The Sunday Papers

By Adam Smith on July 20th, 2014 at 1:08 pm.

Sundays are for balancing many interests and inputs, and realising that there aren’t enough windows in the world to see the whole picture. The International rumbles on, an unblinking machine that exhales dry ice as it calibrates the new theatre of esports live on stage and screen. Kill Screen’s reporter Darren Davis makes his debut at a live esports tournament and captures the exhileration and oddity.

As I said, I’ve never been to a live esports tournament. But once you’re there in the arena it’s hard not to feel like every other event is just talking shit. Valve has really outdone itself in terms of production and pageantry. This is not off-brand. This is the progamer tournament. Turns out, it has more in common with WWE than any pro sport. When Gabe Newell takes the stage to kick off the event, he steps through smoke and spotlights and may as well stop to flex. He speaks with the full-throated confidence of a wrestler at the peak of his narrative arch, bringing the crowd to a fever pitch in their reverence. This is Valve’s behemoth on Valve’s home turf.

  • For an experienced voice, I turn to Chris Thursten at PC Gamer. We once discussed esports coverage while stranded on a press trip together and Chris was already approaching the subject with a veteran mindset. When the competitors work full-time on a single game, presenters, organisers and journalists will follow. Esports analysis requires a dedicated eye.
  • Almost nothing today went as expected. Well, some things. As far as day two’s competitive matches went, however, extraordinary upsets and out-of-left-field performances were the rule. Today saw the fall of former champions and the continued rise of teams that almost everybody had counted out. While the matches I’ve chosen below reflect the best of the day, this was one of those essential runs that bears watching in full and analysing after the fact.

  • A final note on The International. The Seattle Times has a good gallery, which pleasingly highlights where the camera is drawn. Hint – it’s not always (or even often) the screen. The best sports photography often captures the extraordinary, which is usually a combination of significant moment and unusual framing/expression. These shots from The World Cup, with excellent written commentary from The Guardian’s Jonny Weeks, are fine examples. Can the same occur in games built around canned animations? How does one create a photojournal of a chess tournament?
  • There have been too many words about the collapse of Yogventures already this week, so I won’t add too many of my own. ‘Brand’, ‘community’ and ‘likeness’ seem to be some of the important ones judging by the response. Joystiq earn a linkthrough by speaking to Nerd Kingdom, developers of ‘replacement’ game TUG. For those who missed the story, references to previous reports are in the links at the top of the article.
  • Nerd Kingdom’s Peter Salinas: The reality of the situation was this: A young and ambitious developer overscoped a project… this would not be the first time that happened; it’s just a total bummer that it had to happen with a massive community involved. And during that time, the Yogscast group, knowing little enough about development, agreed to let them use their likeness in their own project. Yogs knew that Yogscast itself was not equipped to manage the project, so they let Winterkewl use their brand and a community to build on. Sadly in that process, all the milestones that were set by Winterkewl, which would have allowed the Yogscast to promote the project, never were hit. How can you promote or make an experience with nothing to share?

  • How’s about when a Kickstarter campaign is somewhat more successful? Darkest Dungeon looks splendid and the second part of a crowdfunding post-mortem written by the developer arrived on Gamasutra this week. Considering how successful the campaign was ($313,337 raised, $75,000 target), I’d probably have simply blown a trumpet for several minutes and asked Gamasatrua to host the soundfile. Fortunately, the article is far more useful, particularly for anyone considering a Kickstarter of their own.
  • All the millions of things we tried to do during the campaign had almost no discernable effect on the mid-campaign “trough”. Our daily haul was incredibly steady (in terms of deviation, not magnitude) compared to nearly every other campaign I looked at. This seems to mean that nothing we did (backer updates, announcements, social media, etc.) really changed it at all day to day. Of course, maybe what we did was enough to create that steady earn and in fact our efforts were remarkably effective. But I think it’s the reverse.

  • Sticking with Gamasutra, here’s a conversation with Larian CEO Swen Vincke about the richly deserved success of Divinity: Original Sin, and the long incubation of its many ideas.
  • “If you’re doing a quest like killing The Butcher in Diablo, I want to be able to go kill Cain while you’re doing it,” says Vincke. “That’s what we originally wanted, and that’s what you can do now in Original Sin. Honestly I’m surprised that nobody else has done this until now, at least in the way that we’ve done it.”

    Except he’s not, really; when I ask him about why he thinks open-world multiplayer RPGs are rarely attempted, Vincke laughs. “Because it’s a nightmare to make! It’s literally a QA nightmare to make.”

  • West Games took to Reddit so that the world could ask them anything about the funding and development of Areal, their spiritual successor to STALKER. It went about as well as Robin Thicke’s recent Twitter Q&A, but perhaps not quite as badly as his album launch. Throughout the AMA, West Games refer to a small group of people “repeating the same negativity and misinformation 24 hours a day”. They reframe the negative attention by suggesting that STALKER faced far more difficulties and opposition. All of their responses have been downvoted enough to make them invisible without a click.
  • STALKER faced a lot more problems then we are facing. We had extreme budget cuts and people accusing us from all spheres of gaming of being fake and horrible. Areal is facing negativity, but it is no where near to the extent that STALKER faced. Our team is perfectly sufficient, and we’ve said numerous times that we have many team members who do not want to be disclosed on Kickstarter yet, and for understandable reasons, because they would become the subject of constant scrutiny. The dev cycle is longer than a single year if you do the math, and in total, is closer to 2 and a half years if you look at the fact that Areal was being developed before Kickstarter. And we’ve planned to make this game ever since STALKER 2 abruptly stopped being developed.

  • Two slices of academia now. First of all, William Huber’s analysis of ludological dynamics in Fatal Frame II to celebrate the horror game’s impending arrival on Wii U. Nintendo’s console should be a perfect haunted home for the series, which is one of my favourites in the non-PC world. The paper below isn’t new but I couldn’t resist posting it. As with much of academia, it hews close to self-parody but there are some lovely insights behind the heft of the language.
  • How does a modal analysis of this game contribute to a reflection on uncanny experience in the videogame? In Freud’s 1919 essay, the uncanny as read through an analysis of E.T.A. Hoffman’s story, The Sand-Man, is an effect of multiple decodings of the sign: a privileged one, (the ‘Heimlich,’ the homey, familiar reading of an event) and a hidden one, discomforting, menacing, alien. The transitivity between a reliable decoding of a familiar sign and its destabilization (when a human figure in motion is revealed to be a doll, or a corpse; when a shadow takes a human form; when speech is distorted back into noise) is more than a simple matter of suspense—it is the latency of interpretation that triggers the experience.

  • Reading all of that sent me down the rabbit hole of academic research and I ended up staring at this 2001 paper about procedural city generation, which I believe I first read when Introversion mentioned it in relation to the ill-fated Subversion. There is beauty in these systems.
  • Modeling a city poses a number of problems to computer graphics. Every urban area has a transportation network that follows population and environmental influences, and often a super-imposed pattern plan. The buildings appearances follow historical, aesthetic and statutory rules. To create a virtual city,a roadmap has to be designed and a large number of buildings need to be generated. We propose a system using a procedural approach based on L-systems to model cities.

  • Finally, two films that have caused reflections on these things called ‘game’. Snowpiercer is the more obvious, causing many a Bioshock and Rand reference to sprout. The Ithaca Voice has an interesting take, notable for its recognition of (bingo cards at the ready) ludonarrative dissonance and the ‘brutal cynicism’ of spectacular violence condemning itself.
  • With cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo, Bong has shot some of the most awe-inspiring action I have ever seen. Zooms, Steadicams and ceiling-mounted dollies have all appeared in countless genre films, and lord knows CGI has as well, but Bong’s style here combines all these elements and somehow becomes unforgettable, palpable, substantial. Perhaps it’s his disciplined use of natural light, like when a child runs through a grungy corridor holding a flickering torch, or the side-scrolling video game aesthetic that follows our hero Curtis Everett (Chris Evans, caked in dirt and far from his pretty Captain America self) in profile as he hacks through hordes of terrifying psychopathic guards.

  • And then there’s Boyhood. Linklater’s time-scarred film ages as it goes and SFGate focuses on the treatment of time. I love the recognition of the poignancy of time in film, a medium that chops and switches its elements, but cannot escape its in-built linearity. Films begin and end, no matter what they might do in between. La Jetée has always fascinate me as a film that questions the passage of time through its narrative and its use of stills. An attempt to arrest the inevitable. If I don’t move, I can’t change and all change is decay. Games make time malleable in so many ways that films cannot.
  • This makes for a different kind of movie experience, one that brings a sense of mystery and awe to routine moments. Patricia Arquette, as the mother of two kids, shows up in the first scene looking barely out of her 20s. Ethan Hawke gets out of a car and breezes up to a house, younger than he looked in “Before Sunset” (2004). The most poignant aspect of movies has always had to do with time, the way film seems to stop time, but can’t, because nothing can. In “Boyhood,” that poignancy, that power, is built into the design.

    Music this week is Pretty Lights – Future Blind for body-shaking and Ricky Eat Acid – I Can Hear The Heart Breaking As One for mind-shaking.

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    183 Comments »

    Top comments

    1. HadToLogin says:

      I really hope you’re right. It’s not like newspapers need more ammo to write “not only games make killers, now they sell drugs too” articles how some pseudo-gaming-fans made truce and instead of beating and even killing each other on streets they started making and selling some cocaine or some other meth.

      Yes, that’s what happened to two football team hooligans – they stopped beating and even killing each other and started selling drugs hand-in-hand. Strangely, it didn’t made newspapers write long elaborates how “real-life gaming” is bad and creates monsters…

    1. Jerppa says:

      Summer Sundays are for waking up outside in your underwear.

      • N'Al says:

        Must’ve been a rough night…

      • BreadBitten says:

        Trevor?

      • Premium User Badge phuzz says:

        Where are you?
        Uh, Sheffield.
        What are you doing in Sheffield?
        I fell asleep on the tube.
        The tube doesn’t go to Sheffield, Mike.
        Yeah, I know, I, uh, must have changed at Kings Cross.

        • ruaidhri.k says:

          Manchester airport … luckily it was arrivals i went to and not departures. that could have been messy

    2. Reapy says:

      I’ve been watching the international streams as a person who kinda gets the game and how to play, but can’t grasp exactly what the best strat is at any given time. I don’t really know the teams or who should be good or not, but, ultimately, I just can’t get into dota! The game format just has so many problems.

      The draft takes a really long time, and it is really boring if you don’t know the ins and outs of each hero. Even the newbie stream spends time showing you abilities, doesn’t tell you why they are banning and picking heros, or even why a bad draft can happen.

      The action is too many places at once, the camera jumps all over the place, you rarely see the set up, only the execution.

      The game snowballs too much, seemly over a few kind disconnected random events. Comebacks seem like a rare thing and all too soon the game is over without seeming much of a struggle. As a viewer I can never seem to see where this invisible tipping point is from equal ground to one side dominating, and there seems few instances of comebacks.

      DOTA 2 does need to have some of the LoL stuff like constant creep score and the levels of the heros visible at all times to at least give some grounding as to how the match is going, that helps a bit, but still, eh.

      I contrast this to watching blazblue evo finals, where I know nothing about the game except it has health bars, and can get on board with the drama of that comeback. There is only one place to look on screen to see the action, nothing is missed and a comeback can happen any time.

      I don’t know, I really want to like watching TI, and I guess they don’t need people like me to want to watch, but I just can’t pick it up cold like I could EVO or even the Summer Games Done Quick streams and enjoy it. Though I gave LoL a good month to try to play it, I just had to drop it, but man, I wish I enjoyed watching it at least.

      • Philomelle says:

        In contrast, I found League to be a delight to watch. They elevated League to a “sport coverage you have playing in the background while working on something” thing for me, in part thanks to the easily accessible featured spectates on the client’s main page.

        From the way you make it sound, the issue is less DOTA2 being boring to watch and more that its shoutcasters just aren’t very good at making the action flow. But then I’d also argue that League had a 2-year headstart and already gobbled up a lot of good shoutcasters for themselves. DOTA2 team still needs some experience under their belt before they learn how to present their game as a sport.

        • Horg says:

          ”DOTA2 team still needs some experience under their belt before they learn how to present their game as a sport.”

