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Worth Reading: 07/20/12

When in doubt, try to play saxophone memes through a video game on your keyboard, and get really upset because you suck at it.

Here's a screen shot of Dyad because nothing seems appropriate, and Dyad looks super cool.

There’s not much to be said on a day like this. We will probably never fully understand why a shooter opened fire in a crowded theater last night during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. A sudden heart attack, a senseless act of violence--we never know life's going to throw us a curveball, and change everything.

Have a moment of silence, say a prayer, or maybe tone down your snark on the Internet today. For a couple of hours, anyway.

I’ve been trying, without much success, to track down the developer of Slender. That guy is really onto something, right? Like all horror, it’s not an experience that gets under everyone’s skin, but it managed to mess me up in the middle of the day, and I’m curious to know where those ideas might go next. I’ll keep at it, and let you know. That Amnesia follow-up got sidetracked from real world events the last few weeks, but I’m hoping to sit and play through the downloadable episode, Justine, and return to that mindset from not long ago.

One doesn’t need a game to get scared today, though, explaining this week's highlighted game.

Hey, You Should Play This

Yes, yes, another game that’s full of tiny pixels, but once you’ve played Epic Sax Game, something tells me I’ll be forgiven. Epic Sax Game is an interactive riff on this meme that came from Eurovision in 2010 (Know Your Meme has the full story), in which players are tasked with recreating the infamous, infectious sax tune with their own fingers. Creator Pippin Barr actually has a website full of interesting, experimental, eccentric games like this one, but I wouldn’t know about any of them if it wasn’t for Johann Sebastian Joust designer Douglas Wilson going on and on about Epic Sax Game on Twitter. If you’re looking for another source of game recommendations, Wilson is your man.

And You Should Read These

Conversation about the relationship, representation, and interactions between women and games is unlikely to disappear anytime soon, and that’s partially because we’re continuing to see so many great writers weigh in with \ things to say. Jenn Frank’s piece on Unwinnable is long-winded in the best way possible, long-winded because Frank much to say about a subject that is clearly deeply personal, important, and uncomfortable. If you’ve met Frank in person, her writing is a remarkable encapsulation of her speaking style--frantic, all over the place, and positively engaging. As much as Frank’s piece has nothing to do with games, it has so much to do with games, especially as it relates to our socialized expectations and norms, and how easy it is to be misguided about long-held beliefs.

Lately someone accused me of “girl-on-the-Internet syndrome.” He could have leveled a lot of valid criticisms at me, given what I’d written; this particular blow, however, struck me as hollow.

“I have been on the Internet since 1993,” I replied. “I got over being on the Internet long before I ever got over being a girl.”

Do you remember when one games journalist — one of the best, and happenstantially a female — pleaded that we recognize her as a person? Like, as just an ordinary, normal human being? It was heartbreaking.

I remember reading that column and thinking about how, even if you actively work to not “prove your gender” to others, there is an enormous faction that will conversely work to remind you that you are a woman, and “just” a woman, every chance they get.

They might even say it benevolently: “Why, she’s my favorite female games writer!”

This piece from Kate was one of many in response to IGN’s Colin Moriarty making the argument that political correctness is hurting the creativity of video games, and that we, as players and commentators, should allow developers free reign to try new things, and maybe get it wrong, too. His underlying point is sound, but the holes and caveats within his argument rubbed more than few people the wrong way, including Kate Cox. I’m with her on this one, too. We should encourage developers to be bold, daring, and challenging in their subject matter, but doing so does not exempt them from criticism. When you wade into dangerous waters, you must be prepared to defend yourself, as simply putting yourself in the line of fire, while commendable, does not mean you are suddenly immune.

Make sure to click on the first video in the next section for a good example of what I’m talking about.

