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Worth Reading: 07/21/2014

Perhaps the first and last time Kim Kardashian will receive such prominent placement on Giant Bomb.

Hard to believe it's nearly August already. What happened to the slow summer weeks where I was going to finally catch up with Valkyria Chronicles, Demon's Souls, and Persona 4? When games like Divinity: Original Sin show up out of nowhere, it certainly doesn't help. (That's the pettiest complaint ever.)

It's possible Divinity: Original Sin will not be a game I love or hate, but one of dozens of games I simply gave a fair shot. Trying to figure out where to draw that line, when to conclude a game is not for you, is murky. It's part of the reason I've always argued for finishing a game to completion when reviewing it. It's not necessarily a positive that a game comes into its own 15 hours deep, but you never know, right?

But I'm keenly aware I have trouble giving up on experiences. While the joke is that I watch shows like Prison Break to completion because I want to see how they end, no matter how terrible the writing becomes, sometimes that really pays off. I couldn't have written last week's piece about Aiden Pearce without having played through (suffered through?) the entirety of Watch Dogs.

To some extent, I consider that part of my professional responsibility. I've been given an opportunity to spend my day thinking critically about video games. The least I can do is see what they have to offer.

Hey, You Should Play This

And You Should Read These, Too

It's not that I don't believe Jeff or Vinny when the two of them talk about how difficult it is to be colorblind and play some games, but it's impossible for me to do anything more than empathize. But Cameron Gidari paints a fantastic portrait of colorblind gaming in this piece, using both words and images to demonstrate how crippling a game that doesn't account for colorblind players can be. While it might be a bit much to ask that every video game take colorblind players into account, it's encouraging how many are stepping up.

"There's rarely a game where my color blindness doesn't rear its head in some way. My latest bane is Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition, a game that I had been tearing through like an unstoppable suplex machine until I met the enemies with four different colored overshields that require specific attacks to break.

I can't tell which shield is which when they're next to each other so I'm using random special attacks and hoping for the best. Guacamelee! is technically an action platformer, but now it's effectively a Russian roulette simulator (coming soon to Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight)"

This seemed fitting after hearing Google's going to stop games with in-app purchases from being labeled free. Granted, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood might not be what we think of when it comes to the slow erosion of balanced gameplay by free-to-play business models, but it's easy to imagine swapping Kim Kardashian: Hollywood with Dungeon Keeper and having a similar experience. What makes this Tracie Egan Morrissey piece interesting is how it doesn't engage with the gross free-to-play stuff driving why she's paying money for the game, which I suspect is how most players are. It's just part of the game.

"I know. I know! I'm the worst. I'm a sheep. I'm part of what's wrong with modern American culture. But at least in Kim's realm I'm an A-list celebrity with 50 million fans—after nearly $500 worth of in-app purchases, of course.

You guys, I literally think I have a problem. What a lame, embarrassing addiction to have. What would I even say if I tried to get help for this at AA or something?

"Hello, my name is Tracie and I'm a basic bitch."

So with that acknowledgment, I'd like to say that Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is so fucking fun. Sure, in a really terrible, anxiety-ridden, OCD-triggering kind of way, but fun nonetheless."

If You Click It, It Will Play

These Crowdfunding Projects Look Pretty Cool

  • The Hole Story is a tremendously cute game being created by a group of young female designers.
  • Solarix, despite being a beautiful sci-fi horror in the veil of System Shock 2, has little backing.
  • Ninja Pizza Girl wants to tell an an emotional story about bullying, growing up, and pizza/ninjas.

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
92 Comments
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Edited by Video_Game_King

The Hole Story is a tremendously cute game being created by a group of young female designers.

So it's Napple Tale: Arsia in Daydream?

Wait a minute: Giant Bomb contributions can get on Worth Reading now? I'd better get to work on that "Objectively Good' blog I've been considering writing.

Posted by joetom

I could see you potentially getting way into Divinity, Patrick. How've you liked it so far?

