Child Of Light Devs On Far Cry, Controversy, Constraints

I’m quite fascinated by Ubisoft’s epic poem JRPG melting pot of madness Child of Light, and I think you should be too. It’s an entirely bonkers concept, and – good or bad – it at least promises to be a thunderous step off the beaten path for a fee-fi-fo-fummingly gigantic publisher. I recently had the chance to chat with creative director Patrick Plourde and lead writer Jeffrey Yohalem, and you can find the first part of our conversation here. Today we pick up right where we left off: with guns and shootymen. Actually, that’s not where we left off at all, but sometimes natural transitions are hard. So read on to see what Plourde and Yohalem learned from creating Far Cry 3, fielding controversy that arose from it, and now, working within constraints more commonly associated with indie developers.

RPS: You guys went from Far Cry 3 to making this. That is something of a leap, to put it lightly.

I think that as an artist, you have to seek out the dangerous territory. That’s where interesting stuff happens. That’s where power happens.

Plourde: The angle, for me, is that if I only play the same kind of thing, I get bored really fast. You make a game, you have to play that game every day for eight hours over two years. You look at that game at the end and you want to puke. That’s really my angle, trying to just do something completely different. If you have, what, 20 or 30 years of career, if you make a game that takes five years to make, you’ll only have six games come out in your whole career.

A lot of people think like that, and that’s great for them, that they’re going to take that one thing and bring it to perfection. But I’m really just a curiosity killed the cat guy. I want to explore. I want to do the opposite of that. It feels good to have no safety net. There’s a point where you start building a formula. “You know what, that worked last time. That’s now part of it.” You have that formula.

Yohalem: I think that because we’re on the cutting edge of where art is going, and we’re kind of in the wilderness, there are all these things that games haven’t done yet. To be able to say, “Let’s try all these things,” I think that’s a privilege of being out there trying to do something new. With film, you can’t do that, because everything’s been done. So then you end up with genre. The Coen brothers manage to switch genres all the time, but there are still certain things that the public wants. We’re free of that obligation, because no one knows what they want yet.

RPS: What did you learn from making Far Cry 3 that, first off, drove you to create this – of all things – and second, that maybe feeds directly into it?

Plourde: I had this weird intuition or weird idea that really affects me. If I’m making a more happy game, I’m going to be more happy. Shooters are more angry. I find that it affects my personality. That’s one thing that went into this. If I try something else, how is it going to affect my mood, making it? That comes with the stress of… We’re doing stuff, and we don’t always know what’s going to come out. It’s impossible to know. Far Cry was tough. It was a hard decision, to try and make something so radically different.

Yohalem: We’ve worked in this big machine making Far Cry, where you have this incredible power to make things happen, but at the same time, changing the course of the ship takes a very long time. It often doesn’t work. You’re constantly patching up the holes that spring up behind you and then more holes spring up behind you along the way. It’s kind of like this race to make sure everything works as well as possible.

Plourde: I want to make sure it’s clear that I helped create that machine. So it’s not a problem for me. We were making things that would be impossible to make with fewer people. It’s magical. There’s a point where the team can start moving mountains, when everybody is aligned in that direction. It’s amazing what you can do. The thing is, I’ve done it.

Then it’s the other direction. Go and make a game by yourself. For me, though, I can’t code, so that’s never going to happen. I can’t do that. You have other guys, like in an independent, about 10 people. So then you look at… Okay, you’ve tried that big team experience, and it works pretty good for me [but now I want to try something else].

Yohalem: Me too.

Plourde: Then what’s next is to remove the net and try… Can I swim in the same waters as a guy that has other constraints? There’s a question of, am I lazy? Do I make a difference when there are 600 of us? Can they make the game anyway? Can I make a bigger difference on a smaller team? That’s the kind of challenge that Child of Light made super interesting.

Yohalem: It was the same thing with me and dialogue. I was very familiar with writing dialogue that has a major impact, where you’re doing all kinds of reversals and you’re turning a scene in an interesting way and you have subtext under the lines. In this case, it’s text-based. The rhymes… I’ve written poetry before, but never like this. Never a 100-page poem. So I didn’t know if I could do it. That excites me. That steering into unknown waters. I don’t think I could ever be flying the same route over and over again. I’d just go crazy. I need to explore new places. If I hit rocks, I hit rocks.

RPS: How big is the team?

Plourde: 30 people.

RPS: What other limitations do you have? Compared to the normal budget that you would get, what are you on for this?

Yohalem: We have like no marketing budget.

Plourde: Yeah. The thing is, on a big game, you work on like 30 features, and if five of them are not super good, then you can kind of bury them. Like, “Oh, you know what? We’re pulling the plug on that.” Here, we have to be very precise. After that, there’s that one shot. If we make a bad call, we’re kind of doomed. We can try to change the game, but the impact is bigger.

The other thing is that it’s slower, the process of everything taking shape, because instead of having 20 people on a feature, you have two. There’s a point where it’s a different rhythm. At first, you’re going a little crazy. Generally, on a big team, you have five or 10 features that are developed at the same time. You can actually review a new feature each day or a big change every week. It keeps you busy. Here, we just have to stick with the direction. It’s shaping up. I just need to shut up and let it take its form. It’s a different rhythm.

This game would have been impossible in 3D. The choice of engine makes the game. To be in 3D would be impossible. It takes two weeks to rig a 3D character. Three weeks to model and texture. When you have 40 characters – when you want to make a game with 40 enemies and make it in a year – we would have needed an army. Because we’re 2D, and we can go straight from drawing to animation… You draw a character, it’s in the game, and we’re playing it and seeing it in the fight scenes. Everything is super quick. Because of that pipeline, the limitations aren’t there.

We also don’t have to tune the camera. That was the biggest thing for me as a game designer, about the 2D games. For the last five years, I’ve gotten used to open world games, where if you wanted to attract somebody to go somewhere, you would just put a tower there, and you’d move the camera. “Okay, where am I?” Move the camera. “Okay, I’m going over there.” Now we start with this, and I can’t move the camera. The landmarks are not on the screen. They don’t exist in 2D. So I’m like, “Aaaaagh!” That was a huge mental shift for me. I started having an appreciation for the old-school designers that did all of their games in 2D. You can’t cheat by putting a tower or something somewhere and training the camera. Everything needs to be done precisely.

