There was a news post on Gamespot recently entitled "Documentary on industry sexism fully funded." (http://www.gamespot.com/news/documentary-on-industry-sexism-fully-funded-6407948) And to the surprise of no one, like all posts related to the subject of sexism in the games industry, the comments section was flooded with disgruntled male gamers decrying and denying the need for such an expose. I'm roughly estimating 90% of the commenters were opposed to the documentary, women in gaming, women in general, feminism or any combination of these things. It's difficult to understand how anyone could look at the fear, anger and outright misogyny in those comments and not come to the conclusion that the gaming community has a problem with sexism.
I've been trying to understand the root of all this anti-female sentiment think I may have finally figured it out. It has to do with peripheries of the man-boy mentality that's so common with men in the gaming community. I think what we're seeing is a large portion of the males in gaming basically don't understand women, are ultimately afraid of them. Some of it has to do with resentment at the way they've been treated by women in their own lives, or at least their perception of the way they've been treated.
I've taken a sampling of the comments this article elicited to show where I'm coming from. I think everyone can agree these reactions are not unique. If you've read any of the comments sections related to gaming and sexism you've heard all these things before, many times. The comments are attributed to the Gamespot members who made them. I don't suppose anyone can justifiably get mad at me for using their comment, after all it was made in a public forum and the members are relatively anonymous. I'm thinking I get to claim fair use. I'll try to make arguments against the general mindsets on display in the interest of enlightenment, but I don't think it's strictly necessary. The comments themselves more than support my basic premise.
First of all we see the comments that lead me to believe these guys have issues with their personal romantic lives:
Gamers are the nerdy kids who treat women nicely and therefore don't get girlfriends since girls like asshole sports jocks. - Saketume
The games industry shouldn't bend over backwards to accommodate a group that has traditionally laughed at it. - Pulfasonic
Generalizations to be sure. There are as many different women as there are men and we're not all looking for the same thing in a partner. If one has been been rejected and laughed at by one woman or even a few of them, and said woman went on to date "asshole sports jocks" that's a reflection on her, for better or worse, not an indication of what all women want.
Then we have the lack of general understanding of women that either puts them on a pedestal:
Ideally we expect women to be these sweet innocent people. - Gen007
Or attempts to knock them off the pedestal the commenter thinks women have put themselves upon:
Femi-Bushido (the Way of the Woman) - you can make mistakes, you can ruin the whole dev project, you can bitch about anything without any particular reason, you can make films about mistreatment of your kind. And nobody has the right to criticize you - shuwar
Female gamer, on the other hand, is used as a cry for attention. Like "Look at me!! I am girl who plays games. Tee hee!" - underoath83
Remember the good old arcade days where you had to EARN the respect by proving yourself amongst other gamers, females apparently just want that respect like its their God given right... - musalala
Women in 2013 don't want to be idealized, put on a pedestal, put in an ivory tower or anything of the sort. Nor do they expect to be given a pass in the face of a lack of aptitude because they're female. They want to be treated as an equal in their professional lives and in their personal lives, not instantly thought less of simply because they're a woman. Of course there are some misguided people who think women are inherently better than men but they're in the minority. Just as he-man woman haters (whether the hate arises from fear or something else) are in the minority. The problem with the games industry is many of these guys seem to have been attracted to it and they're in wildly disproportionate representation.
And then there's the false comparisons:
"And what about MEN getting harrassed online? There are 2 sides to each coin but feminists only want to see one -,-" - hella_epic
"nobody gives a shit about every single man being built like a tank" - Pulfasonic
The simplest way to dismiss these arguments is to point out that two wrongs don't make a right. That's elementary school logic most of us should understand. In this case I'll go beyond that to say that men are not harrassed online simply because they're men and men generally like to be presented as the ultra-buff strongman. Sorry guys, it's just the truth.
