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Worth Reading: 03/02/2012

An island full of musical frogs, a soldier examining the reality of war in the video game world, and more in this week's edition of Worth Reading.

It's hard to imagine anyone predicting where fighting games would go way in the early 90s.

It’s only a few days until one of my favorite events of the year arrives: the Game Developers Conference. Once a year, the whole industry convenes in my city to talk about the craft of making video games, and if you’re ever able to attend, make sure you do.

Since next week will be so hectic, there probably won’t be a Worth Reading next Friday. I know, I know--this feature just started and it’s already taking a break, but I’ll make it up to you. Somehow.

Mostly, I’ve been consumed by the aftermath of my reporting on the fighting game community from earlier this week, when I watched parts of Capcom’s Cross Assault reality show, and witnessed a heated conversation about whether sexual harassment is a problem. Since then, I’ve been talking with members of the community about my story, and working towards opening a dialogue that will hopefully result in another piece soon.

Until then, let’s get this weekend started, shall we?

Hey, You Should Play This:

Hey, it’s not a platformer! The thing is, explaining Proteus is...difficult. You’re on an island, and there’s music. The more you explore the island, the more music there is. There’s frogs, and those frogs make music. It’s not a game about mechanics, it’s an experience rooted in exploration. The more you search, the more you’ll discover. Perhaps Johann Sebastian Joust designer Doug Wilson puts it best: “Proteus is like: an indie Wind Waker, with dashes of Boards of Canada, James Turrell, Carl Sagan.” Proteus just launched its Minecraft-esque paid beta, and right now, it’ll only cost you $7.50 to get in. Recommended. You can watch an old trailer for Proteus over here. Ribbit.

Also, You Should Read This:

I knew the response from the fighting game community would be very emotional. It’s understandable, as the community experiences enormous scrutiny, one they feel they may not deserve, especially since the comments of one man do not represent the views of all. I can help shine a line on what’s happening, but I’m not a member of that community, and it’s up to members of that community to help change the tone. Tom “Inkblot” Cannon has been a commanding voice since the conversation began, and his latest editorial is welcomed for its thoughtful introspection.

“So, it’s time to stand up. If we continue to let the worst elements in the scene speak for us or excuse their bad behavior, we deserve whatever criticism we get. It’s everyone’s responsibility: the players, the content producers, the tournament organizers, and the fans. We need to be just as serious about the way we treat each other and how we reach out to others online as we are about the game. This isn’t about killing the hype or white-washing the scene. We can be just as loud, excited and hype without belittling entire classes of people. ”It’s ok, we’re all friends”, and “I’m just joking” aren’t valid excuses.”

Many video games have one operating rule: be fun. If every game was a realistic simulation of the situation it’s portraying, many games would probably lose much of that. An anonymous writer going by the pseudonym of “W” is both a player of video games and a private military contractor who’s spent this entire adult life in the military. More than anyone, W knows how much games like Call of Duty and Battlefield 3 do not represent the reality of war, even if we’re all fully aware of that the fact, too. W knows war on a level most of us will never, ever understand, and listening to W ruminate on the psychology of a soldier, a psychology that also defines him, makes for fascinating reading.

“When I spoke about it to my friend years later, he recalled how pissed he was at losing the insurgent, and how bad he felt afterwards about it. He’d had his professional pride tarnished. I asked him if he ever thought about the woman and her kid and he just looked at me blankly.

He didn’t even remember they were there.

This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in videogames. How would you feel if you accidentally killed an innocent child in a game? If the words “MISSION FAILED” appeared, but then disappeared after a few seconds, leaving you to continue as normal with no repercussions. Any normal person would feel guilty, but that’s my point. Combat troops are not normal people.”
Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by patrickklepek
It's hard to imagine anyone predicting where fighting games would go way in the early 90s.

It’s only a few days until one of my favorite events of the year arrives: the Game Developers Conference. Once a year, the whole industry convenes in my city to talk about the craft of making video games, and if you’re ever able to attend, make sure you do.

Since next week will be so hectic, there probably won’t be a Worth Reading next Friday. I know, I know--this feature just started and it’s already taking a break, but I’ll make it up to you. Somehow.

Mostly, I’ve been consumed by the aftermath of my reporting on the fighting game community from earlier this week, when I watched parts of Capcom’s Cross Assault reality show, and witnessed a heated conversation about whether sexual harassment is a problem. Since then, I’ve been talking with members of the community about my story, and working towards opening a dialogue that will hopefully result in another piece soon.

Until then, let’s get this weekend started, shall we?

