On electronic games’ history and culture

This post is a collection of related subject, combined into easier access

A game is an interaction between at least two individuals under certain rules to achieve some sort of goal or achievement. These rules can be shared between the parties and can contradict one side. This idea has not changed with electronic games, and they are not the first ones to have a non-living party. Just like card games have a card deck as the opposing party alongside other human players, electronic games use their device as the party to oppose the human player. In the end, modern video and computer games use the same rules and point calculation methods used past games and plays, be it sports or card games. After all, Super Mario Bros. is just a continuation of our play culture.

Steve Russel’s famous By gosh, it’s a Pinball! is a good contrast how not even the first computer game was, in the end, nothing new. After the Second World War, game parlors had become the cradle of youth culture, and pinball game parlors (or game arcades) became the place where young men and their girlfriends could escape to from the world, essentially becoming their own little separate worlds from the oppressing reality. This world was from the reach of mainstream culture and its moral guardsmen, allowing the youths to let their suppressed side to blow out.

Originally released 1969, this song is iconic representation of the time

Pinball Wizard is an anti-hero, an abused young man who is shunned by the larger world. However, in the game parlors he is able to convey himself to his peers, becoming one with the machine.

As such, it should be no surprise that parents would be worried about these parlors. After all, penny arcades before had been seen as place of vagabonds and men with beaten past. A place where people with less fortune could come together and entertain themselves with cheap coin operated machines, while possibly making connections to the criminal world. Different leagues and mafias controlled these penny arcades at during the 1930’s America, and as such it’s understandable to see people shunning arcades well up to the 1980’s. That shadow never left these places where men could get together and play games. It could be argued that even the games we have nowadays are suffering from similar complains, where moral guardians blame games for ruining whatever they deem valuable. In this light it is interesting to note that it is more than probable that many parents bought computers and game consoles to keep their children out of the arcades later down the line to keep them away from entering the wayside paths of life.

While my text is largely based on American culture, it’s not to say that the rest of the world saw these parlors in any better light. In France, Jean-Claude Baudot banned all coin operated machines in 1937 to prevent the disease penny arcades were seen as. According to Baudot, this law was still in effect up to the early 1980’s, though the law had been eased and circumvented in all ways and manners. In 1981 Ferdinand Marcos, the president of Philippines,  banned all arcade video games. To enforce his rule he smashed arcade machines in public. This is the same man who banned Voltes V  and other similarly themed cartoons just before the series’ final episode. Both of these men echo events that had taken place during world history time and time again, and events like these would be repeated after them, like how Pokémon was seen as the tool of the Devil by some religious forces. In Colorado Springs, 1999, pastor Mark Juvera took a 30-inch sword to a Pikachu toy in front of 85 children and calling Pokémon poison, not to mention the claims of video and computer games causing players to be more violent. Neither of these points are anything special, they’re just continuing  the same backlash games and other media forms have experienced throughout the ages.

It is somewhat ironic to note that television was seen as one of the remedies to keep these rebelling young people at home, as the 1950’s saw it entering mass markets despite not many having the money to buy one. Television didn’t give solution to the problems parents saw game parlors to be, as the problem was social and parlors were not the originator. Turned out that these young people watched television and took themselves to play pinball with their mates. Basically everything that was seen a solution to a problem would later be deemed a problem in itself as well, as seen with books, movies, amateur radio and maybe some day with games too. The problems were real to an extent, they are always more about the stereotypical view the mass culture takes at them. Books, amateur radio, television and games share the same blame that they keep people, children and adults alike, inside rather than “allowing” them to go outside and play, or do something more worthwhile.

Arcades, as we now remember them, didn’t come from nowhere during the 1970’s. They are just those game parlors with a new name and new machines, just like penny arcades before them. We can trace these places back to the game events held before mechanical games existed. In Herrad von Landsberg’s manuscript from the 1100’s we can see a pair of knights fighting each other through controlled marionettes. While it would be easy to compare this to modern era Vs. fighting  game, that would be far too direct. We do not know whether this was a common event or not, nor whether or not this is a real depiction as intended.

Artikel_45890_bilder_value_1_augsburger_puppenkiste1[1]Street Fighter with dolls?

Nevertheless, the core idea of contest and games are still present, even in the physical games. In the same extension, cock-fighting has been compared to Pokémon and other similar games. This is not rare in any way, as all games have their roots in some form of other plays and games. Majority of first person shooters are based on war games, strategy games are war board games, platformers are adventures children have in forest and elsewhere and imitates jumping form rock to rock, fighting games are rooted in physical combat and so on. Plays and games the adults play do stem from the childhood games, and to certain extent adulthood work and politics are just grander, more serious form of these games. It should be noted that video games especially have stemmed from boy’s play culture (and still reside there due to the competitive nature of it), thou arcade games like Pac-Man and Breakout are more or less neutral in their approach.

