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Worth Reading: 05/16/2014

I've got Godzilla on the brain as the weekend approaches, alongside a week's worth of links.

I saw Godzilla last night! It's a worthy re-telling of a classic story, and I'm glad the big guy is back.

But there is something revealing about the way I prepared for Godzilla: I stopped participating in the marketing. To some degree, you can't avoid the hype train that leads to the release of a movie, game, or other major media event, but huge parts of marketing are participatory. You don't have to watch every trailer and clip that comes out, and you don't have to read the early impressions. I might have looked silly leaping for the remote control to flip past the latest trailer, but I did it anyway.

And I gotta admit: it really paid off. Almost everything in Godzilla was a surprise. The movie was more powerful. It makes sense for marketing to pluck some of the most visual arresting pieces of a work, but it feels like there's little restraint shown these days.

I don't do this for every movie. I mean, not every movie is new Godzilla film. I like participating in the marketing for other movies, I like seeing everything I can. I'm looking forward to Guardians of the Galaxy, but it's not Godzilla--I'll be okay with soaking everything in.

I'm only able to use movies as an example because I don't have a choice with video games. As a writer that often sees and plays games ahead of release, I'm sometimes an extension of that marketing machine. I wonder how all of you deal with that. Are there particularly "special" games where you avoid everything that's out there, making the moment you boot it up all the more special?

Hey, You Should Play This

And You Should Read These, Too

You could do a whole series of stories in this vein. It's one I've kicked around for a long time. Seriously! I've been considering a regular feature on visiting old gaming communities since I was a reporter at MTV News years and years ago. Maybe I should get around to it. But I'm fascinated by what drives some people to stick around with communities long after everyone else has left. This piece gets at the core of what I'd suspect drives most of it: relationships. The game draws you in, but the people prompt you to stay.

"Joshua Rotunda, a designer from New York who has played the game since he was fourteen, says that it’s the high stakes risk/reward dynamic that first drew him in and continues to hold his interest. 'My friend and I began playing at the same time,' he said. 'Shortly after starting, my friend’s character was attacked and killed in one of main city streets by a gang of veteran players. Even though I was much weaker than them, and alone, I attacked the group. My friend quit the game, but I was fueled with the need for vengeance in this little world and drawn in.'"

And here's a good reason why I never ended up publishing anything about Tomodachi Life. When someone like Christian Nutt writes a piece as emotionally affecting and personally illuminating as this, it's better to simply let this do the talking. If you don't understand why some people were so irked by Nintendo's response to the Miiquality campaign, in which users politely asked Nintendo to consider adding gay relationship options to Tomodachi Life, I really do recommend reading this.

"Why does Nintendo's statement rankle? It speaks to a basic truth of gay life: Straight people don't understand our lives -- that living, for us, is an inherently political act. If you think this is an exaggeration, you've never had to push down a quaver to clearly and calmly say, in an obviously male voice, "my husband" to a customer service phone rep at an insurance company, or had a government official ask which one of the couple is "the bride" when he's filling out a form, only for him to abruptly realize the absurdity of the question when he notices your expression.

Worth considering also is the idea that regardless of whatever the Japanese version supported or did not support, the Western edition of the game should incorporate same sex marriage in the name of cultural adaptability and fairness. I am not unsympathetic to this perspective, of course.

On the other hand, you must also consider the much larger political problem the company would have on its hands if the same sex marriage switch was simply flipped. In considering this, the anarchic, sandbox nature of the game must be considered, too: As the player, you can't really make anybody do anything."

If You Click It, It Will Play

These Crowdfunding Projects Look Pretty Cool

  • Codemaster hopes to teach young people the magic behind programming.
  • Kaiju-a-Gogo thrusts you into the role of a mad scientist with control over a massive monster.

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

one thing about local multiplayer is scarcity as a virtue, eg. hand-made, slow food, microbrews... SF is very Made in Brooklyn in this sense

— Frank Lantz (@flantz) May 12, 2014

Cops & robbers multiplayer where one of the robbers has dubious low-level superpowers. Such as: can read dog minds. Can turn things brown.

