Giant Bomb News

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Worth Reading: 03/07/2014

Gain insight into the evolution of Irrational Games, speculation on the future of games and gambling, and lots more.

People know my aversion to directly influencing crowdfunding, but there are exceptions to every rule.

Brandon Boyer is the chairman of the Independent Games Festival, and has been instrumental in the independent gaming scene. His fingers are everywhere, even if you can't always see them. He's helped make some of the games you love come alive, and his passion has helped develop a community that is now poised to become a deeply influential part of the industry.

He's also more than $100,000 in debt, thanks to cancer. His full story is on GoFundMe, but the short version: he got screwed. Even though the Affordable Care Act prevents insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, that didn't kick in until this year. Unfortunately for Brandon, he became sick in 2013, and he's now stuck with an enormous bill.

Even if you can't donate, think about sharing the link. And if you're looking for a way to get some games and feel good about helping a person in need, Devolver Digital is running a Humble Bundle with games like Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior. There are even some movie 'n stuff! You can't really go wrong.

Hey, You Should Play This

And You Should Read These, Too

Damn. Bravo, Chris! The Polygon reporter spent time with a bunch of Irrational Games employees, and came back with this report about the tumultuous development of BioShock Infinite. There are probably more stories to be shared in the future, but there's much to be gleaned about life within Irrational from here. By the end, there's little surprise that big changes have come to Irrational. Possibly the most fascinating bit? How much better the studio seemed to work with deadlines and structure, both of which, ironically, disappeared after BioShock's success. In another universe, maybe things turned out differently.

"Many former employees believe Irrational would not have shipped BioShock Infinite without Fergusson. As one source puts it, 'Rod insulated the team, but also earned Ken's trust and didn't interfere with Ken's creative vision.'

As VP of development, Fergusson served as the practical, metrics-minded foil to Levine's creative method. And according to sources, Levine benefited from the structure and deadlines. One source says Levine actually excelled under restraint; that, given a deadline, he and the studio did their best work."

***

We joke about how the psychology driving some F2P games is no different than gambling, but it's easy to forget Zynga actually partnered to launch an online gambling portal in the UK. Legal reasons are the only hurdle stopping something similar from happening over here. Jon Nathanson's piece walks through some of the legal changes probably coming, and how we might see a domino effect that results in online gambling establishing in the US. He makes a leap regarding the involvement of game developers, but it's not a big one.

"The biggest roadblock facing Zynga, and anyone else, is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. Originally drafted as a last-minute rider on a port security bill, the UIGEA has been used to prohibit companies from offering Internet-based poker, sports books, and games of chance to Americans. Its passing put an end to a decade-long gold rush in online gambling in the U.S., led by sites such as Bodog, PokerStars, and Full Tilt Poker. A series of indictments, issued most notably in United States v. Scheinberg, showed that federal authorities were willing to prosecute broadly and aggressively on behalf of the UIGEA. In Scheinberg, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara alleged that the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Cereus (Absolute Poker) were guilty of bank fraud and money laundering as a result of transferring funds to and from players online. PokerStars and two other defendants agreed to forfeit over $731 million to settle the case, and PokerStars was permitted to continue business operations."

If You Click It, It Will Play

Crowdfunding's Sticking Around, And These Looks Promising

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

South Park: The Stick of Truth Is Prompting Some Great Writing

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
44 Comments
Posted by sionweeks

So sad for Brandon :(

Posted by sionweeks

So sad for Brandon :(

Posted by Morningstar

Thanks Scoops =)

Posted by HammondofTexas

Leigh Alexander, brings up let's say... memories.

Edited by joshwent

I'm disappointed that this Lovell article and its ilk are still getting play. I won't waste time correcting his fallacious arguments, as enough economists and actual game devs already do that in the article's comments, but this kind of baseless speculation is fear mongering at its worst.

The terror instilled in these middle aged marketing gurus by the "F2P generation" is just kind of sad.

Posted by cloudymusic

@hammondoftexas said:

Leigh Alexander, brings up let's say... memories.

$775 million.

Posted by HellknightLeon

"People know my aversion to directly influencing crowdfunding" Maybe that's not so close to true. Good pulls today Scoops. I hate/love seeing stories on Irrational Games, it brakes my heart... I love Bioshock Infinite.

