The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for recovery. We all know this. They are a day set aside for systems to reboot, for noise to return to signal, and for the overheated summer brains of gamers to cool off and slow down. So let’s sit down with a delicious glass of iced tea, a whimsical eyebrow raise, and an eye for ideas from the gaming press. What have they been talking about?

  • Whatever happened to Jason Rohrer’s Minecraft experiment, Chainworld? Wired found out: “On Twitter, the anonymous winner of the eBay auction had been posting cryptic Go-related koans about preventing “uninteresting stalemates.” In an online chat with Wired, Positional Super Ko revealed only that she is a woman living in a major US city, and that her goal was “to restore a sense of mystery to the whole thing.” She wouldn’t say whether she planned to send the stick to Jane McGonigal after she was done playing.”
  • Tristan Donovan’s account of the exploits of arthrogryposis-afflicted gamer Randy Fitzgerald is worth reading. Here’s a bit: “Fitzgerald plays games with his face by using a customised controller held to its right-hand side by a stand that screws into his wheelchair. As his H2O team mates set up Fitzgerald’s controller, the referee confirmed to the other team that yes, the guy in the wheelchair would be playing. Sensing an early victory, H2O’s rivals smirked and teased… “We ended up just destroying them,” recalls Fitzgerald.”
  • The Escapist is running a breakdown of the development of Amnesia by developer Thomas Grip. There seem to have been a few such pieces now, but this one looks like the definitive post mortem. Here’s a except about how the Humble Indie Bundle pretty much saved the project: “The previous year we had gotten involved with the “Humble Indie Bundle,” a pay-what-you-want game package where part of the earnings went to charity. I personally was pretty skeptical about the business model, but since we would only contribute our old title Penumbra: Overture, it felt like a good experiment to try out. The package eventually launched at the start of May 2010 and it turned out more successful than anyone would have dared to imagine. We took advantage of the boost in PR and offered Penumbra: Black Plague and Requiem at a lowered price to anyone who had bought the bundle. We also lowered the pre-order price for Amnesia by 50%, helping us to finally reach our pre-order goals. When the bundle offer was over, we had more than enough to sustain development until release and a few months beyond.”
  • Has the greed around microtransactions damaged their usefulness? Well, that’s what I was asking myself when I read this piece called The Hidden Evil Of The Microtransaction, which doesn’t quite manage to articulate an explanation of its headline. But nearly. Nice try.
  • One piece this week that does manage to address its headline is Kirk Hamilton’s Why Video Games with Silent Heroes Had the Best Soundtracks. Here’s a bit: “I remember the voice-acting turning point. It was in the early 1990’s. The adventure games I was playing started to include a spoken audio track on their CD-ROM versions, giving those of us with a SoundBlaster the option to finally hear our favorite characters speak. The first game I played that had this option was Sam & Max Hit The Road. Bill Farmer and Nick Jameson’s performances were perfectly charming, but I remember being turned off nonetheless. I wanted to imagine the characters’ voices for myself, I wanted to slowly make my way through each environment, figuring out puzzles while accompanied only by the goofy musical score.” It’s an interesting point, and one which reminds me that I keep on wondering whether Bioshock Infinite’s chatty protagonist is really going to be as slick as he seems in those demos.
  • Chick ‘N’ Stu asks: Where is the games industry’s John Peel? I reply: We’re trying, dude. We’re really fucking trying.
  • Pitchfork’s Poptimist column offers up Pokemon as a theory for understanding music fandom: “The more I investigated the Pokémon subculture, the more I felt at home. Every fandom, it seems, has the same kind of divisions and patterns, and the arguments on Pokémon boards echoed ones I’d had about rock and pop for years. For a start, there’s a division between traditionalists and novelty-seekers– you don’t have to look hard to find fans who lament the franchise’s decline and prefer the original 151 pocket monsters to any later iterations. But more interesting were the claims and counter-claims of elitism. There’s a fault line in Pokémon fandom between “competitive battling” and more casual styles of play, centered on a website called Smogon, where hardcore Pokémon players strategize, compare notes, and ultimately sort the monsters into “tiers” based on how often members use them competitively.”
  • VG247 talk about why Steam need to come clean on the EA thing: “Valve needs to speak out. It needs to communicate what its intentions are towards Origin and other distribution services, and its intention regarding traditional platforms. Because as it stands, it might not come come through this smelling of roses, and the one-time demon of PC gaming should know better than anyone else how fickle public opinion is.”
  • Meer interviewed Mode 7’s lead about the trials and tribulations of Frozen Synapse, over on Here’s a bit about the fear PC gamers are starting to develop about buying outside Steam: “I think Cliffski [Positech’s Cliff Harris] did a post about this, the saturation of games – it sort of doesn’t matter what price your game is, they want something they know is good, is clearly broadcasting waves of goodness at them in a very obvious and simplistic manner, because of the amount of stuff that they have, especially with a lot of PC games being incredibly deep. So many of these people are having to leave games that they love in order to experiment with something else, and they feel a kind of strong trepidation about that. So unless there’s some mark of quality coming across I think they find that quite worrying, stepping outside the comfortable fold of games they know.” This is something I have been thinking about a lot, but have no good answers just yet. Hmm.
  • EDGE examines why we like killing in games. The suggestions are not quite in line with my own theory, which is that all games are actually based on a satisfaction which akin to that of tidying up. (All games are tidying up, in essence.) In any given game scenario you are essentially cleaning a level – of loot, of baddies, of quests – even if that cleaning is disguised as messy destruction. It’s *exactly* the same fix as a housewife cleaning up a room, but is “killing” only because, for cultural reasons, the demographic for videogames is young and male, we mask it as something acceptably macho: tidying messy alive people away into nice, neat dead people. Badass! (And tidy.)
  • Speaking of killing… One man’s hunt to kill all 200 pigeons in GTA 4. So far, he’s got one.
  • Quinns has started his boardgame video review project. You can watch episode one here.
  • Comrade Pearson from PC Gamer linked me to his girlfriend’s account of getting robbed in Africa, and the resulting mob justice. Crikey. Dark.

Music this week is twofold. Firstly this is my usual Bandcamp-derived ambient fare, but the story behind (see the biog blurb) it is unusual and worth reading, which can’t be said for most of the albums I dig up. The other is this video of an old Blues master I’ve linked to before. But it’s really quite something.


  1. Sohum says:

    Oh god.

    You’ve made me realise just how much I would play a game based on tidying up a room.

    Add in exotic locales, achievements, and rpg elements, and I would play the hell out of it.

  2. MartinNr5 says:

    Jim: Do you have any tips for game design related content, preferably blogs by game designers? I have a few in my RSS reader but I’m always looking for more. :)

    • BooleanBob says:

      Off the top of my head… is great, but hardly ever updates.

      Sirlin has this strange, wilful writing style which makes his stuff alternate from impossibly grating to incredibly compelling, often in the same paragraph. He takes fighting games very seriously. He’s also the guy, in complete seriousness, who declared that chess was a terrible game, and that he would set about fixing it by making chess 2.

      I can’t remember who this is written by but it’s called ‘A Games Design Blog’ so I guess it’s relevant to your interests. Oh, but I’ve just noticed that the last update was June 30th 2010, not 2011, so seemingly it’s a bit, well, not alive any more.

    • Cerzi says:

      I’ve recently got into hunting developers down on Google+, and once you’ve found a few you can often find a bunch more by checking out who’s in their circles. Not all of them post a lot, but some are really worth following.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Just read

    • MartinNr5 says:

      Thanks for the suggestions.

