The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for writing, writing, writing. If we’re going to spill words across the screen, we better first fill ourselves up by reading those left by others across the past week.

  • Adrian Chmielarz is game designer of Bulletstorm and The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter, among others. He’s also a regular writer of interesting things about videogames, and this past week tackled whether YouTubers are actually the best option for getting people to buy your games. “No, not really.”
  • Write down that date, then head to http://steamcharts.com/ and see if there was a bump in the amount of players at that date or a day later. Most of the time, you will see that despite millions of views, the video had no impact on the amount of players — and thus: sales — at all. Except for some extremely rare exceptions, the best I’ve seen during my research was a one day long tiny bump. That’s it.

    I don’t agree with all the ways Chmielarz interprets the graphs, but there’s lots that’s interesting there.

  • Sticking with YouTube for a moment, Gamasutra continues to explore the ethics and legalities of video content paid for by developers and publishers. Mike Rose interviewed Mary Engle, associate director for Advertising Practices at the FTC, the US agency charged with protecting consumers, who says part of the responsibility lies with devs and publishers.
  • So you say “review” – is it only on something that is classified as a review? A lot of YouTubers have been claiming that what they do isn’t “reviewing” games. They just make videos. There are some big-name YouTubers who specifically state that they are not reviewers, therefore they shouldn’t need to disclosure in the same way that reviewers should. Is that the case?

    Engle: Ah, I see. No, that’s not the case. The idea is that if you’re providing an endorsement of a product, it doesn’t have to be a review. You don’t have to call it a review. It also could be a small mention – it’s hardly a review really, but it’s an endorsement. If you are paid or compensated, then yes, you should disclose that you are paid.

  • Desert Golfing consumed me for two weeks, but the trance has been broken. I was therefore happy to read the few spoilers in this article and interview with the game’s creator, about the game’s ‘ending’ and other mysteries:
  • One mystery of Desert Golfing that remains a topic of conversation is the “ending” to the game. Smith has said before that he expected an impossible hole to be generated eventually. The idea of a procedurally generated game ending in impossibility is bold and unprecedented. Other procedurally generated games—such as Derek Yu’s popular platformer Spelunky—take great pains to ensure that the game is never impossible to complete. I ask Smith about intentionally embracing eventual impossibility in his level designs.

  • Grayson Davis writes about playing videogames as a vegetarian, the complications that introduces, and the reasons you might do it anyway.
  • Let’s not forget Final Fight is a multiplayer game. When you’re staring down a boss, is your friend going to respect your choice? Or is Cody going to tell Haggar to stop making things difficult and please just eat the pizza? The choice is largely symbolic. There is no rule against eating meat. The game will not end. An animal will not come back to life because you left a burger preserved in its crate. (It’s a video game – the animal never even existed.) You could pick up that hamburger and suffer no negative consequences and boy would it be convenient. Haggar does not, as far as we know, need to worry about factory farming, global warming, bycatch, antibiotic misuse, or any facts of real-world agriculture.

  • Richard Cobbett has a new column at PC Gamer, following Crapshoot up with a weekly column on story and writing in games. I think it’s called Critical Paths? The first entry is on Gabriel Knight And The Colours Of Voodoo.
  • Where a lot of people go wrong though is thinking of story as simply ‘plot’ – the reason why you’re shooting aliens in the face, the dead wife and child justifying some angry man’s rampage, the doomsday weapon somewhere on the final level. All that is part of it, sure, but done well story is a thing that touches every part of a game. It’s in the script, but it’s also in the design, in the ambience, in the music, and in what’s allowed to be unspoken. It’s not a thing that someone simply pours onto a game when all else is done… or rather, it shouldn’t be… but something that goes down to the bones.

  • Jon Peterson writes at length about the history of wargames, gaming culture’s origins in that small community, and women gamer’s role within it.
  • When the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons appeared in 1974, it did not call itself a role-playing game — the cover identified it as wargaming rules. It would be years before anyone applied the genre label “role-playing game” to Dungeons & Dragons and its imitators. Thus TSR marketed Dungeons & Dragons to wargamers, advertised it in wargaming magazines and popularized it via wargaming conventions. This made sense as this was the community the principals of TSR knew: as Brian Blume, TSR Vice President, wrote in the second issue of the company’s newsletter, they were all “long-time gamers.” And the people they gamed with were male.

  • Adam gave this article a post all its own this week, but if you missed it, Frictional’s Thomas Grip wrote some interestingthoughts on Alien Isolation:
  • Alien: Isolation is an interesting game. It is the latest entry in a lineage of games that I refer to as horror simulators. It does an excellent job at creating tension and uses a lot of the knowledge built up over the years to great success. But, because it has such a laser focus on a certain type of play a bunch problems arise and other parts of the package suffer. It is a great game in many ways, truly excellent really, but there are some fundamental problems. These lead to, for me at least, a devastating flaw: At its core it fails to be a faithful emulation of the original Alien (1979) movie.

  • Over at Shut Up & Sit Down, I enjoyed this review of the card game Illegal, written by our own Pip and our former own Quinns. Good funnies.
  • Quinns: Right. And just like real crime, the concept of Illegal got me SO excited.

    Because I am awful, I’ve recently been spending a lot of my time thinking about games that are elastic in the space they take up. Games that can transform a table are cool, but what’s cooler are games that expand to fill a room, or even spill over to the rooms outside it. It’s why I love Two Rooms and a Boom, and in Illegal it’s great fun to simply wander the room and chat to people, or stick your nose in their deeply private dealings.

    Pip: If you like things which expand to fill the available space, you’ll love gases.

    Quinns: I love gases!

  • Hey more good writing about Alien Isolation. And more writing written by people who write for us – hmm. Over at Amusement Arcade, Rab writes about hiding in lockers and British horror:
  • There’s an important conversation to be had about Alien: Isolation. I write this as someone who is about halfway through the game, and pretty sure that I will never finish it. I’m not even sure I want to finish it, even if I could. In my head, right now, I am on the Sevastopol – hidden inside a locker. The Alien is thumping around the halls outside. I am safe, out of sight. I’m not sure I want to leave the locker. Why would I want to do that? Risk facing the Alien just to see how the story ends? Maybe my story has ended already. Maybe I was always destined to end up in that locker, too frightened to move. Maybe endings don’t matter.

  • You might have enjoyed Sin Vega’s look at King of Dragon Pass on Friday. If so, read the same author’s take on Hidden Agenda, a late-’80s political sim:
  • s President of Chimerica, you are charged with taking a backwards agricultural nation still bleeding from a violent revolution after decades of dictatorial oppression, with its massive debt, disastrous economy, widespread famine and fractured, highly unstable army, and turning the whole thing into whatever you think it needs to be. There’s a pretty clear ‘communist nutbag’ camp, and a pretty clear ‘capitalist pigdog’ camp, but if you think it’s as simple as picking a side and counting the score, I strongly urge you to play this game. It will make you feel foolish.

  • Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness was an ambitious mess, but this making of video is i) revealing in unintentional ways and ii) at times scored and edited with the absurd seriousness of Chris Morris satire.

Music this week is partly the Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble – start here, though they’re also on Spotify – and partly Two Lone Swordsmen, who Adam recommended. Listen to this.

125 Comments

  1. Gap Gen says:

    I largely play Minecraft as a vegetarian (in any case food is trivial once you have farms up and running), but certain things are impossible to get without killing stuff (without mods, anyway) – leather for item frames, feathers and ink for books, iron golems for ridiculous quantities of iron from the iron farm running 24/7 at spawn.

    • SomeDuder says:

      Humanity’s downfall won’t be some apocolyptic scenario (nuclear war, pandemic, comicbook villains chopping off heads, meteorstrike, solar eruption etc), it will end with us bickering over transgender studies, female videogame players and how we can possibly go on in this cruel world where we kill animals in videogames

    • FriendlyFire says:

      As with everything in Minecraft, Mods Can Fix That.

