Facebook, “Ban Bossy” and Cognitive Dissonance (A Response to Hadley Freeman)

So, if you’re like me and like to keep up-to-date on current events, so you can actually know why the world is going to shit, then you have been seeing the story about the Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg and her mission to “ban bossy.”  A campaign that is about as backwards and filled with cognitive dissonance as is possible.  I haven’t really commented on that, because I didn’t have an angle that I wanted to talk about it with.  However, after reading an article in the print version of The Guardian by a very feminist author, Hadley Freeman, I’ve found the angle I want to attack this with.  Here’s a link to her article, so you can see that I’m not just pulling this out of the ether.  Context matters, though don’t tell that to the Tumblr feminist crowd.

Freeman seems to believe that this whole “ban bossy” campaign is a “good start.”  I guess she has the same cognitive dissonance that the people who thought up this flawed idea have.  For starters, it isn’t bossy that they want to ban.  For real, that means nothing.  Not one tiny thing.  The word they really want to ban, and I know this will damage people’s comfort zone, is “bitch.”  They’re tired of girls being called bitches, but are rephrasing it so they can have a clever ad for their new campaign.  Because, after all, it’s hard to advertise not calling girls and women bitches.  Especially since some actually are.  And before you go off on me, it isn’t guys who go after women the hardest.  For real, in all the “patriarchy” and “rape culture” that these women talk about, the people who go after women the hardest and the most viciously are other women.  Neat little fact, there.

However, there is a lot of cognitive dissonance with this idea.  Sandberg is quoted as saying that girls want less leadership positions than boys by the time they reach middle school.  Uh, who cares?  For real, are we supposed to force girls to want to do something they don’t want to do?  Do you believe that enforcing your ideas on to young girls is the correct way to go about this, rather than letting them find their own preferences?  I mean, if the argument is that modern education is flawed in that regard, I’m with you.  Though, not for the reasons you think.  I’m with you in that we are forcing children to take drugs, constantly think about adulthood and don’t teach empathy and critical thinking in the way we teach tests.  We are stripping away the childhoods of the modern youth, because parents think that their little boy or girl staring out the window and dreaming of better things requires ritalin.  By the way, that’s not without context.  One of the biggest drugs selling right now is ritalin.  Sad, but true.  But I will save the best piece of cognitive dissonance for the end, so you all can understand just how flawed this is.  We have another fish to fry first.

As if to make my point, Freeman’s article kind of drives it home.  She has a point-by-point list of things she wants to have in schools.  I’ll keep to her style and debunk them individually.

  • Make feminism part of the national curriculum

Um, how about no?  For real, how about we don’t force an ideological idea on to children.  Here’s what we should do – teach and encourage children to think for themselves.  Get rid of these stupid fucking tests (or at least stop teaching them) and instead focus on actual discussion about topics.  Get English classes to talk about what they are learning and let the kids actually have a voice.  One of the biggest problems in modern education is that children don’t have a voice, in this country and in others in the First World.  Though I am focusing on here in the States.

Bringing in this ideological discussion will do nothing to help your cause.  It’s no better than if we bring religion into the classroom.  If you want a class in high school for women’s studies or feminism, that’s fine, but make it the children’s choice, instead of foisting it on them.  Isn’t that a better idea than having a teacher get up at the beginning of class and saying,

Alright, students.  Today we’re going to be talking about feminism, because we are requiring you to learn it.

Don’t you see how telling kids that we want them to learn something, instead of letting them find their own preferences, is going to be a turn-off.  Now, there are some things that a kid has to know, like history, mathematics, science and the like.  With math, I have met two children in my entire time growing up who liked it.  You can’t do much about that.  But even with history and science, there is room for discussion and to let kids find their own thing to enjoy.  We shouldn’t have this blank-statement of “you must learn feminism!” for the modern youth.

  • Get impressive kickass women to talk to them.

Yeah, I got no problem with that.  So long as we get impressive guys to do so too.  A balance should exist.  Though, and this is speaking from my experience growing up, I hated people just talking to us, unless what they were talking about something that interested me.  I don’t care if they had so much success and were great leaders, unless they did something that I find impressive.  I guarantee you that other kids think the same way.  So yeah, bring people in to talk, but make sure that they have something neat to say, other than “be a leader!”  I mean to end this showing you why that doesn’t work.

