The Sunday Papers

By Adam Smith on April 6th, 2014 at 11:36 am.

Sundays are for waking too early and spending the morning staring into the coffee, searching for signs.

  • We begin with typically excellent and thorough work from Electron Dance, where an investigation into concepts of choice and narrative becomes a fascinating tour of hypertext and holodecks. It’s the best thing I’ve read this week.
  • We’re used to the common wisdom of books and films being uni-directional media. We start on page one and know we’re finished when the credits roll. We’re drawn to the idea of “The Narrative”, a master sequence of events being played before us. Even films like Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006) or 21 Grams (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2003) which present fragmented stories, still take their passengers on a directed ride from start to finish. We’ve bought into the idea that storytelling is about a journey to an endpoint, an authored destination.

    The real destination is the creation of meaning, whether that be the reader’s interpretation or reconstructing the author’s intent. The work is not completed by reading the final page but by reading all of the pages.

  • Cara’s journey has begun. Funded by readers via Patreon, her embedded journalism will take her to many places over the coming months and the first stop was Oakland, where she met with ‘game designer and prolific internet voice’ Tim Rogers.
  • After a week I’m about ninety per cent sure not even Tim really knows why his writing has had this attracting effect on people over the years. I am still floundering around in the ten per cent. I suspect it’s scimitar-sharp honesty, slow-poison sentences, acute intelligence, an intense enjoyment of language, and a large dose of humour and generosity, but no one can really be sure. I once commented in the car park at the Berkeley Bowl where Tim buys salsa that I think that we both make money from being honest on the internet. He said, “I’m honest about the things that the internet doesn’t like.”

  • Do Luftrausers players control Nazi pilots? Some observers believe so, which has led them to express discomfort about the game. I question the final sentence of this Gamebias quote but the review contains a good summary of the interpretation.
  • Then there’s the imagery of Luftrausers that Game Informer called an “edgy, stylized faux-Nazi aesthetic.” Most critics don’t discuss this aesthetic, as pointed out by Nick Capozzoli. Indeed, it’s hard to care when the game itself doesn’t care. Vlambeer merely uses Nazi suggestions for style points. This approach should come as no surprise, as the developer once described Radical Fishing as “our simulation of the noble pastime that is traditional redneck fishing.” I sincerely question whether Vlambeer would know a real Nazi or redneck if it slapped them in the face.

  • Rami Ismail of Vlambeer has responded.
  • …even more so in an interactive medium, we do have to accept that no way of reading those implications is ‘false’ – that if someone reads between the lines where we weren’t writing, those voids can be filled by the player, or someone else. If we accept there’s no wrong interpretation of a work, we also have to accept that some of those interpretations could not be along the lines of what we’re trying to create.

    From our perspective, we do not cast our player as a Nazi pilot. LUFTRAUSERS is a dogfighting game very much inspired by a very specific century in the history of mankind.

  • Polygon speak to the developers of Abraham, who believe Satan is attempting to stall the game’s release.
  • “If Satan is rallying some of his resources to forestall, delay, or kill this project, I think, this must be a perceived threat to his kingdom,” adds Ken Frech, a religious mentor to the project.

    “I fully would expect something like this to have spiritual warfare. Look at the gospel accounts of demons and so forth. That’s reality. Many Americans don’t believe it anymore. That doesn’t change reality.”

    In my 25 years or so of interviewing game developers, I have heard many complaints about malicious forces conspiring to confound a game’s launch. Generally, money and time are the culprits. This is the first time I have heard the Devil cited as an obstacle.

  • Games can open doors to cultures and ideas we might not otherwise consider. As Major League Baseball season begins, an exhibition and a splendid interview explore unfamiliar stories from a different world of play.
  • If you’re like me, you think of baseball season with delight. I often laugh to myself remembering George Carlin’s famous description of baseball as a happier sport than most others—the wearing of “caps” vs. helmets, that you’re always “up” at bat vs. asking “what down is it?”, that it has no time limit, and that baseball’s objective is to “go home” and “be safe”! As he describes a “kind of picnic feeling” you get while sitting in the stands, I’m reminded of my own sunny summer days spent at Forbes Field. My little legs would burn in the sun, but I didn’t mind a bit, because I had my bag of roasted peanuts and cold soda pop to enjoy the game. My Dad would cheer on his beloved Pirates, and we’d enjoy a day filled with him explaining base hits and double plays.

  • Here’s one more exhibition that I coudn’t resist sharing. While many of us prepare to explore fantasy worlds this week, including that of The Elder Scrolls Online, let’s take time to visit some different architecture.
  • The exhibition, says its curator, Irina Sedova, attempts to portray the development of architecture in Russia and then the USSR “as a real process of strife between tradition and avant-garde, between cultural inheritance and new invented forms.” The differences between Constructivism and Stalinism, as the show illustrates, aren’t as clear cut as typical architectural histories would have you believe. There was, at least for a time, plenty of room for nuance between the two architectural cultures.

  • Back to our own industry now, where the creators of Tetrobot and Co explain that however large the pie becomes, the individual slices are often razor-thin.
  • Anyway, how could you know that Tetrobot and Co. even exists? Few reviews are available online and few youtubers gave it a try. Tetrobot and Co. has no goat characters, no gorgeous 3D graphics, no narrative twists and no infinite mode. Tetrobot and Co. is just a well crafted puzzle game.

    Even if the videogame market is saturated, even if Steam doesn’t want to push small unknown games anymore, we are the ones to blame. We should have spent more time trying to sell it instead of just making it. We learned the lesson the hard way.

  • And we return to Vlambeer for a view from the other side, as captured in The New Yorker.
  • Stories of sudden indie-game riches are appealing. They have a fairy-tale quality, the moral of which is often, “Work hard and you will prevail” (even though this kind of overnight success is often the result of an un-replicable recipe involving privilege, education, talent, toil, and timing). In the field of video games, which many people view as childish and pointless, these stories also have a legitimizing effect: they measure the medium’s worth in dollars, when its artistic and moral worth is more questionable. Profiles of prominent indie game makers often lead with details of their financial success.

    But for many of these young game-maker millionaires, who created their work out of a passion for play rather than prospecting, the wealth and attention can be jarring.

  • The cloven spectrum of opinions on Goat Simulator. Phil Hartup praises in The New Statesman.
  • Even in a conceptual sense the game is a timely joke about the way that there seem to be simulators of everything these days, from driving trains, buses and trucks to managing forests, farming, landing on Mars and air combat. It’s not the first spoof simulator of course – Surgeon Simulator has been around a while and that game has its tongue so firmly in its cheek that it’s a wonder it doesn’t include a procedure to remove it – but it takes the joke to the logical conclusion.

  • Rich Stanton is much more in line with my own thinking over at The Guardian. I thought it was like a smaller and somehow even less amusing Postal 2.
  • The sad thing about Goat Simulator is that it demonstrates how social media and the internet amplify our supine tendencies; this is a silly thing, and that’s fine, but now it is somehow also a cultural moment. People are encouraging each other to spend money on it in their droves. In the desperate scramble to tease a meaning from such popularity – because surely there must be some reason for this behaviour – we produce only paeans to banality.

