet time serves just to make the Player Character look cool and empowered – no-one cares about why “random dude” gets his limbs blown of, how he feels about that or why he chose to oppose the PC.

        Just replace the words “Dracula” with “Max Payne”, “young women” with “random gang dude” and “sexual assault” with “killing” and no-one would be surprised:

        “Second, you’re not meant to sympathize with the victim — a young woman who doesn’t even rate a name or a personality. You are meant to sympathize with Dracula. In the moment that the camera shifts from third-person to first-person, you are Dracula. You might feel horror at what he’s done, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s from the point of view of the attacker.”

        “When Cox talks about wanting to take risks and arguments with the marketing team, it’s clear that the scene was constructed with the intention of evoking sexual assault. It’s ostensibly there to show that Dracula is evil; but really, the imagery was chosen for its ability to provoke a strong emotional reaction.”

        Edit: My response was to your unedited comment.

        • Turkey says:

          Unrelated: But your first paragraph reminded me of an issue of Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles that’s dedicated to exploring the life of one of the random goons that get shot and killed by one of the “cool” anti-hero protagonists in one of the first issues. It’s pretty heart breaking.

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          RedViv says:

          Or we replace “apples” with “handcuffs”.
          The family is defenceless, not an opponent or minion or other criminal, a force to overcome in narrative or gameplay. The game pauses for this scene, and it seems it is really quite out of place when you are supposed to think of Dracula as an evil-cool-gritty kind of character.
          Not that I can definitely judge it, not having seen that part myself, but all the descriptions definitely speak of it being in the vein of classic vampire imagery, which IS highly sexual – and the producer himself states that it is to evoke those. So in saying that it is definitely not sexual, in response to the article a while later, either is he ignorant of that, or feigning ignorance, just trying to cover his butt stubbornly.

          • Geebs says:

            Just because a person said two slightly different things on two different occasions, it’s not fair to vilify them as a hypocrite. How otherwise would someone ever express having changed their mind?

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      It’s worth noting that games are ever-so-slightly more likely to be played by people who have been sexually assaulted than by people who have been murdered. Some consideration is always nice.

      • FFabian says:

        … but there are enough living people that were victims of non-murder violent crimes. Should we censor all the kung-fu stuff out of Sleeping Dogs because there are more than enough people who survived muggings and assault?

        • rustybroomhandle says:

          It’s not about leaving things out, it’s about handling such topics in a mature manner.

          As an aside, I refuse to believe that victims of “non-murder violent crimes” are nearly as likely to be emotionally scarred. Maybe I’m just numbed from living in one of the countries with the highest crime rates in the world, who knows.

          • JFS says:

            Getting your teeth beaten out and your ribs broken while being threatened with a knife may or may not be a nasty experience as well.

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            RedViv says:

            I don’t think “third-person spectacle fighter with vampire protagonist” automatically translates into “first-person helpless family killing experience” either, unlike how “HK movie GTA-like” sort of heavily implies “people gonna get chopped up and punched A LOT”.

          • Smion says:

            I don’t know, I personally wasn’t prepared for human stew and slowly shoving people into woodcutters Fargo-style.

            Anyway, not having seen the scene in question, the only thing I can think of is that showing such a scene in a preview is a really, really bad idea if you actually want to get a point across. Of course I get why they did it (controversy raises attention) but if there’s supposed to be context for what happens most of that will most likely get drowned out by what assumptions people’ve got going in from the previews.

          • Koozer says:

            “As an aside, I refuse to believe that victims of “non-murder violent crimes” are nearly as likely to be emotionally scarred.”

            You refuse to believe it? Okay then. This is why we can’t have civil conversations on the internet.

          • dE says:

            What the actual fuck did I just read? By god, I hope you just worded that poorly.

            As an aside, I refuse to believe that victims of “non-murder violent crimes” are nearly as likely to be emotionally scarred.

            Domestic Violence starts as a non-murder violent crime. Robbery is a non-murder violent crime. Heck, there are countless non-murder violent crimes that leave very severe emotional scars and I’d be willing to take the bet, all of them do. The effects range from anxiety, PTSD, Depression to leaning to substance abuse and many more and along comes you and “refuse to believe” that they are “nearly as likely to be emotionally scarred”.
            How one can even think that being beaten up and wounded has no effect on the mind is far beyond my understanding. You writing that is actual proof that it has an effect on the mind. You talk about numbing, did you ever consider what numbing actually entails?

    • Serenegoose says:

      Same reason Auschwitz tycoon or Theme Bhopal aren’t a big yearly franchise. Human perception, and the treatment of various aspects of suffering, aren’t arranged in a neat heirarchy with murder at the top. It’s complex.

      • GrassyGnoll says:

        Auschwitz Tycoon, when I read that I saw it, the huts, the crowds of prisoners walking around with little icons over their heads, the smoke. The Gamefication of Genocide. sounds like a book title.

      • Jac says:

        Is it wrong that I think auswitch tycoon could actually be an interesting experience if delivered based on the actual things that happened in real life?

        If people get uncomfortable with the prison achitect themes then I can imagine the discomfort around this but like it or not these things actually happened (and are happeneing re: prisons) in the not too distant past. And actual real people were involved in it. Would take a bold developer to take that on but could be a very powerful game and I feel that games shouldn’t shy away from these things.

        Other mediums have that maturity and although games involve active rather than passive participation I personally think that makes games all the more powerful a tool in exploring themes that are based around terrible things that people have done. And of course there is far more scope to get it horrendously wrong given game mechanics are based around “winning” in some way. It can be done though and developers should not shy away from more controversial subjects if they have a valid way of confronting and exploring these issues.

        • Cheese Wold says:

          John Romero’s wife Brenda made this:
          http://venturebeat.com/2013/05/11/brenda-romero-train-board-game-holocaust/

          Board games don’t suffer as much witch hunting journalism as computer games.

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            Gap Gen says:

            Yeah, subtext is important. The idea behind that is that it’s not immediately obvious what you’re doing, and makes people uncomfortable when they realise what it is. If you sold a concentration camp sim, then people would be going in with that idea. Then again, Papers Please deals with some kind of these dilemmas, even if it’s not as cut and dried (you might have to do some bad things, but being a border guard isn’t a bad thing in itself).

          • Geebs says:

            That Brenda Romero game was awful bullshit trying to be edgy by making a totally false association. The only reason it didn’t get in trouble is that nobody of any significance reported on it.

          • Jac says:

            Thanks for the link cheese. Didn’t know about that and that is certainly the type of thing that leads me to believe games can be turned into a powerful tool. Also agreed that papers please touches on something similar although as rightly pointed out there is nothing wrong with just being a bordergaurd.

            I’m just interested in that in a lot of atrocities, many of the perpetrators are just blindly following orders and that cold blooded murder is just the norm in games but anything else terrible is considered a massive no no. In skyrim I murdered and robbed innocent people without any guilt but if there was an option to sexually assault instead of stab I wouldnt really have pressed that button. It’s weird. And something very much exploring in the right way.

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            RedViv says:

            John Romero’s wife Brenda
            Right…

        • PsychoWedge says:

          There was a series of games called KZ Manager in Germany in the early to mid nineties (KZ being the common abbreviation of the German words for concentration camp). They were made by the nazi underground and, suffice to say, impounded by the government. I’m pretty sure you can find them online somewhere, so, you know, if you’re really interested in managing Auschwitz, feel free to do so. xD

    • Chris Evans says:

      Obviously as I haven’t seen the scene at hand I can’t comment with full insight, but while I can understand that point that was being made about Lords of Shadow 2, I think there are more important targets for this kind of argument. If you are making the argument about this game, then you can probably make the same case about any other number of TV shows or movies which deal with vampires.

      So yes, while I appreciate the sentiment, I think it was a bit overblown.

    • Vicarious says:

      i dont understand why people complain about rape in media. if you dont like it dont play it.