      There’s a mod (I forget which) that adds the ability to “shear” cows. You get cold cows which regrow their leather after a while, like sheep. Another one makes chicken shed feathers every so often. MFR’s Rancher lets you drain squids for ink without killing them. Iron golems… well they’re not exactly alive. You can also get enderpearls from ender lilies from another mod.

      ‘Course, that hinges on playing with mods.

      • Geebs says:

        There’s an interesting parallel between those mods and the lies we tell ourselves about where our animal produce comes from – and I don’t even mean the obvious ones, I mean where something has been “gathered” but not actually.

        • Gap Gen says:

          There’s a mod that allows you to turn zombie meat into leather. But yes, shearing cows is a bit too far (and this is from a game where you can make chickens by throwing eggs against a wall).

  2. Fenix says:

    I am a vegetarian in real life, and play my characters as such too if I can. I remember when playing Fallout 3 not only I didn’t eat any non-vegetarian food, I didn’t even pick them up to resell because I didn’t want tainted money. It made the whole game that much more enjoyable to me, having some fictional character face the same problems I do in my daily life.

    While I’m on the topic of vegetarianism and videogames, I think it’s worth namedropping Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason for a certain scene that hit me so hard that it cemented my choice in a time I wasn’t sure about sticking with vegetarianism or not.

    • subedii says:

      First Person view can certainly give you a unique perspective on… things.

    • Carcer says:

      I am vegetarian myself. It is interesting to see how people vary… I’ve personally never made a specific effort to play as a vegetarian in games where food is actually a mechanic, except for the Sims (and then it’s a trait you give them so the difficulty is reduced to just choosing the option at chargen). I’m only an ethical vegetarian though and I don’t ascribe any special quality to corpses. I try to live my life in such a way that I do not incentivise the killing of animals, and so I don’t pay money or ask people for animal products, etc. However I feel it is wrong to waste resources when you have them, so if I end up in possession of animal products for whatever reason it’s better for me to use them or give them to someone else who needs them than waste them by throwing them away. In the Fallout 3 example, if I was trying to play a character according to my vegetarian ethics I’d still eat meat food recovered from the pockets of dead bandits and stuff scavenged from the wastes because by that point, doing so doesn’t promote killing animals (you’re not providing a market by eating a 200-year old tin of pork and beans you found in an ancient fridge) and it’s pointless to waste it. What I wouldn’t do is buy meat products from vendors or (although I doubt you’d get the option to refuse in the game) accept them as gifts.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Yeah, I guess it’s important to add to this discussion that of course all ethical decisions in games are metagaming challenges rather than serious questions of moral value that have consequences in the real world. Unless someone wants to start that debate, which I’d be down for.

        • Carcer says:

          Depends on the game. Anything multiplayer muddies the issue as unethical behaviour in the context of such a game (say, an MMO like EVE) can cause real upset to real people. Decisions made in singleplayer don’t have much moral consequence, although obviously games can be a medium you can use to try and teach people or make them reconsider their morals/ethics.

          • Gap Gen says:

            I think one of the biggest issues with online games is the lack of consequence. Stuff like Day Z is run by bandits because ultimately no-one would be able to police an environment like that – if you get caught being a bandit, you can just rejoin and do it again. I’d love to see a server try to carve order out of Day Z’s world, running police, transport services, trading networks, etc, but I doubt it’d ever happen because it would only take a small percentage of the players running around with assault rifles for the system to break down again.

          • El_Emmental says:

            “… although obviously games can be a medium you can use to try and teach people or make them reconsider their morals/ethics.”

            [ EDIT: ok apparently Carcer felt wronged regarding my harsh criticism of the “teach people” concept very frequently seen in such circles. Disregard the rest of the post, unless you’re okay with a possibly misleading phrasing.

            I will edit the post with brackets in italics to indicate who I’m designating by the use of the words “you” or “your” – it is indeed very misleading since it is both the singular *and* plural 2nd person pronoun]

            I think this is where a lot of people who genuinely care about the environment, social issues, or the exploitation of animals, fail to fully grasp the macro-psychology of “the other people”.

            – – –

            You [everyone] can “teach” children, because as parents (or the equivalent of parents = a figure of authority) you [everyone] made sure they know they are 1) minors, so they have to accept all forms of frustration and things they don’t agree with (“for their on good”) 2) their children, so you [everyone] kinda “own” them (= legal and moral authority over their very being).

            And even in that situation, children spend their entire childhood trying to “grow” out of it: when they’re still young they try to circumvent the authority, when they’re adolescent they directly oppose it (whenever they can).

            So no, you [everyone] can’t “teach” people against their will, it will never work.

            The same can be said about “make them reconsider their morals/ethics”: ‘make them’ implies you [everyone] will force them to ask your [everyone] questions and not their own, put them in a corner where they’ll have to choose between your [everyone] definition of a “horrible being” and a “wonderfully kind being”. They’ll feel threatened and back off.

            – – –

            Making the decision to change one’s views on major elements of one’s culture/life is something tremendously serious, treating people like children or a prey in such situation is completely missing the point.

            Want people to think about meat consumption?

            [everyone] Provide the necessary information (not all at once) regarding meat production and the effect of (too much) meat on human health, so they can make their own personal decision.

            [everyone] BUT, stop trying so hard to lay a guilt trip on people, stop pulling stats out of context (and the bottom of your barrel), stop slipping some judgemental arguments in the middle of it, stop flat out lying about the health effect (and the certainty of the hypotheses flying around about meat consumption).

            You [everyone] only need 1 single lie, even a lie by omission (that might feel “okay” because “well I won’t give arguments against my opinion duh” – missing the fact you [everyone] are trying to convince the person in front of you through honesty and trust, rather than manipulation and deceit), to lose all credibility for that person and his/her 5 nearest friends.

            People aren’t that dumb, they’ll start to see through the bullshit rather rapidly: between you [everyone] and me, you’re not that good at lying (that’s why you’re still humane) – you [everyone] would be a politician or PR agent if you were competent in that field :P

          • El_Emmental says:

            addendum: in b4 “omg must be an anti-vegetarian monster”

            I fully know about antibiotics and growth hormones, meat & bones meal, GMOs, animals being locked down in cages and never being able to move, meat production consuming a lot more drinkable water than one might expect, higher meat consumption making some diseases show up earlier, etc – none of that is stranger to me – I still decided to continue eating meat. Because I enjoy destroying my environment and dying earlier?

            No, I simply enjoy the culinary value of meat, however I now 1) only buy the expensive ones (no hormones/no meat & bones meal/no GMOs/very little antibiotics, and room to move) 2) drastically reduced my meat consumption (kinda necessary, with point 1 making it quite pricey) 3) I avoid cheapo meat (that includes fast-food/junk food) whenever I can 4) Recommend nearby people to do the same, if they’re worried about it (and discreetly remind them about the slow but steady effects it has on the environment and our health).

            Of course, still getting shit from vegan militants because of the “us vs them, no compromise” mentality.

            Regarding Minecraft, I’ll still raise cattle and hunt animals in Minecraft to consume their meat and use their leather/feathers, but I will always give them room and healthy non-boosted food, and never hunt all the animals (even if it’s just a video game) so they can reproduce. I’ll also focus on bread/potato/carrots first. I don’t see meat consumption and meat production as an evil thing by itself, it’s the way it is done nowadays that is toxic and wrong (in my opinion).

          • DrollRemark says:

            Funny, I’ve eaten meat all my life and never gotten shit from any “militant vegans”. Have you considered whether your seemingly confrontational attitude might be a factor in why you do?

          • Carcer says:

            Holy shit. So as soon as someone decides they’re an adult it’s impossible for anyone to teach them anything? We should probably tell all those students to stop paying for the privilege!

            Any media can have content which makes you think in ways that may cause you to reconsider your previously held beliefs and opinions. That is not a bad thing. It is good for people to be confronted with viewpoints counter to their own, to make them think about their assumptions and reevaluate them in the light of new information (or even to just critically think about them for the first time even if they haven’t actually learned anything new).