Then finally we get to the outright fear some of the comments aren't afraid to put to words:
I cant wait to listen to these steps to (emasculate) change the environment for the better. - zombielandv
Games are mostly for a male audience and we like seeing some skin. What's so wrong in that? God why do All groups now start to hate on games??? - amvivin
Yes, that's what we have here. The scary, indecipherable women are coming to destroy gaming. I think that's the root of all the hateful comments that are provoked by the issue of sexism in the gaming industry whenever it comes up on Gamespot or elsewhere in the online gaming world. Fear is the at the root of, and the basis of the rhetoric that always shows up when one group is afraid that another group is going to step in and uproot their way of life. Arguments that are made in situations regarding serious things like segregation, universal sufferage and immigration and with more trivial things like video games. But if history tells us anything it's that these fears are never realized when the new group is ultimately fully included. What generally happens is benefits are granted to everyone involved. Yes there are changes but nothing of value is lost, the world is usually enhanced by the expansion of the community.
It's even less of a cause for anxiety in the world of gaming. For better or worse, games aimed at men that include all the things that attract men aren't going anywhere. The appeal to masculine sensibilities is still present in movies and any other entertainment you can point to and it will always be present in gaming as long as men want it. The benefits we'll see by welcoming women to gaming as both developers and players are a more diverse selection of gaming themes and mechanics, expansion of the audience and growth of the industry that benefits everyone involved.
The biggest problem behind incidents like the Newtown shootings isn't video game violence or guns, althought I currently think they can both contribute negatively to an individual situation. The main issue is mental health is mostly ignored in the US and when it comes up the person with the problems is a "psycho nut-case freak". The American public needs to be educated about mental health, the diseases and conditions need to be de-stigmatized and people who seek treatment should be encouraged, not demonized or ridiculed. Most importantly there needs to be somewhere to go when a problem is reaching crisis proportions. A mental disorder should be seen and treated no differently than asthma or any other disease.
From what we know, the Sandy Hook shooter's mother tried to treat his mental issues herself. (http://soa.li/YkqZPGl) She apparently avoided getting him any sort of professional treatment. His issues obviously just kept getting worse. She bought him dozens of the most violent games available. Bought him multiple guns (legally...). No one knows if she was worried when his obsession with mass-murderers was organized into a spreadsheet that took a 4 foot wide printer to produce in something like a 9 point font. By all accounts she tried to do right by her son, but it seems like she didn't know how to go about it right and didn't ask for help from people who do. Rather she isolated her son and herself into an insular little world. Why? As far as I can see, either because she didn't want the stigma associated with a serious diagnosis or ( more likely) people here in the US have no idea where to go with a problem that's getting bad like this one.
To which I would add mostly unassisted.
As someone who has dealt with mental issues with a loved one I know how difficult it is and how long it takes to realize it's impossible to help an irrational person by dealing with them rationally. You can't have someone committed to an institution because there are no institutions, even when you finally admit the sick individual is a threat to themself and/or others. Law enforcement won't do anything until after a violent act has been committed. In this situation, you're left with virtually no choices to help someone and prevent a tragedy.
America really needs to step up it's efforts to educate and provide resources for people with severe mental/emotional problems and those around them so they don't end up doing something like this, or much more commonly, hurting themselves or detaching from society, living on the streets, and on the fringe.
In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy we've seen numerous people jumping to blame video games as contributing to violent behavior. People familiar with gaming know the criticisms are unfair and unfounded, so why do they continue to be leveled against our hobby? The answer is the video game industry has an image problem and so far it seems to be almost completely unmotivated to work on changing it. A big part of the problem is misinformation and myth propagation on the part of people who are either uninformed or using the image to promote their own agenda. The latter group includes politicians and the NRA, the former includes almost anyone who doesn't play "core" video games.
However, the other large part of the problem is the immature and counterproductive attitudes that go into making and promoting violent games. It seems like a large contingent of decision makers are motivated to up the ante on over the top violence because they think it's cool and a good number of their customers think so as well. You end up with marketing like the "your mom hates Dead Space 2" where the key point is if the violence repulses someone, it must be cool.
Then there's the bloody limbless torso promoting Dead Island 2 that was apologized for within a day of it's announcement. You have Mortal Kombat devs focusing on how extreme their fatalities are in previews. And of course we have countless games touting how cool it is to kill enemies because you get a slow motion close-up, blood sprays everywhere, limbs and heads come off and rag doll physics send corpses and parts splaying all over. We've all read and seen previews thay play up these things and I'm guessing I'm not the only one who thinks 'Seriuosly? Are you deliberately TRYING to make games look worse than they do and invite backlash?'
"As it turns out the brothel is a fine playground to show off Manhunt 2's new environmental executions, which as the name suggests has you using the environment to send badguys towards a very bloody end.
