The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for this and only this.

  • This was the best thing I read this week: a pixel artist renounces pixel art. It’s one of the creator’s of mobile game Auro talking about game art, communication, and how audiences and critics appraise certain styles of work. Or more specifically, how even incredible art and animation will be criticised if it fails to conform to meaningless and arbitrary technological buzzwords like “HD”. It’s a fun read, well illustrated.
  • Sometimes the word “pixelated” is used in a derogatory sense, and sometimes not. Either way, anyone who uses the word clearly doesn’t grasp the concept that pixel art is a deliberate, predetermined art style. And it’s not just with us. The Reviewer of the SNK fighter King of Fighters XIII over at IGN had this to say about the sprite work:

    “While they look a bit pixelated, the character models look quite good”-IGN review of KOF XIII

    This sprite is not “quite good.” It’s among the best 2D animation ever made in a video game. However good it is, it’s good in spite of it being “pixelated” according to many.

  • The New Yorker went long on No Man’s Sky, Hello Games attempt at procedurally generating a galaxy and filling it with the hopes and dreams of gamers everywhere. I liked the math and generation stuff in the back half.
  • When Murray wasn’t being pulled away from his computer, he worked on the terrain. He told me that he was always searching for ideas. Last year, he saw the film “Interstellar,” which features scenes of a lifeless snowy planet that “had some very perfect ‘mathlike’ terrain.” The next day, he developed formulas that would create similar crevasses. More recently, he had noticed geological formations that an artist had hand-designed for another video game, and realized that the algorithms of No Man’s Sky were not equipped to make them. The problem nagged at him, until he found an equation, published in 2003 by a Belgian plant geneticist named Johan Gielis. The simple equation can describe a large number of natural forms—the contours of diatoms, starfish, spiderwebs, shells, snowflakes, crystals. Even Gielis was amazed at the range when he plugged it into modelling software. “All these beautiful shapes came rolling out,” he told Nature. “It seemed too good to be true—I spent two years thinking, What did I do wrong? and How come no one else has discovered it?” Gielis called his equation the Superformula.

  • I stumbled across this by accident, but it looks like Games Radar+ have adopted the long-running PC Gamer feature Why I Love. I enjoyed this piece by Susan Arendt on why she loves games that keep playing without her. Me too. The piece focuses on mobile games like Neko Atsume’s cat collecting, but wouldn’t it be great if Dwarf Fortress had a kind of screensaver mode?
  • What I enjoy about Neko Atsume is that it’s not something you watch constantly. You set up your garden and check in from time to time to see who’s visited and what they’ve done while they were there. The cats come and go throughout the day whether you have the game open or not, living out their kitty lives with little regard for your attentions, rather a lot like real cats. Opening up the game randomly throughout my day, I see which cats have come to the garden, and it’s like being visited by tiny, furry friends. Ah, I see Petunia stopped by and had a snuggle in the comfy cushion. And if I put out the yellow bowl of food? You can be sure Fatso is going to swing by and scarf it all down. I named the very first cat who showed up in my Neko Atsume after my real life cat who passed away last November, and every time I see that she’s stopped by, I smile. All of this activity happens when I’m not looking, and I wonder what the cats get up to when they’re not snoozing in my virtual garden. They play while I’m away, but I still feel connected to their goings-on, just the same.

  • This week in Articles Designed To Make You React On Social Media, Polygon’s Brian Crecente wrote about why videogame consoles are old-fashioned and should go away. There is an ounce of sense in there, buried.
  • During an age when games can be played on smartphones, tablets, computers, calculators, watches and just about any other device with silicon in it, having something that sits under your television so you can play games at home is not just unnecessary, it’s wasteful.

  • Offworld continue to do good work. This week, Jon Peterson writes about a time when law enforcement and government were even more baffled by computers, technology and videogames than they are now.
  • On January 17, 1980, FBI agents descended on a small business in Wisconsin to investigate a plot against the life of an American business executive in Beirut, Lebanon, named William Weatherby. The tip came to local law enforcement from a concerned citizen who had chanced on a written description of the conspiracy, which the police duly handed over to the FBI.

    When investigators arrived at the offices of this company, TSR Hobbies, they learned that William Weatherby did not exist: he was a non-player character in a new espionage role-playing game called Top Secret, which TSR was playtesting. This was easily demonstrated to the satisfaction of all parties, and the whole incident would certainly be forgotten today—except that it inevitably became part of TSR’s promotion for Top Secret. It was a spy game so realistic that even the FBI thought it was real.

  • Keith Stuart writes on The Guardian about why the stereotype of the lone male gamer needs to be destroyed.
  • I know of dozens of UK gaming events where players and developers get together to celebrate game culture. Wild Rumpus, GameCity, the forthcoming Feral Vector in Yorkshire. There are similar gatherings all around the world. I am certain there are still isolated individuals who play alone, but I am equally certain they are not representative. Games, increasingly, are not a hobby, they are a cultural force, no less or more than music and movies. They unite people – men, women, straight, gay, bi, trans – and they allow the dissemination of challenging ideas. Zimbardo told the interviewer that he wants to see games that are less about violence and more about co-operation – as if this is some kind of revelation. Minecraft, one of the biggest games in the world, has been doing this for five years. There are dozens of others. You want a positive community that challenges Zimbardo’s view of gaming? Look up (or just read about) the interactive fiction program, Twine.

  • Simon Parkin also appeared in The Guardian this week to write about EVE Online. It covers some familiar ground but with new insight, into the game, its players, and its future.
  • Although money was never the primary motivation – “I simply love the fire; there is something magical when you feel like it’s in your control,” she said – after a few years Dmytriievska turned semi-professional. She joined a circus troupe in her home city of Kiev, Ukraine to help support her university studies. She excelled, often performing to audiences of hundreds. In June 2007, the troupe began rehearsals for an interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, The Raven. As the backing music sounded out for the first time – a pipe organ, played rhythmically, as if calling people to worship, soon joined by galloping guitars and a furious drumbeat – Dmytriievska took to the stage. She began to dance. But her mind was not on the performance. As soon as she finished the routine she left the stage, walked up to her friend on the mixing desk and asked: “Where is that music from?”

    The track, he said, came from Eve Online, a science-fiction video game. It is, he explained, a game set in a vast galaxy comprised of tens of thousands of stars and planets, and inhabited by half a million or so people from around the world, who explore and do battle together daily via the internet. Dmytriievska returned home to see for herself.

  • Nintendo’s pre-E3 video is delivered in style.

Music this week is Prince’s Dirty Mind. I don’t know why, other than that it’s great and I remembered that it was great. It’s all on Spotify.

From this site

144 Comments

  1. Wulfram says:

    It’s rather arrogant to dismiss people’s preferences as “arbitrary and meaningless” because you disagree with them.

    • dethtoll says:

      I’m not sure what you’re even trying to say. Buzzwords are, by definition, arbitrary and meaningless.

      • Wulfram says:

        I’m saying that criticising something for its resolution or it’s “pixelated” nature is perfectly valid, and it’s arrogant to dismiss that as “meaningless and arbitrary technological buzzwords” just because you disagree with it.

        • Ashrand says:

          no you have misunderstood, buzzwords are literally meaningless, were it otherwise PR people couldn’t try and make them apply to the thing they are selling.
          ‘HD’ being a prime example, where it was misapplied and miss-attributed so often we had to use ‘full-HD’ and then PR’s began applying that to up-scaled 480p games and even then? technically i can run unreal tournament 2004 in 1080p, when i get a monitor that can do that i will no doubt be able to up-res it to 4K as well, that won’t actually make it look better though because the models will have the same polycount they always did and the textures won’t change but it IS an HD ready game, which reveals just how useless the terminology is.

