I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Brainscan

tn_brainscan“Don’t you see? Senseless violence is not entertainment.”
“What is it then?”

I think I saw BRAINSCAN a long time ago and thought it was stupid. And I was right. But watching it again I think I give it a little more credit than I did back then. It’s definitely not of the quality one would hope for from the director of ROLLING THUNDER and the writer of SEVEN. But even in its dated technology (it’s about an evil interactive CD-ROM) it’s kind of ahead of its time, and it has a very ominous tone to it, darker and more unsavory than the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequels it was aping.

Like, in the opening scene Michael (Edward “and if you want to shine them on it’s ‘Hasta la vista, baby”” Furlong) is talking to his best bud for life Kyle (Jamie Marsh) on the phone while watching his neighbor Kimberly (Amy Hargreaves from BLUE RUIN) change her shirt. When he comes away from the window he turns on the TV… but then we see that he’s watching her on the TV from a camera he set up. Then he makes a hang up call and watches the footage of her answering in slow motion. At least he’s not jerking off as far as we can see, but jesus. This is our protagonist?

Michael is not that bad a prediction of what life is like for a big chunk of society now. He’s a kid who spends most of his time in his bedroom with his technology. He has a voice activated animated “Igor” on his TV screen that he tells to dial numbers for him or hold his calls or other things. It’s unclear how intelligent it is. He talks on speaker phone and the TV screen shows photo montages of his friends. He’s ahead of his time.

Where he gets this technology is not really spelled out, but his only parental interaction during the movie is a voicemail from his dad telling him he loves him and that “Business is going well here. I wish you were here with me to see all the new equipment.” His mom died in front of him when he was a kid. It still haunts him, and is implied as maybe the reason he’s so attracted to the morbid shit.

mp_brainscanKyle tells Michael about an ad in Fangoria for this fucked up CD-ROM game called Brainscan, so he skeptically calls and talks to the operator, then it just shows up. Supposedly they scanned his brain over the phone to make a game specifically for him. All it is is he watches a bunch of trippy designs on the TV and gets hypnotized and then experiences what it’s like to sneak into somebody’s bedroom and murder them. That part is done POV style kinda like STRANGE DAYS or the remake of MANIAC, giving you a little bit of that same dirty feeling, implicating you in the murder. The scene is kinda silly (the guy having a big tattoo on his foot so we will be able to identify it later is a little forced) but also kinda disturbing (stumbling around with a bloody sheet stuck to his back by a knife is an odd, messy detail that makes it feel more real).

Michael and Kyle are obviously meant to capture a little of the ol’ zeitgeist for what some teens may or may not have been feeling at the time. You know these young people, they’re real morbid and feel misunderstood and hate the man because fuck you, teen spirit. The soundtrack has what I believe is a pretty legit line up of alternative rock type business that was popular in the couple years before: Butthole Surfers, Primus, White Zombie, and Seattle’s own Tad and Mudhoney. Some of the rockin out during horror scenes sounds pretty cheesy, but the score by George S. Clinton is really effective, reminded me more of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks shit than Clinton’s MORTAL KOMBAT and what not.

I’m always okay with Furlong as an actor, because he saves the world in the future and he likes Public Enemy. But there’s a couple parts here where he kind of overdoes his “I’m upset” business, dropping things and pulling his hair back over and over. On the other hand there’s one part where he rides a scooter which in my opinion is a good use of his motor bike riding skills from T2. Adds production value.

Michael’s supposed to be sort of a lonely outcast. Homicide detective Frank Langella claims that when he asked his schoolmates about him they described him as frightening, strange, weird, a freak. But it doesn’t seem like Kyle is his only friend. Michael started a horror club where a bunch of the other kids with long hair and shit sit in a classroom and watch what looks like a ’70s Hammer movie with gore called DEATH DEATH DEATH PART 2. The uptight principal shuts down his club, but hey, at least somebody let him start it in the first place. There is some room for him to be himself.

But himself is a dude who is attracted to death and violence. And this is obviously supposed to explore that in some way. This game makes him feel like he committed murder, and he tells his friend how intense and awesome it was, but of course all the sudden they find out that this really was a murder that happened in the neighborhood. Playing the game seems to make him black out and murder people, but he can’t stop playing the game because he’s being threatened.

still_brainscan

This brings me to the indisputable #1 reason why this movie doesn’t work, which is the villain, “The Trickster” (T. Ryder Smith, John Brown on The Abolitionists), the host of the video game who comes out of the screen and makes a mess out of the house like the Cat in the Hat. He’s obviously supposed to be a Freddy type character, but based on the later, lame Freddy that makes bad puns and does magic tricks (breaking his own fingers, spinning a CD on his finger). Also, he looks like he’s wearing an outfit stolen from Michael Jackson’s GHOSTS and has a ridiculous receded-all-the-way-to-the-back glam rocker hair. Actually he’s as much Drop Dead Fred as Freddy Krueger. This guy sucks. Arguably dumber than Wishmaster.

This pulls the old classic of showing The Three Stooges on a TV a couple times, which could be interpreted as showing that violence in entertainment is not a new phenomenon, or as a relatively cheap way to get something recognizable on the TV. Or maybe it’s supposed to be deep. The stupid fucking Trickster seems to think he’s teaching Michael a lesson about his attraction to violence. Like, oh yeah, you like DEATH DEATH DEATH PART 2 and have a subscription to Fangoria, well what about if you were tricked into going around committing a series of actual murders? Not so fun now, is it?

But of course Michael is 100% correct: there is a difference between imaginary violence and real. A huge, very obvious and definable difference (one is fake and has no consequences, the other is real and hurts real people). It’s not like there’s some blurry line between fake movie violence and actual stabbing of people. Maybe to an asshole monster rock star guy with giant hair who has the power to walk in and out of a TV it’s hard to tell the difference, but to actual humans it’s very clear and not a reasonable comparison. So fuck off, Trickster.

But despite that dork I gotta say it’s a really good fear they’re exploiting here. Usually in movies you’re scared of the bad guy killing you. Being scared of you killing people is less common (though used in werewolf movies of course, and the first part of NIGHTBREED). It’s just a really upsetting nightmare, the idea that suddenly you wake up and you’re guilty of murder, your whole life is ruined forever. Since the protagonist is accidentally doing thrill kills and then having to sneak around and burn evidence and try to hide his guilt it’s a real sleazy kind of dark not seen in many teen horror movies since A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2. So I think it’s kinda nice that (SPOILER) it ends up pretty happy. Yeah, it’s easy to guess that the whole thing is the game, but I never would’ve predicted how invested it would be in the IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE ending, having him tell his friend that he loves him and missed him, and actually spending time dealing with whether or not he gets the balls to ask the girl out.

Of course then there’s some bullshit in the end credits where the Trickster says “Forgetting something?” and it goes back to a scene from the beginning. No, I’m not forgetting something, I was already told this shit didn’t happen. You’re not making any sense. Go play air guitar by yourself in a closet or something. Make up some new tricks for the sequel that you’re never gonna get. Nobody wants to see or hear your dumb ass ever again. You were born obsolete.

The one notable thing about that stupid tacked on scene is that it involves a dog from earlier in the movie, and of course we all know that John Flynn’s OUT FOR JUSTICE has a weird tacked-on-after-reshoots last scene that also involves a dog from earlier in the movie. Maybe that was his curse, having to get stuck with scenes like that.

The weirdest, most uncomfortable aspect is the voyeurism part from the beginning. I mean, I don’t think it’s supposed to be sweet that he’s making recordings of her taking her clothes off. But we find out that she has a crush on him too, and they fall in love. There’s no subplot about having to hide that he’s been recording her. The way they resolve this is to have him find a folder of photos she took of him through his window. But those aren’t as much of a violation. He’s just brooding and what not, he’s not taking his clothes off. It’s a false equivalency in my opinion.

So I do think this is one way the movie is kinda observant, even if I’m not 100% sure what exactly it’s observing. The technology developed since then has mixed with young people’s weird sexuality and turned into a mess. I think of the recent incident with hacking of celebrity nude photos. It used to be that a peeping tom was the scum of the earth. Now with technology we can all be the town pervert from the comfort of our living rooms.

Because of celebrity hacking there’s been this problem I’ve had on Twitter: if a celebrity name is trending I think “Oh no, did they die or are they just on an awards show right now?” But you gotta weigh your curiosity about if they’re okay vs. your aversion to the possibility of their naked photos popping up. This happened to me with an Academy Award winning actress, I honestly didn’t know, the photos just appeared when I clicked her name. And I cannot lie, they were impressive photos. But she didn’t make those to be shown to us, they were stolen from her, this was a sex crime, and for a minute there I was involved. It feels gross. But there are plenty of other people who don’t even see the problem, they feel like they’re entitled to see everybody naked just like they’re entitled to download any movie or song they want for free. So that’s where we are right now. I blame The Trickster.

still_brainscan2

* * *

The inspiration for renting this again was all this “#GamerGate” business. Hopefully some of you never heard of it, especially if you’re reading this in the archive. Right now it’s a controversy in the world of video games that has poured over so loudly into the human world that even people like me who don’t play video games (except the occasional Ms. Pac-Man) ended up seeing enough references to it to get curious and try to figure out what it is. In that sense it’s exactly like when I see some gibberish phrase trending on Twitter and I click on it and read up on it for 5-10 minutes before deciding it must have something to do with the boy band “One Direction.”

Here’s my understanding of what “#GamerGate” is:

1. A guy who used to date a lady who made a small independent video game posted a long too-much-information blog post claiming she was a real meanie who cheated on him with multiple dudes

2. Thousands of video game nerds started harassing the ex-girlfriend, telling her they were going to rape and kill her, exposing her home address, calling up her dad and telling him she was a whore, sending her co-workers her nude photos, saying she faked it and fun pranks like that. Just joshin’ around though, nothing serious. Internets will be internets.

3. Also they said that games journalists were corrupt because allegedly one of them had slept with the video game designer, although he had only written about her before that and didn’t review her game

4. Notoriously dickish actor Adam Baldwin (COHEN AND TATE) linked to a video about it and used the hashtag “#GamerGate.”

Now the group of angry videogamers is called “GamerGate” and “GamerGate supporters.” It’s not clear if they understand that the “gate” from “Watergate” implies a scandal to expose rather than a movement to support, and I’m not clear why Baldwin thought the second G should be capitalized. But I guess it’s kind of late to change it to something good.

5. Other women in the world of video games keep having to leave their homes or cancel speaking engagements because of creepily specific threats. Most recently it was a lady who did a series of videos analyzing sexist tropes in video games, and she got a long letter promising a massacre at the school where she was supposed to speak. Basically these little shitbags harass and threaten them and then when it becomes public the same shitbags or their associate shitbags accuse them of making up the whole thing to get attention. Just real classy stuff like classy gentlemen do.

(Here’s a good take on the movement or whatever from somebody who’s researched it much more thoroughly.)

The biggest contention between GamerGate and the rest of the world is about what GamerGate even is. According to them they’re an ethnically and politically diverse group of women, girls, other women, many different minorities and one or two white men (if any, but most likely not) who are trying to stop corruption in video game journalism. According to everyone else they’re some assholes who hate women and like to harass them online and also play video games.

Why, the GamerGaters want to know, do all the articles focus on misogyny and harassment done, they say, by a very small anonymous group of trolls who coincidentally started at the same time as them for the same reason using the same name and targets and arguments and goals but are otherwise completely unrelated and there’s nothing they can do about them? Why don’t the articles not mention that and instead talk about the totally different issue of “ethics in video game journalism” that they want to talk about?

Well, no offense GamerGate, but the answer is that most people don’t give a shit about that. The number of people who play video games AND read about them AND think there’s an epidemic of compromised reviews AND are angry enough to want to read and campaign about that issue is not enough to get this much attention. If that was all this was ever about none of us would have heard of you. But we do hate sexist assholes, so when we hear about some weird Nerd Taliban’s harassment campaign against women who they suspect of sexual activity or video game analysis it piques our interest. So those guys who you don’t know and are completely opposed to and unaffiliated with are the ones we’re talking to. They’re the ones whose crazy, hateful and deluded tweets and blog posts have pulled us into a masochistic sinkhole of fascinating awfulness. If you’re a different GamerGate don’t worry about it, we’re talking to the other one.

You know, this is kind of like when the World Wildlife Foundation sued the World Wrestling Federation for having the same abbreviation. It’s not about the Camel Clutch and the DDT, it’s about pandas in natural habitats.

After weeks of reading GamerGate shit this is the conclusion I’ve come to: these are people who can’t accept their video games being treated as art instead of product. They, or other gamers, have been whining for god damn years about respecting games as art. If Roger Ebert was alive he’d tell you how many fucking letters he got about it when he said they didn’t deserve that. Now it’s happening and these guys don’t know what to do.

Look at who their targets are. That first one they went after was known for creating a free indie game about depression. It won awards and people hated that because they don’t consider a minimalistic, self-expressing, message type of thing to be a game. If they respected games as art they’d say “Not my thing” and go play something else. Instead they fixated on her, tried to uncover some kind of wrongdoing, any kind of wrongdoing. That people who write about games for a living (or as a passion) did find it interesting and wrote about it killed them. There’s no room for artistic movements in video games.

My guess is these are the video game equivalent of the dummies who watch movies but don’t really respect them and still feel the need to open their big stupid mouths about them. The people who see DRIVE and try to sue the distributor because it was different from FAST AND THE FURIOUS or see THE AMERICAN and are outraged that it’s quiet and low on explosions. If they see something arty they can’t just say “That’s not for me,” they get mad that somebody must think they don’t get it and they say they hate “critics” and if somebody liked it they must’ve gotten paid off. Or in this case sucked off.

Sadly this is promoting the popular stereotype that people who play video games have never had sex. In some of these cases you gotta assume it’s true. Look, I’ve never had sex, but I know what it is. It’s when the parked car shakes up and down in Grand Theft Auto. And it is how small independent games that aren’t what I’m into get positive write ups on websights.

Their other obsession is a lady who did a series of Youtube videos analyzing sexist tropes in video games and other pop culture. They hassled her so much they made her kind of famous and got her onto the Colbert Report, and as far as I can tell she has no connection to the topics of ethics or journalism. But she does analyze video games, and find things that they disagree with.

The thing is, if you love an artform you love to dissect it and look for meaning in it and find new ways to do it. I haven’t watched all these videos, I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff to legitimately disagree with, but they are obviously heavily researched and based in a reality that women are often portrayed in degrading ways in pop culture. If she didn’t have a point they could easily just ignore her videos, like the whole world does with 99% of stupid Youtube videos. If you don’t agree with her conclusions you rebut them or make your own argument or you ignore her. This discussion and debate is part of what art is about. It’s part of the fun.

Are you a horror fan? Do you use the term “Final Girl”? Well, that term and entire concept came from a feminist analysis of slasher movies, Carol J. Clover’s Men, Women and Chainsaws. This type of study can be both fun and important. If video games are so great that you base your life around them then they can fucking stand the examination, you ninnies. Jesus.

Are you afraid of anybody looking too deep into games, or are you just afraid somebody might think your favorite game is sexist? In reading what these people write, it’s clear that for many of them, possibly most of them, this is a backwards, conservative type of movement. They constantly use the words “feminist” and “social justice warrior” (usually abbreviated to SJW they use it so much) as insults, seemingly unaware that justice and equality are considered positive concepts to normal, not-crazy people. For example here are just a few of the comments on this video of a heartbroken nerd spending 8 minutes responding to one anti-GamerGate tweet by Joss Whedon:

gg2 gg3 gg4 gg5 gg6 gg1(To answer that last guy, Whedon wrote and directed a movie called THE AVENGERS a couple years back, but I don’t think much came of it.)

Like Rush Limbaugh and his “feminazis” (also a word I’ve seen GamerGaters use), these pricks have redefined feminism to mean anti-male. They’re those “men’s rights advocate” dipshits with the persecution complex where they really believe whatever minor inconveniences they’ve experienced from being male (If I walk close behind a woman at night she thinks I’m a rapist!) is as bad as actual oppression. I remember a guy 20 years ago saying to me “If there was a channel called White Entertainment Television people would say it was racist!” I always think about that one when I come across another one of these type of knuckleheads. They make my blood boil.

In addition to the feminist analyst, many GamerGaters fixate on two female game makers who they always label as feminists even though it’s rarely relevant to the allegations of ethics violations that they claim are their only concern. They’re at least sexist enough that many of them un-self-consciously refer to one of their hated enemies as “5 Guys” in reference to claims of her having multiple sex partners. They’ve attached themselves to the nutball right wing tabloid Breitbart.com. Some of them probly don’t like this, but they’re perceived as backwards enough that they’ve gotten the support of the white supremacist sight Stormfront. That’s not a problem that most ethics campaigns have to deal with.

Despite that right wing bent they’ve fallen in love with enforcing the kind of rigid sensitivity that conservatives call “political correctness.” They have a separate, cryptic hashtag campaign (#NotYourShield, whatever that means) to promote all the women and minorities who support them, and they accuse opponents of “silencing minority voices” by not agreeing with them. They specialize in finding tweets that they can take literally or simply misinterpret and accuse the person of insensitivity and demand an apology, or for their employer to fire them, or for all other feminists to disavow a moronic misinterpretation of somebody’s words. And it’s nearly impossible to tell if these people know they’re completely full of horse shit (ha ha, I’ll pretend to be upset to get them in trouble) or if they’ve fallen into some undercover-in-too-deep type situation where they can’t even tell where their true feelings end and their phony ass whining campaign begins.

It’s ironic that they’ve adopted those tactics, because I think some of them are in it out of a fear of censorship. After weeks of reading up on this and being as confused by the GamerGaters as the people who fuck My Little Pony dolls (no overlap implied), I finally came across a comment on an article that seemed to illuminate some things. In the middle of a bunch of hysterical, hard-to-translate-for-outsiders claptrap about the movement this guy said something about somebody trying to ban video games. Of course I would be against that too, but as far as I can tell there’s not anyone making a serious attempt to do that, and even if some asshole tried to do it, in today’s world of downloaded content I just don’t think it would be possible. So it’s ridiculous. But the fact that this guy is scared of it is significant I think.

I think that’s what it is for some of these kids. They think that anybody critical of their video games is like Michael’s principal in BRAINSCAN, or Tipper Gore and the people trying to ban dirty lyrics in the ’80s. They think they’re protecting their shit.

But they’re doing the same thing the PMRC, the Reverend Don Wildmon and other anti-rock or movie or TV scolds of the ’80s did: contacting advertisers and employers of people who wrote columns they disagreed with and pathetically threatening a boycott. In one case they actually got some nitwit at Intel to pull advertising from Gawker by pretending to be too stupid to understand a tweet (!) by one of their writers and shaming them as “pro-bullying”. (Intel later tried to distance themselves once they figured just who it was they had caved in to.)

Honestly I’ve got more respect for the PMRC because at least their tattle-taling and snitching was based on authentic prudery. Look how these weiners crowdsource finding old posts to pretend to be offended by.

And of course these campaigns have been aimed at writers of editorials they disagreed with for saying that the culture of the stereotypical gamer dude was obsolete. Again, as far as I’ve seen none of these things have any connection to the crusade for “ethics in video game journalism” they talk about. In fact, encouraging writers to cater their content based on the demands of their advertisers is the opposite of promoting ethics in journalism.

Have you ever been in a place of business and some douche is unhappy with some policy or perceived failure in service and they make a big scene and demand to see the manager and all that? Those are the worst fucking people. Even if something completely outrageous happened you could usually try to be calm and polite, but these people have a sense of entitlement. They believe that “the customer is always right, no matter how obviously unreasonable and dickish” is enshrined in the Constitution. And also they probly never worked a job like that and see service people and low wage workers as subhumans.

Well, that’s what GamerGate does. They can’t rebut an argument without sounding crazy, so instead they write letters to the bosses. They want to see a manager. It’s a movement based on the techniques of the crazy asshole you wanted to get kicked out of the store or the high maintenance grandma who embarrasses her family at a restaurant.

Ethics, though

But you know, I’m sure some of them actually are concerned about the ethicalness or whatever, and that’s not a bad thing. Obviously there are bigger fish to fry in the world of journalism (do they know about Judith Miller?) but I’m sure there is shit going on that’s worth complaining (not rape-threating) about.

But this brings me back to my original point of them not accepting video games as art. They’re not talking about hard reporting here (whatever that would be in video games), they’re talking about reviews. They refuse to accept the reality that reviews are (and should be) subjective. They don’t want intelligent criticism or good writing, they want soul-less consumer reports.

I can think of one example of a serious ethics violation in criticism, but it was in music. I remember in the early 2000s I started reading The Source magazine again to try to stay up on the newer hip hop. I liked some of the things they were doing but at that time they had a weird vendetta against Eminem, spending an inordinate number of pages attacking him in everything ranging from essays by well known scholars comparing him to Elvis (in a bad way) to juvenile comic strips making fun of him. They called him racist and even dug up a tape he made as a teenager where he dissed a black ex-girlfriend, tried to make a big tabloid style scandal out of it. Another thing that seemed odd at that time, every issue had multi-page ads for a group called Made Men, who I never heard of anywhere else. I kept wondering, how big is this label’s advertising budget?

What I didn’t know at first was that a Boston rapper named Benzino who hated Eminem had become part owner of the magazine and was pushing this anti-Eminem agenda. More importantly Made Men was his group, and they received a cover story and a 4 out of 5 mic review. It was fishy, to say the least.

I haven’t seen accusations of anything like that going on in the video game world. I think there are only accusations of hobnobbery. They believe that the people who are passionate enough to write about video games should not be friends with the ones passionate enough to write about them. This is a well-meaning sentiment, but weird.

As a critic in a different artform that has worked by an unusually rigid samurai code, I think I’m qualified to comment on this. I’ve been uncomfortable sometimes with a phenomenon I call “Friends of the Internet,” where directors and people who write about movies have built some kind of friendships over the course of junkets and film festivals and it seems to me like sometimes it makes the writers see way more in their movies than a normal person would and overrate them. This was my theory for the internet popularity of KICK-ASS, for example.

I don’t really think that’s ethics, though. Criticism is not journalism or science. It’s not about facts. It’s about interpretations, connections, feelings and ideas, and it’s the responsibility of the writer to either catch themselves being too easy on a movie because of their personal relationships or communicate that that relationship is part of their subjective view of the movie. Writing a review that’s too affected by a personal relationship is something I as a writer strive to avoid, but it’s not fucking Watergate. And even if it was I don’t think anybody should be sending out naked pictures of Matthew Vaughn or threatening to stick something up his butt.

And although personally I try to avoid reviewing things by people I’ve had some interaction with there is not a code of ethics that requires this. You think Roger Ebert didn’t become friends with a bunch of directors and actors over the years? Of course he did.

In fact, look what I just uncovered. Roger Ebert once dated Oprah Winfrey. Source: Oprah Winfrey. AND THEN HE GAVE THE COLOR PURPLE A 4-STAR REVIEW AND CALLED IT THE BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR!!! Smoking gun! #ThumbsUpGate

Or maybe it’s okay for artists to know critics. These things happen. It’s okay because we can tell when a critic is full of shit, including in Benzinogate. It’s fine.

But seriously you guys, just get a different name besides GamerGate if you’re not about the things it’s associated with to the rest of the world. Do you think the makers of the Brainscan CD-ROM would’ve kept the same name if it had really caused a murder spree? “No, that’s not us, that was the Trickster. We never condoned that.” Come on fellas. Use your noggins.

* * *

Wrapping up, I guess the relevant question is “Would Michael from BRAINSCAN support GamerGate?” It’s hard to know. Due to his experiences with the principal shutting down the horror club he might have that fear of censorship. He’s not yet able to intelligently articulate a defense of violent movies and games, but doesn’t want to lose them. Due to a childhood without a mother and his limited experience with girls, except in an electronic spying capacity, it’s possible that he would be a strongwomanphobe, but I don’t remember any evidence of that in the movie. As far as ethics in video game journalism I think he probly doesn’t care, because it’s not like he looked up reviews for Brainscan. He just saw the ad and ordered it. He likes there to still be some mystery in this world. (But Fangoria reviews horror games now so he has it covered.)

Maybe GamerGate is kind of the same as the Horror Club. It’s people trying to protect something they love from people they think don’t understand it, but they can’t make a good argument because they don’t really understand it either. Michael could’ve grown out of that, or he could still be holed up in that room, more reclusive than ever, talking to a super-advanced version of Igor, running GamerGate, a gore movie subreddit and a network of bathroom spy cams via voice commands. We don’t know.

But I doubt it. It was only a game, and he didn’t even like it in the end. I bet he turned out okay.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, November 3rd, 2014 at 1:25 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

211 Responses to “Brainscan”

  1. The link to the NY Mag article doesn’t work so I’ll just pop it in here for now: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/10/gamergate-should-stop-lying-to-itself.html

  2. Have very little to add but what a great article!

  3. I shouldn’t have expected you to do any real research into #GamerGate and to regurgitate the anti- and mainstream media party line but it is still sad.

    As for the movie I got it awhile back as part of a bargain pack and if you look past the premise and cheeseball effects it’s still a pile of shit. Furlong has done better with TV roles but in the end I’m not sure what he’s thinking in regards to his career.

  4. As clubside demonstrates, the first rule of gamergate seems to be “Never actually say anything substantive about gamergate.”

    It’s easy. Just tell people they’re wrong, and then don’t say anything else. People will try to argue with you even though you haven’t said anything.

  5. Vern: *posts one of his best researched and lengthy articles to date*

    Gamergater: Well obviously you didn’t do any research because if you did you’d agree with me. On what exactly? Never you mind!

    On the subject of ethics in criticism I’m reminded of the review of The Corpse Bride in the Star “newspaper” here in Ireland. The reviewer claimed that the movie was CGI animated, shot entirely in black and white and that the title character had only one eye. Obviously they’d just glanced at the promotional materials and made up a review out of things air.

    They even gave it a nice 3 out of 5 rating so that it wouldn’t appear substantially more negative or positive than whatever the general consensus would be.

  6. Aw shit, GamerGate. I actually only learned about it 3 or 4 weeks ago, because “_______gate” is (despite its origin) such an overused term for nonscandals (Nipplegate, Bendgate, Gouchogate…), that I expected something like “Waaaah, the new CALL OF DUTY has no multiplayer” or something like that.

    Then some random person tweeted back to me and sent me a link where it was explained, that Gamergate is apperantly about a movement, that tries to end sexism in the video game community. And I thought “Cool”, so I thanked him for telling me about it, but for any reason he was totally offended by my explanation of why I ignored it for so long (Remember? “_________gate” = usually some silly non-scandal) and suddenly acted like the biggest douchebag ever to me.

    There was that guy, who took his time to teach a completely random stranger, that GamerGate is (according to him) about the end of sexism and harrasment of females in the video game community and now he spent an awful lot of tweets on telling me how stupid I am, even though I politely thanked him and told him that I was on his side! (Anti-sexism)

    And once he shut the fuck up, some other account RTed some out of context stuff from me, that made it look like I would be AGAINST ending sexual harrasment! What the fuck was up with that?

    On that day I decided to educate me even more about Gamergate, only to decide hours later that I got no idea what the fuck is going on and who is against what and why (and frankly even after reading your breakdown, I still don’t know who is against sexism and harassment, who tries to defend his right to threaten every woman with rape whenever he wants, who wants video game journalists to be more ethical and who just stands in line for a free pizza), that I decided to just step back and let them Rambo it out, until everything is as clear as it should be.

    But let me talk about something, that is actually pretty important to me and I only bring it up because you brought it up and – as I mentioned several times before – I love this corner of the internet and I know that it will end in a civilized discussion instead of hurling insults at each other.

    ” They’re those “men’s rights advocate” dipshits with the persecution complex where they really believe whatever minor inconveniences they’ve experienced from being male (If I walk close behind a woman at night she thinks I’m a rapist!) is as bad as actual oppression.”

    This is something that actually bothers me a lot, because while women both had and still have it worse in our society than men, I also believe that it doesn’t mean it’s a good thing, that whenever men talk about their problems, to tell them to shut the fuck up and justify it with either “Well, they all deserve it without exceptions for the millenniums of injustice” or “It distracts from our problems”.

    Every time I bring up that men have basically zero rights in a divorce, someone thinks I try to put women back in the kitchen. Everytime I wonder why it is still socially acceptable to use male rape as a punchline (Haha, he dropped the soap! *dueling banjos cue*), someone thinks I actually mean that female rape victims should stop crying. When I mention, that I hate to go out alone at night, because I don’t wanna get mugged or murdered, someone tells me “At least you don’t live in constant fear of rape!” And whenever I mention that I don’t wanna be discriminated and get told over and over that I’m a potential rapist, because I coincidentally have a penis, someone lectures me about how I deserve it, because apparently “Tag! Now it’s your people’s turn to be discriminated” is better than ending discrimination at all.

    I’m not a feminist, but I’m also not a men’s right activist. I’m just a guy who wants equality for everybody (in terms of gender and race) and who believes that the best way to achieve it, is if both teams acknowledge each other’s problems and try to solve them together, instead of shutting the other team out and telling them that their problems don’t count. And to be honest, right now it’s hard for a man to be heard, when he gets lumped in with Rush Limbaugh, GamerGaters (if they are the sexists. I still don’t know who is who) and other scum, whenever he raises his hand and says: “Uhm, excuse me? That’s a good point, but is it okay if I talk about a personal problem for a while?”

  7. Those are some nail-on-the-head type observations you are making up there Vern, too bad it has to be on an issue that is essentially a Youtube comment thread come to life and given some kind of horrible legitimacy. I’m not saying it isn’t an important issue, it’s just that it shouldn’t be because it’s a bunch of people throwing a fucking tantrum because these women are apparently destroying the purity of their hobby.