RPS: There was some controversy surrounding certain scenes in Far Cry. We’ve talked about that at length already. But having a situation like that occur, did that change the way you approach things when you write them? Did it make you at all want to seek out more opinions – make sure you’re depicting things accurately and in a way that drives home your point?

Yohalem: The short answer would be, no, it didn’t change that, because I think that as an artist, you have to seek out the dangerous territory. That’s where interesting stuff happens. That’s where power happens. If you stray away from that, you become neutered. You’re doing your own PR, which is bad. You need to speak what you feel needs to be said, not what you think people want you to say.

At the same time, I’ve always collaborated on stuff. When I was writing Far Cry, Pat and I were bouncing things off each other all the time. There was another guy, JS, who was involved in it too. And so all of that was very important. In this case, I bounced stuff off Pat all the time. And also Brianna Code, who’s the lead programmer. I would ask her, “What do you think about this part? How does this part make you feel?” She was instrumental in helping me craft everything and see it from different perspectives.

That’s always been a part of my work. I’ve never tackled anything like, “It’s my way and no one else can say anything.” You have to see it from as many perspectives as possible. I would say that it hasn’t really changed anything… Maybe it changed me, in that it was a traumatic experience in my life. I think what I have to say now may be different because I’ve experienced that.

RPS: When it happened, you stood behind what you did in the game pretty resolutely. But for you personally, what was it like?

Yohalem: It’s just tough. It’s tough, because when you get up on a table and you say something to the room… The funny thing is, most of the feedback was incredibly positive. But you fixate on the negative feedback. I find this is true with other creatives, too. [Naughty Dog’s] Amy Hennig talked about it. The one comment or two comments out of 60 comments, those are the ones that drive you crazy. It taught me to have a thicker skin, because otherwise you’re not going to be able to do it anymore. If you don’t trust this close circle of people, [you’ll second-guess everything].

What’s important to me, for example, is that if Brianna said to me, “I think that what you wrote here is inappropriate,” that would affect me much more, or it should affect me more. That kind of comment from someone on the internet should not affect me. But it does anyway. It’s hard to shut yourself off from that. So I’ve gotten better at that, but it’s really tough. I really admire people who go out and face off against what the mainstream culture wants at a particular moment. I think that takes a lot of guts. You end up with a lot of sleepless nights. If you didn’t, I don’t think you would make it. I don’t think that people who don’t feel that end up making meaningful work.

RPS: Do you think, though, that there’s a danger… If you keep it entirely internal, if you keep it within a circle of people know, and you have a rough idea of what they like and will approve of, do you risk becoming tone deaf? If you don’t have wider perspectives – not necessarily random people on the internet, but maybe ones you know that are educated and that you know are intelligent, whose opinions you trust?

Yohalem: When I read a detailed analysis that really goes into the work and isn’t a personal attack on something, I definitely catalog that. It becomes part of my thinking in the future.

RPS: There were many like that on Far Cry. It wasn’t necessarily a personal thing. It was just, “Here’s what I saw and played and here’s how it affected me.” When those didn’t align with your view of what you wrote, how did that affect your perspective?

Yohalem: I loved that. I actually expected that. That kind of discussion, I was really excited about it. I was excited to have people say, “I don’t like these things because of X-Y-Z reasons.” I thought it was going to be an intellectual debate. I was super in love with that. It’s when it becomes a personal attack that it affects me negatively. I think the intellectual debate is part of it. If you’re going to write something meaningful, then hopefully people are going to debate it. If no one has anything to say about something, it means it’s boring.

I think if something touches a nerve, you’re going to hear from both sides. And in fact, I think it’s enjoyable for the people who don’t like it too, because it creates a discussion. Life is about understanding each other. That kind of thing, yes. That doesn’t affect me negatively at all.

RPS: For both of you, this game is obviously very different from what someone would expect of a company like Ubisoft. It’s a lot smaller. It’s more experimental. It’s about poetry. Do you think that having larger publishers make games like these is necessary for the triple-A side of the industry to keep evolving and growing? Do you think triple-A is even sustainable without that kind of smaller-scale innovation?

Plourde: Speaking for myself, what I’m seeing in the studio in Montreal is a lot of interest in the project. Even from people who work on triple-A. I think we have this thing where we’re working in a studio where anything can happen. It’s changed the mood. “Wow. We can make a JRPG here at Montreal. What could we do tomorrow, or maybe next year? What am I going to work on?” It’s exciting. Just for that, for the culture within our studio, it’s super beneficial. Everyone is saying, “Wow, I have the right to be creative, to go wild like this. At some point, we can experiment and take risks.”

In the entertainment world… We’re doing entertainment. And suddenly, the creativity… If it just changes the environment, for a publisher, for a big company, you’re getting way more than your dollar’s worth out of that. People are spending dollars on HR and making sure that people are well-catered-to. Myself, I really believe that it can come from doing projects that you like. Human beings, our number one motivator is knowing that we’re working on something that’s worth our time and our effort. By having some room for that in a company like this, I think it’s super positive.

The diversity is great for everybody. It’s going to attract a different audience. It’s going to attract new developers, different genres, different voices. In books, you don’t just have Lord of the Rings. You have all kinds of books, all kinds of movies. At some point, games are going to have to become like that as a medium. There need to be all kinds of games – not just grandmother games and hardcore games. I was talking about that when it comes to film. Someone can go watch Titanic, and then after that, Iron Man and The Tree of Life. The same person can enjoy all of those. Nobody judges someone by saying, “You’re an Iron Man guy!” or “You’re a Tree of Life guy!” At some point that barrier is going to fall. These different genres aren’t going to threaten each other. Just by having more stuff coming out, more creativity, it’s going to make the experience of everyone in games better.

Yohalem: I think our job is to bring experiences to people. Those experiences aren’t just experiences for the majority. It’s not just like, “This is what the majority likes, so we’re going to keep bringing that.” This is personal to me, maybe, but as an artist I feel like I’m supposed to be speaking for the minority, the people who don’t have voices. Especially the storyteller. I tell the stories of people who can’t tell their story, because they’re silent. That’s really important, I think. If we can bring those experiences to a bigger audience through interactivity, if I can live these new experiences, it’s going to be better for the industry as a whole. And especially what Pat’s talking about… The majority of players will suddenly feel like they have a voice, instead of like they’re being talked to by only one voice.