          More to the point we have now reached the stage where better resolutions provide diminishing returns, which is evidenced by how fast AAA is trying to find a new buzzword to attach to their game, another meaningless term to bicker over until technology proves the lie of that as well

          • Wulfram says:

            No one is criticising pixel art for not being 4K.

            Pixel art is not criticised on the basis of buzzwords, or imperceptible differences in resolution, or whatever. It’s criticised for not looking good to the people doing the criticising.

          • dethtoll says:

            Except that has absolutely nothing to do with the terms being used, like “HD” which are buzzwords and therefore meaningless and arbitrary. Like “synergy” or “internet of things” or “immersive sim.”

          • Wulfram says:

            No one is arguing in favour of buzzwords. My objection is to Mr Smith attempting to reduce valid criticism to a “buzzword”.

            Buzzword seems to be being used as a buzzword. Rather than accepting that perhaps people like having smooth lines instead of jagged edges and blocks, you dismiss their opinion as meaningless blocks and get on with congratulating yourself on your superiority to the close minded philistines.

          • dethtoll says:

            Except there is no criticism in the word “HD.” It is literally a meaningless buzzword — hell it barely even counts as a word!

            I think you’re just hard-up for a fight.

          • Wulfram says:

            If I said “I’d prefer your game if it was HD”, is that meaningless? Would you gain no insight as to what the person dislikes about your art/graphics? Well, you might not gain much insight if your game was The Witcher 3, but if you have adopted a pixel art style?

            I mean it’s not the best, most detailed criticism – obviously, it was concocted by people looking to dismiss it – but it’s far from meaningless.

            Of course, the artist who wrote the original article is apparently capable of understanding people’s criticism and is attempting to adapt to those complaints, so good for him.

          • dethtoll says:

            Yeah, it would be meaningless, because I can play some “pixellated” games in 4K. It has absolutely nothing to do with pixel art vs. 3D modeling.

            It’s a buzzword. It’s been misapplied so often (including in the example you gave me, thanks for that) that it’s lost all meaning. That is what a buzzword is. There is no criticism or opinion in it. There is NOTHING in it.

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      Graham Smith says:

      HD is relative and shifting and not in itself a measure of quality. However, it is treated as if it is, by marketing and sometimes by critics. Some people do essentially criticise pixel art for not being 4K.

      Although I am rather arrogant.

      • theblazeuk says:

        Your words put a new spin on your face. Wince has evolved into Sneer!

    • Rumpelstilskin says:

      More importantly, the entire argument is backward. Pixel art is the one that has to comply to (pretty strong) restrictions in order to qualify. And HD just means that you can basically have whatever you want on screen, since resolution is almost enough to make you not notice individual pixels.
      I actually participated in both pixel art discussions on gamasutra (there was a follow-up here – link to gamasutra.com )

      • Geebs says:

        It’s a very odd argument; I thought the whole point of “pixel art” was that it meant something other than “bitmap”. The graphics from the author’s own game are “just” nicely-drawn bitmaps themselves. It’s kind of like attempting to defend Constable’s work by having a protracted discussion about Matisse.

        I do think the major problem is that the author has expended effort trying come up with convincing counter-arguments to a lot of blitheringly stupid opinions. It would have easier just to have written “IGN are morons” and nobody would have felt the need to argue.

        • Kitsunin says:

          Pixel art would be defined as anything in which the visuals are designed to be viewed at such a resolution that the eye can differentiate between individual pixels, right? As opposed to, say, a rasterized vector which could theoretically be as high-res as necessary. A lot of people seem to be bothered by the idea of pixelation, meaning that those pixels can be discerned, meaning that it is pixel art. So the arguments are for and against creating visual products with individually placed pixels.

          I don’t really see the flaw you’re claiming.

          • froz says:

            “Pixel art would be defined as anything in which the visuals are designed to be viewed at such a resolution that the eye can differentiate between individual pixels, right?”

            No. That’s not how this term is used in the original article.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Is it not? I didn’t notice a definition the first time through, and a quick gaze to see if I missed anything obvious only led me to notice several instances of things like “noticing individual pixels with the naked eye”.

            Certainly, good pixel art should have more to it than simply being something like a low-resolution raster, but wouldn’t that lossy raster still be a form of pixel art, if that was the intention?

          • Rumpelstilskin says:

            I think the term “pixel art” is rather misleading. Some (you and I for instance) interpret it as pixel art, i.e. just visibly pixelated graphics, while others as pixel art, assuming that each pixel was meticulously placed so that together they form a perfectly harmonious whole, etc. IMO when discussing art style of a game, the former approach is much more useful, since the latter is just counter-productive as it inevitably ends up in arguments whether something is art enough.

  2. ribby says:

    Just want to point out that the idea of the “lone male gamer” has already been shattered- games are pretty mainstream now at least amongst 17/18 yr olds. There’s no need for it to be ‘lone’ because you can talk about games with people no problem, I find.

    • Wulfram says:

      Eh, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of lone male gamers still. Though I’m mostly working off a sample size of me, there.

      (Multiplayer doesn’t really stop it being “lone”, since it can be safely anonymous and impersonal)

      • ribby says:

        Yeah actually thinking about it I may have overstated the situation

      • PancakeWizard says:

        I’m sure there are, I’m just amiss as to why that’s even a problem that ‘lone male gamers’ exist. When they say ‘stereotype’ they of course mean, ‘negative stereotype’. Can we not throw shade or pity at guys who like to game alone? Is that cool? I have no interest in social gaming or multiplayer. I have friends who are gamers, who I will talk about games with, but we all just play each to our own for escapism. Or can we talk about the lone male/female reader? Perhaps that’s something we should perpetuate as a negative stereotype.

        That said the article itself treads a reasonably fair line. It might have been a nice counterpoint to ‘Gamers are Over’ 8 months ago.

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      Perhaps it’s the indisputable cultural backwardness of Stoke-on-Trent, but my broad circle of fellow PC enthusiasts remains exclusively male and all of our girlfriends roll their eyes at the hobby to some degree. None of us are loners or outcasts and we’re certainly not ashamed of our tastes, but PC gaming has never been what’s connected us to the society beyond our interest group. At the end of the day, it’s still something that you wilfully isolate yourself behind a desk to enjoy.

  3. ribby says:

    What are these “battles over Marvel’s depiction of women”? Did Marvel do something bad?

    • dethtoll says:

      You mean besides “every comic book they’ve published since the early 1990s?”

      (I kid, I kid, Garth Ennis’ run on Punisher was pretty good — and I do like the movies.)

      • James T says:

        Preacher was Vertigo/DC, not Marvel.

        • theblazeuk says:

          True but Marvel/DC came together to publish the crossover Preacher vs Punisher. Shame Ennis refused to write it and they drafted Liefield and Millar instead.

    • Det. Bullock says:

      Unfortunately the 90s still have an influence, especially on the editors, at both Marvel and DC, the new52 relaunch sometimes is soaked in the worst tropes of the 90s, what they did to Amanda Waller (character design) and Starfire (characterization) is sincerely puzzling.

      • Emeraude says:

        I raged when I saw what they did to Waller. Totally disrespectful.

      • DrollRemark says:

        Heh. All the cheesy faux-positive work, undone by that ridiculous butt shot.

        • Nouser says:

          It undoes little to nothing. The dialogue is terrible enough.

      • Geebs says:

        I’m pretty sure that the median number of buttocks on a human is two. Marvel, bravely reinventing the human form once again, clearly feel that one is plenty.

    • NR says:

      Marvel have been killing it comicbook-wise, recently, with gender representation. The reboots of Ms. Marvel/Fem-Thor/She Hulk etc have all been received really well (and sold excellently to boot!), with the all female A-Force, the new Avengers, coming soon. All good, positive stuff imho.

