June 24th

June 24th, 2012 | Posted by Kris Ligman in This Week in Videogame Blogging: - (Comments Off on June 24th)

The Kid gets up. She checks her email. She sees the date in the corner– Sunday, it says. She knows it’s that time of the week again, and she ain’t puttin’ it off any further.

It’s time, the Kid said. It’s time for This Week in Videogame Blogging.

It started like this. The good folks at The Border House rounded up all the words worth reading about the Tomb Raider reboot. Yannick LeJacq sat down and spun us a worrying tale of the state of virtual ownership. An’ Tina Amini wrote a response to Reality-Breaker McGonigal, on her own experience with a game helpin’ bring back a thing she had lost.

But it ain’t always so good. Someone somewhere’s always gotta take up a cause he ain’t quite ready for. That’s what happened to JP Kellams. But I’ll let Mattie Brice do the telling for that story.

And the Kid don’t mean to start anythin’, but while she’s on the subject of folks bitin’ off more than they can chew, she’ll just leave this here:

Penny Arcade as a brand has grown to monstrous levels and their fan base have displayed such blind devotion to the pair that the video games industry, including game companies and journalists, have become fearful of crossing them. In the past, they have proved their power of crippling people and companies with a mere mention of their disapproval. If a game is featured (for good or bad) in their comic strip, this has more effect on sales than any number of reviews. When their long-standing anger comes bubbling up to the surface, it is a powerful weapon. A weapon that is starting to damage parts of this industry.

Now, the Kid knows a lady by the name of Katie Williams, who you mighta seen ’round these parts pulling the same Crit Distance jobs the Kid does. Well, she and the Kid went to E3 a few weeks back, and Katie came back with some stories of her own to tell about the right condescending folk she found there:

It’s unbelievable that this is still happening. If this is how PR people feel about women’s capabilities, no wonder the promotional side of games is so sexist. No wonder marketing people still think it’s, on some level, OK to have a trailer feature a man ripping into a band of sexy nuns. No wonder we’re seeing it filter down into the developers, who implement in-game achievements for looking up the skirts of 19-year-old women dressed like schoolgirls. No wonder we’re watching it filter down into the gamers, who tell the ladies amongst us that they can’t possibly know anything about the online games that they play. After all, what proof is there of that when women are not allowed to speak on an authoritative level?

Stick around– you’ll wanna read her followup too.

Deep in the marshes of Medium Difficulty, the Kid found another kindred spirit: Lana Polansky. Who could put six shots into the word ‘censorship’ before it hit the dirt:

What [Beckles]’s saying is that the media which displays problematic material for the sole purpose of using it to entertain, or does so uncritically, has this nasty habit of normalizing or trivializing the thing it is portraying. As a result, this feeds into our perception of those concepts and informs our worldview. This has been true of all human culture since time immemorial. On the other hand, we self-censor all the time. This is not a call to “bowdlerize” works of existing art—that is to say, have undesirable material actively removed from art by some nominally moral authority that isn’t the original author—but an acknowledgement that most or all cultures have taboos, golden rules, and social contracts. Sometimes these exist as a result of hegemonic influence or self-preservation, but just as often they exist because without them the social fabric would be disrupted, members of society would be harmed, and society itself might ultimately devolve into a form of chaos. Part of this includes the act of self-censorship. Sometimes we don’t say or do things because we understand them to be harmful, hurtful or destructive. Sometimes we don’t tell our friends some of the less-than-gracious things we may be thinking about them to spare their feelings. Tangible or intangible, we do it to avoid negative consequences for ourselves and for those we care about. So why are we getting so worked up about the effects of strong criticism on a larger scale?

But Lana the Gun isn’t done yet. I dunno what a Tentacle Bento is, but Lana knows what it ain’t– ‘satire’.

In life we all make choices. The Kid makes choices– sometimes tough ones. Developers, well, they gotta make their choices too, even if Rohan Verghes thinks they can end up makin’ bad ones:

Here’s a question for you. If a game company publicly says that they are looking to expand into the female market, to attract more female players, which of the following is more likely:

1. The game will become easier.
2.The game will become harder.


1. Pet-collecting will be added to the game.
2. Player vs. Player combat will be added to the game.

If we are honest, we know that the Option 1 is more likely in both cases. Those ideas may or may not attract female gamers in reality, but we know which direction a game company is going to go in when they say they want more women.

