The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for watching the dying hours of a Kickstarter and making tea after tea. It’s also for idly browsing the things that were written in the preceding days. What value might they display?

  • Splash Damage’s Ed Stern wonders how much game criticism we need: “Also, how much games criticism does anyone need? Or rather, how many people need any? Perhaps we already have enough. Most people who buy games aren’t particularly interested in critical thinking about games, any more than moviegoers are close readers of film, or downloaders are fascinated by music criticism. They like the sound it makes in their lives, but they don’t have to know how it works, or what it tells them about themselves. Most people like movies, but they want memories and making-of anecdotes and blooper reel gaffs to trade with their friends, they don’t want to spend a day on set, or a week in edit. Maybe we already have all the game criticism there’s any actual demand for.”
  • Frank Swain talks about videogames and free will: “So games such as Mass Effect and Deus Ex pose a very interesting philosophical question. It’s easy to believe that if everything is fated by God, there is no virtue in making one decision over another – it’s all God’s will in the end. Mass Effect-style gameplay prompts us to question this vision. It tells us that it doesn’t matter if your endeavours end in success or failure, what matters is how you conduct yourself on the way there.”
  • Emily Gera on the death of journalist Matt Hughes: “Comparatively, one week and a few blog posts following Hughes’ suicide, his death was already downgraded from a few online eulogies to a passing human interest story. It comes down to priorities. It’s nearing December now and the neighbourhood watch surrounding the Wainwright narrative seems to be quieting down. But now even in these brief moments of tranquility, of which in this industry there are very few, I think we’ve got our priorities all wrong.”
  • Jordan Rivas writes about self-deception in Skyrim: “I had deceived myself, and I was quite happy with the result. I had a better role-playing, and entertainment experience, because I immersed myself in this character’s mindset. In less participatory fiction, we call it suspending disbelief.”
  • Forbes offer the provocative headline, A Stripper Reviews the Saints of ‘Hitman: Absolution’, but the result is interesting: “I think it’s an excuse to show violence against women by making them the initiators of violence. It’s as if the makers of this video game are saying, “Hey, these women asked for it. It’s okay to kill them and beat them up because they’re the ‘dregs of society.’” It’s as if [the game is saying] they are subhuman and deserve to die. But that’s not who they are, it’s what they do for a living; stripping is a job, not an identity.”
  • Brendan Sinclair wonders when we’re going to get some disclosure about the topic of online sales: “With digital revenues an increasingly fundamental aspect of the industry’s well-being, the move to digital transparency may be inevitable, and perhaps even imminent. McQuillan said the industry is rapidly approaching a tipping point where the need for more transparency for all outweighs the benefits of publishers keeping their information proprietary, and where the relevant metrics of success go beyond revenues and copies sold, and toward the size of a user base and its degree of engagement.”
  • Nightmare Mode looks at “What games teach us about guns vs real guns”: “Shooting a firearm in real life is a full-body experience. You have to stand just so, hold your hands out steady and focused, but relaxed enough not to shake. You align the sights with your eyes. You breathe, mentally prepare yourself for the sound and the flash and gently squeeze — not pull — the trigger. Even the smallest gun kicks up more than you would think. In most games, this whole set of actions and preparations is reduced to a single button press, occasionally two (one for aiming, and one for pulling the trigger).”
  • There have been a lot of opinions offered on Kickstarter lately, but this one is more nuanced than most.
  • Here’s another one, suggesting that the Kickstarter gold-rush may be over.
  • Daniel Mears on Multiwinia: “In Multiwinia even the most self-assured generals are subject to the roll of the dice. Or is this just something of a misconception? As strategy gamers we expect to wield extraordinary power over our armies and brand everything outside of our purview as subject to chance. Of course, when you look at the lines of code which determine Multiwinians’ idiosyncratic behavior that probably isn’t far off, but dealing in such mathematical terms is to obfuscate from the issue.”
  • Oof. This.
  • Your brain is the problem: “you listen to a great concert: the artist is fantastic, the audio astounding, and you are having a great time for a full hour. Then something happened to the speakers and there was an AWFUL feedback loop causing a very bad screech that lasted about 15 seconds. When the concert was over, all you will likely remember would be that awful screech, not the wonderful concert that preceded it. That screech, a surprise and annoyance, is your primary experience, even though you had a full hour of good concert experience preceding it.”
  • Dogs in recent British Kickstarter games.
  • Is the THQ Humble Bundle problematic?
  • A Knightmare retrospective.
  • Surviving societal collapse in Suburbia.

In place of music, here’s a teaser trailer for a Fallout fan movie:


  1. NathanH says:

    Knightmare is the greatest TV show ever made.

    • Sean says:


    • terry says:

      My favourite part of Knightmare was when they screwed up and the shattering skull overlay kicked in. But nothing terrified me as much as the vortex from the adventure game (link to (yes i’m old).

      • Llewyn says:

        Indeed. Great though Knightmare was, the Adventure Game was even “better”.

        Terry, as you’re old and hopefully your memory hasn’t given out entirely yet (though it can only be a matter of time), perhaps you can help me out. There was a TV series, a contemporary of the Adventure Game I think, which involved teams of contestants completing challenges such as building rafts to cross rivers, getting across bridges manned with guards etc. It was set outdoors in the real world with no sci-fi or CGI elements, though I think the guards might have been part of some dystopian backstory. Ring any bells?

        • Majnun says:

          link to

          I don’t do reality tv…but, just sayin’…

        • Electric Dragon says:

          Sounds like “Now Get Out Of That” : link to

          • jezcentral says:

            Yup, between those programs, The Great Egg Race and watching Blue Peter armed with some sticky-back plastic, we children of the seventies/early eighties were taught we could create anything.

            Then came The Man, who lied to us with the A-Team and McGuyver, and ruined it all.

          • Llewyn says:

            @Electric Dragon: That’s it, thank you! I’d completely forgotten the UK v US aspect of it, but it probably wasn’t very significant to a 9 year old. Wonderful programme.

    • Lemming says:

      I think this says it all:

    • danimalkingdom says:

      Sirs, link to

    • TonyB says:

      It’s a show I’ve always held in the highest Treguard.

  2. Daniel Klein says:

    Allow Natural Death is probably the best thing I’ve read in a very long time. Oof indeed, but it also made me finally go and try out Super Hexagon, and I have 6 hours of playtime now, a day later. I now know something private about the woman who judges me every time she says “game over”. And I’m at 67s on Hexagon, so I’m basically god.

    But yeah. That piece. Read it twice, the second time around you notice very very smart things about how it’s constructed. Wonderful writing and I might have gotten something in my eyes there.

    • man-eater chimp says:

      It is one of the best pieces I’ve read in a long time. ‘Oof’ was a suitable phrase to describe my feelings as I read it.

    • SonicTitan says:

      It was heavy. There was no issue, there were no politics. It was games writing at a human level. I’m toying with sending it around, but I feel like it might cheapen it.

      • Daniel Klein says:

        How would sharing good writing cheapen it?

        • SonicTitan says:

          Because some things are so personal that promoting them seems cheap. It’s why I didn’t blog for years, and why I still regard facebook with suspicion.

          • jennfrank says:

            Hi, piece’s author here. I registered explicitly to say, thanks. I feel that way, too, actually. Besides being scared to write it or publish it, I also didn’t put it on my own Facebook the way I do some writing, because I really, really did not want my family to see it (and if they have, they haven’t mentioned it yet). Well! And here we are! Ha, ha. Yeah, it’s weird about “Internet” and what our responsibilities to other people are. I’m still working that out, myself.