RPS: Thank you for your time.


  1. MasterDex says:

    The short answer would be, no, it didn’t change that, because I think that as an artist, you have to seek out the dangerous territory. That’s where interesting stuff happens. That’s where power happens. If you stray away from that, you become neutered. You’re doing your own PR, which is bad. You need to speak what you feel needs to be said, not what you think people want you to say.

    This response should be printed, framed and put on the desk of every RPS writer to remind them to put themselves into the artists shoes before questioning them.

    • Stackler says:

      The freedom of expression doesn’t protect you from the freedom of getting criticized.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      This was nice to hear too:

      We’ve worked in this big machine making Far Cry, where you have this incredible power to make things happen, but at the same time, changing the course of the ship takes a very long time. It often doesn’t work. You’re constantly patching up the holes that spring up behind you and then more holes spring up behind you along the way. It’s kind of like this race to make sure everything works as well as possible.

      Yohalem probably wouldn’t have had such a rough a time with the Far Cry 3 interviews if he had stuck to defending the writing that he had control over. Instead he stepped up to bat for gameplay mechanics and the island setting, and that’s where his explanations started getting nonsensical. Writing for games must be a thankless job.

      • Apolloin says:

        Yes. It is.

        The worst part of it is that companies are incredibly poor at speccing out what they want and yet VERY loathe to have the writer involved long enough to provide proper iterative feedback. Can you imagine a movie where the screenwriter does all his work absent from the movie set and never gets to meet with the director and they just go ahead and film it all and release it?

        Because I know one project where exactly that happened.

        • Shuck says:

          Actually, that’s often what happens with movies. But the problem is that with games, the writer gets brought in to do their work in the middle of development, unlike with films where the script comes first and everything else builds on (and puts a different spin on) that.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      You realize this…

      “You need to speak what you feel needs to be said, not what you think people want you to say.”

      Also applies to RPS writers, right?

      Or is artistic freedom only for the people you agree with?

      • Orija says:

        You are entitled to your opinion only as long as you can back it up.

        Artistic freedom doesn’t mean putting in offensive shit just because you feel like it (not pointing fingers here).

        The same goes for Team RPS, for example it’s fine if they want to talk about sexist portrayal of women in games, which is cool. But it would be rather juvenile on their part to go about on diatribes over every game that has tits in it without trying to discern what the artist was trying to convey, see: controversy over the Cyberpunk trailer.
        link to

        • The Random One says:

          So they can talk about poor portrayals of women, as long as you personally agree that those are poor portrayals of women? How is that different from only people you agree with having freedom.

          I also think that the Cyberpunk 2020 wasn’t necessarialy exploitative and fits with the scenario, but RPS made their case well, and you can’t ignore that if you don’t know the setting (as I didn’t before I read the comments) it cam come across as exploitative. You can also argue that CDProjekt knew most people didn’t know about the setting and just wanted to show a hot woman in underwear to get horny teenagers to get their mom to buy them the game (as long as you argue that well).

          It’s pretty weak to say they should not speak about this except when it’s real when it’s obviously what they’re doing, even if you may disagree about what instances deserve this scrutiny, and especially in stances like this and HM2 when the devs themselves agreed they deserved this scrutiny.

        • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

          “You are entitled to your opinion only as long as you can back it up.”

          Actually, no. All you need to be entitled to an opinion is a central nervous system. Things definitely go much better when people can back things up, and it’s great when venues try to encourage that kind of behaviour, but freedom of expression means anyone can say anything, or it means nothing at all.

          And remember that backing something up doesn’t mean convincing you personally, it just means having a reasoned argument, regardless of whether it’s one you agree with.

          • ChiefInspectorLee says:

            You’re a good man gunner

          • Barnaby says:

            “Actually, no. All you need to be entitled to an opinion is a central nervous system.”

            A fantastic sentence and so painfully true.

    • NotToBeLiked says:

      I guess making sure there are many ‘controversies’ is more important than respecting an artists vision.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      Around the time artists are asking for people to pay them for their work

    • Rhodokasaurus says:

      I’m pretty effing sick of you sensitive, easily-offended, never-ending whiners. How about some god-damned appreciation for once?

      You think your comment adds value to the discussion? That your valiantly misplaced internet-era cynicism helps make interviews better or keeps writers on their toes? That in some way, this journalist doing miles of hard labor is somehow beneath you and your mind-blowingly clever armchair insights, and deserving of public disdain?

      You know what would make Rock Paper Shotgun better? A thank you, a discussion of art, a “hey, that game looks pretty incredible, I’m looking forward to it”, because developers read their own articles, too. And guess what: the only way YOU; lonely, pitiful, talentless attention goblin that you are, will actually enhance anything in this world, is by ENCOURAGING others who do good work. That’s how you earn respect.

      Before the ‘u mad bro?’ comments come rolling in, I’ll cut to it and say yeah, I am mad. I’m seriously overreacting because I can’t read a single article without someone bitching about the people who are working hard to provide their free entertainment. I’ve read RPS for a hell of a long time and you know what has sucked about it lately? Just the community.

      • jorygriffis says:

        I don’t know what viewpoint you’re trying to present here, or even what viewpoint you’re responding to. The comment you’re replying to directly seems to be in support of Yohalem and his viewpoints on the creative process, but the target of your post seems to be people who would rather criticize that process than attempt to contribute to it positively. I’m confused by your reference to “free” entertainment: are you talking about games like Far Cry 3, which I paid sixty bucks for, or are you referring to some kind of philosophical freedom?

        I’m sorry the community has been bumming you out so badly. People (myself included) who criticize the content and context of games based on social justice values want to see games culture get better and more open, not to somehow shut it down. I’m aware that there are times people resort to meaningless hyperbole, but I’m not sure what your comment could possibly do to make that situation any better.

        • The Random One says:

          He is speaking in support of RPS writers, who provide free entertainment. He is mad at the notion that people are saying the developers of Far Cry should have free rein to speak of whatever they want but the writers of RPS should not have free rein to do the same.

          Thank you for your lack of reading comprehension.