      In the movie-verse it’s been slightly different. There’s been some criticism related to the new Avengers movie – this article from NPR does a good job of explaining the whole thing. I think that article’s conclusion is about right: whatever problems there may be (and the author draws out the nuances of said issues quite well) is exacerbated by the scarcity of female representation in the first place. They’ve also been really shitty with merchandising as well.

    • Nouser says:

      It’s the long term issue of having close to no relevant female superheroes, and most of the existing ones being genderbent of previous male ones.

  4. ribby says:

    After the disappointment I had with Spore, I am unable to trust No Man’s Sky

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    Hodge says:

    Also at the Guardian this week, Quinns talking Netrunner.

  6. RobF says:

    Found the pixel art piece an agonising if at times hilarious read. It’s the largest amount of words I’ve ever seen to justify shifting art styles because of a belief that they’ll sell more. To go alongside that, it’s one of -the- snobbiest pieces I’ve seen in a long time. The implication that people are stupid runs right through the whole thing which leads to gems like:

    “Some may even be so taken with the spectacle of added color and resolution that they might mistakenly think Bubsy has the better artwork.”

    I mean, god forbid that anyone who -prefers- the Bubsy artwork (I genuinely don’t know how you could but taste is a funny thing) could possibly, I don’t know, actually be OK to like the Bubsy artwork, y’know?

    And of course, the idea of a pixel tax when Minecraft exists and some of the best selling indie games are pixellated is… certainly an interesting proposition that were I being less than generous and I’m -inclined- to be less than generous given the tone of the piece, would say is a fantasy.

    • RobF says:

      Also, there’s a second No Man’s Sky piece in The New Yorker on Sandy White’s contribution to the game:

      link to newyorker.com

      • Caiman says:

        That’s a great piece, and the work that’s going into those sounds is fascinating. Nice to see Sandy White is still innovating.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      I may be stepping on dangerous ground here, but aren’t the devs or the guy who runs the studio or something known for being very, veryoutspoken? I freely admit this is just me struggling to remember internet drama but that’s the first thing that springs to mind.

      I thought there was a lot of pretty sage observation in the article but yes, I also felt it was dressed up in one hell of a lot of “Well, see, this is The Truth, because facts” and general appeals to authority. I can see what he meant about Street Fighter IV – I’ve never been remotely involved in actually making animation but I’ve read enough about it I know what he’s talking about, more or less. But the added note of “I mean, look at it: it’s shit, right?” meant I struggled greatly to feel any sympathy for his point of view. Ditto Bubsy – I mean, sure, it’s a pretty ugly game in my estimation, but implying anyone who can’t see that is a slack-jawed dullard dazzled by flashing lights doesn’t help.

      • Archonsod says:

        I think the SF example betrays the author’s lack of insight too though. His argument is fine were we considering the animations or stills purely as art, but not when we consider it as a game, when aesthetics usually take a back seat to data. The most important thing for the animations in SF is not how realistic they look, it’s how well they telegraph to the players the move the fighter is performing. Long before we’re worrying about whether Ken’s trousers are behaving themselves we’re looking at things like how many frames the animation takes (move timing), whether it’s differentiated from the rest of the move set that a player won’t easily confuse the beginning of the shoryuken and hadoken, et al. While it could be argued that it’s possible to do so in a more aesthetically pleasing way this would not in and of itself mean it were ‘better’ in terms of being ‘good graphics’.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      Pft bunch of poseurs I only play games in charcoal on cave walls.

    • Rizlar says:

      To be honest, people are stupid though. Or shall we say, lacking in insight?

      Of course saying stuff is ‘among the best 2D animation in a game, ever’ is their opinion. But the observation that marketing pushes technology over creativity and craft because it’s more effective at selling stuff seems perfectly valid. Like bad ‘HD’ mods that bump contrast up and say that it’s ‘better looking’ because every texture detail is now as prominent as the next.

      • RobF says:

        “But the observation that marketing pushes technology over creativity and craft because it’s more effective at selling stuff seems perfectly valid. Like bad ‘HD’ mods that bump contrast up and say that it’s ‘better looking’ because every texture detail is now as prominent as the next.”

        Certainly, if we’re talking the nineties then there was a very concerted push in marketing to get 3d adopted over pixel art. Early EDGE magazines are especially entertaining (not just for their 3DO obsession) reading back through them now as there’s a distinct strand of thought that pixel art is old hat and polygons are the future. Of course that turned out to be true as there was an industry invested in making it true for one thing, but now? In 2015? We’ve got a really good spread of games again. Minecraft stomps just about everything in its path and that’s with art that most amateur pixel artists would turn their nose up.

        You’re not going to see an AAA game done in pixel art any time soon, obviously. But I think putting that down to marketing and “pixel tax” is kinda ignoring that you can’t realistically pixel Call Of Duty. Well, you probably could but it’s cost a bloody fortune. More so than the already enormous modelling budget already is and it wouldn’t be feasible to make game-as-blockbuster-movie in that style. It’s not that the public wouldn’t accept a big budget AAA pixel art game, it’s not that they couldn’t appreciate it. It’s that modern big box is a narrow selection of videogames.

        Keeping the comparison to Street Fighter whatever only works because it’s vaguely 1:1 and ignores the rest of everything out there to make the point. Even then, what you lose in certain poses you gain in dynamism from free-er manipulation. Swings and roundabouts, really.

        But sure, yeah, there’s a lingering idea that increased fidelity is better and there’s a predilection with some companies to throw out product (and I’m careful where I use that word but I think it’s fitting in this case) that upscales or uprezzes or throws an awful smoothing filter on top but a lot of that is down to costing on the companies behalf. And, well, the rather healthy sales within niche genres where games can look frankly ugly as all sin says hi.

        More personally, I’d sooner look at Dishonored than a good 85% of pixel art, y’know? It’s rare the game that’s had enough money behind it to look the real business and that’s going back as long as I can remember, not just in the now.

    • Jeroen D Stout says:

      “I mean, god forbid that anyone who -prefers- the Bubsy artwork (I genuinely don’t know how you could but taste is a funny thing) could possibly, I don’t know, actually be OK to like the Bubsy artwork, y’know?”

      It is sort-of strange, the ‘all tastes are OK’ narrative is so deeply ingrained that when someone is just outspoken about what is ‘good’ I find it very refreshing and interesting. The ‘all tastes are OK’ narrative just goes in circles in the end, where nothing is good, nothing is bad, all is whim.

      • RobF says:

        I don’t object to anyone trying to claim something is good or even definitively the best thing ever ever ever. I guess partly it’s in how it’s done. Like I will happily stand here and tell you right now that Space Giraffe is, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest game ever made. I’ll happily wax lyrical as to why that is too. I’ll tell you about how you can navigate entire stages through sound cues alone, how nothing has come close to the same extreme-abstract-graphics-tech that is Neon, the beauty of resume best and and so on.

        But I can do that without thinking you’re stupid for not understanding me or if you disagree. I can do this and still treat you as a reasonable, able-to-think-for-yourself human being.

        Obviously, if you disagree you’d be wrong as a wrongy wrong wrong thing and I’ll be forced to tackle you to the ground and mess up your hair but that’s another story.

    • Rumpelstilskin says:

      I would have probably felt sympathetic if the article had lamented the prevalence of highly realistic gritty HD 3d over anything else. But instead it defends a completely arbitrary technological constraint of the past, which heavily *restricted* what you can do art-wise. HD essentially means that now you are only restricted by your imagination (well, and money I guess), not the rendering tech.

      • skalpadda says:

        That is kind of his point though – pixel art is a deliberate artistic choice. It’s an artificial set of rules which an artist adopts for stylistic reasons* and that is true for any such decisions an artist makes, whether it’s photo-realism, cel shading, a particular perspective, cubism, colour palettes, etc. They’re all artificial constraints – they come with rules which limit what you can to to enforce cohesive style.