          • Flit says:

            Thank you Jenn, thank you…thank you. I’m glad I found this today.

          • soco says:

            The piece was moving, you did a wonderful job on it.

            My complaint is that I had to spend several minutes hiding my tears from my coworker…I think I was able to pass off the sniffling as “I’m getting a cold.”

    • Zanpa says:

      I didn’t come to the internet to cry god dammit

    • Revisor says:

      If you liked the article “Allow natural death” and feel the need to explore death and dying more, have a look at the book Life Lessons by Mrs. Kübler-Ross and Mr. Kessler.

      link to

    • Morph says:

      Definite tears here.

  3. faelnor says:

    The “On Kickstarter” article is great. Exactly what I’d expect from a games journalist.

    • Frank says:

      Painfully rambly. I guess that’s what I would expect, too.

      But I’d rather read an article by someone who doesn’t get tripped up by ideas that started and finished as throwaway comments by creatures of the internet.

  4. Dinger says:

    To be fair, much of the Kickstarter discussion misses the point of KS. It’s not simply a manner of “going out, cap in hand, asking for donations”; KS, for good or bad, is more than just a way to generate revenue, and the devs who treat it that way will get burned.
    What KS is selling is a sense of involvement and participation in the project. Why would someone pay 30 quid for Godus, when Molyneux presumably can get the money any number of other places? Presumably, because that person expects something that can’t be found elsewhere: a front-row seat on the development process. Many folks would be interested to hear what such a project involved on the month-by-month scale. So, while I disagree with John Walker that a KS’d game already has the money of its supporters and should, after the KS period, shift its focus to PR for the game (with the occasional exclusive content bone), I share his concern that the real problem is that devs are treating KS as purely a money source, posting one or two updates and disappearing.

    So, if KS survives, be sure to include in the KS budget money for someone to post regular updates for those who pay in — and, certainly, don’t neglect drumming up attention outside that circle. Besides, those people who bought the game will have an interest in publicizing it, when the time comes.

    I can see why “established vets” would have an interest in KS. It’s not just free money for the impossible task of recapturing the magic of when we all were younger: it’s money and a dedicated fan base. Play that right, and it’s an investment that will pay off even more on release day.

    • Prime says:

      That’s another very good point, Dinger. The most successful Kickstarters do seem to be the ones that work very hard to engage with their backers, with collaboration, an openness to include suggestions into their designs, being one of the thinkgs backers find most fun about risking their money. Who doesn’t want a tiny say in how a game is made? It may be a tiny voice but it’s much MUCH more than the traditional stonewall silence and coldly-calculated PR campaigns we get from the Big Boys. Braben’s famously poor start suggested contempt, that he’d be able to trade on his name and history alone, and people felt that quite keenly.

    • Jimbo says:

      “What KS is selling is a sense of involvement and participation in the project. Why would someone pay 30 quid for Godus, when Molyneux presumably can get the money any number of other places?”

      Why do most people pay for things? It’s not for the satisfaction of supplying somebody else with money; it’s to acquire whatever is being sold.

      • AngoraFish says:

        Sometimes, what is acquired is satisfaction.

      • AndrewC says:

        Acquiring what is being sold is very rarely the reason people buy things. Taking part in the ritual of acquiring perhaps, being part of a community, or being the sort of person that buys this sort of thing – all those things, yes, but the actual object, not so much.

        An as example – look at adverts for cars or alcohol or something. They are selling the sort of person you are if you join in with this product, not the actual product. Look at games adverts: boobs. Boobs or ‘super lone big man against the world ooo so powerful so rugged so alone’.

        Humans are funny.

        Also, the real argument here is about whether kickstarter is actually about ‘buying’, or even investment, at all. Simply assuming that all transactions are about buying is to avoid the argument.

      • Thirith says:

        The thing is, though, by contributing to Kickstarter you’re not just buying something – you’re *financing* it, you’re helping make it possible for that thing to exist. That does make for a different relationship with the project than just plonking down thirty quid and getting a disk in a box – at least potentially, you’re a stakeholder in a way that you aren’t as a normal customer. People have used the term ‘patronage’ before – and patronage is a different thing from just buying something.

    • Yosharian says:

      Oh for goodness’ sake. All this fucking blathering over Molyneux’s Kickstarter is fucking pathetic. Yes, he could maybe get funding from different sources. No, that doesn’t mean he can’t use Kickstarter. Get over yourselves. Jesus christ. Oh no, only the poor likkle indie companies are allowed to use KS! Not the evil big companies! What a fucking joke.

  5. Prime says:

    “Here’s another one, suggesting that the Kickstarter Gold Rush may be over”

    AAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGHHH! God, what IS IT with journalists? Why can’t they accept a new phenomenon without predicting doom and gloom every week???

    Actually, I think the title of that article is misleading and sensationally exaggerated. It’s talking about three large current projects that are struggling to get funding – Elite: Dangerous, GODUS, and the new Dizzy game. This, I would argue, is not any reason to be crying the end of the Kickstarter ‘boom’ (if there was ever such a thing: that sounds suspiciously like journalistic mythologising as well). In fact, there are very good reasons why each of these projects would fail to attract the requested funding, and I think what you are seeing by way of them struggling is simply the result of Kickstarter working exactly as it should. I recall the early fears and page-filling froth about people being ripped off by projects that were funded but would then never materialise, and the many questions about what happens to that money in a variety of different scenarios – As usual, in asking these questions, Journalism under-estimated the savvy/over-estimated the stupidity of the common game-buyer/backer, as arguably did Messr’s Braben, Molyneux and the Olivers. The fact they aren’t being funded in great surging rushes is an accurate reflection of the weakness of their respective pitches; we, the people, know exactly how to use Kickstarter. Now can we all please stop wringing our hands and get on with enjoying it?

    As a final word, I would also add that there’s almost a kind of worry that these hallowed names in gaming are havign to work hard for their funding, that it’s not simply dropping into their hats with fabulous bells on.- “I thought these people were beloved! If they can fail then there must be something seriously wrong and Kickstarter must be slowing down/doomed!!! No, I think it’s simply that these are old names who, while we bear their historical importance in mind, simply do not have the same currency any more in modern gaming. Who has even heard of the Olivers these days? Braben is about ten years and several vague prick-teases past his prime, and Molyneux’s rep as an unbelievable hype machine is one of the most widespread jokes in gaming. THAT, I’d suggest, is why they are struggling. Now leave Kickstarter alone!

    • LionsPhil says:

      Hear hear!

    • The Random One says:

      I find that a rather strange prediction considering that yesterday’s katchup had several winners, including two who didn’t look like they were gonna make it and then doubled the amount in the last week and a strange art game that reached its target within one week.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Absolutely. If the kickstarter gold rush is over, tell that to Sui Generis and Maia. We just had the end of the highest paid crowd-funded game ever, and then it happened again. Kickstarter is healthy. Developers just need to show what they’re doing and engage the audience, and that too is a sign of health.

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      It’s funny to me that a Kickstarter with over 50% of its funding already achieved with over 30 days left is considered to be “struggling.” If a month passes and it’s still hovering around the 50% mark, then yeah, maybe then I would consider it to be “struggling.”

      • Lanfranc says:

        If you’re talking about Elite, Kicktraq shows that it got a huge initial burst on the first and second days, but since then has been averaging around $10,000 per day, which won’t be enough to reach the target. It could of course pick up towards the end, but if I were Braben, I’d sure prefer to see that curve be a lot steeper than it is.

