The Sunday Papers

Sundays for Jim are for holidaying. You can easily imagine Jim’s holiday destinations. Him, backpack over-shoulder, wandering a desolate wasteland, poking at decaying iron superstructures or even sitting my a drying pool tainted with radioactive waste. He’s having the time of his life, wandering nonlinearly in a place where any sane being would just want out of. Meanwhile, I sit and arrange a reading list of (mainly) fine game-related readings that crossed my path across the week and try not to do the fucking obvious and link to a new Los Campesinos! record or something.

Failed.

182 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Gassalasca says:

    Welcome back, Mr Gillen.

  2. Anaphiel says:

    Wow, King of Dragon Pass… There’s a little-known gem of a game. Guess I know how I’ll be spending my Sunday.

    • terry says:

      Me too! *spends Sunday cursing iphones*

    • rei says:

      Every couple of years I get really excited about this game and play it compulsively for a while, yet stop before finishing. It’s probably my favorite game that I’ve never finished. I just get crushed by all those choices, I think.

      I have an android phone so I don’t have to revisit my failure at this time.

    • Mendrake says:

      I will probably buy it. I had not heard of it until yesterday, however, when I watched Grimith’s entire let’s play. looks fun, and I want to see how much of a total bastard I can be at it. he was relatively benevolent, which is odd considering his usual manner of play.

    • Eightball says:

      I got KoDP for my iphone today and played the hell out of it. But I’m finding it frustrating that I have so little control over things and there’s so much that can go wrong. I guess that’s part of the point/appeal, but I’ve been hopelessly crippled by more recent gaming (and traditional RTS/grand strategy games in particular). I used to think I’d be totally for a game that hid most of the mechanical numbers from me and used general/vague terms to describe things. Now I’m much less certain about the matter.

      I think I could be ok with opaque mechanics/statistics if there were less of them that I had to manage. There’s way too many deities to appease, quests to fail at, and funny names for me to remember. And then those fucking Duck Men murder all my weaponthanes. :(

    • Vinraith says:

      Ah KoDP. While they’re making versions for portable devices, would it be too much to ask for a slightly updated PC version that, say, runs in a window properly?

  3. Lambchops says:

    Who is this failure?

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      It’s that Doctor Who actor isn’t it?

    • Prime says:

      A coincidence that her character just left the show last night, and now ‘KG’ reappears giving us our weekly reads?

      I think not.

    • Koozer says:

      OH GREAT a spoiler when I least expect it. I haven’t got round to watching it yet…

    • jeremypeel says:

      Oh come on, **SPOILERS!**

      Even as I write that I realise that it’s an inadvertent Who reference and have to smile. But you have upset me a tad :(

    • Chris D says:

      I wouldn’t worry too much. If that’s the last we’ve seen of her I’ll eat my fez.

    • TigerMike74 says:

      Fezzes are cool…

    • Koozer says:

      Also: Tennant was overrated.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Spoiler, damnit! But a relieving one, like hearing my sore throat will clear up in a few days.

    • Prime says:

      Er…whoops. Sorry, everyone. Thoughtless of me! :(

      @Koozer. Agreed. Good actor: rubbish, irritating, annoying Doctor.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Andy_Panthro says:

    Via GameBanshee I saw this little delight about the Syndicate reboot:

    link to oxm.co.uk

    Not much of a convincing argument really.

    • Unaco says:

      Certainly a better argument than all the ones as to why it’s going to be a terrible, generic, cynical cash in.

  5. Robin says:

    That “piece on 1980s British geek gaming culture” probably explains to Americans where a lot of our games from the 80s and 90s spawned from, but the idea of people with that kind of insular and stunted cultural grounding still controlling the creative direction (or purse strings) of UK studios is a depressing thought.

  6. ix says:

    No offence to Geordie Tait but I really couldn’t get through that piece. The writing is just… well, a bit florid perhaps?

    Not, I think, that I really needed to. I skimmed the latter parts of it and the reactions he gathers up are depressingly predictable.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      I didn’t really like the Tait article so much either. It was prone to rambling, and addressing some hypothetical female infant, while an understandable method of granting perspective, just meant I wanted to grab the dude and scream I’M NOT YOUR FUCKING SWEETHEART, YOU GLOBULOUS PRICK. But it’s at least going to slap a few people across the face with this ugly, bullshit issue, and I’m all in favor of that. Because god damn do I get mad about this.

    • Jenks says:

      I got through it.

      It’s undisguised American white male self loathing tripe with the obligatory “why aren’t you neanderthals as progressive as me?” sentiment running throughout.

    • nayon says:

      Geordie Tait is a tool. His article ignores the fact that Bereznak’s original article was terrible, regardless of her being a woman. Also, his own article is sexist towards male gamers. Not every male gamer is a chauvinistic tool.

      Also, he basically says “white knighting females is offensive, let’s not white knight them and treat them properly”… while his article gets dangerously close to white knighting itself.

      The whole “my daughter” thing is such an insincere gimmick that it really makes the article unreadable. Tait is known for not having the balls to call anyone out, so he is passive aggressively calling the community out under the guise of his nonexistent daughter.

      The article would have been 1/10 the length with way more focus if he dropped the stupid daughter act.

      Also, the article reeks way too much of “I was like you, now I’m AWESOME! You should all be like me, because you all suck.”

      Here’s a great response article: link to dr.jeebus.sydlexia.com

    • Xercies says:

      The funny thing is the article is quite mysogynistic near the end as well. Where he talks about women tech writers as fragdoll wannabees and only wrote those things against it because they were told to do it by a man and have no control on what they write because they are owned by men or something. Terrible!

    • LTK says:

      Something in the article by Geordie Tait didn’t sit right with me. Dr. Jeebus nicely expressed why. When I was done reading the whole open letter I could totally see Tait’s point but then I remembered the original Gizmodo piece, and the rose-colour faded away.

    • ncampbell says:

      Sentiment of the Geordie Tait article seems alright. Bit long though.

      Favourite part was one of the comments:
      “I remember when I was 21, and I knew the answers facing the true problems of minorities and the poor. Being rich and white gave me an excellent perspective on the issue.”

    • karry says:

      “I remember when I was 21, and I knew the answers facing the true problems of minorities and the poor.”

      -“And its likely that you were right, you just didnt act on it, you lazy ass.”
      Is what i’d say in response to that.

    • Kaira- says:

      I tried to read that article, but I gave up before reaching halfway of chapter 2 or whatever that should be called. The article just didn’t go anywhere and the rambling just went on.

    • mjig says:

      The whole thing felt like typical misandric drivel. I couldn’t get through it all.

    • Nim says:

      For an article of over ten thousand words you guys sure didn’t walk away with much.

    • Hanban says:

      I thought it was a good article on the subject.

      Too long, for sure, but I cannot see the supposed misandry or dishonesty in the writing. Maybe I’m just such a self-loathing nerd that I can’t see it.

    • Josh04 says:

      RPS, the most progressive of nerd culture websites: “/Look/, she wrote a nasty article. She deserved all that sexism!”

      no argument required beyond the continual exit of women from the room

    • Vinraith says:

      Mr. Tait’s article is full of good points which are, unfortunately, largely undermined by the fact that the woman he’s defending wrote an attack article specifically to generate exactly the kind of negative response she got (and posted it in a place designed to maximize that response). That doesn’t change the fact that the ugliness of that response sheds a light on gender equity problems in the tech/geek community, of course, but it does rather reduce one’s sympathy for the recipient of that ugliness.

    • Muzman says:

      I didn’t like it much at first. It’s kind of meander-y. But it seems to have pissed off the MRA crowd and sympathisers, so I like it lot more now.

    • Unaco says:

      What is the MRA crowd? And why do you like something because it pisses them off?

    • ix says:

      Josh please, you’re responding to a thread where one or two people maybe said that, and the rest of us just get tarred with the same brush.

      In any case, this here is the “complain about his writing style” thread. Random misogyny is further down the page.

      edit:spelling

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Some of the insults that Bereznak received were misogynistic. Which is bad.

      I don’t think the underlying sentiment was, though. If Michael Arrington had written such offensive bullshit, he would have received precisely the same amount of vitriol. And he does. Regularly.

      “Some people on the internet are scum” is not a very interesting point. “Women tend to receive misogynist insults” is more interesting, and very much worth discussing, but it’s extremely poorly made in the article.

      Finally, fuck Bereznak. She’s a moron; typical Gawker scum, it’s hard to tell if they’re deliberately trolling or really that dumb. Thieving, trolling, idiotic, worthless tabloid-wannabe scum, the lot of them.

      P.S. A good article on women in tech and fixing tech culture, courtesy of Gina Trapani.

    • Muzman says:

      “Unaco says:
      What is the MRA crowd? And why do you like something because it pisses them off?”

      Initialisation of Men’s Rights Activists and a kinda pejoratively broad brushed way of categorising anti-feminists as well as people worried about misandry and “white knighting” and other imaginary BS.

    • Lambchops says:

      I gave up when it was clear he was about to spend two parapraphs elaborating on his particular definition of “geek” in tedious detail. I’m sure I’m about as interested in that as he would be in my dislike of the word “nerd” purely on the way it sounds (say it out loud, it’s one of those words that just doesn’t roll nicely off the tounge, same as “schlong” or words with too many constanants in a row – it’s probably just as well I’ve never been to Wales!).

      See that was just a sentence with some parenthesis and even I’m bored of it! Two paragraphs of it from a writer who already had me on the edge of giving up. No thanks!

      (Ah Sunday Papers, about the only comment thread on RPS where I actually hit submit on negative comments!)

    • Christian O. says:

      The biggest travesty of the Tait article, that Xercies also pointed out, is that it’s so incredibly patronising towards women for several paragraphs. Apparently women, according to Tait, can’t stand up for themselves or make personal verdicts that aren’t products of internalized misogyny, and now he’s going to explain it to men and women alike, so that he can save them from this self-imposed prison. What an idiot.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Example for illustration, at the risk of going all Godwin: if you use racist language about, say, Robert Mugabe or Osama bin Laden, that says some pretty terrible things about you, and probably about the culture as well. And I’d sympathize with any Africans or Muslims offended by the language. It doesn’t make the targets worth defending, though. Just because you’re bad doesn’t make them any better.

      That’s basically how I feel about this situation. Without the mass murder and general crimes against humanity, naturally.

    • Lowbrow says:

      I gave up reading right around chapter 5, where he’s talking about his own past diatribes. I was turned off by the format a bit, but what really did me in was the section that Xercies mentioned accusing the Aussie blogger of being an Uncle Tom (Do you Brits get that reference?). I won’t even get into the whiteboy use of slave terminology here, though someone really needs to tell him he needs to be a lot more careful with that imagery, but the idea that she HAD to write that article to appease her readers was ridiculous and insulting. Wasn’t there a tiff in the comments recently when someone accused a Kotaku reviewer of talking up that Razer laptop for cash? Isn’t this basically the same accusation of moral corruption? Let’s hear the impassioned defense!

      That being said, he was right to point out that the drinking accusation was out of nowhere. But I think his leap from there was crazy, the logical leak was to a recovering alcoholic who sees a drinking problem every time someone they know gets tipsy.

    • kristen says:

      Got through the article. Some good points and some not so good points. He didn’t seem able to stay on any particular topic and the article really meanders through a bunch of different issues.
      Yes, the Gizmodo article was mean.
      Yes, the response towards Alyssa was not warranted.
      However, putting “gamer guys” into one global box doesn’t help in the same way that labeling all “gamer women” the same doesn’t help. Just treat people as individuals with unique needs/wants/etc – guys and girls in games.