Not wasting any time the death toll begins with the receptionist, who is easy work thanks to a carefully placed telephone, now smashed through his face with scattered pieces of flesh littered on the floor."
Manhunt 2 Preview,
I'm not saying violence is evil nor that it should be eliminated from gaming, but gaming industry leaders need to stop pushing it as if it were the best part of their games. I honestly think there is a strong element of man-boy immaturity motivating too many people in their design and marketing decisions. I'm surprised no one has yet done a research piece for some news outlet pulling the worst of these marketing attempts to show the public how warped game developers are.
On the positive side, the games industry needs to actively promote what's good about games. They teach all sorts of things to players other then death and destruction. Action games develop hand-eye coordination, strategy games develop logic and planning, RPG's and The Sims teach a bit about social interactions and multiplayer games feature actual social interaction. Most games feature some kind of problem solving, the basics of which can translate and aid in real world situations. Most importantly the deep stories that are integral to gaming now that can reach people with all kinds of ideas on a level that simply watching or reading a story cannot - there are still too many people who dismiss gaming as mindless button mashing. Almost everyone alive has played some sort of video game, and before anyone shouts that mobile games aren't real games, I would say that if Pong, Mainframe Star Trek, Pac Man and Space Invaders are games, then mobile games that are far more complicated qualify as well. The industry can point to the fact that the vast majority of people enjoy video games and somehow resist the urge to do violence.
It should also stress the fact that the games rating system was set up by the industry itself, it fairly and accurately indicates what sort of content a game has. It allows consumers to make educated decisions on what kind of games they're buying, especially when buying them for children.
If the industry continues to ignore it's image things will only get worse from here. There is no sense feeding the bad publicity and making gaming an easy target for people who want to deflect blame like the NRA or promote themselves as crusaders against violence "for the kids." Gamers have a role to play as well. Too many people have a knee jerk reaction to criticisms against violent content where they will simply vilify the complainer as an ignorant fool. Much as it may be justified, we should consider the message glorifying over the top violence sends about our hobby. We can't ignore the damage that is done by promoting graphic violence as the main appeal of gaming.
The line between investing and crowd funding is getting too blurred. We're seeing more and more established companies and individuals, who you can reasonably expect to have money of their own and/or connections with investors, asking average people to pay for making their game. The idea behind crowd funding used to be helping out the small independent, not Black Isle and Peter Molyneux.
Traditional investors who give money to fund a project can expect a major return on their investment if the game is made and it's successful. It's bad enough that major crowdfunding supporters for a successful full release game get very little of real value in return for their investment of thousands of dollars. They have to content themselves with a copy or 10 of the game and some digital stuff like their name in the credits or an in game character, or best of all a visit to the company's office (Oh boy!) while the developer reaps all the real profits.
If you back Black Isle's latest request for funding for a "proof of concept" you can expect nothing in return but forum access. (http://www.gamespot.com/news/black-isle-seeks-crowdfunding-to-revive-pv13-6401830) This funding isn't even being done through anestablished crowd funding facilitator like Kickstarter - they're just asking for money on their web site! If an established industry player wants to make a game they should get real backers who believe in it to invest money, not pull at the emotional impulses of people who look up to them as fans and/or don't make sound financial decisions. If they weren't able to do that with the resources and connections available to them one can reasonably wonder if the game is worth making at all.
Short of outright fraud (taking money when you have no intention of producing anything) the worst case scenario with the crowdfunding paradigm is very unsettling: No one has done it yet as far as I know but it would be completely unethicall to use crowd funding if your motivation is to eliminate the need to share the wealth if your game is successful.
Crowd funding is fast turning into bulls#!+ if you ask me.
I had some thoughts related to this article that appeared on Gamespot recently.
It takes 20 years from the time it's invented for a technology to become ubiquitous. It worked that way with radio, television, personal computers, the Internet, cell phones and many other items. Once a technology ubiquitous regular people start using it and if it's an entertainment or informational media, the general level of the content moves toward the lowest common denominator to appeal to a wide audience. As this occurs in the world of gaming we see the old timers and dedicated hobbyists complaining that "the casuals" (i.e. everyone else) are ruining gaming with simple fare like Angry Birds and dumbed down sequels.
