Tag Archives: media

There is No End

Ludwig Kietzmann, Joystiq:

How can you envision an end when your purpose is to be in motion, always? Where do you stop if what you make, write and think is inextricable from the moment? We poured a bit of our heart and humor into each little vessel – a news story, an opinion, a review – paraded it for thirty minutes and then watched it fall off the page to make room for the next one. And the next. And the next. There is no end.

I just compared blog posts to heart vessels, by the way, and you should know how irritated I am by that. It’s just reporting. It’s just video games. It’s just … what we did.

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Greg Miller, Colin Moriarty, Nick Scarpino, and Tim Gettys Quit IGN

Kinda Funny Games Patreon:

In September, you changed our lives. We launched a Patreon for Kinda Funny, and your response was beyond (BEYOND!) our wildest expectations. The support, the Tweets, the shares — it all showed that we really had built the community of best friends we’re always talking about. And, once we knew that, all we wanted to do was make more content for you.

Enter Kinda Funny Games. Now that we don’t work for IGN, we can talk about the stuff you’ve always wanted us to talk about on YouTube — games.

I was initially taken aback by this news. Four iconic personalities leaving IGN?! There must be bad blood. I was wrong. After 3+ decades of experience at one of the leading video game publications, backed by 1755 patrons at the time of this publication, and a deep desire to speak their mind at any given time, these guys are braving the unknown and entering into an excited new era of media.

I thoroughly enjoyed Keza MacDonald of Kotaku UK’s (ex-IGN) thoughts on the news:

This reminded me of some thoughts I posted in June 2014, derived from Griffin McElroy’s interview with The Indoor Kids:

Baseball diehards can tell you the subtleties in team dynamics. There can be diversity under the same umbrella. Many more sites need to embrace the privilege of instant and educated opinion. If the games community cannot foster intelligent conversation on its own, someone must lead the way.

As an employee of a large tech firm, I deeply understand the desire to freely speak about the industry you are a part of and the prohibitions instated. The benefit Kinda Funny Games has over other would-be media personalities is an established fanbase; however, that makes it no easier to cast aside benefits, workplace friendships, and security.

While I can’t say I am a fan of their humor, I do enjoy their critique of video games. Godspeed, Miller, Moriarty, Scarpino, and Gettys.

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2014: Zero Counts Launch + Greatest Hits

In April 2014, I realized my blog TheStarrList had taken a hard turn into gaming. It was time to start something new. I gathered up those gaming-centric posts from TheStarrList along with several lengthy comments I had made on Polygon and IGN articles and stuffed them into a blog formatted after John Gruber’s Daring Fireball. In May 2014, I launched The State of Gaming with the intention to focus on business, controversy, culture, education, history, health, and other topics in the gaming industry. After a link on Daring Fireball, I decided to cool-down the blog’s pretentious title into something more personal. I recalled a childhood debate: When considering “lives” in video games, does “x1” mean you are on your last, or does zero count?

Writing about games has long been a dream of mine, but there has always been insecurity in indulging in entertainment critique and commentary. For lack of better terms, Zero Counts has tapped into a rich well of inspiration, passion, and creativity. By surrendering my inhibitions about games writing, I have written more frequently and published more on varied topics than ever before.

Without further adéu, here are the most popular posts from launch year, 2014:

  1. Hail Mario (linked by Daring Fireball)
  2. Humanity in Hearthstone
  3. Club Nintendo stuck in Mario Kart traffic
  4. Old School Hip Hop is the new Golden Oldies (retweeted by Ben Thompson (@monkbent))
  5. Save developers and you will save your soul

Looking forward to even more writing in 2015.

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Embargoes and Appetites, Simplified

Ben Kuchera, Polygon:

This is how publishers should begin looking at their launches: Players with set time and budget concerns are looking for reasons not to buy a game, and the better your game works at launch, the more reasons we have to pick it up.