    • Thants says:

      Initialisation of Men’s Rights Activists and a kinda pejoratively broad brushed way of categorising anti-feminists as well as people worried about misandry and “white knighting” and other imaginary BS.

      Oh, good. Now we have a convenient way of writing off anyone who ever thinks someone’s being sexist against men. Because that’s impossible, apparently.

    • Mman says:

      “Oh, good. Now we have a convenient way of writing off anyone who ever thinks someone’s being sexist against men. Because that’s impossible, apparently.”

      Misandry exists, but the idea that it’s even remotely as widespread an issue as misogyny in society (which is what several people against this article seem to believe) is really dumb.

    • Muzman says:

      “Oh, good. Now we have a convenient way of writing off anyone who ever thinks someone’s being sexist against men. Because that’s impossible, apparently.”

      Anyone with a real case to make will probably get through. Otherwise you’ve got yourself a good heuristic for steering clear of idiotic fantasies about feminism’s creeping dominance that are as boneheaded as any theory of Reptilians or Nazis on the dark side of the moon and certain peoples notion that they are therefore fighting fire with fire.

    • Xercies says:

      The problem is, and no I’m not one of those Mens activists or whatever. Is that misandry might actually be a bit more then we think. A lot of these issues about womens equal rights and that have maybe in some areas have gone the other way and done a bit of positive discrimination towards women in some areas. Now the problem is when men see this they can’t do a damn thing because if they comment on it they get called mysogynistic and bearers of wanting to go back to 1950s way of doing things and all that shit.

    • sinister agent says:

      ‘fraid I’m with Kaira. I was over a section into this and still had little idea what the hell he was supposed to be babbling on about. The prospect of reading that again another four times really didn’t appeal.

    • Jazz42 says:

      The tribal nature of human beings is quite tiresome isn’t it?
      The social prejudices that have either been there forever (male/female) or are relatively new (gamer/everyone else) can make it really hard going sometimes, and rather predictable.
      Wouldn’t it have been nice if the gizmondo editor had given this chap a chance? Ah well, such is life.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Yeah, like some others, I’m kind of torn here. I think it’s this passage that really irritates me

      Some have said that Alyssa was trolling, but whether she was or wasn’t does not matter anymore. The furious punishment became, after a short while, more significant than the crime. It continued long after any compassionate person would have kept his silence. For each studious rebuttal, there were nine withering, sexist remarks riding sidecar. And this I believe, kiddo—the man who leans in for insult number one-thousand, having already seen the first nine-hundred ninety-nine reprisals vault from the barbed tongues of his peers, is furthest in the wrong.

      Well, what you believe is just wrong. If you say something asinine to intentionally bait an overreaction, that overreaction doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t point out that it was asinine. If you point to a group of people and declare that they aren’t attractive (not merely unattractive to you, but generally unattractive such that failing to mention that you’re a member of said group on your profile is dishonest), can you really be all that shocked when some of them turn around and say you aren’t attractive?

      Yeah, a lot of that overreaction was scummy. A lot of the overreaction to Sarah Palin is scummy. That doesn’t mean I’m obligated to vote for her.

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      “However, putting “gamer guys” into one global box doesn’t help in the same way that labeling all “gamer women” the same doesn’t help. Just treat people as individuals with unique needs/wants/etc – guys and girls in games.”

      This. Unfortunately when you write an article trying to fix the world’s injustices in an afternoon you just don’t have time to adress everyone individually. So rather than give up the folly of being the one great prophet of equallity some people inevitably make painfully unironic sweeping generalisations about people making sweeping generalisations. At first it made me cringe, now it’s so familliar I’ve downgraded to a brief eye rolling.

    • Archonsod says:

      ““Some people on the internet are scum” is not a very interesting point. “Women tend to receive misogynist insults” is more interesting, and very much worth discussing, but it’s extremely poorly made in the article.”

      Not really. I’d bet black people tend to receive racial insults and gay people receive homophobic insults too. It’s kinda expected; once you’re down to the level of insulting people it’s somewhat a little late to start suggesting they avoid mentioning certain things in case it hurts someone’s feelings. That’s kinda the point.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Thinking about it, women do have it a bit worse than other groups, don’t they?

      Saying “bitch, slut, whore, make me a sandwich lol” about a reprehensible human being who happens to be a woman is far more socially acceptable than, say, using racist slurs about a random criminal who happens to be black. Especially in internet geekdom.

      That’s the conversation which would have been worth starting, IMO.

    • Lantzalot says:

      “However, putting “gamer guys” into one global box doesn’t help in the same way that labeling all “gamer women” the same doesn’t help. Just treat people as individuals with unique needs/wants/etc – guys and girls in games.”
      Yes, this is what I’ve been thinking, glad I’m not the only one. Generalization is just a whole lot of assumption making asses out of everyone. Blending together the behavior of individuals and confusing it with behavior guaranteed by some group identification is terribly inaccurate, insulting to people who identify with that ‘group’ without displaying those behaviors, and a great way to encourage or reinforce stereotypes. Especially on issues such as this, the behavior should be attributed to its actual source, individuals, rather than the group those individuals identify with. It is dangerous and inaccurate to attribute the words or actions of anyone who calls themselves a gamer as an attribute representative of being a gamer.

      A good example would be the original author talking about how apprehensive he would be to introduce his daughter to gaming, because of the behavior of gamers towards women. As a gamer, I’m rather curious why he is so troubled by my behavior towards women. A call to ‘the gaming community’ to be a more accepting place for women is like calling on the entire world to eat less meat. The whole world? Everybody? I’m sure a couple of people in that group don’t eat meat already, and there are probably also a few who could really use more, since they don’t have enough food of any kind. In the same way, calling on ‘the gaming community’ to be more accepting to women assumes that everyone in ‘the gaming community’ has a problem with accepting women, and needs to be more accepting to women.

      With this sort of behavior, which the original author of the piece mentions is difficult to even recognize when surrounded by like-thinking individuals forming a sort of group-think in which such behavior is acceptable or even normal, it is not the best approach for create a positive change to say “You people are (x)”. This simply acts as outside judgement on a group, which will simply insulate itself from it. It is easy to see the existence of this danger from the original author’s overt attempt to prove himself as a member of the ‘group of nerds.’ To actually challenge an individual as to the acceptability of their actions, beliefs, or behavior, you should confront the individual. It is the most effective, and prevents the mistakes made in all of the assumptions you have to make in addressing a group which many people identify with about a behavior which is not part of what makes those people identify with the group.

      Worst, to address your message in such a way is to weaken its effectiveness three-fold. One, to an outsider of the group, all members of the group are accused of this behavior. Two, discussion within the group on the topic is stifled as those incorrectly accused of behavior will reject it out of hand, and likely become touchy about the subject, and those who overtly are guilty of such behavior are legitimized by the behavior being described as an attribute of the group. Third, and the biggest loss of potential good, is those who may unknowingly or unthinkingly have such behavior, who will be much less likely to question themselves or talk with others about their actions and thoughts in such an inflamed atmosphere of discussion.

      Granted, in all of this, is the fact that saying “HEY SEXISTS … STOP BEING SO SEXIST” isn’t going to be as attention-grabbing or pertinent to an article about gaming, and the target audience in this article is probably those who engage in sexist behavior without thinking of the consequences. Still, it is extremely important to use correct terms. Don’t say “Male gamers are sexists,” or any other sort of generalization like that. These sort of statements with generalized terms such as “gamers” or “male gamers” used to represent those with sexist attitudes or behaviors are littered throughout the article. Guess what, these are sexist statements! Try the old trick of reversing. If you say something like “male gamers are up to their old tricks,” as paraphrased from the article, simply reverse it to say “female gamers are up to their old tricks.” If that statement sounds like it is a bit sexist, guess what? So is the original. It isn’t a question of who has been having it worse, or any other rationalization. Equality is equal, and the thing is that the logic BEHIND the statements is the true error, and the statements themselves are just the evidence of it. And if ‘gamer’ is just your term for referring to ‘male gamers who are sexist,” you should say what you intend to say, not just what is easiest and fastest to write.

      P.S. Quoting Malcolm X and accusing female writers who took a negative view of the woman starting the controversy as ‘house negroes’ who are “shucking and jiving” in an attempt to appease their male audience/masters/bosses is a straw man argument, attempts to deny the legitimacy of arguments made by women out of hand because of their basis on the other side of the argument, and is without question a comparison made in extremely bad taste. Good thing you have plenty of time to edit that bit before your daughter reads it.

      Ugh, I ended up writing a long-ass reply, haha.
      EDIT: Damn it, Droopy the dog. Much more precise and elegant, great post.

    • miaou says:

      “misandry might actually be a bit more then we think.” etc.

      A lot of misandry is really the flipside of the misogyny coin. Fixing a double standard mutually benefits everyone who no longer believes in it.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Off Topic, but @TillEulenspiegel

      P.S. A good article on women in tech and fixing tech culture, courtesy of Gina Trapani.

      Clearly the programmer/engineer/scientist community needs to do more to welcome women.

      Translating that into designers having power over programmers is just a power grab. Which I’m used to: Design is very often about Power.

      There’s a tension between two different visions of computing. In one of them, most computers do a set number of predetermined things with great elegance and simplicity (at least on the surface). That’s the iOS way, that’s the way designers love, and in our fatigued and gloomy times the simple comfort of “it just works” is very tempting to many consumers.

      In the other, computers are universal machines–they can do anything, but being able to do anything means they can do what designers cannot anticipate. There is simplicity and elegance here as well, but it is the simplicity of category theory or assembly code–being universal, they are distant from particular applications. If hope is ever restored, it will be from this viewpoint–the viewpoint that’s willing to take a chance on the unanticipated.

    • aerozol says:

      I liked it, it made me think a little deeper.
      His general attitude was a little annoying, but he’s writing it as a letter to his daughter, so I get why the tone wouldn’t appeal to me. And I don’t agree with everything. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth reading…

    • gwathdring says:

      I’m with aerozol. I’m not going to defend it paragraph by paragraph. But I’m glad I read it.

    • soundofsatellites says:

      I don’t want to defend the gizmodo article.
      I don’t want to defend geordie tait’s article.

      They both show how we produce and reproduce culture. No piece of writing is isolated from the time and place it’s written, and we can at least try to see how discourses permeate through them.
      Most opinions, no matter how wrong we think they are have value. It’s only in the dialog between them and us that we can move forward our own ideas, our own opinions. we only exists as far as others exists.

      That said, the field of LGBT studies, and more broadly, the field of culture studies is some kind of mess. Really, you’ve got scholars shifting back and forth from one point of view to another every year, no one seem to finally agree into somethin. I now I’m exaggerating it a bit right now, but only because if an academic field populated by a comparatively small group of people (vs.the internet) can’t agree into such complex and nuanced issues, there will not be anything resembling a closure here.

      I’m not trying to be obnoxius, I’m just trying to get a grasp of the sheer volume of different opinions that will weight my own opinion (and somewhat be weighted by mine). There ARE flaws in Tait’s piece. But also, it’s an excellent one. It’s not the best piece I’ve read about misoginy, or entitlement, or anything about culture studies, but it’s informed to say the least. I keep reading comments such as “I read two paragraphs”, “he lost me”, “he’s preachy”. There’s nothing wrong with those comments per se, except the fact that the slowly construct this idea: “Geordie Tait’s piece is boring”.

