Stop Using Ignorance of the Medium to Sell Your “Journalism” (A response to Polygon)

People who can take this publication seriously baffle me.  How?  How can anyone read what they write and not go “this is totally slanted shit”?  These people clearly are incapable of discussing this medium in anything resembling objective way.  They can only write articles espousing opinions about stuff and showing off that they have no real understanding of the medium in which they are writing about.  That’s what this is.  Another article written by someone who doesn’t get how vidya works, and has to also shit on the sequel to one of my favorite games in the process.  It seems that Polygon decided to take a crack at the newest trailer for The Last of Us: Part 2.  It’s a pretty awesome trailer.  We have some violent people doing horrible things in the fallen world, with some characters we haven’t met before fighting back.  It made me want to know more.  I’m really hoping for gameplay footage and a release date soon.  But Polygon had other issues with it.  Here’s a link to their stupid article, let’s talk about it.

Bones bludgeoned with hammers. A noose wrapped tightly around a struggling woman’s neck. The blade of a knife pressed into a vulnerable stomach. The gruesome imagery Naughty Dog manages to cram into a five-minute trailer for The Last of Us Part 2 is physically uncomfortable to sit through.

Only if you never played through the first game, Julia Alexander.  For those of us who know this series, we saw how in the world of The Last of Us, humanity had descended into madness.  An infection making fungus zombies has wiped out most of humanity and those that are left are tribal and destructive.  It’s a game where the central theme is the last spark of humanity in characters, and how those who are able to maintain that goodness die while those who eschew goodness to survive live.  It’s a cold and tragic story about characters who all have to make a choice to abandon their humanity in order to live.  So for me, I can watch that and think – wow, this is hardcore.  What is the story with these characters?  I am really interested.

The victims of the vicious assault, two women, are unnamed. It’s not clear why we’re watching two people be tortured, but we’re asked to take in the extreme violence under the assumption that we’ll be rewarded with more information for doing so. That information never comes, however, and all we’re left with is residual nausea.

Is all this person has played is Mario games?  Does she even know about the first one?  I would love to see her reaction during the scene in the restaurant in the first game where Ellie is savagely beaten and the implication is that after David is done beating her, he is going to rape her.  If you aren’t aware of what kind of trailer this is, don’t watch it.  Go back to phone games or Nintendo’s cookie-cutter material.

A trailer is a pitch to its audience of what to expect from the full game. In the past, Naughty Dog’s trailers have captured a particular mood or suggested a compelling relationship. But here, the promise is almost exclusively gore. There’s an argument to be made that the trailer raises an enticing question — Why are these women being attacked? — but that mystery is both too familiar and too broad.

What?!  What the fuck does that even mean?!  Too familiar and too broad?  And exclusively about gore?  There was hardly any gore in there!  We saw a girl’s arm get busted with a hammer.  Brutal, but not gory.  But what does too familiar and too broad mean?  That’s fucking word salad.  It’s done by a person who wants to make their point seem really profound, when the truth is that it is just them not wanting to say “I don’t like it!  And my opinion is all that matters about this!”

Without any context, the trailer fails to introduce (or even really tease) the story players will embark on. That is its problem.

I guess Julia has never heard of world-building before.  You know, a scene in something to set the tone for what kind of world this story takes place in?  Is this a totally revolutionary thing to her?

The fact that their antagonist is a woman herself does little to undercut what this trailer is on its most blunt level: an extended sequence of brutal and unexplained violence against women being used to thrill the viewer, and ultimately, sell a video game.

Did Anita Sarkeesian write this with a pen name?  Yes, because gamers just love to watch women get beaten and hurt.  That’s totally all this was about.  Give me a fucking break.  This trailer was setting a tone, dumbass!  The tone is – this world is violent and unforgiving.  Even women who are beefcakes like the woman being hung can’t escape the reality of what a violent world it is.  There was meant to be some thrill to the players, because we have seen this world before and we are meant to now be excited to see it again because it’s clear that the violence in what’s left of humanity society hasn’t gone away.  The lesson here is – themes are too complicated for feminists.

There’s a difference in how Naughty Dog handled the trailers for The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part 2. In The Last of Us, Joel may be gunning down hunters, but we understand why he’s doing it, and those he’s attacking aren’t women or marginalized people. The trailer is violent, but it’s justified; none of that justification exists in The Last of Us Part 2’s trailer, where violence simply exists.

Oh my god!  It’s almost like this trailer was trying to inform the viewers that the world of this game is violent and harsh and unforgiving.  And it doesn’t matter what your gender or skin color is.  You can be brutally beaten and killed all the same.  Themes, mother-fucker!  Are you too dense to get this?  Can you turn the feminism off for five fucking minutes to actually critically analyze something in a way outside of “this is insulting to women and minorities!”?

Providing a trailer with little to no context leads to more questions about how this trailer came to be. How many women were involved in the creation, editing and approval of this trailer? In an industry (and studio) that’s predominantly run by men, did women feel comfortable offering a critique?