Hey, You Should Play This:

Hey, it’s not a platformer! The thing is, explaining Proteus is...difficult. You’re on an island, and there’s music. The more you explore the island, the more music there is. There’s frogs, and those frogs make music. It’s not a game about mechanics, it’s an experience rooted in exploration. The more you search, the more you’ll discover. Perhaps Johann Sebastian Joust designer Doug Wilson puts it best: “Proteus is like: an indie Wind Waker, with dashes of Boards of Canada, James Turrell, Carl Sagan.” Proteus just launched its Minecraft-esque paid beta, and right now, it’ll only cost you $7.50 to get in. Recommended. You can watch an old trailer for Proteus over here. Ribbit.

Also, You Should Read This:

I knew the response from the fighting game community would be very emotional. It’s understandable, as the community experiences enormous scrutiny, one they feel they may not deserve, especially since the comments of one man do not represent the views of all. I can help shine a line on what’s happening, but I’m not a member of that community, and it’s up to members of that community to help change the tone. Tom “Inkblot” Cannon has been a commanding voice since the conversation began, and his latest editorial is welcomed for its thoughtful introspection.

“So, it’s time to stand up. If we continue to let the worst elements in the scene speak for us or excuse their bad behavior, we deserve whatever criticism we get. It’s everyone’s responsibility: the players, the content producers, the tournament organizers, and the fans. We need to be just as serious about the way we treat each other and how we reach out to others online as we are about the game. This isn’t about killing the hype or white-washing the scene. We can be just as loud, excited and hype without belittling entire classes of people. ”It’s ok, we’re all friends”, and “I’m just joking” aren’t valid excuses.”

Many video games have one operating rule: be fun. If every game was a realistic simulation of the situation it’s portraying, many games would probably lose much of that. An anonymous writer going by the pseudonym of “W” is both a player of video games and a private military contractor who’s spent this entire adult life in the military. More than anyone, W knows how much games like Call of Duty and Battlefield 3 do not represent the reality of war, even if we’re all fully aware of that the fact, too. W knows war on a level most of us will never, ever understand, and listening to W ruminate on the psychology of a soldier, a psychology that also defines him, makes for fascinating reading.

“When I spoke about it to my friend years later, he recalled how pissed he was at losing the insurgent, and how bad he felt afterwards about it. He’d had his professional pride tarnished. I asked him if he ever thought about the woman and her kid and he just looked at me blankly.

He didn’t even remember they were there.

This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in videogames. How would you feel if you accidentally killed an innocent child in a game? If the words “MISSION FAILED” appeared, but then disappeared after a few seconds, leaving you to continue as normal with no repercussions. Any normal person would feel guilty, but that’s my point. Combat troops are not normal people.”
Staff
Posted by Crunchman

Cool!

Posted by Chemin

Proteus seems interesting. I like artsy 'games'.

Posted by Oldirtybearon

Goddamn it Kleptok. How the hell do you find the most fascinating articles?

Posted by tcsajax

@Oldirtybearon: That would be reddit.

Posted by Vasari

I'm glad you're still following the fighting games controversy. Too many people were quick to throw the issue out because they felt that the fighting games community was threatened. People need to understand exactly why this kind of thing cannot be tolerated. That Shoryuken article is a pro click, by the way.

Edited by mnzy

A shoutout to Final Round would've been nice after all that FGC drama this week. They're having their 15 year anniversary. 
 
It will be streamed at http://www.twitch.tv/teamsp00ky all weekend. 
 
edit: I think you got the author of "Call of Apathy" wrong. Tom Cannon is the guy from Shoryuken.

Posted by havelava

@tcsajax: Nah, common mistake, he said "most fascinating" articles, not "most sexist rape-centric" ones. I could see how you made that accident.

Online
Posted by Rumour

Hey Patrick, just a little typo there. You credited Call of Apathy to Tom Cannon in the sub heading. :)

Posted by Mento

I'm probably speaking out of my ass as an outsider, but I feel the reason the FGC is resisting this media intrusion on the language and attitudes they have towards each other because they collectively want to return to their near-anonymous status of a gaggle of true fans shit-talking each other in tournaments taking place in murky locales on the fringe of gaming society, rather than becoming the sort of endorsement-driven all-are-welcome eSports enterprise several high-up community manager types and fighter game developers would prefer to see it become. Aris probably realises that his casual misogynism is unacceptable, but he's worried that if he folds on this, it'll just be the first in a series of language/behavioral restrictions that might one day lead to a horrifying scenario where he can't even give some scrub shit for getting his ass beat by Dan Hibiki.

But hey, if that happens, they can always find a kindred spirit in the LoL community.