Because this causal relationship is real, the reverse signal works as well. A signal that the company is slightly female-unfriendly is also a signal that the game will emphasize difficulty and more hardcore elements like PvP.

Not all the choices gotta address the players, though. The Kid walks a while, and comes across this interestin’ piece on Okami by Jordan Mammo, gettin’ into the nuts and bolts of sumi-e minimalism:

For a universe brought to life by a style that throws out unnecessary details, however, the actual world of Okami is overrun with them. Producer Atsushi Inaba said his goal was to have players interact with and feel the power of nature, but this is often overshadowed by a number of excesses. Even the tiniest of accomplishments result in the player being showered with gifts: furniture, money, wooden bears, beads, praise, paintings and other trinkets that are rarely, if ever, actually used (much less treasured). In a title hoping to reflect the powerful essence of nature, shouldn’t bringing a barren world back to life be enough reward? The game even nods towards their pointlessness by later suggesting you should just sell everything.

And sometimes, sometimes the choices turn out all right anyway. That’s what the Kid finds when she reads this bit by Peter Zalulzny on Metro 2033 doing morality systems in a way that’s subtle:

While I don’t think that I’ll give up on shooting people in games altogether, Metro 2033 has prompted me to take a different approach to absorbing the environmental factors of games, and whether these are simply establishing a context, or attempting to reach out to the player. With very few rewards outside a warm fuzzy feeling inside, most of the questions in Metro 2033 were true questions of morality, most of which were asked without ever posing a question.

And then, between ’em all, we got Steven Poole– who thinks that, like Spielberg’s A.I., Journey shoulda ended at that bit in the ice.

The Kid’s got a few more. She’s gotta keep going, after all– keep goin’ until the links are done. She sees Luke Maciak’s written up a mighty fine ode to code. And Christopher Kaindel’s got a pretty nice new feature for Gamasutra all about the history of violence, and what that means for games’ future.

But it’s all gotta end, right? The Kid, she’s lookin’ tired, but she keeps going. There’s just one more place she’s gotta visit. It’s Cara Ellison’s interactive interview with Anna Anthropy. But once she finishes, the Kid might just have to start the whole business over again.

Now where was I? This old man’s mind tends to wander a bit. The Kid’s still looking for new links, new pieces of the world to bring back. But it’s up to you to send them in– bird or post don’t matter. The Kid’ll see it all through.

(This week’s edition completely inspired by the good folks at Dorkly Bits.)

June 17th

June 17th, 2012 | Posted by Kris Ligman in This Week in Videogame Blogging: - (Comments Off on June 17th)

I’m back from E3 and boy are my arms tired!

…Just kidding. I live about a mile down the road from the convention center. Mainly the only thing still smarting after the expo is my faith in humanity, so thanks are due to Eric Swain for generously taking over the roundup last week! Let’s hit the links!

First, to follow on last week’s reference to the closing of 38 Studios, I offer you a different tale from the sidelines: that of 38 Spouse.

From the vaults of great genre design, neuroscientist Maral Tajerian brings us a new feature for Gamasutra on the neuroscience of survival horror. And Medium Difficulty co-editor Karl Parakenings puts these themes into practice with an essay on the difference between terror and horror, and how System Shock 2 pulls off the latter.

This week was a strong one for retrospectives in general, as was the case in the resurgence of discussion around Civilization II following this Reddit thread about a player’s single decade-long Civ 2 campaign. Experience Points’ Jorge Albor then took the whole thing further in his own interpretation:

Do you see what I see? The simple hope that this same motivation drives change in real world systems, be they political or otherwise? Games don’t change the world, people do. And they do so by diving into systems that seem both at first glance fragile or haphazardly put together, but soon reveal themselves as immensely stable and immovable. I think it is fitting, then, that the leading suggestion in the comments at time of this posting demands the implementation of an incredibly time-consuming strategy, slowly changing the conditions of play until Lycerius can make a final move to achieve peace. The most enduring and deep-rooted homeostatic systems, be they digital or real, change most dramatically with the gradual persistence of collected individuals.

