The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for cowering by the fire as the bitter winter cold creeps in. Perhaps we’ll have a laptop close at hand – and not freeze to death retrieving it from some distant bedroom – so that we can read what’s been discussed in the world of games.

  • Simon Parkin’s article on the relationship between games and gun manufacturers is fascinating: “It is hard to qualify to what extent rifle sales have increased as a result of being in games,” says Ralph Vaughn, the man who negotiates deals with game developers for Barrett. “But video games expose our brand to a young audience who are considered possible future owners.”
  • Wonderful illustrated Dwarf Fortress diary, Matul Remit, has come to an end. It’s worth a look even if you are not a DF player.
  • Videogame makers discuss the UK’s EU referendum proposals: “I would not be driven by the tax benefits, as welcome as they are, because they may disappear with the next government, but dealing with Europe or being able to deal with Europe is a far bigger, more important element in the industry.”
  • This is an interesting pairing of articles: Mike Rose on why it’s okay to not like anti-games, and then Proteus-creator Ed Clef’s sort-of response: “It’s worth reiterating that the looseness of the word “game” is actually the original state rather than some limited formalistic definition, which perhaps originates in the “game theory” of the 20th century. I had forgotten about Wittgenstein’s classic use of “game” as an example of the concept of family resemblances – thanks Lana Polansky and Chris McDowall. Despite not subscribing to the term “notgame”, Michaël Samyn’s manifesto is a good, provocative read.” Which was sort of the stuff I was going to point to. Amazingly, things are often more complicated than they seem, despite desperate tendencies to try and reduce them to some simple maxims. The word “game” is one of those things that can’t be uncomplicated, and by its very nature the concept defies precise definition. Any attempt to define things like Proteus as not being a game seems to betray an misunderstanding of meaning-as-use. There is no truth, Essentialists. Related article.
  • PCGN did a big old article on Chris Taylor’s fight to save GPG via Wildman: “After fifteen years of running game studios, Taylor is tired of watching the rewards go elsewhere. If you were to go and buy any of the games he or his studio have made over the years, or even if you went on a spree and bought everything from Total Annihilation to Dungeon Siege 2 to Demigod to Supreme Commander 2, Gas Powered would not see a penny of it. None of his games have “earned out” (sold past a certain amount specified in their publishing contracts) to the point where Gas Powered starts receiving royalties. True independence eludes them.”
  • Polygon ran an article on the history of Battlefront: “As far as niche hobbies go, historical wargaming has more blind alleys than most. Every time period is represented, as is every physical and virtual format. But common among most all hardcore wargamers, or grognards (from the French grogner: to grunt, or grumble, as an old soldier), is a disdain for simplification. To grognards, things like abstracted damage modeling, counting down from 100 percent health to death, are insulting to the people who actually fought, as well as to the intelligence of the player. It is on these grognards’ appetite for detail that was built.”
  • Please read this by Electron Dance: “Videogames are lauded for their imaginative landscapes yet, despite this, critics and players often denigrate these environments with demands for purpose. It is not enough to merely exist; the developer god must corrupt places with mechanics, poison them with meaning. Proof of intelligent design must be demonstrated through challenges or collectibles. The journey itself is never enough.”
  • The first duel fought in hot air balloons took place in 1808.
  • I have to say that io9 remains one of my favourite blogs, and they’ve just done a huge birthday list of great stuff they’ve done. Its worth a browse.

Music this week is Pye Corner Audio’s Sleep Games.


  1. DrAmateurScience says:

    Mr Parkin’s piece on gun licencing was really interesting. I actually rather liked Goldeneye’s fake weapon names and tend to find certain games’ slavish recreations of real world guns a bit of a turn-off.

    Also re: Proteus, this whole game/non-game thing is distracting. Have a go, say how you feel about it (or don’t, and say why you didn’t).

    • AlwaysRight says:

      The way I see it games like Proteus are a bit like ambient music, not everyone enjoys ambient music but you don’t get people on music websites writing angry comments and labelling it “non-music” or “anti-music” just because it doesn’t have a beat.

      Of course its ok to not like something, just don’t be a nob about it.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Ambient music doesn’t really stretch the definition of music though. Think more about something like 4’33”

        • Jackablade says:

          Something like Merzbow or Wolfeyes might be a better example. There’s certainly arguments over whether those constitute music and those are reasonable arguments, but whether they constitute music or the sound of a synthesizer being fed through a woodchipper, there’s still something interesting there for those who can get into it.

        • Shuck says:

          “Ambient music doesn’t really stretch the definition of music though.”
          I feel like that’s really begging the question. There’s a good argument to be made that games like Proteus aren’t stretching any definitions either.

      • Azdeus says:

        I consider it to be more like showing up at a concert only to get… silence…
        No music for you to listen to at all, just silence.

        • AndrewC says:

          How about: it’s like turning up to an electro night and demanding guitar solos.

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            still music innit

            more like showing up to a concert a hearing a book reading

          • AndrewC says:

            That they are both music is my point!

            Book readings are also lovely.

          • Bhazor says:

            No its more like taking your car to the garage and finding out the mechanic is a swan then you watch as a man walks up, hurls the swan through the windscreen and tells you to come back tomorrow and your car will be as “Sorted like a lampshade in a windmill” and you leave as the car rocks gently back and forth with the furious honking. So you come back the next day and the car’s fixed up real nice like. But you’re still confused about the man’s analogy.

          • AndrewC says:

            I like swans.

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            Bhazor is slowly being driven insane

          • DrAmateurScience says:

            See? Distracting.

        • x3m157 says:

          The music of 4’33” is not sound, but the absence of sound; which forces you to become aware of the ambient sounds around you.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gassalasca says:

          link to

          EDIT: Oops, sorry, didn’t see someone already mentioned Cage’s piece.

      • iridescence says:

        I think it’s more like saying “talking isn’t music” A game requires some form of gameplay. I haven’t played Proteus but something like “Dear Esther” had no gameplay in it at all. That isn’t to say that it’s bad or has no value I think it’s fine as “digital art” or something. But it isn’t a game anymore than a painting is a game, Games require interactivity and player choice of some kind.


        • jrodman says:

          Except that it isn’t at all clear that talking isn’t music. You may be certain that it is not music, but people in the field of music are not.

          It’s easier to be certain when you know less about a topic.

      • dE says:

        My only issue with artgames is in their reception.

        Take two identical games, a blue screen with white column jumping around, trying to reach an exit.
        One labels itself: Indie Platformer
        The other labelts itself: Indie Artgame

        The Platformer will be shunned for its simplistic graphics, lackluster controls and general lack of inspiration. The Artgame will be praised for its social metacommentary on how we’re swimming around in an endless ocean of blue, a meaningless column, just trying to get someplace in our life. That’s of course a Falacy, there’s no such case. But it’s representative of artificial chasm it creates.

        To further empasize the issue:
        It’s a rather futile task to discuss the quality of art. Yet, attaching the art label to some chosen creations is a clear message: This is art. Every proclamation is in the mirror of something else (even Identity, but that would be too Hall’sy for this Sunday). If this is art, that must mean something else is not art.

        • crizzyeyes says:

          I agree, and think that games should be considered as games and as “art” (or rather, judged by virtue of its emotional impact or underlying statement) separately. Proteus and Dear Esther are things that, in my opinion, aren’t really meant to be games. They’re meant to be art pieces, set in a new medium. The underlying intent is the key factor in determining how it will be judged. Having said that, I don’t think pieces such as Dear Esther and Proteus should be lauded as “great games.”

          But then again, I’m a ludologist.

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      • dontnormally says:

        “but you don’t get people on music websites writing angry comments and labelling it “non-music” or “anti-music” just because it doesn’t have a beat.”

        Yes. Yes, you do.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      It seems a bit off of the author to say that its wrong to complain about anti-games. Gaming is primarily a hobby, something you do for fun. If you don’t find it fun, you cannot force yourself to in the name of art. Like spending money on a movie, if you dont enjoy it you feel annoyed. You might engage in some sort of self-deceit, anti-cognitive dissonance attempt to convince yourself your money was well spent and identify positives, or say nice things about it so as not to upset your friend / partner who loves those types pf movies, but ultimately you either experienced fun / pleasure during it, or you didn’t. If mechanics, rewards, plot and events are what it takes to produce enjoyment inside of a gamer’s body, then yes they are unlikely to enjoy anti-games. Personally I felt no emotional resonance with proteus at all, but dear esther had me in tears. Thats just how I reacted. So I was grumpy at the £6 I spent on Proteus, and felt moved to grumble! For those that elevate game design beyond just the fun factor, then yes maybe its different.

      EDIT: Oops probably should have read both in full first. Mike Rose’s article is on the money IMO.

      • The Random One says:

        Your analogy just displays how ill-fitting using the word ‘fun’ to describe games is. If you go watch Schindler’s List, will you have fun? You probably won’t, but that won’t mean you wasted or money or it is a bad movie. Likewise, if you or I went to watch Birth of a Nation it’s possible neither of us enjoyed it in any meaningful way, but that annoying film student who went with us would go apeshit over it, because she would enjoy it in another level (although she would probably not call the experience “fun”, either) (I made her a women because I was tired of the sausage party this analogy was becoming). And if we all sit down and watch a documentary on a social issue that’s important to us it won’t be any stretch of fun, but we will enjoy our time.

        Case in point: Defcon is fun, but if you focus only on the fun elements you’re losing the biggest part of the game.

      • Urthman says:

        Mike Rose’s article is ridiculous. Simon Brislin said it best: “Who on the internet needs reassurance that it’s ok to share their dislike of something?”

    • Shivoa says:

      I seem to have an attachment to the ‘original’ name of a weapon in many cases. But not necessarily to the real name, baring where a gun name has become a shorthand that can move between franchises.

      My desire for the ‘correct’ names of the guns in CounterStrike comes from the hours of play and associating those names with their in-game characteristics. This is no different to wanting left-handed models because this is the game I know and this is how that game was presented. It feels right because I played for a long time early on when that was just the way it was. I don’t know if all those original mod names were actually accurate and faithful to the real-world guns or just a necessary approximation that other games use as a common shorthand.

      The advantage of using real names (or at least using non-precise names that make it clear what the real brand is) is transferability. I know a Desert Eagle is a large damage pistol (be it 7-9 rounds of varying calibre) without needing to even fire a single shot in any game. The name provides instant understanding of where that weapon fits into the list and when I want to use it. Fake guns that are not just working around the requirement for licensing are unknowns. Possibly the licensing rules that limit the extent to which developers can change the real-world characteristics of the guns helps to ensure their name is portable between franchises (as much as is possible in the world of games where fatal damage is a very variable quality, especially on the receiving end).

      Obviously the slavish recreation of real weapons can be an issue for actually getting the correctly balanced range of weapons the game needs rather than just replicating real-world items but it does create a language for shooters that allows for fast acclimatisation to new games with a large range of available weapons.

      • Vander says:

        What you say is not without merit, but so much games got the characteristics of a weapon wrong that the names are not really useful. An example: the FN FAL in COD (the last one) where i tought i was getting a relatively precise hard hitter with the auto mode practically worthless, and get a gun with the feeling of a AK.

        • Karrahad says:

          Interestingly, the real life AK-47/AKM is relatively precise, a hard hitter, and sprays everywhere with automatic fire.

