Category: rants

Spore is the new Black & White

I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t really get Spore but I have serious doubts as to whether or not this game is going to be any good. I fell fo rthe hype with Black & White but it was a better idea than a game. I’m not making the same mistake twice. I’m guessing that Spore is a better idea than game. I guess it will appeal to the same people who like the Sims but don’t see what is so great about it.

Once you create your creature then what? You set it loose and…? That is not my idea of a good time, baby…

Screwed by Securom once again

Once again I’ve installed a crack when a game wouldn’t work because of securom.

This time it was Bioshock. I found a cheap copy on ebay and it arrived so I installed it. Unlike other securom games this time it actually installed. But they added some crappy online activation and it wouldn’t activate so I couldn’t play it.

So I go online and 5 minutes later I’ve downloaded the crack and I can now play the game I paid for. Of course I could have found it faster if I had only wanted to download the entire game and not just the crack because there are tons of cracked isos online.

So copy protection is good how? It only keeps me, who pays for the games, from actually playing the games and doesn’t seem to do anything from keeping the people who want to download it without paying for it.

Thanks for nothing securom…

First I defend GTA IV and now I Disagree with Those who “Defend” it… I’m complex…

So in my last post I criticized those who thought that Grand theft Auto 4 ads were so horrible they should be removed even though they didn’t have any problem with much more explicit ads for Sopranos.

Now I’m making a post criticizing those who criticized those who criticized GTA IV. the self-proclaimed directory of wonderful things has posted a link and summary of the link titled, “Grand Theft Are You Fcking Kidding Me. The link is to someone named Susannah Breslin who criticizes Jack Thompson and the blog Feministing for criticizing GTA IV. Now I’m certainly not concerned about someone criticizing Jacko. And while I usually agree with Feministing I’m not so upset with someone criticizing them either.

What I’m upset about is the way in which Breslin attempts to refute Feministing. Feministing wrote, “It is no question that GTA is merely reflective of the bigger misogyny embedded in capitalist patriarchy, but the question is why is a game that depicts such violence towards women so popular?” How did Breslin respond? She wrote, “Jesus Christ, if this is what degrees in gender studies hath wrought, polysyllabic bloggers still carping about the patriarchy, please fucking stop handing them out.” Then she followed up with “Did we not hunt down all the feminists and shut them up already?” and argues that Feministing is wrong by asserting that men treat women like crap and like prostitutes (implying that all men do that and not just some) and writing that “men seek out prostitutes because prostitutes let men express themselves ruthlessly. With utter impunity. Because if you pay her, you don’t have to feel guilty” as if all of that proves Feministing wrong.

My reaction to this post is in no way a condemnation of GTA. I don’t have a current gen system so I can’t play GTA 4. I have played the previous GTA games and they are, like R rated films, meant for adults. The play mechanic of running over people, including prostitutes, is way over hyped by the sensationalistic media and that is not even to mention that ignorant people keep claiming that there is rape in Grand Theft Auto 3 when there is no such thing.

My reaction is a condemnation of summary dismissal of raising questions about what the depiction of women in the game means and the implication that not only is it an accurate depiction of the world but that all men are like that and that we should just shrug our shoulders in response and say “that’s just the way the world is.”

In all honestly, I’m not really concerned that someone posted some off-based defense of GTA IV. I’m saddened that Boingboing would link to this post, seemingly without irony. Really? This is what Boingboing things is a wonderful thing? I thought they were better than this.

So apparently not only is Boingboing anti-feminist and anti-intellectual, they don’t like criticism either because one of my posts got censored. That’s two strikes…

Getting ahead of myself while getting behind…

I’m working on getting a syllabus together for my class on videogame culture that I”m going to be teaching in the fall. Should be pretty fun. I’m also getting to teach a course on action movies. I’m going to make them watch Tokyo Drift. Ha!

However, I’m also trying to finish a draft of my prospectus that was due two days ago.