Now that we’re all in a properly proceduralist frame of mind, allow me to direct your attention to David Kanaga’s recent essay on games, spirituality, and meaning-making:

It’s not possible to make a meaningful game. Likewise, it’s not possible to make a meaningful song or picture or story. Meaning arises from our interactions with these forms, from how we play them. […]

Games with a didactic quality like Jon Blow’s Braid can fool us into thinking that meaning is a thing that is being created and then handed down to us– the intensity of the implied value systems that come packaged in game designs are often mistaken for the meaning itself. Sometimes our perceived meanings line-up very neatly with what we’re told are a game’s intended meanings, and this can feel good, but such an effect is incidental rather than essential in any way.

It’s not possible to make a meaningful game, but all played games are meaningful. Meaning can be generated but not located. It’s a process rather than an object.

Adding another layer of tasty nuance to this idea is the latest installment of Eric Lockaby’s “How You Got Videogames Wrong” series for Nightmare Mode, musing on games’ ability to train us to perceive consequence from scenarios where our agency is narrowly constrained:

For Kevin, the consequence of Journey was that he is probably–and if so, quite wonderfully–a closet sociopath. Furthermore, the consequence was that–contrary to his everyday self, I assure you–Kevin had been trained by wave after wave of inconsequential games into needing strict guidance for comprehending consequence itself. I find this potential particularly disturbing. For it seems to me that implying agency while at the same time delimiting said agent’s scope of interpretation is a pretty nasty method of control, and one that mega-publishers and propagandists alike would just loooove to get their paws on.

Also on the subject of process, a tip of the academic hat to Olly Skillman-Wilson, who has recently posted the full text of his BA thesis on games, process and meaning. ‘Grats, grad!

And a couple more philosophical pieces for you, on the nature of space and players’ interactions to virtual playspaces. The first from Matthew Schanuel is another deft reading of Journey, while the latter from Joel Jordon speaks of giving oneself over to the control of the environment, namely that of Dark Souls.

I would be in error if I neglected to mention some of the excellent commentary and discussion pieces which have come out in the last few days on E3, sexism, and gamer fan culture.

Let’s start with the more balanced. Gamasutra member blogs newcomer and Medium Difficulty veteran Heather Hale writes about the good, the bad, and the ridiculous portrayals of women at this year’s E3. Then fellow Medium Difficulty contributor Megan Townsend criticizing the very problematic assumptions underlying Harvest Moon: Boy and Girl:

The boy version can build a farm, build relationships, get married, have a child, and continue on in the community. The girl version disappears after she gets married. She has an ending. There is no writing past that ending as marriage. Over. Done. I don’t get to continue as a woman. My goal is marriage.


To “write past the end” is to acknowledge that a female subject has a life and that human life cannot be so easily contained within a neat narrative arc and that life continues after a “happy ending”. I always appreciated Harvest Moon for allowing open gameplay; it matches the genre of the game itself as farm life, and life in general, is slow, creeping, and lived in tinier moments. The female character in Harvest Moon: Boy and Girl isn’t given any tiny moments, just the big moment of marriage and then, essentially, death.

But this is where it gets heavy. The following section bears a trigger warning for discussion of rape, violence against women, and graphic imagery of the same.

Let’s start with Amanda Lange’s open letter to Lara Croft, reflecting on the 90s backlash to the character’s sexualized appearance in contrast to the recent “victim” reboot:

In the early days, it was all about controlling you, as a doll for his amusement. “If I’m going to have to stare at an ass…” ha ha ha, yeah, you’ve heard that one before. But now? That’s not enough, apparently. Now you also need to be protected by that man. He needs to understand that you’re weak, and you need his toughness, his masculinity, his ability to Press X to Avoid Rape.

It wouldn’t be a woman, after all. It isn’t supposed to be a woman, holding that controller, someone who might want a hero to look up to. Someone who might want a glamorous world of adventure, or, even a struggle they could identify with. It’s obviously got to be a man. And the men that inherited your franchise were… well, they were stuck with, saddled with, this idea of a woman protagonist, and what more could they do? They had to hurt you because it was all they know how to do.