And here we get to the meat of her argument, what it all boils down to.  All of this blatant ignorance of what this trailer was trying to do was meant to just be another statement about how sexist gaming is and how there aren’t enough women in it.  Groj, what a complete waste of time.  This article did not substantially say anything.  Just, nothing.  It was just someone who can’t turn off the feminism for long enough to get through the trailer, or if she hates it that much go watch something else.  It’s more SJW bitching because they can’t handle this medium, and Polygon gives her space to do it.  Ugh.

The new Last of Us Part 2 trailer was supposed to introduce new characters, including Yara (and possibly even Ellie’s mom), but all we met were victims of abuse. We met ideas of what women should be in games like this, not actual women.

That is so fucking sexist!  How do people who say this shit not see that?!  All the women in the trailer are is victims of abuse?  So, their personalities and whatever traits we will learn about them in the full game don’t matter?  It only matters that they are living in a violent world and are victims of that violence?!  What a way to totally denigrate them based on your own prejudices.  By that token, I could say that Carol in The Walking Dead is only the victim of abuse from the first season and not acknowledge what an awesome and twisted character she becomes to where we are now.  Or I could say that Diana in the new Hitman is only someone who submissively took intimidation because of the scene on the train where the representative of the organization Providence talked with her and clearly exerted his power over her, without looking at how Diana is a skilled handler and has all the power in the dynamic of her and Agent 47.

How are feminists not able to see how sexist shit like this is?  Unless women are fucking Mary Sues, they are wrong and need to be changed.  Fuck this article.  It’s retarded.  Hey, Neil Druckmann, you said you take what these people say seriously.  They are insulting your game because they can’t theme.  Are you seeing why the rest of us say they’re full of shit?

Until next time, a quote,

“I’m gonna fine and I’m gonna kill every last one of them.” – Ellie, The Last of Us: Part II Reveal Trailer

Peace out,

Maverick

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NBC News’ Hit Piece and Characterization of Gamers as Alt-Right

I just love how video games are always the target of the media.  It really is kind of impressive the level of consistency they have in caricaturing gamers as one bad thing or another.  No matter what the big social issue is of any given age, you can be somebody somewhere has decided to make it about video games.  After all, gamers are a very easy to mock lot.  We have a very insular hobby that doesn’t typically preclude socialization.  It’s easy to see people out getting drunk and partying and going “yeah!  They’re really living it up!” and then looking at this other group and going “why aren’t you out doing fun stuff like this?”  Never mind that gaming has become a multi-billion dollar industry that rivals Hollywood.  Granted, a lot of that is built on unsustainable business practices, but let’s not dive too deep into nerd culture.  We’re talking about reactionary idiot culture, after all.

Jack Thompson wanted to make it that video games encourage violence.  Something that was proven demonstrably false.  There has never been any evidence, anywhere, the video games cause violent behavior, or affect how a person acts in real life on any significant way.  Anita Sarkeesian decided to take a crack at saying that video games cause sexism.  Even though it has also been disproven that that is the case.  Before a study from Germany came out that actually did the hard leg work, an easy refutation of her arguments was – if video games cannot cause a person to be violent, how can they cause a person to be sexist?  If one predominately negative behavior has NEVER been demonstrated to exist with gamers, then how does the other one?  Good point.

NBC News decided to take a crack at saying video games are being subtly used to help destroy the good society of regressive-left values.  After all, it’s been shown that the regressive left is all over NBC’s big sister, MSNBC.  Why wouldn’t it filter down into them?  In a new video, they decided to try and make the argument out to be that gaming is secretly helping motivate the alt-right, and how GamerGate was all part of it.  During the video I will share, my biggest wonder was – why did Anita Sarkeesian not give these people an interview?  They certainly are taking cues from her.  Let’s take a look at the video and talk about it.

Even the title of this video is patronizing.  Gamers are facilitating the rise of the alt-right?  Give me a fucking break.  What evidence is there of that contention?  Fuck it, let’s talk about the video.  It opens by saying that Discord is the latest sign of a secret cabal between gamers and the alt-right.  They’re gonna connect the dots for us!  Okay, video, let’s hear it.

Gaming culture has always been racist and sexist?  Wow, that is insulting.  What evidence is there of this?  The fact that gaming is done by people all over the world, of all ethnic groups?  That women and men are able to enjoy the hobby?  Casual gaming is predominately women, with chicks on their phones with phone games.  And the core gaming audience only cares about one thing – skill in the game.  If you are the kind of person who plays online games, which I know is where this video is going.  But what about people like me?  I game for story.  I’m not a racist and sexist.  I’m a misanthrope,  I hate my entire species.  Racism is just more work when I can hate everyone just as well.

Who brought up this little tidbit, anyway?  Emma Vossen, PhD candidate?  Why the fuck do I care what some PhD candidate thinks?  How about getting me a vetted expert in the field with years of research that they can show to demonstrate their knowledge and prove their contentions?  The video tells us that she’s showing how sexism in gaming is being shown in the real world.  This better be good.  Otherwise it will look like they are mining for whatever idiot they can find to prove that they are right.  I’m sure that’s not the case, right…?