      I’m not using Google+ so that’s a no-go. And I don’t think I’d have a problem finding game designers, the problem is finding the ones that A) share their experience and B) are worth listening to. :)

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:


      I was thinking about recommending that, but it’s become such a mixed bag now. Really hard to find the good stuff.

    • Urthman says:

      It’s more programming and engine creation than game design, but this series by Shamus Young is very interesting and well written and, if you’re a fan of big procedurally generated open worlds, is likely to get your mouth watering and saying, I WANT THIS GAME!

      link to

    • chwynn says:


    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Extra Credits is annoying and very shallow. If it were a series of blog essays or a podcast in a normal voice, I’d tune in, though.

    • Rii says:

      Extra Credits is great. Some episodes are too lightweight, most are pitched at the right level.

    • Thants says:

      I tried watching Extra Credits but the weird, unnecessary chipmunk-filter put me off completely.

      Extra Punctuation can be good.

  3. The Sentinel says:


    Who do this be?

    • Savage Henry says:

      Some guy and his mate aping Consolevania, but with boardgames and softy sassenach accents.

      (This is not a bad thing.)

      (Apart from the accents.)

    • LionsPhil says:

      Foolish reply system, what is this doing here?

  4. reticulate says:

    One of the reasons Alyx mostly works as a chatty sidekick in HL2 is because Valve playtested the bejesus out of the player’s interactions with her. If Irrational are willing to put in the time, Elizabeth could be a huge part of the Bioshock Infinite experience.

    • The Sentinel says:


    • The Sentinel says:

      You mean the Alyx I wanted very desperately to kill in Half-Life 2 (and episodes) because she kept chaining me to her slow-ass, vulnerable personage, thereby ruining my exploration of City 17 (or wherever)? That Alyx? I’ve rarely hated a character more, or a developer for not recognising what was so brilliant about their first game – the fast-placed, flowing levels that YOU explored. Bioshock Be Wary.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who wanted to shoot her.

    • Bilbo says:

      @The Sentinel

      Because naturally, what we want from Valve is for them to rehash the same idea over and over again. Trying something new is bad. Thank goodness we have plenty of studios who are brave enough to microwave the same crap and serve it to us year on year!

    • Kadayi says:

      @The Sentinel

      Alternatively perhaps you’re simply a sociopath?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Alyx was an awful NPC in a long line of awful FPS NPCs. They spend all that work setting up dramatic tension that I must GO LIFT, STOP BREEN, and then she holds up proceedings to talk about her feelings. Priorities, damnit. World to save here.

      I was quite glad when in Ep2 when you’ve just got the car she’ll sit in it while you’re outside. You can then gravy-gun the thing off the broken bridge and take her with it.

      Unfortunately if you just leave her behind somewhere she reappears during the next dark tunnel level transition, like some kind of horror movie stalker.

      And as for her habit of blocking doorways when you’re trying to retreat from heavy fire…her one saving grace is that she’s not as bad as when you have a whole herd of idiotic resistance fighters doing the same thing.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      You obviously got quite invested in this Alyx person.

    • Kaira- says:

      So, wait, let’s get this straight. Trying something ‘new’ for the sake of being new is better than doing something old because it’s been tested and works well?

      E: maybe this was a bit stupid to say. At least in this form. Carry on.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Yes, basically. We’d be all living in caves if people who believe the opposite were in charge.


    • Bilbo says:

      @Kaira The funny thing is, arguably yes, yes it is. However Valve didn’t even do it for the sake of being different – they did it because they were trying to improve the design of game – and for some, it worked.

    • Acorino says:

      I liked Alyx, but in Episode 2 she catered to the player’s ego a little too much. I guess that’s because Valve wanted to turn this into a love story between Alyx and Gordon, but…it’s just weird.
      But I think a chatty companion makes the world feel more alive.

    • Calabi says:

      @Bilbo Having a rubbish linear, non responsive AI is not doing something new.

    • LionsPhil says:

      You obviously got quite irritated in this Alyx person.

      Fixed that for you. The best bits of HL2, by far, were the ones where Gordon was on his own. There are cases where working with an NPC improves the game—Alyx giving sniper cover while you act as bait was generally an interesting dynamic. But I hope some of the Ep3 development time is being spent fixing her being detrimental to the atmosphere and gameplay Valve otherwise work so hard on. As an experiment, I consider her a failed one (and not even a very daring one—FPSes have had chatty, obstructive NPCs before). Good try, now move on and push a different boundary.

      (If pushing her off a cliff is “invested”, what is setting up a turret to gun down the resistance fighters, by the way?)

    • The Sentinel says:

      @Bilbo – I agree: it was an experiment that didn’t work for everybody. Worthwhile in certain respects, taking Kieron’s point, yes, but Valve lost/ejected too much of what made HL1 fabulous. I don’t know why they felt they had to turn HL2 into a soap-opera: I was quite happy not knowing much about the people I met in HL1 beyond their vague stereotyping. And as I said, they ruined the pace of the game by introducing all these character elements and dialogues. Half-Life 1 was a fantasy about saving the world, not flirting with it’s inhabitants or listening to monologues about their political views.

      @Kadayi – I wouldn’t rule it out…

    • Acorino says:

      Didn’t know Gordon was able to discuss anything or flirt with anyone.
      Alyx might as well fall in love with a floating piece of rock.

    • MiniTrue says:

      I’ve spent the last seven years think up new and imaginative ways to tear Alyx to shreds. I just hate her. I still haven’t seen how she’s some kind of “independent woman”. If anything, she’s dependent on Gordon to get anything done! I really did not like her, and have been using G-Mod as a “find new and creative ways to kill Alyx Vance” simulator ever since.

      As a side note, I tend to only become invested in characters when I have a choice to do so. Fall From Grace, for example, I became incredibly invested in, because canonically nothing stated that TNO HAD to to fall in love with her (indeed, it strongly implied a romance with Annah, a girl for whom I had no affection).

      I hope they let us kill Elizabeth in Infinite…or at least, abandon her to her own fate.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Now that’s just fucking creepy.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I’m really shocked. I hate npcs in games and kill them whenever possible. Yet I really, really liked Alyx. In fact I would go so far as to say she was the first npc in a game I didn’t hate. Before HL2 I don’t think any game had me not hate all of the characters in the game. Same goes for Kleiner and the other npcs. These seemed like genuine and nice people(to me)!

      Edit- actually no, I really liked a certain someone in Planescape too, but it was a trick dagnabbit!

    • metalangel says:

      Elizabeth’s already all but put me off Infinite. I don’t care how many kinds of idiot this makes me. It could be the most exciting adventure ever, ruined by the irritating company you’re forced to spend it in.

      Alyx… likewise. I couldn’t understand the love for her, and grew sick of the sight of her stupid smirking face on what seemed like every other page of PC Gamer. Spunky yet vulnerable? World weary, tough yet sensitive and tortured? How about overused? Interfering? She’s more like that sodding dog companion in Fable (which is shit in a fight, only is there to point out objects to you, yet you are obliged to take it) than a genuinely useful partner. She’s not FemShep, Shodan, or Kerrigan.

      I was more determined to care for my faceless squad of soldiers in ArmA: British Forces, because I knew they (in a game sense) wouldn’t be replaced and I wanted them (from my character’s view) to survive and go home, not die in the dust on the other side of the world. They were useful, they helped, they stayed out of my way and I could depend on them. Alyx & co. constantly interfered, watched me get killed and offered useless advice about reloading.

