The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for… baking donuts? Yeah, let’s go with that. I’d like to learn how to bake donuts. I will do a bad job of this but the great thing about baking is that even failures are normally delicious. Much like games writing? Does that segue work?

Let’s start with: Katherine Cross wrote a requiem for Mass Effect: Andromeda. It’s a sympathetic article, and a fair encapsulation of the game’s flaws and the shitshow that followed its release.

In the midst of all of this, what should’ve been a joyous launch day, the culmination of years of work, occurred under a cloud. The game was tarnished and tainted in a way it wouldn’t recover from. It didn’t help that, in addition to strangely inhuman animations, the game was frontloaded with poorly written, poorly delivered dialogue. The ten-hour preview given to the public was where the bulk of the game’s weakest material was and it hardly made for a good first impression.

John Adkins at Mic.com wrote about Old Man Murray this past week, assigning the website and its now-famed creators blame for “the modern culture of abuse” that infests videogames and the internet at large. There is a lot to pick at in this article, and I disagree with a lot of it. In short: internet culture has been gross for a long time and OMM, while influential, is a product of that culture and not some Typhoid Mary of being a dick. The article oversimplifies a lot to create a cleaner chain of cause-and-effect; it skips a bunch of historical context; it makes no mention of the most influential and beloved OMM articles, which were (mostly) harmless things like time-to-crate; and we are all complicit in the creation of the present culture. But, but: lots of what OMM did write was gross, culture and what is permissible does change, and there’s nothing wrong with criticising “sacred cows” or trying to draw a line in the sand between our past, present and desired future.

Through OMM and its notorious offshoot shock site Portal of Evil (which Faliszek managed until 2011, and which can be seen as the template for later ridicule boards like /r/fatpeoplehate), the pair pioneered internet shock-jockery, reveling in and spreading the most disgusting, heinous content possible. Under the guise of irony, they built an online culture that would later, without any involvement from them, produce the Raymond comic at SomethingAwful — an echo of OMM’s own “satirical” abuse of Stevie Case and others.

But you don’t want to talk about that, do you? No, you want to discuss this article by Lewis Gordon for Heterotopias about landscape, ghosts and the Signal from Tolva. Disclosure: Tolva is made by chum and former boss and RPS founder Jim Rossignol. I saw this article when Jim retweeted Robert Macfarlane tweeting about it, which made me impossibly jealous, because Macfarlane’s writing is superb and you should all read Landmarks.

The landscape of Britain is full of ghosts. They don’t take the form of spectral shimmers or occult presences. Rather, they’re manifested in the feel or mood of places, which emanate a particular sensation of eeriness, an ache of loss. These ghosts in their eerie form are everywhere, from the architecture of the distant past to ultra modern edifices, in places whose original function has since ceased but is still keenly felt. Think of the neolithic burial mound, Bryn Celli Ddu, on Anglesey in Wales. It’s a seemingly innocuous mound covered with mottled grass, its entrance leading to a hollow core. But catch it during the summer solstice and a beam of light will flood through its passageway, illuminating the back chamber. Suddenly, we are close to the lives of those who used it, if only for a moment.

Dunkey, who makes YouTube videos about games, this past week made a YouTube video about game critics. It has generated a lot of discussion, because there’s nothing game critics like talking about more than game critics and the work of game critics. I like a lot of Dunkey’s work but I disagree with most of this video, which criticises (among other things) big sites like IGN and Gamespot for expressing different opinions on games depending on which staff member at the site is talking at any given moment. Leading to situations where one IGN person says “Sonic sucks” and another person says “Sonic is great” and so on. Obviously I think writers expressing their individual opinions is a good thing (and there’s a reason why I always mention the author’s name alongside the links in Sunday Papers). There’s also a bunch of other stuff in there about game scores and whether you need to complete games before reviewing them and so on, all of which is the exact same argument people have been having for, oh, about 25 years now.

But you don’t want to talk about that. You want to talk about Joel Couture’s article at Gamasutra about how the developers of Dead Cells have designed its 50 weapons so that each feels distinctive. This one covers a lot of detail.

“The references for the feedback in Dead Cells are all fighting games, like Street Fighter 4, BlazBlue or Mark of the Wolves,” says Sebastien Bernard. “We use a lot of particles, stop frames, slow downs and other techniques taken from the genre. For example, the critical hits freeze the game for one frame, followed by a slow down of a few tenths of a second, a nice blood spray and a specific impact sound feedback. It’s the sum of all these things that create that feeling of weight when you introduce a big old sword to a zombie’s skull.”

Or maybe you want to talk about Joel Couture’s article at IndieGames.com about James Earl Cox’s 100 games in 5 Years project, which was recently completed.

The end of Cox’s journey was an emotional one, which became clear upon being asked how he felt now that he had completed it. “Relief! Dread. Satisfaction. Emptiness. Excitement. The challenge became a background element of my life as the years went on, a part of my identity. So finally making the 100th game brewed up a cocktail of emotions. I may have shed a few tears when I uploaded the final game!”