The “evidence” for her contention is her “study” that the video says is about how #GamerGate was about harassing women in games journalism.  Um…no, it wasn’t.  At any point.  Let’s ignore all the bullshit lies about what the movement was about.  When all this started with the Zoe Post, it was about Zoe Quinn.  She has never been a games journalist.  When the movement forgot about her because it was more interested in the people who she was fucking and how unethical those people looked, it was five men that were the targets.  Not a single woman.  Then came the torrent of “Gamers are Dead” articles that really kicked things into high gear, along with the censorship of the topics of what at the time was the Quinnspiracy.  Then it became #GamerGate and it was centered around the fact that games journalism was corrupt and that SJW influence had taken complete control over it.  A contention that was completely vindicated in the leaks of the Crash Override Network chat logs.  All of this is easy to verify.  The Internet Aristocrat videos that really blew the situation up are all mirrored on YouTube and easy to find.  The Factual Feminist’s response video to the whole affair is easy to find too.  Disproving this narrative is so fucking simple that it blows my mind, and I’m kind of shocked NBC didn’t see it.  Maybe that’s why this video has a paltry 200+ likes and 20,000+ dislikes.  Makes ya think.

So, GamerGate secured the “alt-right movement.”  Did these idiots not know the first thing about actual research?  This is almost as bad as Hipster McGee on PBS’ short-lived gaming channel.  GamerGate has all kinds of personalities involved with it.  There were people from all different walks of life who were virtually guaranteed to hate each other coming together under one banner – that games journalism is corrupt and pushing a social justice narrative.  What evidence does this “PhD candidate” have?  Oh, right, they show Tweets that are very unpleasant.  Well, that sure does cement that point.  If anything, all of this just shows how pathetic the world of academia’s standards have become when I can Google search and destroy Vossen’s entire premise in under five minutes.  Bravo.

And somehow all of this came to prominence during the 2016 election cycle.  Are you kidding me?!  By 2016, GamerGate was pretty much dead.  You’d see the tag every now and again, but it was pretty much gone.  The idea that this movement that had NOTHING to do with the Presidential election or any kind of politics outside of the gaming sphere was somehow connected to Donald Trump is laughable at best and downright fabrication of facts to support a narrative at worst.  Oh, it influenced the “tactics” of Trump supporters.  What tactics?  Details, woman.  Her argument is that minorities are “fighting for equality” and white men are saying they are oppressed.  To borrow a phrase…

One of these things is not like the other.  One of these things just DOESN’T BELONG!

We then get some quote without knowing if this was from a voice chat during gaming or just some racist asshole being asked a question in an interview.  Yeah, the guy is a racist asshole, but without knowing where this was recorded from, how does this asshole saying shit correlate to gaming culture?  They have an actual quote where a sexist asshole says something rude.  Okay.

Our “PhD candidate” has to clarify that not all gamers are sexist and racist (fucking duh), but the culture overall is sexist and racist.  And they say this while showing a clip from a video game where you play as a killer trying to kill stereotypical slasher characters who happen to be female.  Wow.  That’s so subtle I think it could be taught at a university.  You know, if it isn’t being so already.  I would just love if they showed that with a clip from a game like ABZU or Persona 5 and see how that stacks up.  Wait, that wouldn’t go with the narrative being pushed.  Can’t have that.

Then we get some new guy saying that Discord is the real culprit and the video makes the argument that it went from gamers being online to idiots with tiki torches in the real world.  Not even if we bought into this stupid premise would that make any fucking sense.  They’ve made blanket statements about gamers and how gaming culture is sexist and racist without any verifiable evidence to back it up, and are now making the argument that this somehow led to people on Discord being racist and sexist and becoming alt-right Neo-Nazis.

And that’s all I got on this video.  NBC News, supposedly more straight news than their big sister company, put this on their official YouTube page and expect people to take it seriously.  Thankfully, the Internet didn’t bite.  This video is massively down-voted.  Not even the social justice retards who are all in favor of this crap can support it.  It’s bad argumentation.  It’s slipper slope fallacy.  It’s guilt by association fallacy.  It’s correlation equaling causation fallacy.  It’s stupid.  I’m done.

Until next time, a quote,

“Please end your fucking life!  Please end your fucking life!  I really gotta emphasize, no one cares if you’re alive.” – Pink Guy, STFU

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Life is Strange: Before the Storm (Episode 2)

Sorry this is a little late.  Been trying to organize my thoughts, and have other stuff going on.  Here’s the thing about this game – it’s kind of a mixed bag.  It’s not the original.  Part of me is impressed that it is not trying to be.  This game was created for one purpose and one purpose alone – to give players the back-story between Chloe and Rachel.  But it does make your choices feel weighty.  That’s one thing I’ll give this iteration that the original really didn’t have – player choice feeling substantial.  Since there are so few episodes, there aren’t a huge amount of choices to keep track of.  So the writing is easier.  Plus, it’s easier to make your actions feel meaningful.  Why am I going so far out of my way to preface this?  I guess it’s because I honestly like this prequel.  This review is going to be a little odd.  See, there isn’t a huge amount of stuff to substantively talk about.  The visuals are still in the same vein, and good.  Hell, even the kissing animation you have access to later on isn’t the worst I’ve seen.  It’s not Mass Effect 2 levels of clipping.

What do I think of this episode?  As I said, the core of this prequel is to explain the growth of the relationship between Chloe and Rachel.  And they got that right.  My favorite parts of this episode are when you see the relationship between the two deepening.  It feels pretty good.  It’s not perfect.  The dialogue is stilted as fucked.  But where this game goes right is making the emotions match the scenes.  You do believe these characters when they’re on stage together and Rachel is poetically confessing that she has a bond with Chloe that goes beyond typical friendship.  That scene is heart-warming.