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        RedViv says:

        “People” are not complaining about “rape in media”, “people” are complaining about imagery being used for cheap shock value in an immature or inappropriate way.

      • Cheese Wold says:

        “People” are not complaining about rape in media, they are complaining about a vampire attacking a woman which one person felt had suggested overtones of sexual assault.

        • Koozer says:

          …You mean like most vampire stories?

          • Cheese Wold says:

            Maybe it is time to get rid of vampire stories altogether, as they are nothing more than rape fantasies.

            I wonder how we can do book burnings with digital media?

          • Baines says:

            But if we get rid of vampire stories, what will women read?

          • Cheese Wold says:

            Maybe we could just ban men from reading them?

    • HadToLogin says:

      When I first read it I thought author was thinking this will be game about sparking teenager getting his girlfriend pregnant while protecting her from werewolves, not about old men getting into rooms of young virgins to drink their blood.

      Vampires always mixed sex and violence and this kind of scenes are normal for most vampire flicks…

      • Pippy says:

        I haven’t read or seen Twilight as I frequently mention to people for no reason whatever, but isn’t Edward 900 years old or something?Maybe I am mixing him up with the Doctor.

    • Tasloi says:

      It’s difficult to comment on this when I haven’t actually seen the scene in question. However based on the following line in the article “He kills the father outright, then grabs the mother and sinks his fangs into her neck, draining her life energy to restore his.” it seems to be a normal vampire attack which to the author evoked feelings of sexual assault. That’s already an important distinction to make here.

      Obviously sexualization and the vampire theme often go hand in hand but alot of the context seems unclear here. Was the vampire character starved of blood given the mention of restoring his life energy? Quickly killing the male (potential threat in a weakened state) and feeding on the woman would make sense in that case.

    • Jupiah says:

      Rape is a crime that is not yet taken quite seriously by society, while murder and assault generally are. When a woman is raped (in America at least) there is always a disturbingly high number of bystanders and media personalities who will focus on the suffering of the poor accused young rapists who will have their lives ruined if convicted while mostly ignoring the victim (Steubenville High School rape case) or who will debate whether she drank too much alcohol or dressed too “slutty” as if a woman doing such things somehow deserved to be raped. And there’s always the really nasty crowd who will accuse her of lying about being raped for petty or vindictive reasons, as if there are tons of women willing to have their entire lives examined and judged and be publically humiliated and harassed and probably still have their accusations thrown out (most rape trials do not result in a conviction) just to get back at a guy or because they regretted having sex with him.

      Whereas society generally doesn’t assume that a victim of assault or murder “brought it on themselves” until proven otherwise, so those crimes aren’t “sensitive” to depict in movies, games and other media.

      • Smion says:

        And how does that relate to vampires?

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          Rizlar says:

          Presumably that was in response to the comment it is replying to, which talks about sexual assault, not vampires. It’s also absolutely spot on.

          • Faxanadu says:

            The original comment is about depictions of such.

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            Rizlar says:

            “Why do people getting their knickers in a twist about depictions of sexual assault?” sic.

      • Faxanadu says:

        Maybe this is the reason why these discussions feel so stupid to me – rape is just as much a crime as any other in Europe. No undertones any which way.

        • TillEulenspiegel says:

          This claim doesn’t even begin to make sense. “Europe” is quite a large place with widely varying laws, never mind cultural attitudes.

          Just one example, abortion is illegal in Ireland even in cases of rape. I believe that’s actually worse than anywhere in the US, thanks to Roe v Wade.

          • Faxanadu says:

            Yeah, true, I exaggerated how familiar I feel with Europe and its “general moral stance” to rape.

            Still valid and makes sense tho. Just in smaller scale.

          • Asdfreak says:

            I get what he means, just judging from the perspective I have from Germany and France, I have never unterstood all the fuss americans make about this( or guns, or religion, or….). I have yet to see media coverage of rape where anyone even dared to say anything going in the direction of accusing the victim of bringing it upon themselves. It is rather the opposite case, the supposed rapist is prejudiced even it is not 100% clear if he is guilty.
            I think if anyone would dare to assert at court that it was the victims fault for being dressed to slutty, or looking like she asked for it, he/she would probably be found guilty right away.
            I guess some victims still don’t speak about it or sue the rapist, but rather because they don’t want to relive it rather than because they will be judged for it. I always find it hard to belive that there are actually people who would think badly of a victim of rape or sexual assault.

          • drinniol says:

            Same situation in Australia, too. Now, India has a problem with blaming the victim.

    • JamesPatton says:

      In a perfect world yes, all crimes would be thought of equally. But the fact is, rape is treated very differently to murder or other violent crimes in our society. If you’re raped, people will often focus less on the rapist and more on you. Were you drinking? Did you behave provocatively? What were you wearing? How much sex do you generally have (or, as most people put it, are you a slut)? Were you in a place like a club or bar where people sometimes go to pick up people to have sex? Did you actually say “No”?

      (Sidenote: for it to be rape, the other person just has to not say “Yes”. If they’re so drunk they can’t consent, it’s rape. The onus is on both partners to make sure the other person is ok with what’s going on. “I didn’t hear her say no” is not a justification for rape.)

      The problem here is that when someone is raped, the focus shifts to the victim. Everyone interrogates and analyses the victim and asks questions like “Did she deserve it?” and “Was she asking for it?” Contrast that to murder, where nobody ever asks “Was the victim asking to be killed? I mean, he was walking through a poor neighbourhood in a suit.” In other words: the people who are to blame for rape are rapists, not the rape victims.

      See also: two boys are charged and convicted of rape after dragging an unconscious girl from party to party and using her as a sex doll. Instead of talking about how this has affected the rape victim, CNN discusses how this trial has ruined the boys’ lives. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/17/cnn-grieves-that-guilty-verdict-ruined-promising-lives-of-steubenville-rapists/

      So to sum up this long comment (Sorry!), we just can’t afford to treat rape the same as other crimes, because we need to change how rape is seen in our culture. We really need to stop talking about rape as though it’s just another crime, because that allows things to go on as they are, it lets rapists off the hook, and it prevents us from looking at rape in a more critical way and start to change things.

      • Geebs says:

        Excellent points. Nothing to do with vampires behaving like vampires in computer games about vampires however. The original article is part of the reason why all video games are about brown haired white space marines, as the one thing you can depict without inciting blind moral panic

      • Asdfreak says:

        Like I have said in another comment already, I think that is just one of these bad peculiarity of american and other societies (India comes to mind). I have yet to see something like that in any media I have seen in Germany (or France when I am there, that is). I think if anyone dared to say it was the victims fault, all hell would break lose and the media would shred him to pieces and devour him. One particular case from last year comes to my mind, where someone on facebook started a mob to have the rapist put to death because some of his victims where young girls, some even tried to get him out of the police station to “put him to justice”. Needless to say they all got arrested. The thing is, he was the wrong guy, the real rapist just looked a lot like him.
        Another case that comes to mind is the one of Jörg Kachelmann, who was acoused of rape by his ex-girlfriend. It was not sure if he was guilty, but the media took his personal life apart. He IS a bad person, a total asshole, but probably not guilty. He was found not guilty at court, because they could not find a single proof for the rape and because they had serious doubts both about his ex-girlfriends and his claims, but the damage was done already( although I think he deserved it).
        So you could say it is the other way around here, but still better than the way in america.

      • Nate says:

        I disagree.

        We totally do the victim-questioning thing with murder and assault. Our reactions to murders are to wonder what circumstances provoked them. Are those murder victims involved in drug trade? Were the victims escalating a fight? Maybe the victims were abusive to the murderers in the past? When I got beat up in an attempted robbery, no sex crime involved, I was asked repeatedly over the next week: had I drank too much? Was I alone? Was it late? Etc. I was told I should have just handed over my wallet when people learned that I refused. I should have called a cab rather than walk home. All sorts of things I should have done.