      And that’s the main point in culture studies, discourse studies, et all. how is culture built? how are the ideas (ideologems, sociogram and lots of varied and equally colorful big words) that model culture work?
      To some extent, that’s what Tait’s piece is about. It’s not perfect, but it hits a couple of right notes. And I just get this sense that people focus in the wrong things. Yes: he is being condescendent about being another asshole in the past and now having “seen” the light. That does not mean he doesn’t make some danm good points. Would it made a difference if Tait’s was a woman? Of course it would. If a piece can’t be isolated from it’s time and place it certainly can’t be isolated from gender, race, and even country. He’s right in so many ways about how difficult is being a woman, because IT IS DIFFICULT. Power and entitlement is very real. Caucasian, straight males, between 18 something and 30 something are the very definition of entitlement.
      “It’s bad to make general statements” is another sentiment I perceived lot. Guess what?, culture IS general. It’s made from pieces. I’m sure everyone of you is really a nice guy. You probably have gay friends. And you have some frindes that happen to be women. I’m sure you really really care for them. But think about the times you said “fag”, or “bitch”, or “cunt” (we all have used them, I know I did).
      I’m not trying to overreact, but just think for a second why the words mean what they mean. What’s the value we put to them. Language is the cornerstone of culture, the cornerstone of identiy. And it has weight. You might be a really nice guy, but you exist within culture, you produce and reproduce culture.

      I must confess I dread writing online. Comments threads in the net can suck up an atrocious amount of time. In that time I’ll find myself agreeing happily or disagreeing to the point of rage. Now? I think I want to rant. I don’t like ranting, not on the net. I just want to ragequit, listen some music and forget about it a bit. But here I am. I don’t agree with everything in Tait’s piece. Sure, I can understand why Bereznak sounded like an asshole (because to some extent, she did -and I use asshole here to try to avoid gender charged terms, but asshole seems so male to me), and I think that any friend of mine would call her an asshole if we somehow had a date and she proceed to dismiss me in such a taunting and harsh way (let’s leave the gamer thing for a moment). But that does not change how culture works today. That doesn’t mean entitlement is not real, and that she, being a woman has some serious shit to deal with living in a male centered culture.

      That Tait’s is annoyingly condescending does not change that he mostly nailed every gamer on earth.
      I’m a nice guy. I had serious and meaningful relationships. Most of my friends are women (my best friends certainly are and none of them aret gamers). I have gay friends. I study literature and I’m majoring (not sure its the best word) on critical and culture studies. And yes, he totally nailed me down. I’ve met a lot of nice people playing TF2, the community in argentina is quite small (compared to something like CSS). There I play mostly with guys. But some of the people I play with happen to be women. They can play. I’ve seen harassment. I’m not going to call a girl in TF a “cunt”. But I know it’s there. The word “cunt” may pass through my head. I know it’s bad. I’m not sexist, but sexism it’s integrated in our culture. From the axe ads, to pink dresses and the word tomboy. .
      I can’t force any of you to agree with Tait’s or me. But this piece being written, this piece being linked, made me think again about things that we sometimes do everyday in full automatic, all I’m asking is for you to the same.

    • 3lbFlax says:

      If anyone thinks they don’t have the time to read Tait’s article, simply paste it into a text editor and use search & replace to get rid of every instance of ‘kiddo’. Hey presto! You can now read it in your dinner hour.

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      “Mens rights advocate” is a smear primarily used on gender feminists blogs in order to silence anyone that disagrees with the poster. Its use is an attempt to sideline and marginalize any commentary that doesn’t follow along proscribed lines much as was done during horrendous PC years of the 90s and early oughts and is a tactic used by the extreme right in the exact same way (define the language, define the playing ground, vilify the opposition rather than address its points).

      “misandry and “white knighting” and other imaginary BS.” Yes written by someone that is utterly clueless about reality. When Tait mentions about how women are treated by law enforcement in potential rape cases (one which has thankfully not been true for decades – and truth be told is often a highly contentious issue and not nearly the black and white one some would have us believe) – he carefully sidesteps the very fact that no man is taken seriously if he complains of a non-consensual sex act. Or sexual discrimination in hiring, or sexual harrassment. *Or that lgbt folks have it infinitely worse.* It’s all part of the “who’s the greatest victim” game that keeps gender feminism alive – undercutting class, race and all other issues. No effort is made at equity – and ultimately isn’t equity what we’re discussing?

      Anyone that claims that misandry doesn’t exist has clearly never had to fight for visitation or custody of their children. Women have privilege just the same as men do. When they choose to ignore that it is entirely for political reasons.

      If anyone actually cares about privilege and gender issues I highly recommend Julia Serano’s book Whipping Girl.

      My apologies for this off topic pseudo rant but I am so tired of hearing the same old bullshit arguments fueled with the same old wrongheaded politics. Stereotypes hurt us all and feeding them – on either side of the aisle – is reprehensible.

      Also thanks nayon for that jeebus article which made all arguments I had with Tait’s piece far more eloquently that I ever could.

    • Consumatopia says:

      soundofsatellites, I’m glad Tait’s article led you to reconsider your own thoughts and behavior, but that’s the only person you have any right to speak for: you. For me, Tait’s article was composed of two things–stuff I already knew (some people are jerks on the internet) and stuff that was wrong (because some men on the internet are jerks, no one is allowed to disagree with a woman on the internet, not even other women).

      I mean, hey, it’s cool that some of you are choosing now to have your Road to Damascus epiphany re: gender and feminism, but that doesn’t mean Bereznak was correct.

    • edwardoka says:

      A more concise version that isn’t 10,000 words of tiresome hand-wringing: “Silly cow went on a date, flippantly dismissed some successful guy because of his hobby/career, then openly abused her position as a writer on a popular tech blog to denigrate said guy for same hobby/career even though it wasn’t even tangentially work related. Lots of stupid nerds with a misplaced sense of entitlement and bitterness got angry at her post, and retorted with a lot of stupid misogynistic and frankly terrifying unrestrained hate speech. I’m sorry, fictional daughter. Regards, Not-Dad.”

  7. darkath says:

    Failed.

  8. sonofsanta says:

    That piece on 80s British Geekdom was marvellous. So much of what defines me (and what I yearn for now) is encapsulated in that article. I do fear that very little in this modern age panders to my innate Britishness, and that my craving for such special attention is why I love RPS so very much, in all its Hope and Glory.

    The post linked from that article on John Blanche’s art is worth a peek as well – I always remember thinking that his drawings were kind of shit as a kid, the people always looking really awkward, but I was still drawn to them more than any other. That post does a fine job of explaining why (although I would say that the sheer overflow of details in his illustrations was a large part of their attraction as well, at least to a 13 year old boy trying to absorb as much information as possible about these worlds).

  9. CMaster says:

    Gawker media are a fucking disaster all around. (And some of the Gizmodo lots were lucky not to be arrested). Couldn’t get through the long article about the shallow cruel woman and the misogynistic, 4chan culture driven backlash though.

    Flash of Steel continues to be an excellent site, I see.

    Sponge’s article on Might and Magic there was great fun, although I’m not sure I learned much about the game.

    • qrter says:

      I’m surprised by all the positive comments regarding Dark Messiah under mr. Cameron’s article – I remember a heavy sense of disappointment when that game came out, and not just from critics.

      Funny thing, I was recently thinking of reinstalling the game, having only played it through once when it was released. I mainly remember getting bored by the kicking mechanic, and the skill tree being rather uninteresting. And some wonderful scenery, it has to be said. There are cheat codes, if I remember correctly, so the dull bits can be easily skipped, I suppose.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      I think that the reaction to Alyssa Bereznak’s article pretty much validates her stance. Lots of whining and whining from the “geek community” – whatever the hell that is. So she personally isn’t into dating grownups whose lives revolve around a single card game – I’m not sure I could date a Hello Kitty obsessive either. The fact that *all* of his friends he met through playing the game hints at some sort of social retardation where he is unable to meet people with other interests and engage them well enough to form friendships.

      My opinion is that she dodged a bullet or at the very least a failed relationship.

      Hooray for balance!

    • CMaster says:

      @Bob
      I’m not going to read the article – aside from the fact it’s been edited, I think I’m going to boycott Gawker in much the same way as I do the Daily Mail from now on – but the initial criticism to it I saw, wasn’t focussed on the fact that she disliked magic – it’s that she acted like a high-school bully. It wasn’t “he’s so committed to this thing that I don’t get, it could never work”. It was “Eeeew, he has a hobby that isn’t a team sport. People like that should be separated from cool, important people like me.” Combined with you know, identifying the person, rather than using a bunch of changed first names, like most journalists do when posting “experience with dating” stories. Of course, the reactions I’ve seen more recently are more “OMG she’s a stupid whore who should have done anal on the first date because she finally met someone who was successful at something”, which are of course both headbangingly stupid, and provoking lots of people to come to the woman’s aid.

      @Qter, yeah I remember it getting a pretty unenthusiastic response, too. But then I think the Eurogamer retros are more about being good reads than actual reviews and in that criteria, the article delivers.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      I managed to skim through most of Geordie Tait’s article and it was unbelievable sad and pathetic and whiney. It is actually painful to read. He really isn’t doing associated with gaming any favours.

      I agree that Alyssa was trolling a bit but it’s her job to attract page views which is what she did. Also as “world Champion” with a card named after him it could be argued that he is a celebrity and a public figure so using his name isn’t such a big deal. The correct response is “Well that was a little mean spirited.” and then you go on to get on with your life.

      What it boils down to is this : If Alyssa had written an article about how distasteful she finds the machismo of Lacrosse or rugby players and how she felt like she’d dodged a bullet by almost dating one then “Geek Culture” would be hailing her as their fucking hero.

    • Walsh says:

      Yeah but the dude’s life didn’t necessarily revolve around Magic. He is also hedge fund manager and championship poker player.

      The girl isn’t attractive or successful enough to pull the I’m better than a geek attitude anyway.

    • shitflap says:

      “The girl isn’t attractive or successful enough to pull the I’m better than a geek attitude anyway.”
      Fucking hell, I can’t believe you typed that out. Pray tell, why is she not allowed her own (personally offensive) opinions?

      ED: I just linked to your steam page, saw you were American, smiled and went “Ahhh” :(
      AM I THE MONSTER NOW?

    • CMaster says:

      “The girl isn’t attractive or successful enough to pull the I’m better than a geek attitude anyway.”

      Wow, that’s not complete bullshit in any way, is it.
      So it would be all right for her to go out with a guy and then shit all over him in public, because of things she imagined, rather than actually happened, if she was Scarlett Johansson?”. Because judging her superficially is so much better than what she did.

      Oh wait. No. that is bullshit.

    • qrter says:

      Yeah, I know, I wasn’t talking about the article, but about the comments from Eurogamer readers, who seem to uniformly believe the game to be fantastic.

    • CMaster says:

      @qter
      With a game that wasn’t awful, just kinda meh, the only people who remember and care enough to comment are the fans? I didn’t actually read them, as I generally assume EG comments are a debate about whether the score and the text match up, and asking “is that a Brink 8?”

    • formivore says:

      To derail from the eternal nerd / female grudge war and respond to the OP: don’t give up on all of Gawker media. io9 which does fiction and science geekery is quite a good site and unlike Kotatku, Jezebel et al. posseses the basic human decency never publish linkbait like that Bereznak thing. It’s the other hobbyist site I read regularly besides rps. Interestingly enough most of the editors are women.

    • Jhoosier says:

      “ED: I just linked to your steam page, saw you were American, smiled and went “Ahhh” :(
      AM I THE MONSTER NOW?”

      I was with you until this line. Asshole.

    • DiamondDog says:

      “The fact that *all* of his friends he met through playing the game hints at some sort of social retardation”

      Huh.

