If it's GTA5, it's torture.
Originally Posted by DeVadder
Since DayZ is indie, gets a free pass.
Well it's better for them to be cruel in a game than to be cruel in real life, right? Also there's some hypocrisy in your statements. You find cruelty unacceptable yet as long as some raising numbers or some text saying you saved the world pop up in the screen after the bloodshed you suddenly "don't mind in the slightest"? Is mowing down hundreds of enemies in a variety of ways just for a weapon upgrade not cruel?
Cruelty, and trust, are the core dynamics that make DayZ an interesting game. The interface is awful, the environments are clearly not designed for a survival horror game, the controls are wonky and the zombie NPCs are really badly animated. What makes DayZ thrilling is precisely that danger. Day Z without friendly fire, where you only kill zombies would be boring as fuck. I might as well play CoD. Cruelty is what makes the game fun. If you can't differentiate between real cruelty and ingame cruelty maybe you shouldn't be playing games.
Cruelty is a part of real life and it is a part of any game (not only of the video variety) where there is a loosing and a winning side, it's just not always explicit. Personally, in any game where there is a choice I usually play the good guy, trying to be good with everybody and only doing "bad things" when I am convinced they are justified, but I realize that I partly find that enjoyable precisely because I know that other players are dicks and I like to think I am better than them. What does this say about me? and what does it say about them? In my opinion, nothing. Because next time I play I can be a jerk and kill some new spawns, the next time I can try to survive for myself staying away from other players, and next time I might help out a new player to learn the ropes. This is what DayZ enables you to do, this is what videogames enable you to do, and the fact that everyone enjoys them in different ways doesn't say anything about how morally mature they are in real life.
I don't care about a random reader's opinion on videogames just as I don't care about my mom's opinion on videogames. If she cared to listen, I would explain to her why I like them and I'm sure while she probably still wouldn't agree she would at least understand, but she simply doesn't care. People who say videogames cause violence don't care about them either, so there's no point in worrying about their willfully ignorant opinions.
Yeah. I'll admit, I wasn't huge on the DayZ article as it just wasn't pleasant to read. But that is a big aspect of gaming these days (and it kind of always has been: Who DIDN'T blow the hell out of those Ewoks in Dark Forces?) and it is important to comment on.
The thing is: If all we want is a circlejerk of "Yay, gaming is good and makes people good", that is fine. I personally prefer articles on gaming as it is. I like John Walker's rants (mostly :p). I like when Kieron and Cara mock the over the top "sexiness" of something. I like when we get pseudo-LPs like the DayZ article. Because that is what gaming IS and that is what we need to consider. If we think DayZ is a bad direction for gaming (I for one felt Manhunt was), then we should talk about that. We should question it. We should look at games like Spec Ops: The Line that paint "normal, wholesome" gaming in the same light.
As I said in the article comments, the actions in the article are rather different from your average video game actions because a) you're annoying real people and b) you're not doing it because it's good play.
An interesting question is the expectations of most people who play the game. People who follow video gaming somewhat closely will know the sort of game DayZ is. If I were to play it, I could have few complaints, because I know the game space that I'm entering. I wonder how many people who start playing follow gaming less closely and expect that the early game should mostly be about evading zombies and fighting equally-poorly-equipped players. Such players would likely be very irritated that they're getting picked on by people who don't have anything material to gain from them and can't possibly lose to them.
Also, wasnt it an article on the fluttering sense that is morality? Because in that context, I found all of it appropriate, including the end.
Answer: most of them. On these kinds of forums and communities, it's often too easy to forget that the huge majority of gamers do not really follow gaming media, participate on gaming forums, build their own gaming PCs and so on and so forth. They're the "normal" people; we're the outliers here. And if something (like the true nature of DayZ) is practically hidden from the normal users, it's going to cause troubles somewhere along the way.
Originally Posted by NathanH
(then again, it's never easy to reach that majority, so it's not necessarily a conscious mistake)
It's an interesting topic and well worth discussing, but yeah, the article revels in it a fair bit to the point it's distasteful at least. Going back a long way, Kieron's article on Beautiful Escape is a good comparison piece. That's a game all about torture (and rape, and death) but the article actually takes a step back and talks about the feeling it evokes and if that's a good or bad thing. http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010...pe-dungeoneer/
Try to imagine if that review had mostly been from the perspective of how much the author enjoyed the depravity and cruelty the game made you complicit in, with the same tone as the Day Z piece, and you can see why some people are uncomfortable with it.
