Video Games are Fueling the Rise of the Far Right! Right? (A response to The Guardian)

I swore that I would never go after this publication again.  They officially became too low-hanging fruit after the article about how emojis are evil.  That was the point when I decided that they are so stupid that responding to them is a waste of what little intelligence I have.  But dammit, they make this so easy!  And now they are going after a hobby that is near and dear to my heart, saying that since the inception of video games, they are helping fuel right-wing ideologies.  This is so ridiculous.  When I saw this article being talked about, I had to make a response.  Here’s a link to the article, now let’s talk about it.

Gaming cultures are connected to violence – but should be considered in terms of the rise of far right political discourse and the prominence of “alt-right” misogyny and racism.

Oh boy, I am sure that you are going to find a very concise, totally not bullshit way of demonstrating this point of view.  I’m sure you are.  I’m sure that there won’t be any buzzword usage and emotional appeal slathered all over this crap.  Not even a little.  If there’s one thing the far-left and the far-right have in common, it’s bad argumentation.  I love them for it.

The white male supremacy in gaming has been discussed in the context of the harassment campaign Gamergate and via the link between Trump and gamer message board threads on the 4chan website.

So, where do we get started on why this is bullshit?  For starters, I am not going to go through all the madness that was #GamerGate and why you’re wrong.  I’m going to let the archived videos of Internet Aristocrat do it for me.

As for boards on 4chan being for Trump, so what?  People online talking about politics.  I’m sure that gaming has a connection there.  Like I said, bad argumentation is the cornerstone of The Guardian and their “news” coverage.

Games are ideological constructions which push a set of values on the user. Like television and film, they often support the ideologies of their context: in the Bush years, American games endorsed aggressive foreign policy; since Brexit, British games advocate isolationism or nostalgia for empire – and the prominence of anti-Islam games in the 2000s tells it all.

Wow.  Notice that they don’t list a single video game to back up their claims.  None.  It’s almost like the person who wrote this doesn’t actually play them.  Maybe they just studied up on Anita Sarkeesian’s old catalog of videos and didn’t actually do any real research.  Another cornerstone of The Guardian writing – bad research.

I wonder if I can think up some games that didn’t pander to the Bush doctrine.  Maybe games like Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.  There, you have an American operative who is used by his government to kill his mentor/lover in order to get secrets that the Americans didn’t want to get out to them.  He was used and then, when he finds out how deep that well went, chose to disavow his loyalty to America and become a mercenary.  That was one example off the top of my head.  Idiot!

However, video games have at least two unique features compared to other media.

I can’t wait to hear this.

First, rightwing ideologies have been overrepresented and dominant throughout the history of video games. Although affected by context, video games have long focused on the expulsion of “aliens” (Space Invaders to XCOM), fear of impure infection (Half-Life to The Last of Us), border control (Missile Commander to Plants vs Zombies), territory acquisition (Command & Conquer to Splatoon), empire building (Civilization to Tropico), princess recovery (Mario to Zelda), and restoration of natural harmony (Sonic to FarmVille).

I’m dying!  This is so stupid!  Oh my Groj!  Why is this so dumb?!  Alright, let’s break this down.

First, it’s a right-wing ideology that when a hostile alien species invades your planet and is blowing everything up to fight back?  Really?  So would the left just lie down and let themselves be destroyed?  Is that what I’m to infer?  Notice I said a hostile race.  These creatures are openly killing people.  This isn’t aliens coming to Earth and then saying “hi, let’s make peace” and we just kill them.  It’s them coming and immediately attacking humanity and killing people.  Is the lesson here that this is a right-wing sentiment?  If so, I am REALLY confused as to what the left-wing approach is.

Next up, we have an “impure infection.”  The head-crabs in Half-Life are an alien life-form that takes over the bodies of people.  They are an actual infection.  Same with the Cordyceps in The Last of Us.  That infection is actually based on a real-life infection that happens in insects.  There are dozens of species of this fungus, all of which are tailored to one specific bug.  The concept of that game was that the infection jumped species and infected humanity.  Is it really a ring-wing ideology to fight back against this?  I ask again – what is the left-wing response to this sort of thing?  An infection is spreading out of control killing millions upon millions of people.  What is the left-wing response to such a thing?  Get in a circle and hold hands?

Then we come to border control.  Attacking this point is more about one of your examples than the merits, since at least this is something more associated with the right than the left.  How on Earth is Plants vs Zombies a referendum about border control?  It’s about stopping zombies from getting into the house and eating the brains of the denizens inside, dumbass!  I can already hear the snooty British retards who take this crap seriously responding – it’s about the unconscious implications associated with this that will tailor the minds of people to see it as people considered ugly not being allowed in your area.  Or, because we’re not in far-left fantasy land, it’s about plants stopping zombies from getting in the fucking house.  Ugh.

And we have “territory acquisition.”  This is another one where I’m more going to attack your examples than your point, even though the idea of expanding American territories is bafflingly stupid to call right-wing.  The right in this country (maybe you British idiots have this idea in the right since you used to be an empire) is very isolationist.  The libertarian dinguses want to get rid of all American military bases and only focus on America.  This is such a stupid point to make.  But back to the examples, what is Splatoon doing on there?  It’s a game about shooting ink because you’re a squid-person.  Where is the so-subtle-it-doesn’t-exist message in that?  This author is nine kinds of stupid.

What about “empire building?”  Once-again, this doesn’t at all tie into the American right-wing.  Not even a little.  You are so stupid it hurts.  Plus, games that allow you to create a fictional society and run it how you want to run it are about building empires?  This ties in to me thinking that you don’t actually play video games.  See, in Civilization, you can choose how you expand your empire.  You can be an empire that seeks peaceful cooperation, or violence.  It allows you to choose.  And Tropico doesn’t have you building an empire.  It has you as the leader of a Third World country that you have to make a better place.  Man, that is so right wing I can’t even believe it!  Your examples reek of the most blatant stupidity one can possibly imagine.  I’m sending this to you so you can hopefully learn something.

The one that really made me laugh is “princess recovery.”  This is a right-wing idea.  The idea that if a woman who you value (as in both examples provided it is clear that the main character does value the women they are respectively trying to save) is taken prisoner by an evil monster, you should save them is a right-wing idea.  What is the left-wing approach to this?  Be like “well, you kidnapped my significant other, guess that’s just how it goes.  Oh well”?  Some little bitch you must be.