I do not know what to make of this Polygon article by Ben Kuchera, which tells an old personal story of how his girlfriend left him, his (huge) game collection was stolen, and how he eventually healed and learned to let go years later. If you read any of it, read the first two paragraphs and then read the final paragraph and tell me I’m not crazy.

I was never not collecting video games. When I was younger, it was just a matter of buying video games, and it never occurred to me to sell any or to trade them in. As I got a bit older, I liked the way they looked on my shelves. By the time I was in college, I was actively looking for the rare stuff, while using my discount and connections from my job as a video game store manager to get stuff for much cheaper than the going price online.

But you don’t really want to talk about that. You want to talk about the latest Cool Ghosts video, in which Matt Lees expounds on the beauty and focus in Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s design. I’ve played a lot of Zelda, read a lot about Zelda, and watched a lot about Zelda, but Matt is a cut above at this stuff now. Writing, editing, presenting, gags; this is shit hot.

Music this week is Bjork and the remix of I Miss You. The Dobie Rub Part One-Sunshine Mix, apparently.

83 Comments

  1. fuggles says:

    The first mass effect advertisement that I saw had manshep and a krogan standing next to the mako, staring up at the stars. Above them were a dozen SOS calls, far more than could be answered – it was clear you were space police, you could not save everyone and tough choices would be made.

    I want that game.

    • kament says:

      So do I. Sadly it really is possible there won’t be any Mass Effect game at all anymore, thanks to the Internet hate mobs. So it goes.

      • napoleonic says:

        Or alternatively, thanks to the devs’ failure to make a game that consumers liked enough.

        One of the worst things about modern culture is that elites blame ordinary people who have finally got a voice for themselves on the internet, rather than considering that maybe the buck should stop with themselves.

      • Lacero says:

        There’s some truth to Internet hate mobs being to blame. And I wouldn’t want to ignore the effect of the alt right signal boosting any takedown of biowares very liberal stories.

        But, I think at core this is a story of EA giving a franchise to a cheaper studio and asking them to do more, and failing, and the franchise dying as a result.

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        MajorLag says:

        Place the blame where it lies: with the company that made and then released a subpar game, then decided not to make any more because it wasn’t profitable enough.

        Sega has been making crappy Sonic games for over a decade and still keeps making Sonic games. If Sonic 2006 can’t kill a franchise then there’s no reason Andromeda should be able to either.

        • Shuck says:

          A Sonic game is going to cost almost nothing to develop in comparison to a Mass Effect game, though. That makes a huge difference in how a game gets treated. When you can make a healthy profit selling maybe half-a-million games (and you can consistently do so with a series that has name recognition), it’s a totally different proposition than a game that if it doesn’t hit a lofty sales target (in the millions of copies), it’ll result in serious financial losses that, worst case scenario, could add up to almost 100 million dollars (in between development and marketing). There’s a lot more caution involved in the second case, and they’re going to drop it the minute the game either fails to sell sufficient copies or it looks like the next game in the series might fail to do so. This is the problem with AAA development, and why the number of AAA studios (and franchises) has steadily declined over time as budgets rose.

          • malkav11 says:

            Big corporations like EA have higher expectations, too. A game just breaking even or turning a mild profit isn’t really worth it to them. They want big numbers.

          • Shuck says:

            Well, it’s true that they’re not interested in the kind of revenue that a moderately successful indie game might bring, but when talking about making games that cost upwards of 80 million dollars, they have to bring in a certain amount to make it worthwhile – if it’s profitable, but the profits are too low, the whole endeavor stops being financially feasible; the profits have to be proportional to the risks they take.

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          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          Sonic also has the benefit of being a longer running franchise and being cross-media. The comics, cartoons and toys are just as much a part of Sonic’s success as the games.

        • kament says:

          Weird. I posted a reply hours ago, and there’s no sign of it anywhere on the page.

          All right. Wot I said was more or less this. I don’t think it’s so much about profit as it’s about bad rep. And I do think that reaction to the game was, to put it mildly, extremely out of proportion. It’s not the first time people go apeshit about a Mass Effect game, too, so… yeah.

      • welverin says:

        There will be another one, it just might be a while. Of course it probably would have been three or more years regardless.

        Want some examples of why you should be confident it will happen eventually, here: Dragon Age 2 did kill that series despite all the hate it ended up getting (similar critical reception as well), Mirror’s Edge got a sequel despite failing financially.

  2. Ghostwise says:

    Cross’ ME:A column was nice (though of course most comments are awful).

    And yeah, the feeling of dismay that Bioware-of-2017 had seemingly faceplanted on the sequel to my favourite games ever was so much worse by the subsequent reactions among the public.

    • Daymare says:

      Weird, I read all the comments I could find below the article (about 20?) and not one was awful.

      Did you just assume they would be? Do any not load on mobile, or did they just get deleted by moderators?

  3. rustybroomhandle says:

    I never read much of OMM but it does provide a good example of something I dislike about internet culture.