But "I don't like it" isn't the end of the conversation; it's the beginning. Next comes, "Here's why I don't like it," which opens the door to discussion. Discussion and awareness are the ways in which culture changes over time. Standards of racism were appropriate in mainstream culture sixty years ago that are unacceptable now, and that's not a bad thing. Yes, you can use a racial epithet in your work of fiction if you want. But you're going to have to have a reason; there will need to be an intention behind it. The audience's standards have changed, and artists, who both reinforce and challenge culture, need to understand how and why.

If You Click It, It Will Play

I Don’t Know About This Kickstarter Thing, But These Projects Look Neat

  • Moon Intern, a side-scrolling action RPG that preys upon my love for pixels and things made in Chicago.
  • Crea, a riff on the 2D sandbox game (see: Terraria) with a focus on player modding.
  • Star Command, that probably dangerously addictive management game is trying to come to PC and Mac.

Oh, And Some Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by patrickklepek
Here's a screen shot of Dyad because nothing seems appropriate, and Dyad looks super cool.

There’s not much to be said on a day like this. We will probably never fully understand why a shooter opened fire in a crowded theater last night during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. A sudden heart attack, a senseless act of violence--we never know life's going to throw us a curveball, and change everything.

Have a moment of silence, say a prayer, or maybe tone down your snark on the Internet today. For a couple of hours, anyway.

I’ve been trying, without much success, to track down the developer of Slender. That guy is really onto something, right? Like all horror, it’s not an experience that gets under everyone’s skin, but it managed to mess me up in the middle of the day, and I’m curious to know where those ideas might go next. I’ll keep at it, and let you know. That Amnesia follow-up got sidetracked from real world events the last few weeks, but I’m hoping to sit and play through the downloadable episode, Justine, and return to that mindset from not long ago.

One doesn’t need a game to get scared today, though, explaining this week's highlighted game.

Hey, You Should Play This

Yes, yes, another game that’s full of tiny pixels, but once you’ve played Epic Sax Game, something tells me I’ll be forgiven. Epic Sax Game is an interactive riff on this meme that came from Eurovision in 2010 (Know Your Meme has the full story), in which players are tasked with recreating the infamous, infectious sax tune with their own fingers. Creator Pippin Barr actually has a website full of interesting, experimental, eccentric games like this one, but I wouldn’t know about any of them if it wasn’t for Johann Sebastian Joust designer Douglas Wilson going on and on about Epic Sax Game on Twitter. If you’re looking for another source of game recommendations, Wilson is your man.

And You Should Read These

Conversation about the relationship, representation, and interactions between women and games is unlikely to disappear anytime soon, and that’s partially because we’re continuing to see so many great writers weigh in with \ things to say. Jenn Frank’s piece on Unwinnable is long-winded in the best way possible, long-winded because Frank much to say about a subject that is clearly deeply personal, important, and uncomfortable. If you’ve met Frank in person, her writing is a remarkable encapsulation of her speaking style--frantic, all over the place, and positively engaging. As much as Frank’s piece has nothing to do with games, it has so much to do with games, especially as it relates to our socialized expectations and norms, and how easy it is to be misguided about long-held beliefs.

Lately someone accused me of “girl-on-the-Internet syndrome.” He could have leveled a lot of valid criticisms at me, given what I’d written; this particular blow, however, struck me as hollow.

“I have been on the Internet since 1993,” I replied. “I got over being on the Internet long before I ever got over being a girl.”

Do you remember when one games journalist — one of the best, and happenstantially a female — pleaded that we recognize her as a person? Like, as just an ordinary, normal human being? It was heartbreaking.

I remember reading that column and thinking about how, even if you actively work to not “prove your gender” to others, there is an enormous faction that will conversely work to remind you that you are a woman, and “just” a woman, every chance they get.

They might even say it benevolently: “Why, she’s my favorite female games writer!”