But what are the original electronic or mechanic games that can be called as the firs physical grandfathers of modern computer and video games? Perhaps the first ancestral machines are the automata, with machines offering entertainment and awe to the audience. However, games require interactivity, and one of the first proto-interactive machines that allowed the user to dictate some elements of the entertainment was the mutoscope from the late 1800’s. It was deemed to cause moral decay and was blamed to corrupt the youths for the pennies they cost. Pornography was a thing, and mutoscope is most remembered for those kinds of movies. We shouldn’t forget shooting galleries and the like as one of the proto-interactive game machines, as Nintendo’s Zapper and the games it used are pretty much a straight continuation.

Perhaps the mutoscope’s history is closer to films overall. However, it’s slightly more interactive nature does make it a relative of playing

1900’s saw all these machines to become everyday objects, and despite the bad rap they got, they spread like wildfire throughout the world. UK created their own machines alongside Americans (a lot of mutoscope’s UK had were either destroyed or exported to the Denmark during coin change in 1971), France and Germany had their own similar history with coin operated machines and Japan had adult-only pachinko parlors in 1930’s Nagoya. It’s not a large step from these mechanical devices towards electronic games, and through that, into computer and video games.


While many of the fears from the late 1800’s and early-to-mid 1900’s still persist when it comes to electronic games, those who play games and are most enthralled by them has not changed too much since then. Things changed with the advent of Golden Era of games, especially with Pac-Man, a game that attracted both men and women to play. Pac-Man as a character was largely a non-descriptive blob despite the game’s and character’s name.

I’ve talked about Industrial revolution being the main dividing point between arts, crafts and design, but when it comes to games it also created a cultural point with boys’ and girls’ cultures. According to E. Anthony Rotundo (1994), the industrial revolution separated boys from their father’s work environment, leaving them for their mothers’ to take care of. Boys moved outside from there, as motherly care usually emphasised good morals, pampering and kindness. Boys’ games and plays often were almost the opposite of this with physical contact with surprising aggressive attitudes. Going against mother’s command was a way to show that you weren’t a momma’s boy, and building from that onwards is a sort of step towards independent manhood. Regardless of how wild these games were, boys would return home to their mothers. One could say that unlike the Freudian Oedipus complex, boys’ fight against their mothers’ culture.

Rotundo contrasts this against girls’ culture, which is tied to their mothers, which have lived in a sort of symbiosis with each other. While he boys’ “adventure island” had a confrontational setting, girls’ had their own place within the “secret gardens.” While girls tend to favour for more socially interactive game with less or not emphasize on competition and physical contact, the concept of secret garden, a secret place reserved only for them and their fantasies. It should be noted that a lot of books for girls are the opposite of this thinking, where their normal lives are broken by a fantastic individual of sorts and their lives see a change, often at the cost of that secluded place. The differences between classic boys’ and girls’ literature is that boys had the heroes travel far away, while the girls’ literature tended to emphasize on staying home. Through that the stakes were different; for boys the adventures were physical like their games, whereas girls’ adventures were more about the psychology and emotions.

It’s not hard to see why electronic games would end up seen as a boys’ hobby. It is far easier to create a game that’s based on competition and rules rather than a game that requires methodical interaction between characters. A game is easy to program to offer a direct challenge the player needs to achieve, like destroying alien invaders than it is to program to reply to inquiries in a naturalistic and sophisticated way to counter the player’s emotional state.

The question whether or not there is a difference between boys’ and girls’ is cultural at its core. American game developer Purple Moon was known for developing games aimed at girls of age 8-14, and their Secret Paths series could be used as an archetypical example of what is generally seen as a girls’ game.

Secret Path games showcases some traditional symbols and images associated with girls. The cursor in the example above is a heart or a ladybug, there is no physical conflict in itself, and whatever action there is leans on metaphysical than physical. Interestingly, despite Purple Moon’s games tend to be simplified in how things are presented, they still manage to make better use of progressive values than most games we have nowadays.

While Purple Moon’s games were designed to be more about places of relaxation, where girls could pour out their stress and observe things with their hearts, so to speak. Each character has their own secret, and it is up to the player to find the secret paths that are laden with gemstones and other artefacts that give social, emotional and psychological strength. These visuals and pathways are representative of the characters’ plight, and the stories these physical environments contain encourage the player to try things out in their own social life. It’s not hard to see why the founder Brenda Laurel called their games as friendship adventures.