    • Bilbo says:

      @Calabi No, it isn’t, and if that was the full extent of what Alyx represents I’d have to agree with you. Unfortunately you’re deliberately ignoring all the excellent, non-AI related work that went into Alyx to make your point though, and that’s just a waste of everybody’s time.

      On a side note, I don’t think Alyx is a particularly interesting character either. Or that her use as a storytelling aid is particularly elegant or effective. But I am at least glad they try new things, and presumably they leveraged all that careful animation work into other projects (hint: they did).

      When we muddy the waters further with Elizabeth and Bioshock Infinite, we reach an interesting talking point, because for me the other prevalent method of injecting story into an FPS is the tried-and-true “audio diary” system, and Bioshock 1 and 2 used said system quite successfully, so it’s interesting to see for Infinite they’ve changed tack and tried the “sidekick” thing. Also, the presence of an NPC sidekick can be seen mirrored in the modern Call of Duty games (albeit, often a whole squad of them, but usually only one doing the clunky exposition delivery job)

    • Kadayi says:


      You ‘hate’ an artificial construct? Seek therapy.

    • metalangel says:

      @Kadayi: You tedious troll. The point of any work of fiction is to provoke some kind of emotional response, that’s why we don’t sit all day reading dictionaries and instruction manuals.

    • Rii says:

      On the one hand, Kadayi is clearly jostling for attention here. On the other, some of the sentiments expressed here regarding Alyx and Elizabeth go beyond reasonable criticism or expressions of player frustration to the point of being, yes, creepy. And of course one can’t help but notice that these characters are female. I hope there’s nothing in that.

    • Kadayi says:


      I’m being quite sincere. Star Trek is a work of fiction, but I don’t believe many people have much time for the man who spends his days writing fan fiction about killing & torturing Uhura either.


      I dare say the two are somehow related. But yeah, creepy unrepentant misogynists in this comments section to put it bluntly. I can’t say I like having to use that word as it’s often misapplied, but I think in this case it fits the bill nicely.

    • Gadriel says:

      Disliking a character and/or their implementation? Totally fine, that’s a valid opinion.
      Using Garry’s Mod as a creative torture simulator for said character to express your hatred for them? Borderline distressing behaviour.

      I hope that what was really meant is just that she’s the go-to fall guy/guinea pig in GMod. That’s considerably less creepy than playing GMod expressly to invent ways to torture a specific character.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I’m with Gadriel.


    • Jim Rossignol says:


      Also with the creepy.

    • sebmojo says:

      You ‘hate’ an artificial construct? Seek therapy.

      Did anyone else hear that in the HEV suit voice? Empathy… levels … dropping. Seek… psychiatric… attention.

    • Kadayi says:



      Some people definitely need to get their HEV suits recharged around here for sure. That’s a fact.

    • LionsPhil says:

      And of course one can’t help but notice that these characters are female

      I draw the honourable gentlemen’s (and the tedious troll Kadayi’s) attention to the mixed-gender cast of rebellion fighters being introduced to a nice Combine turret in my screenshot. This has bugger-all to do with misogyny.

    • Bilbo says:

      You’re right. One not-very-interesting screenshot definitely solves matters.

      “Creepy” doesn’t necessarily mean “We’re phoning the flying squad”, by the by – just that the tone is making people pretty uncomfortable and the sentiment is hard to sympathise with

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      While we’re on the subject of being creepy, I love the HEV suit and want to marry her. Is that wierd?

      All she needs is some D batteries and she protects me from bullets! Fire! Radioactive waste! Falling from high up!

      But every time I propose she just says “Power….critical…” and shuts down. :|

    • Bilbo says:

      I’ve got you trumped – i live in the hope of one day bedding 90s era Jennifer Aniston, 80s era Bonnie Bedelia or 70s era Connie Booth. I’m a time travel Lothario.

      On second thoughts that’s a lot more conventional than the forbidden love between one man and his fictional hazardous environment suit

    • LionsPhil says:

      TsunamiWombat thinks he’s in love, but it’s really just morphine addiction.

    • Kadayi says:


      Fairly sure we weren’t talking about your posts there phil. Pay attention in future.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Fairly sure Rii didn’t name names, smartarse.

    • Berzee says:

      To quote Gordon Freeman,


  5. BooleanBob says:

    Only tangentially gamish, but I found this from the Rev to be well worth a read this week.

  6. brog says:

    warning: The Mode7 interview is hidden behind some arbitrary login screen.

    • MartinNr5 says:

      Well, it’s not arbitrary as the site is meant to be for those that really are interested in games or are in the game industry.

      IMHO it does the job (compare to the clownboat that is Eurogamers comments section, once home to proud, caring, funny enthusiasts but now is almost as bad as Slashdot and Ars Technica).

      Take heed RPS community! Let us try our best to keep our community healthy as RPS conquers the world. Not an easy task but with compassion, care, intelligence and humour I’m sure we can do it.

      Sorry, got a bit distracted there.

    • iGark says:

      I saw that I had to make an account to read the story, so instead I just made an account to complain about it here.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Indeed. I don’t even want anything to do with a community so closed off you have to register just to read the articles.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Tried signing up as an indie developer, clicked “work in the industry”. Why not. I’m certainly not a freelancer.

      When signing up, please use your work email address. This will help us validate your account.

      Ahahahaha. No. I mean sure, I could give them a company email address. But then they also want not only my profession (pick just one!), but my specific job title.

      It’s 2011, and they’re clearly set up to cater to the very traditional games industry. Pass.

    • rayne117 says:

      I would love to join Neogaf but ohohoho, you can’t use a “free” email.

    • Kadayi says:


      TBH for all the industry elitism of Neogaf I wouldn’t say that their forums are all that in terms of exchange and dialogue from what I’ve seen.

    • Thants says:

      Having SEVENTEEN different, animating ads on a single screen doesn’t give the best impression either.

  7. thegooseking says:

    It’s *exactly* the same fix as a housewife cleaning up a room, but is “killing” only because, for cultural reasons, the demographic for videogames is young and male, we mask it as something acceptably macho: tidying messy alive people away into nice, neat dead people. Badass! (And tidy.)

    Well, no. It’s not killing just for cultural reasons (and, indeed, those cultural reasons seem to be wearing a bit thin). It’s killing for technological reasons, because killing is a fuck of a lot easier to implement than talking. Even the AI we use in our research, which has not been designed with fighting in mind at all, is a lot easier to coax into performing actions than it is to convince to have a proper conversation.

    And taking enjoyment in killing isn’t terribly macho. I have my own theory that we enjoy watching violence and enjoy watching dancing for precisely the same reasons (and sometimes the lines between the two are blurred, like in capoeira or kung-fu movies). It’s like we’ve evolved to take pleasure in watching people in motion. And the EDGE article sort of ties into that.

    That said, you also mentioned Claire (clarabelle), who got robbed in Africa and then told that they were going to kill the culprit. She’s actually a friend of mine. It was indeed a pretty scary thing to hear about. I couldn’t play Far Cry 2 for a week. Sometimes the violence gets a bit too real.

    • MadMatty says:

      @ OP : Agreed.
      Also i think that a game of team deathmatch, actually matches pretty well with a game of handball, mechanically speaking. The spreading out, covering each other, aiming and such.
      And also, if it was the tidying, what about the movies, TV, comics etc. which also focuses on killing?
      Killing or be killed, is a very exciting thing- its possibly the last thing you´ll ever do.
      I started playing Counterstrike before 9/11, yknow with the Rote Arme Fraction type terrorists…. i get mild nausea from modern warfare trailers.
      Personally i like killing in games, for that hollow feeling of power, we all know and love…. Ahhhh :)
      Nice article on that disabled gamer tho- i uttered a sigh of relief when i saw him in the video… goddam the dude was BAD.
      Hell, im having trouble with games both in Africa AND the middle east- usually go for WW2 shooters, or Russians Vs Americans or something.
      Current actions by the allies in the middle east are a sham.

