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Worth Reading: 08/11/2014

An incredible interview with the head of Crytek, a deconstruction of Sonic the Hedgehog, and much more.

A little bit of housekeeping. There's no Worth Playing this week. There might not be next week, either!

I'm not dropping the feature, but...I'm reconsidering it. While I'm deeply appreciative of the folks who have enjoyed it, there's a way to retool Worth Playing to make it enjoyable for a wider audience. It's deeply important to me that Giant Bomb's platform be used to showcase the full breadth of what's out there, and Worth Playing was an extension of that mission statement. But I need some time to consider what those changes are, which could be anything from moving away from the weekly format to curated themes (this week, it's roguelikes!) to fully editing the feature, allowing it to be more on-point.

In any case, I always like to be transparent about change, especially as it relates to my thought process. No one asked me to drop Worth Playing, but I'm always hoping to up my own standards. This is simply an example of that.

Here's to the future!

You Should Read These

It's surprising Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli agreed to this interview. More specifically, I'm surprised at this answers. On one hand, going head-to-head with the press after your company has gone through the financial wringer is admirable, but Yerli's answers do not inspire much confidence. When Wesley Yin-Poole pushes Yerli to talk about employees being upset about not being paid, Yerli comes across as profoundly tone deaf and out of touch. You don't get to ask your employees to "calm down" when their livelihood is in your hands. Something tells me more people are going to leave Crytek in the near future. If that interview was coming from my boss, I'd be out the door.

"Some people were very impatient and got angry at the smallest delay. Also, there was a critique of us not being proactive in communication, which we don't understand, because we had been frequently in the UK as well as every other studio, talking about potentially rough times. And we had even shared with people how they should maybe work with different banks at a personal level to prepare. Or, if not, they could make a choice to resign and look for other jobs.

[...]

I was surprised and upset a little bit that the intention of us keeping together everybody upset a few of them. But I understand that situation. Some people live in very tight financial planning. That's their own privacy. They can do whatever they want. Those guys, when they get under pressure it can become emotional. We tried to individually help out. Like if somebody gets in trouble they can talk to us directly so they don't get under pressure. We tried whatever we could do. But you can't make it right for everybody."

Most of our conversations around Sonic the Hedgehog have to do with how poorly Sega has treated the little guy in the years since his Genesis heydays. What's incredible about Zolani Stewart's deep examination of the blue guy is his deconstruction of Sonic's various roles across different forms of media, how that intersects with the desires of his creators, what that says about society at the time, and ultimately how that connects back to the player in control. I've never read something so profoundly shift my understanding of a video game character. (Though learning Yoshi's real-name came awfully close.)

"As Sonic and his friends became more boring and obnoxious with every installment, Sonic himself seemed to be getting closer to the Mascot construction that he was always meant to embody. Sonic was created as an object that can be plastered onto things like, say, an Olympic videogame tie-in, and yet the results these mergers never seemed right. I never had a problem watching Mario drive karts or play tennis and yet it's disturbing to watch a sad, frowning Blaze the Cat on ski-shoes with a target gun. It's not comforting or disarming. Rather, it's awkward and uncomfortable, knowing that these characters have histories, motivations and character that are being metaphorically gutted for the sake of being cute character stand-ins. The truth about the Sonic games' central conflict is that Sonic never worked very well as a Mascot. Not the way that Mario always has. Sonic games, and Sonicmedia by extension were always a little bit political, they always carried subtext, formal or textual, that was incompatible with the requirements of the Mascot construction. Sonic always carried potential to be interesting, butSonic games seem to have progressively dissolved this potential."

If You Click It, It Will Play

These Crowdfunding Projects Look Pretty Cool

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Edited by Ekpyroticuniverse

oh man. I liked worth playing

Posted by sparkysanxion
Edited by ocelotfox

Man, Crytek is not only a terse financial position, but also a terrible human resources situation. Whenever management is basically asking employees to work without pay to "keep everyone together," it highlights colossal mismanagement at the top. Like you said Patrick, it reeks of a tone-deaf CEO who is likely preparing the company for insolvency and dissolution, and I wish the employees the best as they likely prepare to search out new opportunities.

Edited by KoolAid

That Shovel Knight breakdown is amazing.

Though I bet some yahoo will still show up and say "Whatever! I could have made that game for $30,000! These con artists just wanted some gold toilets!"

Edited by Hardtarget

Yikes that Crytek CEO's responses, just.. wtf

Posted by Hailinel
Edited by Phuturist

Edit: Alright fine, I don't want to be the boogeyman for the mob, let me rewrite this post to make it simpler.

1. Patrick, your "Oh, And This Other Stuff" section features the same names regulary and I start to be sceptical that those articles really are worth reading, or just articles by your friends. I hope you don't friend rolodex this section!

2. When you search for "worth reading" the giant bomb search function says "100 results". Doesn't this mean this is Worth Reading #100? If so, congratulations! I found something I liked something about every single one of those!