This piece from Kate was one of many in response to IGN’s Colin Moriarty making the argument that political correctness is hurting the creativity of video games, and that we, as players and commentators, should allow developers free reign to try new things, and maybe get it wrong, too. His underlying point is sound, but the holes and caveats within his argument rubbed more than few people the wrong way, including Kate Cox. I’m with her on this one, too. We should encourage developers to be bold, daring, and challenging in their subject matter, but doing so does not exempt them from criticism. When you wade into dangerous waters, you must be prepared to defend yourself, as simply putting yourself in the line of fire, while commendable, does not mean you are suddenly immune.

Make sure to click on the first video in the next section for a good example of what I’m talking about.

But "I don't like it" isn't the end of the conversation; it's the beginning. Next comes, "Here's why I don't like it," which opens the door to discussion. Discussion and awareness are the ways in which culture changes over time. Standards of racism were appropriate in mainstream culture sixty years ago that are unacceptable now, and that's not a bad thing. Yes, you can use a racial epithet in your work of fiction if you want. But you're going to have to have a reason; there will need to be an intention behind it. The audience's standards have changed, and artists, who both reinforce and challenge culture, need to understand how and why.

If You Click It, It Will Play

I Don’t Know About This Kickstarter Thing, But These Projects Look Neat

  • Moon Intern, a side-scrolling action RPG that preys upon my love for pixels and things made in Chicago.
  • Crea, a riff on the 2D sandbox game (see: Terraria) with a focus on player modding.
  • Star Command, that probably dangerously addictive management game is trying to come to PC and Mac.

Oh, And Some Other Stuff

Online
Posted by flasaltine

GOOD ARTICLE!

Online
Posted by Skyfire543

Great article Patrick.

Posted by Fattony12000

Tone down my snark?

Epic Sax Game is great fun, it just keeps on giving it so good.

Apart from your weird accusation at the beginning, you have once again written a great article Tricky Scoops!

Posted by ch3burashka

" ".

A moment of silence, please.

Posted by Morningstar

This was a good one. And sorry for your loss Patrick =(

Edited by Mb246

@Morningstar: what happened?

Posted by AjayRaz

that epic sax game is great. i'm having a blast just playing horrible sounding notes on the YouTube portion while i continue to get dislikes.

Posted by WarlordPayne

Jenn Frank considers Leigh Alexander to be one of the best games journalists...I don't think I care what her opinions are.

Posted by Athadam

Hey @patrickklepek great article as always, but   
 is it just me or is there a grammatical error, " I Don’t About This Kickstarter Thing, But These Projects Looks Neat" .

Posted by MistaSparkle

Nice read, thanks Klepmeister!

Posted by RetroVirus

Epic Sax Game definitely takes some getting used to.

Posted by WMWA

Whoa. Nice find with that Extra Credits video. Definitely gonna go watch the rest of them now. Great stuff

Posted by MooseyMcMan

As always, a great write up Patrick!

Posted by zeo12

patrick trolling abilities at their fullest highlithing the pokemon green leaf ripoff :) for the iphone

Posted by Animasta

@AjayRaz said:

that epic sax game is great. i'm having a blast just playing horrible sounding notes on the YouTube portion while i continue to get dislikes.

that's the only way to play really

Edited by Turambar

So, anyone wants to place bets on how many people makes a comment about dismissing Jenn Frank's article out of hand without reading it due to her comments on Leigh Alexander?
 
I say 10 in the next hour.

Posted by UndeadPatPat

Ahh, S.C.P we meet again.

Posted by Funky_Student_101

I find it sad how demoralized woman are in this industry. Personally it never mattered to me whether a person was a man or a woman unless it came to relationship-like things. I wish the internet would grow up a bit :/

Posted by mewarmo990

@Mb246 said:

@Morningstar: what happened?

His grandfather passed away recently, but I hardly see how it's relevant to the tragic events being referred to in the article.

Posted by Rox360

Hell yeah Epic Sax Game! I just wish I had more notes to freestyle with during the parts I'm not actually supposed to be playing...!

Edited by Draxyle

I'm glad to see referencing to Extra Credits. That video series definitely deserves a lot more attention. That example is one of their best.

