Lucien’s Review: Borderlands 3

So…this game has problems.  Following up arguably the greatest looter-shooter of all time, Borderlands 2, is no mean feat.  I don’t envy the people who had to follow up that task.  The concept for this game has genius wrapped all over it.  You’re going from planet to planet, opening vaults and working to stop some hardcore villains, while there is a big corporate war going on too that you get dragged into.  That has perfect sequel written all over it.  And while I don’t think this is a bad game by any measure, it’s not the game I was hoping it would be.  It really does feel like more of the same, and while you’d think that wouldn’t be so bad, the utterly lackluster story and character is what sets this apart in how much it doesn’t live up to the last game in the series. Let’s talk about it.

Instead of Handsome Jack, now we’ve got some new douchebag villains to contend with – the Calypso Twins, and their nefarious cult, the Children of the Vault.  They want to open the vaults for unknown reasons, and you are going to assist them in doing so, as one of four brand new vault hunters.  We have worlds to explore and old friends to reunite with.  Time to get the looting and shooting going!

Like I said, this isn’t a bad game.  On a lot of levels, it’s pretty great.  You have some really refined shooting mechanics.  At least, to a point.  Can I just point out how utterly nerfed the shotgun is in this game?  In the last one, this weapon is the close-range murder machine.  You get up close and personal with this thing and cut your enemy down.  In this game, they feel so weak.  Sure, enemies fly around, but the damage level is such a freakin’ joke.  That aside, this game does have some great shooting.  Gunplay is slick, and so is using your abilities.  Which is good, because that’s pretty much all you do.  No surprise, right?  Well, kinda.

I will say that the main characters are a LOT talkier in this game, and that isn’t a bad thing.  Giving your characters actual personalities to play off those they interact with is genuinely enjoyable.  It makes the amount of time you spend doing the same thing, over and over again a little more enjoyable.  Which is where I get into my gripes.

The story in this game is garbage.  Hands-down, it’s bad.  Well, not so much bad, as unrelentingly boring.  There are never any stakes to this.  This is why I say that following up one of the greatest looter-shooters of all time works against this game.  Borderlands 2 had a captivating narrative.  The goal was simple – kill Handsome Jack and save Pandora.  The entire plot centered around the villain, and as such he had to be a pretty damn good villain in order for us to really want to make him dead.  Tribute to the creators of the game, he was.  One of the greatest lovable villains of all time.  Might make a list of those somewhere in the future.

In this game, they take you from one world to the next, but there is NEVER a sense of growing stakes.  By the time I realized that we were coming up on the end, I was thinking to myself – really?  Well, I guess that’s what we’re doing now.  And we were.  Which was it.  My disappointment cannot be measured in words.

One of the most marketed thing in this game was that you’d be getting two games worth of the gang (and a Telltale series) back together to go on one last big rodeo to kill the baddest mother-fuckers not just on Pandora, but in the universe.  And it doesn’t work!  Why?  Because you spend so little time getting to know them.  Sure, there are some fun interactions.  Zer0 being in the employ of the head of the Atlas Corporation and his haiku speech about enemies was pretty great.  But the reunion with Tiny Tina was rushed.  Same with Mordecai and Brick.  The reunion with Maya was basically just the plot doing what the plot does.  But where is Axton?  Where is my home-girl Gaige?!  This game has you spending a decent amount of time working with Hammerlock, and it does give his character some level of conclusion.  This was the key aspect they marketed on, and it fails spectacularly because of how uninvested the story feels in anything that you do with these people, outside of the events on Promethea.  That area had real stakes.  It was the one and only section of the game where you felt some actual conclusion to what happens.  At least until you get to the vault and the villains come back into the story.  And on that note…

The Calypso Twins suck.  Handsome Jack was lovable.  You liked how much you hated him.  He was such an asshat, doing these things to just fuck with you in little ways that left you really annoyed.  There were the big moments like where he kills Bloodwing and Roland, which were used well to bring the tension levels back up.  In this game, we get two absolute assholes who are the most annoying jack-offs ever.  There were several scenes where I was screaming at the screen to let me right when they are fucking up my day and there is no good reason why I can’t come into the fight and blow their annoying heads off.  I don’t love to hate these two.  I just hate them.  It’s ironic because I loved the hate the head of the Maliwan Corporation, when he is being a douche on Promethea.  Again, ties in to that section of the game feeling like it actually ends.

All this complaining, you probably think I hate this game.  I don’t.  I really, really don’t.  It’s just frustrating to see so much potential wasted because the game didn’t want to really take a chance and do something special with the concept it had.  Maybe the DLC sections will round this out.  I’m hoping that brings back characters that I love.  For real, where are Axton and Gaige?  Those two were my jam!  It’s frustrating to see a great concept ruined by disappointing execution.  Here’s hoping I’m right about the DLC.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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The Manufactured Crisis Over Cyberpunk Character Creator Being ‘Genderless’

Over my time on the Internet, I’ve watched all kinds of ideological epochs come and go.  There was the atheism movement that sprouted up, bolstered by YouTube, where Christian apologists’ ideas went to be destroyed by some of the best entertainers, very few of which are still around today.  Then we got to see the battle of liberal v conservative ideologies.  This was during the time when the Tea Party was still a thing, and the right made an absolute ass of themselves.  On YouTube, there was the infusion of social justice brand feminism into atheism, and how that split the community in two, all starting (ironically enough) with a video by a feminist about a guy hitting on her in an elevator and how that made her uncomfortable.  We had the rise of Anita Sarkeesian, and the insane culture war between feminism and video games.