    • Stochastic says:

      I’ve thought about this myself quite a bit. Jim, your “tidying up” theory intuitively makes a lot of sense. However, at least for competitive games, I think killing is so pervasive in games partially because it’s so mechanically convenient. One could play an FPS where instead of killing characters you “tag” them with darts, but killing is much more visually clear when a player has been “downed”. There is no ambiguity (assuming there aren’t lengthy death animations) as to whether a character has been “downed” or not. I think this is perhaps part of the reason why killing in games is so satisfying rather than because in reality we’re all a bunch of closet sociopaths. Killing is a very intuitive, cognitively parsimonious action and for that reason it is rewarding and conducive to fast-paced, strategic games that need to quickly and efficiently transmit game state information to the player (like competitive FPS’s or RPG’s).

  8. Red_Avatar says:

    I think the “tidying up” thing definitely works for me as to why i want to kill everything. It’s why I utterly HATE respawning because it kills that enjoyment and makes me feel like nothing I did worked. It’s like doing dishes and some twat adding more and more so you’re never done with them.

    • MadMatty says:

      Yeah hmmm… maybe there is something to it, it could be a few different things mixed together.
      Its human nature, to put the world around them into some sort of order i once heard.

    • RagingLion says:

      That many games are ultimately about creating that same feeling you get from tidying up really clicks for me – I think there’s a lot of deep truth in that. (Relatedly, I tidied my room properly for the first time in a while and I now feel awesome about it.)

    • AsubstanceD says:

      Like when I used to KP in a restaurant. NO MORE PLATES AND PANS! please…

    • OJ287 says:

      It can’t just be about tidying though, I think its more about order. Like in SimCity or Dwarf Fortress its about taming the wild and putting all the dwarfs in the best place for their skills.

      The likes of IL2 Sturmovik and Pro Evo don’t fit into this theory at all.

  9. MuscleHorse says:

    Voice acting has a lot to answer for.
    Nine times out of ten I prefer a silent protagonist, especially in a FPS. Your experiences within a game are best narrated within your head, not through a poorly written, cheap voice work. Poor voicework generally, not just through your avatar, can really ruin a game. Bethesda games especially stand out in my memory, for seeming as if they were trying to make me uninstall their work through their ear numbingly bad actors. We’ll never see particularly verboise games in the mainstream, such as Planescape, again because the ‘novel’ style of writing in games doesn’t lend itself to be spoken and, far be it from me to invoke this age-old alarmist cliché, games are dumbed down from what they used to be.

    • MuscleHorse says:

      Apologies for poor grammar, typing one-handed while trying to entertain infant son with the other. Look at the fingers!

    • Acorino says:

      So, basically, the argument is: If you can’t write, don’t write at all?
      If you can’t record proper voicework, don’t do it at all?

      Well, I partly agree. Man, I wish FPS would stop trying to tell their terrible stories and instead focus on kickass gameplay again. Either do it right or don’t do it at all!

    • Gadriel says:

      Games want to be everything all at once. The biggest strength of the medium over others is that it’s all of the others combined at once and more besides. Unfortunately, a lot of game designers don’t understand what that really means. They see that games can be an audiovisual experience AND an interactive one and so they try to have you be watching a movie and playing a game at the same time. That doesn’t work well (generally speaking). What makes games good in that regard is when a game designer touches all of our entertainment needs in one product without having them clash with each other.
      A game with no voiced dialogue is fine when the soundtrack is worth listening to, as an example. Trying to jam a great soundtrack in with well-written voiced dialogue in a game with engaging, fun gameplay that has “cinematic experiences” using next-generation rendering technology to display unique and attractive art in levels that have perfect flow and challenge is absurd. Almost no one has the money to achieve such a game without some part of it suffering, usually greatly.

      Games should stop trying to be everything at once and just do a few things really well.

    • frozenfisherman says:

      Sun Tzu once said:

      “It is better to have one sharp blade than seven blunt ones”

  10. WPUN says:

    …The Hidden Evil Of The Microtransaction, which doesn’t quite manage to articulate an explanation of its headline. But nearly. Nice try.

    Thank you! If you are going to call out Evil – you need to name names. It was a puff piece.

    • The Sentinel says:

      A puff piece written in a bizarre and horrifying marketing language, too! Surely a base perversion of natural English!

    • Shuck says:

      The article doesn’t really go into enough depth in any respect really – defining the evil, the means of avoiding that evil, etc. We really need more discussion of the issues as it’s far, far too easy to fall into these particular traps as a designer of online games these days.

  11. bluebottle says:

    I miss John Peel :(

    • Shadowcat says:

      Do you think he spent half his life fending off references to Steed and Emma? Because, you know, that’s the first thing that springs to mind.

    • qrter says:

      I have never ever made that connection. I’m guessing because John Peel himself is a bit of an iconic figure for me.

    • DrGonzo says:

      He was very quiet in person. Used to go to the footy with him as we had season tickets together. We would all sit there cheering on Ipswich, he would sit quietly with his radio listening to the Liverpool game.

  12. Nero says:

    Speaking of Amnesia. I just read the article named “13 Scariest Games of This Generation” on IGN and Amnesia was nowhere to be seen on the list. Gears of War was 13 though.. imagine that.. Well, at least Penumbra: Black Plague was #4 and S.T.A.L.K.E.R was #2 which was nice.

    • Wonderclutch says:

      This article is dated October 29 2008. Just saying.

    • Nero says:

      Oh balls.

    • Shuck says:

      I guess that shows that qualifying a list as being of a “generation” is guaranteed to make that list quickly obsolete…

  13. Bilbo says:

    There’s no doubt that game designers take themselves far too seriously. The Chain World thing reads like a study in preten…tious…ness… pretence… pretension… whatever. It’s just minecraft on a pendrive with some hokey rules system written over the top. Get a job!

    • sebmojo says:

      And out of the universe of possible pen drives with minecraft worlds and instructions, would it come near the bottom? The top? The middle? How would you rate its quality?

  14. Robin says:

    “She wouldn’t say whether she planned to send the stick to Jane McGonigal after she was done playing.”

    Let’s hope not.

  15. Kadayi says:

    Not too sure about the 24/7 article when it opens with ‘Steam’s collusion with territorial price fixing and censorship can be swallowed’ yet it’s been well established for years that 3rd party publishers set the pricing themselves, not Valve you have to wonder how much effort the writer put into researching the piece. Lazy gaming Journalism in full effect.

    • CMaster says:

      Publishers set the prices.
      Valve both assist with regional pricing and recommend unfair prices (the $1 = €1 stuff)

    • Kadayi says:

      I’m fairly sure Publishers set the pricing for their products across the board CMaster, especially given they are the ones who know what they are charging retail in various countries, not Valve. But still I’m open to some actual valid data on the subject, preferably from Valve or a major publisher if you have it.