Similarly, Theresa Duncan’s Zero Zero is another example of a game that ties to girls’ culture.

While Secret Paths can be regarded as a continuation to the secret garden idea, Louise Fitzhugh’s 1964 novel Harriet the Spy, is about another sort of play space for girls; the city. Within the book, Harriet observes her city’s, her microworld’s she creates, citizens and their complex interactions and how she changed them as she sees fit. This idea of creating a world and having total control over it is similar to SimCity. The difference between the two is how SimCity is more about playing god and micro-manage everything. To Harriet, creating this world is just the first step, and moves towards spying on the individuals to the point of breaking in real world buildings to understand adult interactions. The same contrast repeats here; there is no physical confrontation like there would be in boys’ novel, all the challenge comes from the human interactions and gaining information on the interactions.

It wouldn’t be too hard to see Harriet the Spy as a stealth game that has no combat. Zero Zero is essentially a computer adventure game version of the novel, where the player goes through the city and similarly seeks people’s’ stories. Despite this innocent sounding setting, Zero Zero and other games from Theresa Duncan do not try to be sleek and pat down the reality. On the contrary, Zero Zero‘s French are bored and tend to insult the player in a stereotypical fashion, as do the flowers. Women with strong make-up smoke freely and tend to flash themselves, promising an event in the Red Lights district.  The Sims has a considerable female fanbase, and in a way can be seen as a modern example of a game that allows the player not only play dollhouse, but also play god and decide the interactions.

Secret Path games and Zero Zero are good examples of two strong sides of traditional girls’ games. Secret Path games are very balanced and encourages the player to feel, so to speak. Zero Zero is an example of a game that shows the misshapen world in a very caricature fashion and encourages the player to seek knowledge and information that is hidden from them. Both are about exploring a physical space, but in the end both are about the players’ inner worlds.

Games like Pac-Man and Nights into Dreams are in neither space as such. Pac-Man‘s design as a character and game had no points to either direction, and as such I personally consider Ms. Pac-Man a needles exercise in hindsight despite it becoming extremely popular. Nights into Dreams on the other hand was designed to be androgynous from the get go, both in gameplay and character designs. It even has a boy and a girl character, Elliot and Claris, who have very different dreams for their life.

As games have evolved, contact between the two cultures have become more frequent. One could argue that open world games that contain as much non-physical social confrontation as they do physical are mixing these cultures. MMORPG’s and other games that offer larger interaction with real life people also supports the idea of supportive interaction between girls while offering brotherly confrontation and rivalry boys’ culture has. This sort of neutral space in gaming requires both sides giving something in, and in real life this can cause some argumentation and fighting between children.

Stereotypical girls’ games tend not to be remembered. Purple Moon folded in 1999 and merged with Mattel, and their games were not without criticism. Their games were called to be called sexist, stereotyping the characters and themes, a thing that can be extended to a lot of other girls’ games, especially Barbie games. The space where these games were set in was another major factor.

Space is a keyword here. The pinball culture if the mid-1900’s was very masculine and based on long-standing tradition of penny arcades. When these games began to appear outside their initially designated areas, e.g. pinballs in restaurants and shopping centres, it was seen as a positive progress as anyone, women included, could now access these machines. As games moved away from spaces that were largely seen as dominated by men like universities’ IT-departments and penny arcades, the view on them changed. Pinball is not associated with violent rebels any more, but as a classic game everybody can play. Similarly, the advent of Japanese games in arcades and the renaissance of electronic gaming after the second Video game Crash introduced further colourful and fantastic creatures to the electronic game culture. Pac-Man, Mario Bros., and their like, despite being competitive, offered visuals that weren’t all about blowing shit up, but also attractive colours and challenges that weren’t just about the abstract.

It should be noted that games like Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog and Abe’s Odyssey garnered players from both sexes, and both games shows that in the end, the player character doesn’t really matter as people don’t tend to see themselves in the character. If there is a character creation, sometimes people make themselves, but often it’s an admired, a fantasy version of themselves. They create a fantasy persona, and similarly each player character out there is a fantasy persona that the player doesn’t exactly identify with. After all, the player character is largely unimportant, the game world is what matters.

Perhaps the only truly neutral game between the spaces and cultures is Tetris. Tetris wasn’t just a game that can be described a perfect game and neutral, but a game that was everywhere. It was on home computer where anyone could play it and it was on the Game Boy where everyone could carry it with them. There is no true confrontation in the game, and despite the having a competitive goal in form of scoring, the gameplay is from neither side particularly.