  • Finally, Eurogamer’s brief obituary remembers Masato Masuda, creator of Fire Pro Wrestling, the greatest game of its kind. He was 48 years old.
  • Grasshopper Manufacture boss Goichi “Suda51″ Suda, who worked on the series in the early 90s, confirmed the news today.

    “He was 48 years old, still young,” he wrote on Twitter. “I genuinely pray for his happiness in the next world. He was one of the greatest creators of video games and he was my direct teacher. Thank you for giving us our favorite Fire Pro-wrestling. You are the god of it.”

    Enjoy the remainder of the weekend.

Music this week comes in two flavours. In memory of Masato Masuda and anticipation of Wrestlemania, the unusual 14 Masks of Danger by Danny Michel, and for the long pause of the afternoon, the body-rhythms of the evening and the restless small hours of the morning, it’s Night Court by Mux Mool.

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147 Comments »

  1. Faxanadu says:

    RPS should review Corruption of Champions. Best game ever. Maybe the S.EXE thing, ain’t it for that sorta stuff? Porn games are games too! :D

    • Kitsunin says:

      Trials in Tainted Space is shaping up to be better though. Aside from feeling more contemporary, just something about the setting feels more whimsical and less generic to me (Not that CoC isn’t creative) I dunno.

      • Faxanadu says:

        That’s exactly my problem with TiTS, it’s a bit _too_ creative. CoC has a more traditional setting, so it’s easier to relate to. While in TiTS it seems anything goes, making everything a bit less exciting when the rules are not so apparent.

        Anyway, can’t really review TiTS since it’s not half done yet.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          I work in the oil industry, and like many engineering environments, EVERYTHING has an acronym. PWRI. TAD. WHRU. SRB. SRP. They even made a TLA out of two words: “Turn around”, becoming a TAR.

          So it always makes me chuckle when the new Code Of Conduct comes out, and everyone only refers to the full title.

          • pepperfez says:

            Because otherwise it might be confused with the Call of Cthulhu, obviously an unfortunate association in an industry devoted to plumbing the secret depths of the earth.

          • Sleepymatt says:

            …or Call of Cooties…

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  2. james.hancox says:

    I thought it was just kind of accepted that you play as a pseudo-Luftwaffe pilot in Luftrausers. The clue’s in the title. But it seems to have as much to do with real life Nazis as the robo-Hitler from Wolfenstein 3D- so utterly ludicrous and hilariously divorced from reality that it’s hard to take offence.

    • HadToLogin says:

      I’m pretty sure ID Software wouldn’t be able to make Doom or Quake if you’d play as robo-Hitler killing people.

      Playing as nazis is bad and you should feel bad. Or however that meme goes.

      • WrenBoy says:

        This needs to happen. Future DLC for Titan Fall ideally.

      • MattM says:

        Better watch out, wargamers aren’t going to give up playing as Germany.

      • Muzman says:

        I don’t remember Battlefield 1942 ruffling any feathers in the same way, although it probably did.

        • Premium User Badge SuddenSight says:

          I don’t believe the issue is playing as a German, so much as glorification of the Nazi aesthetic and – by association – Nazism.

          • Muzman says:

            Which makes even less sense to me. “It’s not the shooting as much as enjoying the clothes a little too much”.
            Everyone has known for ages that Nazi Germany had the coolest looking kit, and quite often the best. When I was a kid, it was the German stuff out of toy soldiers and models that were the ones you wanted. Not stylized Dan Dare-ish reimaginings either. The real stuff.
            Some would say, the portrayal as the clear bad guys is enough to fix the impression the “correct” way, unlike playing as super-deformed and stylized analogues. I don’t think it makes much difference. Things so removed from context say virtually nothing about anything. This concern is some weird combo of fear of human susceptibility to ideas, like if the clothes are cool you might warm to the ideology, some notion that Nazism cracked this virality to an almost supernatural degree and, thirdly, some post-modern type idea that this all can be carried through the warped design echoes of the game to any real effect.
            I’ll take none of the above.

          • Premium User Badge SuddenSight says:

            And the KKK look pretty rad in those white sheets I’m sure.

            The point isn’t whether the Nazis looked cool (kinda? there are plenty of cool-looking army uniforms to choose from, don’t limit yourself). The point is the effects of Nazism and WWII are still very real and present to many people, and the memories are still quite painful.

            I am not advocating censorship of Nazi references (I’m American after all – feel free to deny the Holocaust and be wrong).

            But expressing empathy for people who have a negative reaction to a high-profile product is good. As the developers stated, some people will be reminded of and interpret *bad things* and that is sad. It wasn’t the developer’s intentions, but it is naive of anyone to think saying, “I didn’t mean it like that, please stop having negative associations with certain imagery” will make the problem go away.

            I think the developer’s response was excellent. They cannot reasonably change the game to appeal to everyone’s tastes, but they can explain their intentions and express their understanding of people who won’t like the game for thematic reasons. If you don’t have a problem with it, please continue to enjoy it.

    • Dunbine says:

      Next on the hit list – IL2 Sturmovik, where you can play as straight up Luftwaffe pilots, not pseudo-Luffwaffe pilots (love me some BF-109 G-6 flying).

      Of course, it is different. But not really.

      • Syphus says:

        I believe t hat game was called “Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe”.

    • Premium User Badge Joshua says:

      I thought you played as a servant of a mad-german scientist during the dieselpunk era. A bit like “Sky Captain and the world of tomorrow”, but german instead (Because germans have these menacing sounding names).

      Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is, by the way, a rather good watch if you are into the feel that Luftrausers is going for.

    • Geebs says:

      Also: isn’t it one of the points of Luftrausers that the player inevitably loses?

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Eh, that’s true of lots and lots of games, most of which explicitly portray the player as a hero. Inevitable failure really doesn’t indicate authorial disapproval in video games.

    • Runty McTall says:

      I’ve always thought it pretty lazy that people assume that fighting for the axis == Nazi or even that being a member of the Nazi party meant you fully agreed with their “ideals”.

      I imagine that most people in the axis ranks were fighting mainly for their country (of which there were several in the Axis). Similarly, to get ahead in life I imagine you had to join the party at some point (much like most people of any appreciable station in any walk of life in the USSR had to join the communist party).

      I’d guess in absolute terms there were lots of dirt bag true believers in there but it relative terms maybe not. In any case, it always does strike me as jarring that the “other side” / NAZI conflation is so common and unchallenged.

      Maybe it’s easier than acknowledging that for many people on the other side it was just a chaotic, terrifying time and they were doing their best to survive it. Morally I consider it a justifiable war but it’s considerably more depressing to consider that most of the dudes you’re killing are just average joes doing their best to work out what their duty is to their country and then carry it out as best they can.

      • drinniol says:

        Sven Hassel captured this in his novels. I think it’s a throwback to WW2 propaganda. The Allies did some pretty horrific shit as well.