Through all of these culture wars, I’ve watched the pendulums swinging.  They always find a side, but over time, some other stupid thing comes along and then the pendulum shifts.  We’re seeing that now.  Up ’til this point, it’s been this big battle with the regressive left making itself look like a giant ass (it’s the Tea Party all over again), and being infinitely mockable by those who stood against them.  However, a problem emerged.  It seemed that the side who was making fun of them was becoming just as petulant and pathetic as they were being.  In fact, they were really stepping up to the plate of trying to beat the people they mocked at their own game, all while mocking them still.

Which brings us to Cyberpunk 2077.  In their latest Deep Dive video, they decided to get into the nitty-gritty of the changes made to the game since the last demo.  According to various sources within CDPR, the game is so much unlike what it was back in the demo from 2018.  Naturally, people were excited to see what the game had become.  At least, most people were.  But in the new land of endless outrage by everybody, there had to be the naysayers.  Except this time, it was from the most unexpected sort one would imagine – the right.  The most right-wing of the anti-SJW crowd.

So what is their beef?  Why, the character creator, of course!  See, instead of picking a male or female option, now you pick a male or female build.  And from there, you can customize your character however you see fit.  Eventually you do settle on a gender identity you want to have, as CDPR has shown that there is plenty of gendered language characters use when talking to the main character, V.  You can just make your character whatever crazy amalgamation of gender and look you want.  Go nuts!  Have fun, go mad!  It sounds like this would be the kind of thing that would fit right in with a cyberpunk dystopia, but apparently not.

Twitter did what Twitter does – became a cesspool of people bitching.  Except this time, it was about something that makes no fucking sense.  For real, this is a cyberpunk world.  Why exactly would gender be something that is a limit to what kind of person you can be in this world?  A world of cybernetic augmentation, where you can give yourself Mantis Blades hidden in your arms.  Where you can hollow out your skull and replace the parts you took with tech.  In any decent cyberpunk world, where augmentation is out of control, you should be able to create whatever kind of fucked up person you want.

It’s why the reaction to the poster with the female looking person with a big dick made no sense to me.  This is Cyberpunk!  You can be whatever you want!  Do you want two King Kong dicks to plow a bitch in both holes?  You can have that!  You wanna have smooth alabaster skin and teeth like a shark so you can become a DC comics villain?  You can do that too!  Hell, do you wanna have your head on the body of an angel-baby with a giant cock and a unicorn horn on your head?  Assuming you have the cash for that, you can even go that far.  We saw in a trailer a chick who can remove her mouth to do her makeup.  This world is all about making your body whatever twisted thing you want it to be, to become whatever person you want.  So how is it transphobic to have a chick with a big dick?

Which brings us back to the conservative butthurt about the genderless character creator.  Where they are complaining about not being able to have a strictly male character.  A fact that isn’t even true.  If you want a character who looks male and is, you still can.  Same with female.  However you want them to identify, you can do that.  The difference is that you aren’t stuck with that in the outset.  Now you can make a character all your own, and choose how they are identified.

But the outrage was everywhere.  People saying they cancelled their pre-orders.  Saying that CDPR betrayed them.  Like they were Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith.  So much outrage, and it literally made no sense to everyone in the gaming world who was paying attention.  Which begs the question – where did this outrage come from?  What was the source?  In my eyes, all of this outrage was 100% manufactured.

Sure, there are those who actually believe that this is all some kind of betrayal, and those idiots know who they are.  But then you have the people who are just using this for the clicks.  On the left and the right, people were getting on the bandwagon of talking about this, propping up what should have been a non-controversy.  It made for some really great videos that would all get a ton of clicks.  Thankfully, everyone with actual perspective on this was telling people to calm their tits.  That this makes perfect sense for the world they were creating and that people’s freaking out about it was just making them look like butthurt children.

The pendulum is swinging again, to the whining of two sides of butthurt children, and I’m content to not embrace either side.  I still think nothing of social justice, but the other side has become just as bad.  And they have the audacity to call their opponents “snowflakes.”  The irony of either side using that term to describe the other just blows my fucking mind.  But hey, if America didn’t have hypocrisy, what would we have?

Until next time, a quote,

“I had to remind myself to breathe.” – Lewis Black

Peace out,

Maverick

Conservative Butthurt Babies About Cyberpunk 2077’s Character Creator

Back in 2012, social justice in gaming reared its ugly head.  They found a new community to infest with their ideology, and the culture war over gaming has been raging ever since.  Back then groups of people who you’d never think would be on the same side of anything came together for one cause – to get people who are documented as not being part of any significant percentage of gaming from destroying a hobby that is near and dear to our hearts.  Those were some interesting days.  But now, seven years later, and things have come full circle.  The pendulum has swung right back around, and instead of social justice being the loudest voice with their stupid bullshit (though they are still around), the ones I hear from most these days is whiny, bitchy conservatives who are REALLY butthurt.