And there’s a LAN party this weekend so no work done this weekend — except for you know, the work of playing games as part of my dissertation…

And I’m grading stuff.

And I’m going to get even more stuff to grade tomorrow!

You would think it was part of my job to teach and grade or something!

Although… perhaps I should remember this grading stuff when I’m making up this syllabus!

the incestuous nature of the gaming blogs revealed

I’ve written about Jack Thompson a time or two and whenever I see a Jacko story posted I’m eager to see the latest of his shenanigans. I’ve even got a special search category for Jack Thompson stories on my google news papge. So imagine my delight when I hit up this morning and see several stories about Take-Two suing Jack Thompson.

Of those stories only one, kotaku, sources gamepolitics as the origin of the story. The date on that game politics story?
March 18, 2007

As far as I can tell someone at Kotaku screwed up and the other sites just ran with it and neither credited Kotaku nor Gamepolitics as the source of the story.

Before this i thought it was mainly just digg that attracted lame sites that lifted stories from websites, posted it on their own site without credit and tried to get pageviews but it looks like there are a lot of these crap sites out there.

Is this what the gaming and tech blog world has come to? Are these stories all just simulacra that have no real origin or that have no originality to them? Not only are these sites lame for picking up on a months old story but they are also a signifier of the absent referent that the internet is in danger of becoming. Linking was make for a reason, people. Is the thought of getting some ad revenue so great that you won’t take two seconds to read the entire story or at least link to the source of the article so that we can do your work for you and see if the article is valid or not. It is as if these blogs were some kind of game of telephone with one posting something then another reposting it with or without credit and then another
reposting that story. Each adds their own details and soon a story from March becomes front page news on their website. Is this the death of the author? Or is it possible that the Cult of the Amateur really does exist and Andrew Keen isn’t as wrong as everyone, myself included, seems to think he is? Noooooooo!!!!!!!!

Is the emotional content of videogames underrated?

For several years there has been that lingering question, “when will videogames make us cry?” and while I think that is a totally loaded question second only to “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” the ability of videogames to create emotional reactions in the players is something that a lot of people are concerned about. However, I have been wondering later if videogames are already causing players to feel emotions. Besides feelings of pride, joy, and frustration which we feel while playing, there is also the emotional attachment that we feel long after we have finished playing the game.

I haven’t played a Thief game since the last one came out in 2004 but I still have a strong attachment to those games and the character of Garrett. People have tons of Mario merchandise. Lara Croft was a huge phenomenon. While playing GTA: San Andreas I was pissed when the game forced me to detour away from the relationship between the main character and his friends when you were forced to flee from the city. I wanted to interact with them more, not go off and learn to fly a plane or deal with the running of a casino.

Why else would the new game consoles have the ability to play old games? Why else would I still have my Atari? It is the emotional attachment to the games and the experiences we had playing them. While these aren’t the same kind of emotions that we experience when watching some movie about someone dying of cancer just when they find the love of their life but it sticks with you and you feel attached to the game and the characters.

Those are emotions of a different kind. Just because games aren’t very good at making us cry doesn’t mean that they can’t make us feel something.

Interesting week for reviewers

So there’s quite the controversy over the firing of a reviewer at with allegations that he was fired for giving a bad review to a game that was an advertiser for the site. This comes a couple weeks after pne of the Penny Arcade guys says that game reviewing is essentially broken. Overall, I think I kind of agree. Think about it, game reviewers are almost always under pressure to be the first one to review something so they have to rush through the game. Movie reviewers don’t have to watch a movie on fast forward nor do music critics. But most movies are 90 minutes and most albums are even shorter than that. But even short games are 10 hours and the Half-life episodes are something like 4-6 hours. So it really isn’t fair to review a game in the same way you review a film.

Game reviews need to stop being so focused on getting out first, and certainly need to stop worrying about pissing off the advertisers. Moreoever, reviews need to change their content. Most reviews are the same format: gameplay, graphics, multiplayer. Sure those are interesting but isn’t there more to it than that?