          • Vander says:

            I fired both in real life, and they are very different in fact. True the AK 47 hit relatively hard, but the russian 7.62 has less punch, less recoil, andmore drop than a 7.62 NATO, and if they are not as much imprecise than people think, if well build and well taken care of, they cannot be compared with a FAL.

            And for the “spray everywhere”, well, a FAL spray the sky after 2 or 3 bullets…the auto mode of a AK is usable, not the fal’s.

            I have used both in real life (for work) and they are vastly different weapons. But its hard to convey the feeling of a weapon with just adjectives, since precise for example can have a very different meaning depending on the user, situation etc…

      • Shuck says:

        I still find it completely perverse that game makers are actually paying car and gun manufacturers for the “privilege” of essentially advertising their wares for them. The TV show “24” got a large sum of money to prominently feature Ford automobiles. A game version of “24” would have to pay Ford to do the same thing. Perverse.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Terminology should be defined by its usefulness. We don’t call all animals ‘mammal’, all buildings “house”, or all objects ‘thing’.

      “Pass me the thing over there.”
      “The thing you use to talk to people who are far away? Or the thing you wear on your head?”
      “No, the thing you stick into hot food to pick it up without burning your fingers.”
      “I mean thing.”

      If people will grumpily insist on using the word ‘game’ to describe Hotline Miami, Dear Esther, and Proteus alike as a point of principle, we’re just going to have to abandon ship on that word and come up with some new ones that are actually of some use.

      • AndrewC says:

        I’d suggest that’s what genres are for.

        • MikoSquiz says:

          Bit iffy. Reminds me of some sites’ habit of putting reviews of comedy albums or audiobooks under ‘music’.

        • aepervius says:

          I disagree. You have to have a minimum common denominator with game and interractivity to be called a game and belong to a genre. Dear esther and proteus are what I call “visit in an animated museum”. There is no interractivity, you jsut go from exhibition to exhibition. Sure it is entertainment, but I don’t call visiting a museum “be a game”.

          The parent you responded to has a point. If you dilute the meaning of a game to include toy/exhibition then you dilute it beyond recognition. It is not about art versus game, it is about language & comprehension, how you give an understanding on what you are speaking of to the person you talk to.

          That’s why language is important. If you accept “animated exhibition” as being game, then you dilute the meaning to nothingness. At worst they are digital toy, no better than compelx screen saver. Artful, nice, wonderful, you spent a good time with them, but they are not game.

          • ffordesoon says:

            But, see, it’s not true that Proteus and Dear Esther are non-interactive. They’re not particularly active experiences, it’s true, but they are interactive.

            Proteus in particular is based entirely on interaction. If I walk toward an owl, the owl flies away and goes to sit in another tree. If I don’t, it doesn’t. My interaction with the gameworld changes the state of the gameworld. That’s interactivity.

            Even Dear Esther, which I found exceedingly tedious and pretentious, is interactive. You have to walk forward to trigger the little chunks of narration. The interactivity is on an even more basic level than Proteus, but it is interactive. Even just walking around a world is, by definition, interactive, because if you stop holding the W key, you stop moving forward, and nothing happens.

            Whether or not it’s “okay” to dislike Proteus and Dear Esther is a separate issue – not to mention a strawman argument. Of course it’s okay. It’s okay to dislike anything. Mike Rose’s piece is really trying to argue that snobbery is bad; it’s just couched in a way that’s oddly defensive. There’s a persistent feeling throughout the article that he’s afraid Jonathan Blow won’t return his phone calls.

            The confusion comes from the fact that there are gatekeeping snobs on both sides of the argument, and they are all of them dickheads. Just as a film snob or a music snob is a dickhead.

            It’s okay to cringe when someone says they like something you don’t like, and it’s okay to explain why you don’t like something. As long as you don’t imply that the person who likes the thing you don’t like is an “inferior” hobbyist or person for liking it, you’re fine. You might have a reason for disliking something that’s ultimately pretty silly, and the other person can call you on it, but they’re not doing that to convince you that you actually liked the thing you didn’t like. They’re doing that because they think your reason is dumb, and they want you to come up with a better one.

            If someone blocks you on Twitter because you didn’t like a game they liked, they’re being a snob. That’s their issue, not yours. You can like and dislike what you like and dislike. There’s always peer pressure to like something other people like, to be fair, but if after-school specials have taught us anything, it’s that caving to peer pressure is bad. Nobody worth knowing will stop liking you based on your taste. I mean, come on. What are we, twelve?

          • Urthman says:

            This is a made-up problem. The word “game” by itself is never, ever sufficient to tell you if you’d be interested in a particular video game or not, so claiming that using “game” for stuff like Proteus is confusing is disingenuous.

            Nobody is equally interested in point-n-click adventure games, flight sims, MOBAs, Farmville clones, match 3 games, RTS games, first-person shooters, JRPGs, shmups, football management sims, pinball sims, racing games, interactive fiction, roguelikes, rhythm games, 4X games, 2D platformers, survival horror, Tamagotchi pet games, hidden object games, dating sims, and MMORPGs. Adding stuff like Dear Esther and Proteus to that list isn’t going to break or even measurably change the concept of “video games.”

      • Salix says:

        I agree about Dear Esther (haven’t played Proteus) but calling Hotline Miami a game seems fine, how is it anything like the other two?

        • MikoSquiz says:

          It is not, that’s the point. It was the first thing that came to mind as a quintessential game-game that’s all challenge-based gameplay progression without much accompanying fluff.

      • iucounu says:

        Go and read Wittgenstein on the issue. Family resemblance is the only criterion that makes sense when it comes to games.

      • The Random One says:

        The problem is that you don’t think Proteus and Call of Duty should be defined by the same word, so the most useful definition for you is one that separates them; but I don’t see any difference between them (they are computer programs that simulate locations you can interact with through certain button presses that emulate actions within that world) so the most useful definition for me is one that includes both under the same word. Why should the usefulness for you take precedence over mine?

        We have no problems with the word ‘book’ referring equally to self-help books, sci-fi stories and phone directories, I don’t see what’s the problem here.

        • crizzyeyes says:

          I don’t know about you, but I don’t normally refer to books in that fashion. I refer to them as specifically as the context needs, and books have existed for millenia, so obviously there isn’t much of a vocabulary issue. The problem here is that these “games” are being forced into the “game family” by a group of people who think that Dear Esther and Proteus are “pushing boundaries,” when really it’s just confusing to apply the word game to something that has no rules beyond “walk forward” and no end goal in sight. Yes, games are hard to define, but that doesn’t mean we need to make it even more difficult.

          • jrodman says:

            I’m not sure they were intended to push boundaries. Dear Esther was definitely an experiment in removing as many mechanics as possible while still being engaging, but it’s not clear that this was specifically to *push* anything in any particular direction.

            That said, it seems by their existence they are pushing your boundaries in some direction you feel strongly enough to post about.

    • Dervish says:

      I know it’s Eurogamer and not Amerigamer, but reading Parkin’s article was a rather bizarre lens to be looking through. Yeah, of course everything will seem insidious if you are already set in the belief that gun ownership is nasty and terrible. Of course you’ll imagine ominous music being played over a kid talking about wanting to own a gun when he gets older. The NRA should be taken to task for their bullshit and there are some interesting industry factoids in there, but “How movies fund high-fructose corn syrup manufacturers” would have about the same tone and lack of subtlety.

      “Kids think guns in movies and games are cool, and gun makers license the use of their guns to make them more popular, just like cars” is a summary that could cut out about half the article and leave people thinking “Yes, that’s fairly obvious” instead of shocked at all these supposedly-shady backroom dealings. Barrett are made out to be some kind of manipulative assholes for having completely reasonable licensing requirements. I’m pretty sure none of their famously powerful rifles have ever been used by civilians to commit crimes, but they get center stage in a web of lazy associations and nebulous but sinister implications. Gee, I wonder why other representatives might be reluctant to comment.

      • Korvus Redmane says:

        I did rather get that impression, while there is a shortage of transparency in the actual agreements, the article as a whole can be summarized :“Kids think guns in movies and games are cool, and gun makers license the use of their guns to make them more popular, just like cars” as you said.

        Although I would suggest that Barrett rifles have indeed be used by civilians to commit crimes, as in that picture associated with the article it says that they were used by the IRA against the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary in the 1990s. Which I guess counts as a crime, although i suppose it depends on where you stand on the whole issue.

        • Dervish says:

          It was actually more Americentrism and not thinking about who counts as a “civilian” on my part. But it’s certainly closer in spirit to being used in a military capacity than the types of shootings that make up the majority of gun crime.

      • crizzyeyes says:

        I was actually pleasantly surprised by the lack of bias within the article, although the last Eurogamer article I read about weapon ownership was that absolutely ridiculous MOH: Warfighter promotion article that outright called Americans childish for having a second amendment. So maybe I’m not the best judge.

      • MattM says:

        That article was long on insinuation and short on evidence. It’s a topic worth discussing but it reminds me of how the moral guardians of the U.S. use hypothetical situations and false premises to link videogames to violence.
        You can imagine a person playing videogames, confusing them with reality, and then committing real murders. Millions of people play videogames. Thus statistically there must be 100’s of murders directly caused by videogames.
        Videogames include immoral behavior and adult content. These make them bad at instilling moral character in our children. Thus we should ban the sale of all M rated videogames.

        Of course just because you can imagine something doesn’t mean it happens and it you don’t gather real statistics then even a pool of millions isn’t enough to guarantee that something happens frequently. Also, It isn’t videogames job to teach any morality at all. Don’t use them that way

    • HadToLogin says:

      Someone should send that text “violent games make people buy guns” to politicians. They brains would externally implode (yes, I know, that’s why it’s funny) when they couldn’t decide whether they need moms or guns votes.

  2. bill says:

    Oh boy. Gun politics and EU politics in the first two articles. The perfect commenting storm!

    I find it interesting that this aspect of games/violence hasn’t really been addressed before. Amid all the un-endable* arguments about guns causing violence, it seems to get lost. But it seems a much more real and measurable link.

    *is there a word for that? I’m sure there ought to be…

      • bill says:

        I considered that, and endless, and interminable… but those seemed to imply that it would continue forever, not that it was impossible to end.

        I think my English is deteriorating…

        • bill says:

          Actually, maybe interminable was the way to go… but that tends to come across as just boring.

    • Bhazor says:

      To quote Eddie Izzard

      “Guns don’t kill people, but they do make it a lot easier to than just pointing your finger at people and going *bang*”

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        America needs The Breadgun

      • Kong says:

        Guns help a lot with killing.

        link to

        Even a simple creature can experience the fun of it

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        Yeah. The “Gun’s don’t kill people. People kill people” argument has been justly ridiculed everywhere and for many years.

        I know the many “Guns don’t kill people, but…” are meant as a form of satire. But I always taken aback by that approach. For one those initial words always felt like bending backwards to pro-gun motto that should be instead demolished with the verbal equivalent of a tomahawk missile. But another, more disconcerting problem, is that satire never really helps. Satire is only effective on the minds of those that are already in agreement about the ridicule of the initial statement.

        • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

          Take a look at the UK. They banned guns so people started stabbing each other, now they are trying to ban knives. It’s fucking stupid. If someone wants to kill someone they will.

          Hell, there was an entire genocide committed by means of machette in Rwanda not so long ago to further illustrate my point.

          Another counter-argument – Canada. More guns per capita than the US and much less gun murders.

          Don’t demonize guns, demonize cultures/lack thereof that seem to breed violent individuals.

          • iucounu says:

            Oh, come off it.

            We banned guns over the course of about 20 years, and in response to the Hungerford and Dunblane massacres. If you can show me a subsequent massacre committed with knives or machetes in the UK, please let me know.

            If someone goes homicidally insane in the UK these days, the multiplier on the death toll is simply about the efficiency of the firearm they have access to. Raoul Moat had access to an illegal sawn-off shotgun and managed to kill one person in his rampage, other than himself. Derek Bird killed a dozen people in Cumbria, but largely because (for some reason) he had access to a bolt-action rifle

            I found myself in the same room as a gun for the first time two months ago, when someone showed me a shotgun they use for clay pigeon shooting. I am thirty-four years old. This strikes me as a good state of affairs.

          • Tacroy says:

            Intentional, single-person homicides are really a red herring. The problems we have in the USA right now are accidental deaths (people playing with guns when they shouldn’t be), and deaths caused by mentally disturbed people going on a rampage.

            It’s kind of sad, really – we’re using the latter as leverage to work on the former, and we basically refuse to work on the root causes of the latter.

          • jalf says:

            Oh look another person who hasn’t done his homework…

            Perhaps you should look at the actual statistics for the UK instread of just regurgitating the propaganda you’ve been fed by the people whose viewpoint you *want* to be true.
            But before you do so, let’s agree on one thing: a figure like “how many people got murdered in year X” is kind of complex, and certainly affected by many different factors. And so, if, for example, you outlaw guns (for the sake of argument, let’s say you outlaw them *completely*, and somehow manage to enforce it, so that no one in the entire country actually possesses a gun). Then you look at the number of people killed in the year before and after the ban was introduced. If the number of murders stays the same, it may be tempting to conclude that “the ban had no effect”, but that’s not necessarily true. Something *else*, completely unrelated, could have happened which increased the number of murders, so that it would have increased if guns hadn’t at the same time been banned. Likewise, if you ban guns and the murder rate decreases, we can’t automatically conclude that the ban caused the decline.

            Now, what these numbers show is that while the number of murders overall didn’t drop dramatically when these stricter gun control laws were introduced, they *do* show a dramatic decrease in massacres such as school shootings. How do we interpret that?

            My guess is this: if you are determined that some specific person (say, your wife or your business partner or that guy you fought with in the pub last night) needs to die, then you’re going to find a way to attempt to kill that person, with or without guns. A ban on guns might make you a bit less likely to succeed, but it won’t dramatically change the statistics on this kind of murder.

            But the other kind, the one where you’re just pissed off at the world, and want to go out famous, where you grab your dad’s assault rifle and head to school and kill dozens and dozens of people? That kind becomes much, much harder to carry out without a big gun.

            So, applying this interpretation to the UK numbers, we see that the gun control laws reduced *one* kind of murder, while it had no effect on others. Isn’t that good enough? If a gun ban actually had no effect on the number of deaths at all, it would be pointless. If it somehow caused an increase in the murder rate, it would be counterproductive. But if it stops things like school shootings while, at worse, doing nothing about other kinds of killings, isn’t that a good thing?

            Now, we could also look at Australia, where the introduction of gun control laws a few decades ago has completely eliminated school shootings, which they had quite a few of before those laws.

            Of course, banning guns alone isn’t going to solve everything, but we have a lot of evidence showing that it helps, it reduces the number of innocents getting killed solely for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It doesn’t solve the problem of angry people killing their cheating spouse, for example, but increasing the odds of your kid returning from school still breathing seems like that’s worth it nevertheless, doesn’t it?

            As for Canada? Yes, they have a lot of guns. But they don’t have many assault rifles. They have a lot of hunting weapons, but few guns designed for war. Do you think perhaps that might make a difference?

            The situation in Rwanda was a bit more complicated too, I believe. There weren’t *just* machetes, but also AK47’s, grenades, mortars and all the other usual stuff. Many just had machetes, sure, but billing it as “a genocide solely carried out with knives” is dishonest.
            And, uh, I do believe that if you organize a huge militia solely with the purpose of genocide, you’re going to be able to kill a lot of people regardless of how you are armed. I also do believe that this says very little about the likelihood of less organized killers, individuals with a grudge against someone, succeeding in killing someone. The two aren’t really comparable.

            But heck, let’s try following your argument: it makes precisely *no* difference whether or not people have access to guns, if they want to kill someone, they will. By that logic, (1) having access to guns as a form of defense is pointless and unnecessary: if someone wants to kill you, they will — so what use do you have for a gun? And (2) why stop at guns? Why not let people have rocket launchers too? And cluster bombs? And nuclear missiles? After all, if people want to kill someone, they will find a way. If I want to nuke the subway, I will find a way. So why not let me legally buy and own nuclear warheads?

            Do you really think it works like that? Or do you agree that letting people have easy access to weapons might, at least in some cases, be a wee bit dangerous and irresponsible?

            And if you don’t like this thought experiment, then let’s look at the evidence, because your claim is trivially wrong. There are people walking around today despite someone else wanting them dead. Sometimes, people try to kill and miss, or get caught before they can do it. Sometimes, they simply get cold feet, and sometimes they change their minds. Whatever the reason, there have been many failed attempts at murder, and many prospective victims who survived. Therefore, it is trivially untrue that “if someone wants to kill another person, they will find a way”. Sometimes, they fail to find a way that works. And from this, we can logically conclude that putting more obstacles in their way will make them fail more frequently.

            Of course every country is different, and we can’t simply say “country X has strict gun laws and few murders, while country Y has nonexistent gun control and many murders, there fore introducing the same laws as country X will reduce the murder rate”. We can’t look at the UK and see what would happen if the US introduced stricter gun laws, because there are so many *other* differences between the two countries. But that also means we can’t simply look at Canada and go “oh, they have lots of guns but few murders, clearly every country will get few murders if they introduce more guns”.

            But we can look at the same country before and after the introduction of gun control laws. Now, I know of many countries where stricter gun laws had a positive effect on *some* kinds of murder. I know of no country where such laws had a *negative* effect, and I know of no country where they had *no* effect at all.

            To me, that implies that gun control laws are at least part of the solution. It certainly won’t solve anything by itself, but once again, if that alone has practically eliminated school shootings in other countries, I’d say that alone is reason enough to support it.

          • wodin says:

            Yeah we banned guns..and in the last 8 months there have been 28 shootings in Liverpool alone..cos the only ones without a weapon are the innocent banning like banning anything doesn’t work.

          • Stickman says:

            As Jalf pointed out, the relationship between guns and violent crime is complicated and murky. However, Canada doesn’t have more guns per capita than the US. As of 2007, the US had more civilian guns per capita than any other country in the world, and 3 times the ownership rate of Canada. Roughly 25% of Canadians own guns, compared to ~35-40% of Americans.

            @Woden: It’s surprisingly (well maybe not) difficult to find gun incident statistics for American cities, but Dallas (roughly the size/economy of Liverpool) had 152 murders in 2012 (the lowest rate since the 50s). The number involving firearms is unpublished, but 66-75% of homicides in the US involve firearms. Thus, Dallas likely has roughly 75-85 gun *homicides* per eight month period, saying nothing about non-lethal shootings!

          • iucounu says:

            @wodin – yes, when guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns. This is fine by me. We’ve got gang violence, often involving illegal guns, and armed robberies, of course. But what we have less and less of are massacres involving law-abiding people who snap, grab their 30-shot battlefield rifle out of the garage, and mow down dozens of people. It’s difficult and expensive and risky to get hold of a firearm over here, and you have to be a career criminal to own one.

          • Shuck says:

            Splitting homicides into intentional “they’ll find a way if you take their guns” killers and spree-killers (who are greatly hampered by a lack of guns) isn’t correct. In the US at least, most homicides are actually done in the heat of the moment, with whatever weapon is at hand. When a gun is at hand it makes a violent outcome more likely and it’s more likely to result in a fatality than with any other weapon. (Which is to say, the presence of a gun makes a murder more likely.) And it’s more likely to involve bystanders (e.g. the shooting on the college campus in Texas not long ago – two people got in an argument, tried to settle it with guns and not only shot each other but several other people accidentally as well).

    • LionsPhil says:

      It needs the sexism angle to really stir things up on RPS. Maybe an article about how being a member of the EU means we’re not allowed guns which is just enforced (using always-online DRM) so that women can’t equalize defensive capability against their naturally physically superior male counterparts.

      • DiamondDog says:

        Then cap it all off with a nice relaxing debate about what is or isn’t an RPG.

        • RedViv says:

          Only shoulder-fired anti-armour weapons systems firing rockets with explosive warheads need apply.
          Some people!

      • cptgone says:

        are games propagating the use of purple dildos as weapons to be considered sexist, or is man emancipated enough to take it like a woman?

        • RedViv says:

          Wait, so you’re *supposed* to beat up people with those? The instructions lied!

      • Freddybear says:

        Gun Control: the political position that a woman lying dead in an alley, raped and then strangled with her own pantyhose is somehow morally superior to a woman explaining to the police how her attacker got that fatal gunshot wound.

        • Bhazor says:

          You’re going down that route?


          • Jeroen D Stout says:

            Bhazor, I cannot find any way to message you and I thought you might have left the sexist debate behind – so I just wanted to say how often your posts seem calm and thoughtful while faced with angry shouting people who purposefully turn everything around.

            I much value your voice in the debate. Even if I do not know how you manage to keep it up.

          • RedViv says:

            Even when laying the bad taste of this aside: The majority of reported cases in the U.S. (and actually most countries with such statistics) are not situations where guns would help at all.
            This is one of these “catchy” edgy statements that manages to be both wrong and absolutely hurtful.

          • Freddybear says:

            So a woman shouldn’t be allowed to defend herself because her attacker might have a gun? Is that the route you want to take?

          • RedViv says:

            Frederick Tardwick Bear, you are constructing a false dilemma with presupposed assertions. You are grounded, young man.

          • crizzyeyes says:

            Bhazor, you understand that criminals don’t need the law to tell them that they can acquire guns, right?
            I don’t know where you live. I understand that in the UK, guns are extremely hard to come by. In the US, gun control is a fucking joke of an issue. Here’s why: states. Washington D.C. is the homicidal capital of the country because of gun control laws. If you live in D.C., purchasing a gun is difficult, but if you are intent on committing a crime, then you can easily drive a few miles to Virginia, get a gun, drive back, and suddenly you are more powerful than every law-abiding citizen in the city by definition.

            Gun ownership is preserved here for two reasons. First, it allows Americans to properly rebuke tyranny — if you think I’m naive, Google “battle of athens 1946.” Second, it is an equalizer. You may have heard the American proverb, “God created Man, but Sam Colt made them equal.” Violent criminals and thieves only prey on the weak and defenseless, those whom they know will not be able to do much, if anything, to prevent the crime from being committed. If you allow gun ownership for all citizens, suddenly you are at best on equal footing, and you have no way to know if the person you’re assaulting or stealing from is carrying a firearm, making it an extremely risky action.