Posted by Gold_Skulltulla

To be clear, Brandon is in debt because his insurance company, Humana, declared him to have a pre-existing condition on the basis that he'd had some stomach pain previously that wasn't severe enough to warrant going to the doctor. We expect cancer to be an adversary, but it is shameful and criminal that health insurance companies are able to conduct business this way.

Posted by Deathpooky

@joshwent said:

I'm disappointed that this Lovell article and its ilk are still getting play. I won't waste time correcting his fallacious arguments, as enough economists and actual game devs already do that in the article's comments, but this kind of baseless speculation is fear mongering at its worst.

The terror instilled in these middle aged marketing gurus by the "F2P generation" is just kind of sad.

The comments to that article are great. People bring up about a half-dozen counterexamples to his simplistic economic nightmare scenario, and his only response is "wait and see, soon all developers will make every game F2P and paid games will die off." Never mind that there have always been free games out there, or that people are still ready and willing to pay full price for big game releases.

The fact that there's still a thriving market for quality game experiences on iOS (Threes! is still in the top 10 last I checked) shows that there will always be a market for good, non F2P games at a reasonable price. Not for everyone, but for people who want them.

Posted by BigD145

To be clear, Brandon is in debt because his insurance company, Humana, declared him to have a pre-existing condition on the basis that he'd had some stomach pain previously that wasn't severe enough to warrant going to the doctor. We expect cancer to be an adversary, but it is shameful and criminal that health insurance companies are able to conduct business this way.

Insurance companies had been doing it for many years. "Got acne? No foot surgery for you." It's a big part of why the ACA exists, even with the 50th repeal attempt recently.

Posted by VargasPrime

It is super amazing that over just four days, Brandon's GoFundMe page has gotten over 1,800 people contributing, and so far has almost completely covered the $110k in costs that he was facing.

This kind of outpouring is fantastic to see and be a part of. Warm fuzzies, and all that.

Edited by VargasPrime

It's super amazing that in just four days, Brandon's GoFundMe has received over 1,800 contributions, and raised nearly all of the $110k that he is facing.

This kind of outpouring is fantastic to see and be a part of. Warm fuzzies and all that.

Posted by cooljammer00

Hail Lord Gamblor.

Posted by TreuloseTomate

It's Susan Arendt, not Ardent.

Posted by Dr_Perscitus
Posted by The_Crunchiest

Is there any more excellent 4 fucking year old jokes about Leigh that you can trot out in a limp wristed attempt at humor?

Posted by Crippl3
Edited by GaspoweR
Posted by Brodehouse

Are those articles on South Park great writing? Is that the standard for great writing?

That Bastion interview takes a while to go. They spend the first half talking entirely about game production and not about the game, which is what I'm interested in. I'm interested in the ideas and influences behind Bastion's artistic elements, not necessarily a look into how the sausage gets made. The second half gets way better though. There's a part I'll quote that captures my frustration with Giant Bomb's reduction of Rucks as 'just the narrator, no character there'. No, there's tons of character there. He is the reason why any of it is happening.

Kasavin: There was the design idea your hub, or whatever, and you build it up. An idea that seemed immediately interesting, the mysterious caretaker of this hub was like an archetype for a character. So very early on its like, “oh, dude, he could be the narrator.” From a writing standpoint, it’s much more interesting for that character to exist in this world and to have a perspective and even an agenda. That is just rich to me in terms of coming up with what he is going to say. We knew he couldn’t just be a play-by-play announcer. That was novel initially if he just says what you do but we realized immediately that he needs to provide context that you wouldn’t already have otherwise it’s just gimmicky and it gets old.

Posted by BisonHero

@brodehouse said:

Are those articles on South Park great writing? Is that the standard for great writing?

That Bastion interview takes a while to go. They spend the first half talking entirely about game production and not about the game, which is what I'm interested in. I'm interested in the ideas and influences behind Bastion's artistic elements, not necessarily a look into how the sausage gets made. The second half gets way better though. There's a part I'll quote that captures my frustration with Giant Bomb's reduction of Rucks as 'just the narrator, no character there'. No, there's tons of character there. He is the reason why any of it is happening.