    What saddens me the most is that this whole mess is dragging Gamers and by extension “the nerd community” back into it’s most base and ugly stereotypes. One of the big talking points of the pro gamergate crowd is that Anita Sarkeesian (whose name I can now spell without looking up thanks to this shit) and Zoe Quinn aren’t “real gamers”. Now at this point there are 1.2 BILLION gamers in the world. That’s a pretty wide selection of people, and sure some of them only play Candy Crush but more power to them if that’s how they want to kill time in line at the Bank. With that many people playing games the idea of the stereotypical gamer as a fat virgin who still lives at home needs to finally die an overdue death. Instead we got these fuckwits acting like a bunch of fat virgins who live at home and sullying all the good work that has been done to bring mainstream acceptance to these kinds of things.

    Shit, EA games has done more to hurt gaming in probably the last 2 hours than anyone involved in this bullshit ever could dream but nobody threatens to rape Patrick Söderlund.

  8. Crushinator Jones

    November 3rd, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Interesting to see Vern take on GamerGate, and I’m glad that even mainstream people aren’t fooled by their “it’s about ethics” smokescreen. It’s about harassing women who say things about their hobby that they don’t like.

  9. But CJ, you are a feminist. That’s what feminism means: equal rights for both genders. Look it up. It’s in the dictionary. That’s the problem, though. This bullshit smokescreen some desperate fuckers have thrown up has actually managed to make otherwise reasonable motherfuckers think “feminism” is a dirty word. It’s not. Trust me, someone who is actually not a feminist according to it’s actual meaning is not a person you want to be—or even know.

  10. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 3rd, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    “That’s what feminism means: equal rights for both genders.”

    Thank you Majestyk.

    Crushinator, it’s not even about saying stuff. It’s about a minority (and yes, it is a minority) of self-entitled jerks who want exclusive rights to “their” hobby, and to whom anybody who disagrees or doesn’t “fit” should be shouted down or abused. I think they’re mostly teenagers – at least, I hope so. I look back at some of the stuff I said / did as a teenager, and cringe. It used to be that being a jerk was something you only did at home. Nowadays you can take it viral, thanks to the Internet.

    Look, I freakin’ hate the whole situation, and I hope the people involved look back on what they’ve done and feel ashamed of themselves. I can’t help thinking that this whole problem could be solved if they were forced to come face-to-face with some of the real life consequences of their actions. Unless you’re a complete and utter psychopath, that’s gotta have some effect, right? Unfortunately I can’t think of a way to accomplish this without basically destroying the whole idea of an anonymous Internet – and as someone who uses a pseudonym on various sites including this one, as I’ve said before (Vern must presumably know my real name since I’ve donated to the site using it, but he’s been considerate enough to not make an issue of it; nobody else does, I think, although I daresay it would be easy enough to find out) it would be kinda hypocritical of me to push for that.

    But I do find it depressing that:
    – To make it big in the pop world nowadays, it feels as though your best shot by far is to write about women’s bodies, exclusively, even if you are a woman (anybody count the songs about female butts that have come out recently?);
    – There are people who regard the “hacking” of celebrity accounts as A-OK, but the “naming and shaming” of the hacker as a gross invasion of privacy;
    – Studies have been done that show that ambitious men are admired and respected, whereas ambitious women are disliked and feared, even by other women (the same descriptions were used with only the names changed);
    – There are lots of places over here in the UK where sexual assault is regarded as a fairly constant annoyance of going out at night if you’re a young woman;
    – Female sportspeople, business leaders, even freakin’ Russian cosmonauts, when interviewed by the media, are constantly asked about “women things” like their appearance, while their male counterparts are asked about the “important” stuff.

    And many, many, many more examples of the differences in the way that men and women are seen in society nowadays. See, that’s the real problem with Gamergate. It’s not an issue in and of itself, it’s a symptom of a wider trend that occurs across the world. The Internet didn’t cause it, it just made it public.

    Y’know what, can we get a movement of our own going? Men against misogyny, something along those lines? Make it clear that the douchebags don’t speak for all of us? That’d be nice. I’d sign up for that.

  11. The GamerGate shit has been one of the most dispiriting things in a very dispiriting year. It’s an echo chamber of idiocy, a bottomless pit of every self-satisfied, narcissistic dweeb who believes that because they think something EVERY SINGLE PERSON MUST ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE WITH THEM OR FUCK YOU.

    The only good thing to come out of it is the reinforcement of who in the various critical communities has verifiable character and strong constitution. Glad to see Vern disembowel the entire rancid structure.

  12. GamerGate really pisses me off. As I’ve mentioned here before, I have worked in the gaming industry for just shy of a decade now. I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about GamerGate, as I think most of what I would say has already been covered. The whole thing really saddens me. One of the women who has been directly targeted by this related a story about how it used to be that if she saw a couple of guys wearing Halo t-shirts or whatever, she would go talk to them. Now, she crosses the street to avoid them just in case they consider themselves part of the whole GamerGate bullshit. I’ve always loved the way games can bring together people who may not have anything else in common (much like music, film, or any other art medium), and now these fuckers are trying to undo that.

    As far as the journalistic ethics side of things. I think it sucks that these sexist idiots used that as their excuse. The truth is that there is a lot of things that could be done to improve gaming journalism. Unfortunately, thanks to this abrasive vocal minority, it will be a long time before anyone who criticizes, say a reviewer who bases review scores on payola and swag, will be able to criticize those practices without being immediately lumped in with this whole group of disgusting trolls. I personally do think the practice of “buying” review scores is a bigger issue in gaming than it is in other media, but I also think that disguising misogynistic attacks as a criticism of that practice is a much bigger problem than any review score.

    Anyway, I don’t know if that paragraph is as clear as I’d like it to me, but I do know that I really do hope we are close to a time when somebody coming across this review has to google the phrase to find out what the heck this GamerGate thing was anyway.

  13. Oh my God, GamerGate. The single stupidest “movement” of the past three seconds. Lemme tell you what’s going to happen now: somebody will get pinged by their Google News Alert telling them that somebody somewhere is speaking “untruths” about GamerGate, come in here and say, “You’re just parroting what the MAINSTREAM MEDIA says GamerGate is! If you’d simply looked up all the FACTS, you’d see [Meaningless “Fact” # 1, #2, #3, all about somebody doing one specific thing in their entire life that could be construed as unethical], and that GamerGate is ACTUALLY about ETHICS in JOURNALISM.”

    I play video games, and this shit is exhausting, so I can only imagine what it’s been like for the poor women who have had it intrude on their actual lives. I’m sick of just seeing it spread through Twitter and Forums.

    But your opinion of it is spot on, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

  14. caruso_stalker217

    November 3rd, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    These are the types of discussions I don’t get into because, well, fuck it. I don’t get into these types of discussions.

    I too am not a feminist, but I do believe in equal rights for the human beings. And I’d prefer not to have any “But that means you ARE a feminist, silly!” type comments slung my way. I appreciate the thought, though.

    Well, not really, but it’s a free country and you can if you want to. I won’t mind.

  15. caruso_stalker217

    November 3rd, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    #AMERICA

  16. Well, when I clicked on this, I thought it would fun to read a review of a kind of forgotten and dated 90s movie from the perspective of 20 years later. I didn’t quite expect a Brainscan review to morph into a piece about the Gamergate nonsense. I agree that the root of it is a persecution complex that is somehow reflexively lashing out at “others” who they perceive as invading their space. And the tactics being used to attack women in these instances are just shameful.

    I just think that as human beings and as a culture as a whole, we all need to evolve to a higher state where everyone is treated the same. It’s not easy because just looking around anywhere you go, there are images and voices echoing the same gender stereotype bullshit that only reinforces and accentuates how differently men and women are judged. It’s about growing up and becoming less immature. Men have to be a part of the solution here because real equality does not happen until men are part of making it happen. I count myself as a feminist because there is no other way to describe how I feel and it is sad that the term feminist (or social justice warrior) gets mentioned with regularity as a negative thing. I really don’t get it at all. It’s like some people live in a mirror universe where up is down and black is white.

    This was a great, if unexpected, writeup, Vern.

  17. Good article

  18. “Have you ever been in a place of business and some douche is unhappy with some policy or perceived failure in service and they make a big scene and demand to see the manager and all that? Those are the worst fucking people. Even if something completely outrageous happened you could usually try to be calm and polite, but these people have a sense of entitlement. They believe that “the customer is always right, no matter how obviously unreasonable and dickish” is enshrined in the Constitution. And also they probly never worked a job like that and see service people and low wage workers as subhumans.”

    This is too fucking true. I was on vacation recently and was having breakfast with my wife and father-in-law in a pretty highly-rated hotel. The asshole at the table next to us decided that was the time he wanted to make a scene and was basically shouting all the issues he had with the place since he got there. The manager came to talk to him but he refused to go elsewhere to talk in private and proceeded to vent endlessly about the service and what he felt he was entitled to and how the hotel should be bending over backwards to his every whim, comparing it to how he would run his own department or division at whatever he was managing in his line of work. It was real uncomfortable for everyone in the lobby having breakfast. It got so bad, other patrons, including my wife spoke up and told him off.

    So yeah, some assholes just do not know how to handle things like adults and think screaming about it will get them what they want. It works to get what they want sometimes but everyone will view them rightly as an asshole all of the time.

  19. Damn straight Cassidy.

  20. I have enough respect for Vern and this community to simply register my displeasure and move on. On a slightly related note I guess I shouldn’t be expecting that revisit of Independence Day anytime soon.

  21. “But CJ, you are a feminist.”

    I know, also because technically I AM for women’s right, but I don’t wanna call myself one, because the name has been so watered down, that it would imply that I would only fight for one team. Same with “Men’s right activist”. What’s so bad about being active about men’s rights? But hey, we all know what that term stands for today! So I prefer to distance myself from those titles and instead just fight for their positive causes.

  22. I saw Vern making fun of GamerGate on twitter, but I didn’t want to bring it up here in case it opened the floodgates to a bunch of misogynist arseholes with anime avatars. As a long time game fan who is really excited about the possibilities of the medium, the whole thing has been massively depressing for me.

    Part of the problem is that GamerGate is an anonymous, leaderless movement with zero accountability. This lets them handwave away the misogynists and then preach from the pulpit that their despicable actions have provided. I might have a little sympathy if they started out with noble goals and were hijacked by crazy extremists, but the whole thing started with the Zoe Quinn non-story, a perfect example of the ingrained sexism that they claim is not a serious problem.

    I hope Griff hasn’t been caught up in this bullshit.

  23. I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to be a feminist. Do you not like women? Women are awesome. And everybody here has a brain and a sense of justice and has seen the bullshit they have to put up with. Unless you’re some kind of dickhead of course you want political and social equality for women. You want women to get paid as much and not be sexually harassed or talked down to or not allowed to do jobs they would be good at. If it’s somehow embarrassing to you to admit that you’re for that then honestly I think you should think on that for a while and try to figure out why that is.

    Chris, did I say I was gonna revisit INDEPENDENCE DAY for you? If so I’m not gonna violate that over some GamerGate shit. I think you’re crazy on this one but you’re still Clubside. We can still be friends like the fox and the hound or those two soldiers that tried to pull the barbed wire off the war horse.

    That said, I am not real pumped to watch it again. But I did watch BRAINSCAN.

  24. I think the source of the notion of not wanting to be identified as feminist comes from:

    a) “Feminist” being made a dirty word by misogynist creeps who think feminism means putting women in a position of superiority over men.

    and also there is

    b) The handful (a tiny minority) of self-proclaimed feminists who actually do want that.

    These groups feed off each other in a way, giving more power to the idea of feminism as a bad thing.

    Thing about these groups is that they are comprised 100% of fuckheads. Why are we letting fuckheads decide how to define such an important word? They’re fuckheads, after all.

    Feminism is about the belief that men and women are equal and should be treated as equals both legally and socially. Full stop. there may be subsections and splinter groups and spinoffs that amend that definition in a bunch of different ways but that simple statement is basically what feminism is about.

    If you believe in gender equality then you’re a feminist, even if you say you’re not.

  25. “I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to be a feminist. Do you not like women?”

    See Vern, that is my point from earlier. I say I’m pro women rights, but because I say it in a certain way, I suddenly get the “sexist asshole” stamp (And I actually am pretty hurt that it comes from you).

    As I said before: I’m all for gender equality! And just recently I read an interview with Emma Watson, who talked about her being a feminist and that feminism OF COURSE is not about “all men must die” or shit like that, but instead about giving women and men all kind of equal opportunities while whiping out all the gender related problems that both sides encounter every day. And I was like “YES! Finally someone who is big enough to be heard and who totally gets it!”

    But still: I don’t know what so bad or even sexist about someone deciding to fight for the good cause, while refusing to wear a label that has been ruined by male assholes, who did everything to portray it in the bad light of “reversed” sexism and female opportunists, who were more interested in throwing around headline creating black & white worldview catchphrases, to gain fame and fortune, instead of trying to find a solution for all that shit in the world.

    Sorry, but I guess I missed the memo that said: “Don’t talk unless you wear your feminism badge, even if you are 100% on our side!” It’s just simpler for everybody if we say: “Women shouldn’t be harrassed at their workplace and also get equal pay” and then try to do anything against it, instead of saying “I’m a feminist” and then having to spend the next hour to explain that you are not THAT kind of feminist and don’t have any intention of cutting someone’s dick off or taking away their video games.

    But apparently this doesn’t work out either!

  26. *”And then try to do anything against it” of course means doing something FOR equal payment, but AGAINST sexual harassment. Just to clarify. And yes, it was just an example and I know that there are more issues than these two.

  27. CJ, if you let the false definition of “feminism” influence how you use that word, you’re letting assholes like Rush Limbaugh win.

  28. “I hope Griff hasn’t been caught up in this bullshit.”

    no no no no no no NO, I am not a supporter of GamerGate, they are obviously just a bunch of asshole trolls trying to start shit and there’s absolutely no defending their behavior, this whole thing with Zoe Quinn is obviously a big non-issue.

    However, I don’t like Anita Sarkeesian either and what GamerGate is really all about is a backlash against the fact that male gamers have been chastised and chastised for over two years now and it’s all finally come to a head, is the backlash ugly? you bet and once again I want to empathize that there is no defending their behavior but this all started because Anita Sarkeesian decided to build a reputation by attacking a medium that she knew would not go over too well with it’s fans, see the important thing to remember is Anita Sarkeesian is not just analyzing games for a laugh the way someone would analyze slasher movies, she and her followers are actively demanding changes to the medium, she’s basically Jack Thompson in lipstick and hoop-earrings as far as I’m concerned. (fyi http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Thompson_%28activist%29 ) and anytime someone starts DEMANDING changes to video games gamers get a little nervous, we’ve been through this shit before with Jack Thompson and we just barely survived that without strict censorship being applied to games (which very easily could have happened if a law putting video games in the same category as pornography had passed), but now you’re telling me we’re going through it again and this time it looks like they’re winning? you can see why that would maker gamers angry.

    But all that anger is doing is playing right into it, just imagine if Twitter had existed ten years ago and people had sent Jack Thompson messages threatening to kill him and how easily he could have pointed to that said and “SEE! I told you! gamers ARE a bunch of violent psychopaths!” and I’m sure he would have been taken a lot more seriously, but the thing is this behavior does not really have anything to do with video games so much as it has to do with the internet itself, the internet brings out the worst in people and there’s ALWAYS going to be at least a few assholes willing to say ugly, hateful things, you can’t avoid it.

    Look, the topic of women and video games has pretty much always been a point of contention in the gaming world since the core demographic of gamers was and is primarily male, I can show you gaming magazines from the early 2000’s where women sent in letters complaining about the very same things people complain about today, the difference is number 1. no one had the ability to stand up on a virtual soapbox like they do today and 2. gaming culture used to just be all about fun, all about simply an appreciation of video games, I can guarantee you that for all the female gamers back in the day who were put off by Lara Croft there were just as many who liked her because the games were just fun and she was just cool, but now it’s become politicized like everything else in American culture and between GamerGate and Anita Sarkeesian it’s just sucked the fun right out of gaming culture, thanks a lot jackasses.

    I’m of the opinion that game developers should be free to do whatever the fuck they want, if they want to make either Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball 3 with topless mode DLC or Gloria Steinem’s Patriarchy Smasher then more power to them, let the market decide who lives and dies not internet pundits, what I’m afraid of though is that now developers will think twice before they create a female character with sex appeal or even any female character at all for fear of stirring up controversy and that would be a shame.

  29. “The GamerGate shit has been one of the most dispiriting things in a very dispiriting year.”

    Yup, this has been a pretty terrible fucking year hasn’t it? I’m glad it’s almost over.

  30. “what I’m afraid of though is that now developers will think twice before they create a female character with sex appeal or even any female character at all”

    Oh come on. The launch of every GTA episode, every Call of Duty episode stirs some kind of controversy, and it never kept them from selling millions of copies because ultimately, people who buy games don’t care all that much about what some bored, idiot trolls can say on the internet.

    Maybe I’m naive but I just can’t believe that half of those morons actually mean all the shit they say. It’s just some bored 15 year old boys discovering the joy of being a total dick to someone else without any consequence. It’ll die down and then they’ll find something or somebody else to be pretend-angry at.

  31. Yeah, I like to think this stuff in the grand scheme of things wont actually affect video games, but it’s gone a lot farther than I ever expected it too, I mean Anita Sarkeesian was a guest on Colbert for crying out loud.

    What’s ironic though the is the extremely T&A heavy games were already pretty much a bygone thing long before Sarkeesian came along, both the last DOAX and Rumble Roses games were in 2006 and were unlikely to ever continue, those are about the most mainstream games I can think of where blatant T&A was the primarily selling point.

    And the Tomb Raider reboot had already decided to tone down Lara’s chest and give her pants, also before Anita Sarkeesian and beyond that example it’s not like female characters who are more than sex objects are unheard of either, you have Alyx Vance from Half Life 2 (which was ten years ago to boot), Faith from Mirrors Edge, Elika from the 2008 Prince of Persia and Ellie from The Last of Us (which was both announced and in development before Sarkeesian), sure it’s not perfect but there was no real need for her to start a bunch of shit beyond, like I said, trying to build a reputation and career from it, which she certainly succeeded at despite the cost of pile-driving gaming culture, I hope she’s happy (and I’m sure she is).

  32. I also like to think gaming culture will recover at some point because let’s face it, it’s been a slow year for games as we transition from console generations and maybe gamers were just kinda bored? hopefully as this new generation picks up steam and more new, awesome games start coming out this will all be forgotten.

  33. I honestly have not been following the “Gamergate” issue all that closely. I remember reading about the Zoe Quinn controversy and about how she was ruthlessly harassed. But that was a while ago, and when the term Gamergate started popping up, I knew it was connected, but I just wasn’t all that motivated to find out what all the hubbub was about. I don’t play many video games these days (maybe a few of the ol’ adventure games from the 90s and today). I seriously thought that Gamergate referred to the controversy surrounding what happened to Zoe Quinn. I had no clue that this was a moniker that a bunch of misogynists had taken on as their own. (Putting aside the rancid beliefs of this mob, taking on the name Gamergate was just a really stupid PR move.)

    Although I’m only nominally familiar with Gamergate, I haven’t read anything that connected the controversy with the demand that games be treated as art. (Like I said, I’m not much of a gamer, but I actually think games probably can be works of art). That’s an interesting connection. It reminded me of comic book geeks who wanted their superheroes to be treated seriously, but then started bitching when Ang Lee made the Hulk movie too artsy. As usually, Vern wrings some new insight into well covered territory.

    Griff — I’m curious to know what you think about video games as art. You seem to suggest that we should just see them as fun time wasters and ignore any political or gender implications. I’m not familiar with Sarkeesian’s work, but I don’t think she’s claiming the government should step in and ban video games. My understanding is that she’s just examining sexism that’s present in the medium, and I assume she’s asking video game makers to be more aware of these issues. Unless things have changed drastically in the video game world in the last decade, I can’t imagine that the claims of sexism in video games is off base. (And I’m not saying you can’t enjoy playing these games. I enjoy plenty of movies that don’t align with my politics/belief system.)

  34. I think video games can be art, they can tell a compelling story that makes you think or makes you feel real emotion for the characters, but first and foremost video games should be FUN, they should be something you enjoy experiencing, if you want high art, go read a book.

    so no, I don’t think it’s something that people should take too seriously and I say that as someone who’s lists Silent Hill 2, the pinnacle of artistic achievement in video games, as one of my favorites, but too often people get either too political or too pretentious with it.

  35. T&A as the main selling point has always been more a niche thing than a mainstream thing though, hasn’t it? Rumble Roses got people talking because it was so over-the-top but it wasn’t exactly a great hit. And more recently there were games like X-Blades and Lollipop Chainsaw and to my knowledge they weren’t really top sellers.

    Anyway, a lot of people who are passionate about videogames tend to be vocal about very stupid things… It reminds me of when all those “true fans of the original Fallout” were whining about the fact that Fallout 3 wasn’t gonna feature the ability to sleep with prostitutes and to aim shots at the crotch, and that they would boycott the game because of that shocking lack of “mature” content. And as a grownup you’re like, really, that’s why you would “boycott” a videogame? Because it won’t let you shoot a bad guy in the balls and have off-screen sex with a virtual hooker? And of course it’s stupid, but it’s because those dudes are 15, and 15 year old dudes are notoriously stupid and have too much time on their hands to voice their stupidity… And sure now the media is reporting on all that stupidity like it’s a serious matter because that’s what they do now, and I mean, yes the death threats and the bullying are serious matters, but at the same time, maybe everybody should just calm the fuck down and realize that kids say stupid shit on the internet and nothing’s gonna change that, and that the attention that those dumb fucks are getting is just gonna make them want to keep saying more of that same kind of stupid shit to get more attention, like Hey, look, that thing I wrote on Twitter where I’m a complete asshole to that famous guy for no good reason is on TV now! I’m gonna do that again! The one with the most hate-filled tweets on TV wins!

    They’ll find something else to be self-righteous pricks about… Like that “Press F to pay respects” thing in Call of Duty or something. Or Avengers 2 raping their childhood, or some character in a movie adaptation of a shitty kid novel being portrayed by a Hispanic actor instead of an African American actor. Johnny Depp not being Indian enough or whatever.

  36. Griff — What you say about video games just being for fun reminds me of an argument I got into with my brother (who is a gamer) many years ago. I made the claim that video games could never be high art (whatever that means) because they rely too heavily on immediate satisfaction. They couldn’t be intellectually frustrating or purposefully confounding like a film or novel. I don’t necessarily believe this fully anymore, although if I’m being honest it does color how I see video games.

    Still, since video games are a pretty major part of popular culture these days, I think it’s fair to criticize them on the grounds of their politics and philosophy. When I wrote my last post, I hadn’t read your last couple of comments. And it seems clearer that you think that Sarkeesian isn’t taking into account the ways that video game depictions of women has changed over the years, which sounds fair to me. It would be nice if the Gamergate people could actually engage her in a substantive argument rather than, you know, send random death threats.

  37. Nah Vern, Independence Day is just one of those you mock at any chance and a few of us show up in the comments to celebrate. Since Adam Baldwin is in it I figure I’d reach for the tangential joke.

    Of course we can still be friends. I am not the type to make sweeping generalizations about people based on a single point of view. In fact if you look through these comments you’ll see a certain trend and tone by all those “opposed” to #GamerGate. Wonder what that says about it?

    Besides if you didn’t drive me away with that Steve Miner DAY OF THE DEAD review you never will.

  38. Fantastic piece, Vern. I’m baffled that anyone could think this isn’t about fear of feminism ― you only have to look at KotakuInAction, 8chan, or Twitter for three seconds to see a mob of lunatics screaming about SJWs and cultural Marxists.

  39. can i be a feminist and still like Showgirls as my favorite movie? cause i felt real sorry for that lady elizabeth berkly after she got made fun of after wining the golden raspberry award. Poor gal never got to be in a good movie again well not as good as showgirls anyhow.

  40. @Griff.

    Honestly, you’re sort of missing the point of what we’re talking about. And while it’s good to see that just because you don’t agree with Anita that you don’t think she deserves to get death threats, your line of thinking that she’s “attacking” games is definitely similar to that of pro-GamerGates. Mainly that, any sort of criticism against gaming is seen as some sort of call for censorship–which, frankly, is ridiculous.

    Whether you agree with it or not, Sarkeesian’s Feminist Theory is no different from what film and literary critics for years: applying social and political theories to criticism. A famous film critic once said: sometimes to love your hobby, you have to hate it as well. And it applies here as well.

  41. Crushinator Jones

    November 4th, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    I used to think Anita Sarkeesian was a big deal. Then I watched her videos. They basically go like this: “Here’s a common sort of misogynist/shitty thing that happens to women in media. Here’s a bunch of examples of it happening in video games. Ok, thanks for watching my video.”

    A movie example would be “Here’s a trope: black people all get killed in horror movies before the white people. Here’s a bunch of horror movie clips where black people die before the other characters do. Ok, thanks for watching my video.”

    No offense to him, Griff clearly has never watched even 30 seconds of one of these videos. They are actually quite milquetoast and uncontroversial. They are very surface level “criticism” and are mostly an exercise in pattern matching. They also occasionally have (mostly small, inconsequential) errors.

    My advice: Don’t allow other people to frame debates. Get the straight dope from the source.

  42. CJ, I didn’t accuse or suspect you of any of those things, and I wasn’t even talking only to you. I just think it’s silly to bend over backwards to avoid using the convenient term that describes the thing that we’re discussing. It seems to me like an odd hangup, because most people who believe in something so basic aren’t embarrassed to say it. Like, during the American civil rights movement you would have to wonder about someone who had a detailed description of being for equal rights for everyone but refused to say they supported the civil rights movement.

    But I know you’re a good person so don’t think I’m judging you, I’m just explaining why I’m confused by this discussion. And also I respect that we’re arguing about the connotations of a word that is from your second language, and I only have one.

    Also, to clarify, I didn’t mean “do you not like women?” like “do you hate women?,” and I was also worried it would sound like “are you queer or somethin?” I was just thinking of these guys I encounter online who have these ideas of women as cruel superficial bitches or dummies that watch soap operas or whatever. And it’s so weird to me. Like, how do you go through life and not meet normal, cool women? I just have had women in my life as friends, as family members, as teachers. I just like them. And on a more stupid level I like to watch them in movies, I like to hear them sing, I am heterosexual. So I just can’t relate to being wishy washy about my love and respect for half of the human race. That’s sort of what I was trying to say.

  43. Man… I just wanted to talk about Brainscan…

    Good article though Vern.

  44. Wow Griff, I really appreciate you commenting. To be honest I was worried you would say something like this, but I think it’s good that it came up.

    There’s alot to discuss, but the main thing I want to ask you is, can you provide me examples of where Anita Sarkeesian is “DEMANDING changes to video games” as you see it? In my looking into her I’ve seen no evidence that she believes in censorship of any kind. I have only seen her exhaustively cataloging cliches that are demeaning to women in movies, video games etc. Of course her main point is that she’d like to see women portrayed more as people and less as props. I don’t think she’s trying to, or would have any possible way to, force this agenda on games or movies. The only danger is that her argument is persuasive and that people making games start to agree with her and, as you say, decide to make Lara Croft wear pants. Why is that such a nightmare scenario to you?

    Also I wonder why you keep using it as a slam against her that she is “building a reputation” with her work. I spend every day of my life wondering if I can stop working a day job and pay the bills doing what I love. That she can make a living doing what she’s passion about is not a point against her.

    I think you will find that now and forever it is exactly how you describe it, game developers can decide what they want to do. But of course they will also have to face the reactions of other humans to their work. If they made some kind of big-lipped Sambo character in a game they would have to face the music, wouldn’t they? Or if they made an ending to whatever popular game sequel that was that people didn’t like? It is art, or it is a funproduct or whatever you think it is, they are responsible for their creation and they will have to defend it if people don’t like it, just like they would a TV show or movie. Why should the ways they depict women be exempt from that discussion?

    And there will be dumb arguments made against games. You just have to make a better argument. It still makes my blood boil when people say THE WOLF OF WALL STREET promotes sexism. But I try to make an argument back (or bow out altogether). I don’t try to shut the other side up or make fun of their earrings.

    I’m surprised I was so quickly proven right about the not seeing video games as art thing. Don’t you think you could still have your “fun” games while other people made different types of games for people with different ideas than you? Isn’t there room for THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS *and* DRIVE? (The answer is yes because I have both on blu-ray.)

  45. Ben, by all means please talk about BRAINSCAN. There’s room for *all* the important issues in this thread.

    I definitely want to hear other people’s feelings about the whole voyeurism thing.

  46. Clubside… I may regret asking, but I think we’re all pretty cool-headed here and can have a rational discussion without further lowering my opinion of humanity. So… what is it that you disagree with here? I mean, I’m 100% sure you vehemently oppose online harassing and threats and the outrageous level of vitriol this whole topic seems to have unleashed. I’m also certain you can see that there’s a LOT of that sort of behavior associated with this topic, and that it is this clearly unreasonable, clearly misogynist anger that Vern is responding to here. He addresses the other elements of Gamergate, i.e. people’s concerns about conflicts of interest in the industry and media, and their fears over censorship, and generally treats them pretty fairly and even offers some agreement with them, though of course he’s correct to point out that no one in the media would really care about these relatively minor issues even a little if it hadn’t turned so absolutely toxic. But he also points out that the whole “movement” has become so obviously tied up with vicious sexism and unfocused rage that even if you care a lot about those legitimate issues the movement has been hopelessly compromised and smart advocates for those issues would do better to ditch this mess and try to refocus under different branding.

    I mean, at least to me, all that seems immediately obvious, just basic factual truths, impossible to dispute, so… where do you feel he’s being unfair or making unfair generalizations?

    I hasten to add, I do not in any way mean this as criticism or a personal attack, but it’s clear you feel that something here has been misrepresented, and I’d like to know what.

    (maybe. kinda. unless this was a terrible idea and we’re all going to be threatening each other with death and rape tomorrow. but that couldn’t happen here, right? w’ere all buds here. I believe we can do this.)