      • bill says:

        True. But you have to be careful about going too far down that road (imho).
        Because it can lead to a change of focus from being “bad guys” to being victims. You might argue that there is truth in that, but it tends to lead to a rise in sympathy for the bad guys, and contribute to a rise in the kind of nationalist sentiment that started most of the trouble in the first place.

        For example, in Japan, movies and books about WW2 still continue to be very common and popular, and they tend to focus on the experiences of the poor individual soldiers who relcutantly end up fighting and dying for their country. Some of these movies are made by anti-war directors, some by more nationalist ones. But they all tend to contribute to a big sympathy for Japan and a feeling among many young Japanese that Japan was the victim of the war, and that is one (of several) factor leading to a rise in nationalist views.

        Eg: One the biggest movies in Japan in the last year was Eien no zero, which is a story about a reluctant kamikaze pilot. It made everyone cry and feel touched by the ‘spirit of japan’. The story may be reasonably nuanced*, but it still essentially evokes the kamikaze pilots as reluctant doomed heroes.

        *in the movie, whose director seems to be mostly anti-war. The book (also a bestseller) is by a pretty nationalist author, who is also a governor of NHL (japanese BBC) and has made several nationalist/controversial statements about the war recently.

        • WrenBoy says:

          Surely those pilots were reluctant doomed heros though. Are you sure you are not confusing Allied propaganda with reality?

  3. DickSocrates says:

    “The real destination is the creation of meaning, whether that be the reader’s interpretation or reconstructing the author’s intent. The work is not completed by reading the final page but by reading all of the pages.”

    Didn’t stop RPS making Kentucky Route Zero the most bestest thing of 2013 despite it being less than half finished.

    • faelnor says:

      While I agree with the first sentence in that quote, I see no compelling reason that supports the second assertion. To me, a work is ‘completed’ when the vague and fluctuating entity that aggregates both author and interested audience decides to walk away, especially in non-linear narrative works. You don’t have to read every single footnote in House of Leaves to get something out of it, nor do you suddenly belong to a super secret clan of ‘final readers’ when you do read them.

      In the case of Kentucky Route Zero, just because adding more to it is ongoing and slow doesn’t imply it hasn’t already fully succeeded in creating meaning for part of its audience, including myself. There are countless cases in the history of art where works which were not complete as per the original author’s intent were already wholly meaningful experiences.
      I *do* at least understand the bashing of KRZ for not delivering on time based on what was paid, ie. a reasoning based purely on value but I don’t think that was your point.

      • Premium User Badge Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        The Final Readers do not appreciate being spoken of lightly.

        Speak of them with respect, lest next they choose to read The Lovely Bones.

      • frightlever says:

        I bought ‘House of Leaves’ but I’m having a hard time getting my head around reading paper books again.

  4. Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

    I’m impressed that when asked a question, Tim Rogers can answer in less than 15 pages. (Joking, I like his writing)

    • Faren22 says:

      I like his writing too, but yeah, you need a cup of coffee and a spare hour or two to read one of his articles. Usually I get halfway through before I want to shake him and shout “BREVITY IS THE SOUL OF WIT” into his face.

    • Lemming says:

      After seeing the pictures of him in the article, I can’t take him seriously at all. He’s 34 and dresses like a man-child. I know we are all supposed to be about freedom and choice these days, but I’ve got limits.

      • puppybeard says:

        If you actually take the time to read the article, you’ll have even less time for him.
        The whole thing left me out in the cold.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Because judging people based solely on their appearance is such a very grown-up thing to do.

    • KenTWOu says:

      Mike Bithell is wrong. The problem of Splinter Cell:Blacklist wasn’t in ‘play it your way’ slogan. It was in forced sequences which didn’t allow you to ‘play your way’ all the time. Sometimes It even used forced action sequences, co-op campaign was seriously harmed by them. Anyway, I’m with Jordan Amaro. It seems like MGS5 will put almost everything to shame. And it’s really really sad, because they won’t release it on PC. Because other studios messed up their stealth titles in one way or another.

    • lomaxgnome says:

      That Goat Farmer’s review was honestly more useful than the actual PC Gamer review of the game. If your reviewer knows that he doesn’t find the concept entertaining within 20 minutes, perhaps someone more in the target audience should be assigned, rather than publishing a 30…

  5. PsychoWedge says:

    hm, the polygon article is kinda sad.

  6. Juan Raigada says:

    Thank you for the Electron Dance article. The best article on game narrative you have linked to yet!!!!

    • Eight Rooks says:

      Conversely I did not like it at all. While there’s some wisdom in there I’d struggle to actually explain to anyone what the point of the whole thing was – it pretty much read like a mess of self-contradictory statements from start to finish (“Some players like to do this, but other players like to do this! Is that a problem? WHO KNOWS???”). It trots out the same old nonsense that drives me up the wall – no, upsets me, let’s be honest – about how no-one cares about your silly moral dilemmas (the thought of doing a high chaos playthrough of Dishonored actually makes me feel ill, thanks, so do shut up, eh?) …and then it goes straight on to say “But hey, these dudes seem quite worked up about games X, Y and Z so it’s all good, I guess, maybe?” and doesn’t seem to have a clue what this proves about anything.

      I suspect it stems – as do so many things I hate about the industry – from how a large number of developers seem to have this desperate need to make sure their games are all things to all people all of the time, which is and always has been self-deluding nonsense of the worst kind. It is fine to want to be Minecraft. It is fine to say “Shut up and listen while I tell you a story”. It is perfectly okay if someone says “I hated your story! Your story is bad and you should feel bad!” and you say “Eh, tough. Sorry about that”. The fact that some people think The Last of Us should have had a non-linear narrative is merely proof some people will never be satisfied with anything. Sorry, pal, this is not cause for yet another rambling screed about how gee, vidjagames sure are weird, aren’t they? People sure do get worked up about them, don’t they? and very little else.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Yeah, I’m trying to chew through its rambling, disconnected text, and all I’m getting in my head are two overwhelming thoughts:
        – Yes, you can represent a lot of things as digraphs. This may be a revelation to you, but it doesn’t justify all these words.
        – I feel I should be putting the Hypertext PhD hat on and dissecting your use of the term, but honestly I’m struggling to even find any concrete claims in this work to assess.

        If you’re writing a “thought-provoking” piece, but most of your paragraphs end with a question mark, you have contributed about as much to critical thought as a pub drunk going “aaaaAAAAaaa, but what if the queen WAS a lizard?” at you. Actually explore that. Make an argument.

        And use fewer words. No, fewer than that.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          You are flat-out full of shit. The only “paragraphs” that ended with question marks read like this: “We crave the weight of consequence yet revel in its destruction. How do we make sense of this contradiction?”

          And they were immediately followed by full-length paragraphs expounding on those same ideas/questions. There was ONE full-length paragraph that ended with a question mark. One fucking paragraph.

          I hope you aren’t an English teacher because kids wouldn’t deserve criticism from someone that can’t separate subjective, personal standards of quality from widely-agreed upon ones. I won’t call good criticism “objective,” but I have faith that you get the point.

          Or is it impossible to understand my diatribe, as I’m ending this one-sentence paragraph with a question mark?