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Review of the Month: Retro Fighters’ Brawler 64 controller

The stock three-pronged Nintendo 64 controller is a peculiarity, to say the least. Whatever Nintendo’s approach was with it, be it designed solely to play Super Mario 64 or just try to separate itself from the rest of the controller crowd, it has ended up as rather infamous. To cut to the chase, it’s not very good as a general controller, and its shape doesn’t exactly fit the hand as intended.

Enter Retro Fighters’ Brawler 64 controller, which was Kickstarted a while back, to which I threw some money at just for this review. Intended to be competent, modern replacement for the stock N64 controller, the Brawl 64 opts for the now-standard pad design and placements, while also carrying the action button setup from the stock N64 controller. There is a follow-up campaign coming up with updated firmware and hardware for translucent shells

Probably needless to say that the controller was tested on real hardware

Continue reading “Review of the Month: Retro Fighters’ Brawler 64 controller”

Is art a game?

The discussion whether or not games are art has been going on for a long time now, but rarely people amuse the thought of the opposite. After all, in the arts field there are rules that are almost indecipherable to the outsider, but the professionals know them through and through. The game just happens to take in the real world, where professionals weight the value of works against pre-existing set of values and scoff at the notion of art as just another waste of time to entertain children and the rich. The rules are not written by just one person, but are tied to a vivid history that gets updated now and then. Nevertheless, much like the origin that is play culture in video games, art world has competition that defines monetary values and rules those follow. This, of course, applies to business world in general, where ideas and thoughts of grandeur are showcased as the main selling point, when all that really is just the front to mask the profit and flow of money. For example, Apple and other electronics companies may sell themselves as a green and responsible companies, when in reality they dump their electronics waste to Ghana as “second-hand merch,” and deliberately design their products to die out faster than intended. Designed obsolescence is something we need to get back in the future.

So art dealing is a game in much sense like any other, but is art itself a game? Specifically, can art be equated to electronic gaming?

Since the 1990’s traditional large audience galleries have been wrestling with interactivity. After all, games are getting called useless waste of time, just like art, but an art gallery does not think this way. I’ve personally met some curators that abhor the idea of gamificating their art galleries. Art galleries are more a slow-paced chess game, where the consumer needs to stop and ponder each and every stroke the painter had done and reflect its message. Games on the other hand invite the consumer to take active part and arguably deliver an instant gratification.

Video games, and games in general, are fun. Their intention is play, to give a pause from our daily lives. Art does not need to be fun. It can be gruesome, stopping and force the consumer to face reality. However, whereas game, and indeed play too, has a challenge to overcome through wits and skill, art does not. Not in the same meaning anyway, art can challenge us to think, but it never requires us to beat a level to see and consume more of it.

In Interactive art and the video game: Separating the siblings Regina Cornwell argues that losing the distinction between interactive art and video games showcases how there is a lack of criticism in post-modern era, that making no distinction between them furthers art’s institutionalism. It degrades art into low-level consumer goods, where being entertained through modern technology becomes the main attraction. Perhaps to this I could add that the simple use of the term art has lost its weight and meaning, as anything can now be art and anyone can be an artist. Indeed, interactive art is not about the rules of the piece, it is about exploring the piece. Games are, in the end, rule driven with end goals and obstacles.

The Louvre is sometimes called the only region free game on the Nintendo 3DS. It, by the very definition of a game, is not one. It is an interactive audiovisual guide. So no, art itself, does not equate as a game. Not even when it’s being produced.

While it is easy to put art and games in the same basket with each other, it seems to be the case that game industry is vehemently wanting to do that, while the art professionals seem to dislike the idea. This wasn’t always the case, as in the 1990’s both sides seemed to dislike each others’ guts. Indeed, even now certain movies are called game-likes because of their direction, action and pace.

Perhaps the most damning is the origin that separates art from games; games are about play, art is not. While some of the rules computer games exhibit can be applied to interactive art to an extent, they are not governing factors. To a painting, such rules can’t be applied to any extent. Where art originates and what it truly represents when stripped down to its barest minimum is more a philosophical question, but perhaps the good old art is about human expression might do the trick. No, playing is not an expression, if you were thinking that. It’s about playing.

Much like how pop-art can be considered as the most spread low-level art in the world, we should consider the existence of game art. While games themselves are not art, they do contain elements that could stand as art. Much like how the neutral space where galleries set their pieces in exhibitions, games are merely containers for what could be considered art. However, element like coding fall into the field of mathematical craftsmanship, not art. Even the motion in such a place is important. The physical motion and seeing pieces as they are in reality affects us differently than seeing something through a screen. Virtual reality, phone applications or any game can’t replicate reality, no matter how advanced their technology is.