Unwinnable’s Cara Ellison drives the point home further by casting the new Tomb Raider in the context of the industry that fostered it:

Imagine that there is a whole AAA studio full of women developers making Uncharted. Maybe there is one guy, who has to make the tea, we don’t know. Anyway, mostly ladycakes. And they are making a game where Nathan Drake dies suggestively, where the camera gets attached to his toned butt a lot, that fetishizes his being impaled on things, or bumping into things, that has his O sound attached to a drown animation. Now imagine that most gamers are women, and that most of the gamers who will be playing this game are women, and that it is being marketed to women. That women whoop and cheer when Nathan sighs his little orgasmic groans and moans of pain on the screen at E3.

What in hell would that make dudes feel like? It would feel like a conspiracy, an assault on the most private of man sounds.

But imagine still that you live in a world where a man being hot is an invitation to women sexually assaulting him. And then you make a trailer for Uncharted where an extremely hot and oversexualized man is beaten and shot at and drowned and is almost raped. The all-women audience at E3 whoops and cheers.

I do not have to imagine that world. In my world it is quite real, and I’d thank everyone to stop pretending like games need that to control an audience like pack animals after a side of beef.

…I don’t know, I think that’d actually make me want to play Uncharted. But moving on.

You most surely have heard about Anita Sarkeesian’s excellently promising Tropes vs Women in Games Kickstarter project, funding for which closed at over 26 times its original pledge target of $6000. You have also probably heard what gentlemen and scholars a bunch of young misogynists were toward the project and its founder. But if not, Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s John Walker has you covered: he’s deftly broken down the series of events and the arguments behind the attacks for your reference. And for further reading, Anjin Anhut’s list of the 14 most common defenses for misogyny in games is a required visit.

(End trigger warning section.)

Finally, kudos to Tim van Ingen for dropping us a line that the newest issue of the Eludamos Journal for Computer Game Culture is now live on the publication’s website. Go have a look, as there is a lot to sink your teeth into!

That’s all for now! Join me or someone suspiciously like me next Sunday for more of gaming’s best and brightest analysis, criticism and commentary! Remember to send in your links via Twitter or email, and yes we do encourage you to send in your own work, your friend’s, your cat’s, or whoever else is blogging a good blog about games this week. Without your support, we are only half a Critical Distance. A CRIT DIST, as it were. And that’s no fun at all.

Step right up, step right up! Solid Selling Swain here to show you the deal of a lifetime! You are not going to find any wares better than what you see here. I have testimonials a mile long that you’ll find none better. For it is This Week In Video Game Blogging.

But before I get to show you the new goods, I have heard the complaints and I am here to tell you about the recall from the manufacturer. Kill Screen has issued an apology for the lack of forethought that went into the previous week’s piece by Michael Thomsen on the Hitman trailer.

And for those still a little wary, let’s get all the bad news out of the way up front: Chris Hornbostle of the Quarter to Three has published a full explanation of ‘What happened to 38 Studios.‘ Good? Good.

Now– Onto those great alchemists, Dylan Holmes and Tom Auxier of the Nightmare Mode, who have done it again with two new scrolls to help you understand your way through the troubled art of business and the serious business of art, first by showing you how the greatest FPS of this generation failed to find an audience and then how surrogate ruins the otherwise grand Diablo 3.

Ah, no no. You want something more substantial, something more meaningful, something more political? You are in luck, madam! Thanks to a shipping error I have an abundance of just such a thing from Medium Difficulty. I have a Kyle Carpenter unpacking of the polemics of Tentacle Bento and examining all of the unsaid assumptions of such a thing. Also, a certain Megan Townsend bit on where Harvest Moon goes wrong with female representation. But far more bombastic is this Adam Maresca piece on the violence on display at E3. You might call it a trip into the heart of darkness. He certainly does.

No, wait come back. I have more. So if that doesn’t interest you. Something fresh perhaps. The Ontological Geek has a new site and they have christened there new abode with two new spectacular works just this very week. Bill Coberly on the probably (read definitely) deserved nostalgia of Baldur’s Gate the first and Hannah DuVoix’s dive into the player’s relation with the various PCs in games.

