The Sunday Papers


Sundays! Sundays are for wondering what the week ahead may hold, but also for looking back at the previous week’s scribblings of the internet’s mad scribes, and plucking them apart for clues. IS there anything useful in there? What have they been saying? Read on for elucidation.

  • Not really a PC-gaming link winning the Sunday Papers this week, but Ben Goldacre’s request that Susan Greenfield publish her claims about videogames destroying kids’ brains in a scientific paper is reasonable and important: “This week Baroness Susan Greenfield, professor of pharmacology at Oxford reportedly announced that computer games could cause dementia in children. This would be very concerning scientific information. But this comes from the opening of a new wing of an expensive boarding school, not an academic conference. Then a spokesperson told a gaming site that’s not what she means. Though they didn’t say what she does mean.”
  • The Armchair Empire on how LA Noire missed out on cashing in on a great history of Noir source material.
  • A lovely bit of game design theory for a Sunday morning: The Abstraction Of Skill In Game Design. “These days, many games feature a blend of action and RPG elements — is there any way to determine whether a blend is effective? Is there any way to think about the specific target you’re aiming for?”
  • Bitmob on “the realification of video games“: “It has become increasingly apparent that what attracts me to video games are not the video games themselves. It’s not the fantastical worlds, the impossible creatures, nor the far-flung technologies. It’s the medium’s ability to provide experiences based in reality that I cannot otherwise experience due to their respective barriers to entry. Perhaps it is an unintended response to gamification: the realification of video games.” I think that’s sort of true, but I think it’s true of imaginary locations, too.
  • A big video interview with Obsidian by The Game Creators Vault.
  • We don’t have anyone at Blizzcon, but VG247 do, and they’re doing some seriously detailed coverage.
  • I’ve linked to this previously, but it’s worth watching CCP try to mend their image in interviews like this one.
  • While you’re there, Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry suggests some ways you could tune your PC for Battlefield 3. Not sure I agree with all the recommendations in there, mind you.
  • Comics Alliance on the treatment of female characters in Arkham City: “I think the most obvious counterargument is that since the characters constantly calling Catwoman and Harley Quinn “b*tches” are mostly villainous henchmen, it’s simply in character; they’re evil men saying evil things. However, if they’re just bad, angry guys who like to shout profane insults at their antagonists, you’d expect to hear similarly harsh insults shouted at Batman. Except that you don’t, really. He gets called a “freak” a lot, which isn’t nice, but also doesn’t carry the same weight as “b*tch,” especially in the cultural context of men speaking to women. If it’s ok to call Catwoman a b*tch, why aren’t we at least hearing Batman get called an a**hole?” I’ve been playing it a bit on 360, and I have say that it is slightly creepy in its treatment of the female characters. And it is really in the dialogue that it is disturbing, rather in the portrayal of those characters as “sexy” – the constant muttered undertone of sexual violence doesn’t do it any favours. Fortunately: BIFF! And so on.
  • Ian Livingston tweets: “Yes I am writing a new FF gamebook for the 30th anniversary in 2012. All will be revealed soon on http://www.fightingfantasy.com.”
  • Tom Francis on “If Sony’s Michael ad was about a PC gamer.”
  • Related, Gaming Philosophy talks about the great NGJ wars, and their ripples in the now.
  • Over at GamerLaw, Jas Purewal has his own take on the Mojang vs Bethesda “Scrolls” case. From the comments: “As a general rule in my experience (at least under UK law), interim injunction results are a factor when it comes to trial – not least because the trial judge will have the opinion of a prior judge (or his own earlier opinion) to review. However, clearly by trial there has been much more evidence circulated, and further developments may have occurred since then, so there is always scope for something to change the judge’s mind.”
  • Will Wright’s “business cards” are incredible.
  • Nick Bostrom’s take on the Fermi Paradox is an interesting and nuance warning.
  • One of my favourite authors, Will Self, finds his fiction and reality blurring as he faces a rare blood disease.

It would be some manner of falsehood to deny that I have been listening to William Shatner all week. Amazing.

As ever you can mail me with interesting links, or tweet me right up on the twitters. Oh, and we finally have an official Facebook page. Dunno how that works, but there it is.

145 Comments

  1. Ba5 says:

    What else would you call Batman? A dick? A douche? At best they can yell “you keep locking up the Joker so he can escape again and kill even more innocent people so just fucking kill him you HYPOCRITE” but Batman would already have knocked them out before they got half-way through that sentence.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      Well, a Guy Who Dresses Up Like a Bat Clearly Has Issues.

    • Deccan says:

      “Batch” just doesn’t feel weighty enough.

    • fuggles says:

      I think Twatman would fit the bill nicely.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Batcock?

    • torchedEARTH says:

      Cat woman fights beautifully though, and I am looking forward to trying out the challenge rooms with her.

      Maybe it will come later, but I would really like to see her kick criminals in the balls. That’ll learn ’em to be rude.

      Perhaps we could have some Harley DLC as well? She’s got some moves, I could see her being fun to play as.

    • JackShandy says:

      Freak seems like a much harsher word than asshole. When you call someone an asshole it’s because you don’t have anything specific to insult them for.

    • J-snukk says:

      Not having played the game, I obviously cannot definitively comment, but the issue seems a bit contrived to me.

    • Burning Man says:

      As a guy, I sense my ability to comment intelligently on this issue has been seriously undermined by the nature of the argumentation. Which was probably what she was going for.

    • aerozol says:

      Missing the point so hard..

    • Jimbo says:

      “Not having played the game, I obviously cannot definitively comment, but the issue seems a bit contrived to me.”

      Don’t worry, it usually is. Writers gotta find something to write about.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      The political correctness crowd are really starting to grasp at straws now. Go away annoying people, you’re just making yourselves look silly now.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Via Twitter people, I hear there are also quite a lot of rape threats. So…yeah.

    • MuscleHorse says:

      I’m sorry, it’s a bit insulting to be called a member of the ‘political correctness crowd’ for objecting to the sole female characters being treated like objects to be either sexualised or threatened with violence. This is a real problem with the medium – in otherwise more mature titles, we still find women inexplicably dressed in clothing completely at odds with their environment. Ultimately it’s a problem with the players as well as the developers. I’m still somewhat obsessed with New Vegas and the modding of it and you only need to look at the front page of the popular modding site NV Nexus to see the frankly disgusting portrayal of women that is rife.
      It’s certainly making me think twice of playing Arkham City and I’m speaking as a massive fan of AA.

    • AndrewC says:

      The problem with this sort of thing, for those that are missing it, is that it leads to people like you not seeing the problem with this sort of thing.

      I wouldn’t worry too much, though, we know how scared you are.

    • Unaco says:

      I think there is far too much being read into all this.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “The political correctness crowd”

      It’s easier to think of it as the “not being a dick” crowd.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Its nit that you missed the point that scares me. Its that you somehow feel its targeting you or that you need to fight against it. Its not ok that offence directed at women almost always involves their gender. Sexism is still extremely common in society. Sometimes its as tiny as calling a woman darling, but its there and a huge amount of women experience it every day.

    • mjig says:

      Well, it’s easier to think of any group that disagrees with me as the “being a dick crowd”.

    • AndrewC says:

      If you’re a dick, sure.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Its not ok that offence directed at women almost always involves their gender.

      Yeah, that.

      Sexism is still extremely common in society.

      I saw someone recently arguing that while racism and especially homophobia are very much on the decline (enormous progress in the US since the early 90s), sexism is getting worse. Might be true. Of all the popular casual bigotries, it’s by far the most acceptable on the internet at least.

    • Marinetastic says:

      I’d assume that calling Catwoman, Harley, etc, bitch might have something to do with the T rating it has, maybe if they’d been fine with an M rating, we’d have seen a bit more creativity in the swearing.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Gender issues. The RPS commenters Kryptonite.

      Although some of you are sensible enought to wear lead underpants.

    • hypercrisis says:

      “we still find women inexplicably dressed in clothing completely at odds with their environment.”

      And men prancing around warzones in leotards isn’t?

    • BobsLawnService says:

      The last time I looked catwoman was an incredibly strong, capable woman in the game who was able to easily best the male thugs coming up against her. How the hell anyone can accuse the game of being sexist is beyond me. The structure of the game goes something like this : henchman throws sexist insult at catwoman, catwoman beats the ever living shit out of him. You can call me a dick but I see absolutely nothing wrong with the aforementioned scenario.

    • Rii says:

      @AndrewC

      ‘Dick’ is a gendered insult too.

    • Dozer says:

      There is a precedent.

    • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

      It’s easier to think of it as the “not being a dick” crowd.

      Ok, shall we get rid of gender based insults completely? I’d hate for people to think it was ok to call women “cunts” on RPS.

    • Dozer says:

      I didn’t realise that that was a gender-specific insult. Didn’t Shakespeare use that word?

    • AndrewC says:

      Yes, Rii, ‘dick’ is a gender based insult and, having used it, suddenly we’ve got a bunch of men getting terribly put out by gender based insults.

      Do you think there might be a lesson in there?