    • shitflap says:

      @Jhoosier
      Just highlighting my own snap-judgments, I suppose in a not very humorous way, but I found the irony funny.
      I immediately go “Of course he is” and then feel bad about it, considering the nature of the original topic.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      While there are plenty of sites that deal with gaming, making it easy to replace Kotaku with something else, I’m still stuck for a near-equivalent to Io9 and Lifehacker.

      Unfortunately their site-design puts me right off, so even though I have nothing else, I still don’t read them as regularly as I did before the redesign.

      Thankfully I can amalgamate a reasonable selection of tech news, so it really does become a little bit more effort for roughly the same experience.

    • Carolina says:

      The girl isn’t attractive or successful enough to pull the I’m better than a geek attitude anyway.

      Despite pissing off some people to no end, this comment is actually —and perhaps unintentionally— right. Not because that would entitle her to vomit such idiotic statements like she did, but it would be at least coherent with her simpleminded and shallow attitude.

      No one is discussing that she’s wrong; that’s an obvious fact and it doesn’t warrant an argument. But besides being wrong, she’s an hypocrite. If you’re going to measure your potential mates by such trivial standards, you can’t deem someone unworthy of you if you don’t live up to those same standards either.

      Being unattractive and working as an intern in a tech blog it’s only a problem if you choose to care about such superfluous traits, which she did. So that observation about her looks and line of work is actually valid.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      >> “Despite pissing off some people to no end, this comment is actually —and perhaps unintentionally— right. Not because that would entitle her to vomit such idiotic statements like she did, but it would be at least coherent with her simpleminded and shallow attitude.”

      Oh, look! Another stereotype.

      I think that comment is indefensible. So your attempt could only result in something like this. But I probably shouldn’t say anything; I risk being called a white knight and, because of my gender, people agreeing I am.

    • Carolina says:

      @Mario Figueiredo
      I won’t call you a white knight and I don’t believe you are one if that’s what you are worried about. You are free to explain why do you believe that the aforementioned comment is indefensible.

      For the record, I’m merely saying that it’s a logically valid statement. She has the right to have any trivial and superfluous standards she wants to measure people; and by those same standards, she is actually a subpar specimen, something that she obviously fails to realize.

      I’m not subscribing or validating her views, and I don’t know if Walsh did either. I’m only pointing out the hypocrisy in her attitude.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Well, equating her looks or success with some sort of requirement to hold a grudge against geeks isn’t going to cut it. It just doesn’t make sense and introduces this idea of a high ground from where I judge who is deemed worthy to criticize me. Before you know it, you are unwillingly joining her prejudiced views; only, from the shit-fan in the other side of the room. The basis of arguments is what needs to be addressed. Not that she is a woman, a man, good looking, ugly, tall, fat, short, black, thin, or white.

      So when you come in defense of that attack strategy, you invariably end up producing another stereotype. Hard to miss, if you do me a favor and look back at what you wrote.

      That you and I think she’s nothing more than a prejudiced little woman, it could go without saying. But do I really need to point out that this is whole issue is exactly about judging people based on shallow opinions? Expressing the views her article sucks and why, is fine. Trying to answering it by doing the exact same thing she did is just… stupid. Or revealing. Take your pick.

    • Carolina says:

      @Mario Figuereido

      Look, you’re not understanding, and thus answering to somebody else’s stance on the matter, not mine. I said it very clear: I’m not adhering, validating, or subscribing to her views; I’m merely pointing out her hypocrisy.

      In plain and simple terms, I’m not saying “yes, those are reasonable standards to measure someone, and you too are below them”. I’m saying “even if those were rationally sound standards to measure someone, which they aren’t, but even if they were, you wouldn’t be able to discard someone on the basis that he is below them, because you too fail to meet those same standards”. I’m not sure if I can put it more clearly than that.

      You are clinging to the notion that if I do that, I’m validating her attitude and measuring her by her same vapid values, but you’re wrong. I’m not doing that. I’m only noting her faulty logic, while making very clear that I don’t share her ideas.

  10. Jody Macgregor says:

    If you want more to read — this is one of those shameless plugs you’ve heard so much about — I wrote about the weirdness of gaming classifications in Australia while making fun of a 15-year-old for being crap at games over here:

    link to brisbanetimes.com.au

  11. GenBanks says:

    Great bunch of articles this week!

    The whole Gizmodo-magic-dating controversy completely escaped my notice until now. Spawned a lot of interesting discussion though.

  12. caddyB says:

    To My Someday Daughter:
    link to youtube.com

    sorry, kiddo.

  13. Kollega says:

    Since we are talking about the British geek culture, could someone try to explain one thing to me? Why is everything GRIMDARK (or just grim-n-gritty) so loved around these parts? Why such a positive reception? I don’t like the message such works carry, i don’t like how they turn out narratively, and so i only tolerate them when their style is tasteful and refined – but the oft-mentioned WH40k and the good ol’ Syndicate that caused the recent uproar seem rather garish and overbearing to me, to name but two examples.

    I understand that i am heavily biased against such settings, and i understand it’s just going to lead to a flamewar, and that my question will be probably left unanswered, but i still try to grasp: what beauty do people see in something as relentlessly nihilistic and stylistically ham-handed as 40k or certain varieties of cyberpunk?

    • AndrewC says:

      It’s all slightly tongue-in-cheek, which is very English, and its satire is expressed in its over-the-topness – there is NOTHING but war, EVERYONE is a psychopathic monster, guns are BIGGER THAN YOU, and have SWORDS ON THEM. Skulls EVERYWHERE. Its nihilism is funny, is the point.

      I don’t get it either. While RPS fascination with it feels rather cute, the problem is that the actual Games Workshop company emphasises exclusivity, indoctrination and bizarrely fanatical devotion. It remains to be seen how much of this ‘Wooooo! New Warhammer!’ attitude found everywhere is in fact some residual quasi-religious fanaticism. They seem like smart people, but loyalty is blindness! I worry for them.

      Especially Kieron because Skaven are shit.

    • Kollega says:

      Oh, i don’t know, i must be really thick-headed then. Because Warhammer’s tongue, to concentrate on that example, does not go nearly far enough into it’s cheek to be truly funny. It really is too stone-faced for it’s own good, which turns people like me off of it and causes this quasi-religious devotion, when you can’t quite say if they’re serious or joking about it, in others.

      Also, Andrew, i must thank you. It’s probably because i asked much nicer than usual, but it’s really refreshing to recieve a polite and straightforward answer to this question.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gassalasca says:

      So you miseed that whole postmodernism thing, where a thing can be both genuinely nihilistic and satirically poking fun at its own nihilism, and nihilism in general?

      Sorry to be snarky, but I didn’t want to fail your expectations, like Andrew did. ^_^

    • Kollega says:

      HAHAHA PLAY ON WORDS FUNNY =P

      As for postmodernism… no, that sounds too hipsterish :P And WH40k is “anti-nihilism” or “anti-war” in the same way a hotdog eating contest is “anti-obesity”. It might wallow in satirical excess, but it dosen’t suggest we should do anything about the subject matter. It embraces it, if anything.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Like many of my fave things, Warhammers based on being able to recognise something is simultaneously completely laughable and completely awesome.

      KG

    • bill says:

      You ask this on every post related to warhammer/40k. If you haven’t figured it out yet, or received a satisfactory answer yet, then I don’t think you ever will. So just let it go.

      you heretic.

    • Kollega says:

      @ Kieron: I dunno. To me, it seems more like being simultaneously utterly depressing and utterly awesome. And the awesome dosen’t make up for the depressing, unfortunately :-[

      @ bill: NO I WILL NOT RELENT, REPENT, or do anything else that starts with “re”! :P

      In seriousness: i probably should just leave the topic alone, but it’s always hard for me. It’s still probably worth trying, though.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gassalasca says:

      Ah, so you have a problem with depressing things? No Kafka for you, I guess…

      But seriously, it does make one wonder what kind of things you *do* enjoy?

    • JFS says:

      I think, Warhammer aside, that Europe just is grimdark and nihilistic, and has been so for 2000 years. No tongue-in-cheek, no satire, no poking-fun. I guess those are just afterthoughts to make the topic less serious. Europe is grimdark, the whole of it. Come on, Europeans even invented lutefisk. How much more nihilistic can it get?

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Nine posts without a cheap joke about the weather. Pretty poor.

    • AndrewC says:

      I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with wanting to attach emotionally with a fictional universe. I think it’s the mark of a nice person! And universes like the Warhammer one are cynical, depressing overwhelmingly bleak edifices of horror – they aren’t things you can ‘get’ into. Of course, all satiric constructs are hyperbolically horrible, and you aren’t supposed to take them on a surface level, but at an amused ‘distance’. The problem I often have, such is the size of things like Warhammer and its overwhelming effect on the life (or at least leisure time) of those into it, is where then is this distance, and where does the ‘real’ you go when you are surrounded by this stuff.

      Of course, you can just not play Warhammer, or not have Warhammer be your whole life. I’ve recently stopped watching horror movies, as the only way to enjoy most of them is with that ‘wooo death!’ attitude, but I find myself emotionally investing them and just getting unnutterably sad. Horror movies, on the whole, can not support, and often actively discourage, emotional attachment.

      Question: are ALL game universes essentially this bleak and horrific (death, death, horror, dystopia, death, trapped, hunted, death, kill), and the way we adapt to deal with that is to take a disassociated attitude towards them?
      Certainly this can lead to a question of what happens, if gamers are trained to be disassociated, when games try to put more complex emotional stuff in them. But it’s more the idea of what effect it has on players when EVERYTHING is like this – when this is seen as normal.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Might as well ask why people like any kind of horror. Some people like to immerse themselves in a world that is darker than the one they actually live in. To experience a bit of it vicariously without actually being in any danger.

      I’m not sure it’s a British thing, most countries will surely have a part of their culture that focuses on death? In Britain we have a strong history of fiction that focuses on the macabre and horror, but more so than anywhere else? Not sure. We need a historian in here!

    • Zorganist says:

      How do you find Warhammer’s overbearing grimdarkiness to be depressing? I think it’s progressed from a more tongue-in-cheek style to being so amazingly gothic and grim and hopeless it becomes funny again.

      The sheer amount of detail that goes into the art and models and the background, all of the skulls and gothic motifs and the general Blanche-ian aesthetic manages to make Warhammer completely insane and hilarious, and suitably epic at the same time.

    • Koozer says:

      Compare Gears of War to Warhammer. Both internally very serious, but Warhammer, and Warhammer lovers who aren’t insane, knows how silly it is a layer above that.

      Also:
      “I think, Warhammer aside, that Europe just is grimdark and nihilistic, and has been so for 2000 years. No tongue-in-cheek, no satire, no poking-fun. I guess those are just afterthoughts to make the topic less serious. Europe is grimdark, the whole of it. Come on, Europeans even invented lutefisk. How much more nihilistic can it get?”

      I’m flitting between mild derision and confusion as to whether this was serious, so I’ll leave it here for someone else to poke at.

    • Kollega says:

      @ Gassalasca: Yes, exactly, no Kafka for me.

      As for what i do enjoy? Well, something that isn’t as relentlessly hopeless as WH40k. Fun, colorful action-adventure romps through bright worlds with a dash of comedic bastardry can be fun when you’re after blowing stuff up and cheering, and when you want actual drama, the best kind of story is the kind that starts out bleak and cynical, but lets the protagonists, through a great deal of struggle, earn their happy ending. I’m mostly after blowing things up and cheering… call me superficial if you must.

      @ AndrewC: That is a very good point you raise there. And it’s really nice to see someone supporting me for once in this kind of discourse rather than bashing me for not liking 40k.