Most baffingly of all – natural restoration.  Are you fucking kidding me?!  Restoring nature of a right-wing ideology?!  How?!  When was this?!  My whole life, I grew up hearing about how it’s the fucking hippy left that wants to restore nature.  Now we have this idiot talking about how restoring nature if a right-wing point of view.  I want an example of this.  I want to see some right-wing site trying to restore nature.  All the conservative idiots who say that climate change isn’t real and that we should be able to pollute as much as we want because Jeebus is coming back and Alfie dumbass Brown is telling me that the restoration of nature is a right-wing point of view.  Fucking idiot!

Second, video games put the user to work on an instinctual level, making the gamer feel impulsive agreement with these ideologies. Playing Resident Evil is not equivalent to watching the movie, because the controller-wielding gamer experiences the desires of the game as their own desires – not as the desires of another.

This is basically the Anita Sarkeesian argument – that because you play games, these secret, implicit things that they are nefariously conditioning you towards are going to hit you harder because it’s a video game.  A point of view without a SINGLE piece of scientific evidence for!  None!  There have been so many studies debunking this.  There was another study done just recently that was a long-term study having people play Grand Theft Auto V for months, then doing tests hours after the game sessions were done to test if they were more violent, and came back negative.  The only tests that have shown anything even remotely indicative of your perspective have come from tests that were done immediately after someone had gamed, when they are still running on endorphins from playing.  It’s ridiculous.  This is unproven bullshit that I am sure you are going to have some brilliant “evidence” for.

The psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan distinguished between “drives” and “instincts”. While instincts come from within us, drives occur when political forces propel us in certain directions. In these terms, video games are drives masquerading as instincts, naturalising rightwing ideologies in a way other media cannot by offering its users the chance to experience them on a personal level.

That’s nothing.  That was a nonsense, bullshit statement that basically exists to say “I’m smart!  Can’t you see what a smarty I am!”  It is basically just saying that video games are secretly nefarious for reasons that will never properly be defined.  When all evidence on the subject of video games influencing your personality goes against you, this guy has to say that it is so subliminal that you can’t even tell.  Almost like it doesn’t exist.

In this way, the rationale of gaming is to unite pleasurable impulse with political ideology, a process which renders gamers susceptible to discourses that urge people to follow their instincts while also prescribing what those instincts ought to be.

An opinion not proven, for a point of conjecture that is pure bullshit.  Yeah, this really is The Guardian’s MO.

In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Hollywood cinema transformed the desires, empathies and emotions of a global population (even for those who never went to the movies), but it’s harder to recognise the pattern in your own context – and we may need to consider whether we are in the midst of a comparable revolution with video games today. Currently, the new desires incubated by games lean far to the right, and without more progressive games on the market (though some are emerging), the future may be even bleaker than the political present.

You have got to be kidding me.  This person is so stupid.  I love that I, an American, get to look down on a dumb-shit British person.  They are usually so pompous that they tend to be the other way around.  Hey Alfie, art imitates life, not the other way around.  I guess nobody told you that.  Or maybe you just watched Anita Sarkeesian’s videos and take all of her bullshit at face value.  Whatever the case may be, you’re wrong.  Demonstrably wrong.  The reason that the films in the 60’s-80’s reflected a change in the culture is because the culture was changing and Hollywood changed with it.  The hippy movement of the 60’s, which came to a crescendo in the 70’s left a lasting impact on cinema.  This was reflected when Hunter S Thompson wrote his masterpiece “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream,” which talked about how that hope and belief in the fight for change crashed down around those who fought when the decadence and decay of the 80’s swept in.  Read that book sometime.  It’s a great piece, from an author who saw the hope and decay very clearly.

Video games are the whipping boy of every cultural movement in the world.  The left and right use them to vilify people almost in equal measure.  It’s amazing.  These two ideologies should really join forces on their mutual hatred of a medium that has NEVER been proven to cause violence, sexism, or anything else.

Until next time, a quote,

“For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” – H.L. Mencken

Peace out,

Maverick

Advertisements

Trump Defender Says Video Games are Bad (A response to Matthew Walther)

I’ve been looking for a good representation of the Trump defenders coming out in support of their God-King saying something so asinine and not even remotely backed up by science as violent video games have a connection to mass shootings.  I really have.  But thankfully I have Twitter, and between the pornstars I follow on there and the YouTubers that I like, there are also the people in video game culture who find all of this shit as amusing as I do.  Plenty of them are conservative, and watching them be quiet about their God-King saying something so stupid is interesting on its own.

However, I have now found someone who fits the bill of the /r/TheDonald sychophants who want to come out in defense of their God-King and say that all of us detractors are wrong.  I love this shit.  I really do.  Here’s a link to this article, now let’s talk about it.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I had just robbed a drug dealer and was peeling out in my getaway car — also stolen — and thinking about my next score when I saw her: a woman in high heels and a very small bathing suit. She motioned towards me and I let her get in the car. We performed a blurry parody of marital intercourse. After she got out of the vehicle, I ran her over. Then Judas Priest came on the radio. I cranked the volume and roasted the tires of my sports car beneath the orange moon.

The moral being that because this happened in vidya, it is no less evil than if it happened in real life.

Because I was 13 years old and the above scene was unfolding on my friend’s PlayStation, I am not writing this column from a maximum security prison.

Called it!  Yeah, Matt.  And the other day I took a teenage girl from an operating room after killing a doctor with a bullet to the face.  Then, when a woman who was her caretaker at one point tried to stop me from taking her away, I put a bullet in her stomach and then, as she begged for her life, one in her face.  But there is a context to that.  The character I was playing as had this one person who was his connection to the human condition, and he was selling humanity up the river to keep that connection.  Wanna know something about both your example and mine?  I know that they are both fiction, because I’m a fucking adult.  I don’t believe in fairy-tales, or unicorns, or Jeebus, or that video games are real.

When President Trump dared to suggest last week that “the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts,” he was denounced with the uniform hectoring intensity that meets his every utterance. Hundreds of pages of digital ink was spilled pointing out that, actually, there is no proven connection between digital mayhem and the massacres that have become a commonplace part of American life.