Furthermore, game space and art space are not compatible. Game space is very personal spaces, even in arcades. They are not meant to be shared, outside one or two people next to you couch during multiplayer, but even that is largely rendered obsolete through online gaming. Even then we as individuals can decide if we want to call our friends over for a play. Even in arcades this applies, as we are set under strict rules of pay and play, and ultimately are given a respected space while playing a game, even when we have an audience. Art space is the polar opposite, being completely open and public in most cases. An individual can’t decide who has the access to art space alongside them. Games encourage competition and individualism, something that clearly bothers some people to no end, while art space may call merely playful competition in status. All these ideological differences showcase themselves not only the spaces themselves, but also in the arrangement of the spaces and in cultural contexts.

Perhaps the core difference between art and video games is crystallised in Joe Laniado’s review about Serious Games from 1997;

So by way of a game, a diversion, create me a world where I have a clearly defined purpose, set me a challenge – give me a spaceship and something to shoot at.

Monthly Three; Plays and parlors

A game is an interaction between at least two individuals under certain rules to achieve some sort of goal or achievement. These rules can be shared between the parties and can contradict one side. This idea has not changed with electronic games, and they are not the first ones to have a non-living party. Just like card games have a card deck as the opposing party alongside other human players, electronic games use their device as the party to oppose the human player. In the end, modern video and computer games use the same rules and point calculation methods used past games and plays, be it sports or card games. After all, Super Mario Bros. is just a continuation of our play culture.

Steve Russel’s famous By gosh, it’s a Pinball! is a good contrast how not even the first computer game was, in the end, nothing new. After the Second World War, game parlors had become the cradle of youth culture, and pinball game parlors (or game arcades) became the place where young men and their girlfriends could escape to from the world, essentially becoming their own little separate worlds from the oppressing reality. This world was from the reach of mainstream culture and its moral guardsmen, allowing the youths to let their suppressed side to blow out.

Originally released 1969, this song is iconic representation of the time

Pinball Wizard is an anti-hero, an abused young man who is shunned by the larger world. However, in the game parlors he is able to convey himself to his peers, becoming one with the machine.

As such, it should be no surprise that parents would be worried about these parlors. After all, penny arcades before had been seen as place of vagabonds and men with beaten past. A place where people with less fortune could come together and entertain themselves with cheap coin operated machines, while possibly making connections to the criminal world. Different leagues and mafias controlled these penny arcades at during the 1930’s America, and as such it’s understandable to see people shunning arcades well up to the 1980’s. That shadow never left these places where men could get together and play games. It could be argued that even the games we have nowadays are suffering from similar complains, where moral guardians blame games for ruining whatever they deem valuable. In this light it is interesting to note that it is more than probable that many parents bought computers and game consoles to keep their children out of the arcades later down the line to keep them away from entering the wayside paths of life.

While my text is largely based on American culture, it’s not to say that the rest of the world saw these parlors in any better light. In France, Jean-Claude Baudot banned all coin operated machines in 1937 to prevent the disease penny arcades were seen as. According to Baudot, this law was still in effect up to the early 1980’s, though the law had been eased and circumvented in all ways and manners. In 1981 Ferdinand Marcos, the president of Philippines,  banned all arcade video games. To enforce his rule he smashed arcade machines in public. This is the same man who banned Voltes V  and other similarly themed cartoons just before the series’ final episode. Both of these men echo events that had taken place during world history time and time again, and events like these would be repeated after them, like how Pokémon was seen as the tool of the Devil by some religious forces. In Colorado Springs, 1999, pastor Mark Juvera took a 30-inch sword to a Pikachu toy in front of 85 children and calling Pokémon poison, not to mention the claims of video and computer games causing players to be more violent. Neither of these points are anything special, they’re just continuing  the same backlash games and other media forms have experienced throughout the ages.

It is somewhat ironic to note that television was seen as one of the remedies to keep these rebelling young people at home, as the 1950’s saw it entering mass markets despite not many having the money to buy one. Television didn’t give solution to the problems parents saw game parlors to be, as the problem was social and parlors were not the originator. Turned out that these young people watched television and took themselves to play pinball with their mates. Basically everything that was seen a solution to a problem would later be deemed a problem in itself as well, as seen with books, movies, amateur radio and maybe some day with games too. The problems were real to an extent, they are always more about the stereotypical view the mass culture takes at them. Books, amateur radio, television and games share the same blame that they keep people, children and adults alike, inside rather than “allowing” them to go outside and play, or do something more worthwhile.