          Most of the DotA 2 casters were actively casting Warcraft 3 DotA before LoL was even a beta product. They are good at their job. I think the inability to follow the game in this instance, lies with Reapy himself. It’s a complex game and simply cannot be fully appreciated without some inside knowledge.

          • Reapy says:

            Oh yeah, it is definitely my inexperience with the game, the UI and everything. When you don’t know how impactful an item is on a hero, it it hard to understand what it means when they are like “he has his BKB now”. I get it is a key item because they are telling me, but I don’t quite understand how important that is, how far it puts them ahead. Same with not knowing the levels, and knowing what key breakpoint levels are for ultimate or specific skills per hero.

            In league I can just follow at a global level a bit better due to their UI constantly having more spectator info up rather than the caster’s choice. Also I did try out the in game replays and streaming, that is pretty god damn amazing how much you could analyze a match if you wanted to.

            With the camera sort of vaulting over everywhere, because the action is everywhere, it is just really hard to focus in on the global picture and get on board with the tension of the match. It may just be that DOTA isn’t going to be a great spectator sport for non players, but really because millions of people play it, that isn’t going to be a problem for them in the end.

            • kwyjibo says:

              It’d help if more items were intuitively named rather than tied up in obtuse lore. Everyone knows what “double damage” does, but who the hell came up with BKB?

            • Banyan says:

              @kwyjibo Almost everything in Dota 2 has a basis in the original Warcraft III mod, aka done by hardcore nerds to amuse themselves. Black King Bar (BKB), and the Monkey King Bar (MKB) item, are both names of items from Phantasy Star Online. Valve change the name ingame, but the community would likely just continue to use the old name, making the game even more confusing for newcomers. Players still refer to some things that Valve renamed, due to copyright concerns, by the DotA 1 names, aka Scythe of Vyse = Guinsoon = sheepstick. Just one more thing that makes the barrier to entry to high…

        • Premium User Badge wengart says:

          Yea, this seems to be mostly an issue with lack of experience with the game. I’ve left TI on this entire weekend and it is super obvious to me what is going on and how comebacks happen.

          The newbies stream seems geared to people with 10-50 games under their belt without a greater understanding of the game. Moreover the stream is geared more towards teaching them so when they go back into DOTA 2 they have a better understanding of what is going on.

      • Ben Barrett says:

        Fighting games rule, MOBAs drool, EVO 4 lyf.

      • Koozer says:

        As a long time casual LoL player, I just can’t get into Dota 2. I like the more rigid map of LoL, meaning I can more easily predict where their jungler will jump out at me, or where the best places for wards are. In Dota the map is huge, you can eat trees (???), and there are lots of weird little routes through the tree ‘walls’ of each lane, to the point where I just don’t know how to stay safe. I also dislike the huge number of items with active abilities, but that’s more something to get used to I guess. Oh, and last-hitting enemies is a weird enough concept as it is, let alone having to last-hit your own creep.

        Please tell me what I’m missing, the incredibly rigid itemisation in LoL is getting stale.

        • Premium User Badge DarkLiberator says:

          DOTA2 is a lot more unpredictable I guess. If you say you’re getting bored of the rigidness of LoL, DOTA might be for you. You using basic health items like tangos to eat tree to gain a certain amount of health though you don’t really use them again after the first purchase.

          You last hit because you want that gold for your items, like you pretty much pointed out items are way more important in DOTA2 then in LoL, heroes live and die by their item choices. Denying your own creep is merely to prevent the enemy team from getting the gold they get from last hits. Also if you do not feel safe you need wards to keep an eye on certain areas so you can jungle safely, but in higher tier games even that may not be safe (enemy team could buy smoke to go in and gank you).

        • Premium User Badge wengart says:

          Dota 2 is really complicated. But less complicated than you think it is. Most of the stuff in Dota you need to know to be really good, but not to be average.

          When you first start playing don’t worry about what items to buy. Each hero has a recommended general item build and just follow that. It will make sure you don’t buy useless shit, and give you a chance to learn the ins and outs of each item.

          Also watch your teammates and see where they place observer wards. See if they give you good sight and if they are often put there. THose are the locations you want them.

          You don’t have to understand Dota 2 in one go. Just pick it up over time. Find a hero you like and play All Pick. Once you get comfortable with the general mechanics start branching out.

        • Banyan says:

          So you want a MOBA with more item options than LOL but less than Dota 2? Nothing springs to mind.

          I would recommend trying Dota, selecting an item and ability build guide (in the upper left of the screen) and not worry about choosing your own build for many many games. Terrain juking is just part of the game’s charm. Dota is designed to be so complex that even the highest level players make choices that may be wrong, or at least suboptimal.

      • KevinLew says:

        I don’t understand how anybody can say that LoL’s tournaments are better than Dota 2′s. I watched the World Championship for League of Legends and I couldn’t believe how boring that was. I was told that there were times of comebacks and surprise plays, but I saw maybe one the entire tournament. The Grand Finals for LoL was a 3-0 shutout. All of those games were decided in the first five minutes. Seriously, go back and watch the play and stop the play at the five minute mark and look at the score. There was your winner right there, and you didn’t need to watch any more.

        I need to point out that in The International 3, the Grand Finals were completely different. The Alliance had to play all five games to win it. In the last game, they were on the verge of getting eliminated and they turned it around in the last few minutes.

        This year, we’re still seeing upsets. Nobody expected Newbee to be winning so much, especially since they were on the verge of getting eliminated in the group stage. And if you watch yesterday’s game between LGD and DK, the score says that LGD should have lost that game by a huge margin, but that’s not what happened.

        • honuk says:

          There’s one reason this is the case: the Koreans play LoL, and they don’t (really) play DOTA. The LoL Worlds were a blowout because SKT was a far, far better team than everyone they were playing. There are some more comparatively minor things Riot have since changed to make comebacks more likely, but you’re still not going to come back when you’re down against a team much better than you.

        • Moraven says:

          Blowouts and underdogs happen with any sport.

          Just look at the Super Bowl this past year the the blow out that was…

      • P.Funk says:

        I think its worth noting that so much sportscasting spends lots of time analyzing things for people, even in the middle of a game. A break in play usually leads to instant replay in slow motion with someone highlighting what it means, and after watching a sport for several sessions you get a feel for what things mean. The obtuse naming conventions and the abstract tactics and the fact that the gameplay isn’t centred around an object possession and that the flow is pretty non stop means much of what makes typical sports comprehensible is absent. Even with something like Footie and its at time languid but unending pace you get the bird’s eye view and again the object ball.

    3. Philomelle says:

      Aw man, you have reported on that Reddit AMA a bit late. Reportedly West Games took to deleting the comments they made that were more bonkers than the rest.

      I wonder if it still has the “YOU CAN DOWNLOAD CONSOLE DEV KITS FROM THE INTERNET!” one. It’s invariably believed to be West’s pinnacle of achievement as game developers, even more so than the fake letter from Vladimir Putin that was followed by them making two fake accounts and plopping $25,000 into their own Kickstarter campaign.

      • GernauMorat says:

        I particularly liked how, on the topic of the fake Putin letter (purporting to be a letter from the Kremlin asking them to come and show their game), they kept saying ‘well, we though it was fake, but maybe it is real… Also, the KS comments are (or were) pure gold.

        • Philomelle says:

          The comment section has been pretty much completely overtaken by West Games’ spam brigade at this point. It’s impossible to post anywhere and seeing as a new spam wall is dropped every time anyone comments at all, the wide assumption is that they simply set up scripts on four of their accounts.

          I’m honestly amazed that Kickstarter staff hasn’t done anything at all at this point. On our count, there were at least four support tickets about spam sent by different people two-three days ago and all of them have yet to receive a response. I wasn’t aware that dealing with spammers was so hard, especially since KS profiles have a comment tracker that allows a staffer to discover whether someone is spamming in maybe 2-5 minutes.

      • nerdook says:

        Reading through that AMA made me go from amused, to horrified, to wondering if it is a legit project or a complete scam. At no point, however, did it make me feel like donating a single dollar to the Kickstarter.

        • Philomelle says:

          Oh, I’ll make this even more amusing to you. According to a West Games employee who dropped by the chat organized for this thing, Eugene Kim – the company’s CEO who was supposed to be handling this AMA – was never actually there during the whole thing. He derped off and left behind an intern with some premade answers who ended up copy/pasting those to questions that vaguely matched.

      • Maritz says:

        How has Kickstarter not closed down this utter farce of a project yet?

        • Philomelle says:

          I’m as flabbergasted as you are about that.

          On my side, I opened a ticket to Kickstarter support about this three days ago and have yet to receive an answer from them.

          • Maritz says:

            It’s a real shame, as I’d love to see a “spiritual successor” to Stalker, but this sham ain’t it.

        • drinniol says:

          Because farcicle business practice isn’t actually illegal?

    4. thedosbox says:

      These shots from The World Cup, with excellent written commentary from The Guardian’s Jonny Weeks, are fine examples. Can the same occur in games built around canned animations?

      No, I don’t think people can empathise with predictable, repeated animations in the quite the same way as real people doing something unexpected.

      The atmosphere and composition of the crowd (two sets of opposing fans) is why it’s worth attending live sports events. It seems to me that the majority of esports attendees are fans of the game – rather than one of the many teams participating. As a result, there will be less opportunity for emotive crowd photos of the sort in the world cup gallery.

      • Ben Barrett says:

        None of this is right.

        • thedosbox says:

          Oh really? How many teams are participating in the International? Hint: it’s more than two.

          And during a specific match, are most of the fans in attendance decked out in team shirts or obviously supporting one of the teams in action?

          • Ben Barrett says:

            8 in the main event, and yeah, you can usually see people picking a side based on a bunch of factors. Plenty of team shirts too.

          • Beanbee says:

            Supporting one particular team is seen in a negative light in most esports. Usually considered a childish trait. Yet teams tend to have sizable online communities that follow individuals as well as whole groups. Twitchtv being a good example of this, many people sponsor these professionals there via small cash donations.

            I wouldn’t try to frame esports in a traditional sports mindset. It hasn’t inherited a lot of that culture. Perhaps since there is far less, if nearly zero, armchair support. Most people play the game of the esport they watch.

            • thedosbox says:

              I wouldn’t try to frame esports in a traditional sports mindset. It hasn’t inherited a lot of that culture. Perhaps since there is far less, if nearly zero, armchair support. Most people play the game of the esport they watch.

              Fair enough. I just find it hard to believe that we’re going to get much beyond “here’s the crowd” type photos at such events as the on-screen action is only of relevance to people who play the game.

            • Idiot says:

              “Supporting one particular team is seen in a negative light in most esports. Usually considered a childish trait.” Really? I have yet to encounter this. Speaking anecdotally of the liquiddota forum a lot of people support one team and it is not considered “childish”…

      • HadToLogin says:

        I really hope you’re right. It’s not like newspapers need more ammo to write “not only games make killers, now they sell drugs too” articles how some pseudo-gaming-fans made truce and instead of beating and even killing each other on streets they started making and selling some cocaine or some other meth.

        Yes, that’s what happened to two football team hooligans – they stopped beating and even killing each other and started selling drugs hand-in-hand. Strangely, it didn’t made newspapers write long elaborates how “real-life gaming” is bad and creates monsters…

        • thedosbox says:

          I really hope you’re right. It’s not like newspapers need more ammo to write “not only games make killers, now they sell drugs too” articles how some pseudo-gaming-fans made truce and instead of beating and even killing each other on streets they started making and selling some cocaine or some other meth.

          I was talking about the type of photos you can get from these events. Not sure how you thought that had anything to do with demonizing fans.

            • shaydeeadi says:

              Nice drama mongering. I know mainland Europe still has issues with hooliganism but it’s been largely eradicated in the UK and I can’t say I remember many instances of it happening in the USA. Not to mention In recent months there has been a LAN finals in Ukraine (mid revolution/civil war) which happened with no trouble and ESL ONE, which was staged in Frankfurt Arena which went off seemingly without a hitch with a crowd about as large as The International (currently happening.)

              I’m intrigued how you made the connection, and assumption that people would go to watch a gaming tournament to take drugs and go to fight. A reasonable amount of the ‘classic’ violence at football matches is about local rivalries anyway.

