Okay, everybody buckle the f*ck up! I've gotta bring this to the attention of anyone who doesn't already know about this, though probably most do since I'm not like on the cutting edge of video game news or whatever. So there's this indie game company, yeah? They're working on their first game, right? And this f*cking game, holy crap, it looks fantastic. I've been following this game for a long time now, and there's been little to no news since March. Gliding O'er E3, these f*cking guys (though really, indie at E3? Come on, let's be realistic). Anywhoozles, Lunar Software is the name of this indie team, and the game is Routine, a horror game, get this, with an 80s theme (awesome to the max!), on the moon! How cool is that? But don't just take my word (the gold that it may be) for it, check out this alpha gameplay trailer. They've really created an atmosphere I'm dying to immerse myself in. These guys are gonna be big. Just you wait and see.
With the next generation of overpriced hardware just around the corner I've found myself once again pondering what could be. Naturally, I know it won't be what I dream of, but I like to think that perhaps this time it'll be just a little closer. Probably not.
When the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 came about I'd heard tell of a game called "Assassin's Creed". My interests in this game were two fold: a love for the Crusades and the developers bragging of some advanced AI. I never did get around to playing the game, but I did have the opportunity of once observing a former love playing the game. Near as I could tell it did not live up to my expectations of what "advanced AI" would mean.
I've a bit of an obsession with technological progression, so much so that I kick a few bucks to Humanity Plus when I can, despite my suspicions of it some day revealing itself to be a cult. But that's how much I dream of a wonderful cyberpunk dystopia not unlike a William Gibson novel. All digressing aside, I'm particularly fascinated with the progression of artificial intelligence and its potential for video games.
I had always believed that AI would progress at a rate that, by now, would have us interfacing with it more commonly. In video games, AI is nothing impressive, at least, as far as anything beyond puzzle and strategy goes, and for this I blame the focus on multiplayer. Nothing against multiplayer, it's nice for those who enjoy it, but it's the bane of AI, as well as storytelling, as developers shift focus from making immersive, interactive stories in favor of making socializing more agoraphobic-friendly.
Imagine a video game world, perhaps something as open as a Bethesda game, that truly reacts to the choices you make therein. More than simply receiving an alternate dialogue route or ending based on some sketchy moral compass that's almost entirely inconsistent. I mean a world where the death of crucial characters or world-impacting decisions can have a "mass effect" that the game can compensate for via an AI that can assess and rewrite large portions of storyline. A good example of where this would benefit is Fallout 3 (stop now if you haven't finished the storyline for the game and care about spoilers. Really though, you shouldn't because the game's story is pretty shallow and uninteresting). In Fallout 3, the player is ultimately confronted with the choice of genocide: either "purify" the wasteland of mutants or simply purify the local water supply. Regardless of your choice no change is actually made to the game world, ultimately making the player's efforts for naught, aside from enjoying the storyline, although, probably the storyline as well as Bethesda (or Obsidian) will likely never implement this choice mechanic into the story, assuming they'll even be expanding upon the events of the game at all.
As I forget where I was going with this I'll close with the following: my personal interest in video games boils down to two primary factors: story and gameplay. Both of which I hope to one day see evolve through a sort of Hal 9000-like interactive AI (oh how I wish) where one can influence a games storyline with their own words rather than predetermined dialogue choices. I dream of a future that redefines the "sand box" game, one in which if you decide to pee in the sand box you truly screw it up (or make it better if that's your thing). Eh, food for thought, maybe?
For the past three or so months I've found myself listening to much of this talk of violent media and its effect on the yout's and I thought, since some have requested I not quit this blog, that I'd throw my opinion out there for a few laughs. I should probably note that I'd originally intended to write this when it was more topical, but hadn't gotten around to it, although I would argue that it does not make much difference as the subject of violent media seems to never cease being a hot topic.
