Monday, 27 April 2009

the ultimate purpose of a blog

The reason we all have blogs is because we're all very boring and no one gives a shit about anything we say on a level higher than a handful of people.

The world owes us, we feel, we're worth something, we think and we all want our voices heard, however similar they may be to the next man and the result is this massive internet drone of shit with a couple of exceptions from people who are sometimes actually quite interesting.

And this is a games blog, brought about because the only thing relating to games that is AS SHIT as MOST GAMES ARE is FUCKING GAMES JOURNALISM which is sort of like finding a loved one has died trying erotic asphyxiation. It's like they were trying to have a good time but it went so fucking wrong that they died. And now you have to deal with the fact that you saw your dad's erect penis and he was dead at the time because of something he decided to do.

The point of all this is that a blog, typically, is a tool of the powerless - the majority of which say nothing, to no one. And this one is about games, so here is a story about how I screwed myself over, Microsoft kicked me when I was down and how I was unable to do anything about it.

The E74 error. It's been running amok in our 360s, ruining everyone's fun, since (basically) time immemorial. Mine got it and I dealt with it in the worst way possible.

To get the fucking thing repaired I was going to have to pay £80. This is utter bullshit because the E74 is a hardware problem. Meaning Microsoft made the fucking problem in the first place and wanted me to pay for it. So fuck that ridiculous bullshit, right?

I did want any man's man would have done and tried to fix the fucking thing my fucking self.

Which obviously didn't fucking work and now every time I turn that poor xbox on it sounds like it's going to castrate me via explosion.

There's a side story here about my friend, Kris Bradley, coming up with a plan to get me a free Xbox. At the time Coke were running a competition: you drink coke, you get points, enough points = 360. He had like 550 points out of the 600 needed for a 360 and was just going to give it to me, because he's a hero.

I bottle it. I couldn't accept that gift. It felt like too much. The day I call him to tell him I ordered a new 360 he tells me this little sob story about how Coca Cola ran out of 360s and said not to worry, they'd be getting more in stock. The day before the competition is supposed to end Kris has enough points for the 360 and calls up to claim the prize, only to find out the competition was taken down a day early and there were no new 360s anyway. To him the fact I ordered a new one is a massive relief.

So yes, I just said fuck it and upgraded to an elite, 80% of the point of which is that they have massive external hard drives but since I didn't want a hard drive it was basically a waste of money and I hate myself.

So recently Microsoft recognised they'd just fucked up with the E74 error (again: hardware fault) and extended the warranty and set about paying people back for those £80 repairs.

Three times now I have phoned up explaining in tones as masculine and unpleading and somehow almost Scottish about the unfairness of having to pay that £80 to fix Microsoft's error. About how I only opened my 360 because of their inability to recognise the fault as something so major and it would be ludicrous and awful of them to not accept my 360 for free repair, even though it is now technically tampered.

They've not only said no but that they wouldn't even repair it if i paid them.

It's all a matter of policy, it was explained to me. It goes through some scanner which reads the warranty sticker inside the xbox is damaged and it gets sent back with either the message "tampered" or probably just a shit in a box.

So there's nothing I can do about this? I ask.

Nothing, comes the reply.

And presumably no one higher up I can talk to who will help me?

No, there is no one who can help you.

And the phone line connection was actually incredibly bad, so the voice was muffled, crackly and distant which accentuated the bleak and lonely message the technical support line supervisor delivered to an almost unbearable level. Seriously, emotional stuff.

Anyway, this Serious Bullshit only really came about after I bought Silent Hill 2: Inner Fears. I tried to play it on my 360 and it didn't work and it turns out it's because it isn't backwards compatible. Presumably this is some other basic xbox 360 knowledge everyone but me has, along with, obviously, don't open your 360 like a fucking moron.

It turns out that all xbox original titles have to be updated and patched before they run on 360s. For the European version of the game Microsoft just haven't done this and there is no way of finding out if they ever will. So us European's have to play the game on our xbox originals. Which I don't have.