            • thedosbox says:

              Photos like this:

              Which is a little different from the galleries linked in the story. Those celebrate the event, its participants and the fans. Yours are the type of thing I expect to see from the Daily Mail.

              Having said that, there is plenty of sexual harassment and other obnoxious behaviour in esports. It just doesn’t make for a compelling image that can be slapped onto a front page.

    5. Scurra says:

      My own review of Boyhood: it’s not the best film of the year, but it’s perhaps the best film of the decade.

      As for Kickstarter, I think it’s really just another application of Goldman’s Law, to wit. Nobody Knows Anything. Hit the right place at the right time and sometimes things just go crazy. But try to design something to go crazy? It just doesn’t work like that. Sure you can learn from other people’s “mistakes” – but often they aren’t applicable to your project anyway.

      • frightlever says:

        “it’s not the best film of the year, but it’s perhaps the best film of the decade”

        That makes no sense. Are you trying to say that it’s the film that best captures the last decade, but it’s not actually one of the best films you’ve seen?

    6. zentropy says:

      Whoa, Pretty Lights on RPS <3

    7. Naum says:

      I find it quite funny that while the controversy around bought coverage on Youtube is rolling, the PC Gamer highlight reel states,

      PC Gamer’s coverage of The International 2014 is brought to you by SteelSeries. From now through July 21st, all Dota 2 and team gear is 25% off. While supplies last.

      SteelSeries sell DotA 2-themed gear and sponsor at least two teams participating in The International 4. (Their website seems a bit outdated though.)

    8. phenom_x8 says:

      I Always want to include this high quality show from PC Gamer :
      http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/06/27/the-pc-gamer-show-episode-0-e3/
      http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/07/12/the-pc-gamer-show-episode-1/
      Worth to watch, I hope RPS team can also create something like this …

    9. Naum says:

      I find it quite funny that while the controversy around bought coverage on Youtube is rolling, the PC Gamer highlight reel states,

      PC Gamer’s coverage of The International 2014 is brought to you by SteelSeries. From now through July 21st, all Dota 2 and team gear is 25% off. While supplies last.

      SteelSeries sell DotA 2-themed gear and sponsor at least two teams — Na’Vi and Fnatic — participating in The International 4. (Their website seems a bit outdated in that regard, though.)

      • Geebs says:

        How is declaring conflict of interest the same thing as not declaring conflict of interest?

        • malkav11 says:

          Also, this is a live event being covered all over the place and where sponsorship by advertisers is an expected part of the process.

        • Naum says:

          I implied parallels between the two topics rather than stating they were essentially the same, and your reply acknowledges these parallels. Of course disclosed sponsorship is less harmful than undisclosed selling out, but PC Gamer is, as far as I’m aware, still a publication that focuses heavily on critical, as-objective-as-possible buyers’ advice and commentary. Whether or not we as consumers should allow such a publication to benefit directly from positive reporting is at least up for debate (and I’m somewhat surprised these kinds of deals are seemingly considered normal these days, according to malkav’s reply). I’d be glad to hear what benefits the readers of PC Gamer get in exchange for their tolerance towards a probably biased point of view.

          • Geebs says:

            But the precise reason why there was agitation about the youtube crowd was that they appeared to have no conflicts of interest, but didn’t declare them; hence behaving outside professional ethics gave an unwarranted appearance of being unbiased.

            In all fields of human communication, bias is assumed; declaring conflict of interest is the minimum acceptable acknowledgement of this and is generally considered good enough to allow trust between author and reader.

          • frightlever says:

            PC Gamer is still taking ads, isn’t it? Advertising is everywhere. THIS site has advertising. Do you think RPS adjusts their editorial based on whose ads appear?

            So, look at Sir, You Are Being Hunted. That’s a game which has close ties to RPS. AFAIK it was never officially reviewed on RPS because that would be a clear conflict of interests (if it was reviewed I’m gonna look stupider than usual) but there are a group of people involved, making games who are now inextricably linked to RPS. There are certain indie darlings that are friends of the site. Just being part of the gaming industry, even at the periphery as a news blog, is going to create relationships with developers. THOSE relationships are considerably more likely to influence editorial than any amount of paid sponsorship or advertising. That’s just how it is.

    10. evs says:

      The idea that the Seattle Times’ photographs of the International share anything with the pictures of either the World Cup or that Chess tournament is pretty laughable. The pointless overabundance of neon in the International shots, along with the descriptions of Gabe’s entrance and so on, reveal not a confident and serious sport, but just a frenzy of beta fan-ism. The only decent shots are, as RPS partially admits, those of the crowd and individuals therein, but these look broadly like either a) shots from a cosplay convention, or b) shots from a tech conference – neither of which are bad things, but neither of which are anything like the World Cup or so on.

      The chess tournament is obviously not like the world cup either, but it does share one thing in common with the world cup: a degree of self-assured seriousness and genuine community. Something which seems lacking in the shots of the International. Pictures of the players locked away inside what looks like a glass box. Rows of spectators who look more like they’re in a studio for the filming of a Saturday-night gameshow. Individuals cosplaying, sat alone in the hallways or vestibules for portrait shots. It’s a big DotA convention. Not a sports tournament.

      Maybe I’m giving eSports and DotA specifically a hard time, maybe not. They don’t feel like sports to me, and I don’t think they ever will; they’re not like the world cup or chess – the intervention of the electronic medium in between them changes everything. It alters the interaction between participants, and it alters the attitudes and focus of spectators. None of that means that eSports can’t be a unique, wonderful and compelling thing: but it isn’t a sport, it’s its own thing, and it should forge a unique path. Not aimlessly try to ape the razzmatazz of shit-tier commercial sports organisations.

      • The Godzilla Hunter says:

        I agree that eSports really are their own thing, though I don’t watch much sports so I might not have much authority.

        For me, I think what makes professional gaming matches unique compared to most physical sports is the fact that so many games involve huge amounts of hidden information. As a player of, say, Dota, it’s fun to watch teams react (and not react) to the other teams with the limited information they have.

        For instance, one of my favorite parts of Pro Dota 2 matches are the ganks. Something like that really couldn’t be replicated by a physical sport.

      • PikaBot says:

        “beta”

      • Moraven says:

        The korean and chinese coverage of eSports tends to be a lot better.

        At BlizzCon last year there were a lot of Asian photojournalists taking shots of us in the crowd and our signs. If you can find their albums online you can find a lot of good photos taken.

    11. Randomer says:

      Every time I hear about this eSports tournament I think, “It’s an International what?” International is an adjective. What is the noun that is taking place between nations???

      • dsch says:

        Every time I hear someone talk about “the dead,” I think “the dead what?” Dead is an adjective. What is the noun that is being dead???

      • Zenicetus says:

        I just hear it in my head as the “Internationale” with a French accent, and it works that way.

      • Wulfram says:

        I assumed it was subtle communist propaganda

      • Dominare says:

        Tournament, buddy. The answer was right there in your question. “The International Tournament”. They dropped the last word for more snap because they assume its a given.

      • smokiespliff says:

        I hear the same thing in my head in adverts on tv for a movie “out on dvd Monday”.
        What the hell is a “dvd Monday”?

        “Four people were killed in Gaza Tuesday…”

    12. dsch says:

      “As with much of academia, it hews close to self-parody …”

      A lazy stereotype. RPS is usually better than this.

      • Dave Tosser says:

        “Ludological dynamics” certainly sounds like self parody to me.

        • dsch says:

          Which part of that sounds like parody to you? How? Or does it just “sound funny”? Do you have a better suggestion for expressing the same concept? Do you even know what that concept is?

          • pepperfez says:

            If you don’t think “ludological” sounds funny, you’re surely in the minority. (Obviously you’re right in general and “lol academics” quips are never a good look.)

            • dsch says:

              I agree it sounds kind of silly, but this was a paedagogical play. If anyone came up with an alternative, that would have made them think about what the concept actually was, and then we can talk about that and decide that perhaps the label by which we call it is not the most important thing, and that there is actual value in talking about the concept in whatever form. Of course, we never got that far because this is the internet.

      • Geebs says:

        A paper which attempts to generalize human psychology with an n of “the author”, and which uses jargon which is more long-winded than a simple find-and-replace of layman’s terms which mean exactly the same thing is never not worthy of mockery.

        • dsch says:

          ‘A paper which attempts to generalize human psychology with an n of “the author”’

          Try again?

          ‘and which uses jargon which is more long-winded than a simple find-and-replace of layman’s terms which mean exactly the same thing’

          And which terms are those? You think you can just replace the jargon with layman’s terms because you have no idea what the jargon means and what it implies and how it fits into the tradition of not just games criticism, but of thinking about art, language, and society. Of course you think you can replace it with layman’s terms when the simplification into layman’s terms is the only way you understand it. If you showed a smartphone and a rock to a caveman, he’d ask why you need such a fancy toy when the rock bashes things just as well.

          • Geebs says:

            Calm down dear. Everybody knows that 99.5% of jargon is designed to obfuscate rather than clarify. Jargon which has been developed purely to add a veneer of respectability to a new discipline is notorious for being the absolute worst.

            • dsch says:

              “Everybody knows that 99.5% of jargon is designed to obfuscate rather than clarify.”

              Um, no. Who is this “everybody” who “knows” this? Would they perhaps happen to be people as ignorant as yourself? Or self-proclaimed “experts” whose expertise is based precisely on not understanding what they want you to believe is nonsense?

              “Jargon which has been developed purely to add a veneer of respectability to a new discipline is notorious for being the absolute worst.”

              A new discipline? Games criticism, sure. But the jargon you are complaining about comes from four decades of critical theory, a century of anthropology and social studies, over a century of psychoanalysis, and three millennia of western philosophy.

            • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

              Prefacing a controversial statement with “everyone know that” does not make it more palatable.

            • InternetBatman says:

              The frequent and unnecessary use of jargon is the sign of a poor author. Since the purpose of writing is to communicate, and jargon makes the text more impenetrable it is inimical to the purpose of publishing findings in the first place. It is very rarely necessary in the humanities, where jargon describes entirely human ideas comprised of smaller ideas that would be better dissected and closely analyzed than defined and argued in poor generalities.

            • dsch says:

              “The frequent and unnecessary use of jargon is the sign of a poor author.”

              Sure, with the keyword being “unnecessary.”

              “Since the purpose of writing is to communicate, and jargon makes the text more impenetrable it is inimical to the purpose of publishing findings in the first place. It is very rarely necessary in the humanities, where jargon describes entirely human ideas comprised of smaller ideas that would be better dissected and closely analyzed than defined and argued in poor generalities.”

              Entirely unsubstantiated and demonstrably false claims. If I want to talk to people who are familiar with the field about the uncanny in psychoanalysis, or commodity fetishism in Marxism, or the trace in Derrida, it would be farcical if I had to reconstruct the entire genealogy of the so-called “jargon” within the tradition in which they occur in order to put them into terms understandable by everyone. The “poor generalities” are precisely the layman’s terms that refer to vague ideas, rather than “jargon” with a specific meaning in a specific context.

            • Premium User Badge Stellar Duck says:

              Everybody knows? Who told you that? Fred Colon?

              It stands to reason that your statistic is also entirely made up.

            • Geebs says:

              Um, no. Who is this “everybody” who “knows” this? Would they perhaps happen to be people as ignorant as yourself?

              Apart from the fact that you’re being pointlessly rude to an inter-stranger, I would like you to imagine that you might be talking to somebody with a specialist vocabulary in the range of thousands-to-tens-of-thousands of words, and that that person’s specialty might have, in the last twenty years, woken up, pulled their heads out of their collective arses and realised that if they thought in layman’s terms, they were much more effective at communicating ideas.

              Or self-proclaimed “experts” whose expertise is based precisely on not understanding what they want you to believe is nonsense?

              I rest my case.

              You are still dodging the important point that this person is attempting to extrapolate from their own navel to the rest of humanity, where it would be trivial to attempt an actual study in actual people. Let’s face it, these aspects of the human response to entertainment massively important, and actively researched, in the R&D and QA portions of the gaming industry.

            • dsch says:

              “Apart from the fact that you’re being pointlessly rude to an inter-stranger, I would like you to imagine that you might be talking to somebody with a specialist vocabulary in the range of thousands-to-tens-of-thousands of words, and that that person’s specialty might have, in the last twenty years, woken up, pulled their heads out of their collective arses and realised that if they thought in layman’s terms, they were much more effective at communicating ideas.”