Kasavin: There was the design idea your hub, or whatever, and you build it up. An idea that seemed immediately interesting, the mysterious caretaker of this hub was like an archetype for a character. So very early on its like, “oh, dude, he could be the narrator.” From a writing standpoint, it’s much more interesting for that character to exist in this world and to have a perspective and even an agenda. That is just rich to me in terms of coming up with what he is going to say. We knew he couldn’t just be a play-by-play announcer. That was novel initially if he just says what you do but we realized immediately that he needs to provide context that you wouldn’t already have otherwise it’s just gimmicky and it gets old.

When was GB dismissive of Rucks? Not challenging your position, so much as I genuinely don't remember the GB saying much about it, since they didn't do a review. Was it in the Quick Look or podcast?

Anyway, I agree, Rucks was well done, and while not an active participant in the story events like Zulf or the Kid, you still get a really important perspective on events and the world itself from Rucks. And he was literally the epitome of one of the two ending choices, in that he represented trying things again using the old ways and maintaining all that history Caelondian history you learned so much about, up against Zia's position of letting it all go and moving forward with what they have now. He's certainly a lot more than just a narrator.

Edited by coribald
Edited by Brodehouse

@bisonhero said:

When was GB dismissive of Rucks? Not challenging your position, so much as I genuinely don't remember the GB saying much about it, since they didn't do a review. Was it in the Quick Look or podcast?

During the Best Character podcasts, 2011. IIRC Rucks made it to the final 4, but got cut.

Anyway, I agree, Rucks was well done, and while not an active participant in the story events like Zulf or the Kid, you still get a really important perspective on events and the world itself from Rucks. And he was literally the epitome of one of the two ending choices, in that he represented trying things again using the old ways and maintaining all that history Caelondian history you learned so much about, up against Zia's position of letting it all go and moving forward with what they have now. He's certainly a lot more than just a narrator.

That's not even taking into consideration his culpability for the entire mess. I think it's pretty canny to have one of the people responsible for the end of the world survive long enough to consider it. In a lot of ways, Rucks and his narration is the closest I've seen a video game to nailing the tone and demeanor of Kurt Vonnegut.

Posted by LikeaSsur

I have to give Leigh Alexander credit for at least trying to make learning a new card game very tragic.

But at the end of the day, she's turned learning a card game into some deep personal journey that changed her life forever because she's bad at math and wanted to fit in.

Posted by Random45

To be clear, Brandon is in debt because his insurance company, Humana, declared him to have a pre-existing condition on the basis that he'd had some stomach pain previously that wasn't severe enough to warrant going to the doctor. We expect cancer to be an adversary, but it is shameful and criminal that health insurance companies are able to conduct business this way.

That just pisses me off. He pays them every month, and exchange they basically stab him in the back. Free Health Care certainly looks more attractive when insurance companies can get away with this sort of shit.

Edited by Endaro

I have to give Leigh Alexander credit for at least trying to make learning a new card game very tragic.

But at the end of the day, she's turned learning a card game into some deep personal journey that changed her life forever because she's bad at math and wanted to fit in.

I think you missed most of the point of that article.

Posted by LikeaSsur

@endaro: Then what, pray tell, was the point? To show how practicing at something makes you better?

Posted by courage_wolf

I am rather disappointed with Cameron Kunzelman's article on South Park. Humor is most certainly subjective and people are free to like and dislike whatever they choose, but I feel that Kunzelman's critique of the show's message is unfair and given in bad faith. Kunzelman criticizes the show by dismissing it as offensive humor aimed at middle school children and declaring "I wasn’t in middle school any longer; the “transgressions” were simple and trite, and more often than not I could tune into the show and hear the same ignorant opinions that I could get from any random person in my small, politically conservative Southern hometown."

To me this seems to be a gross oversimplification and outright dismissal of what South Park has attempted to do over the years. It has certainly been an outlet for low brow humor and gross out gags over the years, but it has also consistently been an outlet for the show creators to satirize and mock the insanity of the modern world. The show has often called out and mocked the excesses of the political left and right, the religious and athiests, environmentalists and energy companies, the old and the young, the famous and the obscure, basically anyone and everyone with something to say in the world. Something that has been very consistent over the years is that South Park has something to say and when it does it often hits too close to home for comfort. There have been times when South Park touched on deep seated personal beliefs that I hold in a way that made me feel very uncomfortable about them.

