An Anonymous Game Dev Crybaby (A response to The Guardian)

At this point, I’ve just come to accept that The Guardian is a total rag.  Or, at least their editorial side is.  See, there are two areas of this publication.  The first is one that does some journalism that wins Pulitzer prizes for.  The other is their editorial section.  Their editorial section is a pro-SJW rag that has no self-respect or self-awareness.  And just like all the rest of SJW media, the have to make sure that we know just how awful us straight men are, and how we are the reason the world can’t have nice things.  Case and point, this article from an anonymous game dev who is making the argument that all this imaginary sexism that the SJW crowd finds in games doesn’t stem from hot women in games.  It stems from the games themselves.  Joy-bunnies.  Here’s a link to the article, now let’s talk about it.

In her recent article, No girl wins: three ways women unlearn their love of video games, Juliet Khan posits the main reasons why girls in particular might quit playing: disqualification of the sorts of games they like (“Gone Home is not a real game!”), marginalisation (It’s less socially acceptable for girls to play games as they grow older), and the way most big games are marketed at young men through violence, competition and sex.

Let me refute each point.  1. Disqualification happens all over the board.  It’s part of the discussion of gaming.  I think that Gone Home is a game, but not a very good one.  It was advertised like it is a horror experience, when it is just a simulator where you take in the world and get all nostalgic and shit.  The “mystery” isn’t that interesting, and it all end up being pretty dull.  But that’s my opinion.  Other people have their own.  Do you not realize that this is a topic that is divisive?  I get shit for being a grown man who likes a game about a teenage girl who can rewind time.  But this is the point of having discussion in this medium.  If girls can’t handle a little bit of challenge, then clearly they are fair-weather gamers anyway.  Not to mention – the people who talk about this are on message boards.  If these girls are going to these message boards, then they probably care enough to defend their liking of the game.

2. Who is marginalizing female gamers?  Citation, please.  Because every guy I know who games loves to see more girls and women into the hobby.  For real, I love that I have a friend who is addicted to Civ 5, and wishes that I was into it to.  That’s cool!  It’s also cool that I have a gay lady-friend who I can talk about how awesome and sexy certain characters are in games.  Or who I can give shit to while she plays Borderlands 2.  Where are these people saying that girls should leave gaming?  Mayhaps the person who wrote the article you cite has a chip on her shoulder?

3. Once again, I love how this person totally cuts out lesbian and bisexual women from the conversation about hot women.  But that’s beside the point.  I know what ads she’s talking about.  The ones with Kate Upton shoving her tits on the screen for a shitty mobile game.  Honey, I don’t watch regular television.  I have the Internet for that.  And the Internet doesn’t have those stupid ads.  Guess what – most gamers are the same.  We get our information about games from the sources we trust, and from conversation with other gamers.  Does your author know that message boards exist?

Most of the time when we discuss why girls don’t play games it often boils down to representation: there still aren’t as many female characters to relate to.

Genius, here’s an idea – there is hard data to show that the bulk of what girls and women play are games on their phones!  They are what we call “casual gamers.”  Those games often have no character in them at all.  Unless those angry birds all have backstories when I send them like suicidal missiles at the hog creatures.  God, that sounds horrifying, now that I think on it.

The problem of marginalisation in games development isn’t just about women, or people from different religious or ethnic backgrounds, it’s about entire genres. Marginalisation is happening in the very fabric of the design process, and this is just as damaging to the health of the industry and its ability to hold our attention – both as developers and as gamers.

This is a dev saying this, right?  I ask because it’s weird to see someone who has the ability to make whatever game they want to make.  There are plenty of engines to make games.  The Indie scene is bursting at the scenes with games that are made by a couple of people.  All sorts, really.  In fact, there are so many of these that most Indie games fail.  There’s a glut in the market, and to stand out, you really have to be special. And even then, it’s not a guarantee.  Making games is a risk.  But if there is a kind of game that you wish to see more of, then my dear – go make it!  Go make the games you want to see.  What’s stopping you?  Does whatever company you work for have a contract that you work for them for life or something?  Fuck me…

The thing is, I don’t really care if you put a female avatar into Assassins Creed. You can put as many women as you like into Fifa, or make the entire cast of Gears of War tough action chicks – I still won’t play those games.

Good for you.  For real, go play whatever you want.  Get a Steam account and then see what you can find.  There is enough there to fill someone’s library for an eternity, at a fraction of the cost of AAA games.  I have been enjoying the Indie scene this year.  Just got Everyone’s Gone in the Rapture, which I will be reviewing one of these days.  Why on Earth should we care what your entitled ass doesn’t want to play?

Mainstream big-budget video games have been shifting towards a mechanical singularity for years, and it’s really time to ask if that’s something that might be keeping people away too?

There is a real discussion to be had about how AAA gaming is becoming so vanilla.  But not in this way.  Not as some gender battleground.  It needs to be about something more.  Like how the market is now nothing but AAA games and Indie games.  There are no more middle-way projects.  Or how companies are now so big that this is the best we can get.  That’s a real discussion.  But not one that is a gender issue.  You follow?

I’m still waiting for an excuse to upgrade to PlayStation 4 or Xbox One myself, but I’m not excited by the prospect of more detailed chest-hair physics in what are basically the same games we had last gen. And what if I just never get that excuse?