              If you think being called ignorant is rude, I would point you in the direction of Plato.

              Having a large vocabulary is very nice, but unless your specialist expertise is in cultural theory, I don’t see how that helps your case here. Theory is supposed to be hard to understand because the whole point is to challenge the ways of thinking we rely on when we find something easy to understand.

              “You are still dodging the important point that this person is attempting to extrapolate from their own navel to the rest of humanity, where it would be trivial to attempt an actual study in actual people. Let’s face it, these aspects of the human response to entertainment massively important, and actively researched, in the R&D and QA portions of the gaming industry.”

              Again, the entire point is to analyse the way “the rest of humanity” thinks (what you call “rest of humanity” being an economically limited subset of mostly white people with European cultural heritage living in capitalist democracies). If that person’s navel includes three millennia of philosophical tradition, I know who I’d rather listen to if it comes to a choice between that and a succession of ideologically blinkered “actual people.”

            • Geebs says:

              It stands to reason that your statistic is also entirely made up.

              All of the best statistics are.

              p.s. Sokal affair.

            • Geebs says:

              (what you call “rest of humanity” being an economically limited subset of mostly white people with European cultural heritage living in capitalist democracies)

              Wait, did you just imply that an interest in some sort of rigour makes me a racist? That’s pretty desperate.

            • dsch says:

              “Wait, did you just imply that an interest in some sort of rigour makes me a racist? That’s pretty desperate.”

              No. I am saying that you have no clear idea of what “rigour” is, and that what you think of as universal to humanity/human knowledge is only a contingent expression of it limited in cultural and geographical scope. What I am implying is that you are talking out of your arse about things of which you are ignorant. HTH.

            • dsch says:

              Sokal is a typical empiricist (and a bad one at that) if he still thinks that one trial of an experiment gives you the absolute truth for all time.

            • Muzman says:

              There’s something to be said for the language and trend of neologism in some quarters of humanities having vanished up its own behind. But the esoteric is a real thing too. You cant walk into an advanced class on precise things like ethics or on quantum electrodynamics and expect to know what’s going on either. All disciplines eventually must talk to themselves in an established language, references and style.

              Sokal and co even concluded this in the end. In a follow up article on the matter they weren’t willing to attack the theory and language of Social Text but just wanted them to get the maths right.

            • Geebs says:

              No. I am saying that you have no clear idea of what “rigour” is, and that what you think of as universal to humanity/human knowledge is only a contingent expression of it limited in cultural and geographical scope.

              That’s a bit rich coming from somebody who bases their authority on a “rich, three thousand year tradition” consisting predominantly of men from Greece, Austria, Germany and France.

              You still seem to be under the impression that the intellectual battleground here exists within my mind, and is contingent on my supposed ignorance or the lack of it, which is both lazy and presumptuous. Unfortunately, you’ve made it clear exactly where you’re coming from with your attachment to the wilful obscurantism of Derrida and the opening salvo of insinuated racism which marks the epistemiological relativist. Which means that I’m arguing with the neurosis of your undergraduate professor, and is therefore boring.

            • dsch says:

              “That’s a bit rich coming from somebody who bases their authority on a “rich, three thousand year tradition” consisting predominantly of men from Greece, Austria, Germany and France.”

              I make no appeal to the authority of a philosophical tradition based on its age. The bit you quoted out-of-context was in response to the claim that the “jargon” is in support of a newfangled subject.

              “You still seem to be under the impression that the intellectual battleground here exists within my mind, and is contingent on my supposed ignorance or the lack of it, which is both lazy and presumptuous. Unfortunately, you’ve made it clear exactly where you’re coming from with your attachment to the wilful obscurantism of Derrida and the opening salvo of insinuated racism which marks the epistemiological relativist. Which means that I’m arguing with the neurosis of your undergraduate professor, and is therefore boring.”

              It’s only presumptuous if it’s not true. And I’ve still not heard any argument about why any of this is bad except for the fact that it confuses you. That, along with a lot of name-calling. The fact that you still rely on your claim of insinuated racism rather sums up your position.

              Also, “epistemiological relativist” is not really a thing, and certainly not a thing that is marked by Derrida or imaginary uses of the “race card.” Also also, you have no idea what neurosis is.

              If this conversation goes any further, it’s going to turn into me giving you a reading list which you will proceed to ignore while blathering away. I’ve had this kind of conversation too many times to still be in the business of giving out introductory syllabuses in continental philosophy, so please, feel free to carry on by yourself.

        • Wednesday says:

          I can’t just ignore this.

          Dsch, you are being a total arse. I’ve just about the nous to follow this conversation, but my overriding sense is not towards any particular point, but how unnecessarily condescending, rude and unpleasant you’ve felt the need to be.

          Your last post is a piece of staggering conceit. Did you learn to enlighten yourself, or just to sneer at your fellows?

          • dsch says:

            Yes, of course I’m the one being an arse, not those who have decided that they are in a position to judge the value of practically the entirety of continental philosophy based on not much more than “it sounds funny to me.” And was my post offensive before or after it was implied that I was an undergraduate parroting an idiot professor? Do also tell us what your nous says about this.

      • MichaelGC says:

        Oh, I don’t know – I reckon anyone using words like “hews” must’ve got up pretty early in the morning.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I love the humanities, but too frequently they veer way far too close to self-parody. It seems like academia has gone through a cycle of a search for truth, to what is truth, to truth doesn’t exist so let’s just talk to each other about each other.

        Psychology is the social science that comes the closest to being testable in lab circumstances and Freud has been roundly rejected by the psychological community. Yet, literary analysis (and subsequently game analysis) continues to use Freud’s largely discredited beliefs as a common analytic structure. This strongly suggests that literary analysis is less about being accurate, and more about creating derivative works with their own stylistic embellishments.

        Sociology-Anthropology frequently descends into self-parody and then beyond. I’ll just leave these quotes I took from an actual class at an nationally respected university.

        “The mystory is simultaneously a personal mythology, a public story, a personal narrative, and a performance that critiques. It is an interactive, dramatic performance.”

        “Research ceases to be research within an ethical social justice perspective, it becomes instead a transformative practice, a form of social justice theater where utopian models of empowerment are explored.”

        • dsch says:

          “Psychology is the social science that comes the closest to being testable in lab circumstances and Freud has been roundly rejected by the psychological community. Yet, literary analysis (and subsequently game analysis) continues to use Freud’s largely discredited beliefs as a common analytic structure. This strongly suggests that literary analysis is less about being accurate, and more about creating derivative works with their own stylistic embellishments.”

          Psychoanalysis is not psychology. Psychoanalysis is not a belief. Literary analysis is not about being “accurate” (accurate to what?). I could go on, but what you are saying is like if someone without a background in theoretical physics goes around saying, “they think the universe is made of strings lol.”

          “The mystory is simultaneously a personal mythology, a public story, a personal narrative, and a performance that critiques. It is an interactive, dramatic performance.”

          “Research ceases to be research within an ethical social justice perspective, it becomes instead a transformative practice, a form of social justice theater where utopian models of empowerment are explored.”

          You and others keep quoting things that we are supposed to find ridiculous, but you never provide a reason why we should find it ridiculous, except perhaps (implicitly) “This is ridiculous because I don’t understand it and you shouldn’t understand it either.”

          • InternetBatman says:

            “accurate to what?”
            Reality. Psychoanalysis is not psychology, it’s useless dreck that sprang from ill-conceived ideas that do not match reality.

            As for why the quotes are ridiculous. The first uses a ridiculous portmanteau to describe a play. The second has so given up on the idea of looking for answers that it has decided that instead all research should be a public play that transforms societies one showing at a time.

            • dsch says:

              “Reality. Psychoanalysis is not psychology, it’s useless dreck that sprang from ill-conceived ideas that do not match reality.”

              It is a naive conception of reality that thinks of it as something given and not interpreted. What is at stake in psychoanalysis is precisely how what you call “reality” comes to exist. From a positivist perspective, the question is more epistemological than ontological, but the distinction collapses within the philosophical framework of psychoanalysis itself.

              “As for why the quotes are ridiculous. The first uses a ridiculous portmanteau to describe a play. The second has so given up on the idea of looking for answers that it has decided that instead all research should be a public play that transforms societies one showing at a time.”

              What, do you think portmanteaus are inherently ridiculous? Or ridiculous when used to describe a play? How about asking yourself in what way the portmanteau makes the idea more precise? Is every “mystory” a play? Is the reverse true?

              The second one says no such thing. It actually means that research is always already a transformative performance. It has not given up on the idea of looking for answers; the answers are simply not the kind you are used to thinking about.

            • InternetBatman says:

              If the answers are not reproducible or readily explained, then they’re not really answers.

            • dsch says:

              “If the answers are not reproducible or readily explained, then they’re not really answers.”

              What is “reproducible” is contingent on the standards specified in the experiment. I think you should be able to see the problem with “readily” explained as a criterion yourself.

            • InternetBatman says:

              Even though the standards of the experiment are devised by people, and thus subject to pressures of society / whatever, this does not mean that the results would always be reproducible. The fact that results can be reproduced means that at least some part of the results hints to a broader tendency; it describes the underlying reality which is not created by people.

              And yes, reproducible is specified by the standards of the experiment, which is a good thing. This means that when there are exceptions to the trend we can question the standards of the experiment and eliminate inaccuracies. The less accurate (corresponding to reality) the specifications of an experiment are, the harder it is to reproduce.

            • dsch says:

              Yes, that is a very reasonable position. I can only recommend Foucault’s Order of Things again. Part of the excitement is to see how even such positions which seem to be self-evident and incontrovertible also have a historical and philosophical background that determines them.

          • Geebs says:

            Given that psychoanalysis has no validated basis, it absolutely is a belief.

            • dsch says:

              “Given that psychoanalysis has no validated basis, it absolutely is a belief.”

              What is a “validated basis”? What is a “belief”? You are now in philosophy of science territory, about which I would be happy to hear your views, but I rather suspect you don’t have any.

            • InternetBatman says:

              A belief is an idea, a thought, or whatever you want to call a construct of the human brain. Validation is when a belief is falsifiable, and it is subjected to an experiment, and the experiment gives evidence that proves that the belief conforms to reality.

              I.E. if you think the sky is really blue and purple, not just blue, you could launch a satellite and measure the wavelengths of the light coming from earth.

            • dsch says:

              “A belief is an idea, a thought, or whatever you want to call a construct of the human brain. Validation is when a belief is falsifiable, and it is subjected to an experiment, and the experiment gives evidence that proves that the belief conforms to reality.”

              The experiment is also a “construct of the human brain.” The results of the experiment are not given except in terms of the experiment, which in turn only makes sense in the system of knowledge in which it was formulated. Psychoanalysis (and critical philosophy in general) is precisely a tool with which to analyse the systems of knowledge which make possible the truth value attached to the result of an experiment and its interpretation.

              Put simply, the world is not made up only of beliefs and facts. If you are interested, read the preface of Foucault’s The Order of Things (or, really, the whole book).

            • Geebs says:

              What is a “validated basis”? What is a “belief”?

              Common English definitions of all of the quoted words. I would encourage you to consult a dictionary.

            • dsch says:

              “Common English definitions of all of the quoted words. I would encourage you to consult a dictionary.”

              Ah yes, I was wondering when the dictionary argument was going to come up. Do you have the modicum of awareness to figure out the problem with that? Hm, perhaps. I’ll leave it as an exercise for you, and cross this off my bingo card.

            • fatgleeson says:

              I enjoy scrolling to the end of long arguments to see just how much it will go off-topic

          • PikaBot says:

            Yet, literary analysis (and subsequently game analysis) continues to use Freud’s largely discredited beliefs as a common analytic structure

            Only psychoanalytic critics, who are a pretty small minority and mostly thought of as pretty naff by non-psychoanalytic critics.

            The reality, though, is that Freud came up with his psychoanalysis by looking at stories. His most important writings were as much literary analysis as they were feeble stabs at understanding human psychology. So (even though I myself think it’s completely ridiculous) it’s not that far out to imagine that psychoanalysis would have something useful to say about narrative, even if it’s a load of horseshit when it comes to the human mind.

