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Worth Reading: 07/13/12

The return of Worth Reading, in which we discover a video game can be terrifying enough to scare you in the middle of the day. Apparently.

Welcome to the mess of chords that is the living room in my parents' house.

Yep, I’m back.

Technically, I’m still here in Chicago to help my family make some decisions, and won’t be back in the office until after my wedding. Slowly but surely I’m getting back into writing. Slowly.

I’ll probably pen something about my Dad. We’ll see.

The most difficult part of realizing I’m here for a bit is organizing a setup in my parents’ house. I’ve been going back and forth from the hardware store for the right parts to ensure the existing setup isn’t compromised, while also allowing me to play games over the next few weeks. I spent a good hour searching for a cable splitter yesterday, convinced there was one sitting around the last time I was here, but eventually gave up and decided spending $2.99 at Home Depot made more sense. I'm cheap.

Even though Worth Reading disappeared for a week, I’ve received plenty of links from you guys and gals with games and stories that needed paying attention to. Thank you for that, and thank you for this. If some of the material here is a little behind, I apologize, but Giant Bomb has never been the most timely publication in the world anyway, right?

Hey, You Should Play This

Fuck you, Slender. This one actually produced a jump scare from me in the middle of the day, and I can’t imagine what this awful creation would elicit from my psyche at night with headphones. In short, Slender is a first-person survival game that asks you do accomplish a seemingly simple task: collect eight pages. The catch, of course, is that Slender Man is stalking you the entire time, even if he’s often out of sight. Each page ratchets up the tension, as the music and sound effects prompt you to wonder why you aren’t just hitting escape, leaving this stupid thing behind.

(It’s awesome. Please do something more with this, Parsec. And much thanks to Fobwashed for the art!)

And You Should Read These

Tom Bissell is the most frustrating writer in games because it doesn’t make sense to write about one after he’s weighed in. His take on Spec Ops: The Line is no different, in which Bissell wrestles with a question most of us ignore when it comes to enjoying our violent shooters: why do we enjoy them? Is it okay that we enjoy them? Why is that okay? Bissell’s piece is fascinating for another reason: he’s a writer on Gears of War Judgment. Who knows how much of his personal musings on the cycle of violence in games will play out in a game he’s contributing to, but make sure to have Bissell’s thoughts in the back of your head as we learn more about Judgment in the future. I will.

Shooters are obviously some kind of power fantasy, centered, as they are, upon enacting, over and over again, one of the gravest moral steps a human being can take. They're obviously a form of vicarious experience, allowing even the yellowest among us to feel a facile familiarity with combat. They're obviously tapping into a deep and possibly even evolutionarily vital part of the human mind, in which power asserted becomes advantage gained. And unlike most of humanity's previous attempts to replicate such dynamics within rule-based confines — like, say, jousting or rugby — no one gets hurt. It's quite possible that shooters reveal that somewhere inside every human being is a shadow human being, one who kills and takes and does what he or she pleases. A lot of people who love shooters play them, they say, "to blow off steam." That's not why I play shooters. I play shooters because I like the pressure, the pressure of learning what to pay attention to in a realm where the ordinary governances of human behavior have been lifted. I like shooters, I suspect, for the same reason I used to like doing hard drugs. They allow my shadow self to emerge and play. For me, shooters aren't about blowing off steam. They're about taking in steam.

I don’t blame anyone for being hyped about Ouya, but some researched skepticism has been in order ever since its Kickstarter backing went into the millions of dollars, and Penny Arcade Report’s Ben Kuchera does a terrific job of outlining some of the big questions marks surrounding this project. I can’t think of anyone that wants to see Ouya fail, myself included, but do remember the number of backers currently pledging to receive an Ouya wouldn’t make for a very big install base. Kuchera addresses some huge issues that remain unanswered about Ouya, including the one that rubs me the most: why promise Minecraft as a playable game when its developer is not willing to do that? It reeks of Ouya being desperate to have a big name game to hang its hat on, and it’s merely a wild assumption.

Another problem is the fact the OUYA does little except further fragment the Android market, although I was told that’s not an issue. “There will be only one chipset for OUYA and a totally standard one at that,” I was told. “This is the best way to develop Android for TV. We will work hard to make it as standard as possible.” I’m going to be blunt: That’s a ridiculous answer, and it’s akin to claiming the Kindle Fire doesn’t count as market fragmentation as long as you only develop for the Kindle Fire.

If You Click This, It Will Play

Oh, And This Other Stuff, Too

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by patrickklepek
Welcome to the mess of chords that is the living room in my parents' house.

Yep, I’m back.

Technically, I’m still here in Chicago to help my family make some decisions, and won’t be back in the office until after my wedding. Slowly but surely I’m getting back into writing. Slowly.