            Anyway, the number of assumptions you appear to be making about my position is frankly staggering. I scrape stats from the bottom of the barrel? I’m trying to lay guilt trips on people? I categorise all people as either “horrible” or “wonderful” based on whether or not they eat meat? I lie about the health effects of diets? Do you also believe that all feminists demand the involuntary castration of all men and every masculine gamer wants all women to be subservient kitchen-dwellers? The entire content of my posts could be summed up as “I’m vegetarian and games can educate people or make them think about things” and you somehow managed to construe that into a strawman representation of militant vegans which in no way describes me beyond the fact that I don’t eat meat and I don’t think it’s a major sin to prompt someone with a question rather than just try to wave statistics at them from a distance and hope they care enough to make some inferences.

          • El_Emmental says:

            @DrollRemark: oh don’t worry, IRL I don’t get any trouble (beyond the preachers in the streets “educating” passersby with that fake salesman smile ; and the gory posters promoting vegetarianism) thanks to social rules forcing people to keep it at a more reasonable level – it’s online that activists really get all “you’re all murderers!”. I found it laughable and sad.

            @Carcer: Sorry if I came across as such thing, it was not my intention.

            The assumptions I made were based on the things I’ve heard thousands of times when talking (mostly online) with people holding non-standard beliefs/opinions about social issues (or diet).

            Whether you agree with it or not [Carcer+everyone], in public places the movements behind these beliefs/opinions are de facto being represented by these people – not doing anything about these vocal people (a much larger group than you might think – a lot of people are stupid – trust me I might be stupidest one), not even acknowledging their existence, is perceived as endorsing them. It is not the Truth. It is how people perceive it. Do nothing and it becomes the truth for all these people.

            Regarding vegans, I perfectly know there’s a lot of moderate people who don’t annoy anyone with their personal beliefs/opinions. But I’ve yet to see them, the moderates, face – in public – the idiots screaming at people eating meat (or promoting a meat-based diet). Instead, moderates act like if it’s nothing and won’t address these issues.

            You [Carcer] also mentioned feminism or gamers – these two movements are both guilty of this: members of the feminism movement pretend their extremists don’t exist, gamers pretend their anti-feminism/sexist members don’t exist – according to them, all is well in the land of activism and cultural identity. If only.

            It’s in that context that my post moved to a global criticism of the vegan movement – maybe it should have been clearer that you [Carcer] were no longer the subject here. I’ll make sure to state it in clear next time [using brackets].

            My point is that if you [Carcer+anyone] publicly claim we need to teach, or educate people about something to make them change their opinion/beliefs, I think I have to remind you [Carcer] and everyone it is a completely inefficient (and disrespectful) approach to the issue.

            Students pay to get education, they get out out of their bed and go to class to learn and be taught something, so they can get a better paying job (or any job at all). And they still hate it (for most of them).

            The only time adult people are “taught” something without their consent is when salesmen or evangelists are knocking at their door. Sadly, this is exactly how a large majority of vegan militants, environmentalists and other activists behave with people, and this is extremely depressing because it’s seriously hindering the success of these movements.

            Convincing is not teaching.

            Teaching is basing your [anyone] entire communication process on the basis that people are ignorant and therefore made the “wrong” choice ; that having the right knowledge will certainly get them to make the “right” choice ; if they still make the “wrong” choice, they’re simply still too ignorant and need to be even more educated to make the “right” choice.

            When you [anyone+Carcer] say “teaching”, you passive-aggressively deny the people their ability to do critical thinking and make their own opinion, you assume their choice is based on ignorance rather than knowledge, you [anyone+Carcer] are simplifying the issue to deny the fact it’s a personal opinion and choice – it’s no longer a matter of debate, it’s a binary system of knowing (therefore agreeing with that opinion) or not knowing (disagreeing because of ignorance).

            That kind of rhetoric is nothing new and have been used countless times by all kind of political movements, to pretend it’s “not politics, just logic and truth”. I call bullshit on that.

            I’ve got my own opinions about politics and social issues, but I’ve stopped believing the people who hold different views are simply ignorants – they simply have a different set of knowledge and perspective.

            Of course, I still believe they might benefit from combining their set with a new one and see it from a different perspective too, but I won’t “teach” them that – I will provide them the resources and arguments, then THEY will build their opinion on the matter.

            This is why I’m not asking you [Carcer] to read my comments like it’s a lesson from a teacher (ha!) – as you [Carcer] pointed out, my comments are terribly flawed and can be misinterpreted (according to my intentions) – I’m not here to “teach” you [Carter] anything.

            I’m simply presenting you [Carcer] my point of view on the matter (what “teaching” people implies and indicates) then you [Carcer] will build your opinion on the matter, using your existing opinion and maybe, add small tiny bits of some of the things I wrote, fully re-interpreted by your [Carter] own set of knowledge/opinions.

            If I was in a position of “teaching” anyone, it would be massively different, I would have a much more serious responsibility (pretty close to the responsibility held by a journalist): I would have to provide a much broader picture of the question, presenting the different opinions in a fair and as-neutral-as-possible manner, before I subjectively criticize them in a separate part, while also presenting the arguments supporting the kind of criticism I don’t support, to make sure the person fully undertands that any presentation (“lesson”) will always have a dose of subjectivity and will always be lacking, so they have to make their own opinion and criticism on their own using multiple sources of information, not just me and my favorite book.

            That kind of stuff is a lesson – it’s heavy, complex and require a particular effort to digest and process. It is completely naive to expect the average person to go and spend 3 hours (or more) reading up on vegetarianism or any social issue, when they have 0 incentives to do that.

            This is where an astonishing amount of activists cause the failure of their movement: a lesson isn’t sexy, a lesson isn’t “interesting” (except for the nerds of that topic) – so what’s left? The classical “fear, uncertainty and doubt”, along with the guilt trip – trying to force people to listen to your lesson by manipulating their anxiety.

            This is where I’m coming from: you [Carcer] said “to prompt someone with a question” and I fully agree with that idea. A question, not a lesson.

            A game like “Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee” and its sequel “Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus” makes you [the player] think about the industrial exploitation of living beings for your [any human] own consumption.

            What I’m against is a game going on cutscenes/monologues or forcing you to choose the “right” path (when faced with a false choice, the “bad” choice being comically denigrated – “do you prefer vegetarianism, or death and suffering?”), to try real hard to send a “message” to “raise awareness” about such issues, to “educate” people about it. It’s disrespectful of the players and terribly counterproductive.

            Regarding vegetarianism it’s not just the PETA (or its equivalent abroad with animal rights activists) doing that, it’s even your [anyone] local “Go Vegan!” organization full of nice well-intentioned people, shoving images of tortured/slaughtered/rotten animals into people’s face to make them feel bad about themselves, then spamming the same bullet points bollocks about vegetarians/vegans having a much better life than the targeted people. That’s not what I call convincing.

            And when this fails to bring waves after waves of people into vegetarianism, what is the immediate answer by the activists? People are ignorant, they need to be educated. And here we go… The “Did you know that… ?”, the infamous stats dump, the “Studies shows that…”, the name dropping of famous people (mostly historical figures and celebrities) who were/are vegetarians, the “10 Myths about Vegetarianism” and so on. This is getting tiresome, because it doesn’t work, at all.

            So here’s my point: within the context of social activism, “educating” is disrespectful and patronizing ; let people build their own opinion and choose their own answers to actual and honest questions.

    • pepperfez says:

      The choice of Final Fight made me think about all of the early, barely-localized Japanese games with unrecognizable-to-gaijin food. That’s maybe a more striking situation for a vegetarian, being in a place where you literally can’t tell the meat from the non-meat — “What do you mean that white triangle was a squid?!”