    • zeroskill says:

      Oh so you think its fair that, for example, european tier 1 countries have to pay only 50 euros for Portal 2 while making more then twice as much money for the same work like european tier 2 countries? I love how people dont take into consideration that not everybody lives in rich countries like Germany or France where paychecks are extremly higher then the US or tier 2 european countries, not to mention coutnries with even lower standards. Everything seems so easy in your little happy worlds, and you are talking about been treated unfairly. What a joke.
      And yes, Valve only makes prices for their own games, they have no saying in pricing of other developers. Futhermore Valve is one of the few that accually takes regional pricing into consideration, unlike EA and especially Activision, where people from poor countries have to pay the same amount of money as people from rich countries.

    • Orija says:

      Kadayi, nope, it’s STEAM that recommends prices to publishers, who then set the prices accordingly. STEAM does a lot of shady stuff but that usually gets overlooked because of the convenience it provides.

    • jalf says:

      It’s certainly not “well established”, and it’s a liiittle bit ironic to see someone complaining of “too little effort” being put into the post, when you present something as “well established” without providing any sources, and even though it contradicts what several developers have said.
      Anyway, just a fun little question:
      how do you think the big Steam sales happen? Do you seriously think Steam goes around asking every single publisher for permission to sell their games at a 75% discount? That would make it impossible for Valve to pull off.
      No, Valve has a lot of freedom in setting the final price. I’ve no doubt they make a lot of different deals, with a lot of different terms and conditions depending on which publisher they’re dealing with, and I’m sure there are games where they’re obliged to stick with a specific price point, but in general? No, Steam sets the final price.

      (For what it’s worth, I’ve seen people “in the know” (some publishers, some indies) claim completely contradictory things. So pretending that there’s *one* simple scheme that everyone who wants a game on Steam must follow is naive in the extreme. Valve obviously tries to get as much pricing freedom as possible, and their frequent mega-sales are a pretty strong indication that most of the time, they get it. Most of the time, they can adjust the price as they please.

    • Kadayi says:

      link to

      ‘Ship your game at retail and online. With Steamworks, you decide where and how it will be sold’.

    • Pointless Puppies says:


      Who said anything about Valve individually asking each developer for participation in a sale? Did it ever occur to you that it’s the developers who go to Valve to participate in these? You know, considering how most of the time developers/publishers make far more money during these sales than any other time, making them WANT to participate? But no, you go ahead and suggest the far more illogical possibility for no real reason.

      If you honestly believe that Valve arbitrarily sets the price of all games themselves I have no choice but to laugh in your face.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Pointless Puppies

      Yeah it’s not like Valve can group email their regular publisher contacts and say ‘we’re planning a 10 day summer sale in a month or so would you be interested in participating? and if so which titles/packages would you be prepared to have discounts on? Would you also be interested in having a special day specific promotion as well?’ That would be completely impossible.

  16. mbp says:

    That Gamasutra piece on microtransacrtions promises much but says nothing at all. Happily there is a much much better piece by Extra Credit over at the Escapist:
    link to

    That short video could well become the definitive guide for good and bad micro-transactions. It really deserves a linky.

  17. Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

    “It’s *exactly* the same fix as a housewife cleaning up a room” – Generally RPS rails against sexism but then they post this bullshit with a straight face? Because HOUSEWIVES just love cleaning. it is what they are born to do and live for. While everyone else finds housework a chore stay at home moms just love it! It’s what they crave! It’s an addiction! Hell shall we just go ahead and say that women belong in the kitchen, barefoot making food and cleaning the stove for their manly manfolk!=?

    • Nick says:

      well, they have to do something in between drinking wine and watching Jeremy Kyle.

    • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

      For the record the contents of that post are inspired by what I my said when she read that blurb over my shoulder. I then garnished it with liberal helpings of hyperbole. I do agree that she has valid point though.

      She also mentioned that Jim clearly hasn’t had much experience living with a woman other than his mother but there is no way I am personally endorsing that opinion.

    • The Sentinel says:

      What’s funny about this issue of women cleaning is that when pregnant mothers start vigorously scrubbing and polishing around the time of the expected birth date, absolutely no-one pops up to tell them they’re betraying the sisterhood and men should be doing it equally (or more likely, for them): they get knowing winks and told “Ah well, baby’s on it’s way”.

      If Jim has fallen foul of anything it’s in selecting a classical view of family life that is arguably out of date, or at least too old-fashioned and loaded with too much anti-feminist connotations to bring up in general conversation, despite the reality of life still being very much as described in the large percentage of two-parent homes. Most of the women I know with children post on Facebook about their chores – usually about how much they hate them but that’s perfectly normal – we all hate the boring tedious stuff, but it’s not wrong to say that stay-at-home wives will do a bit of cleaning now and again. (One of said wives also posts about her ongoing taxidermy experiments, which is awesome. Doesn’t stop her being a housewife.)

      Now, if your lady thinks she’s found a major battle that the sisterhood should know about, and if she thinks she can infer from this one sentence that Jim believes all women should be chained to kitchen sinks then by all means, get her to put her complaints in writing. I’d be interested to see how many of her objections survive the time it takes to construct a rational letter of complaint, or if she’s just gone off on one for some reason. Perhaps jim was just being cheeky? A wee scally, jack the lad? Perhaps he wrote it in something of a hurry? We don’t know. Until we do, please ask your partner to chill out a bit? Run her a candle-lit bath: she’ll appreciate that.

    • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

      Meh, the next time your wife has finished cleaning your shit stains out of the toilet I dare you to tell her that what she has just done is the equivalent of you clearing out a map in your favourite FPS.

      I’m just saying…

    • The Sentinel says:

      I would. Happily. Because I’d understand that this was not a literal comparison to make but a metaphorical one. Creating order from chaos. I’d pitch it as a joke, knowing it would annoy her and I’d enjoy being all smug as I explained my thinking to her and watching her fume. She’d probably still hit me, of course, to keep me on my toes, but sometimes that’s fun, too. :)

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      What’s wrong with being sexy?

    • Nick says:

      I clean in my household, its quite satisfying. Maybe thats just me though..

      Jim – it can be a burden at times.

    • Wraggles says:

      Indeed I would happily look to her cleaning, then pointedly remark that despite the difficulty of the work, did she not enjoy the end result of a clean toilet? No longer would she need to walk into the toilet and have both her nose and eyes assaulted by the stains therein, a state of peace or relief has been reached.

      I would then liken this to the relief that one feels when one clears an FPS map of all enemies, or manages to collect all the treasures in an area.

      It’s at this point she would turn to me and say, Yes, dear I can see your point, but don’t you disrupt said relief when you start a new level….which, come to think of it, is comparable to it being your turn to clean the loo next week.

      At which point I would say; only if this was a multiplayer game, then she would hit me.

    • Berzee says:

      I read the Sunday Papers yesterday and I knew that there would be a “Jim hates women” post when I got back, because of the housewives remark. =)

      The offending part is of course the word “housewives” and anything you put after it will be a heinous crime. “Housewives are nice people” — O RLY U JUST THINK LIFE IS LIKE LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.

      This is my theory. It is true.

    • JackShandy says:

      You know, on reflection I think it’s ok to suggest that housewives clean things.

  18. sigma83 says:

    Who is John Peel?

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      He established the Metropolitan Police Service whilst serving as Minister for Home Truths, hence the rozzers popular nickname of “Johnnie Peeler”. Amazingly, he also found the time to be a part-time disc jockey.

    • Nick says:

      He was lovely.

  19. SirKicksalot says:

    How can someone write an article about music in games with silent protagonists without mentioning Trent Reznor’s Quake OST?

