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Worth Reading: 04/17/2014

We've returned from another brief hiatus with a fully stacked edition of your weekly set of games, commentary, analysis, and more.

Another PAX is over, and another PAX has been announced. It's not PAX Chicago, but San Antonio will have to do. Weirdly enough, despite being in the midwest, that's actually farther for me to travel than PAX East.

(For the record, I have no idea if we'll be at PAX South. We haven't had a single conversation about it yet.)

This event was definitely the most stressed I've ever been for PAX, largely because I decided to finally step up and have a panel of my own. I've been mulling what would make sense to do outside of the Giant Bomb panel for years, but nothing ever quite made much sense.

The original plan was to do a much longer version of my TEDx talk from last year about Internet discourse, and incorporate the feedback I'd received in the months since and the material I'd cut due to time. That might have been worthwhile, but it didn't seem like the best use of the very public opportunity.

I know that I can put butts in seats. I know that people will show up and sit down, no matter what I have to say. That's power, and I do what I can to wield it responsibly. Part of that is elevating the platforms of others, and introducing the world to new people. Depression Quest designer Zoe Quinn was the first person that came to mind, and she agreed almost immediately. I was thrilled to have her on stage with me, and she kicked ass.

And weirdly enough, the comments have been mostly civil! Seriously! Good job, everyone.

As for me, I'm just happy to not have another speaking engagement scheduled for a good long time!

Hey, You Should Play This

And You Should Read These, Too

Even though Irrational Games is no more, there's still plenty to talk about when it comes to the studio and its history. It's a complicated, emotional one, and we'll probably be hearing the different sides and interpretations for years to come. Simon Parkin has come out of nowhere with this extensive analysis of BioShock's development, and the struggles the team had to make what's regarded as a modern classic. The management difficulties we've heard about regarding Ken Levine and BioShock Infinite seem to have their roots in the original BioShock, though Parkin's report paints a rather intimate and empathetic portrayal of Levine's actions, a man torn between two worlds.

"Not every aspect of the game evolved so effortlessly. At one point the team needed to create a demo for the American video game magazine Game Informer. The magazine was set to run a BioShock cover story. 'The pressure was on to create something that would impress, and our deadline was looming,' says LeBreton. 'In a level review, there was some discussion of how an AI should be presented in the short demo. Someone mentioned System Shock 2's evasive cyborg ninjas as a reference point. Ken threw his glasses down and yelled: 'I don't want to hear anything about any f***ing cyborg ninjas!''

When Paul Hellquist, lead level designer on the project tried to interject, Levine screamed: 'Shut up!' 'This stunned everyone into silence,' recalls LeBreton. 'This was still early in my time at Irrational, and I wasn't sure what to make of it. Other folks were upset, but in a way that indicated this was something that had happened before.'"

The NFL might be in offseason mode, but Jon Bois isn't. The same writer and humorist behind the Breaking Madden series has returned for the playoff-bound NBA with Y2K. In Breaking Madden, Bois found a way to turn Madden on itself, and he accomplishes a similar task here. Bois' attempts to have the infamously terrible 76ers find a way to an unwinnable season, which is hardly as simple as missing a few shots. No, Bois must make a team of nightmarishly terrible basketball players, paid athletes so atrocious that it's difficult to imagine how they put on pants. Come for the hilarious GIFs, stay for the sharp commentary.

"There's a lot to consider here, but my favorite thing is that the Sixers held the ball for two-thirds of the game. That's what happens when you take all a team's tendencies away. They'd just hang out at the perimeter, dribble in place for 20 seconds, and chuck up a garbage shot with the shot clock expiring because the game demanded it."

If You Click It, It Will Play

These Crowdfunding Projects Look Pretty Cool

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

A Few Reports Direct From PAX East's "Diversity Lounge"

  • Lexi Leigh felt it was a step in the right direction and came away with a positive outlook.
  • Royel Edwards was less positive, and wondered if it was just a token gesture by PAX.

Story Bundle Currently Has a Spectacular Bundle, Here's Some Codes

  • J2cUKgwDPiRPSNm1ozVa
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Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
56 Comments
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Posted by conniedarko

I picked up the first code

Posted by Hassun

Not sure any of those Story Bundle codes work, certainly didn't for me.