          Note: And I don’t normally hate your comments, which is what pissed me off so much. You usually come off as a reasonable, intelligent human being.

          • Premium User Badge AngelTear says:

            I hope you aren’t an English teacher either, ’cause you get really aggressive over nothing really easily, apparently =)

            Luckily, you think he’s (usually) an intelligent person, I don’t dare think what you would have written if you disrespected him or hated him.

          • Eight Rooks says:

            Oh, for goodness’ sake.

            The only “paragraphs” that ended with question marks read like this: “We crave the weight of consequence yet revel in its destruction. How do we make sense of this contradiction?”

            And surprise, surprise, that’s a silly non-question that can be answered really, really bloody easily. Take the vast majority of people who play videogames (note: this does not necessarily include people who read RPS, so let me stop you there) – they think they deserve to have everything at once, that they should feel like the most important thing in the gameworld from start to finish, and that is the most important thing to them, regardless of whether it actually makes any sense. They don’t care about ludonarrative dissonance except when it interferes with them doing whatever they want to do. There, job done: the whole thing is full of nonsense like this, absolute non-issues – in that not a single one warrants reams and reams of rambling text to analyse, much less needs it to be resolved.

            This isn’t an attempt to troll or be dismissive for the sake of it. The entire article struck me as far too concerned with the academic equivalent of “White people do X, black people do Y, why is that” – seeing endless game design conundrums that beg to be answered where no such dilemmas exist. The vast majority of people are (essentially) assholes in videogames, and their actions make no sense seen in any other respect. They’ll always be assholes because they see videogames first and foremost as power fantasies designed strictly for their benefit and don’t care whether or not their quest for gratification gels with the goals of the developers, unless those goals conflict with theirs, in which case they’ll bitch about it until the heat death of the sun, given enough characters in a comment box to do so.

            You can analyse human nature all you want! Just if you offer players a choice between A and B, there will always be people who choose one and say they want the other, people who say both are rubbish, people who say you’re an asshole for forcing them to choose etc., etc., and none of these contradictions contains any intrinsic wisdom to be taken as gospel about game design whatsoever. So stop writing giant, rambling articles that pretend they do, or that they might do and that we need even more giant, rambling articles to compel us to keep looking for it. We don’t. No-one does.

    • Premium User Badge Rizlar says:

      Yeah, it’s a great article. Coherent, full of interesting ideas. Not that I agree with everything he suggests, I do think the illusion of choice in a linear narrative can be incredibly strong too, as evidenced by The Walking Dead’s popularity.

    • Geebs says:

      Man discovers own navel, goes spelunking.

  7. InternetBatman says:

    I think many religious art forms have the problem where the audience is expected to view rather than participate, and appreciate rather than analyze. This is especially true of some of the more off-beat Protestant / American churches, where questioning doctrine is anathema. I can only imagine this is exacerbated in video games, which require player agency.

    The Abraham game sounds like the product of these problems; it’s a gigantic escort quest because the creators couldn’t imagine a world where you side with sodom or where you play as Abraham and make a decision that’s against the Bible. So yes, part of their funding troubles are a clash of worldviews, but part of it is also that their worldview doesn’t particularly translate well to a new medium.

    • malkav11 says:

      In my experience, the majority of people making explicitly religious media (e.g. self-labelled “Christian” fiction, rock, games, etc) are doing so with the primary and overriding intent of making it conform to and ideally promote their particular ideology. It’s not evaluated on whether it’s a gripping narrative, a beautiful piece of music, an exciting and compelling game, etc, or if it is, that’s entirely secondary. It’s evaluated on whether it glorifies God, and does so according to their particular religious doctrine.

      Needless to say, this tends to make them decidedly questionable experiences for people who don’t find that an important criterion.

    • Shuck says:

      If there’s only one “true interpretation” of the material, there can be only one allowable path through the narrative. I can’t imagine the game as anything other than a giant series of what are essentially quick-time events (you’re not exactly free to “choose how your story will play out” when you’re just following someone else around). I’m seeing a “Dear Esther” minus any of the elements that made that worth playing.
      I’d say these guys are bedeviled by only one thing: a stunning lack of (self) awareness. They go for a $100,000 Kickstarter, targeting an audience that has almost no overlap with the people who are funding game Kickstarters. They’re making a game that doesn’t shy away from genocide, adultery, attempted infanticide, rape and incest, and they’re looking for a child-friendly rating. They’re looking to appeal to investors by trying to raise money for an unproven team to create a game of a type that has never done well, when even commercially-friendly game ventures by proven teams outside very limited parameters aren’t likely to get funds. They’re also trying to appeal to gamers who know from experience that religious games are uniformly terrible. They claim they’re not making a game to prosthelytize when clearly that’s exactly what they are doing… etc.

    • EPICTHEFAIL says:

      Given the sheer density of stupid spewed out by the devs in the interview, I am expecting every LPer on YouTube to take the piss out of this thing the moment it comes out. And it will probably account for the bulk of their sales, too. Honestly, a bunch of YEC fundies trying to make a game that looks like it`s from 1998 has to be the perfect troll bait. Makes you wonder if this is just a very well acted out example of Poe`s law.

      • Wedge says:

        Pretty sure nothing they put out can be anywhere near as amazing as The You Testament was.

    • pepperfez says:

      That’s an interesting observation, because historically American Protestant churches have been remarkable for demanding participation from their congregations and rejecting centralized creation of dogma. That spirit should be tailor-made for the direct, informal approach of the games industry rather than film or literature, just like it was hostile to a lot of the old traditions of grand religious architecture and music.

      Of course, this guy is a young-earth Catholic, so who knows what’s going on with him.

      • malkav11 says:

        I would think that there are very likely plenty of people making games today who were at least raised in that tradition and very possibly still practice it. The thing is, people who practice non-dogmatic, open-minded and questioning forms of religion aren’t really the sort that need to make explicitly religious media, because what that tends to be about is replacing “godless” secular culture with something that reinforces one’s beliefs.

        • pepperfez says:

          Yeah, that’s how it actually works in America today and that’s what bums me out. Like, if these guys looked at GTA and saw a bunch of brilliant gameplay hooks to make players identify with a character they wouldn’t ordinarily, they could use that and maybe make something brilliant. Instead they just sneer and snarl at The Culture These Days and churn out some group-identity schlock. And no mainstream developers can work with biblical material because they’d get bomb threats from the fundamentalists. It’s just a waste.

  8. The Dark One says:

    Polygon speak to the developers of Abraham, who believe Satan is attempting to stall the game’s release.

    So Gaeta is a Young-Earth Creationist Catholic? I didn’t even know that was A Thing.

    • EPICTHEFAIL says:

      I think he is secretly a time traveller from the 15th century, which might explain the graphics.

      • pepperfez says:

        If the graphics actually looked like something out of 15th century religious art, I’d be totally sold, wackadoo or not.

    • Lemming says:

      He might identify as such, but I doubt the Catholic Church would recognise him that way.