In reality there is no loss of quality in content for the people who want to dig deeper. With gaming, as with all the other entertainment vehicles you still have content created for the more discerning audience along with a great deal of content aiming for what plays in Peoria. Some people fear that developers are being lured into creating "casual" games because that's where the money is and neglect the deeper games aimed at the hobbyist. When things are in a state of flux this can even be true at times. But the good news is there isn't a fixed pool of developers. It's a simple function of supply and demand: as the audience grows the number of content creators grows, and in the end everyone gets to see a wider variety of content aimed at a wider variety of gamers.
To use television as a comparison, while you absolutely see lowbrow yet popular content like American Idol, Survivor and Two and a Half Men taking center stage, you can also find intellectually challenging and stimulating fare. All you need to do is look a bit. There is also a great deal of variety. You can also find hundreds of channels of programming that cover just about every interest under the sun. I'm sure gaming will follow the same pattern.
We'll also see gaming grow beyond the adolescent male focused themes and design choices we see so much of now. Those games are always going to be around because there will always be a large audience for them, but those gamers aren't the only people on the demand side of the equation any more. No one wants to be laughed at and called childish for being a gamer, and that perception is finally changing for the better. But part and parcel with that change in attitude is an influx of new outlooks and experiences from women, older adults and people of all walks of life who want their views, values and experiences reflected in their entertainment. This is another source of change anxiety for some of the veterans. As the industry is under assault for it's male focus that at times leads to overt sexism it might seem that outside forces are trying to get rid of the kind of games that appeal to them, or turn them into something less appealing. The only thing that will happen in the end is there will be more choices and variety of viewpoints and themes and less outright misogyny, which is best for all involved.
So yes, gaming is changing, and it seems like it's changing for the worse at times, but based on history I have faith that in the end gaming will grow and change for the better.
Comments pet peeves # 1:
People saying "to be honest" when they're just expressing their opinion. "To be honest" doen't mean "I will now state the undeniable truth" or "everyone knows this but only I am willing to say it." In the strictest sense, it means "I'm not lying." Saying it implies that when you do not, you may be lying. Normally the phrase is used when someone is adept enough at critical thinking to voice considerations that are at odds with their opinion, it could be stated as "if I'm going to be completely honest with myself, this must be considered."
I think Sony has only sold about 1.2 million Playstation Vitas, so they need to do something fast in order to get a critical mass of systems out there to attract buyers and in turn attract developers.
A price drop on the system itself would help, along with either bundling a memory card or dropping the price on those as well. People just can't wrap their heads around paying as much or more for a handheld as they do for a regular console. When you figure in the price of a memory card, the Vita costs more than a PS3. The games themselves are overpriced at $40 or more each, but that's more or less comparable to 3DS games (not DSi games). The prices on these games seem to drop more slowly than games for other systems, regardless of how popular the game is. The downloadable games could also use a price drop - $15 - 25 for an old PSP game is ridiculous. Finally, Sony needs to add Vita to PlayStation Plus or make a seperate PS+ just for Vita and give members the "instant game library" and free games, even if they're PSP games, Minis or PSOne classics.
Also, in terms of usability, the game store on Vita is awful - As it stands each game only gets a cover shot and a short description, they don't even have screen shots. What they really need is to have gameplay and trailer video and better yet demos. The 3DS has all of these, and the store itself has a much better aura of flash and flair than the Vita's sterile lists. If you visit PSN on the Web, you would think the Vita doesn't even exist. Case in pont, they have surveys asking you about your gaming habits and system(s) and they don't even include Vita.
Many commenters on reviews here seem to think 7.0 is a mediocre or even a bad score. I'm guessing they're looking at the score like a school grade. It's not, they use the whole scale, not just the top half. A score of 5 = mediocre = a letter grade of "C".
I can see why there might be confusion, other reviewers do work a 1-10 scale like a school grade (GameInformer). I guess that means either Metacritic is interpolating all their data so every review is adjusted to use the same scale or they skew scores lower and they're not reliable. Anyway, reading the explanation of the score linked from every review should clear up any misconceptions.
Of course it also seems obvious that many of the commenters aren't even reading the review. I guess you can't expect them expend the effort to read the explanation of the system.