  47. Okay, so I decided to educate myself some, and I watched/listened-to-while-doing-work Sarkeesian’s three part series on the damsel in distress trope, and I really don’t understand what’s so controversial about her work. The trope is pretty obvious, especially when it comes to early video games. I haven’t watched all of Sarkeesian’s stuff, and maybe you can come up with a cogent argument that critiques or complicates some of her arguments, but it sounded pretty convincing to me. (Plus she plugged the awesome Beyond Good and Evil game, which I remember really digging back in the day). What’s especially perplexing is that she goes out of her way to say that you can enjoy playing these games while still approaching them with a critical eye. It’s not like she’s trying to shame anyone for playing these video games.

    Of course, the biggest irony is the fact that people have had such a violent and angry reaction to her video series only furthers her point that misogyny is a widespread social and cultural problem.

  48. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it when I heard that Sarkeesian’s videos were a touchpoint here. I’d watched them a number of months before the whole Gamergate thing began (even back then she’d had to close the comment section, though) and found them cheerful, well-produced, and almost going out of their way not to offend anyone by making sure she always pointed out positive examples and made clear she didn’t think ALL games were like this. I mean, her tone is practically apologetic in how many times she stresses that she loves games and that even games which have some iffy gender politics can still be fun. I mean, you can disagree with her thesis, and certainly some of her points are open to legitimate criticism, but getting angry over such clearly benign, conversational observations would have seemed almost impossible to me before all this started. Would have.

  49. Apologies fellas; this might be a long one.

    Brainscan – I will agree with Clubside on it being a shitty movie, I haven’t seen it in fifteen plus years but here’s what I remember: 1) I liked some of the music off the soundtrack. 2) Trickster being the lamest iteration of a Freddy/Pinhead character as I had ever seen and 3) the protagonist was such a sniveling little shit.

    I think I was around 14 when I saw this movie, and would’ve been it’s target audience as I was: A) dealing with my parents recent separation, B) was known to rent every available horror film possible C) spent too much time playing either Super Nintendo or PC games. D) listened to alot of angry music.. Suffice to say I was a stupid,confused angsty white trash kid. Yet this whole movie rang false to me.

    I remember a fellow student in my high school was murdered the same year this movie came out, admittedly I didn’t know the victim, but my one interaction with her was her addressing my brother and I as total skids, Despite that interaction there was no celebration of her murder in my clique, no one I knew would use the word “cool” to describe the atrocity that had happened.

    The voyeuristic aspect to this movie was handled as most films of the time, it was boys will be boys… (the whole “romance” in this one and so many of the genre at the time was all horseshit, the love interest and protagonist shared some sort of cliched mutual interest or she was just there, and by being there she was game.) It don’t recall it being portrayed as creepy, the film seemed to think that it was a reasonable thing to do as red-blooded male , I forgot the neighbor had her own photos.

    I don’t know if Brainscan can be credited with predicting that teenage males who live in isolation, concern themselves primarily with immediate gratification and communicate mostly with others leading a similar existence, could create a generation of pathetic entitled fucks, but Eddie Furlong’s role could be kinda considered a prototype.

    Griff- what exactly is the gamers beef with Sarkeesian and her “tropes in video game series”, it’s as Crushinator pointed out above; really unoffensive.. not really snarky even. What has she done to upset the gaming community so much? I remember when this topic came up in the world war Z comments, I said and insinuated things about gamers that Ms. Sarkeesian hasn’t in any of her videos even in retaliation to the UNPLEASANTNESS she’s endured.

    I don’t understand the hostility, I love video games particularly the Arkham titles; when Film Critic Hulk wrote an essay on how crazy sexist Arkham City is I completely understood his position, I still played the hell out of that game, but acknowledged that the game developers had confused grittiness with misogyny. How have we (both males who play video games) been chastised about games content for the last two years?, by having some of it’s more regrettable content pointed out, or by the suggestion by women gamers and developers that the industry start listening to some of their suggestions.

    Griff- I figure you gotta be 25 now dude, last year you asked us to take it easy on you as you were still learning, growing, what have you, when you told us your age in the world war Z comments, I wanted to say this then but didn’t, when I was 24, I was going through a divorce after three years of marriage, I’m not suggesting that others grow up that fast, but wanted to let you know you that by the time you’re 24/25, and you’re referring to yourself as a kid, you have some serious growing up to do and fast.

  50. Crushinator Jones

    November 4th, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    I totally disagree, you’re still a young man at 24/25. “Kid” is pushing it but that’s such a pedantic thing to get angry about.

    I’m 40 and still learning. There’s no shame in it. I think it’s really astonishingly rude to tell somebody they have “some growing up to do” because they used a word to define themselves that you didn’t like. Besides, there’s not some common set of experiences that get handed out to people in their twenties. I learned a ton between 27 – 30 and 35 – 37, mostly due to work circumstances and some sour relationship stuff that just happened to land on those years. Griff might be 3 months away from a character-defining stretch of years that forges him into a rock-hard manly manster.

  51. Man, I was an idiot at 24, and now at 37, I’m a completely different type of idiot. That’s life. Soon as you get a handle on one thing, you discover all this new shit you didn’t even realize you were clueless about. We’re all constantly riding this razor’s edge between ignorance and epiphany. It’s the fuckers who think they got it all figured out you gotta worry about.

    But seriously, Griff, let the video game ladies have their say. This is not the hill you want to die on.

  52. @Toxic “T&A as the main selling point has always been more a niche thing than a mainstream thing though, hasn’t it?”

    Exactly, it was never all that mainstream even in it’s heyday, because for every DOAX or Rumble Roses that got people talking you also had BMX XXX and The Guy Game, two games that really were misogynistic pieces of trash and consequently sold poorly, this happened naturally without the need for any internet moralizing.

    @Vern “There’s alot to discuss, but the main thing I want to ask you is, can you provide me examples of where Anita Sarkeesian is “DEMANDING changes to video games” as you see it? In my looking into her I’ve seen no evidence that she believes in censorship of any kind. I have only seen her exhaustively cataloging cliches that are demeaning to women in movies, video games etc. Of course her main point is that she’d like to see women portrayed more as people and less as props. I don’t think she’s trying to, or would have any possible way to, force this agenda on games or movies. The only danger is that her argument is persuasive and that people making games start to agree with her and, as you say, decide to make Lara Croft wear pants. Why is that such a nightmare scenario to you?”

    Maybe Anita Sarkeesian does or does not call for censorship, but you have her fans and followers who really do raise a fuss when a game comes out that does not adhere to these new standards and she’s the one that got the ball rolling on this, for example last year there was a game called Dragon’s Crown that was controversial because it featured a witch character with over the top big boobs, now currently there’s a game called Bayonetta 2 that is also getting some flak for it’s sexy main character, it’s like do we really have to go through this now every time there’s a female game character with sex appeal? and what, exactly, is so wrong about sex appeal? when it comes to “outrage culture” in this day and age there seems to be a strangely anti-sex attitude, a belief that it’s just inherently morally wrong to depict a female character in a sexually charged way, to which I ask, why?

    I would like to point you to this article about the recent Spider Woman controversy which I feel makes a good point about this in a better way than I can http://thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=spiderwomans_ass

    and I’ll tell you what the nightmare scenario for me would be, I as a heterosexual male happen to like sexy female characters, I like Ivy from Soul Calibur, Cammy from Street Fighter and Mai Shiranui from King of Fighters, doesn’t mean I want every female character in games to be like that, I also love female characters like Alyx Vance from Half Life 2, but I worry that because of this new pressure put on developers we wont see both types of characters but only the ones that do not incite controversy or at the very least we’re going to have to listen to the “outrage” every time a game does, which has already gotten old.

    “Also I wonder why you keep using it as a slam against her that she is “building a reputation” with her work. I spend every day of my life wondering if I can stop working a day job and pay the bills doing what I love. That she can make a living doing what she’s passion about is not a point against her.”

    It bothers me that she builds a reputation at the cost of inciting all this headache inducing controversy, just like Jack Thompson tried to build a reputation by attacking Grand Theft Auto to much controversy, now are Anita Sarkeesian and Jack Thompson exactly the same? no, but standing up on a soapbox is still standing up on a soapbox and causing controversy is still causing controversy, I thought video games had moved past this, that they had become accepted enough in the culture that we no longer have to listen to this sort of thing, I was wrong.

    “I’m surprised I was so quickly proven right about the not seeing video games as art thing. Don’t you think you could still have your “fun” games while other people made different types of games for people with different ideas than you? Isn’t there room for THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS *and* DRIVE? (The answer is yes because I have both on blu-ray.)”

    Oh sure, there’s room for both types of games and it’s not like I don’t ever play both types of games, last year there was a game called Gone Home which was criticized for being pretty much nothing but story with no actual gameplay, there’s also a game called Dear Esther which is also pretty much all story and no gameplay, but I played both and I liked both, there’s nothing wrong with experimenting from time to time but I wouldn’t want every game to be like that.

    I’ll tell you a game that I played recently that really got it right, it’s a game called Spec Ops: The Line, it’s game that does some pretty bold things with it’s story, it goes to some very dark places and plays with your expectations of that type of game and actually has a message to tell, but at the same time the game is also a very fun and engaging third person shooter, another example of a game that strikes a good balance between engaging gameplay and great story is The Last of Us, so don’t get me wrong those are my favorite types of games, the one that can tell a good story along with good gameplay, but at the same time sometimes you just want a game like Saints Row 4, where it has a goofy unimportant story and is just all about messing around and hitting people with a purple dildo shaped baseball bat.

  53. Crushinator Jones:
    “They are actually quite milquetoast and uncontroversial. They are very surface level “criticism” and are mostly an exercise in pattern matching.”

    The one video I’ve watched of hers was on “Miss Male” signifiers, which was about how you stick a pink bow on Pacman and it turns into Ms. Pacman. I guess this seems like a pretty simple notion but I was impressed by the detail and thoroughness with which she traced it through all its permutations.

    I was similarly flabbergasted when I realized how much backlash surrounded her, and my explanation is this. When eg Griff talks about how “Sarkeesian’s followers are now demanding that no female characters be sexy” what he’s really talking about is 4chan/reddit/etc’s perception that this is what her alleged followers are demanding. But. The extent of which these followers are being accused of holding these positions far, far outstripes the extent to which they actually hold these positions.

    Some of this is, I’m sure, an honest mistake, but in many cases the feminist agenda is maliciously misconstrued by these MRA fuckheads. I was reading this one thread on 4chan’s film board about Sweden (?) implementing some certification system that recognized films that pass the Bechdel test. People would come into this thread asking “so what’s this about?” and the responses would be stuff like “Sweden’s banning movies that don’t pass the Bechdel test” or “Sweden’s making it illegal to show films that have male characters” and everything in between. I swear shit like this is happening all over the place and a huge percentage of so called radical feminism is actually deep cover male misogynist assholes.

  54. Griff: I think you’ve got the Bayonetta 2 thing exactly backwards. It kicked off when one reviewer at Polygon said he thought the T&A was a little over the top, and gave the game a 7.5 out of 10. 7.5! And in consequence, there is now an organised GamerGate campaign to go after Polygon’s sponsors and drive the site out of business. The only calls for censorship are coming from the Bayonetta fans.

    I just don’t get it. Critics point out sexism in movies or books or song lyrics every day of the week and no one thinks it’s worth flipping a table over.

  55. Oh, I heard about the Polygon review but didn’t know GamerGate was trying to drive them out of business, but like I said, they’re assholes.

  56. I mean, seriously, nothing I’ve read so far even comes close to any sort of nightmare scenario in gaming. I feel that what gamers say they are facing in terms of oppression or suppression seems to be more of a reactionary stance towards vocal anti-gaming activists like Jack Thompson than an actual outcry from the general population. Anyone they see as being a voice against gamers being able to play the games they like becomes a target, no matter how irrational it is. From what I can see, the closest there has been to actual regulation in gaming is the video game rating system. The rating is voluntary and next to meaningless since it’s not really a barrier for anyone who wants to get a game that they want. If an outlet does not have it available, somewhere else will.

    This is similar to what happened with the comics code in the 50s but in that instance that made even more of an impact since it was specifically designed to shut down companies that produced horror and crime comics, and actually succeeded for the most part, and, you know, it was the 50s. Alternative and underground comics still existed outside of the code approved mainstream thereafter and those comics has to be distributed through less mainstream channels, but they eventually became more and more mainstream. In the end, the code was eventually abandoned when comic companies simply stopped sending comics to be approved when they realized the code had no teeth anymore. That was an actual nightmare scenario and that took decades to overcome. It’s different for the gaming industry in the world of today. The scenario of gaming companies not being able to create the games they want to create is nonsense. Whatever outcry being drummed up has never been enough to destroy the industry.

    The maturing of an medium means that more people are going to look at games not just as a product but actual art, which makes sense since games creation is a largely creative industry. This would involve looking at games in a critical way and providing an analysis and opinion. Being critical does not mean simply bashing games, it means providing a voice to show how games can grow and improve. It does not mean to make games any less fun. I seriously do not believe someone who plays games and takes the time to go through them in detail is out to destroy what they clearly love.

    I mentioned before that being able to see this is part of becoming more mature. I certainly don’t feel my age, but I can look back 10 to 15 years now and see just how much I didn’t know or understand in context of the larger world back then, and I’m pretty sure the same will be true in another 10 to 15 years.

    And Griff, as for that butt spiderwoman controversy… I mean seriously, I know it was meant to be titillating or sexy, and Marvel knew what they were getting into by contracting that artist, but that just did not come out like it was intended, particularly considering that the covers of spandex-based comics in general have never really shied away from the boobs and butts shots. I don’t blame them for withdrawing the art from release, which they have every right to. There are plenty of other outlets for that kind of comics and you know that being a Disney-owned company, Marvel had to fall in line with their general branding as well. It simply does not mean that they are going to go back to less provocative 50s and 60s era superhero art and that this is somehow a precursor for more censorship.

    The bottom line is if people are going to pay money for it, whether in comics or in games or in any other medium, the supply will be there.

  57. BRAINSCAN is a bad, boring movie about Nerd Shit.

    GG is a bad, stupid movement about Nerd Shit.

  58. It’s okay, Vern, on second reading it was pretty obvious that you weren’t talking about me, so sorry for being kinda ass-ish.

    Krautsalat: Unfortunately in this regard, the Limbaughs already won and they did it with a lot of help from the inside. Great things happened in the name of feminism, I hope many more will happen, but I think we’ve all heard too many self-proclaimed feminists say things, that would even make Marcy D’arcy go “Y’know, that’s a pretty stupid thing to say”. It’s kinda like the (German) Pirate Party, which started out as the one political party, that tried to take the internet seriously and fight for net neutrality and updated copyright laws and other minor, but important things that other parties either don’t care or don’t know about, but then it devolved into “Removing child pornography from the web is censorship”, “Why do we even need copyrights? Just give us everything for free!” and “Lookatmelookatmelookatme! Now I wanna be in the news!” We can still agree with what it originally stood for and try to support the smart people who still fight for those original causes, but I learned that it’s often easier to not use certain labels while doing so.

  59. For more than half my life, I’ve held & affirmatively developed the belief that we’d all be better off if our societal/legislative leaders were females. Ladyfolk of a certain persuasion tend to be better decision-makers on the big geopolitical matters. The backbone of one Jeannette Rankin outweighs the balls of the thousands of grifters & blowhards who’ve populated American governance the last century+.

    At the less macro-level, consider the bizarre, marketing-driven tragedy of women in (out of) the field of software/coding:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2014/10/21/357629765/when-women-stopped-coding

    Female students these days are markedly better & more driven & ambitious than the average guy student in most of the STEM fields and in terms of achieving advanced degrees, yet they are just now overcoming (#GG dipshits be damned) a stupidly imposed mass-societal limitation from the Reagan era.

  60. Griff, I guess the relevant questions then would be

    1. Are these people really demanding the ban of games with giant boobs, or are they merely stating an anti-giant boobs position
    2. Do you feel there is any remote chance that game makers would ever stop making games involving giant boobs
    3. If game makers did decide to only make regular sized boobs for now on do you feel this would make games less fun for you
    4. Why would this be the fault of Sarkeesian, when you said yourself that people have been complaining about the giant boobs since the beginning of video game boobs

  61. “Sweden’s banning movies that don’t pass the Bechdel test” or “Sweden’s making it illegal to show films that have male characters”. Truth to be told swedish media is equally as bad as explaining the Bechdel test, so in a lot of magazines you get that same impressions. Nobody seem to actually know what the purpose of the test is or even care if its news. Because then it wouldn´t be “news” anymore

  62. I haven´t seen any of Sarkeesians videos so i should probably not comment, but it sounds like she makes legit points. Not all games portray women as objects, but most AAA games do and that is a problem, because these are the games that are more widely experienced by people. Its adolescent bullshit. And I don´t care about that. I want interesting characters to invest in, not characters to jerk off to.

  63. “1. Are these people really demanding the ban of games with giant boobs, or are they merely stating an anti-giant boobs position”

    I guess they’re not literally calling for these games to be banned, but they do want games to stop doing this and will loudly complain whenever a game has it.

    “2. Do you feel there is any remote chance that game makers would ever stop making games involving giant boobs”

    I do actually, maybe I’m wrong granted, but I feel that most developers (with the exception of maybe Rockstar) these days want to avoid controversy if they can since negative press can also possibly mean negative sales, this sort of thing has actually happened before, look at the original character design for Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite, she featured a lot more cleavage (which people whined about natch) than in the final version of the game, sure it’s a small example but it shows that devs do take this sort of thing into account.

    “3. If game makers did decide to only make regular sized boobs for now on do you feel this would make games less fun for you”

    it wouldn’t be a deal breaker but I think it would be a shame, I like my sexy video game characters, is that just so wrong? does how I feel and what I like just not matter in the least in this day and age? I think it’s an interesting change of pace to play as a female character in games (when games give you the option I usually pick a female character as a matter of fact) and while they don’t always have to be sexy, I don’t want developers to feel like they HAVE to avoid any sex appeal for fear of an internet backlash.

    I would also beg the question, why can’t he have our cake and eat it too? why can’t we have a female character who is both fully fleshed out and yet has sex appeal? anime has characters like that all the time (best example possibly Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop), this does not have to be an either/or situation and yet people take the attitude that you can’t have it both ways, why?

    “4. Why would this be the fault of Sarkeesian, when you said yourself that people have been complaining about the giant boobs since the beginning of video game boobs”

    It’s always been there but it was below the surface, it only became a BIG DEAL when Sarkeesian came along, she opened the floodgates of a backlash against male gamers and now the backlash is going the other way around.

  64. On a subject of Lara Croft now wearing pants: do you think game makers really felt pressured to make the character less sexy because of the criticism they received from feminists? Or was it simply a case of “Ok, short shorts/giant boobs Lara has been done to death and doesn’t sell as well these days, but all the cool kids now love that gritty/realistic approach to EVERY FUCKING CHARACTER, EVER, so how about we try a new thing: we give her pants, we put mud on her face, and have her wince the first time she kills someone and realize that no, life as an adventurer is not a fun Indiana Jones ride, it’s a dark, horrific experience that leaves you a broken mess?”

  65. It has always been a problem but nobody gave a shit until now. I think what Sarkeesian does is only toxic in the eyes of the types of gamers who doesn´t know any women in reallife.

  66. CJ, you shouldn’t let your perception of a group be defined by it’s most insane alleged members, they are not representative. Of course there are a lot of self-proclaimed “feminists” that have no idea what feminism is about, but why do you even take them seriously?

  67. Boy. Haven’t thought of BRAINSCAN in 20 years but that’s very perceptive. It did anticipate a lot of technological things, including the male voteurism.

    But doesn’t it end with the girl saying she only wants to be friends? I always thought that was weird.

    I don’t think I ever saw a credits stinger. Does that imply it’s actually three levels deep, like INCEPTION?

    Wonderful thoughts on Gamergate, Vern. Seems like now would be a good time for any male gamers to just show they’d like to include women in their multiplayer groups and welcome their opinions, no? You’d really stand out in the com unity right about now.

  68. “For more than half my life, I’ve held & affirmatively developed the belief that we’d all be better off if our societal/legislative leaders were females.”

    Since I live in country that has a female leader since almost a decade, let me say: Nope, they can fuck up as badly as the male counterparts.

  69. Are game designers really trying to avoid huge-bosomed, half-naked eye candy these days? Or at least more so than before?

    Honest question. I follow this stuff casually, and only buy a new game every couple of years or so. I do think games are more likely nowadays to allow playable characters and well-written NPCs who aren’t male, aren’t white, or aren’t straight. But it’s less obvious to me that they’re retreating away from sexy images. I mean, we’ve been talking about Bayonetta 2, and that just came out. And Cortana has been looking more like a lingerie model with each new Halo sequel.

    I don’t know what the overall trend is. I’m definitely not seeing any sort of backlash against male gamers. There’ve been scads of defences of Bayonetta as a great, sex-positive character, many from a feminist viewpoint. (That’s the usual way of critical back-and-forth. Roger Ebert despised I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. Carol J. Clover thought it was less misogynist than mainstream movies like THE ACCUSED. And so it goes.) To the extent that there is any angry backlash, it’s not Sarkeesian’s fault. She’s as polite as you can get; each of her videos opens with a reminder that it’s perfectly fine to enjoy a game with sexist elements, so long as you’re aware of them.

  70. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 5th, 2014 at 9:10 am

    I haven’t played “Dragon’s Crown” but I have seen it played for a couple of hours. A couple of the main female characters are grotesquely proportioned, and pretty much all of the minor female characters I saw were submissive hostages / slaves. Now obviously I haven’t seen the whole thing, but it was fairly clear where the focus was. And yes, videogames have a long history of making female characters “the prize”.

    I have seen a few of Sarkeesian’s videos. Some parts of them I agreed with, some I thought she was overreaching, and some I thought she actually didn’t go far enough (I would’ve loved to have seen her take on marriage in “Skyrim” for example. And I’ve sunk far too much time than is healthy into that game.) I agree with the commentators here who’ve described her as polite and generally respectful towards her audience. I don’t think she’s advocating censorship, just an open debate. And that’s what the Gamergate guys are trying to prevent.

    But again, I think it’s more of a symptom of an issue than a problem in and of itself. I think that while there are a vocal minority who ARE malicious, most are not, and they’re the same kind of people who’ll casually dismiss a job applicant called “Jose” but offer one with an identical CV called “Joe” an interview. They’re not trying to be discriminating or racist, it’s just their societal expectations coming into focus. Put simply: I think we need (with apologies to CJ) a more “feminist” society. One where all the crap I mentioned in my post above is considered outright unacceptable.

  71. Crushinator Jones

    November 5th, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Most feminists were ok with Bayonetta 2. Despite the game lingering over Bayonetta’s ass and tits and her clothes disappearing during certain attacks she was a strong woman who didn’t take shit from anyone and kicked a lot of ass – until they found out that the game has a boss who has a rape attack.

    This is not a joke.

    http://a.pomf.se/swyula.webm

    So yes – video game developers continually treat women characters like shit, reduce them to idiots, ogle them, abuse them, and can’t resist taking one of their best characters – a cool British witch with guns built into her high-heels – and raping her with a boss attack. And I want this to stop. Immediately.

    And if you enjoy all this, or passively sit there and just accept this misogyny as an intrinsic part of video games because they are “just entertainment” then I’m sorry. I can’t keep being nice. Fuck you. You’re a loser, and a bad person, and a generally piece of shit human being, and you need to have your gross video games taken away until you realize that this is not ok. It’s not ok to treat women like shit and reduce them to tits and ass and props. It dehumanizes them, it changes your thinking toward them, it makes them feel bad about themselves for no reason, and it makes you bad too. Sorry to lose my cool there, everyone, but I just posted a video of a female video game character getting implied raped and I’m not really going to dance around the fact that there’s loser jerks out there who think that this is ok (or secretly get off on it) and don’t like being told that it’s awful and that they are awful for liking it. It is, and they are.

  72. There will always be an audience for games with half naked girls with huge breasts, so there will always be game developers making games with half naked girls with huge breasts and ignoring the people who complain about them. I think the main difference is that today we’re less likely to buy a shitty Duke Nukem sequel simply because “wow, cool, there’s strippers in it!” than we would have been 20 years ago, because 20 years ago there wasn’t that many games with half naked girls with huge breasts, but now we’ve seen enough half naked girls with huge breasts in videogames and in real life that we need more than just that to buy a game.

  73. Jesus Christ, Crushinator. That exists? Who in hell’s name ever thought that was a good idea?

  74. Crushinator Jones

    November 5th, 2014 at 10:43 am

    A Japanese developer named Platinum who fills every game with gross upskirts, panty shots, and tit ogles.

    The shame of it is, they make great games. I’ve bought every one of them. And they all treat women like shit.

    Different developer, but here’s another: The new Metal Gear game, for example, has a mission where the main character hears an audiotape of the female character he’s trying to rescue get raped. Then when he does rescue her, he finds out that they have put a bomb in her stomach. He removes it (in an extremely graphic scene), but didn’t know about the bomb they put in her pussy (“the one place he wouldn’t look” says the villain, mockingly, in a separate audiotape), which the female character saves everyone from by jumping out of a helicopter.

    I’m not exaggerating in the slightest.

  75. Crushinator, a rape attack is in very poor taste, especially because they seem to use it as a cute joke, which is stupid, and people are perfectly right to be upset about such stupidity… and yet at the same time…

    Well, I’m sorry to say, but yes, it is still just a game. Other than the occasional sick fuck who’s gonna use “the videogame made me do it” during his trial, it’s not like Bayonetta is going to cause a lot of people to think rape is funny or that rape is ok and that they should go rape someone. Because it is just a game. It is perfectly ok to criticize it and call the gamemakers a bunch of idiots, but other than that, what are we supposed to do? Campaign against the game to have it banned? It would be kind of hypocritical to go after one game because it features a rape scene but be perfectly okay with the millions of games that feature murder, wouldn’t it? If we can accept that a player who kills hundreds of people in Skyrim won’t start thinking that murder is ok in real life then I think we can accept that a player who sees the bad guy raping the heroine in Bayonetta won’t start thinking that rape ok in real life.

  76. You’re breaking my heart, man. I used to love the Metal Gear series. Whatever happened to just having ludicrously complicated conspiracy theories and eight thousand Easter Eggs jammed into every screen? It was a weird idea of fun, but it was my idea of fun.

    I looked up that Bayonetta thing and ended up with Youtube and its inevitable comments. I think the most representative was some guy attacking a woman who had posted about how sickening this would be if you were a rape victim and this suddenly happened while you were playing. His response was to recast it as a “what if a soldier who had had buddies die in combat played Call of Duty” and to answer that people need to get over things or they’re “pussies”. Call me crazy, but here’s an idea: maybe it’s a bad thing to trigger vets with PTSD. Maybe concepts like “gratitude for their service” or “basic human decency” could give one pause before going on about how they need to “get over” trauma caused by facing dangers that one will probably never encounter. Maybe it’s telling that empathy doesn’t appear to exist in this guy’s universe.

  77. So, Crushinator, let me get this straight: you have bought every single game from the developer that makes games where women are treated like shit.

    Every single game they’ve made has made you very, very upset and led you to say “fuck you” to people who enjoyed it because you certainly do not condone misogny.

    And then, every time they release a new game, instead of going “you know what, fuck those dudes, I’m not buying their new game”, you’ve bought it anyway because “they make great games!”

    Wow that sure sends a strong “don’t treat women like shit in your games” message.

  78. Toxic: it’s pretty well-established that video games don’t really make anybody do anything. I fully agree that you usually can’t lay real world crimes at a video game’s feet (though the business practices of some MMOs and casual games are highly suspect, in my opinion; I think that some of those developers actually are financially exploiting some people with mental illnesses). I don’t think that’s really the issue here.

    In my opinion, it’s an issue of reinforcement and identification. Basically, a game with rape in it doesn’t create a rapist, but I think that it’s a different argument to suggest that nascent rapists might play that part of the game and like what they see. It’s a no-brainer to state that people generally gravitate towards things that are comfortable and familiar to them. Imagine meeting someone who had made a ten-hour Youtube loop of that scene in The Accused and just casually had it on when you visited them. The reaction that you’d likely have to that little revelation is probably not dissimilar to how I felt when I realized just how casually some of the (I suspect younger) internet folk were shooting the shit about rape these days.

    It’s one thing to thoughtfully and respectfully use rape as an aspect in a creative work. It’s quite another to just treat it as a minor thing to make bad jokes about every couple of minutes. It shouldn’t be taboo, but it should be treated with some gravity. It’s not good inspiration for an attack in a goofy game about a naked witch.

  79. Crushinator Jones

    November 5th, 2014 at 11:45 am

    LOL Toxic you’re filling in all my squares on the “bad arguments” bingo card.

    We’ve got:

    I have to completely boycott any media that’s problematic to me
    “It’s just a game, man”
    I think that playing murder video games with rape makes you a murdering rapist
    “Guys will always want to look at pretty girls, just deal with it man”

    Got any more?

  80. No, I don’t think you have to boycoott any media that’s problematic to you but I do believe that it is weird and hypocitical to keep giving money to a game maker while still claiming that you believe their games are very upsetting and that people who enjoy them should get a big, self righteous “fuck you” yelled at them from your high horse.

  81. SofS, I’d be perfectly happy with gamemakers not using rape at all in videogames, whether as a shitty joke or as a vile act to establish the bad guy as the worst kind of person, because, I don’t know, it’s just a weird thing to have in a videogame. Even a regular sex scene in a videogame always seems out of place to me, like a lazy attempt to appear “mature”, so really, I tend to stick to games with no rape in them.

    And yet I’m also perfectly happy with Skyrim letting me decapitate hundreds of people without it being treated super seriously as a horrible crime that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I don’t want to watch a cut scene where my orc mourns the loss of a worthy opponent and wishes he could have found a peaceful solution to the problem every single time I kill an NPC.

    So, again, I don’t think we need to see rape scenes at all in videogames, but still, I think that if I’m ok with a game treating murder like it’s no big deal then it would be hypocritical of me to demand that games stop treating rape like it’s no big deal. In real life, murder and rape both are horrible crimes so I don’t really see how we can justify any obligation to treat one with more gravity than the other (but I’m open to the possibility of someone presenting a convincing argument though).