It'd be interesting to see how much the reaction to something like Day Z changed if the options for being cruel to other players were expanded beyond just the whole "hold them up, talk to them, shoot them" mechanic that we're somewhat used to in gaming. In many ways I guess it already has. The game mechanics are such that you can speak to people, which opens the field for verbal abuse, racism, sexism, sexual aggression and all sorts. Had the author engaged in that behaviour, would people equally defend the piece? After all, the mechanics are there in the game, and that stuff happens in real life. And essentially, if the goal is make the person on the other end miserable, as seems to be the case here, isn't that an approach that could be used?
Not to say that the article is necessarily over the line, but thinking where we draw that line could lead to interesting discussion.
Those are two entirely different types of article and comparing them as if they had the same purpose is not really fair. DayZ's format has brought about a style of writing where players tell stories of what happened to them as if it was a real life diary of the apocalypse or something. Writing something like that for a limited, narrative driven game wouldn't make as much sense, although some writers do it so the reader gets a feeling of how the game actually plays.
Shooting people, being hurt by bullets and zombies, walking around, finding items, dying because you don't have particular items, trading items with other players, looting, driving vehicles... those are the DayZ's mechanics, and I would argue that any "real-life-unacceptable-behaivor" that derives directly from player interaction within those mechanics is acceptable because it is assumed that the other people who are playing know what they are getting into. It's sort of like BDSM. Any behavior outside of that (not only sexism or racism, but also when you just don't like someone, they have music on, they speak a language you don't understand...) you can just mute them. In terms of the other stuff, when you play an online multiplayer shooter you know you're going to get shot and that you're going to shoot people. If you play Day Z and you've seen any cultural product in any format with the words "zombie" and "survival", you know what you're getting into, or at least you should be open to what it entails. Generally I think judging anything on what a completely ignorant player's first impression might be is pretty useless unless you are the game's designer. As a first time player of the mod I was way more upset at the confusing controls and UI than anything else.
What makes DayZ fun is the mind games, betrayal AND trust, not shooting people in the face but what shooting people in the face means for you and for them, which has more to do with the resource management, survival and communication mechanics than with the violence. Making it more explicitly violent without changing anything else would add nothing to the core experience.
When it comes down to it, if you feel uncomfortable about killing NPCs or actual players, why play games where your main objective is to do precisely that or read diary-like articles about games where that is mostly what people do?. If you're dubious about it, play Spec Ops: The Line/read Killing Is Harmless. I agree that it is a topic worth thinking about, but (just like BDSM) most negative opinions seem to come from a position of ignorance and rarely go beyond stating their discomfort and worrying about the n̶e̶w̶ ̶p̶l̶a̶y̶e̶r̶s̶ kids, which is hardly constructive imho.
I agree with all of that, it's just it's a topic worth thinking about and the article doesn't really engage with it. It just glorifies that sort of behaviour with the occasional "but are we bad people for doing this?" thrown in.
To use your BDSM analogy, this is 50 Shades of Gray. It glorifies certain behaviours associated with the topic, but shores them of the correct context, fails to engage with the actual issues present, and offers a narrow-minded take on the topic that's potentially damaging.
To take it a bit further, you say the mechanics basically have this holy status as being part of the game, and hence writing about how you dealt with them was fine. Fair point on the voice chat, you can just mute it. But what if there were more tasteless mechanics? What if, for example, rape was possible in the game. Hugely controversial? Hell yes. Should it be banned? I'd say no. Could writing about provide an absolutely fascinating insight into the human condition, power, sex and all that? Absolutely.
But were we faced with an article about such a game where the author purely related his enjoyment of going around, stalking female characters, and raping them, with the sort of tone in this article, we'd all cry foul or throw up.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - the 50 Shades of Gray of PC games
Originally Posted by deano2099
oh how I wish those header titles came back
I don't think the article's intention was to explore the ethical dilemmas in an essay-ish kind of way. I have to cite Killing is harmless again as an example of that. In that book, Brendan Keogh looks at Spec Ops The Line and describes it scene by scene, room by room, while commenting on how little details most players miss form a cohesive, open, critical view on videogames, violence and violence in videogames.
This is not it. The writer's objective in the article is clearly to tell a story about something that happened ingame from the real perspective of the person playing it, leaving all interpretation to the reader. As someone said above, it's practically the written equivalent of a let's play. It's not trying to tackle the moral issues you can derive from that game at all. It doesn't fail at analyzing the issues because that's not what it is trying to do. Saying that would be like criticizing the diary of Anne Frank because it didn't explain the geopolitical motivations behind World War II or how Hitler's inner troubles swayed him into being a complete jerk. Edit: That is not the best example of that but I find it funny and I think you get my point. Simply explaining what you did in a game about shooting people, trusting people and deceiving people is not glorifying it.