Over what, you may ask?  Well, how about Cyberpunk 2077‘s character creator.  For those who didn’t know, the newest trailer for the game dropped, and it looks freakin’ glorious.  Every time I see more of this game, the more hyped I get.  The action looks great.  The world looks fun.  The driving mechanics look simplistic, but it gets the job done.  Each part of this world has personality.  One of the things they showed off was the character creator system.  It seems that from the really long gameplay demo from last year, CDPR had some ideas on how to expand things.  Part of that included taking away the strictly male or female character types.  Instead, you start with a male-type build or a female-type build and can go from there.  They wanted it to be deep.  In a world all about transhumanism and surpassing physical limitations through cybernetics, this makes perfect sense.

As one might expect, this didn’t sit well with everyone.  Indeed, conservative audiences decided to get their butthurt going REAL quick.  They took to the Internet, mainly Twitter, and bitched and moaned at the Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account about how they are so upset.  Many of them claim that they either are or already have cancelled their preorders.  Virtue a-fluttering as they say about how this is so disappointing and just them appeasing the “leftists”.  Reading that stuff is like watching a small child throwing a temper tantrum because they didn’t get the toy they wanted exactly as they wanted it.

I am so DONE with this culture war that is going on between the butthurt left and the equally, if not moreso butthurt right.  Both sides of this conflict are equally insufferable.  I’m a liberal.  Make no apologies for it.  I’m not one of these “leftists” that conservatives like to label people who are on the left side of politics.  I believe in open expression in the free marketplace of ideas.  Whatever your point of view, everyone should have a platform.  But both sides in this never-ending culture war just frustrate me.  In 2014, where things escalated, I was on a live-stream with some people and they said that all the sides who came together would never grow apart.  It would be a shared unity forever.  If only they could see things now.  The old battle lines are coming back, because social justice isn’t nearly the dragon it used to be.

What’s so funny about all this is that just recently, CDPR was labelled as “alt-right” by the games media circle-jerk.  Now they are being labelled as a company who just kowtows to the left.  Maybe now the left and the right can get behind hating this company together.  Come together and brothers and sisters in arms for hating a company who is making some of the most reliably fantastic gaming experiences, to date.

That got me to thinking – yeah, let’s hate on people who make quality content because of one stupid issue that a person has.  Maybe they can go back to Activision!  I’m sure they will fill the void for their anti-leftist content.  I’m not kidding.  Companies will see a market here.  Hell, Activision’s next entry in the CoD franchise is looking to be super edgy with its single player, putting a level from a previous game that was super controversial to shame with a game that goes super far into edgy darkness.  Big AAA gaming companies are getting nervous, with their lootboxes and “surprise mechanics” (Fuck EA and that terminology) being looked at with scrutiny that goes so far that 2K now has a game that has open gambling in it.  Governments of the world are looking to get involved.  The ESA has been lobbying the fuck out of pretending there’s nothing wrong, but the sharks are circling.  If the cash cow dies, AAA gaming is in trouble.

So maybe they can get on the pandering wagon.  Works for Hollywood, so why wouldn’t gaming do it?  Don’t like this game where you don’t have a strict gender option for a character, even though you can make a character who is straight male, you just don’t pick the gender right off the bat?  Well don’t you worry!  Activision’s got you!  Or EA’s got you!  How about Ubisoft?  Marketing by pandering to a specific demographic who is tribalistic and easy to please, so long as you just give them whatever they want.  Never mind that the games will be sub-par, riddled with microtransactions, half-baked, and probably part of some live-services boondoggle.  At least you get your character creator to what you want, right?

I can’t imagine being so pathetic that I would throw an entire game in to the trash all because of something as stupid as not getting gender-specific character creation.  A game that looks to have a deep story-line, combat reminiscent of Borderlands, and fun characters, but I’m just gonna hate on it because of one stupid thing that doesn’t really bother me anyway.  You still have to choose what kind of pronouns will be associated with this character.  So you can make your male power fantasy character.  Or, if you want a female build with a male voice and a beard, you can have that too.  In this future, you can be whatever kind of person you want.  That sounds like fun to me.  I guess the tribalistic right doesn’t agree.

Until next time, a quote,

“One sure-fire way to get noticed is to pander to a fandom.  Or as I like to call it, a pandom.” – JelloApocalypse, Welcome to Tumblr

Peace out,

Maverick

Your Rage-Bait is So Painfully Obvious (A response to VG24/7)

I’ve talked at length about the fact that journalism at this point is a tired old whore who will tell you whatever she thinks you need to hear in order to pay her for services.  In the online sphere, that means whatever gets peoples click fingers going.  And games journalism is basically the king of whoring out whatever for those clicks.  All the clicks are needed.  Sure, it means their integrity basically doesn’t exist, but it functions, so there’s that.  Now it seems that they’re stepping up their game in order to get the clicks coming even faster.  After all, article after article has come out demonizing gamers and those who are critical of gaming and they get attention.  Which means more clicks.

Which brings us to an article saying that game developers need to stop listening to fans.  An article whose goal is so clear – rage-baiting.  They want to get people’s rage going, which will get responses, which in turn will get clicks.  It’s not even subtle what they’re doing.  But, this topic is stupid enough for me to take the time to really go into it.  Here’s a link to the article, now let’s talk about it.