    • Sabre_Justice says:

      The problem is that ‘strong, independent’ is almost universally attached to a character who dresses and acts like a stripper, and let’s face it, Catwoman certainly does. There’s rain and snow in the game and she always has cleavage showing, that damn suit’s gonna fill up with water!

      Really, this isn’t the PC Nazis coming to take your games away, we’re just saying that the way female characters are treated and talked about in the game is kinda disturbing and lacking variety. You may consider it ‘realistic’ for a bunch of prisoners to talk like that, but ‘realism’ doesn’t exactly hold up in many other places in the game. I’m pretty damn sure it’s a great game you should play, but no game is perfect and you don’t need to defend every aspect of it if some parts are legit disturbing.

    • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

      -Not put out – I just find the irony amusing. A bit of faux indignation is also somewhat appropriate I believe.

    • Magnetude says:

      @Dozer: I remember ‘cut’ was used in a stealth pun in Othello, being an old-timey word for a lady’s ladygarden. Don’t know about the c-word proper, though I imagine the two are related.

      Is dick a gendered insult? I use it to describe women who are being dickish just as readily as I do men. Although I wouldn’t use the c-word for a lady as readily, it’s not because I see it as gendered, just because it’s really quite harsh. I understand ‘twat’ and especially ‘cunt’ are gender specific in North America.

      I don’t see why people are focussing so much on the thugs’ language, when the character’s portrayal in general seems to be the most sexist aspect. They’re a bunch of naughty, uncultured criminals, sexism is exactly what you’d expect from them in that situation. Sexist language follows necessarily from pitting a buxom woman in skintight leather against people like that. If the designers had wanted to avoid sexism they would have given her something more sensible to wear in the first place.

      And as has been pointed out, the game does give you the opportunity to utterly destroy and humiliate these men, which is much more empowering than anything Lara Croft ever did back when the press was lauding her as a feminist icon (which I’ve never agreed with, btw).

    • Urthman says:

      The whole “It’s just being realistic! That’s how thugs would talk!” is a total copout. There’s all kinds of unrealistic stuff in Batman. It would be realistic for him to have brain damage after taking a few hits with a baseball bat. But it wouldn’t be fun, so it’s not in the game.

      So basically, the developers think it’s fun to listen to thugs shout “bitch” at the female characters all the time.

      Some of us beg to differ.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Well, one problem is that the nastiest gendered insults against men are the ones that call them female or effeminate somehow. If you want the Batman equivalent of “bitch”, it’s probably some gay slur.

      It might be better to ask whether in a video game about people dressing in animal suits and fighting crime it is actually appropriate to aim for realistic insults.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      I’ll complain about overly-sexy female characters in games the moment all male characters are short, pot-bellied and balding. People like looking at attractive members of the sex they find attractive in their entertainment media. It isn’t called sexism it’s called being a member of a species that reproduces bisexually as opposed to asexually.

      I know I’d rather spend my gaming/film viewing time looking at attractive members of the opposite sex.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “I’ll complain about overly-sexy female characters in games the moment all male characters are short, pot-bellied and balding”

      Missing the point.

    • Earl Grey says:

      I don’t think the article is saying there’s anything inherently wrong with the use of the word, ‘bitch’. Which some of you seem to be taking it as. Having played the game Its the fact that it’s ALL you really hear from these thugs in relation to the female characters. Not every ‘hardened’ criminal is like that. It doesn’t make it realistic. Its over use in conjunction with the context, does portray a slightly worrying attitude towards woman. I’m not angry about this and neither does it affect my enjoyment of the game – or it seems the other detractors. But it does come across as slightly odd at best.

      Also Catwoman (or any female in media) being able to beat up said thugs does not equal a strong female character. Based on what I’ve played so far, her potrayal is nothing more than eye candy that’s able to handle some baddies and shamelessly flirt with Batman (badly). Sure, she is meant to be a ‘femme fatale’ but theres a lot more nuance to justifying a character like that, than whats on show in Arkham City.

      These problems are down to lazy writing and any sexism is more than likely unintended. But unintentional sexism is still sexism and should be called out. If anything but to improve the quality of writing in games and to help gaming taken seriously as a medium.

    • Unaco says:

      @Urthman

      Just because it’s in the game, doesn’t mean that the creators/producers/developers approve of it, and think it’s fun. Not everything in a game has to be fun, if we consider them something more than just gameplay.

      Would you say that a feminist author, that writes fiction that includes or involves violent or sexual abuse, thinks that it’s fun to beat and rape women? Does a Black author, writing about the horrors of Colonialism in Africa think that it was fun and cool? Not everything in a novel (or a TV show, or a movie) has to be ‘fun’, and it can be the same with video games, especially ones that are trying to tell a story, create a world etc etc.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      Jim, I was responding to Magnetude’s post with my last post. Complaining about females being portrayed sexily is stupid. Plenty of women in the real world choose to wear clothing that flatters their bodies. Biology is inherently “sexist” if your definition of sexism is “Sexy is wrong.”

      I sure as hell am not going to feel guilty or apologise for being male and finding cleavage and a tight ass sexually attractive on a woman and wanting to look at it.

    • Consumatopia says:

      @Unaco, it’s not that because its in a game the developers think its fun (I don’t think Urthman said that.) Its that realism as an excuse for the frequency of “bitch” in Arkham City doesn’t carry water. In that particular game, fun clearly trumps realism, in both gameplay and narrative.

    • Unaco says:

      @Consumatopia,

      Fun may trump realism in the game, but that still doesn’t mean that EVERYTHING in the game is therefore considered fun by the developers.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I would argue that, realistically, effective insults that are geared towards males deal with sexuality: cocksucker, queer, etc. Anything less has little impact. However, designers generally balk at that route, presumably because they don’t want bad publicity (issues of sexuality generally being more of a hot button issue than gender).

      Speaking as a gay man, I thought a good example of how to handle these kinds of issues was in Bulletstorm. The protagonists are unbelievably foul-mouthed, and there are few vulgarities they don’t use. However, it never really seems offensive, mostly because they don’t seem to be channeling any ill will, and also because there’s a strong sense of self-deprecation (think of the scene where the guys are riding in the elevator and engaging in deliberately homoerotic banter). Contrast this with the chapters in which the general is tagging along, where not only are racist remarks deployed for the first time, but terms such as ‘cocksucker’ suddenly start to hit home. It’s the intent, the emotion behind the words, which matters.

      Which brings us back to Arkham City. If the terms used are solely used with ill intent, then they can only cultivate a sense of discomfort. If the terms used are solely directed at specific groups–women, minorities, whatever–then the only people who will experience that discomfort are members of that group and the (comparatively smaller) segment of other players whose sympathy/empathy/awareness is sufficient to notice.

      I doubt the devs even noticed this. They are probably mostly men, and probably used the same rationale as some posters above (the only people using the terms are antagonists, and the player can punch them, so who really cares), but really, its the game that’s being offensive, and it shouldn’t contain offensive material unless it’s for a purpose, be it to create atmosphere or make a point (and I do believe Bulletstorm makes a point, before someone decries my above example). Simply having some characters use the word “bitch” towards the small number of (highly sexualized) female characters without comment accomplishes nothing, except remind some gamers that women still live in a world that can be very threatening towards them.

    • Earl Grey says:

      @BobsLawnService

      No one is saying that being attracted to a woman that’s dressed or looking sexy is wrong. I’d agree judging something as sexist solely on how sexy a character looks does verge on stupidity. You could argue that ‘sexiness’ is tacky but that’s a different matter.

      The point is, if that’s the only context you are seeing or the portrayal of a personality is as one-note as something like,’Is sexy, kicks ass’. Then it does become sexist.

    • Baines says:

      One other things to remember with Arkham City is that it is based on DC comic book characters. DC has for years had a poor track record when it comes to female and minority characters, as well as DC editorial/management’s attitudes towards and about female readers.

      It doesn’t help that DC’s “New 52”, their line-wide “It’s not a reboot, except where we want to call it a reboot” relaunch, started with one female creator (although they have more than one) working on it, a comic that spends most of its pages being about a stripper performing in a strip club, a Catwoman comic where you get several pages of her breasts and butt before you see her face and ends with her having angry in-costume sex with Batman (who she now doesn’t know is Bruce Wayne because Catwoman got rebooted even though Batman didn’t), and a third comic has turned the strongly emotional “free-love” Starfire into someone who has completely emotionless (and even tells a guy “love” has nothing to do with it) sex seemingly with every guy she stand near for more than five minutes while striking supermodel poses for the reader.

      Note that when people complained about Starfire’s supermodel poses in her barely-there bikini, it was revealed that the original plans were that Starfire would have a see-through bikini (with light flare conventiently covering the nipples and crotch), except some people inside DC complained.

      Which is all really par for the course for DC. The company where some refuse to acknowledge that there was once a female Robin, the company that produced the story that spawned “Women in Refrigerators”, the company that– well, one could go on and on about DC, and that really is the problem…

    • BobsLawnService says:

      Early Grey – Except that female protagonists in games are always treated as physically and intellectually equal to or superior to men and yet most of the whining centres around the whole provocative clothing/boobs aspect of the character. It’s utterly ridiculous. Wow, our heroine likes to look sexy while she vanquishes evil from the world – big fucking deal. The PC brigade gets a bit much and it is getting a little old.