        Where I think he completely misses the mark is when he blames the audience for not understanding his art and though he says it’s not the audience’s job to be good at art critique he seems to think that switching art styles will somehow shield him from this. No matter what style or medium someone works with there are going to be people who don’t get it or simply don’t like it.

        * Well okay, some adopt it because they mistakenly believe it’s easier to make and end up making bad pixel art, but they would most likely have made equally as bad “HD” art.

        • Rumpelstilskin says:

          I guess it’s that I still can’t accept it as an “artistic choice”, in the same league as impressionism or cubism for instance, while it’s so clearly just an unfortunate tech limitation. One can probably compare it to cross-stitching, but the appeal of the latter is not the image itself, but the texture of resulting canvases, their light-reflecting properties, and just the appreciation of the amount of work required to make one.

          • RobF says:

            I think this is one of the other traps that the article falls into, mind. Pixel art wasn’t a necessity, it’s always been a stylistic choice.

            From the days where you had to choose between raster and vector monitors installed for the arcade game you were writing to using 3d, line art, pixel art… so many choices. I,Robot still stands as a testament to the beauty of early arcade 3d, Star Wars ditto for vectors, even home computers were pushing soft solid 3d in next to no time after plenty of line art experiments. And although it never caught on outside of porny games in the main, stuff like Rasterscan worked with digitised art too. (not the C64 version which unfathomably had no scanned artwork at all)

            Pixel art was the popular choice, not necessarily because it was the most-HD-est as the piece claims but mainly because it was the path of least resistance given the constraints and that invariably games were made by very small teams. Looking back now and more often than not, various 3d tech was always considered more what we’d now term HD in the main.

          • skalpadda says:

            But it’s simply not a technical limitation any more. Even if we were to take the view that technical limitation is the only reason pixel art exists and previous technical limitations are all that defines how it looks today (it isn’t – not everything in old games is pixel art and pixel art of today is not merely emulating what came before it) that still doesn’t take away from its worth as a means of expression.

            Charcoal drawings are extremely technically limited compared to acrylic paints (Colour! Brush textures!) or sculpture (3D!) but there are still interesting things you can do with a charcoal drawing. Carving sculptures out of wood is very limited compared to making them out of clay, but having to use the grains, twists and knots in the wood to your advantage can lead to creative problem solving and interesting outcomes which you’d never even have to consider when using another medium.

            Those limitations work just the same for pixel art – they force you to come up with creative solutions and use the limitations to your advantage. All of the fundamentals of art (things like composition, design, proportion, perspective, colour theory and rendering) still apply to pixel art, just as it does to every other visual medium.

          • Rumpelstilskin says:

            I agree that constraints can spur creativity but things like wood texture, charcoal painting have those interesting, irregular details, while a regular posterized grid is just so fundamentally boring. I can’t shake off the feeling that using it now is just creative laziness and trying to appeal to nostalgia; there are *so* many interesting art styles one can come up in HD, why cling to that anachronism, which never was any good to begin with?

            RobF: pretty education about the early 3d tech. But I guess it’s most general approach that usually wins.

        • LionsPhil says:

          They’re all artificial constraints – they come with rules which limit what you can to to enforce cohesive style.

          And this is why mixels are the devil. FTL is an ugly, ugly game in places.

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      Ninja Dodo says:

      While some of that article could certainly be considered a matter of taste, as someone working in animation, most of those points had me going: yup, pretty much… a lot of the rules of animation (and art in general) in terms of appealing shapes, flow of movement, clear composition etc are not especially subjective… depending on what you’re trying to achieve with your visuals there’s a correct way to do certain things. You can make something look ugly on purpose of course and it goes without saying that what is appealing to different people or what is the ‘right’ way for any given piece of art varies enormously but these are fairly well understood principles. Rules that can be broken, but rules nonetheless.

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        Ninja Dodo says:

        … anyway, I did not come away with the impression that the author was looking down on people who do not appreciate pixel art. Rather, the opposite, that if you want people to appreciate your art you may want to meet them half-way with something that communicates effectively to them.

        • Baffle Mint says:

          What I wonder about in articles like this is when the artist takes the next step and begins to question whether his job or training mean anything.

          I mean, there’s a part where he says,

          The second the audience asks ‘how can he bend that way without breaking his spine,” or “Why is he shooting where he’s not looking,’ we have failed them.

          But the whole premise of his article was that the audience wasn’t judging his art, or game art in general, on the basis of fundamentals like those, but on the basis of how much modern technology is used to make them. So here’s my question: Is that audience even going to notice that he’s shooting where he’s not looking?

          To take an example from another medium, it’s easy, now, to bash on Rob Liefeld’s art, which breaks pretty much all the rules of anatomy and composition and clear action, almost certainly out of either laziness or lack of skill rather than as some deliberate artistic statement.

          He was also one of the most important and influential comic book artists of the 90s. The audience, it seems, either didn’t notice or didn’t care about his terrible lack of fundamentals.

          So once we start going down the rabbit hole of “maybe most people don’t care about or notice the fundamentals unless they’re wrapped up in a high-tech bow”, I’m not sure what’s stopping us from going even further on, and reaching the point of “maybe most people don’t care about or notice the fundamentals, period,” except maybe existential terror about what that means for our art training.

          • Premium User Badge

            Ninja Dodo says:

            > But the whole premise of his article was that the audience wasn’t judging his art, or game art in general, on the basis of fundamentals like those, but on the basis of how much modern technology is used to make them. So here’s my question: Is that audience even going to notice that he’s shooting where he’s not looking?

            OK so I think that’s not the point he was making. I think he was suggesting that the audience being able to parse your chosen art-style is a part of effective visual communication, the principle of “Staging” in animation terms.

            So if your fundamentals are wrong and the player is asking “why can he bend that way?” that’s a failure of communication.

            If the player is asking “why are the pixels so big?” that too is a failure of communication, when really the desired reaction is “I understand what that character is thinking and what he or she is doing in the scene”…

            The author isn’t saying the artistic side doesn’t matter, he’s saying the form affects how effectively you communicate. No need to despair, I think.

    • DrollRemark says:

      Yeah, I could see some of the point made in that article were fair, but at the same time, it just couldn’t seem to stop descending to “Cuh, you just don’t understand art, man.”

      It’s interesting, because I think the cricism Auro gets for being “pixellated” is because it’s ended up in a halfway house between low and high-detail graphics. I doubt people would use that word to knock, say, Hoplite, despite it having much simpler sprites. But because it keeps the view zoomed out, the low detail isn’t actually as obvious.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, it’s the standard “wah, people are dumb and easily swayed by spectacle rather than being able to appreciate my hard, beautiful work, I GIVE UP AND SELL OUT YOU SEE WHAT YOU HAVE DRIVEN ME TO” whinge that has been going since before digital art was even a thing.

      • Premium User Badge

        Ninja Dodo says:

        Man, the only whinging going on is you guys. Seriously, it was a constructive and thoughtful article, but I guess this is one of those gamers taking something aimed at other artists and developers as somehow directed at them and then proceeding to take it super personally.

        • Premium User Badge

          Ninja Dodo says:

          [edit: … kind of things.]

        • pepperfez says:

          I guess this is one of those gamers taking something aimed at other artists and developers as somehow directed at them and then proceeding to take it super personally.
          HE DEMANDED THAT ALL GAMERS BE BLINDED HOW CAN YOU SUPPORT THIS

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      “Some may even be so taken with the spectacle of added color and resolution that they might mistakenly think Bubsy has the better artwork.”
      i think he was refering to objective measurements like readability etc.
      I came away with a bit more positive reading from the article, pixelation is a problem because all the defense he can give is “but it’s intended to be like that” but if the audience doesn’t like it, it doesn’t like it. High quality pixel art is an artistic choice, the production of painterly art is maybe even less time consuming. So if the pixel art doesn’t have the intended effect why use it.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Heh, yeah, I’m honestly shocked people are lending this piece so much credence. It’s an interesting look at the mindset of a dedicated pixel artist in a changing market, but that’s all it is.