Gee, I wonder why that is?  Could it be that there is not a SINGLE piece of substantive evidence linking video games to school shootings?  Or violence of any kind?  I don’t know, I think there might be something to it when the pantheon of people can come out of the woodwork and easily defend our position, while I’m sure you are going to have STELLAR examples that bolster you belief.  I’m sure it is all going to be very well-researched stuff.

What does it mean to say that there is no connection? Virtually every single one of the pasty psychos who have shot their classmates and teachers in the last two decades has played such games. What would count as evidence?

No.  Video games are ubiquitous to modern culture.  Especially modern male culture.  The hardcore audience of gaming is men.  By that same token, maybe we could say that Marvel films are influencing school shootings.  After all, I bet these shooters have watched a ton of them, and comic book films have been a huge part of culture for the last 20 years.  Or maybe it was the iPhone.  How many of these shooters had one of those?  You can take any piece of typical culture and put it in there and make the EXACT SAME argument.

Meanwhile, the hard science (a phrase that conservatives fear more than any other) has shown that there is NO connection between playing video games and being violent.  None.  Find me a study that proves me wrong.  You can’t!  And before you go saying that the studies are biased, Congress has commissioned a lot of these studies trying to prove just what you are!  A Congress who is biased against the industry has commissioned study after study to desperately try and prove that video games cause violence.  It hasn’t worked.  There is a great quote by Max Caulfield that I am going to end this with that summarizes this perfectly.

I cannot understand why even positing the notion of a relationship between games and the behavior of those who play them is taboo. Does anyone think that misogyny in films and television and music does not shape men’s attitudes toward women, that it has no consequences in the real world? A thousand #MeToo takes suggest otherwise. Why, then, are video games the exception?

What?!  You have GOT to be kidding me.  Dumb-dumb, the reason that there is this taboo (it isn’t.  You can say whatever you like, but everyone is going to tear you to pieces for being stupid) is because there is not a single piece of scientific evidence that suggests that.  Just like there is not a single piece of scientific evidence linking film, television, and music to sexism.  This is patently absurd.  By the way, whose side are you on, anyway?  You’re defending Trump’s comments and bashing the left, then using their talking points?  The cognitive dissonance is interesting.

Either way, there has been no connection between video games and violence, or sexism.  None that has been proven.  Just lots of conjecture based on weak, cherry-picked evidence without a single study to back it up.  In fact, there was a long-term study finally done by Germany that disproved the notion of video games.  So yeah, your entire argument is fallacious bullshit.

Why is it the default position of every commentator that spending hundreds, even thousands of hours acting out scenes like the one I described above has no ramifications for the way young people — the majority of them male — feel and behave? How do people who accept the existence of concepts like microaggressions and rhetorical dog-whistling convince themselves that indulging an appetite for murderous rage could have no discernible effects on the imaginations of impressionable young people?

I don’t accept either of those things, because neither of them have been proven by science!  Science, mother-fucker!  Do you speak it?!  Oh right, you don’t.  Just like every conservative who wants a pulpit to stand on, you just spout off rhetoric and then say you’re right.  If this was a research paper it would get a D.

Let me put it another way. If someone created a video game in which it was possible to grope or even rape women, as opposed to just cutting off their heads with a chainsaw or shooting them in the face with machine guns, would we still consider it a harmless diversion unlikely to disfigure the imaginations of players? What about a game where the user was allowed to molest children? Why is pretending to be a killer okay?

The other cornerstone of conservative argumentation – emotional appeal.  Do I think the games you bring up would be tasteless and grotesque?  Absolutely.  Granted, I’m not a fan of playing a game where I can indiscriminately kill civilians with a chainsaw or machine gun.  Now a game where I kill demons with those things like the masterpiece that is 2016’s DOOM, that I can do all day.  But do I think that those games would turn people into rapists?  No.  Much like I don’t think that watching porn makes you think that women are sex toys.  A fact that has actual SCIENCE behind it.  This is so fucking stupid.  How many different ways can I say the same thing?

One does not have to be able to demonstrate a formal causal link — whatever that would look like — between the hideous violence of many video games and real-life acts of mass murder to recognize that the former are contributing to something sinister.

Yes you fucking do!  You do have to demonstrate it.  Because you want to legislate against what people can watch and play.  You want to tell people that they have to pay your morality fee in order to play something that has no proven link to violence.  Just like how Rhode Island wants people to pay their morality fee to watch porn.  I’m sorry that demands for evidence are hard for you.  Lemme guess, you’re a Christian too.

One of the ludicrous dogmas of the modern world is the notion that the media we consume cannot influence us for the worse.

It’s not a dogma.  Dogma is faith.  Faith is belief without evidence.  There is actual evidence of my contention, while zero evidence for yours.  I’m sorry, but I don’t take things on faith.  It’s why I stopped believing in this God that so many conservatives claim to be such a huge fan of, and it’s why I also don’t believe in the SJW convictions like the ones you apparently are also in favor of.  For real, where do you fall on the spectrum, dude?

Virtually everyone agrees that it is possible to be deeply moved by watching a film or hearing a song. We are all familiar with lachrymose paeans to the virtues of reading, which is supposed to be able to make us more open-minded and empathetic and every other vaguely positive-sounding adjective you care to suggest. Why do we pretend that the reverse is not true in a medium that is designed to be immersive and interactive, to give the vivid impression of really being there?

Because I’m not five, idiot.  I know that it’s make-believe.  Can I hear Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2 and feel a lot of powerful emotions?  Absolutely.  It’s amazing music.  But I have those feelings based on the things that I feel in my own life.  Being touched by something doesn’t mean that I am going to suddenly start my own orchestra and make it myself.  Being touched by a fantastic book doesn’t mean I’m going to think that it’s real life.  You feel that way about the Bible?  Watching a heart-breaking film doesn’t make me think that way.  And when I play The Last of Us, I don’t feel the urge to suddenly go bust into an operating room and kill a doctor.

I’m sorry that nobody ever told you that there is a difference between real life and pretend.  I think my species is retarded as fuck, and even I give them more credit than you.  Go figure.