    That “adventure games committed suicide” article. It singles out a bad element in a game that had some really good stuff in it and then draws a wrong conclusion about an entire genre based on it.

    The smugness of the article is not my peeve though. It is that the article became a handy page to link for people who want to shit over something they dislike, but can’t be bothered to apply any critical thinking of their own.

    This is what we’re becoming. We quote and memify phrases and ideas that sound clever but we don’t always properly apply critical thinking. Beyond that we flock to groups united in hating something, rather than the positive opposite of that.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      That’s really just the entire history of human culture in microcosm. At least we’re not killing each other over it.

    • Jannissary says:

      What we’re becoming? That’s what we’ve been! I’m quite old enough to remember life before the internet, and I’m here to tell you that it’s the same types of people making the same kinds of noise as always. The only difference is that now, with the internet, you get to see the whole mess play out in front of you.

      • Archonsod says:

        One of the things that kind of amused me about the article is how it tries to claim that it’s all the result of violent shooters like Doom and Call of Duty, and things were so much better when people played thoughtful genres like adventure games.
        I remember similar arguments raging in the schoolyards of the eighties between those who preferred the more thoughtful games (like RPG’s, strategy and adventure games) versus those who preferred the more action oriented ones (2D shooters, platformers et al), complete with the former attempting to claim intellectual and cultural superiority over the latter.
        Maybe for his next article he could do a feature on how piracy is killing the games industry, that’s the other popular argument I remember from those days.

      • bob22 says:

        It’s pretty different tho.

        Because that nasty bloke you work with now has a community that reinforces his ideas.

        I mean you can’t look at Trump and suggest nothing has changed. That whole situation would have been impossible any time before a handful of years ago.

  4. Wulfram says:

    As someone who is more or less part of Bioware/Mass Effect “fandom” I don’t agree with the notion put forward in the last part of the article that the backlash against Andromeda came from a fervent fandom turned toxic.

    Not that the idea is inherently unreasonable – it fits well enough with the reaction to ME3 and DA2 – but its not how it seemed this time round to me. The fandom was mostly still positive or trying to be positive while the wider internet gaming community was already preparing to burn the game in effigy.

    Indeed the negativity surrounding MEA in the wider gaming community was visible before there was really anything to go on. The actual state of the game was important – DAI faced similar pre-release hostility and overcame it – but there was a section of vociferous people who were very much looking for an excuse to let loose on the game.

    In the end the fandom was disappointed by MEA, but it wasn’t really angry pitchforks stuff. More sadness and depression.

  5. Ghostwise says:

    The Adkins article on OMM is indeed a bit… simplified. But on the other hand, we shouldn’t underestimate the important of authority figures.

    If celebrated voices widely seen as telling-it-like-it-is and keeping-it-real are behaving like misogynistic, racist, hate-fuelled bros, then telling randos not to behave like that isn’t going to work.

    People *do* base their norms for acceptable behaviour on such cues. Especially as an aggregate.

    • geldonyetich says:

      Just as Adkins is free to interpret OMM’s articles as a core cause of self-entitlement among gamers and game developers that lead to misogynistic behavior towards women in the industry, I am free to interpret Adkins as a thickie that missed the joke.

      The thing about OMM is the articles are almost invariably phrased like they were written by a thickies who know they’re thickies and yet even they can see where the gaming industry went wrong. Time To Crate is one such example. Working an American flag into every cutscene of Deus Ex just because you can is another.

      Bear in mind that these are personas; the authors play this role to make us laugh and to make what they wrote more palatable. But, under the guise of said thickies, they’re not expected to be moral authories on anything. Nor is what they’re saying to be taken overwhelmingly seriously.

      So, wow, way off-target, Adkins. Granted, there DOES exist places where vitriol and gamer self-entitlement boil over into a festerous cancer quite often (e.g. /v/), but OMM did not birth that, bored young adults becomong addicted to Internet drama and rage over too many bad games birthed that.

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        Phasma Felis says:

        I disagree with Adkins, and agree with your general interpretation of Chet and Erik’s intentions. But the modern internet has demonstrated the potential hazards of pretending to be a dumbass for laughs: a lot of actual dumbasses will think you’re completely sincere and emulate you.

        • geldonyetich says:

          @Phasma Felis
          That’s true. Although, when it comes to a state of dumbassery in general, the harm they’re naturally capable of is almost indiscernible from that which their misinterpretations created an influence. The greatest breeding grounds for self-confirmation bias are surely an environment where ignorance is allowed to operate unimpeded.

  6. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    Andromeda is a such a tricky one to talk about, because I simply don’t care about a lot of the common criticisms (animations, face models, etc), and because the scale of the backlash has been so stupid (especially given how many of the complaints boil down to “the characters aren’t hot enough”).

    At the same time, though…the story was really boring for me. I wouldn’t be buying any single-player DLC even if it did exist, and I’m someone who considers ME 2 and 3 to be some of my favorite games ever. I guess my distaste for the whole situation comes mostly from the extent to which the “””gaming community””” tends to frame disappointing video games as a kind of moral offense, rather than simply a piece of entertainment that didn’t work out like they’d hoped.