Posted by GunstarRed

Is Smashers a real thing Smash Bros fans call each other? I guess you learn something new every day.

Edited by HatKing

It's been driving me nuts how people keep wanting to throw the Kardashian game under the bus then look back down at their iPhone to check in on whatever this week's socially acceptable money sink is. Let's be honest, you don't give a shit about the free to play thing, you just don't like her.

Patrick's perspective seems a little refreshing here. I'll have to read that article later on.

Posted by GiantLizardKing

I think you have a typo near the bottom in "complies".

Edited by rmanthorp

How have I not seen that Epona video?! Thank you Scoops!!

Moderator Online
Posted by BeachThunder

Solarix definitely seems like it has potential. Maybe.

Posted by SgtSphynx

That video about blood types was rather interesting, I always wondered why that was included.

Posted by Capasso

I might not be the target audience for most of the content you produce Patrick, but I usually enjoy the "worth reading" articles. I just wanted to put out there that releasing them on Fridays made me more interested in checking them out, if only because I would do it during the weekends when there's usually no new content on the site and they would work as some kind of "summary of the week".

Posted by csl316

I'll just repeat my immediate gut reaction to how much Kim Kardashian herself is making on that app: "I want to die."

Hyperbolic, but I was shocked, man.

Posted by Veektarius

The bit about blood types was very enlightening.

Posted by patrickklepek

Wait a minute: Giant Bomb contributions can get on Worth Reading now? I'd better get to work on that "Objectively Good' blog I've been considering writing.

Yes! I'd like to highlight more from the community. If you have something to share, PM me.

Posted by Hailinel

A friend of mine is hooked on that Kim Kardashian game and I've got no problem with that.

Posted by EuanDewar

For what its worth (ha!) I still don't like this on Mondays, much preferred it on Fridays.

However I appear to be the only one banging that particular drum so I'll just shut up about it and say good job Paddington.

Posted by garnsr

Being unable to tell the difference between the different similar colored shields is exactly what stopped me from continuing with Guacamelee. If it had been red, blue, yellow, no problem, but games always use yellow, orange, light green, ones that look really similar to me. The DLC for Bioshock 2 did a good job, adding lines to one color so you could tell the green and red apart in the hacking game, but you'd think there would be more developers and testers who couldn't see the colors as the game is being made.

Posted by Corvak
Posted by Yummylee

Woo, Jane Douglas! The blood type thing is definitely something I always found peculiar way back when, but as the years went by I kinda forget about it. Was fun to have that strange mystery brought back to the forefront and explained.

Posted by patrickklepek
Posted by FifiChiaPet

I would debate your use of "empathize" (instead of sympathize) in the colorblind section. Empathize implies you share the feelings in some way. If you've experienced vision issues while trying to play a game, that might work; but your piece doesn't imply that.

Granted, there are too many who have started using empathize in place of sympathize because people started equating sympathy with pity (which is also annoying). I hate this because I feel it cheapens all words involved.

Oh well--shouting out loud when no one cares, and so forth.

Posted by hunterob

Was the point of the shark video to point out that it was there? I remember it pretty clearly from back in '98. I was expecting some new easter egg where you can let it go loose, or some edited-in jump scare.

Posted by Belegorm

That blood type vid... fascinating stuff actually

Edited by conmulligan

@fifichiapet said:

I would debate your use of "empathize" (instead of sympathize) in the colorblind section. Empathize implies you share the feelings in some way. If you've experienced vision issues while trying to play a game, that might work; but your piece doesn't imply that.

Granted, there are too many who have started using empathize in place of sympathize because people started equating sympathy with pity (which is also annoying). I hate this because I feel it cheapens all words involved.

Oh well--shouting out loud when no one cares, and so forth.

You don't need to share someone's exact experience in order to empathise with them. For example, I remember struggling to play through imported Japanese PS One games because of the language barrier — it's not exactly the same situation, but the feeling of frustration is at least in the same wheelhouse.