  82. Crushinator Jones

    November 5th, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Toxic, I’m not saying that at all and I never have. I’m saying that people that enjoy the rape and misogyny in these games – that are a-ok with it or, god forbid, actively want it to continue – get a big “fuck you” from me.

    Conflating an attack on the misogyny of video games with an attack on video games themselves is silly. Stop it.

  83. Crushinator Jones

    November 5th, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    I’m also giggling pretty hard at the idea that saying “fuck you” to people who like to watch sexualized violence inflicted on women in video games puts me on a high horse, btw. It can’t be THAT high.

  84. Please explain to me how Platinum Games is supposed to change its attitude toward the depiction of women in their games if people who claim to be so upset by it keep giving them money every single time anyway? Please. Seriously. Explain me that. I mean, I think the people who made Duke Nukem Forever got the “We don’t appreciate shitty games just because they have poop jokes and strippers” message pretty clear when people didn’t fucking buy Duke Nukem Forever. People think poop joke and strippers don’t excuse a shitty game, people don’t buy the game, whoever made Duke Nukem Forever is not gonna make Duke Nukem 5: Craptastic Booborama. Platinum Games on the other hand, if their most vehement critic is also a guy who keeps giving them money, how are they supposed to get the “I’m very upset at you, and don’t give me any of that ‘Guys will always want to look at pretty girls, just deal with it man’ crap, ok?” message?

  85. Crushinator Jones

    November 5th, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Ok, Toxic, let’s break down your argument to the core assertion:

    “Platinum Games (or any developer for that matter) will change their attitude about women in games if their games don’t sell.”

    Let’s examine that:

    1) First problem: How do I know that a game treats women like shit? Game reviewers usually don’t mention this. Bayonetta’s rape attack is not mentioned in one single review. Metal Gear Solid’s vagina bomb and rape tape was not mentioned in any pre-release reviews. The one mainstream female reviewer that mentioned that Grand Theft Auto 5 treats women like shit received death threats and hate mail for months despite the fact she rated the game a 9/10!

    So, in order to boycott these games, I would have to buy them, to find out if the content is objectionable, and then return the game for a refund if it is. Which of course I can’t do. And if a reviewer actually attempts to inform me on this objectionable content they get screamed at for being “SJW”s who are “pushing an agenda.”

    Part of making a fuss about misogyny is to broadcast to game reviewers that I, as a member of their audience, find this content objectionable, and that reflects badly on part of the game’s experience, and that it should be calculated into the review. Because reviews are part of certain publishers’ game budgets; if a game fails to hit a certain MetaCritic average the developers do not make as much money. They don’t get their bonuses. Game reviewers matter, a lot!

    2) Why would a developer attribute poor sales to their game’s treatment of women? This is “free market magic” thinking. “Just stop buying something, and the makers of said product will magically divine your intent and adjust their product to regain your business.” No, sorry, this is not how things work. Let’s say that a game had poor sales because it really did go completely around the bend with women-hating, but none of the reviews mentioned this (because they don’t want to be SJWs pushing an agenda, or because they wrongly believe that their audience doesn’t care about such things.) What conclusion would the developers make? “It must not have been marketed correctly, it had good reviews.” And then the company closes down and the employees disperse to other places to continue their bad ways somewhere else.

    The only way to stop them from continuing this is to tell them through people that they respect and meet with: gaming journalists and gamer culture, and to punish them through a venue that matters and affects more than just my individual buying habit: Game reviews.

    In an ideal world, Platinum Games (or any developer) who repeatedly put creepy misogynist shit into their games would have already stopped doing it because influential critics and industry leaders would have already called them on it and created a culture where that kind of thing isn’t brushed under the rug by “it’s just a game, folks, don’t worry about it. Uncritically consume these terrible memes and perspectives about women.”

    It’s not part of your core assertion but I just want to say: “just a game” is the worst kind of weak dodge. It is not “just a game”. It is a piece of media and yes it does shape attitudes and opinions. Reading Fight Club won’t make you into a schizo bomber, but it might help make you a nihilistic doofus. Watching Taxi Driver won’t make you a psycho killer but might make you pose in front of the mirror and ask, “Are you talking to me?” Playing Grand Theft Auto 5 as a criminal and meeting the game’s endless succession of whores and bimbos won’t make you Robert DeNiro from Heat but might make you the kind of guy who sees women as a prop/accessory in your own life and not as another person with their own goals and motivations (something that I myself did for many years).

    3) You’re presenting a false dichotomy where there’s only two choices: uncritically accept everything bad about video games in order to play them, or withdraw money and stop playing. I choose a third way, which is: I am gonna play the video games, and bitch about stupid racism, sexism, etc. in the fucking video games until they stop with that shit or I die. I’m probably going to die, fyi.

    4) Now to get to something else: I did go to Platinum’s forums and I did post that I found their rape attack offensive. They deleted my comment and banned me. So they don’t give a shit. They are auteurs, and I don’t believe in censorship, they should be able to produce what they want. And the actual game part of their games are simply the best. So I’m left with the Roman Polanski Dillema: everything about the movie/game is great, but everything around the movie/game is shit, what do I do? And I decided that I would keep buying their games because they really are the best, most responsive, most excellent entries in their genre. But I don’t have to be happy about the creeper shit, and I don’t have to pretend it doesn’t matter.

    Hope this helps.

  86. Game companies tend to follow a simple “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” policy, there’s no “free market magic” at work there. If a game series never changes and keeps selling well, the company that makes it keep remaking the same episode over and over again. If a game series stops selling well I’m not saying they immediately understand what the problem is and solve it, but at least, they do realize that if they want to make as much money as they used to, they need to try to change something. Madden sells well every time, so they don’t change it. When Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness didn’t sell as well as Tomb Raider used to, they cancelled the sequels and rebooted the series.

    So yes, I do believe that if Chad Douchebro, who fist-bumps his screen every time he sees the heroine being objectified in a new episode of “Sexy Dominatrix Witch”, and Sensitive Jones, who insults Chad to feel better about himself and posts angry messages on the internet, still keep giving them money anyway everytime they release a new episode of “Sexy Dominatrix Witch”, then the makers of “Sexy Dominatrix Witch” have no reason to think there’s something seriously wrong with the way they make games, and so they won’t try to fix the problem. Obviously they can see that Sensitive Jones is such a positive guy that he’s willing to eat another bite of the same piece of shit they’ve been serving, just in case it tastes better than the 10 previous similar bites, you know, who knows, maybe they finally listened to him. So they can keep selling the same piece of shit to Sensitive Jones. He’ll be very angry about it of course, and he won’t hesitate to post on the internet about how Chad is really a horrible person and he’s a great guy, but they’ll get his money and they’ll get it again when they make another episode and then another, so who gives a fuck. But they can’t be sure that Chad Douchebro is not gonna be angry and stop buying their shit if they try to make it different, so they don’t, and they win! And ultimately, everybody wins: the game company makes money, Chad is happy because he gets to see the sexy witch being paid less than the sexy wizard for doing the same job, and Jones gets to be such an enlightened feminist guy on the internet.

  87. Wait, the bomb was in Paz’s vagina? Man I guess I didn’t really pay attention to those tapes. Don’t think I realized she had been raped, either.

  88. Crushinator Jones

    November 5th, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    “Game companies tend to follow a simple “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” policy….If a game series never changes and keeps selling well, the company that makes it keep remaking the same episode over and over again”

    This is a tautology. Did you catch it? Let’s rephrase: “If a game series never changes and keeps selling well…it never changes.”

    Well, no shit.

    It’s also false, of course. Non-sport franchises tend to change their games quite substantially between sequels.

    And how do they know what to change, I wonder?

    (think hard)

  89. “It’s also false, of course. Non-sport franchises tend to change their games quite substantially between sequels.”

    No, really, honestly, they don’t. They make the new episode bigger and prettier, they give you more mini-games or more playable characters or an extra gun or a stronger pokémon or Link now looks like a kid instead of a young adult or Mario can now choose between 4 different karts instead of 2, but they don’t make major changes, the game is not significantly different. And gamers complain that Batman Arkham or Call of Duty or Hitman or God of War just give you more of the same every time and simply try to make things bigger and better looking, and magazines and sites complain, but as long as it doesn’t translate into disappointing sales, the games don’t change.

  90. Well, Toxic, I see where you’re coming from on the weird double standard most of us have about murder. To be honest, I’m not really fond of all of the murder in those games as well, but it’s true that I don’t find it as shocking as a depiction of a rape would be. The interesting question is about why that’s often the case. Why isn’t violence shocking?

    Part of it might be that there are ways of framing violence as necessary or noble that are inapplicable to sex crimes. Your Skyrim character is supposedly chopping all of these heads either for a greater good or at least because he/she needs to do so in order to survive. It’s problematic, but it’s different from if you were just playing a serial killer in a city or something with the same body count.

    This framing just doesn’t work for rape. You can’t rape your way to a better world. There’s no such thing as a situation where you’ll have to sexually assault your way through a swarm of enemies. It’s so inherently vile and violating that there’s no possible way to justify it. It’s the ultimate in indefensible acts.

    Therefore, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have that double standard. Rape is horrible and far too common. It’s just not suitable for fun and games. I don’t want censorship; I just want people to have some sense and decency and to choose not to treat the subject carelessly.

  91. I was going to stay out of this one because 1) I’m not a gamer, 2) I hadn’t heard of GamerGate until reading Vern’s take on it, 3) I didn’t feel I needed to add that I also agree it’s bad to threaten and harass women for daring to have an opinion on things, 4) I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s opinion and am happy to be part of an online community that use well thought and intelligently conveyed arguments mostly in favor of equality, whether the label of feminism was embraced or not and 5) I didn’t want to make it look like I was taking on the responsibility for women everywhere. However, I do have something to add to the idea of people being okay with killing in entertainment but not rape. Along with the idea that SofS shared about it being used for the greater good, maybe another part is because the scenes of slaughter can be taken as total fantasy. Even though mass shootings are becoming frighteningly more common, it still seems like murder is outside the realm of possibility in most people’s lives. Unfortunately, rape is not the same. It is a much more common real world problem that people should be uncomfortable with being used as any type of entertainment.

  92. Watched BRAINSCAN last night. This movie comes off to me as a conservative view on popular culture. Tickster is basically Tippi Gores paranoid view on rockstars who corrupt the children (Won´t somebody think of the children!) He even kind looks like Steven Tyler from Aerosmith. There is also a poster of Aerosmith in the background in one scene. Hmmm. That rockstars could leap out of televisions and turn a socially awkward teenager into a schizoid psychotic seems like a Jack Thompson idea to me.

    There is also all this FRANENSTEIN motifs all over the film.Not only a poster but all kinds of things. Michael, just like Victor Frankenstein is a misfit who lives secluded. He even has a digital Igor. Trickster is a brainchild of Michael, a sideeffect o playing videogames apparently, and is equivalent to Dr Frankensteins monster.

    If 1931s FRANKENSTEIN told conservative assholes that science is bad, then this movie tells us that the visual culture can fucking turn you into a nut. If Victor was the stereotypical mad scientist (because as we all know all scientists are mad), then the shift has turned to teenagers relationship with media. And it is all bad.

  93. Crushinator Jones

    November 6th, 2014 at 9:58 am

    “No, really, honestly, they don’t. They make the new episode bigger and prettier, they give you more mini-games or more playable characters or an extra gun or a stronger pokémon or Link now looks like a kid instead of a young adult or Mario can now choose between 4 different karts instead of 2, but they don’t make major changes,”

    Dead Space went from survival horror to a cover shooter.
    Mass Effect went from squad RPG to an action cover shooter.
    Dragon Age went from RPG to action game.
    Assassin’s Creed turned into a pirate game (if you classify a game that adds a naval combat simulation that you spend probably half your time in as “a minigame” then you’re retarded, hope this helps).
    Batman Arkham went open world (and will now have vehicle stuff in the upcoming game, thus having turned from a Metroidvania into a GTA style open world game with driving, flying, grappling, and running)
    Far Cry changed locations and characters, went from shooter to RPG/shooter hybrid
    Call of Duty developers got death threats after they changed parts of the game and the multiplayer progression side has totally changed, it is literally unrecognizable to someone who skipped three years (because I did, and it is)
    Burnout went open world and removed the crash mode
    Saint’s Row went from a GTA clone to a superhero game
    Need for Speed has literally never been the same kind of game twice (other than “racing”)

    Now let’s look at the shit that don’t change:

    Nintendo games, which is why they don’t move units, are extensively criticized for being the same game over and over, and nobody but diehards cares about them
    God of War fizzled after 3 games, the fourth game was DOA on sales
    Gears of War fizzled after 3 games, the fourth game was DOA on sales
    Prince of Persia fizzled after 3 games, the fourth game was DOA on sales, rebooted, still fizzled
    Splinter Cell fizzled after 3 games, the fourth game was DOA on sales
    Tomb Raider fizzled after 3 games (in the second era), fourth game was DOA in sales, they rebooted by slapping Laura into Gritty Uncharted…
    …and speaking of Uncharted, it’s following the same path as these other franchises. 3rd game sold less than the second. Fourth will fizzle if it’s just More Uncharted.

    So no, in fact, they don’t keep doing the same things over and over, and franchises that do (that aren’t published by a company called “Nintendo”) quickly die within a few titles.

    Which is what I’ve been trying to tell you, that video games evolve in significant ways even if they are selling well based on feedback from reviewers and gamer culture as a whole. And that’s what this whole thing is about: changing what game reviewers and gamer culture assigns value to. Assassin Creed adds a tower minigame, everyone hates it, the game still sells great but the mode is dropped in the next title. Call of Duty introduces Zombie mode, everyone loves it, game sells less but the mode hangs around for the sequels.

    It’s fucking stupid as shit to act like sales is the only metric that determine whether substantial things get added or subtracted to games, and to pretend that big AAA games (that aren’t sports titles) just coast for years doing the same things over and over. It’s just demonstrateably false and dumb, I’ve just shown you it is, and I’m done trying to convince you. You clearly are clinging to this stupid belief because it means that people who don’t like things that video games do have to stop buying them and exit the conversation so you can play this trash with nobody judging you, and if they don’t then their complaints are somehow phony or done because they want to feel better than you. That’s a nice little rationalization there but the reality is this: I have a son and a daughter, and I don’t want them growing up and absorbing this trash from a form of media that will be central to their lives. Have a nice day.

  94. I understand. Please, by all means, buy the next Platinum game just to check for yourself if it still treats female characters like shit (it will). I hope your son and daughter won’t be confused when daddy tries to explain to them that yes, it is totally ok to keep giving your money to a company that thinks female characters should be treated like shit, therefore proving to them that no matter how much you complain about them, they can still count on getting your money anyway, as long as you’re super angry at that company on the internet. Because I mean, what are you supposed to do, stop buying games entirely? I mean, it’s not like there’s a reasonable option like stop buying games from Platinum and keep buying games made by companies that treat female character better. Obviously if someone suggests something like “when a game company is blatantly sexist, kick their wallet in the nuts and maybe that’ll teach them a lesson”, they actually mean “when a game company is blatantly sexist, go over-the-top, don’t buy any game from any game company, ever”.

  95. Shoot — on the subject of BRAINSCAN, I don’t think the message is exactly “video games will turn you into a killer,” I think it’s more that video games are an incredibly seductive way of isolating from your fellow man, and gradually becoming disconnected. It’s not just that Michael like violent, morbid shit; he’s also watching his neighbor, essentially turning her into a purely sexual object with no particular inclination to learn who she is or anything about her beyond what her tits look like. Technology is enabling him to engage with other humans only when it’s absolutely necessary, and only on his terms. That’s a dangerous place to be, and it’s probably why he gets in trouble the way he does.

    Maggie — that’s actually an interesting point. There’s also the simple fact that while it’s unlikely that you know someone who has been a victim of murder, it’s quite a bit more likely that you personally know someone who’s been raped or sexually assaulted. The statistics are all over the place depending on how you define rape (studies range from 1 in 6 women to 0.5% of women) but even on the conservative end, it covers a lot of people. I personally know more than one woman who was raped, I imagine most people here with a large social circle probably do too. It’s easy to sit here and talk about free speech and the difference between fantasy and reality, but I know I’d feel like a complete asshole if I had to explain to one of these friends why I thought it was OK to digitally re-enact this life-changing trauma for them for my entertainment. Even if it’s only meant as fantasy, I think it just hits too close to home for a lot of people. Even those who aren’t directly affected are just too personally familiar with the painful real-life consequences.

    The other thing about rape that distinguishes it from murder IMHO is the essential sadism of the act. With murder, especially the kind of murder you usually see in entertainment, it’s essentially a natural extension of competition. It’s us vs them, we’re both trying to win, and the point is to WIN, not to kill. It’s not personal, it’s not sadistic, it’s competitive. Most games that involve large-scale murder aren’t really too different fundamentally than a violent sporting event; in the fantasy world we can deepen the level of violence, but it doesn’t really affect the intention of the conflict. I think it would be different if games presented murder more sadistically, like if it was a game about sneaking into people’s houses and knifing their family to death in their sleep. Or it was a game about kidnapping people and torturing them til they died. Rape is so much about the suffering of the victim and the obvious imbalance of power between victim and victimizer that it doesn’t really fall into the came span of conflict. It’s purely sadistic, it has nothing to do with healthy competition, and hence it’s not as much fun to see in entertainment.

  96. RE: the Bayonetta thing, obviously that’s a pretty tasteless joke (and I do think it’s meant to be a joke, I don’t they are implying that she was *literally* raped), but I do find it funny, not the joke itself mind you, but that in the age of Anita they have that in the game.

    But keep in mind, it’s a Japanese game, not that it excuses it but Japanese culture does not follow American concepts like political correctness, I don’t think you would ever see anything like that in a western game.

  97. Griff – I think that’s the point, rape isn’t a joke, this isn’t a P.C issue, as Subtlety pointed out above chances are you know someone who has been sexually assaulted or raped, it’s just not funny.

    I’m glad you get a chuckle out of Bayonetta 2’s rape attack existing in the age of Anita Sarkeesian; because you know.. it’ll show her, “how’s this for a misogynist trope, lady? ha-ha”.

    Of course Japanese culture is way different than Western “PC” culture, but I think it’s possible to admire some of it’s aesthetics and ideas while also being critical of it’s more questionable practices, besides some inherent sexism they also traditionally have some pretty heinous views of other Pan-Asian cultures.

    Anyways I’m sorry for harshing on you specifically, every time this topic comes up, but you always seem to be defending the actions and attitudes of some really shitty people. I hope we’re all missing something, maybe Clubside will eventually enlighten the rest of us on the real scandal of #GamerGate, and some of we’ll feel really bad calling them all a bunch of whiny bitches(Men’s Rights Activists).

    Also feel free to call me a ‘SJW’

  98. SofS and Maggie have very interesting and valid arguments, but I’ll admit that I’m still not 100% convinced…

    Gratuitous murder is possible in a lot of games, so there is such a thing as killing people just for fun in a videogame.

    As for the horrible concept of “raping your way to a better world”… well, it has been seen in fiction. Vern reviewed that really good little Norwegian movie ESCAPE recently, where the main antagonist wants to make her adopted daughter happy by giving her a little sister… and she intends to achieve that noble purpose by having her men rape a teenage girl until she gets pregnant. Obviously she’s the villain, and obviously we’re not supposed to agree with her methods, and I sure was glad that [SPOILER] the poor teenager managed to escape before the villain unleashed her men on her, and I can totally understand why a rape victim wouldn’t want to watch the movie at all… but I’m still glad that the movie was allowed to exist, and I’m glad I saw it…

    Recently I’ve been playing Wasteland 2… Quite early in the game you discover what appears to be a dungeon where some sick fuck keeps sex slaves as prisoners, one of them is already dead, you can free the other ones if you can open the cell doors… It’s not supposed to be funny, it’s not meant as a joke, it’s just that, well, you’re in post apocalyptic Arizona and life sucks for whoever falls into the hands of the barbaric mohawked bandits that roam the wasteland and as a team of good guys obviously you’re encouraged to try and save the slaves. And again, I can completely understand why a rape victim wouldn’t want to play a game that involves sex slaves, and I can completely understand that some people wouldn’t want to play a game that involves sex slaves regardless of their personal experience, and I’d never say or think such a stupid thing as “get over it, pussies” to them… But, well, I am glad the game wasn’t censored… I am glad that they were allowed to give a realistic depiction of a horrible future by including such unpleasant elements…

    So I don’t think it would be such a great thing to say “here’s the list of crimes that you’re allowed to depict in your games, and here’s the list of crimes that are strictly off limits”. Criticizing game companies that use disturbing acts and horrible crimes as jokes is perfectly normal, boycotting their games doesn’t seem unreasonable to me, but banning stuff entirely because “games are just supposed to be fun” and because “somebody who’s gone through that in real life might be offended” doesn’t seem right to me.

  99. Toxic – I’m not calling for censorship at all, It would be awesome if Gamers and game Developers would listen to their critics and at least understand the tropes that are present in gaming, without threatening to rape and murder those who have criticized.

    Context is a huge thing; I’m not saying that the Wasteland 2 scenario is perfect, but it’s presence in the game isn’t meant to titillate, it’s a cliche’ present to show how evil the antagonists are, and although it would be nice if the aforementioned sex slaves were more involved in delivering comeuppance rather than just being rescued, it’s far less insidious than manner it is presented in the Boss attack in Bayonetta 2.

    Again I’m not suggesting censoring games, but it would be kind of rad if gamerbrah’s would understand why gamerlady’s are less than impressed when they only see women in games as either A) background, B) the prize(damsel in distress), or C) The ridiculously proportioned protagonist.. the one that Griff seems the most concerned with losing..
    In the case of C) I think the only fair thing to do is keep making the games as they are, maybe just making an addendum where if you have a game with ridiculously proportioned women, they also apply those same proportions to men.

  100. Just to clarify, Wasteland 2 lets you choose the gender, ethnicity, age, and religion of your first 4 party members, so it’s not like you can only go rescue the damsels in distress as a group of dudes. And every skill and every piece of clothing is accessible to both genders. So I dare say Wasteland 2 is not the most sexist game on the market, despite the depiction of a group a defenseless female sex slaves being held captive by a psycho.

  101. I specifically didn’t call for censorship, Toxic, and I don’t see that anybody else has either. I said that, as part of a story, rape has to be handled thoughtfully and considerately. Like, consider RAMBO, a movie that I’m fairly fond of. It has that weird section where it shows a huge mass-rape (covered in mysterious smoke) for long enough to let the audience feel really good about Rambo ripping that one dude’s throat out. The victims never get a chance to talk, never get an opportunity to be anything other than a motivation.

    Now, this is a Rambo movie and I wasn’t exactly expecting BILLY JACK, and it does treat the crime as a byword for sheer evil, so I’m not calling it out as an especially bad example (there are many movies that are way worse about it). I am using it as an example of how using rape with insufficient care in a story can take the meaning away from the victims and give it all to their avengers. Rape is a reality for many people (especially women, but it’s important to avoid minimizing the experiences of men who have been raped) and their experiences matter. Think of how rare it is that fiction in any medium just lets the victim talk afterward.

    Maggie, you have it right there. The fairly narrow target audience for most games is pretty far removed from the reality of violence. I’ve never even shot a gun in real life. I haven’t even been in a fight for ages, and those were just petty scrapes. It’s easy to just treat the targets as targets (’cause that’s all they are onscreen, when it comes down to it; it’s the same basic idea as an old arcade game, just made realistic) when the whole thing might as well be squares fighting circles for all the personal experience a lot of us bring to it. (I always wondered what combat vets thought of all of the war games out there now.)

  102. What did you guys think of the torture sequence in GTAV?

  103. @windows “Griff – I think that’s the point, rape isn’t a joke, this isn’t a P.C issue, as Subtlety pointed out above chances are you know someone who has been sexually assaulted or raped, it’s just not funny.”

    I know it’s not a funny one, but I wasn’t sure whether he realized it was meant to be a joke or not.

    “I’m glad you get a chuckle out of Bayonetta 2’s rape attack existing in the age of Anita Sarkeesian; because you know.. it’ll show her, “how’s this for a misogynist trope, lady? ha-ha”.”

    I just find the irony of that game coming out in the middle of all this kinda funny, that’s all.

    “Of course Japanese culture is way different than Western “PC” culture, but I think it’s possible to admire some of it’s aesthetics and ideas while also being critical of it’s more questionable practices, besides some inherent sexism they also traditionally have some pretty heinous views of other Pan-Asian cultures.”

    and ‘Murka tends to have some pretty heinous views of Arab culture, no country is perfect.

    “Anyways I’m sorry for harshing on you specifically, every time this topic comes up, but you always seem to be defending the actions and attitudes of some really shitty people.”

    I never defended the GamerGaters, I’m just speaking up for the side that I feel has been ignored in this conflict and that’s average gamer guys like me who might like our sexy ladies but don’t mean anyone any harm and certainly would never harass women on Twitter, too often American culture reduces conflicts like this to simple heroes and villains, ignoring the middle.

  104. Catching up on this thread, and I do have something to say about the Bayonetta thing. I was surprised to see that. I’ve played the first one, and there’s nothing QUITE like that in it(though more on this in a moment), so I talked to a friend about it who actually has Bayonetta 2 and he gave me this context for it (which may not make a difference to some, I understand):
    That’s not a villain in the game. That’s Bayonetta’s friend and weapons dealer Rodin. He and Bayonetta have this flirty banter between them (though Bayonetta pretty much has flirty banter with everyone, so take that for what it is) and like in the first game, you can apparently unlock a bonus fight which is actually just them sparring with each other. That’s what this is. Based on that, there’s a couple of extra possible interpretations of what’s going on
    1. Rodin doesn’t actually have sex with her at all. It’s just a goofy attack(it’s clearly a parody of the Raging Demon move Akuma does in the STREET FIGHTER games) that results in her being left naked (a state she doesn’t mind being in when fighting actual villains)
    2. It’s not actually rape, but a rather kinky practice they have with sparring as friends with benefits, like she’s pre-consented to it by the nature of their relationship when doing it before, kinda like Red Sonja’s thing about only “yielding to a conqueror”, but more direct and even weirder.
    Now maybe this doesn’t matter to the critics of it. Fine, I’m mostly playing Devil’s Advocate, but maybe sometimes we do need to consider the context of what game’s setting is and how maybe there’s more going on than appears or a different set of standards in-universe that makes it different in this context than it would in another, especially in something as over the top and bizarre as the BAYONETTA world. Would we similarly argue that when SCOTT PILGRIM beats the Ninja Ex-Girlfriend by causing her to apparently orgasm(before exploding into coins) that that was sexual assault, or just how things worked in that topsy turvy reality?

    Oh, and Gamergate threateners are just pieces of shit who aren’t justified in the slightest in what they’re doing, just to be clear.

  105. Forgot to include this as an example of the sort of thing Bayonetta does to her enemies in the game:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NaUVRwAky4#t=2m0s
    I don’t know if that evens things out, or makes Bayonetta’s actions herself offensive or what, but it does show the sort of wider context of whatever Rodin is doing being kinda in line with the rest of the games’ tone.

  106. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 7th, 2014 at 2:13 am

    I personally know two women who’ve been victims of sexual assault. One who was outright raped. (I feel it’s obviously unnecessary but I’m going to add here anyway: not by me.)

    I don’t know a single person who was murdered, or to my knowledge who’s had a family member murdered, although I do know a few who’ve had friends or relatives who’ve committed suicide.

    “Fantasy violence” can be just that – fantasy. I feel no guilt for “killing” an NPC in a game whose only purpose is to stop me from progressing. I don’t believe they have families to grieve for them. I view them as obstacles, not as people.

    Rape and sexual assault are massive societal problems that victimise, by a very large majority, women, and are perpetrated, again by a very large majority, by men. (There are exceptions – female pedophiles, for example – but they’re uncommon in comparison.) They are perpetrated almost exclusively for sadistic pleasure, not for self-defence or even personal gain. They’re also controversial topics that cause huge divides in society and that almost everybody has some kind of a strong opinion on, and for good reason. And for the life of me I can’t understand any argument that suggests that rape should be put into 99% of videogames, which are primarily an entertainment medium. Maybe there’s room for it in some kind of educational game, I don’t know. But it’s ridiculous to suggest there’s no moral difference between a game where you behead a hundred “bandits” and one where you casually rape everybody you come across.

  107. To my knowledge, other than those stupid Japanese “rape simulators”, there is absolutely zero game where you casually rape people, and rape is not present in 99% of games, and no one said it should be. Very few games depict it, some in the dumbest way possible, some as a way to establish the game antagonist as the most despicable kind of person. The latter doesn’t seem like it’s inherently wrong to me.

    I’m probably repeating myself here, but considering that there are A LOT of games when you can casually murder people for no particular reason (to take the example of Skyrim, which sold over 20 million copies, you can kill any NPC, even the ones that are not hostile, even if it doesn’t advance the plot, even if you don’t intend to loot their body to get useful items), I find it hard to justify the idea that games should never depict rape. It obvioulsy doesn’t mean they all should, it means that the ones that do, and don’t use it as if it’s funny or arousing, should not necessarily be considered as the disgusting work of an insensitive pervert.

    Sure, fictional murder only kills fictional people, but, well, any fictional crime only hurts fictional victims, and “it’s something that happens in real life and might offend people” does apply to a lot of things that are depicted in games. And everybody has the right to be offended, and everytime you see somebody online react with a “get over it, pussy” comment it does make the world a sadder place, and game companies should make sure that people are sufficiently informed about the potential offensive content of any game, so that they can stay away from games they would find disturbing, and game makers definitely should not trivialize such a thing as rape. But I’m still not convinced that some things are 100% unacceptable as plot devices in games.

  108. It should be pointed out, too, that movies are without question more guilty of negative portrayals of women than video games are. I mean, they’ve been around longer so they have a longer history during the “bad old days,” so it does kinda make sense. I mean some of these giallos, jesus christ. I mean, even EVIL DEAD has that extremely-poor-taste tree rape scene, which is totally played for laughs.