3. I consider Cara Ellison's article to be very bad.

Edited by MooseyMcMan

OH MAN. Matlock? How'd you make something that Patrick put on here?

Posted by Video_Game_King

Javier Laspiur documents the evolution of controllers in a series of beautiful photos.

I think the bigger story here is that werewolves are finally starting to play video games.

Posted by Ravelle

Dragonball Z Ultimate Battle 22 and Hyper Dimension were my jam back in the day.

Max Scoville and Bill Zoeker from Destructoid also do a series of playing Dragonball games called Just Saiyan, there's a lot of Dragonball trivia and just talking about Dragonball in general. I enjoy it quite a bit.

Edited by ErinIsADrunk

RE: Worth Playing.

I wish that you wrote brief descriptions of the games you are showcasing. I found myself checking more of the games when you wrote a brief paragraph or two about them in Worth Reading. I don't always have the time to watch even a 10 or 15 minute video and I would like to know more about the games before pressing play on the Worth Playing videos.

Posted by Bradamantium

@phuturist: Are you for real? Out of fifteen articles, five were written by women. If they're women that are consistently included in Worth Reading, maybe it's because they're writers putting out a lot of stuff that's, y'know, worth reading. I mean, it's down to you whether or not you like their writing, but they shouldn't just not be here because they're frequently included, and their inclusion isn't to the detriment of other great stuff being listed.

Edited by Slab64

@phuturist said:

it's Ellison, Alexander & Frank like almost every single week

1) they are prolific

2) Patrick isn't the only one who thinks they are good writers

Edited by conmulligan

@phuturist said:

I'm also totally not against women writing writing something, obviously. I hope people don't suspect that now.

It would be a lot easier to take you at your word if you actually articulated why you don't like those specific pieces instead of just pouting because Patrick is friendly with some of the women he links to. Maybe Cara Ellison, Jenn Frank and Leigh Alexander are featured regularly because they're three of the most talented writers in the industry regardless of gender?

Posted by mrfluke

Rhianna Pratchett nailed it,

now if only this stance was clearly articulated months ago, people would listen.

Posted by evolvedtolive

Worth playing was always my favorite, I never saw any indication that it should change in any way. I like the randomness, I like the uneven quality of the games. In my opinion, the only way to go is BIGGER.

Edited by Phuturist

@bradamantium:

I'm for real, which is sad, because hoenstly I hate being the asshole that ruins the mood.

Aaalso Patrick Klepeck likes to argue in favor of "diversity of opinions and voices" and I think displaying the same faces over and over again conflicts with that goal. I hear you though, no, there should be 5 Leigh Alexander articles every week if those five articles are amazing every week, for sure! And yes, it might just be my taste that makes me think the articles aren't actually worth reading, but on the other hand I think one would be a fool to suspect articles are linked solely based on merit in an industry as tight knit as this. Maybe I should not assume, but let's just say I'm sceptical.

Posted by RonGalaxy

Excerpt from Crytek interview

"As a result of this we have adjusted our entire strategy across the board for each game"

So Crytek is gonna make strategic board games now?

Posted by Video_Game_King

Note to self: find Sonic comics, read the hell out of them.

Posted by patrickklepek

Edit: Alright fine, I don't want to be the boogeyman for the mob, let me rewrite this post to make it simpler.

1. Patrick, your "Oh, And This Other Stuff" section features the same names regulary and I start to be sceptical that those articles really are worth reading, or just articles by your friends. I hope you don't friend rolodex this section!

2. When you search for "worth reading" the giant bomb search function says "100 results". Doesn't this mean this is Worth Reading #100? If so, congratulations! I found something I liked something about every single one of those!

3. I consider Cara Ellison's article to be very bad.

This is a much better version of what you originally wrote.

I'm always looking to cycle in new writers, and while I won't apologize for featuring some excellent writers on a regular basis, the idea that new blood should get a chance to shine is totally true. As always, if you have any writers you have in mind, please let me know over PM or email! I'm always listening and reading. The hardest part about finding new writers is that they often haven't been given much visibility yet.

If that's actually true re: #100 (I'm not sure how accurate that is), that's really cool! Thanks!

Posted by Crembaw

You know you are a woman who said something interesting on the internet when you receive death threats. It is like graduating but instead of smiling at your parents you cry to your pillow for several weeks when no one is around and contemplate your own worthlessness until you get angry and creative and emerge some sort of burning, fuschine dragon.

Cara is often painfully on-point without bemoaning things too hard. I really like her stuff.

Posted by WesleyWyndam

Jenn Frank and Cara Ellison are two of my favorite writers, so it's always great to see them here.

Posted by thatpinguino

@patrickklepek Thanks for the shoutout sir! I always wanted to be in one of your Worth Readings! I hope this isn't the last one. There aren't enough people curating the vast amounts of game writing that float around and having a one-stop-shop is always useful.

Edited by Phuturist

@patrickklepek: Yeah, sorry for the first draft. I think writing should be criticised just as harshly as games but I don't have to go out of my way.