        Rape isn’t different because of all that stuff. It’s different because sex.

    • dE says:

      I love how this vampire thing has come full circle.
      To be honest, vampires have been questionable for a while. It started of with actual monsters, humans that were no longer human because they have defied god and forfeit their soul. Predators. Beasts. Cunning Demons. Not my words but rather the religious symbolism of the original story.
      The whole backdrop became an issue when fiction started re-humanizing the monsters. Anne Rice with her Vampire Chronicles did that. And while the initial books were all about undead humans struggling with their monster side, by the time she wrote The Body Thief, it was all rape, sex and violation. This could happen simply because the vampires were more human now. This is a rather important switch here.
      Dracula was a force of nature, an inexplicable creature. Just like you don’t expect to argue with a wolf about killing your sheep, you wouldn’t argue with Dracula about killing people. Dracula was little more than a monster in human skin, faking to be part of society while living mostly in exile. Now Lestat and Co on the other hand, you could expect to stick to reason, ethics. Their ethics and morals may be a bit odd, due to centuries of experience but it’s assumed they fit into society. They act because of human instincts. The later coming badass vampires from Underworld and similar don’t touch upon that. There it’s a generational discourse. The new vampires are socialites trying to blend in, while the old vampires are still those monsters.
      The last step were the teenager vampires. They’re now perfectly blended in. They go to work, they live in rundown apartments, they’re all about sex and relationships and their vampire nature is little more than a backdrop to make them mysterious. And sparkly. There isn’t a hint of monster left.

      If you look at the scene (none of us has seen seemingly), it might be a case of using old style vampires. Going back to the idea that vampires are former humans turned monsters without reason. This would fit with the story of the Castlevania reboot. If you compare them to modern vampires however, meaning if you see them as humans with superpowers, it’s rather questionable.
      Killing an innocent familiy? Old style vampires wouldn’t even know about the concept of innocence. They see prey, they eat prey. Like how a wolf doesn’t ask the owners if they have enough money to recoup the loss of a sheep. New Style Vampires would on the other hand be humans in the same situation and suddenly killing innocent people turns into glorification of violence and blood sucking turns into sexual abuse.

      This issue does ask the question, how human can a monster be, before it becomes a human and is judged as a human? In the case of Castlevania, they seemingly went a bit too far.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Have you even bothered to read Dracula? It’s a glorified sexual assault fantasy. The violence in the novel is completely secondary to that.

        • dE says:

          I’ve read Dracula. You however didn’t bother to read my post except for skimming random words of it, in your hurry to apply snark, hence you missing the point entirely. Good job.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            I read your entire post. I was targeting your bit on Dracula because it stood out like a sore thumb:

            “Dracula was a force of nature, an inexplicable creature. Just like you don’t expect to argue with a wolf about killing your sheep, you wouldn’t argue with Dracula about killing people. Dracula was little more than a monster in human skin…”

            Forgive me for being presumptive here, but you seem to be ignoring the more subtle characteristics that make Dracula such a compelling character. He’s highly intelligent, he’s charismatic enough to field an army of subordinates, he’s organized enough to plan a long-term takeover of London, he’s crafty and manipulative, he’s filthy rich, and he radiates sexuality. Dracula is much more than a “monster” — he was once very human, and he still carries some of those human traits that mad him such a great figure to begin with — yet you saw fit to mention only the more animalistic aspects of his personality just to fit your “full circle” theory on vampire mythology.

            My point is that sex has always been a part of the vampire mythos, even from it’s very earliest days. Granted, once it started to be used as a literary device, the sex got ramped up (Varney The Vampire, Camilla, Dracula), but it’s always been present. The sexual element obviously ebbs and wanes with social conventions, but it’s an inextricable part of the mythology, no matter how much violence you throw into the mix. Hell, even more gore-oriented projects like 30 Days of Night, Blade and Daybreakers have a hint of sex (or more precisely, power as a sexual attribute) at their core.

            Outside of meaningless variables, I really don’t think there is any such thing as the vampire mythos coming full circle.

            Sorry for my original single-paragraph snark post. I didn’t intend for it to come across that way.

          • dE says:

            My angle was that of a religious and historical one, in that Dracula is somewhat akin to the devil. Perhaps I should have written Devil instead of Monster and it might be a bit clearer what I meant. The sexual assault and similar things are present, he is silver tongued and aristocratic in manor – but also bursts into spurs of anger.
            The movie choses to emphasize this side, by having him actively renounce god. Be it book or movie, it is made clear, in my opinion, that he is no longer human. I’d argue that he is a fallen man, according to the christian faith the saga seems to dwell on. One that is without god or a soul for that matter. From a religious historical point of view, people without a soul or faith in the christian god, aren’t considered human in the same way as christians, for an example look at Virgil from the Divine Comedy.
            I should have made it a bit clearer that I wasn’t trying to argue away the sexual subtones. Yes, they’re there. I wanted to argue that the nature of the vampire has changed, from religious symbolism and stand-in for the devil to human nature and with that the reception of these things changed as well.

    • Geebs says:

      Games journalism is evolving. They’ve now reached the Bill O’Reilly level of projecting your opinion onto somebody else and then criticising them for it.

      I hope everybody realises that this particular bit of stirring is of the same level of cluelessness as the claim that flight sims encourage terrorism.

    • Ich Will says:

      Possibly because the thousands of years of shaming victims of sexual assault has worked it’s way into our species psyche and our peculiar fixation with sex that we have turned into quite a dark activity (relative to other animals) over the last 2800 years or so has distorted our minds to be especially sensitive to sex crimes, more so than violent crimes considering we live in a world where boxing and the other martial “arts”* are used for entertainment and sport.

      * Not refuting the artistic merit of combat forms et al, just wanted to emphasise how we view violence, as a public display of excellence, something to aspire to be better at.

    • bill says:

      As we haven’t seen the scene in question, and she doesn’t actually explain what it is that makes it seem like sexual assault (a vampire drinking the blood of a woman being a pretty standard thing, that isn’t usually associated with sexual assault), it’s really hard to comment.

      Personally though, I totally don’t get the “it has murder, so why do people complain if it has rape/sexual assault/racism/whatever???” argument. Isn’t it kind of obvious?

      Heck, even the developers of the scene in question basically said “well, in this game you murder thousands of people, but we wanted to show that you are a bad guy, so we added this scene”.

  6. The Hairy Bear says:

    Fail Forward is quite an interesting idea, I’m wondering how well it will work though if it’s based on pen and paper and therefore ‘imagination’ anyway. I suppose it will be useful for inspiration if nothing else and I like the writing style.

    • Premium User Badge

      Martel says:

      I like to think of it it as imagination with context, similar to boardgaming, so hopefully it works.

    • gritz says:

      I think it’s great that “New Games Journalism” is finally breaking into the pnp RPG scene, which is still overrun by vocal grognards and regressive creeps who still think 1977/1986/1994/2003 is the true golden age of the medium and refuse to acknowledge the vibrant and vital indie scene that’s actually moving things forward.

      These folks are the types who will ignore or revile Fail Forward just based on its “storygamer swine” name.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    That KG list of tracks is pretty good and I don’t like being one to point out the bad but . . . Work, Bitch? Seriously KG, it’s not good Britney, nowhere near! Oh, and the Daft Punk album is still merely alright, which in context can’t be anything other than mildly disappointing.

    As for the gaming articles the main thing I took away from them is how those at the top of eSports commercialisation have managed to become spectacular colossal dickheads even quicker than other such endeavours. Still got a long way to go to match the likes of F1 for sheer ridiculousness but at that sort of pace it wont take a too long to actually get there (though,on the bright side for the journalists if they make it popular enough when doing so then there’ll be no reason to not pay them).