— Brendon Chung (@BlendoGames) May 13, 2014

Microsoft: Where things are absolutely, positively required & are fundamental to your enjoyment of their services until they're suddenly not

— Chris Franklin (@Campster) May 13, 2014

How you know video game special editions have gotten to the point of absurdity: when this table needs to exist pic.twitter.com/USJWutTTFC

— Lazy Game Reviews (@lazygamereviews) May 13, 2014

I mean, sure, Microsoft is having a rough time competing with a $100 cheaper PlayStation 4. But they sold a certain vision to gamers & devs.

— Rami Ismail (@tha_rami) May 13, 2014

There are a number of developers right now that have bought into that vision: the deal was that every Xbox One has a Kinect.

— Rami Ismail (@tha_rami) May 13, 2014

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
61 Comments
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Edited by TekZero

The way you approached Godzilla is how I approached Skyrim, Dark Souls 2, and any other game I might want to play. I even turned my head whenever a trailer would come on TV.

Every game is a complete surprise to me.

Posted by JBird

I only get a few games a year so always avoid everything past whatever it was that peaked my interest. That means i sometimes end up watching quick looks months and months after a game is out! Sometimes when im not sure its giantbomb that can help me decide. Far cry3 being the perfect example.

Posted by TekZero

@jbird said:

I only get a few games a year so always avoid everything past whatever it was that peaked my interest. That means i sometimes end up watching quick looks months and months after a game is out! Sometimes when im not sure its giantbomb that can help me decide. Far cry3 being the perfect example.

Exactly! I did the same thing with Far Cry3.

Edited by Dudeguy_Mandude

I know of many people who ignore everything about new Pokemon games so they can go in fresh and be surprised by all the new pokemon and things.

Its something I kind of want to do myself, but I know I won't be able to resist eating up all the hype.

Edited by Hassun

Definitely going to read that WonderSwan article, thanks Kleptok!

Also that Watch_Dogs releases table is positively monstrous.

Edited by joshwent

Thank you so much Patrick for including that Christian Nutt piece. I'm confident that guiding more eyes to clearly critical yet explanatory essays like his will go a long way towards spreading education and understanding, as opposed to the essay featured last week which I honestly think only fans the flames of ignorance for all involved.

Also, I haven't even watched a second of it yet, but just the idea of Tim Schafer playing DotT made my pants a little tighter.

And a link to an article on reason.com?!

It must be my lucky week. Off to buy a lottery ticket! ;)

Posted by Insertcoins

I watch game play videos far more than I actually play games anymore. Unless a game looks really good to the point of almost being flawless I won't even bother playing it. I honestly think it's because I've played too many good games. New mechanics are a rarity so when a game uses traditional mechanics (or combines several) I immediately think "it's like X game or Y game just not as good".

Posted by Pitta

The article about Hearthstone lost me at:

Without a doubt, Hearthstone is pay-to-win.

Which is simply not true. There is nothing you can buy you can't get to by just playing the game for free. At most it is pay-to-save-time.

Posted by ILikePopCans

Ehh, if the tweet about the Watch_Dogs chart is just a picture of the chart pretty much, it would of been nice if the tweet that was chosen was the original person who tweeted about it. tsk tsk

Edited by 1101101

@joshwent: Sometimes fanning the flames is the right thing to do.

I think it’s important on such matters that people express themselves loudly (but I don’t even think that article was that loud, it was pretty harmless and explained everything extremely clearly, actually, it read completely uncontroversial to me and I still don’t understand why anyone has a problem with it). It’s not their duty to always play nice and always explain everything slowly. It’s nice that people do that, too, but being loud and clearly showing what you have a problem with is also necessary.

Especially when Nintendo makes such a disgusting statement.

Edited by KoolAid

@pitta said:

The article about Hearthstone lost me at:

Without a doubt, Hearthstone is pay-to-win.

Which is simply not true. There is nothing you can buy you can't get to by just playing the game for free. At most it is pay-to-save-time.

It seems that different people have different definitions of pay to win. It's true that getting specific cards can make you much more powerful as a player (which is sped up a great deal by paying), but you can't buy the skill you need to play those cards effectively.