As for the soldier stuff, yeah, that seems pretty heavy. It's why I generally dislike WW2 simulators yet gravitate towards the futuristic shooters; the fact that no living person has actually taken place in those conflicts (or conflicts very similar to them) makes it more fun and easier to lose oneself in. Any game that lets me be a Nazi just seems a tad disrespectful.

Moderator
Posted by VincentVendetta

I would love to see a first-person shooter that deals with post-war trauma. I'm not joking, I wanna see that.

Edited by Giantstalker

That military article needs to emphasize more clearly that it's just one soldier's opinion, not every veteran is a PTSD riddled bastard who can't enjoy shooters. 2 tours in Afghanistan down (as an AFV gunner) and I still find BF3 fun as hell, despite how it's not really 'realistic'.

But hey, that story's not sensational enough for news, what else is new...

Posted by Swabbleflange

I bought into Proteus. It's extremely relaxing. I look forward to it just being full of weird and fascinating stuff to find.

Posted by Oldirtybearon

@Giantstalker said:

That military article needs to emphasize more clearly that it's just one soldier's opinion, not every veteran is a PTSD riddled bastard who can't have enjoy shooters. 2 tours in Afghanistan down (as an AFV gunner) and I still find BF3 fun as hell, despite how it's not really 'realistic'.

But hey, that story's not sensational enough for news, what else is new...

I think you might've missed the point of that article, dude.

Posted by the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG

Thanks Patrick!  Ive been enjoying these!

Posted by Animasta

sunday papers sunday papers SUNDAY PAPERS

Posted by Giacomito

I love that you posted that link to Shoryuken Patrick.

Great stuff!

Posted by Greenshoes

Call of Apathy was a very interesting read, thanks.

Posted by KDogg630

Proteus looks like it would be interesting.

Edited by verysexypotato

Man, I'll probably get my weiner whipped for this, but I used to be in the fighting game community for a while. Played a number of games at semi-tournament level around the state for kicks. Toot. I'm hearing a lot of the "comments of one man do not represent the views of all" idea tossed around. Fart. But guys like this ARE the majority of this community. Go to any fighting game tournament and you'll find that if you aren't the best, no one wants you, no one wants to hear from you, and no one wants you near their DAMN VIDEO GAMES. Especially if you're a lady, and ESPECIALLY if you're a gal who's great at the game. I'll stick to fighting with my buds in my garage. Burp.

Edited by blacklab

Video games about war are not accurate representations of war. Did anyon ever say they are? War is horrific. They are games, they are entertainment. The jolly hero bits are left and, and enhanced, and the parts most people would rather not think about are left out. This is nothing new. Do I watch the latest romcom with my wife in order to see the hot female lead take a dump? Or stand in line at the California DMV? No, clearly not and those parts of a 'real' person's life are not included in the story. And so we get Soap and Capt. Price - who are delivered to us because that's exactly what we want.

Edited by Turambar

The Call of Apathy article is certainly a heavy read, and I agree with the sentiment that the industry needs to look at how it presents first person shooters in faux-realistic situations
 
That said though, it warrants mentioning that W's own views are skewed because of his position as a career soldier that is not there for any reason other than he is good at war, and wants to make money from it.  But that does not characterize the bulk of our troops.  It is true, the current military is not comprised of conscripted soldiers like it was in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.  However, our military is filled with soldiers who are soldiers not because of any desire for combat, but rather because they see it as a route to things like a college education.  Add in the fact that many soldiers who are currently deployed are members of national guard units, and have a civilian life alongside their military one, and you realize that he speaks for a big segment, but not nearly for all.
 
A glorious war is rare as a blue moon, but soldiers are not all psychotic either.

Posted by csl316

Good read on Shoryuken. I'll admit to saying dumb shit while playing against friends... but that's in a basement somewhere, and it's mostly just swearing at each other. But if we're doing it competitively? Yeah, a little restraint and class goes a long way in legitimizing something.

Edited by Christoffer

Great read. I find Worth Reading most enjoyable in combination with The Glitch Mob on low volume and a glas of cold water. I know that's weird, but that's why I'm here.

Posted by HyperionXR

The Call of Apathy article certainly has a good deal of accuracy, speaking from personal experience. I don't agree with 100% of what he says, but there are definitely pieces of truth in it. However, aside from FNG's and kids possibly getting the wrong idea about how war really is from military FPS's, I don't mind them. I, and many of my fellow infantrymen, view them as a great time-killer and a little bit of flattery.

Finally, the things he lists about how an "actual" war game would play like is 100% accurate.

Posted by AssInAss

Proteus is a damn soothing time, and the graphics are great. I tried the demo a while ago, was a fun 10 minutes of just exploring and having the music change dynamically.