Don’t get mad, there’s a bit of hyperbole in that headline

Pathetic attempt to take shots at themselves for their deliberate choice make a title that is rage-bait.  Please.  You knew what you were doing, and it worked.  People are talking about it.  I’m talking about it.  But I’m not gonna take the bait.  I’m actually gonna respond to the stupidity on display in a constructive way.

BioWare has a lot to answer for, basically. Mass Effect 3 feels like ground zero for toxic fan entitlement. I’m sure the developer was just trying to do the right thing, but it changed the ending of its game due to negative feedback, bending its creative vision to pander to the baying masses.

You know, this point might have SOME level of a decent argument if it weren’t for the fact that stuff came out about the ending to Mass Effect 3.  See, EA was pressuring Bioware HARD to get the game out in 2012.  A console generation was coming to an end and they didn’t want to have to compete.  Not to mention that the time frame they were aiming for put them ahead of the competition.  As such, Bioware had the ending written by one guy and they accepted the first draft as the final one.  For a studio who had had teams of writers working on all the parts of the game to mesh everything with player choice, it strikes me as a little odd that you’re defending a game that had a bad ending that Bioware knew was bad.

This wasn’t people making them compromise their vision that they thought out and truly believed was the best.  It was EA doing what EA does and forcing Bioware to compromise their vision, which in turn had them redo the ending to try and save face.  Granted, I hate the revision, but at the very lease I see where it’s coming from.  Your point would be better if Neil Druckmann took out India lesbian from the sequel to The Last of Us: Part II because of all the conservatives railing about it.  And this isn’t even the end of the false-equivalence.

Things are often cut or changed. Some things don’t work. Some things work better than expected and are expanded upon. Nobody wants to release a bad game. Nobody wants the ending of their critically-acclaimed sci-fi trilogy to be ill-received.

Well, Bioware made a really bad decision in letting themselves get bought out by EA.  Game companies make bad decisions all the time.  But EA put their boot down and Bioware was stuck.  I have some level of sympathy for what happened to Mass Effect 3.  Since every other part was so carefully crated to accommodate all the decisions the player made, can you not see why people would be so upset that the ending totally throws everything in the trash?  I can’t be the only one who notices this.

Part of the issue here is how our industry feeds into this entitlement. Whether it’s PlayStation saying it’s “for the players” or it’s Xbox head Phil Spencer saying stuff like, “Games and gamers together now have the sheer magnitude to be a significant unifying force for the world,” whatever that means, our industry goes out of its way to say the customer is always right.

Um…are the basics of supply and demand just an illusion to you?  The customer is always right.  If you want to have an industry thrive where the goal is entertainment, then you have to entertain.  It’s pretty simple.  You entertain the masses and they buy your product.  If you start giving them sub-standard products, they won’t buy them anymore.  One of the products that gaming sells is narratives.  So if you have a product built on narrative quality with understandable narrative rules that the universe you created follows, and you finish the series by basically shitting on the rules and making it so that the cornerstone of your franchise – player choice – is thrown out the airlock, what makes you think that critical feedback will be positive?

This wasn’t a case of fans not getting some deeper meaning.  We know now that Bioware was in a corner so they just threw something together at the last minute.  Makes me wonder what could have happened if Bioware had been given the time and the game would have come out in 2013.

Metal Gear Solid 4 – the worst game in the series – was a game for the fans. People hated Metal Gear Solid 2 at launch because it forced you to play as floppy-haired newcomer, Raiden, instead of Solid Snake. Metal Gear Solid 4 put players back in Snake’s sneaking boots, but the game was basically an extended bit of fan service.

Dude, that wasn’t the fans’ fault.  It was Konami’s.  Are you just completely unaware of the ugly relationship between Kojima and Konami?  It destroyed his last project.  Konami wanted MGS4.  Kojima never wanted to make a sequel after 1.  His being forced to do so was consistently the studio he was tied with forcing his hand.  It’s why he’s cut loose so hard for his next project, to make it something so radically different.  That game was Kojima just putting something out there to please his benefactors, they wanted it to just be fan service, the video game.

Elsewhere in the Bad Place, some gamers actually petitioned Obama to get DmC pulled from shelves because they wanted a traditional Capcom sequel and not the Ninja Theory reimagining: “Dear Mr. Obama: As a consumer to the Video Game Industry there is one Video Game that has caused a lot of controversy over the past few month’s,” the petition said, grammatical errors and all. “The name of the game is DmC: Devil May Cry made by Ninja Theory and Capcom.

Yeah, there is the cringe-y shit like that.  But there are also petitions to get rid of Rotten Tomatoes for shitting on DC movies.  You know, because they have almost-universally sucked.  Two good movies in an ocean of shit.  That’s impressively bad.  This shit is everywhere.  You notice, it didn’t work.  The game was still published like always.  It’s just that a sequel was never made because the company who owned the IP decided to take it back and Ninja Theory has gone indie because they didn’t want to deal with publishers.  What’s your point?

