The Sunday Papers


Sundays are for trying to motivate your parent’s ancient PC into working properly, so you can compile a list of the fine (mostly) games related reading from across the week, while trying to resist linking to some piece of pop music, all in time so you can catch your train. Yes. Yes.



  1. Hogofwar says:

    Any more news on portal 2?

    • Veret says:

      GameInformer has been providing a steady trickle of glimpses into the game on their Portal 2 page.

      But to answer your question…no, there is not.

  2. kwyjibo says:

    Well, it’s good for Tom Bissell’s piece that no one reads the fucking Observer in print anyway, other than a few sandal wearing pacifists.

    It was one of the best pieces of games writing I’d read in absolutely ages.

    • Weylund says:

      Really? It was all right – certainly well written, he’s great with language – but I feel as if I’ve read too many of these “I spent years blindly playing video games and taking drugs” pieces in the past six months to connect with it on any meaningful level. It’s like reading child actor memoirs. Bloody apathetic gamers, I’ve no sympathy at all.

      My primary thought while reading it was, “Where did he get all that money from?”

    • TeeJay says:

      I wondered whether he really did spend years and years playing the same GTA game again and again, or whether that was just a fictional “device” for the sake of the article (ie to emphasise repetition / obsession / addiction in his own behaviour and to allow an analysis of a single in-game character).

      I also kept asking myself “why isn’t this guy out clubbing / drinking / womanising” and “is this guy depressed, broken-hearted, alienated etc”? Also “what was he actually *doing* in New York, Las Vegas, Italy and Estonia?

    • Schmung says:

      My primary thought while reading it was, “Where did he get all that money from?” <- This. I can certainly how a drug fuelled gaming marathon could happen, but for the staggering amount of hassle and cost involved.

  3. Shadrach says:

    Emily’s music reminds me of Erik Satie’s work, lovely and sad at the same time.

  4. Lewis says:

    Strikes me that the past week has been filled with more astonishing games writing than any other week I can remember.

  5. Flowerpot Wang says:

    Games writing! Yay!

    It’s been a crazy few months for games, to say the least.

    This is bad because I have a 20,000 word dissertation to write.

    • Mr_Day says:

      If the dissertation goes as well as that Air Pressure run through, you are sorted.

      A very enjoyable read.

  6. Auspex says:

    Should “Coke” be capitalised when referring to cocaine?
    (Especially when bearing in mind that “The Coca-Cola Company” are notoriously litigious)

    I would suggest it shouldn’t be but I’m not entirely sure…

    • Auspex says:

      I realise that (most probably) nobody cares about this but me but the Guardian style guide suggests that it should not be capitalised.

      link to

    • Lambchops says:

      Since I’m all for looking for distractions at the moment I was skimming bits of that guide and found it enjoyable snarky. I feel much better about life now that I know that people who think the phrase “on the cusp of” is a clever way of saying “about to” are “sadly mistaken.”

      I’m watching you now RPS and shall call you out if I see it! You have been warned.

    • Bowlby says:

      I think “coke” (cocaine) is a common noun and, therefore, uses lower capitalisation whereas “Coke” (Coca-Cola) is a proper noun and, hence, capitalised.

      Also, cheers, Lambchops, for forcing me to look up the meaning of “cusp”. I’m always glad to reduce my chances of looking like an idiot in normal conversation. :)

    • MWoody says:

      Bad Guardian, bad! The Oxford comma is NEVER optional. Yes, it doesn’t render ALL sentences immediately unreadable in its absence, but switching between using and omitting causes confusion in and of itself.

    • Clovis says:

      I’m pretty sure the AP style guide says to only use the Oxford Comma if it is needed to clarify the sentence. I like it myself, so it annoys me that American newspapers and magazines don’t use it all the time. I guess it doesn’t matter much though.

      Why would you lie about how much coal you have? Why would you lie about something dumb like that?