Coming right after Dear Esther, perfect.

Posted by jkuc316

@Mento: Hey man, Dan is a decent character, just look at this video of Justin Wong's Dan beating one of Canada's best players, Air

Posted by CountMacula

Great read on Shoryuken, and the comments on its page are simultaneously interesting and depressing, should be worth keeping an eye on how this story develops and its effects on the FGC over the next few months / years.

Sidebar: I find it intriguing to note that for all Jared's hard work and effort into making the fighting game scene more approachable, it took a gigantic asshole like Aris for this concept to get recognised. That being said, it was Jared's phone call that triggered Aris' outburst in the first place, and all his hard work with stuff like Frame Trap (what happened to that btw? It sounds like himself and Haunts had a falling out over it or something based on the very same live stream that started this whole mess) had to have laid a foundation for other people to start feeling this way.

Posted by AceBlack19

I'm really enjoying these articles every week, especially the crazy artsy indie games. Thanks Patrick!

Posted by murisan

Thanks for the Friday content, Patrick!

Posted by selfconfessedcynic

This is a great regular feature.

Posted by GreggD

@CountMacula: Apparently, Jared was unaware that the call was being broadcasted live. Haunts thought he was going out of his way to "turn his back on the community" and "throw them under the bus".

Posted by CountMacula

@GreggD: So was Haunts just going off at Jared about Frame Trap based on this misconception, or is there more to that? I couldn't really make it out on the stream...

Posted by GreggD

@CountMacula: I only caught some of the aftermath the day after Patrick's article went up over Twitter. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine, dude.

Posted by Humanity
@Oldirtybearon

@Giantstalker said:

That military article needs to emphasize more clearly that it's just one soldier's opinion, not every veteran is a PTSD riddled bastard who can't have enjoy shooters. 2 tours in Afghanistan down (as an AFV gunner) and I still find BF3 fun as hell, despite how it's not really 'realistic'.

But hey, that story's not sensational enough for news, what else is new...

I think you might've missed the point of that article, dude.

The author of that article paints a very bleak picture that you're either a disgruntled sociopath or you die becoming one. This guy says he served two tours and is fine. Where is the point missing takin place, apart from your end that is.
Posted by Oldirtybearon

@Humanity said:

@Oldirtybearon

@Giantstalker said:

That military article needs to emphasize more clearly that it's just one soldier's opinion, not every veteran is a PTSD riddled bastard who can't have enjoy shooters. 2 tours in Afghanistan down (as an AFV gunner) and I still find BF3 fun as hell, despite how it's not really 'realistic'.

But hey, that story's not sensational enough for news, what else is new...

I think you might've missed the point of that article, dude.

The author of that article paints a very bleak picture that you're either a disgruntled sociopath or you die becoming one. This guy says he served two tours and is fine. Where is the point missing takin place, apart from your end that is.

The point of the article wasn't that the soldier in question can't enjoy shooters. If anything, the fact that the author frames the piece around the idea of modern military shooters is to use that subject as a springboard to talk about larger issues. That being the author's opinion on soldiers in general. It's window dressing, and not at all the heart of what the author is talking about.

From the response of , it sounded like he didn't get that.

Posted by Zohar

That war article had almost nothing to do with videogames and was used purely as a slam against the military by the author. That is exactly the kind of politically extreme trash that I wished wouldn't come to this site when Patrick started running editorials. The entire content of that article is wholly offensive to anyone who has ever served proudly in their country's military, many of which also happen to be gb fans. It's no surprise that the author, assuming he's not just a complete liar telling bs to spread hia anti-military agenda like I suspect, seems to believe that the "vast majority" of soldiers are sociopaths considering he himself claims to have left the military to become a pmc soldier. Any crap Patrick gets for posting that as "worth reading", especially on a site that is supposed to be about videogames and fun, is totally deserved. The other stuff was good though :)

Posted by KuribosShoe

@patrickklepek: hey patrick, you wrote that the Medium Difficulty article was by Tom Cannon as well. This is incorrect!

Posted by waldy

Yo @patrickklepek you put Tom Cannon in the by line of Call of Apathy instead of "W". Apart from that great reads!

Posted by Captainlunchbox

@Zohar: All Patrick said was that it was a fascinating read. And it was.

Posted by Zohar

True, it was. The issue here though that I have, and maybe it's just me, but that article is just totally offensive. There's a distinction between a good article that sparks healthy debate and inflammatory trash that anyone could see would be offensive and inappropriate. Patrick is a smart guy and he should have realized that article for what it was. The paper thin connection to videogames makes it all the more aggravating. Oh and sorry for the double post, phone doesn't handle this site very well.