  20. CMaster says:

    @Kadayi – Valve do the $1 = €1 on their own products, and the fact that a lot of indies have followed the same “conversion” numbers somewhat suggests they are defaults unless overidden. Equally, Valve set the regions – NA, UK, Euro Tier 1, Euro Tier 2 etc. Publishers cannot create their own pricing regions as far as I know either.

  21. qrter says:

    The dubious aspect to that “Why Valve needs to come clean on Steam’s EA-aversion” article is that it sort of suggests that EA has come clean – which, as far as I know, they haven’t either.

    Sure, they say it’s pretty much all down to Valve, but they do not give the exact reason why Valve would dump EA.

    Don’t misunderstand me, I’d be interested to know what actually happened, but I don’t see why Valve is supposed to ‘come clean’ when EA hasn’t.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Fairly sure they have actually, it was made crystal clear that Crytek chose Direct2Drive to handle in-game DLC purchasing and Steam kicked them off for it.

      What’s unclear is why Valve allow Games for Windows Live to to the same thing.

  22. Zwebbie says:

    On EDGE’s Why we kill: I find that in the last few years (after my teens), I’ve grown to dislike all the violence in games more and more. It’s not that I don’t play violent games anymore, but I play them in spite of being violent, rather than because they’re violent. I enjoy the quick thinking, the first person perspective, the mobility, and sometimes even the aiming, but not the blood or the explosions or the crumpling bodies. When I look at a BioShock Infinite trailer I can only lament that they’re taken such an interesting theme as a World’s Fair and made it into something about killing people.

    Am I the only one?

    • Acorino says:

      No. I feel the FPS genre isn’t a very good choice for a story-based experience of this type and that they limit themselves with the need for shooty bang bang.
      It’s disappointing for me and I don’t understand why they hold on to this part of the heritage.

    • The Sentinel says:

      No, you’re not the only one. It’s why amnesia is so refreshing to play, and in many ways games like Deus Ex, Thief, the penumbra games or Vampire Bloodlines. Hell, even Minecraft (partly why I’m not so whipped up about Terraria – without the killing that game is puddle deep). Playing to do anything other than constantly kill – or even avoid killing completely – is like being dunked in a refreshing alpine lake. Killing is just so prevalent and simplistic. Shoot x at y until y dies. Easiest thing in the world to code into a game, which is why we see so much of it.

    • Newblade says:

      I felt the same way while playing Aquaria. Such a beautiful world, yet the main mean of interaction is killing things.

    • Rii says:

      It’s more than just being easy to code and make ‘fun’. It’s also a safe investment. You’re asking a publisher to invest AAA budgets realising fantastic worlds that manifest the various sociopolitical ideas that the games are ultimately about, the exploration of such things being about as familiar to the average gamer as starvation. How do you do it? You wrap it in a shooter, and an ‘accessible’ one at that. Unfortunately, it’s the price of realising the vision.

  23. aircool says:

    I remember playing the point ‘n’ click Star Trek game. It had voice overs on the CDROM, although the ships ‘computer’ voice was all cheesy and ro-bot-ic sounding, as per the original series. Amusingly ironic I thought.

  24. InternetBatman says:

    EA hasn’t made any substantive claims, just PR speak and allegations. Neither of them have yet told the story, and I doubt they will given the ever-present possibility of litigation. It’s disingenuous to say Valve is the only one that needs to “come clean.”

  25. Mike says:

    “Where is the games’ industry’s ” can sod off. Where’s the music industry’s Rock, Paper, Shotgun? Where’s the film industry’s Steam? Why are these questions relevant or interesting?

    • The Hammer says:

      Brilliantly said.

    • qrter says:

      Yeah, these kind of questions are quite silly. Such ‘institutions’ tend to evolve naturally, or they don’t, it’s generally not something you can will into existence.

      Whatever did people do before John Peel trundled along, or before Citizen Kane was produced?

    • Deano2099 says:

      Am I the only one thinking:

      Where’s the film industry’s Steam?

      is a huge relevant and interesting question?

    • Mike says:

      It’s interesting but not worth discussing. Steam is of its time and industry, and you can’t exactly replicate that. It’s even more true for a person – Peel was a unique individual. The article mentions general “stuff” about someone who could champion indie developers whilst also promoting mainstream stuff. Which… well, firstly, sounds a shit of a lot like RPS. But secondly, it’s not something you manufacture, is it? It was a coming together of a lot of stuff in music, combined with this one individual finding himself in the right place at the right time.

      It’s not like gaming is broken, or Jim is sitting on his arse at home with the ability to become John Peel but too lazy to do it. I dunno, this brand of question seemed to grow out of “IS IT ART THOUGH?” and seems equally irritating and churn-y.

    • Dinger says:

      Well, the author’s response in the comments makes it pretty clear why RPS doesn’t count: RPS is PC-only, and the now for indie designers is in consoles. Hey, I wish all the best to the fine middleware developers working on the Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, iPhone and Android platforms. But it’s now pretty evident that indie games can rarely be a success on those platforms without the support of the gatekeepers; in that sense, indie developers are kinda like the bands on the “alternative” labels of the big labels in the ’90s: Good luck, some of you will do artistically interesting work, some of you will get rich, but your artistic or economic success are in the hands of the big label, and no robo-John Peel can help or hinder you.

      So, yes, if you exclude PCs from the equation, there can be no John Peels in videogames. Just as if you exclude independent labels from his repertoire, John Peel becomes merely a DJ with decent taste.

    • Mike says:

      I can’t disagree enough. Consoles are not ‘the now’ for indie developers at all – the development community, the bulk of the tools and the most accessible audience are all online still.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I wouldn’t mind Gaming’s Jeremy Paxman

    • Ex Lion Tamer says:

      @Dinger: Perfectly said.

      I was all set on posting something nasty after reading the author’s bio (which suggests he really wants a massively influential critic to just bestow success and acclaim on him from the sky), but you’ve gone and posted a fair-minded response that doesn’t engage in that kind of childish ad hominem.

    • RobF says:

      Nah, Stew is lovely. He’s just thinking out loud. My response to him is still the same, mind. “Where’s the music industry’s Rob Fearon?”. Important people need to know. Or something.

      The article is more interesting to me as John Peel AS MYTH rather than John Peel as PERSON. I sorta think were he alive, it’d give John a giggle, y’know? Rather than being the bloke who played whatever he wanted to play, often without having heard them before, sometimes at the wrong speed (and often, no-one being able to tell the difference) to a deliberate taste-maker extraordinaire – I can see that raising a smile or two.

      Thing is, ask a question like that and everyone who writes about games and really gives a shit and can write about what they choose to write about will throw their hands up and say “me”. So I suspect, we don’t need A John Peel in this intertits age.

    • Jake says:

      The film industry’s Steam – maybe Netflix or Hulu which are essentially digital download services with a subscription – physically having a film permanently on your HDD is less relevant when you can download or stream them faster than games, or the digital download sections of the Apple store, Amazon store and others – these are more like Steam but less polished in general.

      In fact I prefer the Netflix system, renting games would likely suit me better for the most part. This is likely the next stage, when broadband speeds get fast enough or if that play-over-internet service thing that’s name I can’t remember takes off.

    • Gadriel says:

      Why do we NEED a John Peel? He was a notable figure to be sure, but the music industry existed before him and it continues to exist without. Artists are still discovered and become rich and famous without his influence. Even “indie” artists (though really, they’re all indie at some point).
      The games industry has grown pretty steadily for a long time without such a figure. The suggestion that indie games can’t get publicity because the mainstream games media doesn’t pay them much attention is absurd. Some of them have even become monstrous successes without some legendary media figure handing them free publicity. That’s the free market, man. Theoretically, if something is good, people will buy it. Sure, sleeper hits and cult favourites exist, but they exist on both sides of the equation. There are plenty of brilliant indie games that never make it big just as there are plenty of mainstream studio titles that are well loved but never achieved great commercial success.