No, they've only done the American version and supposedly they've done a really shit job.

It was whilst I was looking for the backwards compatibility information that I found out about that E74 recall/refund bullshit. If they'd already updated Silent Hill 2: Inner Fears I never would have known.

And that's the real tragedy here. So here it is, an unheard FUCK YOU, MICROSOFT. The impotent cry delivered in it's rightful format: a blog. About games.

Not the moral: give money to charity.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

bioshock movie

NO, BAD, WRONG, MISTAKE are some of the words that come to mind when I think about this bioshock movie that is going to exist alongside me and other real things in the real world that I actually really live in.

On the IMDB page for it there's a plot keywords section. It's like "spoiler alert scroll mouse over to read plot keywords". Let's look at these ok here they come: Survivor | Underwater | Plane Crash | Utopia | One Word Title

ONE WORD TITLE???

I showed this to Ben. His response: I FEEL LIKE WATCHING A FILM WITH A ONE WORD TITLE. IF ONLY THERE WERE A LIST.

Maybe this supports my argument that 2K don't give a shit about making games, just money.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Prototype

FUCK i am basically just SO BORED I've decided to try and do as many things in the next half hour as possible. After posting this I intend to piss, but i need to do that so badly I might have to divide this activity (the posting) in two.

So Protoype is basically a mix of crackdown/GTA style action adventure with a sort of assassin's creed twist to it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prototype_(video_game)

Yeah, it looks like a high school goth's wet dream, but we all have that side of us.

It will probably be fun for about an hour and then the story will turn out to be fucking dreadful and etc etc.

One thing that I'm thinking about this game is that you will probably unlock more powers and moves as you progress in level.

I am fucking SICK of that SHIT. Wouldn't it be more interesting if you started the game with all the powers at your disposal, each one assigned to a different combo or complex movement of one or other analog stick, but without being shown how to use them? Then as you play the game you get more used to them and figure them out and just generally end up with a better control/sense of how to apply the attacks/powers.

But no, it will just be levels and experience points just like EVERY OTHER GAME.

Monday, 20 April 2009

bioshock, my problem

Bioshock.

There’s so much shit going around, always, about this game.

I want to discuss, as briefly as possible, my big problem with the game. This whole thing came out of a massive debate with Ciaran, incidentally.

There was a lot of crap in the game I hated; the hacking, the camera research, but I can write that off as personal preference.

Basically the game is critiquing all first person shooters where you just run and kill everything you’re told to without thinking about why.

That’s fine and good and I guess someone needed to say it and they had to say it as a game. But I’ve been playing first person shooters since I was maybe ten years old (starting with Marathon on a mac).

I know how games are, I know that first person shooters are generally linear, dumb and you never think about the whys and wherefores.

The problem with a lot of those games, Halo 3 for instance, is that the world just doesn’t matter. It’s all combat, the background is unimportant.

And for a game that is critiquing that, Bioshock follows exactly the same track, and this is where we start to get to the root of the problem for me.

You get to the bit with Andrew Ryan and all that “would you kindly” and the game is basically saying “look, ha ha, you just kill without thinking! Whoops! Gotcha!” but it doesn’t make me feel like it matters a shit.

The environment is interesting and (sort of) unique but it just didn’t do enough to compel me, to make me feel like anything going on there mattered.

Take GTA4, for example. I ended up really liking Roman and Niko Bellic. I wanted things to end up well for them. Bioshock never made me care about anything that was happening.

The Little Sisters, for example. I never killed any of them, basically because I’m not an insane bully. Why just today I helped a woman carry a pram down the stairs at a train station. My point is I don’t generally want to kill little girls.

The reward for doing so just wasn’t enough to tempt me. It didn’t feel like ADAM and the Plasmids mattered, and that kind of sums up the game. If they’d worked it harder, made it more intense to the point I was considering killing a little sister it would have made the pay off, the would you kindly, feel like a genuine statement, something worthwhile.