          • Boffin says:

            To be fair, that’s a pretty indecipherable comment. I tend to glaze over when I read multi-paragraph rants with more name-calling than substance.

          • jorygriffis says:

            Ouch, I don’t know why your reply was so condescending. I was literally confused by his language and I think my comment was pretty forthright about that. Still… thanks for clarifying?

          • jorygriffis says:

            Admittedly, now that I re-read my initial comment, I did couch my confusion in some pretty accusatory language. I hope I didn’t unduly hurt anybody’s feelings.

          • The Random One says:

            I was a lot more aggressive in my first writing of the post, but rewrote most of it because I realized you might be genuinely confused. I also apologize for the snark that remained.

      • MasterDex says:

        I’m not sure everyone here has picked up on what I was saying – or otherwise they’ve construed my comment incorrectly.

        I never made the suggestion that RPS should not be free to voice their opinions. I was merely suggesting that after reading the quote I cited every day before they write an article or conduct an interview with a developer, that they might think a bit more about the concept of artistic freedom and thus write a more thoughtful article or conduct a more considerate interview than the reactionary knee-jerk pieces that seem to be becoming more commonplace here.

        Don’t get me wrong, there are still many, many reasons I enjoy RPS and the writers are included in those reasons but some articles lately would have seemed more at home on Fox News or as some Jim Thompson diatribe than on RPS.

        It is because I enjoy and appreciate RPS that I bring up this point, because the last thing I want is for RPS to become another Kotaku.

    • sebmojo says:

      The freedom of speech/freedom to ciriticise line is disingenuous.

      The anti-sexism tribe have a legitimate cultural goal (coz the gaming/internet culture started out a a zone for 14 year old boys and that needs to change if it’s to keep developing in an interesting direction). Even if you’re not a member of that tribe, you can agree with the goal as an uktimately good thing.

      But when a critic says ‘you shouldn’t have done that’ they’re making an argument that your speech is wrong and it’s disingenuous to suggest it’s not. We need counter arguments asserting the right to speak to produce a consensus and to stop the tribe from spinning off into zealotry.

      • MasterDex says:

        Someone got it! Agree with every word you’ve said. If I could, I’d reach through the screen and kiss you right now. :D

    • bill says:

      I don’t see the incompatibility. Questioning game developers gives them the opportunity to explain their ideas and many of them seem quite happy to do that. Some of the recent interviews where some readers have complained have confused me, as the RPS questions seemed to be simple set-ups for the developers to explain their views.
      Developers can always use the old ‘silence’ technique if they want to avoid the question. But those who aspire to have more meaning to their games that just ‘shot stuff’ probably welcome the chance to explain it.

    • Wolfman2032 says:

      “I think that as an artist, you have to seek out the dangerous territory. That’s where interesting stuff happens.”

      Good job sticking with your artistic vision, it’s very brave of you! White savior, magical negro, and the noble savage are racist tropes that haven’t seen much use lately, so I guess the ‘dangerous territory’ he was referring to is old school racism.

  2. Tasloi says:

    This was a good read. Good, positive answers. Some obvious hinting on the follow-up questions to the controversy but it wouldn’t be an RPS interview otherwise.

  3. Cytrom says:

    I’m glad he gave that kind of answer to the far cry “controversy”. Artists still have, and should have the artistic freedom to do whatever the fuck they want within their art and leave this castrated political correctness attitude to politicians and journalists.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      A world where people aren’t free to criticize artists sounds like the real “political correctness” to me.

    • PikaBot says:

      Has anyone ever denied that he has the right to create whatever art he sees fit to? The freedom to create is not freedom from criticism.

      • Cytrom says:

        Criticism is just an opinion, a singular event, no harm in it. Treating that opinion as unanimously agreed upon fact, and campaigning with it, exploiting the power of popular publication, trying to shove it down everyone’s throats, with the ultimate goal to neuter the artist’s freedom to continue to do what he or she pleases in the future, is a different thing. The fox news thing.

        • derbefrier says:

          and the point a lot of people here seem to be missing in their rush to judge people which is whats happening. its gone far beyond criticism in a lot of cases and looks more like a witch hunt.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            Possible racism/misogyny = Meh, “art” or whatever

            Criticisms of possible racism/misogyny = WITCH HUNT

            If you want people who don’t share your opinions on things to resist the urge to get shrill, maybe comparing the expression of those opinions to a real actual misogynist pogrom is the wrong call. If you want the things you value to be addressed respectfully, try extending the same courtesy to others.

          • chargen says:

            “a real actual misogynist pogrom”

            Ho my god. You’re outdone yourself this time and have produced an excellent satire of the social justice warriors. *golfclap*

        • PikaBot says:

          If you’re faced with a rising tide of criticism for something that you did, perhaps you should consider the possibility that it’s not a conspiracy against you, or to ‘neuter’ artistic freedom (an interesting choice of words, isn’t that? It always seems to come back to fear of crastration and emasculation, doesn’t it), but rather that that thing you did is socially unacceptable.

          • Cytrom says:

            I think you’re trying to find something that isn’t there, based on your own agenda… same concept as the “controversy” of the topic.

          • PikaBot says:

            I’m not clear exactly what point of my comment you are responding to, or indeed what you’re trying to say. Can you clarify?

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @Cytrom – Are you insinuating that sexism isn’t rife in gaming today?

            Regardless, may I post a repeat of a post I made in the skull girls article:

            “I get so frustrated when people take “sides” in this debate, people who are all interested in getting rid of gender based inequality. We all want the same thing, but we are all still seeing it as an us vs them issue. The only us vs them there should be is all of us united against those who genuinely and actively believe that women are stupider than men or men can’t care for children as well as women and I honestly don’t see that attitude much around here!

            What we need to do is accept peoples tastes – some people like like big exposed bouncing breasts in skimpy platemail armour. Let’s stop trying to shame the people who enjoy that. At the same time, there are people who hate that, whether because they want more authenticity from their game and skimpy plate breaks the third wall or because they are more prudish or because they feel offended thanks to a history of sexism. We shouldn’t try to break down these opinions either but accept them. At the end of the day, one of life’s most important lessons is to be true to yourself. Don’t change your opinion on something because someone else holds a different opinion, that is doing yourself a disservice. How many of us enjoyed roleplaying games in our early teens only to stop playing thanks to peer pressure?