  8. phenom_x8 says:

    Want to share this article by Gus Mastrapa for Alec and John,
    http://www.unwinnable.com/2014/01/10/gaming-while-the-baby-isnt-looking/
    I think, now is your turns, guys!

  9. ColCol says:

    Does The Castle Doctrine have an element where you are kicked off the server permanently when you die? I’m not sure I would pay if this was the case.

    • Josh W says:

      It does not, permadeath refers to how your stuff is reset to scratch.

  10. Premium User Badge

    welverin says:

    So Graham, what game are you going to play and make sure you tell us how it goes afterwards.

  11. Emeraude says:

    The thing of which I’m quite not certain after reading the piece is whether the very existence of the scene as framed is deemed to be a problem (in which case I cannot agree with the point of view of the writer) or whether it is the failure in execution (context included) that is the issue (in which case I can).
    I mean, if this *was* a game of Gothic horror centered around vampirism and why/how it is horror-worthy, would that same scene (up to not being “meant to sympathize with the victim” ) be deemed acceptable by Ms. Bailey ? If not what would make it so ?

    What would be the author’s take on feeding in Vampire the Masquerade:Bloodlines ?

    (Something I have been told but haven’t been able to confirm: is it true Dracula feeds of the male character too ? Or does he “only” kill him ?)

    Dave Cox:[Players] want heroes who are more sophisticated; they wanted heroes that have a backstory; they want heroes that are believable[…]Our Dracula has a lot more to him as a character. And if players are going to play a 20 hour game, they need to be able to identify with that character.”/

    I would think what players want/need is a game interesting enough to keep them hooked for at least 20 hours. If you, as a designer, *need* to abuse narrative segments to do that, then – unless your game happens to be about the manipulation of narrative elements I guess – your game isn’t good.
    Thats it.

    Kat Bailey:At the end of the day, action video games are meant to be a power trip of sorts

    No they’re not. The fact that modern gaming is hell intent on making it so is an issue at hand if anything.

    • JamesPatton says:

      I’m not averse to a game that deals with rape – especially a vampire game, because there’s a load of sexual vampire stuff that can be used as metaphor to talk about rape. I haven’t seen this scene, but it sounds like the real problem was with the execution, like you say: it was played for shock value. Instead of a discussion of rape centred around empathising with the victim and understanding just why it’s so horrific, they just said “Rape is bad. Dracula all but rapes. Dracula’s bad.” I mean, we don’t even know who the victim is, for crying out loud.

      Would also like to hear what the author has to say on VTM:B’s bloodsucking. But while that was sexual, it was only as sexual as most vampire stories are. This Dracula scene sounds like it’s pushing the gratuity envelope just for the hell of it…

  12. Tejasrex says:

    In regards to sales being bad for gamers. It some ways it is but for a different reason. First off in regards to myself if there is a game or DLC that I am really interested in I will buy it usually the first week or two it is released. I will pay full price. If it is a game or DLC I have marginal interest in I wait for a sale. The reason is there is a good chance I won’t play all the way through or I would of bought it to tide me over while I am waiting for the release of something significant in my gaming world. So it is bad for me because I will chance buying games and I have a huge game library because of Steam sales. Regardless of the price if it is something I am truly interested in I will pay full price because I don’t have the patience to wait for the sale.

  13. Sunjammer says:

    I take it this Castlevania scene is this year’s Tomb Raider Lara’s-Getting-Raped-In-This-Game scene?

    Personally I think it’s a bit pitiful that video game culture is so obsessed with the normalization of its moral compass across its entire spectrum. Take a film like Irreversible, a movie I thought was absolutely unwatchable, yet it is still lauded as a Complete Work. It owns its depictions of rape and violence. Books will detail rape and murder in exquisite detail from the first person perspective. Let’s not even start to think of representations of sex and violence in art as a whole. When games, however, offer cartoon representations of it or even DARE to HINT at sexual violence, the entire press corps seems to feel an intense need to defend gaming culture by vehemently striking down any notion that a game should be allowed to do such things.

    People love to bring up Rapelay, too, which is if anything else an indicator of just how blitheringly ignorant they are of sex games. How about a game like Rogue Cop, where a cop investigating a murder scene takes advantage of it to rape the *entire surviving family*? The fact that it’s a text adventure does not somehow exclude it from this debate, and it is an *ancient* game. There is something deeply hypocritical of the modern games media refusing to accept the history upon which it is built, a history that includes horrific violence and in many cases channeled mental illness.

    Games do not have the right to pretend they are innocent, and that the “dirty few” are somehow not representative, even sullying. The bad apples, like any other apple, do not fall far from the tree, and every time I see an article like the USG one, where violence against helpless women is automatically sexual in nature and sweet christ this needs to be fixed, I keep thinking of a child holding his hands over his ears, squeezing his eyes shut and going LA LA LA LA LA.

    This is of course not saying the scene may not carry such overtones (obviously I haven’t seen it), but I think games should be as free to exploit those overtones as any other art form throughout human history (what is the vampire other than a godless representation of incest anyway), and eventually be as repulsive and hideous as they need to be to carry out their vision. Grab the anthology You Shall Never Know Security, and marvel at the young girl who defecates wailing fecal-matter babies every time she goes to the bathroom and feels intense sorrow at flushing their fragmenting shit-bodies down the toilet. This is, filthy and repulsive and even stupid or not, the world of art.

    Perhaps the eventual fix is to stick a “trigger warning” list of stuff on the back of game boxes or something. I don’t know. But crying about triggers when discussing art is crying wolf for the industry as a whole. The jingoistic propaganda or Call of Duty: Ghosts is endlessly worse to consider.

    • JamesPatton says:

      I’m not against games dealing with sexual violence. I’d love them to do it! – but do it in a way that doesn’t just cash it in for cheap shock value. The reason books and films are “allowed” to deal with these topics is because they have dealt with them in the past in a way that isn’t shallow. When I think “sexually provocative book which makes me examine myself and my sexuality in a bitter yet enriching way,” I think Lolita. (The book, not the porn genre.) When I look for a similar game I find… well, I don’t think I do. That’s the problem.

      • Sunjammer says:

        I don’t think that’s true. Books are as shallow and exploitative of taboos as any other media. It’s not a qualifying race: If you’re looking for mature depictions of rape and trauma in games, interactive fiction will supply that in heaps. Nobody looks at any of those games and checks off an imaginary box that allows other games to exploit the subject. There is no such governing body, because, like other media, all games are not played by all players. RapeLay is an example of such an extreme niche product, but it is, in a sense, no different than the study-sim niche, or the deck-building card game niche. One does not depend on the other for its moral justification.

        This need for games to be “mature” is exactly what I’m responding to. The idea that we somehow have a higher responsibility.

        • Faxanadu says:

          I think the demand for a “higher responsibility” comes from the delusional idea that in games you are, on some level, ACTUALLY DOING the things that you are doing. And the closer virtual reality comes to reality the MORE we’re “ACTUALLY DOING” things.

          It’s of course bull, you aren’t actually doing things until you’re actually doing them. But a lot of weak minded individuals are willing to mix the two. Hence this and all other fuss.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Performing an action within a simulation is obviously different from performing it in real life.

            Performing an action within a simulation is obviously different from reading a text passage describing someone’s experience performing the action. (Note that to be immediately comparable to interactive games that description would have to be second-person, not first-person. First-person camera angles are, confusingly, equivalent to second-person narration.)

            If one is going to object to some forms of media, it is perfectly rational for interactivity to be part of the reason for objecting. Making a media work interactive changes it fundamentally.

            There’s a difference between a scene in a movie about Dracula where Dracula sucks a woman’s blood, and the scene in a game in which you control Dracula’s actions (some of the time). The scene simply means different things in the context of those two works, it makes no sense to demand that people treat it the same way. I’m not saying that means that LoS2 should be censored, boycotted or even just that it’s a bad game. I could even see myself playing that game, but, not having played it, that scene sounds like a bit of bad game narrative writing–exploitative in a way that a similar scene in a movie might not be.