    • Spectre-7 says:

      Hmmmm… a quick glance at a dictionary for cusp gives, “7. A point that marks the beginning of a change: on the cusp of a new era.

      I’m significantly more likely to trust a random dictionary on lexicographic matters than I am any newspaper’s style guide.

    • Auspex says:

      @Spectre 7. My thought on that matter is that a (decent) dictionary will tell you what is technically correct, whereas a (decent) style guide will tell you stuff that is correct but also “good English”.

      There are some terrible dictionaries about (especially online) but the Guardian style guide is excellent and also fun to read.

  7. Lambchops says:

    Lots of good reading this week.
    Escort missions are indeed usually pretty rubbish. I agree with Tom that I will care about NPC’s if it’s optional to keep them alive. Barney and the scientists in Half Life being a prime example. Then I’ll do everything in my power to ensure they don’t get harmed. However forcing me to protect them doesn’t help me connect; rather it reminds me that they are an AI, who all to often is prone to get themselves killed in the most supid fashion imaginable. I know it’s been gone over a million times already but ti’s always worth mentioning how clever Portal was in turning the cliches of the escort mission on their head and managing to make you care about an inanimate object than you do for the human characters you are forced to shepherd around in other games.

    • Nick says:

      Yeah, I saved (in so far as it was possible) every single scientist and barney in Half Life.

    • FhnuZoag says:

      The thing with Escort missions is that just occassionally, it works. And the ones that work are interesting enough for developers to give it a try. Standard examples:
      Resident Evil 4
      Freespace 2 (for those unconvinced, essentially every mission in the game is an escort mission, only your AI friend is a giant spaceship)

      I’m not really convinced that it’s an insoluble problem.

    • Lambchops says:

      Hence my qualifier of usually pretty rubbish. I definitely agree with you about the games you listed there (with the exception of Ico as I never had a PS2, it’s one of the few games that made me want one)..

      i’d also say the Maw was another example (helped by the fact that occasionally instead of dragging him around it also transformed into a giant steed with laser eyes!). The combination of it being a cute free willed destructive monster and the tactile connection by using the leash to control him for the most part made it a pleasure to drag him around and start caring about the little guy.

    • sinister agent says:

      Can’t really add anything to this. I do agree with Zoag on Freespace – in fact, I was thinking more of wing commander, or to be honest, any camparably space-y fight-y game. Those are often literally escort missions, and they tend to be more workable as you can see that the capship isn’t just a stupid sitting AI duck, but is merely vulnerable by design, as its sheer size means all it can do is man the turrets and hope for the best when trouble comes along.

      It’s still annoying when they die, but often it’s pretty much your own fault, and it’s also more tolerable to get a ‘game over’ because your carrier – the only thing keeping you from being stranded light years away from the nearest habitable planet – is trashed than it is to get a game over because some idiot hacker stepped on a grenade. Plus both Freespace and WC often didn’t fail you outright for screwing up any mission – fail your escort and often you’d just have a harder time in the next couple of missions.

  8. Dinger says:

    He’s wrong about Half-Life 2. Half-Life 2 has escort missions, they just don’t involve escorting NPCs you’re supposed to care about. Episode 1 had that relay race to the train station, where the resistance folks could be slaughtered in huge numbers, as long as you made it from A to B and back four or five times; Episode 2 had the gnome achievement, optional, sure, but definitely escort. For that matter, the final attack in Ep. 2 could be considered an escort mission (escort the bombs to their target).

  9. JuJuCam says:

    For some reason I missed Air Supply the first time around and the introductory note on Simon Wang’s article coloured my expectations just a leeetle bit, making me think “somehow this ends in the [REDACTED]” all the way through it. And knowing that possibly changed my reaction to the ending, although I did get that one first.