  26. MiniTrue says:

    More to the point: Who is gaming’s John Steed? Who is gaming’s Emma Peel?

    • Mike says:

      I always got that vibe from the Walker/Rossignol podcasts. John has great legs.

  27. Rakysh says:

    The pigeon man. You should pay him money to write stuff. He’s good.

    • Stochastic says:

      He’s got a very Quintin-esque style, no? He’s got that perfect mix of cheekiness, mocking self-awareness, wit, and ability to embrace the absurd.

    • sebmojo says:

      Yep, just read a bunch of his stuff – the Halo 3 bit is particularly good.

      x2 on the Quins analogy – RPS ATTEND! GUEST SPOT REQUEST!!

    • Burning Man says:

      MASSIVE RETRACTIVE EDIT: Bloody hell it’s part of the main article. *self slap*

  28. AsubstanceD says:

    If gaming is like cleaning, does that mean that RTS’ are actually games about building armies of sweeper vehicles to clean up the land….?

  29. Novotny says:

    I had completely forgotten about that song ‘Kicking Pigeons’, and was very pleased to be reminded. Cracking tune.

  30. Killer6 says:

    I think this was a pretty interesting article about SWTOR release date

  31. Tim Smith says:

    I remember when I was in the Sunday Papers.

    Good times. Good times.

    Sadly, nothing worth reading this week though.

  32. RadioactiveMan says:

    I looked through the thread for anyone talking about the Purse Robber/Mob Justice story, and didn’t find any discussion. So, here is my two cents on that:

    I feel like the author should not have interfered. The primary thoughts that I had after reading the blog entry were about the self-entitlement of the author and her friends and their willingness to impose Western morality on a local matter within a foreign culture. I feel like they made a unsafe decision by injecting themselves into a dangerous situation unnecessarily, and accomplished little by doing so. The author and her friends delayed mob justice for the moment, but I would expect that the thief would still recieve local justice in the near future- If not for this crime, than for another. Its not clear from the blog what the stance of the police was, but it does not sound like they were particularly appreciative of the author’s interference. I certainly do not think the author’s actions will make any lasting difference in the local culture.

    Everything about the blog entry bothers me, although it is difficult for me to articulate why. I suppose this peice reminds me of missionaries trying “save” other cultures and convert them to a different worldview. I am a Westerner, but I am disturbed by the desire some Westerners have to interfere with other cultures and impose their own attitudes and values. Yes, to Western eyes killing someone for stealing is extreme. But, maybe the locals have a good reason for imposing such harsh penalties. The author describes the locals as barely scrapping by, and so perhaps the local society requires an extreme penatly for stealing to preserve the quality of living for the majority.

    The author’s descriptions are kind of vague, and I don’t really have a good sense of what she may have experienced. I am sure it was traumatic, and I am sure that she reacted to an intense situation as best as she could. However, I do think that the author should not have gotten involved, and that she should rethink her rights, responsibilities, and best practices as a visitor to a foreign culture.

    EDIT: Re-reading the blog, my grievance is summed up by one part of the incident: When the locals laughed at the author and her friends and ignored their attempted interference, the author’s friend crafted a temporary solution to achieve their goals by throwing money at the problem. This is a suprisingly consicse depiction of the problem of Westerners in Africa.

    • Vile Vile Vilde says:

      I also found it troubling.

      Because I agree people should not interfere in other cultures, the same as a wildlife conservationist should not prevent a snake catching a mouse. But I also think killing – whatever the reason for that harshest of harsh punishments – is unjustified.


    • Calabi says:

      I agree with your summation. They were very stupid, I was waiting for the part where they were killed as well, which they were very close to ending up.

      Its all very us being superior to these people and trying to impose our high minded morals upon these people but its there community their society their rules.

    • Chris D says:

      I think that if you’re going to say that any idea of the punishment fitting the crime or the sanctity of life is a western construct and therefore not applicable in another culture then doesn’t that also go for any idea of non-interference? That’s a far less widely accepted standard.

      It seems to me that what they did accomplish was that on that day they saved a life. That’s not a small thing. Now maybe mob justice will eventually catch up with the thief but maybe not. Even if it does then those extra weeks or days still matter. Ultimately all any of us have is “not dead yet.”

      At worst they maybe reinforced the idea of interfering westerners. That’s not such a big deal. At best they saved a life showed mercy to someone who had wronged them and there’s no way to tell where the ripples from that might end. I’d take those odds any day.

    • Arglebargle says:

      You do what you do. You don’t change your nature because you have moved somewhere else.

      Obviously you should respect the cultures of the place you’re at. But…

      Oddly perhaps, this article made me think ‘This is why PVP doesn’t work’.

    • jaheira says:

      “Its all very us being superior to these people and trying to impose our high minded morals upon these people but its there community their society their rules.”

      If you think it’s not OK to beat someone to death for stealing a purse in England why does it suddenly become OK just because you have moved location several hundred miles south-east?

    • Durkonkell says:

      Sure, in principle perhaps you can say that one shouldn’t interfere in such a situation even if it means that a man is killed for what we would see as a minor offence.

      In practical terms though, we don’t live in a world where people are bludgeoned to death by mobs. If you were stolen from and pursued the thief, would you say “Go ahead and kill him, that’s fine”? If you watched him beaten and killed, would you say to yourself “It’s their way” and sleep well that night? I doubt that most would.

      Additionally, they didn’t just happen upon this in the street and decide to civilise the natives with their superior western morality. They were involved in the situation from the beginning, and had they chosen not to pursue the thief he may have escaped without injury. A belief (justified or not) that you were partly responsible for someone being killed can’t be an easy thing to live with.

      In short: It may be easy to criticise them for their high-handed presumption from across the internet, but another to actually make a conscious decision to allow someone to be killed for (as far as we are concerned) a minor wrong committed against us. I don’t think such criticism is fair.

    • BigJonno says:

      Wait, what? You shouldn’t attempt to save someone’s life because the locals are okay with killing? I’m sorry, that’s the most ridiculous opinion I’ve ever heard someone express. Ever. And I’ve heard people say that Quake 3 is better than Unreal Tournament. What compounds the complete and utter moral bankruptcy of that statement is the claim that preserving the sanctity of life is some kind of Western privilege thing. Just sit in your ivory tower and admonish people for preventing someone being beaten to death in front of them. Better that then taint their culture with out Western ideals, eh?

      Fuck that noise. Was it the most sensible thing to do? Hell no. Was it courageous and deserving of praise? Definitely.

    • Gadriel says:

      There’s certainly something to be said for avoiding interference in other cultures as a westerner. However, there is also something to be said for being an example. I don’t wish to suggest that Western culture is in some way superior to others, but there are certain aspects of “civilised” society that really should be spread globally. Mercy, justice, equality. These are pretty much universally beneficial things for a society (at least as far as human experience has taught us thus far).
      It’s been suggested that what made the Arab Spring possible was the Internet, for a few reasons. One was that it made organisation, communication and coordination easier. Another is that more so than ever before, everyone is on display. Anyone with a connection can go on the Internet and look at what life is like anywhere else in the world. It became harder to suppress the idea that there might be a better way to live.
      I see that post as being a little bit of that. Perhaps it’s arrogant of us in our privilege to suggest that mercy and justice should be societal tenets, but perhaps it might also be inspiring. Perhaps someone in that mob will say “You know, that Westerner lady was right, maybe we should do things differently.”
      Now, I was definitely bothered by the immediate go-to solution of throwing money at people to solve a problem. That’s what’s ruining efforts to bring progress to troubled societies.
      I’m probably going to catch it for this one.