          • joa says:

            Exactly. There’s fantasy and there’s reality. A great many women enjoy rape fantasies, i.e. of them being raped. While obviously the vast majority don’t wish it to actually happen in real life. Fantasy, including books and video games, is a place where people can let there more primal urges out, without harming others.

        • Tasloi says:

          Yeah, unfortunately this seems to be an increasingly common argument. That, along with a push for a certain default (hyper)realism across fantasy & sci-fi genres.

      • Faxanadu says:

        “The reason books and films are “allowed” to deal with these topics is because they have dealt with them in the past in a way that isn’t shallow.”

        What? Come on. You just completely came up with that on the fly. There is no such requirement. Why on earth would there be. That’s like saying “you can’t be bad if you haven’t been good before. You’re not allowed to.”

        Thank you Sunjammer for an excellent piece of text. :p

        • Premium User Badge

          AngelTear says:

          I want to reply to both your comments as well as Sunjammer’s.

          First of all, there are several thinkers across centuries that have thought that if you don’t know the rules and feel why they’re needed, you also can’t really break them, and if you don’t have a strong moral conscience, you can’t meaningfully be bad/evil. So, yes, that argument exists, and I actually agree with it. Still I think the analogy is somewhat flawed in the first place.
          Also, taking an active role in videogames and the increasing life-like quality of it all, with VR and all that, does make a difference in my opinion. I’m not going to go ahead and stretch it to the point that “Playing GTA makes you want to kill people”, it’s more complex than that, but I find it hard to believe it doesn’t somehow affect you. We’re not compartmentalized, just because something is fake doesn’t mean they can’t affect us on a deep level. If that wasn’t true, we wouldn’t have nightmares after seeing a particularly effective horror movie, for instance. Unfortunately, there’s no real psychological study on all this, so I can’t prove my claim just like you can’t prove yours, but I’d say there’s a bit of evidence that suggests that it’s premature to shrug off the thought that Videogames can have some effect on our psyche.

          My last point: Some people’s reactions to certain words/concepts surprises me more and more as time goes on. Games with a meaning or a message, or some artistic aspiration became pretentious, and now mature has suddenly become somewhat of a bad word (How dare you say my game is mature? Go away and stop bothering me). It’s as if those words’ meaning was turned upside down sometimes when I wasn’t looking. I get it, for many people games are purely escapism (and I won’t go on a rant about why escapism is bad, let’s take it at neutral value for now), that doesn’t mean they should be condemned to be IMmature forever. When is it that being mature became bad, and why completely escapes me.
          I’ll leave this here, because it’s an (old but still relevant) article that I totally agree with on the subject of game maturity: http://kotaku.com/5906484/most-popular-video-games-are-dumb-can-we-stop-apologizing-for-them-now

          • Faxanadu says:

            Yah, yah. I just don’t think we’re nearly there to start bridging vr and rl. And I don’t think the people who are making a fuss about it think so either. I think they’re making a fuss about it because they feel strongly about the topic in itself. Actually I think it’s murderously obvious that this is the case. Bridging the two is just an excuse.

      • Premium User Badge

        FriendlyFire says:

        Please do correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m interpreting your post in the following manner:
        You say that book A can deal with these topics in a provocative or exploitative manner because there exists another book B, entirely unrelated to book A, which has dealt with them in a more nuanced manner in the past?

        And then you proceed to claim that since you know of no game C that has done the same as book B, then no game can treat those subjects provocatively until that game C has appeared?

        Because that really feels like faulty logic. There is no reason why we should give a free pass to something only because it’s a specific medium. Either you blanket disapprove of all exploitative works and would rather them all be shunned, or you approve of them all, regardless of medium. This is just having double standards.

        • Premium User Badge

          AngelTear says:

          If it wasn’t for your first sentence, I’d assume you were feigning ignorance or purposefully twisting James’s argument.
          I’m pretty sure what he meant to say was: Films and Books do not get criticized for dealing with such themes because, overall as a medium, they do so tastefully, with maturity and sensitivity (and of course if this or that specific film doesn’t, it should be criticized), while Games (almost?) always don’t, so they get criticized as a whole for their treatment of these themes

          • Faxanadu says:

            Ugh.

            He meant to say exactly what he did. You just smoothed it out a little. “because, overall as a medium, they do so tastefully,” -different words, same thing. No such requirement exists. It’s ridiculous to feel entitled to criticize an entire platform, just because nothing good has come out of it, EVEN THOUGH – important here – THE PLATFORM/MEDIUM WHATEVER CLEARLY possesses the qualities to put out material just as “tasteful” as any other medium.

          • Premium User Badge

            AngelTear says:

            So, you’re saying that it’s ridiculous to criticize games “just because” they could be better? I thought that was the entire point of criticizing anything, pointing out what is bad and implying that it could be better, even pushing them to be better.

          • Faxanadu says:

            …criticize games AS A WHOLE. Yes, that’s what I’m saying. And no, blanket criticism has never improved anything, just smothered unjustly. Criticizing games as a whole is exactly that.

          • Sunjammer says:

            “overall as a medium, they do so tastefully, with maturity and sensitivity (and of course if this or that specific film doesn’t, it should be criticized), ”

            The first assumption there is plain wrong, and the other is falsely stated as though it is a given. The moment the words “should be criticized” are uttered when dealing with art is the moment you sort of tap out of the discussion as a whole. The implication of some sort of core morality means you think, for instance, a book like Comte de Lautreamont’s Maldoror, composed of endless childishly violent dreams of transgression, does not have a basic right to life. Why on earth would anyone write of the repeated torture and emotional manipulation of children? What “good” does it do? Who would read it? Yet Maldoror is an incredibly unique and even inspiring work referenced by countless other authors. Smut and filth and transgression isn’t just a cornerstone of human culture, it practically dominates.

            We live in a world where 50 Shades of Grey, an intolerable book with near-constant phrasing like “My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves”, is a top seller. There is no moral high ground, a “guiding education” or even a balanced median here. It is probably one of the most glorious eras in the freedom of art humanity has seen thus far.

            Digression. In the end, probably nobody who was brought up right thinks rape and sexual violence is a lol-fun hilarity to be thrown at the wall whenever nothing else sticks, but to cry out in terror at its mere insinuation much less its actual inclusion, paired with banners calling for a reevaluation of the state of things, really is crying wolf. I wish people knew how to choose their battles.

    • Consumatopia says:

      There isn’t a double standard, with games on one side and non-games on the other. Our culture treats text differently from images, images differently from video, noninteractive video differently from interactive video. Interactive text would be treated differently from interactive video if interactive text were significant enough for anyone to notice.

      The kind of people who might find content objectionable will find it more objectionable if you add visual stimulus or interactivity. Essentially, anything that makes that work more intense will make it more objectionable. You might not like that standard (I’m not sure I do), but there’s nothing inherently illogical about it.

      • Faxanadu says:

        The base logic is sound, the absolute balls to the wall treatment it receives is what makes it a double standard and illogical. Pressing buttons is all it takes to go from a movie with lots of killing to a game with lots of killing. This distinction is enough for lots of people to blame videogames for violence. And that’s just hyper overkill, it doesn’t qualify under the logic of just “being more intense”.

        • Consumatopia says:

          Sure, I definitely agree that some people take it too far. I’m not sure that many would actually take the position that you’re attacking, though–that violent movies have no effect on violence but violent games turn us into killing zombies. I think most of the people who object to violent games also object, if somewhat more quietly, to violent movies. I wouldn’t say that either of these things necessarily causes violence, but I would say that, at least in my country (USA) we have an overall culture of violence, of which games and movies form a part (though perhaps not a casually significant part).

  14. Cheese Wold says:

    To add some balance to the Castlevania issue, other journalists described the scene differently.

