The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for taking a breather, aren’t they? A deep, cleansing breath before it all starts again. Tomorrow. Quick, let’s read about some games.

Keza McDonald, editor of Kotaku UK, is going on maternity leave for around a year. The looming departure (and arrival) has put her in a reflective mood and she’s written about why she plays games.

My mother, of all the older people who have ever been sceptical about my love of video games, is the one that I have been most determined to win over. She had her reservations when I moved away from home at sixteen to work on a games magazine, but she says that it was when she was clearing out the cupboards in my room – stuffed to bursting with the memorabilia of my Nintendo childhood, torn-out magazine pages, fan art sketches, notebooks full of ideas – that she realised that what I was doing was something I’d always wanted to do, and resolved to support me in it. She remained unconvinced by the games themselves, however, and every few years I have sat her down in front of something that I hoped she might enjoy – something that, by extension, might help to change her mind.

Gamasutra’s Lena LeRay took a look at the indie game development scene in Saudi Arabia, which faces many challenges.

The backing of the government and the university were instrumental in creating a safe space for females to participate. “We have girls here who win international arts and animation competitions… and yet they remain nameless and faceless for fear of breaking society norms,” Mukhttar says. “They risk family backlash, and society calling them out. Now, as someone who organizes events, and who sees the huge potential and remarkable skills girls have, I have the difficult challenge of reaching out to them and getting them to participate.

Almost a month old but new to me, Simon Parkin at Eurogamer wrote about Japan’s “once bountiful vintage game stores“, which have been stripped of stock, closed down or forced (or encouraged) to raise prices.

The influx of foreigners has had more than a diversifying effect on Tokyo’s vintage game stores. Last year, Wired’s Chris Kohler posted a photograph onto social media showing the shelf where Super Potato’s PC Engine games once lived. It looked like the scene of a recent looting; only a clattering of discs remained. “Akihabara is being scoured clean,” he wrote. A year later, I popped my head inside to find that the shelves have been restocked, but the prices have risen precipitously, presumably to ensure there’s still something around to sell to the waves of cooing customers. Throughout Tokyo, the cost of sought-after vintage games has risen to match those found on eBay, the place where, for years, savvy Westerners would sell the games they found in Japan with a fat mark-up.

At GamesIndustry.biz, Dan Pearson spoke to former BioWare writer and Beamdog creative director David Gaider about diversity in games, as both an important and often thankless part of of game development.

“Suddenly whatever flaws the game itself had paled in comparison to the idea that we were shoving the gay down players’ throats, or not paying enough attention to our ‘real’ audience. That line of commentary continued all the way through to Dragon Age Inquisition. In that game we had eight available romances, including bisexual and relationships. Like Mass Effect, we had some relationships which were only available to same sex player characters. Note that I say player characters, not players. From the telemetry we have, it’s very unlikely that only gay players played these storylines. Either it wasn’t just gay players engaging in those relationships, or we have a lot more gay players than we realised.

At Kotaku, Gita Jackson wrote about the weird things Sims players do to get the perfect baby. I love the stuff players end up caring about and the lengths they’ll go to min-max everything, as well as the ways in which The Sims has basically turned out to be even more like Crusader Kings.

While the jury’s out on potato chips, fancy beds, and hot tubs, the cheesecake thing is, against all odds, 100% true. The Open For Business expansion added cheesecake, with the official game guide noting that it would increase the chances of twins. What actually ended up in the game was that eating cheesecake would guarantee twins if eaten after conception. Modder TwoJeffs made a patch that fixed the bug, confirming the cheesecake thing’s existence in the process.

Waypoint, the new iteration of Vice Gaming, has proper launched now. I liked this article by Kate Gray about why and how she’s making her first videogame.

I probably wouldn’t be learning Unity just yet if it wasn’t for Code Liberation​ – an incredible non-profit organisation that teaches women, non-binary, femme and girl-identifying people how to code. It’s an initiative driven by the founder, Phoenix Perry​, a lecturer and game developer who has taught hundreds of women already, mostly in New York, and is now bringing the foundation to the UK. They opened applications recently, and tens of people applied. That list was eventually whittled down to just 18 – and I was amongst the lucky ones.

Music this week is… nothing. Take this podcast instead.

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37 Comments

  1. Massenstein says:

    Oh if every day was sunday. It is just the best thing to have freshly baked buns, fresh coffee and the weekly interesting articles to read.

    • 9of9 says:

      Would be fun, skipping through time and stepping only into the Sundays. You’d age at only one seventh the speed everyone else would and while seeing only the weekly article compilations you’d also get to see a lot more of human history!

      At least, until some Silicon Valley despot comes along in 2133 and abolishes weekdays in favour of an eight-day week and 32-day month system, so that everything can be power-of-two and you suddenly stop existing.

      • iucounu says:

        There’s an SF story about exactly this by Philip Jose Farmer, ‘The Sliced-Crosswise Only-On-Tuesday World’, in which due to overpopulation everyone is put into stasis for six days a week and only actually ‘lives’ on their allocated day.

        • Catterbatter says:

          Wouldn’t that also extend their lives by a factor of seven and exacerbate the overpopulation problem? Or, at best, have no effect on it? See, I could just read the story, but I can’t read.

          Also: sometimes SF titles take my breath away. Or would, if I could read them.

          • syndrome says:

            True that, but they use up much less space while active, seven times less space.

            They also breathe, drink, and produce (garbage but also everything else) at this ratio, which probably helps them to have an illusion of a “normal” human life.

            Think of time-shared apartments, but where you actually cannot exists outside of one. It is much better to have 2 rooms for yourself, but only on Tuesdays, than to share them every day with 6 others.

        • tciecka says:

          And here’s a link to the story: link to lexal.net

  2. invitro says:

    “maternity leave for around a year” — a year, eh. Wow, I screwed up by not being born a girl. I missed out on all of this wonderful identity politics, too. And it’d be easy to be a game developer… or just make a living by writing about them. Sigh.

    • Von Uber says:

      Obvious troll is obvious.

    • Beva says:

      Such a shame men are forbidden by law to go on paternity leave. But jokes aside, such a shame you are allowed to use a computer and write just anything without thinking, and yet there are so many people in the world suffering who deserve your privilege much more than you do. Waste of air, sub-human scum.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        While I certainly agree with the sentiment to a point, typing while furious does little to help your case. Just a friendly reminder.

        As the above pointed out, obvious troll indeed is obvious.

      • invitro says:

        I bet if you try, you can find a political party that will support your goal of ending freedom of speech and computer use! And give my blessed privilege to the noble savages. It’ll be a brave new world (well not so new to anyone who was alive in the Soviet era)!

        • Beva says:

          And I bet if you try to engage your brain for just a second, you’d realize how moronic your idiotic statement was even in this dullest of ages. Hint: Nobody is stoping you going on paternity leave, hint 2: taking care of children is soul crushing as is, it’s a 24 hour a day job, especially if you are unlucky enough to have likes of you as a “partner”.

          I’d rather live under Stalin then have people of your ilk setting the agenda.

          • invitro says:

            If you think having children is “soul crushing”, perhaps you’d better leave the reproductive duties to people who’d make decent mothers and fathers. Better yet, check out North Korea — there’s plenty of Stalinesque living going on there!

      • Emeraude says:

        To be fair, paternity leaves are not granted everywhere, and there *still* is social stigma attached in many places that grant them.

    • gwop_the_derailer says:

      I know, right? If women want to be treated as equals, they should stop making babies.

      • Emeraude says:

        That’s an interesting one really, in this day and age, provided communities managed to pull great enough numbers and movement cohesion, could complete refusal to reproduction as a politicized mean of protestation get results?

        And how desperate people would need to get for it to happen with any significant impact?

    • lylebot says:

      Right, because taking care of a newborn full-time for a year is like a year-long vacation!

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      You sound like a genuinely miserable person. I honestly hope you get that sorted out, for your sake and that of those around you. The first step is usually to stop blaming others for your own mistakes. And that usually comes from forgiving yourself for same. (But in your case you might start with keeping your opinions on child-rearing to yourself, when you’ve obviously zero experience and zero inclination to even think about it.)

      • invitro says:

        At which step do I get to demand my safe space, and blame all my problems on other peeps’ microaggressions?

        • TheParthenon says:

          Yawn. You get to do that at the point that you stop being so boring and get more creative in your trolling. Von Uber had it exactly right: too obvious, my dude.

    • Graham Smith says:

      Invitro has been banned.

      Probably best to just ignore the obvious trolls, y’all.

    • Sandepande says:

      Have a child first and then we’ll talk.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Grizzly says:

    On the forum, history buff Notenome reviews the Civilizations of Civilization.

    Qin Shi Huang is … interesting. China has such a long recorded history that the depth and breadth of potential leaders dwarfs most every other civ. That said Qin Shi Huang is an odd choice because he is not actually very representative of most Chinese emperors. Whilst he successfully unified China and defeated the other warring states, the Qins were pretty much a one generation dynasty, quickly collapsing after Qin Shin Huang’s death. Their anti-humanist ideology, known in the West as Legalism, was dissonant with the much of came before and after and the Qin’s burning of books and killing of scholars is not behavior typically associated with Chinese emperors (at least not as an ideal). In other words, while Qin Shi Huang achieved some spectacular success in life, his successes were very short lived, which is perhaps more representative of European civs (Bismarck, Alexander, Napoleon etc) than Asian ones.

    • froz says:

      The link is not working (for me). Sounds interesting though.

      • Premium User Badge

        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        I noticed this glitch happening once before earlier in the week when Claudia posted a link in the comments of her article. I assumed it was because of the strain to that comment section. Now it is obvious I was wrong and it can only be because RPS hates free speech so much.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Jekadu says:

    The article on David Gaider is actually a synopsis of a speech at Sweden Game Conference. I wonder where the follow-up interview promised at the end went.

    It was a good presentation, and the panel after that was also nice, although I was a bit amused at how neurodiversity was the only type of diversity nobody brought up. Not gonna fault the panelists too much for that; inclusiveness is a thankless enough task as it is.

    Afterwards I spoke a bit to David Gaider about neurodiversity in general and being on the spectrum in particular. My own opinion is that a well-researched character will always be more interesting than a character with a vaguely-defined, made-up disorder as reality is often stranger than fiction, among other reasons. Mr. Gaider mentioned that Cole in Dragon Age: Inquisition was written with autistic mannerisms in mind without making anything explicit, but I had to tell him that I couldn’t give him any useful feedback on how successful he was because Cole’s status as a character imported from a novel made me feel alienated to him.

  5. Emeraude says:

    My own opinion is that a well-researched character will always be more interesting than a character with a vaguely-defined, made-up disorder as reality is often stranger than fiction

    One caveat to that, which I think is something anyone involved in the making of fiction has to deal with at one point or another, is that reality is so much stranger than fiction that, unless you’re outright telling your intended audience that some elements are directly taken from reality (and giving proof), they will flat out refuse to believe them and dismiss them as bad creations.

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