          • iucounu says:

            Gun control doesn’t make it impossible for criminals to acquire guns, it just makes it harder, more expensive, and riskier. As a result, gun violence in the UK is rare enough that what would be minor incidents in the USA regularly make the national news. I mean, go figure. Though I don’t really think you could do in the USA what we did over here, because quite apart from the political considerations there are just so many guns in general circulation over there.

            The idea that there’s anything even the whiskeriest Michigan militiaman can do to ‘rebuke tyranny’ in this day and age is faintly ridiculous to me. This is the 21st century, where national governments have access to as many weapons of mass destruction as they can cram into a stealth bomber or a predator drone or attack helicopter. The way you effect political change and rebuke tyranny is through democracy and, if necessary, non-violent resistance.

          • Bhazor says:

            Overcoming tyranny?

            Isn’t that the same argument given by Che Guevara, Mussolini, Mao, Lenin and many more. If you’re citing the Battle of Athens 1946 how about citing the brave actions of Luigi Galleani and his attempts to overthrow what he saw as a tyrannical rule.

            “Criminals only prey on the weak”
            Which is why most gun crime is gang motivated, gangsters know gangsters don’t carry weapons and that’s why gangsters target gangsters.

        • Soon says:

          Gun Control: Applying for a firearm certificate before purchasing appropriate firearm.

        • iucounu says:

          This is not the first time I’ve seen this nasty little fable, nor is it the first time that it’s struck me as being really creepy in terms of the details it seems to be interested in (where the hell did ‘strangled with her own pantyhose’ come from, wingnut rhetoricians?)

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Considering we’ve just had another sexism firestorm, I suspect everyone has already… .shot their load.

        (I blame all the talk about guns.)

        • The Random One says:

          Ending a sexism/firearms debate with a double pun. Today, sir, you’ve won the thread.

        • Baines says:

          Hah, out of curiosity, I took another look the Cyberpunk article to take another look at the replies.

          The way RPS ignores the post-per-page limit to show all nested posts on their parent’s page, combined with the sheer number and length of replies nested to the first reply, appears to break the page loading for me. I don’t know if it is my browser or connection giving up on length or whatever, but it won’t completely load the first of that article now.

  3. MOKKA says:

    I feel this whole ‘Game/non-Game’ discussion is a playground for people who like to sound smarter then they actually are.

    • sinister agent says:

      This kind of non-comment doesn’t help anyone.

      • MOKKA says:

        so like any other comment on the internet?

        • SuperNashwanPower says:

          Every comment on the internet is a matter of life and death and leads to genuine change somewhere. Policy makers read our words and go “Oh, SpleenVenter5600 has really nailed the core of the third world debt issue. Lets incorporate that!”.

          Otherwise, why else would people get so obsessed with winning the comment debate? Its certainly not ego, as most people these days are fully enlightened. Down with the phrase “E-peen”. All we want is to get to THE TRUTH

    • Snids says:

      Yeah smart-arse HIPSTERS! Stop thinking, IDIOTS!

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        When I read the word “Hipsters” I immediately think of a short lived and ill advised type of jeans that GAP brought out that intentionally showed off butt-cleavage. Like Builders Bum jeans, for women. They needed Crack Spackle (TM)

      • bwion says:

        Hipster (hip-stur): noun; A person on the internet with whom I disagree, or of whom I personally disapprove. See also: troll.

    • Shivoa says:

      vs people who only ever want to sound dumber than they actually are? Or should we all strive to only sound precisely as smart as we are, based on a set of well-defined metrics that allow us the know this smartness on a definitive scale?

      I’m not particularly interested in the game/non-game debate but I don’t think anyone taking part in it is automatically reaching above their station or any other anti-intellectual declaration as to the worth if their investigation (even if it is only into how they categorise things and talk about the breadth of common terms).

      • Kitsuninc says:

        A good discussion doesn’t come from someone trying to appear smart, it comes from someone who wants to let others know of his own viewpoint, and hear the opinions of others in order to strive towards the truth, or at least improve one’s own opinions. You won’t care one way or the other whether you sound smart or dumb, ideally.

        I digress, however.

      • Koozer says:

        “Or should we all strive to only sound precisely as smart as we are…”

        Yes. Anything else is dishonest.

    • MOKKA says:

      Let me clarify this a bit: Discussions about the definition of a single word are never fruitful. Everyone of us has a silightly different understanding about what a certain word means. This means that if we want to discuss whether or not a certain object falls within the definition of a certaint word (here it’s ‘Game’), you will always have a certain amount of disagreement among people.
      And since we’re on the Internet, where there is no middle ground and only the loudest and most extreme opinions have a chance of getting heared, you will end up in discussions which lead nowhere and only waste everybody’s time.

      I think the discussion as to whether or not, games like Proteus are games or not, don’t have anything valuable to add. It would be more interesting and fruitful to concentrate on the creation itself and not on the definition of a word.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        I tend to agree Mokka. Discussions on semantics often end up like discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It’s particularly painful when we realize there’s no possible room to gain new knowledge about the problem because, when we dissect both sides of the argument, we can see that both are dialectically correct. This is because… there’s no agreed semantic meaning to the word.

        Semantics have a tendency to be all about circular discussions that lead us nowhere. But I do tend to be more entertained than bored about it. It’s always nice to read these type of arguments. They are often very carefully constructed. Take that into account. There’s a lot more to learn from the actual discussion than from its purpose.

  4. Snids says:

    I remember when I was a child we used to play a “game” where we pretended to be dinosaurs.
    We ran around and roared and had a good time.

    There wasn’t any “win” criteria and it wasn’t possible to score “points” but it was fun anyway.

    By “we” I meant “I”.

    Also “anti-game” would seem to suggest something that was the opposite of a game and therefore something that is aggressively not fun.

    Such as watching this: link to

    • bill says:

      You were playing it wrong. The winner was the first dinosaur to get into a jet fighter.

    • sinister agent says:

      I like to think that it works the other way round, and we’re all in fact dinosaurs who are pretending to be weird little ape-monsters.

      • DrScuttles says:

        Do we still have to turn into jet fighters? Only I worry about reaching the controls with stubby T-Rex arms.

        • Chris D says:

          It’s ok. You actually just control the jet with the power of your mind* but most people just pretend to be using their arms to show off. The arms are really just there so you can gesticulate dramatically.

          *Or you can use your prehensile tail if you prefer.

          • Josh W says:

            In fact, only T rex’s would be able to have space in their cockpits to perform the true way to fly a plane:

            Stick your arms out to either side and make wooshing noises.

    • Tuhalu says:

      When I was a kid, I had a game on my Tandy TRS-80 called Dino Wars. It was a two player game where each of you had a T-Rex and to win, you had to get behind the other guy and roar at him. At which point his T-Rex would be terrified and yelp into the distance. It was a simple game with simple pleasures.

      This was an actual computer game, so I never got a chance to play it as a pretend game. My life is lessened.

  5. Zarx says:

    Man really bummed about GPG, it’s such a shame they didn’t pitch something more interesting than Wildman. Just what the game actually was was too vague. Still it would be a real shame to lose GPG, they have made some good games even if they never really managed to really nail one and make it great.

  6. McCool says:

    The gamasutra game/nongame article seemed to be not much about gaming, but the writer’s lack of comfort concerning his own tastes. There is also a reductive argument in there – the idea that “not getting” games like Dear Esther does not make you do not have a more refined taste. Isn’t that precisely what that means? It’s a rather un-PC comment to make, but being able to understand and appreciate subtle works of art that are agreed to be of merit is in every other medium seen as a positive quality. The fact that gaming is getting to a point where snobbery and elitism is even possible, surely has to be a good sign? Throughout much of gaming’s history, there really hasn’t been much “to get”. What was being offered was very often a pure fun metric (what it is to say you do not enjoy a game of tennis is not the same as not enjoying Hamlet, for instance). An appreciation of art, literary fiction, and so on: these are almost always seen as positive qualities in a person. Why not games too?

    • Bhazor says:

      Agreed. I thought Dear Esther and Forty Flights of Loving were both completely over rated and that the real art games are the likes of Pathologic and some of the Emily Short IF games.

      The fact I can point to multiple artworks and pick favourites says a lot about the slow maturation of the medium.

      • The Random One says:

        You’re absolutely correct. I liked both Dear Esther and Fifty Flights, but if you didn’t like them, and you can articulate your opinion of why you didn’t like them using grown-up words and relevant criticism, I’ll respect your opinion. If you’ll come up with a disparaging term to deny them entry to your favourite hobby you’re just stifling discussion.

        You could make the same argument by saying that they didn’t take advantadge of the interactive inherent to the medium, and thus not imply that they need to be thrown out of the clubhouse.

      • Kitsuninc says:

        Ah, man, Pathologic. Thinking about it, I still feel like I really should have played it, it sounds so cool, yet I know I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of the spectacular RPS articles about it than I would have the game itself.

        Any game that can make me feel such an odd emotion upon hearing about it must be a spectacular work of art. Personally, I like any game that can make me think in an extremely unique way, even if it does mean the game contains copious amounts of bad design and/or pretentiousness (A word I don’t always use negatively).

        It’s not a very creative choice, but I also found The Void to be very interesting, and from the sound of it, it’s much more playable than Pathologic, especially with the ‘Normal/Easy’ patch. Although I wonder if making the game easier wasn’t missing the point a little; I guess it shows how obsessed we are with playing something as a game and ‘finishing’ it, though I can’t honestly say I know what to think. I avoid games that are too slow and troublesome, even if they do use that in an interesting way (Pathalogic, in other words, I guess) because I just don’t have the time to waste. Hmm.

    • Lambchops says:

      Haha, you beat me to what I was saying while I was typing it!

      Took a different slant to things at the end than I did and I have to say I agree, it’s definitely a positive sign when we can have these sorts of arguments.

      Though I still contend that an appreciation of “the arts” or whatever is a much more admirable quality if it comes along with the understanding that one man’s art is another man’s bemused stare. shrug and utterance of “what was the point of that.”

    • Melliflue says:

      We already had elitism and snobbery. The attitude towards “casual” games, console gamers, or CoD players, for example. I don’t think that has helped anyone.

      Maybe I’m a bit naive but why can’t we just let people enjoy whatever they enjoy and not put pressure on people to lie about how much they enjoyed certain games? That seemed to be the point of Mike Rose’s article. We shouldn’t be saying it is a positive quality to like certain kinds of games, and be dismissive of someone who doesn’t “get it”. It reminds me of when the argument “You’re just playing it wrong” is used against someone who doesn’t enjoy a particular game.

      The Proteus guy’s response didn’t seem to be a response to that article but instead to the semantic question of what constitutes a game, which had nothing to do with Mike Rose’s article.

      Oh, and as Lambchops says below, that is an awful choice of colours by the Proteus guy. Not easy on the eys at all :p

    • psepho says:

      Yes — agreed.

      I personally found Dear Esther very uninteresting. I enjoyed exploring the island (although for some reason it made me start again back at the beginning if I leave off playing — very annoying). But as soon as one of the audio clips played it just blew my immersion each time. It was like suddenly being interrupted by a snippet from Radio 4’s afternoon play slush pile. A total turn-off.