      Hell, my wife is watching Strictly Come Dancing right now and it has more provocative clothing than just about every game out there and you don’t hear people wailing and gnashing their teeth about it. People need to get over themselves and fight real injustice if they must.

    • Consumatopia says:

      that still doesn’t mean that EVERYTHING in the game is therefore considered fun by the developers.

      Correct. Fortunately, I said nothing like that. Just that if fun is clearly trumping realism, then you can’t use realism as an excuse for something being in the game.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      It doesn’t help that DC’s “New 52″

      I heard about this from Andy Ihnatko, who’s not usually one to talk about such issues. He was prompted by a listener’s email, and responded really well, with a good chat about sexism in comics from a comic-nerd perspective.

      Here, it starts at 35:00.

    • alundra says:

      Yeah sexism is alive and well in the 21st century, but not as some of you are depicting it. Sexism is just fine as long as is directed towards men, that’s when it’s politically correct. Ask yourselves, would be we having this conversation if it was batman being called a dick or an asshole and not the other way around?

    • aerozol says:

      God, I hate some comments so much.
      Shit, how TERRIBLE that a girl mentioned that being called bitch over and over and over with little variety made her feel uncomfortable. She shouldn’t ever bring that up, and definitely not write about it! *gasp* Because that would be reverse sexist and be attacking my entire gender and shit and be just terrible, time to turn on aggressive defensive mode! Doesn’t make me look insecure at all!

    • alundra says:

      @aerozol
      Tell that to the men getting their penises severed by their wives, and having the media say it’s ok to mutilate men, if you don’t believe me, google it.

      And thanks for proving my point, if sexism is directed towards women, it’s ok for women to speak out loud, men have to shut up at take it, double sexist standard much, eh?

    • Earl Grey says:

      @Alundra

      No ‘aerozol’ didn’t prove your point. Just because some men (woman too) do ‘shut up and take it’, in no way means THEY have to. If a man calls it out and gets unfairly criticized, its just as wrong as when it happens to a woman. Are you suggesting a woman should just ‘shut up and take it’ because ‘I have to put up with it’ even though you actually don’t? Bullshit.

      But trust me if theres been any blatant objectifying/putting down of men in any walk of life (and theres very little despite what some may believe), it will have been criticized and probably not had reactionary defensive crap like yours hurled at it.

      What i’m getting at is, if things like the subject of the article don’t get talked about, no matter how minor or unintentional it may be. Then we don’t learn from it. Again the issue gets brushed under the carpet and the wrong status-quo is maintained.

      Would love to see what media you read that defends the mutilation of men though.

    • Magnetude says:

      @ Alundra: Firstly, “if you don’t believe me, google it” has officially replaced “everybody knows” in the Big Book of Weak English Argumentation.

      Secondly, women have more right to complain about sexism, full stop. They deal with it every day, no matter where they go. As a man I never feel put upon because of my gender in the way that women are belittled day in, day out. And what sexism are we taking right now, anyway? You need to clarify. Right now you just sound like one of those people who complains that white people aren’t allowed to use the n-word.

    • bluebogle says:

      I think this article by the film critic Hulk pretty much nips every pro-excessive-use-of-bitch-in-batman argument in the bud. Everyone should read this:

      link to filmcrithulk.wordpress.com

    • Srethron says:

      All I can think of is this: link to harkavagrant.com Sexism is over!

    • Froibo says:

      I’m a bit confused as to why anyone would rather be called a freak as to bitch. This is reaching for an argument.

    • Mman says:

      “And as has been pointed out, the game does give you the opportunity to utterly destroy and humiliate these men, which is much more empowering than anything Lara Croft ever did back when the press was lauding her as a feminist icon (which I’ve never agreed with, btw)”

      If your metric for an “empowered” female is how much they “destroy and humiliate” males (as opposed to say, actually being a character and not an object) then Lara’s done plenty of that too, but if that’s the case then Srethron’s link a couple of post up shows everything wrong with that.

    • gwathdring says:

      Hmm. It’s a tricky issue. I’ll toss down my glove, and give this a try.

      Firstly, the realism/fantasy dichotomy. If we ask for more realistically depicted women, clearly we’re ignoring the fact that sexuality can be empowering and that gamers have a right to ogle nice looking bodies. Clearly we’re forgetting these games are a fantasy or that characters can be both sexy and capable. We’re “realistic”ing up your fantasy. Case closed. But when we ask for some of the real-world negative language or stereotypes or horrors to be taken out of these same fantasy worlds, worlds that have no trouble making up ridiculous sound effects and costumes and names … suddenly we’re asking for the audience to suspend too much disbelief in the world. We’re being too politically correct. We can’t have pleasant, flower-filled fantasies or stark and meaningful realities–we have to deal with the unpleasant middle-ground fictions that arbitrarily choose when to be politically correct and when to be irreverent. It is convenient, at this juncture, to ignore the political correctness already at work in the game. There are no lewd sexual slurs or sexist comments made towards Batman. There is no rape in this game of violence and crime. You never have to worry about giving thugs permanent brain damage or killing them because in fantasy world, Batman’s fists are magically sedating pillows. But if anyone says they are somewhat uncomfortable with the frequency of the word “bitch” as used towards the two main female super-people in the game … the askers, somehow, have crossed your impossibly switch-backed line between realism and fantasy.

      Secondly, originality in writing. This is Batman. This comes from the world of comic books. Colorful characters and language are part of the territory. Why can’t we have some really clever and inventive insults here? Why do the thugs have to use generic swearing to prove their thugish ignorance? Why not some DC-U specific insults? What’s wrong with calling Catwoman cat-related names as opposed to gendered insults? Besides, even if the task at hand requires authenticity, a skilled writer should have some much better insults up their sleeves. If you think that the game is unharmed by the frequent use of the word b****, I’m ok with that. This is by no means a cut and dry discussion and I’m here becasue I feel both sides have something to learn by hashing it out. But if you truly feel that the game is improved by the repetitive use of the word towards female characters as opposed to more inventive and perhaps even less vulgar language …then we are at an impasse. My gut impulse would then be to suspect you of reactionary fear and spitefulness, or of having read too much boring dialog, but perhaps you just have very, very, specific tastes in dialog in which case I apologize for my assumptions.

      I guess I’m mostly pointing us back to the philosophies outlined in the Comics Alliance article linked by WhatKateDoes in the most recent one of these Catwoman discussions. If it’s good writing, you can do just about anything. The litmus test for these sorts of things:

      *Are you using gendered insults on purpose or because they are the first thing you thought of?
      *How do strangers and perhaps even newcomers to the series/character interpret this scene? Are you ok with that?
      *Is this interesting? Is this distinctive? Why not? You need an excuse to be boring, not the other way around.
      *Is there anything less offensive that does the same job as well or better?
      *Is there ANYTHING, offensive or not, that does the same job decidedly better? If yes, try this all again with that one, and revert if the results are worse.

      As for viewers, before guffawing about PC bullshit, my advice would be to forget how the scene makes you feel for a moment. It has made people uncomfortable, and you don’t know what’s in their head so stop assuming you understand exactly what kind of person they are let alone exactly what sort of feminist ideology they ascribe to if they even have one. Now, that taken care of … what does this content actually ADD to the scene? What is being taken away from you personally if this word sees diminished usage in your games? And if this is a complete non-issue from your perspective … why not let the people for whom it does matter have their way? If you can’t accept that, then clearly it isn’t a non-issue to you.

    • gwathdring says:

      “I’m a bit confused as to why anyone would rather be called a freak as to bitch. This is reaching for an argument.”

      I sort of see what you’re saying. But context is essential. Let’s say you have an uncanny ability or an obvious social or physical disability or trait that sets you apart in a group. It is likely, then, that “freak” will have more powerful associations to you. It is a demarcation of a difference that perhaps other people can’t see past, or that people taunt you for or harass you for. But let’s say, instead, you are a woman who isn’t perceived as having any particularly negative deviations from the norm be they physical or otherwise, but who has been harassed and discounted a fair bit on account of gender. I would not be at all surprised if you ranked the severity of the words differently from the person in the first example.

      There are of course all kinds of other reasons to react negatively to one of these words than I’ve presented an all kinds of reasons to be desensitized to one and not the other. I think your statement address an argument too personal and subjective to be productive or winable.

      Let’s instead look at in-game context.

      When a character calls Batman a freak, we understand why fairly well. It’s because he is wandering around in an utterly mad costume beating the crap out of criminals. They’re nervous. They’ve heard all sorts of legends about Batman. They don’t understand him, and they’d probably be afraid of him even if they did understand him. Given our propensity to fear and distrust the unknown … well a freak is born. There is substantial context for the insult in game that’s related to the specifics of Batman’s interaction with the thugs. You could argue the less detailed “man in a bat suit” point as well, and say they aren’t fearful but simply dismissive. Either way as simplistic real-world insults go, it fits the context a lot better than “asshole” or “jackass” or some such would.