As it is it’s just like every first person shooter it’s mocking, just self aware. It’s like a retard saying “I’m retarded.”

Kieron Gillen sort of sums this up for me in his defense of Bioshock [http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/bioshock-a-defence-article]:

“...They can't help themselves, and your awareness of how they're trapped makes you falling into the role of protector make a lot of sense - you're fighting, on both levels, to end this videogame. Hell, you could expand that to the final uninspired boss sequence - this is what we're trying to get away from.”

Note the word uninspired. The game doesn't bring anything new to the table, it just says everything at the table is shit. I mean why even include something mediocre in a game when you could do better? The statement Bioshock is making could and should have already been made by the final fight in the game, and it should have been done a lot subtler – making you feel like you were in a world that mattered.

Bioshock is a game that should be regarded as bad because of how little it does with its world (a world which should be fucking great). The fact it is actually a stand out game leaves a lot to be desired about the industry.

I want to say the game is like a cynical statement putting all these run and gun first person shooters to rights. But the fact the game follows all the same conventions as those games, even after they twist them on their head, makes it feel like 2K have seen how base those games are and are just cashing in.

I hope Bioshock 2 tries harder.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

On the topic of indie games

It's been a good couple of years for 2D platformers. By which I mean that about five have been released. Still, that's got to be about 50% up on the first half of the decade.

http://www.andyetitmoves.net/index.php?content=trailer

Left 4 Dead expansion

New Left 4 Dead expansion is supposedly out on Tuesday the 21st of April. I don’t know if that’s true, I read it on some website.

Left 4 Dead is nearly a very boring game and a lot of people apparently just don’t get it. These people join, don't talk, and quit when they consequently do badly.

The game is about teamwork, organisation. In versus mode the best organised team wins, which is great.

The fun comes from setting up ambushes, as the zombies, and tearing the shit out of the human players.

There is not as much, tactically, to playing as the humans. You just have to stick together and shout out when you’re downed. There is basically no point playing without a headset.

Making it to the safehouse is not so much satisfying as it is a relief.

Left 4 Dead is only really fun on versus, with both teams full of human players whose sole reason for existence is the utter destruction of the opposing team. So when it’s good it’s really good.

One thing that basically annoys me about the game is the zombies and how you deal with them. All you do is shoot more or less constantly.

For example: someone got Boomered next to me in a room with a pile of ammo. As the horde burst through the door all I had to do was hold shoot for five seconds and they were all dead, no one was even touched. Even after that I was on full ammo.

Maybe the lack of dynamism here is not so much a failing of the game as it is a failing of the zombie players to utilise the horde to instigate an ambush.

Left 4 Dead is trying to be a sort of arcadey, semi kitsch game and it does that well.

But a change in rhythm or style might make the game a bit more exciting. Take that sequence in the hospital when you activate the lift and have to fight a massive horde of zombies for 60 seconds or so. You have, effectively, infinite ammo at that point. All you need to do, to survive, is shoot.

What if you had no ammo, or almost none, and had to deal with the zombies in a different way? Perhaps creating a barricade or diversion?[1]

That sounds like something you might get in Resident Evil. I’m not asking Left 4 Dead be a duplicate of that. It’s doing its own thing and that’s great.

It just feels like it’s doing the bare minimum with what it’s got.

Some variety might be nice.

[edit: I just found a blog for Left 4 Dead, an official one run by Valve. It has some details about the construction of the new Survival Pack: http://www.l4d.com/blog/post.php?id=2417
It sounds great, I am optimistic!]


[1] Although maybe this would detract from the zombie players ability to do anything.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

i could definitely make a pun about prostitutes and paths here...but I'm not going to

When I write this there’s only three of us here. Ben, Alun and me. And Alun doesn’t even post on this blog yet.

So I don’t really know how to approach this post, which came out of a conversation us three were having the other day.