  7. skeletortoise says:

    Mixed feelings about the OMM article. Not particularly knowledgeable about that site (overestimating it’s influence is another point to critique), but what little I read contained nothing like what was cited in the article. So my small sample size is likely effed, but still, my reading never gave me the impression that there was horrible and toxic BS right around every corner.

    But more than anything, playing a cultural blame game always rubs me the wrong way. No matter how abhorrent the person/group in question are it reeks of over simplification and absolving people of their personal responsibility because these influences just totally outweigh their freewill. “Influential people” can say all kinds of things in all kinds of contexts, and very rarely is the context them being completely serious, completely literal, and sincerely believing people should base their behavior solely on their example. That doesn’t completely free them of blame, but I still think the vast majority of responsibility should almost always fall on the individual making the choice to be awful, not any given cultural influence.

    • Ghostwise says:

      We have a fair lot of research as to how people base their behaviour and opinions on perceived authority figures. A moral argument about blame will not change this.

      More importantly, a moral argument about responsibility will change absolutely nothing for those who are being harassed, threatened and silenced.

      • skeletortoise says:

        I’m aware that there is research showing that these things matter and affect people’s behavior, it would be crazy if it were otherwise. But that doesn’t mean it’s the fault of the writer of a games blog that someone reads some pretty awful stuff they say, whether ironic or not, and immediately go and repeat it to real people. Sure, it made a difference, but the onus is on the individual to not be awful.

        I’m not sure what your point is about an argument about moral x not changing y. Of course it won’t, it doesn’t impact anyone but those who read it. We’re arguing on the internet. And anyway, isn’t a “moral argument about blame” exactly what this article is providing?

        • Ghostwise says:

          An encouragement to game reviewers who old OMM in high esteem to take a long hard look at this influence and what it means, I gather.

          I don’t think the article is intended to have much influence on us péons. As Graham wrote if there’s anything video game critics love to write about, it’s video game criticism. :-)

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    yhancik says:

    I was expecting to see the Mic.com article here, especially considered it mentions RPS more than a couple of times ;) And I think you nicely summed up how i was feeling about it.

    It looks like the article kind of started as a long Twitter thread: link to twitter.com, in which the OMM narrative wasn’t yet so over-present. I think the original intention was good: it’s important that we study and analyse better the cultural history of our digital media (games or online). But the execution is lacking in so many departments (link to twitter.com has some good comments on that).

    Still there are some positive aspects to it. Even if it wasn’t exactly the utopia he’s describing, it’s good to remember that things haven’t always been that bad. It means that we can definitely improve things, but also that progress is never following a purely ascending line.

    He attempts to bring back female role models from the past – and you can read in the twitter comments that some (younger, I assume) people are very happy to find out about these. I’m all for that.

    And finally he highlights a shift that happened around the late 90s – early 00s. I don’t agree with his analysis and he kind of exaggerates the contrast between two periods, but I think it’s still interesting to discuss the change that happens around that time.

    So, if anything, that flawed article does a good job as a conversation starter ;)

  9. Laurentius says:

    This OMM article is bad, can we agree just on this? I don’t have any knowledge about that site what so ever, never heard of it when it was active. So if author want to put them to task, by all means do that, and it shouldn’t be hard since it still can be read. The rest of the article is most hyperbolical connecting dots that tin-foil hat conspiracy theories followers would be proud of. Changing landscape of video games pinned on one obscure site, without providing even anecdotal evidnce of causation? If someone has an axe to gind against sacred cows, shouldn’t go on rampage of madly flailing in most superficial directions. (TBH from that article I don’t even understand why do author even need a middle men of OMM, aside from personal beef, just make Quake or DOMM,H-L,GTA or whatever as orgins of gamergate, a road quite similiar to that Jack Thompson had already paved).
    This is a bad article, just because it’s daring should not be an excuse.

  10. Merus says:

    While I agree that the OMM takedown has got a lot of issues, I think it’s got two things going for it: firstly, the idea that they weren’t that funny in hindsight and writers who try and ape their style by being cruelly dismissive, or just cruel, probably need to double-check the kind of vileness where that comes from if they’d like to stop getting reamed in the comments. It’s not funny now, and the fact it was funny then speaks more to how awful we were as humans back then.

    I think it also highlights their misogyny, particularly towards Roberta Williams, to the point that we should be a lot more careful to say that OMM’s value is in the articles that endured. I see plenty of people citing OMM’s ‘death of adventure games’ article as being the nail in the coffin for that genre until Telltale a) brought it back as episodes and then b) junked most of the puzzles in favour of ‘tough’ choices. But the example they chose, just at random, just so happens to be a game by one of the few women leading design projects at the time. Not any of the Lucasarts games? Tim Shaefer’s games had some truly awful puzzles, if you aren’t talking about Full Throttle which has a bullshit puzzle and indefensibly bad action sequences. Given what we know about how people treat things that women like as not being serious, we should wonder a lot more about this.

