I like Oliver Campbell. As far as #GamerGaters go, he’s a moderate, reasonable guy, and he comes at the topic of ethics in games journalism with relative experience and logic for a consumer movement that frequently has no idea what ethical journalism looks like. That being said, every now and then, he says something extremely silly.
Killing Christmas is kind of a favorite fever dream for the far end of GamerGate, with some treating it as some sort of End Boss like event (GamerGaters like game analogies, unsurprisingly). A similar sentiment was echoed by the short-lived Operation Krampus, a cause they abandoned around the time that they realized they’d declared so many media outlets boycotted that Krampus would effectively mean that Game Publishers could only give review copies to Return of Kings.
Anyway, this is just me talking here, but I find Oliver’s future pretty far-fetched. Why?
I think Little Green Footballs was exploring what Milo is up to nowadays.
There are those who think that perhaps Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian are lying about the campaigns of terror, hacking, and bullying that they are currently encountering (and thanks to Tadhg Kelly for inventing the term Gamergate Truthers to describe them – it’s easier to say in polite company than fuckwads). I daresay that anybody who has ever set foot in the Customer Service department of a major MMO for more than five minutes has pretty much no doubts whatsoever. Because those guys see it all. Every day.
It used to be worse. Much worse. My first MUD, CarnageMUD, had to ban several players for attempting to hack, bully or keylog other players. Meridian 59 was worse, but it wasn’t until Ultima Online that we really saw how dark things could be.
I am not a perfect ally of the progressive/feminist forces inside the game community. I started to list out examples at the start of this post, and then realized I had a wall of text that would undoubtedly derail the conversation that needs to happen (on the bright side, I apparently have quite a backlog of good blog material). However, there are some clear examples.
First, I think that Penny Arcade and PAX have generally gotten a raw deal. Second, I think that costumes and armor in comic books and video games are not meant to protect the character or be functional or realistic, but to create a strong, unique, marketable character and aspirational fantasy, and I love Bayonetta equally as much as the new Batgirl. Third, I think that describing our video game culture as a ‘rape culture’ is incendiary, inaccurate, and ultimately counterproductive. There is scant evidence that our mass media and video games cause more real life sexual violence towards women – in fact, sexual assault rates have decreased steadily since 1993 (you know, the year Doom came out) and are currently at 20 year lows.
Now that we’ve established that I’m not your typical social justice warrior, I feel nevertheless compelled to point out that our Fuckwad Culture is currently off the rails.
Here’s a good example: SimCity launched with technical problems, to be sure, but what offended many people was that the game was designed to be online-only, not just technically but also for some game features to work. It was a clear case where the game design didn’t match player expectations, which is always unfortunate, and in this case, that design was instrumental to the overall architecture of the game. Last March, the SimCity team announced that fixing this would be difficult to do. They now have announced that they are finally wrapping up this change to allow for single-player mode.
Which prompted this headline: “EA continues race to the bottom with unexplained SimCity offline reversal.” Yes, that’s the headline for Maxis COURSE CORRECTING THEMSELVES AND GIVING THE PLAYERS WHAT THEY WANT. Continue reading
Sometime ago, someone sent me this article, in which a Free-to-Play designer described how he is not a ‘cancer’ on the games industry. I read it, but I didn’t fully agree with it, but it took me a little while to figure out what’s wrong with it.
This is it:
You see, game development is a business and businesses in a capitalist society are ruled by market forces….But games like those published by Electronic Arts are paid for by the people who own stock in the company. At the end of the day, these investors do not care about artistic integrity, Metacritic score or DRM solutions, they only care about stock price and return on investment
Candy Crush Saga is used frequently as an example of Free 2 Play gone awry. Critics argue that Candy Crush Saga is insidiously designed to force monetization, which can be the only reason why the game has 15 million players, and why King Games is now estimated to be worth $500 million dollars. As Ramin Shokrizade points out on Gamasutra:
Another novel way to use a progress gate is to make it look transparent, but to use it as the partition between the skill game and the money game. Candy Crush Saga employs this technique artfully. In that game there is a “river” that costs a very small amount of money to cross. The skill game comes before the river. A player may spend to cross the river, believing that the previous skill game was enjoyable (it was for me) and looking to pay to extend the skill game. No such guarantee is given of course, King just presents a river and does not tell you what is on the other side. The money game is on the other side, and as the first payment is always the hardest, those that cross the river are already prequalified as spenders. Thus the difficulty ramps up to punishing levels on the far side of the river, necessitating boosts for all but the most pain tolerant players.
Color me cautiously optimistic:
Microsoft said there are no application fees, no certification fees and no title update fees…. Registered developers will receive two Xbox One development kits at no cost, and access to the console’s full features, including the “full power of the console,” cloud, Kinect and Xbox Live toolsets and more…. Revenue splits will be “industry standard” Charla told us. (Digital deals often give the platform holder 30 percent, and the developer 70 percent.)
Oh, wait, are Microsoft still evil because they want developers to make money? I lose track.