Here’s my issue with this prequel – so much of this really doesn’t feel like it’s tying in to the story from the original.  It kinda feels like I’m ret-conning the lore of that game.  After all, I have worked hard to make the relationship between Rachel and Chloe feel real.  So if the events of the other game happen as you find out they did, then Rachel is doomed to basically cheat on Rachel with Frank.  Given the passion between them, am I to assume that in the months or years from when the prequel ends the two got distant enough for Rachel to leave her girlfriend and not feel at least a little conflicted about it?

Not only that, you can affect where the two girls are looking to run away to, which plays a huge role in what everyone believes happened to Rachel in the original.  Maybe all of this was developed just for fan service to fans of the original.  Maybe I’m really over-thinking this.  But as someone who genuinely enjoyed the original game, a lot of this plot stuff just rubs me a little wrong.

I don’t know.  Maybe I need to change my perspective.  Instead of seeing this as an extension of the original game, see it as its own story.  Where I a guiding the romance between two characters, one of whom I have really grown to like.  I still love Chloe as a character, along with the voice acting.  As stilted as the dialogue is, at least it feels genuine with all the emotion she puts into it.  I just know somebody is going to call me an SJW for liking this stuff.  This game definitely takes inspiration from social justice talking points.  Thankfully, that shit seems to be from characters in periphery.  Chloe and Rachel are not just walking stereotypes of Tumblr feminists.

One thing I really wanna touch on is the dream sequences.  I really do like them.  Each one has a thematic purpose.  The first is Chloe addressing the death of her father from her family, as more and more of him is being stripped away.  The second was her addressing the pain of having her blossoming relationship with Rachel seemingly going up in flames, while her father is the voice of reason who tells her that she still has a place in her life.  This episode had a really great sequence.  It has William sitting in front of the car he crashed, burning, roasting a marshmallow with the raven.  Really wondering what the raven is meant to symbolize in context of this story.  The butterfly from the original symbolized Chloe as a character.  The raven is a point of conjecture.  Chloe sits and starts roasting a marshmallow herself, and William tells her that watching everything burn is beautiful, but she might be missing seeing what other beautiful things are being hidden from her by her perspective.  We see this come to a point when she acts in The Tempest, with the stars in the sky sparkling like the ones on her outfit.

I also am really liking the new side characters you meet.  There is so much more personality from them.  Having a smaller cast let them give characters much more presence, and it really pays off.  This episode has a conversation you can totally miss but I’m glad I didn’t between Chloe and Steph where you can grow closer or end up hurting her and I went out of my way to be honest about the fact that I had Rachel as where I was setting up the romance between the two.  It led to a genuinely touching moment where Steph says you can talk to her about what it’s like, since she has been open about being gay.  Subtle touches like that go a long way.

One thing I wanna mention is the fact that the walking animation is so fucking weird in cutscenes.  During gameplay it’s fine, but in cutscenes the walking is just so strange.  And the running is even weirder.  Do the people who made this just not know how to animated that?  So odd.

Overall, it’s a good continuance of the story.  Granted, the opening act is painfully slow.  But once you get back to the junkyard, things pick up pretty quick.  I like this story.  With a bombshell having been dropped on Rachel at the end of the episode, I am genuinely eager to see how it plays out.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

LGBT Characters in Gaming

Let’s talk a little history.  I don’t know how many of you were around and conscious of what television in the 90’s was like.  Much like the film industry, it produced some of the biggest garbage in the world.  You had shit like Friends and Full House, both of which got unbelievably popular due to nostalgia that people seem to believe the entertainment was so much better back then.  These people are what people like me call “clinically insane.”  But here’s something you may not remember – the 90’s didn’t always write gay characters very well.  Some of the biggest stereotypes about the LGBT community came into being then.  Now, the thing is that they aren’t negative stereotypes.  In fact, they were overwhelmingly positive.  There is a reason for that.  Maybe it was making up for old negative stereotypes, or people just not being able to write these kinds of characters very well.  Whatever the reason, they were all bad.

Here was the problem – these characters all had a bad habit of announcing that they’re gay to everyone they meet.  They are so damn proud of being gay and they are damn sure going to make sure that everyone knows it.  It was bad writing in the worst way.  All of these characters had a bad habit of the fact that they are gay being their entire life.  It isn’t one facet of it, but every facet of it.  Everything in their lives centers around the fact that they’re gay.  It was lazy, terrible writing that led to some of the most one-dimensional characters we ever got to see.

Time went by, however, and writers were able to get past whatever hangup they had and were able to start writing very rounded gay characters who were characters first, gay second.  They had rich personalities and issues with life that are part of the issues everyone has.  It led to some truly fantastic characters, like my favorite anti-hero, Omar Little from The Wire.