Do I write it, pretentiously, pretending it’s for an audience that doesn’t exist? Because I want to record it; it has a place on this blog. But since we’re the only ones that know about it even, and we’re not really going to read it, what’s the point?

So, whatevering that, Ben’s brother Tom was also there.

We were talking about games, violence and freedom in games and so on. Alun was talking about the prostitute killing in GTA4, how it caused so much controversy but was included in the game to represent real world actions.

Aside from the mentioning of other real world activities that are very absent, though far more common, from GTA4 (starting a garage band or book club, for example) we were talking about how completely unimportant the prostitute killing is to the game, in terms of its backbone.

I mean I kill a lot of people on GTA4. No one is safe, be they policeman or prostitute. I would probably try to kill the pope even, if he was in the game. In fact I’d probably spend a lot of time trying to do it. Not because I hate the pope, just because the experience was available to me. Likewise I don't generally want to kill prostitutes, but obviously I tried it on GTA4 because I could.

GTA4 is about freedom. If you go exploring you end up killing prostitutes.

I started thinking about the Path (http://tale-of-tales.com/ThePath/) a game recently released by Tale of Tales.

The idea at the base of The Path is exploration, to stray from the path, exercising your freedom, and how this ultimately leads to your characters destruction. You can just follow the path and finish the game, but you will have failed the game.

A guy called Kieron Gillen, in his review for Eurogamer, mentioned this interesting feature the game has.

“…to interact with anything in the game, you release the controls, and then the girl will wander over and have a nose at whatever's nearby. To interact, you stop interacting.” (http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/the-path-review)

I like this idea that the game kind of guides you as you kind of guide it.

Can you imagine if GTA4 had the same dynamic?

GTA, the original, did have a bunch of missions you could complete but what it was really about was constantly destroying as much as you could to relieve stress.

GTA4, at its heart, is the same.

So imagine: you release the controls and Niko Bellic goes instantly insane brutally kicking someone to death before stealing a car and running down everyone he can until the thing breaks. Then getting out, grabbing a nearby gun and shooting the shit out of everything nearby whilst making his way to another vehicle, which he in turn uses to slaughter another hundred people before upgrading to an armored SWAT van, leaving a trail of grenades, UZI fire and (presumably) orphans. And all the while you’re just watching until you press the A button and bring his kill frenzy to an end, guiding him on a more sedate path, forcing him to blend in, to go to parties, play pool and not wipe out all life in Liberty City.

In my mind he’d be a lot better at the murder than I am; making full use of cover, making faster turns in cars and almost never missing a shot. The game, then, would be guiding him. All the while suppressing his rampage until you reached the mission destination when you’d let him out of his metaphorical cage to kill everything in sight. Then you force him to go bowling with his girlfriend and try to stop him dismembering her with a Vespa.

Also:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7b9SbFzIp0


Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Fallout 3 is shit and this is why

I enjoyed the free-roaming of Oblivion. I enjoyed luring Umbra to the big Imperial City, whatever it was called, and hiding in a fountain watching her kill ten guys before they took her down.

I knew that free roaming was going to be great in Fallout 3.

I hated, in Oblivion, how you could be the most evil motherfucker in the world, head of the assassin’s guild, a vampire, saviour of the entire kingdom, head of the mages guild and the Gray Fox, leader of the thieves guild, even though they had a policy of no killing.

In fact I had just saved the entire world, was a vampire, when this group of fruits comes up to me telling me how much they hate vampires and would I be interested in culling some disgusting vampires with them because they’re so vile and offensively unnatural?

Yeah well Fallout 3 was going to change all that. Your actions would have real consequences and shape the world which, by the way, was going to feel incredibly real and authentic.

Are you fucking crying yet? Are you weeping tears of joy at seeing a real, lived in world torn apart by nuclear war and insane mutant raider scorpion fucks? At seeing Liam Neeson, your dad(!), LIAM NEESON lecture you about being in a desert and stuff?

