Week one of National Novel Writing Month seems to be going well, at least where word count is concerned. Quality, not so much. That's the point! But with Dragon Age on the docket, week two promises to be much more challenging. Fortunately, there's always time for links.
-Paste posted their list of the 20 best games of the decade, to which I contributed both a ballot and a blurb for the #5 pick. For the most part it's an unsurprising list, though Guitar Hero III at number 10 strikes me as a disgrace. Otherwise there are a bunch of games I loved (Portal, BioShock, Shadow of the Colossus), and a bunch of games I didn't love but can't quibble with their inclusion (Halo, Grand Theft Auto, even Metal Gear Solid 2). People love to bitch about lists, but not as much as publishers love publishing them.
-I didn't see the video before it got pulled, but apparently Infinity Ward released a promotional video for Modern Warfare 2 in which Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels warned players against being grenade-throwing pussies, in a mock PSA brought to you by "Fight Against Grenade Spam." Har, har. There have been several decent reactions to the promo from around the web, but I think Denis's gets the closest to the root of the problem.
People seem to think that if stuff like this isn't "intended" to be hateful, then it isn't. There is some strange logic by which people convince themselves that if they call somebody a fag meaning that the person is an asshole, and not a homosexual, that somehow drains the word of bigotry. But of course that's silly. That's exactly where its power comes from. We have to be responsible about things like this, in the same way that we wouldn't walk around carelessly brandishing a weapon.
(Regarding the somewhat bizarre objection I've seen in a few comments threads that people should also be complaining about the violence in the game: That's irrelevant to the subject. Obviously everybody is welcome to criticize violence as entertainment, if they so choose, but it's really not the same thing. Besides which, conflict through violence is one of the oldest forms of drama, and I, for one, am not comfortable criticizing a game's portrayal of violence until I have the full context. I'd be happy to know of any extenuating context for a commercial that employs anti-gay slurs to sell a game. By the same token, I'd have no problem playing a game with homophobic characters in it, but I'd have a problem playing a game with homophobic depictions of characters. That's the difference.)
-The Boston Globe ran an article about computer and game addiction earlier this week, and while it's obviously an interesting subject, it's kind of weird to distinguish this from any other addiction. If you do anything to excess, it's a problem, whether that means drinking yourself into oblivion or being the crazy cat lady I saw on an episode of A&E's Hoarders. Still, it is of course helpful to be aware of the signs of compulsive behavior.
-It's a little late for Halloween, but I wanted to spotlight the Phoenix's new geek-lifestyle blog, Laser Orgy. Last week they ran a list of the 10 games that shouldn't have scared them, but did. I tried to suggest some things, but it was a lot harder to do than you might have expected.
-You know, I think I need to rep some new and different gaming blogs in my reader. Anybody have any suggestions?