Posted by ichthy

A friend of mine works for Glu and was lead designer for that Kim Kardashian game. According to him the game is making around $500000 a DAY in revenue. I don't even know what games are anymore.

Posted by Rejizzle

Some more info about the blood type thing: The blood type personality link came from an early 1900's Scientific Journal that discussed how European Ancestry typically had dominant blood types, while people of Asian and African descent typically had lesser blood types. Japan caught wind of this and a prominent Japanese scientist wrote a counter article where most of the pseudo-science about blood types come from. The video did a good job explaining why, but I thought people might be interested in how it started.

Posted by MATATAT

Since I was one of the people to which Worth Reading/Worth Watching got passed by on Fridays the change-up to Monday seems to have at least gotten me to read through. I'd say keep up the Mondays.

Posted by Rek503

When they showed that clip of Reggie before Top 8 Smash at Evo, there were a ton of boo's at it. So much that I'm sure that even people that came just for Smash boo'd it.

Side note: People also boo'd when they guy on the main stage when he asked if we were ready for Top 8 of Injustice. I don't know if they realized that Ed Boon was in the audience when they did that, but they probably didn't care.

Posted by NecroNeko

That Simon Parkin article was a nice read. After the little conversations that pop up between the GB staff occasionally on the subject in liveshows etc, getting to read about it in detail was pretty good. He makes some good points and has obviously done his research. It's a shame that it happens at all in the industry but then I guess without similar things happening GB wouldn't even exist in the first place.

Posted by Shaanyboi
  • Chris Wager raises the criticism that reviewers sometimes unfairly dismiss complicated games.

I hope people are reading this...

Posted by KDR_11k

"tremendously cute" sounds like Kirby-level, I am disappointed.

Posted by R3DT1D3

I'd really like some discussion from the Chris Wager article. It would be particularly interesting to hear the guys discuss it on the podcast.

As for my thoughts, I think the main reason there's such a large disconnect is the compulsion of large sites to cover EVERYTHING that comes out. For example, if Jeff and Vinny actually reviewed the sports games they played on quicklooks, they would be doing the games a huge disservice. Likewise, most sites just give the review to someone who played last year's release for a week and hasn't touched it since. The "all things to all people" approach has turned reviews into meters of hype and production value because that's all reviewers can gauge before they move on to the next project.

Edited by SgtSphynx

That Simon Parkin article was a damn good read.

Posted by Redhotchilimist

Some academics have criticized this, claiming it is shallow, and we need more criticism of games and less mere reviews. These academics are correct, but more frequently than not what they mean by “criticism” of the game isn’t discussion of how the mechanics operate to create a fun, interactive experience, but rather analysis of the cultural significance of the game, how interactive functions are used for a narrative resonance, or the message the game is supposed to convey. Yet the problem remains that when I read the typical game review, I have no ability to tell from their writing whether the game is good or not and I am forced to rely on my friends or longer segments of gameplay footage to help give me an idea how the game actually works, and feels to play. Describing gameplay in an explicit way that people can understand is hard and not well explored, so critics and academics tend to fall back on elements of film or literature theory that have dissolved into the public consciousness, and vague opinions on whether the game feels nice or not. This is part of why there is a general trend of the gaming press highly praising works with large narrative content.

It's been a while since I've felt this represented. It's been common for a while now that rather than reading reviews to see if I'd be into something, I need to watch an hour of gameplay on youtube or something. The exception being games that are so short and story-focused that doing that would ruin the entire experience because that's all there is to it. I would love to read more reviews, but not because of how this game is "important" from a cultural standpoint. I'd love to read more reviews from people who could articulate why a gameplay element does or does not feel good, and go really in depth on that. Especially on enthusiast sites like this. That's rarely covered in your articles, Patrick, or on the podcast or quick looks. It's fine to talk about how a game makes you feel, especially when that's all there is to it(and I'm not dismissing that, for instance To the Moon that has an article dedicated to itself this week really made me tear up).