    According to Destructioid and GamesRadar it is a playable sequence, so the order in which you kill the family and which ones you feed on is actually up to the player.

    Eurogamer doesn’t explicitly state it as a playable sequence but states that all members of the family are fed on.

    • almostDead says:

      The person who wrote the article is getting tons of attention for their interpretation of the scene. This attention leads to clicks, money and more work.

      Humans are great at interpreting things any way they want to fit their bias. This particular one, like the sex-flash game a few entries below, with its 200 plus comments, are fucking jackpot for a working garmes jurnalist.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Hypocee says:

    When Steed makes a painfully exploitative digital drug that requires massive capital to reach critical mass, I’ll shun him too. Problem solved. Indie devs have virtually all my attention precisely because they turn away from evil.

    • AngusPrune says:

      Agreed. There’s nothing indies can learn from Candy Crush that any halfway sentient person didn’t already know from the gambling industry. If anything, they managed to make something even more shady than a low rent casino has on their floors, because they’re completely unregulated and can peddle their wares to anyone with a bank account and a phone.

      Any indie that takes lessons from the parasitic free-to-play garbage that Candy Crush is deserves nothing but scorn.

      • Premium User Badge

        DrollRemark says:

        So spake two people who didn’t bother to read the article.

        • AngusPrune says:

          Or, you know, people who did actually read the article and realise the fundamental question “Why is there no indie Candy Crush that does what it does without the exploitative FTP crap?” is a stupid one.

          Candy Crush doesn’t work without that. It’s a fruit machine, it’s not an interesting game without the sucker traps.

  16. kwyjibo says:

    “turgid, try-hard wankery”, oh New Games Journalism, how does that feel? How does it feel?

  17. Geebs says:

    As somebody with a highly-employable skill set who is currently working 8-9 hour days for nothing but the vague whiff of a possibility that it might lead to something career enhancing:

    eSports journalists and assorted hangers-on: please get the hell over yourselves. What you do isn’t getting you paid because it is not something that anybody else values enough to want to give you a wage for it. Across the EU, well-qualified graduates are having to move in with their parents and take paper rounds because nobody values their skill set.

    Either find a way to monetise your fans or go and do something else, but for god’s sake stop whining about it.

    • almostDead says:

      Well as much as there is truth to what you say, it is not the total story.

      Similar to the making games industry, where you must have ‘passion’, which has seeped into all job descriptions, you can take advantage of the fact that you can get away with not paying people to do what they are passionate about.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        A similar thing is kinda happening in journalism – there’s a huge amount of demand for journalist jobs about the time when the newspaper industry is shrinking drastically. Media organisations take advantage of this by offering illegal unpaid internships that budding journalists take because they have no choice other than quitting the field entirely. As a result the rest of journalism is undercut because a bunch of the work is being done by people working for free. Granted, the government can and should punitavely stomp on companies offering unpaid internships, but it wouldn’t stop journalism paying low wages. Some things are valuable, but because of the way the job market has been rigged against employees since the late 1970s (and also, sure, because of supply and demand), some jobs won’t really pay. As long as people want to do e-sport commentary for free, companies won’t pay people to do it.

    • Vinraith says:

      Pretty much. It’s hard to make it in the entertainment industry? Well no shit. “I can’t make a living watching video games” isn’t something that induces a lot of sympathy, honestly.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      Wonder what the results of the European elections will be. The EU is screwing over ordinary people because of macroeconomic decisions that are benefitting Germany at the expense of every other country in the Eurozone, even if sure, Greece will never become rich with the right economic policy. When neoliberalism has been slowly screwing ordinary people for decades, I wonder at what point people will snap and demand something different, or whether people simply don’t follow the economics enough to point policy in another direction.

      • LionsPhil says:

        or whether people simply don’t follow the economics enough

        I’m pretty sure it’s that one, and not from some snobbish “proles” position, because hell if I can make head nor tail of it either.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          As I understand it, less money from economic growth is flowing to the lower end of the income brackets; the top 1% really is soaking up most of the income, particularly in the US. On both sides of the Atlantic, the idea that debt is bad and austerity is necessary is popular amongst the elites. This is leading to money pooling in the hands of the rich, who have more capital to invest and fewer taxes to balance out some of this advantage. Jobs are also less permanent, leading to job uncertainty and lower income growth in salary workers. In the US the average wages have more or less frozen since 1980.

          Europe’s problem is largely the Euro; countries can’t use tools like inflation to make their economies more competitive, while each county is politically independent and isn’t answerable to the citizens of other countries. This means that Germany has an incentive to exacerbate the crisis because it relies on European trade to boost its exports. Greece will never become Germany through austerity, but it could rebalance its economy by inflating out of its debts if it didn’t have the Euro, and make its wages more competitive than Germany’s. In general, monetary policy in Europe isn’t encouraging growth and spending, and this the job market is in the shit. The UK is largely isolated from this, but austerity choked economic recovery by discouraging spending, which is largely a conservative policy to empower the rich at the expense of the poor, so we’re also seeing high unemployment and widening inequality.

          The US’s problem is largely politics; it’s stinking rich and can afford to push more money to the poor, but the Republicans are strongly against this for ideological reasons, mainly fear of the state and a sense of individualism over community. Its ability to create a workable domestic policy largely hinges on the parties’ ability to control their extremist wings, particularly for the Republicans, otherwise stuff like defence cuts will styme its foreign policy too.

          China is facing huge structural problems including rising wages making its exports less competitive and issues stemming from it being an autocratic state with various levels of corruption. Its challenge is rebalancing its economy without losing political control, which is not an easy task. Russia is in a strong position as the US was distracted in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this advantage is slipping as the US pulls out of its foreign wars and can rebalance its global strategy (see its making up with Iran). Energy prices are also in the toilet, I think, or at least not as strong as they were, and Russia relies deeply on energy exports as its industry is weak and its infrastructure difficult to develop over such a large area.

          I think in general the West will probably see a lot of unrest until the elites change the way they structure their economies. The Eurozone might yet collapse unless Europe effectively becomes a federal state, which seems unlikely. And it’s possible that Obamacare is the start of the US’s re-acceptance of government spending, but if not the lower pay levels will continue to become unlivable and fray its social fabric. We’ll see, I guess.

          Edit: oops, long.

      • Josh W says:

        That’s a really good point! When people go “Ah well it’s bad for everyone”, my first response is sad nodding, but actually why is it bad for everyone?

        Why is it that highly skilled people all over the country who could be doing things that people value can’t get any money to live while doing it? Why are we wasting all of those people?

        It’s amazing to think of all the kickstarters that I would love to fund, just because it’s something that obviously needs doing, when I have to spend almost all of my money on necessities. There’s record amounts of money just sitting in bank accounts because the people who want to invest them want either economic security or returns on that investment that people can’t afford to give them.

        There’s a whole other world of cool stuff that the 20-somethings and 30-somethings of europe could be building, and we’re all trying to pay for a few of us to be able to do a 50th of it off of the scrapings of minimum wage incomes, while the people with all the wealth and the secure incomes just sit on their hands.

    • Tams80 says:

      I’m not sure if I should comment on this as I don’t have any knowledge of the esport journalism industry, and whether people are exploited as in some cases in other forms of journalism.

      That said, if this is because of a lack of demand for esport journalism, then I have little sympathy. If there isn’t demand for the job you want, the skills you have aren’t valued highly and I see no reason why anyone would pay someone for something they don’t value.

      What little esport journalism I have experienced has been pretty terrible. Even though some new the details, they didn’t have the flair to make me even consider paying for it. I’m not the best judge for this though, as I don’t value almost all sports commentary and therefore wouldn’t pay for it. However, I don’t know anyone who has any significant interest in esports, let alone the commentary. If the quality is as low as I’ve witnessed, then I don’t see it any of them ever being interested.

