Stop the presses! Aaron Alexis played video games, including “violent” ones. Indeed, the man who killed a dozen people at the U.S. Navy Yard on Monday was in fact a male under the age of sixty. And while the UK Daily Mirror is hardly what I’d call a “source,” I’ve heard this same coverage on NPR – coverage focusing on the Alexian love of video games rather than the voices in his head, voices so bad he called the police and switched hotels to dodge them; rather than the diagnosed PTSD brought on by participating in the 9/11 cleanup; rather than the history of arrests for gun crimes; rather than the flood of reports indicating that Alexis had numerous social problems and that many “close” to him feared the man well before the attack.
If video games were Roman defeats, Rome II: Total War would be Manzikert, which was a pretty bad showing for the Romans, one with a high cost. But the long-term effects of that battle are complex and far-reaching, over-analyzed and often over-weighted. Some historians go so far as to describe Manzikert as the event that kneecapped the Roman Empire, which is ironic because the part of it you know about was long gone by 1071 and the other part would totter on for another four hundred years. Me, I don’t buy it. Manzikert was bad, but post-Manzikert misgovernance did more damage than the battle itself. Byzantium could have recovered, it just failed to. Similarly Total War: Rome II has ample opportunity to recover from the scattershot problems of initial release and turn itself into a genuinely remarkable game. If Creative Assembly bungles that opportunity, then Rome II, like Manzikert, will be remembered as the beginning of the end.
Viewing the comments threads on video game web sites is like stepping into some alternate universe where people are sincerely anticipating Grand Theft Auto V.
Maybe I could’ve written “I am old and out of touch” and said the same basic thing. Or maybe I’m being a hipster; I’m not buying Grand Theft Auto V, you plebeians, because it is too mainstream, and it’s what everyone will be playing and I’m way too cool for that. Or maybe it’s because I’m a woman and chicks just aren’t into this sorta thing.
Except that none of these things are true.
I’ll admit it, I was wrong! All this time I have thought, hell, fervently believed there were only three ways to get rich: (1) Inherit it, (2) Steal it, or (3) Earn it. Except for the first choice, none of those sound particularly fun; but, it turns out there is another way, a far better way and one that can be a bucket of fun, gaming enthusiasts. Did you know that computer gaming is now considered a professional sport? For example, just last month U.S. immigration officials classified the world’s top video-game players as professional athletes. Wow, does it take forever for the U.S. government to wake up, or what? We all knew how special gaming was, but all we got from the government was a lot of crap.
Exhausted from a trip, you drop your bags at the threshold of a dark, strange, lonely house. The night is late and stormy. No one comes to greet you; no one is home. You did tell them not to make a big deal, not even to pick you up at the airport. “Like, really, seriously, you don’t have to pick me up.” Exact words, in a tone that said “Nothing would make me happier than to reach the gate and see you smiling there.”
A tone that said “please pick me up, I’m so tired. Pick me up, I haven’t seen you in a year and I can’t wait. Pick me up, I’ve missed you and I love you and I want to hear everything that’s happened. I wish you’d stayed suspended, waiting for me, but I know you haven’t, and I’m not sure where the new house is, I’ve never been there. So please pick me up. It’s been so long. Please pick me up.”
But no one did. So, all on her own on a dark and stormy night, 22-year old Kaitlin Greenbriar, has gone home.
Unequivocally, I say Rockstar is greedy, selfish and without remorse. They make it difficult, even impossible for a customer to receive satisfaction when there is a problem. The truly ironic thing is, they pretend they are trying really hard. One gets the impression, early on, that he/she is being helped. But, before long, you realize that your emails don’t seem to have been read, by real eyes in any case. I cannot help but believe there are thousands of others who feel as I do.
I like new things. I like operating systems. And, apparently, self-torture. It’s for these reasons that I spent part of last weekend rebuilding my PC – something I’d been meaning to do for many months. The machine’s always been a trooper, but in the last few weeks it’s gotten grumpy. It needed a good hard formatting. I use this PC for gaming and work, but I keep everything mission-critical in a DropBox, so I thought it might be fun to switch the rig over to Windows 8.1 Consumer Preview at the same time.
