Zen Of Design

The design and business of gaming from the perspective of an experienced developer

Month: September 2014 (page 1 of 2)

The SJW Press Didn’t Kill Divinity’s Boobplate. Capitalism Did.

I’m generally pro-boobplate.  I mean, I’m not going to go and slap a pair of DD knockers on a Pokemon or anything, but as my friend Scott once pointed out, “I just think it’s hilarious that you’ve been labelled a Social Justice Warrior when you pretty much are the staunch defender of the right of the male gamer to have funny thoughts while playing Bayonetta.”  And that’s not to say that I insist on boobplate: I’m equally a fan of Batgirl’s new look.  In fact, I freakin’ love it. I like a variety of characters, both male and female in my entertainment, and love great character design anywhere up and down the sexy spectrum.  But still, I have no problems agreeing with a lot of Anita’s points, and yet still defending boobplate.

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This Is The Worst Games Media Ever, Except For All The Ones Before

You can take my thesis statement with a grain of salt, but it’s true.  We have, today, the biggest, most diverse, and most interesting Gaming Journalism we’ve ever had.  Whether that’s good enough, I leave as an exercise to the reader.  I suspect that many readers, particularly GGers would think not, and to be honest, I think that most developers, including many of us who challenge #Gamergate on many points, would actually agree.  As a matter of fact, at the end of the infamous Milo post, I gave several examples of things that merit actual investigation rather than crappy indie fundraisers and feminists who go mostly ignored anyway.

Big league games like Destiny and GTAV cost more than 9 figures, and a third of that at LEAST is usually earmarked to marketing. Is anyone following that money? Some years ago, a Gamespot journalist was fired right after giving a bad review to a AAA game. Games from big studios seem to rarely get reviews below 70%, but indie devs who can’t afford to advertise routinely do. Some companies have been caught giving payola to Youtube streamers (). Companies routinely fly press around the country and wine and dine the journalists that will review themHere’s a story about a company who hired a reviewer to do a mock review, solely so he couldn’t legally write the bad review they thought he’d give them.

Here’s the thing.  We used to have a smaller, more focused games media.  It was sharp.  It was glossy.  It printed just the previews, and once the game came out, it printed just the reviews.  It was the amazing world of Print Media: PC Games, PC Gamer, Computer Gaming World, Nintendo Power, EGM and NextGen magazine.  Let ol’ cranky grandpa developer tell you about it.

It was fucking DREADFUL.

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Here’s Why No One Believes The “It’s Not About Her” Angle

A play in three acts.

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Ms. Sommers Just Can’t Let It Go

So it’s been a week since I pointed out that Christina Hoff Sommers logic in her ‘games aren’t sexist’ movie is, like, really, really logically flawed.’  She responded by… I’m not making this up… attacking my spelling.  She also intimated I smeared her while, at the same time, misrepresenting my point enough that a whole bunch of people thought I was calling gamers Nazis and Klansmen. Which was a nifty bit of gold-medal caliber trolling.

But hey, my original argument was a tad emotional and a little abbreviated because, er, I was trying to squeeze in a few Milo slams, but really because the article was more about how this was evidence that SOME people were attempting to hijack #gamergate in order to shut down certain voices in the games industry that are already underrepresented. And, er, she sure isn’t doing anything to disprove THAT point, but whatever.

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The Most Important Part of This Escapist Article Is the Anonymity

Some time ago, Alexander Macris from The Escapist asked me to write up my thoughts on #gamergate. I sent him a response (it’s still coming, I think), and told him that I hoped he was talking to some women. With my response, I told him frankly that I thought it would be a bad idea for him to ignore diversity for this topic, because much of the roots of this topic are based in minority viewpoints, particularly women. He latched onto this idea and ran with it. It’s a good read. Seriously, go read it.

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The Problem With GamerGate is Twitter

Damion notes: Dave Rickey is one of the smartest designers I know. He also violently disagrees with me on many aspects of my opinions about #gamergate, what its origins are, and what impact social justice issues have – as you can see if you read my comments threads here on Zen. He tends to be more pro-GG and I tend to be anti-GG, but in general, both of us have been trending towards a shared ‘pox on both their houses’ stance. He made the following comment on Facebook, and I asked if I could reprint this in its entirety, and he agreed.