      • Fenix says:

        Funnily enough, I actually live in Japan! And let me tell you, it’s not a vegetarian-friendly country at all :(

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      Phasma Felis says:

      My thinking (based on a similar post-apoc scenario in a sci-fi novel) is that vegetarianism is a laudable ethical choice in a society where perfectly functional substitutes are readily available for all animal products. But in a survival situation, vegetarianism can be thought of as a luxury, in the same way as, say, universal health care and a guaranteed income might have appeared to our ancestors–something good and noble that unfortunately cannot be afforded in the present situation. At that point the ethical responsibility becomes simply to make sure that the animals are killed humanely, and not without need.

      Interesting stuff!

  3. wu wei says:

    Cara’s article on expositionary graffiti in Alien: Isolation was fun.

    • Crimsoneer says:

      Hehe, I enjoyed that. Just, don’t go to the comments. There is only death there.

      • wu wei says:

        I really don’t get the angry reaction that saying “there are better ways to tell stories within games” seems to engender in some gamers.

        • RedViv says:

          Just another bit of “We’ve seen it like this forever, STOP CHANGING THINGS!”, an all too common thing.

          • RARARA says:

            I would laugh if you were joking. Gamers have shown themselves to be some of the most conservative shitheads, absolutely terrified of going out of their comfort zone – be it someone putting up some critical thinking on their favorite games, or a new walk-em-up that doesn’t quite fall into their neat little mechanical categories.

          • Synesthesia says:

            It’s a relatively new generation of gamers that does this though, isn’t it? Imagine someone critiquing the voices of SH1 during the 90s, and a horde of idiots screaming “YOU DONT UNDERSTAND SHIT SHUT UP AND PLAY THE FUCKING GAME” We knew it was weird, we laughed at it, and still got scared shitless. So many examples of this.
            What went wrong? There might be a sociologist’s thesis around here.

          • RARARA says:

            Perhaps it was the editors of PC Zone and PC Gamer who hid away the darkness from us by choosing to print only the non-toxic letters from readers. Perhaps because communication wasn’t so throwaway, people put a bit more thought before they mailed their thoughts to their favorite magazines.

            I’m glad I grew up before a young me found an easy access to an internet echo chamber of shitheads with a persecution complex. Could have gone badly for me.

        • JD Ogre says:

          I really don’t get the angry reaction that saying “there are better ways to tell stories within games” seems to engender in some gamers.

          It’s because we’re there to play the game. Those “better ways to tell stories” inevitably get in the way of the gameplay. And it always come off as seeming like the writer really wishes they could be making movies instead.

          • iridescence says:

            Gameplay and story aren’t two separate things. Dwarf Fortress/EU4/CK2/Civilization games have presented some of the stories I remember most. Please don’t assume story always means scripted narrative in games. It doesn’t. Actually I’m far more interested generally in the stories games tell without the use of scripted narrative although there is a place for scripts in some forms of games.

          • RARARA says:

            No, traditional methods of cut scenes and on-rails portions get in the way of gameplay. What she’s asking for is better environmental story-telling – environments that aren’t so overt with their intentions of design. See, for instance, how she doesn’t complain about the bits of the story-telling (emails and stuff) where you have to go out of your way to find them (so it doesn’t break the flow of interactivity) and are actually consistent with human behaviour.

            Not too much to ask for, honestly.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            And what she’s arguing is that better environmental story telling would be conducive of better game play instead of getting in the way of immersion as is often the case now.

            But then, I don’t think your stated reason is any sort of excuse for the vile shit that some posters there spewed. All it needed was a hashtag meme.

          • DrollRemark says:

            Yes, and isn’t it so annoying how you just HAVE to read that article before you continue playing the game, right?

            Wait, what? You don’t? Oh.

        • bonuswavepilot says:

          I just assumed it was another arm of the many-tentacled beast which has put Cara on their shitlist.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        Oh, wow.

        Those comments.

        Gamers are sure a nice bunch, eh. Right out the gate it’s telling her to shut up and kill herself.

        • Rizlar says:

          Well it is Vice.

          What a shit article. You have much experience of alien disasters then, enough to know exactly what everyone graffiti’s to the walls. I suspect, you are a bit too ‘Clever’ for you’re own good.

          Not sure if trolling or just stupid. >.<

          • lowprices says:

            Quite probably both. When it comes to Angry Internet Men, no expectation can be too low.

        • El_Emmental says:

          “Right out the gate it’s telling her to shut up and kill herself.”

          Got a screen capture before it was removed? I can’t see it in the comments. I’m pretty sure the local authorities would like to have a word with the user (at least just a short reminder of the law).

          • Stellar Duck says:

            It told her to shove a red hot poker up her bum and in to her guts and fuck off. Pretty sure that will kill you.

            And no, I didn’t cap it.

          • STJamie says:

            Yeah the comments weren’t especially friendly, for reference here is a screen cap of the offending comment: link to pbrd.co

      • ChiefOfBeef says:

        I can count the idiots on one hand, but that’s enough for someone to use a broadbrush to characterise gamers with. I wait with baited breath for someone who will stand up for gamers without pandering to abusive twunts of any agenda.

        • RARARA says:

          Agenda? What agenda?

          Methinks thou art projecting a bit.

        • mandalaeyes says:

          I’m pretty sure that when people say “gamers are idiots,” they mean “some gamers,” not “all gamers”. Especially considering that “broadbrush characterisation” you’re referring to is taking place on… a website devoted to gaming.

          • pepperfez says:

            Specifically, when they say “gamers are idiots,” they mean only those gamers who need it explained to them that, when people say “gamers are idiots,” they only mean those gamers who need it explained to them that, when people say…

      • Vandelay says:

        Those comments were a very strange thing indeed. Not really sure why you would get quite so angry about something that has become a real cliche now in games.

        There is definitely a subset of gamers, as evidenced by this and everything around the #gamergate fiasco, that seem to not what anything to be criticised in the medium. A strange thing indeed; they supposedly love games, but don’t want to see them improve.

        • pepperfez says:

          If you love something, it means it can’t improve. If you suggest that it’s possible for something to improve, that means you hate it and want to make it illegal and kill everyone who’s ever enjoyed it.

          That’s just common sense, y’know?

        • ChiefOfBeef says:

          I’m very much expecting that the comments are a deliberate attempt to start a flame-war and attract people who spend too much time on Twitter.

      • El_Emmental says:

        “Only death there”

        “I would laugh if you were joking. Gamers have shown themselves to be some of the most conservative shitheads, absolutely terrified of going out of their comfort zone – be it someone putting up some critical thinking on their favorite games, or a new walk-em-up that doesn’t quite fall into their neat little mechanical categories.”

        Let me see…

        Total: 40 comments, by 16 different commenters.

        – 6 aggressive comments regarding the article or its author, from 3 commenters (Justin K., Lewis N., Dylan A.).
        – 34 non-aggressive (@ author/article) comments, from 13 different commenters.

        Non-aggressive comments rate: 82.35%
        Non-aggressive commenters rate: 81.25%.

        Add the fact that people who are angry about an issue are much more likely to post a comment than people who are neutral or agree with the situation, and we’re with an Arsehat Rating™ oscillating around 10%.

        Meanwhile, Steve C. posted a new comment widely generalizing on “gamers” twice, followed by Gavin M. who feel the need to add a little more venom to it. We learn that gamers are “entitled spoilt brats”, “priggish little shits” and that “It’s pretty much a mental illness at this point”.

        It is in these situations that I’m quite worried about the public generalization and stereotyping done with the “gamer” identity.

        We’re seeing old hateful stereotypes that were previously paraded by conservative biggots (like Jack Thompson) being brought back from the attic, and used by people who only kept that hate under wrap because it was suddenly socially wrong to generalize about gamers and the video game culture.

        The only reason that hateful stereotyping momentarily stopped in the media was economical: thanks to the casualization (console gaming growth, the Wii, social network casual games), the size of the industry exploded, becoming bigger than other (older) entertainment industries. Sadly, the hate in the mind (and heart) of people remained: the stereotypes are still there.

        ps: the article in question (about the graffitis) is quite good in my opinion. These graffitis are awful, out of place and really just a very lazy way to build the environment design. At least in Portal 1 the writings on the wall kinda made sense: they were hidden in a “personal” room, written by someone falling into insanity, and weren’t just the random crap you see on the toilet door (added there by bored people).

