The Sunday Papers

Alec is the king of images.
Time for another lazy afternoon’s worth of chin-stroking articles, gathered at great effort from across the expanse of the internet. They take the form of a cheery list, which we rush through in an attempt to do so before I end up name-checking whichever minor indie-band I caught in a seedy hole this week.



  1. Dracko says:

    I wrote about the French tax break situation back in my undergrad days. You’d be surprised that the most progressive developers aren’t keen on it at all because the French government has an annoying tendency to stick it’s fingers, and principles, where it doesn’t belong.

    Which explains why its film industry, and its boasted French touch, is derivative horseshit with no signs of evolving ever, incidentally. Tax breaks are over-rated.

  2. Kieron Gillen says:

    From my understanding, it’s actually French business which lead to a generally better position of game development/publishing in the country – that the investors had more time when British firms didn’t as much.

    (The failure of the British games industry over the last decade is something that nags at me. That the biggest game in the world is British and so little credit finds it back – or support from the country at large – is all kinds of sad.)


  3. Dracko says:

    This tax break business genuinely worries me, is all. Government involvement in the arts does not lead to good cultural paving.

    It does sell better abroad, though!

    Which game are you thinking of exactly?

  4. drunkymonkey says:

    Made in sleepy/barbaric Scotland, as a matter of fact.

  5. dhex says:

    i like the idea that aliens are too busy buying video games to properly conquer the universe.

    it’s very futurama.

    edit: that filefront defense of the age of the timmy (be it upon us) was as bad as the original op-ed.

  6. Justin Sherrill says:

    French government tends to get very involved in pushing various parts of French industries. I don’t think it’s so much they think video games are art, but that it’s video games that are French.

    To put it another way, video games can be considered an art form that has a more saleable product, and so it is easier to apply economic benefits to it. (well, to the French versions of it.) I don’t see this tendency becoming widespread, nor should it be.

  7. Alex says:

    I’d say WoW is the biggest game in the world these days, I’m sorry to say.

  8. Nick says:

    It breaks my heart when games of excellent quality such as System Shock 2 or Terra Nova don’t sell as much as they should, but “generic sports update 2008, now you have to press B a bit faster! Oh and it’s broken, sorry about that, I’m sure we’ll patch it before next years version” seem to sell well reguardless of quality.

  9. Arnulf says:

    “Modern results: fast food and pornography.”

    Yes! That sums it about up.. I think. 8)

    We’ll go extinct, and the Osamas, Bushs, Putins will overtake this world. They’ll breed like rabbits and finally start to conquer the solar system, the milky way, the universe… either a civilization will go bust because it’s stroking its own pleasure center without reproducing.

    Or it will become the most sophisticated species ever.

    Ah.. that reminds me of my youth when I was an avid SF reader. It’s like re-living the reading of The Mote in God’s Eye by Niven/Pournelle or The Gentle Giants from Ganymede again.

  10. Will Tomas says:

    It’s not just GTA that’s British but the Total War series as well. Not the biggest games in strategy necessarily (C&C probably outsells it) but (objectively) one of the most important strategy series ever made, and (subjectively) the best.

    I would probably put the Sims or WoW above GTA as the biggest game in the world at the moment. GTA is up there, though.

  11. Ben Abraham says:

    All those edge guys were bleeding Doomsayers! We’re all going to be destroyed by a Malthusian Catastrophe, but it’s OK cause if humanity doesn’t survive, it’s made a new environment for *other* things to evolve in, like Chernobyl is now the new Cockroach Las Vegas or something.

    Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside doesn’t it.

    Also, Count me /out/ from being one of those “dead-serious super-parents who congratulate each other on surviving not just the Bomb, but the Xbox.” Sounds dreadful boring. I think i’ll go play EverQuest now and evolve up into my Brainstem, TOODLE PIP!

  12. Balthazar says:

    About the tax break thing…

    I’m a French game design student, and I find the measure very positive. If you read the article, you find that tax breaks are only granted to projects who have some kind of artistic or moral value. This is a very important point that is generally misunderstood (yeah, some french films are pompous crap, but then some hollywood ones are idiot fodder…).

    For example: Ubisoft. Its Montreal studio enjoys unconditional tax breaks from Quebec => Assassin’s Creed, Rainbow Six & Splinter Cell. You can’t say these games try very hard at being something new (and don’t get me started on sequels!)