      EDIT: @BigJonno I’m too moderate to put it that strongly, but I’m pretty firmly with you there. This isn’t a question of cultural conversion. We’re not talking about building a McDonald’s or suburbs or filling communities with billboards and Judeo-Christian worship centres. We’re talking about murder and mob justice. There’s pretty much no rational argument for mobs tearing apart would-be/alleged/maybe thieves in the street being a part of a culture or society that should be protected.

    • Vile Vile Vilde says:

      I am enjoying watching this discussion.

      As I said earlier, killing people should 100% be avoided.

    • BigJonno says:

      I got the impression that offering money was a final act of desperation as opposed to a go-to solution.

    • Rii says:


      Exactly. As someone who’s compromised his own mental health in the past railing against western and American imperialism, you (that’s the royal) can take that ‘their culture, their rules’ stuff and shove it up your ass. Respect for human life is not a ‘western’ conceit.

    • Gadriel says:

      @BigJonno: True, but it still tastes sour. They did what they had to do, it’s just extra ugly that the solution was convincing people to change their ways temporarily with the promise of money. What made it worse was that evidently those who agreed really only did it for the money, as they angrily came looking for it. It’s just the bit that strikes me as ugly and negatively influential.

    • thegooseking says:

      Westerners in Africa who are volunteering there to improve the standard of schooling in the area are characterised by “throwing money at the problem”?

      As I said earlier in the comments, she’s actually a friend of mine, so I’m hardly unbiased, but that doesn’t make any sense.

    • Gadriel says:

      @thegooseking: I don’t wish to make a general characterisation of them, or to downplay their efforts. I didn’t intend to suggest that they’re bad people or shouldn’t be there or shouldn’t do what they’re doing there. I didn’t even mean to criticise their handling of the situation. As I said, they did what they had to do in order to do what’s right. I meant to express how unfortunate it is that it came to that and how I feel that it’s the only part of their actions that should be avoided in general. It SHOULDN’T be the solution and it’s tragic that in that situation it was the only one.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Everything you said was fine, except this:

      That’s what’s ruining efforts to bring progress to troubled societies.

      Which is unspeakably moronic. Giving money to corrupt governments (which is the global problem) has not a single fucking thing to do with this isolated incident. Not. A. Fucking. Thing. And it’s unbelievably insulting to equate them.

    • Gadriel says:

      @TillEulenspiegel: I wasn’t equating it to feeding corrupt governments, that’s absurd. I was talking entirely about influencing morals and behaviour with money. That should be avoided. It’s admirable that those involved used it as a last resort. I have no criticism of the actions or behaviour of those involved. I only meant to express that it’s unfortunate that they had to resort to a course of action that reinforces negative behaviour. Yes, in this case they were influencing people towards morality with cash but teaching people that their morals, beliefs and values can be bought and sold with cash is what corrupts people in the first place.
      I didn’t say they’re bad evil people who are ruining everything because they paid some guys to help save someone’s life. I said it’s shitty that they had to pay some guys to save someone’s life and posited that it’s even more shitty because it might suggest to those guys that they should do whatever some Westerner says because there’ll be money in it. That’s bad and potentially works to undermine their efforts to build a stable society.

    • Deano2099 says:

      I read it as a very selfish story and one entirely understandable and can’t imagine most people would have done any different.

      Generally, I think westerners would just not interfere if a thief was being chased or attacked. But in this instance he took her bag. She could have stood there, left it, let him keep it and get away with it and not ended up in this situation. But instead she did what anyone would have did and screamed and her friends ran after him.

      She kicked off the whole situation. Not on purpose, but she did. And if that guy was to get killed because he nicked her bag, then she’s going to struggle to sleep at night. That’s something we, as westerners, are not really equipped to deal with. She’d know that if she’d just let him take her iPhone, he’d be alive. That’s heavy stuff.

      Yeah sure, the guy will likely steal from someone else and get killed at some point in the not too distant future. But it doesn’t matter, as it won’t be her fault.

      That situation wasn’t about western values or anything like that, it was about not being responsible for someone getting killed. We’d probably have all reacted that way, only difference being some of us might have backed down at a different point and opted to live with the consequences rather than stop it.

    • El Mariachi says:

      No one else dreams of having a homicidal mob at hand to unleash on one’s enemies? (Of course you get your comeuppance when it inevitably turns on you in an ironic twist, but until then…)

      Maybe I’m not right in the head, but I think in that situation I’d have let them kill the guy and thanked them afterwards.

  33. World One Two says:

    Oh Jim. I just had the worst day at work. The very worst. Then I come home to find my blog has had more hits in one day than it’s had in total since I started it a year and a half ago. You are the loveliest. Thank you.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Just wanted to drop in and and say your writing style is lovely.

      And how dare you accuse me for my hunger for gossip when you yourself hang around these Sunday Papers articles, eh? (Sunday Papers is like a gossip page, right?)

    • sebmojo says:

      Yes! Really very impressive. The Halo 3/Rum piece is great too, as is the Digger SIm reader review you did for Eurogamer.

    • World One Two says:

      Cheers chaps. Although, Raiyan: the Sunday Papers are clearly a chronicle of pertinent writing and a forum for gentlemanly discourse. Very few “CLINT HOCKING IN SIZE ZERO SHOCKER” headlines here.

  34. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    John Peel is apparently incredibly overrated given the praise in the article with a horribly milquetoast taste in music.

  35. Muzman says:

    Looking for John Peel is probably a mistake. It seems part of that desire to draw a creative parallel between rock (or music in general) and games. You see it with movie subcultures as well. They’re trying to bring RocknRoll to filmmaking, games etc. Trouble is they’re vastly different in the way people consume them and, perhaps more importantly, in the way they are made. Rock is so immediate. Yes there’s a lot of craft usually involved, but what’s new and adventurous captivating about it is usually gotten across almost instantly. Plus it’s portable.
    Games and so on are long winded, laborious things to make and generally require more commitment from the audience to get the best out of it.
    There’s not going to be any gaming Peel sessions. At least not that make anything really good.

    Sure there’s people riffing and experimenting and people can shine a light on that and that’s great. It’s just that music is far more fluid by its very nature. Turbulence on the edges can affect the centre much more quickly and readily. That immediacy makes it easier to introduce to people and to spread around as well as have an influence. So I think there’ll always be a much greater share of the over all audience that is curious and interested in ‘the new’ to begin with.
    The most RocknRoll area of gaming that I can think of is actually in casual and mobile games; easy access, give us your hook and your riff or get off.
    They can have a John Peel. The rest of gaming needs more of a Pauline Kael.

  36. thebigJ_A says:

    Hearing Quinn’s voice in the video has put me off reading his writing. Oh, to go back to the old days, when we could imagine our gaming journalists’ voices in our heads without it being ruined by their actual voices. Stupid SoundBlaster cards have ruined everything. No more vocal dialogue from writers! ;)

  37. Real Horrorshow says:

    Why We Kill was interesting if a bit lengthy for what is a very simple answer: humans are animals who are descended from the most ruthless, violent animals who were able to fuck and kill enough to pass on their genes. All humans have some kind of bloodlust. We just kill people in games now instead of watching it at the Colosseum.