Until next time, a quote,

“A pattern is emerging.” – Max Caulfield, Life is Strange

Peace out,

Maverick

Video Games are now a Virtual Boot Camp? (A response to Jeremy Bailenson)

I thought I’ve heard it all when it comes to stupidity in journalism.  CNN is just like every other major news network.  My favorite journalism teacher (I got my degree in journalism and public communication) called them “infotainment.”  Meaning that no one is actually learning anything.  They just shit out content that they think their ignorant masses want to hear.  No surprise, the audience for this crap is old.  The young are more and more going to YouTube.  Hence why they will do anything they can to attack the platform.  Just look at the Wall Street Journal doing a hit-piece video on PewDiePie.  But now they have decided to go into the Jack Thompson foray with an editorial where this author decides to make the argument that video games are a “virtual boot camp.”  I’m sure this will be just as stupid as it sounds.  Here’s a link to the article so you know I’m not taking anything out of context, now let’s get started.

Last week, Dick’s Sporting Goods banned the sale of assault-style rifles and Walmart raised the age of all gun buyers to 21. While our politicians debate next steps, these companies took swift action. Virtual reality hardware and software companies, which design top-selling video games, should follow suit.

Um, no they shouldn’t  There is a real connection between America’s bullshit gun laws and the amount of gun crime in this country.  Look at all the other countries who have just as much access to video games.  They don’t have NEARLY the gun violence that this country does.  Meanwhile, there is ZERO evidence that video games cause violence.  Zero.  Jack Thompson destroyed his career trying to find it.  To date, there has not been a single study linking video games to violence.  So gaming companies have no obligation to do such a financially stupid thing.

Video games have one mandate: to be fun. But the companies that create and market them must also be socially and morally aware. They must consider the kinds of experiences they are developing, especially in first-person shooter games.

No, they shouldn’t.  For starters, corporations aren’t moral or immoral.  They’re amoral.  There is no morality there.  It’s all about what sells.  Video games sell.  It’s a billion-dollar industry that is standing with the giants of Hollywood.  This industry markets in what sells.  And first-person shooters sell.  Regardless of the declining quality in AAA FPS games, they sell.  Thank the dumb-ass consumers who apparently don’t have a problem shelling out tons of money for regurgitated crap.

There is at least one documented case of a killer using a first-person shooter game to improve his combat skills. According to the Guardian, the Norwegian shooter Anders Breivik told the court in 2012 that he used “a holographic aiming device” in the game “Call of Duty” to develop his target acquisition abilities.

What?!  You have got to be kidding me.  That’s it?  That’s the best that you can come up with?  Court testimony from one person?!  What a joke.  What an absolute joke, at the expense of an industry that has had a ton of ACTUAL science done to show has no connection to violence at all.  Your rebuttal – this guy said Call of Duty helped him!  Well, you sure showed all those experts!

Breivik played a two-dimensional game, but virtual reality can take skill acquisition to a new level. Players can look all around the scene instead of just staring at a screen. Handheld devices vibrate to simulate touch. Most importantly, players use their arms and body to engage in actual combat moves, instead of just hitting buttons. As a result, the brain’s motor system is engaged. Repeated movement while in virtual reality causes changes in brain structure, which in turn improves performance in the real world.

Okay.  Let me see if I got this right.  The argument here is that VR is going to train people to use real life guns?  Am I following that?  I think I’m going to let you keep going before I destroy your argument by rank and file.

The military has been using virtual reality to train soldiers for decades. Today, everyone from NFL quarterbacks trying to improve their play, to retail employees trying to hone their customer service skills, are using virtual reality training to enable an infinite number of mental repetitions.

And your evidence for this is…what, exactly?  What programs are they using?  How do they work?  I’m getting the distinct impression that you have no clue what the fuck you’re talking about.  How do I know this?  Because I’m going to let you in on a little secret – no actual person is going to learn how to handle real life guns with a VR simulator.  None.  Just like how you can’t play CoD and suddenly know everything about handling military-grade weaponry.  You aren’t going to learn about reloading a rifle, dealing with kick, hitting targets with an actual gun, or virtually anything associated with operating a real assault rifle in a game.

I’ve handled an AK-47.  Kicked like a mule and I couldn’t hit shit.  Those guns are ridiculously easy to use, but the ability to use them well is a whole other deal.  This idea that VR is somehow going to be able to train someone to properly use a weapon is laughable at best.

Not to mention, VR for the kind of thing that this idiot is talking about is not sold in the mainstream market.  To use VR to play a game where you’d be doing the kind of thing like in your average CoD, you need a huge amount of space to move.  The best that VR has been able to do is games that work with controllers because the space needed to move is impossible.  This person lives in a fantasy that everyone is secretly being trained by the government to be killers.  It’s ridiculous.

My argument here is not that virtual reality games are going to cause people to become violent, or that law enforcement or the military, for example, shouldn’t have access to them. But if a possible mass-shooter wants to hone his craft, we shouldn’t hand him an over-the-counter digital boot camp.

The biggest gross hyperbole of all time.  As I said above, you will not learn anything about handling real-life guns by playing video games.  Nothing.  Shooting actual guns is vastly different.  I speak as someone who has done it.  Notice how NOTHING here is cited.  The only citation you’ve had to back up anything you’ve said is with your one reference where a guy says that CoD helped him aim.  A contention that I call bullshit on in the first place.

This idiot goes into a list of things that video games can do better that reminds me of that guy in the anti-video game episode of Bullshit! where he says that instead of having shooters, why not have a guy with a magic stick to make people well.  It’s ridiculous and nonsensical, and it all comes back to the fact that there is ZERO evidence that video games are linked to violence.  None.  This dude had ONE piece of evidence to back him up, because every single bit of the science is against him.

In a perfect world, perhaps we wouldn’t have virtual shooters at all. But for as long as we’ve had media, people have delighted in violent content. Some of my own favorite science fiction films and television series are gory and terrifying. The US Supreme Court has ruled that violent video games are a protected form of free speech, and for years the top selling video games have been first-person shooters.

Yeah, there’s a market for it.  And something else you don’t like to mention is that as video games have risen in popularity, violent crime has decreased.  Not to make the correlation equals causation fallacy, but it is REALLY interesting how that happens.  Trying to have the Supreme Court rule that it needs to be regulated is just as much of an insult to the 1st Amendment as when the angry moms went after the music industry and Frank Zappa kicked their ass in his testimony.  I’m sorry that reality bugs you so much.

Virtual reality is on the cusp of becoming a mainstream consumer product, and every year content becomes more and more realistic. Lucky for the designing companies, they have a little more time to think through some of the potential negative consequences of what they are creating.