      But 30 Flights I loved. Proteus, too. Dys4ia was one of the most impactful games I played last year. The fact that a game is non-traditional or pushes at the edges of our expectations doesn’t mean that you have to like it. However, not liking it also doesn’t mean that you have to exclude it from the conversation (which is the attitude that Ed Key is rightly reacting to).

      Incidentally, Sid Meier’s adage about a game being a series of interesting decisions (while obviously begging the question as to what makes a decision interesting) can still be construed as including Proteus. A huge part of Proteus’s success (to my mind) is that it makes the bare bones navigational decisions of the traditional first-person videogame interface into interesting decisions in their own right. It goes right down the granular level of exactly how you turn and edge this way or that.

      (Hmm, interesting thoughts, I think I feel a blog post coming on.)

    • KDR_11k says:

      Question is, is it really more refined to love anti-games (more specifically, THESE anti-games) or is it just naive? Is objecting to those games a sign that you are too stupid for them or is it just calling the Emperor naked? Are the anti-games that already exist even good art or are they the schlock that fills up gift stores?

      It has become trendy to question the definition of art but if we look back at the classics that are still famous they’re fairly squarely within the traditional boundaries and simply superb executions of their craft. Will people remember Dear Ester in 10 years? Would Thirty Flights of Loving get any attention if it was a short film instead of a game? Do anti-games have more to offer than just the novelty value of not really being games?

      • Acorino says:

        Only time will tell.

        • Dances to Podcasts says:

          I’m not sure it will. Modern art is over 100 years old and people are still complaining about it…

    • iainl says:

      It just strikes me as a really bizarre argument, really. It’s the difference between saying “I don’t like Techno” and “that’s not even music, it doesn’t have any guitars”.

      To stretch that analogy a bit further, there are some who resent RPS and others acting as the videogame equivalent of Pitchfork or The Quietus and spending a lot of time talking about this stuff rather than the concerns of Q or Mojo.

  7. Lambchops says:

    Reading Mike Rose’s article on Proteus just tells me that Mike Rose has learned not to feel insecure about his own opinion in the face of scrutiny from others. Which is good for him!

    I don’t really think there’s a special pedestal that these types of game/non-game/interactive experience/anti-game/uncle-game/call-them-what-you-will are on that makes them immune from not even criticism but just plain not liking them. As with anything there’s people that love it, people that hate it and the whole myriad of people in between (for the record I pretty much concur with Mike’s view, I enjoyed it, I’d encourage others to try it, but I wont be going to it. back any time soon). We can all discuss these opinions and if people somehow think that others a dumb for dismissing it out of hand when they wouldn’t bat an eyelid at dismissing other games just as quickly, then I think we all know who is being a silly billy.

    So to stoke up some non-controversy who else dismissed the Proteus guy’s response out of hand because white on a pink background is nigh on illegible and just way too much effort to attempt to read!

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Well, I did end up reading that white on rose. I must say I was as unsatisfied by his answer as I was by his game. Likewise for the choice of colors. But it wasn’t his colors. Would be missing the point by the same order of magnitude (a higher one) as he missed Mike Rose’s point.

      The fact he chose to only concentrate on terms like non-game or anti-game was a real letdown but totally ironic. I’m awarding Mike Rose 20 internets! Ed Key felt the need to defend his game, when the term was instead being used in the context of an article defending the idea it’s ok to not like his game.

      • Naum says:

        It seems to me that Key’s text is more in response to the comments under Rose’s piece than in response to the piece itself, because down there you’ll actually find the notion that Proteus is not to be called a game. I’ll concede, though, that him choosing this article and not one of the myriad others that deal specifically with the ‘problem’ of ‘un-games’ as such is sort of strange.

  8. TechnicalBen says:

    I like anti games. But I just don’t like rubbish anti games. ;)

    Which is better? Games or anti games? There’s only one way to find out…

    • Continuity says:

      I think we both know that that is subjective, unless you want to start comparing specifics which would be meaningless.

    • Ravenholme says:

      You fool, if the two of them get together they catastrophically annihilate each other in an unstoppable reaction due to their diametrically opposed natures!

      Uh… wait… wrong anti-


      • Lanfranc says:

        Sounds like a concept for a game/anti-game reactor to me. Just feed in a stream of copies of Hotline Miami and Dear Esther: Cheap and clean energy!

    • Josh W says:

      Everyone has missed the suggestion here, that games and anti-games should FIGHT!!!

      But what would their moves be?

  9. Lacero says:

    I’m surprised the EU article doesn’t talk more about the recruitment situation. A lot of people working on games are from Europe and can work here with no paperwork required. If we left I would have thought this could cause huge problems, a lot of teams i’ve been part of have been > 50% European immigrants.

    • RedViv says:

      There’s one of the bigger problems with putting that decision up to a public referendum. In the eyes of too many people, “immigrant workers” mostly means “brown people who steal our jobs or live from our taxes”. And that is sad.

    • Lanfranc says:

      It probably will, but…

      The basic problem is that nobody really knows what the hell will happen at the end of this process, because this whole thing is entirely unprecedented. No member state has ever left the EU before (with the single exception of Greenland, which was a quite different situation), so it is completely unexplored political and legal territory. There is a vague process mentioned in the Treaties, but how that will actually play out in relation to real policy areas is anybody’s guess.

      That said, in my personal view, this uncertainty about the outcome alone makes it a really bad idea right from the start, but obviously others have different opinions.

    • mickygor says:

      If the reason they’re working here is because there’s no paperwork to fill out, well that’s more concerning than the idea of “brownskins” stealing our jobs and living off our taxes. Quite a vapid reason to work in the UK, and similarly they don’t need any paperwork to work in their own country.

      • Koozer says:

        The required hoops to jump through to work in another (non-EU) country amount to a little more than filling in a form you know.

  10. Lambchops says:

    The standard of punning in the balloon duel article is truly sky high!

    • corinoco says:

      Really? I thought it was all a load of hot air if you ask me. Fools with their duels and inflated egos.

      • Ravenholme says:

        If you’re trying to get a rise out of me sir, you will find yourself sorely disappointed.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Needless ballast, if you ask me.

  11. phenom_x8 says:

    Yesterday, I was playing Far Cry 3, have been kiliing those legendary black Panther and skinned it, I drove along the southern BEach of Rook Island. and then the radios played a song,
    A song that chills my heart, comforting me after doing an ‘extraordinary’ task (killing a black panther you know),
    A song that even made me stop driving my jeep while listening to it and enjoying the sun sets itself along the beach,
    A song I’ve never heard of before.
    Ukulele girl, thats the singer said
    again and again and again.
    And then, I quit, fire up my opera and search for it.
    This, I present it all to you, folks!
    My audio of this week

    I’ ve never notice it before on RPS, so I hope its worth it.

  12. scientific socialist says:

    ‘How would we explain to someone what an ungame is? I think we would describe ungames to him, and we could add to the description: “that, and the like, we call ‘ungames’”. And do we know more than that ourselves? Why can’t we just explain to the other exactly what an ungame is? – But this is not ignorance. We don’t know the boundaries, because none have been set. As said, we can – for a specific purpose – set a boundary. Does the concept only then become useful? Not at all! Unless it is for that specific purpose.’

    • Naum says:

      Brilliant, good Sir or Madam. I usually try to avoid these types of meaningless comments (edit: I mean mine, of course), but whenever someone quotes a certain philosopher, I have to make an exception. Doubly so because his work seems indeed very relevant in this context, and because his relaxed attitude towards matters of meaning and semantics could make this comments section a much more pleasant place.

  13. BurningPet says:

    I strongly feel that Wildman is an obscure idea that people fail to understand. i have been following it for a bit and must admit that i am not entirely sure how it will play. i cant visualise it. i cant put it into a frame, and because it uses so many other frames (RTS, MOBA, RPG) it doesn’t offer something totally new and exciting to make its own frame.

    its not just a simple matter of “kickstarter is only for nostalgia”. kickstarter is for new ideas as well, but those must be presented in the best possible way.

    Its sad to read Chris taylor situation, he has designed many great games and deserve to reap the fruits of his labour,, i really do hope a miracle will happen and Wildman will get funded somehow.

    Also, i am not sure whether a franchise that sell 1.5 million copies and doesn’t “earn” itself is a statement of how “evil” the publishers are, or just how bad the market research departments in those companies are. it just strike me as odd that a title like supreme commander which had a very demanding requirements at the time was planned to sell more than 1.5 million copies.

    • wu wei says:

      Personally, I’m far more inclined to back a project that tries something new, even with the knowledge it might fail, than something that’s retreading old ground by established developers who’ve done it all before. And you’re right in that it’s somewhat unclear what Wildman wants to be; it seems to be trying hard to come across as all things to all people, without locking itself into any real commitment either way.

      What put me off backing Wildman is that no mention of their troubles was included in the “Risks” section on the Kickstarter page, nor has it been updated to reflect this. Instead, it downplays all risk because of the “experienced team” involved, which is now no longer the same size as it was when the project first went up. I’ve been criticised in other forums for my naivety in expecting developers to treat us with respect by being truthful about their situation, but it gives the whole thing the odour of a scam, whatever Taylor’s intentions actually are, and I can’t help but feel that dissuaded a lot of people from taking the plunge and backing it.

      • Lanfranc says:

        I personally would worry about what would happen if the Kickstarter succeeds and Gas Powered gets the money, but then goes bankrupt at some point before the game is finished. Seems like your money would probably be lost in such a situation.

    • trout says:

      I feel really sorry for Chris Taylor actually, especially after watching that update videos where he’s obviously pretty emotional about firing the majority of his studio – but I think he just misread the current kickstarter trends, and would have raised his money target if he had have pushed for something like Supreme Commander 3 (with a new title I suppose) – especially given that the RTS genre seems to be moving away from really large scale conflicts/map sizes, it’s possible there’s a large untapped desire/market for this type of game.

      • justdave says:

        I feel sorry for GPG’s ex-employees. I just feel annoyed at Chris Taylor. He made a terrible business decision turning to Kickstarter for funding and it cost a lot of people their jobs. He might not like the fact that their previous game’s profits went to the publishers, but it was those publishers that paid his and his staff’s salaries for the past 15 years.

        Yeah, playing the nostalgia card might have meant a project that could be funded on Kickstarter, but GPG would’ve been better off in the long term pitching their concept around to publishers.

  14. RedViv says:

    Huh. This is the first time that I’ve already read the majority of articles. Probably for the better, because I can barely focus after going through the 300+ entries that had been added to the last comment thread after I had shut my systems down, and would likely only be able to type manic dribble on the new input, in face of so many mind-boggling simply logical fallacies alone.

  15. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Wow. Lots seemingly interesting stuff to read on this week’s Sunday Paper. I need to find time. Pronto!

  16. coldvvvave says:

    whoops wrong thread

  17. Runs With Foxes says:

    Any attempt to define things like Proteus as not being a game seems to betray an misunderstanding of meaning-as-use.

    Don’t think so. The meaning of ‘game’ might be contested, but that doesn’t make “because I said so” a good reason for labelling something a game. Despite what you say, there have been numerous definitions of “game” from people who have studied them for a living, and Proteus doesn’t seem to fit into any of them (I haven’t played it, but certainly Dear Esther and visual novels don’t for example).