Then there’s Mass Effect: Andromeda, a game taken down by gifs. Development focus was on creating worlds and learning how to use an entirely new engine that isn’t well-suited to RPG development. As such, the facial animations suffered and people took the piss in gifs. Back in the day, it was a given that RPGs didn’t look as nice as other games because of the scope. Nowadays, everything looks nice because developers want their games to look good in screens, rather than communicate what makes the games special. BioWare’s next game, Anthem, looked incredible, at the expense of everything else. It appeared to be a direct reaction to that negative feedback – those viral gifs of goofy character expressions.

There is a LOT to unpack here.  Mass Effect: Andromeda was not destroyed because of the bad facial animations and the gliches.  It was destroyed partially by that, but more because the story was poorly written.  The characters were terrible.  The voice acting was bad.  There were political messages blatantly shoved in there just for fan outrage because Bioware does that now.  It’s weird.  It was a bad game.  There were stories about that too that you could easily have found if you knew what research is.  But you don’t.  You just find the biggest click-bait articles and parrot their talking points.

The development team behind that game couldn’t make the engine work for what they wanted to do.  There was no set path for the game months before it came out!  Months of work and people didn’t know what the fuck they were making.  A problem which, by the way, Anthem suffered from.  That game had no clear vision for what it was trying to be.  That big, beautiful demo released at E3 a couple years ago was made from whole-cloth and reflected NOTHING of the final product.  The game was a victim of false-advertising and EA’s bullshit.

Why is this guy so incapable of knowing the context of ANYTHING?  It’s bizarre.  Oh right, this is all click-bait.  It’s rage-bait.  It’s meant to get people riled up.  I forgot for a bit there.

Look at any online game community and there’s always someone complaining about how their character isn’t strong enough, or how the character who can counter their hero is too strong. There will be dozens of posts about how their favourite weapon doesn’t do enough damage, or how another weapon is OP. There will also be another player somewhere typing out the exact opposite.

Wait, what?  How is people bitching about a narrative in a game equivalent to a game having balancing issues?  That isn’t a creative freedom issue.  It’s a gameplay one.  And if your goal is to have a game be marketable online to masses, you have to balance it.  Otherwise, it isn’t fair to other players.  How does this tie in at ALL to your points made above?  Narrative creative freedom is one thing, but this is basic game design stuff.  Companies need feedback fro stuff like this.  Otherwise the game will suffer for it.

There’s a quote that’s often attributed to Henry Ford around the dawn of commercial motor vehicles: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” People are generally afraid of change. New ideas always get a bit of pushback – it makes me worry whether this environment of fan feedback development is holding back triple-A game development from reaching its true potential.

What true potential?  You haven’t defined anything.  You’ve just taken talking points that other articles have had and put them in your article, and act like your point has been made for you.  Generally, gamers like change.  We want games to be new and unique.  New IPs instead of the same old games made over and over again.  It’s why Indie titles get lots of attention now.  It’s why you have AAA developers working for Sony pushing narrative boundaries.  Because people are saying we want something good.  And generally they are.  Sony especially has a pedigree of quality to their work in the last few years that is really refreshing.  Games that push narrative boundaries, but never to the point where you break them.  Push as far as you can, then let the dust settle from the outrage communities and see what happens.

See, plenty of people were noisy about the lesbian relationship in Neil Druckmann’s latest project.  Hell, the social justice crowd came out against it because it’s almost a guarantee that India lesbian is dead by the time we get to where the gameplay portion of the demo at last year’s E3 picks up.  But they will still play this game because the first entry was amazing and the gameplay in this one looks slick as fuck.

Making a product for the masses means you have to take a measured approach if you’re gonna push boundaries.  Push them too far, and you drive people away.  That’s how it is with ALL entertainment.  Movies, TV shows, anime, whatever.  It all has the same rule – do new things, but don’t make new things a total aside.  You expand things over time.  Fan feedback isn’t killing that.  But since the writer of this article was just trolling for clicks anyway, it isn’t like he cares.

Until next time, a quote,

“People tend to blame the news for spreading all this fear.  As if there’s no market for it.” – Doug Stanhope

Peace out,

Maverick

Game Developers Should Unionize

Time was, I worked at Walmart.  I stocked shelves at night.  It was, hands-down, the worst job I’ve ever had.  Nothing else even comes close.  During training, we had a whole day devoted to the group I was hired with getting a big education in why unions are bad, and those who work for unions are bad, and how we are so much better off because we don’t have a union.  Orwellian as fuck, but that’s how it goes at Walmart.  The corporation is pure evil, so what else did you expect?  Not sad that I lost that job.

Story after story is coming out about how AAA-game publishers are forcing those who work for them into some of the worst working conditions I’ve ever heard.  From the 100-hour work weeks that was uncovered at Rockstar, to the Bioware nightmare while Anthem was in development.  Activision Blizzard treating testers in a way that is subhuman.  EA as well, but EA is so evil that it defies comprehension.