Posted by Deusoma

Reading the interview with Randy Pitchford, I find myself actually feeling sorry for the guy if he genuinely believes Duke Nukem Forever was this incredible, life-changing game. He goes as far as acknowledging the uncomfortably rapey sequences that made the game infamous, and regards it as a joke that didn't play well or something. I used to have a lot of respect for the guy, but I don't know, man. I'm not sure whether I'd lose more of that respect if he actually believed what he was saying, or if he was just being stubborn and sticking to the company line. 
 
As for everything written here, though, excellent article, Patrick. Very tasteful opening.

Posted by Scooper

AddictIVE!

Posted by mrpandaman

@mewarmo990 said:

@Mb246 said:

@Morningstar: what happened?

His grandfather passed away recently, but I hardly see how it's relevant to the tragic events being referred to in the article.

No, his father passed away. The relevant point is how life is unpredictable and can be tragic.

Posted by Masha2932
Posted by xupahdupah

Thanks for noting the Frank and Cox articles. They were great reads.

Posted by mrpandaman

@xupahdupah said:

Thanks for noting the Frank and Cox articles. They were great reads.

Frank and Cox... I'm sorry XD

Posted by Morningstar

@mewarmo990 said:

@Mb246 said:

@Morningstar: what happened?

His grandfather passed away recently, but I hardly see how it's relevant to the tragic events being referred to in the article.

He says in the article: Given the passing of my father, I'm especially interested in what David Cage has to say in Beyond: Two Souls. Hence I am sorry for his loss.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Man, Randy Pitchford is really bumming me out by comparing DNF to Half Life 2.

Posted by stalefishies

Patrick, I really don't like how you've causally put that link to that  Pokémon rip-off in there along with other articles that come down on similar antics, like that game ripping Torchlight assets or that Zynga Tiny Tower clone. I'm sure you don't mean like this, but it reads like you're being pretty hypocritical to me.

Posted by Wholemeal

Thanks for a good read Patrick!

Posted by OneKillWonder_
@ArbitraryWater:  Well, to be fair, he's not comparing them in terms of quality (because that would be fucking INSANE). The pacing of the gameplay is very similar to HL2, though, and I noticed that while playing it. Obviously the pacing or individual gameplay elements aren't put to nearly as good of use as they were in HL2, but I thought it was pretty clear that 3D Realms tried to emulate the experience HL2 provided.
 
That interview was really strange though. As someone who actually enjoyed DNF for what it was, and as someone who is a fan of Mr. Pitchford and his work, even I think he's defending the game a little too hard. It's still difficult to tell if he thinks DNF was a truly good game or not, but I think he is right that it got unjustly crucified upon its release.
Posted by Brodehouse

If I were making a game I wouldn't have any women in it. Men, either. Because trying to do anything in this medium is grounds for people to call you sexist. My game would be a bunch of androgynous robots fighting against the inevitable depression and creativity futility of their race. The depression will appear as other robots that the first set of robots can shoot.

Edited by LordCmdrStryker

@Turambar said:

So, anyone wants to place bets on how many people makes a comment about dismissing Jenn Frank's article out of hand without reading it due to her comments on Leigh Alexander? I say 10 in the next hour.

Leigh Alexander's article was typical sensationalist Kotaku bullshit, so count me as one.

@Funky_Student_101 said:

I find it sad how demoralized woman are in this industry. Personally it never mattered to me whether a person was a man or a woman unless it came to relationship-like things. I wish the internet would grow up a bit :/

I wish women on the internet would grow up a bit. Who the hell said everything had to be equal for everyone all the time? Are there big attitude problems in the video games industry? Hell, yes. But here's a newsflash for you: IT'S A PROBLEM IN LOTS OF OTHER AREAS, TOO. The games industry is NOT SPECIAL. People have shitty ideas about women all over the place but, believe it or not, America has it pretty damn good. And writing articles like these are exactly preaching to the choir - the people who need to hear it the most are the ones least likely to actually read them. What we really need are some studios run mostly by women. What do you mean there aren't enough women in the industry for that? Well, shit, I suppose we have an entirely different problem, then. The industry will change when the people making the games change. Shaking your finger and being indignant will do fuck all.