      When a character calls Catwoman a b****, it’s a bit more difficult to deconstruct. Is it because they’ve heard legends of her as with Batman and they are likewise confused and nervous and reacting with the simplest insult they can put their fear and hatred behind? Or is it because they know she’s female and little else and grabbed the first word that came to mind? Is it generically dismissive or is it sexually motivated? Are they insulting her becasue they don’t want to be bested by a woman or becasue they don’t want to be bested by a crazy woman in a cat suit? There is some additional context to the insult they use that, and this is the key, could very easily apply to the situation. There’s all kinds of extra offensive context to the word freak that simply isn’t applicable to the Batman situation. Because the usage of the term is more ambiguous, I think we can agree that the insult in turn loses some context. And the more it loses context, the less reasonable it is to choose that word over others that serve the same purpose of generic profanity without belittling Catwoman as a female.

      So there are two sides from which to fix it.

      1) Provide better context either through the acting of the characters or the other language used in dialog and so forth so that it is more clear what the characters are trying to say. If the characters are genuinely supposed to be unpleasant and bigitous and sexist … one could perhaps still argue that design decision is unnecessary and male-centric but the fact that it was a conscious decision to put sexism into the game world makes it a lot more interesting and completely changes what kind of debate we’d be having right now. It’s a debate I’d rather be having, because it’s the one where we get to start actually talking about the meaning and purpose of particular games rather than all of this general “how to write well” sort of stuff.

      2) Use a word that better fits the currently supplied context and has a clearer reason for being used. Perhaps something alluding too the fact that she is ALSO dressed up in a ridiculous animal-themed costume while laying a royal beat-down on all takers. Why would they call Batman a freak, but not her? Is freak only a male insult now? Is there a particular reason freak does not fit the context of what they wanted the characters to say about Catwoman? Again, if there’s another word that gets the emotion in the scene across as effectively but isn’t belittling Catwoman as a woman … there’s really no reason not to be using it (of course, if it is essential to your plot or character motivation to have sexist things said … perhaps there isn’t a better word).

      When I play I’ll see what I think. But it sounds like it’s not a thoughtful, intentional usage of a gendered slur. It sounds, in short, like lazy writing.

    • Thiefsie says:

      Do they call her a pussy? Wouldn’t that be slightly more apt??

    • gwathdring says:

      @allundra

      It is certainly possible to say things that are unfairly discriminatory towards men. And I would never ask a man to quietly accept outright discrimination. I certainly don’t like gendered insults like “dick” that imply my penis is somehow a symbol of uncouth or foul behavior. I would however ask you to reconsider exactly what it means to discriminate unfairly against men in a male-dominated society. How easy is it, exactly, to be sexist towards men?

      I’m going to admit I’m extremely biased against you becasue of the tone with which you stated these things. Your tone is familiar to me, and it makes me very uncomfortable.

      I have this same uncomfortable feeling when people speak of “reverse racism.” To me it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of modern social dynamics almost every time I’ve heard these ideas espoused.

      I want you to think for a moment about what it means to be a dominant member of a society. Perhaps you’re a nice guy in most sense but you’re just part of a discriminatory machine. Maybe you legitimately genuinely don’t notice how much more careful many women have to be to avoid discrimination, harassment, or even assault. Maybe you’ve never been on a jury and listened to men belittle a woman for over-reacting in what to you was a clear case of domestic violence simply because there weren’t any obvious bruises for them … only to later find out after the trial let the man go that he had a long track record of convictions for the same crime against the same woman.

      Yes, there are some people who abuse this social dynamic to justify violence, cruelty or other injustice against men, but far more men abuse this social dynamic to excuse cruelty, violence and other injustices against women. I understand why men would enjoy a dominant position, but I am routinely amazed and mortified by the capacity of men to shove the most human of impulses–empathy–aside in order to maintain their precious status quo.

      If you truly think you understand what it is like to be the victim of sexism or unfair discrimination or oppression, then why would you then ask other people who experience that discrimination to themselves be silent victims? And why on Earth would you complain about people expressing much less dramatic ideas such as that of finding the way a game uses certain words discomforting? And even if you truly have experienced serious sexism as a male, I do not understand how you could see a world in which men are routinely oppressed by sexist women. I strongly encourage you to take a closer look at your surroundings.

      A few extreme examples of inflammatory feminist thinkers have made a lot of people I’ve spoken with react to every mention of vaguely feminist ideas with laughter or anger about how women are trying to destroy the male way of life. Think of how millions and millions of unthinkingly sexist men added on top of anomalously extreme examples of misogyny make women feel about men. Your sort of reaction just makes this go in circles until none of us trust one another and none of us listen anymore.

      Please, don’t do that. We already listen little enough. I’m very glad so many listeners are present in the RPS comment forums and it would be wonderful if you would join us regardless of your opinions about gender politics. But this?

      “And thanks for proving my point, if sexism is directed towards women, it’s ok for women to speak out loud, men have to shut up at take it, double sexist standard much, eh?”

      It feels like you aren’t listening at all. So why, after this, should I ever again take the time to listen to you?

    • Olivaw says:

      What’s funny is that I’m pretty sure they do call Batman an asshole.

      Or at least they did in the last game, when you were stalking around all predator-like. No joke, I vividly recall it since I heard it about a billion times playing those challenge rooms.

    • gwathdring says:

      @Thiefsie

      I can’t speak to how offensive that would be as a woman … but I can certainly say it would add more weight to the context side of the scales. But you need to weigh both the relative amount it distrupts your audiences ability to enjoy your work and the amount it improves the context of the scene. You’d have to ask how offensive it was versus how effective it was compared to say … pussycat. Pussycat is diminutive, but appropriate and not sexual as far as I know. It demeans the character in an appropriately thug-ish way without brining sexual politics into play. I’m not sure if you’re serious or not … but assuming you are, it’s ok if it’s offensive and even sexist as long as that adds more to the game than it takes away. And if you’re not really improving the experience for anyone but you’re making it worse for some of your female gamers and fewer of your male gamers … well, then it’s a bad design choice, isn’t it.

      Also, what’s wrong with letting it get a little campy? It’s not like the thugs aren’t a bit cartoonish and campy already. From the voices to the generic insults to the muscles they’re all stereotype thugs to begin with. Bring on the camp! Here are some non-gendered, demeaning, thugish lines.

      “Come on out, pussycat! We’ll teach you to mess with the boss.” (Not great, not terrible)
      “Hope you’re faster than Garfield” (…. probably not)
      “Who the **** are you? Boys, let’s teach puss’n’boots a lesson.” (Not great, not terrible)
      “Awwww … it’s a little kitty-cat. I always hated kitty-cats.” (Still not very good)
      “Shit. It’s another damn freak. I hate ******* costumes.” (See? You can swear still!)
      “Whatever you do, don’t let her start singing!” (Unless it’s Memories?)

      Those aren’t very good. But it’s not like the actual call-out lines are, either. And I’m sure people who get paid to do this can do better.

    • gwathdring says:

      @Olivaw

      I’m pretty sure they do as well. I don’t quite see how that matters, as I don’t see “asshole” as either gendered or sexual. I think it’s mostly a scatological insult.

    • Sunjammer says:

      I think game developers are free to put whatever the hell’s kind of insult or slur or praise or loving poetry in their games, and people are free to vote with their money.

      I don’t understand why a group of insulted individuals are EVER representative of the greater whole. This notion that we need to average everything out until nobody feels anything just makes me sad.

      It’s OKAY to dislike a game. I don’t understand why the game has to change just because someone dislikes it.

    • gwathdring says:

      That’s mostly fair. But perhaps not exactly hitting this particular nail on the head. Keep in mind a handful of the above commenters seem to feel offended that a writer expressed her personal discontentment with the game due to something they perceived as politically correct bullshit.

      I’m not suggesting we censor offensive material, but suggesting we “vote with our wallet” is rather besides the point for me at least. I’m not trying to make an ethical stand here, and I haven’t bought a big-budget game for full price in a while both due to monetary reasons and because I already vote with my wallet to a large extent. That doesn’t mean I don’t want more, better games that entice me enough to elicit a full-price purchase. Besides, sometimes I don’t find out about particular game design annoyances or offenses until I’m well into the game and out of range of most review and preview material … at which point I can’t un-vote.

      I also, personally, just don’t see the point in offending people unless it adds something to my writing. I’m not going to shy away from writing a sexist character if it makes the story or scene feel more organic or authentic to my vision than the alternatives. But the reality of phenomena like sexism is that they genuinely ruin peoples lives while being easily perpetuated by people who honestly aren’t aware of what they are doing to perpetuate them. There are otherwise intelligent and friendly people who don’t understand why cat-calling can make women uncomfortable or that racism is still a huge problem in, say St. Paul Minnesota. And part of that’s becasue it’s really easy to say “just ignore that guy,” or “he’s just joking” or “come on, it’s just a damn movie, it’s not like it’s real life or anything.” And people aren’t wrong for saying those things exactly … but implicit discrimination is really damn hard to fight. It’s built into everything from the way we tend to phrase certain things to the way the government marks high-crime zones. And it makes me uncomfortable that people who comment on potentially unnecessary or unintentional slurs toward female game characters are so casually shot down as over-reacting fun police who don’t understand how to lighten up or pick their games properly. Especially when they qualify their statements heavily to make it clear they’re just trying to get some feelings out there rather than decry the game designers as bigots.