      @ Zorganist: It’s depressing in two ways: that it’s extremely grim and dark while not being overtly parodic – belive it or not, but monotonous droning narrator describing the horrors of war and the hopelessness of his universe without urging us to do anything about it can get pretty depressing – and that the aforementioned aesthetic of it is garish and overbearing. EET KILLS MOI REFINED AESHETIC FEELING, MON AMIE!

      @ Koozer: Oddly enough, i find Gears of War more palatable than, say, Space Marine (the game). Probably because it merely glances over the grim and dark rather than rubbing it in your face. I guess that’s what i don’t like about 40k: grimdarkness, seriousness, and in-your-face-ness.

    • AndrewC says:

      @Kollega Ah, I see you are not after more emotional honesty, just happy endings. That’s totally fair enough!

      However, I dub thee an enormous big wussy face.

    • Chris D says:

      @Koozer

      Is he serious? Well he mentions Lutefisk, isn’t that a type of fish? That would seem to indicate no. I should probably google it just to make sure….

      Let’s see…”soak the stockfish in cold water for five to six days (with the water changed daily). The saturated stockfish is then soaked in an unchanged solution of cold water and lye for an additional two days. The fish swells during this soaking, and its protein content decreases by more than 50 percent producing a jelly-like consistency. When this treatment is finished, the fish (saturated with lye) has a pH value of 11–12 and is therefore caustic. To make the fish edible, a final treatment of yet another four to six days of soaking in cold water (also changed daily) is needed. Eventually, the lutefisk is ready to be cooked.”

      “When cooking and eating lutefisk, it is important to clean the lutefisk and its residue off pans, plates, and utensils immediately. Lutefisk left overnight becomes nearly impossible to remove. Sterling silver should never be used in the cooking, serving or eating of lutefisk, which will permanently ruin silver. Stainless steel utensils are recommended instead.”

      “The Wisconsin Employees’ Right to Know Law specifically exempts lutefisk in defining “toxic substances”.

      Actually I have no idea whether he is serious or not, only that now I’m off to pray to the chaos gods for the sweet release of death. Some things man was not meant to know, or use to prepare fish.

    • The Hammer says:

      “Of course, all satiric constructs are hyperbolically horrible, and you aren’t supposed to take them on a surface level, but at an amused ‘distance’.”

      Hmmm, I’m really not sure I agree with this. I think, in Warhammer’s case, it is perfectly apt. I enjoy the Dawn of War games for their no-hold-barred cathartic violence, but…

      Well, where does that assumption fit with Dr Strangelove? I’m not sure if you’ve seen it, but surely the point of that film is that you -do- invest? It -is- amusing, but also makes a salient, depressing point by the end. The absurdity of the final moments makes the whole ordeal more tragic and more effective, doesn’t it?

    • Kollega says:

      @ AndrewC: I LOL’d.

      However, i do admit that i like happy endings more. I tend to be rather depressive, which should explain why i would prefer a happy ending, especially if it was hard-fought for. And the universe that, by definition, can have no happy endings is most definitely not for me. And i can’t really see why anyone would want to experience hopelessness and depression, since they are not at all great feelings.

    • JFS says:

      No, I’m not being serious. Sorry. I also wanted to make a joke about the British weather regulating their love for grimdark scenarios, but I thought that was too cheap. Shoulda done it.

      Still, I do think that Europe’s history might have an influence on what its artists produce, if you take game designers as artists. Of course there’s grimdark stuff from the US, but they’re more of a shiny superhero nation, whereas in Europe stuff tends to get gritty and pessimistic all the time. Just my opinion. Also, it changes with current history, of course. Not everything is determined by our past, that’s clear.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      It’s probably a good idea to mention that Games Workshop was originally much more “humourous” grimdark earlier in its lifetime. It does unfortunately have phases where they drink too deeply from the “actually we’re serious, no fun allowed” brew of gaming.

    • Zorganist says:

      @Kollega I think the Warhammer universe might just be Not For You then. Personally I don’t see the hopelessness of the Warhammer and 40K worlds to be particularly depressing, the background in general is designed with a a lot of black humour, and has to be looked at in a disconnected and ironic way to be properly appreciated. Some of the fiction is more deconstructive, and is meant to be read with more emotional attachment, but in general Warhammer is less “this is how miserable our world could be, so let’s band together to prevent it” and more “skulls are fun”.

      Besides, it’s much easier to sustain a long-running wargame in a universe of “eternal carnage and slaughter”, than it is in a universe with a guaranteed happy ending.

    • Xercies says:

      Yeah the fiction is going towards the game, so you kind of have to have a far future where there is only war otherwise the game might have an end point. And then what would the space marines do? Make cupcakes?

      So yeah its not really depressing, also the fluff is kind of detached a little bit and the problem with modern tellings of it is that they kind of forgot its satire roots and pushed it being ultra serious all the time. I blame the popularity of space marine like heros in the modern culture for this since games workshop probably has siezed on this and maybe have made the fluff a bit more serious or many games designers have anyway.

      The enjoyment of the game is tenfold, its quite fun blowing armies up with lascannons and the like and its quite fun coming up with scenarios using its fiction!

    • Zenicetus says:

      @ JFS & Malawi: It sounds like a joke (linking grimdark to weather), but remember that the classic writers of horror in the USA — Poe and Lovecraft, and later Steven King — were all New Englanders, living in a dank climate.

      It’s probably a combination of climate and what passes for “old” architecture and local histories over here. The rest of the country is too shiny and fresh to have that particular mood. So I wouldn’t discount geography and weather completely. :)

      Personally, I never got into the Warhammer stuff because I’m too old (never was exposed as a kid or young adult), and when I did finally run across it with the DoW games, it just looked too goofy to take seriously. Maybe I’m too culturally American to “get” it. I like goofiness, and I like grimdark themes, but I guess I just like them in separate boxes.

    • Archonsod says:

      “Oh, i don’t know, i must be really thick-headed then. Because Warhammer’s tongue, to concentrate on that example, does not go nearly far enough into it’s cheek to be truly funny.”

      That’s because it waxes and wanes depending on who is doing the writing and what angle they’re marketing to. The satire really peaked during the Jervis and Chambers era, then they started to get more serious around the late nineties / early noughties when they decided to shift marketing from the student side of the market to the younger players (roughly when they started the LotR game). It seems to be coming full circle again these days though and the humour is starting to slip in again.

      Although no matter how serious they try and get, as long as you have a race of greenskinned football hooligans who talk in cockney it’s somewhat hard to be taken seriously.

      “I do think that Europe’s history might have an influence on what its artists produce, if you take game designers as artists. Of course there’s grimdark stuff from the US, but they’re more of a shiny superhero nation, whereas in Europe stuff tends to get gritty and pessimistic all the time”

      Nah, I think it’s just cultural outlook. You see a similar thing if you look at any of the British comedies that get adapted for the US market; in general it seems the US tends to prefer the more overt humour; puns, slapstick, gags etc while in the UK it’s the more subtle stuff; wit, satire, self deprecation etc. Hence the US gave birth to Police Squad while the UK gave us Yes Minister.
      It’s not a Europe wide thing, the French for example tend to prefer their humour to be surreal. It does seem to transfer across European borders somewhat easier though; I mightn’t personally find a French comedy to be particularly hilarious, but I can understand what and where the comedy is, if that makes sense (or to reword, I can understand the joke even if I don’t think it’s funny).

    • bill says:

      PS/ Are you from the US? Interested to know.
      PPS/ It was much more funny back in the old days, but i still don’t actually find 40k to be very dark or depressing – it’s just an OTT flamboyant setting that includes elements from all classic sci-fi. It’s just a fun background for a wargame.
      PPPS/ Brits in general are either pessimistic or tongue-in-cheek. This often comes across in entertainment. Compare UK Cracker vs US Cracker. Or Holby City vs Grey’s Anatomy.

    • Kollega says:

      In case you still read this: no, i’m not from the US, i’m from Kazakhstan, which is for all intents and purposes similar to today’s Russia. I guess one reason i don’t like GRIMDARK is that i can see plenty of it just by turning on the TV or going outside for a walk. And i have to admit i was influenced more by American pop culture than British one.

  14. Fwiffo says:

    I’m not sure the Dead Island article is being really fair to modern games that contain RPG mechanics. It’s okay to have them as as abstraction representing such things as damage and weapon strength only in some cases?

    The fact that weapons have stats and leveling up works perfectly fine in context if you ask me – pipes and knives vary in strength and sharpness in reality and that’s represented by their stats in game. Also the experience system provides tangible benefits to your character, it’s not just some arbitrary back slap for playing for an hour.

    The fact zombies have visible level ratings is also not ‘poor game design’ (Fast becoming shorthand for ‘I don’t like this mechanic’ btw) It’s for the benefit of online co-op where players might have differeing levels and need to pick their fights. If someone joins a higher leveled friend and gets mauled because the strength of a foe is not readily visible – that’s bad game design.

    All in all I think Dead Island has been set up as a whipping boy by the snootier gaming press for a long time now – look at Edge’s unreasonable and short sighted review for one – because it could never live up to the trailer and other promises it made. Thing is it’s backfired, because for all the issues it’s had many many people are turning around and saying “I can look past all the crap and see a really *fun* game I can play with my friends”. And to be honest that gives me more faith in gaming than a dozen flawless launches of heaivly scrpited corridor shooters or nitpicking journalists harping on about game design.

    • Kadayi says:

      Agreed. I’m all for immersion, but you have to temper that against what suits the game play.

    • Archonsod says:

      He’s not making a blanket statement, what he is saying is that the RPG mechanics feel tacked on rather than being integral to the actual game. To paraphrase, it feels more like the designers played a bit of Borderlands and simply lifted it’s system and then shoe-horned it into the game without asking why it did what it did. In fact he holds Dead Rising up as a game which gets it right, and it too has RPG mechanics.

  15. Squire says:

    EDIT – Fwiffo you make some great comments on this too.

    I couldn’t comment on the Tom Bissell article over there, so I’m doing so here.

    Does he really think that de-gamificationing [sp?] open world games is the only answer right now?

    I mean the industry can’t even seem to make open world games that don’t have massive problems right now anyway, as can be seen in nearly ALL open world games up to Dead Island, examples being Just Cause 2, Dead Rising, etc.

    When you reach the jungle in Dead Island on the map there is a giant Elevated Highway going across the map yet if you go “under it” where it should be on the map it isn’t even THERE! If they make this kind of massive immersion-breaking mistake in the game then I don’t think we are ready for a totally transparent progression and leveling system in open world games.

    Also Tom talks about how can one machete chop a zombie’s head off ‘differently’ from another seemingly [or seemingly not] ‘better’ machete. I think this is fundamental to computer games enjoyment otherwise you would be running about with toothpicks and small butter knives for most of the game until you get the “hallowed” cleaver that can Finally remove their limbs and bonces. Christ that would be such a boring game that I don’t think many gamers would have the attention span for.

    Sorry for this length but it really got my goat especially since the damage done, enemy health and even quest paths can be turned off in the options. I know this still leaves Tom’s problem with the weapon stats but come on how else can we know which weapon is better in the game?

    Dead Island, the new sandbox zombie slaying sim!
    Spend hours on end constantly checking and comparing the tensile strength of your various weapons! No more numbers to confuse you!
    Simply use the 2.5kN Universal Tensile Strength Tester found at every safehouse to compare your weapons using….the machines results….which are…..numbers.

    Maybe we should try to make an open-world game that works perfectly WITH stats and leveling before we try to make it all numberless and sleek, otherwise we’ll just be staring at two identical machetes wondering which is better. Otherwise its back to games with 3-4 weapons that do the same thing every time.

