Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Armed to the Teeth

"Even a really thoughtful, interesting game like Bioshock, say, when you describe it to someone and say it’s about Objectivism and it’s about how you deal with power, and it’s beautiful.  People ask, “Well, what’s it about?” You say, “Well, you run around this underwater city shooting lightning out of your hands at psychopaths.” The reigning paradigm of game design is to send someone running amok through some system populated by enemies.  And as much as I love those games, I think they will remain in the comic book ghetto until more designers figure out how to make enjoyable games that don’t involve picking up an armament of some kind."
-The quote-tastic Tom Bissell
in an Interview with Fanzine 
"I've had a lot of story-related questions, but nobody's asked me, 'what's the goal? They've crashed and now what?' My problem here is that whatever I tell you will be a spoiler. We want you to have fun when you play the game. But the first idea is, 'let's get the fuck out of here!' This is a really unpleasant place. Everything is trying to kill us. These savages, tribes and gangs are trying to kill us. The whole bloody planet is trying to kill us."
-Adrian Chmielarz, Creative Director of Bulletstorm
in an interview with Videogamer.com
"Lots of big-budget video games are designed to deliver an arc of brutal empowerment. Whether it's powers, weapons or martial arts moves, you start off with a skill set that grows more prodigious over time and the ability to handle more and bigger enemies comes with an increasing level of spectacle. Whether or not the spectacle is empty depends on how other aspects of the game are executed." 
-Evan Narcisse, The Atlantic 
"It's pure genocidal fun, which many FPS developers today seem to think is beneath them. (...) As for the guns, I could mention the hugely satisfying penis-extension gun that pins baddies to walls with entire trees, but all you really need to know is that there's a gun that shoots shurikens and lightning. I wish I could make something like that up - it shoots shurikens and lightning, it could only be more awesome if it had tits and was on fire."
-Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, Reviewing Painkiller

8 comments:

Andrew said...

Um, what's the point in posting varying types of quotes with quite poor formatting?

Just wondering'

Kirk Hamilton said...

Oh, just something I've been messing around with.

Not sure if you really require an explanation, but all four are quotes that discuss various aspects of a common topic.

Andrew said...

A reply :) I'm honoured, after my other comments I thought the authors didn't reply! :)

I understand it's new (from your one a few posts down, and how you were inspired by Leigh Alexander), just a bit odd - ie; "What is the point".

Let me explain; Without an additional comment of your own (to contextualise why you chose such views at the very least!), it seems abstractly like trying to portray something as, well, in this case, having several valid sides yet cherry picking the responses and highlighting so in fact it reads like one side is actually correct.

You might even agree with it all; if so, why?

From reading it myself (and reading it a few more times with and without formatting) it comes out as railing pretty much against violent videogames (or at least, as a statement that their massive popularity is bad even if themselves are not bad, or that it is keeping everyone back somehow). I realise that clicking through to the articles is slightly better; but it still comes off as this to me (sorry if this wasn't the intent and of course it likely isn't!).

I mean, I am entertained by his reviews (most of the time) but you're using Ben Crowshaw as the measured serious response to the "quote-tastic" Tom Bissell? Ben Crowshaw knows how to write humorously and over the top but come on...

Just my view of it however; I am simply bemused at using the quotes of others to mask your own opinions on a topic. I'm obviously a complete outsider here; so please take my criticism with a grain of salt and please, it is criticism, I am not just calling you names or complaining for the sake of it.

To be constructive as I mentioned: Perhaps try adding your own comments to the topic at hand too, or at least encourage others to. (Good idea to lead by example; I mean, what am I meant to add to this discussion? What is it a discussion of? The use of violence in videogames? The popularity of violence in vidogames? The reasons for violence in videogames? The different kinds of videogame violence? Examples of games which are good even if they are violent, or ones which are good despite being violent? The amount of non-violent popular videogames? All of the above?).

Also; I'll give you that it kinda half-looks pretty (if you don't want to read it mind you!), so I guess it wins at that, which does appear to be your point using that method if nothing else. I've no idea how to improve it except perhaps trying to tone it down or making sure you check what you highlight more ("trees", "story", "system", "the spectacle is empty" (this is almost like misquoting; and is the opposite point of the sentence!), and the odd use of italics only in the last quote for instance).

Hope this isn't taken badly, just you appear to have an interesting blog and I had a spare 15 minutes to write this. What a timewaster I am!

Kirk Hamilton said...

Thanks, Andrew - Constructive feedback is always welcome. Thanks too, for your earlier comments - good stuff! We try to respond to comments whenever we can - it's one of the more fun parts of writing the blog, really.

I'd had the same thought about how changing the size of some of the words also changes their emphasis, which could be construed as a sort of misquote. I was hoping that people would go and read the source article to get all the context.

My other hope was to engender discussion of the topic the quotes center around, not the choice of quotes itself.

But like I said, these are just an experiment - perhaps an unsuccessful one.

Thanks again for the feedback; glad you're enjoying the site.

Andrew said...

Ahh, well, it's interesting; the actual topic is a well trodden one (much much more varied then these 4 quotes imply; but fair enough on limiting them to 4!).

However discussions of the actual opinions (not necessarily the people, but the quotes) is a good thing; you need to have something to sound off at; be it a topic point, or someone else's opinions that you agree or disagree with. It helps narrow it down!

After all - this is a huge topic, so to single out "violence" as the theme (as it appears to be, although the thread is implying armed combat).

Keeping it focused helps I think. You (un)intentionally did that by the choice of quotes in the first place - for instance leaving out violence being used against minority groups etc. by game developers (sometimes a hot topic, heh), or the use of violence in tactical non-FP/TP games, or its use in normally social games (or lack of violence in the same games) and so forth and so on :)

Anyway, glad I can provide such feedback. Kotaku would probably have already deleted this! ;)

brian longtin said...

These quotes perfectly illustrate why the only video games I have ever been able to get my girlfriend to play are Rock Band and Catan.

No matter how much I try, all this nonsense we're so passionate about just seems silly to her when in the end it's all a bunch of dudes trekking from one place to another shooting stuff.

(though in the case of Red Dead, also, 'Those guys sure talk a lot'.)

Dan the Man said...

Ha, Brian, that's awesome. Your girlfriend should meet my fiancee, it sounds like they'd get along.

Kirk Hamilton said...

It was interesting - Sparky mentioned over on my Red Dead post that some of the most interesting parts of that game were where John wasn't shooting tons of dudes. I agree.

It's not to say that shooting dudes has no place (it's a western, after all), but by adding a lot of other ways to interact with a world, for a brief time the game make the act of pulling out a gun and shooting something that much more impactful. Maybe it's about variety and/or moderation?