Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday afternoon tidbits

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?


Rich Clark said...

This may be the opposite of what you're looking for, but if you're looking for a rather unique take on gaming-related issues, you might want to check out our game category at Christ and Pop Culture. That page is here and you can subscribe to the rss by clicking here.

I've really been enjoying your blog. Thanks.

Tim Mackie said...

I was not really surprised that MGS2 was on the list, but I wouldn't put it on my list if I were to make one. The only real gameplay improvement that I see between MGS and MGS2 was first-person aiming, and with it targeted shots; tranquilizer guns I could take or leave. I might have liked swordplay more if it had been executed differently, but it's tough to say for sure how I felt about that. What I know I didn't like was the subplot around Raiden's personal life, and especially after what I've seen of MGS4, I know the majority of my problems with that are with the character of Rose.

That said, it is nothing more than a list. I personally wouldn't have put MGS2 on there, but it's their list and not mine, so whatever.

juv3nal said...

You know, I think I need to rep some new and different gaming blogs in my reader. Anybody have any suggestions?

I follow a lot of gaming blogs, but there seems to be a fair amount of overlap given your "sweet sites" list.

let me see...

& some indie stuff:


juv3nal said...

come to think of it, also some developer blogs:

Jason T said...

You should be following Above 49, a blog by Nels Anderson, a game designer at Hothead. I follow only a handful of gaming blogs, and all of them (but his) are represented in your blogroll.

As for distinguishing between video game "addiction" and other kinds of addiction: The DSM-IV specifies that chemical dependency is a necessary aspect of "addiction." Video games, gambling, shopping, and other mundane behaviors taken to excess are technically "compulsions." I find it strange that medical professionals commonly recognize this as an important distinction and yet news media typically do not.

Louis F. said...

I'm a big fan of Experience Points and Press Pause to Reflect, and I don't see them linked as often as I think they deserve. So these are my suggestions.

Brian Longtin said...

I'd second Above 49, and like Critical Distance precisely because they point toward new stuff. Otherwise our link roll seems to overlap quite a bit. Please share any new favorites!