There is always a choice to be had, even if that choice consists of playing the things we haven’t yet finished. A bad launch takes you out of the running, and stressed-out players may almost be happy to see you go.

This is another reason why pre-ordering games is a terrible idea, and waiting to buy is so smart. If you’re not locked into a purchase you can simply buy another game, or wait for things to become more stable. There are people who ran out to pick up Unity yesterday only to get to work and read the reviews. Or worse yet they opened it, played it and are now stuck with a product they can’t return.

A simpler way to read yesterday’s rant.

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Assassin-in-the-room

Polygon’s Quality Control is a fantastic short-form podcast hosted by Justin McElroy in which video game reviewers (primarily from Polygon) offer insight to their review of a particular new release and answer listener questions.

On today’s episode, Polygon Reviews Editor and guest Arthur Gies elaborated on his review of Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

Upon reading Gies’s review, I was taken aback by the lack of mention to the E3 hubbub surrounding Ubisoft creative director Alex Amancio’s comments regarding the lack of playable female avatar’s in co-op:

It’s double the animations, it’s double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets. Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work.

I posed the following unabridged question to Justin via email:

“Arthur seemed to avoid the elephant-in-the-room regarding female playable characters in co-op. While Polygon (and Arthur) has/have made sexualization and representation an impetus for review scores in the past (see Bayonetta 2 (albeit, on the opposite side of representation)), why was this not addressed? Did Arthur feel that female representation did not affect AC: Unity’s overall review? Did he feel the damage had already been done and no more worthwhile discussion could be added? Or was it that Arthur simply wanted us focus solely on the end-product, sharing the detail we may miss when distracted by the elephant?”

Arthur’s response, time stamp 8:20, edited for clarity:

I mean Arno is the character in the game. And I don’t think women are treated particularly well in the game; It’s certainly not even close to the most egregious misstep that I’ve seen in a game this year with regard to that kind of subject matter. And honestly, the game has so many other problems to discuss that at a certain point I feel like I’m running out of reader patience or attention span to get to the heart of the statement that I’m trying to make.

With Assassin’s Creed: Unity, the traversal problems that the series has had for years and the massive technical issues and a really underwhelming story are all things that undermine Unity very seriously. I could go on at length at various things in the game that bother me but those are the most substantive things that hurt the game. It could still have been a fantastic game despite the absence of women in it as playable avatars. [If that were the case], that might have been a discussion I could have had, but that wasn’t as material as everything else.

Thanks for the time and clarity, Arthur.

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Embargoes and Appetites

Ben Kuchera, Polygon:

When a game’s embargo isn’t up until the day of launch you need to be careful. If it isn’t up until a few hours after the game is launched you should probably run screaming the other way. That’s not a signal that the game may have middling reviews, that’s a signal that the publisher is trying to sell copies before the word hits the street.

It could also meant the game is still being worked on, but any embargo past midnight the night before is sketchy as hell. It’s a way to weaponize embargoes, and the best thing to do is to hold off until you can read about the game in detail.

[…]

You should always be on the lookout for these situations. The earlier a review hits, often the more confidence the publisher has in the game.

Earlier this year, I commented that Nintendo “gambled for positive reviews two weeks before launch”. Looking back, this was definitely less of a gamble and more a projection with confidence.

From a publisher’s perspective, I understand careful consideration over embargo dates. However, if a consumer cares deeply about a reviewer’s opinion, there should be no problem in waiting for a trusted opinion. The day-and-date state-of-mind is poison.

This does not, however, address the problem of protection from broken product. This is not film or music— botched playback would never escape manufacturing; a bad bounce would never escape the studio. Pre-orders for products so deeply rooted in real-time mechanics and engineering, notoriously subjected to time crunches and annual release dates, cannot wisely be considered for pre-order without subjection to reviews. While I implore patiently waiting for reviews on this type of product, release date and post-release date embargo lifts, as Kuchera implies, are cowardly and bullshit.