    And then you look back at start-to-crate and notice that they didn’t look at any adventure games, unless you count Omikron, which I don’t. If you’re going to judge games by their general creativity, as boiled down in such a ridiculous fashion, you’d think you’d want to look at the genre that lies or dies on its creativity, unless you’d already decided that it was a genre that wasn’t worth covering because it’s not serious because if women are working in it, it can’t be serious.

    And then the Start-to-Crate article ends with one writer calling the other ‘Jewey McJewenstein’ and saying he’s retarded.

    These men were in their 30s.

    • malkav11 says:

      I think the Gabriel Knight 3 cat moustache puzzle is almost certainly the most egregious example (at least, by the time they wrote the article) of the sort of nonsense adventure game puzzles widely involved, for a couple reasons:
      1) It’s set in the real world, in real places, with a storyline and many puzzles based on real world research. The LucasArts games you’re talking about, and especially Schafer’s, are set in cartoons, where that sort of logic may not be any easier to follow but it at least feels in keeping with the context.
      2) You are going to all these ridiculous steps to assemble a fake moustache to DISGUISE YOURSELF AS A MAN WHO DOESN’T HAVE A MOUSTACHE. Jesus CHRIST that’s dumb.

      I mean, it’s not really fair to the game overall, which mostly avoids that kind of nonsense and apart from the terrible decision to put it in a 3D engine that benefits it not at all, looks bad, and makes a lot of things more cumbersome, is a pretty good game. But in terms of bad adventure game puzzles, I think it really does stand out that much. I’d be curious to see what you think would have been a better example, and why.

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        Andy_Panthro says:

        I haven’t played the game in question, but the disguise could make sense.

        If you’re trying to disguise yourself as Person X, but you don’t really look much like Person X, using a prominent moustache on the stolen ID could distract the person checking the ID, so they just see that it’s a person of similar height/weight/hair colour with a moustache and that it checks out.

        Of course the method for getting the moustache… well, that’s another thing entirely isn’t it and I can’t defend that part!

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          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          I would still expect some kind of foreshadowing that mustaches are an A-OK form of disguise. Plus by the logic that the mustache is just there to cover your face… wouldn’t sunglasses work just as well?

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        basilisk says:

        It really isn’t such an outrageously terrible puzzle. Anyone familiar with the genre could probably list dozens more, starting probably with the entirety of King’s Quest 2.

        My personal pick is the spinach puzzle in Larry 2; there’s a sequence where you’re stuck on a lifeboat and Larry gets hungry. If you don’t have the can of spinach in your inventory, you die of hunger. If you do and open it, it turns out it’s gone off and you die of food poisoning. The solution? Throw the can overboard and stay alive. Makes perfect sense.

        Go through Mr Cobbett’s old Crapshoots and I’m sure you’ll find dozens of examples. The GK3 puzzle isn’t good, but it’s very far from being the worst.

  11. Sin Vega says:

    I’m utterly baffled by the whole fuss about Old Man Murray to be honest. Until this week I knew nothing about them except the name, and I (a) lived entirely online during that era and (b) am pretty sure I read the “time to crate” post. But that was just another random post on a random site, same as everything was back then.

    I’m not at all convinced by this idea that they’re some kind of untouchable legendary influence. I don’t think ANY site from back then is, because that’s just not how the internet worked in that era. But especially one I’ve literally never heard anyone talk about in 20 years supposedly under its shadow.

    • skeletortoise says:

      Yeah, I’m definitely with you on this one. I’m probably just young enough to have barely missed it naturally, but basically all my time online was on a HL2/Valve forum where Valve writers were universally known and their work was commonly discussed. I feel like there was probably a few mentions of OMM, but if it wasn’t enough on that site to actually get me to check it out it couldn’t have been the cultural superpower this article implies. Never actually looked at it at all until it was recently mentioned in an RPS story.

    • Vandelay says:

      I am pretty much the same. I know the name and obviously aware and consumed their later work at Valve. I also know that some writers (including those from RPS,) referring to them and mentioning they were influential. The impression I always got was that they were irreverent and mainly mocked gaming’s overused tropes.

    • malkav11 says:

      There are a -lot- of games journalists who swear by OMM.

    • Archonsod says:

      Part of the issue with his whole argument – if anything the internet was *worse* in those days. I remember Yahoo chatrooms consisting largely of Neo-Nazi’s casting doubt on each other’s sexuality, death threats being a perfectly acceptable response to someone happening to like Star Wars or Star Trek more than you do and generally the exact same crap that apparently ‘OMM shaped’.
      With the exceptions of some sites things tend to be better these days; there’s a lot more recognition of how for example letting your forum fill up with racial hatred can negatively affect your reputation which was simply not present back then.
      Also nonplussed at his mention of Magnetic Scrolls; I had to look them up, so I think claiming they were a household name in Britain is a bit of a stretch (though for that matter the implicit notion that interactive fiction / text adventures were ever widely popular is a bit off too. If you mentioned adventure games to us in 1990 most of us would probably mention Dizzy or one of the LucasArts titles).