While we’re on that, did you hear the thing about the guy at EA who is just absolutely baffled, for 25 years, why people think that EA is full of “bad guys”?  That just blows my mind.  This dude has seen how the company treats their employees.  He’s seen how they will lay people off when the money isn’t coming in enough instead of treating their employees like they care.  Or how EA treats their consumers as nothing more than cash machines instead of actually trying to give them a quality product.  How about the thing where they try and defend lootboxes as “surprise mechanics” and make a point about how they are part of the pioneering spirit of EA?  This dude can see all that, but is totally baffled as to why people think that EA is full of scum-fucks.  Maybe this dude is so out of touch, but I refuse to buy it.

Apologies for the digression, but that was too good not to talk about.  EA is one of the most evil companies ever.  It hurts me inside that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order looks so good.  Part of me is wondering how EA is going to secretly screw everyone over.  They said no lootboxes, but maybe there is some other “surprise mechanics” in the game.  Fuck EA.

Even CD Projekt Red isn’t immune from this.  There was an expose published about the development of The Witcher 3 and what hell it was for those who were involved.  The company has promised that that kind of thing is not going to happen again.  We’ll see.  I’m always skeptical.  Blame the fact that these companies have a reputation for being liars and treating people like crap.

Which is why I genuinely do believe that game developers, testers, all of those groups should unionize.  It’s LONG since time that they did so.  As we have seen with the lootboxes fiasco, these companies won’t learn from the horrible things they do and will just make excuses.  Hell, there was an article where one head of a company was laughing at the idea of them unionizing.  Since these companies can’t be trusted to do the right thing on their own, it’s time for those who are stuck in this nightmare to step up and band together.

Naturally, there’s the thought about what companies would do if this were to actually happen.  The answer is pretty obvious – not hire anyone associated with the union.  They’d outright tell people that if they unionize, they’ll just fire them and never hire them again.  They know how many people are desperate for a job and would accept their ultimatum of staying out of the union to keep their job.  Gotta love a profession where people live under a constant threat of having no income if they don’t tow the corporate line.  Or with the testers, being treated less than human and paid virtually nothing.

The only way this would work is if enough developers/testers were to get together all at once and make this happen.  It can’t just be a couple of people.  It has to be a large effort.  But it needs to happen.  It should have happened so many years ago.  With gaming getting bigger and bigger, employees need the protection a union brings.  That way these companies can’t pull the bullshit that they do.  There are so many stories of the work environments, the stress levels, the burnout, even suicides in connection to how awful it is.  It’s high time for those in this profession to band together and actually look out for one-another.

What would this mean for gamers?  Several things.  For starters, yearly releases would be a thing of the past.  Less crunch would mean that things would have to be paced out.  Games would be on CDPR time – coming out when they’re done.  Given how unfathomably impatient gamers are (I admit that I am an impatient man myself.  But I accept when there are delays because I want things to come out perfect), this could have a lot of people bitching and moaning about the delays.  They’d have to suck it up and deal.

Because we never see the people who makes games, it’s hard for people to understand the human cost.  In this age of apathy, plenty of people probably don’t care.  It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for people to rationalize not caring about what happens to other people.  With homeless people, it’s just fantastic.  Part of me wants America to just ditch the pretense of empathy and just kill the homeless.  It’s painfully obvious how little people care.  I had to overhear two coworkers talking about how awful it is that they are everywhere.  What would they prefer?  The way I see it, nobody cares, so let’s stop pretending.

Sorry, another digression.  AAA gaming needs to change.  It needed to change years ago, but now more than ever, it’s time for the people being exploited by corporations who treat them like cattle to band together and step up to them.  They would fight tooth and nail against them.  They’d fire, threaten, and make life hell for those who do this.  But in the end, they could succeed.

Part of me is hoping that AAA gaming is gonna have a collapse.  EA is a company that I would LOVE to see brought to heel.  People lament the idea of EA collapsing.  Not me.  I think it’s a great idea.  Maybe one or two of these companies need to topple in order for the rest to learn that they can’t keep being as greedy and scum-sucking as they are in order to survive.  A man can hope.

Until next time, a quote,

“It’s been a day of firsts.” – Lt. Richard Winters, Band of Brothers

Peace out,

Maverick

Your Comprehension of History is Laughable (A response to Extra Credits)

Something I have always hated is people who look back at history and don’t learn shit from it.  Combine that with people who believe that entertainment somehow will “normalize” a societal value, and you have a good amount of stupid that one can pick apart.  Which is where Extra Credits comes in.  I’d heard of these guys around, but never really seen much of their content.  But this video has been making the rounds lately, and I just had to respond.  It’s so fucking stupid.  They talk about how we shouldn’t have Nazis in video games anymore because it normalizes them.  Oh boy.  I’ll have the video on here so you can see it with me, then we’ll talk about it.

Alright.  We start with little Billy playing his game, when suddenly he is a Nazi in multiplayer!  Now, this is a game centered in World War II, and in multiplayer that means that someone has to play the opposing side.  That’s how it works.  And most people wouldn’t even think about it.  You’re thinking about taking out the people you’re against in the game.  You wanna do better in the game than the other side.  Would you rather the Allied forces kill each other?  There’s some meta commentary about the nature of warfare.