This is the story of how I installed Windows 8.1 Consumer Preview and slashed my wrist, not in that order. It actually gets kind of gory so if you’re squeamish, clear off.
Man I’ve been behind these past couple weeks. I’ve barely had a chance to stop by and say hello. I suppose I could say I need more leisure time and fewer responsibilities, really I just need to manage my time better. Anyway, the IGDA is running my Culture Clash columns according to a different schedule, to accommodate the other writers (and the fact that I haven’t exactly been great with deadlines recently). So last month’s, which ridiculed Microsoft for the Xbox One launch, didn’t come out on that site until after they’d reversed their worst blunders. Now I can’t claim that it was my writing, and mine alone, that drove this decision. This one, meanwhile, I wrote and rewrote about a thousand times. Today. The first draft was probably fine, but then I thought I’d do something new with it, then I changed that idea, then I realized my thesis didn’t make sense, then I wound up with this version, which nobody will be happy with. But there’s always next month. Enjoy!
A comment on another site, gone now, removed by overlords perhaps deeming it uncivilized or its author perhaps experiencing a change of heart. Here’s what it said:
Let me just be the first to say fuck you, Tim Schafer, you lying, sleazy ball of shit.
The man whose Double Fine Entertainment singlehandedly created the Kickstarter Phenomenon of Videogame Funding now appears to have singlehandedly redefined its playing field. Yesterday, Schafer announced that despite having raised almost ten times more than the requested $400K, their crowdfunded adventure Broken Age was over budget and behind schedule. In fact, to meet their Fall 2013 original target release, Double Fine would have to cut 75% of the game. That’s a little more than reach exceeding grasp. That’s beginning to look like development based on a lie.
The image above makes me sad.
This column is doubtless more ironic given my far tamer thoughts on the Xbox One – and console wars in general – I shared with Ben Hoyt just a few days ago. But then E3 happened, and E3 changes everything. Sony is ascendant in the court of public opinion, though by the time I hit “Publish” that could have changed. In a way, though, this Culture Clash column is about a different, subtler clash of cultures than the usual gaming world/nongaming world: gamers who watch and gamers who don’t. All the major companies in this business depend on the majority being gamers who don’t – consumers who don’t follow the industry, don’t study trends, and don’t make decisions based on complex topics like DRM and licensing. Those are the ones who line up in their thousands outside of Best Buy each new console release; those are the ones who move the product, and because they don’t watch, because they don’t care, those are the ones on which Microsoft and Sony alike depend to move their products. Gamers who watch are suspicious. Gamers who don’t may not realize what they’ve put their foot in until all the GameStops shut down. Enjoy!
Friends, put down the controller and don your finest headphones. Come, sit by my fire.
Brandon Sheffield, Senior Contributing Editor at Gamasutra and Editor Emeritus of Game Developer magazine, has announced in a recent op-ed that it’s time to retire the word “gamer.” This meme comes up once in a while – don’t call them games, don’t use the word gamer, etc. – always with the same basis. It’s derisive. It minimizes the medium and the hobby. Yadda. These articles, including Sheffield’s, usually leave something out, though: what “gamers” should be called, if they can’t be called “gamers.”
This month’s Culture Clash column is inspired in part by a chronic affliction of mine: every twelve months or so, I undergo a strange frenzy of attention-paying to the work of Ice-Pick Lodge, the inscrutable Russian developer of Pathologic, Cargo!, and The Void. The studio’s website rarely sees substantive updates, but nevertheless I always tend to find something new there – though it rarely is anything about their activities. This time around I found a series of papers and lectures on game development, the translation quality of which was… quite poor.
Still! I like that stuff and it formed the basis of what I have to say in this month’s column. Despite it making complete sense to me, I have a feeling this is one of those installments that will make the eyes of other readers cross. Like Penny Arcade’s Twisp & Catsby comics, I try to only do that once a year or so. Enjoy!
Here’s the first article in a planned few-parter on shooters. Think of it as a preamble. To keep my ambition in check for this first installment, I’ll just talk about two shooters in particular that have piqued my interest.