    But the point, of course, is not that scenes of poor taste or questionable gender depictions should be banned or wholesale frowned upon by anyone with a hint of a human soul. Art is not always pretty, art is not always a good role model, and it’s not the art’s fault. Sometimes art NEEDS to be a place where people can vent their worst impulses, let them out, examine them, take them apart and put them back together. Sometimes great art can also be extremely bad morals. BIRTH OF A NATION, for example. Any given Black metal song. HEART OF DARKNESS, one of my very favorite novels of all time, is subject to an equally brilliant calling-out by Chinua Achebe as blatantly and insidiously racist. And of course, I love all those absolutely shameless giallos, I love how sleazy and despicable they are, that’s part of their charm.

    The point, I think, is not that there’s an objective right and wrong thing to depict in art; the point is that as responsible consumers of art it’s on us to engage with that art and perpetually ask what it means and how it makes us feel. Art is important; art connects with us on the deepest levels, art helps us build and understand the world, it changes us and shapes our perception. Art is NOT harmless. If it was harmless, if it couldn’t hurt anything, if art didn’t kill people, people killed people, there would be no point in making art. Art is powerful, and it can have very negative outcomes just as it can have positive ones. Responsible people engage seriously with art and really try to deconstruct it and what it means. They will by necessity come to different interpretations, and that’s not only OK that is exactly the way it should be. Sometimes that interpretation will be offense, even horror; other people may find the exact same thing completely benign and even cheeky. And then we should talk to each other and try to figure out where we’re all coming from, and from there we gotta try and figure out what kind of world we want to build.

    It’s tricky because by definition art can be extremely emotionally charged, but the conversation is ultimately what’s important. As long as you’re still meaningfully conversing over it, everything’s going right. It’s when we stop conversing and start screaming that things start to go awry, IMHO.

  109. “I mean, even EVIL DEAD has that extremely-poor-taste tree rape scene, which is totally played for laughs. ”

    When was the last time you watched EVIL DEAD? I won’t deny that it was done for a cheap “Woah! I didn’t expect THAT!” effect, but “played for laughs” looks and feels different.

  110. CJ — Well, I don’t mean that it’s intended as pure comedy, of course; it’s pitched at the same tone as the rest of the movie, which is sort of straddling the border between horror and outrageous excess you just have to chuckle at. Obviously they would go further towards out-and-out comedy in the sequels, but the first one isn’t exactly using that scene to go dark and disturbing, it’s just deliberately trying to go farther than you think it will to get a rise out of you. Not that this is an unworthy goal or anything, just pointing it out that the scene in question absolutely without question does not treat the rape with a whole lot of gravity. I strongly suspect that Raimi wouldn’t do that scene now, in fact if I remember correctly he’s even sort of admitted that in public.

  111. Yeah, it wasn’t really used in good taste and more in a cheap exploitation way (although surprisingly ungraphic, compared to other exploitative rape scenes of that time’s shock cinema), but although I’m sure young and immature Raimi came up with it by thinking “Hey, what would be the most absurd and unexpected way to get raped in a horror movie?”, it’s still filmed and portrayed as something horrifying. It’s not “totally played for laughs” as you said it.

  112. I’ll agree with that. Still, my point stands: it’s a good example of something that they probably didn’t really think about much at the time, which now looks pretty wrongheaded and insensitive. Of course, it’s also still great for exactly the same reason it was always great: it so blatantly and ridiculously crosses all lines of good taste. I think it’s totally possible for it to be both, and to have people see it both ways and both be correct. However, weighing the two now, I think both Raimi and I would probably agree that the movie would be better without it, that it probably crosses a line we’re not really comfortable supporting.

  113. And I for myself agree with that.

    It’s kinda horrifying to see how certain things were kinda okay just a few decades ago. I mean, Joe Dante’s and Allan Arkush’s HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD really has a rape scene, that was played for laughs. BLAZING SADDLES has a verbal rape joke and so has an episode of POLICE SQUAD. (Not to mention all those “harmless shenanigans” of certain comedies from the 80s, like PORKY’S or POLICE ACADEMY.) And unlike today’s “edgy” comedians and Adult Swim writers, I don’t think they did it because they thought they would rebel against some kind of goody two shoes establishment. It was just the way to look at things! Kinda like how even most mainstream studio comedies of the 80s had pretty mean spirited gay jokes and even the Beastie Boys used some lyrics, that they later apologized for.

    If you wanna look at it in an optimistic way, one could say: “Hey, we’ve come very far within the last 25 or so years!” From Eddie Murphy making gay and AIDS jokes on stage without anybody caring, to a huge public outcry, whenever that baby on FAMILY GUY says “rape”! I mean, we still have a lot to learn and it would be a lot easier if so many people wouldn’t feel so inclined to see political correctness as a dare to be an asshole or maybe if they would simply just think before they open their mouth, but I think we are on the right way.

  114. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 7th, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Toxic – re-reading, I think I phrased the 99% comment badly. I didn’t mean that anybody was suggesting that rape should appear in 99% of all videogames.

    What I was getting at was that, if you take 99 out of 100 videogames, there’d probably be no good reason to include rape as a theme or (worse) a mechanic. There might be the very odd exception that handles the subject in a way that does it justice, but it’d be a very rare game indeed that managed it.

    Subtlety –

    “The point, I think, is not that there’s an objective right and wrong thing to depict in art; the point is that as responsible consumers of art it’s on us to engage with that art and perpetually ask what it means and how it makes us feel.”

    Very well said. Or to put it another way: it’s all about the context. What I’m getting at here is that a rape scene shouldn’t be a “reward”, nor should it be a casual game mechanic that you’d use like, say, you kill bandits in “Skyrim”. If you take on a subject that sensitive, you have to do it justice. And that applies to films as well as videogames of course.

  115. Mr Subtlety- sorry for the late comment. I agree with what you´re saying in theory. But I never got this from the movie itself. It´s a dumb fucking movie trying to adress contemporary concerns nobody at the time actually understood

  116. Another aspect of this GamerGate thing that I don’t think has been talked about and goes beyond video games is simply internet culture itself, internet culture used to be totally nihilistic, mocking anything and everything, including rape, harassing people just for a laugh, the list goes on.

    But in today’s world everyone uses the internet and now we’re seeing a culture clash between the old and the new.

  117. Griff – Thank God for that. I was never a part of the ‘old culture’ internet movement. In fact, Vern’s site here is the first one I ever commented on. I guess it will be a lifetime battle between the old and the new, because trolling will always attract trolls until the trolls are ready to grow up.

  118. Can we all agree that as stupid a film as Brainscan is, it surprisingly accurate in
    predicting the behavior of the internet and maybe was trying to warn us
    that the combined effect of isolation, immediate gratification and anonymity is a recipefor turning mankind into trolls.

  119. If that is true, I would invoke dumb luck on that part.

  120. Shoot — yeah, I’m not sure if BRAINSCAN quite understands exactly what its message is, of specifically what its critique of technology entails. But then again, it does somehow end up with some surprisingly salient points which are absolutely more true today than they were when it first came out, so who knows. The best sci-fi is about the problems of the future, not the present, so maybe we’re giving BRAINSCAN too little credit at being forward-thinking. Sometimes when you mix genuinely good ideas with moronic bullshit like Trickster it’s easy to unfairly dismiss things as accidental which we might otherwise be inclined to think were intentional. As Windows points out, there are predictions there which would turn out to be amazingly prophetic.

  121. Hey Vern, I’m a huge fan (RIP Ernest) and I’d encourage you to look at the “Zoe Post,” which started this, since your post was one of the last things I read before deciding I needed to google this:

    http://thezoepost.wordpress.com

    Which admittedly is a little long but that’s partially because it’s about a guy coming to terms that he’s been emotionally abused, and has nothing to do with slut shaming or TMI, if anything he censors that stuff out — this is more about say if a pastor was asking for money and leading a congregation espousing certain principles and ostracizing others for breaching them while doing the exact opposite in their personal life. I know I and others would be all over that, yet if it’s a cause we believe in our instinct is to circle the wagons around behavior we abhore because the internet is harrassing them. That isn’t equality, that’s sacrificing our ideals at the altar of tribalism. If one believes in equality, one has to believe that some women can be emotionally abusive or dishonest, and that someone in a position of visibility in gender empowerment circles could be perpetrating it.

    Anyways, just give it a read, then consider heading over to the guy’s tumblr:

    http://antinegationism.tumblr.com/

    It doesn’t really cover a lot of what happened in terms of a concerted effort to squash/censor things like the false DMCA notices or lawsuit or such, but it gives a good overview with good jumping off points.

  122. The only thing I recall about this one is that back when it was about to come out it had one of the most kick ass movie theater cutout posters I had ever seen at the time.

  123. Just as an FYI, this was the forbes article I found googling that seems to have a good overview of the situation (something for each side to hate in it) that actually led me to the links I gave:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2014/09/04/gamergate-a-closer-look-at-the-controversy-sweeping-video-games/

  124. Hey That Guy, thanks for the comment and the email about it. No, I don’t think badly of you for sending it. But… I don’t really know why the guy’s exposee of his ex-girlfriend is any of my business to read. She could be the worst person in the world, it wouldn’t change any of the many issues I brought up in this essay. And if I did think it was relevant, I would be very cautious about believing the word of a person with poor enough judgment to write a long blog post about his ex-girlfriend’s emotional problems. Maybe it’s a generational difference or just being older and wiser but that is not a decision I can respect.

    I mean jeez, if there was an internet when I was young and there was documentation of what I thought of my crazy exes at the time, or what they thought of me… that would not be good. Don’t do it, kids.

  125. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 18th, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    The Forbes article is pretty good though. Thanks for the link, Mr That Guy.

  126. Vernaricci,

    Thanks for taking it in the way it was intended. To your points:

    1. Why it’s relevant to your post: Well, you’re discussing something and giving commentary. Generally people trying to be intellectually honest like to really understand what went down so they can make up their own mind. You had enough interest in it to write about it for many words, so I assume you’d want a fuller picture of what you’re writing about, as if that wasn’t true it sounds like a cautionary tale for your next novel. ;) No, it isn’t necessarily relevant in terms of your comments about *branding* I suppose, except for how the branding spiraled to where it is on both sides and it’s fascinating how that happened and where it might end up (I don’t think it’s really run its course yet, per the Forbes article).

    2. That it can’t be trusted: I take your point, but it’s screenshots that were verified with video of them to prove they weren’t doctored, but only had some stuff removed as people didn’t need to know certain specifics. And their veracity hasn’t really been discounted. Going through the tumblr, others are also now coming forward, like photographer Mallorie Nasrallah who worked with her and had lots of stories to tell about Zoe Quinn having claimed to have killed a man who attempted to rape her and other things:

    https://www.facebook.com/mallorie.nasrallah/posts/10152274324055882:0

    The original guy’s goal was to get the word out about what this person was really like and what they were up to so people could make up their own mind. Things went pretty haywire as people circled the wagons. The guy is in a pretty bad situation: if he says nothing, the behavior continues with others. If he says stuff without proof, it gets discounted as hearsay. If he says stuff with proof, he’s denounced as…

    3. That it’s private: In general I’d actually 100% agree. In this case I think you’re into “pastor says one thing and ostracizes people while doing the opposite in private” territory. Abusers depend upon silence, so I think the argument a lot of people are making is that if she was/is emotionally abusive they don’t want to know about it, or that her behavior doesn’t constitute abuse. Which is a valid way of looking at things: if a guy slept around and lied about it to his girlfriend, convincing them they were nuts for questioning it and exposing them to STDs, many would laugh it off as she should know better. Except that isn’t what many in our my/our circles really say or espouse, nor what she professes to believe, sermonizes in public, and has demonized others for.

    Tribes try to demonize and dehumanize their opponents. So to branding, I do take your point that to the casual person looking around, GG has been successfully associated with abhorrent behavior to the point where it can’t be salvaged for their original issues — they might say “we can’t just make up a new tag and say it only about x and y, because reddit will still ban it and all the sites will say the same things because they don’t want us talking about jouranlistic coziness; so it’ll be pushed to 4chan where someone with a monkey raping a frog avatar will be held up as what we’re about by our opponents.” Tough nut in our current environment, eh?

    Anyways, if you aren’t up for link about how it started, I’d *really* reccommend the Forbes article as an overview for how stuff started branching out.

  127. That Forbes article did not help for me. It’s listing all these piddly internet things that are barely related and don’t seem like anything that should ever be reported in Forbes. Like, of course moderators deleted discussions of somebody’s alleged sex life, if they didn’t they would not be moderating. And of course some of the commenters then imagine a conspiracy, that’s age old internet forum crybaby shit.

    I am now more confused than before about who they are, what they want, what it is about and what any of it has to do with each other or why anyone should be interested in it, including themselves. How is this a thing? I don’t know anymore. I thought I sorta did when I wrote about it above.

    Whatever is alleged about this person being emotionally abusive, what does that have to do with stopping feminists from analyzing video games and writing letters to advertisers on websights that have editorials saying that the gamer stereotype is no longer relevant, and what do those things have to do with the “corruption in video games journalism” mission they claim to have? It’s like, left wing protests are notorious for having a bunch of people that have to attach their unrelated causes onto the other thing, so you could have a Martin Luther King Day march for labor rights and there’s gonna be two people holding a banner about Israel and Palestine. I think maybe this is the nerd version of that, 22 different random weirdos connecting whatever their obsession is onto the other thing and having no clue how to communicate it to anybody else.

  128. Vernamundo (It’s late, I dunno why this is happening)

    That Forbes article did not help for me.

    Oh well, thanks for taking the time to read it.

    Like, of course moderators deleted discussions of somebody’s alleged sex life, if they didn’t they would not be moderating.

    It wasn’t about sex life, it was conversations about corruption — any and all topics regarding it was banned.

    Whatever is alleged about this person being emotionally abusive, what does that have to do with stopping feminists from analyzing video games….

    I’m not qualified to get into the specifics of that, except to say that the *sane* people seem to not really have an issue with someone analyzing video games for sexism, but rather that the fear that the people are out to have those games *changed* so they are no longer offended, as opposed to just not buying them. This isn’t really unfounded, consider the original comics code or MPAA — or consider Sweden right now looking at adding a sexism label to video games. What if the MPAA decided movies could get a sexist rating? Actually the MPAA is probably a good example of the fear a lot of these people have — the insane people take that a step further and feel it as a personal attack, though I think I know some film people who’d do the same.

    I think maybe this is the nerd version of that, 22 different random weirdos connecting whatever their obsession is onto the other thing and having no clue how to communicate it to anybody else.

    I take your point and am greatly amused by it, though I think your chronology is mixed up. The pamphlet stuff comes in later.

    1. Guy posts stuff warning people about what his ex is up to.
    2. People see the journalism stuff, it feeds into ongoing paranoia about corruption in game jouranlism* and start trying to put two and two together in various forums. (eh, it isn’t like film bloggers aren’t sometimes accused of the same)
    3. People start trying to shut these conversations down with false DMCA notices etc. Do you know reddit and some of these sites and what they are OK with people talking about? The same types of articles start appearing on gaming sites decrying gamers (can you imagine saying pimply faced teen film nerds who like boobs and violence are done, and not having your advertisers contacted? this is why I am pushing you towards a Condorman review** and not this course of action) Forbes covered this very well. What looks like conspiracy to some looks like chumminess and like-mindedness to others.
    4. Everything completely hits the fan, vicious attacks and unacceptable harrassment from both sides (As you can see in some of the articles, Zoe Quinn was actually pro-doxxing someone she didn’t like). Everyone and their pamphlets is showing up pushing their disparate agendas. No one normal knows what is actually happening or why, they’re just seeing a few women being attacked by the internet and rightly going “uh, not cool guys.”

    So yes, we’re in 23-pamphlet-stage where Al Sharpton shows up at the zoning board meeting for a wind turbine, but the chronology feels kind of important just to understand what happened and why it’s happening, as hey you might want to work it into a book. And the whole “jilted ex badmouths girl, whole internet of evil gamers attacks” was all I was going by and being exposed to.

    * I’m not a big gamer, but it doesn’t seem that unfounded, see the recent assassin’s game debacle, or these resignations and firings among other things.

    ** I just looked, and Condorman is #51,055 in tv/movies. It could be way lower, and not many people were offering to sell it, so it’s obviously in some demand. I’m not saying you need to review the soundtrack (also available on amazon), but I mean while it’s great to be known as the guy who wrote a book about Steven Segal and your own fiction book, being known as the guy who did the Condorman coffee-table book would really help round out the obituary***.

    *** This is not a death threat, rather a figure of speech about an eventual listing of accomplishments. Unless you feel it improves your cred, then you are 100% herebye licensed to tell people you received them from “that guy” on the internet.

    Thanks for the patience & open mind,

    That Guy

  129. That Guy — here’s the thing: like Vern said in his original, there are potentially issues of minor relevance raised by Gamergate. There’s probably at least some level of legitimacy to claims of corruption in industry journalism, I’m sure there are a few nuts out there who are really interested in censorship.

    But we wouldn’t be talking about this at all if the “movement” had actually just been a discussion of these few legitimate points. For one thing, almost no one would actually care since these are extremely niche issues and don’t really affect anyone outside a real hardcore gamer subculture. For another, it would be just one more heated internet argument by people getting outraged over relatively minor things in a subculture they’re deep into. These happen all day everyday and no one cares except the particularly committed people involved.

    The reason we’re talking about this at all has nothing to do with most of the actual points being discussed, the reason we’re talking about it is because of the frankly insane reactions and vicious anger the topic set loose. Nobody in the mainstream cares who Zoe Quinn is in the slightest, but the fact that a blogpost caused thousands of strangers to do everything in their power to destroy her life IS a big deal. She could be the worst person in the world for all I care, and that would still be a horrifying and disturbing thing to do. The fact that so many of these attacks are so explicitly misogynist in nature makes it all the more upsetting. There’s no context or backstory that can explain or excuse that or make it seem like everyone’s equally wrong. And the moment it reached that point, anyone with a legitimate complaint about whatever topic should have dropped any association with “gamergate” like it had shit on their dog. Trying to argue that it’s the media’s fault for not taking a nuanced enough look at the original issues is ridiculous on its face, like trying to say that the KKK does many positive things as well even though we disagree with the whole lynching and crossburning thing.

    Everyone online thinks they’re right, and everyone has the right to get mad. Sometimes, people who are right get mad, sometimes people who are wrong do too. But there is such a thing as crossing a clear line, where your petty disagreements about minor elements of a subculture become vicious and vindictive and straight up intolerable, and GamerGate as a movement (not everyone involved, but a significant enough portion that they clearly define an agenda) crossed that line thoroughly and unapologetically. At that point, it doesn’t matter who was actually right or what the issues originally were, it became about something else entirely.

  130. Mr. S, you don’t understand. This woman hurt a guy’s feelings once. She’s history’s greatest monster.

  131. Wait, what!? This changes everything. The lamestream media never even TRIED to tell me the other side of the story!

  132. @ Mr Majestyk Mr. S, you don’t understand. This woman hurt a guy’s feelings once. She’s history’s greatest monster.

    Well, yes. What she actually did was apparently cheat with 5+ guys, using emotional abuse tactics to keep it going and exposing her partner to STDs. You may not agree with this, or even think that emotional abuse is real (many of the current GG proponents definitely don’t think in those terms), but in many social equality circles this is seen as a form of rape. Not forcible rape, but denying the partner informed consent.

    This is Zoe Quinn’s own professed view, and something she’s condemned others publically for not adhering to, and raised money from. I’m not sure I even agree with it, but that sorta thing is on the lawbooks in many countries now and what many of we more liberally minded believe. I know we on the left can have cognitive dissonance about this, decrying the “war on women” while somehow defending Roman Polanski sexing a 13yr old.

    @Mr Subtlety Nobody in the mainstream cares who Zoe Quinn is in the slightest, but the fact that a blogpost caused thousands of strangers to do everything in their power to destroy her life IS a big deal.

    I’m not sure you really seeing what happened based on the fact that you’re repeating something shown to be untrue — that this original post caused all this. It wasn’t the post that caused the worst of this, it was the reaction to trying to stop the conversation. If we’re learning one thing from this, it’s that that may not play out as someone hopes. You’re right that that is the way it was originally portrayed and was passed on, but hey we didn’t find WMDs in Iraq either. Sometimes the first story we’re fed isn’t the whole story.

    @Mr. Subtlety She could be the worst person in the world for all I care, and that would still be a horrifying and disturbing thing to do. The fact that so many of these attacks are so explicitly misogynist in nature makes it all the more upsetting.

    To the misogyny, it’s pretty bad, though it’s worth noting much of this is a tactic due to the opponent, the same reason why articles go out of their way to say “pimply faced little-dicked gamers” and such, or the same reason why you started saying “lame-stream media” insinuations. They want to hurt, mock and ridicule the other side, especially if they feel there is a power imbalance (they other side has friends in the media, etc). If you’re trying to do that to a woman and a man, it comes out differently. That, and there are some smatterings of straight-up women-haters.

    And yes, the behavior is abhorrent. If the KKK or Hitler is getting doxxed and harrassed, I can see that they should generally be defended from it. Though it starts to get dicier if the KKK is encouraging others to doxx people they don’t like. So you have to be really careful you aren’t aligning yourself with the KKK/Hitler while also condemning the behavior. As you don’t want to be saying “Hey, don’t doxx the KKK” while not saying anything when the KKK is encouraging others to doxx the other side.

    @Mr. Subtlety Wait, what!? This changes everything. The lamestream media never even TRIED to tell me the other side of the story!

    Here’s the thing — when someone is mocking and ridiculing someone else, while they always feel justified internally you kinda kill any hope of honest conversation and have started the process of escalation. You may go “I’m OK with that, these people are the worst…” but hey, it’s good to recognize it as a choice as if you’re there, it means you can’t have a good-faith honest conversation.

    I think it’s very important to understand that the way you view them is the way they view the other side, e.g. the flip side of the coin of the far right. Whatever you feel is OK due to a “war on women” and feeling under threat is what the other side is going to feel is OK. It’s why the GG people feel justfied in their actions, and why anti-gamergate people have been doxxing others with little blowback, amongst other things, furthering the sense of tribalist threat/war and keeping things escalating.

    Dammit I broke my semi-promise to Vern and need a consensual hug.

    *drops the microphone*

  133. For the love of God, stop violating your restraining order Eron!

  134. lol @ That Guy’s Attorney. I looked at your site*. I can’t tell if you’re a true believer, opportunist or schill but will respond to you in good faith. Your site has the exact same sort of tactics (doxxing, encouraging the filing of frivilous police reports, etc.) from my side (I like to think liberal egalitarian?) that bums me out. I’ll never understand condemning a behavior with one fist while encouraging it with the other hand. eg, you can’t say “I believe attempting genocide against the jews was wrong, please help me exterminate the Germans.” It’s just not cool, mate. I was heartened to see popehat (legal blog) was calling you out for the behavior in the comments.

    http://idledillettante.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/how-to-report-mike-cernovich-to-the-lapd-wo-a-single-deadlift/

  135. That Guy, the thing is, I do not give a shit about someone else’s personal relationships. Which is why I did not read that article. People get cheated on all the time, and nobody decides to launch a rape jihad over it. Because doing that is insane, and only insane people would do that. It’s none of my business how this woman handles her sex life, and it also doesn’t have anything to do with her observation that there is sexism in video games. That is a valid point, and the way reasonable people who disagree with valid points deal with that sort of thing is they make some valid points of their own. When these fuckin’ babies who can’t take a little criticism come up with something better than “But she’s a whore!” maybe I’ll start taking them seriously. But probably not.

  136. That Guy — “I’m not sure you really seeing what happened based on the fact that you’re repeating something shown to be untrue — that this original post caused all this. ”

    No no, you don’t understand: I don’t care at all what started it. It really couldn’t matter any less to the main point here: that a concentrated campaign of harassment against a particular person –or a group of people, or as it eventually became, a whole range of people within a specific subset of political and philosophical ideas– is an absolutely unacceptable way to deal with anger, be it justified or not. That goes for the anti-Gamergate people too, of course; they’re responsible for their bad behavior just like anyone. But I think you’ll have to agree that GamerGate the movement has brought out an unprecedented amount of viciousness, blatant sexism (I’m confused by the idea that “well, they’re just being misogynist to piss off people they don’t like, they don’t really mean it,” as though that makes it less problematic), and just general horrific behavior, and solidified it as acceptable and normal under a specific banner. None of the details change this fundamental fact. Hence, as far as I’m concerned anyone at this point trying to defend that movement is really backing the wrong horse, or at the very least simply not seeing the forrest for the trees. It’s not a matter of “well, everyone was a little wrong,” it’s a matter of a loose social movement –which may have originally had some valid points– collapsing very publicly into a horrorshow which started lashing out at anyone who was remotely perceived as being sympathetic to its enemies in surprisingly nasty real-life ways.

    I appreciate your honest attempt to explain that there is nuance here, as there always is in life, even in the worst possible situations. But looking at the big picture here, if GamerGate was ever defensible, it has certainly passed that point quite a while back. People in GamerGate have come to feel very persecuted, which unfortunately I think ends up excasterbating the problem and making them feel more certain that they’re the aggrieved party, but sometimes when everyone, everywhere is criticizing, it might be wiser to actually consider that they might have a point than to presume a vast media conspiracy against you.* That having been said, the whole experience has been an interesting (read: terrifying) look into just how quickly minor spats about tiny niche interests can spiral out of control and drag a lot of other people in with their own agendas and prejudices. Fortunately, I imagine this whole thing will cool down as the next media cycle grinds on, and we can get back to talking about much less contentious issues like Israel and Palestine.

    *when I say “you” I don’t mean, “you, that guy,” I’m talking about people more generally. For all I know you were never sympathetic to these ideas at all and are just pressing for a little more knowledge on this topic, which is always a good thing.

  137. @ Mr. Subtlety

    I think we agree on way more than we disagree on, I did want to point to this:

    That having been said, the whole experience has been an interesting (read: terrifying) look into just how quickly minor spats about tiny niche interests can spiral out of control and drag a lot of other people in with their own agendas and prejudices.

    100% agree, I don’t understand how anyone interested in life, politics and their own pet issues can’t be extremely interested in how this has really unfolded. It’s OK that they don’t, but I don’t get it, as we’ll probably be seeing more of this as most of the world is now on the internret — and *especially* as so many have seen how successful this has been.

    I wonder if we’ll ever have a filmgate, though that’s probably less likely as people aren’t paying $65 to preorder a movie ticket on premiere night based on reviews, and the “You had 3 pelvic thrusts instead of 2, so an R rating.” I could definitely see something similar happening though. I would assume Vern isn’t involved, but if he was I admit I’d totally read up on it as I’d imagine his demands would be along the lines of “15 lbs of only green M&Ms” or a lock of Segal’s hair (but only from the ponytail, where the magic is)

    *when I say “you” I don’t mean, “you, that guy,” I’m talking about people more generally. For all I know you were never sympathetic to these ideas at all…

    No worries, we both seem to respect the house we’re talking in. For the record, I’m generally not (I tried to be clear about that), but I think it’s kind of like the police — they can approach situations and people with respect and listening or with fear and tribalism. The second is almost guaranteed a less-than-optimal outcome, and I do think there are a hell of a lot of good questions raised by GG, though they are more universal.

    e.g., the game industry media appears to be wildly incestuous, cliquey and corrupt — especially online. I’m guessing it’s not alone in that. I may not care about that much about games, but now that this has happened we’ll probably be seeing these things play out in issues I care about more, like movies and voting rights and my ability to finally own a Clint Howard sex robot.

  138. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 20th, 2014 at 4:37 am

    I think the Forbes article tries to link a whole bunch of things together in a way that suggests they’re part of a more endemic problem. And in my opinion does a pretty good job of it. Yes, it doesn’t reach a definite “conclusion”, but I’m not sure there’s one to be had here. Other than that people who set out to ruin other people’s lives, whether on the internet or anywhere else, should really, really stop it. And I think we can all get behind that sentiment.

    I also think Griff made a good point earlier on when he said this was about “old versus new”. If you have a self-indulgent echo chamber where the only opinion stated is the one that everybody agrees with, then it can be pretty disquieting to have other people come in and start voicing opinions that don’t match the status-quo.

    As for the sexist / misogynist thing, I think that the Internet has brought to light just how much sexism/objectification of women there is in the world nowadays. And rather than the mainstream media railing against this idea, it seems to have accepted it, to the point where it’s more prevalent than it has been for many years (I’d like to know if that’s quantifiably true – I’m not sure if there even IS a way to quantify something like that – but it sure as hell feels like it is right now). As long as there are widespread elements of society that encourage people to think of women as sex objects, instead of people, this shit will keep happening over and over and over again. And this is why I brought up music and leaked celebrity pictures earlier on. Do I think these things cause sexism? No, not at all. I just think that they’re part and parcel of a culture where double standards are applied wholesale depending on your gender. And that’s the problem.

  139. That Guy — you had me at Clint Howard sex robot.

    One interesting question you ask is if there will someday be a FilmgoerGate. I don’t know. Certainly, the whole entertainment industry has conflicts of interest and corruption that would put the Game Reviewers everyone’s so mad about to shame. A much bigger problem is that the exact same thing is unquestionably endemic in the commercial news media too. We’ve known about explicit bias, ownership consolidation and conflict of interest there too for a long time, and nobody seems to have gotten too mad about it despite the fact that this is actually the source most people in America used to stay politically and socially informed, their main motivating factor on serious action which affects all of our lives.

    I think, therefore, that we will see more GamerGates, but they won’t be about the same issues (because GamerGate was never really about the specific issues anyway; if it was, the same people would be trying to destroy CNN). Instead, we’ll see more cases of exactly what GamerGate WAS about: identity politics resulting in ugly spats between niche communities that escalate out of control and end up having shocking real-life consequences. This was the first big one that cracked the news, but it won’t be the last one, I’m virtually certain of that. As long as people are petty and vindictive and anonymous and they can identify an “enemy group” that they can dehumanize, this sort of thing will continue to happen (heck, it’s happened in the real world for thousands of years, now it’s just moved online).