VR is dying because it can’t be made mainstream.  It’s cumbersome, the games coming out for it have a bad habit of sucking rather than being good, and hardly anyone is talking about it anymore.  As for your argument, gaming companies have evidence telling them that mass shootings are not a potential negative consequence of what they are creating.  What do you have?

Until next time, a quote,

“From 1931 to 2007, 665 kids died from injuries they got playing football.  This is not video game violence.  This is real violence done to real children by other real children, all encouraged by schools and society.  Every parent worries about their kids.  Every adult worries about all children.  But you need to pick what you think is worth worrying about.” – Penn Jillette

Peace out,

Maverick

More Racism Disguised as Racial Sensitivity (A response to What Culture)

I remember a few years back now when I went after Hipster McGee on PBS’s now defunct YouTube channel for saying that there aren’t enough minorities in gaming.  Now we have a British idiot from another hipster culture critic channel who has decided to take a swing at it.  Will this be any less stupid than Hipster McGee’s video?  Not really, no.  The premise this time is that gaming needs to have its “Black Panther Moment.”  Oh boy, I’m sure this isn’t going to be stupid at all.  I’ll have the video so you can see I’m not taking anything out of context, let’s get this over with.

This is stupid right out of the gate.  For starters, this film is a bold reinforcement of what it means to be black?  Wow, what a sweeping and broad generalization.  No, numb-nuts, it’s a Marvel film about a superhero from a fictional nation.  Are you telling me that all black people are supposed to identify with this character?  Yes, I’m sure the black guy from the Bronx who is a New Yorker to the core can so identify with the blackness here.  This idea that all black people are supposed to correlate in some way to this character ties into some more racism that this video spews that I’ll get to in a bit, so I’ll leave it saying that this video has this great power of generalizing about people.  They seem to think that all people of the same skin color are naturally similar and their life experiences, where they are born, and the community they grow up in will make them all the same.  That all black people are supposed to identify as African and be so in touch with their African heritage.  How absurd.

I hate that Black Panther, that is a perfectly fine Marvel film, has been elevated so much.  It’s not that great.  It’s really not.  It’s not bad, but it’s not this magnum opus of the Marvel universe.  That’s so dumb.  They say that the only reason people like it is because it’s got black people in it.  Um, no!  It’s because it’s a Marvel film that follows the Marvel formula to a fault and the Marvel formula tests well in this country.  It makes a shit-ton of money.  I like to over-analyze things, and even I think you’re fucking daft!  We’ve only just gotten started and already I’m annoyed.  Groj help me.

Next up they say that films like Blade and Hancock don’t count because they don’t have enough to do with diversity.  Um, what?  So the fact that Blade lived in New York and had the New York mindset all over the film isn’t a diversity?  Oh, right, this idiot has this idea that all white people are part of some big collective hegemony and is so fucking xenophobic of cultures outside of his own.  What do I mean?  I mean that in New York, the way of life there is vastly different than the way of life in Seattle or Houston, Texas.  See, differen’t parts of the country have different cultures inside them.  If these culture simpletons could actually get that, maybe they wouldn’t be talking about how characters like Blade basically aren’t black enough for them.  And by black enough, we mean African enough.  These people are so fucking racist.

So gaming doesn’t teach about a love of culture and diversity?  Really?!  Fucking really?!  This is what I was waiting for.  I’m pretty much about to go off the rails on this moron, so buckle in, people.  I’m playing Persona 5 right now.  It’s a marvel of a game.  The depth it goes into about Japanese culture is just wonderful.  Oh, wait, the Japanese are too white for this fucking bigot.  Or maybe we can talk about the Yakuza games.  They don’t even have a dub, which is awesome.  You get an even further dive into the culture of those games.  But again, the Japanese are too white.

Or how about Horizon: Zero Dawn?!  That game created several cultures for the tribal societies from scratch!  And you learn about all of them!  I can tell you about what I learned about the Osram, or the Sun Kingdom, or the Banook.  I found every culture in that game fascinating and they were able to do that by having the cultures be diverse skin tones, but have cultural differences.  Something that this xenophobic piece of shit doesn’t even address!  As an example, this is some British or maybe Irish social justice moron.  If we made a game that was very much about British or Irish culture and had a deep look into the community it is set in, is that not culturally diverse?  I’m American as fuck and I would find that just as engaging as I do Persona 5.  But no, let’s just ignore that.

This video has the BALLS to say that gaming rarely goes into detail about what it means to be one with your culture.  Bull-shit!  I just listed off three games right off the top of my fucking head.  Let me try some more – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.  In addition to going into the culture of the pirates and their world, you also get to see some of the racially charged segments.  Hell, that game has a DLC where you play as your former quartermaster freeing slaves!  Speaking of pirate culture and a game that dives into what a culture is, let’s talk about Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.  That whole game has Nathan Drake learning about the culture of powerful pirates who run the gamut of diverse races and backgrounds and you learn a ton about them.  Oh, right, you SJW morons said it’s bad because it basically has Nate as a grave robber.  Fucking idiot.

I could go on for hours about my favorite Final Fantasy games and how they immerse you in the cultures of their worlds to have you come to learn about these characters and their cultural and ideological diversity to care about each of them.  Or maybe we could talk about the fucking Mass Effect games.  They have a TON of codex entries helping the player learn all they can about every culture, and you have all these diverse species and races having different perspectives on things.  Like how Garrus would have taken the Salarian Delatross’s offer to let the genophage go on because of his own biases as a turian.

You know what this moron’s REAL problem is?  It’s not that there isn’t enough diversity.  I’ve just beat the shit out of that entire argument here.  Their argument is that there aren’t enough black people.  It’s as simple as that.  They want more African games with characters who are African as fuck just so they can beat the same social justice drum that they beat for a film that does NOT deserve it.  I didn’t see these people singing the praises for Moonlight, a film about growing up both gay and black that was a masterpiece of the genre.  No, they have to have a film that is superficially about being African so they can say “see, this is promoting diversity!”  It’s because it’s mainstream.  That’s it.  Hardly anyone has seen Moonlight.  That and it deals with being black and gay, which being gay is something that a HUGE portion of the black community is not a fan of.  It’s an ugly truth that these xenophobic morons want to ignore.