I keep reading comments on articles from GS members saying they'll quit gaming if it goes free to play, they'll drag out their old PSOne or Sega and play on it forevermore if games start going the downloadable route, or they'll never buy a console with a tablet connected to it. So much fear of the future! I can hear people 15 years ago saying they would never read their news from a computer off the Internet, "I want paper in my hands!" Yeah, how's that working for you as the printed press slowly disappears? All I hear is worst case scenarios and cries of Doom that boils down to a fear of the unknown - because nothing has happened yet and no one really knows exactly what it will be like and how it will work.
Just consider the comments section of a recent article about the Crytek dev who says tablets will replace consoles (and games will go free to Play). (http://www.gamespot.com/news/future-of-consoles-is-free-to-play-says-crytek-6383927) A tablet is more or less a PC with a touch screen. There is no reason a powerful enough tablet can't stream game video to your TV, and there is no reason you can't plug a controller or a keyboard and mouse into one. This is one advantage I see for the new MS tablet over the iPad. If it runs Windows games, it's already the tablet this guy is talking about. Obviously you aren't going to want to get your milti-gigabyte games over your mobile data plan and pay huge overages, you'll download them via WiFi. Even then, there is no reason you couldn't buy a disk drive and plug it into your tablet and get games on disk. I'm rambling, but a tablet could also serve as sort of an console emulator. The next XBox or Playstation could even be a tablet. Why does it have to have the form factor it has now? Why does it have to be a pain to lug around?
If fear of change is a mark of getting old, a large part of the community here posting comments on articles seems like it belongs in a retirement home.
Whoa... am I on Facespot or Gamebook?
I don't know how I think about this yet. My first impression is negative, but then I'm getting older and more resisitant to change. And the inner me screams that I should not be like that.
There's just something sleazy about the DLC business model currently used in gaming.
In the glory days of PC gaming, when I got my start in the hobby, a game was released with the expectation on everyone's part that it was whole and complete. The length of a game was a selling point, as a longer game was seen to have more value than a short one. Games were expected to last in the neighborhood of 40 hours. If a game was successful it might get an expansion pack that added substantially to the game - a whole new campaign with a new story - basically a whole new game on the same engine. The typical expansion was sold for about half what the original game cost. Other times successful games would just get a sequel - a full-fledged whole new game.
The current generation of consoles is where the concept of DLC as we know it now was introduced. Previous generations of consoles simply did not have the capability to offer add-on content. Console games were released in the same manner as PC games, as I described above. "Expansions" became smaller and smaller and more numerous, so all we get now is a new side quest, a new map or two or a new weapon. These things cost less than the old concept of an expansion pack, but if you add the price of all the DLC for an popular game together you're typically spending much more than even the cost of the original game, and getting much less than a whole new game. Back in the day, additional content like this would often be added for free in patches or updates.
The worst part is every game published now has DLC planned in advance to sell in bits and pieces later on. Some of it is even important to the story of the game and/or its sequels. (e.g. ME2 DLC) All it is is an attempt by developers and publishers to make more money off each title they release. The latest trend of putting the "DLC" on the release disc has crossed the line into the realm of the unethical. Related to this is the trend to splitting what should be one game into multiple titles (Starcraft 2), much like Hollywood has been splitting Harry Potter, Twilight and the Hobbit into multiple movies.
If the original Half Life was released today by your typical greedy publisher I'm pretty sure the part of the game where you're captured by the soldiers and the part on the alien world would be missing from the game and sold later as DLC. The rocket launcher would probably be a micro-transaction add-on. Instead of 40+ hours of gaming, you'd get 20 and add the rest back with another $60 of DLC purchases.
Way to go crybabies. You've just helped move gaming from an art form into the corporate world of design by lawyers and marketers more than any other act in the history of the hobby. You should have remembered the old saying - be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
Just watch, some ambulance chaser is going to file a cla$$ action lawsuit against Bioware. I guarantee it. That will help gaming. Idiots, idiots, idiots. If Bioware faces legal and financial repercussions because of how they chose to end their story, it will be huge. Anyone who doesn't like a game's ending will have precedent to sue the developer, which will have a chilling effect on creativity. All games will have to have a happy ending featuring the player is the great hero lest they face the fury of nerd rage in the courtroom. I can only hope that when (not if) the lawsuit happens a rational judge will throw out the case on the first day of hearings.