Apparently, this is bad on so many levels.  Let’s hear it.  The dude starts off saying that by having it so you can play as the Germans in a World War II focused multiplayer game, you’re alluding to the fact that German soldiers are on the same level as the Allied ones.  Um…what?  That is INSANE levels of reaching to make your point.  Nobody is saying that, dude.  Nobody.  Find me someone who says that who isn’t a white nationalist.  It’s saying that when you have two sides in a game squaring off against each other, you typically have them as the enemy they are fighting so that it fits.  Otherwise you’re having allies kill each other.  Is what you want?  Want Americans to kill each other in-game?

Man, people say that I overthink things.  This dude makes me look like a fucking amateur in this department, because this is some quality overthinking.  It doesn’t matter if the game tells you that the person you’re playing as was forced into military service for Germany during World War II.  Hell, that was pretty much all men at that time, so yeah.  It’s how the game works.  What proof do you have that playing as a Nazi in a game does any real damage?!

The narrator goes on to then say we need to stop forcing people to play as terrorists in games like Counter Strike.  What is the rationale this time?  Here the dude goes into more details.  See, people have been hurt by terrorists and Nazis.  Not even gonna talk about those still alive who were hurt by the Nazis, because the amount of Holocaust survivors goes down every year.  There are very few left, if any at all by this point.  It’s been almost 80 years since the war ended.  So the amount of people hurting because of this is a VERY small number.  As for those hurt by terrorism, it’s weird to hear this coming from an American.  Yeah, 9/11, but fuck that.  You wanna talk about those hurt by terrorism, Europe has a MUCH bigger leg to stand on at this point.  Radical Islam has been killing so many people there over the last few years that it’s almost commonplace at this point.  Kinda like mass shootings here in the US.

His argument is that nobody should be part of an ideology they don’t like without their permission.  So then don’t play the game.  Nobody’s holding a gun to your head.  It ain’t like the game is making you swear allegiance to the Nazi party.  It’s a skin for your character to fight the other side.  It’s just a place-holder, which you said you’re against, but the one argument you’ve made so far is just bullshit.  If they are so abhorred by the idea of playing as a German soldier in a game where the goal is to be better than the opposing team, with nothing political involved save what skin you have on, what’s the problem?

Finally, we get to the meat of his argument, and it’s so fucking stupid.  By having it so you can play as a Nazi in a video game, we “normalize it”.  It becomes just another part of life.  That Nazis stop being super bad, and just become “meh.”  Then he asks if we’re ignoring history with this statement and says the answer is no.  Um, fuck yeah you are!  This is blatantly ignoring history.  And because you’re almost-certainly an American, I’m not surprised.  It’s not exactly a mystery that American education doesn’t even do the most basic of stacking up against other developed nations.  Education in this country is a fucking joke.

The Nazi party isn’t something that just came from the ether.  They didn’t just come out of nowhere and say “let’s start killing Jews, homos, and gypsies!”  No, there is a long and ugly history.  Like the Treaty of Versailles, which was an egregious document that destroyed the German economy.  Then there was the burning of the Reichstag, which galvanized the German people.  Then there’s the fact that, historically speaking, blaming Jews for people’s problems has a LONG history.  During the Black Death, whole communities of Jews were killed, because people thought they were bringing the plague.  Mostly because they weren’t getting sick nearly as much, partly because of their social isolation and partly because they had more standards of cleanliness than other people of the time.

So when this dude says that the concept of Nazism is being “normalized” by playing CoD: World War II and being on the Nazi team, I’m left to wonder something – what the fuck is he talking about?  The dude goes off on this tangent of how if it’s normalized, you might go to Nazi websites and read their ideas and become radicalized.  What?!  This is so fucking stupid.  Like some kid who is raised in typical, accepting and pro-diversity America is just gonna go “you know, I looked at Nazism, and I think it’s a good fit.”  Let’s totally ignore that white nationalism ideas are typically taught by families who are racist as fuck.  That you don’t just go onto a website and believe an ideology.  That wanting to become a Nazi is WAY more complicated than “I played a video game and was a Nazi in it, so now I’m gonna become one in real life!”  Jack Thompson 2.0.  Well, maybe 3 or 4.0, at this point.

The dude then says one of the dumbest thing I’ve EVER heard.  That after playing over a thousand hours of CS: Go, you’re gonna be celebrating terrorism!  Are you fucking kidding me.  What fantasy world does this delusional fuck live in?  What absolutely bonkers fucking reality does this intellectually-vapid moron live in where he can think that all it takes to become a terrorist is seeing in a fucking video game?!  Never mind that terrorism as we know it today almost-exclusively comes from a very violent and very bigoted religion that is pretty popular, worldwide.  Granted, there are plenty of people who subscribe to a much less radical version of that religion and just want to live in peace.  Good for them.  But the more radical element of that religion has a pretty big stake in terrorism as we understand it.  I don’t hear a lot of these games praising Allah.  So what is your proof of this, troglodyte?

So we get to the moron’s solution to his intellectually-insipid non-issue that exists only in his vacant mind – make PvP just training exercises or color everyone red and blue, a la Halo.  He then makes the argument that people who claim that needing to have Nazis or terrorists in games multiplayer for historical accuracy is stupid because it isn’t historical.  A guy who literally ignores ALL of history associated with EITHER of the groups he is decrying in games is telling me that people arguing for historicity is bullshit.  Um…pot, kettle on the line!