            When we can accept that other people like things that are different and we stop trying to shame people who like things that offend our sensibilities we can understand that if a section of the market is finding that they are not being catered to, it is natural that they will say they wish a good game that comes out caters to them – and for some people, this will make them not want a game and they will say as such. It’s not a threat and shouldn’t be used as such. As a collective, we have a voice that can make a difference – only rarely but enough that we need to use our voice responsibly.

            Sexism is here to stay, for the reasons I mentioned below [SIC] about how parents bring their children up. Maybe the next generation will beat it, maybe they won’t. But regardless, we have an opportunity to get our own industry in order. Let’s direct the energy we are throwing into each other into making women more welcome in voip enabled games, let’s not try to tear people down if they don’t like an art style of a game or complain that they hold that opinion and most of all, lets encourage diversity in games!”

        • Snargelfargen says:

          That’s uh, well, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you’re being unfair to Fox news. And anyone who isn’t an evil supervillain, really.

        • Viroso says:

          I don’t understand how you say “treating it as unanimous opinion” or “shoving down people’s throats”. Did this really happen? This is the sort of criticism I see a lot, specially the throat shoving part, but it seems you can’t so much as mention something and someone will feel like you’re shoving it down their throats, so something has to remain unspoken of lest someone feels bothered by it.

          • PikaBot says:

            The wording of ‘shoving down out throats’ is another rather telling turn of phrase, to my mind.

      • harbinger says:

        I see this notion of “criticism” being fair game cropping up in this kind of discussion, but not all criticism is created equal. Subjective criticisms on the basis of a product not being up to standards and based on the inherent qualities of a product itself are fair game.

        But what we are often seeing is a more insidious sort of criticism that tends to get right to its goal more often than not. It is an appeal to morals, a shaming of creators by calling them “14 year old boys”, “sexists”, “sexist pigs”, “misogynists” and worse (and calling their work “sexist”, “offensive”, “problematic”, “inconsiderate” and any number of things), for you see there is not much solid defense for said implications, just as there wasn’t for being labeled a “witch”. This sort of criticism claims moral superiority over its victims and further often claims their works are somehow universally harmful for society in some unproven way. It’s a sort of moral inquisition for all that is right looking to hand out judgment.

        Just look at the Hotline Miami 2 article, how the inquisitor interrogates his victim in a play designed to find the smallest of fault in his motivations, questioning and prodding at every step, demanding explanations for him to be able to pass out his final judgment over said individuals: link to
        (I also found it funny how the comments were closed off and then curated, because they were going against the implied intentions of the author, truly a sign of the open mind.)

        Or as how someone else rather well-spoken on said matters put it in the past:
        “Any fairminded person with journalistic experience will admit that during this war official censorship has not been particularly irksome. We have not been subjected to the kind of totalitarian ‘co-ordination’ that it might have been reasonable to expect. The press has some justified grievances, but on the whole the Government has behaved well and has been surprisingly tolerant of minority opinions. The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary.

        Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. Anyone who has lived long in a foreign country will know of instances of sensational items of news — things which on their own merits would get the big headlines-being kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervened but because of a general tacit agreement that ‘it wouldn’t do’ to mention that particular fact. So far as the daily newspapers go, this is easy to understand. The British press is extremely centralised, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was ‘not done’ to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.”
        – George Orwell

        Censorship doesn’t have much to do with governmental intervention as much as it does with enabling said orthodoxy and keeping silent while creators are universally reviled for daring to deviate.

        • PikaBot says:

          If you think that that interview is unfair, or a grilling, accusative interrogation, you have absolutely no sense of perspective and are reading it in search of something to feel victimized about.

          • Boffin says:

            Almost the same criticism could be leveled at some of the articles we’ve had here lately.

            I’m against sexism as much as the next person, but shoehorning it into unrelated articles makes it seem like a bit of a joke. As well as giving the impression that the writer has no idea what they’re talking about. So it’s managing to annoy people who care *and* people who really don’t care at all, leading to people flipping their lid over the slightest hint of it.

            Unless I’ve missed something deep in the interview, I don’t even know why the comments on this one have turned into such a shitstorm straight off the bat. Either way, the level of discourse here has dropped a fair ways ever since this gender business started coming up. Seems like both sides are more than happy to talk over each other for a few pages, then forget about it until next time.

          • PikaBot says:

            Then why did you point to this one? I’ve seen a lot of hand-wringing in the comment sections about how terrible and stifling and super-duper PC RPS articles are these days, and very little in the way of actual terrible stifling articles. Show your work.

            And I suspect the comments section going to shot might have something to do with the first two comments being ones bemoaning how terrible and PC it all is.

          • Boffin says:

            I didn’t really point to anything? Everything but the first sentence was pretty obviously broad. Although, I suppose I commented here because it’s an example of people flipping their lid over the slightest hint of social issues.

            I suspect you’re not reading me properly at all, and kind of arguing against something I never said. I didn’t suggest anything about terrible and stifling super-duper PC articles, so I don’t know what work you want me to show there?

            I’m pretty sure it would’ve happened anyway, even if nobody mentioned it until halfway down the page. That’s kind of what I’m getting at here, that everyone just seems to lose their minds the second they see anything to do with it.

          • The Random One says:

            “I’m against sexism as much as the next person, but shoehorning it into unrelated articles makes it seem like a bit of a joke.”

            This is your problem. You thing there is a line between what is sexist and what isn’t, and you believe everyone agrees on where that line is, and you believe RPS deliberately calls out things that are outside of that line in order to make the world appear more sexist than it is.

            There is no line. A sexist society has remnants of sexism everywhere.
            No one can agree on what is sexist and what isn’t.
            RPS only calls out things they think are sexist. If they call out something you think shouldn’t have, it’s because they have a different opinion than yours, not because they’re “pushing an agenda”.

            You say you’re against sexist, so would you speak out if you saw a man slapping a woman on the street? There are many who wouldn’t, who think that is a proper thing to do. Do you think that, because those people think that isn’t sexist, to call it out as being is to step over the line, to push an agenda, to make a scandal out of nothing? Or are you willing to defer your own ideas as to what should be sexism to people who think of it differently, as you are demanding RPS writers do to you?