As a gamer I don't consider myself a consumer of a product, any more than I consider myself a consumer of books, movies, paintings or any other art form. Games and those other items are not commodities. My idealistic notions are alive and well in the Indie game community and even at some of the larger development houses. It's only dead at the giant companies like Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Activision, Square Enix, etc.. Their business practices are first and foremost aimed at profits, while gamers, the hobby and the art form take very distant second place, at best, if they even consider them.
I have nothing against capitalism - it's the best way to weed out the crap. I think companies that put gamers, innovation and artistry first will do well in the market and the corporations that are killing those ideals will be forced out of the industry. People already hate those companies and they're itching for an alternative.
Expansions and DLC are NOT INEVITABLE. It used to be a game had to be good and sell well before there was any talk of an expansion. Now every game produced has DLC and it's planned from the start and some of it is written along with the core game. There is no reason other than charging more that that content can't be part of the original relase. That's why we feel ripped off and that we're not getting complete games.
It's been a while since I read a MMO message board. I was doing just that today and the air of negativity they have about them hit me particularly hard. Like a dormitory bathroom after burrito night.
I have a Lifetime subscription to The lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) I bought when the game came out nearly 5 years ago. I've put a lot of time into that game, and I still play off and on since my subscription is paid up forever. I'm currently spending a good deal of my gaming time in Middle Earth with the recent Rise of Isengard expansion. This rant could be about any MMO message board, from what I've seen, so I'm not picking on the LOTRO community in particular. In fact the people in game are some of the friendliest and most courteous I've encountered.
I was in the LOTRO forums looking for information about certain game mechanics and reading threads that caught my eye. I have that certain slowing-down-for-a-car-wreck compulsion to read topics I know are going to be contentious and draw out the posters who like to complain. I read things like: "I don't want a level increase, I'll have to grind out all my alts again!" "System X is the worst thing for end gamers, it has to be fixed or I'm leaving!" "Item X is useless, I spent all this time getting it and now I can't bear to own it because there is something .01% better out there!" "The latest update only gives 1000 points for combat between level 70 and level 80, but the previous one gave 1001, how can we be so weak?!?!?" "The devs hate the players, they nerfed Warriors just to be rude!" If I had a dime for every time I've read that something was a "slap in the face" to players from the devs I could buy a nice sofa and loveseat, and maybe a coffee table. The same goes for calling something useless because it's not the ultimate pinnacle of best.
Let's put things into perspective. All of you who incessantly complain about the game you're playing - that's exactly all it is you're doing. You're supposed to be having fun. If you're not, then something is wrong. Maybe you're addicted, maybe you're too personally invested in your game character(s) to separate yourself from the virtual world. Maybe you can't stop until you have the ultimate best of everything, and therefore "win" the endless-by-nature MMO. Regardles of why you're torturing yourself, it's time to stop and do something else.
Or maybe, just maybe, there are parts of the game or others who play that you really like. Perhaps it would be wise to focus on them and not the parts you find so outrageous.
Looking through the comments, it's funny so many people refuse to believe the console makers want to restrict used games. This is Capitalism, folks. Console makers make their money on the games, not the consoles - it's a razor and blades scenario. If they see they can make more money by eliminating the used game market then that's what they're going to do. Of course the game developers and publishers are all behind the move as well.
The companies that sell or rent used games won't like this, but what are they going to do? What happens to used game sellers doesn't even enter into the picture for the console makers and publishers. The number of game sales lost to the rental companies must be fewer than the increased number of new game sales they expect to make to the public. Competition and market changes put companies out of business every day. Capitalism.
MS and Sony (and no doubt Nintendo, sooner or later) know many people will not like what they're doing. They also know very few of those people will actually nut up and take the drastic step of removing themselves from the current game market. Capitalism and Demand Economics.
This is just the opening salvo, anyway. Eventually everything is going to be digital - which de-facto eliminates used games and allows publishers and console makers to control game rentals. As I've said before, PC gamers have been living with this for years. Welcome to 2012, console gamers.
I don't think this bill should be passed because what it aims to stop, stealing of copyrighted material,is ALREADY ILLEGAL. All we need to do is enforce the current laws. But that kind of grandstanding is nothing new where politicians are involved.
