Sundays are for melting into a puddle. Before you bubble on the pavement, let's read this week's best writing about games (and game related things).
Over on The Washington Post, Ethan Davidson wrote about how video game developers want fair online games, while some players really don't. I get that streaming is a tough job and streamers want to put on a show, but also, like, come on. Yes it's fun seeing a highly skilled player destroy a lobby of newcomers, but it's also equally interesting seeing how they stack up against those on their level. And, of course, it's not fair on matching players who want a chill time with some streamer whose job it is to be good at the game. That's no way to maintain a player base.
For Jordan “HusKerrs” Thomas, a popular streamer and competitive “Call of Duty: Warzone” player, skill-based matchmaking is a labor issue. It “negatively affects the top 1 percent of players/streamers the most because it forces us to ‘sweat’ or try hard for good content and to entertain our viewers,” Thomas wrote in a Twitter DM. High-level play against skilled opponents in shooting games can be opaque or boring for casual audiences. By racking up high kill streaks or stringing together multiple crushing victories in less balanced matches, streamers can more clearly show off their skill to viewers.
Regina Kim wrote about why K-pop idols and K-dramas don't reflect the tastes of their home country for NBC News. An interesting read on the differences between "K culture" and "Korean culture", with one built for exports and the other less so.
K-pop is probably the best example of this puzzling paradox. “It seems like anytime someone writes something about K-Pop — particularly pieces on boy and girl bands — it doesn’t really matter who authored the articles, it’s pretty much a guaranteed way to generate massive clicks,” Bernie Cho, a music industry veteran and president and founder of DFSB Kollective, an agency that works with hundreds of independent Korean music acts, explained to me. “But unfortunately, what sort of happens as a result of this type of clickbait journalism is that you get a very skewed and myopic lens on the Korean music industry landscape. If you only believed what you read online, it would be easy to assume that every Korean music artist was a boy band or girl band.”
The testers also coped with the pressures of being surveilled. A couple of sources told Kotaku that QA workers would have their breaks timed or sometimes even be followed into the restrooms by non-management employees described by one source as “chronic snitches.” According to them, these otherwise normal testers, designated as “coordinators,” did not have a real title or pay bump, but felt that micromanaging their peers would help their career standing at ZeniMax. Another did not recall if people were specifically followed, but knew testers whose bathroom breaks had been timed.
Rich Stanton wrote about how we're worse off without E3, for PC Gamer. While I loved my time in LA covering Geoff Fest, I do agree that something needs to change. The sheer wealth of streams and announcements is mind-numbing. I miss the spectacle of an E3 too! Nowadays, I feel like I'm prepared to be disappointed by a showcase, where E3 had me buzzing before it even began.
For me that's why E3 was always absolute catnip, because it was forcing these giant entities together into a convention centre and saying show us what you got. It might be that the disasters are more memorable, but there's also something you get from a live crowd that the streams will never be able to replicate: The sheer euphoria of the reaction to something like Final Fantasy VII Remake; watching Don Mattrick struggle to sell the original Xbox One to an unimpressed and cold crowd; even something as simple as Ghostwire Tokyo being announced by Ikumi Nakamra saying "we are making a new kind of action-adventure game… it's spooky!"
As per, People Make Games have put together an excellent video covering the Ukrainian game devs trying to survive Russia's invasion. It's an important watch.
That's it for now, catch you next week folks!