    The people who would call anything a game can’t support their positions with any consistent definitions, and if you can’t define the word you’re using, you’ve got a problem.

    I think the real question is why people are so offended by a term like “interactive digital art” or something like that. People seem to hate the thought that their creation/purchase might be called such a thing, but I don’t understand why.

    I like that Tale of Tales at least has the self-awareness to call their approach “notgames”. They know their creations aren’t “gamey”, presumably because they know what a game is. (Though they often do refer to them as games as well.)

    • Jeroen D Stout says:

      Tale of Tales talk of the ‘notgames’ movement, which is an ideology. There are no ‘notgames’, by their consideration (or by mine)

      Furthermore, definitions by Callois and Huizinga have wider scopes for the definition of games and offer sub-divisions and thought on how different type of games co-exist. In my view it is the current generation of academics which is misusing the word, not those who want to restore the word to a wider scope.

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        In any case, the notgame term suggests an awareness and a need for different terms so we can talk about things accurately, even if they would keep belligerently using “game” (don’t know if they do).

        • Jeroen D Stout says:

          I think Tale of Tales even uses Video Game as a different idea from Games (as-in playground games). I agree we need different terms and there should not be any arbitrary confusion about them. I do think that taken the scope of the word ‘game’ from the 19th century until now, ‘game’ is not the word to define what I see as a subset of games.

          Callois had four forms of games, agon (competition), alea (chance), mimicry (role-playing), ilinx (thrill). With these you can build any game. I think what happens now is that ‘game’ must be at least agon (for some) with mimicry, but Proteus, being purely alea and mimicry, is shoved out.

          Arguably Proteus is walking in a garden (which is not a game), but here the game is pretending a virtual garden is real and explorable. In my view if you use a choose-your-own-adventure novel to walk around a garden that also comes in the domain of playing games. The concept of game is to Callois (and Huizinga and me) more about the alteration of behaviour within a magic circle. This encompasses many things, which I argue we should maintain. Within this domain of games (from tags to Dear Esther to Starcraft) we have many subsets worth exploring.

          Perhaps we should abandon the word ‘game’ and move to ‘game-ish’. Semantically that will make it hard to have any rigid lines. (What-ho.)

    • Acorino says:

      Always nice to find a wise guru on the internet who can show us the path to enlightenment! Oh guru, may we never sin again and presume that there might be different understandings of terms that in normal use between people are never defined and are merely commonly understood.
      [/sarcasm off]

      Aaanyway, visual novels aren’t games now? When did that happen? Somebody tell this the hivemind so that they never talk about visual novels here ever again. That reminds me that in this comment section on GamesRadar people were upset that Zelda was referred to as an RPG. Yet, that was always how it was categorized. I remember, some years ago, I found it odd that Zelda was thought of as an RPG, but Outcast as an action-adventure.

      Maybe we’re becoming simply more conscious of the meaning of such terms, and that doesn’t sound like a bad thing. Yet, I honestly can’t fathom why people care so much…as long as we all understand what we mean, then everything’s alright, right?

      Edit: Also, I want to see a critique on something like “Dear Esther” that deems it a non-game / “interactive digital art”, but doesn’t use the term “game” sooner or later. Somehow even exclusionists always gravitate back to the term “game” again and again, even when they deem something a non-game. I wonder why that is?

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        RPG might be a good example of why lazy semantic slippage can be a problem. Now we have people who think anything that tells a nice story, or which lets you “play a role” is an RPG. Meanwhile actual RPGs are few and far between. Having clear definitions of things doesn’t stop anything from existing; it just allows us to talk about things accurately.

        • Acorino says:

          I can agree with that. :)

          Yet I feel definitions are only helpful as a crutch for people who don’t know anything about the defined. A definition is a good entry point to understanding, but true understanding can only be reached by experiencing an example or a multitude of them. True understanding lies deeper than words can express anyway, I feel.

        • RedViv says:

          RPG mechanics do not make an RPG. (As does having X from “this game”, so this clearly is a “this game”. Hi Bethesda!)

          Snarking aside: The definitions of “pure RPG” that I have come up with over the years were a bit lacking. The best I could do was “game that relies on character development and decision-making – in narrative, events, and combat – based on the formal statistics and background of said characters”.
          Now, that would leave open the manner in which combat, dialogue, etc. are executed within the game, as long as player skill does not overrule the majority of character skills.

    • Josh W says:

      People who study things for a living are very careful about demarcation of boundaries around their expertise, it helps with academic turf wars and provides useful scoping when dealing with difficult problems.

      People who make things for a living, and people who use things, can frequently find those definitions arbitrary and slicing straight through their area of concern.

    • The Random One says:

      So you say that ‘because I said so’ isn’t a good reason to use a word in a certain manner, then go on to say that we should use the meanings set up by people who had studied the medium because they said so.


      • Runs With Foxes says:

        Yes? Because they have generally arrived at their definition after studying the form and many, many examples in detail, and identified similarities? As opposed to people who label something a game just because it suits them?

    • Consumatopia says:

      Did you happen to read the post from the Proteus dev, including the addendum about Wittgenstein using “game” as an example of a “family resemblance”? Whatever your problems with the broader definition of games, it’s a definition that’s been with us for a while–at least a few decades before some academics decided to make new definitions (not entirely compatible with each other) more suited to each of their purposes.

  18. Runs With Foxes says:

    “Videogames are lauded for their imaginative landscapes yet, despite this, critics and players often denigrate these environments with demands for purpose. It is not enough to merely exist; the developer god must corrupt places with mechanics, poison them with meaning. Proof of intelligent design must be demonstrated through challenges or collectibles. The journey itself is never enough.”

    … I think I agree with this article, but not with the terminology. Sounds like the author doesn’t like what are essentially metagame systems like achievements and collectibles added on top of the game systems, which is fine. But it’s a bit of a leap to start talking about mechanics corrupting and poisoning places. Mechanics aren’t in opposition to exploration.

  19. Mario Figueiredo says:

    It annoys me that among such interesting articles I was drawn first to read about GPG’s Wildman. But that’s an issue that’s been on my head for the past few weeks. One that strikes a chord with my own aspirations as a business man in the field of software development.

    The article reads like a sad story. And it’s a sad story. I do feel for Chris Taylor. There’s no hypocrisy here. I’ve been in his shoes before. But what I learned from my own experience is that I have no one to blame but me. However Chris apparently keeps pushing the “blame” somewhere else. It’s Kickstarter now. It’s us gamers who don’t want new things but are currently going into a nostalgic phase. It’s this damn royalties thing that never gave them through independence.

    He insistingly seems to fail to understand that it is perhaps his business model that doesn’t fit with what he can offer to both his company and his consumers. My current stay in Africa has taught me a few lessons about scaling and the ability to survive. That which could be suicide inducing on Wall Street is still considered high life by many in here. Learning to scale down is a surviving instinct that apparently many western companies are failing to understand. The focus is only on sustainable growth, never on what to do if growth becomes impossible. The answer seems to be, shut down.

    I’m not talking about just firing people. Firing people does not scale a company down. It only cuts on expenses. I’m talking about the a company that actually restructures itself to become smaller, produce less ambitious products and essentially moves the necessary steps down in the ladder that defines the size of a business in terms of capital and profitability.

    Chris Taylor wants to have the same business he had. He thinks of how bad things are going for him and how this may mean the end of his business. And yet many smaller companies and indie business ventures out there, on this very industry, are highly profitable and reach their goals, even surpassing them. Many of which not even having to know what a royalty is, or what Kickstarter is. Christ Taylor fails to realize it’s his own sense of what he wants for GPG that is failing him. Not people, not Kickstarter. It’s his company and his projects. He can only blame himself.

    He came to Kickstarter hoping to find a lifeline for his business. And that really is a terrible way to approach this service. If the aim was to find a lifeline for his *game project*, then sure he would be in a common ground with the people that visit it and put their pledges in. But Kickstarter isn’t a place to Kickstart companies. It’s a place to kickstart projects. And people in general will rightfully not feel inclined to pledge for the survival of a company. That’s not what they are there for. A company that approaches Kickstarter because they have something ambitions that goes beyond their budget capabilities, fails and moves on to do something else is a company that understands Kickstarter isn’t and cannot ever be a funding program for businesses in danger.

    I don’t know what will be of GPG if this project ends up failing. But there will be many more other developers our there. Many other people doing great games. People and companies with a better sense of scale and whose ambitions don’t unnecessarily put at risk the lives of those that work with them. I do have a feeling though of what will be of GPG is this project succeeds; GPG will keep existing for a little more on a business reality it can’t sustain.

  20. Hoaxfish says:

    In the “Tabloid” edition of the Sunday Papers:

    Penny Arcade Report’s Ben Kuchera got in a twitter-fight with Forbes’ Erik Kain (mostly backed up by everyone else). It’s quite hard to find an article giving a proper breakdown, though this one is probably one of the better: link to

    The short version, as far as I understand it, is:
    1. A SNES game called Nightmare Busters was cancelled before release (the release of the PS1 made the company rethink releases on the older system), and only survived in ROM form.
    2. Recently, a company started making a SNES cartridge of the game, and selling it for $60. The company is apparently known for doing this with very old, dead game companies’ products.
    3. This was proclaimed as a “new” SNES game.
    4. Erik puts up an article saying this is a bit silly since it has a ridiculous price (the same as a modern console game), and it has long been freely available only through emulators of the dead SNES system. As part of this, he links to a emulator where you can play it.
    5. Ben calls the link advocating piracy, proceeds to complain and calls for the financial ruin of Erik Kain.
    6. Erik says he didn’t know this would be considered piracy, and edits the link out of the article, while adding a question to comments for experts on the legal state of emulation/roms. (someone actually digs up a link that says SNES emulation is okay due to the system being very hard to get hold of and since it’s no longer in production).
    7. Ben says he should have researched better, but admits to not having really read the article (arguably not doing research).
    8. People dig out an old article on emulation posted by Ben.
    9. Ben started blocking people on Twitter, and simply posting “deal with it” over and over (and changing his avatar to match), going onto various forums to defend his point of view… without much success.
    10. This lasted about 2 days, at which point Erik had since moved on to things that are actually important, while Ben hadn’t.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Oh that was excellent Hoaxfish, Had me laughing all the way. Brilliant piece by Matt McDermott. You guys must read it.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      Gotta love gaming journalism being described as the “Old Boy’s Club” that Forbes (aka Billionaire’s Weekly) is excluded from.

    • MOKKA says:

      I like the Gaming section on Forbes, not only do they have some nice (and also nicely balanced) articles, it’s also a site which I can safely visit at work without raising suspicion.

    • Muzman says:

      Awesome scream sheet.
      On the bright side Kuchera gave up after a couple of days. This reflects well on him. Web comic people know how to feud. I’m sure there’s Hatfields and McCoys in the wilds of some forum with ‘Trespassers shot’ and ‘Remember ’99!’ signs, fighting it out over Ctrl+Alt+Del to this day.
      For endless amusement we should somehow face them off with Joss Whedon fans and Kevin Smith.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        Ben Kuchera, not web comic people, like to feud. He’s the biggest dick across the ocean I’ve ever had the misfortune of knowing. I liked how that article at bitscreed exposed him as a fraud. After having spent years at Ars Technica, it seems he hasn’t learned anything and is now being as big a dick at Penny Arcade. Good thing though: I don’t read Penny Arcade.