      I’m really not out to make everything safe and comfy for media consumers or to obliterate fun. But I do want our mainstream media creators to think harder about what they do. If we get nothing else but more interesting and varied plots out of it, then I have exactly what I want. Because I can put up with all kinds of otherwise offensive or uncomfortable material if the end result is a more interesting, unique, and meaningful experience. What’s not to like about more interesting games?

    • Thiefsie says:

      I just thought that they would get a zillion more clever writing points derogatorily calling her a pussy, and be in a better position to defend themselves against the !egads! misogynist warning crowd out there instead of the plaid, boring, slightly ironic use of bitch… is this a Teen rating limit? Bitch is allowed but pussy isn’t?

      Then again pussy could backfire further being a sexist comment like calling someone a dick.

      Basically I think as usual, the gaming critic crowd (not necessarily gamers but seemingly in this instance it is) has latched on to something and made a mountain out of a molehill.

      We nanny too far and then everything is plane jane, and/or we react further in the opposite direction and end up with manhunt (bad example of violence vs swearing/name calling in the same field).

      They could have played out dialogue where the bads called her pussy and she retorts and perhaps even comes out as actually being catwoman before they realise as such and then abhorently realise the err in their ways… I dunno – simple lost opportunity that could have lead to an even better line of character empowerment in a game that appears to be brilliant already…

    • Hanban says:

      “Basically I think as usual, the gaming critic crowd (not necessarily gamers but seemingly in this instance it is) has latched on to something and made a mountain out of a molehill.”

      This is perhaps the attitude that concerns me the most regarding this type debate. i can understand that you don’t feel it’s a big deal, it’s just a game. But this dismissive attitude really undermines the important issues underlying not just this game, but a trend throughout society. People who have something negative to say about the use of bitch in Batman Arkham City(a game I have pre-ordered on PC, waiting to play) are not being nit-picky about the use of a certain phrase’s prevalence in this one game, but are likely concerned about something that we see in all walks of life and something that is featured in a whole slew of games.

      On a more general level I think It’s rather depressing to see that as soon as someone tries to communicate their emotional response to this particular aspect, people somehow get offended as if it was their person that were being questioned.

    • Rodafowa says:

      Wow, our heroine likes to look sexy while she vanquishes evil from the world – big fucking deal.”>

      Wow. I mean, you DO get that “our heroine” doesn’t “like” anything, don’t you? You DO understand that she’s been made to dress and act that way by a (generally male) writer and a (generally male) artist, yes?

      If nobody’s pointed out the rather excellent CA article from earlier in the month about the portrayal of female characters in comics, featuring an especially excellent contribution from Comrade Gillen, they probably ought to have.

    • Froibo says:

      @gwathdring Right, but isn’t Catwoman and Harley being empowered by the word bitch? More accurately aren’t the thugs that are saying it less empowered? Men typically use the word bitch to a women when they feel threatened or vulnerable by them, if anything this makes the Thugs look pathetic and not the role of women. I get the argument being made here and agree with it; sexism IS bad in video games and throughout all media. Although I haven’t played the game yet and have no direct experience, I am not sure this is the best example to be bringing it up.

    • Mman says:

      “I think game developers are free to put whatever the hell’s kind of insult or slur or praise or loving poetry in their games, and people are free to vote with their money.

      I don’t understand why a group of insulted individuals are EVER representative of the greater whole. This notion that we need to average everything out until nobody feels anything just makes me sad.

      It’s OKAY to dislike a game. I don’t understand why the game has to change just because someone dislikes it.”

      Who said anything about disliking the game because of this? Most of the people I’ve seen who hate the questionable aspects of it also lament the fact that it’s part of such an otherwise great game. Also, unless it’s a terribly written game, how would Female characters being insulted for their femininity less take away from the emotional experience of the game as a whole?

      “but isn’t Catwoman and Harley being empowered by the word bitch? More accurately aren’t the thugs that are saying it less empowered? Men typically use the word bitch to a women when they feel threatened or vulnerable by them,”

      While there are more neutral uses, “bitch” is used all the time in time in real-life to demean woman who mostly have done nothing to deserve it. “Empowerment” can’t be ascribed to something almost universally used to depower a group of people (at least, not without a ton of careful writing, which doesn’t seem to be so much the case here).

    • ScottTFrazer says:

      Good heavens, gwathdring. I would write something here, but you’ve said anything and everything I could hope to say and done it way more reasonably and effectively than I could have.

      Do you have a newsletter or something?

    • gwathdring says:

      @ Froibo

      My gut reaction was HELL NO.

      But I’m not a woman myself. I asked a friend who is. her gut reaction to your first sentence was “NO.” The rest of her reaction (paraphrased of course):

      This is not the sort of empowerment [she] would necessarily endorse. It’s sort of taking on the name in a bad way. A bitch is mean, emotional and would beat people up. She didn’t think it sounds empowering to get to beat up the people who tear you down. Or at least, that it was more demoralizing than it was empowering.

      She also said that it makes sense to her to have a Catwoman fight scene in which generic comic book thugs were responding in a sexual/sexist/gendered way seeing as her aesthetic is supposed to be seen as highly sexualized. [Edit, as I asked another question] I also asked how she would feel playing a game where that sort of dialog was generically repeated by encounters that popped up frequently across the game rather than in a few key scenes as might be the case in a movie. While she hasn’t played very many video games, her gut reaction was that she would have no interest in playing a game like that. That it would, after a while, no longer matter if the gendered insults were authentic to the world and she just wouldn’t want her character being called a b**** anymore.

      So there’s one opinion from one woman.

      @ Scott T Frazer:

      Thank you. :) That’s very kind. I have a wordpress, but it’s defunct. After my first 4 posts this summer, Quantum Mechanics and Organic Chemistry happened. Also it’s long-winded as all hell (not surprising, I’m sure, given my responses on RPS …). It’s not really in a state I’m proud of at the moment which would be one thing if I was actively adding to it and thus improving the average quality of the articles but is another entirely when it’s perpetually on hold.

      Mostly it’s supposed to be a way for me to keep up writing and just produce some sort of content, journalistic, editorial, creative, whatever on a regular basis. The publishing aspect forces me to be a little more rigorous with editing things than I would otherwise. In theory …

      I’ve been meaning to give it a fresh coat of paint, and I have a break coming up so maybe this will be the weekend.

  2. Kaira- says:

    William Shatner? Yes, Shatner is pretty nice.

  3. Delusibeta says:

    I’m going to wager that Baroness Greenfield has a) no proof and b) a want to hog the spotlight and make headlines. Certainly, scientific papers doesn’t prevent b from happening (see: all the MIRACLE CANCER CURE DRUG headlines the Daily Mail runs on a semi-regular basis), so I think that a lack of proof is the reason why she hasn’t gone through official channels and instead wrote tabloid articles about her claims (which is about as unscientific as you can get).

  4. The Greatness says:

    Ian Livingston tweets: “Yes I am writing a new FF gamebook for the 30th anniversary in 2012. All will be revealed soon on http://www.fightingfantasy.com.”

    Every time I read the name Ian Livingstone I spend about two seconds thinking it says Ken Livingstone.

    • westyfield says:

      I thought it said Chris Livingston, and got excited that he was writing a book.

    • sinister agent says:

      Do you think if enough of us started saying that Chris Livingston is writing a book, he’ll start to believe us and write one?

  5. Inglourious Badger says:

    Yes, Will Self is wonderful. Brilliant writer, as proven by that article. I would love to see the future world of ‘the Book of Dave’ recreated in a game, it’d be fantastic open-world craziness. Horrible to hear about his troubles, hope he gets well soon.

    And that Fermi Paradox article takes me back to my Uni days (studying Physics and Astronomy). The Drake Equation has to be the most pointless made up formula in existence, all the factors are complete guess-work. We all know what’s really up there, anyway: nobody. Except for the Inhibitors.

    • Aardvarkk says:

      I hadn’t read his work until that article, and I stayed with him down to the end, listening to him regale us with tales of his heroin veins and the discomfort it has produced later in life. The metaphors were some of the most vivid and disturbing I’ve read, such as him describing the needle entering the skin “and from the red gush they dug in human soil”. Excellent stuff, even if the subject matter is a bit sad.

    • terry says:

      Agreed, very thoughtful and informative, and unlike most of his other stuff I’ve read, I didn’t even need a dictionary.

  6. JackShandy says:

    Great article on Skill abstraction, but I’d argue a game can never have 100% Skill abstraction while still being a game. No RPG has a “Command Party” skill that wins the battles for you.

    I hope Wizardry shows up. I quite fancy arguing about action elements in RPG’s.

    Wizardry. Wizardry. Wizardry. *Twirls widdershins*

    • Thants says:

      I guess a game with 100% Skill abstraction would be Progress Quest, which as you said is not really a game.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      No no no. It’s about abstracting character skills. No more. Very important distinction.