Proposed: The problem in “‪#‎gamergate‬” is not misogyny, or corruption in games journalism. The problem is Twitter. Twitter is a breeding ground for social dysfunction, where you are lulled into a sense of community and comradery because everyone you follow and everyone that follows you are basically in agreement. The only things that can penetrate the bubble are “Outrage Porn” being retweeted into it, and attacks responding to outrage porn that is being passed around other bubbles. Continue reading

Milo’s Sloppy, Biased Video Games Reporting

Update: October 22nd – Please see this followup, where I address having taken Kotaku’s reporting too uncritically in this instance.

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Update – October 16th: Brad has responded to this article, wherein he demands an apology from me. I welcome any to read his side of the story.  He is particularly vehement that the actual instances of sexual harassment did not occur.  My response:

  1. Harassment is wrong. Anyone who thinks I believe otherwise after reading my work here on any post is not reading the words on the written page correctly.  No one should ever have harassed Brad’s wife or child, ever – or for that matter, Brad himself. If this has happened (and I actually don’t doubt it), the instigators are fuckwads, whether they’r men, women, SJWs, martians, or whatever.
  2. BioWare has nothing to do with my opinions.  As is noted on every page of this blog, I speak only for myself.  Period.  Leave them out of it.
  3. I have added disclaimers to the text below linking to your page, but otherwise left them intact.  I believe that people should be able to read your counter and have it make sense when reading mine.
  4. In my current capacity, I have nothing to do with anyone deleting forum posts on any topic except on this blog. I have no idea why this is brought up.  For what it’s worth, I do not believe any posts to this thread have been deleted – I typically only delete abusive or nonsensical comments.
  5. I am basing the timeframe of their countersuit on this Kotaku article, which states that the countersuit was filed in August of 2012.  They probably used this document to make this case.  If Kotaku corrects the record, or Brad is willing to provide compelling counter-evidence, I am more that happy to publish it here and apologize for this error, and I’ll even condemn Kotaku for shitty journalism.
  6. I am basing the terms of dismissal on this Kotaku article, which claims clearly that the two lawsuits were settled as part of a joint settlement, which despite Brad’s claims, aren’t ‘vindication’ – in fact, the more heinous the employee’s theft of IP was, the more startling it would be that Brad wouldn’t see it to conclusion in court if the sexual harassment case was a nothingburger.  If Kotaku corrects the record, or Brad is willing to provide compelling counter-evidence, I am more that happy to publish it here and apologize for this error, and I’ll even condemn Kotaku for shitty journalism.

All this being said, my central gist, which is that Milo not bringing up the countersuit’s role in this lawsuit evaporating paints an incredibly different version of what occurred. However, if new details challenge this view, I will certainly report them and, if appropriate, apologize.

And I shouldn’t have to mention this again, but harassment is wrong. If anyone reads my rebuttal and thinks I am in favor of or hope to encourage the harassment of anyone, including and especially Brad’s family or Brad himself, then please delete me from your blogroll.


I’ve had some problems with Ben Kuchera’s work in the bast. In fact, not too long ago I wrote an article titled What’s Wrong With Game Journalism, and used as exhibit A Ben’s baffling spin on SimCity delivering a much-desired and much-demanded feature (offline play) as a ‘race to the bottom’. In it, I basically argued that Ben doesn’t know much about the inner technical challenges of making major changes like this, and also slammed him for putting a negative spin on what should be a positive, fan-friendly eventuality. Hell, one of my coworkers has a tumblr that it seems like he only ever updates when he wants to rant about something Ben said.

So yeah, Ben’s not above reproach as a journalist.