    • Urthman says:

      It’s ridiculous and embarrassing how many people can’t tell the difference between

      The Kickstarter fad is over!


      Sorry, not very many people are interested in YOUR game.

  6. LionsPhil says:

    There was some discussion of the Forbes article last week when Hoaxfish dug it up in the comments.

  7. Ich Will says:

    I like that the article on kickstarting and rich people quite explicitly states that we don’t need evidence to judge whether people are rich or not, its apparently really obvious yet goes on to sarcastically point out that you really should question unsubstantiated facts rather than blindly accepting them.

    It also likens industry vets on kickstarter to a begger who is really a millionaire banker. Hmmm, maybe he would have a point if an industry vet millionaire pretended to be new, but has that happened yet?

    I have to disagree with the description of nuanced.

  8. LionsPhil says:

    That gun article seems to be constantly leading up to mention of Reciever, yet never actually goes there. While it still has limitations (obviously: you control it with computer peripherals), it addresses some of the others.

    Ah, someone points it out to him in the comments. I think. Twitter, a communication platform, managed to break following discussions.

    • Axess Denyd says:

      To me, calling Receiver a more realistic depiction of guns seems like calling Trespasser a more realistic depiction of having arms.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Given RPS’ UK bent, I’m going to go out on a limb here and hypothesise that many of us have never handled a real firearm to truly grok the deficiencies, but Receiver at least goes a bit beyond ‘R to reload’.

        • Axess Denyd says:

          Yeah, I see where they’re trying to add in the complexity, but when trying to simulate it on a computer, with mouse and keyboard….it just doesn’t work, and I think it makes it seem way more complicated than it really is.

          • wengart says:

            Receiver isn’t a gun simulation game. Its a psychological simulation of using a gun in a life or death situation.

            I’m not sure they ever added multiplayer but if they did imagine what it would be like to attempt to reload your gun as another player was barreling down the hallway towards you.

          • Phantoon says:

            I’d rather not. I like my games being depatures from reality, not PTSD inducement-in-civilians.

  9. AmateurScience says:

    I read the Jenn Frank piece after Lewie and Cara linked to it on twitter earlier in the week.

    I cried and then I sobbed and then I sobbed some more, big wet whole body sobs.

    Oof indeed.

  10. Axess Denyd says:

    I’m not really sure what the point of the guns article was supposed to be.

    “Games don’t accurately portray use of firearms, but they don’t accurately portray anything else either”?

    Also, I’m not sure the author has a great deal of firearms experience. On the whole, if you know how to use a rifle and a shotgun and a semiautomatic handgun and a revolver, you can be pretty proficient with all of them, as long as you remember to turn off the safety. It ain’t rocket science, the fundamentals are always the same when shooting one gun or another.

    Also, there is absolutely no functional difference in an “assault weapon” and a “hunting rifle”, unless someone wants to claim that there is no such thing as a semiautomatic hunting rifle. (the term “assault weapon” is basically meaningless, it pretty much refers to “guns that look scary”) An assault rifle is fully automatic, and is very difficult and expensive to get even in the United States.

    I think it would have been much easier to examine the impact that Call of Duty has had on sales of real guns. Certain people like to classify gun owners in three general categories:

    Gun Culture 1.0: Owns bolt action rifles and double barreled shotguns, pretty much only hunts and shoots bullseyes
    Gun Culture 2.0: May own the above, but also likes modern sporting rifles such as AR-15s, and has one or more concealable handguns in addition to a concealed carry permit. Prefers defensive shooting sports such as IDPA and IPSC.
    Gun Culture 3.0: Still being defined, but in large part consists of people who came of age playing Call of Duty and other modern military shooters, buy guns due to their video game interest. Have a distressing tendency to gravitate toward PS90s and FN Five-seveNs.

    I’m not sure if the author was trying very hard to hide an anti-gun bias, but he was not succeeding terribly well.

    • Ich Will says:

      I gravitate towards the PS90 because of Stargate and my younger self’s desire to actually be Jack O’Neil.

      What’s distressing about liking those guns?

      • Axess Denyd says:

        Yeah, I totally dug it while I watched SG-1.

        Then I looked into it later and decided that the 5.7x28mm is just an overpriced, glorified .22 magnum.

        Jack O’Neil was one of the best characters ever, though.

        • Ich Will says:

          /goes to look up what the stargate writers are doing these days

      • Bobbicus says:

        The PS90 is the civilian legal version of the P-90. Full auto capability is removed and the barrel is lengthened to make it legal for sale without registration with the ATF, but defeating the purpose of a compact PDW. It also shoots a rather expensive round, so it’s often viewed as a gun purchased by those with more money than sense.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      “Also, there is absolutely no functional difference in an “assault weapon” and a “hunting rifle”, unless someone wants to claim that there is no such thing as a semiautomatic hunting rifle. (the term “assault weapon” is basically meaningless, it pretty much refers to “guns that look scary”) An assault rifle is fully automatic, and is very difficult and expensive to get even in the United States.”

      Semi auto for hunting, fine. But fully automatic weapons and handguns are only good for one thing, killing other people.

      • Mattressi says:

        The numerous .22 single-shot target pistols, .22 small game pistols and large game (hunting/defence) pistols like the Ruger Alaskan prove that statement incorrect. I’m also not sure what the point of your statement was. If something is made specifically to kill someone, does that make it bad? Is self defence wrong? Or was there really no point to your statement?

        • Dances to Podcasts says:

          It’s generally agreed upon by most people that killing people is bad, yes.

          • Bobbicus says:

            Unless the person you kill is in the act of trying to kill you, which is why we have justified homicides.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Gun games are basically tidying up.

    • Consumatopia says:

      (the term “assault weapon” is basically meaningless, it pretty much refers to “guns that look scary”)

      The term was well defined in the (now expired) law itself, which specifies the restricted features on guns. Being a semi-automatic hunting rifle is not one of those features and such guns were not banned. See here. Probably most useful were the restrictions on high-capacity magazines–since there seems to be no hope of bringing back the assault weapons ban, I do wish they’d bring back the magazine restrictions back (and I say that as a hunter and owner of several rifles, shotguns, and a handgun).

      There were probably some guns that were banned by the 1994 that were no more dangerous than other still legal guns–they just, as you say, “looked scarier”. But conversely, those guns weren’t actually more useful than legal guns for lawful purposes. Even if no lives were saved by restricting bayonet mounts, no one’s freedom is significantly lessened by so restricting them. A healthier gun culture would be one in which guns are seen as dangerous but somewhat unexciting tools, like most people would regard heavy construction and earth moving equipment.

      • Bobbicus says:

        The term may have been legally defined, but it’s deliberately used to mislead people
        I’m curious as to why you think magazine restrictions were “useful,” as the ban had zero effect on reducing crime.

        Your second paragraph is completely incorrect. Adjustable stocks allow a gun to be adjusted (imagine that) for different shooters. Barrel shrouds exist to protect against burning yourself on a hot barrel. Even if that weren’t the case, it’s not the government’s place to arbitrarily ban things it finds distasteful- especially not things specifically protected by our (American) constitution.

        • Consumatopia says:

          No, I don’t care how much propaganda and rhetoric that site throws at me, I’m not switching to a euphemism like “modern sporting rifle” for guns with bayonet mounts. Assault weapon is the right term, it’s legally defined, screw the gun nuts if they don’t like it.

