hey guys, my friend Mike Sacco - who you may have heard lost his job earlier this month for some stuff he wrote about Borderlands on twitter - is looking to get a psychiatric assessment for his depression and anxiety issues.
as a freelance game journalist and writer who recently lost a good portion of his income, he obviously doesn’t have health insurance, and i know better than just about anyone how scary and hard it can be to take care of yourself and your mental health when you’re not making any goddamn money.
i would really appreciate it if you’d take a look at the WePay link at the top and consider donating - or, at the very least, reblogging the post. mike is one of my very dearest friends, i love him more than i can express, and i want to help him in any way i can.
From Polygon.com, a really interesting infograph about the breakdown of GW2 races and classes. Perhaps not surprisingly, humans are overwhelmingly popular. It’s too bad - the writing in GW2 is universally solid, but some of the content in the Sylvari zones particularly has floored me. I hope more people get to see it.
yo it’s time for a greenlight post
if yall aren’t looking at steam greenlight you should be. it’s a fun way to see the absolute worst of what indie gaming has to offer AND support some rad games that should be on steam
i thought i would collect some of the things i think people should go check out!!!!
I agree with everything jason says as a rule, but he’s especially correct here.
Obsidian missed Fallout: New Vegas Metacritic bonus by one point
ahahahahahha holy shit bethesda
Unfortunately for Obsidian, Fallout: New Vegas currently has a Metacritic average of 84, a single point below the average that would’ve earned the company royalties on its product. “[Fallout: New Vegas] was a straight payment, no royalties, only a bonus if we got an 85+ on Metacritic, which we didn’t,” Obsidian creative director and co-owner Chris Avellone told one Twitter user.
From what I’ve been led to understand, this is pretty much an industry standard practice, and it’s PRETTY DISGUSTING. As if mainstream games journalism wasn’t already in bed with publishers, devs have to enter what basically amounts to a devil’s threesome with the publishers and the reviewers in order to have any hope of getting paid, you know, a living wage.
Burn metacritic to the ground, basically.
Tomb Raider, Rape Culture, and a Concise Illustration of Exactly What is Wrong With the Game Industry
I’m still collecting my thoughts from the Big Three’s press conferences, so thanks for bearing with me through my horrifically busy schedule this past week. I want to take a short break from the madness of E3 to talk about something only tangentially related: Tomb Raider.
Now, listen - I’m not going to stand up and issue forth an indictment of this almost two-decade-old franchise on the basis of the extreme sexualization of the character that has existed from day one. That’s obvious to anyone with two working eyes, and I don’t think there’s anything left to be said about it. We all know Old Lara Croft with her comically short shorts and her excessively large polygonal breasts. We went through the phase where she was lauded as a Strong Woman despite being little more than a pin-up for horny male teens. Those days are behind us.
Because today, we have Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider. (And from now on, we’re just going to call it Tomb Raider, because calling it The New Tomb Raider or Tomb Raider (2012) is clunky as hell.)
The above (and similar pictures) was the first I saw of the new Tomb Raider a couple of years ago, and even just with that limited context, I was pretty ecstatic. New Lara looked dirty. She looked as though she’d been crawling through filthy tunnels looking for some ancient relic or other. She looked tough, and perhaps most encouragingly, she looked sensible. The modelers had seen fit to reduce her cup size by a factor of 10 or so. She looked like something approaching a real person! In some pictures they released, she was shown to be wearing actual pants!
And then the other shoe dropped. Crystal Dynamics released a gameplay trailer during E3 2011. It’s short, you can watch the whole thing, but the really egregious stuff doesn’t start until roughly the 4-minute mark. And by the really egregious stuff, I mean Lara’s incidental voice acting.
Seriously, listen to it. It’s the most uncomfortable thing I’ve heard in a while, even in retrospect. Lara is put through a series of puzzles, she has to dodge falling rocks, she has to fend off attackers, all while experiencing what is apparently an earth-shattering orgasm.
But hey, I thought to myself, maybe it won’t suck. Surely some of the feedback from that trailer will make its way through whatever road to the developer, who might realize the degree to which it sounds like Lara is moaning erotically while going through what is essentially a series of torture chambers.
Needless to say, then, I was interested to see what Crystal Dynamics would bring to the table this year.
What they brought to the table was not good. In fact it was by pretty much all accounts even worse than last year. Lara now cannot move more than a few feet without panting. Every time she lands on her feet, she releases an orgasmic squeal. I’m pretty sure that the VA directions for this trailer were just the second two-thirds of Deepthroat. And this is all while she’s enduring physical pain and trials the likes of which haven’t been seen outside of a Vin Diesel movie. I was, in a word, done. Nice try, boys! Next time try not to give your players an erection.