      To be honest, it reads like a Game Informer opinion piece from 2006, right down to the citation of IGN as a tastemaker. I can count on one hand the number of people I know who still use “pixelated” as a pejorative, and his examples are all kinds of problematic. Especially the SFIII/SFIV comparison, which is misguided at best and disingenuous at worst.

      The thing people forget about SFIII is that it was a flop on release and always a cult game at best. Sure, the FGC embraced it eventually, but they were slow to warm to it, and how quickly did they move on to SFIV once that came out? SFIII is a [i]great[/i] game, and utterly gorgeous, but it was a flop. There are many, many reasons for that, not all of them Capcom’s fault. But if I had to point to a fault in the game that contributed to its lukewarm reception, I’d have to say the much higher barrier to entry hurt it. Street Fighter II is deep, that much is true, but it’s also easy to pick up and play. SFIII is loaded with mechanics that are difficult to learn, one of which (the Parry system) is vital to success in high-level play. And that glorious, wonderful animation makes it even less accessible, because parrying requires frame-perfect timing. You don’t just have to learn the tells for every attack, you have to learn the exact frame of the attack to parry on, and you have to figure out if the attack is Low, Mid or High. More frames of animation means less time to parry. More detailed animation makes tells much harder to spot. And, let’s be honest, it contributed to the initial impression that the game was slower than SFII. It’s not, but the constantly shifting animation gives it an ungainly feeling that makes it seem slower to the untrained eye.

      SFII has far fewer frames of animation attached to each move, which makes each move feel immediate, predictable, and fast. The barrier of entry on an audiovisual level is lower, and that feeling of instant responsiveness is far less intimidating to newcomers than the constantly shifting pixels of SFIII. It looks chunky and goofy and bizarre in a way SFIII doesn’t, but the screen is easier to read at a glance.

      What’s vital to remember about Street Fighter IV is that it was meant as a return to the principles (and responsiveness) of SFII, but with a modern sheen. And, for my money, they succeeded. The unrealistic animations and weirdly chunky character models in SFIV are ugly in screenshots, it’s true, but the game clicks with newbies in a way SFIII didn’t, and the animation is a big part of why it works as well as it does.

      Yes, from a purely artistic perspective, SFIV is vastly inferior to SFIII – but that’s also true of SFII, which has pixel art and was and is immeasurably more popular than SFIII. My point is not that SFIII wasn’t subject to a “pixel tax.” My point is that a “pixel tax” is rarely the thing that damns a game in the eyes of players. It’s how well or poorly the aesthetic and functional aspects of the game complement each other. The “pixel tax” is ultimately irrelevant.

      And, hell, I think there’s a “pixel tax credit” if there’s anything. Games like Shovel Knight and Mercenary Kings have great pixel art, and while it would be reductive and outright untrue to say they sold on that basis alone, I doubt it hurt.

  7. Cederic says:

    Want No Man’s Sky.

    They should release the sandbox universe with modding hooks that let other people build games inside it. It’s too beautiful (mathematically, engineering and visually) to keep to just one game.

  8. valrus says:

    Auro looked quite bad on my device, with stretched and inconsistent pixels, and looked even worse in motion. Some of the spritework was good in isolation, but there wasn’t a lot of attention to detail in the tiles or UI, or attention to how everything would look together, and it showed. (Like the unusually flat and empty tiles kind of sets you up for a vector style, but then there are these badly-resized raster sprites on top of them.)

    If I didn’t know what was going wrong, I might very well say “This is bad because it’s pixelated”. But that doesn’t mean that the audience is too unsophisticated to know what they were trying to pull off, it’s that they just didn’t pull it off.

    • Rizlar says:

      I did wonder about that while reading the post. With the 90s pixel aesthetic it is referencing wouldn’t you be playing on a much larger screen? So on a phone screen you need a drastically reduced the pixel count to capture the same style, surely? They also say halfway down the post that the game was never intended to be retro, but also that ‘Auro was a love letter to the amazing stuff Nintendo, Capcom, Konami, and SNK produced in the 90s.’ Even if that’s just referring to the artwork, you can see how the style might be confusing and send the wrong message/not distinguish the game as contemporary and forward-looking.

      I thought on the whole it was a great post and their points are totally valid. I cannot shake the feeling that the pixel art world is perhaps a bit caught up in itself, making it difficult for the artists to properly contextualise their work in the present. Though I guess inappropriate application of a style is in no way restricted to pixel art.

    • DrollRemark says:

      I was going to write something similar to this above, when I compared it to Hoplite (which, while lower detail, absolutely nails its style and looks great), but coudn’t find the right words. You have though, well said.

  9. Farsi Murdle says:

    I am certain there are still isolated individuals who play alone, but I am equally certain they are not representative.

    Um based on what? A few thousand people going to geek gatherings? Presumably plenty of those people also play videogames alone at home sometimes too. And MMO games being social doesn’t counter the concerns about the ‘lone gamer’ either, since they’re still often played in physical isolation in dark rooms.

    • thedosbox says:

      You should probably read the actual article:

      they are active, welcoming and social – they meet online, through message boards, forums and sites like Reddit, and they meet in person through the large variety of casual and official events. They meet at huge gatherings like Blizzcon and Minecon; they meet at major conferences like Rezzed, Eurogamer Expo and Pax; they meet at LAN and eSports gaming tournaments. They come with groups of friends, they come with their partners and family members. They are super organised and engaged. They don’t just play games, they contribute.

      • Emeraude says:

        If that’s the argument though, then gaming has *never* been not social (LAN spawn parties, the crate-digging equivalent groups of people looking for import/rare stuff; the meetings at cons and arcades).

        The stereotype of the lone gamer has always been one from the outside of the game community looking in. If anything, what that article shows is how much and how many people that used to be outside are now in and have to deal with their own erroneous assumptions, re-writing the whole socius and its history in the process.

      • Farsi Murdle says:

        I read it, my point stands. The article’s just trying to replace the ‘lone gamer’ stereotype with a ‘social gamer’ stereotype, which is equally tenuous and like all stereotypes ignores all nuance.

  10. Nasarius says:

    There are dozens of others.

    Dozens! Meanwhile, nearly every AAA game (big budget, big marketing) is centered on violence.

    Zimbardo is an idiot, but the glorification of violence in games is something that deserves serious discussion. Not from a think-of-the-children perspective, but just, is this really what we want to be doing in games all the time?

    • ribby says:

      No one has a problem with action movies… Just sayin…

      Clearly it is what people want to be doing in games.

    • wcq says:

      Well, it’s not like you’re wrong, but violence in video games has been discussed more or less seriously for the last twenty-five years.

      At this point, I’m frankly surprised if someone finds an angle on it that hasn’t been written thousands of words about.

    • Distec says:

      What’s left to discuss? As noted in a post above, this isn’t exactly a subject that’s gone unexamined in the last few decades; data thus far is there’s nothing to really worry about. We’ve consumed violent media in general for ages (nearly all of it “glorifying”) and it would be hard to argue we are more violent than our predecessors one thousand, a hundred, or fifty years ago. There may always be exceptions to this somewhere in the world, but on a global average it seems we’re doing okay.

      Besides, I don’t like how there’s typically no distinguishing between the kinds of violence in most media. The violence of Age of Ultron is not the same as the violence of 300, which is also not the same as SAW. There are layers of differences between conquering a nation in Civilization, a deathmatch round in Quake, and a bone-crunching session of Mortal Kombat. Are we concerned about certain kinds of violence or just violence in general?

      If we’re just talking about satisfying preferences for non-violent games, I’d say this is a market that’s opening up very nicely if it hasn’t already. You just can’t honestly expect some game equivalent of Groundhog’s Day or FRIENDS yet.