    • Gap Gen says:

      I love the idea of the alien going around mocking the humans with poorly executed tags.

    • LionsPhil says:

      What really dates the Old Man Murray article for me is that Deus Ex hadn’t yet been released.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      Thanks for linking this!

      The moment I saw the wall writings in Isolation they annoyed me. There was some stuff in the back areas of the baggage handling that was fine as I find it creditable that the logistics grunts could write snark on the walls that the high ups never saw. Happens in real life as well.

      But the rest? So silly. As Cara points out: who are they trying to communicate with. Anyone in a position to read these are already aware of the situation or someone getting there after the fact, in which case they have no point any longer. I’m enjoying the game but I really wish this had been left out. Or at least not been so pervasive.

      • Laurentius says:

        And I think you and Cara are wrong on this. This can be demonstrated by grafitti and wall writings in east europen communists countries, it was diffrent form of political and perosnal expression ans serves different purposes then in free speech and democratic countries. I haven’t played Alien :Isolation but reading Cara’s article it seems to me that graffitis in this game have quite resemblance to those in these east eurpean regimes before 1989, at least according to the documantary I once saw on that given subject.

        • Stellar Duck says:

          I’m certainly not arguing that graffiti can’t political messages. It absolutely can and does and I’m generally very fascinated by it as a mode of expression.

          However! Easter European dictatorships are one thing. In the case of AI we’re talking a space station under lock down with an alien creature eating people one by one and everybody panicking in some way or the other. As far as I’ve been able to determine that starts about a month before the player arrive so they’d certainly have had the time to do it but, I think, not the inclination, considering that moving around is a good way of being eaten.

          I just don’t buy that in a situation where the main problem is being eaten by an alien, people would tag the walls with ‘Fuck the police’ and ‘No future!’ 80s punk statements.

          • Geebs says:

            I’m not sure you’re right. The human race has been totally incapable of resisting the temptation to draw dicks all over the nearest available surface for, what, 20,000 years? I mean look at Pompeii, they even went to the trouble of not only frescoes but also mosaics of dicks.

            What I’m saying is, under the same circumstances, knowing that this could be my last moment, I would express myself. Through dicks.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Dicks, I think, I’d have believed more than what is actually the case.

            They didn’t draw those dicks in Pompeii as the volcano was erupting though, and that would be the closer comparison.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Cara does indeed point out that one of the immersion-breaking let-downs of the graffiti is that it doesn’t contain any dicks.

          • Geebs says:

            Still, the comment section on the article makes up for the shortfall by being absolutely brimming with dicks.

    • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

      The weirdest part is that using graffitti as explosition already is quite an advancement, since designers are no longer shoving every story bit in the player’s face out of fear that anything will be missed. I remember playing the intro to Dead Space The First, which made it really obvious that one of the characters didn’t like another character. They hammered it to Mexican soap-opera levels. Then that character contacts you to tell you she doesn’t like the other guy. Then the other guy contacts you to tell you she doesn’t like him very much. And I’m like YES I KNOW I WAS NOT RAISED BY WOLVES I AM COMPLETELY CAPABLE OF COMPREHENDING THIS OVERSTATED MOCKERY OF HUMAN INTERACTION YOU’VE PUT UP FOR ME THANK YOU VERY MUCH

  4. SominiTheCommenter says:

    That Tomb Raider video was fun.

    The new technology allow for much more complex movement from the characters

    It has tank controls, for pete’s sake!

  5. subedii says:

    Write down that date, then head to link to steamcharts.com and see if there was a bump in the amount of players at that date or a day later. Most of the time, you will see that despite millions of views, the video had no impact on the amount of players — and thus: sales — at all. Except for some extremely rare exceptions, the best I’ve seen during my research was a one day long tiny bump. That’s it.

    I’d say that’s not really the full picture here.

    For something more in-depth, I’d actually recommend a video that TotalBiscuit put up a few weeks ago. It’s 3 hours long but it talks all about this topic (and ancillary stuff) with a panel of indie devs and PR people. It gives a good spectrum of the games industry (except for maybe the big budget devs).

    For some reason RPS won’t let me link youtube, so I’ll just say to head over to his channel and search for a video titled:

    “Indiecent Exposure: Talking Steam discoverability with a panel of interesting people ”

    On this particular point, some devs say it’s been useful, others it hasn’t. But what’s absolutely key ISN’T the number of views as such, it’s making sure that the audience for the channel gels up with the game you’re selling. Pewdiepie may get a bajillion views, but if it’s say, a specific style of strategy game you’re far better off getting a youtuber who generally covers those kinds of things and whose audience would be into them.

    It’s interesting hearing them talking about the stat gathering and how they can get a rough angle on whether videos have been useful or not, how they affect the short or long tail etc.

    In that respect, it’s kind of bizarre for him to say “no not really” and then at the same time turn around a say “they can be useful” and make the same point that the panel did in TB’s video. I don’t think anyone significant (I say significant since if you search hard enough on the internet, you can find a supporter for any viewpoint) ever said that youtube was the ONLY (or even the main) way to go. Opening with that just seems like an attempt at a contrarian opening statement to show “I know better”. At least that’s the impression I got anyway.

    Whether or not youtube should be the main avenue of your marketing, that depends so much on your game / audience / other factors. But it can be extremely valuable, and may be important to prioritise over other media depending on how things pan out.

    The video also meanders over a whole load of other topics, such as Steam discoverability / curation / tagging, devs and PR paying for video coverage and whether you’d do it (summary: most would but it’s important to be completely transparent), and other miscellaneous bits and pieces.

    Definitely worth a watch.

    • subedii says:

      Replying just in case I can post the link here:

      link to youtube.com

      EDIT: Huh, it didn’t remove my post this time.

      • Premium User Badge

        Graham Smith says:

        Posts with links in tend to automatically get added to a moderation queue, awaiting approval. It’s a way of cutting down on spam. So if you post a link and it doesn’t appear, give it some time and someone will come along and put it up.

        • subedii says:

          Fair enough. Thanks for clarifying.

          • Geebs says:

            But don’t, under any circumstances, say p00p.

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            I am still convinced that one was the outcome of a bored evening putting the final touches to the spam filter. You know when you have been working hard at something, and you enter that state of mild hysteria, a bit like if you have been studying hard for an exam and start finding the stupidest things hilarious.

            I reckon Jim and John were sitting there deciding which words would be filtered, had gone through the online dictionary of vulgarity, moved swiftly past **** and **** and ******* and Jim just suddenly went “P00P” and John sort of wet himself a bit. So it got in. But then later, when they thought about taking it out, it was one of those moments of bonding that John and Jim didn’t want to lose, sort of like lopping off a limb of brotherly love, so now you cannot say “P00P” because of brotherhood. P00P is the bond of brotherhood, I don’t care what Skyrim or Assassin Creed says.

            This brings a tear to my eye when I think about it. Though that may also be because I have a bad back.

          • Geebs says:

            Confirmed banned words: p00pypants, p00palicious, p00poise, p00p-deck, ‘p00p.

            Also nincomp00p. I say, the other stuff was okay, but that’s just not on

          • jrodman says:

            For a while, i thought you meant that literal string with numbers and so on — a complement to the age-old f00f. Then it finally dawned on me. You mean the thing that babies make as their job.

            Well it is dirty, I suppose.

    • Horg says:

      Judging the impact of youtube videos by looking for an immediate spike in the sales graph is a very poor way of interpreting the data. The only time that’s ever really valid is when you take a small indie game that didn’t get much promotion, get a popular youtuber to play it, then you can get instant feedback. Indie games are often much cheaper than AAA titles so price is less of a barrier to impulse purchasing. It is much more difficult to interpret youtubes impact on bigger titles that have a larger marketing budget and more avenues of promotion available.

