Zen Of Design

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

Month: August 2015

Tournament of Douchebaggery

This weekend, gaming sleuths who care about such things discovered that DriveThruRPG, one of the largest sites for downloadable PDFs for RPGs, was selling a game called Tournament of Rapists.

The Tournament of Rapists details the sadistic Rape Pure Flight circuit, expanding on what you’ve seen already and introducing dangerous new sexual predators. This sadistic bloodsport takes place in abandoned office buildings and atop Tokyo rooftops. An assortment of superhumanly powerful and inhumanly misogynistic men, and even worse women, step into impromptu fighting arenas, killing and raping the weaker in search of a multi-billion yen fight purse provided by a half-oni billionaire in thrall to dark impulses.

How awful is it?

There’s a stunt called “Triggering,” which gives you a bonus when attacking and raping previous victims of sexual assault.

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Ice-T is Pro-Gamer. GamerGate Is Not.

In what can only be described as one of the more hilarious events of GamerGate, Ice-T was Sea Lioned by GamerGaters last week. The summary of the whole event is quite hilarious, but without a doubt, this would be my favorite part.

It was embarrassing enough that one person (whether seriously or not) felt the need to form a petition apologizing to Ice-T on behalf of ‘the idiots’ in the cause. Still, GamerGate – in what is becoming a running joke in terms of covering the movement – desperately tried to spin these events as a victory. On Friday night,  GamerGate-friendly subreddit KotakuInAction had five full threads describing the event as a victory, with GamerGate sop website TechRaptor leading the charge.   Yes, once again, GamerGate was peddling the myth that they are primarily concerned about ethics in games journalism — an angle that would be undercut by the fact that they immediately began a witchhunt towards the author of the aforelinked Daily Beast article, impigning her credibility for the high crime of being friends with Devin Farici, a known GamerGate hater!  Still, given Ice-T’s battles with the press in the past, it was a sympathetic audiance.  But over the course of several tweets, Ice-T basically told the GamerGate Sea Lion Brigade that it was fucking dumb to waste your time worrying about the press disagreeing with you, and they should just play games and move on with their lives.  Which incidentally is what the rest of us have been telling GamerGate for a year now.  But this is what I wanted to talk about here.

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SPJ Airplay

I’ve been trying to cool down on GamerGate writings.  I actually made a pact to myself to not use the word in a blog article through July, a promise made more manageable by work turning into super happy fun fun imminent shipping insanity at work.  My first recent mention of it was in the Sad Puppies article, largely because GG’s apoplexy over the events at WorldCon was simply too tasty to not Schadenfreudize.

That being said, AirPlay was earlier this month, and I did keep an eye on its happenings.  Oddly enough, I was asked to comment by GamePolitics.com on the coverage of the event, and I did.  My commentary – and that of other observers across the spectrum – is here.  Left unsaid were my thoughts about the event itself.

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Hugo Voters Reject Sad, Rabid Puppies

It’s not every day that you wake up to find that the asshole brigade on the internet has been utterly humiliated beyond all expectations, but that appears to be what we have today.  Last night, the voters of the Hugo Awards utterly rejected the attempts by a conservative reactionary mob led by one of the single most influential racist, misogynistic assholes on the internet to game the nominating process of their awards, opting instead to give the awards to nobody rather than their handpicked slate.  In doing so, the Hugos maintained what integrity they could, and also proved what people like me have been saying about similar controversies like #GamerGate – they claim to speak for a silent majority, when in fact they speak for a loud minority – albeit a loud minority who leverages outrage to mobilize better than any other group.

Tons of good coverage of this, including at Wired, Yes! NPR and BoingBoing (and GRRM has been covering it closely since it all started).   Short summary is that earlier this year, two groups of people (the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies) figured out they could game the nominating process for the Hugo Awards, long considered one of the most prestigious awards in speculative fiction, in order to fight against what they percieve as the scourge of ‘SJW’-themed novels that have continued to win of late.  They succeeded in the nomination process, but in the final ballot, voters blew their slates out of the water with an unprecedented five ‘no awards’ in these categories.  This is an institutional repudiation on par to the mocking that #Gamergate took at GDC’s awards dinner this year.

Over at KotakuInAction (which is really more about anti-SJW hysteria than games at this point), they’re trying weakly to spin it into a positive, or alternatlvely trying to find a way to be outraged about the utter collapse of the anti-SJW effort.  Million_dollar Bus Aficionado Mark Kern compared the results to book burning,  Ian Miles Cheong nonsensically claimed the results ‘prove’ that the awards were rigged and Milo Yiannopoulos tried to blame the ‘SJWs’ on tearing down the awards rather than, you know, the assholes who tore down the awards.  This is a weak sauce argument – the ‘No Award’ vote totals clearly included not just far lefties but moderates as well, which suggests that many people were offended and opposed to the naked attempt to manipulate via brigading one of the most storied awards in Sci-Fi.  It was appalling enough that even some of the authors who were nominated by the Puppies to back out rather than be associated with the effort and even the ones who didn’t rejected the tactics.

All of these #gamerGate diehards, by the way, seem utterly unconcerned that the founders of the Puppies movements were enthusiastically pushing their friends, or that Vox Day gamed the rules in order to push himself and his magazine’s contributors to the top of the nominations.  Apparently, ethics are only important when SJWs are involved.

All this being said, this is not as rosy as it appears, as legitimately good art was forced off the ballot by the Sad Puppies brigading, or felt compelled to reject their nominations to distance themselves from Vox Day.  The Hugos have a real problem to solve in figuring out how to keep this from happening next year.  Looking forward, here’s a proposal for improving the voting process, so it can’t be gamed again next year.


A Retrospective on the SWG New Game Experience

Raph Koster pointed me to an article of one of the most infamous moments history in MMOdom – the moment where Sony Online Entertainment decided to entirely redo the entire game, cutting entire character classes, and replacing the core combat mechanic with ‘clicky combat’.  This event was known as the New Game Experience, commonly referred to as the NGE.  I have in the past described it as one of the largest mass-scale fuckups ever perpetuated on a large-scale MMO – it was a truly catastrophic event, both in terms of what it did to the game experience players loved, as well as what it did to the game’s population.

Of particular interest was Gordon Walton claiming responsibility for the whole thing, and community manager Tiggs going on an epic rant about the revamp, which ultimately cost her her job.  From my part, I was working down the road on Shadowbane at the time, and I can remember two things.  First and foremost, I remember a steady stream of Sony people suddenly flooding me with mail, friend requests, phone calls, looking for a life boat out.  In the trenches, faith in the NGE was apocalyptically low.

Secondly, I remember this event that shows the danger of pissing off an established community.  The NGE was not long after WoW was starting to show signs of real success, and made decision makers reevaluate what success looks like in the MMO genre.  Lagging slightly behind EverQuests numbers went from seeming pretty good to seeming anemic as fuck for a major licensed MMO almost overnight.  The logic behind the change was that getting rid of the Sim and replacing it with more conventional combat might alienate some of your existing customers, but their defections would be swamped by new people signing up.  What the logic failed to account for was that the existing community wouldn’t just quit.  They went to the press and poisoned the well.  It’s hard for your recruitment initiative to pick up steam when you’re battling perceptions like this Wired article, which seemed everywhere while this was ongoing.

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