          • Boffin says:

            I don’t think I’m wrong in thinking that there is a line between what is sexist, and what is not. And I’m not quite sure how you know what I’m thinking, but would it help if I had *opinion* tags at the start and end of my comments? Because then everyone would have to do it (so nobody got confused), so then it would probably go back to being implied. You’ll notice I didn’t say anything about RPS’ motivations, because pretending you can see into someone’s head is fairly silly. So again, I’m not sure where you’re coming from there.

            And yeah, pretty sure there is a line – if “not sexist” didn’t exist, then we’d have no way of telling what was sexism and what wasn’t. Once again, I didn’t say anything about pushing an agenda so I don’t know what you’re responding to, or why you put it in quotes.

            Context is everything, but if I felt it was appropriate then I most likely would. I’d suggest there’s nothing inherently sexist about a woman being slapped though, since once again context is a huge deal. Even without sexism being involved, I can support not assaulting people – since it’s pretty obvious action and has a clear effect. I don’t fully understand your next sentence, but if you ask again clearer I’ll be more than happy to answer!

            But once again, I’m not demanding anything of RPS and said nothing of the sort. I did mention however, that this subject seems to turn people’s brains off and stop them listening to each other.

          • The Random One says:

            There is no line, because it is not a binary issue. Things are not either sexist or not sexist. Some things are not sexist but enable sexist behaviour. Some things are not sexist but have arised from past sexism.

            You say yourself that hitting a woman is not always sexist, and you’re correct. But sometimes hitting a woman is sexist, and sometimes it isn’t. There’s no line you can say “oh these things are on the SEXIST side, and these are not”. In fact, nowadays the greatest threat to gender equality isn’t overt displays of sexism, because there is a society consensus that those are bad, but small displays of sexism (microagressions) that society consensus have trouble wrapping their minds around the fact that they are bad, even though people who have been victimized by them are saying so. So feminists’ greatest struggle is to demonstrate that things that people don’t think are sexist, in fact, are.

            As your criticism was that RPS should not attempt to “shoehorn sexism where it doesn’t belong”, my reply is that they are not shoehorning it – they are calling out what they are seeing, even if you don’t agree that it exists.

          • Boffin says:

            Something enabling sexism does not mean it is sexist, nor is something that has arisen from past sexism. Are you saying that not only can everything be sexism, but I’m apparently alone in the ability to conceive of something that isn’t?

            There 100% is a line where I can say that. For example, someone treating everyone the same, regardless of gender – that’s not going to be sexist. What counts as sexism, isn’t and shouldn’t be subjective. It might be impossible to tell from a glance, but that just means it’s a complicated issue.

            I’d say that feminism’s greatest struggle is convincing people that it’s necessary at all. Perhaps a side effect of battling cases of sexism that are too small for anyone else to notice. Although perhaps it’d be an easier job if there weren’t so many people kicking up a shitstorm over actually minor issues – then it could build up some kind of credibility in eyes of society.

            My criticism was that RPS is being silly about the way it handles sexism (mostly when it isn’t overt) and that I was sure it was leading to people getting pissed off about it. I didn’t say that they shouldn’t, if anything I said they should do it properly. I’d love for them to do regular features on it or something, then they could have some space to actually develop some decent points and reasoning. Pretty much anything but the way it’s being handled now.

            So your point in the end is that RPS clearly believes that sexisms have taken place? Neat., that’s so obvious you probably don’t need to say it. If two people disagree on something, I think it would be better to discuss why they believe that, rather than just saying Opinions.

        • Snargelfargen says:

          Do you know what quotation marks are for? Because those quoted words don’t appear in the RPS article you linked.

          Oh oh oh! Do you know what irony is? Because accusing the authors of something they did not explicitly or implicitly say is another form of “insidious criticism”

          • harbinger says:

            I can assure you that all of those words are directly from the writing of “game journalists” and I was talking in general, here for instance are two especially flamboyant recent examples:
            link to
            link to
            In the PCGamer article about Hotline Miami 2 the game was called “sexist”.

            I have no interest in quote-mining past RPS articles, but I’m sure you’ll be able to find various examples of such occurrences using Google, for instance in their Skullgirls impression they called the game “offensive” and there are a lot more where it is a direct implication.

            The point is this isn’t criticism of the work or how the game plays but moral criticism upon perceived slights against the ingrained social sensibilities of said writers, calling them universally “wrong” and everyone who believes different equally wrong as if they are committing some form of atrocity instead of using an art style or literary device that they apparently don’t agree with.

          • Snargelfargen says:

            No, RPS didn’t call the game “offensive”. If you don’t have any interest in making an informed argument, don’t bother.

            That counts for the accusations in your last paragraph too.

          • jorygriffis says:

            Here’s a quote from that Skullgirls impressions piece: “I may not wholly approve, but I do recommend.” You’re exaggerating quite a bit if you think that the Skullgirls devs (or those of Hotline Miami 2, for that matter) are being accused of an “atrocity”, even tacitly. The piece calls the designs of the characters sexist, yes, and missed opportunity for gender representation, but it compliments the game’s style and the execution of its animation and on the whole has some very nice things to say about its gameplay. As for the Hotline Miami 2 interview, I thought it was a pretty optimistic piece that showed the devs in a positive light for their willingness to consider the opinions of those who were offended.

            I can understand your viewpoint that the criticisms present in these articles are some kind of disrespectful slight, but I don’t think it’s unfair to a creator to state that their work made the consumer uncomfortable. I don’t see libel when I read pieces like these.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      Don’t use the phrase political correctness like it’s a bad thing

      • Cytrom says:

        It is a bad thing. It is fear. It makes people afraid to tell the truth, or their true opinions and leads to hypocrasy and lies. Just to avoid offending anyone or anything, and stay within an artificial safe zone. It is just a delusion.

        And most importantly, its boring and predictable.

        • PikaBot says:

          Perhaps the same could be said of all social mores, when taken to extremes. But we so rarely see diatribes on the evils of common courtesy, for some reason.

          • Cytrom says:

            In this case I’m not refering to common courtesy, and respectful interaction between human beings. I’m talking about art, and about freedom of speech, and expression.