      With AAA titles, pre-launch promotion will account for most of the early sales, and youtube often has impact here. Game expo coverage and beta promotions are pretty common ways for youtubers to get content on their channel. Sales gained here will not show a spike when the first post launch review or lets play comes out. Post launch, consumers need to work around the reality of pay day. For full price games, a sale gained through youtube might not translate into a purchase until the end of the week / fortnight / month when the money comes in. Finally, it’s important to note that videos with a large number of views do not get all their views on the same day. One million views on a TB video might come in over the course of a few months, and sales gained from this will lag behind the upload date.

      In conclusion, determining the impact of youtube on games sales is much more complex than looking for a bump in the sales graph corresponding with the upload date of a video. Adrian Chmielarz has taken an approach to data analysis that would make my old Geography teacher projectile vomit across the classroom in disgust.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Speaking for myself, I if I am watching game play on YouTube, its because I am already interested in a game and want to see it played. I have never – not once – discovered a game on YouTube.

      That said, the ability to watch one played is incredibly valuable to me as a consumer. On numerous occasions I have purchased a game after seeing someone play it on YouTube. A game I would likely not have purchased, were I not able to see this video. Suffice to say, without YouTube game play videos, there are numerous games I simply would not own.

      Which brings me to this: If developers and publishers are worried about YouTube videos, how about we return to the days of Demos. If I could try your game first I would be much more likely to buy it, provided of course I liked the Demo. Either way, Demos would improve good will with gamers.

      • bonuswavepilot says:

        Aye, can’t say I’ve had a lot of new stuff introduced to me by the ‘tube either, although one exception would be “Deep Under the Sky” from TB’s ‘Impress Me’ series.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          I think you also have to factor in the YouTube Personality Fatigue Effect. Generally you discover someone like Markipiler or JackSepticEye or PDP, think they are awesome for a while, and then sort of get bored and look for someone else. They don’t really review games, they just sort of bring their character to them. I will admit though that Markiplier and JSE’s Oculus videos lead me to want a headset very much, I guess because of the infectious enthusiasm. They don’t tend to have the same effect for games with me though, maybe just because they dont tend to play the kind of things I am into at the moment.

          That said nowadays I am mainly using youtube to watch tutorials for flight sims, so I am more interested in technical content and the experience of the maker, such as the Bunyap: On The Range Series.

      • Baines says:

        For me, YouTube videos function similarly to demos.

        For many, YouTube videos might actually be considered a more convenient replacement for demos. You can see a game played, without having to bother with downloading, installing, or even learning to play. You automatically gets someone else’s opinion (the video maker), and may even see corrections to mistakes in the comments section (such as when commenters complain the YouTuber completely ignored some vital mechanic that was presented in a How To Play screen or config menu or a text box that they just mashed past).

        The convenience factor presumably helps as well, as I’m more likely to watch a YouTube video of a game that I’m not horribly interested in than I am to install and play a demo of that same game (if a demo were available).

  6. GameCat says:

    That “vegetarian gaming” article is kinda weird. I mean, it’s like “it’s ok to unload shotgun shell at some Fallout 3 NPC or beat some dudes, but eating a meat is not, because I’m vegetarian”. o_O

    • Gap Gen says:

      Plus in a deadly wasteland not eating cans of meat from before the fall of humanity seems like an oddly indulgent decision for someone who has to fight giant scorpions and bandits every time they go to the shops. Then again, life rules like that don’t have to make sense (religious prohibitions on food that prevented food poisoning in iron age Middle Eastern countries but aren’t practically necessary in 21st century Europe, for example), and it adds a kind of interesting warrior monk-like quality, where you wander around the apocalypse murdering people while adhering to a personal code whose sole reason for existing is to keep your civilised mind clinging to the edge of humanity from falling into the pit of darkness that lurks within us all.

    • karthink says:

      Interesting observation.

      I’m a vegetarian who has never tasted meat. I do “eat” meat in RPGs, but it is always a little uncomfortable, while blowing away a Fallout 3 NPC is not. So it might be weird to you, but the discomfort is not imagined.

      I don’t know why, though. Maybe the differing reactions to these two things is a combination of the context, the degree of verisimilitude and just plain repeated exposure. I am not, for instance, comfortable with Sniper Elite’s detailed x-ray cam, but I think I will become inured to it if I play the game. Also, in the simulation of the game a Fallout 3 NPC is much further removed from an actual person than an in-game steak is from a real piece of beef.

      This distinction is similar to the one between violence and sexism in games. Even in the context of the game, the former is always simulated, but the latter can often be real. (I’ll leave it to someone more articulate to debunk any “but it’s all pixels” claim this might attract.)

      • sairas says:

        Very interesting about vegetarianism in games. I’m also a vegetarian in real life, but playing in a post-apocalyptic world eating meat is no problem for me at all. also, I tend to kill people in games far more often than in real life.

      • Lobster9 says:

        I wonder if it has something to do with the consciousness of the decision.

        Most people don’t have to make a conscious decision about not commuting violence or killing people in real life. It’s just a passive given that we don’t have to think about. Most of us aren’t surrounded by friends and family who choose to commit violence as a rule, which would make the act of non-violence noticeable.

        Whereas avoiding certain foods has to be a conspicuous part of your life. In a society where the majority of people eat meat, we are constantly reminded that the active choice of NOT doing it is different. It’s something you have to actively avoid.

        Fighting and killing in games is omnipresent, but fantastical. It’s difficult to relate to the real world activity, as you aren’t constantly surrounded by people who kill or maim. While being given meat triggers the part of your mind that is trained to consciously avoid it.

        Killing thirty bandits in Fallout is nothing, but drinking contaminated water from a toilet or pond feels strange.

        I have a similar reaction to drugs in some games. Playing the MISERY mod for Stalker, and encountering cannabis, cocaine, and heroine. Not being a user myself, but having mixed with friends who are, (and having refused drugs in the past,) left me feeling awkward when coming across them in game. I always ended up selling the drugs I found, but even that gave me a strange moment of pause.

        • jrodman says:

          Considering I sometimes have similar feelings about heterosexuality in games (I’m gay), I suspect it’s more about being the exception normally instead of the conscious decision.

          To be clear, I am totally fine with games with heterosexuality, but it feels a bit weird when I’m asked to identify with a character, and then I’m asked to choose who my (invariably male) character will be interested in, and I’m given a choice of three to five females. Sure in the rest of the game I may be fighting dragons with oversized swords or defeating zombie-einstein with green lasers, but it’s sort of hard to dissociate the “which of these romances do you want” thing. I typically choose no one, unless the game has done a good enough job interesting me in the relationships to want to see more of them (very very rare).

        • RARARA says:

          Your comment makes me go ‘Hmmm…’

    • iridescence says:

      Yeah, I totally respect the reasons to be vegetarian in real life (I’ve even done it a few times in my life before) but being vegetarian in a video game just seems stupid and attention seeking when you have to write a blog about it.

      • pepperfez says:

        Only as much as speed runs, low-level RPG completions, or pacifist FPS wins are stupid and attention seeking. The whole point of games is finding new ways to play them.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          I do think all those things are stupid and attention seeking. Good analogy. People with too much time on their hands and/or not enough hobbies.

          “I spent 76 hours clipping together little 4 second snippets of gameplay and saves so that I could beat this game in exactly 4 minutes”. When I hear that I don’t think wow what amazing dedication and skill. I think that the person has a mental disorder.

          • El_Emmental says:

            Hm, I would be more cautious when talking about mental disorders – unless you’re a therapist/psychologist currently drawing serious parallels between categorized mental disorders and gaming-related activities that could be seen as obsessions.

            To me these activities are like spending years practicing a sport or chess – finding your own challenges in the original game.

            Managing to finish a game in 4 minutes isn’t just to finish it in 4 minutes, it’s spending days searching for shortcuts, sharing your new tricks with other speedrunners, trying to improve the existing ones.