What I really would love, though, is not a video about how Dark Souls is "about" the inevitability of death, like that one Superbunnyhop video makes the argument of. That's the least interesting way anyone could critique a game like Dark Souls, so light on story but so deep with its gameplay. I definitely feel for the author when he talks about that journalist defending tripping, just because he doesn't like people playing smash different than he himself does. Better than he himself does, with a way larger investment. And I recognize in myself how Melee was simple enough for me to learn easily, but deep enough to play for hundreds of hours without getting tired(while Brawl felt way worse, even though I couldn't articulate it better than "It feels slower and floatier"). Pokemon was the same way, except that in Pearl it was very easy to point to how there were a second's delay every time you chose a move.

What du you personally think about this article, Patrick? The last time journalists not covering games with deep mechanics fairly came up in conversation was The Wonderful 101 I believe, but I can't recall your thoughts on it. It might be a bit "inside baseball", but I would very much like to know.

Posted by President_Barackbar
  • Chris Wager raises the criticism that reviewers sometimes unfairly dismiss complicated games.

I hope people are reading this...

Honestly, its just the nature of the business. I know superfans of things like Smash or Metal Gear Rising or Wonderful 101 really like to shout down reviewers for not understanding why people like the games or playing them that much. The thing is that not every publication has someone who is super into a specific genre or game series, let alone someone good at the specific kind of game. For a lot of publications, its just not worth it to spend a ton of time with one specific game. I know that's super disappointing for fans, but its just the way it is.

Online
Posted by Oldirtybearon

@hatking said:

It's been driving me nuts how people keep wanting to throw the Kardashian game under the bus then look back down at their iPhone to check in on whatever this week's socially acceptable money sink is. Let's be honest, you don't give a shit about the free to play thing, you just don't like her.

I was entirely ready to hate on that Kardashian game, but actually getting a look at the writing in the game it reads like a rather biting satire of the celebrity worship culture it directly profits from. Sure it's cynical as hell, but, man, I had to applaud some of its bitchyness.

Posted by TheHT

That blood type video is legit the most interesting thing I've seen/heard in a while.

AND JANE DOUGLAS! Cool to see her puttin stuff out still.

Posted by fisk0

That colorblind article was really interesting, especially when he said it was harder to tell the difference between colors when they were all on the screen. I assumed that would be easier, since you could maybe spot some small differences between them.

I can tell that a green shirt is green and a brown shirt is brown, but show me a pattern with green and brown alternating squares and my eyes start to go haywire.

Posted by Mortuss_Zero

So, was there a point to the Shark vid? I mean.... I'm pretty sure that was there in the original OoT and nothing seems different.

Edited by Draxyle

I know exactly what town in FFXIV he's talking about, and it reeeaally bothers me too.

And the blood type video is pretty cool. It never really occurred to me how odd it was that they referred to them so frequently in game manuals.

Edited by huser

The Chris Wager article has a strong basis, though I think he paints with as broad a brush as the journos he is criticizing. It is why I like the Endurance Runs in all their flavors, Patrick's deep dives exploring the frontier of his gaming landscape, and (to be determined) hiring new blood at Giantbomb. We lost Dave's Eastern European madness and the Flight Club has splintered. I want weirdo games played by people who will be advocates for them.

I've never played Divinity Orginal Sin so this might not be correct. From another site's podcast, someone thought it weird that you needed to press a specific button to be able to target an item in the world. Brad had a comment that targeting random items seriously degrades weapon durability. These would seem to tie together with the stated goals of the devs to give you alternatives for all obstacles. You don't have to find keys to open things, but then it appears to cost you combat effectiveness to rush through. I want that kind of nerding out and more people on staff increase the odds for oddball gaming interests. We just need an adventurous MMO'er and JRPG fan I think.