It might be disturbing to some people, but so would any written version of any violent videogame (as in, start the game, watch cutscene, read text that prompts you to choke somebody to death-dishonored- or start shooting at everybody in a square just after you crushed a policeman's skull with a fast rotating hook-bioshock infinite). Yes, the fact that it's online makes it more disturbing, but the perceived cruelty would still be there even if you were describing Super Mario. To write a first person description of a DayZ experience without showing any cruelty at all would be dishonest, because that is a crucial part of the game. If you find that article immoral or somehow wrong you have to find the game immoral and wrong, because Brendan Cladwell was not breaking the rules in any way, what he does is what the zombie apocalypse is all about, it's what DayZ is all about, so the article is appropriate.
The game is appropriate because it is widely accepted -through films, books and all kinds of media- that violence in fiction is as cool as it gets and that it needs little justification; it is not a taboo. Extremely disturbing violence or rape are taboo, so when someone creates cultural products that include them in a not-clearly-critical light they are always heavily criticized (A Serbian film, Manhunt, Rapelay).
The ultimate target of any outrage at an article like this that described a game with rape in it should be the game itself, and blame should be given to the writer just because he/she seemingly supports the existence of that game. As long as it is honest, there is nothing wrong with the format or the article itself. You might not be used to it, it might make you think again about playing violent videogames, but it is not inherently wrong. DayZ and everything that it entails are far from what gamers generally find censurable or regrettable in videogames, so that article should be okay and it shouldn't be blamed for merely stating how a vast amount of players enjoy playing that game.
For me, what I find distasteful about the article, the playstyle, and the attitude that brings it about, is nothing really to do with the context. It doesn't matter that the theme of the game is committing violent acts, or sexual violence, or making your numbers go up and the other person's numbers go down, or whatever. Fundamentally the playstyle is basically about being the school bully. I imagine most people who play a lot of video games know about being on the wrong side of such a character, and presumably hated them for it. But I look around at gaming communities online and online games and I see that sort of behaviour. People see the opportunity to play that role, people who should know better, and the first thing they think is fuck yeah now it's my turn.
I find this not simply distasteful behaviour but also a betrayal of our culture. We should know better and we should be better.
Slightly tipsy so apologies for incoherence.
I think this is where we fundamentally disagree. I don't think that's what the game is about. I mean, the brilliance of Day Z is that it throws you into this melting pot of high danger and low resources, with a bunch of other players, then waits to see how you react. Going around being a dick and a bully is neither what the game is about, nor the objective of the game. You don't get given points or achievements for doing the stuff in this article. This method of play is purely emergent, it's just one way someone might react to that game. I'd imagine the write up of the game by some of his victims would be very different.
Originally Posted by SirDavies
(Edit - they're also using Skype for private comms, which is cheating, and outside the mechanics of the game, so that whole argument falls down there)
I'm aware the article wasn't trying to be anything more than a record of his experiences, and that it wasn't trying to be a critique of the behaviours created by the game (although the author does occasionally nod in this direction, questioning his own behaviour, but doesn't follow up on it). What I'm saying is that frankly, I don't think such an article should have been commissioned in the first place. It just highlights a very unpleasant sort of gamer - the bully, the griefer - while offering no counterpoint. And while there is definitely interesting things to be seen the behaviour of these sorts of people, paying one of them to write about how much they enjoy doing what they do doesn't seem the best method to go about it.
To me it's no different than going on Xbox Live, finding some of those people who take pleasure in abusing others over voice chat, and offering them money to write about why they do it. It's an interesting topic, the end result might also even be interesting, but in paying that person to do that, and running the piece unchallenged, you're colluding with some fairly unpleasant behaviour. Plus you'd probably get a more interesting article by interviewing the person instead, and trying to dig in to why they do what they do.
I mean (and it's not anywhere like the same level but it's the same idea) - it's the difference between reading a biography of a serial killer written by an author, constructed from interviews with the subject and the people around him, and reading an autobiography written by the killer himself. The former is more interesting and less icky.
Torture, not violence. Let's use the writers own words.
Originally Posted by SirDavies
Edit: Notice how even in this scene, the camera looks away in the moment where he is cutting the ear off. There is a very clear understanding of what is "tasteful" and what isn't.
There are "party" comms in the game, but I'm sure they use skype because it's more functional. The whole bandit/civilian system implemented by the devlopers proves that they were looking for that type of conflicts to take place. I think the mechanics are there to purposefully allow those actions. If they didn't want players to kill each other they could have disabled friendly fire between human players. The fact that when you do that it becomes a very mediocre zombie game proves that the core of the experience is in player interaction with the danger of death around the corner. The whole health system and the ability to trade resources is there because it makes things more interesting. If they wanted people not to kill new spawns there could be an area not accessible to long-lasting survivors where the new spawns could learn the ropes/gear up and then get out into the wild. But there isnt' because that's not how the developers wanted the game to be. "Emergent gameplay" still has lots of rules, rules that are in the hands of the developers, and they clearly wanted these situations to take place.