            It’s like any sport at a high level: you can already run/kick/jump/etc at a satisfactory level, why would you practice it again and again, for several months or years? Maybe there’s more to it than just the factual performance, maybe it’s the journey.

  7. daphne says:

    Adaptation of the Koto Song is my favourite of all TKDE songs. Though I’m not sure if you share this, I’m happy to see it recommended first.

    • DrMcCoy says:

      My favourite one is Lead Squid, but Adaptation of the Koto Song is somewhere at the top of my list as well. :)

  8. Frosty Grin says:

    The article that surprised me was Nathan Grayson’s article about Hatred:

    The Kind of Video Game Violence That Disturbs Me

    The premise of the game is so vile that some people say it should be ignored outright – or serve up remarks along the lines of “Can we all agree it’s not OK?” But Nathan’s article is surprisingly long, sincere and asks the question: where do you draw the line between “perfectly entertaining video game violence and upsetting video game violence”? And it’s an important question.

    • slerbal says:

      I thought that was a very interesting article and Nathan makes good points. Like him I felt physically repulsed and horrified by the game, especially given the real world contexts. So if nothing else that game has reminded me to think more about the games I play, but that is something I’ve been doing a lot more recently. Hatred really made me want to have a “ban this sick filth” reaction, but so far I’ve avoided it. Regardless, I’d be just as unhappy about my 10 year old nephew playing this as any rated 18 game.

      Weirdly I find the mainstream games – Assassin’s Creed, Far Crys etc to be the ones that really disturb me and so my gaming has included far more indie games (I include games like Arma 3 in this category) as even the darker ones tend to be more thoughtful and less “Press A to slit the throat of the guard and carry on”.

      • Frosty Grin says:

        You know, when I was watching the trailer for Hatred, the feeling was awful but somehow a little familiar. I didn’t want to think about it, didn’t even want to watch the trailer for the second time, so I decided to just forget about it. But then I saw a mention of the game or, more precisely, the trailer that gave me the feeling: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. It was a similar kind of murder porn, dark and in-your-face. Well, now it looks like gamers and journalists embrace it with both arms and both legs. Probably because the enemies aren’t people – but isn’t it a form of xenophobia?

    • Lobster9 says:

      Everyone has a different level of detachment to violence.

      I remember watching a Let’s Play from a favorite YouTube channel of mine. He was playing the Whistleblower DLC from Outlast, and came to a particularly gruesome scene which he decided to censor using black boxes. My reaction to the scene was similar, and I fully understood his decision for blocking out the imagery for the sake of his own channel, but he caught a lot of angry flak for doing so.

      A common argument was, “It’s no worse than what you see in movies.” I can see where they are coming from, but not everyone watches those kind of movies, and many that do will have had a gradual acclimatisation to the imagery.

      I still remember the first time I saw Robocop as a kid. I couldn’t sleep for two days, and the thought of someone losing a limb to shotgun blasts made me sick to my stomach. Recently I went back and watched the movie, and the scene didn’t bother me nearly as much. A thick callous of a thousand hours of Soldier of Fortune, Doom, and various other violent media has formed over that particular sensitivity.

      I think it’s important that people always express how something violent makes them feel. It’s perfectly normal and okay to be disgusted by something, no matter how soft or hard it is.

      We shouldn’t attack people who have a greater tolerance to horror than we do, and we certainly shouldn’t imply that they are less human, psychopathic, or “dead inside.” Equally, we shouldn’t attack those who have a lower tolerance to violence either, using terms like “soft,” or “weak minded.” Everyone is different, and everyone has a right to express how they feel about something.

      I have no interested in Hatred, and the violence in it would likely disturb me in a similar way to Nathan. It’s a level of detachment I am not willing to reach, and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the experience.

      I think there is a tendency for things like this to cause a lot of hysteria. I can’t blame people for seeing it as “shock porn,” and the creator didn’t shy away from the possibility in the Polygon interview. That said, movies went through their own exploitation phase in the 70s and 80s, and even with several flashpoints of extreme outrage, the world didn’t end, and the medium came through just fine.

      Crikey, I have waffled a lot of rambling nonsense today!

    • shaydeeadi says:

      I had a similar experience when I watched Drive. The scenes of violence were so graphic I actually didn’t enjoy it, despite being gripped by the film. Usually when I watch an action/gritty film I tend to find the actual scenes of bloodshed hilarious caricatures of the situation regardless of the intended tone.

      I’m not sure Hatred has the class to pull such an emotional response off, or if that is even the intention considering it looks like a top-down shooter. But there wasn’t anything fun about the violence on show in the trailer either. I am also unsure if I would want to play through whatever the entirety of it is although I would be intrigued to try a demo to see how they manage to set the tone and motives of that trenchcoat dude.

      • Rizlar says:

        Reminded me that I need to watch Drive

        Haven’t watched that game trailer though and don’t intend to. Every mention of it suggests there isn’t much going on other than the ‘shock factor’. The idea of watching it holds about as much appeal as Saw 12.

        • shaydeeadi says:

          It’s basically some trenchcoat dude gunning people down isometrically, with occasional cinematic killshots of him sticking shotguns/pistols down bystanders throats. It says quite a bit about peoples standards that it is absolutely fine to rip someone to shreds in Shadow of Mordor but this is over the line when it’s just a different setting and colour scheme.

          It hit close to home for Nathan as the USA has killing sprees by nutjobs far more than anywhere as developed as they are realistically should I suppose. This game is made by a Polish studio, a quick look online suggests that Poland has a minuscule gun homicide rate compared to the USA and is about the same as the UK per capita. So maybe they don’t think it hits as big a nerve as they don’t see morons shooting each other every day (making the game more absurdist than murder porn.) The best possible outcome is they are aiming for some social commentary wrapped up in a murder simulator. Maybe they just fancied a bit of the ole ultra violence.

          As little as the game interests me it raises a valid question as to why we don’t have more games where you play the villain? Except for being a meanie in strategy games or playing the occasional anti-hero, there aren’t really too many choices.

          • pepperfez says:

            I would conjecture that it has to do with how limited games’ modes of interaction are. If most AAA games are about some variation of kill/incapacitate, steal, and..maybe something else, then it’s hard to make a sympathetic player-villain, because player-heroes are pretty much only sympathetic by fiat.

    • joa says:

      As much as I’m not interested in playing the game, there’s a disturbing censorious bent to the article and some of the comments. What exactly is the purpose of getting all outraged over something like this otherwise?

      • pepperfez says:

        The same thing as vocally condemning anything you dislike but don’t want to ban?

        • joa says:

          Right, except that a lot of the comments go something along lines of “does this cross the line of what we should allow in videogames?” etc etc
          I am sure there a lot of movies out there that are worse than this game, but nobody really feels the need to condemn them. They just ignore them.

          • pepperfez says:

            Yeah, I’d chalk that up to games criticism in general being a very immature field. The “tradition,” if you can call it that, is for games writing to be a binary affair: Should I buy it or should I not? That sort of discourse carries through attempts at answering other questions: Is it a game or not? Is its depiction of women good or bad? Is this violence allowable or not?
            So the people talking about whether it should be “allowed,” whatever that means, are being a bit silly, but the conversation about actually pornographic games — which I would argue Hatred appears to be — is still interesting.

    • Blackcompany says:

      This is a very important question and I applaud Nathan for asking it in so public a fashion.

      The trailer for Hatred disturbed me. There is literally no way I would ever play the game. But that is me. But that wasn’t the worst of it.

      The worst of it was that it brought to mind another trailer for me, too. Not Mordor; I think folks are reading far, far too much into that game, but again, that’s me. How you feel about a thing is how you feel. You have your reasons and I completely respect that.

      No, the trailer(s) I thought about when watching the video for Hatred were: Far Cry, Saints Row and GTA. Addressing those in reverse order: I dont play GTA games. Not to my taste. I have seen videos, though, including the almost obligatory ‘murder spree’ types.