I can understand how someone can feel it is pay to win though. I feel that without a Leroy and a second doomguard my rush deck pales in comparison to my roommates, which makes me want to spend money so I can get these cards. But, on the other hand, the best players I know have never paid and have the most experience and skill as a result.

But anyways, this guy's definition of pay to win is that if you have two different people who have invested the exact same amount of time in the game and have the same skill level, the one who spent $100 on buying cards will have an advantage due to his increased options.

I can see his point but I don't know... comparing two people who have played the exact same amount seems more like a thought experiment then two real hearthstone players.

Posted by doublejumppride

I avoided previews for both Dark Souls games after I enjoyed Demon's Souls so much until a week before each launch. I wasn't disappointed in either case. I was just talking with a friend how I wish I hadn't seen so much Watch Dogs coverage as I've almost completely lost interest in the game. Typically though I'll watch any sort of gameplay preview that I can as long as it features commentary from someone that isn't the developer. Giant Bomb and Totalbiscuit are my favorites in this regard.

I also enjoyed that Fistful of Frags video. It's all I've been playing this week and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a solid multiplayer FPS (and it's free!)

Posted by PoisonJam7

Hey, @patrickklepek you mislabeled one of the games under the kickstarter section. You called it "Codemaster" but it's actually called "Codemancer." Obviously, Codemaster would be some sort of copyright infringement. ;)

Anyways, just a heads up. I always enjoy your Worth Reading articles. Keep up the good work!

Posted by MusiM

I don't know that there is a good way to ask/say this, so just know I'm a big fan of the Giantbomb crew including you. Why didn't you directly link the Polygon editorial The Room guy wrote instead of the article that links it?

Edited by MooseyMcMan

That article about Tomodachi Life was really well written. Granted, as an LGBT type person, I'm a little biased, but still, fantastic piece of writing.

Moderator
Posted by Efesell

@koolaid said:

@pitta said:

The article about Hearthstone lost me at:

Without a doubt, Hearthstone is pay-to-win.

Which is simply not true. There is nothing you can buy you can't get to by just playing the game for free. At most it is pay-to-save-time.

It seems that different people have different definitions of pay to win. It's true that getting specific cards can make you much more powerful as a player (which is sped up a great deal by paying), but you can't buy the skill you need to play those cards effectively.

I can understand how someone can feel it is pay to win though. I feel that without a Leroy and a second doomguard my rush deck pales in comparison to my roommates, which makes me want to spend money so I can get these cards. But, on the other hand, the best players I know have never paid and have the most experience and skill as a result.

But anyways, this guy's definition of pay to win is that if you have two different people who have invested the exact same amount of time in the game and have the same skill level, the one who spent $100 on buying cards will have an advantage due to his increased options.

I can see his point but I don't know... comparing two people who have played the exact same amount seems more like a thought experiment then two real hearthstone players.

I mean this is just what CCGs are. The more money you spend the better off you will be against other players. It's the entire basis for the genre.

That there are so many options to be competitive without doing so is kind of incredible.

Posted by DarkeyeHails

That article about Tomodachi Life was really well written. Granted, as an LGBT type person, I'm a little biased, but still, fantastic piece of writing.

It's not bias, it's just a natural response to a fantastically level-headed article that is cuts down to the meat of an issue.

Posted by SgtSphynx

@patrickklepek The way I partake of video game marketing is that I usually don't. For the most part the only thing I am interested in is the release date of a game that I am interested in, so I don't watch trailers other than announcement trailers. The only "semi-marketing" thing I partake of are quick looks, but those aren't really marketing, so much as something I use where most people would use reviews. They give me a look at how the game plays, and how you guys care for the game.

Posted by MormonWarrior

I read everything I could get my hands on about Super Smash Bros Brawl including Sakurai's blog before it came out and it ended up being such an enormous disappointment to me. I've tried to avoid what I can about the new ones coming out to hopefully have some sense of surprise or excitement apart from boundless hype.

Posted by PancakePatriarchate

I don't really participate in media hype simply because I'll rarely get around to consuming the actual product once it comes out. For instance, I know I'd love the Arkham games but I took months to finish the first one. By then the second sequel was coming out and I thought "Looks like I'm never finishing this series". It's not just games and franchises of course, but I'm just so not a first-adopter person that I'm always on the stuff that came out a year or two ago. Makes things less expensive though!