Originally Posted by deano2099
A:Be a saint: civilian
B:Be a jerk: bandit
C:Take risks, for example only shoot bandits: You're dead
Unlike a kid screaming over the mic in CoD, being sort of a jerk is a big part of this game's mechanics.
The goal of the game is presumably to survive as long as you can. Deciding whether to do battle with people who are a threat to you and/or might have stuff you can use to make you survive longer is part of the mechanics. Picking on defenceless people who have nothing you care about doesn't advance you towards the game's goal, it's just external dickishness.
Originally Posted by SirDavies
again, if the developers didn't want that to happen they could have easily prevented it. Also the people who do that already have enough gear and supplies to survive so once you have that the only thing you can do is either sit silently in the woods somewhere (which according to you must be the optimal way to play the game), or go interact with other players, which includes keeping them from gearing up and thus being a threat to you. It's all part of the game.
If you're going to make ludicrous claims that the actions described in the article are good play and their principle motiviation is good play, rather than they are irrelevant to the goal of the game and just done for cruel lols, then I don't see the point in discussing this further.
If you want to argue that people should be free from moral condemnation for using game mechanics to bully people for their own cruel pleasure, and that anyone playing an online game should be considered to be OK with that by default, then have the courage of your convictions and just flat out say it.
I'm not saying any of that, actually. I'm saying that cruel lolz are part of the game. It's an MMO, there's a certain degree of freedom, but the game clearly enables and acknowledges the existence of cruel behavior. I would argue that it even promotes it, but that's debatable. Whether you judge people on the persona they feel like playing like that particular day is up to you, but the fact is those situations are a large part of what makes the game interesting, both if you are evil or if you are fighting the guys who are evil. If you're none of those, at some point you have to make a choice.
Search Youtube for Rust or DayZ, pick a random video. Chances are it will include betrayal and senseless murder, not people gathering resorces and using them wisely. That is just the facade, the excuse behind a game that is really about the interactions between the players and trust or the lack of it. I feel like I'm talking to a white wall with the word morality written on it and it is in Comic Sans, so I think I'll stop now. Good talking to you guys, let's just agree to disagree.
The article says they took this system out actually, did you read it? Because it isn't about senseless violence either, it's about psychologically messing with people, and as the writer puts it, torturing them. That's a step beyond what's needed in the game to survive. But still, I'm not criticising the game, you're correct that it's clearly set up to create this kind of conflict, that's what makes it such a fascinating game, and such an interesting topic to write about.
Originally Posted by SirDavies
My problem is in RPS commissioning an article like this and running it unchallenged. For a site founded to celebrate the joy in PC gaming, a first-person article about how someone enjoys making other people miserable in a game doesn't sit well with me.
We've used some silly analogies in this thread, but more relevant ones would be the following articles that I don't believe RPS would ever commission:
1) an article from someone from an anti-immigration political party about how much he enjoyed being able to mess with foreigners trying to come into his country in Papers Please, and the joy he found in having them marched off by guards.
2) an article from someone on how much he loved Spec Ops: The Line because of the joy he got from inflicting pain on civilians.
3) an article from someone playing Super Columbine Massacre explaining how great it made him feel because he too hated his class mates.
4) an article from someone that went around killing indiscriminately in GTA5, with visceral descriptions of the pleasure he got from all the murders.
Now, in all the above cases, and the Day Z case, I *do* want to read about these things. They're fascinating insights in to how people react to games, and the affect games can have on some people. But they need to be done as interviews, where the interviewer can dig in to why they react how they do, and in to any remorse they might feel and so on. You don't just hand them £100 and a blank slate and ask them to write it themselves, then run it unchallenged.
You're right in so much that Day Z doesn't just demonstrate how awful people will be to their fellow human beings when there are no consequences (griefing has been around for a long time), but the game actually takes advantage of that fact, and without it the game wouldn't even really work at all. Which makes it pretty fascinating. What I don't like is giving a platform to the bully to talk about how much he enjoys being a bully, without even doing so much as ask him to dig in to why he acts that way. Maybe it would have been passable coupled with a second article by someone who gave up on the game because it was full of people acting like psychopaths, and they quit because they just had entirely unpleasant experiences. But to run it unopposed, with nary even an editorial comment - to me that's colluding with the bullies at the expense of the other players. And note that if everyone in the game acted like Brendon, it would be just as broken as if no-one did. Both sides are required, but only one gets a voice on RPS.