      In short; I think there just isn’t the demand inost of the world for what esport journalists offer.

    • Premium User Badge

      RobF says:

      Other things that people don’t want to pay you a wage for:

      Journalism (other kinds)
      Working in stores
      Working in offices
      Doing any sort of creative pursuit.
      Doing any sort of manual work.
      Most things really, isn’t the 21st century turning out stellar?

      I hardly think people fighting for a wage is something to discourage, y’know? Come on now.

      • almostDead says:

        Oh Mr. F, you just lack passion.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        I agree; if you perform a service that lots of people use, it’s worth being paid for it. Of course there’s a difference between doing something for free because it’s a hobby with no responsibilities (i.e. you could stop commentating on e-sports at any time for any reason any no-one would have the right to be angry about it) and effectively working for a large organisation for no money.

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      Nogo says:

      Fuck unions. Put children back to work!

      Can we please stop this petty “I’ve got it worse, and I’m pretty sure I’m better than you, so you should suffer” BS? It just makes you look like a dick (which, granted, seems to be a skill of yours).

  18. Wulfram says:

    Cheap games through sales keep me a PC gamer.

  19. Chillz says:

    Mr.Gillen has quite the exquisite music taste, cheers.

  20. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    I respect the hell out of her for writing it, but the Kat Bailey article does something I’m not wholly comfortable with: it feels like she switches from the subjective voice to the objective (or, at least, the authoritative subjective) one midway through the piece. As someone who more or less agrees that Dumb Action Game #24535863673 should probably stick to what it’s good at rather than pointlessly trivializing rape, I nevertheless felt the tingle at the back of my neck I always feel when someone jumps to a conclusion without sufficient evidence.

    It was this part in particular that bothered me:

    “When Cox talks about wanting to take risks and arguments with the marketing team, it’s clear that the scene was constructed with the intention of evoking sexual assault.”

    I don’t know if it is clear. I mean, forcing the player to murder a married couple is a big risk, and one I don’t think a marketing department that has a vested interest in their main character being likable would be exactly thrilled about. I can imagine someone being disgusted with the scene for the same reason John was disgusted with the beginning of Medal Of Honor – killing a virtual person who has done diddly-squat to you is often disquieting in itself. The No Russian controversy was only a few years ago, and that was a time when most games journalists blindly accepted a lot more than they do now. And, lest we forget, Activision allowed players to skip that level precisely because it was so disquieting.

    I think Bailey severely underestimates how conservative the industry still is about specific kinds of violence, and in doing so undermines her point. Yes, the scene is meant to shock, but I’m not sure it’s meant to shock in the way Bailey suggests it is.

    And, look, I’m not saying she’s necessarily wrong; I just find it troubling that the piece doesn’t really draw a distinction between what was said and what Bailey suspects.

    The problem is compounded by a structural issue with the piece: there is simply not enough description of the scene in question for us to form an opinion on it. We haven’t experienced it. We haven’t even watched a video of it. The onus is on Bailey to be specific enough in her description of the scene that we can understand her concern, but what’s there is simply too general. It reads like the murder of innocents, which is obviously troubling, but there isn’t a clear throughline to rape specifically, so when she makes the connection, it doesn’t click in the way it would otherwise.

    She says the part with the woman looks eerily similar to the box art of RapeLay, but I’ve never seen the box art of RapeLay, nor do I want to. I would think – or maybe hope – that RapeLay’s box art isn’t a common enough point of reference that most people reading the article are going to know it instantly. And yes, Google could probably bring it up, but how many people are going to want to type “rapelay box art” into Google?

    There’s also the fact that, let’s face it, it’s not literally rape/sexual assault within the fiction of the game. I don’t want to minimize the traumatic effect even a thinly veiled metaphor for rape can have on survivors, but I also feel much less comfortable passing judgment on a horror scene meant to evoke rape without being rape than I would an unambiguous rape scene. Horror is meant to get at uncomfortable subjects through metaphor.

    All that being said, I do agree with her ultimate point. Unless there’s a rich vein of horror constantly being mined throughout the game, you can’t evoke a very real horror like sexual assault and then have the same character be the centerpiece of an Action Fantasy Playset.

    • Cheese Wold says:

      I looked up the RapeLay cover to see what she was talking about. It is a first person view of the players arms reaching out towards two women who are standing together looking frightened. Because the scene in Castlevania is in first person and the vampire reaches out to grab a victim, this makes Kat Bailey think about RapeLay.

      To me, this seems to say more about the way Kat’s mind works than it does about Castlevania.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Most of the time in movies when a male vampire sucks a female victim’s blood, that scene is at least somewhat sexualized. How could it not be? Take away the imaginary fangs and what you have is forced kissing.

      Maybe it’s not proven beyond a reasonable doubt (surely playing the game is necessary for that), but the preponderance of evidence (i.e. better than 50-50) says the designers of that scene intended at least some sexualization. (When you say “sufficient evidence”, I guess it depends on the standard. Nobody goes to jail if I have the wrong opinion, heck nobody even pays any civil judgments, so I don’t hold myself to “beyond a reasonable doubt”.) They may not have thought “ha! Finally we can give people attracted to the power fantasy of playing as Dracula what they really want–sexual assault!” or “Ha! This will really horrify victims of sexual assault! And this is a horror game so that’s good right?” but it’s unlikely that that sexual aspect is unintentional. There are all sorts of ways you can show Dracula hurting innocent people without switching to a first-person perspective of hands pulling a frightened woman towards the camera.

      re:marketing, it’s definitely no accident that we’re talking about this scene before release. Stuff like No Russian and White Phosphorus became controversial after release. The Marketing people at Konami want us to talk about this scene.

      And, honestly, when Cox says “That’s what we wanted. That’s exactly what we wanted.”, in response to someone’s discomfort (without asking about the nature of the discomfort?) that’s so cringeworthy that I’m not inclined to extend much interpretive charity here.

      • Cheese Wold says:

        Preponderance of evidence that the developer intended this scene to evoke a sexual assault? I see zero evidence, a single persons opinion isn’t evidence.

        Several other previews describe this scene as playable, so it seems the sequence of events that Kat saw were just the way one person played it. The developers explained on twitter that everyone was shown the same preview copy so she saw the same game as everyone else.

        I think the sexualisation in the vampire myth comes with the seduction type powers that vampires sometimes use on their victims. In the case of this scene the vampire is described as being in a starved state and he just quickly consumes the blood of all three victims and moves on. No sexualisation is apparent.

        When Kat told the developers that it made her uncomfortable, it is quite possible that rape never came to their minds. It also seems that Kat didn’t really want to ask them about it, she didn’t push for an answer but was quite happy to project her own thoughts onto their intentions instead.

        • Consumatopia says:

          Testimony from someone who played the game and had a discussion with the developer is, in fact, evidence.

          It’s not perfect evidence, though. If the scene is actually interactive, the interactivity might make a difference in how I would interpret the scene.

          Other than that point, everything else in my post still stands, conditional on the scene being as Kat describes it. It might not actually be so–I haven’t played it myself. Note, though, that the developer and their marketing department have intentionally acted to get this scene into public discussion before we can see it first hand–if we reach the wrong conclusions, it’s their fault.

          EDIT: Looking into this, it gets stranger. The others don’t claim that it’s interactive, they claim that Dracula feeds off all three members of the family. Cox says they showed the same build to all the media–but, kind of weirdly, doesn’t just come out and say that Bailey is wrong.

        • Premium User Badge

          ffordesoon says:

          An informed opinion is better evidence than an uninformed one.

      • Premium User Badge

        ffordesoon says:

        Those are all fair points, although you should remember that Activision considered No Russian potentially controversial enough that they allowed players to skip the mission if they didn’t want it harshing their power trip.