  140. @ Mr. Subtlety
    you had me at Clint Howard sex robot.

    I keep telling him there’s a market and how lucrative official licensing could be, but he must be traveling as he’s not been returning my emails or voicemails.

    Before I forget, props to Vern for allowing these kinds of conversations and not just wigging the fuck out. It’s about run its course I’m guessing, but it says something about him — probably that he’s traveling.

    Certainly, the whole entertainment industry has conflicts of interest and corruption that would put the Game Reviewers everyone’s so mad about to shame.

    After thinking about this a bit more, and I think I disagree more and more with *one* of Vern’s premises, which is that people are upset at others treating games as art.

    I think it might be the opposite, in the way that Star Wars people get so upset by Han not shooting first, or Steven Spielberg digitally putting walkie talkies into ET instead of guns. You could say that those movies are a product, not art, so get over it. However, it’s really a part of them; it’s personal, part of their memories and self-identity. But most people spend 2-10 hours with a movie over the course of their life, whereas many spend scores and scores building experiences of games with friends into theirs.

    It’s pretty clear there can be/is a vicarious (and sometimes aspirational) nature to films, books and games. That’s part of why they can scare/thrill/excite/disgust you, and why so many people don’t want their pet things in them (smoking, nudity, swearing, pelvic thrusts, Alan Thicke). If there’s a difference between someone watching 200 action movies and spending hours shooting aliens it’s that it’s more participatory, sometimes more immersive, so maybe more personal/accessible to a wider swath than a Star Wars fan.

    I am thinking it’s more:

    1. It isn’t so much that they fear things being critiqued or analyzed — it’s that they fear that many doing the critiquing want them *changed* to suit someone who isn’t even one of them. e.g., gamers & film nerds don’t really care that Pikmin or Air Bud or Left Behind exist for that audience, it’s the fear that that audience wants your jam changed or is pushing for it not to exist. That feels like a threat, whatever group it comes from.

    2. People don’t like hearing they are bad people because of what they like. Those movies/games are a part of their identity, aspirations, and history. They imagined themselves as Han, they swooshed imaginary lightsabers, were Deniro smacking the hood, jumped out the window wrapped in a firehose, shot at the cops in Grand Theft Auto, and paused over and over during Gia.

    3. Groups don’t really like hearing things from outsiders, regardless of any truth in them. One thing I noticed over and over was that they kept saying “Anita S isn’t a gamer, she’s even admitted it in this and this video.” They don’t feel she’d even buy the new improved games — It’s like hearing there should be no nudity in films because a girl can’t ever truly consent or it encourages xyz from an Amish person protesting outside the theater.

    4. They’re afraid they’re out to label them as evil degenerates (for the games, not doxxing/etc), in the same way we’ve seen happen to other things (in some cases it is, in other cases it isn’t). Remember when Dungeons and Dragons tabletop game was the gateway to the devil, suicide and moral depravity? For awhile, this was just bible thumpers, then it hit mainstream with psychologists talking heads. When you feel people are labeling and degrading you, many respond in kind.

    5. Some of them are icky/immature people in it for the laughs, others feel they have little power or voice due to the incestuous/clique nature in gaming media. They are lashing out with what they have, which is vitriol. I’m not condoning it, but it’s kind of the same thing we say about riots/looting — in some cases it’s crappy people and in some cases the behavior is the message.

    Instead, we’ll see more cases of exactly what GamerGate WAS about: identity politics resulting in ugly spats between niche communities that escalate out of control and end up having shocking real-life consequences.

    Honestly, the more I have dug into this the more I’ve found this going on all over the place, just in subcultures without crossing over into the mainstream news.

    The two coming to mind are the recent outing of a sci-fi author using sock puppets to go after other authors, usually minorities, driving one to a suicide attempt with seriously crazy stuff (like, leaving stuff at their house). She was finally outed by another author (Laura J. Mixon) in one badass piece of research*. There’s a great writeup about it and link here**.

    * http://laurajmixon.com/2014/11/a-report-on-damage-done-by-one-individual-under-several-names/

    ** http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=5370

    There’s another one* going on in the tech world right now in the Linux camp (computers for nerds) over some tech changes; programmers are complaining about death threats and abuse, though in all honesty someone saying “I wish Michael Bay would just get hit by a bus so his movies would stop” is *not* a death threat.

    * http://news.slashdot.org/story/14/10/06/1837237/lennart-poettering-open-source-community-quite-a-sick-place-to-be-in

    I don’t know anything at this point. I gotta stop now, my pizza rolls are ready.

    Long may this live on Vern’s internet.

  141. I sympathize with the resentment of outsiders telling you your business. An example of when I’ve felt something like that is during the time when the term “torture porn” was new and I felt like too many essays about the state of horror movies were written by people who only watched the ones they were assigned to.

    But how do they define outsider? Sarkeesian says she loves games, and clearly has analyzed hundreds of games for her work. So why is she not “a real gamer”? Well of course, because she’s a lady, ladies don’t play no video games! That’s absurd! Or because she made a detailed analysis of games. Gamers don’t think about shit! They push buttons! Gamers don’t have a different opinion than me.

    Some of their other targets, like the writer at Gawker I believe, were men, but their crime was writing in articles that the community of gaming now includes women. I’m not saying they’re deliberately excluding women, but they look at Sarkeesian and think she’s not a gamer because she doesn’t fit the stereotype. And they literally don’t understand points made about how casual objectification and demeaning of women in games is not cool to the many women playing games (I believe this point has also been made in comic books).

    I think for some of them the reason they’re worried about cliquishness is because they’re still kids or haven’t gotten over things from their childhood about who is a geek and who is a popular kid or whatever. They’re enforcing cliques in their idea of who can’t be a real gamer, and they see the reviewers or editorialists with a different idea of games being the asshole popular kids they have to rebel against.

    You can decide whether or not I made the same mistakes in my assumptions of who was not a horror fan.

  142. That Guy — I don’t disagree with you on your diagnosis of the GamerGate people’s motives and thought process, but I’m not sure it ultimately means that Vern is wrong. In fact, I don’t see anything there that fundamentally challenges his hypothesis that these folks simply can’t deal with legitimate artistic criticism. They see anything that fundamentally challenges the things they like and interpret it not as a artistic/cultural criticism, but an act of war by a conspiracy of “others” — feminists, liberals, critics, the media, Joss Whedon, whoever– anyone who isn’t “one of us.” I’m sure Michael Bay fans feel the same way about critics (“you just don’t get it, it’s not for you, it’s for us”) but they at least seem better able to deal with their anger and sense of personal affront.

    Ultimately, it IS all about identity politics, I mean the fact that “Gamers” see themselves as a separate subculture under siege by outsiders (even though the numbers actually show people who play games are an enormously diverse group of ages, genders, races, etc) says a lot by itself. But part of that identity politics is the fury that anyone else can comment (especially negatively, though sometimes you see anger against “outsiders” who comment positively too) on something they perceive as part of their territory.

  143. @Vernatatouille

    But how do they define outsider? Sarkeesian says she loves games, and clearly has analyzed hundreds of games for her work. So why is she not “a real gamer”? Well of course, because she’s a lady, ladies don’t play no video games!

    Your logic is sound, I just think you’re missing a piece, have a bad variable in your equation or are oversimplifying — as I definitely remember watching a video of her basically saying she wasn’t really into games while giving a talk. She was analyzing them for sexist tropes.

    I’ve simply never encountered a guy who thought girls couldn’t be gamers (not saying they don’t exist), it appears to be the hottest thing in the world to them; it’s like finding the girl whose favorite movie is Die Hard. One of my better friends is a girl gamer (not black though, so you know she’s real), and it’s known as kind of a problem as the minute these guys see a girl who they feel is a gamer at a conference she is instantly super-popular in often spectacularly creepy and socially-awkward ways.

    Some of their other targets, like the writer at Gawker I believe, were men, but their crime was writing in articles that the community of gaming now includes women.

    If it comes up, I’d urge you to take another look at those articles. If someone was going, “Hey, you know the games market is really broad now. It may not be the focus of their self-identity and free time, but there’s nothing wrong with farmville and candy crush or shooting games with less xyz models, and if you want to capture that market you shouldn’t do xyz.” That isn’t what those articles said, or how they said it. They were some pretty vile pieces of writing I find hard to defend.

    What’d make it odd if that was really what was being said – Games getting a broader audience — isn’t new at all, and has never seemed to be an issue. There was a time when you had to play this things in an arcade, then parents were playing Pong. The Atari 2600 broadened it. SNES. Wii. When PCs went mainstream, Myst (and other adventure stuff) coexisted along with DOOM just fine.

    We may have a fundamental disagreement on how we see the argument: I just don’t think gamers (type A) care that type B exists, or type C or D (they really like type DD). No one is pushing for Candy Crush to be discontinued or include plasma rifles. But type B wants people to not have what they want and like, and says if they do want, like it or produce it they’re bad.

    I think for some of them the reason they’re worried about cliquishness is because they’re still kids or haven’t gotten over things from their childhood about who is a geek and who is a popular kid or whatever.

    Oh, for sure. I’ve actually seen that in person in multiple geek subcultures. The instant fawning a geek girl seems to get cause people to doubt their credibility as actual geeks(eg, faux geek chic, where they feel someone is appropriating a style, similar to a 12yr old suburban kid dressing like eminem). The hot-topic-ization of subcultures.

    Sidebar question: You’re at a bar, and someone is wearing the same “Out For Justice” tshirt as you. Except you’re wearing it because you love it, and they’re wearing it to be ironic. Does it bother you?

    @ Mr. Subtlety

    In fact, I don’t see anything there that fundamentally challenges his hypothesis that these folks simply can’t deal with legitimate artistic criticism. They see anything that fundamentally challenges the things they like and interpret it not as a artistic/cultural criticism, but an act of war by a conspiracy of “others” — feminists, liberals, critics, the media, Joss Whedon, whoever

    That’s a really fair point. I am wondering if I am misinterpreting how Vern was using the terms analyzing/critique. I think they may be getting mixed up (possibly just in my head). I think there is a difference between analyzing/criique and divine judgement, and the issue a lot of these people have — real or unfounded (it’s probably both, though I dunno the ratio) — is they are couching their goal of removal under other terms.

    For example, take various exploitation films; godsploitation, nerdsploitation, sexsploitation, blacksploitation, vigilantesploitation kungfusploitation (dunno the term, educate me please), or fichtner-sploitation (Tarantino hasn’t gotten to that yet). I don’t think most film nerds would have any real issue with analysis and critique of them.

    There’s nothing wrong with pointing out that Revenge of the Nerds paints borderline horrific and even rapey stereotypes of geeks, or that Star Wars is pretty is pretty caucasian (ewoks better not count), that Foxy Brown inspired Tyler Perry’s business model, that the black people in Die Hards are always in support roles (just like Fitchner), or that Happy Feet is propoganda, etc.

    A lot of people feel like movies/films/tv glorify violence, and people can get inspired/influences by what they see, which is why when Deathwish was released it was drowned by critics in negative reviews as being exploitive, and called an “immoral threat to society” because it glorified and encouraged vigilantism. These people still very much exist*, and they see direct parallels between watching The Avengers and people walking around their neighborhood at night looking for trouble.

    http://www.tvworthwatching.com/post/Does-popular-culture-promote-vigilantism.aspx

    The Watchment film/GN was basically a fascinating analysis/critique of the tropes, and I don’t think anyone has an issue with it. Where it gets weird/threatening to a subculture is when you have someone saying “I think these are bad things, and if you disagree you’re an X, because if you weren’t you’d agree with me. You need to stop making these things, as it’ll turn other people into X. They make me uncomfortable. Even if I don’t watch them, I just don’t want them to exist.”

    They equate violence with aggression, and if you’re a female afraid of men, and men watching violent things makes them aggressive, well watching violent things should be stopped, and if you disagree you’re obviously a misogynist. Those people exist when it comes to film, and they exist when it comes to games, or when I have relations with ClintBot2000 v0.4* in the privacy of my own apartment lobby.

    So, no I don’t think it’s *all* critique — though as I learned in my lobby; presentation, approach and agendas do matter.

    * Clintbot2000 is not affiliated with or endorsed by the estate of Clint Howard, Inc.

  144. sent from chud… funny review and comments is blowing my mind… rofl clintbot2000 is performance art lol

  145. “I just don’t think gamers (type A) care that type B exists, or type C or D (they really like type DD). No one is pushing for Candy Crush to be discontinued or include plasma rifles. But type B wants people to not have what they want and like, and says if they do want, like it or produce it they’re bad.”

    But the thing is, “As a gamer I think Candy Crush should have more guns and titties so that I could enjoy it too” and “As a gamer I think girls should shut up, stick to Candy Crush, and let the rest of the world enjoy seeing women objectified in mainstream games” don’t really seem like legitimate complaints, while “As a person who enjoys many types of games, not just Candy Crush, I think it’s bad that mainstream games objectify women” totally does. And I say that as someone who doesn’t think there should be more censorship and believes that games with guns and titties should be available to people who enjoy them. The problem is not that a handful of niche games treat female characters poorly, the problem is that treating female characters poorly is pretty much the norm in mainstream games.

  146. That Guy – I agree with what you say. I don’t think these gamers I’m talking about literally believe that there are no women who play games. But don’t you think that her being a woman is the cause of their belief that she knows nothing about games, despite her vast knowledge of games being the only reason any of us know who she is? If she was a man in his 20s or 30s wearing a t-shirt don’t you think they would see it as a guy they disagree with and not the invading outsider who doesn’t belong in the clubhouse? I have no question in my mind that the harshness and paranoia is about her being a woman. Maybe if she was wearing a Super Mario shirt and cat ears it would be different. Note that Griff mentioned her hoop earrings when criticizing her. But I think if she “dressed like a gamer” they’d say she was faking it.

    As for those articles, I re-read the Gamasutra one that I guess was their Fort Sumter or something. You’re right, it’s a little different from what I said. The thesis is “these whining sexist babies who are the public face of gaming are only a small perecentage of the culture who are dragging us all down, and we should stop capitulating to them.” So I guess it’s kind of an “if the shoe fits” thing for the people who were so outraged by that.

    I guess the reason why this wouldn’t happen in the film world is that you’re kind of a weirdo if you *don’t* watch movies. You don’t have to be a certain age or race or gender to fit the bill. And even the most basic, casual movie-watchers know that there are different types of movies to be into, even if their understanding of that is as dumb as “my wife likes chick flicks.” You gotta get heavy into a certain genre of movie (like horror) before you start having conventions and wearing funny hats and having it as part of your identity. But games are getting to that point and I think that’s what’s upsetting these people. They just want to keep it in their subculture.

  147. “But games are getting to that point and I think that’s what’s upsetting these people. They just want to keep it in their subculture.”

    Vern, I think you may have hit the nail on the head, gamer culture used to be very tight-knit, I’ve honestly always thought of “Gamer” as being like the term “Biker” as in it’s less of a hobby and more of a way of life (man!), but in recent years we’ve seen it become more and more mainstream, but being more “mainstream” rarely, if ever, does something any favors, all it really does is the effect of “watering down” something, we’ve seen it happen already with internet culture which used to be Something Awful and Maddox, now it’s garbage like Buzzfeed and Twitter.

    Gamer culture has been diluted a lot because of this, crushed under the boot of Call of Duty and it’s Mountain Dew/Doritos tie ins, now you’re telling us people want to bring political correctness into gaming and force it to toe that line along with everything else? It’s no surprise that pisses people off.

    It makes me glad that, while I get nostalgic for the “boom”, anime basically stopped being very profitable in the US because at least it stayed underground and the culture of it for lack of a better word stayed “pure”.

  148. Once again though to reiterate this does not excuse or condone the abuse lobbed at Sarkeesian or anyone else, I’m just trying to explain that gamers have been pretty raw and angry in recent years, shit, 90% of the discourse you see about video games on the net these days is about how shit modern video games are (not something I personally agree with though I have my gripes same as anyone else) and Sarkeesian’s videos were like kicking a hornet’s nest, who knows, maybe if she had made those videos ten years ago gamers would not have reacted so angrily.

  149. If “90% of the discourse you see about video games on the net these days is about how shit modern video games are” then why do you think Sarkeesian’s criticisms were so upsetting to you and others?

  150. Well, I don’t know exactly, I’m not a fan of Sarkeesian but she never has pissed me off as much as the GamerGaters or whatever, but I think that it’s been kind of a bitter climate among gaming culture for a number of years and for whatever reason her videos were the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    I don’t even know why exactly gaming culture has become so bitter either, I don’t like things like Call of Duty or greedy DLC either but it’s hardly ruined things for me, any given era of gaming is going to have it’s downsides but it seems like for many gamers today video games have simply lost something it used to have and they just don’t like games any more, maybe it’s just typical nerd “the old was always better” bullshit, I don’t know.

  151. I think part of the problem with internet anonymity is that you end up having to consider the opinions of people that you’d just dismiss outright if you knew who they were. I think in all probability the vast majority of these gamergate creeps are probably dudes in their late teens/early twenties and not people who should have a platform of any description.

    It’s kinda sad that these guys can’t get it through their heads that the average gamer is 35 years old with a mortgage and a family of their own and that grown adults really don’t give a shit about either ethics in videogame journalism or how big Lara Crofts tits are. This shit is just embarrassing and pathetic and if Anita Sarkeesian’s argument is that the industry should stop putting so much weight in the opinions of 17 year olds then she is entirely correct*.

    And by the way, as someone that has owned a game system of every generation and watched in real time as the medium blossomed into what we have today I think I can say with at least some authority that games have never been better than they are right now. I’m sure plenty of people in their early twenties would disagree but that isn’t because games aren’t as good as they used to be- it’s because way too many males in their mid twenties are still mourning their childhoods. They should grow the fuck up, in my opinion.

    I should probably mention that this is a general type rant and not directed at anyone in particular.

    *statistical proof can be found here http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2014.pdf

  152. “And by the way, as someone that has owned a game system of every generation and watched in real time as the medium blossomed into what we have today I think I can say with at least some authority that games have never been better than they are right now. I’m sure plenty of people in their early twenties would disagree but that isn’t because games aren’t as good as they used to be- it’s because way too many males in their mid twenties are still mourning their childhoods. They should grow the fuck up, in my opinion.”

    I agree and disagree, they still come out with some incredible games these days (especially those Arkham Batman games) and in the “good old days” they still came out with some whopping piles of shit like Superman 64, the likes of which don’t really happen at all anymore thank God.

    But at the same time times have changed a lot, the whole idea of what a video game is has totally changed, used to be a game was a one time purchase and everything that would ever be in that game was there from the start, now most gamest hanks to DLC are like a series of purchases and little bonus goodies that used to be incentive to get you to play the game more are now just an excuse to eke out a few extra bucks out of you, I mean there’s good DLC and bad DLC and when it’s good, it’s good, but anything that allows already greedy as hell companies to get even greedier can be annoying.

    When I go back and play old games these days there’s just some kind of feel about them that seems to be lost in most modern day games, I’ll readily admit this may just be nostalgia talking, but I theorize that it’s because as modern games have become huge Hollywood blockbuster like things, with Mountain Dew and Doritos tie ins, commercials featuring celebrities and budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars (I am referring of course to Call of Duty and Destiny, both not coincidentally from publisher Activision) we’ve lost some of that unpretentious fun of yesteryear, that fly by the seat of your pants attitude where oddball masterpieces like Katamari Damacy or Shadow of The Colossus could thrive whereas today anything that doesn’t do “Call of Duty numbers” is deemed an abject failure by publishers.

    So, I’m afraid I can’t quite get behind the attitude that “games have never been better than they are right now” but at the same time you’ve got games like Arkham City, Fallout New Vegas and The Last of Us, all of which are amazing and none of which could really have been done in the past, so it balances out.

    Believe me, I hate those annoying cynical gamers with attitudes like “Skyrim sucks because…..because….FUCK YOU TODD HOWARD!” too.

  153. By the way I gotta expand on the Skyrim stuff real quick, every nerd I’ve seen on the net bash that game can never give any real solid reasons and instead it always boils down to…

    1. Bethesda is a shit publisher (because….reasons).

    2. Todd Howard is an asshole (because….reasons).

    3. The game is too “casual” (read: fun to play), it doesn’t make me swing my sword repeatedly and not hit an enemy like a doofus because unseen virtual dice-rolls are crucial to a game’s quality, not focusing on creating a fun to play adventure.

    4. The game has glitches (because it’s certainly reasonable to expect a game that fucking massive to not have a single bug on launch day).

  154. Well for one thing DLC isn’t a new idea- anyone that had a Commodore Amiga or an Atari ST back in the early 90s would remember data disks which were essentially the same exact thing. In fact it could be argued that a lot of sequels back then were nothing but the same exact game with a few different levels. The difference is that back then gamers seemed genuinely pleased to have this extra stuff where as now it’s taken as some kind of “fuck you” from the dev team.

    Also if it’s unpretentious fun you’re after then I recommend buying a Nintendo – something the “hardcore gamers” don’t do because that’s “kiddie shit”. Other things they apparently refuse to do is play indie games, mobile games, social games or just look anywhere outside the absolute mainstream games they claim to hate. I think “hardcore gamers” like to think of themselves as gaming connoisseurs when what they really are is people with nothing better to do.

  155. The thing is, back in the day, game companies would make a game, sell it, then work some more to make new levels for the same game, and then a few months or a year after the release of the original game they would sell the new content. It was cool to be able to play with new content for a game you liked, and giving extra money to the developer was fair since that extra content was the result of months of extra work from the developer. But these days, more often than not the DLC is not extra content that they had to work for months to create, it’s just a piece of the original game that they sell separately. They make a game, then they “lock” a chunk of it and they sell it as DLC on the very same day that they release the game. You don’t pay extra to reward extra work and get new content, you pay extra just to unlock the full game that’s already been downloaded to your computer, which is bullshit.
    As Griff said there’s still good DLC, but the most common types of DLC are “stuff that should have been included in the original game”, “5 more guns that you’ll try once before going back to your usual gun” and “5 overpowered guns to make the game easier”.

  156. Someone forgot to close an html tag, and there’s no preview button. So someone smarter than me will have to delete the comment directly before this one.

    @Toxic
    The problem is not that a handful of niche games treat female characters poorly, the problem is that treating female characters poorly is pretty much the norm in mainstream games.

    I spent some time thinking about this, in the way of the original prophet — jumping into my beat up beetle and heading to the warehouse with my stone washed jeans and a glove compartment full of cassettes. After dancing it out under the glare of the headlights, I’m hearing you yet still conflicted:

    [1.] Is it really the case that treating female characters poorly is the norm in mainstream games?

    [2.] How are we defining mainstream games? By budget, universiality, availability, household name, popularity?

    [3.] How are we defining mistreatment, and who is the arbiter of judgement? Societal norms? The individual person who feels it? Where does that spiral end? If the males are mistreated by these measures equally, is everything OK?

    [4.] Is there really any difference between any/most of forms of media by the same standards?

    I mean, one of the more obvious non-game examples is the current hilariously WTF Barbie Computer Engineer* book, which you’d be forgiven for guessing is a satire. This is a product targeted for sale at young girls from 2010 and is obviously inappropriate for the reasons mentioned in the article. No child should have this, as if you switched Barbie for Ken it’d still be ridiculous.

    * http://gizmodo.com/barbie-f-cks-it-up-again-1660326671

    And then there’s young-adult fiction oriented towards girls, always involving a love triangle. The messages are arguably just as bad, yet it’s a product intended for teens & adults. I don’t think anyone is arguing those should be gone, or 50 shades of gray, or the aisle of romance novels lining the shelves at most mainstream stores with muscular tall guys whose shirts keep ripping off? Romance novels have some of the most fucked up messages towards women *anywhere*. It’s a billion+ dollar business targeted at an 85% female market. I dunno who the men are that buy them, but maybe they feel uncomfortable reading them.

    So if, for the sake of argument, we grant you that it’s the norm for women to be mistreated in mainstream games — can we say it’s a non-issue past the child level? And if it isn’t a non-issue past the child level, is it worse or actually better than books/film/tv? And even if it is worse, who defines it and passes judgement?

    I’m honestly still trying to compute my full thoughts on it, so will keep dancing.

    @Vern
    I saw your comment, but you led with “That Guy – I agree with what you say.” so I stopped reading. It’s your fault.

    I’m kidding, just gotta sleep as our city has outlawed dancing within the public library limits and I’m trying to organize a dance. Because yes we can.

  157. Well I thought it was pretty obvious that “mainstream games” meant “games that are targeted at the largest possible audience, generally made with a big budget”. And most of these games star a male protagonist. Generally, a white guy in his late twenties/early thirties. So apparently, girls can’t save the world. They can be the girlfriend you need to rescue or avenge, or the family you need to protect. But the hero has to be a dude. Women are the reward or the burden. Which is not exactly a great treatment of female characters even if the game doesn’t actually depict them being abused or acting like useless morons.

    Occasionally there’s a female protagonist, like Lara Croft. As it’s been discussed here already, recently they made an effort to make the character more realistic: she doesn’t have huge breasts anymore and she doesn’t go adventuring in skin tight short shorts anymore. But there’s something else she can’t have anymore: she can’t be a cool, funny badass adventurer. The new Lara Croft spends the first part of the game running away and crying. And when she starts evolving into an action heroine, she feels bad about it. So apparently, girls can’t be badass and cool. They have to cry and be sad and sorry about not being an innocent student anymore and having to turn into a badass adventurer.

    Sometimes there’s an ensemble cast, like in fighting games. In Street Figher or Tekken or Soul Calibur, you can choose from a variety of dudes like Regular Karate Dude, Regular Military Dude, Ninja Dude, Handsome Assassin Dude, Super Fat Dude, Super Muscular Dude, or Monster Dude, and a variety of girls, like Sexy Karate Girl with Big Breasts and a Super Revealing Outfit, Sexy Military Girl with Big Breasts and a Super Revealing Outfit, Sexy Ninja Girl with Big Breasts and a Super Revealing Outfit, or Sexy Assassin Girl with Big Breasts and a Super Revealing Outfit. Sometimes like in Mortal Kombat, you get to be a monstrous female creature… with big breasts and a super revealing outfit. I don’t know, maybe they intend to sell regular girls with normal outfits later as DLC, and then they forget? But it seems like girl fighters are only allowed in tournaments if they have big breasts and dress like strippers.

    And then occasionally you have a choice. You can play as a man or a woman. You can wear a super sexy outfit or regular clothes. Sometimes you can even NOT be Caucasian! In a game like Saint’s Row, if you want to be the usual white male thirty-something with brown hair and stubble you can, if you want to be a hot girl with high heels and a bikini you can, and if you don’t want to be either of these, it’s ok too. Couldn’t we agree that we need more games like that?

    I don’t think anybody’s saying “please stop making games with a male protagonist entirely” or “please stop making games with ridiculously sexy female characters entirely”. It’s perfectly fine to keep making some games like these, but why is it that MOST mainstream games have to be like that? Why can’t we have more big budget games that give us a choice? Really would it kill Activision or Ubisoft or Sony to give people more choice instead of just giving the choice to go play “indie” games instead of their games? Would it really be the end of the world if The Last of Us 2 was about a woman protecting her son? If multiplayer first person shooters offered the option to play as a female soldier? If fighting games had a handful of extra female characters with pants and normal breasts? If Lara Croft was confident and made quips again? If the new version of GTA V had introduced a woman as a 4th playable character, instead of the ability to use the first person view when one of your 3 guys has sex with a prostitute?

  158. Toxic: Honestly, I think it’ll kill those companies not to do that if they wait too long. Gaming just isn’t a boys’ club anymore and hasn’t really been for some time. Indie gaming caught up first because small concerns and short games have the advantage of speed. Rather than waiting for the majors to hire more diversely and to improve representation in their games, women, people of colour, people of non-hetero sexuality, etc. (everybody who wasn’t in the club, basically) have been doing well and getting established in the indie realm in the time that it’s taken for a few entries in your average AAA series to get released.

    If the majors don’t move with the market, the market will move without them. I don’t think that anybody here is under the illusion that any videogame company is too big to fail. I also don’t think that those companies are just going to ignore the notion that they might be alienating at least 50% of their potential consumer base unless they have a deathwish. You yourself talked about people voting with their wallets earlier in this thread. It’s a vague notion, but I think that it does happen on an everyday basis. It just takes a long time for the effects to be noted.

  159. Griff -that one time you compared the lifestyle of a “gamer” to that of an “biker”, I don’t know if you’re referring to motorcycle enthusiasts or outlaws, but in either case I don’t believe your aware of how hilarious the metaphor is.

    As I’ve stated above I’m a casual game player but I really enjoy playing the Arkham games, like finishing 100% of all three titles because I realllly like pretending I’m “redacted”; however, I also recognize the troubling content in the series. I think that is the intent of Sarkeesian’s video series, not to censure games but for “Gaming Enthusiasts” and non-gamers to be aware of when they exist. I have a question dude, if you could censure the exploration of sexist tropes in video games courtesy of Ms.Sarkeesian and company would you?, would you censor someone else so you could have Gaming still be open to all, but a boy’s club nonetheless.

    That Guy – Toxic already succinctly answered most of your queries above, but I’d like to discuss the romance novel paragraph you wrote above, Griff brought up this point over a year ago on the World War Z thread, (check the archives, I don’t know if your a longtime Vern reader or not, but that was actually the first time the sexism in games was discussed) but do you know any women under 40 who read these romance novels?, maybe I do and I’m completely unaware, but the consensus of most folks around here was it was way more likely to know Women under 40 who are involved in nerd culture, than fans of romance novels. Romance novels sell so well because they are essentially a form of pornography, the titillation is in the written word, rather than images but the intent is the same they are… Masturbation material, and comparing them to any other form of media besides other forms of pornography is kinda like comparing Apples and orgasms.