      • Traipse says:

        Magnetic Scrolls were, in fact, a household name in British gaming in the 1980s, during the heyday of text adventures. You might have come into the scene after the era of Magnetic Scrolls, Scorpia, etc., but the article is entirely factual in that respect.

        For more details, I quite recommend Jimmy Maher’s amazing “The Digital Antiquarian” (link to filfre.net), whose chronicles of the early history of video gaming include a significant amount of material on the text adventure industry in general and Magnetic Scrolls in particular.

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      Grizzly says:

      There’s a few specific Old Man Murray articles on RPS itself:
      link to rockpapershotgun.com

      Start from the bottom up and all that.

  12. Chillicothe says:

    The 2 things about OMM are…

    1. that sort of thing was not weaponized then. You could be cruder back then with no actual malice. Now, we know that “ok, yeah, that does legitimately piss you off, I’m sorry, I didn’t know and wont do it in the future”. (note how these both happened in the same time frame.)

    2. back then if some site was full of fuckery , you could avoid that community.

    That DOES NOT HAPPEN now. Too many sites like Twitter and FB using your real you that are more and more universal, more and more agents using these useful idiots’ weaponized hate, more impetus for rancid people to spread thruout rather than retreat from culture.

    Like you said, it’s a very narrow-minded article.

    • pepperfez says:

      The attacks on named individuals (very often women) in the OMM articles was one of the outstanding bits of nastiness, which contribute to their status as a sort of bridge between your “then” and “now.”

  13. Danda says:

    That OMM article is absolutely wrong. It can’t be taken seriously because it’s based on half-truths and very weird interpretations of facts.

    -OMM wasn’t that influential. I never even heard about it until it was mentioned by the very intelligent people who were inspired by it. The names mentioned as supporters (Gillen, etc.) are actually the opposite to the dreaded culture of abuse. There’s absolutely no probable link to the current tidal wave of GG shitheads. Most of them are too young to even know about it and OMM is never mentioned as a revered ancestor or anything like that. This guy’s vision completely ignores the undercurrent of aggressivity of the late 90’s that can also be seen in Fight Club. We all wanted to punch things and burn stuff down.

    -Arguably, Portal was much more influential. I would even say the ways it inspired intelligent criticism and the sudden realisation that the FPS framework could work for games where you didn’t shoot people more than makes up for any “youthful indiscretions” from the previous millennium.

    -The article is absolutely wrongheaded, from a guy who thinks Doom ruined gaming for everyone and who describes some gaming Arcadia that noone of us knew. Who’s Scorpia? This is the first time I’ve heard about her. At the time, we all were reading IGN or Gamespot, with their full support to the bro-friendly Halo.

    -His reading of the Roberta Williams article is completely wrong, using a single mysoginist slur to ignore the obvious criticism of Williams’ elitism. OMM’s article justifiably pokes fun at her classism and how the PC market was invaded by barbarians who could not appreciate the badly-aged “masterworks” her company churned out. Yes, Lucasfilm/Lucasarts games evolved but Sierra’s were stuck in time and now you can’t even play them and not want to punch the screen.

    I think this is basically a dumb “look at me” article. Maybe having it featured here, and even my comment, was a mistake. Don’t feed the troll and all that.

    • Michael Fogg says:

      Well said.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      “OMM wasn’t that influential. I never even heard about it until it was mentioned by the very intelligent people who were inspired by it.”

      I think you may have contradicted yourself there.

    • Traipse says:

      “I haven’t heard about (OMM, Scorpia, etc.) before, therefore it wasn’t important” is not a terribly compelling statement. It just means you weren’t at the right place at the right time to absorb that particular bit of cultural consciousness — but it was still important nevertheless.

      Likewise, I don’t think anyone disagrees that Roberta Williams’ games were very, very not good in the late 1990s. They were rubbish. That’s not actually the point of the article, though. The point is that OMM’s criticism of her was gleefully personal and vicious to a degree which hadn’t been seen in the video game community before.

      I don’t think that OMM is the wellspring for the ugly, misogynistic edgelord sort of behaviour that we see all around us in the gaming community today, as the article suggests. Rather, I think it was just a sign of the changing times; if it hadn’t been those two guys, it would have been someone else picking up on the new, shittier zeitgeist. And yeah, OMM was influential for a reason — they were the vanguards of a new era of game journalism, and a lot of their work was quite good. But it sucks to say “Well, these guys were influential, so it’s okay to sweep all the really racist, misogynist, venomous things they wrote under the rug.” You can accept that they were important figures in the history of games journalism while not letting them off the hook for being douchelords — these things are not mutually exclusive.

  14. Catterbatter says:

    I’m not sure it’s possible to give a meaningful analysis of OMM if you insist on putting “irony” in scare quotes. The whole thing ends up smelling like “I wasn’t there, but you’re remembering it wrong.”