First and foremost: I love death, destruction and tragedy. It's true. I greatly enjoy killing in video games, films, literature and sometimes even in reality (some of you must admit that the news and especially the details of Bin Laden's death were exciting). When you consider the fact that millions of people play games like Call of Duty (believe me I hate to use this game as frame of reference but it suits the point) I'm quite obviously not alone in that, by far. I'd like to point out that I haven't heard anybody bash Game of Thrones for the antics of King Joffrey or even Fallout with its ridiculous head explosions that, while a bit over the top, are humorous and satisfying.
It doesn't make us monsters to enjoy the portrayal of things that, in reality, would actually be quite awful; it doesn't devalue us as good or humane or whatever word you want to use for ideological opinions of a more or less moral nature. This is because of the fact that we are sophisticated creatures. We have, but so often refuse to acknowledge, the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality. We choose our influences from fantasy, we don't, at least not always, choose our influences from reality. You couldn't choose how your parents (or guardians) raised you, but you can decide how you feel about observations or choices you make in video games. With that said I'll mention that a large number of people, myself included, often make choices in games that are contrary to their true nature. Why? Because it's fun and it has no bearing on reality, no consequence.
In my observation, gamers don't often think twice about fantasy violence. It doesn't infiltrate or influence our lives outside of gaming (I stalwartly deny that I ventured into the study of violent crime as a result of my appreciation for violence as portrayed in literature, film, and video games). Recall any time in which you've played a game, perhaps slaughtering ridiculous amounts of people or monsters, turned it off and without a second thought to it proceeded about your day (or night) the events of which bore no relation to your experience with said gaming. You know who can't do that? People who do not play video games. The very same who argue that video games influence the people who play them. This is an insult, really. You could see it as they're saying that you, the gamer, are impressionable and without your own ability to distinguish fantasy from reality, lawful from unlawful, good from bad. This insult stings far worse than when gamers were stereotyped as nothing more than slackers who wasted their life away and whose only contributions to society were in the forms of crochet and homemade fudge for the blind (Oh 90s, you were a fabulous decade).
You may note that, as I stated previously, millions of people play violent games, so why isn't the number of horrific shootings in the millions? Or anywhere near for that matter? Because the people who commit these atrocities are crazy with or without video games. In fact, humanity has been striving for excellence in the art of brutally savaging each other (see: Blood Eagle) for, approximately, 200,000 years (8,000 for you creationists), and the octopodes will continue this perfection when we're gone.
There's an important, albeit somewhat semantic, distinction to make when discussing violence, and this is for the sake of those who simply aren't hip to reason and logic: use the term "fantasy violence" in hopes that those who are sensitive will acknowledge the meaning of the word "fantasy" and not go bananas every time we talk about this.
Hello, fellow Gamespotheads, and "Welcome to mah blog!" (that's terrible, I'm sorry). Yes, in response to the rash of bloggings about sexism, I've decided to channel my own inner Andy Rooney and throw my hat into the complain-fest that is the world of blogging.
I suppose I should start with a little disclaimer: I HATE blogs. Everything about them. From the self-important attention seeking to the fact that anything that isn't a porn blog is more or less just a catalog of ones personal complaints, as though anybody cares (which apparently some inevitably and inexplicably do). And the word "blog" is such an ugly word. It's what I call my vagina when I'm on my period (and aptly so, it so happens that the first blog was actually created by a giant, sentient, bleeding vagina).
By the way now would be a good time to mention that if you don't have a dirty or dark sense of humor this blog will offend you. Naturally, I will do my best to avoid using inappropriate words (since Gamespot frowns on freedom of expression), but I will also do my best to use appropriate words inappropriately to make up for it. So, if you fear you're too sensitive and susceptible to others sense of humor or opinions stop reading and move on. DO NOT READ JUST TO BE OFFENDED AND THEN BLOG ABOUT HOW OFFENDED YOU ARE.