  • Nutrition should be a part of the national curriculum

I don’t even get how that ties in.  And once again, how about no?  How about we teach kids about nutrition in science classes and health classes in middle and high school?  Don’t just foist knowledge on little kids.  Trust me, unless you ritalin the shit out of them, it won’t stick.

  • Ban all magazines and newspapers from the school that talk about diets, celebrity body shapes and sex lives, and Kate Middleton

Back in high school, there was this ban on soda and candy, which made a lot of kids angry.  We like our unhealthy things.  A kid who is at school at 7 in the morning wants their caffeine.  Nothing wrong with that.  However, for me and my friends, this started a new market for us – underground candy and soda.  Since my high school was a closed campus, students couldn’t walk down the road at lunch and get some from Carr’s.  We made a killing.  It started an amusing series of candy and soda wars between the various sellers.  The Girl Scouts were a tough opponent who held their own in the wars.  The band was a bunch of little pussies who couldn’t do anything and we let them know where their place was.  I made a very hefty profit from my business and it made my junior and senior years much more interesting.

The point of this story is – don’t ban things!  It doesn’t work!  Just like banning alcohol and drugs doesn’t work, trying to ban students from getting publications about what is popular won’t work.  While your ban won’t create the same kind of black market that the one in my school did (which I understand they lifted a couple years after I left, due to the candy and soda wars), it is just another sad and pathetic means of mind control that students aren’t so dumb that they will miss.

  • Feed them a healthy diet of feminist films and books

Wow, how very 1984 of you.  In fact, this whole “ban bossy” campaign is very 1984.  They want to teach the children what they want them to know and to make it so they can’t say the words that they don’t like.  Big Brother would be proud.  I’ve already covered my refutation of this on the first of her little points.  We shouldn’t force kids to watch things, we should give them options and let them find preferences for themselves.  If you want to have a class for this sort of things, by all means.  Let them decide for themselves if they want to adopt your ideology or not.  But don’t force it on them and think that you did the right thing.  I guarantee you that more than one dictator throughout history has thought the same thing.

I said earlier that I would point out the biggest level of cognitive dissonance about all this at the end, and I am going to do that now.  The biggest level of cognitive dissonance is – this is a campaign that is done in solidarity of young women and girls, yet it is making it sound like they are so fragile that they can’t handle being called a word.  I mean, really?  Are we really making that argument?  Cause if we are, then you are tacitly admitting that they shouldn’t be holding positions of power.  Reason – because they can’t take criticism.

I guarantee you, man or woman, workers will poke fun at their boss.  It’s what employees do.  There is almost no boss who exists who is tight with their people.  There is a good reason for this – they have to tell them what to do.  When you have to be an authority figure, it’s a guarantee that you aren’t going to be liked by many or any of the people under you.  You will have people talking behind your back and making jokes about you.  Trust me, gender means jack-diddle.  John the asshole or Jane the bitch are just little names that will follow a boss around.  It’s a way that employees deal with workplace stress.  It’s a coping mechanism.  If you don’t like that, fine, but don’t go pretending that you have a high-ground position here.

And to Freeman’s article, I am going to close out this post with a quote that kind of puts what she wants in its place from a character who I would think she would like.

Until next time, a quote,

“My goal is not to wake up at 40 with the bitter realization that I’ve wasted my life at a job I hate because I was forced to decide on a career in my teens.”  -Daria Morgendorffer, Daria

Peace out,

Maverick

 

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Lucien’s Review: Noah

NoahI  want to preface this review by saying that I would never have gone to see a film like this if I had had to pay for it.  I knew from the trailers what my reaction to this movie would be, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Part of me actually was hoping to be surprised by this film, but nope, it lived down to my expectations and then some.  With the director of this movie being a pretty good director, I was hoping for something better.  Alas, this movie was just as bad as I thought it would be, and then some.  All the critical praise I’m seeing from people I think is from them not wanting to piss off the psycho-fundie crowd, but I do mean to explain why I don’t like this film, so it doesn’t just sound like I’m bitching.  Without further ado, let’s get started.