    • Archonsod says:

      “I know this still leaves Tom’s problem with the weapon stats but come on how else can we know which weapon is better in the game?”

      Presumably the same way we know which weapon is better in say Half Life?

  16. John P says:

    Dead Island isn’t the only game suffering from the gamification rubbish. Human Revolution didn’t get as much criticism as it should have for giving XP for every little action. The levelling up system in that game is a mess. Playing it the hardest way (genuine ghosting — i.e. avoiding contact with enemies, not Eidos’s stupid definition of ghosting) results in the least amount of XP because you miss out on all the points for taking out enemies.

    The next exhibit is Far Cry 3: +10 +10 +10 for every enemy you shoot.

    This is an awful trend, springing from the bizarre assumption that players need to be rewarded with a cookie for every action they perform. It shows either a condescending attitude towards players or a lack of faith in the product, as though we’ll get bored and stop playing if the cookie crumbs stop coming. What ever happened to making the game itself interesting to play? Now developers need to rely on Skinner boxes? What a sorry state the modern games industry is in.

    • varangian says:

      Couldn’t agree more, with both the original article and your comments. After seeing the cinematic trailer for Dead Island I had hopes that this might be the counterweight to L4D. Fun though that is it is just run, gun and heal and there’s definitely room for a slower paced survivalist type take on the genre with the feel of, say, The Walking Dead. Then I saw the gameplay trailers and crossed it off the ‘buy now’ list and put it on the ‘buy when on sale, maybe’ list. Similarly, though not so much, for DX:HR, seeing all ‘press this to do that’ instructions and the glowing pick-me-ups in the trailers downgraded my interest quite effectively.

    • Kadayi says:

      I agree with you that DX:HR had some issues in that regard. I’m not sure how much of an issue missing out on XP was overall as I’m fairly sure the difficulty level of the opposition scaled to match your own, however the constant XP pop ups I’d of happily foregone to the final summary screen tbh. The worst offenders being the XP & money gains you received having hacked a terminal that conveniently sit over the emails you’re trying to read on said terminal. How that never got picked up during QA I’ll never understand tbh.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I agree that it felt odd not to be rewarded for a pure ghosting approach in DXHR. It probably explains the fairly high XP gain from hacking. They were using that as the compensation if you’re weren’t building points by knocking out guards instead of killing them or sneaking past.

      That has its own problems though. It builds a Pavlovian urge to just hack everything in sight, whether you really need to open that closet door, or read yet another non-essential email. Towards the end of the game, I was dreading those big open office areas, where I knew I was going to have to hack every Goddamned computer in that area. I should have been interested in reading those emails to flesh out the story, but instead each computer was just a Pez dispenser for XP.

      One thing I learned though, is that hacking everything in sight is also a bit overpowered in terms of level progression. By the time I got to the end of the game, I was basically filling out all the aug slots except a few I wasn’t interested in. Considering the weapons and weapon upgrades you get later in the game, I didn’t really need to progress that far. If I ever do another play-through of the game (and I’m not sure I will), I can go a little easier on the hack-everything approach.

    • Archonsod says:

      “I agree that it felt odd not to be rewarded for a pure ghosting approach in DXHR. It probably explains the fairly high XP gain from hacking. They were using that as the compensation if you’re weren’t building points by knocking out guards instead of killing them or sneaking past.”

      Well, one of the things worth looking at is whether you actually need to be rewarded for it or not. It’s kinda the complaint of the article, XP is not a goal in and of itself, the whole point of an XP system is to balance player skills. If you only need three skills to maximise your ability to stealth through the game, then you don’t need as much XP as someone taking the shooty route who needs six skills to maximise their killing ability. The XP is rationed accordingly, with the idea that whether you stealth through or shoot through, you shouldn’t have optimised to that route until the late game.
      It’s essentially the D&D system of staggered class progression (where the XP needed to reach your next level depended on your class rather than being a single total for everyone, utilised to balance out the fact that some classes could be more effective at level 10 than others were at level 20) transferred to a single player game.

    • hotcod says:

      The funny thing is that the XP system in HR is actually really really well done. It’s one of the few game where they have looked at what they needed the levelling system to do and built a reward system around than rather than just blindly following how people will assume XP works. All XP is not created equal and if you got same the XP for a ghost run as a combat one you’d pretty much ruin your experience.

      Ghosting through the game requires far less use of augs than combat or a mix of both.If you got equally rewarded as some one who is using direct combat you’d quickly max out your useful augs and spend the late game putting points in to things that you don’t want need or use. This would effectively making levelling pointless and destroy the curve between player skill, player power and level difficulty. By having all the most useful augs maxed out early on you’ll never ever get to a point where you thinking “wow that was close, I could have really used the next level in stealth there” and how you’d then expect that you’ll likely need to get it before the next big mission which is going to be harder.

      In other words by asking for more XP for playing the game the hard way you are asking for the game to be made easier and more boring. Not something I’d assume most people who would are ghosting the game would actually want. The reason for this is simply that there are not the same number of augs related to ghosting as there are to combat. Is this a good thing? I don’t know, they really paired down the aug system so I’m going to have to say that there most be a reason they thought more where not needed. So in the end they XP system is built around giving you enough points for the way you are playing to keep the levelling interesting and engaging.

      If you want to complain about something then complain about the fact that after having this very carefully thought out system they thought it would be a great idea to have boss battles where, if you did not have the correct augs to deal with it, you’d have to beat the boss in the way they’ve very nicely set out the room to do so… which is just stupid. Teaching the player they can play like they want and be rewarded for it only to have them forced in to playing in a different way if they way they play is not how you beat that given boss.

  17. Xercies says:

    The 80s culture thing really implies for me as well, and I was born in the 90s! I remember loving a lot of things back when I was younger like Warhammer 40k(the chaos really brought me into that), fighting fantasy(since I was a very insular child this made me have hours of fun!) and all the rest of the british geeky stuff like Doctor Who.

  18. bill says:

    Playing Dark Messiah now – and it’s rather disappointing tbh.

    I’d wanted to play it for years, as it sounded like just my kind of game. And I’m pretty good at overlooking flaws to find the gem inside. Eg: Mirror’s edge.

    But it’s just mostly DULL.
    I agree that it has some nice elements for sandbox physic mayhem- but everything seems crippled in some way to prevent you having as much fun as you should.
    The skill tree keeps half the fun actions outof your reach until too late.
    The game forces you into levels where half the fun skills you’ve been upgrading are no use.
    The spider/undead levels are horribly long slogs.
    Little annoyances with the physics tend to get in the way. (ice traps ALWAYS melt just as the enemy runs over them. You often find great setups AFTER you’ve just killed someone, etc…)

    And the narrative is just awful…. if they’d put a bit more work into that it might have driven me to work through the later parts… but as it is, I’ve just got to the final level, but the last 3 levels were dull and I can’t really be bothered to finish it.

    Some of the early levels with some of the later skills would have been a great combination though…

    • The Hammer says:

      “but everything seems crippled in some way to prevent you having as much fun as you should.”

      That… is exactly how I felt about Dark Messiah.

      It was my sort of game! First-Person Swords ‘n’ Sorcery battling! And… I just couldn’t get along with it. Never completed it, and probably never will.

    • Muzman says:

      It’ll cut no ice, but I found I didn’t really enjoy it until I played it a couple of times. It seems to actually be designed that way. Which is bad, ultimately. But it’s short enough and flexible enough that you can try and find your own way to have fun with it and my appreciation grew.
      There’s still a lot of little things I’d like to change, but there are some mods around that address a few things.

    • The Hammer says:

      Could you point me in the direction of those mods, Muz? I genuinely want to have a good time on Dark Messiah!

    • Muzman says:

      This fella cheerfully offered links to some he made and some others. There could be more around. I haven’t looked beyond the usual stomping ground.

  19. Cinnamon says:

    I don’t totally relate to the “British geek” thing. Britain isn’t that small a country that you can sum it all up so easily. But maybe there is also a British nerd culture that is more about Formula One, Chess, Pink Floyd, Sinclair Programs magazine and enthusiasm for America. Never really cared for Iron Maiden.

  20. PleasingFungus says:

    It feels like Bissell’s article was complaining “I wanted a zombie simulator, but I got a video game instead!”

  21. Mark says:

    The impression I got from the Tom Bissell article was that Dead Island wasn’t the game he wanted it to be, the developers therefore made poor design choices, and everybody who thinks different is enjoying games in the wrong way. It feels a lot like snobbery to me.

  22. Chris D says:

    Reply fail

  23. LockjawNightvision says:

    I was similarly almost-turned-off-but-glad-I-stuck-it-out with Tait’s piece. I think his stuff about many nerds thinking they’re sensitive nice guys while actually being disgustingly misogynistic hit the nail right on its sniveling little head.

    Also! On a lighter note, I am completely on board with rendering the avatar in first person games! Why does this not happen more often? I was surprised and delighted that Dead Island did it – it makes stomping zombie faces feel that much more visceral.

  24. Arathain says:

    I haven’t played Dead Island, but Tom Bissel’s article rang true regardless.

    A thing I like: a sense of character progression and growing ability.

    A thing I don’t like: pointless numbers infesting every part of the gaming experience to the point that they fall out of everything I attack, as if I’m fighting animated dolls stuffed with numbers.

    There are places for it. I like it in my Diablo-likes, which are explicitly about that sort of number crunching progression. I like my axe that gives an extra 1% crit and 3 fire damage per swing as much as the next person. It’s nearly always good in anything turn based, and in anything with competitive multiplayer, where hiding information is obnoxious.

    Anything that plays on atmosphere or narrative flow, and particularly anything in first person, should, 99% of the time, leave that stuff under the hood. If your intent is to show progression a skill tree does that very nicely without burdening you with arbitrary levels. If you want to gate some areas off from the player until later then you might ask yourself if you really wanted an open world in the first place- otherwise find something nice and visual to tell the player what they can and can’t do.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      Couldn’t agree more.

      It saddens me to think that every single game out there today that wants to have a clearly defined sense of progression think that it can only do so by adding numbers being thrown at your face. Throw your numbers to those numbers over there, kill them, get XP numbers, go back to complete your quest to get more numbers, fill up your XP Number Bar, increase your Level Numbers so next time you throw your numbers at their numbers your numbers will be bigger.

      You want a game with a good sense of progression that has absolutely no numbers (other than health)? Super Metroid. You want to know why? Because that game was designed from the ground up to foster a meaningful sense of progression. You never get meaningless, stupid buff items like “LOLZ +5% SHIELDZ”, nor does it play the “numbers” game with numbers coming out of enemies and giving you XP and level numbers. Areas are closed off not because your numbers don’t match the game’s, but because you don’t have the PHYSICAL ability to get to these areas. The game’s pace is controlled wonderfully and your character gets quite noticeably stronger without ever having to throw “YOU’VE LEVED UP LOLZ” in your face once.

      I suggest game developers look to the earlier days of gaming. I have absolutely no idea where this philosophy of “I want progression = I WANT NUMBERZ!!!11!” came from but it’s quite possibly the laziest way of implementing progression in a game.