    Anyway here in Australia *OMGSPOILER*cutting*omg* had considerable media attention up until a few years ago so that was my immediate interpretation. I’ve known two people who did it, one of whom is still a close personal friend, and I haven’t actually talked to her about it since I noticed. I feel like kind of a dick for not bringing it up and trying to help but… well what do you do?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Yeah, cutting’s been a big thing in the UK too. I was quite surprised to see that a few people didn’t register it in the original thread.


  10. Dinger says:

    and violence in video games: the advantages of a “meta-analysis” are that you don’t need money, time or skills to conduct your own research, you can claim much larger samples, you can distort the interpretation far more, and later authors will cite you rather than the studies themselves, so your academic citation count goes up while the experimentalists’ citation count goes down. If you make an outrageous conclusion, even better: your view gets discussed by far more people, and you get to point to your citation count as proof of your “importance”.

    The perfect storm, of course, is when you reach conclusions that are very dear to one vocal sector of society and you do so by completely abusing the evidence and the scientific method. That way, everybody talks about you.

    Even the academic system is skewed in favor of sensationalist tabloid-style studies.

    • Lambchops says:

      Of course that sort of sensationalism does you no real favours. Sure you can maybe impress someone in another field but when it comes down to it and a good half of your citations are somebody giving your paper a mauling (or for particularly controversial conclusions perhaps even editorials highlighting the perhaps questionable nature of the work) it’s not going to help advance your career or your agenda. Though it worringly true that a layperson could be easily won over by a large citation count and a seemingly all encompassing analysis; without looking at the statistical accuracy or possible bias in the work.

      Unless you get proven right by somebody else in the future. Though in this particular case that is very unlikely.

    • Dinger says:

      Lambchops, when academics maul you for your questionable methods and agenda, you’re practicallz guaranteed a sweet gig at a conservative think-tank.

    • M says:

      In fairness, meta-analyses are used well in many areas of science, but they do need responsible authors.

  11. Clovis says:

    I loved the “Thedret the Exaggerator” article that was linked at the bottom of Tom Francis’ Escort Mission article. I love glitches like that.

    The closes thing I’ve done to that was to get the preacher in Fallout 3 to walk around preaching and waving his arms because he couldn’t reach the podium.

    • sinister agent says:

      My personal favourite is fiercely contested, but it has to go to the mobster’s wife in Hitman Blood Money, who calmly led me from the pool to her bedroom and attempted to seduce me … while on fire. Arms silently flailing the whole while, and everything. It was both amusing and moderately disturbing.

    • JuJuCam says:

      I’ve never had an escort mission glitch to my memory, but the most memorable glitch in general I’ve seen was in Jedi Academy. During a lightsabre battle (I believe it was an end level boss) I somehow managed to sever my enemies sabre arm without killing him. Of course, the AI didn’t account for this possibility, which led to me laughing my guts out for several minutes as he jumped around the room flailing his dismembered stump at me. Impossible not to think “It’s just a flesh wound!”

  12. Ginger Yellow says:

    Pipettes go DISCO

    Hmmm. It’s not bad, but it’s no “Pull Shapes”.

  13. JuJuCam says:

    “What Colour is My Hero?”

    Given free choice, I must confess the most common archetype I design for myself is a redheaded Caucasian female. Pale complexion, slight freckles if the option exists. And I won’t lie to you, that’s a fairly accurate description of my girlfriend since she died her hair vibrant red. If I design a male I tend to try to match my own likeness, but I’m not that attached to that image being in game, so my men vary quite a bit. But if there are clown makeup options they’re definitely going on. I’m not kidding. Saints Row 2 was the most fun I’ve had in years because I had a cockney clown wreaking havoc.

    I don’t know, I don’t actually think the eye-candy element is the reason for it, at least not for my benefit. I think it’s more that I’m just tired of male action heroes, so I give the game world a strong and realistic female action hero to admire. But I’m not the type of gamer that lives his character’s life, I’m the type that directs it. I’m happy to play a female Sheperd because that’s not me. That’s Sheperd. Sheperd does things that JuJu does not do. And to be honest I don’t really get the mindset of people who do live in the game, and wear their avatar as some sort of virtual suit for interaction with the virtual world.