And this translated into the real world, our world, the real world we live in where Liam Neeson is nobody's dad, as you being able to blow up Megaton (in Fallout 3, it’s not a real place) and never being able to go there again. Uh…was there anything else? Not really, no.

Nothing I did had any impact at all. I chose not to kill a giant tree man, he was upset for a second but got over it. I sold some people into slavery, no one gave a shit. I killed every trader I came across, it was never mentioned.

In fact, near the start of the game, I met the sheriff in Megaton and somehow told him that Mr Burke, bad guy character, was planning to blow up the town. We go and confront Mr Burke and he agrees to follow Sheriffman to the prison, then shoots him in the back. Oh my, I thought, and by way of consoling myself beat Mr Burke to death with a baseball bat I happened to have and stole all his clothes.

And no one mentioned this. In fact they never cleared the naked bodies out of the bar where the murder had happened. No one seemed to notice their sheriff was dead. If you spoke to his son he was like just like my dad’s dead, see ya never!

Then later, by way of thematic symmetry or whatever, I found myself outside Tenpenny Tower, owned by Mr Tenpenny who had hired Mr Burke to do all his errands and destroy Megaton. I talk my way in and the main guard is like “You better not make any trouble here,” and I immediately kill him and every other fucker in the courtyard. Inside the lobby everyone is calm, somehow blissfully unaware I’ve murdered any and all of their friends and loved ones unlucky enough to be outside when I decided, on a whim, to murder them all. One of the patrons in the lobby even comes on to me.

I kill her and everyone else there, then head up to Tenpenny.

The guard on his door makes like you better not make any trouble with Tenpenny and I go talk to Mr Tenpenny who makes mention of Mr Burke, but seemingly doesn’t know I killed him fucking weeks ago and I’m wearing his hat even, because he never mentions it or lets on he cares about it in any way. I shoot him in the head, which comes flying off. He falls from the tower and it’s fucking great.

Inside the guard is like you better not make any trouble with Mr Tenpenny even though I shot him in the face on the otherside of the door he’s stood in front of.

And Fawkes. You meet him, he’s great, you’re like “want to hang out with me, it’ll be great?” and he, wisely says no, it would cause too much trouble for you in the towns of this land or some shit like that and fair enough, if I turned up with a super mutant in tow, literally the only one in the world who doesn’t want to tear out your still screaming internal organs and rape them to fuck, who just happens to be armed with one of the most powerful guns in the game I’d expect it to raise a few eyebrows.

But I was a fool to think this.

No one gave a shit! No one ran screaming or immediately opened fire or cursed my very name, which was Lovely Oats by the by. Even when I took him to the headquarters of the Brotherhood of Steel, whose sole purpose in life is to wipe out all super mutants, the soldiers all just stood there, with this super mutant in their base, not giving a fuck.

I couldn’t even kill half the characters in the fucking game. The amount of kids that took ten mini nukes to the face and a minute later were like “I’m a really annoying sack of SHIT” included: ALL THE KIDS IN THE GAME. I’m not saying I only bought the game to kill kids, but FUCKING HELL those kids were irritating. And I had a nuclear missile launcher. What are you going to do?

I tried playing a bad character, with real attitude (sass). Telling everyone to go fuck themselves, just doing practical shit. I found that shitty town that lives on a bridge and the guy says he has trouble with gangs. I had to kill a bunch of innocent people just to get my karma low enough for this ex raider, Jericho, to follow me. I don’t want to be like “sure I’ll help you out old man. What’s that? You can’t pay me? Why then I’ll do it all for free!”

But no, you tell him to fuck himself – no quest. It’s only good to be good in the world of Fallout 3. A game that boasts about freedom needs to offer equal rewards to both Nice and Mean playing styles.

What happened to consequences? What happened to a world that felt real?

I guess it doesn’t matter; there was a giant robot after all.

All the good stuff in the game; the weapon deterioration and creation, the landscape and level layout, the handful of interesting quests, they don’t have any real impact if you don’t give a shit about the world.