I’ll probably pen something about my Dad. We’ll see.

The most difficult part of realizing I’m here for a bit is organizing a setup in my parents’ house. I’ve been going back and forth from the hardware store for the right parts to ensure the existing setup isn’t compromised, while also allowing me to play games over the next few weeks. I spent a good hour searching for a cable splitter yesterday, convinced there was one sitting around the last time I was here, but eventually gave up and decided spending $2.99 at Home Depot made more sense. I'm cheap.

Even though Worth Reading disappeared for a week, I’ve received plenty of links from you guys and gals with games and stories that needed paying attention to. Thank you for that, and thank you for this. If some of the material here is a little behind, I apologize, but Giant Bomb has never been the most timely publication in the world anyway, right?

Hey, You Should Play This

Fuck you, Slender. This one actually produced a jump scare from me in the middle of the day, and I can’t imagine what this awful creation would elicit from my psyche at night with headphones. In short, Slender is a first-person survival game that asks you do accomplish a seemingly simple task: collect eight pages. The catch, of course, is that Slender Man is stalking you the entire time, even if he’s often out of sight. Each page ratchets up the tension, as the music and sound effects prompt you to wonder why you aren’t just hitting escape, leaving this stupid thing behind.

(It’s awesome. Please do something more with this, Parsec. And much thanks to Fobwashed for the art!)

And You Should Read These

Tom Bissell is the most frustrating writer in games because it doesn’t make sense to write about one after he’s weighed in. His take on Spec Ops: The Line is no different, in which Bissell wrestles with a question most of us ignore when it comes to enjoying our violent shooters: why do we enjoy them? Is it okay that we enjoy them? Why is that okay? Bissell’s piece is fascinating for another reason: he’s a writer on Gears of War Judgment. Who knows how much of his personal musings on the cycle of violence in games will play out in a game he’s contributing to, but make sure to have Bissell’s thoughts in the back of your head as we learn more about Judgment in the future. I will.

Shooters are obviously some kind of power fantasy, centered, as they are, upon enacting, over and over again, one of the gravest moral steps a human being can take. They're obviously a form of vicarious experience, allowing even the yellowest among us to feel a facile familiarity with combat. They're obviously tapping into a deep and possibly even evolutionarily vital part of the human mind, in which power asserted becomes advantage gained. And unlike most of humanity's previous attempts to replicate such dynamics within rule-based confines — like, say, jousting or rugby — no one gets hurt. It's quite possible that shooters reveal that somewhere inside every human being is a shadow human being, one who kills and takes and does what he or she pleases. A lot of people who love shooters play them, they say, "to blow off steam." That's not why I play shooters. I play shooters because I like the pressure, the pressure of learning what to pay attention to in a realm where the ordinary governances of human behavior have been lifted. I like shooters, I suspect, for the same reason I used to like doing hard drugs. They allow my shadow self to emerge and play. For me, shooters aren't about blowing off steam. They're about taking in steam.

I don’t blame anyone for being hyped about Ouya, but some researched skepticism has been in order ever since its Kickstarter backing went into the millions of dollars, and Penny Arcade Report’s Ben Kuchera does a terrific job of outlining some of the big questions marks surrounding this project. I can’t think of anyone that wants to see Ouya fail, myself included, but do remember the number of backers currently pledging to receive an Ouya wouldn’t make for a very big install base. Kuchera addresses some huge issues that remain unanswered about Ouya, including the one that rubs me the most: why promise Minecraft as a playable game when its developer is not willing to do that? It reeks of Ouya being desperate to have a big name game to hang its hat on, and it’s merely a wild assumption.

Another problem is the fact the OUYA does little except further fragment the Android market, although I was told that’s not an issue. “There will be only one chipset for OUYA and a totally standard one at that,” I was told. “This is the best way to develop Android for TV. We will work hard to make it as standard as possible.” I’m going to be blunt: That’s a ridiculous answer, and it’s akin to claiming the Kindle Fire doesn’t count as market fragmentation as long as you only develop for the Kindle Fire.

If You Click This, It Will Play

Oh, And This Other Stuff, Too

Staff
Posted by Parallelogramist

Good read.

Posted by Crono11

Always look forward this article.

Posted by Angryhead

Ooh, more about Ouya.

Posted by DUFFMCWALIN

Love ya Patrick. Keep up the good work.

Posted by dekkadekkadekka

Nothing from Tim Rogers is ever "must read." Nothing.

Posted by patrickklepek

@dekkadekkadekka said:

Nothing from Tim Rogers is ever "must read." Nothing.

I'm not usually a fan of his lengthy style. Trust me on this one.

Staff
Posted by MrMazz

Look forward to this every week, this and the This Week In Video Game Blogging post from Crit Distance just great groupings of interesting things about games.