On a somewhat related note is the fact that at the heart of this is the competition to be the first and the pressure is double for gaming magazines. They have lag time between writing in publication of months compared to a websites potential to have mere minutes between writing and publishing. They can’t compete with websites for exclusives forever. They need to stop trying. They need to offer things that more websites don’t do. There’s the saying quality over quantity but I think in this case the phrase should be quality over quickness. Do something different and maybe your reviews won’t stink and maybe you won’t have to rush through a game and maybe just maybe you won’t be so dependent on preview access to games so you won’t have to worry about pissing off gaming companies.

What’s in (the lack of) a name?

So I’m doing what most videogame studies people do, reading Edge Magazine and I notice something. This is something that most people have probably noticed years ago but I’m a little slow sometimes. So what did I notice?

The articles in Edge Magazine are apparently created from the hive mind of the magazine’s staff because they don’t list the writer’s name on any of the articles. When I bought this issue of Edge I also bought Games™ Magazine which slavishly follows Edge’s style and layout and they don’t give their writers credit either. Well that isn’t entirely true, because Edge does qive their columnists credit.

So columnists are more important than the person who writes the cover story? Is this common practice in the UK or in certain types of periodicals? I can only assume that they are attempting to give the magazine a uniform style and don’t want to single out anyone. But what does it say about game journalism that the most respected videogame magazine doesn’t tell you who is writing what?

I am SO not in with the in crowd…

After hearing about it for what seems like forever, I bit the bullet and downloaded Second Life. So can you guess what I thought about it?

That’s right. I didn’t get it.
I will go back and spend some more time in it but right now, I just don’t get it.

Now that shouldn’t be a big surprise because I also didn’t get the Sims. I continue not to get the Sims.

I also didn’t get what was so great about Buffy and why academics thought it was so awesome. Especially when Xena was better and did all the things Buffy did but first!

But I’m sure that most other academics don’t get why I’m researching first-person shooters.

Oh well. They can have fun researching their 16th century poets and such while I’m in Tokyo!

In addition to going to DiGRA I’m also heading to the Association of Internet Researchers Conference in my perpetual conference city Vancouver. (This will be the 3rd conference in 3 years that I’ve gone to in Vancouver!)

Maybe I can get in with the in crowd at Tokyo or Vancouver!

Depravity and/or Laziness?

After being the recipient of some interesting accusations, I’ve had an interesting few days (and no I’m not ishmael). I’m also playing a very lame game called Chaser. It must have been made by fans of Final Fantasy because it has tons and tons of cut scenes. Of course I’m not watching any of them.

Having been accused of defending depravity though, I have been thinking more about the depictions of gender and race in games. Games like Chaser and Brothers in Arms are a good case study. In these games race and gender basically don’t exist. Or rather no other genders than masculine and no other races than white exist and so they make gender and race invisible. I can understand a game like Brothers in Arms not including women because it is set in WWII and women weren’t allowed in the military front lines. Chaser, on the other hand, is set in the future and goes from a space station to numerous places on Earth and then to Mars! All without women. I talked about race in Brothers in Arms but Chaser doesn’t even have the excuse of segregation to explain why everyone is white.

Of course the reason for this is that the vast majority of game developers for First-Person Shooters are white men. However, I’m a white man and I notice these things so why don’t they? It isn’t some conspiracy. Internalized sexism and racism may be a reason but more than anything it is probably just laziness. Of course the fact that in the US we don’t talk about gender or race (except to talk about those damn feminists or playing the race card) means that it isn’t something that most people have reason to think about.

But really what I want is for game developers to stop being so lazy. I mean Chaser may be really really not good but at least they didn’t make another WWII game. Make a game that is different. Make a game that has different people in it. I like playing games that involve shooting people but I’m tired of all the people I’m shooting in the game being white men!