That sure was a long intro to talking about what this post is going into.  Gaming is at a similar crossroads.  What led us here is the fact that a lot of gamers are now part of an older generation.  The average age of gamers is closer to 30 than 20.  It’s become a part of popular culture, and is quickly overtaking Hollywood in telling engaging narratives that people can get wrapped up in.  As such, it’s only natural that we see games taking on more and more adult themes.  Things like the nature of marriage and ’til death do you part (Uncharted 4), the price of fame and losing one’s fame and selling out to greed (Persona 5), justifying evil for the greater good and the redemption that comes with being willing to change (Mass Effect 2 and 3).

Something that comes with writing narratives that are more complicated means having characters that are more complicated.  After all, people are not one-dimensional.  And it also means looking at other parts of life.  Like different kinds of relationships.  It was only natural that the gay community would make an appearance in this medium sooner or later.  Now sure, the core gaming audience is men.  That’s just how that goes.  The CoD games will never tackle this sort of thing.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the fact that narratives involving LGBT characters will typically be niche.

For a medium that has a real problem with subtlety, looking into something like this should be a niche thing.  There’s a reason why.  Let’s look at one of my favorite examples of it being done right and then it being done wrong.

In The Last of Us, you meet a character named Bill.  Bill is kind of a crazy man.  He’s weird, unwell, and has a real problem with Joel’s tiny companion.  Granted, they meet with her smashing a pipe on his arm.  That’s something.  However, as you go on with his narrative, he tells Joel of a person that he had to look after.  At first, he calls him his “partner,” and really doesn’t want to get very specific about him.  There is genuine venom in his voice when he talks about this guy.  What happened between these two?  When you get to a house after escaping the school, you find out.  He’s hanging from a noose that he rigged to stop himself from becoming one of the infected.

It’s here that we see another side of this.  At first, he’s clinical about it.  He’s looking over the body and seeing what happened.  But as you listen to him talk about him, there’s real pain in his voice.  Pain, anger, all sorts of emotions.  It’s a testament to what a good performance the voice actor does how much depth he brings into talking about this guy.  As I was playing this with my gay girly-mate Erin, she had this to say, “they had to have dated.”  To which I asked, “how do you figure?” “Easy, you don’t hate someone this much unless you’ve dated.”  Well put.  Bill lives a life where everything is regimented and safe.  When you find Frank’s letter, it tells of a man who was angry with Bill.  He wanted more from life than Bill was willing to give, and it ended in him leaving.  In his last letter, he says how much he hated Bill and wanted more from life than he wanted to give.

What happened between these two?  We never know.  It clearly must have been a very damaged relationship.  The audience can see some of the history and it’s enough to tell us a tragic story of two men who ended up hating each other because of irreconcilable differences in how they lived.  In a world where love for a gay person must be unfathomably hard to come by, to lose that relationship must have been hard for both of them.  But by the end both of them hated one-another.  It was done so well, and played very subtly.  I love everything about the nature of that relationship.  It also shows a side of Joel.  He figures out pretty quickly the deal between Bill and Frank, but he doesn’t make a big deal out of it.  After all, he is a Texan.

Now let’s look at this done wrong.  In Mass Effect 3, you meet a shuttle pilot named Steve Cortez.  He seems like an interesting character.  But there is a stark contrast of narrative quality in his his story plays out, depending on if you have male or female Shepard.  If you have female, it is a very interesting narrative about a man who is getting over the loss of someone dear to him.  If you have male Shepard, it’s a narrative about a gay man throwing his grief away in a nano-second in order to try and jump your bones.  It’s cringe-worthy to say the least.  Since I preferred Femshep because she was a much more engaging character, I was able to see the story done right.

What happened?  I’ll tell you – a narrative had to be spun.  See, we have another player in the problem with writing gay characters in gaming right now – SJWs.  Social justice decided to come in and take over the writing process of this character, all so they could call foul when the gamers were like, “this gay sex scene sucks.  Where did this come from?”  Good fucking question.  He was poorly written in order to spread a narrative and get a subject matter talked about.

This has happened quite a bit.  Gay characters are being written where the fact that they’re gay is their entire personality.  Or now the big one is trans.  Like how Ubisoft created an openly transgender character in Victorian London.  A time when I guarantee NO ONE was open about gender dysphoria.  Yet this character is all about talking about it to whoever they meet.  Or the trans character in Mass Effect: Andromeda, who really had to make a big deal out of this when they have a fuck-ton more things to worry about.

I get why this medium is going to be the hardest to write these kinds of characters in.  The core demographic is men.  That’s a demographic that is going to see this stuff pretty black and white.  Hell, in this insanely divisive culture that we live in, nuance is hard to see on any sides.  This is why I genuinely believe that if we are going to see more and more gay characters, it needs to be first handled in the niche markets, where it can be handled with a deft hand, rather than a stick to beat people over the head with, despite how rarely that deft hand is applied.

But maybe there’s hope.  I just got done with the latest episode to a prequel to my favorite game of 2015 – Life is Strange.  That game already had a very well-done relationship between Chloe and Max, but the real stand-out example of a blossoming romance that I genuinely enjoyed playing was in the prequel.  While it is miles below the original, the thing I can say is that the relationship between Chloe and Rachel that I have been able to help shape feels genuine.  And this most recent episode had payoff to that.  We’ll see if it can keep the trend of well-done character development happen.