            (And anyway, even most modern psychoanalytic critics don’t bother with Freud. They’re all about Lacan)

            • dsch says:

              Yay, progress in the thread! Now we can move on to how not to decide Lacan is nonsense before you know what he is talking about.

        • Muzman says:

          Sociology and Anthropology were some of the harder of the vague disciplines in my experience. They did actual science too, like Psych (aka ‘stats and rats’). The post modernist/ post structuralist bent had its own little corner in Communications Studies and Semiotics.

          The first quote is a bit weird since we don’t know what a ‘mystory’ is well enough to mock it (presumably it is defined somewhere).
          The second doesn’t seem that tricky. It’s saying social justice research can be about trying on ideals to produce change. It’s referencing those philosophical problems in social justice stuff where if you’ve concluded that the entire social structure of the world is unjust or unethical, right down to the language and behaviour, then there’s not space for an ethical reference point or ‘control’ as such to even start research from, in more postivist scientific terms.
          You might think think this shows how such philosophies have pretzelised themselves into self defeat, and you might be right. But it’s not that hard to understand if you know a little bit about the philosophies involved. Really there’s a lot worse than that. And context matters too. It’s not always a good thing to be pithy and terse. Most of the important stuff cannot ever be understood properly by some pithy terse explanation.
          Cherry picking esoteric academia to death is easy, but you end up just siding with Daily Mail ‘Three Rs, none of that nonsense in my day!’ conservatism in the end, to no one’s benefit.

          In general I would say the shadows of guys like Foucalt hang pretty long over the humanities and people really did want to talk like him in weird neologisms and almost a poetical fashion where meaning is absorbed in the aggregate rather than through more precise elucidation (oo er). There’s arguments for why this is the case, but they really need one foot out in the normal world at all times. The good ones usually do, I might add.

          • dsch says:

            “Daily Mail ‘Three Rs, none of that nonsense in my day!’ conservatism”

            Classic.

            And yes, people who say that theorists who just copy Foucault (/Derrida/whatever)’s style are just trying to seem profound for the sake of it would have a point if it weren’t a complete straw man. I’m sure real obscurantists exist, but none of the people who make this argument have ever given an actual example, and wouldn’t know the difference between obscurantism and philosophy if it hit them in the face.

            • hilltop says:

              You come across as very defensive.

            • dsch says:

              Of course I am defensive. I an defending the evidently endangered idea that one should know something about what one is attacking, and the idea that when you find something ridiculous, you should be prepared to come up with a half-coherent reason.

            • hilltop says:

              I can appreciate that you see yourself as a crusader for truth. Since the opinions of the others in this thread actually matter to you, maybe you should adjust your approach.

              Actually providing your oft threatened reading list might be better than the repeated admonition that we just wouldn’t understand it. You can probably see how that makes it seem as though you think you are more intelligent than others that haven’t read what you have read.

            • dsch says:

              Nope, no crusading going on here. Just pointing out the obvious deficiencies in the argument even by the standards of those making it. I know the people I’m arguing against won’t suddenly see the light anyway. It’s mostly for the information and entertainment of others.

              As for the reading list, I threatened it once—hardly oft. And the implication was never you wouldn’t understand it. It was always a) you (addressing folk like Geebs) currently don’t understand it, because b) you haven’t read it and mostly likely will never read it. I’ve already given the Foucault book relevant here (The Order of Things). The psychoanalytic literature is vast, starting with Interpretation of Dreams and Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, the paper on “Narcissism,” the paper on “The Uncanny,” perhaps Beyond the Pleasure Principle. I admit I have no idea how anyone can get into Lacan by themselves, unless he has some familiarity with Freud and structuralism (Saussure and Levi-Strass) and idealist philosophy. The best bet is probably working backwards from Zizek (say, The Sublime Object of Ideology), for which some background in Marxism would be helpful. Fredric Jameson would be good for this. Jameson is also a very good writer, so yes, perhaps that is the best place to start (Marxism and Form, maybe, or The Political Unconscious).

            • hilltop says:

              Thank you.

            • P.Funk says:

              I am always resistant to the notion that one is a crusader if they show vehemence in their rejection of casual and flippant expressions of ideas or the judgment of them. There is always a certain position that can be taken with almost equal vehemence that is accepted and where the contradiction of it with any energy is perceived as in bad taste, as if its challenging the self evident truth of lazy notions such as the cherry picking of supposedly obviously crap academia in order to reinforce widely accepted prejudices and generalizations.

              Perhaps the accused crusader is a bit grating but I’ve seen infinitely more grating people with no leg to stand on and little willingness to delve deeply into their ideas. When someone hits me on the head with a stick telling me I’m painfully wrong and I should justify why I’m going to shit all over something I can’t help but smile because I think there is something proper about being energetic and engaged in defeating people’s usually comfortable expressions which frequently receive no counter-argument; the self evident cabal lives in a self assured intellectual haven.

              Whats more I always pay more attention to the person who suggests I don’t understand a topic by suggesting actual reading and a source of ideas rather than the usual pig who tells you you’re wrong about something and merely suggest you don’t understand without any idea where understanding comes from other than to live in their peculiar organization of reality.

              In any case, this long fencing match is specifically why I come to RPS. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone suggest reading Foucault so many times on any other gaming website.

            • Neutrino says:

              Couldn’t agree more. I’ve certainly added a couple of books to my list.

      • Frank says:

        Yes, they should have narrowed their mockery, probably to “critical theory,” as you call it below. Jargon can be useful, and I don’t think “ludonarrative dynamics” is obfuscating, pretentious or lacking in pithiness. But I’ve only seen rare cases where the defense of this field’s work is convincing. You mention a “tradition,” but it looks to many like self-important navel-gazing, often touching on important topics that the author is not up to the task of elucidating.

        • dsch says:

          My point includes the ridicule of critical theory. I’d be happy to hear your point if it hasn’t been covered by the other commenters above.

          I am still yet to hear either a better alternative to “ludological dynamic” or how, exactly, someone determines what is “convincing,” aside from “well it sounds like nonsense to me.”

          • Frank says:

            Yeah, I should have said “where *I find* the defense of this field’s work convincing”. It’s subjective. If you want a proof that your field is legit or nonsense… sorry, but that is not possible.

            And I have no interest in offering you a “point” to debate over, nor in having a conversation with you beyond my initial comment (which did not invite a response). What you have to say is nothing new to me, either; thanks. If I thought the examples given were ridiculous, I would have explained why I thought so. But I don’t.

            • dsch says:

              “And I have no interest in offering you a “point” to debate over, nor in having a conversation with you beyond my initial comment (which did not invite a response).”

              What do we call it when you do a thing while disclaiming the fact that you are doing it?

          • Baffle Mint says:

            The big problem with the term “ludonarrative” is that it means nothing to the layman.

            What we’re talking about is the response that lay folk have to pop art; surely we must be capable of understanding our own responses to a piece of art on some level even if we don’t have the same vocabulary you do.

            Also, a big, big problem with jargon is that people forget to stop using it. You, for example, said,

            “It is a naive conception of reality that thinks of it as something given and not interpreted. What is at stake in psychoanalysis is precisely how what you call “reality” comes to exist. From a positivist perspective, the question is more epistemological than ontological, but the distinction collapses within the philosophical framework of psychoanalysis itself.”

            You flat out know you’re talking to an audience of non-philosophers, so clearly a big chunk of those words are meaningless to many of us, but you just threw them out there anyway. Looking up “ontology” and “epistemology” online, you could be saying,

            “Psychoanalysis believes that reality does not exist outside of perception”

            or maybe

            “Psychoanalyisis believes that the way you acquire knowledge about a thing is inextricably tied up in the nature of the thing itself.”

            Those are my best guesses as to what it could mean to collapse the distinction between epistemology and ontology.

            • Emeraude says:

              If anything the big problem is that we have the reaction of laymen to a text that was not addressed to them in the first place.

              I would understand the criticism of jargon in the context of a newspaper piece, given an address to the public that is not tailored to be understood by it is a meaningless exercise. But here we have a piece of academic writing that is meant for academic consumption.

              As for specialized vocabulary being both a necessity of advanced research endeavor, a feature of its working process AND a way for a minority to assert dominion over some fields of human practice/knowledge, yes that’s well documented*. Even in non-academic form.
              We haven’t yet found a way around this. High level thinking demands precise, specialized constructs that mundane language (thankfully) isn’t made for.

              *: I wish my plumber would use less specialized vocabulary at times.

            • InternetBatman says:

              While I agree that jargon is unavoidable to some degree, it can just as frequently be inaccessible slang that obscures the concept as a way to classify the concept itself. That kind of slang should be avoided as much as possible, because it makes the entire field less accessible and less open to new ideas.

              I fully accept that scientists used DNA because deoxyriboneucleic acid is a pain in the but to say, and would slow down the production of work. However, bug and buggy in the computing fields are just jokes that caught on, and are substitutions for error and error prone rather than jargon that represents advanced concepts. Furthermore, they serve to hide the difference between an error in application (like using operations that make a computer load data more times) and a conceptual error (like sending back a 0 when something divides by 0). The former is natural, but the latter should be avoided at all costs.

            • honuk says:

              “The big problem with the term “ludonarrative” is that it means nothing to the layman”

              The big problem with an orange is that it doesn’t taste like an apple

              Academic articles are not addressed to the layman. They assume specialized knowledge and an audience that is not opposed to the existence of specialized knowledge. Everyone thinks of writing in terms of what they were taught in sixth grade (brevity, generality), but they were only taught that way because the people doing the teaching realize that the vast majority of people have no real capacity for effective writing.

            • Emeraude says:

              @InternetBatman

              That’s kinda forgetting the reason for which the specialized vocabulary exists in the first place: it facilitates the discussion to people who know how to manipulate it. It’s not just the use of rare words or substitutions (in the case of DNA, the value of the word is exactly the same as deoxyribonucleic acid ), it’s also the specialized re-framing of the applied lexical field of relatively common words.

              The word “affect” is going to have a totally different sense depending on whether you’re using in philosophy or psychology, and both are going to have a sense much more codified and precise than the one the word can have in daily conversations.
              That’s a feature. It facilitates an ongoing conversation between people that can span centuries. And of course it’s going to have the inverse effect on people that haven’t invested enough of themselves to be part of that particular conversation. But there is a time for the manipulation of high concepts – that demands a very disciplined manipulation of precise words, and one for the dissemination of ideas, that can accommodate for more fuzzy usage.

              Not to say that the issue of people abusing vocabulary as a way to mask a complete vacuity of ideas isn’t real in academia – I’ve suffered the lot, but it is far overstated by people that are not part of it.

              it can just as frequently be inaccessible slang that obscures the concept as a way to classify the concept itself.

              Maybe because I’m not a native speaker, but I don’t get what you’re trying to impart here (sounds almost like an oxymoron to me). “Obscure as a way to classify” ? Care to elaborate ?

            • dsch says:

              “You flat out know you’re talking to an audience of non-philosophers, so clearly a big chunk of those words are meaningless to many of us, but you just threw them out there anyway.”

              Yes, you are absolutely right. It was late and I didn’t want to try to think of a paraphrase. What I meant was that the terms “epistemological” and “ontological” already imply a distinction between actual existence in “reality” (ontology) and the knowledge we can have of it (epistemology). This distinction is useful when coming from a positivist frame of thinking (in the sense that one believe there is an entirely objective reality and we can access it directly somehow, e.g., through experiment), but when the function and origin of what we think of “reality” is itself under examination in psychoanalysis (and other philosophical schools), the distinction needs to be put front and centre as an object of analysis rather than an implicit condition.

            • hilltop says:

              Emeraude, you claim “Not to say that the issue of people abusing vocabulary as a way to mask a complete vacuity of ideas isn’t real in academia – I’ve suffered the lot, but it is far overstated by people that are not part of it.”
              I’m sure you can appreciate this is a slippery way of making an argument. For one, I could easily just assert the opposite (as has been my experience) but these kinds of blanket assertions are of limited value.

              What motivated me to actually post a reply was your strange assertion that high level thinking is not possible without jargon. At least that is how I interpreted “High level thinking demands precise, specialized constructs that mundane language (thankfully) isn’t made for”, given the context. Seems a suspect claim. Or perhaps I am misunderstanding what you mean by “high level thinking” or “precise, specialized constructs”.