      Whatever level of out-of-character control the player may have over the situation doesn’t enter into it.

      Or, put another way: the player makes decisions, the character’s skill determines whether or not an individual action is successful. Like the article says, 100% abstraction = most tabletop RPGs. The ones that give you an actual skill bonus for good roleplaying are probably about 90-95%. Eg, if you say something convincing, you get +1 to your Persuade roll.

      Really good article, by the way. Read all of it.

    • JackShandy says:

      Maybe I’m missing some nuance of what you’re saying.

      All TRPG’s rely on player skill, at the very least, for making plans and deciding what their character does. That all falls into a set of skills that a character would certainly have if they weren’t being controlled by a dude who was doing that for him, right? I don’t see the distinction between taking over the planning/decision making/mental skills of a character and taking over the reflex/accuracy/physical skills of a character.

      Here’s a guy I’ve been reading recently talking about how character skill should be used as little as possible in DnD.

      link to hackslashmaster.blogspot.com

      Not totally relevant, but I enjoyed it.

    • Urthman says:

      The problem with that article trying to make a sliding-scale of player agency is that it implies there’s some kind of ideal mix of player skill and character skill game designers are searching for. When actually he’s just describing the fact that different game genres exist.

      It becomes more clear if you add RTS games into the mix. Should Starcraft let players look at the game from the point of view of an individual soldier? Should it let players aim and shoot and dodge and use their FPS skills for each soldier? That might be fun, but it would be a completely different sort of game.

      I think the problem is that you have significantly different genres, different kinds of games (each of which have fans that like that kind better than others), that superficially look the same. Borderlands and Quake look a lot alike but are really significantly different kinds of games. It’s why Wizardry gets so upset about Skyrim: it looks very much like a current-gen Wizardry might have looked, but in fact it’s a very different kind of game. If Starcraft did have a soldier’s-eye view camera option, players would be itching to control the individual soldiers as if they were playing Arma or something.

    • Raidhaennor says:

      @JackShandy
      “I don’t see the distinction between taking over the planning/decision making/mental skills of a character and taking over the reflex/accuracy/physical skills of a character.”

      The thing is, it’s not one or the other ; when you take over the reflex skills of a character you also have to take over the decisions making skills. You still have to decide what the character does, where he is placed on the battlefield, etc.

      Limiting the control the player has to the decision-making only, is what gets us the closest to playing a character different from the player, while still remaining a game. Let me put it this way : if my character is supposed to be fast, then he should be fast on his own. If I have to be fast myself to make it happen, then the way my character gets defined becomes meaningless, and as Urthman says, it simply becomes a different game. It’s no longer a game where I play a specific character, it’s a game where I play a mix between my character and myself.

      And I understand why people might prefer that, and I think that’s what the article you linked is really about ; when he says that he can use his own skills to convince someone, what he is effectively saying is that all the characters he ever plays will all have the same level of eloquence : his ; regardless of how different they might be from each other, of from him. And that’s not a “better way” to do things, that’s simply creating a different kind of games alltogether

    • Kadayi says:

      @Jack

      I think it’s ‘RPG’ 3 times and he appears, but you don’t really get an argument.

  7. phenom_x8 says:

    Ars Technica have some nice coverage towards indie devveloper recently, there you are :

    This is where our fave indie being made :
    link to arstechnica.com

    Making game in 48 hours, is it impossible??
    link to arstechnica.com

    And for RPS author, where are you all this time guys??

    • DarkNoghri says:

      I’ll second that series of articles on the 48-hour game jam. I seriously considered sending that to Jim, and then never did, because I forgot/didn’t get around to it/was too lazy.

      Seriously. Good stuff.

  8. phenom_x8 says:

    And regarding ro Battlefield 3 PC build by Digital Foundry, thankfully my old Athlon 4800+ was broken yesterday 5 months after its warranty expired!
    Any suggestion for the replacement guys (so that it more than capable to play Battlefield 3)??

    My current motherboard are AM2+ board that support up to 95 watt AMD processor with 4GB DDR2 RAM dual channel, AMD radeon 6850,1680×1050 monitor ! And sorry, no plan for major upgrade until mid 2012!
    My target was Phenom II x4 840 or Athlon II x4 645 or Athlon II x4 640 due to my limited $100 budget!

    • xavdeman says:

      Read my comment below, pick the cheapest quad core, you’re better off upgrading your video card and since you haven’t told us brand or type I’m assuming it ain’t nothing special right now ;)

    • phenom_x8 says:

      @xavdeman

      To make it clear,
      my board is ecs A780 GM-A 1.0,
      my RAM is DDR 2 800 kingston value RAM,
      my card is HIS HD 6850 1GB, and
      my monitor are Samsung LCD
      (its all from 2008, except for my video card)!

      Because I nit picked it all by myself and spent less than $250 at that time (its eats my salary for a month, you know) my parts were all special (for me, at least) ,folks!
      Dont you dare to say it otherwise :P

      BTW, thanks for your suggestion!

    • DrGonzo says:

      Your graphics card is more than capable. Aim for a quad as said earlier.

    • DarkNoghri says:

      My current setup is an Athlon 2 X4 635 and a Radeon 4850. I was running the beta at 1680×1050 at a somewhat sketchy 30 fps on Caspian Border. It was worse on Operation Metro, for some reason.

      I think it was CPU limited up to 1680×1050. That may not be enough for BF3.

      As for what you can get:
      link to ecs.com.tw

      That should link to your motherboard’s CPU support list. Or click the CPU tab on the page.

      Go to newegg, or your favorite retailer. Search AMD CPUs, socket AM3, either quad or hex core processors. Find the ones with the largest numbers under 100$. For me, this was the Phenom 2 x4 830 and the Athlon 2 x4 645.

      Check those processors in link to anandtech.com to see which has better performance. For me, it looks like the best you can do under 100$ is the Athlon 2 x4 645, which isn’t technically on the CPU support list. However, every other processor in that series is, so you have a high likelihood of it working (and a quick google search may confirm this). ECS may not have updated their support list recently.

  9. xavdeman says:

    The Eurogamer article on optimizing your PC for BF3 is really badly written. The justification for upgrading your CPU is especially pathetic: “tests reveal that an Intel Core i3 530 CPU running the game in “ultra” mode at a tiny 640×480 resolution offers just 25-26 per cent of the performance of the exact same setup using a Core i5 quad core CPU. “. At these tiny resolutions everything becomes CPU limited. The video card should be step one. (and frankly, the only step if you already have a core 2 quad, phenom ii, or an i3 or better). Going from an 8800GT to an GTX 560 Ti makes BF3 playable at 1920×1080, going from a core 2 duo to an i7 2600K, keeping the 8800GT, doesn’t change a flying fuck concerning the playability (30+ FPS) of the game. Intel’s marketing dollars at work boys ;)

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I don’t see any reason to get an i7 at the moment, especially when you can overclock the 2500k so spectacularly.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Interesting. I haven’t read the Digital Foundry article yet, but I’m on a core 2 duo and was just thinking about getting a GTX 550 and some more RAM (only got 2GB atm) to help run BF3 better.

    • subedii says:

      Yeah, an i7 is overkill. Yes you can get enhanced performance but you’re paying silly money for much less of a return.

      Generally speaking, you’re usually better off spending less to get a “good” level of performance (varies from person to person admittedly, but I would take to mean setting most graphics settings to high (and little to no AA / AF) and getting a rock solid framerate) instead of spending a tonne more in order to try and “future proof” your system. It doesn’t work, you won’t be delaying your next upgrade by that much and you’ll be paying a lot of money for the privilege.

      Smaller, cheaper, and slightly more regular upgrades. Maybe get new components if you see a really good deal going.

    • LuNatic says:

      I have an overclocked Q9400 @ 2.9, and it choked severely during the on the caspian border beta. Changing the graphics details made no difference (5850 512mb), so it was definitely CPU bottlenecking. Right now I’m trying to justify to myself that I can afford an i5 2500, because core 2 quad doesn’t seem to cut it.

    • xavdeman says:

      Your processor shouldn’t choke. Your GPU is not especially powerful, have you tried running at 640×480 with everything on low and checking your FPS, I bet it’s above 60. Meaning it’s not your CPU, it’s your GPU.

    • LuNatic says:

      Upon closer inspection, my GPU is a 5850 1gb which benchmarks dead even with the 6850, and definitely makes the games recommended hardware requirements. I was(The beta is closed now, so no more testing) running at 1920*1080 and the performance didn’t change even slightly switching between ultra low and ultra high settings. Add to this the fact that my hardware monitors indicated all four cpu cores were maxing, whilst my GPU was comfortably sitting between 85%-90%, and yes, I’m pretty damn sure is was the CPU bottlenecking.

    • theleif says:

      I’d say, the only reason to get an i7 is if you you use virtualisation softwares (VM ware and and it’s likes). Anything else, an i5 can do just as well, and in some (few) cases better. So, unless you want to pay shitloads of more money for features you will never use, buy an i5. Specifically, an 2500k, as many other have stated.