On Sexism and Gaming
First off, sexism is no longer an issue. We've got our right to vote and we exercise it poorly (oh, single women under 30, why?). Women receive greater treatment now than almost any time in history, save for maybe Matriarchal societies, but those have always been so few and far between. And lets face it, women generally have so much more than men. I mean that in the broadest sense. We have more clothing, fashion and hairstyles, you name it. There are more things that women can do to waste time or have fun than men. And a pretty woman can go much farther with just her looks than a handsome man could. Both genders have their advantages, so it's my opinion that, on that note, it's unfair for us to whine for more than the feminist revolution already got us. Anyway, this was supposed to be in regards to gaming, so, moving on.
I've been a gamer since I was about five, now, let's say I'm an early twenty-something, so it's an accurate assumption that I was gaming during the golden age of video games (see: Planescape Torment). I've played some great games in my time, covering most genres. I've played and likely finished a great deal of what feminists call "controversial games" (hot coffee, anyone?). I survived these "violent" and "sexual/sexist" games with my purity and morality intact and have formed the following opinion: there's nothing sexist in videogames.
Sure, there some games where women are purely there for the T&A factor (Tomb Raider), but it's a novelty. The content which feminists complain about as sexist is no more than the video game equivalent of the giant foam finger. So where's the outrage for that? Nowhere. Why? Because it's too ridiculous to be offended by something so trivial. The portrayal of women in videogames has been nothing to complain about, especially with character customization expanding exponentially. There have been a lot of heroines in games that depict a strong and capable image of a woman, but, that kind of doesn't matter much because they're fictional characters, they're not role models or influences in any way. This persecution of video games is nothing more than a modern parallel to when certain books were labelled as controversial or dangerous. It was crazy then, it's crazy now.
But there's another side to the coin of game related sexism: online harrassment. Ironically, this has nothing to do with video games themselves, they just take the blame because, as we all know, when you play an online video game, you're like the PR guy for whatever game you're playing. There's an ever growing number of women who are discovering gaming due to the appeal of online multiplayer. What they don't expect is that the majority of online multiplayer tends to be competitive, and many women have never competed with men, so they are unaware that it is a tradition among men to trash talk in the spirit of competition. This trash talk often includes finding and exploiting anything and everything that can possibly offend a person (how is that not great? It's hilarious!).
Of course a woman might not always be insulted, inevitably, any female gamer will be relentlessly hit on. I've been subject to this myself, but, it's only problematic if you're particularly sensitive and are bothered easily. Of course it's somwehere between creepy and weird when complete strangers request pictures of your breasts after insulting you for killing them, but for the ultra-sensitives there is typically an option of muting or blocking those kind of guys. So, really, it's not a problem, but, hey, it's blog fuel, baby! Besides, sexual harrassment is nothing but funny. And believe me I realize that's an unpopular opinion for a woman to have, but it's all sticks and stones, you can talk about my body all you want, I don't care, I reserve offense for when it gets physical.
"You ever notice how good Morely Safer's penis looks through slacks?"
Allow me to play Devil's Advocate and suggest that another kind of women who play video games, the "gamer grrrrrrl" also known as the Halo whore or the CoD slut, who play video games for the sole purpose of meeting guys, encourage the sexual harrassment. Yes, for those of you who might not know, there are a lot of girls who see Xbox Live as nothing more than a dating service. I've had a lot of friends who do this. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the idea of dating guys you meet on video games, as I'm guilty of having done that once myself, I'm knocking the girls who pose as gamers when really they're just desperately trying to work around insecurity issues. Game for the game, not the gamers. So, maybe, just maybe, you angry womyn have got the wrong target in your crosshair.
I really do apologize for beating this dead horse but I find this subject too funny not to. I suppose maybe I should also suggest that, guys, take it easy on the feminists, they just don't know what a chaotic place the world (and subsequently the online world) really is and hey, who doesn't love a good sugar-coating? So tell them the world is all gum drops and lollipops.
I suppose I'll keep this short since it's my first blog entry and probably noone will read it anyway but I could honestly go on and on about the subject of sexism. I encourage you to think of this more as satire than an actual blog. Though I'll throw my two cents in from time to time, each entry will likely only be a response to whatever ridiculous subject refuses to die around here. Save for the occasional decision to express my outrage for over-priced DLC or some such nonsense.