Posted by wumbo3000

Keep on truckin' Patrick! I know it must be insanely difficult on you, but just know the entire Giant Bomb community has got your back!

Online
Posted by joeytdog

At first i was anticipating Ouya, but I don't really know now. Maybe I should just be happy with all my other things.

Posted by Ricerx

Still the best part of Friday

Posted by dekkadekkadekka

@patrickklepek said:

@dekkadekkadekka said:

Nothing from Tim Rogers is ever "must read." Nothing.

I'm not usually a fan of his lengthy style. Trust me on this one.

God damn it you tricked me into reading that shit!

Joke's on me I guess!

Posted by depecheload

The irony of Penny Arcade criticizing a Kickstarter is rich.

Posted by patrickklepek

@depecheload said:

The irony of Penny Arcade criticizing a Kickstarter is rich.

It is not lost on me.

Staff
Posted by Sin4profit

Bah, can't get the controls in Slender to work so it's a game about staring into the woods and turning your flashlight on and off as fast as you can.

Posted by Hailinel

I'd rather be poisoned, shot, castrated, dipped in acid, and lobotomized than read another one of Tim Rogers's insipid rantings.

Posted by Rotnac

Downloading Slender now and immediately regretting this decision after reading some people's reactions.

Can someone tell me if this is more or less frightening than Amnesia?

Posted by Deusx

No! Stop promoting that stupid Slender game! It´s an awful game. It´s so fucking BAD and it isn´t scary at ALL. Like every other SCP game. It´s old news now. Stop it.

Posted by Napalm

@depecheload said:

The irony of Penny Arcade criticizing a Kickstarter is rich.

Ben Kuchera has rubbed me the wrong way the past several months with his pretentious bullshit. I see it hasn't changed a goddamn bit, which is fine, because I'll continue to not give a shit about Penny Arcade or Ben Kuchera.

Edited by eroticfishcake

Yes! YES! You should Cart Life. You should really.

Edit: You should really? You really should? Oh I'm not so sure. Leave me alone. Gah...

Posted by Mikewrestler5

@Rotnac said:

Downloading Slender now and immediately regretting this decision after reading some people's reactions.

Can someone tell me if this is more or less frightening than Amnesia?

Compared to Slender, Amnesia is nothing.

Posted by Christoffer

Ouya is dead on arrival. And I'm not even talking about the quality of the platform. People with real money is struggling right now (let alone people whose platform can be easily pirated)

It's nice to read some Patrick stuff again. Be well, Patrick.

That Anna trailer looked cool. Like a Frictional game straight from the beginnings of the studio (obviously prettier though).

Posted by beard_of_zeus

That Johnny Cage article is awesome. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Patrick. I'll check out some of these other links soon as well, that was just the first one that caught my eye. 
 
Didn't realize your wedding was so soon; I'm not sure how the intersection of that event with everything else going on with you must feel. But chin up, duder, the community has much love for you :)

Posted by ThePhantomStranger

I wonder if they get as creative with the Slender hiding as they do in Marble Hornets, might watch a playthrough considering my labtop can't run it...

Posted by Nes

The Daniel Pesina article is great stuff. Thanks for the link, Patrick.

Posted by Vetterli

Good to have you back, Patrick :)

And yes, Slender is fucking terrifying. I took some photos of my friend and his girlfriend playing it and the expressions on their faces are fantastic.

Posted by RedRavN

Thanks for the stuff Patrick. That Tom Bissel article I read earlier this week and found it to be one of the best writings on games and psychology I have read in a while. Its interesting just how pathologic gaming can look as an outside observer. It can look like a fps is just an outlet for our animal urges and that an MMORPG is just an escapist fantasy gambling simulator. On one hand, its hard to deny the reductionism of that sort of thinking but I think it would be valuable to take a look at why we make games appeal in certain ways and if we should be so blind to think of certain games as just casual ways to spend time. For example, maybe its not so good that I play battlefield 3 on my PC and get a gleeful rush when I murder anonymous strangers over the internet.

Also, Slender is awesome. Its not much of a game at this point (I watched a playthrough) but the atmosphere and creeping dread is pretty great. The game is legitimately horrifying because its so unpredictable you just never know where slenderman is. It reminds me of the type of horror that was done well in FEAR.

Lastly, that trailer for anna looks wierd and creepy and is worth a look.

Posted by Mento

Yay for words. I thought the PAR article raised some very cogent points about how viable a proposition this console is - given how much more money it ought to require to set up something so ambitious and how oddly soon they're estimating to have it all operating - regardless of the rigmarole surrounding this unfortunate Penny Arcade Kickstarter. If they had only promoted this "subs for no ads" model in-site, I don't think anyone would've minded at all. I mean, Giant Bomb is living proof.