So, the plot of this film takes a lot of liberties with the biblical story (that was already flawed to begin with, I mean, why are almost all the marsupials in Australia?  But I digress…).  It tells the story of Noah and how he has himself a vision about a flood and decides to build a boat.  They gloss over his age, which is a major plot-hole in the source material (for real, a 600 year old man does not make an ark), and have him coming into conflict with a local tribe who thinks that Noah is building a fortress of some kind.  There is also a sub-plot involving Emma Watson’s (whose talent is wasted in this movie) character and her infertility, which is resolved in one of the weirdest ways I have seen in a long time.

So, what did I like about this movie?  Well, the music was great.  For real, the composer for this film knew what they were doing.  It lent some of the passage-of-time scenes a lot of believability due to just how expertly those scenes were handled.  When I look at the rest of the cinematography in this film, seeing something this good is pretty surprising.  Which is another thing to add – the scenes with the changing seasons are actually really good.  It shows of potential that this film would have had, if it had been in the hands of a director who had more balls than Aronofsky.

Now, on to the negatives.  First, the visuals.  A lot of critics are praising the special effects in this film.  In fact, that seems to be one of the biggest selling points that keeps coming up.  Like they can’t think of anything outside of that.  And I can see why.  For real, it reminded me of all the praise that was heaped on the visuals in “Avatar,” which was another film that sucked.  Ironically, that story was a religious allegory to a story in the Bible.  Neat how that works.  But for me, the visuals were so over-the-top.  It didn’t look good.  I can at least acknowledge that Avatar looked amazing.  For real, it did.  But with this film, the fake water and the fake everything just go tedious after a while.  The set designs were boring, so there wasn’t really anything to look at outside of the water that suddenly just bursts from the ground for no reason, except to move the plot forward.

Then there is the story.  I won’t spoil anything for you (even though there’s nothing of value to spoil), but this film was really weird in its depiction of how God works.  And this is Old Testament God.  Granted, both of them are totally nuts, but I don’t get how this would work even with Old Testament God.  Next, there is the fact that Anthony Hopkins’ (another person whose talent is wasted in this movie) character is a wizard.  For real, they never explain where his magical powers come from.  I mean, I could assume that it’s God, but they never really explain, which makes the fact that he has really random and weird powers just that much more confusing.  But he isn’t even the worst character.  Oh, and the entire plot with the evil bad guy was totally pointless.  For real, it served no purpose and could have been edited out of the film.

The worst character in this film, by far, is the titular one.  Noah is a complete psycho in this movie.  For real, this guy goes off on some crazy and really evil tangents, in association with Emma Watson’s character.  I could just spoil it for you and say what his evil tangent is, but if you really want to, it’s something you have to see to believe.  But yeah, for being a really holy man, I am really skeptical of how good he actually is.  Especially after what he threatens Emma Watson’s character with.  They also tie it in to both gender-bias and God in a really weird and kind of creepy way.  It is kind of off-putting how they justify this tangent and makes God sound even more wacko than he already does, deciding to murder all the men,women, children and babies of the world to  get back at himself (for real, he’s mad at himself for making man, so he kills everyone to get back at himself.  The logic is just…amazing).

This movie also tries to dabble in science.  For real, they have some things that show evolution, but they cut it off at a weird point, leaving one to wonder – are you just not showing this because of the negative press that evolution gets?  If so, why are you having it at all in a story about Noah’s Ark?  If we’re just supposed to accept this flawed premise at face value, why put it in there?  For real, the scene served no purpose and would most likely alienate the bulk of the audience it was supposed to appeal to.  Or at least, the people who would like it more than I do, because it still has all the problems of the biblical story and how insane it is.

I said before that I think the reason that this film is getting a lot of great press is because of the ties to religion and film critics not wanting to piss those people off.  Much the same way as a lot of critics were loathe to say bad things about “Passion of the Christ.”  But take it from me, this film was painful to sit through.  I like Darron Aronofsky as a filmmaker.  I really do.  But this was just garbage, from start to finish.  See at your own risk.