The ultimate message of this ramble is that making gay characters should be about making characters first.  Being gay is a part of a person’s life, but it isn’t everything.  At least not if they aren’t these social justice idiots who feel the need to make everything tie back into it.  It’s just one part of who that person is.  That’s how these kinds of characters need to be written.  Make them a character first.  Make gamers like them for who they are, then ease them in.  Just like how straight men can have gay friends who they are cool with, I guarantee that that gay friend knows that he can’t be too in this person’s face with how they are, because they know it would make the other person uncomfortable.

Wow, this seems like a whole lot of nothing, doesn’t it?  Maybe I should have made this a RAB post.  Unsure.  What do you all think?  Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“Do you think there’s a point where you’ve been acting so much that you don’t even have your own personality anymore?” – Rachel Amber, Life is Strange: Before the Storm

Peace out,

Maverick

If Single Player Games Die, I’m Done

That’s not hyperbole.  Some people say shit like, “I hate this company!  I’m never buying another one of their products again!” even though you know deep-down that they are.  Like every idiot who says “I’m never eating at McDonald’s again!”  Bullshit!  You already debase yourself by eating there.  You’re going again.  Don’t lie to us.  However, for me, this isn’t just some design decision.  This is a personal issue that I refuse to be a part of.

I got into gaming because of how lonely I was, growing up.  I didn’t have many friends, and escaping to fiction was better than real life of being all by myself all the time.  Some of my favorite stories, growing up, were told in video games.  I got lost in the fantasy world of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  I felt myself captivated by tragic and beautiful narrative in Final Fantasy X.  My youth was all about my best friends and I escaping into fiction.  Later on in my life it was me and my cat.  Her name is Lizzy.  She is extremely old and it’s pretty clear her health is declining.  The parents keep talking about her losing her mind, and while I shrug it off, part of me does wonder.  When I had my big chair, my kitty would sit on the arm.  I’d play games and watch movies and she was always with me.  A loyal friend, whose idea of perishing fills me with genuine pain.

In college, I played the Mass Effect trilogy so many times that I know most of my favorite character’s dialogue by heart!  I got through some unbelievably painful personal moments with those games.  Does this make me sound pathetic?  It wasn’t just games.  My favorite movies, books, TV shows, long walks where I get to look at beautiful things, it all helped me get through horribly difficult times in my life.  But gaming is a big one.

So when I see articles talking about how single-player gaming is going the way of the dodo, it genuinely fills me with a pit inside that I cannot describe.  Here’s the thing – I will NEVER be into multiplayer games.  Moreover, I’ll never be into MMOs.  Why?  Because I game for stories.  Guess what kind of story Destiny had – a shit one.  How about Destiny 2?  That story was shit too.  What about The Division?  Shit.  Or how about all the Call of Duty games?  The last time I enjoyed a narrative from them was Modern Warfare 2.  Hell, even the Assassin’s Creed games are trying to make themselves multiplayer.  It kills me inside.

Now, plenty of people have pointed out all the fantastic single-player only games that have come out lately.  This year has had some real standout examples of the genre.  My favorite game thus far has been Persona 5.  To see a AAA JRPG is something I NEVER believed I’d see in my lifetime.  It’s incredible that such a thing now exists, and it was a massive hit.  All the dates it was pushed back clearly was the right call, because it got everything right.  There was also Horizon: Zero Dawn.  While it has its flaws, it is a unique concept that really put forth the effort to make a different experience.  We also got a truly fantastic remake of Doom, where the biggest lesson the developers got to take away is that people loved it beyond words for the singe player, while hating its multiplayer components.  So there may be hope.

But it does seem like more and more AAA developers wants to move away from that kind of game.  We also have microtransactions seeping their way into single-player games.  This disheartens me for a lot of reasons.  For starters, just think of all the great visions that will be stifled by companies who only want to cater to markets where they can make as much money as they can, all the time.  What kind of gaming market is that setting up?  That’s simple – one that isn’s sustainable.  After all, people move on from games.  How many of the servers for the old CoD games still run?  Are there any servers for EA’s shit-tastic remake of Sim City?  Oh, right, they patched single player in because everyone hated their half-assed excuse for multiplayer.

Part of me thinks that all of this talk is indicative of a medium that can’t sustain itself anymore.  The cost of game development has just gotten so huge that unless they make games that are money-factories, they lose money on making games.  Because after all, you gotta make the most cutting-edge properties all the time, right?  Middle-tier games that may not have the best visuals or maybe have some funky controls or what-have-you, where devs can find ways to experiment and try new things?  Nope!  Can’t have that.  That might involved having the guts to sink money into something and not get it all back.  Because Hollywood refuses to take risks, so why should we?

I will never want to play games for multiplayer.  It doesn’t matter what bullshit the desiccated husks at Bioware put out, I still don’t want it.  EA decided to shit-can Visceral Games and turn their latest Star Wars project into a new Destiny game.  Because why try to make an interesting game when you can make a cash cow that the Star Wars fanboys will cum in their pants for because of the license.  I swear, it’s the only reason EA’s new Battlefront game made any money at all.  Same with why the second will make money.  Because if they can shove the name in your face enough, it’s gotta be good…right..?