    • Mattressi says:

      Yeah, I agreed with the Bissell article too. While I love my mindless-fun games, like Borderlands, sometimes I just want to play a game which isn’t a frantic XP-gathering game. Most RPGs have wacky or fantasy enemies, which makes levelling seem less out of place. But a zombie game, where zombies level seems a bit…crap. The appeal of zombie movies (for me at least) was always the survival and human psychology elements, which no zombie games seem to have even touched on (except Project Zomboid, but it’s not even in beta yet). The appeal in zombie games was generally that you had a huge horde of melee-only enemies who’d try to overwhelm you – a different mechanic to manshoots where AI try to take cover rather than running suicidally at you…well, at least manshoots with decent AI. But then Dead Island basically takes the zombie concept and makes it so that there’s zombies which ‘outlevel’ you and therefore a single high-level zombie can run through your gunfire and smack you to death. It seems like it’s really just like every other RPG, except with less varied mobs :S

      All of this could probably have been forgiven if they’d just made the first trailer honest. If it was a cinematic trailer with guys running around smashing zombie heads and fighting big bad boss zombies, the game would possibly have been better received. Instead, I think a lot of people feel deceived and cheated out of a game that they were really looking forward to. It confuses me that someone was smart enough to realise that many people would like a zombie game about the bleak survival and psychology of a zombie apocalypse, but not smart enough to realise that perhaps instead of tricking people into thinking their game was about that, they should just make their bloody game about that.

    • Gabe McGrath says:

      Arathain: “A thing I don’t like: pointless numbers infesting every part of the gaming experience to the point that they fall out of everything I attack, as if I’m fighting animated dolls stuffed with numbers.”

      Hell yes.

      Pointless Puppies:“You want a game with a good sense of progression that has absolutely no numbers (other than health)? Super Metroid. You want to know why? Because that game was designed from the ground up to foster a meaningful sense of progression. You never get meaningless, stupid buff items like “LOLZ +5% SHIELDZ”, nor does it play the “numbers” game with numbers coming out of enemies and giving you XP and level numbers. Areas are closed off not because your numbers don’t match the game’s, but because you don’t have the PHYSICAL ability to get to these areas. The game’s pace is controlled wonderfully and your character gets quite noticeably stronger without ever having to throw “YOU’VE LEVED UP LOLZ” in your face once.”

      God almighty, hell yes indeed.

      I don’t want to be shooting/hitting number-filled pinatas.

  25. CommentSystem says:

    Dead Island has problems but I disagree with almost every point made in Tom Bissell’s Dead Island article.

    “For one thing: “Leveling up.” Why do this in a game with no naturally occurring RPG trappings? What purpose does it serve?”

    The only point of leveling in this game is to provide a hook of accessing new skills and making hard choices about what skills to investing in. This creates an additional meta layer to the game where the player has to think strategically about his character and by making choices, take ownership of his character. The game would suffer majorly without this system. Also what the hell is “naturally occurring RPG trappings”. Why are rpg trappings in a zombie game any more “unnatural” then in a medieval setting?

    “In a game like this, carrying capacity should be one unified, logical system, and that system should either be unlimited or severely limited. Anything else is arbitrary, stupid, and altogether bad game design.”

    I think having a distinction between actionable items and crafting items makes sense and a unified inventory would just make things fiddly and unnecessarily complex.

    “Here is what Dead Island should have been about: running from things that want to kill you and killing them by finding weapons hidden away in an interesting series of environments.”

    That’s what the game largely is, especially once you reach the city, which quickly teaches the player to just avoid some encounters they just can’t win.

    His point about about weapon names not making any sense is completely valid and there is some (a lot) of broken stuff in Dead Island. But the article goes off it’s main theme of gamefication to “nitpicks about Dead Island” pretty quickly.

  26. Arathain says:

    On Geordie Tate’s article: a touch rambling in form, but I found nothing to disagree with. It’s hard reading; a lot of stuff that makes me sad all tied together in one spot. It’s upsetting when a lot of the stuff that bubbles underneath the geek cultures I love gets shaken to the surface. I like you guys! I know we can be better.

    That said, the Nice Guy is an insidiously horrible archetype that remains all too common.

    • Laurentius says:

      But is it really self-irony in that ? b/c this article portrayes author as typical NiceGuy, fighting dragons to save damsel in distress with this imaginery “daughter ” added to the mix, so women finally can see how really Nice he is. He is right on many things too, bot nonetheless…

    • tossrStu says:

      You’re missing the key element of the Nice Guy though: he only does “nice” things because he believes it’ll make the girl think “Hey, he’s really nice, I’d love to be his girlfriend” and when that doesn’t happen, he becomes increasingly bitter about it. THAT’S what being a Nice Guy is about, not just the being nice but the sense of entitlement that goes with it.

  27. Josh Brandt says:

    Finder is some of the best comics of the past, oh, twenty years or so now. Reeeeaad iiiiit.

  28. Muzman says:

    I didn’t like it much at first. But it seems to have pissed off the MRA crowd and sympathisers, so I like it lot more now.

    —doh, reply fail by me.

  29. undead dolphin hacker says:

    “You see Geordie finally got laid in the interim, and now sexism was WRONG.” (from link to dr.jeebus.sydlexia.com)

    I lol’d. That’s 100% the impression I got from Geordie’s article too.

    Angry virgin with untreated psychological disorders turns into enlightened renaissance man. What changed? He got laid.

    The way women are treated in the gaming industry sickens me too. I hate feeling embarrassed when I’m playing a game with my girlfriend and something truly horrible crops up that re-affirms this is a boy’s club replete with a GIRLS NOT ALLOWED sign hanging outside.

    However, my distaste for this eye-rolling shit that turns into raw embarrassment when actually presented to non-gamers was present BEFORE I lost my virginity. Geordie having a feminist epiphany shortly after getting his dick wet for the first time isn’t much of a head-scratcher.

    • Hanban says:

      It could also be, as is hinted in the text, that he has been subject to a woman’s perspective on these matters for the first time in his life, as well.

    • gwathdring says:

      This sort of attitude bothers me.

      You don’t have to grow up with two sisters and watch them skirt around the gaming hobby to learn what keeps some women away from games. You also don’t have to have sex with anyone. It’s about sharing perspectives in a cooperative way–something many people have trouble with. Intimacy with strangers is hard. Male American culture, at least, doesn’t help. It tends to discourage intimacy with male friends. Talking about our feelings is something we’re expected to joke about and shun. I honestly had dear male friends in elementary school that had issues with me hugging them. I never understood that. I still don’t, in some ways.

      Most males I knew hung out with mostly males–same for most females I knew. So misunderstandings, communications barriers, cultural differences, culturally driven discrimination … none of these things were really ironed out in high school. For people growing up with barriers against intimacy, or simply growing up mostly around friends of their gender, romantic relationships can be the first instances of meaningful and constructive perspective sharing across gender barriers. It can be the first time socially isolated people really reach out at an emotional level for someone who isn’t just like them. Or even at all. It’s hard to have gender perspective when you have a mono-gendered micro-culture. Sometimes our parents undo this for us, but for a long time our parents are too much older than us to be accessible as men and women rather than mothers and fathers.

      In short: gender issues. They happen.

      In the very article that convinced you his sexual encounter shallowly lifted him out of his ignorance, he talks about how playing games with his wife and listening to her thoughts about games changed his perspective on them. Not sleeping with her. Playing games with her. Some people have never played games in the presence of a woman. Some men have never had female friends who were as close as their male friends.
      If said men end up in a relationship with a woman, they hit unfamiliar perspectives in a more tangible way than when their female history teacher said the same things to them a year earlier. The article seemed to imply this was the first long-term, in depth relationship he’d had with a woman, and that before that he’d had some unsuccessful short term dating. That’s not unusual either. Plenty of people date a little bit unsuccessfully in high school and happen across someone they end up happily marrying during or after college.

      Even if she was the first woman who took as much interest in him as he took in her … it’s a rather large leap for you to assume that their relationship or even just his side of it is somehow more shallow because of that. That’s really a nasty thing to say about two people at the same time. Maybe you didn’t mean it that way. Or maybe you didn’t realize how mean spirited and presumptuous that was. Or perhaps you actually believe he, in your words, “got laid” and suddenly thought he owed womankind the favor of his attempts at feminism in exchange for sex. I dearly hope you read that and feel insulted at my outlandish straw man. Because I want to like you, stranger, but there is absolutely no excuse for you delivering such a perverse insult as a result of perceived flaws in the article. Calling his marriage shallow as a result of what little you read about it is out of order.

      (Sidenote: the author did exactly that to someone else … that felt squicky when I read that … the article had a lot of issues).

      What matters to me is the tone I’ve been reading a lot of in comment threads related to this issue. Variations on a theme: “He’s a hypocrite, don’t listen,” and “He never got laid, clearly his argument stems from his discovery of sex.” I’m going to leave this one quite simply: that is ridiculous. Think about what you are saying for a moment. Think about it. Then write something more interesting, more constructive, and that hopefully that hasn’t already been said better.

      I liked the article despite my ambivalence. It made me think about some things I hadn’t thought about in a while. But I hope that, while you are welcome to take the author to task or attack his points, we can do two things. 1) Lay off the personal insults and recognize the irrelevance his sex life and 2) Not let our disappointment/hate/bemusement/derision/whatever towards the article keep us from ringing the bells and handing out fliers telling everyone to be excellent to each other. There’s a lot of hostility in gaming and the Internet, whether or not it is unevenly directed at women.

      Ideally we could do this for non-gaming situations as well. And less importantly, but still ideally, I could convince people that hypocrisy isn’t actually important, too. Have I mentioned I have a pet peeve about people who complain about hypocrisy? It’s extremely unproductive, extremely easy, and doesn’t actually make their argument any less valid. Whew. Back to O-Chem now. Wish me luck!

    • Jae Armstrong says:

      Gwathdring, sir, you are a gentleman and a scholar. I tip my hat to you.

  30. T. J. McCormak - Parent says:

    I wouldn’t let little Sally date any of these geek people. They’ve probably been playing those wishy washy liberal environment games, no self respecting father would stand for his daughter being exposed to such stuff. The last thing little Sally should become is one of those people saving virtual polar bears.

    Besides card games are boring. Solitaire, rummy, Go Fish, all of them dull. If these geeks played wholesome American family games like Monopoly that are fun and promote capitalism then maybe they would grow up to become sensible adults who don’t need internet dating.

    T. J. McCormak (parent)

  31. ChrisN says:

    After reading partway through Tim Bissel’s piece, I have to wonder just what games he actually plays. Saying that Left 4 Dead is miserly with ammo is laughable (hello, unlimited pistol rounds?), and I just stopped reading when he said that WoW encounters are random.

  32. fupjack says:

    Finder is staggeringly good. Buy it read it.

  33. formivore says:

    Better late than never perhaps, but I see Three Moves Ahead has up a podcast with Brian Reynold and Soren Johnson discussing Alpha Centauri. Worth a listen if you care at all about strategy games.

  34. Sif says:

    The Tait article was excellent. A little meandering at times but he pulled no punches in excavating some deeply-held prejudices he held when he was younger and skewering some cherished, privileged misconceptions still rife in gaming. It’s very telling that most of the comments attacking him on the article are more to do with nitpicking his points or his writing style or other defensive mechanisms, rather than discussing the topic of misogyny in nerd culture as a whole. Thanks for sharing the link, Kieron.

    • karry says:

      What is there to discuss ? Women despise nerds and will continue to do so regardless. Why should nerds respect women ? I’d say misogyny is well deserved.

    • JackShandy says:

      Karry,

      I read your comment and my head is now inflating like a hot air balloon. I am worried it will soon burst, or reach critical mass and devour the world in a black hole.

      Please consider your words before starting the apocalypse.

    • Garret says:

      Karry is a troll, don’t bother feeding him.

    • Rii says:

      The bitterness is strong with this one.