        … well, I don’t read Ars Technica anymore too. But for different reasons.

    • bitscreed says:

      Thank you for the link and thank you very much for reading what I wrote.

      gritz: Yeah I kinda made myself look a wee bit silly there didn’t I. In my defence “old boys club” wasn’t meant entirely seriously, but I could have made that clearer. :\

      • Hoaxfish says:

        I was following the whole thing as it unfurled, and I know a lot of it got lost along the way.

        Most of the Google results either had nothing to do with it, or were reports about “half way through” (thinking it had finished).

        I think the “Old boys club” is pretty fitting in the way that they seem to constantly defend the status quo because “you don’t get it, it’s beneath us to explain, and you haven’t even been through the initiation ceremony”.

        • bitscreed says:

          I was up well into wee hours tracking down as much as I could about the whole thing figuring a lot of it would vanish pretty quickly. Scouring ever shifting twitter feeds for relevant quotes and examples is as tedious as it sounds, but I wanted to be as thorough as I possibly could in my research. ;)

          With regards to my “old boys network” remark, what’s funny is many of the people constantly defending the status quo aren’t really that old. A lot of games journalists I personally admire as genuine veterans or “old guard” (I read a lot of PC Zone, PC Format, PC Gamer, Gamesmaster, etc when I was younger) have generally taken opposite positions to people like Kuchera et al.

  21. cervor says:

    “Any attempt to define things like Proteus as not being a game seems to betray an misunderstanding of meaning-as-use. ”

    So? He simply decides against the meaning that is manifested in its use. This argument goes against nothing. It’s not even a reflection about the concerns or the validity of such a direction. How do you get “different” games (i.e. not just trve oldschool games)? Surely not by simply shrugging your shoulders.

  22. Synesthesia says:

    Holy crap, that pye audio corner track is awesome. It’s just what i needed this morning. Thanks for sharing!

  23. tomeoftom says:

    Okay, Jim. I have always respected your taste in everything. Stalker, architecture, futurism, everything simultaneously nihilistic and hopeful – it’s great. But – holy shit, the Tim Hecker album last week and this week’s Pye Corner Audio are just beautiful. Thanks so much! Also, please write more long-form stuff if you ever find the time.

  24. Mario Figueiredo says:

    The Electron Dance article “Into The Black” is indeed an interesting read. And a validation of games like Proteus. I have nothing against games like Proteus. I like games like Proteus. I just don’t like Proteus.

    Let me clarify: I’m a long time Celestia “player”. I have almost certainly more than a thousand hours on that simulator. I once scripted Voyager course to Jupiter and let it ran on a secondary computer I had at the time (good old days). The idea was to let it run for the 2 years it took Voyager to reach Jupiter and document the trip on my blog at the time. The project failed because that computer actually failed to stay on after an uptime of 1 month. That’s Windows XP SP1 for you. But regardless, you must agree there’s not much to see in a Celestia’s travel to Jupiter. And yet the thought still thrills me to this day. I like exploration even when I’m not rewarded with visual incentive.

    The problem here is that again an article is written about exploration and contemplative games by gasping at the other side of the argument. Why should exploration games be defended as opposed to other game styles? There’s nothing wrong in offering a game of exploration that gives you something else. There’s nothing diminishing in it. I remember spending hours on end just going fooling around Fallout 3 world. And yet, the fact the game offered me also a plot, rewards, side-quests and people to talk to was great! But above all, exploration games should not be defended by even hitting at the idea that there is something wrong about wanting rewards in a game environment. It immediately turns the whole discussion into a pot calling the kettle black.

    I don’t like Proteus because it doesn’t give me explorations or even contemplation. My problem with Proteus is both technical and cultural. Technical because if a game is to offer me contemplation and exploration as its core mechanism I expect it to give me at least a sense of infinity. Not to stick me in a finite (and rather small btw) world. It’s just how I like my exploration. The change in seasons and wildlife wasn’t enough to satisfy me. I require new shapes, new sights. Restarting the game isn’t exactly the exploratory mechanism I’m after. But also for a cultural reason, because quite frankly the art style just didn’t agree with me. I actually felt taken aback by some sights and colors and thinking of how ugly my screen was looking like. The highly pixelated environment is something that I can still like (even be thankful) on other genres, but definitely not on this especially with those colors. It’s a strong bias and one I cannot do anything about. It’s my taste.

    So, let’s be clear, games like exploration and contemplative ones a) also require thought and careful planning and b) don’t necessarily need to be dissociated from games that offer other things to do. Think Minecraft. What happens when someone criticizes Proteus for having nothing to do is sometimes exactly its lack of visual appeal to some people or its very small world. And “having nothing to do” is how it ends up being described. Because quite frankly I think everyone can appreciate a pure exploration game when its visuals and its world offer exploration rewards that can go beyond some art concept the game author was trying to bring forth,

    It’s really ok to not like Proteus. As much as it is to like it. Some people will feel the artistic concept wash over them and feel that as their rewarding game experience, others like me will feel completely numb and non understanding. It had no effect on them not because we don’t appreciate artistic visions but because we didn’t appreciate this particular one.

  25. wengart says:

    The Eurogamer gun article was pretty interesting. I always wondered about how gun licensing worked in games, and I can recall being really confused about gun names going from Goldeneye to other shooters.

    Although I will say I became increasingly annoyed with their description of the M82 as a shoulder fired/shoulder mounted weapon.

    • Axess Denyd says:

      Even better, they say it was originally designed for hunting.

      No, it wasn’t. It was designed for long-range target shooting.

      Really, I should know better than to come to RPS and read any linked articles that mention firearms or look through the comment threads. There is an awful lot of “Eeeew, guns scary!” and “Get rid of things I think are icky!”

  26. RakeShark says:

    Personally, I’m on a blues kick. R.L. Burnside’s got my attention with this old goodie, such a strange finger pick method too.

  27. Berzee says:

    Being a second in a hot air balloon duel must be the worst.

  28. Chandos says:

    On the matter of marketing, guns & games, here’s a somewhat old but interesting read:
    The Secret of Marketing with Games Explained with Motivational Forces and Neuroplasticity
    link to

  29. Strangerator says:

    Ok, this got really long, only read if this excerpt interests you…

    “…what I’m trying to say is, Skyrim is like playing tennis in space while reading a book.”

    Why can’t we figure out what “videogames” are?
    I blame Pong.

    Pong is a game in the same way that most sports are games. Taking tennis as a reference point, you have two players fighting for victory under a predefined and understood ruleset. Satisfaction is derived from the struggle, win or lose, and the slowly improving mastery of the players. The pre-existing “board games” were similar, sysems where players compete within the known rulesets to achieve victory. And thus, it seemed pretty obvious that “video games” would follow the same exact pattern, and for a while that’s all we expected of them, and all we got. In many ways, Pong and other “games” like it are the reason the word “game” became so broadly defined to begin with.

    And then someone figured out a) you can have only one human player and b) what if instead of a fixed ruleset, we have a more nebulous “learn as you go” ruleset? Wouldn’t it be fun to pit man vs. machine, and allow him to discover the rules of the game himself? Wouldn’t the inherent unfairness of this situation be mitigated by the fact that only one human is involved, and that every human player is faced with the same unfair struggle?

    And so here was the first divergence, where some games continued to be this fixed and known ruleset, pitting players against one another, where others began to give players a few of the rules and told them to “figure the rest out.” Some genres continue in this “purely game” form, I’m talking things like fighting games, sports games, RTS, and even the dreaded MOBA. The rulesets are well-understood by the game’s players, and the enjoyment is derived from the thrill of victory at high levels of competition. The story is included out of some form of industy-standard obligation, but is of little interest to both the players and the developers. Story in this case is more like the fancy label on your favorite brand of soda.

    However, digital interactive media was destined to absorb many more types of enjoyment than just gamesmanship.

    Mario’s legs are a blur of motion, as he seamlessly jumps from brick to rising platform. But wait, the platform has gone too high, what happens if Mario goes off the screen? What if he jumps from the rising platform to the right, to the line of bricks that appears to be the demarcation of the highest point in the game? The player jumps, and Mario vanishes from the screen for two tense seconds before the player notices the lower half of the protagonist standing above the ceiling. Surely the game is broken now? Laughing wildly I charge Mario further to the right, to the oblivion that lies beyond the stage, where surely I will fall off the world and perish or else ram into the same invisible wall that prevents me from ever going to the left. But instead… warp zone.

    I’m sure there was an earlier example, but for me, Mario was the game-changer. That wonderous discovery of something awesome implanted itself in my 8-year-old brain. You see, on its surface Mario appeared to be “just a game.” The rules are pretty “straightforward” (pun intended) and it appears to be merely a digital obstacle course. But there are so many “rules” to the game outside of what is explicitly stated in the instructions. Suddenly, there is this new form of enjoyment apart from the thrill of victory obtained from skillful play… now you have this concept that if you poke at boundaries of the game’s rules, you’ll discover all sorts of wonderous things.

    This is where things began to get awesome. The part of humans that enjoys discovery carried us across oceans, into space, and to places where it seems crazy to go, like Antarctica. This obviously valuable natural instinct has spread the human species across the planet and this instinct’s translation into the intellectual world has given rise to profound technological advance. But in an increasingly “mapped-out” world where only deep space remains unexplored and in which only the brightest minds can hope to discover new technology, digital exploration of these fictional worlds allows us to satisfy (nurture and preserve?) this instinct.

    In modern terms, we have open-world type games which can satisfy some of these urges. But the real bleeding-edge in terms of simulated exploration are the procedural content generators, where literally every time you play you know for a fact you are entering uncharted territory. I am personally a junkie for proc-gen, and would love to see characters, locations, towns, and everything completely procedurally generated. We currently are pretty decent at generating landscapes, but the depth of what we can randomly create currently ends around there. Just wait until characters with unique life stories, personalities, hopes, dreams, etc can be created on demand and at random. I suspect they will wind up more compelling than hand-crafted casts of characters, which unavoidably contain the biases of the limited staff of writers.

    So then I guess the final component that was added to digital interactive media was the concept of storytelling. I’ve always felt that it is the least appropriate thing interactive media ever assimilated, because it appears at odds with the concept of player agency. The concept of a novel or movie is that the person having the experience is led by the hand on a pre-determined course by the authors. In theory, you could have the outcome of the story vary based on the player input, but invariably the game disallows the player to stray too far from the path. And not to say it is some arrogant insistence on the author’s part, but merely the limitations of writing so many different threads. The problem is that anyone wants to tell me a story at all, rather they should be asking ME to tell THEM a story.

    So if you’ve been following this, what I’m trying to say is, Skyrim is like playing tennis in space while reading a book. Except, it’s space explored by everyone else, you are hitting your tennis ball against a wall, and the book frankly sucks (well, it is ok I guess). This is to say, the three components of what makes up “interactive media” can wind up fairly watered down and mutually-exclusive of one another. So remember, there’s the “game”, the “exploration instinct”, and the storytelling.