    • Heliocentric says:

      I end up being the ugliest person i can. I mean truely wretched and I’m not just talking about maximum face style freaks. These people are just monumentally unattractive. The effect wears off after 15 hours and they end up looking normal to me. But when friends see my characters and wilco tango foxtrot i know i’ve done well.

    • Lambchops says:

      @ JuJu

      I’m exactly the same when it comes to character creation (except I favour a short haired brunette over a redhead). My reasoning is much the same. Unless there’s a sudden run of games featuring strong female leads (pretty unlikely considering the last one I can remember was Dreamfall) then I’m very unlikely to feel the urge to play as a male first time through.

    • Robomutt says:

      Pale complexion, slight freckles if the option exists. And I won’t lie to you, that’s a fairly accurate description of my girlfriend since she died

      You spell that word “D-Y-E-D”

      Honestly, I had such an emotional U-turn reading that sentence! Don’t do that to me.

    • sinister agent says:

      I’m with Heliocentric on this one. Well, I vary, but sometimes uglying your character up is great fun. I managed to win several fights on one of EA’s Fight Nights (christ knows which one, or indeed cares) by making a boxer so obscenely ugly and funny-looking that people were simply too distracted by his tiny, freakish face stapled onto a comically fat, short body (which was so short that many fighters actually had trouble hitting him), with manky bright purple hair down to his shoulders swinging freely as he jigged awkwardly about the ring. Yes, Gary Mincer was quite the force to be reckoned with.

    • Vitamin Powered says:


      That got me too. I had the briefest flash of JuJuCam’s girlfriend, tragically torn away years before her time, immortalised as Mass Effect’s Shepherd.

  14. Arathain says:

    The Frank Lantz article makes me think of Bloodbowl, a game which will either cure you forever of Gamblers’ Fallacy or lodge it so firmly in your thinking that you’ll not get it out while you’re playing. Successful players tend to reverse the fallacy a bit, and assume any given roll will fail, especially after a run of successes.

    Incidentally, RPS FUMBBL group (only the most active and, dare I say, friendliest gaming group on the forum) would always welcome new players. Rookie team tournament starting soon!

  15. drewski says:

    I dislike the way Tom Hatfield discards any interpretation of race in videogames that he doesn’t approve of as being by “unskilled” writers. Maybe they just want to write a different character than you think they should, Tom.

    • Dante says:

      I think that the idea that there is no such thing as objectively bad writing, merely subjectively different writing, is the main reason that stories in games are generally so poor.

    • drewski says:

      That’s a complete straw man – I’m not saying anything of the sort. Of course there is bad writing, but not all stereotypes, racial or otherwise, are examples of that.

    • Weylund says:

      The Sharpe novels use stereotypes everywhere (some racial, some classist, many national). They’re often used in the negative – people are described as being outside the expected stereotype, and it’s left at that. It’s not that Cornwell is a poor writer – although an argument could be made for his being somewhat formulaic – it’s that he knows well enough not to waste words on describing someone when simply stating that the person does or doesn’t conform to the expected stereotype works even better.

      I’d say it’s not “unskilled” writers, but writers using a broad brush for one reason or another.

  16. l1ddl3monkey says:

    “They’re just videogames, right?” is superb. If all gamers were this eloquent and capable of communication then there would be far less stigma attached to the past time.

  17. Bowl of Snakes says:

    They forget to mention that Fallout 3 is a giant dog escort mission. It is kind of cool though, we don’t hold dog AI to the same standard as human AI, I mean, all you really need is some ‘follow player, chase squirrel, growl at monster’ code.