    • strangeloup says:

      The idea of Satan trying to stop a game from being released, when surely His Infernal Majesty has better things to be doing, is just so irresistably charming that it’s hard to be too annoyed at the huge volume of dumb in the article. (And why do -all- christian-themed games seem to have stalled graphically and technically in about 1998?)

      On the other hand, the idea of a certain Mr. B. L. Zebub being on EA or Zynga’s payroll seems eerily plausible.

  9. mvar says:

    “But for many of these young game-maker millionaires, who created their work out of a passion for play rather than prospecting, the wealth and attention can be jarring.”

    Oh those poor young baby millionaires who are jarred by all this wealth. If they’d like we could switch, my shitty job and rented shit-hole of an apartment for their depression-causing 6-7 figure bank account. I’d be totally devastated. Couldn’t handle all this attention at all. No -_-

    • LionsPhil says:

      Indeed. No matter how many times I hear the same cry, it always rings as the very worst of “oh, woe is me, being financially stable in a developed country is such a hard life”.

      • timethor says:

        It is, actually. The human brain isn’t really suited for the western levels of wealth (and especially in the welfare states), where I can declare that I’ll do nothing but eat and make babies, yet still get checks from the government to pay for said food and babymaking.

        Happiness comes from attaining goals, from having a sense of purpose. For many people, providing for yourself and your family through work is the source of those goals. Realizing at a young age that you don’t need to work anymore to attain the “true” goal of ensuring your own survival can cause serious psychological issues. Sure, you can set yourself all kinds of fake goals (like.. becoming good at a videogame, or climbing a mountain, or..), but those “accomplishments” can always feel a bit hollow, fake, and pointless. I’m pretty convinced that on average, people with demanding but “honest” and manageable jobs lead more fulfilling lives than people who can sit on the couch all day in a welfare state (or because they’re rich).

        • joa says:

          Those saying “aw poor rich person” aren’t disputing that these people are unhappy or have problems – they just have little sympathy, which is fair enough. These people had a choice of what to do with their lives. If they are unhappy with the result, then I’m sorry – but what are the rest of us to do about it?

          • LionsPhil says:

            Yes, this.

            It’s less “what have you got to be unhappy about?”—after all, emotional responses to things care not for magnitude on a global scale, and spilling that coffee while you’re in a hurry is just the worst thing ever—and more “you are demonstrably able to affect your lot in life, so my finite pool of empathy finds it hard to allocate you a portion”.

          • frightlever says:

            Should the media simply ignore the issue of unhappy millionaires then? Any other topics which should be off-limits to reporting? Would it be simpler to make a list of “approved” subjects?

          • drewski says:

            *sigh*

            The media can report on whatever they like, and we can call them on their facile bullshit whenever we like.

            Criticism isn’t censorship.

      • Reapy says:

        Money doesn’t fix everything, and the inclusion of it coupled with a loss of anonymity can leave your life worse off than it was in a 9 to 5 job. If you go from making a comfortable amount to partially rich, the change isn’t quite as dramatic as moving from below median income, and you are saddled with a jarring change of how people look at you and what they expect you to do for them.

        ‘Winning’ the indie game route means you don’t get to be private anymore, and I do think that can be a very hard thing, especially considering most developers I know tend to be extreme introverts. I know I tend to want to feel the same way as you guys, but getting money doesn’t mean you stop being human and can’t ever feel sad, just seems to be nobody will give you the right to ever complain about anything because one area of your life is taken care of.

        • drewski says:

          It’s not so much that anyone believes money fixes everything; more that complaining about having all of the money and everything still not being fixed is the firstiest of first world problems.

      • dE says:

        It’s interesting to me that Durkheim’s Concept of Anomie never caught on. Might be, because it’s at odds with the “living the dream” mentality that became so prevalent in the years after the war.

        Anomie is one of four concepts he used to describe suicide. To cut a rather lengthy description short, Anomie is the result of a sudden mismatch between exterior norms and the inner self, normally because norms changed externally and self regulation doesn’t know how to compensate, leading to an increasing push factor out of society. Even more simplified, you wake up and society expects you to be a different person from who you were yesterday. The Anomie can develop into a force strong enough to push people into complete isolation and suicide. One of the examples he used, amongst civil unrest, was a person getting rich quick.

        It’s interesting to me, because his work on suicide changed the perception of suicide in 1897. No longer was suicide considered something born out of negative circumstances but something that could even happen to someone that just arrived at greener pastures. Interesting, because we’re now back at “rich makes happy” and no one with money should ever feel depressed.

        Think about it this way:
        The result of the success tears those people out of their established lives, changes friendships, social contacts, switches norms around, paints you a big target for shady individuals, pulls you and everything you do into the spotlight. This is a major sudden change and overwhelmingly so. A factor that often crushes families of lottery winners, for example.

        • Premium User Badge SuddenSight says:

          I think the problem for me, as someone who has not “won the lottery” but is doing very well, is what to do with this knowledge.

          Should we (as a society) take money away from people for being too rich? That sound ridiculous and terrible.

          Am I supposed to empathize with these suddenly rich people? I try, but I cannot. I would love to have more money and more recognition. I cannot guarantee I would be happy if I was in their shoes, but money and recognition are two things I strive for and I know that having a little more would make me happier.

          I am lying about lacking empathy somewhat. My summer after high school left me feeling irritable. I had successfully gotten into my first choice college, but I almost an entire two months of nothing to do and I couldn’t stand it. But the solution to that problem was just to “get over it.” Having nothing to do is the easiest problem to solve – I got a part time job and I did something. I tried writing a novel (and gave up after 10 pages). That kept me busy enough to get through the summer, and then I didn’t feel so annoyed anymore.

          But it doesn’t seem nice to tell people who are clearly having a rough time to “get over it,” or “keep going and it will feel better eventually.” I’ve never been in a situations as extreme as theirs, so maybe it won’t.

          So I see this whole debate as a problem I cannot solve, from people who have the greatest ability to solve problems (they have wealth! fame! talent! how can they still have problems?).

          My point is, I am sorry that people who get suddenly rich/famous have difficulty. I think they should see a therapist (seeing a therapist doesn’t mean you’re crazy! healthy people do it too!).

          But I can’t simply nod my head and say, “This is a clear problem that society needs to fix!” because every time I see this complaint I just want to sarcastically respond “I am soooo sorry for you,” even though I know from reading many things that this is a real emotion that happens to real people.

          I’m probably sounding too harsh again. It is sad that people feel sad, but these people least deserve my pity and I don’t see how I can help any of them through these impersonal inter-tubes. Please know, if you are a successful indie dev, I appreciate your contributions. Please appreciate yourself. You have value, no matter what you do.

          • pepperfez says:

            Should we (as a society) take money away from people for being too rich?
            Yup! Because they don’t need it (or in these cases even want it) and it can be used to actually help a lot of other people. It’s not terrible, it’s how a functional society works. As a bonus, future struggling game makers who strike it rich will have been better off all along (thanks to more generous social welfare policies) and won’t face the same culture shock.

          • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

            pepperfez, it sounds like a worrying slippery slope from there to the abolition of private property. Fair enough if the state takes a percentage of everyone’s wealth because it needs the money to build schools, hospitals, etc, but if you start inverting that and letting the state take wealth *because the individual didn’t need it* then the state would simply take everything beyond the basic necessities of life.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Nope! It’s not a slippery slope, you just need to be reasonable about it, that’s all!

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            That already exists. It’s called taxes and many nations have managed to implement them without sliding down said slippery slope.

          • pepperfez says:

            In Capitalist USA, we recognize all slopes are Teflon-coated and all taxes genocide.

        • Dances to Podcasts says:

          I just wanted to say thanks for an actually insightful and interesting post. :)

      • Premium User Badge AngelTear says:

        To take the concept to its extreme consequences, though, nobody should be allowed to complain about pretty much anything until more “serious” problems (like hunger, war, death from easily curable diseases etc) are solved for everyone else.

        Say, I feel very depressed, or I am marginalized at school, or recently went through a rough divorce/family bereavement or any other set of regularly occurring problems we usually deem “serious”, and I write about it and complain, an average person in a first world country may or may not understand and sympathize based on personal circumstances, but if it was read by someone who lived in a third world country with some *truly* serious issues such as above, they’d say I am entitled.
        I mean, we’re on a gaming blog, where people daily complain that, say, the last Thief is bad, and Gone Home is not a game, imagine answering to each of them, every time, “that’s entitled”. Even feminist and racist issues seem almost irrelevant from that perspective.

        And indeed, certain categories of problems only arise after more basic problems are solved, simply because the mind doesn’t care about these lesser issues until more fundamental ones have been solved. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily exaggerating, making it up, or just fishing for attention, it may simply mean that certain kinds of lifestyle may have serious psychological drawbacks despite the material well-being that accompanies or even characterizes them.

        • altum videtur says:

          The thing about the mindset that says “ok, you’re suicidally depressed, but these people are being murdered in the street, so you should shut your mouth and be happy because fuck you you dont get to play sad” is based on the rather pathetic (and fully integrated) mindset of utilitarianism, wherein people’s “greater good” (greatest being physical wellbeing) overrides all other concerns. Pitiful, mindless and altogether ignoble.

    • The Random One says:

      The depression is not caused by their six-figure accounts. I wish I was an evil genie so I could grant you their bank accounts and their depression altogether, to see how you’d fare with them.

    • lomaxgnome says:

      Not to mention the 99.99% of game developers who don’t become instantly rich from their games, I’m sure having to continue to struggle to do what they love is considerably worse that “jarring.” This sounds like the successful musician myth, the idea that having success and making money at what you love is somehow a bad thing. No, it isn’t. Sure, some depressed or otherwise mentally unhealthy people manage to become successful and have then some additional issues (and almost certainly would have had just as bad or worse issues without the success), but the idea that once in a lifetime success is somehow a curse is a creative social lie propagated by people who want the masses who are actually suffering to sympathize with them.

  10. The Hairy Bear says:

    Far be it for me to question the wonders of the infinity but I do suspect that only making $19,000 of a $100,000 target means that supernatural forces can take a fairly lazy approach to slowly down the project…

  11. LionsPhil says:

    [Goat Simulator] was like a smaller and somehow even less amusing Postal 2

    Yeah, that’s the impression it’s been giving me too. And I actually kind of liked bits of Postal 2: the world’s most accurate peacefully-purchasing-some-milk simulator.

    Coffee Stain Studios must be laughing all the way to the bank.

    • Faxanadu says:

      On that topic:

      “People are encouraging each other to spend money on it in their droves. In the desperate scramble to tease a meaning from such popularity – because surely there must be some reason for this behaviour – we produce only paeans to banality.”

      Oh wow, you guys really need to get on with the times. 2000 called, retarded is funny. Yeah, I know, unbelievable. Hey, noticed all those internet memes? Yeah, I wonder what that’s all about.

      Coffee Stain Studios will indeed be laughing all the way to the bank, and very very much deservedly so. Goat Simulator did something we should have seen years ago, but it took indie developers to do it, because everyone else is stuck in making another sequel to nobody-cares.

      There’s plenty of examples of how popularity makes turds look like gems (like the Strangers Kissing video on YouTube) but this ain’t one of ‘em.

      • DatonKallandor says:

        Goat Simulator is not a good game by any metric. And it’s a joke that’s funny for about 5 minutes (10 if you’re really into “whacky” “comedy”). Is that worth 10 bucks? You better laugh a lot in those 5 minutes if you’re willing to pay 10 bucks for it.

        Or you know, be really high. But making jokes to stoners is hardly a tough prospect.

        • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

          I do find it slightly sad that some people need to take drugs to enjoy silliness.

          Besides, GS is exactly what it claims to be. Coffee Stain even have a note saying that you probably shouldn’t buy it on the game’s website. Stop being grumpy grumps and let us have our fun.

        • SKapsniak says:

          I have played Goat Simulator for four hours according to Steam — as usual it’s lying to me, it’s been more like eight — it’s been fun.

          This makes me part of the problem apparently.

          *shrug*

        • HadToLogin says:

          Maybe it’s not “a good game by any metric”, but it’s still better game than Gone Home.

        • Premium User Badge Nogo says:

          $10 whole dollars! Why, that’s almost two drinks at a restaurant!

          Clearly I’m a big dumb druggie for not agreeing with you that Goat Simulator isn’t worth almost two drinks. Won’t someone remove this wool from my eyes!

          • fish99 says:

            The money comparison doesn’t necessarily work, because you’ve been able to buy Skyrim for under $10 (or any number of other games, take your pick), which is a lot more game for your money.

          • Premium User Badge c-Row says:

            And it includes goats, too.

      • LionsPhil says:

        If the objective you measure it by is how much popular appeal it can turn into money, then the very AAA sequels you’re berating are better games still.

        • Faxanadu says:

          Not berating, just pointing out what they missed. Giving them something else than being grumpy and blaming some popularity phenomenon for a half-assed game’s success. That’s all.

    • Lemming says:

      I get the distinct impression that it’s suddenly becoming ‘not ok’ to enjoy this game. I haven’t bought it, but the videos made me laugh and if people enjoy it, cool. That’s as legitimate a reason as any for it to exist.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Eh, I’ve laughed at some Let’s Plays of it. If it tickles your ungulate sufficiently to be worth seven quid, that’s your call.

        What it isn’t is worth the self-perpetuating tidal wave of hype, which is pretty much what the Grauniad article was lamenting in the quote.

  12. BooleanBob says:

    Can anyone explain Fire Pro Wrestling to me, as a VG culture phenomenon? As someone aware of its place in the pantheon, but ignorant as to the reasons thereto (it doesn’t seem to receive the periodic eulogies that your God Hands and Outruns and Ultima Underworlds enjoy).

    • Spacewalk says:

      Well I’m no expert but it’s likely to be all down to exposure. The games have mostly stayed in Japan and the ones that did escape were all under the radar. It’s not attached to a major promotion either so it didn’t have a chance against all of those WWE and WCW games. People probably couldn’t fathom that you could do a wrestling game that isn’t an endurance test of button hammering but that just an unsubstantiated allegation.