The rest of the video is just him restating what he already talked about.  This is stupid.  This is so fucking stupid.  This is the Anita Sarkeesian argument that violence against women in video games normalizes violence against women in real life.  There’s no measurable difference between these arguments.  Meanwhile, there is a lot of history for both sides that we as a society could learn from and not repeat.  But this stupid fuck wouldn’t even know where to begin on that.  It’s clear that he is historically illiterate.

Until next time, a quote,

“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, while those who do learn from history are doomed to watch other people repeat it.” – Anonymous

Peace out,

Maverick

Getting Older as a Gamer

For those of you who don’t know, which is all of you, I’m a 30 year old man.  Yup, I’m a man of 30 years, and I am a gamer.  As you can imagine, this is something that isn’t easy to rectify in modern society.  My age group has all gotten older, and as they have, their interests have changed.  Which leave me being stuck wondering if I have less and less in common with everyone as the years go by.  And having fewer and fewer people to talk to.  The future doesn’t look good, from where I’m sitting.

I work at an office that is primarily women.  You know what that means?  It means that the bulk of everything that everyone talks about is mom stuff, home life stuff, and female as fuck stuff.  As you might imagine, I have ZERO dog in this.  Of any kind.  Got a ton of girly-mates, but to date only a couple of them have made the jump to have kids (because they didn’t accept that overpopulation is killing our species), and of those who remain, I have some common ground enough to talk to about other stuff.  Even the female things can be engaged with, to a point.

As I have no children, and as of this year will no longer be able have children, my reference point in this is that they exist.  And because I am a giant, they like me.  The reason why is always going to remain a mystery.  Maybe it’s because while the adults are talking about their gardens and their family vacation, the kids could swarm into my den and I’m playing games and they can talk with me about their favorite superheroes or ask me questions and I would give them candid answers.  Instead of their parents who would give them stupid answers.  Like a Jehovah’s Witness mom whose kids used to chill with me and I would give them smart people answers about things like evolution and the nature of reality.  Something their mother knew precious little about.

With no family of my own, and no personal life to speak of, I don’t have a whole lot going on.  I do my job incredibly well (too well, in my opinion.  It’s gotten REALLY boring), and then go home to my empty fridge, laptop for Internet perusal, and my TV, which is where my consoles are hooked up to.  What does this have to do with anything?  I’ll tell you.  I have no one to talk to!  Got all a hobby that I think is fun, is part of my ongoing mission to find a good story that I can sink my teeth into revel in.  But who do I have to talk to about it?  No one.  If I even tell people I work with about my hobby, then I’m a man-child.  Just some loser who never left high school.  Being a gamer as one heads into middle-age means that you are looked down upon.  There is a HUGE cultural stigma against people like me.

Granted, this is going to change.  Gaming is now a bigger industry than Hollywood.  It’s outpacing Hollywood pretty fast in terms of financial and social engagement.  It’s one of the fastest-growing industries in the world.  Sure, it has its rough spots, but overall, it is still growing.  With more and more people engaging in his hobby, in a growing time of social isolation due to anxiety at dealing with real people, it’s a virtual guarantee that I am not going to be alone in my 30’s while still gaming.  The numbers are going to keep going up.

But that’s down the road.  For right now, I’m in this place where I have absolutely no one to talk to about anything.  I have to regale people with my endless amount of knowledge that doesn’t even to the slightest degree tie in to anything I do.  My vast plethora of useless knowledge that not one single person gives one dusty fuck about.  That’s what I got.

I lead a lonely life.  While more and more people are announcing marriages and whatnot, I sit here thinking “Can’t wait for November!  Finally gonna get to see what Death Stranding is like!”  Or “April 2020!  They’ve finally announced a release date for Cyberpunk 2077!”  However, I know there is absolutely no one that I can talk to about this.  It’s just gonna be me, listening to myself.  While I keep clicking away at a keyboard where I do my job, managing over 1,500 cases.  This is my life.

In the broad scheme of things, it could be a lot worse.  But as human beings (a species that is built on connection), perhaps you can imagine what it’s like to be in a situation where you are all alone in a place that you work.  I did have a coworker who I at least could talk movies with.  She would get all mad at my thoughts on modern Disney.  Loves her some Disney in the most die-hard way ever.  I’ve never been the most popular guy wherever I go.  Trust and believe.  I’m a contrarian, jaded, nihilistic, a bit of a libertine (but I keep it classy), and reject tradition wherever I find it on the basis that it is a tradition and should be gotten rid of for that reason.

As you might expect, it goes beyond where I work.  With more and more people having babies, starting families, or just becoming busier as they get older, I realize that I am the odd man out of most engagements.  So I go back to my home and turn on whatever game I’m playing, show I’m watching, or go online and just fuck around for a while.  Anything that passes the time.  Maybe I’m just embracing whatever brand of escapism to whatever point I can in order to escape the reality that my life is headed nowhere and that I am secretly just getting older.  Wasting my intellect on a job that a trained monkey could do (I’d know.  We have a whole bunch of them running this outfit), while trying to find something better.  Or at least something that makes me feel like each day I don’t wake up and ask why I even bother.

Until next time, a quote,

“Why the hell am I still alive?” – Gene Starwind, Outlaw Star

Peace out,

Maverick