  11. Ejia says:

    There is only one thing I want to know about No Man’s Sky: Can it be described in very broad strokes as a modern version of Noctis? If so, I’m in.

  12. James says:

    THere’s an interesting article from Kotaku on ‘crunch’ – the expectation that employees will work several hours a day overtime without pay toward miletones in a project:

    link to kotaku.co.uk

  13. TRS-80 says:

    Surprised nobody sent this in (I meant to, but forgot): For Two Years, This Kanye West Game Has Been Hiding a Disturbing Secret. It’s about a secret level in an unofficial game called Kanye Quest that is speculated to mean it’s actually a recruitment tool for the Ascension Cult.

  14. thedosbox says:

    Interesting, albeit somewhat depressing read on various aspects of the games industry as seen through the eyes of an ex-CoD developer:

    link to nodontdie.com

  15. KenTWOu says:

    The Boy Who Cried White Wolf: On Polygon’s The Witcher 3 Review

    Response to Polygon’s review of The Witcher 3 by Adrian Chmielarz (The Vanishing of Ethan Carter). Polygon’s reviewer Arthur Gies found racial, violence and sex issues in the game. Adrian Chmielarz explains why Polygon’s reaction is wrong and how it harms the industry.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      It really is a good read. Adrian is one smart guy.

      • Karrius says:

        Adrian is anything but. He’s a zealot GGer who clearly loves to get offended over nothing, This is a guy who has WILLINGLY SIDED with people who have supported violence, attempted murder, and constantly harass others.

        The fact that he goes on about people being “chronically offended” while getting absolutely cry-baby about a review that said nothing untrue is amazing. The dude has no self-awareness. He also outright lives about things said in his response – like saying the review called the developers misogynistic, which it never did.

        Some people are getting tired of all-white male power fantasies that feature women just to brutalize or sexualize them. If you honestly think pointing out a game that does that is “poisoning the industry” then you’ve got your head up your ass, especially if you’re the kind of guy who supports groups that make actual attempts to murder folks within the industry, like Adrian does.

        • DrollRemark says:

          I think it would be hilarious if Arthur Gies responded by playing the victim, as so many developers seem to think they are when criticised like this.

          “Oh, you’re trying to censor me! You’re trying to restrict what I’m allowed to say! This is cultural Marxism! Stop poisoning the well for game review writing! WHAT ABOUT MY FREE SPEECH?”

          • Karrius says:

            A quick check on twitter shows him crying that eeeeviL SJWs aren’t reviewing games how he wants them too, and also how they refuse to let any viewpoints in beyond their own. Because, you know, that makes sense.

            It also shows him arguing “how dare you say there needs to be people of color in a world based on slavic myths, you’re an SJW!” and “How dare you dare that it’s wrong to have no Chinese people in a Chinese-based universe, and how dare you say it’s wrong to whitewash Jewish characters into white nazis, you’re an SJW!”

            Dude has no facts, no logic, and no consistency except to adhere to bigotry.

        • PancakeWizard says:

          “. He’s a zealot GGer..[…]”

          Let me stop you there. I’m not interested in your pamphlets. I am fully aware of who he is, and I have no interested your ideological posturing. You should know that disregarding everything someone says for a reason like that says far more about you than them.

          • Karrius says:

            How dare I disregard a man who says that even talking about racial representation is “poisoning the industry”, when he self identifies with and defends people who performs racist harassment.

            How DARE I.

            Now that you’re done lecturing me and disregarding everything I had to say because of my “ideological posturing”, and have finished your lecture about how awful it is for me to disregard something someone has to say because of his ideological posturing, we can go back to reading the completely ideological free essay by a man who tries to blame “SJWs” and “feminists” for all of the ills.

          • blackmyron says:

            What about disregarding what someone says based upon what they say?

            The article was only “about’ a response to the review in the most superficial sense; what it actually consisted of was a long-winded diatribe about What’s Wrong With Those People.

            It would’ve been more effective if he had just stuck to the supposed main issue and alluded to his broad point as a secondary goal; but like most people that throw the phrase “Social Justice” around, they seem to be unable to get away from their own brand of it.

            But I was amused the unintended swipe at his own game.

          • Reefpirate says:

            What about disregarding what someone says based upon what they say?

            Whoa settle down there fella. We don’t do it like that any more.

          • Distec says:

            @Karrius

            1) Who is responsible for racial harassment and how did Adrian support them?
            2) Where did Adrian blame anybody for “all the ills” of the game industry? He even states that he thinks criticism like this is hurts feminism. Argue against that if you want, but it seems clear to me that he does not have an issue with feminism in principle.

            I feel like Adrian did get a little too involved with that essay; there wasn’t really a reason for him to bring up Anita Sarkeesian for instance and he clearly had sour grapes with the reviewer. But I see there’s also a nasty tendency to put words in his mouth and impugn his motives; I think your calling him a GG’er is not only evidence of that, but also shows how absolutely vacant that accusation is nowadays. If he wants to call out something in a review that he thinks is persistently obnoxious or lessens the review itself, whatever.

    • thedosbox says:

      A counterpoint:

      link to zenofdesign.com

      Look. Polygon attracts a more progressive audience. It’s an audience of the sort of people who love games but may actually be inclined not to buy a game if it has a lot of violence towards women. Reviews exist to help consumers decide whether or not to buy something. Letting them know that if you don’t like watching women being the repeated victims of violence – even if it is otherwise an excellent game- is not ‘poisoning the games industry’. It’s the fucking job of reviewing games for your magazine’s audience, so they can make an informed decision with their sixty bucks. Which, I want to stress, Polygon’s audience may not be full of Bro Gamers like Adrian, but is still large and growing.

      Also, and this is just a teensy bit relevant, RPG audiences tend to have a heavy female component. Do you think THEY might want to know beforehand what they’re getting into? I suspect they might.

      So yeah, not feeling much sympathy for Adrian here.

      • Jenks says:

        It’s a pretty safe bet that whatever side Daimon Schubert takes, the other side is the right one. I’ve gotten a lifetime’s worth of laughs just from his championing of SWTOR and F2P.

        • thedosbox says:

          It’s a pretty safe bet that whatever side Daimon Schubert takes, the other side is the right one

          He takes a pretty solid stand against goobergate….

          • Jenks says:

            I guess spewing bile looks like a solid stand when you’re invested in a stupid cause.

      • Wulfram says:

        I don’t agree with everything in the Gies review, but I do think it conveys potentially useful information.

        It’s silly to say it’s “poisoning the industry”. At worse it’s just wrong.

        • Emeraude says:

          Calling it poisonous is giving it way too much credit.

          What it is is symptomatic.

      • Nouser says:

        There is any reason why female audiences, unlike male ones, should be warned about sex and violence?

        • thedosbox says:

          I assume you’re referring to the paragraph that begins “Also, and this is just a teensy bit relevant,”? That should have been in the quote.

          His point is that some women might want to know whether a game contains violence against women before buying said game.

          • ribby says:

            Well that seems kinda patronizing

          • Rumpelstilskin says:

            As a male I perfectly fine with games that have violence against males, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Assuming that women are somehow different in that regard is appallingly sexist.

          • Jeroen D Stout says:

            Ah, yes, now, truly, do we see the real sexism.

            Jove wept.

          • Emeraude says:

            His point is that some women might want to know whether a game contains violence against women before buying said game.

            You do realize one possible reading with that sentence is that those women would be otherwise perfectly content with playing a game that applied the same level of violence to men only ?
            Which is a very disquieting proposition from where I stand.

          • thedosbox says:

            @Emeraude and the other “men don’t have a problem with this, therefore it’s sexist”:

            You do realize one possible reading with that sentence is that those women would be otherwise perfectly content with playing a game that applied the same level of violence to men only ?