      As a phenomenon I guess the Create-A-Wrestler mode has a lot to do with it. Dream matches ahoy! Oh the retroactive jealousy I felt having a childhood of wrestling games that were fixed rosters only and then later on getting really limited ones in WWF games.

      • thaquoth says:

        There is also this thing that some games in the series have this slightly postmodern slant to it. Which is sorta the way to approach something as ridiculous and slightly sad as wrestling, I guess.

        There is this one really infamous game in the series, where your “create your own beefcake”-dude suffers from depression and loneliness throughout the story mode and the whole thing invariably ends with your avatar committing suicide after becoming champion. Pretty grim. Also interesting, since it predates the “The Wrestler” movie that picked up similar themes by more than a decade.

        Guess that led to a bit of notoriety for the series.

        Edit: Kinda funny how this ties in with the “success and money can make you sad” from the other article.

    • Dave Tosser says:

      I want a game based on 70s British wrestling where you can play as Rollerball Rocco, Giant Haystacks, Kendo Nagasaki and the rest. That’d be magnificent. RPS would love it.

  13. Premium User Badge Rizlar says:

    Another limp article from that dude at the New Statesman, and another excellent counterpoint article. Didn’t expect it to come from the Guardian, but they do occassionally come good!

    • LionsPhil says:

      Stanton’s piece is brilliant. Right in the subheading: “it’s the gaming equivalent of a novelty single”. The entire concept is summed up for even a non-gaming audience before even reaching a single word of the article proper.

      • drewski says:

        He’s great at cutting through bollocks with a finely honed sentence.

        I however, am not.

      • Premium User Badge SuddenSight says:

        I vehemently disagree with both articles (but not the novelty single quip, that is the truest sentence written in the Guardian review). While the commercial success of the game probably does owe something to youtube and twitter, the joy of playing such games is not limited in such a manner.

        Goat Simulator is a game about exploring a small world and finding what kind of interactions exist. In that sense it belongs in the same category of game as the often beloved Stanley Parable.

        For comparison with a less well known game (to see how Goat Simulator might fare with some of the spectacle nature removed) compare these two let’s plays by the Game Grumps (youtube let’s players).

        Amazing Frog (a similar game):

        Goat Simulator:

        The humor is still very silly, and I won’t say either game is “best game evahhh,” but to write off the appeal of such games as simple mockery of real simulation games or as some kind of passing fad is entirely incorrect.

        • Premium User Badge AngelTear says:

          I strongly disagree with the comparison between GS and The Stanley Parable. While they are both based on humor, they’re radically different in every aspect, including the kind of humor.

          TSP is a narrative driven game with little to no interaction that reflects on narrative and gaming tropes/themes, and it’s characterized by smart humor/irony/satire that sweetens what is a “serious” and smart message.

          GS is a mechanics-driven sandbox game, that is funny (I don’t find it very funny, but I’ll concede the point) because “it’s a goat LULZ !!!!1111 Look, the goat headbutted that person ROFLMAO”.

          TSP is way more sophisticated.

          • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

            I think what draws me to GS is the joy of it. Everything from the goofy music (including a 30-minute remix on YouTube) to “Feather Goat” makes it stand out. Sure, it’s a novelty product and has limited longevity, but neither of those things is at all relevant to what makes it appealing, and it’s a markedly better product than just a landscape with stuff to knock over. But overall, it understands fun, the sensation of being a child with a sugar rush, which so few games do.

          • Premium User Badge SuddenSight says:

            You are correct that GS and TSP are not intended for the same audience. But I feel they are comparable in the sense that neither game features any “real gameplay.” In fact, both games make fun of their status as “games.” Neither game could exist in a world where video games were not a thing that people played – the humor would be lost.

            However, that doesn’t mean either game can be written often as a “fad,” nor is either game a sign that gamers or the games industry are stupid. They are simply both examples of games making fun of games, and both of them have been popular recently.

            But I must agree, in terms of actual content the games are completely different, as you have pointed out. I personally prefer TSP – but then, it is a polished game with an intelligent message. GS is a silly game with no real message.

          • Premium User Badge AngelTear says:

            @GapGen I don’t know, maybe I lost my inner children or the ability to just have fun (I’m not even joking, most of my playtime is actually tainted with guilt that I’m wasting my time playing a game, even when I play fairly “smart” games), but I generally don’t like being treated as a child with a sugar rush and ADHD. Maybe because so many games treat me that way anyway.

            @SuddenSight I’d argue, though, that GS is not self-aware. I mean, it obviously is, in the way it’s marketed and presented, but not the game itself. I wouldn’t say it’s making fun of games, and certainly not in the sense that TSP makes fun of games. I’d rather say that it accepts itself as a bad game because it just doesn’t care, a bit like people who “really, really care” about animals but can’t be vegetarian because “meat just tastes so good”.

            I mean, it’s the difference between saying “Some games are bad because x (but I am different)” and “I’m a bad game, I know it, but meh”.

  14. Premium User Badge Jackablade says:

    I think interference from the Dark Lord would go some way to explaining some of the interactions my team had with publishers over the years.

    • Reefpirate says:

      Ha! I was thinking that with all the troubles that happen to game devs, it’s not surprising that someone who buys into Christian theology of some sort would think Satan plays a role. Although I always thought Satan would be rushing to have the games done excellently and right on time… Especially the ones filled with violence and strong sexual themes.

  15. Muncle Uscles says:

    Yes, all of the criticisms of Goat Simulator are valid – it’s not very fun to play, there’s not much to do, it runs absolutely awfully, to the point where I can’t even play it properly on my poor ageing computer, and it’s not even very funny beyond the initial joke.

    And yet, I pre-ordered it, and I haven’t regretted it for a moment. For me the value in buying Goat Simulator is not the enjoyment I get from playing the game, but rather the mere act of frivolously spending money on a slightly funny and clearly shit game which I can’t even play, and making the developer undeservedly rich in the progress provided me with enough enjoyment to completely justify the $10. And I mean, it’s just $10 – I spend more on a couple of beers not even thinking about it twice.
    The idea that you define a clear value for a game, or anything for that matter, as if one can clearly quantify enjoyment, measure the amount and quality of humour, divide that by the price and arrive at an objective worth is a gross oversimplification.

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be responsible consumers and think about how we’re spending our money, but ultimately you’re exchanging money for experiences, and it’s not always quite so simple to determine the value.

  16. CelticPixel says:

    We all knew Goat Simulator was a janky demo they put together as something silly then released as it got a bit of internet traction. I paid 6 bucks, expected to get 20 minutes out of the joke but actually got 3 hours out of it, had a laugh, enjoyed it and now I’ve moved on. No harm done. It’s a legitimate sandbox rampage and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

  17. Frank says:

    Cool: so there is another good PC-only games blog (Electron Dance). I look forward to reading that.

    Also, this selection of articles is the best I can remember seeing in the Sunday Papers. I wish I had time to read things! Either weeks like this should happen more often or Adam should write this more often. (First time? Seems Graham and Jim have mostly run it since Kieron left.)