      I have played Saints Row. I enjoy it, to a degree. The silliness sort…excuses (completely for lack of a better term) a lot of the violence, in my mind. Put another way: Unlike GTA, Saints Row is possessed of little to no believability, and that includes its violence.

      As for Far Cry…now we come to the most realistic among the group. Far Cry – and especially 3, and the trailer for 4 – disturbed me to a significant degree. I have said before that it took me rationalizing FC3 to all being a dream before I could even play and enjoy the game (in part because of the awful writing); I cling to that illusion. But Far Cry 4…the setting is so real. So believable. And yet…the trailer seemed to go all “Borderlands” with its gleeful love of violence and murder for its own sake. To say nothing of the giggling over the harpoon weapon. In a setting that realistic, such a gleeful celebration of violence was very off-putting.

      I may actually not buy Far Cry 4 now, because of that one trailer. I found it that despicable. On the other hand, I have no trouble separating a game from reality, so I might give into the temptation of open world, co-op shooty and go for it. But I am hesitant I will admit.

      All of which is to say…where indeed do we draw that line? How violent is too violent? How much story does it take to excuse or explain away the violence? To make it, in essence, okay? How far must we go to make sure those who die look like combatants in order to assuage our conscience when playing a game? (This last is important to me, as on numerous occasions in games such as Borderlands and RAGE, I felt I was outright attacking people who simply wanted to be left alone, which is sort of off-putting, too, and this goes too for Fallout and all Bethesda games).

      These are important questions. Questions that could come to define – or hopefully, redefine, a generation of games and gamers.

    • Rizlar says:

      Great read. Stupid, exploitative crap is always going to exist, discussion of the issues surrounding it can be interesting though. What does the overabundance of violence in games and other media say about us?

    • Vandelay says:

      I’m a little surprised that I haven’t seen anything on the Hatred trailer on the front page here. I suppose they might just be putting together an article on it or they don’t have anything more to say than already has been said. Personally, I hope it is more because RPS just think it is not worth the time to even acknowledge what is clearly a puerile attempt at publicity.

      However, after watching the trailer myself, it did make me re-evaluate some of the violence that I watch and participate in with countless games. That is not to say that I concur with the many arguments I have seen since defending the trailer as no different to GTA or Hotline Miami; there are clearly tonal differences with those games and they both are in part commentaries on the violence they contain. I actually went back and played some Hotline Miami after watching the trailer and it was still that mad fevered dream of video game violence that I remembered loving the first time around.

      The game that really struck me as problematic came as a bit of surprise though. I decided to give Payday 2 a whirl, as it was part of the Steam Free Weekend. Playing the crook and mowing dozens upon dozens of cops as they charged at me made me feel a little ill. There was no real motivation for my character, beyond the accusation of wealth, and there was no side story about the cops being crooked. All there was, was countless bodies of men and women in blue trying to protect their city. I thought of a friend whose father had been a policeman and wondered what she would think seeing this game in which 90% of the time you were shooting at the police. I just ended up thinking that I couldn’t bring myself to play this any more, as I was no longer living a fantasy that I particular wanted to be any part of.

      Perhaps I’m just getting old. It makes me wonder whether I will have a similar experience playing any other games based on similar themes. I don’t think the likes of Saint’s Row would create such a reaction, as it is just too absurd to really be taken seriously, but I do question how much I would enjoy elements of the GTA games and I am now contemplating not buying GTA V, which would have been an inevitable purchase before.

    • PikaBot says:

      The fact that the dev team for this particular game appears to contain actual neo-nazis does lend a certain timbre to this discussion of violence in video games.

      • pepperfez says:

        I watched…more of the trailer than I would have liked (because the opening monologue was so clownish I was waiting for the punchline) and have no desire to do so again, but I read somewhere that the victims shown were (almost?) exclusively women, people of color, or police. That would be…telling.
        Regardless, I maintain that the best response to this heap is pointing out that the creators are neonazi nerds who apparently think like moody teenagers (but I repeat myself). They don’t deserve to be labeled “controversial” but instead “embarrassing.”

        • PikaBot says:

          I watched the whole thing and that’s a pretty accurate assessment. Lots of people got gunned down but all the cinematic killcam shots as far as I can recall were non-white, women, cops, or some combination of the above.

      • El_Emmental says:

        Actual neonazis in the devteam and you give no link to the source? You’ll sound like you’re extrapolating when you’ll do that PikaBot, which is counter-productive when this is 100% true: the devteam is really made of several neonazis.

        Source: link to playerattack.co.uk

        (checked several of the claims, from the bands to the political organizations, they all appear to be exact)

    • Turkey says:

      It’s interesting that they chose such a detached 3rd person camera when you actually play the game. I wonder if it’s just a technical limitation or if they felt weird about gunning down innocent civilians in first person.

      • pepperfez says:

        My assumption was that it’s to let you watch your totally awesome white guy avatar be totally awesome.

      • El_Emmental says:

        The choice for that 3rd person camera with an isometric 3D perspective is because the developers want “Hatred” to be the spiritual sequel to the first “Postal” game (which is very different from Postal 2 and 3).

        edit: but while the original developers of Postal 1 (Running With Scissors) actually depicted the mental breakdown of mass-killers and weren’t focusing on any gender or ethnicity (in Postal 1, the game is set in a rural/semi-urban US region ; you mostly shoot white males, while there’s still a few POC/female civilians/cops)(and the devs ended up going the parody route for the sequels) – that “Hatred” game seems to be some “neonazis” porn completely missing the point of exploring violent insanity.

    • MartinWisse says:

      It’s not so much the murder porn itself that I found disturbing here — not too different from what you could do in GTA and its ilk — but the politics driving the plot line. My life sucks, I hate this world and everybody needs to die is only an obsessive fixation of how no women like him away from being Elliot Rodger’s motivation. That’s playing with fire in a medium that already has some of its adherents making threats about school killings.

  9. JD Ogre says:

    Write down that date, then head to link to steamcharts.com and see if there was a bump in the amount of players at that date or a day later. Most of the time, you will see that despite millions of views, the video had no impact on the amount of players — and thus: sales — at all. Except for some extremely rare exceptions, the best I’ve seen during my research was a one day long tiny bump. That’s it.

    The problem is, he made a game (Ethan Carter) that can be finished in a single, short session, something that’s generally mentioned in the videos, that has no replayability. Of course YouTube videos aren’t going to help much, if at all. (note that Adrian Chmielarz also went to Polygon to whine about people not liking short games)

    • karthink says:

      He wasn’t talking about Ethan Carter. You can do the analysis he mentions for any game on Steam.

  10. Geebs says:

    I think that anybody who says that ending a game with failure due to procedural generation is a “bold and unprecedented statement” has probably never heard of Daggerfall…

    • DrollRemark says:

      Yes, that was the comment that I immediately wanted to quote here as soon as I saw. It was just so odd, like the writer doesn’t really know their subject at all. We’ve had games with no defined end sine space invaders, I wouldn’t class it as a ‘bold’ design choice.

      Then again, there’s a fascinating amount of writing about iPhone games that comes from people who’ve never interacted with the medium before. So whilst it does generate interesting stuff, there’s also a tendency to proclaim some basic mechanic as the second coming, in a manner that can’t help but make a seasoned games player scoff.

  11. lomaxgnome says:

    One Finger Death Punch got an obvious and massive sales boost when it was featured and endorsed by TotalBiscuit. But it was also a budget title that made for a great impulse buy. Ethan Carter is a somewhat expensive (for a small indie game) niche title that videos might draw attention to, but probably just ended up on a lot of wishlists thinking “I’ll buy it when it’s $5.” That has some value, but you have to understand your product as well when it comes to marketing.

    But then again, over the last few years if there’s one thing that has been proven over and over, it’s that game designers don’t understand marketing and are generally pretty terrible at it.

  12. DrollRemark says:

    Five whole articles posted today after the Sunday papers? Truly this is a brave new RPS world.