            You do realize that not everyone has the same tastes and background? Someone who’s experienced sexual assault (whether personally or against someone in her circle) is not going to have the same attitude as someone who hasn’t.

          • pepperfez says:

            a game that applied the same level of violence to men only
            That game doesn’t exist in the mainstream, though. The violence under discussion is pretty exclusively sexualized violence; that is, violence against women as women. The equivalent concept for men isn’t a well established trope in Western pop culture. Maybe James Bond counts? But you can be sure that a review would make note of a game having, for instance, Casino Royale’s torture scene or its equivalent repeated several times.

          • Emeraude says:

            @thedosbox

            I was just trying to point out that was probably (hopefully) not what you were trying to say but it was definitely how it was going to be read. I know I had to stop and think about it.

            @pepperfez

            Asymmetric repartition. It generally goes:

            Women have intrinsic value – therefore violence against them is bad and used as justification/motivation. As a base currency, they are object to be manipulated first.
            Men have no intrinsic value. Violence against those of them that are not topping the domination hierarchy is presented as as meaningless as they are if they don’t achieve significant production output (see the storm trooper effect). Violence about those at the top though, is presented as meaningful inter-personal relationship.

            One thing I find interesting is that generally speaking, the body of society is female in representations, and a lot of representational violence against females is about violence projected back at society. With men presented as vector of change and women as vector of transmission (or as I like to put “men are prophets, women are mediums”).

        • Ejia says:

          I thought that was what ESRB and PEGI ratings were for.

          • PancakeWizard says:

            They are. Additionally, this whole ‘trigger/content warning’ argument is built on tumblr terminology, not actual psychology. It’s interesting to note that trigger warnings, for instance, don’t actually work like that. eg. a depiction of violence in fiction does not trigger a flashback to experienced real violence. Triggers can be literally anything – a colour, a garment, a smell…anything. Which is exactly why ‘trigger warnings’ are utterly useless. They can’t possibly work. It’s pandering to those that look for things to be outraged about.

          • April March says:

            The precise wording “trigger warning” may be more or less bunk, but do realize you’re arguing that we shouldn’t warn people that they might suffer a PTSD attack before showing them something relevant to their trauma. (Which, true, may be triggered by something, but we cannot expect or predict someone to be triggered by a yellow scarf; we can expect and predict that a rape survivor might be triggered by depictions of rape.) Plus, even if it doesn’t work, taking a second longer to start a game or whatever it is is no major problem.

          • PancakeWizard says:

            The point is depictions of rape, trauma are no more or less likely to trigger PTSD than anything else, and therefore you accomplish nothing by doing so.

            We now have a situation where ‘trigger’ is used to describe things that make one uncomfortable, or simply don’t care for. That’s not helping anyone, PTSD suffers least of all. Saying “Well it’s better than nothing” Assumes ‘nothing’ is a negative move. In this case it isn’t, as more harm than good can come of applying trigger warnings where they simply don’t belong or can be avoided regardless (Eg, you play a video game, something triggers you, you can take a break or stop playing). A reviewer/blogger saying ‘this game has TRIGGER WARNING… some sexual violence’ is absurd. You’re trigger warning someone for the words ‘sexual violence’ not for the depiction of sexual violence itself.

            Liana K did an in-depth article on the subject here:
            link to escapistmagazine.com

        • Chris D says:

          The difference is in the nature of that violence.

          Violence against men in videogames is usually( but not always) in the context of them being an enemy combatant and at least a nominally worthy opponent.

          Violence against women in videogames is more likely (but not always) to have them in the role of innocent bystander and often the point of the violence in question is to demonstrate why we’re justified in wanting to kill the villain.

          As such violence against women is (usually) closer in nature to abuse than conflict. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for anyone who may have been subjected to abuse to expect to at least be given a warning before being reminded of that.

      • Mman says:

        There’s also this counterpoint: link to simplikation.com

        Though I guess only one is needed because it not like it takes much to call out paragraphs of outrage over a review that’s literally two points off a perfect score and mostly full of praise, and by someone well known for bringing these things up in their reviews (so it’s not like this is even something new or surprising)

      • KenTWOu says:

        Do you think THEY might want to know beforehand what they’re getting into?

        A counterpoint by Damion was so weak, so I don’t understand why you mentioned it. He literally distorted everything Adrian said, implied that the review score was the issue and completely ignored racial part. So it will be much better if you asked the question without mentioning him at all.

        Yeah, they want to know. But the thing is Polygon review isn’t about the answer to that question and it won’t help them to form an informed opinion. Instead of saying, you know, the game is based on the Slavic mythology, so don’t expect to find non-white races here, it’s saying: 70+ hours… I don’t recall a single non-white humanoid anywhere… And we’re talking about the Witcher. I admit, I didn’t play the 3rd game (and I won’t play it in the near future because of relatively high system requirements), but previous instalments did a fantastic job representing racial issues using conflicts between different population groups inside the game: humans, elves and dwarves. It’s safe to assume the 3rd game did exactly the same. So what was the point to mention that he couldn’t find non-white humanoids there?

        Instead of just saying the game was made by European developers in a grim dark fantasy setting, so expect to find violence including violence against women, also partial and frontal nudity will probably be there, because they don’t care about nudity overseas. It’s HBO level, but comical and stuff. It’s also saying the game world is oppressively misogynist. And again, we’re talking about the Witcher. Sorceresses are pretty important there. Apparently that and a number of powerful women with complicated motivations and goals were not enough to justify everything else. So where is the line?

        • Distec says:

          You touch on something that’s worth expressing separately: That portion of Gies’ review does not read like an advisory to assist or inform the reader. It is pretty clearly judging the game and implicating the developers as at fault. The mild absurdity of hunting for non-white NPCs to prove a point nicely illustrates that.

    • Karrius says:

      So dev who supports racist, sexist, transphobic, and homophobic harassment against devs, journalists, and otherwise completely unrelated people attacks someone for pointing out a game is mired down in pointless bigotry that conveys no real message.

      Why do we care what this guy has to say, again, unless we’re just supposed to be pointing and laughing at him?

      • ribby says:

        Let’s completely restate what the guy was saying to make it look ridiculous and something that no one in their right mind would agree with

        • ribby says:

          Also this continuous insistence that everyone (or even most of those) supporting GG is sexist, homophobic, racist and harasses people is completely ridiculous and discredits you because one only has to look to see that that’s not true.

          • Karrius says:

            I don’t see a difference between supporting those who harass and actual harassment. And when the big GG names who get fanart made of them and get linked around constantly do stuff like write for websites that say rape should be legal, make racist harassment of others, say feminists only say the things they do because they want to be raped, or share revenge porn, you don’t get to claim you’re a good person and still be a part of GG. And ALL of those people mentioned are ones that have fanart, nicknames, are widely praised and highly spread, and are the ones people are constantly being told to “debate” because they’re “factual”. You can’t be a part of a movement that supports people like those as idea-leaders and not be a bigot.

          • Jenks says:

            How is bananaland this time of year, karrius?

          • ribby says:

            “all of these people mentioned”

            Except you have not actually mentioned anyone. You’ve alluded to people who wrote things on websites that also had bad things written on them. Apparently…

          • Karrius says:

            Sure, PM me on the forums asking for details, and I’ll be happy to provide names – but I’m not going to put names here and invite google searches to bring on the harassing hoards. I will be happy to back up everything I say, because what I say is correct. Because when some of the biggest GGer names literally pin revenge porn to the top of their tweet feeds, and then you whine about how it’s wrong to call GGers sexist, I’m not going to give you too much benefit of the doubt – but I WILL give you a chance to inquire and see that I’m being 100% truthful. After all now, if what I’m saying is true, you wouldn’t want to be defending that, right?