EDIT - And I found the Super Joystiq podcast illuminating on a related thing. It seemed unanimous that the crew preferred Fallout 3 with New Vegas being some level between just below and hot garbage with Xav even stating he reviewed New Vegas and not understanding the fans that prefer it (Broken on the Obsidian scale was given as the reason). Which I think highlights a couple things. The more obvious that maybe working under a review schedule doesn't do favors to certain games as compared to super fans that put in 300 hours or the folks that buy on Steam sales a year or two down the line. And the disconnect where internet folk can't possibly understand (or tolerate) someone that thinks differently who then fill up comments sections with angry rants...and the writers that face that not recognizing that these angry people might also not play the game the same way that game reviewers do (See also "waiting for a sale and, indirectly, patches" and "new gaming plus 7 times").

It's why I'd really like something less to do with Day 1 buying information and more a QL of a game where the QL'er spent a sizable amount of time with the game beforehand, perhaps well after the game came out so some of the community surrounding the more obscure elements of a game have developed (the Souls games or Etrian Odyssey party builds come to mind here).

Posted by blueinferno

E-PONAAAAAAAA!!!

Edited by Jacanuk

@ichthy said:

A friend of mine works for Glu and was lead designer for that Kim Kardashian game. According to him the game is making around $500000 a DAY in revenue. I don't even know what games are anymore.

Insane.

But it shows just how big microtransactions are and how big sheep casuals are.

Edited by Krataur

@fisk0 said:

That colorblind article was really interesting, especially when he said it was harder to tell the difference between colors when they were all on the screen. I assumed that would be easier, since you could maybe spot some small differences between them.

I can tell that a green shirt is green and a brown shirt is brown, but show me a pattern with green and brown alternating squares and my eyes start to go haywire.

I think it depends on the type of colorblindness. He got a 183 on that test, but his results were pretty spread out. I got a 163 but my, well, blind spot is pretty concentrated around the blue/purple (or whatever...) region. For me, it is easier to have multiple colors around at once to compare to.

Posted by pinner458

How come Patrick always post OoT videos on here? I don't remember him ever talking about being particularly fond of it in any way...

Posted by LaserJesus

I suppose the Burak Tezeteser article does illustrate that fact, considering that releasing a game that's broken at launch and has that same broken build sent to game reviewers isn't guaranteed success simply by getting onto the Steam service.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@jacanuk said:

But it shows just how big microtransactions are and how big sheep casuals are.

Really? Just casual gamers?

Edited by Dan_CiTi

"Smashers" is such an awful term.

As well, I like Kim K, I think she's a sweetheart and I respect her career but a part of a me hurts when games like that get hyper successful. At least she gives like 1mil or w/e to charity each year.

@fifichiapet said:

I would debate your use of "empathize" (instead of sympathize) in the colorblind section. Empathize implies you share the feelings in some way. If you've experienced vision issues while trying to play a game, that might work; but your piece doesn't imply that.

Granted, there are too many who have started using empathize in place of sympathize because people started equating sympathy with pity (which is also annoying). I hate this because I feel it cheapens all words involved.

Oh well--shouting out loud when no one cares, and so forth.

Yeah, while both work sympathize is more appropriate.

Posted by Mikemcn

That kim kardash article was hilarious... the author is a monster though, she got a good article out of it, but at what cost!!? (500 bucks + her soul?)

Edited by HatKing

@hatking said:

It's been driving me nuts how people keep wanting to throw the Kardashian game under the bus then look back down at their iPhone to check in on whatever this week's socially acceptable money sink is. Let's be honest, you don't give a shit about the free to play thing, you just don't like her.

I was entirely ready to hate on that Kardashian game, but actually getting a look at the writing in the game it reads like a rather biting satire of the celebrity worship culture it directly profits from. Sure it's cynical as hell, but, man, I had to applaud some of its bitchyness.