I see you sirs and madams are coming around to this old barker. Then perhaps something a might more mainstream to further slake your eyes. A duo of Kotaku pieces may perhaps: Kate Cox’s “E3 Makes Me Really Appreciate the PAX Ban on Booths Babes” and Patricia Hernandez’s “Committing Genocide in Pokemon Helps Me Shape Who I Am.” I believe the origin of such vintages speak for themselves.

And let us not forget the ever faithful, ever constant producer that is PopMatters. For you consumers your weekly haul included G. Christopher Williams talking about ‘Alan Wake’s Women‘ from the newest installment of that franchise and Nick Dinicola closely examining the superior writing of Max Payne 3, by looking at what is largely missing from the dialogue.

Writing for Gamasutra, editor Kris Graft gives up on writing an E3 puff piece and focuses on a single theme, the disillusionment with the AAA video game industry.

Meanwhile, Julian “rabbit” Murdoch wrote for Gamers with Jobs about his experience with the ultra fun game of Johann Sebastian Joust. Finally, a great use for those Move controllers.

I jest, I jest. (*cough*)

Now, I know to all you fine customers out there that this may seem a little tiny itsy bitsy bit like nepotism and that’s because it is, but NEVERTHELESS is what I present to you a supreme work by our very own Kris Ligman. My lady, do take a bow. It is a piece about game maps and game territory as formed by the environment and how it is shaped and enriched by other players.

And over here, I have the esoteric, the cerebral, the theory analysis. Charles Wheeler knows The Rules on the Field as he does an East/West comparative analysis of the game show Ninja Warrior. In addition, Alex Curelea explains, scientifically, why Diablo 3 is less addictive than Diablo 2. But, wait there’s more. Get both of those and I’ll throw in Eric Schwarz’s Critical Missive piece on the attempts to fix currency in games.

Yes, good sir or madam. I see you’ve been eyeing this little bauble. That is a very rare Darius Kazemi write up. You must have a poet’s heart within you to seek it out. For it chronicles the strange journey he had undergone with his magical Metaphor-a-Minute.

And let us not forget the every popular criticism of criticism. The Leveling Criticism of Craig Bamford is about a certain Gamespot interview on the new upcoming Medal of Honor game. The developer wanted it both ways, it’s art and just a game. Mr. Bamford calls this out.

And let us not forget my most exotic ware. I traveled beyond the horizon, you might say I had Gone to Strange Country just to bring back this piece, by the man known as Andre Lavigne. He writes about how the level design contributed to the racism and botching of the anti-colonial sentiment of Resident Evil 5. Be careful you read this once in only a thrice quarter green moon.

But of course I save the showstopper for last. The most easily digestible. Extra Credits is back on their A game by looking at the concept of Hard Boiled in video games and it often goes so wrong.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen for your time and patience. I know something from my wares must of caught each and every one of your eyes. I accept all links, payable to our email or by our twitter. The lovely Kris or Ben will take your orders and…What’s that officer? Yes. Yes, of course I have a peddler’s license. I am a legitimate businessman. No I don’t have it on me, I’m in the middle of a shtick. No I will not come with you I have business…g-g-get your hands off of me. Run for it guys, the jig is up!

(Hope you all had a lovely E3.)

June 3rd

June 3rd, 2012 | Posted by Kris Ligman in This Week in Videogame Blogging: - (Comments Off on June 3rd)

With E3 upon us, it’s time once again to take steady aim and shoot a bullet straight through the heart of what drives us to write about these games of ours. It’s This Week in Videogame Blogging!

Let’s start out on a high note. Leigh Alexander profiles the Kickstarter-facilitated reunion of graphical adventure veterans Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe. Drew Toal introduces us to the curious house rules of cheating at Scrabble for charity. And Kill Screen artist Daniel Purvis delivers a self-reflection on getting out of and back into gaming.

But many authors elected this week to also get right into the guts of things. Eric Schwarz declares Diablo III an abusive relationship while Josh Bycer presents us with a breakdown of the attributes of bad game design. Combining the two themes in a tale of “Vicodin Visions,” Grantland’s Tom Bissell performs a ludonarrative dissection of Max Payne 3:

Ludonarrative dissonance, a term first coined by the game designer Clint Hocking, arises whenever a video game’s fiction says one thing and its gameplay says an opposite thing. Some designers and critics regard ludonarrative dissonance as a core problem in modern game design. Max Payne 3, quite possibly the most ludonarratively dissonant video game ever made, amounts to 12 and a half hours of game fiction and game action throwing empty champagne bottles at each other.