          I know there were lots of people complaining that about the ban on high capacity magazines. Since they don’t serve a legitimate purpose to civilians, that’s useful enough to me. I don’t know for certain whether any mass shootings didn’t happen or were less lethal because someone had difficulty finding one (and if you claim to know for certain that this was not the case you would be lying), but I don’t think much justification is needed here. The Constitution protects your right to bear arms, it does not protect your right to buy any gun, and we can and should regulate guns like any other product.

          EDIT: If it’s the case that some of those features are important to some users, the ban only applied to guns with detachable magazines. I guess just make a gun that doesn’t have those and you could have put on all the bayonet mounts you want. Note that by “useful” I don’t mean that it has something you want–I mean, I get that you want to shoot a whole lot of bullets at your target as conveniently as possible, and while I concede that this is a fun diversion, I don’t call that “useful”.

          This is moot anyway–the assault weapons ban isn’t coming back.

          EDIT AGAIN: sorry, but this just occurred to me. Since crimes are both committed and deterred by the mere display of a weapon, it seems to me that we do, in fact, have a legitimate basis for regulating the appearance of weapons.

          • Bobbicus says:

            Is having a car capable of going over 85mph useful? Then we should ban it, right? After all, many people are killed by accidents caused by speeding.

            The assault weapons ban didn’t reduce crime. States that maintain their own “assault weapons ban” haven’t fared too well either.

            You’re basically saying “I have no evidence to support my position, in fact all evidence says my position is wrong, but I find this thing scary and therefore it must be banned!” This is the same logic used by people who condemn videogames (for causing violence,) gay rights (for “destroying marriage”), segregation, and other things.

            I also find it ironic that you you call the modern sporting rifle moniker “propaganda” but are perfectly fine with politicians who have zero knowledge of firearms coining the term “assault weapon” and deliberately using it to confuse people.

  11. Orazio Zorzotto says:

    The Eurogamer Hot Coffee article was great, shame it’s not on here.
    You should all read it, I proclaim.

    • AngoraFish says:


    • D3xter says:

      Little did they know that not nearly a decade later, glorified Gaming Blogs would lobby for the total removal of even parts of boobies in all games and would get outraged over much less like the best of them.

      • Toberoth says:

        The way I understand it, gaming blogs (you’re snidely referring to RPS there, I take it?) aren’t lobbying for the removal of boobies from games altogether, they’re lobbying for better representation of women in general. That is, they want game designers to recognise that their games aren’t going to be taken seriously any more if literally all they have to say about women is “THEY HAVE BOOBS, LOOK,” or if they make a massive deal out of a character’s boobs solely to provide eye candy for the audience. Boobs are awesome and I love them, but when every female character in a game has enormous juggalugs, then it deserves to be questioned. I think the medium is maturing to the extent that people shouldn’t be made to feel bad about demanding more diversity from games.

        I’ve been thinking about this in the context of League of Legends recently, after I introduced the game to a female friend and her first reaction was (paraphrasing slightly) “All the women look the same.” And she’s right. There’s basically no diversity in that game in terms of how female champions are represented–the vast majority of them (yordles excluded) have athletic figures with tiny waists and huge tits, and adopt almost exactly the same pose in the game’s artwork (seriously, compare the character portraits next time you’re in the loading screen).

        Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that body type (a lot of people seem to assume that women like that aren’t “real” women, which is dumb as fuck–of course they’re real) but it is problematic when that’s the only female body type that the game represents, especially when you contrast it with the huge diversity of male characters. Where are the female versions of the weird trolls like Trundle, the big fat drunkards like Gragas, or the bulky mass murderers like Mundo? Why are the big, powerful monster characters (Cho’Gath, Kog’Maw) exclusively male? Why is the wise old wizard role filled by a man (Zilean)? Why does the game represent so many female characters as specialising in seduction (Ahri, Evelynn)? Why are the female characters limited mostly to “sexy” roles?

        I’d be the last person to call for Riot to remove champions like this or make them cover up–censorship is never the answer, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with naked skin–but I’d be the first to support them introducing female characters that don’t fit the boring pattern they’ve established.

        Tldr: Diversity > censorship.

        • dE says:

          I’m pretty sure his comment wasn’t about LoL though. I’m willing to take the shot and guess it was about Bioshock Infinite as there was quite a bit of fuzz about it all around this year. Instead of taking offence at the way the female character was pictured as a +1 example of the damsel in distress trope, they went on a mad rage about her dress being too revealing.

          This strikes me as especially sour, as part of century gender oppression were men telling women what was adequate to wear. Being able to wear whatever the hell they wanted, was one of the earlier achievements of the feminist movement. Fast forward to now, and again we’ve again got men dictacting what females (characters this time around) are allowed to wear if they are to appear “decent” and “equal”. But it’s okay, it’s for women this time around!
          I’ve said it before, if the issue is with the clothing and questions of “being respectable” or “being decent” – it’s doing the job of a misogynist. The issue should be with roles and tropes, not the visual representation. And there, League of Legends is indeed a bad apple. As by comparison, like you said, it is obvious what they set out to achieve, which is objectification. But, not every breast is objectification. Even full nudity isn’t objectification – it’s how it is presented.

          • NathanH says:

            I take your point, but think it is worth pointing out that there is a difference between men telling women what to wear and men telling men what their portrayals of women should wear.

          • Toberoth says:

            “But, not every breast is objectification. Even full nudity isn’t objectification – it’s how it is presented.” Yes, indeed. I wouldn’t dream of telling someone what they can and can’t wear, but I think it’s right to call attention to devs who unironically depict women only in skimpy outfits in an effort to connect with their fanbase (which is largely male, in the case of LoL). I wouldn’t call out something like Bayonetta or Lollipop Chainsaw, on the other hand, because those games are quite clearly taking the piss with their over-the-topness, and the female characters are empowered as fuck. As third wave feminism has shown, it’s quite possible to be empowered in heels and a miniskirt, to be empowered by being desired, etc, without it leading to objectification. Anyway, I sense I’m probably preaching to the choir here.

          • NathanH says:

            Something that often strikes me about these sexism discussions is how wildly different my experiences of video games are from the accepted truths. It seems quite normal in these discussions to take it as accepted that most games reduce women to giant breasts and/or being damsels in distress. I have to say from my experience these statements are utterly ludicrous. I play only a fairly restricted collection of genres, so my experiences are not universal, but they’re sizeable enough that if there is some serious systematic objectification going on in video games, people pointing it out really need to be clear on what they’re talking about.

            And when it comes to specific games, I am only really comfortable with denouncing as morally wrong those games that seek to push negative opinions. I’m much less comfortable with denouncing a game just because most of the women are in skimpy outfits. I think there’s a big difference between saying “I don’t really like this, it makes me feel uncomfortable, there are lots of people like me around, why don’t you make your game for us as well?” and saying that something is clearly bad and wrong. If lots of LoL players like the prevalence of scantily-clad female characters, well, I might not like it but I don’t really want to say they shouldn’t have some games like that. Maybe I might consider arguing about passively reinforcing stereotypes but for me that is getting just too close to saying that you can’t ever do X because I don’t much like it. Sure, if every game is doing X then there’s a difference. But I don’t really see that in gaming. Perhaps in LoL type games it holds, I don’t play them.

          • Toberoth says:

            Yeah, I do think that people tend to get a bit more-progressive-than-thou and overstate their case when they’re talking about women in games, and they often confuse the two issues of how women are represented in games, and how working in the games industry as a woman can range from being totally fine (if you’re lucky) to downright demeaning (if you’re not). They’re related issues, sure, but they’re not one and the same thing.