Posted by Klager

I have to disagree with Patrick regarding Godzilla. I stayed away from trailers etc., like I usually do, but even I expected some Godzilla in my Godzilla movie.

I didn't pay to watch the Kick-Ass kid not act in 3-D, I paid for Godzilla in 3-D.

Edited by csl316

A couple years ago, I decided to avoid more and more trailers. When Metal Gear Solid 4 and Starcraft II showed endgame material, I was left disappointed by the final game (which was unfair for the game).

But some launch trailers are so damn good. So unfortunately, it's hard to skip those for games I really want to play.

Posted by emofratparty
Posted by ArbitraryWater

@patrickklepek If I had to guess, I'd say that you meant Game Boy instead of GBA in your WonderSwan link, given that it came out before the GBA was a thing. It's an interesting article though, and people should read it.

Edited by KingOfCrows

I remember picking up the first Bioshock on a whim. "What's with the guy in the diving suit with the drill for a hand?" I thought. That particular spur of the moment purchase ended up being something special to me. After I saw the CGI trailer for Infinite I was in. I went in with no knowledge about the Vox, Songbird or Elizabeth ripping holes in space time and was happy to absorb those things as I was playing.

No doubt it's important to research what you're buying, but chewing up the 1-2 year marketing cycle for movies and games can really deflate my excitement, or at times I'll bring preconceived notions of what they should be. We have so much more info available than the screenshot in a magazine 15 years ago.

Pulling back my consumption of months and months of updates and trailers for things that I'm almost guaranteed to check out helps really enrich the experience. Now I have to work on not mid maxing every little stat in rpgs in fear of breaking my character down the line.

Posted by Hailinel

EW EW EW EMMERICH GODZILLA EW.

@joshwent said:

Thank you so much Patrick for including that Christian Nutt piece. I'm confident that guiding more eyes to clearly critical yet explanatory essays like his will go a long way towards spreading education and understanding, as opposed to the essay featured last week which I honestly think only fans the flames of ignorance for all involved.

I feel the same. I wish that Nutt's article was linked last week. Still critical, but more informed, informative, and reasoned.

Posted by LordAndrew

I tried avoiding coverage of Super Mario Galaxy, but then I sabotaged my plan by playing it at EB Games. I haven't made such an effort since then.

Posted by InsidiousTuna

I haven't seen a single bit of Transistor coverage since the original trailer, and I intend to let the game be a pleasant surprise.

Posted by AMyggen

That Tim Schafer video was really great. One of my favourite people in the industry, hope he makes an appearance on one of the E3 streams!

Posted by Sergio

@1101101 said:

@joshwent: Sometimes fanning the flames is the right thing to do.

I think it’s important on such matters that people express themselves loudly (but I don’t even think that article was that loud, it was pretty harmless and explained everything extremely clearly, actually, it read completely uncontroversial to me and I still don’t understand why anyone has a problem with it). It’s not their duty to always play nice and always explain everything slowly. It’s nice that people do that, too, but being loud and clearly showing what you have a problem with is also necessary.

Especially when Nintendo makes such a disgusting statement.

Of course you're not going to see the problem with that article.

Posted by Video_Game_King
Posted by Tehvenom

Very interesting how you captured on what I have been doing this past years, I would judge a movie or game by press or other peoples take on what they think is good but overall each opinion is just that...now I just don't overwhelm myself with information that can ruin my experience of seeing a film and just go in with an open mind and to see what the directors true intention was from it's work. awesome read pat!

Edited by Nicholas

A number station broadcast in Thirty Flights of Loving. Nice.

Edited by BBQBram

I just can't help but revel in the hype, though I've gotten better at keeping it in perspective. I really love the wind-up to the releases that appeal to me, and even if they disappoint, I've already spent too much energy on them not to dissect why they didn't work for me, which I still find very valuable. This helps me articulate my taste to myself better and better throughout the years.

Edited by TowerSixteen

Personally, I don't watch trailers, first impression, ect. for anything- I often don't even know a game is out until the reviews hit, and sometimes I don't even know the game exists till then.