So when I say that if single-player in games dies, I’m done, I mean it.  I’ll just collect all the games I loved and will just die off in nostalgia, because what the fuck would I want to play the latest MMO sandbox game?  That’s not why I game.  It will NEVER be why I game.  Desperately hoping I’m not alone in this thought.

Until next time, a quote,

“Words are how we think; stories are how we link.” – Christina Baldwin

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: Single Player Microtransactions

I don’t know who to blame for this.  I suppose I could blame the dumb-shit gamers who actually made this happen.  After all, it truly is their fault.  They had every opportunity to not support this kind of behavior.  Back when games had them paying for stupid shit like custom skins or weapon packs.  Maybe it could have been when games started having Season Passes.  Maybe then?  Yeah, that seems like a good fucking point to have stopped.  I know!  Maybe it was when you had games start becoming pay-to-win multiplayer experiences?  Yeah, that seems like a great point to stop.  But nope, people too stupid to vote with their wallets enabled this.  You all are a bunch of enablers, allowing game companies to gouge you without any real effort to stem the tide.  I guess it isn’t just fools and their money who are parted.  It’s gamers too.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War has single-player microtransactions.  What’s more, it is genuinely pay-to-win.  If you aren’t willing to grind to insane degrees, you are going to shell out a frankly absurd amount of money to get the true ending to the game.  It’s insulting.  It’s legalized gambling in the gaming sphere.  After all, players are shelling out money to game companies with no guarantee of what the return is going to be.  None.  If you’re spending money without knowing what you’re getting in the hopes of getting something good, you know what I call that – a gamble.  Gaming companies have made gambling a part of their pay-to-win formula.  It’s disgusting.  It’s insulting.  Why aren’t more people outraged by this?!

You know that Battlefront II game you’re so hyped for?!  Guess what, it’s entirely pay-to-win!  And they use the same formula!  Loot boxes that you have no guarantee of what they will give you.  Whether it be something good or complete shit.  If you want to get better weapons, then you will shell out an insane amount of money to get enough boxes in order to get the amount of spare parts you need.  This game all the stupid fucking Star Wars fanboys are going to cum in their pants over is screwing you.  No joke, it’s fucking screwing you.  You people are the reason I am done with Star Wars.  All the fanboys who cried when Episode VII’s trailer was released.  Did nobody notice what a fucking rip-off of the original that was?!  Did anyone notice how this new game is basically just a re-skin of Empire Strikes Back?  Maybe it’s the walkers attacking a rebel base with a small group of defenders coming out in low-altitude vehicles that gave it away?  Oh, and our hero is off on a planet alone with an old Jedi learning the ways of the Force, and it seems to be pointing to it ending with them being tempted by the Dark Side.  Sound, fucking, familiar?!

Part of me is genuinely worried that this practice is going to become commonplace.  Soon studios who are known for quality content are going to decide, “why not?” and do it themselves.  After all, it’s not like the gamers are actually doing something to stop it.  I am.  I refuse to participate in it.  I won’t be paying game companies for DLC that is on the fucking disc!  I won’t be buying a game where I have to pay to be able to win it the way it wants.  I especially won’t be buying a game where you are having to fucking gamble to win.  That’s insulting to a sickening degree.

Here’s where I turn it over to you – why are you?  What could possibly compel you to play a game where you have to gamble and pay obscene amounts of your money in order to win?  “But Lucien, look at the gameplay!  It looks so cool!”  Is that really enough?  Does it having cool factor give you the confidence to spend your fucking money on it?!

I don’t know how to stop this.  The only truly effective method to stopping this is to not buy this stuff.  But I know that’s a fool’s errand.  Dumb-shit Star Wars fanboys will cum in their pants and buy it.  And fans of Shadow of Mordor will shell out their money because the first game was so good.  This is how they seem to do it.  Make a good first game, or in Battlefront’s case a decent first game, and then make a sequel that looks cooler so you can con them into this shit.  We have to vote with our wallets, people!  We cannot pay money into this!  Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Please!  Unless people start voting with their wallets, it’s only going to get worse.

The thing I fear most is when games like The Last of Us, Part 2 and Insomniac’s Spider-Man start doing this stuff.  When I see games outside of the broken AAA market that is full of greedy corporations who now have a reputation for screwing their consumers left and right without their consumers ever giving enough of a shit to try and stop them.  And make no mistake, the more people do this, the worse it’s going to get.  Mark my fucking words.

Mark them.

Until next time, a quote,

“What would your favorite author say, Captain?  ‘Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings’?” – Gen Chang, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Peace out,

Maverick

Critical Examination: There Doesn’t Need to be a Discussion About Difficulty in Gaming

I recently watched the review of Cuphead by a YouTuber that I find genuinely engaging.  I often have some disagreements with stuff or think some of his perspectives are not the best, but I am not the kind of person who has to agree with everything someone says to like their content.  Contrary to popular opinion, not all of us critics of the regressive left are as bad as the people we criticize.  Some of us actually can deal with disagreement and even have some genuinely lively banter on the subject.  This particular YouTuber and I have actually had very lively debate in the comments section of my own posts where I reference their work.  As a way of helping promote this individual, here is a link to their review of Cuphead, now let’s get to the point.