            • dsch says:

              “What motivated me to actually post a reply was your strange assertion that high level thinking is not possible without jargon. At least that is how I interpreted “High level thinking demands precise, specialized constructs that mundane language (thankfully) isn’t made for”, given the context. Seems a suspect claim. Or perhaps I am misunderstanding what you mean by “high level thinking” or “precise, specialized constructs”.”

              Don’t mean to speak for @emeraude here, but since I seem to be recommending books today, I might as well jump in and suggest Adorno’s Jargon of Authenticity. Its focus is really on a particular kind of jargon, but it gets you thinking about what jargon is, who gets to decide what is and is not jargon, and the social effects of something being labelled “jargon.” Also, this little piece by Judith Butler: https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/wash/www/butler.htm

            • P.Funk says:

              When Carl Sagan starts trying to explain quantum mechanics or the many wonders of the cosmos or time dilation or what have you he uses lots of mundane language, things meant to impart to us the general, if imprecise in many cases, meaning and character of the topic, but I would hardly expect him to use the same language when discussing the finer nuances of it, or debating the validity of a given conclusion in the field. You can write whole books trying to describe in mundane language what something as simple as a very short equation means where the people who work their lives with these equations would read a dozen characters and understand more in that than we would with the “idiot’s guide to” version.

              I think its interesting that there is this perception that academia that falls under the umbrella of the humanities gets treated like its jargon is illegitimate far more often than with the sciences. As much as one might see obfuscation in jargon there is just as much a danger of anti-intellectualism in being wary of precise language.

            • Geebs says:

              Academics getting called out on their use of jargon is precisely not antiintellectual. Immunity from criticism results in your discipline, whatever it may be, getting invaded by smooth talking charlatans who like the implied authority but, in order to maintain their position are required to suppress thought.

              Similarly any argument which predicates on the inferiority of the person with whom you are arguing is no argument at all, which is why Socrates throughly deserved what he got.

              Also, this little piece by Judith Butler:

              Quite apart from the fact that she’s attempted to taint her detractors by associating them with racists and sexists, it’s bogus to assert that everything which isn’t expert knowledge must inherently be “common sense” in the worst possible definition. I think the rhetoric took over.

              What I learned from all this: people are still using Freudian perspectives, despite the fact that his methodology was unsupported and his results catastrophic.

            • dsch says:

              “Academics getting called out on their use of jargon is precisely not antiintellectual. Immunity from criticism results in your discipline, whatever it may be, getting invaded by smooth talking charlatans who like the implied authority but, in order to maintain their position are required to suppress thought.”

              All of this is dependent on a massive conspiracy of “smooth talking charlatans,” for the existence of which you have supplied exactly zero argument or evidence. It’s like saying we must all whack the next person we meet upside the head in order to thwart an invasion of body-snatching aliens.

              Also, it matters who is doing the “calling out.” A minimum requirement seems to be some familiarity with the work involved.

              I’ll refrain from further comment about attempts to suppress your thought.

              “Similarly any argument which predicates on the inferiority of the person with whom you are arguing is no argument at all, which is why Socrates throughly deserved what he got.”

              The argument is not “predicated on” your inferiority. That is merely my misfortune. Alas, I have not yet acquired the superpower to make you read things.

              “Also, this little piece by Judith Butler:

              Quite apart from the fact that she’s attempted to taint her detractors by associating them with racists and sexists, it’s bogus to assert that everything which isn’t expert knowledge must inherently be “common sense” in the worst possible definition. I think the rhetoric took over.”

              Pointing out the fact that right-wing commentators use supposedly unnecessary jargon as a stick to beat left-wing academics with is no attempt to “taint.”

              She in no way divides the world into “expert knowledge” and “common sense.” She is advocating the critique of common sense, which is often complicit in the same power structures that seek to contain critique by demanding it fit its own terms (i.e., “in plain language”), which is impossible, and, furthermore, precisely not the point.

              “What I learned from all this: people are still using Freudian perspectives, despite the fact that his methodology was unsupported and his results catastrophic.”

              The catastrophic results include: the first identification of mental illness as a category, the first time in western history that (mostly female) neurotic patients were taken seriously, the first cures for conversion hysteria and obsessional neurosis, the first (and, really, only) theoretically coherent theory of mind, the first widespread acknowledgement of the full range of human sexual behaviour (gay rights? that comes from Freud), the first theory of psychosis (i.e., what you normally think of when you think “mad man”). Freud is so influential that you are a Freudian without even knowing it, every time you think about an “unconscious,” or think that a stray word reveals more about someone than intended.

              What you should have “learned from all this”: You have a lot more learning coming.

            • Geebs says:

              Freud’s importance as a figurehead for a movement does not render his methodology any less flawed, or his approach any less patriarchal. Surely the cardinal sign of a robust system of thought is the ability to admit to and respond to fundamental error?

            • dsch says:

              “Surely the cardinal sign of a robust system of thought is the ability to admit to and respond to fundamental error?”

              Freud was wrong about many things, but what is this fundamental error? Nothing in empirical psychology or contemporary neuroscience makes Freud “fundamentally” wrong, mostly because the object of psychology and neuroscience are different from the object of psychoanalysis. Lacan talks about this in Seminar XI “The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis” (what is the relationship of psychoanalysis to science, the relationship of science to religion to sexuality, neurosis to perversion to psychosis) and somewhat in Seminar VII “The Ethics of Psychoanalysis,” but those are rather difficult texts which I wouldn’t recommend to the beginner. Perhaps after you’ve had a good stab at the reading list I provide elsewhere on this page?

            • InternetBatman says:

              The Judith Butler article does unnecessarily and unfairly bring up slavery as a means of guilt by association; furthermore, she brings it up and then fails to give an example of where jargon provided a meaningful contemporary criticism of slavery or the resistance to giving women the right to vote. The vast majority of contemporary powerful criticisms against slavery did not involve inaccessible language or terms invented by scholars studying the issue.

              I’m nowhere near conservative, and I still think that the use of jargon should be severely limited. Jargon limits access to the ideas of the academy, sometimes unnecessarily so. If jargon makes it hard for any interested learner to access the ideas of the academy, it makes it particularly hard for people who grew up speaking non-standard English. This problem is particularly exacerbated in sectors of the humanities, which are frequently focused on transforming society through action; the problem is that by not participating in society and by maintaining separate means of discourse from common ones they are simultaneously removing their ability to enact change outside their group while trying to enact change.

            • Not Marvelous says:

              dsch, it has been a pleasure reading your comments, even with the annoying snark. I would just like to object to the idea that Freud offered the “only theoretically coherent” theory of mind – have you tried reading analytic philosophy on the matter?

              Warning for the common sense brigade: the focused, clear, and precise approach of analytic philosophy is also riddled with jargon and would often be impossible to understand for someone with no background in the subject.

            • dsch says:

              “The Judith Butler article does unnecessarily and unfairly bring up slavery as a means of guilt by association; furthermore, she brings it up and then fails to give an example of where jargon provided a meaningful contemporary criticism of slavery or the resistance to giving women the right to vote. The vast majority of contemporary powerful criticisms against slavery did not involve inaccessible language or terms invented by scholars studying the issue.”

              This is a fair point. Inaccessible language to this extent can be said to be a specifically modern phenomenon. Part of this is because we simply did not have the theoretical apparatus before the 19th/20th century that we have today. Another part of it is that capitalism is so much further advanced now than then that its critique has to take forms that are more and more distant from the ideology (let me not mince words) of common sense (see the Marcuse book Butler cites). And yet a further aspect is the fact that so many more people can read now and have access to the arguments, which paradoxically makes them seem less accessible. Finally, the abolitionists’ language were no less ideological than those who advocated for slavery: remember that prejudice persisted and still persists today, and we are by no means free of it—hence ever more radical and “jargony” theory.

              And it’s not as if the 19th century was without inaccessible philosophy: see all of German philosophy from Kant to Nietzsche to Heidegger. And nor was any other age: the pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle … they were all revolutionary in their time and remain difficult today.

              “I’m nowhere near conservative, and I still think that the use of jargon should be severely limited. Jargon limits access to the ideas of the academy, sometimes unnecessarily so. If jargon makes it hard for any interested learner to access the ideas of the academy, it makes it particularly hard for people who grew up speaking non-standard English. This problem is particularly exacerbated in sectors of the humanities, which are frequently focused on transforming society through action; the problem is that by not participating in society and by maintaining separate means of discourse from common ones they are simultaneously removing their ability to enact change outside their group while trying to enact change.”

              Yes, these are legitimate problems. I don’t have any answers, except that we need more investment in education at all levels and more emphasis on literature/philosophy/social sciences in college. What the layman finds to be jargon is not (most of the time) merely stylistic indulgence; they are essential to the argument. Babies and bathwater.

            • Geebs says:

              Freud was wrong about many things, but what is this fundamental error?

              Extrapolation.

              I deliberately made no comparison to either neuroscience or psychology, and my point doesn’t draw from either discipline.

            • dsch says:

              @Not Marvelous

              “I would just like to object to the idea that Freud offered the “only theoretically coherent” theory of mind – have you tried reading analytic philosophy on the matter?”

              Fair point, and no, I haven’t. Do you have any recommendations? Chalmers is somewhere on my to-read list, and I’ve read a bit of GEB but found it a bit unsatisfactory (if Hofstadter counts as analytic philosophy).

              I was lazy, and what I meant by “theoretically coherent” was more along the lines of taking into full account the significance of language in human experience. The line from Saussure to Levi-Strauss to Derrida as synthesised in Lacan, say.

            • Emeraude says:

              @hilltop: you’re right about the limited value of the assertion.

              What motivated me to actually post a reply was your strange assertion that high level thinking is not possible without jargon

              That’s the reverse: it’s not possible to have specialized, dedicated thinking (I probably shouldn’t have used “high” given the value association in English. I had hoped using my plumber as an example would defuse that one) without invariably producing jargon. It’s part of the process.

              To give an example using *our* particular subgroup – let’s call us “gamers”. A friend asks me what my latest game is like. I answer it’s a new RTS. Or 4X or FPS. That’s jargon right there. My parents wouldn’t understand any of those words. My younger brother will probably understand FPS – though in a relatively fuzzy way, chances are he’ll put Skyrim in there – but not the other two. They’ve never been part of the on-going conversation, never been invested in the medium.
              And we didn’t create those words to shut other people out of the conversation, but because we need those short-hands to fasten things on our side.

            • hilltop says:

              I understand your point now. Thanks.

            • Baffle Mint says:

              Thanks for all the thoughtful replies, everybody!

              I think its interesting that there is this perception that academia that falls under the umbrella of the humanities gets treated like its jargon is illegitimate far more often than with the sciences

              I think this is (Well, can be; there are a lot of people who unfairly dismiss anything with even slightly academic jargon) actually valid, for a couple of reasons:

              1. Something I tried to point out above is that we’re dealing here with a process that the layman is actually involved with directly. When your plumber uses jargon you don’t understand, that’s partially because you have no direct contact with your plumbing; I sure have no idea what’s going on in my septic tank.

              On the other hand, what we’re talking about here is what goes on in the layman’s mind when they play Fatal Frame. You and I and all the non-academics who play video games absolutely do have direct understanding and experience of what goes on in our heads when we play video games. We are experts with direct experience in this field, even if we don’t have the vocabulary or reflection that academics do.

              So in this case, it’s not like plumbing or programming or math or quantum physics or other fields where you and I might have no first-hand experience; it’s more like there are plumbers who actually go out and work on your pipes (i.e. video game players), and then there was somehow a whole different group of plumbing theorists who used a vocabulary that your plumber didn’t understand at all (i.e. academics discussing video game players).

              While the jargon has value, the people who don’t know the jargon are the source of information for the field. Being able to communicate well and easily with the people you’re studying, and letting them understand and talk about the work they are helping you do is, I think, a valuable goal.

              (Incidentally, some gamer jargon is more transparent; Terms like “first-person shooter” and especially “real time strategy” give more clues to the non-expert about what they might mean than “ludonarrative” does.)