Online
Posted by R3DT1D3

@patrickklepek In the section "A Few Reports Direct From PAX East's 'Diversity Lounge'"

I, as the reader who didn't go to PAX, have no idea what the "Diversity Lounge" was. Most of the other links seem self explanatory but the two under that heading need more explanation in my opinion.

Other than that, great job as always.

Posted by BreakfastKing

@r3dt1d3: It was supposed to be an area free of judgement or whatever. It's kinda dumb.

Posted by BaconAndWaffles

I don't think Ken Levine came off very well in that piece. I can appreciate the pressure he was under, but that shouldn't excuse (not that you were saying that, Patrick) such poor behavior. I will never understand why people will allow themselves to be so severely dis-respected/poorly treated, and actually justify the behavior after the fact in the name of whatever cause/project or because the abusive person is so smart/creative/dynamic/etc... (and therefore required them to be an asshole).

Posted by joshwent

That Royel Edwards editorial is certainly less positive than the extremely positive Lexi Leigh one, but I wouldn't call it actually negative at all, and not once does he really imply that it's only a token gesture by PAX as it says in the description above. His one big concern stems from the initial misunderstanding about the diversity lounge:

They wanted a relaxing environment of solitude, but I feel as the lounge was excluded from the show itself. If PAX is supposed to be about inclusion, you shouldn’t have to search for a place to belong.

My only hope is that one day PAX itself will be its own Diversity Lounge or get to a point where one is not needed.

The intention was never to make it a specifically safe space for minority folks, it was to provide a concentrated area where an attendee could go for information about all kinds of diversity related topics. The crazy idea that PAX was somehow insinuating that any non white cis males will only be accepted in this one area of the con is absurd. But unfortunately that misinformed "controversy" was once again ignorantly spread by people (including certain editors of this site) looking to ensure Mike from PA remains a Monster no matter what he's actually done or what he'll ever do.

Edwards goes on to say that foot traffic picked up after a very slow first day, and he got lots of great feedback from folks who were very happy such a thing was at the con. For its first year, figuring out what works and what doesn't, it sounds pretty successful to me.

Posted by porjos

That Simon Parkin article was a great read, and never makes me want to be creative lead on anything.

Edited by danielheard

Talking to patrick makes people check their pulse.

Edited by InspectorFowler

I don't think Ken Levine came off very well in that piece. I can appreciate the pressure he was under, but that shouldn't excuse (not that you were saying that, Patrick) such poor behavior. I will never understand why people will allow themselves to be so severely dis-respected/poorly treated, and actually justify the behavior after the fact in the name of whatever cause/project or because the abusive person is so smart/creative/dynamic/etc... (and therefore required them to be an asshole).

I think that a lot of it is because people need a job. I think that when you work for somebody who is very difficult, but you're getting paid what you think you're worth and/or you don't have other options immediately available, you will put up with a lot of crap. Later, there might be some internal justification about why the boss "wasn't that bad" or "had trouble expressing his vision".

Posted by Asiwassaying

"You should play this" segment should be renamed "You shouldn't play this", those are some bad games, if games at all.

Posted by djminnis
Posted by Milkman

"I don't want to hear anything about any fucking cyborg ninjas!" is my new catchphrase.

Posted by Mr_Creeper
@milkman said:

"I don't want to hear anything about any fucking cyborg ninjas!" is my new catchphrase.

Fucking beat me to it...

Posted by Viking_Funeral

Kind of curious... is there anything preventing the first person from just taking all four codes?

Anyway, great job at PAX East, Patrick. That panel was great.

Posted by ILikePopCans

I like you linking that rev3games videos. Cause half the people in it are now gone from there.

Posted by Getz

"Diversity Lounge?" Are you fucking serious?

Posted by Hailinel

I like you linking that rev3games videos. Cause half the people in it are now gone from there.

"Happy thousandth video! And I'm outta here!"