Final Verdict:
3 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Ray Comfort vs. Cosmos – Please Stop

I recently got done reading an article where Ray Comfort decided that he would jump on the creationist bullshit bandwagon of being against the newest incarnation of “Cosmos.”  Yes, the creationists are getting quite the butthurt about this show, and are doing everything they can to fight back against it.  Such as demanding that their insane and completely unsupported by facts “Theory” gets equal airtime as Cosmos (link here), so they can have a “balanced” approach.  Never mind that what Cosmos shows is backed up by mountains of evidence, whereas all the “Theory of Creation” has is a book and claims to science that have been beaten with a stick, over and over again.  But indeed, they are getting their panties in a bunch about this fairly hard.

There was even a recent story about how the creationists were against his statements about comets.  Why?  You’re gonna love this – because they suggest a view that the universe is billions of years old, rather than the few thousand that they believe (link here).  It’s madness.  I mean, they are going after Tyson and his show’s representation of comets, just because it conflicts with their worldview.  Maybe it’s because they have gone after everything else that they are doing this.  They went after the show’s segments about the origin and age of the universe.  They also attacked the episode about evolution.  Now, because they got their big talking points out of the way, they are just going after whatever they can, so we call can understand the butthurt.  What will they go after next?  Maybe the show should say that the sky appears blue, and it has been so for the billions of years that this planet existed.  Would they then get their butthurt going after that?  Probably.

Now, in an effort to stay relevant, Ray Comfort (or Cumfart, as I like to call him) has said on his radio show that the stuff that Cosmos is showing isn’t scientific, but the Book of Genesis is (link here).  Really?  You’re really making that argument.  So, the fact that Gawd spent the bulk of seven days making shit on this one little ball of rock, yet made the rest of the vast universe as an afterthought is scientific?  The existence of an all-powerful being who is powerful enough to make the universe, yet left absolutely zero tangible evidence (outside of your Bronze Age book) of his existence, following the age of accurate record-keeping.  Or how we all are descended from the incestuous fucking of Adam and Eve’s children?  Or how a 900 year old man got all the animals on a boat and then got them all to their perfect geographic areas without a single marsupial ending up in Europe?  That’s scientific to you?  You even go so far as to say the Neil deGrasse Tyson isn’t qualified to give his opinion on science because he isn’t a theologian.  You really believe this.  Though maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised.  After all, this is the same guy who said that the banana is proof of God, because it clearly evolved for us to be able to handle.  Fucking genius…

Ray Cumfart, you are so full of shit.  For real, I don’t believe that you believe two words that come out of your mouth.  You are a charlatan who got on this bandwagon, for the express purpose of staying relevant.  I have been convinced, for some time, that you are just as much of an atheist as I am, and your running to join this latest Christian butthurt parade is proof of that.  You don’t believe in God.  You don’t believe in anything, except staying in the spotlight to make money.  You’re like Mitt Romney, except not as boring.

Part of me believes that most of the people in power with respect to religion are just like Cumfart.  I am certain that almost everyone in a position of power at the Vatican is an atheist.  There comes a point where you become so powerful, because of money, that the world of religion just becomes so foolish, because you see it as useful.  That’s the world we live in.

In closing, Ray Cumfart is a charlatan who doesn’t believe in anything.  He is a liar and only wants your money.  If you give it to him, that truly is on you.  I wouldn’t.  What can I say, I’m not big on indulging real-life trolls.

Until next time, a quote,

“Sister Augustine believes in things that aren’t real.”
“I thought that was a job requirement for you people.”  -Gregory House, House M.D.

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: The Delay of Evangelion 3.33 is Bullsh*t!

I know that probably nobody who works at FUNimation will read this, but I just thought that I would do a brief post about something that is pissing me off – the delay of Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo, here in the states.  And before people rag on me for not wanting subtitles, I have loved the dubs for the first two movies, and that’s how I want to see the third.

See, there was this sick English trailer released for the film.  The first one of its kind.  And oh my god, I was pumped!  Made it even better when there was a bit at the end that said that it was coming out on March 31st!  I was about to run and pre-order on Amazon, before I noticed a little thing that said that it was had been delayed.  I looked it up, and according to the site, it has been delayed until August 25th.  Now that is REALLY annoying, but it gets worse – that’s in the UK!  For real, the UK has a confirmed final release date of August 25th.  But here in the States, when you go on Amazon, it’s available for pre-order, but has no release date.  None at all.  A little odd, considering that they have it for pre-order.  Then, I looked on FUNimation’s website.  I needed to know why it was delayed.  The reason has pissed me the fuck off!