  160. @ Vern

    But don’t you think that her being a woman is the cause of their belief that she knows nothing about games, despite her vast knowledge of games being the only reason any of us know who she is?

    Sorry about before the formatting mixup, thanks for sorting it. Also, your site seems faster, which is good. Because it should be made clear again — there is no condoning the harrassment and viciousness seen against anyone, on either side.

    I don’t think the belief is that she knows nothing. She’s a feminist culture critic who right now is looking at games, and got $160,000 from kickstarter to make some youtube videos, and in doing so she knows something about games. She’s stated she isn’t really into playing games, etc. She’s seen as the feminist side of the coin of the people who methodically test films/tv/books/games against their cultural values of choice (religion, aggression, race, politics, sex, etc.). She’ll say a game is sexist because it has a weak peripheral girl character, then the next game is sexist because the main character is a girl but acts male.

    So to her critics, she’s considered to be an Al Sharpton of sexism, popping up whenever something reaches enough cultural awareness so she can ask for money and apply her tests. When the money stops coming in from games, she’ll move to the next target. Some of it is I’m sure wrapped up in the whole group-funding backlash going on everywhere.

    Frankly, I don’t see much of a difference between her business model and the amazing lady who wants to tell you that every time you drink Monster, the devil laughs*. Still, she’s very much entitled to do it, just as the other people are for their values, some of which we may support and some not — but we have to be clear about who and what we’re talking about: litmus testers.

    * https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bntfUA6TmLs

    If she was a man in his 20s or 30s wearing a t-shirt don’t you think they would see it as a guy they disagree with and not the invading outsider who doesn’t belong in the clubhouse? I have no question in my mind that the harshness and paranoia is about her being a woman.

    I’d like to introduce doubt, because I find the evidence for it to be a bit weak, while the evidence against it is the same or a bit stronger. e.g., “She’s a girl, and they don’t like her, therefore they don’t like girls” isn’t good evidence, especially not with the terms that get thrown away to brand/shame in order to win. Correlation does not equal causation, though it doesn’t rule it out. As opposing evidence, if you look through the people being harrassed/called out/talked about, the vast majority were male.

    I think some evidence *for* your argument is when several celebrity types (actors wil wheaton, felicia day, and some other guy) made comments, and Felicia Day had a screenshot of her address that’d dropped in the comments, while people didn’t really go after the other two. So a girl got her stuff dropped in the comments, but not the guys.

    Something related to your side though in terms of her being a “white screen-friendly female” as opposed to her being a man in 30s wearing a mario shirt that freaks them out: the fact that writing about someone like Anita Sarkeesian getting doxxed and harrassed, but not the the many males that were harrassed by GamerGate, or the thai woman who was leading a circle going after other authors. You may not be aware of the situation with Fine Young Capitalists* (really worth checking out), but it’s worth checking. Would you hear about it if the originator was connected to jouranlists and a screen-friendly female?

    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/the-fine-young-capitalists-game-jam

    We all kinda talk about how when a white mom or cute white girl goes missing the national media picks it up even though a hundred others have gone missing that year, or the comedian who allegedly drugs and sexually assaults a string of women and its quietly ignored until he’s less influential. If you feel like you’re on the other side of that, you automatically feel like you’re “punching upwards” and hence you rationalize all kinds of behavior.

    Maybe if she was wearing a Super Mario shirt and cat ears it would be different.

    I think some find super mario to be an ethnic slur, so maybe. Cat ears are probably safe, though.

    Sidebar: Why are cat ears kinda hot?

    I do want to go back to something you said about games as a product vs art, as I’ve changed my mind a little bit based on the discussion and reading around. I saw the article in the Washington Post talking about how gamers wanted their stuff scored as a product as opposed to art, specifically in regards to the review of Bayonetta game, where the reviewer said it was a great game but gave it a lower score for sexism. I think my issue was feeling it was broadened out into a generalization.

    It does make perfect sense in that context that yes, they are upset about it not being critiqued as a product. If your audience is wanting to know: 1. is it fun 2. does it work 3. is it pretty 4. does it blend, and you rate it on these things against other works, while also noting “Guys, you should be warned the level of objectification is pretty huge” that’s one thing. If you arbitrarily decide to start rating games on whether you feel they’re sexist or objectifying, that’s another. Especially if your audience probably wants to know if they objectify women but that it isn’t your litmus test.

    It reminds me of Roger Ebert, who would clash with critics over movies he’d given higher reviews to, believing they should be judged on what they were trying to be and the craftsmanship involved. Basically I don’t know that either of us is right, but it’s always been a fascinating tension to me, so thanks for popping it back up.

    Also, I miss Ebert alot at this moment.

    Free hugs. Seriously. Let’s just take a moment.

    I guess the reason why this wouldn’t happen in the film world is that you’re kind of a weirdo if you *don’t* watch movies.

    I’m not quite sure how that plots; as as you say games are a pretty universal human experience and video games are becoming universal as technology becomes ubiquitous. If you see some of what went on — there being a gamerjournalist mailing list with some of them asking others to shut down conversations on their sites, a moderator of reddit being a friend of Zoe Quinn so shutting down conversations, etc.

    You yourself pointed out the apt “Friends of the Internet” point (which I admire of you), and it isn’t like people don’t have real, serious suspicions, and don’t joke about the critics whose reviews exist to get their name or publishers’ name on the movie poster. I could definitely see weird stuff coming out confirming some of the ickiness, the cadre banning it from discussion, some 4chan movie lovers doxxing Jeffrey Lyons and then you have your screen-friendly female film-persona harrassment so it goes national.

    But games are getting to that point and I think that’s what’s upsetting these people. They just want to keep it in their subculture.

    I think we just genuinely disagree on this. I think it’s the opposite: some people find their subculture offensive, and don’t want it to exist. These subcultures have no issue with the game-versions of a chick-flick, it’s the reverse.

    To quote the second prophet of Footloose, “When you’ve burned all of these, what’re you gonna do then? Satan is not in these books.”

  161. @Mode7
    It’s kinda sad that these guys can’t get it through their heads that the average gamer is 35 years old with a mortgage and a family of their own and that grown adults… (snipped) …and if Anita Sarkeesian’s argument is that the industry should stop putting so much weight in the opinions of 17 year olds then she is entirely correct.

    With respect, I actually looked at your statistical proof, because I have no life. The stats given indicate: 61% are under 35, and 39% are 36+, an almost 50/50 gender ratio, and one of us is confused. That’s actually a really cool link though, and it sounds like you have a mortage so you win on that end.

    It’s kind of weird, it breaks down console/vs smartphone, but not PC till later, and then excludes smartphone. Page 10 was probably my favorite, showing the difference in buying habits between what I’m guessing is Console vs Computer, with strategy going up from 2.3% on the console to 38.4% on comp, and it being almost reversed for action.

    You have to be really careful about statistics like this, as you know, “lies, damn lies, and statistics.” This stuff can be very much like TV ratings, where The Office had OK ratings, but stayed on the air because the people who *did* watch were a valuable demographic to advertisers. Kid’s cartoon A might get a million more views than cartoon B, but kids aren’t buying action figures of cartoon A so it gets tossed.

    Or, my grandma has a slightly-worrying Tiny Towers and Candy Crush habit, and might spend the same amount of time playing games as my friend, but my grandma isn’t buying a $3500 PC or upgrading her video card every year to shoot things all pretty, or $250 headphones to hear where the bullets are coming from. That’s one of the things that was so bizarre about the gamasutra and slew of other op-eds that came out together: yes, smartphone games are growing. Yes, people buy lives in Candy Crush. Yet your advertisers selling CPU upgrades and video cards probably don’t want you to tell their customers they should all die in a fire so the evolved can play choose your own adventure games on iPhone.

  162. @Griff
    So, I’m afraid I can’t quite get behind the attitude that “games have never been better than they are right now” but at the same time you’ve got games like Arkham City, Fallout New Vegas and The Last of Us

    Hi Griff,

    I’ve been wondering if some of this a combination of:

    1. If you have crappy graphics, you have to give people a reason to look at the screen, which means ideally you spend some time working on game mechanics.

    2. Fads, both developmental and gameplay. Every generation has their thing. In the 90s, remember when FMV (full motion video!) and edutainment CDs were the future, so people were publishing games where you literally clicked around and a video would pop up. Many gave them good reviews, too. However, it was borderline ridiculous to even call them games (maybe dragons lair!), but a bunch of people made money churning them out. The whole genre is a memory until it gets repeated, like 3D glasses. Some of the indie scene is definitely repeating the FMV cd-rom games, where they’ve rediscovered hypercard or geocities HTML and you’re basically clicking from image to image with some text.

    3. Studios maximizing profit in ways that make things less fun, but not so less-fun that you go F it and move on. DLC is a big part of that, as are in-game purchases where the richer you are in RL the better you’ll be in the game by buying the best sword or spaceship. In the 80s, this got to the point it was un-fun for enough people that the market basically crashed, leading to a landfill of ET video games. I wonder if we’ll reach that point again, or they can simply

    4. I had something for here but forgot it. Is marijuana legal where you live yet?

    Believe me, I hate those annoying cynical gamers with attitudes like “Skyrim sucks because…..because…. 3. The game is too “casual” (read: fun to play)

    I can definitely understand how some types of players just really enjoying games with complex rulesets where you spend lots of time learning and mastering the variations (like chess, or sex). Whereas once you have a life and just want to unwind after a hard day’s work, that amount of time commitment just isn’t that enjoyable or even possible. Or, even if it was playing by yourself, it can become unfun when you’re playing against someone who is putting in all the time learning every trick and blowing you away the minute you open a door (I may have broken one of the analogies).

    There is a big movement in games by publishers to make them “broader” and “more accessible” which generally means making them much easier, so someone can pick up a controller and go with a shorter learning curve. So you run around and your gun auto-aims at people, etc. Skill and knowledge play less of a role, which bothers some people, as a shorter learning curve can mean a lower ceiling. The same way others are bothered that many AAA are developed for consoles meaning the controls are all very simple because controllers only have a few buttons.

    It’s all a gradiation on the scale, so if someone gives you crap for where you like your gradiant, point them towards Dwarf Fotress* and they should get the point.

    * http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/

  163. If you want games to be more narrative-driven as well as reaching out to a broad audience, the games need to do away with the notion that “games are about skill”. It would be incredibly frustrating having a game with a story you are invested in , but lack the skill to proceed. I think that would be an asonine approach. It would certainly put me off playing any games for the story cause I am no hardcore gamer. Games are first and foremost interactive. I don´t think they should be hard by default. I seem to have missed that part of the “Holy Scripture on How Games Supposed to Work”.

    Look at THE WALKING DEAD by telltale Games. They have succeeded to take the interactive aspect of the medium and let the player engage with the narrative in a really interesting way. Sure, the technical aspects hinder the player from deviate in entire different story arcs and adventures, but it still works. The story is great. And almost anyone who plays it can get through it without difficulty, because skill isn´t required, mostly your moral compass and evryone has one of those. Personally I tend to enjoy these kind os games more and more. Also THE WOLF AMONG US….can´t recommend that one enough.

  164. @Toxic
    Well I thought it was pretty obvious that “mainstream games” meant “games that are targeted at the largest possible audience, generally made with a big budget”.

    In all sincerity, I didn’t think it was. It’s hard to get more mainstream than Angry Birds or Madden 20xx or Candy Crush or Pacman or Warcraft or Solitaire. Because not everyone is just talking about ones with a big budget.

    I’m going to be a little devils-advocacy in my responses at this point. I’m saying that because I don’t want you to think I’m being intentionally rude or obtuse towards you, it’s more a device to point out how this can spiral a bit.

    Toxic, you and I are about to go Four. F’ing. Quandrant.

    And most of these games star a male protagonist. Generally, a white guy in his late twenties/early thirties. So apparently, girls can’t save the world.

    Ok, so we can solve this by having all games allow you to choose a male or female character. Our primary goal for this will be because girls want to play, yet aren’t because of the protagnist. That’s a hell of a business case actually, we would we throw away customers for a little extra work? Women are 50% of the market, I wouldn’t want to live in a world where we design a fighting/adventure game, put all of these resources into it, and girls don’t show up so we were just spending money our market research said was an unecessary expense for our tight deadline. Actually, why are we stopping at female? The Transgender population is smaller, but no less deserving of our resources. Our secondary goal will be to make the people who do happen to player happier. You didn’t mention race, but I gotta assume you meant to.

    So, development goals:

    1. Four genders (Male, Female, Transgender, Greendale Human Being, or GHB*)
    The Greendale Human Being is kind of a cop-out, as spelling androgyny is hard for me and typing intersex keeps making me think someone is going to get injected into Martin Short and asexual makes me think you’re calling someone a sexual.

    http://community-sitcom.wikia.com/wiki/Greendale_Human_Being

    2. Six Races (Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, Black, Persian, American Indian, GHB)
    I know we are gonna get in trouble over Asian not being at least Chinese/Japanese/Korean, let alone Persian, but we’ll cross that bridge once the youtube videos start.

    Fuck the gingers, video games already don’t have souls.

    They can be the girlfriend you need to rescue or avenge, or the family you need to protect. But the hero has to be a dude. Women are the reward or the burden. Which is not exactly a great treatment of female characters even if the game doesn’t actually depict them being abused or acting like useless morons.

    OK, so games where if you are playing a male you are rescuing a female, and vice-versa. That’s solvable. If you’re playing as a GHB, you can rescue anyone at the end. Oh, wait, if a gay man is playing a male and rescuing a male… no problem, we just need an orientation class. And if they are a supporting character, they have to be the same gender and race. So:

    1. Four Genders
    2. Six Races
    3. Orientations (Heterosexual, Homosexual, Bisexual, GHB)
    4. No opposite-sex or race rescuing or secondary chars

    I’m not really sure what to do about bisexuals, as we can’t even ask them if they *maybe* like one more than the other without being offensive. Maybe if we sort of randomly flip between different scenarios throughout the game?

    Occasionally there’s a female protagonist, like Lara Croft. As it’s been discussed here already, recently they made an effort to make the character more realistic: she doesn’t have huge breasts anymore and she doesn’t go adventuring in skin tight short shorts anymore. But there’s something else she can’t have anymore: she can’t be a cool, funny badass adventurer. The new Lara Croft spends the first part of the game running away and crying. And when she starts evolving into an action heroine, she feels bad about it. So apparently, girls can’t be badass and cool. They have to cry and be sad and sorry about not being an innocent student anymore and having to turn into a badass adventurer.

    Well, we’ve sorted that, our game will let you choose to play Lance Croft *or* Laura Croft *or* GHB Croft. I’m a little confused, because I saw a feminist video recently that was annoyed they had a female primary character, but had her acting like a guy would, but you’re the boss. So, we won’t spend any time running away, crying, or feeling bad or reluctant about the progression of their journey.

    This might trip up the standard “reluctant hero” part of Joseph Campbell Hero’s Journey arc many use when trying to create a three-act structure like this, but we’re gonna be indie big-budget. You didn’t see Max Payne running or running away from his quest in Transformers 4, and you won’t see it here.

    1. Four Genders
    2. Six Races
    3. Orientations (Heterosexual, Homosexual, Bisexual, GHB)
    4. No opposite-sex or race rescuing or secondary chars
    5. No reluctance about progression
    6. No crying and being sad and sorry about change

    Sometimes there’s an ensemble cast, like in fighting games. In Street Figher or Tekken or Soul Calibur, you can choose from a variety of dudes like Regular Karate Dude… (snipped) ….I don’t know, maybe they intend to sell regular girls with normal outfits later as DLC, and then they forget? But it seems like girl fighters are only allowed in tournaments if they have big breasts and dress like strippers.

    I’m really kinda confused about how to proceed here. Ok, so no hyper-idealized forms, male or female, straight averages we’ll look up. I’m conflicted about having fat people, as a large percentage of the population is fat and are obviously not showing up in games enough, but are we then normalizing being fat and so not encouraging them to get healthy? What were they imagining themselves as before while playing, escaping mentally into being Dave Bautista? Fuck it, we’re a big business, we can make this work.

    1. Four Genders
    2. Six Races
    3. Orientations (Heterosexual, Homosexual, Bisexual, GHB)
    4. No opposite-sex or race rescuing or secondary chars
    5. No reluctance about progression
    6. No crying and being sad and sorry about change
    7. Bodytypes (Thin, Average, Husky, Obese)

    I’m a little concerned about the connotations of having a thin person rescue an obese person, let alone the trop of the fat bumbling sidekick. And oh man, a white guy rescuing a black guy, or being the hero with an asian sidekick. So:

    1. Four Genders
    2. Six Races
    3. Orientations (Heterosexual, Homosexual, Bisexual, GHB)
    4. No opposite-sex or race rescuing or secondary chars
    5. No reluctance about progression
    6. No crying and being sad and sorry about change
    7. Bodytypes (Thin, Average, Husky, Obese)
    8. No opposite-bodytpe rescuing or secondary chars
    9. No opposite-race rescuing or secondary chars

    The only thing we left out is clothing. This is tricky, as as we learned with Lance Croft if you’re looking at anyone’s backside enough it’s going to look intentionally gratuitous unless we cover things up. I suggest mid-length jackets if we do a third person perspective, and loose jumpsuits the rest of the time. Trenchcoats are no good, as if it’s done up it could imply nakedness underneath. Since the camera could move around, probably best to stick to loose jumpsuit + mid-length jacket, honestly.

    Characters can pick their colors, but I don’t feel like seeing a youtube video where I made the asian non-player-character wear black as a ninja stereotype, so all NPCs wear beige or are non-human.

    1. Four Genders
    2. Six Races
    3. Orientations (Heterosexual, Homosexual, Bisexual, GHB)
    4. No opposite-sex or race rescuing or secondary chars
    5. No reluctance about progression
    6. No crying and being sad and sorry about change
    7. Bodytypes (Thin, Average, Husky, Obese)
    8. No opposite-bodytpe rescuing or secondary chars
    9. No opposite-race rescuing or secondary chars
    10. All chars wear jumpsuit + jacket.
    11. All NPCs wear beige jumpsuit + jacket or are non-human

    Ah man, I”m still thinking about the NPC characters you’re encounting along the way. Do we really want people of different races shooting each other? This one is tricky, but we are going to show our studio credibilty by NOT making all the NPCs into GHBs.

    In a game like Saint’s Row, if you want to be the usual white male thirty-something with brown hair and stubble you can, if you want to be a hot girl with high heels and a bikini you can, and if you don’t want to be either of these, it’s ok too. Couldn’t we agree that we need more games like that?

    Absolutely not. It’s a step in the right direction, but a hot girl with high heels and a bikini is just objectification. It’s still there on the hard drive even if you choose something else, and you still had to flip through it to select it. And you could still be seeing NPCs like it while playing.

    It’s 2014, man.

    If the new version of GTA V had introduced a woman as a 4th playable character, instead of the ability to use the first person view when one of your 3 guys has sex with a prostitute?

    Wait, I’m confused. Is it the prostitutes, the ability to sex them, the ability to switch into 1st person, or your inability to do this as a woman that is off? That feels like such a rabbit hole if we have the woman doing it, as if she’s on the bottom she’s submissive and if she’s on top she’s fictional. Best just to remove it all together, I don’t want the hassle.

    1. Four Genders
    2. Six Races
    3. Orientations (Heterosexual, Homosexual, Bisexual, GHB)
    4. No opposite-sex or race rescuing or secondary chars
    5. No reluctance about progression
    6. No crying and being sad and sorry about change
    7. Bodytypes (Thin, Average, Husky, Obese)
    8. No opposite-bodytpe rescuing or secondary chars
    9. No opposite-race rescuing or secondary chars
    10. All chars wear jumpsuit + jacket.
    11. All NPCs wear beige jumpsuit + jacket or are non-human
    12. No prostitutes, and no sex

    I feel like we’re missing something.

  165. @windows

    Toxic already succinctly answered most of your queries above, but I’d like to discuss the romance novel paragraph you wrote above, Griff brought up this point over a year ago on the World War Z thread, (check the archives, I don’t know if your a longtime Vern reader or not, but that was actually the first time the sexism in games was discussed)

    I’m a long-time reader, first time poster. For whatever reason, I’ve not delved into the comments until now. Went to the thread, searched for romance, found it. I have no idea how on earth a discussion of that ended up in a World War Z thread, but was afraid to page up. I did page down though, it was interesting to see how you reacted to someone taking social risks within a group whose opinion he cared about.

    but do you know any women under 40 who read these romance novels?, maybe I do and I’m completely unaware, but the consensus of most folks around here was it was way more likely to know Women under 40 who are involved in nerd culture, than fans of romance novels.

    I know one, and I know many who have read 50 shades of gray, but that became socially acceptable to see been/known doing it. Odd that you mention it, I don’t see women reading them on the bus, but considering the market someone’s buying them.

    My comment in context was, if someone ceded all the points people are complaining about, whether it is worse or more profilific in gaming than in other forms of media. It’s an honest question, and I used romance novels as one form of that, but I also mentioned Twilight and if I didn’t .

    Romance novels sell so well because they are essentially a form of pornography, the titillation is in the written word, rather than images but the intent is the same they are… Masturbation material, and comparing them to any other form of media besides other forms of pornography is kinda like comparing Apples and orgasms.

    Them being a form of inexplicite pornography would fully explain why people don’t seem to be whipping them out on the subway, though now I need to question the safeway manager as to why they aren’t behind the counter. Any kid could up one of those! I’ll have to buy several and read them now to confirm.

    What if these games are essentially a form of pornography, tititallation in the visual sense, and as long as it’s rated Mature Teen+ everything is OK?

  166. “It’s hard to get more mainstream than Angry Birds or Madden 20xx or Candy Crush or Pacman or Warcraft or Solitaire. Because not everyone is just talking about ones with a big budget.”
    Yeah that’s why I said they GENERALLY had a big budget, not ALWAYS.

    As for the rest, yeah I get that you’re trying to be funny and to exaggerate for the sake of the argument, but still, I’m sorry, it winds up sounding less like trying to be the devil’s advocate and more like the kind of whiny bullshit we hear from people who oppose gay marriage. “But if you allow gay marriage, the next step is obviously that a man will marry his own son/a horse/a kitchen appliance/a sandwich!” “But if you ask for more diversity in videogames, obviously what you’re really asking is that every game becomes super politically correct and gives you every imaginable choice, which will become incredibly tedious for game developers, if not entirely impossible, and will expose those poor gamemakers to even more criticism anyway!”

    And it’s the kind of bullshit argument that some big game companies will give to never make any effort in the right direction, ever. “What, you want the Assassin’s Creed Unity’s team of 4 assassins to include a woman? Impossible! Not only it’s already too much work in the first place, but obviously the next step if we allow it will be something ridiculous like demanding that we have a black guy, a hispanic gay jew robot and a transgender bi-curious korean werewolf on the team, or else you’ll call us nazis, am I right? So let’s just stick to a team of 4 dudes, because adding a woman to a team would actually be so much more offensive.”

    Maybe there’s a tiny minority of extremists that will complain until every game in existence offers the option to play as a female protagonist, or transgender character, etc. But I think the majority of complaints come from people who simply would like more diversity. Not every Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty should have a team of lesbian goths, transgender wiccans and bisexual native americans with a gluten allergy, but maybe, just maybe, out of, what, the 2 or 3 episodes of Assassin’s Creed and Call of the Duty that they release every year, maybe one of them could have a female protagonist? Maybe one of them could have a gay guy who’s not a flamboyent sadist? Maybe there could be more black or hispanic people? No, is that already asking too much? Does it mean people who complain about sexism are all a bunch of unreasonable crybabies that game companies need to ignore, or else one day the demands they’ll have to satisfy will escalate to “You absolutely have to make the next Arkham game entirely about Batgirl, aand possibly create a new character called Non-Gender Specific Bat-Person” or “You absolutely have to make the next Gears of War more like Candy Crush” or “You absolutely have to let us play a half-Chinese half-Mexican bisexual muslim centaur with a foot fetish in the next installment of GTA”? Does it mean that “There will always be at least ONE person who will complain no matter what efforts we make to offer more diversity, so let’s just not bother” is a valid excuse?

  167. That Guy – I don’t feel like your current moniker encapsulates your awesomeness. When you bring being the devils advocate to your level you stop being “That Guy”, you transcend right into being “Cool Dude”.

    Cool Dude – Consider my mind blown, especially by your post to Toxic above. I never considered that if Game Developers started heeding the demands of one group of gamers, that it would open the floodgates to all sorts of INSANITY.

    about World War Z… was the social risk your referring to when Griff blamed Feminists for what he considers the new American puritanical view of sex? Because I didn’t think of it as being a social risk as much as spouting some truly repellent horseshit, my response was harsh but measured and I feel like it contributed to an actual discussion, I feel like I can vouch for Griff as being an earnest dude with a good heart, only by the comments he’s posted over the last five years here, If ANYONE else had been posting those statements I would’ve been way more caustic in my response.

  168. Toxic – I’m afraid I gotta take you to task over your description of certain fighting game characters, especially Street Fighter, sure SF has Cammy, who fights in a thong one piece bathing suit like getup and Elena who fights in basically a bikini, but you’ve also got characters like Makoto, Sakura, Ibuki, Rose and Chun Li, sure Sakura, Ibuki and Chun Li are sexy, but they’re hardly “scantily clad” and Makoto is especially tomboyish ( http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100218125550/streetfighter/images/5/50/MakotoSFIII3rd.jpg ).

    So throughout Street Fighter as a series the most scantly clad female characters are only two out of several characters who are not and before you say “but it’s always a female character who’s scantly clad” I would say dude, have you SEEN Urien ( http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20110708145218/streetfighter/images/a/a0/Urien.jpg ) and Gill from Street Fighter 3? both are male character who fight in nothing but a thong.

    That’s the way it is with most fighting games, sure you’ve got the “fanservice” character, the super sexy one who helps grab people’s attention, like Mai in King of Fighters or Morrigan in Darkstalkers, but it’s reductive to say every female character is like that in these games.

    Now let’s look at Soul Calibur, the series that features Ivy, one of the most explicit “fanservice” female characters out there who fights in a leather thong dominatrix getup and while every female character in that series are all pretty “va va voom” they’re not all as scantily clad as Ivy.

    And let’s look at the context of fighting games as a genre itself, fight games are all about idealized, larger than life depictions of both the male and female form engaging in superhuman displays of martial arts combat, within this fantasy context it’s a bit silly to me to complain that the female characters are “unrealistic” when pretty much no one is.

    Finally both Cammy and Ivy have plenty of female fans who are willing to cosplay as them, in public, bared bottoms and all, so you can’t say these characters only appeal to a male audience.

  169. Also, I apologize for any comments made in the WWZ comments, I do think American culture has become more puritanical than it used to be when it comes to sex, but blaming that on feminism I no longer think is the case, honestly I think it might be a weird side effect of the modern ubiquity of pornography if anything.

  170. I just knew that somebody would point out Makoto and Urien… I’ll admit I’m kind of disappointed that nobody mentioned the obscure fighting game from 20 years ago that had a female character inspired by Vasquez from Aliens, though.

    Anyway, yes, out of, how many, 70, 80 characters in the Street Fighter universe, there’s 1 regular girl who wears a regular karategi, and 1 guy who fights in nothing but his underwear, and to my knowledge both are minor characters who only appear in a couple of episodes.

    So I think we could agree that most of the main female cast does fit in the “big breasts + gratuitously sexy outfit” category, I mean I’ve seen my share of ninja movies and I’ve never seen male ninjas with those special pants that Ibuki wears, that seem like they were designed specifically to show you thighs and the side of your butt cheeks… and to my knowledge there’s no real female counterpart to characters like Blanka, E. Honda or Dhalsim, so maybe we could also agree that there is more diversity among male characters.

    And it’s ok to have sexy female characters… and of course a lot of female gamers like these characters too… I mean I enjoy these games myself, and while my wife doesn’t care much for Street Fighter, she does love Tekken… and of course those games never pretended to be realistic and even male characters have unrealistic body types… but still, all the “fanservice”, as some people like to call it as a way to explain “don’t worry, I know it looks like an underage girl in a ‘sexy schoolgirl’ Halloween costume is showing her panties, but it’s actually a perfectly acceptable cultural thing from Japan”, does make it seem that, while the requirement to design the majority of male characters is “must look like someone who could win a martial arts tournament thanks to great fighting skills or brute force or supernatural powers”, for the majority of female characters it’s more like “must look good in a chainmail bikini, a low cut minidress or a crop top and shorts”, which contributes to the feeling that game designers are only trying to appeal to male gamers.

  171. @windows

    That Guy – I don’t feel like your current moniker encapsulates your awesomeness. When you bring being the devils advocate to your level you stop being “That Guy”, you transcend right into being “Cool Dude”.

    *suspicious glance* You’re mocking me, aren’t you? I’ll switch to my usual moniker once I’ve successfully made Vern laugh or he reviews Condorman/Birdman as a double feature, though I was attached to him going:

    “I got a death threat once from That Guy on the internet.”
    “Who?”
    “That Guy.”
    “I know, which guy?”
    “NO! THAT! GUY!”

    In all honesty, the house is what I’m impressed by. It would have been really easy for Vern to go “Nope, don’t like this subject and people shouldn’t be discussing this and if you want to I don’t want you here” and just start hitting delete. Instead, there’s one of the more generally civil and thoughtful and conversations I’ve encountered on the subjects, with people pushing themselves mentally in multiple directions. Myself included. That isn’t the case everywhere, and it could have gone very, very differently. *points towards the tip jar* Vern’s house is a model for the internet, except for that rug.

    I never considered that if Game Developers started heeding the demands of one group of gamers, that it would open the floodgates

    I’d also encourage you to check out the term “four quadrant*,” which is generally somewhat reviled by movie nerds, but it’s why everything of a certain budget often has all the same notes in it. A lot of this sorts itself in products, though we have to be careful what we wish for as for every generation a Ratner is born to tempt the faithless.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-quadrant_movie

    about World War Z… was the social risk your referring to when Griff blamed Feminists for what he considers the new American puritanical view of sex? Because I didn’t think of it as being a social risk as much as spouting

    Ah, sorry — I was giving a compliment towards the community that was cultivated, but I used a sociology term without defining it. Social risk encompasses things like ridicule, ostracization, pregnancy, etc. It’s probaby won of the reasons I originally started discussing this under another name than my usual. It’s a factor in quantifying how/why people make decisions, e.g., why not take the last bagel in a group?