Arcades, as we now remember them, didn’t come from nowhere during the 1970’s. They are just those game parlors with a new name and new machines, just like penny arcades before them. We can trace these places back to the game events held before mechanical games existed. In Herrad von Landsberg’s manuscript from the 1100’s we can see a pair of knights fighting each other through controlled marionettes. While it would be easy to compare this to modern era Vs. fighting  game, that would be far too direct. We do not know whether this was a common event or not, nor whether or not this is a real depiction as intended.

Artikel_45890_bilder_value_1_augsburger_puppenkiste1[1]

Nevertheless, the core idea of contest and games are still present, even in the physical games. In the same extension, cock-fighting has been compared to Pokémon and other similar games. This is not rare in any way, as all games have their roots in some form of other plays and games. Majority of first person shooters are based on war games, strategy games are war board games, platformers are adventures children have in forest and elsewhere and imitates jumping form rock to rock, fighting games are rooted in physical combat and so on. Plays and games the adults play do stem from the childhood games, and to certain extent adulthood work and politics are just grander, more serious form of these games. It should be noted that video games especially have stemmed from boy’s play culture (and still reside there due to the competitive nature of it), thou arcade games like Pac-Man and Breakout are more or less neutral in their approach.

But what are the original electronic or mechanic games that can be called as the firs physical grandfathers of modern computer and video games? Perhaps the first ancestral machines are the automata, with machines offering entertainment and awe to the audience. However, games require interactivity, and one of the first proto-interactive machines that allowed the user to dictate some elements of the entertainment was the mutoscope from the late 1800’s. It was deemed to cause moral decay and was blamed to corrupt the youths for the pennies they cost. Pornography was a thing, and mutoscope is most remembered for those kinds of movies. We shouldn’t forget shooting galleries and the like as one of the proto-interactive game machines, as Nintendo’s Zapper and the games it used are pretty much a straight continuation.

1900’s saw all these machines to become everyday objects, and despite the bad rap they got, they spread like wildfire throughout the world. UK created their own machines alongside Americans (a lot of mutoscope’s UK had were either destroyed or exported to the Denmark during coin change in 1971), France and Germany had their own similar history with coin operated machines and Japan had adult-only pachinko parlors in 1930’s Nagoya. It’s not a large step from these mechanical devices towards electronic games, and through that, into computer and video games.

Concentrate on the games, not on the developers who screw things up

An industry that doesn’t want you to see behind its curtain will get defensive. The more defensive, the worse the things are.  The Zoe Quinn issue, while a front to the whole issue with the relationship with electronic game press and developers, in itself is noteworthy. It is a noteworthy issue that the hardcore seem are surprised that this isn’t a common thing. The way the video game news sites and the industry overall reacted in a very defensive manner shows that the shred of integrity and validity any of these sources had are now gone. It’s laughable to assume that any site that has not made investigate news reporting would have have any sort of validity in this case anymore.

However, because Zoe Quinn is now as a centre of attention at the moment, her situation will be used as an example here. The rumours of her spreading herself to men for better reviews or whatnot is taken value for the sake of argument, because without a doubt that has happened and will keep happening.

Edit; Here’s some links to get you onto the page the issue is going. This, this and especially this are nice and rather objective overviews.

A total and complete shake from grounds up has been necessary for years now. Any and all electronic game press sites that have connections to the developers at any level have always been automatically invalid. Their journalistic integrity has been nil for years now, and getting surprised that somebody getting a good review in exchange for sex is, for all intents and purposes, exactly same as giving a good review because of money or other contracts. There is a need for a completely third party site that would push objective information forwards.

There is another issue here, which is the developer Quinn and her associates. There’s no reason us to ever hear about them. Quinn herself is pushing political agendas and her game shows this. Players do not want politics in their games. Consumers play games to relax and get rid of the daily routine and junk it pours on them, to get rid of politics for few minutes. Papers, Please is highly unpolitical game despite how well it portrays certain elements in the history of Soviet nations. It doesn’t force any issues on the player. It doesn’t try to make a thing about government, communism or capitalism. If there’s a view about something some way, it’s the player’s own decision what it says to a very large extent.

I repeat the core of my last post; the customer doesn’t need to hear from you or see you on the Internet.  The service provider does not matter. Zoe Quinn or whoever don’t matter. Their products and the service they provide are the only things that matter. These people are not worth the attention they’re getting. Yet they have shoved themselves to the limelight and showing themselves alongside their product. If they had wished act more accordingly, none of this would have happened. If you’re putting yourself on the podium, you better be ready to take the heat of your actions, both regarding your product and everything surrounding it. Quinn herself has acted like a social reject during this whole thing. While the game industry has always attracted all sorts of nerds and geeks, nowadays the industry has attracted these low class hipsters. I hate the put in this way, but they’re almost like degenerates. They represent the society at large as well as a stone represents the animal kingdom. Zoe Quinn and people like her have some validity only in their small communities and have practically no voice outside it. Furthermore, no serious outlet would actually take notice of these people outside as being a mob of sorts.