It’s a stunt to make money.  For real, that’s it.  See, they are delaying it in the States so that they can keep it in theaters for longer.  Which means, it’s so that they can milk it for more money.  And do you know what that means?!  That means that this film could end up being delayed until the end of the fucking year!  Because they want to make more money!  That is fucking bullshit!  Release the damn thing, already!  It’s done!  For real, it’s already done!  Is your precious bottom line really that important to you?!  I realize that not one damn person from FUNimation will see this, but you know what – I hope they do.  And realize that what they are doing is dumb!  It’s been two years that we’ve been waiting.  Let’s end it now!

That is all.

Until next time, a quote,

“Stupid is as stupid does.”  -Forrest Gump

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONL: Video Game Narrative Evolution

I recently got the first single-player DLC to what I believe to be the best game of last year – The Last of Us.  Entitled, Left Behind, my expectations were this DLC were sky-high.  And let me tell you – it didn’t disappoint.  Without spoiling anything (because if you haven’t played it, I am ordering you to do so now), it has a couple of plot sucker-punches and the bittersweet nature of learning some more about a story we already know is just so The Last of Us Left Behindfulfilling.  Not only that, but because this was smaller, they were able to pack more into the environments and bring the world to life in a better way.  If this is what we can expect from the rest of the single-player DLC to this game, Naughty Dog better believe that they have my business.  Also, if any of them are listening – do NOT make a sequel to this game that involves Joel and Ellie.  For real, you’ve perfectly finished their story.  Leave it alone.

But, as I was playing this DLC and exploring the world that the narrative created, finding all the little collectibles and conversation options, I got to thinking about something – narrative evolution in video games.  There are all kinds of games that have a paper-thin or piss-poor narrative, like pretty much every major blockbuster shooter, platformers that are more about gameplay than plot (like the Mario games, Banjo-Kazooie and many others, all of which are good games, don’t get me wrong) or games that want to be interpretative experiences, like my favorite game of all time, Journey.  And there is nothing wrong with most of those concepts, aside from the blockbusters shooters that think that blowing things up equals a reason to care.  A game should be its own thing.

However, there are those games that rise above what so many games shoot for – being a cinematic experience.  Modeling games off cinema makes sense, in a lot of respects.  People like movies.  People go to the movies.  Cinema is the last major cultural expression to gain the sanctified status as “art.”  A status that the gamer community has been arguing is something games have for a long time.  However, those who have actually studied the evolution of narrative in video games can tell you that shooting to be like cinema is wasted potential.  I don’t begrudge developers from doing that, but trust me, it’s wasted.  Now, this is going to be something of a long post, which I could see doing as a Master’s thesis paper, but I hope you’ll agree with me on this one point, if you read no further – video games shouldn’t shoot to be like movies.  They should shoot to be like books.  And they can.  If you read on, I’ll tell you why.

The early video games had either no plot or a plot that existed just to put the hero into the story.  Mario was in his games to rescue Peach.  That was it.  The original Legend of Zelda games weren’t complicated, either.  To be fair, as much as I love Ocarina of Time, it isn’t Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Timeall that complicated, either.  It is a beautiful story, but it is a simple one.  The plots were simple because they didn’t have a lot of complicated mechanisms to work with.  They had a simple control scheme and simple graphics to work with that couldn’t do the kind of narrative you’ll see in later examples.  It just couldn’t be done.  And a lot of those older games were good games.  For real, as simple as the plot is, I could play Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for days on end.  Hell, I have done that, when I decided to indulge some nostalgia and dust off my old N64.

There is an argument to be made as to when this changed, but in my eyes, the turning point was around the time when Final Fantasy IV was created.  A game that had a world that was very diverse, with each area having a culture all its own.  Characters who had their own problems and internal struggles.  Betrayals and manipulations that made the story interesting.  While the digital effects were retro, it still told a compelling story that got the player invested in the characters and the world it took place in.  The Final Fantasy brand capitalized on this in a big way.  You had games like Final Fantasy VII telling a very bittersweet story about loss, destruction and the frail nature of the world.