In terms of immersion the game starts in a novel, fairly strong way. But it just does too much to keep putting me off, again and again, and then I have to die at the end anyway.

Thanks Fallout 3.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

First post

Roland demanded that I post a piece on this new blog immediately. Not owning a PC that can play new games, an Xbox 360 or a Playstation 3, I am not really well connected with the current state of the industry. The last time I played a new game was on the 18th of March. This is also the last time I have felt like writing about videogames. There is an extremely direct link between these two events. I guess this is more-or-less a review, but it's definitely less. It basically reads like a blog post, but I suppose that's good, because this is a fucking blog. I did clean it up a little bit though, because it was awful. Here it is:

I was at a friend's house for the last two days, so I played some XBox, since visiting this guy is the only time I really play any consoles or whatever. Mostly what we play is games I've already played and am obscenely good at for games that I don't own (Call of Duty 4 and Rockband/Guitar Hero being prime examples). The only new game was Condemned Two. I'd met with my friend in town and he had literally bought this game infront of my fucking eyes, so it was new as shit. He wanted to play it 'together'. I'm normally pretty sceptical of this, because playing a single player game 'together' is a terrible euphemism, bringing to mind Cristiano Ronaldo patting Gary Neville on the back and saying, "Thanks for helping us score that goal together." However, he promised a strict alternation of levels, and I'd heard another couple of friends of mine say that this game was decent. (Those two friends are the other asshole writers of this blog!) So yeah, we go to his room and sit on the edge of his bed and play alternating levels for a few hours. He was up first so I had to entertain myself with 'watching' (considering all this shit we go on about games clumsily aping films, they sure are boring as shit to watch most of the time.) and breaking his spare pair of glasses that he'd lent to me. Right from the start, I was very unimpressed, with the opening video detailing that the main character was really shit (I mean, I don't want to make some trite comment, but seriously, I thought even videogames thought this archetype was passé by now) and the world design was really shit (same reason.) My friend completed the first level and it was really shit too, basically just punching a load of black blobs. Wasn't impressed at all, it seemed like an idiot's Silent Hill 2.

Then I got to do my level, and there was instantly a crazy huge improvement. I had to do some 'detective' stuff, and it was actually really awesome. It doesn't hold your hand at all during it - if you don't know what an exit wound looks like, then fuck you! That is excellent- games are mostly all too easy and for morons, so this was a great move. If you get it wrong, you just have to suck it up and move on. I'd quite happily play a game of just the detective stuff. Activities like that are pretty rare in games, and especially those that actually require real knowledge - normally anything similar to this in a game, that seems potentially engaging, will contain a 20 minute walkthrough-tutorial over your little radio or whatever, that will tell you exactly how to solve it every time it fucking happens, making the entire thing completely pointless. This didn't happen this time! The other good bit about my level was that I found a pistol. My friend had been using mostly his fists and bits of pipe and sticks that he'd found lying around (whilst the fact you can pick something up is vaguely appealing - meaning it reminded me of The Warriors - it just seems like a 'trick' to make you think you're actually having fun and 'interacting' with your environment, when in reality it is essentially entirely meaningless and stops being fun quickly - although I will admit picking up swords and axes and maces later on was vaguely satisfying, but that went on too long and I just felt like I was playing a sword game, so whatever), so when I got the gun I was like "Ha!" My friend must have been red with fury and shame - I'd got to be a gun-toting detective, and he'd just been some idiot punching shadows! But yes, why was the gun notable? Aren't guns in almost all games?! Yes they are, but this is literally the first game I have ever played where I actually felt like I had a real gun (this is a fairly meaningless statement, since I have never even touched a real gun, let alone owned or fired one, but fuck you). I mean yeah, it looks and sounds 'real,' but guns in a whole bunch of other games look and sound 'real'. What made it good? It was a big fucking deal. To me at least. Ammo is really rare (and as an extra bonus tied in to this, there is no stupid 'fantasy reloading,' as found in literally all games with guns in ever. This is a pet peeve of mine that is pretty nerdy, but whatever, I'm too autistic to get over it), and to check how much ammo you have left, you actually have to pull the magazine out of the pistol and take a look - immersion! And, most importantly, if you shoot someone, they fucking die! I mean yeah, shoot them in the leg, they don't die, but that makes sense and I want that too. If you shoot them in the head or chest, they are dead. Just like in real life! Even in the vast majority of 'realistic' shooting games (for example the aforementioned CoD4), you can shoot a man twice in his fucking eyes and he wont die.