That said, in the interest of appyling some critical thinking, isn't there an element of misleading hysteria in the fears of what the law would potentially do? This is aimed primarily at sites that make copyrighted material available for free download - i.e. blatant pirating sites. Game companies don't complain about video replays, walkthroughs, machinima and other uses of their IP because it's FREE PUBLICITY, which improves their sales. They're not going to complain about these things just because this act is law. No complaint by them = no site shutdown.
Also, along the lines of my original comment here, copyright owners can complain to YouTube etc. and have the offending material removed under current law. We don't need anything new.
Gamespot recently posted an article about Valve and others speculating on the prospects for trading, buying and selling digital copies of games by consumers. (http://www.gamespot.com/news/6331098/valve-on-steam-game-trade-ins?tag=updates%3Beditor%3Ball%3Btitle%3B4) Here are my off-the-cuff thoughts.
First off, you're going to be limited as to whom you can trade your game and where you can buy or sell your digital games. Now that Valve has proved it works, all the big publishers are going to set up their own digital delivery serivces - and not just for PC games. We've already seen EA pull their games off Steam so they can sell them themselves on Origin and not pay a cut to Valve. I'm pretty sure we'll never see games traded or sold between different publishers' services. Incidentally, all these seperate services will be a confusing nightmare for the consumer, but that's another rant.
As for selling your game back to the source from which you bought it: If you sell your game back to a publisher run source, are they going to sell that same license to someone else and consider it "used" and thus charge less than they're charging for a "new" copy? No. I can't see where a "used" copy of something digital is worth less than the "new" one. Hence, I don't see any incentive for the publisher to buy back a digital copy of a game. It doesn't happen with music or movies, it won't happen with games.
For that matter, I'm honestly having trouble seeing why a publisher would want to help consumers buy and sell digital games among themselves. Maybe they get a cut of the transaction price, but I'm betting they get more when they sell it "new" the first time. I'm sure there's a reason we don't see the Apple Store or Napster selling music on consignment. Also, publishers and developers hate Gamestop and the resale of physical games because it cuts into new game sales, and they want them to go away. They're not about to promote resale in the digital realm.
And I still see a market for GameStop to buy and sell used physical games as long as publishers keep selling physical copies - but thatis not by any means a given. Personally I think all media will eventually be distributed soley in digital form.
I recently read the editorial in the August issue of GameInformer by Andy McNamara in which he decries the immaturity of gamers in online play. (http://www.gameinformer.com/blogs/editors/b/giandy_blog1/archive/2011/07/12/lfte-the-highest-court-aug-11.aspx). To quote: "far too often gamers use online gaming as a way to insult people on a personal level regarding their race, their sexual orientation, or even something as simple as how they speak. It doesn't just happen occasionally in passing. It is a relentless assault on good taste in game after game." I wholeheartedly agree. And it doesn't just happen while actually gaming, it happens on message boards, comment sections and anywhere else one can anonymously say whatever one wants. Granted, it's a widespread Internet problem, but in my experience it's worst on YouTube and sites that have anything to do with gaming. He closes his editorial with the observation that "this childish behavior will always be the black eye that keeps the rest of the world from respecting the medium"
I would take what he says a step further and point out that childish themes, subjects and influences in game design hold back gaming from getting the respect it deserves. Specifically, I would say, as long as games are focused on violence and the depiction of women mainly for sexual stimulation -things thatappeal mainly to young men - our hobby is not going to achieve the level of widespread appeal that other media have. I've heard it said that the game development industry is infused with immature man-boys who design games based on what appeals to them, at the expense of true growth and genuine mature content. (Need I say I'm not talking about porn here...?)
Looking at the top 20 bestselling XBox games according to Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/videogames/14220271/ref=zg_bs_nav), 10 have shooting, punching and/or stabbing enemies to death at the core of their gameplay. Of the rest, two are (US) football games, which are arguably based on violence and appeal to the same audience as the shooters; two are Catherine, which (if you ignore some signs of mysogyny) is a step in the right direction, but still has extended segments of violent gameplay; one is Portal, in which you don't shoot things too much but you get shot at and die a lot; 3 are not games but purchase points cards and Kinect hardware. That leaves two games that might appeal to someone who isn't interested in violence - Dance Central and Kinect Sports. Fully 88% (15/17) of the bestselling games according to Amazon.com feature violence as a, if not the, main feature.
The problem appears to be getting worse as time goes on and consoles and the PC have developed their capability to display blood and guts more realistically. The games on the DS are lower resolution so we get more Professort Layton and less Call of Duty. My ownexperience with PC games in years gone by was not so focused on violence, even if you count strategy games and military flight sims as violence, which you are free to do. There used to be a lot more of the likes of Monkey Island, Sim-* games, Rollercoaster Tycoon and Myst.
To add to the issue, we have games that (successfully!?!) attempt to attract an audience specifically through the morbid appeal of grotesquery. Mortal Combat is just another figthing game franchise. What sets it apart, by the developers own admission, are the over-the-top, sadistic "Fatalities" now gloriously rendered in full HD so you can see innards, and windpipes of the recently dismembered and decapitated. We have marketers trying to appeal to God knows who (alright, we do know, actually...) by positioning their product as something your mom will hate. And most disturbingly, we have the developers of Duke Nukem who don't have sense enough to know depicting women as naked alien sex slaves in bondage, for whom the only release is death at the hands of the player, is a little offensive to most people, even if it's supposed to be tongue in cheek.
As long as the gaming industry is in the hands of and supported by immature males this trend will only get worse. I know we can do better. The best thing we can do is continue to point out the problem, stop buying the same old product and support developers who make great games by trying to do something different. This is not to say there is no place for violent games, any more than there is no place for violent movies, but it shouldn't be 88% of everything that's available.
I've decided that I hate the way game developers are pushing "cinematic presentation." I don't know why the games industry feels the need to mimic an older media in order to provide visual appeal that is, in my opinion, ultimately unfulfilling and doesn't play to the unique strengths of games.
The entertainment business has always tended toward the unoriginal, mimicry and cashing in. As games become big business, big business people who don't necessarily know or even care about gaming get some degree of control over the basic game design decisions and especially over marketing decisions. Shortsighted MBA's know movies are highly visually appealing, they know games are partly a visual experience. So they put two and two together and get three.
So what's wrong with the cinematic experience? In short, it's not the gaming experience.
The first negative is the the specific namesake for our general problem, the cinematic. Whether it be an extended segment of story exposition or a few seconds of your character falling through the floor at a predetermined location. When you're sitting in front of your video screen holding an unresponsive controller waiting for the game to let you start playing again you're losing immersion. You're no longer a part of things, you're an outside observer.
Second, we see games with set-piece situations that are designed with the emphasis on looking cool rather than on gameplay. You're either shooting non-stop at a giant monster or you're running/driving/boating as fast as possible through some sort of over-the-top mayhem. The Modern Warfare 3 trailer from Microsoft's 2011 E3 press conference is a prime example. (http://e3.gamespot.com/press-conference/microsoft-e3/?tag=masthead%3Be32011%3Bvideo%3Bmicrosoft) If the gameplay that follows these spectacular shows isn't first rate, it can start to feel like the actual gaming parts (you know, the part that really matters...) are a letdown. In light of this we see game developers making shorter and shorter games because they're focusing resources on shock and awe filled set-pieces instead of good gameplay, level design, stories and characters. Because unfortunately, in the end, it's easier.
Last and least is the idea that we're playing the game through the lens of a camera. I would like to meet the individual who first decided to call the point of view for a game "the camera" and tell him he's a moron. I would then like to meet the individual who took this idea to it's logical conclusion and decided to make "the camera" look and act like an actual camera. I would like to take that person's picture with a real-life soul stealing camera as fitting revenge for what he did to games. If I'm supposed to be seeing the game world through my own eyes, why the hell am I seeing lense flare, halation, lens distortion, vignetting, sepia tones, motion blur or any number of things that are not shortcomings of my biological eyes? If I'm playing a game set in the medieval era hundreds of years before cameras were even an inkling of an idea, why am I seeing lens flare, ... you get the drift.
So what to do about this? The answer is obvious but it's also difficult. First off, lose the jealous little sister to Hollywood mentality. Games are still maturing and they will certainly go beyond movies. The unique strength of games is their interactivity. Put the player in the world and let him affect it, not just watch it.
I've been gaming for a long time and the push toward cinematic visuals is a recent trend. Games were developing to their own strengths before its introduction, so the first step would be to get back to basics and move forward from there. Games were fun even before the whole "cinematic" thing was introduced. There are some good things to keep, to be sure, but not at the expense of gameplay and immersion.