Sundays are for maaaaybe going to the UK board games expo. I’m writing this from the past, so I hope future me is happy with whatever decision he made.
For PCGamesN, Jake Tucker wrote up the story of how his twitch stream got ambushed by fans of an unpleasant ‘influencer’ known as Dr DisRespect. It’s a reminder of how awful some folk on the internet can be, but the best part is about how not all of those fans were there to hurl abuse. Reading it has changed my impression of how homogeneously hateful the followers of certain streamer types are, at the same time as vindicating my existing assumptions about a large percentage of them.
What was interesting is the language people were using in the chat, both to harass me and to decry that same harassment. Those who showed up, those that weren’t dropping racial slurs or personalised insults, called me a punk kid, mirroring comments that Dr DisRespect had made when he mentioned me. Those that spoke up against those being abusive claimed that the harassers weren’t members of the Champions Club – a name for the subscribers of Dr DisRespect’s Twitch channel – and offering me firm handshakes in solidarity.
The answer to the question Steven Wright asks in his piece for Kotaku – “Does’Role-Playing Game’ Mean What it Did a Decade Ago?” – might well be ‘of course not’, but that doesn’t mean the specifics aren’t interesting. I enjoyed seeing the perspective of a Torment: Tides of Numenera dev on what counts as the genre’s important defining elements, even though the only time I really think about genre labels is when I have to tag posts with them for boring advertising reasons.
Ziets recalls that early computer RPGs like Wizardry and the original Bard’s Tale essentially ported the most popular editions of their tabletop progenitors like Dungeons and Dragons to the personal computer, eschewing epic tales of sword and sorcery to focus on the tactical guts of the pen-and-paper experience. “Originally, most RPGs were Tolkienesque, monster-slaying fantasies,” Ziets says. “Now we have RPGs set in science-fiction worlds, modern times, etc. Similarly, most early RPGs had some version of D&D stats and skills, but many are now evolving away from strict adherence to those rules.”
On Waypoint, Rob Zacny’s look at State of Decay 2 is worth checking out – even if you’re like me and have next to no interest in the game. Rob talks about what makes zombie fiction work, and why State of Decay 2 does not.
Because it fails to support the themes of these stories, State of Decay 2 ends up missing the point of its own genre even as characters occasionally mouth its commonplaces. Survival stories in general and zombie survival stories in particular tend to ask questions about what is essential to our humanity outside the trappings of civilization and its comforts. When need and danger are close by, who are we really? What do we reveal ourselves to be?
On Gamasutra, Katherine Cross doesn’t pull any punches in her take on what’s wrong with Steam’s approach to banning porn. I was once in an aesthetics seminar that was eerily similar to the class Katherine talks about, where the conclusion was much the same: defining porn is a fool’s errand.
Even a “logical” process will still take certain subjective values as givens and goals. Rather, adjudging what is and isn’t pornography, and using that vapid standard to make curation decisions, is always bound to fail in some critical way and never accomplishes its stated aims. Such a standard, in fact, eludes greater moral responsibilities. It’s a coward’s way out, ducking more complex questions in favour of quick and dirty solutions. The case of House Party remains illustrative. Ban it or don’t. But if the stated reason for a ban is because it’s “pornographic,” this feels craven; if you’re actually expressing a value that holds the game to be reprehensible because it’s rapey, then say that and allow us all to debate that proposition. Calling it porn is thought-terminating.
Gamasutra also did a neat round-up of developer’s favourite idle animations, collected by Joel Couture. Nobody mentions Rayman, so I understand if you don’t bother clicking through.
Splendidland (Apple Quest Monsters): Idle animations are one of the many ways a game tries to convince us that it contains a living, breathing world. Your avatar responds to your inputs and moves around, going from point A to point over there, but they also respond to your lack of input; not playing the game is an interaction. “Oh, look at that!” you said, pointing your finger at the screen excitedly.
On Kotaku’s ‘Talk Among Yourselves’ community section, ‘Toolsoldier’ wrote about how Undertale helped him to grieve.
Saving everyone during the true pacifist run and breaking the world destroying everything in it during the genocide run, each of these paths gave me what I needed during my grieving process: control. When I needed to feel empowered to save something so that I could lift my spirits, I took the true pacifist route. When I felt helpless and angry that I couldn’t save my sister, I broke the world down during the genocide run.
On Youtube, Writing on Games put the concept of Punk under a microscope. This is the first of Hamish’s videos I’ve stumbled across, but I bet it’s not the last one I’ll end up linking here.
My Discover Weekly Spotify playlist was so good that I’m spoilt for choice for music this week, but let’s go with The four forty five blues by Goldfish.