            Anyway, I wouldn’t exactly denounce LoL for reinforcing damaging stereotypes, but since it’s one of the most played games in the world right now it’s important to think about what kind of subliminal effect it might have on the millions of people who play it day in, day out. A feminist reading of the game might read its subtext as: “Women can kick ass on the Fields of Justice [LoL term for the play area], but only if they’re thin, usually white, and have massive chebs (with a few exceptions). Men, on the other hand, can kick ass regardless of what they look like.” By not introducing more diverse representations of women, Riot is normalising this message. That’s a problem and a wasted opportunity: think of how much bigger the LoL playerbase could grow, and how much more money Riot could make, if they introduced characters that a more diverse group of players could relate to.

          • NathanH says:

            I think there are three main issues really. The experiences of women in the games industry, which I have no experience to comment upon or any power to do anything about it, so I must just listen to what people say and call upon people with more power to act in cases of wrongdoing.

            Then there are the experience of women gamers online. My experience of this tends to be that the atmosphere is generally particularly unpleasant for them. I don’t play multiplayer games but I am happy to lend my voice and whatever actions I can do to help solve this. There is an argument that gamers are not worse towards women than the internet generally. I’m reasonably happy to accept this argument but also dismiss it as irrelevant. It doesn’t stop us from trying to put our house in order.

            Then there are the portrayals of women in video games. As I said, I don’t agree with the orthodoxy that this is particularly negative in general. And for particular video games I can see the arguments to speak against them but I’m wary of doing it too strongly. More “we don’t like this, we’re your customers too” than “you are bad, stop being bad”. But also some games to appeal to a particular demographic aren’t bad things. I’m also cautious about thinking about subliminal messages, since there are a lot of things that go on in video games that could be argued to be wrong. Like violence in video games, it’s something to be aware of and keep a watch on and maybe look into, but I’m not comfortable with taking it any further than that right now.

            Problems seem to arise online because you either have to accept that all of these issues are definitely massive problems or that none of these issues is a problem at all. Writers tend not to distinguish too much either; last week Nathan Grayson was writing about the experiences of women in the industry and got side-tracked going on about portrayal of women in games. Of course there are relationships, but there are too many bold assumptions flying about for my liking. It does make talking about it very difficult.

          • Toberoth says:

            Yeah, I hear you re: violence. I’m very wary of the fact that it’s troublesome to simultaneously argue that A) videogame violence has no psychological impact and B) representations of women in games have an effect on the player that is manifested subliminally. In fact I think videogame violence probably does have some kind of effect, but I’ve no idea what that effect might be, so I’m hesitant to say much about it until more research comes to light. Common sense tells us that playing games doesn’t turn people into serial killers, but there’s still the question of whether or not games like CoD and so on encourage a fascination with the military industrial complex, which legitimises and even glorifies acts of violence in certain contexts. Coming from a background in lit. crit. I find it much easier to discuss the rhetorical arguments mounted by games in order to open up questions and debates, rather than trying to prescribe how games should or shouldn’t be made. My suggestions about LoL are just that: suggestions, not condemnation.

            As for the three issues you identified, I think you’re right, and I’d add that interested parties would do well to actually listen to the experiences of women gamers and game designers when formulating opinions on the issues, rather than jumping in and making largely baseless arguments in order to score points on forums. This applies both to people who say everything is systematically bad, and those who say there are no problems at all (though the last group really needs to think about the privilege which makes that assumption possible). For the most part I’d say that people’s intentions are good, especially on RPS, and sexism is something we should all work against, since it’s bad for everyone, but it’s a much more nuanced and difficult set of issues than many writers and forum commenters seem to think. As a pretty average gamer whose only control over the industry is where I choose to spend my money, the best I can do is to avoid spending money on games which seem to condone an agenda I want no part of, to call out sexism and misogyny in its most obvious and harmful forms (the kind of stuff on, and to think about and critique the less obvious examples of games which reinforce stereotypes that limit the roles of either gender.

      • tobecooper says:

        Yeah, the gaming blogs want to take away your boobies. You better hide them away under your bed, or else they come and rip them violently from your hands. Damn censors! These games need the breast to breath and to feed the little ones! Murderers! You take the fun out of fun’n’games, RPS. Be ashamed!

      • cptgone says:

        chickens hide their nuggets, or face the bbq sauce.

        the iconography of the Temple of McDo suggests that said nuggets are being deified rather than objectified. easy on the sauce, Ronald, we like our deities immaculate!

        we should try to see the nugget as a person, not a god. as a mortal, even though it cannot decay. as organic, yet made out of plastic.

        chicken nuggets are people!

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        Little did they know that now nearly a decade later, misogynist jerks would still be whining like spoilt children whenever anyone objected to the depiction of women in video games.

      • Raiyan 1.0 says:

        Aren’t you gonna hit back with a fuck ton of links, D3xter?

  12. SuperNashwanPower says:

    I really should finish fallout New Vegas

  13. fuggles says:

    Brutal character limit on youtube but THQ guy is just so opposite to my opinion. He speaks as if he owns the HB, stating things go against their beliefs/standpoint etc, when HB primarily exists to make money or else it would cease to be. Secondarily HB raises brand awareness and promotes other things, but primarily they have to cover themselves.

    Do I care that HB is supporting a large publisher? No. Partly as I feel for THQ and consider them one of the better houses in terms of titles produced and I’m a relic fan, so I support the bundle to support relic. Less relic-based I’m helping a company in need who makes good quality videogames and would be a real loss to the industry which I love. Indie games are great, they are innovative and tend to push the envelope in a lot of ways, but they are not the massive high production value titles that I like to play as well. HB exists to help people, and that’s what they’ve done. For all I know THQ paid developers a set amount for their titles anyway so the devs might no be entitled to anymore money.

    Does it devalue the HiB brand? No. Just because they produce something I’m not personally interested in, this does not devalue the whole brand. I don’t see why supporting two good causes negates either unless HB decides to no longer do HiB’s and become a steam sale rival.

    As a general principle if there are linux fans angry about being left out, can they not be happy that someone else is happy? They could call this the THQ-desperation-bundle and sing in rhyming couplets about how THQ are sinking and do not really have time to create proper legacy support for their titles if that would make people happy. If, come the future there is a Linux\apple only HB then I’ll not buy it, but I will wait for the next one that I want rather than berate a company for appealing to different audiences.

    The crazy betrayal talk, combined with a man wringing his hands, tears forming in his eyes and denouncing the whole thing as “weird” just seems like someone has got too attached to the idea and needs to step back.

    • Randomer says:

      Indeed. I had no interest in the eBook bundle or most of the music bundle (neither of which adhere to the Humble Bundle standard of being DRM-free video games), but it didn’t bother me that they existed. The Humble Bundles are becoming more and more prolific, which really can only be a good thing.

    • Consumatopia says:

      A brand can have different values to different people. And obviously, if the Humble Indie Bundle slogan is (most of the time) “Pay What You Want, Help Charity, Get Cross-Platform, , DRM-Free”, then being Indie and Cross-Platform are significant components of the brand, even if you personally don’t care about those features–other customers might.

      Does it devalue the HiB brand? No. Just because they produce something I’m not personally interested in, this does not devalue the whole brand

      No, that’s exactly how branding works–when you see a brand, you’re supposed to know the product in question has the characteristics the company wants associated with that brand. If a product with that brand doesn’t have those characteristics, the brand is damaged.

      Now it may be that that this particular brand–or branding in general–doesn’t mean very much to you–you’ll take each product as it comes. But I suspect that’s not as much the case as you imagine–there are *many* games and bundles out there, and branding probably has a lot to do with why certain games and bundles are going to come to your attention and others will pass under your radar.