But let's not get carried away. This game is flagged by problems. Much like Bioshock and all these other 'story' FPS games, 99% of the fighting is totally pointless, meaningless shit to extend what would otherwise be short levels. Fuck that! I'd rather play a game with just short levels. The ability to pick up whatever in your immediate environs and hit people with it gives the game a little mileage, but only a little. About 2 minutes when you first discover it, and then every 40 minutes or so you get a 2- or 3-second snicker when you find something novel to pick up. That really doesn't excuse this lazy ass game design shit. The idea of needing alcohol to fire a gun properly isn't necessarily a bad idea, but the way it's implemented is just a stupid and pretty lame game mechanic. I'd be happier if you just sucked at aiming with guns and there wasn't anything you could do about it. That would be more immersive and would flesh out the character somewhat, to me at least, and would give some depth to guns - as in, even when you find one, you're just a nice guy from the city and you have no idea what the fuck you're doing with it anyway. Maybe the main character could make a terrified-helpless-moron "Aaahhhh!!!" shout/scream the whole time whilst shooting at monsters and attackers, and flap his free hand around in panic. But still, the detective element of the game was genuinely pretty great, and I enjoyed it a lot, even if the occasions to actually engage in it were way too few and far between. However, without the detective thing, the game just seems like a shitter version of Silent Hill 2 with quicktime events. And quicktime events are shit and I hate them.

Being men

Ok. So recently Heather Chaplin (co-author of the book Smartbomb: The Quest for Art, Entertainment, and Big Bucks in the Videogame Revolution) at the GDC (I believe) gave this classic line, regarding the people, males specifically, working in the video games industry:

You aren't men. You are stunted adolescents.

I'm about to say I basically agree with this, but not exactly, assuming I understood the statement entirely, which I'm pretty sure I did, because I am an arrogant man.

The cryptic/irrelevant word here is men and I'll get to that in a bit.

So David Jaffe (director behind God Of War and Twisted Metal, among other things, as you all know) wrote this reply to what she said which, in my mind, totally backs up her point.

Firstly he starts by defending his business and his comrades, which is admirable and inspiring - he clearly loves what he does and those he does it with and I genuinely like that.

But there's a few things he said that I thought were just contradictory, and almost childlike, and I'm going to write some of them out here, as briefly as possible so we're not all bored senseless.

Although firstly I think Heather made a mistake when she said men.

What Heather should have said, if this is what she meant (and if it's not, it should have been), was you're not adults, you're blah blah blah.

Because David talks about having kids and a business and that an adolescent couldn't do that only a man could and but really couldn't a woman, really? Man is the wrong word. These examples of "manhood" that David references are the kind of things a child expects of the adult world. Well I have a family and a job, I must be an adult.

It's bad the way Heather said it like she did, but worse that the accused, namely David Jaffe here, didn't stop and think about what she might have meant. He takes maximum offense, instantly. Without any sense of maturity he polarises the issue. He talks on and on about MEN doing dumb shit, MEN being Steven Spielberg. Read it, if you like, it's here: http://criminalcrackdown.blogspot.com/2009/04/heather-chaplins-gdc-rant-game-making.html

So: to my mind the idea of being an adult in the games industry would be to push yourself and your peers to excellence. I think a game could be as touching, on a personal level, as heartfelt and full of wisdom as any book or film or painting or post it note, menu or whatever.