Sounds quite pleasant!

On themes of games and virtual spaces, Robert Yang suggests reality underserves the history we “remember” through games:

Most tourists don’t say anything critical out of reverence, but the French have chosen to mar their version of Omaha Beach with a really awful metal sculpture that permanently scars the shore and ruins the subtle relationship between the original landing monument and the land. […] It’s just there, stuck in the sand, like another German beach obstacle that exists solely to be in the way. Well, it’s supposed to evoke flames to symbolize youth or something, but its odd height leaves it just barely over human scale yet much shorter than a monumental scale — so it’s a monument that requires a nearby plaque, poorly typeset, to explain itself and give it the monumentality that it still doesn’t have and will never have.

Clearly the “real world” has failed Omaha Beach. It’s up to video games to give it space.

Speaking of grandeur of and interactions with spaces, much has been made of survivalist ARMA II mod Day Z. Our favorite Sneaky Bastards pinned down the game’s charm thusly:

Despite its player-driven stealth gameplay, DayZ is not an emergent game. Emergence is something defined by the interaction of systems, whereas the ones that govern DayZ are as basic as can be. It goes beyond emergence, appealing to and being a reflection of raw human behaviour.

Quintin Smith, in a piece for Eurogamer which echoes his memorable Rock, Paper, Shotgun series on Russian cult hit Pathologic, also attests to the game’s allure through the utter brutality of its play. If you’re hungry for more like I am but can’t brave the currently overcrowded servers, James Dalzell provides another engrossing tale of his play experience, and blogger J Wilbur has set up Day Z Diary to serially deliver the chronicle of his game in novel form.

From the extreme hardships of the zombie apocalypse to a more overarching treatment on player action in games, Dan Olson furnishes us with this great video essay on that old “are games art?” hobby horse, asserting that not only is the (sometimes overwhelming) potential for failure not unique to games, it is in fact integral to communication and media. And Roger Travis returns to the subject of player choice in Mass Effect, saying:

The very large differences in the ways players of Mass Effect have viewed the way choice works in the trilogy deserve attention from a practomimetic perspective first because they represent critical perspectives worth refining. Second, and more importantly, however, those differences demand attention because of their affective nature, in light of what I would call the fundamental relationship in practomime between form and affect.

On the subject of Journey, Nathan Hardisty suggests that “What Journey does is introduce a computer into the most purest of human experiences. The incredible irony is that the word ‘connection’ now has two connotations. I think Journey is about this connection, about engineering the relationship.” Writing for Edge, Brendan Keogh defines Journey and other recent independent releases as “walking games” where “a new generation of developers is asking what a videogame can be when such definitions aren’t just ignored, but consciously resisted.”

Patricia Hernandez (who, like Keogh, features heavily this week) gives us a retrospective on Purple Moon and the Girl Games movement, while Michael Abbott looks to film history to draw connections between the shooter and the Western:

In 1959, 26 Westerns aired each week during prime-time. In March of that year, eight of the top ten shows were Westerns. […] So what happens when 1959 ends? Again, history could prove prophetic. The second wave of Western filmmakers (Sergio Leone, Sam Peckinpah, Clint Eastwood) turned our deep familiarity with the genre in on itself, addressing existential questions and examining the nature of violence. These films were radical departures from the Hollywood formula, not because they rejected the familiar settings or the guns or the hero/villain dichotomy, but because they made these the very subjects of their scrutiny.

(The following section bears trigger warnings for discussion of rape, misogyny, violence toward women, and the inclusion of ableist and sexist language.)

On this note, the subject of the game industry responding to its own conventions, we’re brought to what was unquestionably the leading topic of the week.

You may have heard a thing or two about Hitman: Absolution‘s notorious new trailer, in which the game’s protagonist takes on a squad of hypersexualized nun-hooker-assassins (…or something). Alex of The Border House has to hand an excellent primer and link roundup on the subject, the entirety of which is definitely worth reading. Of particular note are Keza MacDonald’s response on IGN, Brendan Keogh’s “Quit Pretending There Isn’t a Videogame Rape Culture“, and Patricia Hernandez’s personal account coming face to face with the rape culture of online gaming.