      Of course, you could buy an AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition instead. It’s more or less at the same level as an 2500k, It costs just a little less, but generally you get more bang for the bucks on the AM3 motherboards.

  10. Unaco says:

    “A big video interview with Obsidian by The Game Creators Vault”

    Do they phone that one in as well?

    • Durkonkell says:

      Quinns isn’t even HERE any more!

    • Unaco says:

      Gone, yes… But is he forgotten? And so quickly? Some of us will never forget. Some of us are still waiting for a conclusion to the Song of Onion Brogues.

  11. Squishpoke says:

    “Freak” is more offensive than “Bitch,” in my opinion.

  12. InternetBatman says:

    This was a really good week for articles. I dislike the way they used skill in the gamasutra article and think that they missed a critical point, as you go further towards the center games generally become easier. Risen still had tough as nails creatures outside the walls, but even that content isn’t too bad once you’ve gained some levels.

    The realification guy had some interesting points, but I think we have a completely different philosophy about games. I rarely care about doing stuff I can’t do, I care more about the game itself, story, and exploring the world. It’s fun to see characters parkour, but we’ve been seeing that since Prince of Persia (or before.)

    The Michael piece was pretty funny, but it also highlighted the difference between cinematic games and pretty much everything else. Of course you save the world in a game, but part of the fun is the dumb shit you do. When I played Ultimate Spiderman I would rescue people falling off of buildings and leave them in the middle of Harlem or in the center of a major overpass.

    I hate video interviews. They go so slowly, and normally I just dislike the interviewer.

    • Dinger says:

      Actually, that is exactly what I liked about Tom Francis’ parody. I first saw the Michael piece when some dude working for some game studio linked to it saying “This is exactly what we aim for.” Oddly, Michael doesn’t express what I’m looking for in a game. Yes, I remember the narrative and the story and all that, but the fun of games is the extradiegetical part. Games aren’t movies. Period. The dwarf’s journey is more memorable than the plot of the game you shepherd it through.

    • Consumatopia says:

      With regards to “realification”, I’d be sad if all video games were “real”. It would be like if all movies were documentaries. At the same time, realism can be very exciting. Walking around a realistic simulation of some ancient city would be rather fun.

      I have a theory that if accurate depth-cameras were common place, and if taking a picture of an object and turning that into a decent 3d model were as simple as uploading an image to flickr or a video to youtube, that something like Second Life would be a lot more compelling than it currently is.

    • Shuck says:

      “Realification,” as he describes it, isn’t quite what I thought it would be; it doesn’t appear to be the same as “realism.” He’s sort of inconsistent, but it seems to amount to “being able to explore something (that feels real) that you can’t outside your imagination.” That is, indeed, a very interesting thing that games can do. I’d argue that there are lots of other very interesting things that games can do in addition to/instead of that, but I, too, enjoy being able to explore worlds (in the loosest sense) that are otherwise inaccessible. However, I can’t tell if his dislike of Mass Effect is due to game mechanics that get in the way of the simulated universe or that the universe being simulated doesn’t feel “real” enough, or because it doesn’t simulate an actual, real thing. I can’t tell if he only likes things that simulate the real world, or if he just likes things that are sufficiently “simulatory” (“simulationist”? Hmm, no.) Most sci-fi and fantasy games aren’t that interested in creating living, breathing worlds on the sort of mundane level he describes; non-realistic elements usually function as a means of explaining what would otherwise be pretty glaring game mechanics. So I rather suspect that if a game with fantastic elements was properly simulatory on a mundane level, he’d be into it.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I think he dislikes Mass Effect because there aren’t thousands of NPCs everywhere and freeform movement. Mass Effect doesn’t give you the freedom of movement that other games or an accurate slice of their society, especially parkour ones do. He seems, and I could be getting this entirely wrong, to want to just be able to have a big area to jump around and do cool shit in. Hell, he might even like it if the avatar was him instead of whomever.

      I have to say though, I think the mass market has been trending against the games simulating real life. There used to be tons of simulators on the market, and now it seems to be a niche industry.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      When I read:

      “the medium’s ability to provide experiences based in reality that I cannot otherwise experience due to their respective barriers to entry.”

      it occurred to me that, in fact, that’s basically what I want from games, with one proviso: not realism, as in something that adheres to the singular reality, but a realism, as in one of many. I think I like games best when they offer me a version of the real world around us right now in which I can do something that I can’t actually do, like drive at 200mph on the wrong side of the motorway, or punch people to the ground on a whim. However, I also love sci-fi games, which makes this rather difficult to square.

      What I think is going on is this: if a game that appears to be set in the modern real world in some way defies logic and/or common sense, e.g. invisible barriers prevent me from going over here, or I can’t pick up a dropped gun that would clearly be really handy, that pisses me off. It’s breaking the sensation of inhabiting a reality. The same thing applies to sci-fi games; if there’s something I ought to be able to do, but for no apparent reason I can’t, that’s a problem with realism, despite the unreal setting.

      This, for example, is why I can’t bear platform games. The realism of platform games is so incredibly limited and illogical that I feel like attempts to dress the basic mechanics with cutesy characters and environments are more like patronisation than anything. The only exceptions I can think of are things like Flashback or Another World, or maybe Prince of Persia, that make some attempt to actually create a working world beyond “here is a flat thing that floats, and another, press button to move pixels in parabola; repeat”. I suppose Mirror’s Edge is also a platform game of sorts, but that’s something that actually succeeds in making the platforms into a credible, rich environment – a realism.

  13. 20thCB says:

    Hmmm any chance we might see a full RPS feature on how to build/upgrade to a BF3-friendly system? :)

  14. StingingVelvet says:

    I think “freak” is just as bad as bitch, if not worse really. “Bitch” today is soooooo commonly used and empty. My last girlfriend said bitch constantly.

    • pipman3000 says:

      I bet she didn’t threaten to rape Catwoman every five seconds.

      Jesus Christ Arkham City is hella rapey for a teen rated game.

    • Premium User Badge

      Skabooga says:

      An argument could be made that one shouldn’t be calling others either.

  15. BurningPet says:

    Blizzard are so late on the DOTA party that i really think they are TOO late.

    i cant believe they missed that.
    they had this money making gem in their hands, they saw how it attracts millions of players, they felt the strain on their servers, they witnessed its professional gaming potential in the same channels that broadcast starcraft, yet they did nothing. absolutely nothing! and its not that it was something they had to discover. it was not something that was in their blind spot, a lot of modders and community members asked them repeatedly again and again to do something with it. if they wanted, they could snatch icefrog and create this game long before demigod failed at launch or riot even scratched the 10000 player base.

    Someone at blizzard failed and failed so hard it lost them hundreds of millions.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Blizzard isn’t very good at integrating outside concepts or teams into their company. After Blizzard North didn’t work out, they became very control-minded. Everything takes place in one big campus where they have a few big teams working on a few big projects. Easy to oversee and control. When they look at other companies that have several studios across the globe or Valve integrating small indie teams and their ideas, Blizzard is just like ‘that’s not something we’re good at’.

      Blizzard doesn’t do small and nimble projects that could become big. They do big games with high polish that dominate existing genres.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I absolutely agree with Dances about Blizzard’s scope, but I don’t know if it’s too late for them. LoL will eventually reach a place where balance becomes impossible as new champions disrupt the system, or they’ll run out of ideas for new champions and each one will start being a bland rehash of champions before them. I have a suspicion that the f2p model only works until a little bit after the provider stops offering meaningful content. HoN will probably become a ghost town after Dota 2 comes out, which is more of the same. If Blizzard can provide new content, the incredible balance that they’re capable of doing, and decent graphics I don’t see why they can’t be competitive a year later.

  16. Scilantius says:

    Wow. Will Self’s article completely enthralled me – and not at all by the subject matter, but solely by the quality of writing. I am quite speechless – I definitely need to look up some of his works!

  17. sparna says:

    iBuyPower has had a LOT of problems with customer service, shoddy build quality, completely wrong parts, etc in the past. The one to use for NA custom builds seems to be this – link to ecollegepc.com

  18. RichardFairbrass says:

    Turn to paragraph 400

  19. shoptroll says:

    What do you guys finally have? I want to know!

  20. Kdansky says:

    What’s a b*tch? Did someone drop a vowel?

  21. asshibbitty says:

    That abstraction article.

    Some people invent useless, redundant concepts like “gamification”, that guy took a basic idea (measure of how complex the rules of a game are) and obfuscated it so well it’s almost completely disappeared. There is no middle point on that graph, there are no skills that are “abstracted”; different, more advanced skills come into play. You can actually flip it around and say: here’s how player’s strategy and planning skills get “abstracted” as instead of controlling characters you become but one of them, thus lessening the effect of your skill (or input) on the game.

    On one end of the graph are rail shooters with lightgun controllers (don’t even need to learn how to aim with a mouse or a pad). Then go CoDs which are a bit more involved I guess (adds rules like “reload every x shots”, “move slower to if you want to hit anything”). Then Stalker where you have to remember to repair your shit. Then Borderlands: PC has some additional numbers attached to it, next to basic things like health or ammo counters, which are essentially the same thing, just numbers you have to care about. Numbers are hard. Then Fallout 3 with stats actually affecting things. Next JRPGs, turn-based combat with interruptions. MMOs where you have to think and plan ahead. Finally, classic CRPGs and chess, you have to issue orders to your party, no skills involved, practically plays itself (sarcasm). It’s a shaky hierarchy based entirely on how combat works.