I hate this crap.  This person seems to think that all white people are a homogenized group.  Yes, because as a white American I know just how a white Russian (anyone who gets me one right now is my friend.  You know what I mean) feels.  Or a white British person.  Or a white Frenchman (insert Monty Python joke here).  I’m sure I know all about that.

Forgive me for thinking that a black person in New York probably has no fucking clue what it’s like to grow up in a fictional African nation.  Or that a black British person has no fucking clue what it’s like to grow up in New York.  It’s almost like there’s nuance to this or something!

But you know what, if there is a good game that comes out and it has a character who is so damn African that he actually celebrates Kwanzaa (nobody celebrates Kwanzaa), then you know what, I got no problem with it.  So long as the story is good, I don’t care if the protagonist is super mega African so in touch with his African heritage that he wears some REALLY ridiculous clothes.  Or has a lip disk.  Whatever.  I want good games.

That’s what gamers want – good games.  It’s why we all loved Horizon: Zero Dawn, even though everyone says that gamers hate female protagonists.  It’s why Mafia III wasn’t looked upon so poorly because of it’s racial element, but because of the lackluster gameplay.  It’s why you have fighting game tournaments where people of all ethnic backgrounds gather.  Because gaming IS inclusive.  We want good games.  I tell you what, What Culture, you find me a developer who makes to make a game that is so ethnically diverse that it has a genderqueer ponykin, then if it’s actually a good game I will play it.

Oh right, you had that opportunity.  We got that point-and-click housecleaning simulator.  You know what I mean.

Until next time, a quote,

“Perhaps you’re giving the krogan too little credit, or the salarians too much.” – Commander Shepherd, Mass Effect 2

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Shadow of the Colossus (Remastered)

I remember when I was a lot younger playing the original game on my old PS2.  It was a game that helped redefine the medium as not just mindless entertainment, but as a new art form.  It was a simple premise with some astounding execution.  Sure, there were some flaws, but the game did what it set out to do.  I don’t hold it as one of my favorites, but it is a good time.  Now Sony has come together to remaster it.  Does it measure up to the original, or is it just another game with a pretty paint job?  Let’s talk about it.

Like I said, the premise is simple.  A young man takes a girl who has died to a distant land, where he heard there is a powerful force that can bring her back to life.  The force says that if he wants to resurrect her, he will need to kill 16 colossi.  That’s it.  I honestly like that.  It doesn’t force a whole bunch of unnecessary backstory in there.  You learn all you need to know, and then the story plays out.

The first thing to say about this game is the visually it is a marvel.  The effects have been brought forward with astounding clarity.  It’s unlike anything else you’re going to see.  On the PS4 Pro you have the option between visual fidelity and 60fps.  With the visuals cranked up, this game looks unbelievable.  The marketing all pimped out how great this looks and they weren’t kidding.

It also has this mode where you can take stills of scenes for screenshots and you can mess around with the visuals of it.  That’s kinda cool.  Caught myself playing with it for some of the epic views in this game.  Got to have a lot of fun with that.  It’s something you can completely miss, but for those who want it, it is a nice distraction.

What you need to know is that this game is not only a very simple premise but there are NO bells and whistles.  This game’s entire premise is about killing the colossi, and that’s all you are going to do.  I am glad they didn’t have this be a full-priced game.  It feels worth it for the price they asked for.  If you are looking for a game that will give you countless hours of entertainment, you’ve gone to the wrong place.  If that’s a deal-breaker for you, stop now.

Since this game is essentially 16 boss fights, the challenge comes from finding the weaknesses of these monsters and then exploiting it.  Each boss is unique.  Everyone has their favorites.  Mine are the ones involving flying.  Both the giant bird and the giant sky serpent are phenomenal battles.  I like how they really amped up the visuals of the boss you fight in the water by making it glow in places.  Kinda wish they had done that for some others, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Here’s where I get into my biggest gripe with the game – one reason I was genuinely apprehensive about this was that I was REALLY hoping that they would fix some of the control issues from the original game that did NOT age well at all.  The biggest being the handling of the horse.  That thing will fight with you the entire time.  And I’m sorry to say that they didn’t address that hardly at all.  They made mounting the horse easier, but that’s about it.  It genuinely feels like all of their shift on this was to focus on the visuals and not on the gameplay elements that really do show this game’s age.  That is a problem, and one that keeps bugging you as you have bosses where you have to depend on your horse and it is still fighting you.  Very frustrating.

Overall, this isn’t a masterpiece by any measure.  It’s a fun game that you can put on to marvel at the visuals and have some fun killing creatures vastly larger than yourself.  I don’t hate it, I don’t love it, but it’s fine.  Kind of a short review, but I don’t really have anything else to say.  It’s good.  It’s a perfectly fine game that didn’t recapture the magic of the original, but was fun to play.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

School Shooting, Blame Video Games, Again…

I just love how this country is so eager to do anything it can to not talk about the issues after tragedies.  It’s amazing.  See, anyone who knows politics knows that the NRA is an insanely powerful lobby that brings a TON of money to politics.  So I know that no matter how many people get killed, or how many families get destroyed over those deaths, there will never be anything that will happen in the realm of sensible gun control.  I’ve said before that I am not a fan of taking guns away.  That would create yet-another black market, and I’m looking to get rid of the ones we have.  But there is no good reason why we can’t have it be that people have to be licensed to own a gun.  You gotta have to license to drive a car, so there is no good reason why you can’t have one to own a gun.  It’s only smart.

But all of that is just shit that I know won’t happen.  So we had yet-another school shooting, this time in Parkland, Florida.  17 casualties.  And just like every time this happens, the dim-witted American public and the ideologues who want you to not pay attention to the real problems facing this country are looking for things to blame.  As always, the first thing that people go to is video games.  Naturally.  It’s as old as their conception.  The endless thing to blame for what goes wrong in this world.  When all the rest of the developed world doesn’t have NEARLY the gun violence that we do, yet has just as much of a video game culture.

For the ideologues, this is no surprise.  We are STILL hearing about the Russian “meddling” in the last election.  Except the ONLY thing that they actually, allegedly (it has still not been proven) did was tell the public about Hillary Clinton rigging the primary against Bernie Sanders (which has been vindicated by the reveal by Donna Brazile, so for anyone who wants to argue, shut the fuck up).  Those amoral bastards, am I right?  Distraction from the real issues is so prevalent in modern politics because those in power know that the American public is full of some of the biggest retards you will ever meet.  You look at pretty much the entirety of the far-left and The Donald subreddit and you’ll see stupidity in motion.