As the medium of story-telling evolved, something that evolved with them was how one could expand the mythos of the world that the game existed in.  The first great example I have for a well-explored mythos was in Metroid Prime.  As you went through the world, you could scan pretty much anything.  With most things, you would see a display with some random tidbit, that wasn’t worth much, but interesting.  Then, you would scan something and you would get an entry added to your logbook.  Organized into different categories, the logbook became your way to learn more about the various parties, flora and fauna and other aspects of the world that the game felt you needed to know.  It encouraged curiosity and to learn about this vast expanse that they gave you.  Wouldn’t you know it, it was a huge hit.  And this kind of retaining information about the mythos of a world would remain a central part of gaming culture forever.

Mass EffectThe best usage of this medium is the Mass Effect series.  As the player goes through the world, reading computer screens, interacting with NPCs, getting to specific story points, talking to your crew or playing out certain missions, you would get entries added to one of the most efficient tools in the series – the Codex.  The Codex became synonymous with the series.  It was a tool that would give you additional information about things you had already gotten bits and pieces of in other ways.  It talked about everything.  It told you about the technology of the universe, the various characters, vehicles and life forms worth noting.  The Codex talked about just about everything.  It was a very comprehensive piece of data that the player could look back on at any time and read at their leisure.  It didn’t force them to do it, it was all up to the player.

A sign that the Codex was popular, and a medium that players could use to just read stuff was worthwhile came in Mass Effect 2.  There was a DLC mission called “Lair of the Shadow Broker.”  After completing the main mission, there was a new hub that could be interacted with and little Easter eggs to find.  However, the biggest sell of this DLC was something so small that the players love – the terminal with data about people in that universe.  It told you little details about your crew and the people who are important outside of them.  It could be anything, like a list of what Tali bought online, the improvements that Garrus made to ocular device that he wears or where Zaaed wants to retire, once the Suicide Mission is done.  Players flocked to this, because they wanted to learn about their favorite characters.  What’s more, they didn’t mind that all this was just stuff you read on a terminal.  We were fine with that.  In a truly “cinematic” game, that sort of DLC would have had no place.  The Codex wouldn’t have existed, because they would have assumed the players just didn’t care about the world and wanted to blow shit up.

Telling a story in film, there is a simple rule – show, don’t tell.  With video games, they can do both.  In fact, there are a lot of games that excel at doing both.  The Mass Effect series was most definitely one of them, however it isn’t the one that I believe did it best.  Still, it does pretty damn well.  Part of it is due to the central core of that series – player choice.  Learning bits about characters and the world around them and how they perceived the world happens very much from who you take with you into various places and on various missions.  I wouldn’t have heard the comedic bit that Garrus had about where is a good place to have battles if I hadn’t taken him with me on Mordin’s loyalty quest.  I wouldn’t have had Jack enjoying me letting the dumb little volus charge at the Eclipse leader if I hadn’t taken her on the mission to get Samara on my crew.  And in various places within hubs, like the Citadel and what-have-you, there were places where I could talk with various characters, depending on the game and which ones I took with me.

The Last of UsThat said, the game that I believe did the combination of dialogue and collectible log entries best is The Last of Us.  In this game, there is a very large amount of area that you can explore, amidst what externally-appears to be very linear gameplay.  That is skin-deep.  As you come across different things in different places, there will be a little triangle that appears above it.  That is a place where you can press the triangle button and initiate a brief conversation.  Doing so can either give character insight into things, such as Ellie remarking about the two suicide victims’ bodies in the hotel.  They can give back-story about a character, such as when Ellie remarks about a movie poster and Joel remarks have seen that film, which leads into the final category – narrative development.  You can learn a lot about perspective and the importance of certain things to certain characters based on what they say.  Plus, in many games, it doesn’t have to be that clean cut.  Hell, in The Last of Us, it wasn’t that clean cut.  Sometimes, there was no dialogue option.  Sometimes characters would just talk.  Sometimes it was important, sometimes it seemed trivial, but let us get to know the characters more.  It’s what made Joel and Ellie’s relationship so believable has it developed over the game.

Another great example is Halo 4.  While the gameplay was fairly typical, the thing that sold this game, to me, at least, was the story.  It told a very gripping story about the Master Chief and his decaying AI partner.  As the two would have little dialogues during the missions, as well as well-done cutscenes with dramatic moments, you came to care for both of them.  You saw the Chief and how, underneath it all, he was a lonely man whose closest human connection came from his AI partner.  You saw Cortana battling her own decay as you see her relationship with the Chief grow.  It was a poignant and beautiful narrative that, while cinematic in most respects, had just enough conversation elements to set it apart from a movie.