Based on Kunzelman's criticism of the show and his characterization of it, I feel that his dislike is at least partially motivated by the show challenging him on an issue he holds dear. To me his opinion of the show reads like that of a person who does not want to confront a dissenting voice and paints it into a corner of ignorance in order to justify ignoring it. I may be completely off base here as I am not familiar with the man, but South Park most certainly has meaningful things to say about the world we live in and to outright ignore that seems unfair. One does not have to agree with the show or even enjoy it, but it should at least be afforded the courtesy of acknowledging that it is about more than middle school humor. To insulate ones self from it is one thing, but to deny that it has anything meaningful to say on a web column that will be seen by many people who may not be familiar with the show seems intellectually dishonest and reckless.

Edited by Dizzyhippos

Its awesome that he almost reached his total in 5 days, no industry and fan base rally's around its own like videogames

Edited by ZolRoyce

@courage_wolf: Bravo! Calling South Park middle school humor/childish/etc is the go to for the majority of people who don't like it, and it is just so dishonest of people to do so, hate the show to the very core of your being if you want, but you if you call out South Park for being juvenile then you are basically admitting to not ever really watching the show beyond one fart gag or not actually being smart enough to pick up on the social commentary the show provides.

Edited by Fattony12000

Video. Game.

Video game.

Posted by chocolaterhinovampire

Leigh Alexander, brings up let's say... memories.

Let's get some public goodwill for Black Ops!!!! Some good articles this week and it is a damn shame about that guys debt. Love or hate socialized medicine, at least it keeps people from situations like that. Damn shame it is

Posted by HammondofTexas

@hammondoftexas said:

Leigh Alexander, brings up let's say... memories.

Let's get some public goodwill for Black Ops!!!! Some good articles this week and it is a damn shame about that guys debt. Love or hate socialized medicine, at least it keeps people from situations like that. Damn shame it is

I think you're quoting the wrong person there mate.

Posted by TheHumanDove

Is there any more excellent 4 fucking year old jokes about Leigh that you can trot out in a limp wristed attempt at humor?

How about her terribly thought out articles? Those are pretty recent.

Edited by aceofspudz
@courage_wolf said:

Based on Kunzelman's criticism of the show and his characterization of it, I feel that his dislike is at least partially motivated by the show challenging him on an issue he holds dear. To me his opinion of the show reads like that of a person who does not want to confront a dissenting voice and paints it into a corner of ignorance in order to justify ignoring it.

I imagine for a lot of left-progressives, South Park may actually be the first time in their life they encounter their beliefs being mocked in an effective and funny way. Generally speaking comedy isn't a conservative stronghold. Matt and Trey aren't conservatives, really, they're more like libertarian gadflies.

SP sneaks in a ton of digs at conservatives but for them the experience of being mocked by popular media isn't unfamiliar.

Posted by chocolaterhinovampire

@chocolaterhinovampire said:

@hammondoftexas said:

Leigh Alexander, brings up let's say... memories.

Let's get some public goodwill for Black Ops!!!! Some good articles this week and it is a damn shame about that guys debt. Love or hate socialized medicine, at least it keeps people from situations like that. Damn shame it is

I think you're quoting the wrong person there mate.

Nah, it is totally her though not verbatim. She does say something along the lines of "to gain public goodwill for Black Ops" before dropping the 775 million bomb

Edited by chocolaterhinovampire

@hammondoftexas said:

@chocolaterhinovampire said:

@hammondoftexas said:

Leigh Alexander, brings up let's say... memories.

Let's get some public goodwill for Black Ops!!!! Some good articles this week and it is a damn shame about that guys debt. Love or hate socialized medicine, at least it keeps people from situations like that. Damn shame it is

I think you're quoting the wrong person there mate.

Nah, she totally said that just not verbatim. It was along the lines of "to gain public goodwill for Black Ops" before dropping the infamous 775 million bomb

Posted by Fishdingo5

Videogame, yes. Video game, no.

Posted by Rox360

Let's just cut to the chase already. People have already admitted that "game" is a misnomer in the way we use it to describe these things, so why not just ditch it? Giant Bomb: It's a website about vids.