Pre-release embargoes are important, as is our appetite for new product.

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‘How Reviews Impact Those Who Create’

Speaking of reviews, here’s a interesting follow-up from the side of developers.

Brian P. Shea, IGN:

Ultimately, reviews should never be viewed as the final word on a game. Instead, they’re guidelines for readers to apply to their own personal taste. If a review gives a game a 7.0 and cites poor multiplayer a one of the game’s issues, but you don’t intend on playing the multiplayer, you can synthesize that review and conclude that you might be very likely to enjoy the game more than the critic – and that’s OK.

A worthwhile read but I maintain that a 7.0 persists as a flag. It is likely going to deter consumers from a $60 gamble “to apply their own personal taste.”

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Hard-Working Schlubs

Jeremy Parish writing on his 2-dimensions.com blog:

Video games are made by hard-working schlubs, and they’re written about by hard-working schlubs, and both categories of schlub do so in service of the hard-working schlubs who do their schlubbing so they can afford to buy video games. We’re not so different, you and I.

Great perspective piece on 10+ years working in the gaming press. I have Parish, in part, to thank for where I am today. From one hard-working schlub, schlubbing to afford to write about video games on the side (because I can’t help it either), to another hard-working schlub: Thank you.

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Social Justice Warriors?

An all-star roster of games journalists joined Adam Rosser on BBC Radio 5 live’s Game On for a discussion on the “social justice warrior.” Some of my favorite moments below:

Pat Garratt, VG247:

I’ve seen many squabbles on the Internet and they do sort of go the way of the dodo. I think what we are actually seeing is this section of the gaming community is about to be pushed out. I think that’s why their so angry. It’s literally like taking a toy away from a child. If you actually take a toy away from a child, they just completely freak out. This is exactly what is happening, I think.

Dan Person, GamesIndustry.biz:

There’s an awful lot of psychology and studies into this idea of the online personality; This idea of the power of anonymity, and the keyboard warrior and what that kind of does to people when you take away the consequences of actions in that way. That’s still a relatively new area of study. The Internet is certainly, in human terms, a very recent invention.

I think when you get unfettered and unregulated communities of young, let’s face it, mostly men who are operating in this way without any kind of adult or intelligent supervision, they can become very quickly violent and vile and unpleasant. That echo chamber can accentuate that effect. And then when somebody comes into the playroom and says, “hey guys. You know you should stop doing that and perhaps behave like adults,” there is often that phase of tantrum, basically. And if those children happen to be handling a large blunt object, then that can become dangerous.

Keza McDonald, Kotaku UK:

The Internet gamifies people. It turns you into someone who’s not a real person. You’re some imaginary thing on the end of a Twitter handle. It makes it easier for people to behave inhumanly towards you. Anyone who basically decides to do cultural criticism of games that goes beyond just the assessment of software will probably come up against people who ask them, “why can’t you just talk about the game?” Again, for these people, games are systems that are self-contained and for them the community and the world of gaming is also a system that is self-contained. So as soon as you start trying to place it in a real world context or you start talking about it in a way that they’re not used to, I think that it really confuses people and upsets them.

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The Metaphorical Grocery Store

Chris Plante, Polygon:

Two groups are at opposite ends of this moment:

One side has folded its arms, slumped its shoulders while pouting like an obstinate child that has learned they are getting a little brother or sister but wants to remain the singular focus of his parents’ affection.

The other side has opened its arms, unable to contain its love and compassion, because they understand they are no longer alone.

This week, the obstinate child threw a temper tantrum, and the industry was stuck in the metaphorical grocery store as everyone was forced to suffer through it together. But unlike a child, the people behind these temper tantrums are hurting others. It’s time to grow up. Let’s not wait until next week to start.

I am very happy to see writers Auerbach and Plante echo each other’s sentiment of “childish rhetoric.” I’m even happier that Plante is escalating this conversation to include the reality of the situation.

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