When you look at these elements and you see how rich and interesting they make the world of a game, the characters and our attachment to it, can you honestly imagine a film ever doing it justice?  For real, would you honestly think that a Mass Effect film could be good?  Sony recently announced that a The Last of Us film is being worked out, and I know that it is going to suck.  For real, there is absolutely zero chance that it will be good.  The reason is because the medium that the game was made it was perfect for telling the kind of story that it told – a story that was (and felt) long, with slow-paced development of a profound relationship that we came to believe in as we got to the end and we saw how far Joel was willing to go to save the person he cared about.  All video game movies have sucked, and to understand why this is, you have to realize something about video games – they can never be made into good films.  The reason for this is simple – film can’t rise to the potential that video games have.

So, what can?  What medium is there that can tell the kind of narrative that video games have?  Television?  Actually, that isn’t the worst.  Both The Walking Dead game (not the shitty one based on the TV show) and show tell comprehensive stories about a world that is complicated and a lot of characters.  TV has the same kind of character development and, thanks to the Internet, can have its own kind of Codex.  However, when thinking about translation of one medium into the other, it doesn’t work.  TV adaptation games have typically been as bad, or worse, than film adaptations.  So, if that isn’t the medium for this, then what is?

World War Z novel coverMy argument – books.  Think of how many books you love have been turned into piece of shit films.  I think back to the most recent book I love being turned into a piece-of-shit movie – World War Z.  A film that only shared the title of the book, I knew from it’s inception that a film like that was doomed on arrival.  See, the book is a story told from the perspective of a journalist who is gathering the stories of the people who survived humanity nearly going extinct thanks to the undead.  You already know how the story ends, with this story filling us in on the various stories and perspectives of the world it was based in.  Can you honestly see a book like that becoming a good movie?  So many perspectives, no central character and a lot of social and political commentary going on.  I didn’t, and I was still disappointed.

However, if that book had been made into a game, just think of what it could have done!  For real, the narrative structure of the novel would have worked much better, because video games are a medium where we accept these kinds of stories.  Hell, most gamers like to hear more than one perspective.  So this novel would have been a huge hit if it were made into a game before it was ever made into a movie.

A friend of mine showed me a trailer for another film adaptation of a book that is going to suck ass – The Giver.  It is a film that is done, in color.  The entire premise of the book was that that world had no color.  This film trailer has color all over the place.  How does that work?  Plus, there was no central villain in the novel.  It was a commentary about the lack of color and emotion that made the story profound.  The film, however, to keep to film standards, has a villain as there is color all over the place.  Pointless and it serves nothing within the narrative.  Now, just think if that story was a game before it ever became a movie.  The potential for that kind of narrative in video games would have made so many more crappy film adaptations more interesting.

The evolution of the video game narrative continues, and I am glad to see that it is getting better.  The latest DLC I played was awesome.  I look forward to more.  Gaming is becoming a medium that can outdo Hollywood and their dried-up rivers of ideas, if only we give it a chance.  What do you say?

Until next time, a quote,

“Because movies, when compared to games, are a much more regimented and controlled experience.  When you’re watching a movie, you’re seeing exactly what the filmmakers want you to see, in exactly the order they want you to see it.  But games are usually categorized as some level of freedom on the part of the player.  And if you give players any freedom, very often the first thing we’ll do is stop cooperating with your story.  We’ll do everything in the wrong order.  We’ll ignore all the things you wanted us to notice, notice all the things you wanted us to ignore and generally lay waste to whatever dramatic structure you wanted us to experience.”  -Mr. B Tongue, TUN: The Shandification of Fallout

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien Maverick’s Blog Updates

Hey everybody.

So, brief little tidbit.  I’ve finally gotten some stuff set up on other sides to share my blog and to use social media to the utmost.  If any of you are interested.  Sorry I’ve been so absent, lately, it’s just been a long semester and we have a lot going on.  I thought I should let you all know that I am going to be doing a lot more posting on here in the months to come, including a piece that I am doing today about the evolution of narrative in one of my favorite mediums.