    • Robomutt says:

      I’ve only just got Torchlight, and I am so happy to have a dog in it. I’m in the middle of writing something on this very subject…

    • Vinraith says:

      @Bowl of Snakes

      It doesn’t have to be, and for a lot of people it isn’t. I know for my part that out of a couple hundred hours of playing FO3 I’ve had Dogmeat with me for perhaps 5 of them. He’s too much of a detection risk and too hard to keep alive, even if I can’t help but feel affection for him. When I find him I tend to send him to Vault 101 and then periodically visit him, but I almost never actually bring him with me into harm’s way.

    • Clovis says:

      I never even found Dog Meat. I guess I knew I was supposed to find a dog, but it didn’t really matter to me much. Oh well.

    • Bullwinkle says:

      I always leave Dogmeat outside my house in Megaton, with his dog bowl full of food.

  18. MuscleHorse says:

    Not the Pipettes, Kieron. Shurely?

    The comic books scare has often been compared to the current attitude towards games – though, for one reason or another, it seems that our own version has dragged out far longer. Maybe this is through games being a far more visible and popular medium?

  19. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    To the RPS hivemind, to everyone who read the “They’re Just Videogames, Right?”, my sincere thanks.

    I wasn’t expecting any of it – the reception, the comments on my blog, even the linkage – but I think the effect it’s had on me is akin to the “Gaming Made Me” panel RPS made some moons ago: people coming together to remember how videogaming influenced their lives in some way.

    Kinda lost for words, actually, so a big Thank You to everyone :’)

    • drewski says:

      I liked it.

      I think we’re getting to the point where videogames aren’t *just* videogames – they’re cultural devices in their own right. Much of what you wrote could be inserted into a piece about my life, only with music taking the place of videogames as the emotional lodestone.

      So I wouldn’t say videogames are *just* videogames any more than I would say music is *just* music.

  20. Quinns says:

    My counterpoint to Tom’s article on escort missions would be Resident Evil 4. Ashley is a wonder of game design.

  21. Gwyn says:

    I tried to read that Guardian piece, but goodness me it’s bad. I’m four paragraphs in and I’m not sure how much more pedestrian, over-syllabled navel-gazing I can take.

  22. A-Scale says:

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but I really haven’t found anything of interest in the last few weeks’ Papers. Has anyone else felt left out a bit?

    • Gwyn says:

      It’s a mood thing, I think. I’m having trouble feigning interest in a lot of today’s Papers, but I can remember a time a few years ago when I would have gladly sank my teeth into pieces about seafront arcades and savoured the shared cultural nostalgia. I guess Mr. Gillen is in that place right now, and I think we can agree that it’s a nice place to be.

  23. Bret says:

    Regarding music.

    Has Gillen ever not failed?

    Because I can’t think of any successes in that field at the moment.

    • drewski says:

      If you define failure as a result, then set out to achieve that result, have you failed, or succeeded?

    • Vinraith says:


      He has, in fact “succeeded” on a few occasions. The two most recent, according to ye olde search engine:

      link to
      link to

      So, on average, we’re looking at 1 success and 51 failures per year. You have to appreciate that kind of persistence in the face of massive adversity.

    • Lambchops says:

      @ Vinraith

      The most impressive success here was you managing to actually find what you wanted with ye olde search engine!

  24. Gpig says:

    In that comic I didn’t realize that the background was blue silhouettes of people dancing with a red wall for a while. I felt stupid for thinking it was blood dripping down a blue wall.

  25. Laps3d says:

    “Which is another of the numbers I bet Tim Ingham wishes he was able to make the audience on that chatshow listen to. Here Lewis interviews Ingham about the whole event.”


    TL;DR: We were trolled? From the response from the TV media unit or whoever… trolled hard, and they will troll us again.

    And they call gamers antisocial?

    Mobilise the army of mechanical 4chan monkeys at typewriters powered by rechargable AA batteries!


  26. kavika says:

    I think English is defined by usage, so if people use it that way, it becomes a new meaning for it. Something about it not being a dead language, perhaps.

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