    For small and big development companies based in France, this is truly excellent news. Indies will have an easier time developing and bigger companies (Ubisoft again) will be pushed to try something new. More indie games, more new IPs for AAAs, everyone wins.

    And remember, this doesn’t mean the French government is forcing you to go arty-farty… If you still want to make your militaristic teenage crap, go ahead, you just won’t get a tax break (but you’ll get more sales?).

    It just became 20% easier to try out new stuff IMHO…

  13. Chris Evans says:

    Ah was hoping my murmurings on a possible Red Alert 3 were going to feature…ah well :P

    The French tax break is good I think as long as the French gov’t don’t try to enforce their idea of ‘art’ onto the developers. If they can continue to do what they do best then I will have no worries :)

  14. Dracko says:

    Actually, it does: How do you define artistic or moral value? Who defines it? (That’s a trick question because the answer is the French government.)

    Also, the French government has already stated this does not apply to simulations, whatever the Hell that means. Like, what the Hell do they know?

    How you go from that to “militaristic teenage crap”, I don’t know. You sure you’re not a Famille de France member? Or a public servant?

    Making tax breaks exclusive to specific, ill-defined and state-influenced criteria is hardly going to stimulate things in any interesting direction. I mean, who are you to tell people that Assassin’s Creed, Rainbow Six and Splinter Cell aren’t as worthy or innovative as any other title? I may not think so, Hell, I don’t care for most of those titles – though I’ll easily credit anyone who says that they are trying new things, cause they are – but that hardly gives me any authority whatsoever to decide whether they deserve public funding or not.

    Hell, if it’s my tax money, I should be the one to decide. I didn’t pay to encourage shit cinema and I certainly wouldn’t want to encourage neutered games, because that’s exactly what you’ll get. Indies will not get funding for doing what they want, they’ll get it for meeting certain bollocks conditions.

    Rather, I propose the radical concept of purchasing what I like! But that’s a different discussion entirely.

    Chris: The French government has been forcing itself on French cinema and arts since those tax breaks popped up. Why would it be any different with a new medium they’re as hesitant about as everyone else?

  15. Chris Evans says:

    Dracko – well if that is as you say and the French gov’t has forced itself on other art forms (I will take your word for it) then yea this could be bad for the French games industry.

    Great games often come out of freedom of expression and freedom for the developer to do what they feel is best for the game. Most things that limit the developer are bad

  16. Balthazar says:

    Dracko – Okay, so would you say tax cuts are actually a BAD thing? Remember, they are OPTIONAL… either you get one, and in that case you just have to pay LESS TAXES to the government, or you don’t get it, and nothing changes.

    Your “if it’s my tax money” is a very easy way to complain. The government doesn’t literally give money to certain developers (I can’t say this doesn’t happen in film, the government actually gives money to people who want to make movies… does that happen where you live?), it just asks less money from them.

    Is it about your money or theirs then?

    As for the artistic or moral content of a game, I think you’re being pessimistic with the government’s intentions. Okay, maybe they want to force content on us, but they want to spur the growth of the industry in the country above all.

    What I want to stress is that this measure is not mandatory, nor forced on everyone’s throats, and not coming out directly off the taxpayer’s pocket.

    PS: French people actually LIKE most french films… If they weren’t made on your tax money, why should you care?

  17. Leeks! says:

    So – If Dwarf Fortress is inkblot and NBA 40K (Or whatever–in the future, basketball is war) represents arts-and-crafts design, what would Valve be, with their ‘you-can-have-it-when-we’re-done-and-not-before’ approach? To me, it seems as though if they aren’t the exception to the rule, their ethos does combine elements of both.

  18. fluffy bunny says:

    How someone can spin this into a bad thing is beyond me. This isn’t any different than government grants – okay, they give money straight out instead of tax benefits, but the end result is the same – and the end result is good for developers and good for gamers.

    Let’s be honest here, the government isn’t forcing anyone to apply for tax benefits, just as the Nordic governments aren’t forcing anyone to apply for grants (eg. through the Nordic Game Program). If you want to make a game without any outside interference, you can do that, just like before. So where’s the problem?

    I for one am happy that governments around the world are realizing that they should support their games industry. As a gamer, this means I can look forward to Dreamfall getting sequels (thanks in part to funding from the Norwegian government) and hopefully the spectacular-looking Metronome getting a publishing contract (as the devs have been given funding by the Nordic Game Program to continue work on the game independently), among other things. I like that.