        And, you know, it’s not just No Russian. Plenty of digital ink was recently spilled over GTA V’s torture scene, for example, or the Splinter Cell: Blacklist E3 demo’s knife torture scene, or all the horrified press reactions to that E3’s crop of monotonous shootybang violence, or Bioshock Infinite’s violence. There are plenty of examples where non-sexual violence has become a lightning rod of controversy.

        Whether those controversies have affected the bottom line is up for debate, but they have definitely been controversies, and the game industry has often proven itself unusually sensitive to controversy.

        I’m not doubting that the scene doesn’t work and comes off as tasteless. I think Bailey’s probably right about it evoking sexual assault as well, and if that’s the case, it sounds pretty gross. It sounds gross either way, to be honest. Castlevania has always been an action series that takes place in a horror milieu rather than a horror series, and I think that the pleasant incongruity of those two aspects is a huge part of the series’ enduring appeal. It sounds like Cox and his team have decided that Castlevania should be scary, and that’s a mistake. If the game is scary for long enough that the scene doesn’t feel gratuitous, it’s not a Castlevania game anymore. If the game is a genuine Castlevania game for the other ninety-nine percent of the time, the scene will come off as a cheap shock tactic that will generate bad press the game doesn’t need.

        I also agree that Cox does not come off well in the article. I don’t know if he comes off as deliberately malicious, but there is a definite “kid playing with matches” vibe there that’s unpleasant. That he apparently looked directly at the only woman in the room (that’s how I pictured it, anyway) and asked if the scene made her specifically uncomfortable does also provide support for Bailey’s theory that it is deliberately evocative of sexual assault. I definitely think that Konami is shooting itself in the foot by allowing the scene to be shown to the press.

        My only point is that Bailey’s article, for me, fell short of its goal as a piece of writing. I say this as a longtime Kat Bailey fan who’s followed her since the 1UP days. I’m absolutely not saying she’s wrong; my point is that her argument didn’t feel strong enough to me. I’m glad the discussion is happening, and I respect any woman games journalist who writes an article that isn’t a regurgitation of a press release, because she is inevitably going to get a bitterly hostile response from misogynistic dickheads. I was nervous when I wrote the comment above precisely because I didn’t and don’t want to be mistaken for one of those jerkoffs. But the piece didn’t quite gel for me, and I outlined why above. I hope that makes sense.

  21. eclipse mattaru says:

    Re: The whole sales thing.

    These developers seem to conveniently forget another reason why we might want to wait before buying: Not being their unpaid beta testers. If I wait for a sale, not only I can get the game cheaper, I’m sure I’m getting a patched version of the game, hopefully clean of all the inevitable day-one issues.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Jackablade says:

    I’ve got a question – a genuine one that I’m interested to hear an answer to:

    Does anyone care about E-Sports? And if so, what’s the appeal? The only person I’ve actually met who was excited by the scene was one of the more successful artists submitting models to the DOTA workshop, who stood to make a significant financial gain from people’s continued interest in the title.

    Now me, I’m kind of old and bitter so it’s entirely likely that I’m simply not up with what the young people are into any more, but I just… don’t get it.

    • Premium User Badge

      PikaBot says:

      For the exact same reason people care about physical sports.

      • Faxanadu says:

        I couldn’t care less about irl sports, and pretty much all e-sports bore me. They’re just LAME and don’t feel like they’re meant to be watched. Oh I enjoy a Quakecon final once every year, but only because the people participating are STUPIDLY skilled. No other entertainment value.

        But StarCraft 2, now that’s an exception. I’VE NEVER PLAYED THE GAME, but it’s actually fun to watch. RTS just makes for a great sport to watch. Because you can SEE EVERYTHING that happens on the field, but the players CAN’T, so you just get to giggle and watch how they react to eachother and how they play it out based on what they THINK is happening on the map.

        Go ahead, watch a game, I just picked a random from my favorite caster. Eating while watching recommended. (80% do lol.)

      • Strangerator says:

        “For the exact same reason people care about physical sports.”

        Exactly this. I’ve watched some Super Smash Melee matches online, because it’s a game I used to play with friends in a competitive manner. I’m guessing most people who watch e-sports have some experience with the games being played, because it helps you really appreciate the skill and mastery on display. Contrary to the experiences of others, I tried watching some Starcraft 2 but couldn’t make it through a whole match. Lots of strange vocabulary gets thrown around, and I didn’t feel like doing research to be able to spectate.

      • malkav11 says:

        Yeah, unfortunately. I used to think that if e-sports ever became a thing in America, I’d finally have something in common with people who enjoy sports, but in fact they wound up being pretty much the same baffling, deadly dull experience I get with football or hockey or whatever.

    • Gargenville says:

      I like to watch fighting tournaments because a single match takes three minutes at the most and there’s almost zero downtime, plus the pivotal moments are much clearer than they are in an RTS or Counter-Strike or something so when something amazing happens the entire crowd will know simultaneously and go nuts accordingly. Basically what I’m saying is WATCH DAIGO’S PERFECT PARRY.

  23. Premium User Badge

    PikaBot says:

    The Candy Crush article may or may not have some good points, but I wouldn’t know because I refuse to play the game on principle. That principle being ‘those fuckers keep redirecting me to their App Store page while I’m just trying to surf the internet on my iPhone, so fuck them’.

  24. Premium User Badge

    PikaBot says:

    That sale article sure is a lot of unsupported hunches with very little data or reasoning. Perhaps most irritating is his tendency to describe purchase decisions in a vacuum; as motivated purely by customer desires and intentions. Which is ignoring the enormous elephant in the room, namely financial pressures. The question isn’t usually ‘do I want to pay this much now, or wait to see if I can pick it up on sale?’, it’s ‘can I afford to pay full price for this? No, I should wait for it to go one sale’.

    • Geebs says:

      I think that guy spends an awful lot of time in his own head; if you look at his dev blog he posts about a lot of stuff that he’s clearly given a lot of thought to. By his own account, The Castle Doctrine was inspired by some pretty horrible sounding experiences which he had as a result of living in a shitty part of a shitty town, due to not having much cash. Maybe he’s not the best person to be taking financial advice from, then,

    • unangbangkay says:

      I dislike attempting to ascribe unstated motives, but Rohrer’s argument against the so-called “culture of sales” (does everything have to be a culture?) is less based in concern over the economic well-being of his fans than his desire to attract a specific type of audience – namely, his fans.

      His argument’s centered entirely about how sales burn the customers most likely to support you (those who buy at launch), and his solution is to swear off sales for The Castle Doctrine and “reward” those fans by implementing heavy discounts at the pre-purchase/early-access phase ala Minecraft. The theory goes that these fans are rewarded for supporting the game, and the playerbase is grown at the point of release for the curious folks looking out for a deal.

      It’s sound reasoning…but it doesn’t support the core “sales are bad” thesis. Rohrer’s proposed pricing model (it’s really closer to a pricing ideology) might work for The Castle Doctrine or for Minecraft, and for indies it could be a worthy alternative, but it won’t work for everything.

      For example, this kind of model encourages the so-called “culture of preorders”, something that RPS and others have railed against, and trains customers to get in “early” to get the best deal, regardless of whether or not the game looks good or ends up good at release. It encourages us just to take devs and marketing at their word. I would argue that the sting of seeing a game you bought and liked go on discount later is NOT as painful as the sting of preordering a game at full price only to find out that it SUCKS (see: Colonial Marines). In fact, this strategy is ALREADY at work on Steam, which regularly offers discounts on preorders, and does NOT allow for preorder cancellation (something you can at least do for retail games).

      I would say that “early discount” models would work when the developer expects heavy involvement from the audience in the game, either as a community, or to influence development. Most indie devs can’t afford the resources needed to properly test and QA their games, so enticing players to pay to test by trumpeting a discount would be positive (and even this is an ethical gray area in some cases).

      In the end, all of this would simply be dealt with by encouraging moderation on developers and their participation in sales? Does everything have to be a manifesto with some folks?