Look at Contra. No, wait, bad example. Maybe Shadow of the Colossus.

That's a great game, a weird, lonely one, that I love. And yet it's very different from, say, God of War, Bioshock, Gears of War, literally all other games because there aren't swathes of enemies that you have to bludgeon to death. It's a game without the shitty little bad guys and it took how many games before someone thought to do that?

David Jaffe says: I agree that games have the potential to be more powerful and meaningful and that some games should strive for this...

Right, but not all, huh? Why not? Oh because you just want to make fun games huh? Just games that are FUN because games should only be SILLY AND FUN.

Noby Noby Boy is fun, it's weird and crazy, it's the same with that Katamari game (both by Keita Takahashi). Crackdown is fun, it's crazy, huge arcadey action, all cartoony. Gears of War is fun it's....over the top, macho and serious? Gritty and dark? Brutal and violent? Wait, hang on, I'm confused. Because I like the idea of stretching really far and eating everything nearby. And of course I like rolling a huge ball around picking up loads of crap. And I like jumping really high and throwing cars around. And obviously aliens are bad and I want to shoot them all day long, and sing songs about how messed up the world is, but you're saying war is hell? When did fun stop being so much fun?

My point is Jaffe could say a game like Gears of War which is, let's face it, like a cave drawing, only without any historical impact, is just supposed to be fun, big smiley happy dumb fun. Which it is. But it's also dark and brooding and gritty and serious. Oh but it's just supposed to be fun, you're not making a big statement it's just ALIENS and SPACE MARINES and FUN.

Can I also just point out, as a more personal burn, that David Jaffe says he is a man, has done all manner of man things, like lose his virginity, and then says Gears of War is "generic, 14 year old boy/Heavy Metal magazine power fantasy".

So, acknowledging the audience for Gears of War, and presumably God of War is basically 14 year old boys. Then later talks about "...An audience that we happen to consider ourselves a part of..." Real adult looking there. But it's hard to call David Jaffe a twat; he seems so nice.

But fuck it. I played Gears of War and God of War and I had a great time doing it. They are fun games, but afterwards I feel like I have to at least flick through the dictionary or something.

My real big complaint with what Jaffe said, and I know it's been a long time coming, is this thing he starts to end with, comparing Citizen Kane with San Andreas (which is an awesome comparison by the way, I love it).

"if you are talking about games that have pushed the very definition of what a game is...we have already crossed that threshold. Hell, we may have crossed it a few times (2D to 3D; linear worlds to open worlds; the invention of MMOs)...and yes, we will cross it AGAIN when someone makes a game- using MECHANICS"

MECHANICS? YOU THINK FUCKING MECHANICS ARE GOING TO REDEFINE GAMING?

This for me, sums up games today and really games developers. It's subtlety that's missing. Something beyond the physical, the technological. We've made the game bigger, so we've made it better. Look at how far you can walk in this game. How many guns do you want because we FUCKING HAVE ALL OF THEM IN THIS GAME.

Shadow of the Colossus, Braid, Portal. These games are great because they're different, interesting, unique. Not because they gave you something new to wipe your dick on, they made you think about what you already had in a new way.

This is what being an adult is about in games, for me. Doing something worthwhile. Or at least tricking me into thinking it's worthwhile.

But, fuck it, he says he doesn't want to be an artist, an innovator, so whatever. What the fuck can you say to that, apart from "well get out then, stop wasting my time." Because games like what he wants to make, that are just fun, there's a place for them. The same as there is/was for Frogger. It's just designed to waste time, but now the graphics are better.

But isn't just treading water, in terms of games, not wanting to innovate, push or invent ultimately extremely damaging to the industry? To just look at what someone else has done and think fuck it, let's just do that again propogates a staleness I'm already sick of. Especially when we could be doing so much more. The capacity for what a game is is infinite, so why are they all the same? Perhaps because 90% of games developers are stunted adolescents.