To add to Alex’s already impressive list, I would also like to direct your attention to Brendan Keogh’s follow-up to his Critical Damage post and the attention it received from this… shall we say, ill-advised Kill Screen piece by Michael Thomsen. Also of interest is Gaming as Women’s wundergeek’s documentation on the portrayal of rape and violence against women across geek media.

Less on the subject of Hitman and more on pulled Kickstarter project Tentacle Bento, Medium Difficulty’s Adam Maresca calls the discussion surrounding the game a “Pandora’s Lunchbox” of questionable priorities:

The fuss is minimal when award-winning Pakistani student filmmakers are denied visas for depicting the bloody truths of “drone warfare”. But get in Tentacle Bento’s way, and you have one of the figureheads of “gamer culture” taking up the sword because of that one time he read that falsely attributed Voltaire quote and got it in his brain that all ideas are of equal value.

In further response to the topic and especially pieces like Thomsen’s, Blake of The Border House calls direct attention to the consumption of sexist culture:

I want people to stop giving money to companies that make first-person participatory hate speech. If they do so anyway, I am going to judge them for that individually. It baffles me that we might want government regulation, because I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect people to not do things like this in public without having anyone tell them they have to. It’s basic empathy here.

There may always be some population that would like to play this sort of game, but it’s not that hard to make it not worth the huge budget that went into this game. As an industry, we don’t have to spend millions to cater to assholes. Chances are, all it would take to get people to stop doing stuff like this is to stop giving them positive feedback for doing stuff like this! I am disappointed that it makes economic sense for this game to be advertised with this video. Apparently, holding out a giant poster saying “Our Game Hypersexualizes Women And Then Lets The Player Brutally Kill Them, Which He (because he is the same straight white male protagonist as almost always) Will Enjoy Because He Is Scared Of Agency Among People He Might Like To Have Sex With” is a winning strategy. The least I can do is point out that I don’t think we should be validating that world view.

Writing for Nightmare Mode, Skyler Moss echoes the sentiment of developer and consumer responsibility in his critique of transphobia in major Atlus games:

Both gamers and developers are responsible for the rather backwards nature of games today. Developers have an obligation to help progress move forward by releasing games that are better in this respect. Fans need to be held accountable for their purchases. Between the used games market and game rental services, there’s very little excuse for knowingly supporting games that hold the medium back.

Finally on the subject, while in no way denying “the stupid shit” endemic of mainstream games, Gus Mastrapa suggests they should be kept around, if for just one reason:

As repugnant and harmful as you find this stuff, try to look at Lollipop Chainsaw and Hitman as you would a blind, poisonous and altogether hideous cave frog who can only breathe the toxic fumes of a dank, sunless cave. As gross and useless as that species may seem, it probably serves some small purpose in the grand scheme. Don’t hide your revulsion, go ahead and upchuck your salad. But don’t crush those vile creatures under your boot. Wouldn’t it be nice if those slimy little amphibians could live in their dark havens and go about their poisonous business without biting and infecting all the nice people up on the surface?

(End of trigger warning section.)

While I don’t have much to ease the sting of that last collection of quotes, I do have a couple cute curios for you to cap off the week: Dave Riller posts on the Team Fortress 2 blog with some interesting in-house design sketches for the game’s “Gorge” map, and via Cory Doctorow we have the making of a perfect Minecraft-themed wedding. Awww. The world can’t be such a bad place if it includes that, can it?

That concludes our links for the week! As a final note, I’ll be hitting the E3 show floor myself this coming week along with my good friend and newly-minted Critical Distance event photographer, Jennifer Roy. Yes, we have one of those now! I’m not entirely sure what sort of treasures we’ll be bringing back for you next week, but I would expect a lot of great low-light exposures. It’s dark in that expo hall, you know. And loud.

Join us again next week for more of the best, most interesting, and most unique content from the world of game blogging. In the meantime, be sure to shoot us………. your article recommendations, that is, via Twitter or email!