Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday afternoon tidbits

One of the great things about living in Massachusetts is Patriot's Day, a statewide holiday on the third Monday of April. That's the day they run the Boston Marathon, and most people have the day off to grill meat and watch the race. It's like a dress rehearsal for Memorial Day.

-Six Days in Fallujah is the kind of thing that's usually right in my wheelhouse, but I'm having a difficult time getting my head around it. Nick Breckon's take, posted at Shacknews, does a good job of laying out the concerns. On a gut level, this game strikes me as a bad idea. It seems tasteless at best, and offensive at worst -- maybe not to the Marines, but to the people of Iraq. This game essentially says to them that we see the destruction of their country as entertainment.

Still, I can't answer one simple question: why is it okay to play games that glorify World War II, but not the Iraq War? The sanitized WWII that we see in movies and games is a fiction -- I know that, and it doesn't bother me. If one war is okay and the other is unacceptable only because one happened 70 years ago, that's not, to my mind, a convincing reason. Either it's okay to portray real-life wars in video games, or it isn't. Obviously a game's treatment of its subject will go a long way toward determing that, but Six Days seems, by all accounts, like just another military shooter.

The more I think about this, the more I think that it would be easier to talk myself into rejecting other games based on real-life wars than accepting Six Days in Fallujah.

-Insult Swordfighting went international recently, when it was namechecked on the Australian TV show Good Game. In a segment titled "Digital Essay: Casual vs. Hardcore," host Junglist pondered the divide between certain types of players, and referenced the New Taxonomy of Gamers. You can read the text of the segment, or watch the video (scroll to the "Digital Essay" link in the righthand box). Very cool stuff.

-Matthew Wasteland wrote a very funny bit of satire for Game Developer magazine, which was reprinted on GameSetWatch. It's a collection of Onion-style news briefs (or maybe I should say news briefs), which begins with the hilarious piece titled "Game Journalist Totally Hung Out with Yuji Naka." You need to read this.

-BJ Stewart wrote to share his website Flakwolf, which is a local game-swapping service. Sounds like a very neat idea, and anything that can replace trading in games at Gamestop is all right by me (he said, with a backpack full of games to trade in for The Chronicles of Riddick). If anyone has tried this service, I'd love to know what your experience was like.

-Finally, don't miss part 2 of Doug Perry's article, "Nintendo's Fall."


Gary A. Lucero said...

I think the Six Days game is nothing better or worse than any other simulation of actual war.

Humans are always over reacting to things, and also always cashing in on whatever the latest hot topic is.

Regardless of what the developer is aiming for, this is no more tasteless than any of the Call of Duty games, or any other action game that has us killing of hundreds of enemies and regarding them all as nameless, faceless criminals.

Am I against this game? I am indifferent. It will either be made and will succeed or fail, or the people who love to get on bandwagons will stop it.

Except why shouldn't they be allowed to make it? Shouldn't the marketplace determine whether this is a worthwhile topic for a video game or not?

One day

JPLC said...

Adam Sessler pretty much has the same thoughts as I do on the matter of the Six Days game:

Anonymous said...

I think that at least some of Breckon's reservations don't simply stem from the fact that the game takes place in a contemporary setting.

Instead, they stem from the fact that the PR folks talked a lot about how well researched, authentic, and true-to-life the game is, but the gameplay on display was highly stylized bit of stop-and-pop type gameplay complete with regenerating health(!!!!!!).

Few other mainstream games have PR people going on and on about how much research has gone into the making their games authentic.

The only other game that made such strong claims about the amount of research that went into the game (that I can remember) is the first two Brothers in Arms games.

Those games were (fairly) realistic and when there were moves in the direction of 'gamey-ness' they were explicitly identified as such. (ex. if the player dies repeatedly in a certain section the games display a message along the lines of 'War isn't fair. but video games should be. Would you like to heal your squad? Y/N')

If you're interested in hearing more of Breckon's thoughts, check out the most recent episode of the Idle Thumbs podcast. (

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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Raléigh said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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