    The idea behind it is, let’s say you take a liberal and sit them in a group of conservatives. They incur a social risk (as opposed to monetary, in econ) by disagreeing with the group, whether they are right or wrong. They’ll often moderate or keep their views quiet, while people in the group majority have their ideas validated and then tend to become more extreme than if they were by themselves.

    So I saw someone (Grif) incurring social risk by expressing views he knew differed from the group as a whole, and ideas and evidence were exchanged and people had a discussion that was pretty civil. He wasn’t ostracized or tossed away in order for the group to feel superior and just and correct in their views. Says something cool about the house we’re talking in in my book, whether I agree with someone or not.

  172. @Toxic
    “As for the rest, yeah I get that you’re trying to be funny and to exaggerate for the sake of the argument, but still, I’m sorry, it winds up sounding less like trying to be the devil’s advocate and more like the kind of whiny bullshit we hear from people who oppose gay marriage. “But if you allow gay marriage, the next step…”

    Do you really want to start equating virtual short skirts, cleavage and such with same-sex marraige rights? That feels like a bit of a desperate mental leap. Is “Kimberly” being forced to sit at the back of the bus because when she decides to buy a game where she gladiator-fights a muscled minotaur, her body issue images are triggered by idealized & sexualized female characters, or she has less enjoyment because she has trouble identifying with the minotaur avatar she’s playing?

    And it’s the kind of bullshit argument that some big game companies will give to never make any effort in the right direction, ever.

    You are using language involving your personal morals, beliefs, entitlements, and what you feel is right. You believe things should be X, and if I say Y, I am lumped with the people who have issues with same-sex marraige. That if males have a game character to play in a game, it’s only right that women do too. The argument you are giving is just as valid for a black person, a gay person, etc. If you go, “Well, 50% of women play games so they are more important” you’re basically joined the dark side.

    And it isn’t 50% of women that want to play X of any given market, just like 50% of guys don’t. I’m pulling this out of my ass just looking at the sales for things like The Sims and other top-20 sellers, but let’s say it’s 5%. Of that 5%, lets say half wish they had different options. Let’s say the same amount of guys feel strongly about it too. So now 5% of your target market wants X, while 95% want Y. That 5% either:

    1. Needs to becoming a larger percentage of women who want to play yet have issues with it. (I’m aware of the argument that this is chicken & egg, but haven’t seen any real evidence for it)

    2. The whole pie has to become so big that that 5% represents so enough revenue that a studio can make a product only targeting them.

    A good example here would be hardcore christian movie goers, who generally aren’t catered to in many films, but are catered to moreso in broader ones like kid’s films — and after the “Passion of the Christ” are specifically targeted and marketed towards with mixed results. People in Hollywood aren’t hardcore christians, they actually hire consultants just to be able to talk to them and try to reach them with marketing, but they’re definitely about making product for them.

    I’ve worked on projects of a size where if people don’t buy it, teams get layed off. It’s very similar to a tv show in that way. It’s why they do market research and actually talk to buying the products, figure out what they like, then decide who to target and how much money to spend doing it based on a hopeful return. Market research isn’t infallible. People can’t tell you what they don’t know they want, but it’s pretty damned valuable, as they can tell you what they don’t want, and most companies want to be as profitable as possible.

  173. I don’t think anyone here needs you to mansplain to us that game companies like profit and are reluctant to take artistic risks.

  174. @CrustaceanLove

    “I don’t think anyone here needs you to mansplain to us that game companies like profit and are reluctant to take artistic risks.”

    I’m actually sorry if you took it to be mansplaining, so could you help educate me? I was talking to another man, at least I’m pretty sure and I’m willing to make sure if he’ll let me. Could you explain when something is and isn’t mansplaining, so it isn’t being used to label things that may not apply for one’s own reasons?

    *gives the horns*

  175. The Original... Paul

    November 27th, 2014 at 2:53 am

    Wow, this is still ongoing? Ok then.

    Erm… I’m going to stay out of the whole “That Guy” thing, and respond to one of Griff’s points:

    “it seems like for many gamers today video games have simply lost something it used to have and they just don’t like games any more, maybe it’s just typical nerd “the old was always better” bullshit, I don’t know.”

    You may have hit the nail on the head there. I barely play games any more, and it’s not because I don’t have the free time to do so.

    I tried “Alien: Isolation” and “Bioshock Infinite”, the last two big-budget games I played, and disliked them both. To me they’re both completely generic in terms of their mechanics, which is the only thing that matters. (I’ve been into my criticisms with “Infinite”‘s story before on the forums, but in the end my problem is that I’m a huge Ken Levine fan and I feel that this was easily his worst game.) I think I would’ve been a lot more forgiving of both of these games ten years ago maybe. Maybe it’s just a young man’s world, and I’m no longer a young man.

    However… I’m not sure if that has anything to do with the problem at hand. I don’t think the “old guard” of “gamers” (no, I wouldn’t consider myself one, the term has too many negative connotations that don’t describe me accurately) is the problem here.

  176. For someone who has owned a Commodore 64, which is one of the worst pieces of machines ever invented by mankind, I find the whole discourse on romanticizing old games pitiful. Most games were awful. Today, even the bad ones are infinitely more playable.

  177. Paul- I am not a young man anymore either. But the world of games has improved a lot in my opinion. I´ve played more great games these last few years than in my entire life. PAPERS,PLEASE on PC, THE WALKING DEAD and THE WOLF AMONG US by Telltale,FLOWERS and HOTLINE MIAMI are only a handful.Those are diverse interesting games. When I was young the market was flooded with fighters or platformers for the console market (as well as on the Amiga) and it was repetitive as hell with very few innovative games. It´s very much still like that, but there seem to be more room for inventive creative games than before and you don´t have to look that hard either.

    I never was a PC gamer in the 90´s however which I guess was where the creativity back then lied. I´ve tried SYSTEM SHOCK 2, even though I prefer BIOSHOCK by a million years I can see why it´s held in such high regard. I just think the game reeks of too much 90´s cyberpunk in my opinion and I don´t really like playing first person shooters with mouse and keyboard in the first place.

  178. The Original... Paul

    November 27th, 2014 at 5:52 am

    Shoot – I look back on the C64’s games, and cringe. But at least the scene back then felt new and interesting, which is more than I could say for any of the games you’ve listed (except HOTLINE MIAMI, I haven’t played that one). I actually think PAPERS PLEASE is excellent, and I’ve played and completed it twice. I don’t see that it does too much new though. I’d rather say that it combines two separate elements not usually combined, and does it really really well. It iterates rather than innovates. It takes a very old idea – the work simulator – and adds to it with another very old idea – the dystopian landscape – and makes them work together to create an immersive experience.

    I finished SYSTEM SHOCK 2 about twenty times over, and the sheer emotional depth of it still gets to me at times. I just don’t want to dedicate that amount of time to the current crop of games. Although I share your love of BIOSHOCK – at least, the first two-thirds of it, before you play golf with Andrew Ryan (after that point it becomes merely good, when before that it was great). I just remember when games were mostly point-and-clicks like BENEATH A STEEL SKY (or even the recent Telltale games, which I have to say I don’t love – the whole interactive storytelling thing is not for me) and then SYSTEM SHOCK came out. It was my first taste of what videogames could actually BE. It had the dual benefit of being 1) fantastic, and 2) unlike anything I’d seen before. Is it too much to expect modern games to bring that kind of a feeling back? Yes, on a regular scale, although a couple of them have managed it (FALLOUT 3 and FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS for example – and that’s coming from somebody who’d played the original FALLOUT games).

    I think most people who’ve played SYSTEM SHOCK would say it was the CITIZEN KANE of videogames (sorry, HALF-LIFE fans, but as great and immersive as that game was, as great a world as it created, it was still a linear shooter. Also CITIZEN KANE was a complete flop whose value was only recognised much later.) In that game, more than anything else I can think of, it was about making your own story. There are more memorable moments I can recall from that one game than I think from any game since. The problem with that comparison is that I think there’s been plenty of films that have lived up to the promise that CITIZEN KANE set up. I don’t think we’re at that point with videogames yet. I don’t think the business model allows for it. The indie devs can afford to be experimental but don’t have the resources to operate on a grand scale (there’s a reason why MINECRAFT is one of the most popular indie games ever), whereas the big monoliths create massive open-world adventures that I think come the closest to making the player the subject of their own story and experience, rather than one whose limits are rigidly set by the game (in fact, if you asked me what I wanted out of games in the future, I’d say to make those limits so astronomically wide, you barely notice they’re there.) But even these start to look samey and familiar, and the monoliths just can’t afford to take risks with the “formula”.

    But again, a lot of this is cynicism on my part. It’s hard to see the same stuff being done over and over again and find a reason to be interested.

  179. For someone who has owned a Commodore 64, which is one of the worst pieces of machines ever invented by mankind,

    I… I… I legimately got nothing. Several people are about to congratulate you.

    Happy Thanksgiving. May all your turkeys be stuffed with gooses, your gooses stuffed with ducks, and your ducks stuff with chickens.

  180. “I don’t see that it does too much new though. I’d rather say that it combines two separate elements not usually combined, and does it really really well. It iterates rather than innovates. It takes a very old idea – the work simulator – and adds to it with another very old idea – the dystopian landscape – and makes them work together to create an immersive experience.”

    Perhaps, you´re right Paul. But I felt that PAPERS,PLEASE tried to convey a sense of what it´s like to live in an dictatorship (a sense that is impossible to replicate,but still) and for me it felt fresh, not new. It´s completely different. If you want new you have to create something from scratch. Which is easier said than done . (Try to add a new letter to the alphabet.)

  181. Paul: It’s an interesting thing, the feeling that something special has come along. It’s interesting, I think, partially because it’s a wholly personal response that people really love to have validated by others. Something can be really special to me and be largely reviled, but when enough people agree with me that it’s amazing, I suddenly have taste.

    Honestly, I don’t think that anybody can reliably produce that feeling in a large number of people on purpose. There are lots and lots of examples of artists who were “the voice of a generation” but then “lost their edge” or somesuch. Look at Welles. He created a movie that’s widely considered one of the best of all time, but it wasn’t long before he could rarely convince anyone to hire him to direct anything, let alone do so without massive irritations. If you watch some of the movies from his beleaguered period, though, especially with knowledge of studio cuts in mind, I’d wager that you’d find that they mostly stack up (I think I like watching Touch of Evil more than Citizen Kane sometimes). He didn’t “go soft” or “sell out” or what have you. He kept doing what he did best. It was just that the people around him weren’t following him on that journey any longer.

    I think it’s similar in most media, and games are no different. The whole “lightning in a bottle” concept is, in my opinion, much more about the audience than the creator. The main difference with games is that the traditional model involves potentially even more financial risk than some movies. If something doesn’t sell well, people can get fired pretty quickly. Maybe Ken Levine doesn’t have the wild ideas that he once did; maybe his teams had more to do with it than this way of thinking allows; maybe System Shock 2 came out at exactly the right time for Levine’s style to resonate with PC Gamers of the period (the sly winks at Satanism in a market and genre flooded by the id Software aesthetic were probably kind of mind-blowing at the time). My point is, I suppose, that evaluating how special something feels tells the evaluator more about him- or herself than it does about the thing being evaluated. I doubt this is new to you, of course. Your comment just sparked a thought that might be relevant.

  182. The Original... Paul

    November 27th, 2014 at 8:13 am

    That Guy – there are C64 games I love for nostalgia’s sake… but the truly well-designed ones are hard to come by. There was a huge, huge amount of crap produced for that machine, simply because of its popularity. (Remember the “Dragon Ninja” port? Or the “Double Dragon” one?) I mean, YIE AR KUNG FU was great, MIKEY was great, FIRST BLOOD was pretty good. BUG BOMBER was a bomberman clone that actually improved on the original in some ways. (You can lay eggs that spawn robots that fight for you!) And I loved SLY SPY (best music ever.) Oh, and the LAST NINJA games – all fantastic.

    But all that said… I remember the Sega consoles (nobody had Nintendo back then in my crowd) seeming like a revelation of their own at the time. Not in the same way as SYSTEM SHOCK did, mind you. There’s a difference between a game that gives you better-designed corridors and one that opens up a whole new world for you. But having said that… if I look at the Sega Megadrive (or Genesis), I can think of several games that I’d consider classics. Hell, there are some that I’d play again tomorrow if I had the means. That’s not the case with many C64 games (except maybe the text ones that I wrote myself.) And I played dozens of the things.

    On another subject, I once saw a documentary that talked about a dish that was basically a turkey stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a duck stuffed with God knows what else, right up until the tiny bird in the middle. I’m kinda surprised they didn’t throw in an ostrich somewhere there. I’d like to try one of those some time.

    Shoot – I’ll quote the Heavy in response to that and say “maybe, maybe”. Again, a lot of this is down to personal cynicism on my part rather than meant as a criticism of the media in general. Although it’s definitely a criticism of the business culture of it – that’s a whole different issue.

    SofS – I don’t doubt what you say. And I don’t doubt there are many, many people who didn’t grow up with my experiences and find something like ALIEN: ISOLATION completely enthralling, when to me it’s a collection of the worst tropes and cliches of horror games (Oh look, that guy just had a monologue about how you have to be a survivor, guess what’ll happen to him in five seconds’ time? Oh look, here’s a completely empty large room with several locked exits, I guess I’m safe for the next two hours then, or just as long as it takes me to brush up against the macguffin that unlocks one of the doors? And when I do, I wonder if something will jump out at me going “Boogaboogaboogaloo”?) But then, maybe this stuff doesn’t work for me because I’m familiar with it. Although it’s weird that stuff like this works for, say, Roland Emmerich movies (watching WHITE HOUSE DOWN was like putting on a comfortable old pair of shoes again, everything about it was both predictable and satisfying) doesn’t work for videogames. Maybe because I have to devote a helluva lot longer to games, maybe because there’s a lot more repetition in them by design, or maybe it’s just an interactive media thing.

  183. Paul: I definitely think that length and repetition are the keys there. I can listen to a song tons of times if it’s really good; I can watch a movie I really like a decent number of times, but not too many; I’ve pretty much never done a full replay of a really long (40+ hours) game, no matter how much I liked it. It’s just too much time and too much of the same.

    Also, though, do you think that we’ve just been conditioned to expect novelty from games? I was born in the 80s and grew up in the 90s. During my prime gaming years, it seemed like there was a constant arms race going on for sheer spectacle. I gather that it’s slowed down somewhat in the past decade as people stopped caring quite as much as they once did about video card specs and the market diversified. I’m in favour of all of that, but I can see how it’s sort of disappointing when one grew up with the idea of gaming just constantly racing forward as fast as possible.

  184. “Also, though, do you think that we’ve just been conditioned to expect novelty from games?”

    Ok, let me be the devil’s advocate here: sorry to pop your bubble here buddy, but if you expect ANYTHING from games, obviously you don’t realize how hard it is for developers to make a game.

    So, what, you want games to be, like, “fun” or something? Oh, ok, so, we have to make our game “fun” so that His Royal Majesty SofS is content. Ok, bucko, but, hey, what about people who don’t like having “fun”? Well I guess we’ll have to put a whole second disc in the box so that they can play the non-“fun” version of the game then won’t we? And then what’s next? Shoot McKay will want to have sex with the developer’s wife. Toxic will take the shirt off the developer’s back. The Original… Paul will want to drink the blood of the developer’s firstborn. Some black jewish girl will get her panties in a wad unless we cater to the whims of every possible minority. The budget will get out of control and I bet you goddamn liberals will still find something to whine about.

    Don’t expect anything but white dudes shooting bad guys and being rewarded with big titties. I’m sorry pal, but there’s no realistic alternative, change ANYTHING to that formula and not only it’s a ton of extra work, you’ll also realize you’ve actually made it super offensive.

  185. Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

  186. The Original... Paul

    November 27th, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    This Dude – so you’re saying it’s unreasonable to expect a developer to consistently make good work nowadays, even when he’s done so in the past, because of the current “formula”?

    Glad we agree on that one then!

  187. Oh, “good work”, see, already, you’re talking about something that depends entirely on YOUR opinions, YOUR beliefs, and basically calling me a nazi.

    So ok bro, sorry if you haven’t taken your red pill yet, but let me tell you how the world works for us grownups.

    Let’s say the game developer changes the formula so that it fits your idea of what’s “good”, according to your personal set of morals that you’re trying to force down everybody’s collective throats here. Now let’s say a black guy doesn’t like the new formula. Well congratulations buddy, with your fancy idea of what’s “good” you made the developer racist. Now you might say, a girl also likes the new formula. Oh, ok, so, what, she’s better than the black dude or something? What about the transgender midget who may or may not enjoy the new formula? See, now you and that girl are being racist to the black guy and calling that little person a circus freak, in the name of what’s “good”. Not to mention that the developer is going to have to work on Thanksgiving to figure out that new formula even thoufh ultimately it’s going to offend everybody but YOU, Mr Moral High Ground.

    So basically what I’m saying is, yes, we can agree that you crybabies just need to stop whining and buy WHITE GUY SAVES THE WORLD 2015 (only $59.99 + $14.99 for the DLC Season Pass) so that nobody’s racist, and developers can see their families instead of working overtime for you monsters.

  188. See, if Paper’s Please is among the best modern gaming can offer, then gaming aint what it used to be, I mean with all due respect to Paper’s Please, it’s still the kind of game that ten years ago would have probably been an interesting flash game on Newgrounds, while “the best gaming can offer” would have been stuff like Metal Gear Solid 3 and Half Life 2.

  189. @ The Original… Paul

    That Guy – there are C64 games I love for nostalgia’s sake… but the truly well-designed ones are hard to come by. There was a huge, huge amount of crap produced for that machine, simply because of its popularity. (Remember the “Dragon Ninja” port? Or the “Double Dragon” one?)

    As the original Paul, you’ve been around a lot longer than I have. I hope we can be friends though as fellow apostles, since the gospel of Footloose and Jehovah share much in common. If I recall my reading, Jesus actually appeared to you in a flash of light after his resurrection, similar to how Kevin Bacon appeared to me on TNT in my living room. We have shared experiences to bond over.

    However, I never got to play on the C64 in realtime, and have only experienced them as a machine at the computer history museum, and as software via emulation. And the thing about emulators is people try to keep everything, but only pass around and share ROMs they love.

    I was more reacting to “…which is one of the worst pieces of machines ever invented by mankind,” which… a lot of the things we love were invented by people whose first taste of programming as the C64. They’re all super fond of it. So I was trying to figure out if he meant operating system, hardware, and my brain broke. So your reaction to a glut of churned out software akin to the Atari 2600 is informative.

    Sidebar: Shoot McKay, I’m actually really interested if there were other things besides the glut of games that made you use those words.

    I played the hell out of double dragon though, but it was on an old arcade & sega at home, so it bums me if it was disrespected. My first love will always be an old and neglected Karate Champ aracde game in the corner of a quiet summer campground. Magical things happened, though a man never showed up telling me I was needed because of my skill. This was the first sign that The Last Starfighter was a false prophet.

    On another subject, I once saw a documentary that talked about a dish that was basically a turkey stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a duck stuffed with God knows what else… …I’d like to try one of those some time.

    Someone made a documentary on turducken? I must see this, please scour your memory for the name. It’s pretty great, but not so great it’s the only thing you’ll ever want to do at Thanksgiving, but great in a “You’ll always remember this Thanksgiving” way, like your first deepfried Turkey. I just don’t want to oversell it, but it isn’t dangerous like deep-frying and might get you laid, especially if you serve it to me.

    You debone everything, except the legs & wings on the turkey. You violate the chicken with sausage or egg, and while you have it on the pinball machine you keep violating them until it’s all bundled up. It takes forever to cook, but then you slice off the legs and wings, and slice it cross-ways so each slice has bits of everything. The fattiness of the duck keeps everything moist, while all the flavors intermingle into something new like a Tarantinto movie. Deboning them isn’t as hard as you’d think, but I say that as someone who watched someone else do it. You can also buy ’em online premade now.

    You might also google a “Timpano”, which is next on my list after seeing the film “Big Night.”

    I sincerely do hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving, with good food or with people you care about, or remembering people you care about, or guilt-free naps. And if you didn’t have them, I wish them for you. People are gonna disagree, find different things attractive or amusing, but we’re all people.

    To quote Dickens, “It shouldn’t hurt when you sit on Thanksgiving. Butts can be hurting tomorrow. We cool. So say we all.”

  190. METAL GEAR SOLID 3 is certainly not I game I would call great. Kojimas poor use of the medium as story telling frankly sickens me. If I want to watch cut scenes, I stick to regular cinema that at least have competent people knowing how to reel it in. The cut scenes are frankly the modern day equivalent to the C64 loading screens. But instead of playing awesome music during the wait, you are being forced upon all that convoluted espionage/anime garbage I´ve learned to despise over the years.And the gameplay and control sucks. It´s not a game that holds up anymore in my opinion. It´s a frustrating game on almost every level, but then again I have learned to hate these fucking games and I´ve used them as benchmark on how I NOT want games to evolve.

  191. That Guy- Whenever you started the fuckin thing you never could be sure if the game loaded or not. The term “Loading error” sends shivers down my spine. Not only could the game take forever to load , but when you think the damn thing actually loaded the damn game you were met with that blue screen of failure. Shit. There were a lot of groundbreaking things going on of course, but as a child I drowned in all the garbage that was released. To quote legendary C64 composer Ben Dalglish regarding the company Ocean, kings of crap: “They release shit on the market and used the consumers as toilet paper.” Enough said. That quote says a lot about the home computer in the 80´s.

    Sorry for my MGS rant earlier. I was a bit hard on Snake Eater, but somehow I tend to get irritated whenever Kojimas games are brought up as some kind of benchmark when I consider “cut scenes” a waste of the medium. Not that I am completely against them. Cut scenes can be used to good effect as a way for the gamer to catch a breath. But the MGS games put me to sleep instead.

  192. The only game I can think of on the C64 that I would like to revisit is IK+ (International Karate+). I can imagine that one holds up. Pretty realistic fighting , gorgeous animations and graphics for its time. As fighters go, that one is mos def my favourite. But the hardware REALLY sucks, so the Amiga version would probably be a better bet.

  193. “Found “IK+”
    Loading
    ?Loading Error
    Ready
    RUN YOU MOTHERFUCKER!!!

  194. The Original... Paul

    November 28th, 2014 at 10:29 am

    This Dude – Ok, I get you now. And wow, that was inspired – you had me until the “developers can see their families” line, which I love. (You couldn’t have brought Santa Claus into that one though?) Still, well played sir. Well played.

  195. The Original... Paul

    November 28th, 2014 at 10:30 am

    And yeah, there was a megaton of crap on the C64 (although it had a fair few really good games) but let’s not forget the SID sound chip, ok? Even people with Sega Master Systems were envious of that.

  196. The Original… Paul, don’t even get me started on Santa Claus because this war against honest, hard working game developers is practically a second war on Christmas. I mean I hate to brag or sound condescending here kiddo, but as a wealthy videogame industrialist I buy and sell men like Santa Claus every day. I’ve worked on my share of huge projects. The whole Christmas thing practically depends on me. Yeah, you’re welcome.

    But let’s say for the sake of the argument that for the next big Christmas release we change the formula in the name of “progress” or however you bleeding heart liberals want to call your desperate pandering to self entitled minorities who are never happy with anything anyway. Then what’s gonna happen is that kids are gonna hate it, Christmas will be ruined, everybody at the game company will get fired and won’t be able to afford to buy presents for their kids anyway, so Christmas will be double-ruined. And then some muslim hermaphodite will sue us anyway because there’s no muslim hermaphrodite in the game. BRA-VO, fancypants, you triple-ruined Christmas.

    So I don’t want to sound rude or anything cause I’m totally cool and hilarious, but you little faggy Social Justice Warriors just need to shut up and buy SPORTS 2015. It’s basically SPORTS 2014 with different cover art and you know what, that’s just how we need to do things if I don’t want everybody’s lawyer breathing down my neck. I mean it’s bad enough that we had to work extra to include colored folks on the roster, now if we make a game that’s actually different from last year’s game we’re offending everybody who’s nostalgic for 2013, plus every one of those tribes who still live like they’re stuck in the past. I mean yeah sure son, we could change the game to make it more “modern” or something but then it’s practically like calling those guys a bunch of cavemen and telling the rainforest to go eat a bag of dicks, you know what I mean? Is that what you want now bro? You want to insult those poor tribesmen, oh I mean I’m sorry, I guess it’s tribesPEOPLE now (thanks Obama!), just so that the missus will stop PMSing? Just because there’s like 50 of those dudes left in the world and they don’t play videogames doesn’t mean we can insult their lifestyle by making our game different from what it was in the past, buddy. If we want to be responsible we need to respect the right of every minority to celebrate Christmas just like you man. With a copy of SPORTS 2015 (only $59.99) (ball and referee only included with the Deluxe Pre-Order edition, $79.99).

  197. Speaking of video games has anyone else played ALIEN: ISOLATION yet? I’ve been playing it and it’s fucking incredible, it’s the movie game that makes you feel like you’ve really stepped into the movie the most.

    And the retro stuff is mind bogglingly clever, it’s almost funny in the incongruity of seeing stuff like CRTs, old computers, old arcade machines and reel to reel tape recorders on a fucking space station in the 22nd century, but at the same time it makes perfect sense because the idea is you’re playing a lost ALIEN sequel made between ALIEN and ALIENS, so of course that’s what kind of stuff they would have on the space station, but who would even think to do it that way? however it’s exactly that attention to detail that make it feel like you’re really in a movie.

    I hope the same developers make a BLADE RUNNER game in the same style next.

  198. Of course ALIEN is Fox and BLADE RUNNER is WB so that might not be as easy as it seems, but it still needs to happen.

  199. Really, nothing to say about that game?

  200. It looks repetitive.

  201. Griff – I’ve tried the nostromo missions while drinking beers with my brother, like yourself I also appreciate the game design, the call-back to futuristic 1970’s technology and an unstoppable xenomorph who is relentless, rather than the ones you can dispatch with ye good ole pulse rifle. I’m hesitant to discuss this next bit ( Just in case “this dude” is listening, waiting in the shadows to bombard us with his opinions which no one gives a fuck about.) is the fact that this is also a survival horror game with a strong,resourceful female protagonist whose appearance is never addressed( first person), it may even be Sarkeesian approved, congrats Dude I do believe your enjoying a game that feminists have been asking for.

    Also all my favorite games are usually related to some other form of media that I’m already invested in, I’ve mentioned my love for the arkham games( though asylum is the best) but nearly 10 years ago I bought one of the last gen PS2’s just so I could play the Warriors because dammit I love that stupid stupid game.

  202. “congrats Dude I do believe your enjoying a game that feminists have been asking for.”

    Hey man, I don’t have a problem with playing a “Sarkeesian approved” game if it’s appropriate for the context of the specific game and it’s completely appropriate you would play such a character in an ALIEN game, I just don’t believe that a different kind of game, say a Soul Calibur, should be forced to bow to that kind of pressure, because I’m all for game developers doing what they want and if that includes a “Sarkeesian approved” game then more power to them, does that make sense?

    And if a game is out there that does offend me, like say the Call of Duty series and it’s bald faced military propaganda, I just don’t buy and play them, if someone does have a problem with a Soul Calibur type game, then it’s their prerogative too to just not play it.

    Anyway the game can be pretty frustrating, one part took me about an hour to get past because it was a cramped area and the Alien would just not fuck off and let me get out of there, I’m not sure how I managed to get past it, blind luck probably, but one protip I have noticed is it’s best to be proactive and always on the move unless you just absolutely have to hide, taking it slooooow doesn’t seem to do you any favors.

    I think the game is also meant to be played in a trial and error way, almost like a puzzle, where you may get killed frequently but you’ll also make a little bit more progress every time or have the opportunity to keep experimenting, I think it works for the most part bu I can see why in this age where player death is seen as a bug, not a feature, it would be shocking to people.

    It’s also effectively scary, you WILL be unhappy when you see that mother fucker stalking around.

  203. I tried playing that ALIEN game at a friend’s house and I couldn’t really get into it. Felt too plodding and like a non game way touch for my tastes. I expected something more akin to a SYSTEM SHOCK 2 experience. So I just said “to hell with I’ll just go back to playing BAYONETTA 2”.

  204. The Original Paul

    December 8th, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Griff – don’t want to spoil the experience for you, so all I’ll say is I thought it was competently made, but other than that I didn’t like it, at all. Sorry. This goes back to what I was saying about expectations and experience – it’s not for me.

  205. The Original Paul

    December 8th, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    God we’re a load of downers here sometimes.

    Griff, I’m glad that you’re enjoying ALIEN: ISOLATION so much, and I hope that it brings you a fuckload of survival-horror-themed fun and excitement. I sincerely mean that. Don’t take too much notice of us cranky old guys.

  206. By the way, a few more notes about the ALIEN: ISOLATION game, there actually is a direct BLADE RUNNER reference (I wont spoil what it is), so it shows the developers are thinking along the same lines as I am.

    If a BLADE RUNNER game is out of the question though, they should at least release some DARK STAR DLC where the Alien is replaced by the Beach Ball alien.

  207. I don´t think I will ever get to play ALIEN ISOLATION. It doesn´t seem like a fun game to play for me. Right now it´s FAR CRY 4 all the way, which is more up my alley.

  208. Hey Vern,

    This review has 200 plus comments, how come it does not show up in the “most comments” on the side of the site anymore?

  209. The widget was set at posts from the last 180 days. I just reset it for 600 days, but now the Mad Max posts are lower down, which is an outrage. But this is more accurate.

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