But, if you’re interested, here are some links to my pages.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LMaverick123
Tumblr: http://lmaverick123.tumblr.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lmaverick123

I never thought that I would get this far at all when I started this blog.  I thought that I would have five people who read my ramblings and nobody who gave a shit.  Now, I am coming on 400 subscribers just on WordPress, and that means a lot.  I’m not big, but I am thankful to you all the same.  Stay tuned, through, because the best is yet to come.  Let me know in the comments section what you’d like to see here.

Until next time, a quote,

“When have you ever cared about what I think?”  -Ellie, The Last of Us: Left Behind

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC

The Last of Us Left BehindI make it no secret that The Last of Us was my second-favorite game of last year.  It was the best game that came out last year, without a single contender in its class.  For real, no game made the drama and the human connection seem as real as this game did.  When I saw the preview for this DLC, I didn’t know what to think.  I just knew that, if it was done with the same love and respect for good story-telling that the original game was, then I was in for a beautiful work of digital perfection.  And let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint!  Oh my god, this DLC is awesome!  Just when I thought that this game and the characters in it couldn’t surprise me anymore, it does!  For being $15, I got every single penny of my money’s worth.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s talk about it.

The story for this DLC follows two chronological settings.  Let me say, up-front – do NOT play this DLC before you finish the game!  For real, don’t!  You have to have context to make this setting work.  The first is right in the middle of the game.  Joel has been run-through with a piece of rebar.  Ellie has desperately gotten him to safety and is looking for a way to patch his wounds.  As she is searching a mall that she takes shelter in, her mind harkens back to when her and her best friend, Riley, were reunited.  Apparently, their departure didn’t end well, and now she is back.  Riley has Ellie follow her to a run-down mall, to give her a gift.  Ellie can feel that there’s something else, and she’s right.

I won’t talk about the controls or any of that.  It’s the exact same as the game.  However, they do give you some little differences that go a long way, such as allowing you to make little decisions about stuff.  What you do and how you do it effects how little interactions play out.  You can’t change the ending, but it does give you some free-reign to interact with the world more.  That’s nice.  There are also some cute little mini-games in the segments in the past.  As before, you can’t change the final outcome, but it lets you test your stealth skills in a serious way.  For real, Riley is one MEAN opponent.  Plus, the weapon you have is unreliable.  I won’t spoil it, but it’s funny.  There are also a couple of environmental puzzles in the present-day (figuratively speaking) setting when she is trying to find medicine for Joel.

This game brings Joel and Ellie back, through Joel is only around long enough to let us all know he’s in pain.  The two main characters in this game are Ellie and Riley.  And my god, their interaction is perfect!  For real, it’s flawless.  The way they interact, it feels like two real friends who are reuniting after a long time apart.  It is clear that they parted on bad terms, and while they share some great moments, how their past comes back into the story is just awesome.  For real, there are some HUGE emotional highlights that this DLC hits, and it does it just at the right moment to make your heart soar or your eyes weep.

Which is another thing to mention about this DLC – it’s bittersweet, in the absolute best way.  This is telling a story that we kind of already know, if you’ve seen the end of the game, but seeing it play out, you get to see where a lot of Ellie’s fear of abandonment comes from.  I cried at the end of this, and so will you, if you have a heart.  Naughty Dog, once again, shows why nobody does it like they do.  Nobody.  I could gush, for hours and hours and hours about this DLC and how perfectly-paced the story is.  It isn’t especially long, but just like the opening with Joel and Sara, it makes you believe that it’s real.  Maybe this just attached to me because of how I feel so much of Ellie’s emotions in respect to a friend that she felt ditched her.  Maybe I’m alone in that, but I don’t think so.  I think that this kind of feeling will resonate with everyone who plays.

Since there isn’t too much to talk about outside of that, let me just wrap this little review up by saying that this is worth every single penny of your money on PSN.  For real, if you have played and loved the original game as much as I do, then go and buy this DLC.  Do so immediately!  I have never seen an add-on to a game be this good.  I’ve seen another that comes close (the Mass Effect 3: Citadel DLC), but it didn’t hit the emotional levels this did.  I am so glad I played it, and you will be too.

Final Verdict
10 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick