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Link Compilation vol. 3.14265

Wood Link

Visual pun go!

Alright, it’s been a long while since I did one of these things so why not do another link compilation? After all, I have quite a few interesting things to link to:

Activision is evil. I know that, you know that, we all know that. They continually do the most douchy things they could possibly imagine and then expect to get away with it without their image being tarnished. Well, now we have a new interesting (and by “interesting” I mean “appalling”) look at how Activision works. The piece is centered around the company refusing to have female leads, but the system that leads to that conclusion is what’s most inexcusable. One thing is to want to avoid risks by making sequels and a whole another one is to require from a developer to include a checklist of features because “that’s what needs to be done in order to sell”. And don’t get me started on the focus groups and how they’re manipulated to suit their particular views instead of the other way around.

The comments section of that article however is the most infuriating thing I’ve read in a while. Apparently some of those juvenile idiots are developers (no surprise there) so … yeah.

This comment by Joe Rheaume summarizes the whole thing in a rather amusing way:

Article: Activision says games with female leads don’t sell, but here’s a list of games with female leads that do sell.
Commenter: Why do you want Activision to lose money? Only men are good action stars.
Me: /rolleyes.
Other Commenter: Here’s a list of Action movie heroines that made a lot of money and were awesome
Other other commenter: Oh no! Liberals! I am afraid of vaginas! Games must be sausagefests because they are now. Why do you hate capitalism?

Anyway, let’s change the mood, shall we? Hey look at this random youtube video. And this one! And this other one:

… yeah, I know, it’s awesome.

*clears throat*

Not so long ago, Jesse Schell painted a very very grim picture of the future where game designers would basically morph into the most powerful tools of the marketing business. Basically, we’d have to actually engage with advertisements on a daily basis and not only that, but we’d do so willingly because of the power of achievements and meaningless points that can be converted into fabulous gifts! …. yeah, that really sends a chill down your spine, doesn’t it? But something rings hollow there: it’s assuming that the masses are a bunch of idiots who are easily distracted and engaged in the most meaningless tasks as long as they are rewarded at the end. Even if the rewards are meaningless. Which is true because of the novelty value such a thing would have, but when it wears off… well, it ain’t going to work no more boy. Still, some people are just wired to fall for such traps and even they can get burnt out.

This whole dystopian future is even more unlikely when one considers how human motivation actually works and the possibility that achievements can be ultimately harmful. In fact, if one were to look at what some game designers are thinking and doing as of late, one would come to the conclusion that we are in for some very strange but interesting concepts in the next few years.

On one hand we have Brenda Brathwhite who dumped electricity to further her study of game design among other things and found some very interesting ways of expression involving some very personal and difficult topics. On the other hand, we have Clint Hocking who in this talk muses about (among many many things) the different ways of immersion and how the holo-deck is doomed to remain as pure fantasy just like jetpacks and flying cars are.

On the third mutant hand we have Ian Bogost who basically made a social game that makes fun of social games by making the behind the scenes calculations and motivations apparent to the user. You’re not taking care of your farm, you’re just clicking on a cow.

And finally, on the fourth self-serving mutant goro knock-off hand there’s me, actually reading all of this stuff and getting excited about what the future might hold for us. Sometimes even being inspired by some of these people to finally take a step in the direction I actually want to go, even if that direction is guiding me to a particularly difficult to traverse path.

Source of the image.

3 Responses

  1. Good to see you are back.

    I haven’t read any of those links (mainly because there are so many, and it’s hard to see what they are all about when you context-inline them like that), but I have watched Jesse Schell’s TED talk and find his future vision a little scary, although very plausible.

    I have also read his book, The Art of Game Design, which is excellent. Every person interested in game design should definitely read it!

  2. Thanks! Haha, yeah, I’m kind of experimenting here. I don’t like to just do bullet-points for each and every link since many of those have points in common, so instead of a laundry list of things to check out, I wrote the whole thing as a stream of consciousness, going from one thing to another without explaining much, except where I want to point out something or mention something interesting.
    However, of all the links I put in there, there’s two that I’d say everybody should definitely check out: First, Clint Hocking’s talk about hiperrealism and immersion (which kind of inspired the style of this post actually, now that I think about it) and Brenda Brathwhite’s GDC talk of how and why she dumped electricity.

  3. Yeah, I agree that just listing all the links in bullet point-style isn’t very user friendly, either. But if you like me have tons of articles, videos and other cool stuff saved on your computer that you haven’t got the time to read (using the great Read It Later service), it is hard to get an overview of your links and decide whether or not you are going to spent time reading/watching all the new content.

    There is no optimal solution for the way of linking, but I think it’s generally a good idea to do what you just did: pointing out what everybody should definitely see/read, telling people that THIS link is important to visit because of THIS.

    When I have time I will watch Hocking’s and Brathwhite’s talks, especially the first one since I read the book “Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter” (Tom Bissell) some months ago, where Bissel wrote about his experience of Far Cry 2 and talked with designer behind it — Clint Hocking. He appears to be a very interesting guy who knows what he’s talking about :)

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