    The conclusion is hilarious, if you translate it properly: you cannot make a game that is super easy and infinitely complex at the same time. No shit.

    • Shuck says:

      As a game designer, I wouldn’t call the concept of “gamification” “useless” or “redundant” (I have a whole different set of pejoratives to describe it), but the spectrum the writer describes isn’t about rule complexity. For one thing, more abstraction doesn’t equate to simpler, necessarily (nor does the opposite), and certainly not “easier.” Of course, the spectrum really isn’t about abstraction exactly, either. It’s more about character vs. player skills, with, as you suggested, the positive side of the chart correlating with players being involved in making strategic choices as their form of gameplay (with chess as the extreme example). You’re quite right to say that it’s a shaky hierarchy based only on combat. (As such it’s really only useful in discussions that are specific to designing combat systems for certain types of games.) His conclusions have a heavy dose of WTF-ery as well. He seems to confuse traditional (arbitrary) game categories with some sort of natural taxonomies that come with their own built-in audiences. And yeah, some of his other conclusions are blindingly obvious.

  22. Pace says:

    RPS needs to hire Tom Francis.

  23. Urthman says:

    that still doesn’t mean that EVERYTHING in the game is therefore considered fun by the developers.
    Yeah, but that’s all that matters to me. I’m sure not looking to Arkham City for some deep literary commentary on urban life or whatever. All I care about is whether it’s fun. And so it’s fine for me or anyone else to say, “Having to listen to guys shouting, ‘Bitch’ over and over isn’t fun. Knock it off, developers.”

    • Giftmacher says:

      Right, because if something in a game doesn’t align with what you were personally expecting or hoping for then it is inherently wrong.

  24. McCool says:

    Bugger, I had to end up on the Sunday Papers on a week with a ridiculously high quality level of writing. Including Will Self. Erk!

    The abstraction article is interesting, but it feeds totally into what my piece on the Player Character was about. It’s always been my argument against those who decry the movement from isometric RPS to first person that both axis from that article are movements away from being a true RPG. A clever RPG player leading his stupid half-troll character in Arcanum to victory through calculations in dice rolls is just as abstracted as someone using twitch skills to defeat enemies above their level in Fallout 3. I totally buy the argument that first person makes it more of an RPG as it does bring those roles closer. The best RPGs are really the unweildly space sims/mech sims with huge interfaces mapped across your keyboard, or better yet with a whole new control interface shipped with the game.

    • Consumatopia says:

      It was a full sunday, but your piece changed the way I’ll look at games from now on.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      It really baffles me that more “gamer” people don’t play tabletop RPGs.

      Because that stuff you wrote? Right there? It makes zero sense and has no relevance whatsoever outside of videogames. Unlike the abstraction article, which applies to games in general. You’re talking about a totally different, almost entirely unrelated thing.

      Play more games without an electronic device. Ideally, play a broad range of modern indie RPGs. Then read that article again.

    • McCool says:

      I am? To tell the truth I do primarily think in terms of computer games, but what I say still applies. It only really applies to role playing games though, or games where the player takes on a role within the confines of the game’s story. I must not have been clear enough.

      Take the example of a barbarian character in a dungeon game, be it paper or computer. A skilled human player is in full knowledge of how much damage per turn/second an enemy can deal, the threshold which the barbarian character and withstand, any abilities the barbarian may have and when this can be utilised in sequence with the attacks of the monster. A number of calculations are made, an ability is used (be it a card that is put on a table or a button that is pressed) and the barbarian’s attack does exactly the right amount of damage as to win the fight. You can also throw in movement across certain blocks, again in sequence with the possible movements of a monster. In effect, on computer or on paper, a complicated chess scenario is being played out. The player’s intelligence is being tested where in game lore terms the barbarian’s was not (he was rolled to have the lowest possible intelligence stat). In a half hearted sense the player’s battle awareness is analogous to that of the barbarian..but that is as close as we can get.

      Now consider the same scenario but in first person computer game. Same barbarian, same situation, but this time it is the reflexes of the player being tested as he dodges, and then the reflexes in pressing the right button to active the ability from before. As this battle was faster paced there was no time for deliberation – it was all instinct. Again we can draw some similarities between the player and the character, but again what is happening here is one player skill – in this case reflex, is being taken as representative as the entire fighting ability of the barbarian.

      Same movement, in different directions. Of course the only real RPG would be some insane holodeck LARPing. But again, even then, the player’s intelligence would not match that of the barbarian’s, so in a sense he would still be gaming, as in the first example.

      I really don’t see how my point is restricted to computer games.

    • Wizardry says:

      But the barbarian never needs to do numerical calculations in his head because that’s not how people fight in real life. It doesn’t matter if the barbarian is extremely unintelligent and shouldn’t be able to calculate exactly what moves to do in combat. That’s your job. And calculating the perfect battle strategy as the player doesn’t change anything because your perfect battle strategy will take into account the barbarian’s advantages and disadvantages. The perfect battle strategy for a mage is to cast spells, while the perfect battle strategy for a barbarian is probably to run into the battle and get purposefully surrounded by enemies. You see? You’ve gone about using your own intelligence to calculate the perfect strategies, but in the end those strategies involve different character types doing different things due to them each possessing their own strengths and weaknesses through statistics. That’s role-playing. You’ve made your own character and you tell them to do the kind of things your character was created to do, which happens to be the optimal strategies in the majority of situations.

  25. aerozol says:

    @ Alundra, are you genuinely saying it’s sexist for a girl to write about dialogue that made her feel uncomfortable? If she was standing next to you, and said it was awkward being called a bitch over and over in the game (no more, no less), would you tell her to keep her mouth shut because you feel like she’s violating your rights to equal treatment based on your gender? What opinion would you say she’s allowed to state about it, to make you as comfortable as possible?

  26. The Dark One says:

    Tim Cain’s views on copyright laws was really interesting. Of course, even if he did create Fallout, Bethesda owns it, and I doubt they’d be so open-minded as he is.

  27. Giftmacher says:

    I think the real source of all this sexism hullabaloo is the fact that Paul Dini’s dialogue is clumsy at best. The guy can do a decent story as far as the big picture goes, but his character speakins aren’t very good. I don’t think the purportedly unfair treatment of women in AC (or any other Batman fiction, like The Killing Joke) was intentional. Not that it’s much of an excuse.

  28. Sunjammer says:

    The idea that a virtual experience set in a real world context is any more real than a completely imaginary context is absolutely ridiculous. There is nothing real about checking the tires in Police Quest, no matter how much it matches real procedure. Even simulators,like DCS A-10, are *simulations*. The idea that a simulation is anything more than an abstract approximation of reality is nonsense. I like to think I can start, taxi and take off with an A-10 and land one with ILS, but it’s fantasy. And the idea that exploring Rome in Assassin’s Creed is somehow an approximation of the real thing is equally naive.

    At this point, you’re trying to give your entertainment undeserved meaning. It feels better to play a game that takes you a place you can identify as superficially real, but it IS no better.

    There’s this lovely idea that oh man, I get to experience the misery of the paraplegic through this game set from the perspective of one, but no, you idealistic sap, it doesn’t give you that experience at all.

    The absolute best a realistic game describing a real world situation can do is raise hypothetical questions for you that might take you a step closer to understanding the *implications* of a scenario, but no, it is not EXPERIENCING that scenario, and going somewhere virtually will never be like going there for real, and smelling the air and feeling the atmosphere.

    It’s actually sort of dangerous thinking, to let ones idea of the real world be abstracted away into a 60 dollar bundle. It’s like admitting defeat as a human being.

  29. Froibo says:

    @gwathdring Right, but isn’t Catwoman and Harley being empowered by the word bitch? More accurately aren’t the thugs that are saying it less empowered? Men typically use the word bitch to a women when they feel threatened or vulnerable, if anything this makes the Thugs look pathetic and not the role of women. I get the argument being made here and agree with it; sexism IS bad in video games and throughout all media. Although I haven’t played the game yet and have no direct experience, I am not sure this is the best example to be bringing it up.

  30. Rodafowa says:

    “I don’t understand why a group of insulted individuals are EVER representative of the greater whole. This notion that we need to average everything out until nobody feels anything just makes me sad.”

    “This notion that we might need to put ourselves out even slightly to not make life more difficult for groups of people that I don’t personally belong to but are generally quite badly-treated by society as a whole just makes me sad.”

    “This notion that we need to accept a tiny amount of personal responsibility for being thoughtless and insulting just makes me sad.”

    Also: your “morality by majority” argument seems to imply, just to pick one example, that it was perfectly fine that black people weren’t allowed to vote, right up to the point that the majority of white people were OK with it. Rhetorical question – did the majority change their mind because the persecuted minority played ball, kept quiet and just waited for an inherent sense of fair play to tip the balance?