And then things got even worse.
Because yesterday, Crystal Dynamics gave Kotaku an interview. Check this out:
“When people play Lara, they don’t really project themselves into the character,” Rosenberg told me at E3 last week when I asked if it was difficult to develop for a female protagonist.
“They’re more like ‘I want to protect her.’ There’s this sort of dynamic of ‘I’m going to this adventure with her and trying to protect her.’”
Maybe people would project themselves more onto Lara Croft if she was at all a relatable, real character instead of a blowup doll with sidearms. Maybe gamers of both genders wouldn’t have a problem connecting with Lara Croft if, up to this point she was an actual human being.
And hang on just a second, protect her? That completely defeats the purpose of making Lara the POV character. That isn’t how this shit works. You want to protect Emma in Metal Gear Solid 2. You want to protect Yorda in ICO. I’m not supposed to want to protect the character through whose eyes I’m seeing the world, I’m supposed to want to BE HER.
I can’t remember the last time a developer said of a male protagonist, “You will want to protect him.” Did you want to protect Nathan Drake or Ezio Auditore? Did you want to protect Gordon Freeman or Adam Jensen or any other of the thousand male protagonists that have come and gone over the years?
Of course not.
So why do they want us to protect Lara, instead of being Lara?
“The ability to see her as a human is even more enticing to me than the more sexualized version of yesteryear,” he said. “She literally goes from zero to hero… we’re sort of building her up and just when she gets confident, we break her down again.”
In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft will suffer. Her best friend will be kidnapped. She’ll get taken prisoner by island scavengers. And then, Rosenberg says, those scavengers will try to rape her.
“She is literally turned into a cornered animal,” Rosenberg said. “It’s a huge step in her evolution: she’s forced to either fight back or die.”
This is why men shouldn’t be allowed to develop female characters. Because when the men get their hands into the project and realize that they need Lara Croft to go through some Real Problems, the first thing they turn to is physical torture and rape. Perhaps it’s because they don’t think they’ll be able to write a relatable woman. Perhaps they’re just lazy. Perhaps they don’t see what exactly they’re doing that’s so awful, here. But it happened in Dragon Age: Origins. It happened in Heavy Rain. And it’s happening again.
I can’t believe that in this, The Year Two Thousand And Twelve, I’m having to write this. But developers? Writers? Men who are trying to create compelling female characters?
Please stop using sexual assault in place of actual character development.
Crystal Dynamics, please. You can still save this game. You can make Lara Croft a real character instead of a torture victim. You can make her a complete badass, give her her own agency, and let her defend herself instead of making us want to save her from being raped like some kind of adolescent white-knight fantasy. You can, in short, take Lara Croft out of the fridge.
But if this is the direction in which they’re taking the game, well… I’m just going to start yearning for the halcyon days of 1996.
Q:Just read your EA conference impressions. Just wanted to say that Crysis 1 was most definately a sandbox game. It was all about having these huge environments, willed with destructible objects, and how you could use the nanosuit to approach a situation from any angle and handle it however you wanted. It's sandbox in that you can use whatever playstyle or strategy you want at any time and just explore this huge island. Not so sure about Crysis 2 or 3 since I haven't played them. But Crysis was.
Thanks for writing!!!
I played Crysis 1 and I didn’t have that same experience - I honestly found it pretty linear. But hearing you talk about it, I want to go back and take another look, because I feel like I must have been missing something.
Ubisoft @ E3 2012: Awkward, Tasteless, and Dumb.
or, What the Fuck Did I Just Take
I just got done watching Gamespot’s replay of the Ubisoft press conference from yesterday - my work schedule is necessitating a more leisurely pace for these recaps. And… I don’t know, you guys. Someone really needs to check in on Yves Guillemot, make sure he’s okay. This shit is getting weird. And I don’t mean Satoru Iwata holding a banana weird. I mean, like, salvia weird.
As anyone who’s played one knows, one of the simplest pleasures of any SimCity game, dating back to the 1989 original, is the consequence-free “What if?” scenario. The kind where you obliterate your city by triggering an apocalyptic wave of fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, and monster attacks, then time-warp it back to pristine condition by loading a saved game. When I asked Lead Producer Kip Katsaelis if the 2013 SimCity would allow that same pleasure in its Glass Box-powered cities, the answer was a simple, disappointing “No.”
The perils of always-online gameplay, I guess. This is probably one of those things that we’ll look back on in ten years and laugh about, like the transition from cartridges to discs. But this, coupled with Blizzard’s recent Battle.net woes that prevented people from playing the single-player version of the game that they already owned, would appear to make a pretty compelling case for leaving offline play untouched.
What do you think?