              2. Ideas are fuzzy in a way that the harder sciences aren’t. They tend to have porous borders. Something either is or is not granite; there’s a big fuzzy area of things that might or might not be, say, “comics”. There’s also the fact that humanities disciplines are closely linked. While “virus” has a different meaning in the fields of medicine and computer security, it’s likely to be very clear from context which of those to fields you’re talking about.

              Meanwhile, consider this:

              “The word “affect” is going to have a totally different sense depending on whether you’re using in philosophy or psychology”

              Philosophy and psychology often address identical questions and data. I think it would be very easy to get into a discussion where it legitimately wasn’t clear whether you were using the term “affect” in its philosophical or psychological meaning.

              “Marxism” is both a political philosophy and a kind of literary criticism. Psychoanalysis is used to analyze literature as often as it is used to analyze people. There are overlaps in the humanities that are less obvious than the ones in the hard sciences.

              Not that you can totally avoid jargon, but because of these two things, I think writers in the humanities should do two things:

              A) Use jargon based on less opaque languages than latin;
              B) Define the jargon that they do use, so that everybody can be on the same page.

              EDIT: One of my big problems with the term “ludonarrative” is not that it’s specific jargon, but that it’s latin jargon. Somebody brought up gamer jargon, but much of that is English-language jargon.

              Joe six-pack may not be able to guess what “Real time strategy” means from the term alone; but once he learns what it means, the jargon itself is a handy english-language reminder. Same with “first-person shooter” or even “4x” which stands for “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate”, the plain english explanation of the goals of the genre. These are all jargon, yes, with lots of connotations beyond their plain-english meaning. Nonetheless, they have a plain-english meaning which helps us remember what they mean.

              I don’t speak latin, so the term “ludonarrative” doesn’t help me remember or understand the concept it refers to. Why not use a term like “game/narrative dissonance” to refer to the same thing?

            • Emeraude says:

              @Baffle Mint

              1) No actually, as hard as it is to stomach, just because we experience something doesn’t make us able to properly analyze that something. If that was true, linguistics would be self-evident. There would be no real need for the discipline, as it would be almost indistinguishable from grammar. What you’ve actually put the finger on here is one of the plights of soft sciences – I know economists curse it, that belief that, just because people are part of the economy, just because they manage a budget, they intuitively understand economy. They don’t. Or if they do they are gifted exceptions.

              If anything, a layman has probably less understanding of how his/her own mind works than what happens in his/her septic tank.

              While the jargon has value, the people who don’t know the jargon are the source of information for the field.

              Yes, and they don’t need to know the jargon to be. If anything, some will argue that not knowing some of the concepts involved make them better information sources.

              2) Unless you’re someone like Deleuze who actually like to fuzzy up concepts from other disciplines to develop your own, and then its voluntary, I don’t think ideas at that level of discourse are going to be as fuzzy as you imagine. Affect in philosophy is going to come attached with a whole school of thought – Spinozism, and in psychology – or even linguistics – it’s going to come attached alongside other concepts that make any mistake in context difficult for someone in the known. It can happen, especially in disciplines that are still very much fighting for the very definition of words and in which opposing schools are going to employ the same word with a slightly different semantic field covered. But not as much as it would happen in casual conversation. That’s one of the points of developing jargon in the first place.

              Now as for the use of Latin, well, first Latin was once academia’s lingua franca*, and at some level it remains so (that’s how slow the conversation is a that level I want to say). “Ludonarrative dissonance” is certainly not graceful, but to people in academia (at the very least in that field), it’s self evident, being a reference to already existing concepts and vocabulary.
              I fully accept that I am going to have to struggle through English concepts if I want to achieve anything at the modern academic level given the place held by the English language. Conversely English-speaking people have to accept that they’re going to have to borrow from other traditions and languages (if anything having to confront with another referent is enriching; having to assess the game–play divide that doesn’t exist in my own language for example bears fruit in and by itself).

              Interesting experiment: I just tried to explain RTS to my mother. First I had to translate it from English. Then I had to explain the real-time/turn-based divide. Which is self-evident to us, but not to her. And I’m glad she has no experience in the field, because having to explain her why strategic and not tactical would have been a mouthful.

              As for defining jargon – it is done when it is new. Quite often the whole point of a full paper/book is going to define some new concept. Once it has entered the common pool though – well the whole point of using jargon is not having to define it again (and even so, most papers will have notes/references if there ever needs be).

              *: sorry, couldn’t resist.

            • Not Marvelous says:

              @dsch:

              This is getting increasingly cumbersome to read, let alone contribute to. These comments sections are horrible for this sort of discussion, but you know. Anyway, I would recommend Chalmers but only the short papers I have read – he may be the type of author best read in small doses. “Facing up to the Problem of Consciousness” is the obvious starting point there, but it may seem trivial to someone coming from the continental tradition, especially if you are versed in phenomenology. I think most of these authors are best approached through their articles – available often for free through their websites – Chalmers is I think at NYU philosophy.

              Also Searle (Berkeley) and Fodor (Rutgers) are essential readings, particularly Fodor’s “Modularity of Mind”. You may find Rorty interesting as well, his “Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature” has proven to be popular among less analytically oriented non-continentals for a while (what a descriptor!). It can be quite hard to read though- and not in the Foucauldian sense, but in the sense that it requires a fair bit of background knowledge in the field.

              Anyway, this is some of the basic stuff (and somewhat offbeat stuff, in the case of Rorty), but if you get into it, try the Churchlands, those crazy bastards, and Andy Clark for enacted / embodied minds, and wherever all those people take you.

              And for everyone who has the interest and stamina to read this low in the section – read Foucault too, but first read Herbert Dreyfuss on Foucault! It makes everything easier to digest, believe me.

            • Emeraude says:

              Let me add Thomas Metzinger’s Being No One to the list I guess.

              And Foucault *is* brilliant. Worth reading if only because as with, say, Bateson, he’s one of those authors that makes you feel smart and able to tackle the problems in front of you.

            • dsch says:

              @Not Marvelous

              Thanks for the recommendations! And perhaps one day RPS will move to some sensible platform like Disqus.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Academia deserves all the kicking it can get.

      • deejayem says:

        Fascinating discussion. dsch, thanks for your input – really interesting.

    13. Saint_loup says:

      A long and interesting critic of Dark Souls 2 by the creator of Ultima Ratio Regum. Especially the section on world building. http://www.ultimaratioregum.co.uk/game/2014/07/20/dark-souls-2-design-ravings/

      • Geebs says:

        Thanks for the link; I think the author’s hit pretty much all of the nails squarely on the head. I enjoyed my time in DS2, and the invasions and cooperative play are great; but the level design really pales. I don’t have a problem with the nonsensical area transitions, because spacetime is supposed to be broken in Drangleic, but each area almost completely lacks the clever unlocking of shortcuts of DS1 and just relies on the enemies eventually failing to respawn.

        What would have been nice is if they’d managed to nerf magical and holy characters a bit, they are still ridiculously overpowered against bosses compared with more straightforward melee.

        • Blackcompany says:

          Have you seen the 1.08 patch. Challenge Accepted, apparently.

      • David Shute says:

        Ah, that makes me sad. I haven’t got round to playing DS2 yet, but the clear sense place that came from exploring a single, interconnected and coherent location was one of my very favourite things about DS1.

    14. Andy`` says:

      Funny that on a weekend where everyone is talking about The International, Quakecon’s tournaments made me realise that CTF, in my mind, is the gaming equivalent to soccer (apart from, you know, actual soccer games). I also found the Quake Live matches far more interesting to watch than when I tuned in to DOTA, despite DOTA having done a really good job of making it a spectator event, with the professional production, newbie stream and so on. Maybe it’s just because it’s more my kind of game, and I actually understand some of the intricacies a little better than I do for DOTA, but it saddens me seeing all this talk about digital sports and nobody really mentioning it.

      Though the end of it was sort of dampened by Tim Willits being a clown on stage and other embarassing happenings.

      • Lemming says:

        LAN Quake 2 CTF remains my top multiplayer experience in gaming, ever.

      • P.Funk says:

        Can you think of a single mainstream spectator sport that doesn’t involve teams competing over possession of an object?

        What DOTA is missing is the one thing CTF has. The action surrounding the object of possession creates enough interest and drama for the lay-spectator to remain engaged.

        So much of most mainstream sports can happen off camera or out of the main focus, such as with American Football, but the draw of the sport keeps you interested as they explain the nuances of the formations and the plays. I feel like DOTA casting doesn’t do enough to elucidate the strategies like you get with Yankee Football or Hockey. Its hard to break into the mindset of DOTA without being a player, and I think too much of the casting assumes this as well.

        • Andy`` says:

          (Going to driveby all these replies and ramble a lot since I have nothing else to do and we’re the only ones talking about Quake anyway)

          Snooker, cycling (eg: Tour de France), tennis, F1, a lot of the olympic ones. Though they can be said to be about possession of a more abstract definition of “object” (eg: snooker is about keeping control of the table so that you get to continue scoring points while your opponent has to sit and watch, a bit like Quake Duel but less exciting), what all spectator sports tend to have in common is that they are about fighting over supremacy of some sort of score measure. Usually this is a straight up points system, but the points scoring tends to be augmented by other measures: points in soccer in the league are determined by points (goals scored) during a match, rugby augments this with different point scoring depending on the goal made. Points in rally are determined by who has the best completion time, points in F1 and cycling are determined by finishing position. Tennis has layers of points system to help decide a winner in a fair way.

          I’m rambling on about basic explanations of what points are, but my point is (ha) that in my completely unprofessional and probably wrong opinion, one of the core things sports actually have in common is they have a clearly defined system of determining who the winner is through time, distance, or abstract scoring systems that can be followed and determined throughout an entire game. This allows spectators to understand what is going on and form a reasonably clear idea in their head of how a match might turn out, and eventually what the final result is, even if they are completely new to the sport and start watching a match half way through. Points dont make a sport, anything can have a scoring system attached to it so they’re meaningless alone, but they help break down the events that are happening a bit.

          Where DOTA differs is that the most visible scoring system is number of kills, and the real measure of progress that might indicate anything is number of towers downed. Even then both of these things are really only a vague indicator of who is doing better, only start to become clear indicators once the difference in “scores” widen significantly, and are basically meaningless until the opponent’s ancient is down and an actual winner is determined. The real indicators of progress tend to be things that aren’t exposed well like money and item status, but even then they are essentially meaningless, since the number of heroes and their individual reliance on money and particular items varies so wildly. DOTA provides good dude-bashing-dude play, probably the one place it manages to redeem itself: while most of the game is completely impenetrable to new players, much like a boxing match you can get a sense of how a fight is going by seeing how often one dude is hitting the other dude, or that one of them looks tired and is underperforming compared to how they were playing at the start. But even boxing has a points system where the winner can be determined without a knockout. A DOTA match will never stalemate, there is no time limit, there is no alternate scoring system, and the kills don’t really mean anything in themselves (they matter more when tied in with the money and item system) rendering everything kind of meaningless until the ancient is down.

          Maybe I missed something completely obvious that spectators should look out for, but it seems like the only thing it really has in common with popular spectator sports is spectacle.

          Completely with you on formations and plays though, with DOTA it seems kinda hard to get a sense of what a team is trying to accomplish with their positioning and strategies at any given moment unless you play. With this, and a lot of the above too, the newbie stream does a reasonable job of making the game a little easier to understand and explaining why certain actions are being taken, but it completely breaks down in high intensity moments (they don’t have time to really process things properly in real time for the newer player, and it seems like it can be hard to understand *why* people died), and it isn’t what new players are really first exposed to, and not what most people are watching: if you tune in for the first time and don’t even realise there’s a newcomer’s stream, you hit an impenetrable mess of words.

          The Quake Live commentators in contrast seem to do a really good job of breaking down a game only visible through one dude’s viewpoint at a time so that anyone can get it, and enough information about scoring and timings are exposed that you can probably get a reasonable sense of what is happening just by watching it for a few minutes with the sound off. Something that applies to most real-world sports too.

      • Deadly Sinner says:

        I don’t think you necessarily need to understand the intricacies of Quake CTF to enjoy watching it. It’s all pretty straightforward. Everyone has the same abilities, these abilities (like jumping, shooting, running) are clearly represented, and each player’s objective is generally understood.