  19. dhex says:

    what some people seem to be missing here is that this revenue will then have to come from somewhere else. it’s not like anyone’s going to be instituting tax relief package A and dropping spending package B. so were i a taxpayer in one of these countries i’d probably be a bit pissed. we’re not talking about a remotely vital industry here, even. even in that case, either build a viable business model or get fucked – agribusiness, i look in your general direction.

    hell, i’m not very hot on the city of new york giving breaks to every tom, dick and harry with a video camera either; it’s a terrible fucking inconvenience if you have to get anywhere and does very little for the economy of new york city. even taking into account the local production studios in LIC and elsewhere, the fact that these breaks were sold as economically stimulating is fairly ridiculous.

    it’s a great way to keep the mayor’s office of film and tv in business, however.

  20. Andrew Doull says:

    Re: The Fermi Paradox. I ended up writing a short story based around Eve Online and this idea which just got narrowly rejected from Interzone’s November email intake. I’m trying to get it published elsewhere – but it rocks, and if I get too many more rejections I might just have to put it online.

  21. Jonathan says:

    About taxbreaks and goverment sponsorships.
    A Matter of Life and Death was goverment funded.
    Suck on that Dracko you goddamn liberal.

  22. WanderingTaoist says:

    On tax breaks: I hate them in principle, they spoil the market behavior. Yes, I’m a gamer, and there are French games I adore (the first and second Rayman, Beyond Good and Evil), but why should anybody who doesn’t give rat’s ass about games pay for them with their taxes is beyond me. Moreover, as has been stated, French government doesn’t support them because they are games, but because they are French.

    The same attitude made French cinematography a stinking cesspool with occasional shiny moment. Why? Because enterpreneurial risk is paid for by the government, therefore you don’t have to care about whether people will like it or not – if it blows, you still get a large part of your investment back. Which basically means that yes, with government support there will be more games from France, but it also means that there will be more shitty games from France. How this will benefit gamers is beyond me.

  23. Jonathan says:

    Well over a million marched down the street to say how much they didn’t want a war. But we’re still paying hundreds of millions, if not tens of billions, on that.
    Also I don’t really care about sports so I oppose how much they’re spending on the olympics.
    Also I don’t have children but that doesn’t stop my hard earned student loans being spent on the working class teenager’s bling.
    But I do like Duchy original biscuits so support the royal family getting an alowance.
    I do like having electricity and not being shot by those damned working classes so support power stations and the filth.

    You seem to overestimate how much the goverment is going to put into games. You can’t talk about big publishers overwhelming and dominating an industry and then complain when something steps in to lift the little guys up.

    Also, stop reading 1984 and Deus Ex. Just because something is goverment funded doesn’t mean it’s the result of hidden machinations put in place by the facists in their palaces or the Illuminati in the shadows.

  24. Thomas Lawrence says:

    Blarp. Never mind, I’m an idiot.

  25. James says:

    What a wonderfully depressing outlook on reality those Edge fellows have. It brings to mind, as mentioned in another comment, of the folks with the sandwich boards and cowbells, screaming ‘The end is nigh’ to anyone who will listen.

    But is it depressing because it’s somewhat plausible? I haven’t quite made up my mind on that yet, but this kind of thing tends to kick me right into paranoia.

  26. Pace says:

    Well, he’s got some points, like how the pious sector, especially Mormons, are outbreeding the crap out of the rest of us contraceptive using infidels here in the US. The rest of it seems a tad alarmist though, he seems to be implying that our vastly enhanced leisure activities (such as video games) will cause us to become terminal couch potatoes. He also uses the example of psychoactive drugs, which to me is the best example of what he refers to as “disappearing up our own brainstems”, but if heroin can’t bring down civilization, can little old video games? I think most people can identify problem behavior and avoid it. (and I think he’d have been better off leaving out the whole discussion of aliens and the Fermi paradox though, he had enough to say about humans without that angle.) ..Hmm, this seems a bit tangential to the usual Peggle and TB vs. RT fare…

  27. dhex says:

    malthusians are always depressing. and silly!

    think of it as a secular replacement for religious apocalypse. it makes more sense that way, and carries a similar level of guilt over the very fact of existence.

    Just because something is goverment funded doesn’t mean it’s the result of hidden machinations put in place by the facists in their palaces or the Illuminati in the shadows.

    that’s just what they want you to believe.

    on a serious note, it would be very interesting to see who exactly was lobbying for this change. and then of course to follow up in a year or two and see what kind of correlation between lobbying and funding we find. i’m willing to be it’ll be strong.