That being said, Milo Yiannopoulos makes Kuchera look like fucking Woodward and Bernstein combined. You may remember Milo from my previous piece here where I debunked him and Christina Sommers. I think it probably says something that while my Twitter feed filled up with people mad at me for bashing ‘Based Mom’, no one’s stepping up to defend Milo. This may be due to the fact that he’s the sort of enlightened soul who occasionally lets something repugnant slip, such as in this fantastically hypocritical article where he defines Rockstar as having “Brazen, sociopathic, adolescent attitudes” and then veering into “Personally, I don’t understand grown men wasting their lives playing computer games. It seems a bit sad to me” before concluding “It’s not for me to legislate what weirdos in yellowing underpants get up to in their spare time.”  He also makes it clear that there’s no doubt that video games were a factor in Elliott Rodger going nutballs.

Yes, this is the defender of the poor devs boxed in by political correctness, and the savior of gamers still reeling from a million ‘gamers are dead’ articles.

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No, I Didn’t Say, Or Mean, That Gamers Are Nazis or Klansmen

TLDR: That’s not what I said, that’s not what I meant, but I apologize that what I wrote could be construed that way. But that doesn’t mean that CHS’s logic is any better.

My friends think it’s pretty funny that I’m now being linked wholeheartedly into the SJW Conspiracy that is in bed with the media and is out to destroy gaming. I’m simply a free speech zealot. I believe firmly in free speech for gamers, game makers, and game journalists. I believe that voices like Anita should be listened to. I also think they can frequently be wrong, or ill-suited for the market. I loudly advocated for Penny Arcade during the dickwolf scandal. I’m usually the one pissing off the feminists by loudly supporting boobplate – if your game is aimed for the right audience. I just simply don’t like people telling me who should be allowed to talk to me about games.

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How GamerGate’s Right Wing Nutjob Heroes Are Betraying a Hidden Ideological Purge

#GamerGate diehards insist that the current discussion has nothing at all to do with politics and that they are, in fact, trying to keep politics and ideology out of gaming.  Which is stupid – Bioshock, the Sims, Call of Duty and Civilization are all games that have a lot of message and ideology – but yeah, you could ignore all that and stick to that broken point of view.  And a lot of #gamergate fanatics have – in a display of hypocrisy which has now become everyday in this hashtag, #GamerGate has anointed as their champions two right-wing nutjobs desperate to insert their own ideology into the discussion in an apparent successful attempt to be instant patron saints of the Movement.  Hilariously, both have admitted to not really playing any games, something that was considered high treason when it was inferred to be true about Anita, despite the fact that her stuff appears to be mostly very well researched and, uh, for the most part, to have problems but contain some pretty good points. Apparently this isn’t a problem if you’re willing to just take #GamerGate’s side although kudos to whoever suggested that Hatoful Boyfriend should be Milo’s first game).

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I Watch Anita Sarkeesian So You Don’t Have To. But You Should.

So, my Twitter feed has been full of people who believe that Anita Sarkeesian wants to corrupt my brain, and convert me into being an SJW zombie, thus ruining every game that I ever make.  Because I have no free will and am part of the politically correct machine, I watched most of her video-game oriented videos.  And I gotta say, watching these videos really made me angry.  Because she spoiled the ending to about a couple dozen games I haven’t finished.  Seriously, Anita, a spoilers tag is customary here!

Now because I want to save any of you from becoming sheeple who might be infected by an opposing view by actually watching and considering her work on its actual merits, I thought I would pull a USA Today and share what I found to be the four primary takeaways from her videos so far in easily digestable form:

  1. Games should show more women capable of strength, agency and power in your game world, instead of being relegated to simply being background props or quest objectives that could be replaced with a sock monkey.
  2. Game designers should be less lazy in reaching for the same, tired stereotypes – or merely xeroxes of male leads – but especially stereotypes showing women as disempowered, and find ways to depict more female characters in more interesting and unique roles.
  3. Game designers should keep in mind that a lot of people (and not just women) have a viscerally negative reactions to scenes showing violence against women (particularly as many have first-hand experience with it), so maybe we shouldn’t just throw these scenes in casually.
  4. Seriously, all the dead, spread-eagled naked women in games are kind of creepy.

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