  18. kwyjibo says:

    Goat Simulator is a joke. I’ve not bothered with it, but those that have clearly understand that it’s a joke. I think it’s a bit Snakes on a Plane, where the name is funnier than the actual product.

    But Surgeon Simulator is a similar premise, and I think the RPS’ WIT sums it up, “Surgeon Simulator 2013 is not a brilliant game. But it is a brilliant joke. In the form of a game.”

  19. ghor says:

    I like Goat Simulator. It’s the closest we’re going to get to Skate 3 on PC. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu_QbowB5iU

  20. Tams80 says:

    If you read between the lines and are then offended by what you ‘read’; then it was your doing and you only have yourself to blame.

    • gwathdring says:

      If you write between the lines in a relatively big font you are a) bad at using college ruled paper and b) asking for it to be read.

      Further, even if you do not “read between the lines” just means “accept that meaning is not superficial and literal.” Of course there’s all kinds of subjectivity involved once you dip beneath the most immediate surface of something but to pretend that subtext and innuendo and figurative usage and connotation is utterly irrelevant to how we judge art and artists is utterly asinine. Reading between the lines or whatever you want to call it is an essential part of engaging with our media and to say otherwise displays the utmost of superficiality.

      That said, I don’t see how having people play as “bad guys” or even as members of the German military circa WWII is new or terrible–especially not in an alternate fictional world that, perhaps, does not possess the same atrocious character.

      In Battlefield and many other games, you play as German soldiers and commanders. You do not, of course, interact directly with the specific horrors of the holocaust as you usually play a low-level individual trying to win battle by battle. I see why this would distress people. I don’t see why Liftrausers would be a particularly worthy target compared to other games–though I haven’t played it so perhaps I’m wrong.

      I do think we have a responsibility to be somewhat careful, but I think there is room to have games in which you play a member of a real-world fascist enterprise or an analogue or caricature thereof providing certain commentary or context is provided and certain circumstance avoided.

      • Tams80 says:

        I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t read between the lines; just that if they choose to, what they find is due to their own doing. The author, for whatever reason (assuming they have any ‘hidden’ meanings in their writing) chose not to explicitly state any hidden meanings.

        I’m the sort of person who couldn’t stand English literature at school though, so my stance isn’t of any surprise.

        • Premium User Badge AngelTear says:

          You’re confused about terminology I think.

          By “reading between the lines” you mean filling in, say, gaps in a narrative when there is no clue about how to proceed.
          Analysis and criticism that go beyond the surface of an object are not “reading between the lines” in that sense, and if they are, they’re doing it wrong and they’re writing a fanfiction.
          In critical analysis of any kind of artistic object, every assertion you make must be backed up by something in that object, you can’t just say whatever you like.

          So, while there’s still room for a degree of subjectivity, differing opinions and debate, “what they find” is not their own doing, but strictly bound by the object they’re engaging with. The fact that there’s never an objective interpretation of a narrative doesn’t mean that all the interpretations that exist are purely unrestrained self-projection.

          • gwathdring says:

            Exactly. Very well put. :) I think you put it more concisely not to mention less confrontationally than I did.

        • gwathdring says:

          You seem to be suggesting that subtext is nonexistent or should be treated as though the author has no hand in it.

          This is really really really bizarre to me.

  21. Jason Moyer says:

    Thanks for linking to that “Baseball In Pittsburgh” series, great photos.

  22. Lemming says:

    I’d really love to see some kind of retrospective of Strife from RPS. It’s been largely forgotten, but playing it via ZDoom I realise just how much modern games owe to it. I don’t think we’d have Deus Ex without it, for instance.

  23. jesusitavlowe says:

    my buddy’s mom makes $79 hourly on the internet . She has been without work for seven months but last month her pay was $20122 just working on the internet for a few hours. Look At This =========>>>
    http://www.jobs333.com

  24. mechabuddha says:

    Tetrobot is an awesome puzzler! Although it doesn’t have too much in common with Blocks that Matter, so I can’t necessarily say if you liked one you will like the other. But I can say that I really enjoyed it, it’s very polished, and a really good puzzle game.

  25. zapatapon says:

    Goodness, Tetrobot is such an absolutely brilliant, lovely game. It makes me profoundly sad that it does not get the attention and widespread recognition it so deserves. Case in point: 74 comments so far and apparently not a single one related to it. [Edit: beaten to the punch by mechabuddha]. John’s WIT (full of love) back in October only got a puny 9 comments (all full of love).

    I urge anybody with even a passing interest to puzzle games to check it out. It is a model of both game design and puzzle design, providing a smooth and constantly rewarding experience which makes you feel like a genius again and again and again. The mechanics are quite different from its predecessor Block that Matters — BTM was very good but Tetrobot is even better .

  26. The Random One says:

    I loved Vlambeer’s response to the Nazi thing. They pretty much admitted that the interpretation is valid, said that every interpretation that is valid is also true, explained that they hadn’t intended to make a Nazi game, and apologized to people who were troubled without shirking their own responsability.

    On the other hand, I found that article’s other complaint – that Luftrausers is just mindlessly following repetitive missions – much closer to my heart. I’ve only played the free version, but that was what made me ignore the paid version entirely.

  27. hprice says:

    Mein gott there is so much pomposity regarding Goat Simulator. I mean you look at the trailers. If you didn’t understand what the game was about then: goat with incredibly ridiculous tongue lolling about, scooting about on its butt, causing mayhem and being outrageously silly into the bargain with glitches and bugs kept in (as admitted by the developers … because it makes it even funnier) … you clearly either must need some sort of brain transplant, or you are a pompous pretentious pseud.

    Probably a bit of both, really. I haven’t bought the game, yet. myself. I will though when its on sale, and I imagine I will have a fine silly time with it. I’ll have a wine or too and try climbing a ladder with my goat head, and cause as much carnage as possible. In six months time, I’ll go back and do it all again.

    So stop being so pompous, and pretentious pc game reviewers. And really … comparing it to Postal 2 … a game basically about truly vile psychopathic behaviour … really??? Jesus. When did psychopathic behaviour become even vaguely similar to a cartoonish invincible goat mangling the world with a stretchy tongue the length of Winchester Cathedral.

    Blimey … right … rant over. Going back to nibble on my Mattessons sausages now and listening to The Fall … mmmm … Pseud Mag Editor’s brother … Pseud Mag Editors brotherrrrr … jesus …

    • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

      I really, really liked Postal 2. As a game, it sucked, obviously, but it’s the nearest thing gaming has to a post-modern critique. With all due respect, if you seriously thought that Postal was meant to be taken seriously, then you’ve missed the point as badly as the people who you are decrying in your post. It’s a parody of gamer tendencies and behaviours, as well as tropes in linear first-person shooters.

    • The Random One says:

      Sometimes you don’t laugh at a joke because you don’t get it, and sometimes you don’t laugh at a joke because you get that it’s not funny.

      For me, I doubt playing the actual thing would amuse me more than watching LPers do it.

  28. faelnor says:

    This was one of the best Sunday Papers comment threads in a while.