Blaming video games is the easiest way for the ideologues to deflect people’s attention away from the real issues.  After all, to the uninitiated, video games look very scary.  See, Susan Dumbass sees her kid playing a game that has people killing other people and she just assumes that little Billy’s brain is being rewired to do violence.  Why does she think this?  Because it looks scary to her and her favorite talking head on Fox News said that it’s bad and we need to be scared.  Meanwhile, she’ll take her kid to watch films that have a ton of killing and it’s no problem.  She isn’t smart enough to realize that there is NO evidence of video games causing violence.  None.  There has never been.

People seem to think that all video games are just violent shooters.  That’s bullshit.  There are amazing artistic masterpieces like a game I just got – the remastered version of Shadow of the Colossus.  No shooting there.  Just an amazing spectacle about fighting massive creatures in order to bring the girl you love back to life.  Or you have the post-apocalyptic game Horizon: Zero Dawn.  There is shooting there, but it’s with a bow and arrow.  And most of what you are fighting is huge robots.  Or the episodic game with the art style and sensibilities of an Indie film, Life is Strange.  That’s a game about time powers and a girl solving a mystery.  Or my favorite Indie game, Journey, about a character traveling in a beautiful dessert.  Yeah, lots of violence there!

It’s so easy for the ideologues to market the CoDs or the Hitman games.  It’s easy to look at the blood and guts in DOOM and think that it’s scary.  But these people go so far out of their way not to see the artistic side, or the side of games that doesn’t hurt anyone.  They don’t want to talk about how the biggest shooter right now is Overwatch, a game that has no blood, no guts, and a cutesy art style that doesn’t make the combat out to be bad at all.  If they did that, then maybe they’d have to acknowledge that games are not all just “murder simulators.”  But don’t tell whatever that ignorant-ass Governor from Kentucky that.  He says we need to admit that video games are bad.  Um, no.  I’ll do no such thing.  I have intellectual integrity, unlike you people.

If you want to know the really horrible truth about shootings and this country, let me sum up how all of this really goes in a single picture.

That’s what breaks my fucking heart.  And you know what, that’s what Congress wants.  They want you to be kept complacent, stupid, and ignorant.  So that way, the two parties, who are the exact same party underneath their superficial “differences,” can make bank off lobbying money and swindling the American people.  But please, tell me again how an entertainment medium that has a very interesting correlation with the decline in violent crime is responsible for everything.  All fucking ears.

Until next time, a quote,

“What’s the point of talking if nobody listens?” – Huey Freeman, The Boondocks

Peace out,

Maverick

Critical Examination: Ending Choice-Based Games

I do not know what it is with games that feature choice as a gameplay mechanic and finishing them.  Can someone explain this to me?  What is it about ending them in a satisfying way?  I am probably gonna answer my own question here, but any insight that my audience has would be appreciated.  It’s just that I do not understand why some games that feature choice as a central theme go so well, and others just plain suck.  It’s a mystery.  Let’s do some critical analysis of some of my favorite games with choice as a central theme, and analyze what went right and what went wrong.

The Wolf Among Us

For whatever reason, Telltale Games just knows their shit.  At least where their early works are concerned.  Now they are just derivative bullshit, but once upon a time they set the standard for how to do episodic games right.  This was an awesome concept and a fun game.  Based on the Fables comic series, telling a murder mystery involving a rundown slum where fairytale characters are living their lives is just fantastic.  You play as a grungy cop who isn’t a bad guy, he just has a very violent history.

The element of choice is central to this game, and how it plays with the concept to affect how everything ends with the setting, the villain, and the resolution was so well done.  Maybe it was because the story wasn’t especially complicated.  Or maybe it was because the story was the center of everything and the characters built around it.  I think that might have been it.  By keeping their focus on the story instead of the characters, they could keep the time spent having to develop characters and their relationships simple.  The mystery was engaging, so you do have to think about it.

A game where the plot is the central focus may be the best thing for this kind of medium.  This game, along with its predecessor, The Walking Dead, got it right.  Granted, that game was about a small plot involving a small bunch of characters.  It was able to strike the delicate balance between flushed out characters and flushed out plot.

Mass Effect

It bugs me so much how close this game came to being a story-telling masterpiece.  Had it succeeded, this franchise would have been the hallmark in a style of gameplay that would never and could NEVER be topped.  The way that the three games in the franchise (fuck Andromeda.  We never speak of that travesty again) built a steady narrative on a personal and galactic scale was just amazing.  All throughout, you could see real effects on what you did, both with the worlds around you, and with your party that you are brought to know and care about on a very deep level.

What I love is that the game had this nice thing where you can do really nice stuff but in a way where you are being the biggest asshole, which can sometimes lend to some absolute comedy gold.  Like in the second game, where you can yell down a bunch of admirals and basically tell them to fuck off, and still get Tali to not be exiled.  It’s awesome.  And if it weren’t for the fact that Morinth won’t come to my party, I’d have totally let her come instead of Samara.  I’m talking about the Citadel DLC, for those who are wondering.

Then we get to the end of the last game.  Everything after when the Victory Fleet goes to Earth.  And that’s where the game just DIES.  I do mean everything.  Nothing about when the Victory Fleet goes to Earth is fun.  Not one thing.  I built up a massive fleet!  I want to see what I got!  I want to see the Geth and Quarians.  I want to see the Turians and Asari.  I want to see the remains of the Batarian fleet coming out and being eager to start a fight.  I want to see Aria’s mercenaries.  I want to see krogans riding kakliosaurs riding into battle.  I want to go to battle with all the assets I had built up over so much time, and have every decision affect who lives and dies on a galactic scale!  What’s the point telling me about how I let Jack’s students become biotic artillery if I can’t see them in action!  I want to watch them fuck up the Reapers day!

The trailer for the game showed your fleet fighting it out on Earth, and that being central to the plot.  Yes!  That!  Let’s see how bananas this can get!  Let all of the decisions I made, from letting the Council live or die at the very beginning of the franchise, to which central characters I lost along the way factor in to the final battle.  To do that would be a monumental undertaking unlike anything seen before.  But it can be done.