As for the shooter article, his talk about video game escapism and a guilt-free simulation of murdering people can really apply to almost any game genre. Spec Ops raises questions about our own morality and judgement calls when playing these games in a way that plenty of others have already prompted, though albeit with less subtle narrative methods (like a big old red bar that gives you a discrete account of how amoral you've been, for instance). Silent Hill 3's throwaway comment of "they looked like monsters to you?" still haunts me a little.

And while I usually appreciate you tracking down trailers and sites for a parade of potential Indie greats for us to consider, I think this ruinous Steam sale is going to put me off thinking about future Indie game purchases for about six months. Or whenever their Thanksgiving sale drops at least.

Moderator
Edited by AjayRaz

this is so weird. i didn't find Slender scary at all, yet others are petrified. this is coming from someone who got scared from a paper blowing in the wind in Resident Evil 3. although then again, i didn't finish the entire thing. i died and quit because it wasn't doing it for me. maybe i should give it another shot and see if it gets scary.

Posted by Elod

These atari emails are amazing

From: KIM::MARGOLIN 9-AUG-1984 16:44
To: @SYS$MAIL:JUNK
What's the difference between Atari and the Titanic?
The Titanic had entertainment.
Posted by C0V3RT

Slender... is...terrifying.

Posted by homer4hire247

played slender last week, that game made me paranoid for the night........

Posted by bybeach

This has really turned into a worthwhile addition at GB. I like perusing what Pat puts together on a friday

Posted by gbast

I think tonight's ganna be the night I play Slender. Jesus. Thanks for the shit patrick, look forward to the piece about your dad.

Posted by nohthink

Hope everything goes well with you Patrick. Great writing, as always :)

Posted by phuzzybunny

I should really play Slender. The whole "Slender Man" mythos intrigue me

Posted by Animasta

Bully is still the best game Rockstar's ever done I do not know why they continue to not make a sequel to it

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

That Eurogamer series on Hello Games is neat. That development team seems like it's a pretty cool bunch of people.

Glad to see you back on the site, and as many have said, I'm looking forward to that article on your father.

Moderator
Posted by Quarters

Even though it's just for a bit, glad to have you back, Patrick.

Posted by Bartz

"Mess of chords"

Posted by jayjonesjunior

@Rotnac: @Mikewrestler5 said:

@Rotnac said:

Downloading Slender now and immediately regretting this decision after reading some people's reactions.

Can someone tell me if this is more or less frightening than Amnesia?

Compared to Slender, Amnesia is nothing.

slender didn't do anything for me, but i guess i was playing it wrong...

Posted by UnrealDP

Well christ. Now I've gotta read like 20 super interesting articles, and I've got stuff to do, man! Thanks. Seriously, though: glad to have you back, Patrick!

Posted by Rox360

This email dump is incredible... I just found a piece of evidence that suggests the now common method of mashing your keyboard at random to express frustration on the Internet has been around for quite a while. And that the industry indeed hasn't changed very much throughout the years...

Excerpt from one email dated 1-FEB-1984:

I should point out that the cart was not released due to a bug! Now why didn't we think of this before? That sounds like a good strategy to follow. The only reason I was given why the cart was to be released within a week of the meeting was to have ONE week worth of sales for the first quarter. WHAT A SHITTY, GOD DAMNED, FUCKING CSDKFHAS FHLAVFHJ EXCUSE!!!! What ever happened to quality which the name ATARI is supposed to represent? Where was VCS management?? I would hope that someone would stand up and say "THE GAME IS NOT READY. WE WILL RELEASE IT WHEN IT IS DONE!!" Who are they trying to make look good? Why impress Warner with 1 weeks worth of production, when you can impress the consumer 2 weeks later? It seems short-sighted to make themselves look good at the expense of ATARI's reputation.
Posted by GalacticPunt

By "tim rogers" standards, that Suda piece was concise and enjoyable. But that white text against that background... God dammit...

Followed those links to read the twin failures of Monkey Labour and Ice Burgers pretty effectively depressed me about indie game development. Though it shouldn't, most people playing music have the expectation that it's a hobby that will cost you money, not a career. Folks making iOS games in their bedroom should have similar expectations.

Posted by Turkalurch

Man Blink looks really great, but I'm getting the feeling that teleporting is going to be repetitive as hell.

Posted by golguin

I didn't play slender, but I did see a blind playthrough of it and it made me jump.

Posted by NegativeCero

Their site's links to the Slender downloads for Mac aren't available anymore. Any news on this going back up at some point?

Posted by ReyGitano

FUCK SLENDER

Edited by Sup
Posted by LikeaMetaphor

Slender was pretty scary until he spawned and blocked my only way out of a building. The scare was stemmed by my immediate gamer reaction of "Well, shit, I can't get out, so game over man."

But until that point?

OH GOD.

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