Perhaps they are acting accordingly to their industry to some small extent. We are getting a lot of entertainment from them, after all. it may not be good entertainment, but there’s some humour value in this whole deal.

It doesn’t matter if Zoe Quinn is a woman. Customers overall don’t care who is behind the product. The discrimination of this is blind; be it man, woman, white, black, venusian, gay or anything like that, it doesn’t matter. How many of us go and check the chef in the restaurants? Nobody gives a damn about the chef as long as the food is good. I doubt any person who eats a sausage thinks about the race or sex of the person who made it. You may meet a salespeople at the cashier, but online you don’t even need that.

I checked out Depression Quest, Quinn’s game that is sort of in the middle of this shitstorm. It’s a lacklustre game. It’s barely a game. It’s a game that doesn’t deserve any attention. It’s exactly like a choose-your-own-adventure text stories we wrote in Pascal in high-school computer classes as an introduction to coding. Interactive (non) fiction game my ass, this isn’t even a game. This isn’t even a bloody visual novel. I didn’t pay any money for this and I feel like I was just scammed money.

I understand very well why anyone would use sex in exchange for positive reviews if their product is like Depression Quest.  The software doesn’t stand on its feet at all. It more or less requires a whole drama to surround it and sell with the developer’s name. It’s a very sad thing. Quinn clearly wanted to tell a story with choices given to the player. She should’ve have written a book, or even better, created a campaign about depression where Depression Quest would have played as a small window how depressed people mosey around in their lives.

However, as now we have this full blown event, we might as well see where it takes us. The hot discussion at large with the hardcore community who, to put it bluntly, care enough for these people and resources have voiced their distaste on how the industry functions. Personally speaking, I agree. I hold no game news site in any regard simply because they have no journalistic integrity. They are tertiary news sources at best, a place where to start looking for the main sources. It is very sad to say that often they themselves are the main sources with interviews and other resources. The relationship between the press and developers needs to be severed and have a clear and distinct separation between the two. In any other, far more valid place in journalism, this sort of thing would lead into direct termination of contract and apology. The amount of conflicts of interests is phenomenal. If the mainstream public were ever to take video game news or press as valid journalism, a complete reconstruction of the industry is needed, and I’m afraid that is only possible with the electronics game industry crashing on itself.

Music of the Month; Shoot Shoot

Sometimes I question the intelligence of spokespeople on television. Ok, I question their intelligence a bit too often for my taste, but sometimes an idiot comes up who takes everything to the nth degree much like their certain predecessors. Of course, I am talking about the recent Glenn Beck rant about violent video games. Hooboy .

The thing is, everything he rants about is more or less without any base. He begins that we, as a culture, do not discuss the role of interactive media in our modern busy lives. Which is bullshit. We discuss this matter quite a lot, and about video games particularly.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Beck uses suicides of four teenagers as an example of bad influence of video games. We all have to ask; how does four people out of millions who play Call of Duty series a good example of anything the game series does? It is stupid to say that linking playing a game prior to suicide merits to anything. If Call of Duty would coin to suicides, we’d have truckloads of people committing suicides. But this doesn’t happen; the figures do not support Beck’s views. Of course, the matter concerns Beck greatly and he does not do any research to ease his concerns.

Actually, let’s ask this for a moment; how the hell were these teenagers playing Call of Duty? The game series is R-18 game. No minor should even be able to get their hands on the game, if we are completely accurate, unlike Beck. What where the parents of these teenagers doing? Did they know what their kids were doing on the computer? Were they on the same page with their kids about their hobbies and world views? Last Christmas I typed in my own concerns how parents are illiterate when it comes to digital media, i.e. the World Wide Web, social media, games etc. I am far more concerned how thousands if not millions of parents are allowing their teenage kids and younger ones to access and play games Call of Duty, which are about warfare.

Of course, Beck continues with Brevik’s statement that he was trained by Call of Duty to wield arms. Which is, in all honesty, complete and utter bullshit. A video game does not and cannot teach you how to shoot. Unlike it is portrayed, shooting is not point-and-shoot. You need to know how to hold a gun, how to take the recoil, how maintain a gun and so on. No games teaches these things. However, books do. There are multiple books that teach how to use a firearm and how to keep them in good condition. Beck’s also incorrect; everybody had the video game talk too, but thankfully there were people who realized that entertainment media is lesser concern than real goddam guns. Rather than talking about guns or video games, why doesn’t these people raise the issue of further weeding out the people who would become mass murderers through shootouts and who have the inclinations for suicide and other harmful ways?