  35. PoulWrist says:

    Since you missed the Deus Ex connection, I’m wondering if you also missed the Bioshock connection? As in, Bioshock is rather close to being a 1:1 clone of System Shock 2, with the end point differing slightly. But otherwise, the environments you pass through are very much the same in types; the dilapidated city, the hydroponics area, very largely they go through the same themes, in the same order. The big plot twist is very much the same too.

    Not that I’m complaining, since I guess that’s a way to give new people the experience others had years ago without pissing off those of us who loved the old game and would only hate on the new one for daring to don the name :p Maybe they should just say that XCOM is the spiritual successor to X-Com, and be done with it ;P

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I didn’t miss it by the way. It’s something I spotted which I was surprised that hasn’t been mentioned as much. Same with bioshock too.

      KG

  36. Kadayi says:

    Enjoyed the Joe Martin pieces so far. I think in his second he makes a good point about how closely the game follows the original. Albeit that within itself is no bad thing, I do believe that there’s a legitimate case for wondering if Eidos Montreal shouldn’t of perhaps questioned some of the inherent assumptions that came with the legacy. Suibhne on the forums made a good point about how it seems bizarre that Jensen, given he’s the Head of Sarif security needs to scrimp around in the early levels looking for weapons and equipment (or buying them off of arms dealers). Surely it would of made more sense for him to have ready access to a gun cabinet in his office with a bunch of non-lethal and low level guns from the start, and maybe using the arms dealers are a resource the for more questionable items a person might acquire (such as silencers, EMP & frag grenades for example).

  37. Dao Jones says:

    Once again Mr. Gillen brings me new music to listen to! Cheers!

  38. sinister agent says:

    I haven’t played Dead Island, so can’t comment on that particular game, but I absolutely agree with the Tom Bissel article when it comes to games that act in that fashion. Give me weapons that damage something please, not things that take away numbers from their numbers. Yeah, I know that basically every game will be doing the numbers, but I don’t want to SEE that. I just want to see that my hitting him is ruining his day.

    The Fight Night games are an excellent example of this in action. If you play those with the stamina/health bars on, you’re doing it wrong – the game is vastly better without, as it gives first-rate visual and audial feedback when your fighter is ailing or tuckered out. More games should take their cue from that rather than just slapping a healthbar on and leaving it at that.

  39. Carolina says:

    The way women are treated in the gaming industry sickens me too. I hate feeling embarrassed when I’m playing a game with my girlfriend and something truly horrible crops up that re-affirms this is a boy’s club replete with a GIRLS NOT ALLOWED sign hanging outside.

    This is based on my personal experience, of course, but I find that kind of argument vastly exaggerated.

    Even though I’m more inclined to John Walker’s stance on multiplayer games, I found myself playing regularly some popular online games from time to time; some of them with infamously horrible communities, like CS:S or L4D, and more recently, WoW.

    And yet I have to say I actually had a quite pleasant experience. Of course, you can find idiots everywhere, but I didn’t feel unwelcomed or scorned for being a woman. In fact, I’ve seen many girls playing games only for the attention they get, focusing more on getting thousands of prepubescent boys drooling for them in their friends list than in enjoying the game, having fun, or improving their skills.

    Maybe it’s politically incorrect to mention it, but you do have many attention whores in every circle where women are a minority, and gaming is one of them. You see a lot of girls more interested in linking their pictures, or fishing for opportunities to bring their feminity and sexuality in every conversation —or articles, in some cases— and that breeds contempt, which eventually produces stereotypes, angry internet men, white knights, and all the circus.

    That doesn’t mean that the gaming community is composed mostly by misogynistic Neanderthals like you implied. Or maybe I was just lucky.

    • Rii says:

      I got a few chuckles out of Christina H’s article for Cracked.com The 5 Biggest Mistakes Women (Like Me!) Make On The Internet.

    • gwathdring says:

      Interesting. That you for your post. I think it’s more complicated, though. It depends wildly on where you are, what type of games you’re playing, I would guess. Gaming is getting fairly good about things, though. I know a lot of female gamers, and our gaming society at this school is led by a woman. We have a huge gender disparity in the club, but no where near as bad as my all-male medieval sword combat group (whenever we recruit we get a fairly good split on the e-mail lists and among people trying out the weapons and asking about the points system and techniques and such … and then only the guys show up … I hope it’s not because we already have such a large all-male group, and that it’s just fewer women are ultimately sill interested after giving it some thought). I think there’s a bigger problem in the tech industry at large and in games development than in gaming as a hobby. But all of my knowledge of those issues comes from hearsay as I am not directly involved in the industry. Gaming itself, as a hobby, is becoming more and more gender balanced every year though.

      I’ve met two conspicuous sorts of female gamers. I’ve met one young woman in a gaming group I was in a while back who, like you described, wanted the attention, flirted with all the guys in the group and seemed to like being queen of the nerds; she legitimately enjoyed the games, at least, and she wasn’t any worse than one of the guys in my upper level French class that was mostly women. I’ve talked with two young women in particular who just didn’t feel like the hobby was particularly inviting when they came to visit my old society. Maybe it was us. Maybe it was the games we play, or the social attachments our hobby comes with. Maybe they were wrong–I know enough gaming women that it’s possible most of gaming’s frigidity towards women is a misconception. But the perception at least, that gaming is a male thing, still exists for some women.

      A lot of it is more basic than that. For a long time, games were expected to be a male hobby so mostly men were interested in video games. People tend to do what their friends do, so a lot of girls never really got exposed to gaming as anything other than a boy’s hobby and a lot of guys who hung around in gaming circles didn’t meet many girls and suddenly natural opposite-gender awkwardness is a little more obvious between non-gaming girls and certain circles of gaming guys. This is happening a lot less now than at the start of the industry, and modern companies are actively chasing as many different player groups as they can find. I think that sort of divide is the main reason my sisters never got into gaming. They loved a lot of games on boards and on the Super Nintendo and on our old computer. They were both better than me at most of them, too. But they’re friends weren’t really into games and mine were. When I teach them new board games even the fiddly Fantasy Flight “gamer’s games” tend to be a hit. It’s possible they are secretly just humoring me whenever we break out a board game now, but I think it’s a good example of similar interests altered by different peer-group pressures.

      Then there are the game design elements. It’s more than fair to argue games portray men every bit as poorly and obnoxiously, but I certainly get tired of seeing the impractical armor discrepancies between male and female characters in a lot of games. Also an enormous number of gaming protagonists are males, and an unseemly number of female gaming characters are token love interests. Of course … most of the male protagonists are equally token so the discussion can go a multitude of ways. How do those sorts of things affect your gaming experience? Do they not bother you? Do you just laugh them off like I, for example, laugh off the existence of Duke Nukem? (no I don’t care if he’s supposed to be a parody)

      Mostly, it’s a young industry. It’s taking a crash course in the evolution of media. It has a lot of bugs. Most gamers are ordinary people. Friendly. Well-rounded. Not inclined to insult you because you’re a girl, or slobber over their keyboard. Most of them don’t even use keyboard. ;)

    • Carolina says:

      @Rii

      Yeah, I’ve read that article when it came out and is quite relevant to this discussion. Cristina H can talk too much about her pets and her weight issues sometimes, but she’s definitely a funny writer when she finds the right subject.

      @gwathdring

      Phew! I must admit, at a first glance, I thought your response was a huge wall of text that I would have to carefully dissect and quote in order to have yet another Internet argument. But now that I read through it, I can’t say we disagree on anything. Perhaps I can add my take on some of your thoughts:

      It depends wildly on where you are, what type of games you’re playing, I would guess.

      Maybe, although I wouldn’t consider myself monothematic when it comes to gaming, and I have yet to find such extreme examples of misogynistic communities that I see mentioned in many feminist articles.

      That said, maybe it is a matter of where I come from, after all. Although most of my family is European —from Germany, Russia and Italy more precisely—, I was born and raised in Argentina, where the feminist movement is practically nonexistent. Maybe I just didn’t have the cultural background to develop a whiny sensitivity about such things. I simply can’t understand the outrage on some of the subjects discussed here in RPS, like the acceptable boob size and circumference for female prisoners in games.

      You’re right when you mention the history of male dominance in gaming, and how times have changed; I’m 29 years old, and I play videogames since I can remember, so I should know. But as you say, companies today try to cater to many audiences, and the notion that gaming is a Boys’ Club is quite outdated. I literally don’t know any girl that doesn’t enjoy toying around with the Wii or dancing in front of the Kinect when they’re around to be played, or any guy that at least doesn’t play some boring football game on consoles with his friends, no matter how childish they might consider the whole videogame business in general.

      I’ll give you an example: a couple of years ago, Fatboy Slim came to a well known nightclub in a touristic beach here in Buenos Aires. A totally not-geeky place if there is one, teeming with the usual nocturnal fauna. And guess what: Nintendo had some booths there, where you could play Wii Sports with your friends, strangers, or some booth models if you wanted. It felt completely natural, and you could see a quite diverse bunch of people in line for it; those who weren’t interested didn’t pay much attention to it, like it was nothing out of the ordinary.

      The whole “gaming is for men and geeky girls” concept is obsolete, at least where I live. Everybody are doing it; perhaps due to its increased popularity in more casual markets, perhaps because most adults these days grew up in contact with some form of gaming in their lives. Or maybe it’s a bit of both.

      How do those sorts of things affect your gaming experience? Do they not bother you? Do you just laugh them off like I, for example, laugh off the existence of Duke Nukem? (no I don’t care if he’s supposed to be a parody)

      To be honest, I don’t expect to find myself represented in the protagonists of the games I play. I’d rather have well written and fitting characters, whether they share similarities with me or not; of course it can become a more involved experience if for some reason I can relate to the character I’m playing, but it’s not mandatory, or even desirable in some cases.

      For example, I don’t see Kane and Lynch as likable characters. Or Daniel from Amnesia: The Dark Descent, for that matter. They commited horrible crimes and made very selfish and stupid choices; yet I wouldn’t have them changed one bit. They are perfect central characters for their respective stories, even if they don’t represent me at all.

      And no, of course I didn’t like the infamous Rape Hive from DNF. It wasn’t funny, it was just stupid and puerile, but it didn’t really offend me as a woman. We’re not talking about Rapelay or Edmund, after all.

      If anything, it baffled me how could the writers be so… clueless to mix up cheesy and trivial details, like slapping girls’ butts and jokes about fellatios, with Duke making jokes about rape and abortions. Their sheer idiocy annoyed me more than anything else.

      But I guess we all have something we can’t stand. In my case, I find stupidity much more outrageous to my senses than sexism.

    • gwathdring says:

      Hmm. It’s not that I expect to see a perfectly average character, or a non-fantastical character, or a carbon copy of me. It’s more that I expect to see characters that match their place in their particular fantasy world.

      For example, with ridiculously impractical armors, it’s more basic sorts of internal consistency that get me than the gender disparity. If half the characters are fully-decked out in solid but flowery plate armor and half the characters are decked out likewise everywhere except the midriff … it bothers me when there’s no in-world flavor explanation as to why. It’s the exact same sort of annoyance I encounter when my ancient super-assassin has a deadly water intolerance.

      Or rather outrage. I’m probably overly sensitive to those kinds of flavor details. They shouldn’t distract me from games so much. One of my many quirks. :)

  40. thebigJ_A says:

    The guy’s “deconstruction” of Dead Island is really just a rant against rpg elements in games. Not informative, interesting, or useful at all.

  41. BooleanBob says:

    Can we take a sec to all rave about how good Simon Parkin’s bit over on Eurogamer was? Normally he drives me up the wall when he pulls out this kind of writing in a review, but I completely loved the way he went about picking through the Hollywood debris and money stacks.

  42. Cryo says:

    I can’t express how grateful I am for the block button right now.