On the subject of the Diversity Lounge, I wasn't at PAX East, so I obviously have no first-hand experience with it, but even when the idea was first broached last year, the reaction was immediate scorn. People didn't even give the lounge a chance, or even attempt to learn what it entailed, before casting it as a huge mistake. I'm not saying it was a good or bad idea, but I think that anyone pining for greater diversity and acceptance in the game community should have at least been willing to see what the lounge was like in actual practice before condemning it.

Posted by dawnofthesean

I'm glad that Patrick made himself the thumbnail because let's face it, he puts butts in seats.

Posted by KoolAid

@r3dt1d3 said:

@patrickklepek In the section "A Few Reports Direct From PAX East's 'Diversity Lounge'"

I, as the reader who didn't go to PAX, have no idea what the "Diversity Lounge" was. Most of the other links seem self explanatory but the two under that heading need more explanation in my opinion.

Other than that, great job as always.

This is what that refers to, according to PAX. I personally hate the term Diversity Lounge. It seems like it was coined by someone with a bone to pick with Penny Arcade, and it was re posted enough that everyone else seemed to run with it. I think it colors the space with a negative light right off the bat, which I think is unfortunate. I mean, do people complain that the Indie Mega Booth is a separate space that keeps those weird indies away from the "real gamers"?

It's all presentation, and taking that idea and representing it as the "Diversity Lounge" sets it up to be received negatively in my opinion.

Posted by The_Dude_Abides

Nothing to say about the real big issue at PAX this year, Bathroomgate?

Posted by Bistromath

Harem Souls

Edited by LazyEkans

I get it! Like "Atlas Shrugged." I am cultured. Seems like a neat story. I'm interested in how anyone kept a straight face at "'I don't want to hear anything about any f***ing cyborg ninjas!'''

Posted by paulunga

Bioshock is regarded "as a modern classic". Really? That's a bit of a stretch. I liked the game and that's about it.

Posted by sirkibble23

I don't think Ken Levine came off very well in that piece. I can appreciate the pressure he was under, but that shouldn't excuse (not that you were saying that, Patrick) such poor behavior. I will never understand why people will allow themselves to be so severely dis-respected/poorly treated, and actually justify the behavior after the fact in the name of whatever cause/project or because the abusive person is so smart/creative/dynamic/etc... (and therefore required them to be an asshole).

Sometimes when you need to keep your job, you feel paralyzed to act. Granted, this is a response having not read the article and perhaps if someone did confront Levine about his ways, he would actually listen.

It's just not always that simple but in principle, you're absolutely right.

Posted by BelligerentEngine

LGBTTIQQ2SAAP

Guys, this acronym is getting way too long...

Posted by Andorski

@hailinel said:

On the subject of the Diversity Lounge, I wasn't at PAX East, so I obviously have no first-hand experience with it, but even when the idea was first broached last year, the reaction was immediate scorn. People didn't even give the lounge a chance, or even attempt to learn what it entailed, before casting it as a huge mistake. I'm not saying it was a good or bad idea, but I think that anyone pining for greater diversity and acceptance in the game community should have at least been willing to see what the lounge was like in actual practice before condemning it.

Pfft... like I'd want to think about stuff. Give me guns and big titted chicks motherfucker.

Posted by Evil_the_Cat

The MGS: Ground Zeros article is interesting, but I disagree with Jeremy Parish in that I have always taken the MGS series seriously. It might have been filled with silly characters with ridiculous names, but there were always some very mature underlining tones. Be it the death of Sniper Wolf and how it affects Otacon or the whole take on new-age propaganda in MGS2. All the games have a lot of fairly mature content worth exploring and thinking about. Just because the serious issues of Ground Zeros are in line with some of the hot topics within the western game industry today, it does not make them any more serious then what the series talked about in the past.

It is interesting that he uses Watchman as an example this being done correctly (something innately serious being given more mature undertones). As Alan Moore himself has been accused of misogyny for his portrayal of female characters in many of his comics, Watchman included. So clearly his portrayal of rape also managed to rub some people the wrong way.

Artist should be able to tackle serious issues, piss people off and have their work scrutinized over. This is how we know that they were at least trying to say something interesting.

Edited by audioBusting

That Tim Rogers report is fantastic, and it got me to start reading his personal essays. They are something else.