In the video, he says that there is a genuine discussion that should be had about difficulty in gaming.  This talking point has come about after a frankly hilarious video of a game journalist being oddly incapable of dealing with the tutorial level had this person getting well-deserved ridicule.  There was a guy who is very physically handicapped making a video showing his ability to play the game well.  I’m sorry, but he fucked up, and there’s nothing wrong with making fun of the video that was put out and his butthurt reaction to it.  There is especially nothing wrong with ridiculing video game journalists for standing up for being bad at games when this is their line of work.

The aforementioned YouTuber said difficulty vs accessibility in games is a worthwhile discussion.  I am here to respectfully disagree.  Now let me make something clear – I’m not talking about this when it comes to video games that are virtually unplayable.  If a game has a stupid difficulty spike that makes things unfair, that is something worth calling out.  I’m talking about games that make very clear the fact that they are hard and you should be expecting that.

Best example – Dark Souls, but instead of looking at that (because I never got into the franchise), let’s take a look at a game in the same vein that I happen to love – BloodborneBloodborne is hard.  Really hard.  This game will fuck you up.  Dark Souls is a game where you are encouraged to play defensively and wait for openings to attack.  Bloodborne is nothing like that.  Playing defensively will get you killed.  The reality is that it is a game where you are actively encouraged to take risks.  Did you just take a really bad hit?  Well, if you have the guts and fast timing, you can get back into the fight and regain some of the health if you do it quickly.  You got a limited window, idiot!  So get in there and fight!  That style of gameplay is not accessible to everyone.  Plus, the fact that the game demands that style of play also means that you are going to be putting you fate in the hands of blind luck more than you’d like.

But here’s the thing – the players of this game know this.  They accept this.  It’s an understood risk of playing this game.  Because that’s the kind of game that From Software makes.  It’s in the vein of a franchise that was marketed specifically on it being really, really hard.  The original poster for Dark Souls had the line “Prepare to Die” on it.  Players went in with both eyes wide open.  Uncompromising difficulty.  But here’s the thing – you can learn how to work with that.  You learn the placement of the enemies, and the weaknesses of bosses.  Then you put that knowledge to use and fight your ass off.  A little luck will sometimes be required, but you will learn by trial and error.  Lots, and lots of error.

At what point does a game that is difficult become inaccessible?  When it doesn’t appeal to the casual?  Games that market themselves on difficulty are by their nature going to be niche.  Despite the mainstream success of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, they are games made for a certain type of gamer and they know that.  They aren’t the only ones.  Look at Devil May Cry 3 as another example.  That game’s difficulty is downright punishing at points.  The final fight with Vergil requires nerves of steel and a little bit of genuine luck to overcome.  But players understood this.  No one was saying back in the day that we needed to have an Easy mode.

The big debate seems to be that we need to make games easier so that people who don’t like difficult games can have them.  Why?  Why should a game designer compromise their creative image of a game in order to cater to people who don’t want to invest the time or energy to master the game’s mechanics?  You can become pretty badass at Bloodborne if you just learn the placement of enemies and learn how to telegraph their attacks.  I can take on giants and wolf-men early on just by being able to dodge at then strike while taking time to step back and recover energy.  It’s not that hard.  Guess who I did that – by mastering the game’s mechanics.  While the enemies get more difficult in New Game Plus, now I have the weapons I like best and can make even shorter work of my foes.  Because by now I’ve played the game long enough to have that level of mastery.

Plus, there is no way to make that game easy.  Not really.  The game’s entire mechanics are centered around the difficulty and playing well to be able to overcome that.  Everything is built around that!  Take that away and what are you left with?  A game where you wander around beautiful gothic environments and kill the occasional bad guy.  Where’s the fun there?

I’m not seeing where this idea that games need to be easier in order to cater to more people comes from.  The new Assassin’s Creed game has a kind of spectator mode where there are no enemies or threats and you can just wander around the world and look at stuff.  I mean, sure, the environments are pretty, but why not just make a game that is an open world walking simulator at that point?  I don’t even hate walking simulators on their merits.  My favorite game of 2015 was Life is Strange.  But Assassin’s Creed isn’t that type of game.  It’s the kind of game where you are supposed to be taking out targets and using stealth to infiltrate places.  All of the game’s mechanics are built around that.  Take that away and what’s left?  Nothing important, that’s what.

Here’s the thing – I get that hard games can be frustrating to people.  The uncompromising difficulty of Cuphead with its catchy art style and glorious music (sucks that I don’t have an Xbox One.  Will never get to play it unless I get a decent gaming PC) is something players have to adapt to.  But forgive me if I actually believe that players can do that, instead of having to have their hands held the whole damn time because the devs need to make a mode just so they can get in on the fun.  I can play the easy mode on Persona 5 because I love the story and I am just dying to get ahead on it without grinding for long periods of time.  But then I can crank up the difficulty on Doom and rip and tear with the vast arsenal.  But the thing is that both devs made those choices for those modes to be in it.  Can you imagine Doom with a safe mode?  That sounds boring as fuck.

Will be sending this article to the aforementioned YouTuber.  We’ll see where this goes.  What about all of you?  Thoughts about the difficulty vs accessibility in gaming?  Let me know in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“It is one of man’s curious idiosyncrasies to create difficulties for the pleasure of solving them.” – Joseph de Maistre

Peace out,

Maverick