  15. cpt_freakout says:

    The Polygon piece reads like a blog post (which is perfectly fine) but it doesn’t really say anything particular about videogames (which is why, I guess, you didn’t know what to make of it?). I guess the obvious inspiration is High Fidelity, but in HF there’s an entanglement between musical culture of a certain kind and adulthood stagnancy that says a lot about music nerds and collectors. This piece just reflects on Kuchera himself, and it doesn’t really explore what collecting videogames implies more widely. Everyone has a deep reason as to why collect X or Y, but there’s always something to be said about the culture that connects the collectors.

    • The Chadillac says:

      Does anybody actually take anything Kuchera says seriously anymore? The man is a imbecilic product-loving hobgoblin whose highest aspiration in life is to throw tens of thousands of dollars at multinational corporations, his worldview is utterly solipsistic and bereft of value to anyone beyond masturbating his own fragile little ego. He’s a pathetic little non-entity unworthy of even the slightest recognition and nobody should waste their time consuming the excrement he spews forth into the ether.

  16. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    So good to see Cool Ghosts back at it after being silent for several months. I’m very picky about my youtubers, and they are an excellent companion piece to RPS.

  17. Chromatose says:

    Dismissing the whole basis for that article about OMM because “OMM was never that popular” is some of the most egregious strawmanning I have ever seen in a comments thread.

    Wolpaw and Falizek are, or were both pretty influential players in both games writing and journalism. Hell, their stints at OMM were enough to get them hired by Valve for crying out loud. The fact that there are a good few people on here defending them by essentially saying ‘well they were only racist and misogynist some of the time‘ is pretty galling considering this site’s supposed focus on providing a space where this kind of toxicity isn’t supposed to flourish.

    I mean I get it, Old Man Murray was a site beloved by a lot of people who frequent these parts, but I don’t think that’s really any excuse to let standards slide.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Right, just because you don’t know who Chuck Berry is doesn’t mean his influence hasn’t bled into every rock song made since.

      • Sin Vega says:

        Oh please, that’s an absurd comparison. OMM was Oasis at most.

      • Chromatose says:

        Funnily enough, I had a very similar discussion with an acquaintance of mine regarding Chuck Berry; who very angrily reacted to my assertion that Berry was a pretty unpleasant person because of the various sex-crimes he committed. He asserted that many other musicians were also guilty of similar crimes, and that this should be viewed as secondary to his influence as a musician.

        And honestly, it’s perfectly fine to still appreciate that Johnny B Goode is an incredible piece of music, just as as it is the case that both writers for OMM have done some great work on fantastic games. People talk a lot about trying to separate the art from the artist and I think that absolutely applies here, but that shouldn’t overshadow the fact that both Falizek and Wolpaw wrote some pretty appallingly sexist and racist stuff that should be roundly condemned along with the rest of toxic gamer-bro culture.

    • Laurentius says:

      “strawman”? but article never provide any proof for that overblown OMM influnce and at the same time pin almost everything on that site. I’ve never heard of it at the time but was a active witness to that whole change in gaming landscape of that era. Do you really belive that Half-Life or GTAIII popularity and demise of adventure games can be pinned on OMM articles or their single-handed making changes in gaming culture to create audience receptive to this kind of games? Let’s be real, I doubt that more then 0,5% of people who bought GTAIII ever heard of OMM.

      • Chromatose says:

        If you know that both Falizek and Wolpaw have written for a multitude of high-profile games almost exclusively because of their formative work on Old Man Murray, but still need direct citation of their influence on gaming’s cultural landscape then I don’t know what to tell you, honestly.

        Popularity and influence are different things and shouldn’t be mistaken for one another.

        • Laurentius says:

          But where is the proof? Read that article again please, it is not about OMM popularity or influence, it’s making them responsible for whole change in gaming culture and landscape but without providing any proof of it? At least pining it on people where cause and effect can at least be imaginable trackable i.e Carmack and Romero with Doom, Gabe Newell and Half-Life, Howser Brotheres with GTA, Metzen with Diablo would make a bit of a sense as their products actually had widespread influence.In my country basicly no-one of pc gamers knew of OMM, nor game journos or critics, yet everyone jumped on Quake on-line detahmacthes bandwagon or hailed Half-Life as new hallmark of video game moving forward.

          • Chromatose says:

            “…it’s making them responsible for whole change in gaming culture and landscape…”

            The article literally never states this. You ask for proof, yet you’re extrapolating imagined claims from what you assume the author’s intent is.

          • Laurentius says:

            @Chromatose

            “…We have the benefit of hindsight: we know how populism ends. If Walker and the rest are Old Man Murray’s respectable descendants, Gamergate is more akin to the site’s acid reflux. The misanthropic 15-year-olds who devoured Grand Theft Auto III when it launched — that game being an artifact of Old Man Murray (and British lad) culture…”

            So what this passage means then? GTAIII is made an artifact of OMM. But is it? And does commercial success of GTAIII can really be attributed to alleged OMM influence? I see no proof of that. If author want to put OMM to task, be my guest, but this hyperbolic proofless connections? This is just bad.