A lot of gamers blame Bioware for how this all ended.  It’s not their fault.  It’s EA’s fault.  They were pushing hard for Bioware to get the game out the door before the new console generation dropped.  If EA wasn’t such a shit-storm of a company, maybe we could have gotten the ending that we deserved.  Where there aren’t just three color-coded paths to the end, but a plethora of challenged that you can pass or fail.  This franchise was poised to be the hallmark moment in a genre, instead it smashed its face on the floor sliding into the finish.  That sucked.

Until Dawn

This game had a fantastically simple premise – keep seven people alive until dawn.  Every choice you make factors into who lives and who dies.  Failure means losing one more person.  The first time I ran through the game, I had one person die.  But I never lost another.  This game was phenomenal.  How a studio who had never done anything like this before was able to get this done baffles me.

Unlike Mass Effect, this game was a very small story, but devoted equal parts to character development and relationship development vs plot development.  Because this was a very small game, and the punishment of your choice was pretty clear – people die.  You succeed in the game by living.  The ending will ultimately play out the same regardless of how many people live or die, but you are able to feel the consequence as the credits roll and the characters who survived are being grilled.  It’s good stuff.

Each choice you make in the game is as consequential as the in-game context that you are doing whatever you are doing in.  You choose to save Ashley when you have the choice of who to save and who to let die, it immediately sets your relationship up with Chris.  I liked those two, by the way.  They are a very cute couple.  When I got the best ending and the two kiss, it felt earned.  So many choice-based games tend to drop the ball with romantic elements.  Mass Effect 2 comes to mind.  That game had a bad habit of having characters in your crew who fall in love with you seemingly out of the blue.  It’s bizarre.  And since you get virtually none of them back in your crew in the following game, it doesn’t matter.

One nice touch in Until Dawn was the fact that the items you chose to examine and analyze comes back into play.  That was a really smart touch that went a long way for me in helping make the game believable.  It is similar to how things worked in another game that we will see later on in this list.

Now we get to one that I have a lot of things to say about.

Life is Strange

This game had the makings of something truly amazing.  An episodic game that had the potential to be the kind of Twin Peaks/ Indie film of the video game medium.  That aspect made me respect it.  For the first four episodes, it truly did feel like it was leading up to something spectacular.  Your choices don’t have massive consequences, but you can see the progression of all your actions as you go along.  Then it comes down to the end.  Ugh…

I’ve harped on this ending before, so I’m not going to go over all of it now.  Suffice it to say, if you thought the ending of Mass Effect 3 neglected your choices, you ain’t seen nothing.  That game gave you three color-coded options to make all of your choices count for nothing.  This game gave you two.  That’s right, two choices, and no matter what you did prior, it all ends exactly the same.  I just don’t get how this happened.  Here is my belief, and it comes into play in the last game on this post too – they wrote themselves into a corner.  Either that, or they didn’t have the budget or resources to make the last episode bigger.  See, to truly make your choices matter, and to pay off things like the tornado being a representation of countless timelines that Max created paying off, they would have had to devote so much more resources into the final episode.

Part of me gets that it’s hard to end a choice-based game.  To have meaningful payoff for the countless choices that every player would have made, it must be an astronomical undertaking.  But here’s the thing – if you are going to make a game like this, I think it’s on you to do it right.  The player is owed that.  People say that us gamers are entitled babies, and sure, sometimes we can be.  But this company decided to take the effort onto themselves to do this.  We didn’t tell them to.  They didn’t have to.  It could have just been a game like Gone Home, where you have to roll play through another story.  I just know that somebody will come into the comments and say that it is just like that game.  It’s not.  They chose to make this game one where the player is told that their actions will have consequences.  Being able to track those consequences and do it well is a massive undertaking.  Any game company who wants to play at that owes the player a satisfactory resolution.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm

Boy did this game really have so much fantastic moments where it rose above being derivative, only to crash and burn at the end.  The last episode of this game has two thirds that are just great.  It opens with Rachel acknowledging the closeness that her and Chloe share if you built them up as a couple by holding her hand and asking her to stay when her father is going to tell her the truth.  You have a moment where Chloe faces down her demons about losing what matters to her when Rachel is stabbed and she has to rush her to the hospital and show that she understand just how serious this was.  Then, everything that follows that scene is where it all goes to shit.

The last third of this game takes how the previous game gave you two choices that nix all of your choices before, and switches it over to one.  The final two choices you can make are ultimately meaningless.  No matter which you chose, nothing changes.  I said in my review of the last episode that I think it came down to them wanting to keep to the canon of the game that chronologically follows, and that is still true, but they also had to write a resolution to a story with more characters than it realistically needed.  Or it could have just chosen not to have payoff.  As an example, everything that happened at Rachel’s house could have been nixed.  No, should have.  It served no purpose.  We already knew that Rachel’s dad was doing some underhanded stuff to keep her biological mother way.  Now we need to have a subplot come out of nowhere about him being straight-up evil and wanting her dead?  And even to be helping a criminal get off scott-free in the process?  That’s retarded.

Nixing that plot would also have nixed the even worse final confrontation with Eliot.  Instead of having his plot end there, it could have ended with him meeting up with Chloe at the hospital.  They have been playing with him having feelings for her and you either being kind to them or not as the player.  It could have paid off with you making the final choice of what you want between them.  No big, right?  They could easily have kept this in canon with the game that follows this by having it just be another relationship that Chloe could eventually shrug off as her and Rachel got deeper into the drug game.

Finally, the last confrontation at the mill was stupid and didn’t need to be.  This game should have ended with Chloe finding Rachel’s mom and trying to convince her to come meet her daughter.  It’s simple, it can factor in your choices in how close you have gotten with Rachel by having your relationship play into the argument between them.  How the last episode got so poorly handled baffles me.  I thought I knew the reason why it crashed and burned at the end, but the truth is I don’t.  I really don’t.

Conclusion

Choice-based games are hard.  That’s the thing to take away.  I don’t think a developer should take on something like this unless they are ready to really go the distance with it and not half-ass.  We’ve see it done well, and done poorly, and in some cases coming so close to greatness that it bugs me to see it fail.

What do you think?  What games do you think did it well and which ones did not?  Let me know in the Comments

Until next time, a quote,

“Choice.  It all comes down to choice.” – Neo, Matrix Reloaded

Peace out,

Maverick