I played it a bit myself. It's kind of unremarkable, I found. Not bitingly offensive, and certainly not the culture killer that people are labeling it. Though maybe a symptom of a problem. It does what it does with a minimum amount of effort, and kind of plays how you'd expect this sort of game to play. The character customization was deeper than I had expected, but I guess it's a fashion game and kind of trades on 'your look' so maybe that's not so crazy. But it's no more offensive than that Jurassic Park game that was released on IOS some years ago. They're both pandering to a specific audience, both contain only a reasonable amount of gameplay before cupping their palms, and neither really do anything interesting for their borrowed characters or within their genres. I think the idea of micro-transactions is kind of artistically flawed at the base, but I'll fully admit there are some games that handle it better than others, these just aren't them.

Edited by joshwent

@yummylee said:

Woo, Jane Douglas! The blood type thing is definitely something I always found peculiar way back when, but as the years went by I kinda forget about it. Was fun to have that strange mystery brought back to the forefront and explained.

Yep, a fascinating answer to something that's puzzled me forever, yet was never baffling enough to actually search out myself.

And Jane Douglas is fantastic. I just wish she worked for a group that didn't have to pander to MS stuff. Their features like this blood type one are funny and really well done, but when they have to talk about specific games or general XBox stuff, it can get kind of gross.

---

Totilo's "diversity question" justification is extremely disappointing. The media's recent push to question roles and importance of a diverse cast in games is a very good thing, though it's certainly brought with it that ever growing push back from people pleading, "Why can't we just have fun and play cool games again?!". But rather than try to understand where those perspectives are coming from and engage them directly, Totilo just uses that as fuel for his crusade, taking those comments as a sign that he's fighting bravely against those who would hold him back, rather than examine if, maybe, there's a better and more inclusive way to accomplish his goal.

He seems to think that the "controversy" which often surrounds these types of discussions is something innate in certain people, that will just always happen. You bring up social change topic x, you piss off people y. Granted "trolls" and others who simply enjoy aggravating people flock to these discussions as easy targets, that sadly is an inherent part of these conversations currently. But that group wasn't what instigated his article. He explains:

But lately I've heard a call for game reporters to just stop asking about diversity, to stop nagging about social issues. I've seen a call for game creators to stop answering, to just shut up, to stop doing more harm with every word they say.

The "doing more harm with every word" part is very telling to me. Game players have grown to fear these discussions because so many creators, if unwilling to meet certain folk's demands, are branded with a scarlet letter which no further explanation can wash away. When these questions get asked, no answer other than an apology and a change in the game are sufficient. It's not about asking these questions to understand the responses more. It's about asking so that those who give the "wrong" answer can be made a bigoted example of.

The creators of GTAV explained very rationally that the specific game they intended to make was the story of three specific men, so there were no female main characters, just as there are no other main characters than those three. They were branded as misogynists and boycotts were proposed and applauded for their relentless demanding.

The disdain still thrown at Ubisoft for refusing to allow a female playable character in AC: Unity co-op, wasn't lessened but heightened when they made the blatantly clear point that no one in the main game chooses a character. That everyone is Arno in their own game and that can't be changed, so creating assets for a female character would be wasted since you could never play as her anyway. That explanation at best recieved a few, "Okay sure, but women's representation is bad in games overall and something one other person from your company said seemed odd so forget the actual reason. This is totally sexist."

This is the "nagging" that Totilo sees but refuses to hear. Many people's hesitance when these issues are brought up isn't about the issues themselves, it's about the baseless claims and accusations of bigotry that get echoed so often through sites like Kotaku itself and journalist's Twitter accounts, that they become accepted as fact.

I applaud Totilo for his steadfastness in asking these questions. But when answers he doesn't like are manufactured into controversy and those who give them are crucified regardless of their explanations or intent, the purpose of "the diversity questions" are lost. We're left only with what we have now, an ever more divisive and divided community that has been made to fear these crucial topics thanks to well-intentioned but myopic writers unable to recognise when their fight for good just turns into... a fight.

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