      As a general principle if there are linux fans angry about being left out, can they not be happy that someone else is happy?

      I’m not big into linux gaming even though that’s where I do most of my computer usage, but, strictly as a general principle, what you’ve proposed is absolutely terrible. “If X is angry about being left out, can they not be happy that someone else is happy?” Surely it matters why you are being left out, and what you are being left out from. Otherwise, you know, segregation.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    These Papers are of the type I dread the most. That is, crammed full of so much great stuff that any prior plans I had for the evening are completely decimated. Good show. And all this before Porpentine chips in with her lot.

    Leigh Alexander also wrote some good stuff about Kickstarter this week. And for anyone’s who’s interested in the Steam-on-Linux thing, this interview with Ryan Gordon is well worth a read.

    • AndrewC says:

      Yes, they are particularly jolly marvellous this week. Well done Internet, you win an Internet!

    • LionsPhil says:

      The Ryan Gordon article’s pretty great; he’s a nice guy as well as doing good work.

      Figures that the Linux kernel lot would be dicks to him, since they’re dicks to everyone, and set the worst possible example of how open source developers should behave. That kind of attitude goes with the “learning the structure of any non-trivial project takes wind-up time” issue as for why open source doesn’t really work for fix-it-yourself.

  15. AndrewC says:

    Ed Stern is wrong! Double wrong! 100% wrong! MULTIWRONG!

    While the standard reaction to games about emotions is ‘pretentious’, while the standard response to questions about content is ‘it’s just a game’, while most reviews will spend more time speaking about the mechanic of ‘torturing baby seals’ instead of the meaning of ‘torturing baby seals’, while games are defined predominantly, by Stern himself in fact, as about ‘mastery’ then, yes: we need more writing about games-as-cultural-objects, and games-as-things-that-humans-interact-with-and-get-affected-by.

    • NathanH says:

      I don’t think we (and by “we” I mean “I”) need more writing about games as “cultural objects” because “cultural objects” seems to me to be a phrase designed to validate the things that have been deemed worthy of being called “culture” and invalidate those that have not. I mean, the article speaks about acquiring “cultural legitimacy”. This seems to me like an odd thing to care about. It seems more like a manifestation of game-shame than anything else. If you want more games to be about X, just say you want more games to be about X, rather than try to make X look like it’s on a pedastal above everything else.

      “games-as-things-that-humans-interact-with-and-get-affected-by”, yeah, I agree completely, this is interesting and important.

      • AndrewC says:

        Forgive me, I was making a distinction between games as things you try to beat and games as things you have experiences with – the ‘games-as-things-that-humans-interact-with’ was my attempt to define what ‘culture’ is.

        And yes, ‘culture’ can get horribly abused and exclusionary and pompous and removed from reality.

        Thee Skyrim article is a good example of the divide. If you treat games as content to complete you will find it repetitive and dull. If you treat it as a world, or a story or, a thing you can live in, it remains tremendously rewarding.

        I am quite aggressively against the mechanistic gamers, and quite militantly on the side of immersive gamers, being way more interested in how things feel, rather than how they work – but games are both, both should be represented, and most games writing still errs on one side.

        • NathanH says:

          OK, I see what you mean, although perhaps disagree with the divide between mechanistic games and games that players have experiences with. I like mechanics-driven games, and feel like I can have immersive experiences that really get me imagining things and thinking about things. I feel like a better divide would be between games where the experiences mainly flow from the mechanics and games where the experiences mainly flow directly from the designers/writers/musicians etc.

          To provide an example of what I mean, allow me to describe one of the most resonant moments in gaming I have had. I was playing a turn-based strategy game, Warlords 3, against my father. After some play we had eliminated all the AI and settled into some sort of stalemate. The way the map was set up and the way our empires had developed meant that there was a gap between our two sides, making it rather difficult for either side to capture a city and reinforce it before the other side could respond with a superior force.

          Eventually, one of us realized that, rather than take the city, it was easier to destroy it permanently and retreat, preparing for the next attack. After the first instance, the “nuclear war” had begun. Suicide armies tried to sneak past strong positions to destroy weak ones further back. If a particular position started to get isolated and hard to defend, we’d just destroy it and pull back. All the time, the gap between the sides got wider and wider making it harder and harder to actually permanently capture anything.

          As cities are razed, their shields are turned into skulls on the minimap. Eventually we were facing each other across a continent of grinning skulls. Dozens of our armies had been slaughtered to achieve near-total destrubtion of the entire map. Death marched on, all in the name of “winning”. This was all achieved directly as a consequence of the game mechanics and the state of the map at a particular point, coupled with the motivation to Win The Game. I doubt the developers ever thought about this sort of outcome. Certainly in all the other times we played the game it never cropped up as a sensible strategy. This provided the sort of impact that I think is much easier to get with mechanics-based experiences rather than writer-directed experiences.

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          I think the tension we see now between mechanistic and immersive play is a result of industry attitudes, not unresolvable antagonism. Specifically the industry’s pursuit of carefully controlled, cinematic user experiences.

          I’d argue that most games should have more robust mechanistic bits than they do now, with the caveat that the mechanics be carefully designed to evoke and reinforce the themes, emotions, and character conflicts explored by the lore and story.

          Consider STALKER: The mechanics of surviving in the Zone amplify the sense of uncertainty, isolation, and discovery found in the narrative. Or Crusader Kings 2, which is a great tool for roleplaying due to its mechanistic characters and their personality quirks and desires, their friends and enemies.

          So many games today seek to portray a sophisticated story filled with drama and loss – meanwhile the mechanics tell a linear narrative of comforting omnipotence and immunity from the inconvenient consequences of our actions.

        • Consumatopia says:

          Reading NathanH’s post, I realized that I’m less interested in game criticism or even reviewing, and more interested in reading about people’s experiences with games. And, on that front, I don’t think I’m alone–there seems to be demand for content about games–everything from Penny Arcade to Wreck-It Ralph. The experiences of simulated worlds are new to humanity, and it’s worth reflecting on them.

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            Well, I don’t know about anyone else but I consider all of this to be part and parcel of a healthy critical culture, in the sense that it’s evaluating and analyzing how games effect us and what meaning they hold for us.

            Academic criticism is one perspective, and has an important place. But I’m much more interested in amateur criticism as seen in NathanH’s post – or as you point out with Wreck-It Ralph, self-reflecting media that explores itself and the work around it.

            It’s a huge shame that our culture tends to dismiss criticism that isn’t seen as properly credentialed. I also think it’s worth noting that much of this grass roots criticism doesn’t have a clear demand or market and is driven by passion – but it has the potential to pay huge dividends to those who seek it out and let it broaden and inform their perspective.

            Yet another reason Mr. Stern’s statement that the market isn’t demanding more criticism is not only nonsense but potentially harmful.

    • Consumatopia says:

      We need more game criticism not to guide our purchasing decisions, but because gaming is a significant (and growing) aspect of our lives, and “the unexamined life is not worth living”. We study games, like all other literature and art, not so that we may understand pixels, typesetting or painting oils, but so that we may understand ourselves.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      AndrewC, that was a sharp and concisely put insight, for which I send you all my approvals. Especially since you’ve saved me a lot of time spent typing out something similar, albeit less effective.

      That said, some part of me (“Ego? Is that you?”) has an urge to respond in more detail to the article. Only I don’t understand what Mr. Stern is arguing for or trying to accomplish – other than shutting down a discussion because it doesn’t much interest him.