By the way, I really love it in Ms. Brice's article where she writes that people should change what they say if they're being unintentionally offensive, but she can do it all day because she's offending people on purpose. Classic. EDIT: OH! She also wants to turn video games into a sterilized politically correct socialist institution, and not one driven by the free market, because "Gaming isn’t and hasn’t been a cheap hobby to upkeep, so to say those with the money should decide the kind of content of games is plain lazy when that is mostly white heterosexual men." Fuck. You. Lady.

I know it's a slow news week and all, but after the Phil Fish bullshit and that Randy Pitchford tabloidesque hit job, I'm really considering swearing off video games "journalism" for like 6 months.

Posted by sissylion

@LordCmdrStryker said:

America has it pretty damn good.

Comparing America's treatment towards women to those of other countries doesn't stand to make America's actions any more right.

Posted by Deusx

I´ve always liked your "worth reading" section but this is horrible. A video game about a meme, more talk about tropes in video games, shitty scary games coverage, and an Escapist (worst site ever created) video. What the fuck man, this isn´t reddit, stop covering every piece of shit you find on the internet.

I´m sorry I get mad at this but man... It´s like you spend your whole day on reddit and just pull out the stuff you find funny or mildly interesting. I know everyone will bitch at me for this but I don´t care, this isn´t why I visit Giant Bomb. I just wanted to voice my opinion. End of rine.

Posted by DCam

Yeah! I just discovered Extra Credits two days ago. Those are some great videos.

Edited by LordCmdrStryker

@sissylion said:

@LordCmdrStryker said:

America has it pretty damn good.

Comparing America's treatment towards women to those of other countries doesn't stand to make America's actions any more right.

Which actions? People are assholes everywhere. Waving our hands in the air and being hysterical (YES I KNOW this is a derogatory term invented to devalue women, my point stands) about a nebulous "attitude in the industry" does nothing other than confuse the issue and make the writers feel better about themselves. Details are important. Specifics are important.

Posted by sissylion

@LordCmdrStryker: Perpetuation of rape culture, restriction of female reproductive rights, slut-shaming, the holding of women to a far more aesthetic-oriented scale compared to their male counterparts, etc.

Posted by LordCmdrStryker

@sissylion said:

@LordCmdrStryker: Perpetuation of rape culture, restriction of female reproductive rights, slut-shaming, the holding of women to a far more aesthetic-oriented scale compared to their male counterparts, etc.

I'm confused, are we talking about people working in the industry or morons on Xbox Live? Because those are two entirely different issues. The first has been blown hugely out of proportion, especially in the last few weeks following E3. The second really is a problem, but the root is with terrible, absent, uninformed parents and horrible defunded schools, turning our young people into braindead neanderthals. And our country continues to fall in these respects for many, many reasons, but none these come from video games. Video game behavior is the effect, not the cause.

Posted by pbhawks45

@Deusx: cool story bro

Posted by sissylion

@LordCmdrStryker: I don't disagree with you. Your initial post just made it sound as if you perceived America to be completely ridden of prejudice on any level.

Posted by Rednight

Oh Patrick, why'd you have to find that Epic Sax game, now I just feel bad for attempting a game that literally mocks my every keystroke. I guess I should have known it was coming though since I'm a white guy and have no rhythm. Still pretty fun to attempt though.

Posted by HatKing

I fucking love you, Patrick.

Posted by saxmusician20

As a saxophone player with years and years of practice and enjoyment from making real music I am not sure if I should be offended or excited by this hilarious monster?!?!? Saxophone hero?

Posted by fots

Thanks Patrick!

Posted by CJduke

I enjoyed that Extra Credit video

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