            Here is an example: Painting a picture.. or no better yet, TAKING a picture of a bunch of white/black men/women beating up individuals belonging to the other race/gender on a football match and they belong to the fans of the opposing teams (which is usually the case in violent games.. such as far cry 3, i mean competing / enemy teams fighting each other).

            A normal person would see the reality of the picture: those people are beating up each other because they are total fanatics of the opposing teams, and its a pretty intense, interesting picture to look at. It is entirely possible that the people on the picture also had racial and sexist motivations to fight each other, but that’s THEIR BUSINESS. It does not make the photo itself, or the person taking the photo neither racist or sexist, or propaganda to promote them. He just took a fucking photo. The isms only exist in the eye of the beholder. Just like how a story teller tells a story about characters with their OWN motivations.

            The average PC-nazi on the other hand would immediately yell: RACISM, SEXISM!!(?)!! And demand to ban the picture, forbid the person who made it to take further pictures like that, and probably sentence the person to prison just to be sure.

            Political correctness in art is just a limitation of creative freedom.

          • Ninja Foodstuff says:

            “Political correctness in art is just a limitation of creative freedom.”

            Political correctness is just another thing that assholes have managed to convinced the public is a bad thing.

            Here’s my favourite quote from prominent British comedian (and by extension, “artist”) Stewart Lee on the subject:

            It really worries me that 84% of this audience agrees with that statement, because the kind of people that say “political correctness gone mad” are usually using that phrase as a kind of cover action to attack minorities or people that they disagree with. I’m of an age that I can see what a difference political correctness has made. When I was four years old, my grandfather drove me around Birmingham, where the Tories had just fought an election campaign saying, “if you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour,” and he drove me around saying, “this is where all the niggers and the coons and the jungle bunnies live.” And I remember being at school in the early 80s and my teacher, when he read the register, instead of saying the name of the one asian boy in the class, he would say, “is the black spot in,” right? And all these things have gradually been eroded by political correctness, which seems to me to be about an institutionalised politeness at its worst. And if there is some fallout from this, which means that someone in an office might get in trouble one day for saying something that someone was a bit unsure about because they couldn’t decide whether it was sexist or homophobic or racist, it’s a small price to pay for the massive benefits and improvements in the quality of life for millions of people that political correctness has made. It’s a complete lie that allows the right, which basically controls media now, and international politics, to make people on the left who are concerned about the way people are represented look like killjoys. And I’m sick, I’m really sick– 84% of you in this room that have agreed with this phrase, you’re like those people who turn around and go, “you know who the most oppressed minorities in Britain are? White, middle-class men.” You’re a bunch of idiots.

          • harbinger says:

            Here’s another good one: link to

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @Harbinger – by all means be offensive. By all means don’t give a shit that you offended people. However, don’t go whining on when people tell you that you are sexist/racist/homophobic etc.

            And do stop deliberately misquoting Stephen Fry, or at least follow up with the quote where he talked about “idiots and morons using what he says out of context”

        • The Random One says:

          No, it does not. What you call “political correctness” I call “being a fucking decent human being”. A fucking decent human being takes care not to hurt people by what they are saying, unless they are specifically targeting a group of people, such as I am doing with sexists. If someone told me something I said felt harmful to them, and that wasn’t my intent, I’d rethink my words and my perspective.

          The expression “political correctness” essentially means that if someone is defending greater understanding they are doing so to be “political”, that is, because they want those people to like them, and not because they want the world to be a better place. It’s a hideous loaded expression that reinforces the loathsome idea that one person’s right to say whatever they want should take precedence over another person’s right not to be hated, loathed and ostracized.

          • chargen says:

            You would put all of the onus for being non-offensive on the speaker, who may be a decent person who has no intention of causing offense due to not knowing the history, mores, travails and sensitivity of every culture and subculture on earth, on the off chance that someone, somewhere would find the words offensive?

            The listener also has a responsibility to interpret the context of what’s being said, the speaker’s knowledge and intentions, and if they were the intended receiver of the possibly offensive words.

            When the speaker carries 100% of the responsibility and the listener carries 0%, that is ‘political correctness gone crazy’.

            And that is what the Hotline Miami questioning was. ‘You said something that could have been offensive to people! Explain yourself. I’m not going to even attempt to see it as anything other than an deliberate attempt to offend the underrepresented and will keep pressing you because you were indefensibly wrong.’ That is the attitude that shuts down arguments instead of expanding them.

        • Boffin says:

          Political correctness is pretty much meaningless as a term. It can refer to anything from people saying “don’t use words relating to physical or mental ability, as that could potentially offend someone” to other people saying “using racial slurs is pretty messed up and you should stop”.

          This is another one of those things where people have their own definitions, so perhaps we should be discussing specifics instead of getting worked up over a blanket term?

        • PopeRatzo says:

          “Political correctness” is a term invented by racists at their frustration over not being able to use the N-word as much as they’d like.

          • Boffin says:

            The quickest google shows that that’s pretty wrong. Although there is a huge amount of people saying that political correctness exists to take away their right to speak.

          • Cytrom says:

            Or a method to brand anything you don’t like or opinions you don’t agree with as racism, sexism or other irrelevant -ism that is simply not applicable to the thing or the topic in question. And ignore any points being made by simply putting the “-ism” stamp on it.

          • Carlos Danger says:

            Gotta love the thought police. Their passion to control others will stop at nothing to destroy those they oppose. No smear, no slander is out of bounds as their vision is pure and their cause is righteous.

        • Cytrom says:

          If the 90’s had the ‘PC’ mentality we are marching towards, we wouldn’t have had games like doom, duke nukem, fallout, carmageddon… or any game with any reference to violence, genders, races, drugs etc. Which would be awesome right? Like a Full House marathon going.. FOREVER.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            Yeah, now we just have to make do with squeaky clean sanitized games like Hotline Miami, Saints Row, Bioshock Infinite, Mark of the Ninja, Amnesia, Dead Space, Duke Nukem Forever… DAMN YOU, MORAL MAJORITY

          • MarcP says:

            Naming Duke Nukem Forever to support your argument is a bold move.