      I thought it especially lazy when he implied most game critics were these laughably cliche straw man academics, and then uses his intuitive gut polling firm to determine how much demand there is for good game criticism.

      The article makes clear that he prefers to think of himself as a craftsman and designer rather than an artist producing virtual texts. If he left it at that I’d be much more open to listening to his opinions.

  16. pertusaria says:

    The Ed Stern article and the article about choice in Mass Effect and other games are interesting when read together – the Mass Effect article comparing choice in games to theories about choice in real life is very good, but it’s an example of criticism that was probably never really wished for by anyone.

    Many people have said it better than me, but yeah, “oof”. Thanks to the author for writing such a personal piece.

    • AndrewC says:

      Well, considering the still bubbling furore about an ME3 ending that totally ruined the game, all the other games and their lives, having a piece that talks about games being about process and journey rather than destination is probably very necessary.

      If the ending of ME3 sucks, then the whole of ME sucks.

      If we all die at the end, then nothing in our lives has meaning.

      People have that attitude, but they are terribly nihilistic and no fun to be around.

      • NathanH says:

        That’s a rather superficial response to the ME3 ending. I think if you are talking about someone who plays a game and then completely forgets about it all then fair enough. But to talk of a game a process/journey is almost as misleading as talking of it as a destination. A game is a journey to a destination and then your analysis of that experience. The ending certaintly can’t change the journey, but it can change your analysis of that journey.

        I would agree that there are too many people who seized upon the fact that the analysis of their experience was negative, therefore the journey was terrible. That’s an overreaction. But the ending being bad certainly affects far more than just the five minutes when it’s happening. In fact you could say that the critical response to this ending, including by people who like to talk about how games criticism is important, demonstrates your point earlier in this thread that games criticism *does* need some work! I mean, John Walker even tried the “well if you don’t like it, it’s only five minutes, why do you even care” line.

        • Salix says:

          In regards to ME3’s ending I think the narrative article is worth looking over and the video included is definitely worth a listen.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Maybe if ME were just one game I could buy Swain’s interpretation of the ending, but I don’t think it makes sense to view the entire trilogy in that light. If the developers started out wanting to make an ironic meditation on Free Will, similar to Bioshock, choosing to make a set of three massively time-consuming RPGs in which players spend hundreds of hours making decisions on the basis that they effect consequences by removing consequences (or worse, leaving them ambiguous) is a bad choice–the message just isn’t strong enough for three games. You can use Swain’s logic to defend Mass Effect as it is in retrospect, but if you were a developer and you had started with Swain’s logic as you premises, you would not have made Mass Effect.

      • NathanH says:

        I *do* like the idea that the trilogy was conceived as one of the biggest exercises in trolling in history, but alas I’m afraid you’re right.

  17. Rian Snuff says:

    That quote for “Your brain is the problem” sort of made me laugh since I came from a punk rock upbringing. I can easily say all the screeching wasn’t the focal point of memorable moments in those nights of chaos. Yet the emotions, the moshing, the insanity and well.. The great music! I read the article and it was interesting however. Still, I just had to say this. : P

  18. phenom_x8 says:

    link to

    Poor Crytek, they created two of the best franchises in the last decade. Sadly, the one they’re going to keep themselves (Crysis) are going under with its sequel with many feature being cut and almost lost what makes its original trully shines. Meanwhile, the other they decided to throw away are going better and much more better with each of its sequel while keep (and even expand) the taste of its original created by Crytek.

    Shame on Crytek I guess!!

    • MrTambourineMan says:

      There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on….. shame on you. Fool me……. you can’t get fooled again.

  19. Land says:

    Congrats Jim, on successfully funding Sir, You Are Being Hunted! I pledged in the last 2 minutes, just in time to be part of history.

  20. I Got Pineapples says:

    I disagree with Ed Stern.

    We need more game criticism. Lots more.

    What we don’t need is the Game Criticism we’re getting, which feels a lot like Game Criticism is trying to wear Film Criticism big boy pants but hasn’t built up an underlying intellectual foundation to make them fit properly. It’s like we’ve skipped straight to the end because we collectively don’t want to do the hard work of pulling things apart to see how they work and instead just want to seem like we’re playing around in a grown up medium.

    • BreadBitten says:

      Agreed, his attitude towards game criticism sounded too conveniently dismissive. I haven’t really played Brink, but the game’s writing is not in the really short list of positives that I hear from folk who have.

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      It just feels like we’re roughly twenty or thirty years of thinking about games too early to write the sort of terrible stuff we’ve been calling games criticism.

  21. yesterdayisawadeer says:

    Congratulations on your project’s succesful completion of kickstarter campaign, mr. Rossignol. I await it’s release with great impatience.

  22. Lone Gunman says:

    I wish Multiwinia was more popular.

    Also strategy games should be like that. Where you only have so much control over your minions. I think that is why I loved Dungeon keeper so much. It felt like you were guiding the creatures to a goal but ultimately they had they did what they wanted.

    • Edgar the Peaceful says:

      Try football manager then, even if you have only a passing interest in the sport. FM models the game mode you describe exquisitly.

  23. Cinnamon says:

    Free will is essentially a debating point for religious people. As a non believer I don’t have any time for it. There is no room for it in a world that follows physical rules instead of magical or mystical rules.

    • Unaco says:

      Science has made some efforts to investigate Free Will. It isn’t just the dualism and animism of early belief… Free Will doesn’t require any Magical or Mystical rules. There’s a lot of debate about it in Neuroscience circles, for example. And the Willusionists (those who claim Free Will is merely an illusion) haven’t had it all their own way.

      • Cinnamon says:

        Well they have a stupid name for them so I suppose that already discredits their position in some way. The classical debate is not in terms of neuroscience or modern philosophy which probably have their own very rarefied and domain specific definitions of free will and it’s implications. It’s on whether what we do is predetermined or if we can use the power of our souls that lie outside the deterministic universe to change reality.

        • Unaco says:

          “Well they have a stupid name for them so I suppose that already discredits their position in some way.”

          Who is discredited? It’s not an attempt to discredit anyone. It’s a convenient way of referring to their position. And a pun.

          “The classical debate is not in terms of neuroscience or modern philosophy which probably have their own very rarefied and domain specific definitions of free will and it’s implications.”

          I’m not talking about the classical debate. I’m talking about neuroscience and modern philosophy. You dismiss debate about Free Will as only being relevant to Religious discussion. It isn’t. You claim that we need magical or mystical rules to accommodate Free Will. We do not. Discussion of Free Will is still perfectly cromulent, without falling back on dualism, souls, religious or mystical phenomena etc. It’s a perfectly valid topic of discussion.

          “It’s on whether what we do is predetermined or if we can use the power of our souls that lie outside the deterministic universe to change reality.”

          We do not need souls or any form of dualism for the discussion. No need to bring that up. Free Will does not require any dualistic substance or effect. Similarly, the need for indeterminism in any explanation of Free Will is one of the areas of debate (maybe you’d know this, if you engaged in the debate, rather than simply dismissing Free Will as the concern purely of Religion).

          • Cinnamon says:

            The context of this was replying to religious discussion showing how video games could be used to shed light on the Christian division between those who believe in free will granted by god and those who do not. It is nonsense. As would using the concept of good and evil morality sliders in video games to prove the ancient Greek vision of Tartarus.

            But I still do think that free will is a rather useless term outside that old discussion.