          • ribby says:

            Fair enough- I’ll contact you on the forums then- or you can contact me? (Never actually used the RPS forums before)

      • Distec says:

        That’s a lot of adjectives, but I think you can squeeze in a few more before your credibility bottoms out entirely.

      • Philomelle says:

        Eh, I wouldn’t call him all those things. In fact, I struggle to call him a Gamergater.

        The problem with Adrian is that he likes to soapbox for the nobler bits of whatever cause runs by him at the time, often in a self-contradictory fashion. The last time I’ve read him on the Astronauts blog, he made some very good points about Dying Light and how its writers, in an effort to create a “strong independent womanz character,” turned Jade into a lifeless piece of cardboard. She is strong and agile and level-headed and all the cool-looking words, but she has no actual personality traits or flaws. His point back then was that developers shouldn’t stop on simply using positive-sounding tropes, but constantly push themselves to create believable and interesting characters.

        …all of which makes this article very awkward, because now he’s arguing that it’s A-OK for the developers to push out a game that gets lazy about character design and portrayal of women, because freedom of expression and everything. And yes, their handling of their game is laziness first. They could spend a little extra time on checking whether their gender portrayal is evenly balanced, whether the tone surrounding certain issues clearly portrays certain social stances as wrong, and they certainly could spend a little extra time on creating some extra NPC models with more varied appearances and skin colors, much like Disney did with Frozen. They simply got lazy about doing all that.

        So which one is it, Adrian? Are developers supposed to push themselves ever onwards when it comes to handling sensitive issues or are they allowed to be lazy under the clause of freedom of expression? Which one is it?!

        tl;dr Adrian should stop going full freshman and actually figure out what he’s arguing for and against. And maybe he should stop climbing his soapbox in a fit of butthurt over something some journalist dude said last year on Twitter, that’s just embarrassing.

        • RobF says:

          He’s been using the hashtag since about two weeks in, writes these things and directs them at the same crowd. I think that’s enough to justify calling him that, somehow.

          But beyond that, that’s the most facile (if accurate) description of him and his words considering what he writes in the main is just outright fucking stupid and pig ignorant. All calling him that does is amplify the fact that he’s content to wallow in shit. But! Considering you have to wade through some breathlessly wordy ignorance and conspiracy theorising to get to any poInts and those points can then just be boiled down to “this mythical construct of a feminist army are bad mmmk” in the main rather than anything vaguely intellectually stimulating, I guess it’s just a heads up that he’s doing it again rather than having to endure the tediousness of having to refute stupid conspiratorial fantasy constructs from people who think this mysterious other is coming to take their games away.

          But the term is accurate, whether what he says is smart or stupid, mind. Just so happens that like a what of gators believe and write about, it’s all stuff built on shaky foundations and entirely exhausting to have to refute the same stuff over ad infinitum. And boring. And I worry that anyone could take such openly shaky stuff as what he rights as smart given it’s the opposite, just done with lots of words.

          • ribby says:

            his mythical construct of a GG army are bad mmmk” in the main rather than anything vaguely intellectually stimulating,

            Still works- seems to me that both sides basically want everything to be nice- they just have very different views on how to achieve that and fairly different views on what that means. And they both assume that the other side is full of evil demons

    • Geebs says:

      I don’t think anything could top Polygon’s hand-wringing over Shadows of Mordor.

      • Geebs says:

        Speaking of Polygon, and trying to keep the evil in one place, Crecente’s article boils down to “man underestimates the bandwidth of a van full of DVDs while overestimating the freemium model”.

        I get that what he means by “wasteful” is slightly different, but there’s something to be said for a box made out of fairly old, cheap tech that’ll last for several years, over a chunk of expensive rare materials which will be thrown away on a yearly basis.

    • Baffle Mint says:

      I’m really getting tired of the constant and total prickliness all over the internet these days.

      I kind of lost Chmielarz’s point when he said this:

      The quote can be understood in two ways. One, the fictional world itself is misogynist. Two, the creators are misogynists. Most likely, considering the tone and phrases used in the review, both are true.

      The tone of a review that calls the game “a great game though it isn’t a classic”.

      Yeah, the part where he said the game was ” a stunningly confident, competent shot across the bow of the open world genre, folding in an incredibly strong narrative and a good sense of consequence to the decisions that present themselves throughout, presenting a fun bit of combat creativity into a genre that desperately needs it.” really brought out Gies burning scorn for the game and the people who made it.

      To me there are real problems with Gies review, and with Chmielarz’s response, which I don’t have space to get into.

      What I am getting intensely, massively tired of is the normalization of the idea that people can only disagree with us if they hate us, or at the least, if they hate everything we stand for, an idea which seems to be equally popular on all sides these days. Gies gives a game a good review but calls out certain issues in a clumsy way? He must think the people who made the Witcher 3 are misogynists! Chmielarz calls out Gies in an often clumsy fashion? He must hate women and want them to be harassed!

      It’s definitely not possible that everybody involved could be arguing in good faith! That would be ridiculous!

      • pepperfez says:

        Truly, truly, the real truth of the matter must, axiomatically, lie somewhere in between.

        • Baffle Mint says:

          I don’t know what this means. I don’t recall proposing an axiom or saying anything about what’s true or not. I thought we were talking about criticism, which is subjective.

    • kament says:

      (looking over the thread): Well done!

      And thanks for the link. I’m not sure I agree with the points he makes, though. Especially that, say, misogyny is something that needs to be discussed, like, maybe there’s something to it after all? Maybe someone who beats his wife so badly that she miscarries is right, she had it coming? Let’s roleplay it, it’s an RPG!

      Well, seems to me Arthur roleplayed it and started a discussion right there in his review, and Adrian failed to recognise the thing he allegedly wanted, because Arthur was doing it wrong. Honestly, what the fuck.

  16. PancakeWizard says:

    I’m surprised to so many are taking then pixel art article as a personal slight. I actually found it quite interesting and heartfelt. Surely many of us know what it’s like to have knowledge and skill of something others don’t and then listen to people blurt out opinions on it as ‘common knowledge’ that’s not only wrong, but promotes negative perception? Apologies in advance if you’re all on the dole or still at school.

    • Wedge says:

      I just find it funny because the entirety of the reason the dude is having a hissyfit is because he’s making games for mobile. That’s pretty much the last place to expect the majority of your audience to have an understanding and appreciation for a classic artform.

  17. El Goose says:

    Yay, my favourite album by my favourite musician made it onto the Sunday Papers, I am somewhat satisfied!

  18. aliasi says:

    The TSR bit reminds me of the famous Steve Jackson Games raid by the Secret Service back when that involved GURPS Cyberpunk.

  19. ffordesoon says:

    I continue to be amazed by the fact that every single interview with Philip Zimbardo doesn’t start with “Aren’t you the guy who not only started the Stanford Prison Experiment, but actively participated in the humiliation and punishment of fake ‘prisoners’ until Stanford shut the experiment down? Who are you to sit in judgment of anyone’s life choices?”

    • pepperfez says:

      He’s someone whose magnum opus is taught to high school students as an accurate insight into human nature, so the majority of those students who never study any more psychology continue to think he’s a genius.

      • ffordesoon says:

        interesting point. I don’t necessarily think the experiment was an inaccurate portrayal of human nature – unearned power over others combined with an absence of culpability does have a way of corrupting people. But whether or not the experiment proved anything real about humanity, Zimbardo still betrayed the trust of his participants and severely compromised the ethical integrity of the experiment, and to no lasting detriment. That his new theories are being recieved so uncritically by the mainstream press genuinely upsets me.

  20. April March says:

    I was going to post this last week, but there was a blackout :(
    Amy Dentata made very interesting video about consumerism, and the curious similarities between RPS Game Of The Year Nominee, Secret Habitat, and RPS Has Never Even Mentioned This What The Hell, Mall Quest. I thought it was noice. link to youtube.com