Monthly Archives: December 2007
Leigh Alexander writes about the top 5 game characters of 2007. A lot of fine points in there, but there’s one that just flies in the face of reality, and things that do so have a tendency to inspire epileptic neural impulses in some unknown part of my brain that refuses to die no matter how much I might have to drink at the holiday party.
You is not such a great game character.
While Mass Effect does some interesting exploration into how the player’s role interacts with their character (such as how your chosen backstory intertwines with the rest of the game’s narrative), I’m talking about the Time-inspired, socially networked, voice chatting You of game characters.
You is an anonymous, homophobic, mysogynistic dickhead.
And not even a lovable one at that.
So Rock Band is a mess. Not the game mind you, which as the titular description suggests, rocks (nay, rawks) but the path of chaos and destruction it inevitably wreaks on your living room:
So all this musical inspiration makes me think of how David Jaffe has recently often said he’d like to make the video game equivalent of pop songs – short, fun, light hearted. Nothing wrong with any of those things, but…
But there is a lot of popular music that is, without a doubt, a much deeper emotional experience - Bob Dylan, Nirvana, Johnny Cash, and many other artists. The emotions conveyed can be quite negative, complex, haunting. All still fit within the realm of 3-5 minutes.
Just because something is short and fleeting does not mean it has to be devoid of meaning.
Every so often I come across game industry related newsy bits or links that, if I think about too much, would make me want to spew bile like some sort of end level boss in its death throes. Or, on the oppsoite end of the spectrum, make me laugh until I pee a little.
I don’t really like to comment on them here because they’re often not really on-topic. But sometimes, there’s just so many of these that happen in short enough time span, I’m like a frakking tea kettle blowing over. To wit:
I hate the word monetize even more than I hate the word exploit.
5 syllables of ass in a 4 syllable bag.
I bought a Blue-Ray player last week. Worked on a goddamn launch title and they can’t even keep a PSN account around for a year. At least they fixed the virtual keyboard.
I agree with Square-Enix’s viewpoint on something? Get out!
Yet another nail in the coffin of brick and mortar distribution.
There are people out there who want to do some really sick things to plush dolls, if one is to believe some of the search terms that lead people here. I’m not sure why I find this funny, but I do.
Infused with passion by reading two books of Transmetropolitan (somebody turn that into an overbudget comic book movie), I’d figured I’d comment on Jon Blow’s MIGS talk this year. Specifically, he compares the games industry to the fast food industry, over-focused on delivering superficial experiences that in their most potent form encourage the formation of addictive behavior.
This isn’t just games, of course (although maybe we suffer from it more acutely right now), but lots of media. I don’t know, maybe most people just don’t suffer as severely from the cognitive dissonance created by seeing the headlines of Britney Spears’ personal problems in the big print, and war headlines in the small print. Despite working at EA for almost a year now, my own cognitive dissonance has yet been that impaired, I swear.
One could almost even imagine an end of the world scenario whereby society delves further and further into these superficial pursuits, resulting in the populace slowly growing fatter, stupider, and more simple minded. You might even call this a plush a… ah, nevermind. What was I saying?
So what’s the solution? Well, much like honest to goodness lung choking pollution, you gotta start somewhere – personal responsibility. The only thing you have control of (one hopes) is yourself. Beyond basic bodily functions, don’t work on the projects you don’t want to work on. Sure, you gotta get paid, and compromises have to get made along the way. No one’s saying you’ve got to convert your car to biodiesel and live in the woods, but every recycled soda can helps, right?
For some people, holding themselves accountable for the games they make means working a day job and toiling late nights alone. For others, it means working your way up through slow improvements in the projects you work on, gaining the credibility & network you need to better work on the projects you feel are a positive contribution. Whatever you try to do, every little bit helps.
But there’s two problems: one is just trying to make games that aim to be more mentally nutritious. The other is actually communicating why they’re of value to people eating the equivalent of tasty, tasty cheesburgers. Someone who walks into McDonald’s with no knowledge of the nutritional value of the food is going to chow down. They have to get that information from somewhere, and it’s got to be convincing. Even Al Gore knew he had to make a movie to make powerpoint on global warming sexy.
It seems like there’s a bit of frustration going around from developers trying to do that. Harvey Smith, in his “exit interview”, accepted personal responsibility for the problems of Blacksite 51, but at the same time expressed his frustration about how certain aspects of the game weren’t seen in the light he would have liked. Jeff Minter’s livejournal post about the reception of his Space Giraffe vs. Frogger was taking as a bunch of whining by teh intarnetz, but it’s pretty clear from reading the post itself he was just frustrated that he wasn’t able to communciate why his own game was better to those players.
So 98% fat free, no trans fats, won’t cause anal leakage – I don’t know what the comparable solution is, but I know looking for it just as hard a challenge as making the games themselves. Talking about it is at least a start, I guess. Maybe we need special channels on services like XBLA, as Michaël Samyn suggests on Tale of Tales. Although ghetto-izing them isn’t the answer, if they were made more of a status symbol… It worked for hybrids, at least.
Oh well, I guess I’ll go watch an epsiode of Ow! My Balls!