An outside influence like a game, movies or book does not force a teenager to shoot himself, unless this teenager has some mental problems. Many parents do not want to admit that their child is mentally unstable or sick, and then allowing them to have an access to products that feed those negative sides is wrong. Does this mean these products should be removed? Hell no. Otherwise we would have no entertainment media and people like Glenn Beck would be taken out of air because he makes we want to punch a baby otter. The difference is that because I am mentally stable, I won’t act on that.

I’m not surprised that Beck and his people are surprised that games are a multimillion industry. As mentioned, most modern parents are digitally illiterate. Only now we are getting generations that have grown up with this digital era, and only now we can say that we have people who understand the possibilities of digital medium for both good and bad. I’d actually go as far as to say that we still don’t have the full capacity of Internet out there, and perhaps never will because it’ll change with each new generation and with each new technological step. But electronic games, those we understand. Beck’s generation does not, and sadly they don’t even want to. This is far too apparent when Beck explains how the Watch_Dogs teaches children how to hack somebody’s computer. Also, he complains that we don’t have heroes any more.

Let this sink in a little bit.

So, Watch_Dogs teaches children how to code? No, it does not. This is an outright lie from Beck’s part and shows that he does not understand anything how the game works. Hacking is not holding a cursor on a person to get all information. If you think you have a good grasp of hacking based on video games, movies and television, do visit HackThisSite.org and try your skills. It’s a bit more complicated than how Watch_Dogs portray it as. Or just watch this hour and nine minute long video to introduction to hacking. Modern hacking has gone more to social hacking anyway, and most of the information you would even need to use to steal e.g. someone’s Google mail account, is out there in the social media.

And no, iPad does not teach you how to hack. There’s nothing wrong with us, there’s something wrong with Beck for thinking that.

But the hero thing. We do have heroes. Super Mario is still a hero who does the right thing. Rayman is a hero from Ubisoft, from the company Beck seems to thing is a great evil. Pretty much all Super Robot main characters from Super Robot Wars are heroes in the sense of the word. Ace Combat’s pilots are heroes in their own world. Code of Princess has classical hero tropes to the brim. Shenmue’s Ryo is a hero on his own rights. Panzer Dragoon series’ main character are all heroes. Actually, one could argue that many of the Call of Duty player characters are heroes, who fight against terrorist and for truth, justice and the apple pie. When you concentrate on the things that you find concerning, you may go blind to all the good things and Beck is as blind as a bat in a room that does not reflect echoes back.

Funny thing with Beck is also that games are a new stuff and we don’t understand it; that it rewires the players’ brains. Well, everything rewires your brains, like awful political agendas. Secondly, games are only relatively new, and have been here since the 1970’s. Thirdly, we know what games do. There has been studies, both short ones and decade long on how video games affect on people and if they even affect at all. There’s even a damn site devoted to collect every study about electronic gaming and other related phenomena. If you are concerned what games do to your brains, start reading on the researches.

Also, reading from a book or a tablet is the same thing. Only personal preference is between the two. Beck’s claim that you can’t find certain spot via an e-reader is because it lacks tactile feeling that you use with your memory. Of course you won’t find certain sentence in an e-reader version of a book you never read in an e-format, just like you would have hard time to find the same passage in a completely differently laid out edition of the same book. Also, Beck’s a goddamn idiot for dog-earing his books. There are things called bookmarks for a reason.

At least Beck doesn’t compare video games to drugs OH WAIT he compares them to cocaine. Now, I do enjoy the occasional coke on woman’s bosom, but no way in hell video games are comparative to cocaine. Modern media and connectivity isn’t even about addiction; it’s about comfort and ease of use. When we go back before we had the WWW, we still had phones at our homes. If we turn out cell phones and other connected devices off, we return back before the phone was invented. Beck says that making reunions with old friends was the way people used to sort things out. Before Internet people used phones, and before that they used letter mail. Should we all go back to writing letters then? No, but sending and receiving a letter here and there is always nice.

Much like how I take to things to eleven, Beck takes everything to minus eleven in his rant. He is ignorant on every front with this matter and he hasn’t even done his homework.

Do me a favour and next time you meet your parents, talk with them about the Internet and other media out there. Find out how much they truly understand the modern connectivity, and if you’re still under age, please do ask your parents to learn about these things properly for their own sake, and on the long run, for your own sake too. We don’t need more people like Beck.