    • choconutjoe says:

      If you’ve got 90 minutes free, you might enjoy this talk by Daniel Dennett: link to

    • x1501 says:

      And if you have another couple of hours for a 96-page book, you may also take a look at “Free Will” by Sam Harris. It’s a good read.

  24. PikaBot says:

    Is Ed Stern a lunatic? The current state of games criticism is a superficial disgrace, and nobody should be content with it.

  25. Unaco says:

    No mention of Jonathan Jones embarrassing himself, and the Grauniad, yet again?

    link to

    Maybe I’m doing just what they want, splashing their nerd baiting, click baiting shite around the internet. Goes to show the Guardian is just as Yellow as their counterparts in the British Press.

    • JackShandy says:

      That read a little like a hilarious parody of the entire NotArt debate. Games aren’t acts of personal imagination. No-one owns them. They are born from vacuum, and they float there, untouched.

    • NathanH says:

      That article demonstrates why I think we should fight against “games are art”. If games were to be considered art, then people like that bird-brain writer might start being interested in them. I don’t want bird-brains being interested in games. Let’s quietly tell ourselves that games are art, and keep them secret from lesser mortals.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Pretty much this. My friend and I were at a DaDa exhibit and we started laughing at one of the pieces that was quite clearly a joke, and a bunch of serious people with berets on their head started giving us dirty looks. Even when art is well crafted and interesting, the crowd around it gets unbearable.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Wow, I can’t think of a worst possible example to show that games fail to be “an act of personal imagination” than Dwarf Fortress. “The player cannot claim to impose a personal vision of life on the game, while the creator of the game has ceded that responsibility. No one ‘owns’ the game, so there is no artist, and therefore no work of art.”

      It has to be trolling. Or someone who knows absolutely nothing about DF–how could anyone say that DF lacks a personal, creator-imposed vision, that DF isn’t something uniquely imagined by Tarn Adams? I mean, read the NYTimes profile of the guy, and you’ll think to yourself “yep, this is the sort of person I imagined would create Dwarf Fortress.” Of course he’s the artist who owns the game and takes responsibility for developing it further–it’s uniquely his.

      Are we to think that because they all appoint the player as ruler of a number of agents building and fighting, that there is no difference in the visions of life portrayed by Dwarf Fortress, Civilization, Crusader Kings, Tropico and Starcraft?

      Maybe one might want to call Dwarf Fortress “outsider art” (I wouldn’t), but it’s absurd to deny that it’s art.

  26. stahlwerk says:

    Just a heads up: The Forbes link goes to page two of the article, which is not very apparent, strike the 2/ from the url to get the first page.

  27. Citrus says:

    That gun article is the most pointless thing I have ever read.. in the last 5 mins. Thanks for nothing.

    The Hitman article comes second. Waste of precious e-paper.

  28. dangermouse76 says:

    My philosophy with kickstarter is never risk more than you are prepared to loose. If it works great if it does not – oh well thanks for the ride. You have to walk into this with your eyes open. What kickstarter will morph into for game funding is totally open as far as I can see.

    Either way some interesting stuff is coming out of it now and that is a good thing. Kickstarter isn’t operating in a vacuum but alongside Greenlight, console, indie, etc.

    We are in a good place from what I can see ( as a consumer ).

  29. Hoaxfish says:

    I posted a preview of an article on FMV’s site, which was specifically about sexism in the industry (for RPS’ #1reasonwhy article)… since then they’ve posted the main article (which for the most part is not about sexism):

    Christine Phelan: “Valve Want Our Only Concern To Be Making Great Games”.

  30. Odexios says:

    Thanks for the Jenn Frank article; not only what she wrote is amazing (I believe it’s the only time an article made me cry), but I read a few other pieces of hers and they’re great. I think she wrote on of the best pieces on sexism I’ve ever read.

  31. pilouuuu says:

    The thing about narrative and how we remember them reminds me of Mass Effect 3. Most of the game was enjoyable, but the ending was so crappy that it spoiled the rest of the experience. It got a bit better with the extended edition, but it’s something that will never be erased from our minds.

    • Bobbicus says:

      The thing with Mass Effect 3 is that it was full of silliness and stupidity, but somehow it all worked and I at least got completely swept up in it, minus some complete failures (Kai Leng).

      And then the end hit, and the illusion is shattered, and suddenly all those things I was willing to let slide suddenly are a lot more glaring.

  32. Lucas Says says:

    Maybe instead of more games criticism we need more bland multiplayer shooters. And we should all write glowing reviews about them in major publications, and they’ll sell millions of copies, and then Ed Stern can buy a new house.

  33. Bluefox says:

    I really enjoyed all of the articles this week, and the one on Skyrim, roleplaying, and self-deception really struck home.

    What I like about open-world games like Skyrim is that it allows for immersive role-playing. Sure, there’s an overarching plot and some things you have to do to progress, but all in all games like that allow you to make up your own story as you go along.

    It’s the type of behaviour I try to encourage my gamers to have in a tabletop setting; forget what *you* know, what *you* want to do; what would your character do? What’s their primary motivation?

    I think that meta-gaming cheapens the sit-down-and-play experience. It’s important to simply *play*, because it helps exercise parts of our mind that might otherwise not get the opportunity to stretch and grow. Elaborate self-deception is a necessary part of life; playtime lets us more readily realize the difference between reality and our own fiction.

    That and, you know, it’s fun.

    • Bobbicus says:

      Last time I played Deus Ex (the original), I was careful to hide the (unconscious) bodies of anyone I whacked with my baton, even though it made no difference in game. It was fun.

  34. Zenicetus says:

    I thought the gun article did make one good point about how games flatten out the differences between firearms. I used to do some rock pit and range plinking with friends, and we had a pretty wide assortment of guns between us. I could shoot with a .22 target pistol all day long, but there’s a limit to how many rounds I want to fire with a .44 Magnum revolver without taking a break.

    There is a fatigue factor with the heavier caliber stuff that isn’t modeled in games, and probably wouldn’t be popular with gamers even if it was modeled.

    • Gargenville says:

      Actually a Kings Field/D.Souls type fatigue bar sounds like a way more interesting shootmans mechanic than the industry standard alcoholic wobble. I’d appreciate a thing where my shots fired were balanced with more realisic reloads rather than constant ammo scrounging (this mainly coming off Deus Ex HR where armed to the teeth SWAT dudes carry three bullets each) and bullet-sponge enemies as well (hi every game where melee does 300% more damage than shooting except Halo because you’re space Robocop and that makes sense (except in ODST where you’re just some dude))

      I guess what I’m saying is it’d be nice if shooters had mechanics instead of stupid superpowers to set them apart from the competition?

      • Bobbicus says:

        I’d love to see a STALKER like game with realistic shooting. Not bullet drop, but other things:
        Firing a gun indoors without ear protection should deafen and blind you, reloading should mean switching mags and losing the unfired rounds, etc.

  35. Eddy9000 says:

    Picked up ‘Super Hexagon’ after being prompted by that article about death, and being a fan of terry cavanah in general. Wow. Forget Dishonored, this is my game of the year now, an absolute masterpiece.

  36. newprince says:

    Sure, the THQ bundle might break some people’s ideas of what the “brand” is, but I don’t see why it’s not a great idea. If this is all about the people and charity, guess what? A lot of “the people” like THQ games and want to help out.

    Furthermore, he detests that THQ games’ philosophy is “We sell video games”. How is any other publisher any different? THQ was certainly mismanaged, but they also for a period oversaw amazing PC games at a time when anything not CoD or WoW was a failure. They might have been the spark that ignited the PC renaissance we are enjoying today.