Edited by JadeGL

@mmmorrowind92: What about her piece makes her a disgusting human being? Is it because she has a different opinion than your own? She has a blog, she wrote something based on an experience she had in a game that she found problematic, what's the big deal?

I would live a very small, uninteresting, dismal life if I shut out, belittled, and diminished every person that had an opinion contrary to my own. I would also be a very small person if I assumed everyone that had such different world views was somehow a horrible human being. I have had differences of opinion with people on these very boards, but I would never think they're horrible people at the end of the day. We just see things in a different way and have different reactions to things. I would lose out on a lot of interesting discussions if I wrote those people off.

Moderator
Posted by baka_shinji17

The dismissive and condescending attitude in that Ground Zeroes article was hard to stomach. Is this really that perception of Japanese fiction? That it is all just "perverted-zany-anime-nonsense"? I can understand if the author is not familiar with 20th Century Japanese literature/fiction and the many forms it has taken on, it's influences, etc, but to outright dismiss it without any attempt at analysis beyond "Oh look another silly Japanese story." is just baffling. To me this article basically was saying "When will they ever learn that the Western Tradition far outshines anything that comic-opera could create." I am aware not all Japanese art is great, there is certainly a great deal of trite but that is true of all cultures that produce any sort of artistic works. What gets me is people's unwillingness to even consider that Japanese fiction could be as "serious" as anything made in the West.

Posted by golguin

It sounds like the media continues to hate on Ground Zeroes for "trying" to be serious and not meeting the benchmark that they decided to be the appropriate level of maturity for the subject matter.

I've mostly stayed out of conversations involving Ground Zeroes because the only Metal Gear game I've ever played is Revengeance and that was only for the Platinum style character action game. However, I can't be the only person that's tired of reading articles that take Japan to task for X reason because they simply don't match up with Western sensibilities.

At the end of the day that's really what it's all about. Switch out Ground Zeroes for any other thing that's recently come out of Japan (like X anime show or X video game) and it's the same argument being recycled over and over again.

Posted by jakob187

Anita Sarkeesian still makes my blood boil. The game industry and its fanbase needs to be less misogynist, but that chick rips too much from other people, has proven time and time again that she's not much of a gamer at all, and secretes levels of pretentiousness and self-importance more than I could imagine a person could do.

After hearing about Ken Levine screaming about "fucking cyborg ninjas," I'm pretty sure I would've handed HIM an award.

Posted by TreuloseTomate

@jakob187 said:

Anita Sarkeesian still makes my blood boil. The game industry and its fanbase needs to be less misogynist, but that chick rips too much from other people, has proven time and time again that she's not much of a gamer at all, and secretes levels of pretentiousness and self-importance more than I could imagine a person could do.

After hearing about Ken Levine screaming about "fucking cyborg ninjas," I'm pretty sure I would've handed HIM an award.

I threw up in my mouth a little when I saw her in the video.

Edited by DS23

@baka_shinji17: The author made freakin' Eva thumbnail theater many years ago and has written like 8 million articles on SotN. If any western games media duder is qualified to talk on JP stuffs its, uh, JP.

..Oh god that DS VN thing is real. A shame it's only Act I so far.

Posted by Smorlock

@paulunga: I wasn't aware you decided these things!

It's one of the biggest games of the last 15 years. It is still being talked about by many, it is regarded as one of the greatest games of all time by a vast majority, and it was a turning point in narrative FPS game design.

Not even one of my favourite games but it is definitely a modern classic - or at the very least I can't think of many modern games that are more deserving of the title.

Posted by paulunga
Posted by Generic_username

Another great edition of Worth Reading. Thanks, Patrick.

Posted by Alyssia

That picture of Patrick. Looks like he is about to go off on those kids :#

Posted by ajman1101

@jennibelle: As one of those kids that was there, it was an intense discussion about 4chan.

Posted by zaldar

So um where did the picture of biocshock come from I never remember seeing a scary moving picture like that one - would have been much harder to kill all the little sisters if they looked like that....

Posted by amir90

@jakob187: Glad I am not alone on that sentiment. She is a con artist.

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