Posted by ikusaba

great article

Posted by Forderz

The comment thread on that military piece is a huge shitstorm. Other vets chiming in, saying he's full of BS, people saying he's never actually been in the military, people missing the point completely and saying "It's a fun game, duder."

A really interesting read, Patrick. sure hope that guy is legit, otherwise you'll have egg on your face!

Edited by Zohar

@Forderz: I really believe that the author of that article was full of it. It's just too rife with textbook anti-military talking points for me to take it seriously. If it is real, then the guy is obviously a disturbed individual who has a bug up his ass about his personal experience in the military. The fact that the guy claims to be a PMC with absolutely no motivation but the money says a lot about his character right there.

On the drive home I had more time to really pinpoint my problem with this article being posted. It has less to do with this article specifically, but game blogs as a whole. I stopped visiting most game blog sites because most of the time you could get 1 or 2 useful updates a day and 10 updates of inflammatory, yellow, garbage posts that are just ever so slightly related to videogames and designed to do nothing but attract hits. The worst part about it is they then claim to maintain their "journalistic integrity" by posting garbage shamelessly.

I'm not trying to live inside of a pure white bubble while pretending the world is a perfect happy place. Quite the opposite. I'm well aware of the struggles, suffering and pain going on all over the world at every minute of every day. But I don't want to go a game blog site and see that the top story is about a guy who bludgeoned his elderly mother to death with an Xbox so he could steal her jewelry to buy PCP, and have that presented to me as videogame news. And anyone who tells me that I'm living with my head in the sand when I complain about seeing that shit on their game website can go fuck themselves.

That is why I love Giantbomb so much. They don't run shit like that.

In our society you can't turn on the TV without being inundated with the latest, up to the minute footage on the most recent incident of human fucking misery, and reason for that is because it attracts viewership. That's why bullshit yellow game blogs post that shit. If I want that news, I go to those sources. When I want news on my favorite hobby, I want to be able to enjoy it without reminded of the fucked up world we live in and the fucked up people that inhabit it.

I just don't understand what Patrick was trying to accomplish by posting that article. It really comes down to common sense. He should have known better that it was not only very suspiciously fucking bullshit, but also would be extremely offensive to a lot of people. Then there's the article itself which is basically "fuck the military, the vast majority of people serving are just sociopath assholes, also, videogames do not accurately depict reality."

Maybe Patrick just didn't realize how offensive that article would be to some people, or maybe he didn't realize that the videogame connection was just a trojan horse for the rest of the derisive and downright false claims the author made. The greater point, videogames =/= reality is not really a point at all. It's like saying "Pigs don't actually fly." We all know pigs don't fly, so what is so "fascinating" about stating the fact?

I really don't mind Patrick posting compelling, debate worthy material in these updates, but if I could give him one piece of advice it would be to just use better judgement going forward. Whether he realizes or accepts it or not, that article is hugely offensive to members of the military and he cannot simply say "Well I'm just reporting something someone else said" and hide behind that as a way of not taking responsibility for posting it. Just use better judgement man. That's all I have to say on the matter.

Edited by Max_Hydrogen

Here's an early nomination for Most Overused Word of the Year: "Fascinating". I don't think Patrick writes anything "Fascinating".

Posted by njean777

@tcsajax: Or Neogaf :P maybe even a little /V mixed in.

Posted by Hailinel

Tom Cannon's column is far superior to the one he published only they day before. He went from community cheerleader to a reasonable voice. I just wish it hadn't taken him that extra night to wake up.

Online
Posted by DoctorWelch

There is nothing to talk about that matters in any way regarding this capcom thing and I have no idea why people are trying so hard to make something from nothing. Maybe it was just a really slow week.

Posted by YukoAsho

@Zohar said:

That war article had almost nothing to do with videogames and was used purely as a slam against the military by the author. That is exactly the kind of politically extreme trash that I wished wouldn't come to this site when Patrick started running editorials. The entire content of that article is wholly offensive to anyone who has ever served proudly in their country's military, many of which also happen to be gb fans. It's no surprise that the author, assuming he's not just a complete liar telling bs to spread his anti-military agenda like I suspect, seems to believe that the "vast majority" of soldiers are sociopaths considering he himself claims to have left the military to become a pmc soldier. Any crap Patrick gets for posting that as "worth reading", especially on a site that is supposed to be about videogames and fun, is totally deserved. The other stuff was good though :)

Your posts are very reasonable, and I can see the passion in your words in all three posts. You a military man yourself?

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