          • Cytrom says:

            Yeah we have those rare games, and we have people campaigning against them. Bioshock infinite is a prime example. It portrays an era and place where racial segregation was norm, and has actual racist characters in it, and to make it perfect chewtoy for Political Correctness nazis, it also has a woman in it in a key role, who is not ugly as sin, and shows a very moderate amount of skin, and is saved by a male character on multiple occasions (don’t mind that she saves the man just as many times). Thus it is easy to brand as racist sexist game, because it is taboo to talk about eras and poeple like that in videogames apparently.

            Also DNF. It is a terrible game for many many perfectly valid reasons, but on top of that it was also criticised for its juvenile humor, violence and sexism. Thats the very thing that made duke stand apart and made it fun to begin with (besides the crazy weapons and wanton destruction).
            Its like telling that a Mortal Kombat game is shit because its violent… OH wait, that actually happened just now on PC gamer.

            Hotline Miami is being constantly attacked too.

          • Stardreamer says:

            It’s absolutely right that people examine and debate these things in public forums. Sensitivity of the issues has grown, with the result that ignorance is largely kept at bay, if only by being shouted at by the more educated commenters out there. The only people who ever seem to mind this process are the ones being asked to think in more depth about their hobby; “I’m just here for the games, not for the sociopolitical discussions about skirt length and boob windows!”

            Hotline Miami SHOULD be questioned. It raises some very serious issues.

            Mortal Kombat was always shit. It didn’t need gratuitous violence to help it be labelled as such.

      • RedViv says:

        Oh please, that’s just Treating Others With Respect gone mad!

    • Apolloin says:

      Artists have full creative freedom only so long as they aren’t making their living selling their art.

      A Developer has three ‘Patrons’ whose opinion he needs to consider. Firstly that of the Customer, who will be the end consumer of his art. Secondly that of the Publisher who is underwriting the expensive process of creating his art. Thirdly that of the rest of the Team who is creating his art with him.

      His art is only ‘successful’ if it checks those three boxes.

      • Boffin says:

        That’s a pretty rigid definition there, I’m sure there are plenty of artists who’ve succeeded despite (or because of) them pissing off the people they work with. I was under the impression that most notable/classic directors were terrible to work with, for example.

      • MasterDex says:

        You have a very strange view of what art requires. Art requires no ticked boxes. It doesn’t require rhyme nor reason. It doesn’t need to make the people who experience it content. It doesn’t need to be pretty and pleasing. It doesn’t need to make a dime.

        Art is the vision of the creator/s and so long as that vision remains true to itself, everyone and everything else can go f*** it.

        • Apolloin says:

          Read my first line again. When you say that art doesn’t need to make a dime then that tells me you really haven’t.

          Art for arts sake doesn’t need to make a dime. Art that you are intending to convert through the magical process of commerce into rent, fuel and baked beans needs to satisfy all the check boxes I mentioned. The artistes in question in the article were Game Developers – which means they have all the stake holders I mentioned and a vested interest in satisfying their expectations.

          The artist can have creative freedom when he’s paying for his own art.

      • jrodman says:

        The point is, in practice, your freedom is compromised by those interests if you want to make a living doing this thing. That’s really undeniably true.

        You don’t HAVE to want to make a living doing this thing though. You can just do whatever the fuck you want. That might work out for you or it might not.

  4. jorygriffis says:

    ~the artist’s struggle~

  5. bj says:

    I loved Far Cry 3, despite hating most of the writing. But reading this actually makes me appreciate that writing slightly more. At least it wasn’t forgettable.

  6. Eldiran says:

    Their lead programmer is named Brianna Code?? That is ridiculous in the best way.

  7. Gap Gen says:

    Oh man, why didn’t I notice the crow hats before.

  8. PopeRatzo says:

    So, let me get this straight: the Ubisoft developer doesn’t like shooty games because they make him angry, so he made Far Cry 3, in which I shot more live rounds into human beings and animals than any other game I’ve ever played.

    OK… I think I’m going to have to process that for a while.

    • bill says:

      Er. He said working on Farcry 3 made him more angry, so he wanted to work on something different. and he didn’t say he disliked shooty games.

  9. bigjig says:

    Do you think, in between the whining about female representation in games and the supposed wrongdoings of Far Cry 3, you could ask them a bit about the gameplay mechanics of Child of Light – a game I am interested in, but now am none the wiser about?

    Just a thought..

    • bill says:

      It was an interview with developers who had some interesting things to say about topics other than gameplay. I’m sure there will be many previews and trailers to explain the gameplay in future.

      I thought it was a really interesting interview, especially the parts touching on the development process inside the studio. I learned some interesting new things. I’d rather have that than a description of how a jump or spellcasting works.

      Gameplay can be very important in games, but it’s not the only thing worth talking about. With a lot of vapid games it can be the only thing to talk about, but when developers and games have more interesting things to discuss, why not take that opportunity.

      If you are interested in gameplay then: “It’s a 2d platformer with a skill tree and turn based JRPG combat. ”
      that would be a very short article though.

      • MarcP says:

        If you think gameplay is shown in trailers then you don’t know what gameplay is.

        • jrodman says:

          In practice no one seems to know what gameplay is. It’s a pretty amorphous term.

          if you mean stuff like game mechanics, there are trailers that explicitly do discuss such things, but they’re not the headliner videos.

  10. fauzsp says:

    Im impressed. I dont think Ive met anyone who knows as much about this subject as you do. Youre truly well informed and very intelligent. You wrote something that people could understand and made the subject intriguing for everyone. Really, great blog youve got here. Cheap flights to Lagos

  11. Josh W says:

    If nathan hadn’t mentioned the complaints that had developed since the last interview, people would rightly say he was letting Jeffery off easy.

    There’s still a lot of egoism in his responces, but I don’t really mind, because the idea of writing for others who can’t write for themselves can act as a kind of corrective, if it is followed honestly, and in the right context, egoism can just be the expression of the self-confidence required to finish anything in a creative field.

    I think that kind of “writing for the writerless” approach grounds things a lot better than the pure idea of controversy or dispute; every celebrities life brings dispute and conversation, and that in itself does not give it value. I think that as much as a work produces any other effect, it should also have something of value it actually communicates, even if it’s just the subjective value of being heard spread out by the designer to include more people than just himself, so that people can play the game and recognise themselves in it.

    I think in that kind of context it’d be interesting to see Yolahem working in postmodernism and crazy references again, it just needs something to give it balance. In the meantime, I hope this goes well.