    To make Skyrim a “game” (traditional definition) there would need to be a way to lose. This would mean limiting saving by having a finite number of player deaths, perhaps earned resurrections by some in game mechanic. As it stands, the “game” portion (i.e. the part requiring high levels of skill to achieve victory) is cheapened by the fact that it is impossible to lose. “But the hero doesn’t die, he’s pivotal to the story!” Story often forces the “game” to the periphery, where the presence of “game” at all feels a bit vestigial. When you hear about how games are becoming “streamlined” this is what is really happening. And if the “game” is programmed with 100’s of hours of content, then you really CAN’T make it a game anymore (i.e. possibility of losing). Nobody would play a sport of any kind that took 100 hours to complete, because what if you lose? Most real sports games found a sweet spot around a few hours, and I’m pretty sure e-sports got there as well (top of my head). All that said, I’m sure someone is working on a “hardcore” Skyrim mod where you perma-die, although the game has so many one-hit killers that you’d have to overhaul the whole game’s rules to make it enjoyable.

    Where Skyrim is weak as a game, it excels at providing the player with opportunities for exploration, but in the long term the rewards lose meaning because of lack of “game”. Compare finding a powerful weapon in Dark Souls with finding a powerful weapon in Skyrim. If the stakes are never very high, then gaining advantages in the game tend to lose their meaning. But as to exploring for the sake of it, Skyrim is very good, though in the age of youtube and game guides, I really seek out procedurally generated games to get my fix. Also, waypoint nav markers to places I have never been and nobody knows where they are? Those really helped murder the exploration satisfaction in Skyrim and many other modern interactive entertainment pieces. You aren’t expected to find things, and the quest journal doesn’t provide you enough clues to know where to go WITHOUT the waypoint markers.

    And as for story, that is perhaps the most unnecessary part of Skyrim. I know I’m not alone in going off to explore and never finishing the main quest line. I guess it provides people with something that they think they deserve just for buying the product, but in the end the story winds up a side attraction. It’s nice to have a grand goal with any open ended game.. and I guess my only problem is there are so few ways to achieve that grand goal. Give me simpler goals and leave it up to me to figure out how to achieve them. The best quests give you no roadmap for their completion. “Earn 20,000 gold and come back.” “Go become strong enough to beat me in a duel.” Simple directives that would tell the player, go off and explore and make your way in the world. Go have adventures, go play.

    I guess I’ll end with the word, “play.” In fact, I guess I should apologize to Pong, “play” is the true culprit in why we can’t define games. “Play” means both the act of engaging in competition, as in a sport, and also it can mean the directionless exploration of the world we undertake as children (and some continue as adults). “Go out and play” for me meant going out in the woods and fashioning fighting sticks with friends and pretending to go on adventures. It also encompassed football, wall ball, and other competitive endeavors which usually envolved minor bodily harm of friends (though always in good humor). Only one of these two types of “play” involved a “game”. You can play something without it being a game, and much of interactive media has very little in the way of “game”. There’s nothing wrong with it.

    All this is to say, there is some compenent, however large or small, of modern interactive entertainment that you could call a “game”. How much each piece of software embraces the 3 aspects of interactive media varies greatly, and everyone enjoys the different aspects in differing amounts. There are “stories with game-like aspects” like Heavy Rain and The Walking Dead. There are “stories with exploration aspects and no game aspects” like Dear Esther. There are “simulated worlds with game and story aspects” which I would put Skyrim into this category. Or “exploration/game with very little story” like Don’t Starve. The combinations are obviously pretty diverse, but it always boils down to the three components.

    Anyway, congrats on reading this if you did, and let me know how wrong I am.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Yeah, I read it. Bottom half was a whole lot more interesting :)

      I do not agree at all with your timeline. Especially when you put storytelling as the last component to be added to games. Heck, I was playing games that were telling me a story way back in the day when interactive fiction was the hot thing on computers, and even before that on arcade machines way back in the 80s.

      But that’s all besides the point. You make a more compelling argument after that.

      You reminded me immediately of Carla Meninsky, a former game engineer at the 80s Atari who in the Once Upon Atari documentary comments on how games today offer no real challenge and no real purpose for the simple fact we can’t lose them. There’s a grain of truth in that, although having started to game in the late 70s, I cannot say that I enjoyed games more then than I do today. I think I enjoy them more now. Not being able to lose a game hasn’t played a pivotal rule in my life. In fact, not being able to lose has finally allowed me to play games that got me to experience the whole game without feeling completely frustrated because I never got to see the more advanced levels of Ghosts’n Goblins or Dynamite Dan.

      There being a way to lose cannot define or help define what a game is. It’s just plain without sense that the only people that can play games to their fullest are the ones that are good at it. For everyone else the experience is more limited. That’s not really what a game is about. Chess offers a winning and a losing side, but both play the game to the end. Think about it.

      • Strangerator says:

        First off, thanks for reading my ramblings!

        “I do not agree at all with your timeline. Especially when you put storytelling as the last component to be added to games. Heck, I was playing games that were telling me a story way back in the day when interactive fiction was the hot thing on computers, and even before that on arcade machines way back in the 80s.”

        My timeline is admittedly skewed by what platforms I gamed on when I was younger… my first pc game was Might and Magic 3 (’91) and before that it was just Nintendo.

        “You reminded me immediately of Carla Meninsky, a former game engineer at the 80s Atari who in the Once Upon Atari documentary comments on how games today offer no real challenge and no real purpose for the simple fact we can’t lose them.”

        Ah, well my whole idea wasn’t to assign values to any of the reasons for playing games, although I admit my personal preferences lead me away from mostly story driven experiences. Just trying to define the “game” aspects, not trying to rank one over the other (game/exploration/story). I was a bit harsh against narrative-focused games just based on my personal experience, and based on my perception of times where narrative can draw game design away from the other two (which I usually prefer over narrative). There are plenty of games that are competitive and challenging today, and many interactive experiences that are not. I think it’s great that we have such a wide selection, and I am by no means lamenting the loss of a golden age of gaming.

        “It’s just plain without sense that the only people that can play games to their fullest are the ones that are good at it. For everyone else the experience is more limited. That’s not really what a game is about.”

        I would argue that this is primarily what a game is, in a traditional sense. There are those who get really competitive at RTS games, MOBAs, MMOs, twitch fighting games, golf… these I would define as “pure games”. Your enjoyment and how much you get out of them tends to be based on the amount of practice and effort you put in, the amount of skill you gain, and the amount of satisfaction you derive from competitive endeavors. Would you ever call golf a flawed game because only those really good at it can earn a living off of it? Of course not, if you want to enjoy golf and get the full enjoyment from the game, you have to devote a lot of time and effort into honing your skill. Should we change the rules of golf to allow infinite mulligans, so that it is more accessible and enjoyable to all people? Never officially, because it would cheapen the game. Would you ever buy a set of golf clubs and then throw a fit because you weren’t enjoying the game, because somehow all that money you spent didn’t entitle you to enjoy yourself? Again, probably not. All games take practice and some degree of expertise to enjoy to their fullest.

        “Chess offers a winning and a losing side, but both play the game to the end. Think about it.”

        Chess was designed to be a game, not an interactive narrative experience. A game is something meant to be played over, and over, and over again. If you look over my list of things that are closer to pure games, they typically envolve “matches”, and you can win or lose each one. And each match can usually be played in half a day at the most. This is why in games, losing is part of winning, since that’s the primary way you learn. Interactive narrative experiences (viewed as games) are designed to be a single very long “match,” and you are only really expected to play once as a player. So it is in the best interest of the storyteller to find ways to guarantee that you “win” this single long match.

        Just because a narrative experience happens on your computer, doesn’t automatically make it more or less of a game than a choose-your-own-adventure. Once you guarantee any outcome, you trivialize the meaning of player input. In real life, some people are Calvanists, and that’s fine, because neither I nor they can prove it one way or another. But in games it’s like God shows up and says, “by the way, that whole free-will thing was bullshit. Everything important that happens is predetermined.” Some people find this concept freeing, I find it to be unbearably worse.

        “The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?”

        And I guess the problem with Skyrim wasn’t the lack of permanent death or even penalties for death, but the lack of ability to fail at quests, kill important people, ruin your reputation. Those are the types of failures that can change the emergent story of an RPG, and their omission from a lot of modern games is a sad loss.

  30. TinaHiggs22 says:

    If you think Ricky`s story is amazing,, one week ago my auntie’s best friend basically easily made $7563 grafting a eighteen hour week from their apartment and they’re neighbor’s mom`s neighbour did this for 5 months and made over $7563 parttime on line. use the instructions on this address..

  31. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Matul Remrit: Brilliant.

    I was fierce with the crop.

    I can’t tell if the slightly awkward writing used is a result of style or the author’s good but not fluent grasp of English, but either way it gives the entire piece an oddly alien air that captures the blunt, violent, agoraphobic, alcoholic nature of dwarfs well.

    • reinodefiant says:

      The author is well fluent in english. He tried to capture an alien speak pattern for the dwarves that goes well with the game. Notice how the humans speak in their report.

  32. Muzman says:

    RE: non games. Wasn’t there a drive at some point to invent a category like Computer Generated Environments or something for the likes of Proteus?
    OK that name is a bit shit, but you know what I mean. Some people get thingy about potentially sequestering off these oddities with nasty evil universe controlling words, but I reckon it’s alright. Something to throw into the description so graphics whores don’t whine when Dear Esther turns out not to be so much a game as an atmospheric stroll.

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      “Virtual world” is a term that exists. And seems pretty accurate.

      • Muzman says:

        Yeah I guess. But think it needs to be something new, just because every 3d game takes place in a ‘virtual world’. in these the ‘virtual world’ is the thing, for the most part.
        I don’t mind thing like Contemplative Game or Pastoral Game, but then you’re using ‘game’ again (which I’m not against having a broad definition in the first place, for the sake of it)
        Screw it, let’s just go with Walden’em-up.

  33. derbefrier says:

    Just an anecdotal story here concerning the gun article. I live in Oklahoma, a southern state that loves their guns. I own many myself ranging from a simple .22 long rifle to an AK-47. As a lifelong gamer I can admit seeing certain guns makes me want to go out and buy them. The thing is though while playing the latest FPS thinking “It sure would be cool to own a P90” is a lot different than going out to buy one. For one a lot of those guns are stupidly expensive and only the most dedicated gun enthusiast would ever fork over the cash for one. Secondly the vast majority of people (at least in my experience) when buying a gun look for more practical ones. the 1911 for example is arguably one of the best personal protection weapons you can get for the price. Which is why they are so popular not because they are in CoD.

    I dunno what I am trying to say. I guess while seeing these guns in game lets me know they exist MOST of the time this will not factor into a reason to get a gun. I just bought a new gun last week actually. A Smith and Wesson M&P .40 cal pistol I plan to get my concealed carry license with. I can assure you no video game influenced that decision. But when I get an extra grand and just want to go buy a cool looking gun thats fun to shoot I can admit games may have a small influence but is this really a bad thing? I mean a 12 year old kid just cant go out and buy an AK-47 in 10 years when hes old enough and he still wants one because he saw one in CoD whats the problem?

  34. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Oh Jim, when the beat comes in in that Pye Corner Audio track. That’s rather nice. Thank you.