This has worked out fantastic. Getting invested in a product based on info mostly doled out or filtered through someone with a financial stake in the game or a marketing department is a losing proposition, the very best outcome possible is that it's harmless but not helpful. I know it makes me "that guy", so I try to keep it to myself, but I always roll my eyes at the inevitable disproportionate tide of defenders when a hyped game is garbage or mediocre, existing in large part because they got emotionally invested in marketing smoke and mirrors.

Posted by KDR_11k

Huh, I didn't keep track of Kenta Cho for a while, that "missile comes back" game is just the tip of the iceberg, the website has like 4-6 games PER MONTH on it!

Posted by nickhead

I used to worry about seeing trailers, screenshots, previews, etc. but I realized that avoiding all of that stuff made the game much more enjoyable when I finally played it. Now, I rarely see anything other than a quick look before getting a game. That's usually all I need to make a decision.

Edited by NumberThree

I thought Godzilla's marketing - trailers in particular - was actually handled so well that I felt like I didn't know too much about the movie beforehand. I mean, there's not a lot of places a Godzilla movie can go, but there was still a bunch of (pleasant) surprises during the movie.

I've never skipped the marketing for a game, but I've thought about doing it a couple of times. Maybe I'll do my best with Bayonetta 2, skipping any new gameplay footage, though I've already seen the previous trailers so I won't be going in completely blind.

Edited by Hassun
Posted by TreuloseTomate

Not enough sexism and politics in this WR.

Posted by paukl

Just wanna say I've been enjoying the 'Worth Reading' feature for months. Thanks for doing it, it's great.

Edited by Butano

The combat in the Shiness trailer kinda reminds me of a weird mix of Kingdom Hearts and Jade Empire, which is a totally good thing!

Posted by lordgodalming

@patrickklepek Excellent point about not "participating" in overly revealing marketing campaigns. I'm the same way with big game releases--any new Final Fantasy, Castlevania, or Souls game for example--and putting in that game disc for the first time without really knowing what's on it is always a treat.

Posted by Mr_Creeper
@tekzero said:

The way you approached Godzilla is how I approached Skyrim, Dark Souls 2, and any other game I might want to play. I even turned my head whenever a trailer would come on TV.

Every game is a complete surprise to me.

With games, I soak up just about everything I can. Movies, on the other hand, take a backseat so I don't look into them that much. I think because a movie is only the story to me, so the more I see the more I've spoiled. Games are more than their story, so I'm fine soaking up more about them before I play them and don't feel cheated about it.

Posted by teenmother

I did the same thing with Godzilla and I still thought it was a horrible movie. Every scene felt like a trailer where they would show a flash of the monster, then cut away to Kickass or his boring family.

Edited by MindChamber

They did a great job of making the trailers of Godzilla feel like you were watching a horror movie about , you know, godzilla, then after the 2 hour mark, you realize this isnt a movie about godzilla, hes just makes a cameo.. it was a really bad movie, that was totally fractured and unfocused.

Edited by spilledmilkfactory
@insertcoins said:

I watch game play videos far more than I actually play games anymore. Unless a game looks really good to the point of almost being flawless I won't even bother playing it. I honestly think it's because I've played too many good games. New mechanics are a rarity so when a game uses traditional mechanics (or combines several) I immediately think "it's like X game or Y game just not as good".

Same. I've been finding myself bored with most of the next-gen lineup so far because it all plays on the same last-gen ideas. Even Watch Dogs, which looked interesting at first, has come across more and more like just another open world shooter with a dumb story with each trailer Ubisoft puts out. On the other hand, it makes me more excited for unique games like Transistor, but those are few and far between. Hopefully we'll see some sort of "next-gen" leap at E3.

Also, I thought that Godzilla was a really unfocused movie. Without spoiling anything, it felt like they abandoned the most promising plotline early on in favor of focusing more on military action, which had the effect of rendering the first 30 minutes or so completely pointless. Visually speaking, the film looked incredible but I had already seen most of that stuff in trailers that played before Spider-Man (until then I was also avoiding the marketing). Overall it wasn't bad, but Pacific Rim did that style of film far, far better imo.

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