        In Dota 2, everyone has (sometimes radically) different abilities, some of these abilities have effects that may not be immediately apparent to the uninitiated, and players will have different objectives based on their character and the match phase.

        • Andy`` says:

          Blabbed some of my blab above, but what I mean is that like with football you don’t really need to understand the offside rule to enjoy watching it, but it helps understand some of the moments, the deeper you understand the game the more little things can enhance your enjoyment of it. For example, knowing that a certain jump was a difficult and impressive jump, or how items are being controlled in a duel or a CTF, adds a lot. Thankfully none of that is necessary to get started.

          I’m sure those that understand DOTA get a massive boost of enjoyment due to their knowledge but yeah, the void of possibilities between people that get it and people that don’t get it is huge; unlike real-world sports new people aren’t like to really understand it too well unless they immerse themselves in it. The newbie stream helps, but it feels like using a plaster to treat a throat infection.

          Commentators in both real-world sports and in Quake Live also do a really good job of breaking down the game in a way that it works for all viewers of all skill/knowledge levels, exposing important information to allow a quick understanding of the basics of the game, but I don’t think they’ve figured that out for DOTA yet (it feels a little more like Starcraft-style commentary on the main stream, which can be similarly tough to follow).

      • BooleanBob says:

        For the longest time I thought Company of Heroes was the absolute best game to watch competitively. There was a burden of knowledge, but once you were past that, the spectacle of the Relic engine in full flow combined with the dynamism of the interlocking mechanics of pushing/pinning, map control, unit preservation and multi-directional combined arms assaults made for a breathtaking experience.

        At the very highest level, though, the game was never played for more than a few hundred dollars and pride. Not that I don’t love Dota, but I honestly think it’s a tragedy that CoH never broke into the limelight.

    15. InternetBatman says:

      The Kickstarter post mortem for Darkest Dungeon was interesting. I’d say that it’s a bit too pessimistic for a couple reasons.

      First of all, a rise of 17% is fairly typical for a well run campaign.
      Second, Shovel Knight seems to have greatly benefited from being at E3 and getting a ton of small and eventually large press coverage that way. There were many interviews and previews on many major gaming sites.
      Third, I think they’re doing a pretty big disservice comparing themselves too closely to Massive Chalice and Night in the Woods. Neither of the games had stretch goals, and their final boosts were 11% and 13% of the game respectively, which is noticeably lower than Darkest Dungeon’s 17% take.
      Fourth, Neverending Nightmares another comparison was a very close campaigns, and close campaigns draw higher final boosts as people who are marginally interested have a greater incentive to pledge.

      Anyways, I thought it was a really interesting piece and enjoyed reading it.

    16. PaceCol says:

      I’m curious as to why Mr Thickes, funny and very deserved internet mauling, gets a mention, but the calls for the birth of prince george to be aborted because he was a boy, or the #killallmen didn’t. None of them have anything to do with gaming after all.

      • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

        (EDIT: Actually, hold on, I misread the original piece. It’s not the truly awful “defined lines” video being referenced at all, it’s the much funnier Reddit AMA. Please disregard my outrage below!)

        ORIGINAL: Would it be presumptuous of me to ask how that disgusting display could possibly be described as “funny and most deserved”?

    17. Premium User Badge Chaz says:

      That Snowpiercer film sounds quite interesting.

      Perhaps it’s his disciplined use of natural light, like when a child runs through a grungy corridor holding a flickering torch, or the side-scrolling video game aesthetic that follows our hero Curtis Everett (Chris Evans, caked in dirt and far from his pretty Captain America self) in profile as he hacks through hordes of terrifying psychopathic guards.

      That quote about the fight scene had me thinking about the fight scene in the film Oldboy. Where the main protagonist fights his way down a corridor, shown in a long side on cut-through, like a side scrolling beat-em up. A great bit of film.

      The premise of Snowpiercer reminds me of a Sci-Fi book I read, that unfortunately I can remember the title of. Essentially there were these trains moving endlessly around this ice planet that held these religious acolytes, who’s job was to endlessly stare up at the near by moon. Or something like that. It was only part of the overall story. Just can’t for the life of me remember what book it was, who wrote it or anything.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        Snowpiercer is based on the French graphic novel Transperceneige. Maybe you’ve read that? (Loosely based, apparently, but I haven’t experienced either so I can’t say one way or the other.)

      • Not Marvelous says:

        Is it “Inverted World” maybe, by Christopher Priest?

        • Premium User Badge Chaz says:

          No, but it sounds intriguing, so I shall have to look up a copy on eBay.

          • Not Marvelous says:

            Bah, I lost the contest! And for it to be public like this…!

      • drvoke says:

        That would be “Absolution Gap” by Alastair Reynolds. Just finished it myself a few weeks ago/last month.

    18. honuk says:

      I really don’t want to turn this into the lame LoL vs. Dota thing people would want it to become, but all the critical interest in The International as an immense turning point in esports or whatever strikes me as a little weird. As I write this, both The International and a random day of Riot’s North American LCS are airing, and the viewership is virtually identical. This is the final day of the premier Dota tournament ever held, and the only tournament Valve sponsors for the game, and the viewership is even with what is a completely average LCS day, of which there are probably a hundred over the course of the year.

      Now, I don’t care who likes Dota more than League or League more than Dota, but the conversation around The International seems really determined to position it as a watershed esports event, and above all as the most popular esports event. And that is a very disingenuous position to hold that seems to me to marginalize esports in general, and has much more to do with a fascination with Valve than with any real interest in covering esports. The kill screen article is particularly egregious in this regard.

      And well beyond the LCS, this whole exasperated coverage would strike a Korean audience as very quaint, considering they have been holding immense esports events for well over a decade, including a Starcraft team league final all the way back in 2005 that had a live audience at the venue of 120,000 people.

      • Halk says:

        Out of interest, how would the numbers for an LCS final compare to an average day, and the numbers for an average day for dota to the international final?

        • honuk says:

          an average day of the LCS is about 150k viewers on the main stream, maybe a little more. I don’t know how much alternate language streams add to those totals. as I write this, TI has 158k on the main stream on the final day, with about 70k more on alternate streams. I can’t say what LCS playoffs/finals draw, but I recall the all star event this year hitting about 250k on the main stream. I cannot at all remember what the main stream numbers were for the season 3 worlds finals, but Riot’s released numbers are a peak of 8.5 million concurrent views and a total of 32 million views. this includes every possible stream worldwide and, most importantly, Korean TV numbers. I would imagine Dota 2′s numbers are higher than what I’m saying, considering I do not know how many people are watching outside of twitch, and certainly the peak numbers will be higher during the final matches, so take all this with a grain of salt, but it is beyond a doubt that the LoL numbers are substantially higher by any metric. It would be interesting to see Korean TV numbers for other LoL events and for the big Starcraft events of the past.

          “An average day for Dota” is kind of a hard thing to talk about, because there is no average day for Dota. Valve runs The International, but that is essentially all they do for Dota. Other Dota tournaments and leagues are done by third parties, and I don’t even know how many of them have a sizable hold on the community. I know the Starladder is big, but I don’t know nearly enough to compare it to LoL (hopefully someone else can?) The LCS, by comparsion, is an all year thing run by Riot in both North America and Europe to the extent that it essentially monopolizes LoL competition in those regions in the way that UEFA would monopolize European football competitions. Riot also pays a salary to every player in the LCS.

          edit: the All-Star event this year had a peak concurrent online viewer count of 750,000 just in Korea, to give you a comparable (online to online) estimate of just how much bigger esports still are in Korea than anywhere else.

          • Premium User Badge wengart says:

            I think TI stream numbers will be incredibly hard to accurately pin down unless I’m missing something. Valve doesn’t release numbers as far as I know and they are hosting a number of streams.

            Actually taking a look at it. There appears to be at least 6 streaming sources for the game.

            Twitch (posts numbers)
            ESPN (no numbers)
            Dota 2 website (no numbers)
            Dota 2 Chinese website (no numbers)
            within the Steam client (no numbers) <- The Steam store page has a big TI banner that says "watch it live"
            Within the Dota 2 game client (no number but you can view total number in game)

            Most of these post no numbers.

            Although I think most of the hype has to do with the massive prize pool.

            • Moraven says:

              They will typically release some estimated numbers after the event.

              LoL typically is still ahead of Dota 2.

              TI gets a lot of attention due to the crowd funded prize pool. The coverage from the media seems to be more extensive this year than last.

      • PikaBot says:

        Today wasn’t the last day. Tomorrow is the grand finals.

        Anyway, I don’t think all the talk surrounding the International has much to do with the viewership numbers. It’s probably a lot more to do with the fact that the prize pool is far and away the largest in the history of eSports. Money talks.

        • P.Funk says:

          You know Hockey players don’t get paid anything for the playoffs. Their contracts are for the season, winning the championship is basically just gravy. The team loses money if they don’t go far enough, but thats beside the point.

          I think its rather vulgar to equate prize pool with quality of a sport. Most legitimate sports have a championship that represents primacy in the sport, and its not predicated on making money, the prize isn’t cash. Individual sports like golf do have prize pools but its a very aristocratic and dour pastime, hardly relevant to gamers.

          I think this is about pageantry, as the article says, like WWE, which is in fact not an actual sport but a total farce of an event, pure theatre invented to part audience from money.

          If this is the way we define the legitimacy of the *ehem* “sport” then I’m highly unimpressed.

          • BooleanBob says:

            Pageantry and viewer figures are a bit of a red herring, though, aren’t they? Whether you’re arguing either side of the coin, the legitimacy of the sports surely lies in the act of competition itself.

            On that grounds the fare has been, for me at least, more than satisfactory to justify the hype. We’ve had great games from all teams of all nations, employing all kinds of strategies and making use of all kinds of heroes and item builds. The tournament has had a mini-meta of its own, independent of the popular trends that we’ve seen through the year, one that started out baffling but has evolved over the course of the brackets into something that has given us major upsets and pulsating encounters.

          • PikaBot says:

            A true statement that has absolutely nothing to do with the price of fish. I was not addressing the ‘legitimacy’ of the sport (whatever that means to you), I was giving a reason why it is garnering so much attention and bring treated as a major development in the eSports scene, particularly in the North American market where said scene is under-developed. Tossing that kind of money around suggests draws attention and suggests future investment to develop the scene, now that it’s ‘playing with the big boys’. It’s also the first time (at least, outside of Korea) that at least some professional competitors will be given compensation commensurate to the salaries drawn by professional athletes in physical sports such as Hockey.

            (Also it’s a little daft to suggest that all this money somehow lessens the integrity of the game while pointing to Hockey, when the prize pool for the entire International is less than a sixth of what each and every NHL team spends on player salaries every year. And there’s no sense claiming that the fact that they aren’t paid for the playoffs means they’re doing it purely for the love of the game; they’re still bound by their contracts, and even if they weren’t, their playoff performance can be worth its weight in either gold or lead the next time they’re trying to negotiate for more money)

        • Moraven says:

          Golf has mutlitple $8m prize pools.

          TI prize pool is a gradual step in the growing of eSports, but I think were either need to have a more varied prize pool events or Dota 2 to commit to going the route of other team sports, larger player salaries and smaller bonuses to the winner. Which is harder to do since it is easy for anyone to come up with a Team (even if they do not last) since you have no stadium or high costs to maintain, other than travel costs.

    19. Baffle Mint says:

      Yes, and they don’t need to know the jargon to be. If anything, some will argue that not knowing some of the concepts involved make them better information sources.

      I consider this to be kind of an elitist point of view.

      I agree that doing something is different from thinking about how and why you do it. Linguistics isn’t an invalid field simply because everybody can use language.

      At the same time, because everybody does use language, it seems to me that there’s an obvious utility to making sure that the users have access to the understanding that some have cultivated. This is somewhat (Not entirely) less true of hard sciences and specialties. I don’t install plumbing or analyze DNA, so it’s less useful for me to understand the jargon.

      Jargon, I think, is less useful to the humanities and carries more pitfalls than it does in technical fields. Your mother may take time to understand the term “Real-time strategy”; I never said she wouldn’t. That said, do you think it would be easier if you first translated it into Latin?

      If academic and popular thinking about games become completely divorced from each other, I don’t see why that would be good for anybody. There is obviously going to be jargon and differences between them; but it’s worth thinking about how to minimize those differences.