Who the fuck cares?  This entire post is just you bitching, “they don’t the games I want!  My opinion matters because I want these kinds of games!”  There’s no obligation from anyone to make the games you want.  Companies make the games that sell.  I tell people to vote with their wallets, knowing full-well that my telling people to do that won’t make much difference.  You could take that approach.  Tell your audience not to buy games that you don’t want to see.  But understand that the companies who make these games do market research.  They know what their audience wants.  It’s not my fault if people are going to keep throwing money at companies like EA, even if Star Wars: Battlefield is garbage.  No, it isn’t worthy of the Battlefront name, so I didn’t give it to it.  I don’t expect my posts to do much of anything.  I wish they did.  I’d like to see developers taking me seriously, but I am not so egotistical to believe that I can change the world by writing something online.  I am also not so arrogant as to presume that AAA gaming companies should cater to what I want.  I hope that you have a larger point here, because this is beginning to feel like you just wanted a platform to bitch.

Underlying all of this is a central notion that games are best for shooting or killing things – or scoring goals – and all other intricacies are subservient. The excuse that “games are good at binary states – alive or dead – not the complexities of emotion” is often carted out to explain why violence is the focus of the majority of blockbuster titles.

No, buttercup.  Violence is used because it has a very efficient set of rules.  If you are trying to turn a fighter jet simulator into a video game, you use violence.  It’s just easier.  Yeah, maybe there is a laziness about how exploited it is.  Now that we’ve FINALLY gotten into a part of the article that talks about game mechanics, let’s actually delve into this.

LA Noire is a game that has two parts.  The first part is awesome, where you solve crimes, interrogate witnesses and read facial expressions and analyze clues to come to a conclusion.  However, that first part is bogged down by the second part.  The second part involve shooting people.  Lots of people.  Why was that part in the game?  Easy – because it’s a Rockstar game.  These are the people who pioneered Grand Theft Auto.  They are a AAA company.  Because they know that their brand has a certain recognition, they were worried.  Worried that people wouldn’t want to play their game if it didn’t have enough shooting.  Making a AAA game is a HUGE investment.  Just look at how certain games have gone wrong.  A bad AAA release can sink a company.  This is the world we live in.  To survive, companies have to make games that sell a shit-ton of copies.  And they don’t seem to realize that they can do that with smaller budgets.  They can make certain kinds of games and they will sell.  But these companies are afraid to do so, because any lost revenue means that they are hurting.

But games have always been about more than that. What of exploration? What of puzzles? What of rhythm action and strategic salt-on-the-fries theme park economics?

What about them?  See the previous answer.  This all goes back to my first point – you are a dev, right?  If so, then what is stopping you from making these games that you want?  For real, skipper, go out and see what you can make.  Then the free market will decide if it’s more than just you who wants it.

Narrative games, multidirectional platformers, strategy sims and “casual” puzzle apps aren’t weird outliers, they’re all the bits of games that have been jettisoned in the race toward the perfect shoot-’em-up mono-experience; they’re every idea a dev has had that was considered too much extra effort to fit into a sprawling AAA epic, or was “too girly” to appeal to the target audience; they’re what happens when people want to focus on mechanics that do something other than kill, race or score.

Are you fucking kidding me?!  Too “girly?”  Who says that?  No joke, I want a citation.  Because this is so dumb.  Narrative games?  Oh, right, because no game with shooting in it has a narrative.  Nope.  All the emotional story-telling in The Last of Us never happened, right?  One of the most emotionally-powerful games I have played in years.  Yup, didn’t happen.  No shooter has a compelling narrative.  Multidirectional platformers?  That’s all over the Indie scene.  Lo, I see more bitching here!  As for why there aren’t more immersive elements (which I think is what you’re trying to say) in AAA games, well that’s because companies are afraid to do it.  It’s a gamble.

For all the bashing you just did of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, their best game had some great immersion, giving you command of a pirate ship and a whole Caribbean to explore.  That game should have set the standard for those games.  But Ubisoft is greedy, and lazy.  They needed a franchise that they can crank out yearly.  They are financially dependent on it.  That’s the entire industry.  You think that these devs wouldn’t like to be working on other things?  You think that they wouldn’t like to bring some AAA or even AA game that tones down certain elements and makes things more interesting?  These companies are too big.  They can’t sustain themselves.  The ironic thing is that all your bitching will eventually sort itself out.  A crash is coming.  Everyone can see it.  Man, this is getting so annoying.

We all like different things. That’s not about gender, that’s about being human. Narrative and character diversity are both important; representation is a fundamental way of saying “you are welcome, games are for you”. But then so is gameplay variety. The lack of genre diversity doesn’t just affect players, it affects employees within the industry – especially women, who are more likely to have grown up enjoying slightly different games,

Wow.  This is so forced.  You’re complaining about homogeny in AAA games, but you can’t just talk about that.  No, you have to make it a gender issue, don’t you?  But it’s not!  There’s no connection.  You want to talk about games being more inclusive?  That’s a discussion to be had.  But here you are, a dev who thinks that you need to stay anonymous, because you think…what, exactly?  That the company you work for is going to care if some nobody writes an article that has gender and AAA gaming homogeny (a complete non-sequitur) in this rag of a publication?

This is the problem with how the SJW crowd is trying to make everything about gender.  It is killing what could be a real discussion about real issues.  Instead, we have to hear this bullshit for hours on end.  By making this about gender, it shows that your side is so desperate to be taken seriously that they will latch on to whatever issue they can, just so they can get their two-cents worth of time.  Is it worth it?

Until next time, a quote,

“Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.”  -Desmond Tutu

Peace out,

Maverick

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