        • Babymech says:

          Them getting hired in the industry they worked in is not a necessary indicator of broader influence; it’s also an indicator of a job opening. Secondly, you have the causation backwards – their broad cultural gaming relevance didn’t get them jobs; their jobs got them broad cultural gaming relevance. OMM reached a few influencers, who generally didn’t go on to be vile. Team Fortress and Portal were vastly more widereaching than OMM, and those successes are undeniable shapers of a large group of gamers and game makers. You can make the case that TF/Portal had a shallow impact on many (though a lot of people would disagree with you, and see Portal for example as a major gaming milestone), and that OMM had a deep impact on a few… but I’m not sure those few turned out so bad.

    • Chromatose says:

      I should probably add that the author has been beating the particular drum for a while now, and while I agree with him that Old Man Murray presents lots of problematic material which should rightly be criticised, I disagree with his assertions that prior to the inception of games like Quake, the PC gaming space was egalitarian and largely unbridled with the kind of misogyny and racism that we’re talking about.

      I know plenty of older nerds from boardgaming and PC gaming spaces that absolutely encountered abuse and discrimination way earlier than the late 90s. The difference then was that these were niche, hobbyist spaces that don’t enjoy the same attention that the mainstreaming of nerd culture enjoys today, and such issues weren’t really talked about because they were never part of any kind of popular discourse, social justice minded or otherwise.

      In other words, sites like Old Man Murray helped to shine a light on something that was already very much an issue, but never really acknowledged.

  18. Sarfrin says:

    I read the polygon article and yeah, that bit at the end with the sweatpants did sort of echo the first part. Was he intentionally implying his marriage is in trouble? I’m not sure.

    • goodgeorge says:

      I haven’t read a lot of stuff from Polygon, but the little that I have read has been weird as hell. If they have some kind of intended target audience then I guess I’m not part of that.

  19. Danda says:

    My folllow-up comment disappeared for some reason, so I’ll have to repeat it:

    -Dark City was admired. The Matrix was influential.
    -Ultima Underworld was admired. Doom was influential.
    -OMM was admired. Gamespot, touting the dudebro-friendly Halo, was influential.

    The late 90s were all about being aggressive. Remember, Fight Club. That was the Zeitgeist.

    Also, in other countries we never read OMM and we got the same toxic internet culture. All in all, the “I think this is all OMM’s fault” argument is not very well founded.

    • Urthman says:

      I think I’d make a different argument. I don’t think OMM *caused* GamerGate and douchebro gamer culture. But I think the fact that one of the most highly-regarded, incisive, and “cool” critical voices in the gaming industry was full of really gross “ironic” racism and sexism probably contributed to most of the industry turning a blind eye to GamerGate and the various harassment campaigns against women.

  20. Drakedude says:

    Dunkey is on the money. Reviews from inconsistent writers are just annoying. Rps is smart enough to have a “tank guy” and a “strategy guy”, so i’m surprised ya didn’t listen hard enough.

  21. MultiVaC says:

    I think the thing with OMM is that they were intentionally over-the-top caricatures of spiteful internet shitposts (which, granted, definitely crossed more than a few lines at times), while at the same time a deeply stupid segment of their audience was beginning to sincerely behave that way. Maybe I misread it, but my understanding of OMM was sort of a Stephen Colbert to the Fox News of misanthropic internet trolls, playing up a satirical version of them for laughs and audacity. There are definitely some parts that are in really poor taste, but I think those are more a result of them overplaying their schtick and making the sort of amateurish missteps you would expect from a couple of guys writing edgy comedy on the internet.

    It’s a little weird that the article contrasts them with Penny Arcade also. Didn’t they also have their own sort of awkward overlap with the proto-Gamergate crowd a few years ago with the “dickwolves” thing? I feel like OMM and PA generally occupy a similar space, even though clearly OMM was a lot more crass in their humor. But it was definitely done ironically, and I don’t think putting “irony” in quotes makes a credible argument against that.

  22. bob22 says:

    *Baking* donuts?

    Donuts are fried and dipped in sugar. And preferably served in a bag by the sea.

  23. UnholySmoke says:

    Anyone else still waiting for the right time to pick up Andromeda?
    I bought and played every bit of DLC for the original but I just had a bad vibe about this one so I didn’t even think about preordering. Mind you, I also thought the end of ME3 was pretty decent, so the media/community shitstorm about Andromeda I am also taking with a healthy dose of salt. And rose-tinted specs off, the first three had their dodgy moments. When it’s available for the price of a couple of pints and I’m sure they’ve stopped ‘fixing’ it, I’ll pick it up, chug through and try and have a good time.
    Then again, I thought DA:Inquisition was great, so what do I know.

    • Premium User Badge

      Seyda Neen says:

      I don’t know if you missed it or not, but in case you did – there is a publicly available 10 hour demo for the game, now.

      • UnholySmoke says:

        Cheers, I did spot it and it’s downloading now. Just concerned that I might quite enjoy it then find myself spending £25 on a stinker.

  24. Danda says:

    Here’s a very good counterpoint to that awful OMM article:

    link to avclub.com

    This is how it’s done.

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