And yes I bet it's hard to find new stuff, but a feature like this demands it in my opinion.

I will try to help by linking good stuff if I find it. At the same time though, I will call out articles I find lacking.

About the 100 worth readings thing, either I found a bug, or it's true.

Posted by alwaysbebombing

It's obviously not cool to delay payments; but then to justify what you're doing, and saying your employees should "be patient" is complete bullshit. Trying to argue that people should budget better and prepare for a CEOs inability to run his company is just so absurd. I can't even.

Posted by AMyggen

@alwaysbebombing: Yeah, if it wasn't clear before, I would be sceptical about working for a guy like that after that interview.

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Posted by InternetFamous

That Crytek interview is disgusting. Is "complete and utter lack of empathy" a requirement to be put in a leadership position these days?

Posted by 1101101

@phuturist: I looked at all 25 Worth Reading posts from 2014. For simplicity, I included only links with named single authors (excluding videos, podcasts, crowdfunding projects, tweets and anything from community members) to get an idea which authors’ longish form writing is linked to most frequently from this feature.

I’m sure I made a couple mistakes here and there, but probably nothing egregious that would heavily skew the data.

Patrick included 305 links that meet the above definition from 212 authors in his feature in 2014. As these numbers suggest, most authors were linked to only once (166 authors) or twice (50 authors). Ten authors were linked three times. Here is a list of the authors that were linked most frequently (four or more times):

  1. Leigh Alexander (10)
  2. Simon Parkin (9)
  3. Cara Ellison (7)
  4. Wesley Yin-Poole (5)
  5. Christian Nutt (4)
  6. Ian Bogost (4)
  7. Jason Schreier (4)
  8. Jeremy Parish (4)
  9. Keith Stuart (4)
  10. Kris Graft (4)
  11. Nathan Grayson (4)

(In my defense, I was bored and had a few minutes. Here is the full list.)

As you can see, there is really not much to your assertion that Patrick features certain people much more frequently then others. Especially the people you named, while frequently linked (Jenn Frank was linked three times, by the way), are not linked much more frequently than others. Looking at the big picture I would argue that Worth Reading features a very wide selection of different voices.

I’m also not sure whether arguing for the exclusion of some writers is the right approach here. As Patrick already said, he is very open to suggestions, and considering the wide variety of authors he linked to so far, I’m quite sure he is willing to read anything from anyone.

You don’t have to like everything linked here. I don’t think anyone does. That’s just normal. However, if you are just unconstructively arguing from the exclusion of someone then that’s not very helpful. A bit less than seven percent of all the links were to the three authors you named. I think you will be able to deal with that. Especially since you know their names so well. Those should be easy to skip for you.

I also would really love it if you tried to approach any of these articles with an open mind. Especially Cara Ellison’s this week is full of tongue in cheek humor (like the sentence you quoted) and all around interesting. I personally think it’s an excellent article. But maybe you just don’t like it and that’s ok, too.

Posted by Giantstalker

Boy, that Cara Ellison piece was not "worth reading." I dunno how you keep fooling me like this, man!

Posted by Efesell

This shovel knight article is fantastic.

Edited by Reisz

I am over the fucking moon that Yerli has been himself in this interview. I got the impression a long time ago during the development of Crysis 1 that this dude was out of touch and not fit for his position. I only wish it hadn't taken so long and cost so many so much for it to become this clear.

Edited by conmulligan

@1101101: I was tempted to do this, but ultimately my laziness won out. It's really interesting though, so thanks!

Posted by SilentPredator

Really enjoyed Cara Ellison's piece. The creator, Nina, has put herself out there so completely to share those kind of personal experiences with the world. It takes real courage to be able to do that and she has my deepest respect.

The industry still has some growing up to do in regards to how sex is and is not treated. Not every game needs or should have it, but it does have a place and only through this kind of open discussion can the industry move forward.

Posted by spraynardtatum

I think that Twitch AMA deserves a spot here. On the other hand it was mostly just horseshit.

Online
Posted by Marokai

I'm beginning to feel like I need to be high to comprehend some of these Cara Ellison pieces. I dunno. I keep trying to see what other people see in her articles, but almost every time it's an artsy stream of consciousness piece that just hops from disparate thought to disparate thought ending with the most basic point. Cara's articles are written like The Hunger Games.

Posted by sccdemir

Thanks Patrick. These are always a great read.

Edited by Brodehouse

That Cara Ellison thing is hysterical. That was all that video games journalism needed; self-obsessed navel-gazing academic dilettante Beat poetry. Maybe next time instead of page breaks she could do a short run on a pair of bongos. I've seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by Kanye West levels of megalomania, aggrandizing the self into a perpetual heroic epic against anything that upsets its fatuous little bubble.

Ctrl+F for the word 'myself'.

"When I realised ‘Poetry gives me a sense of control, I can express myself in this way, people are praising me for it outside of my family,' that was a good adrenaline rush. But it’s a drug. It only lasts for so long. I keep having to make more and more stuff to get that short term feeling of accomplishment."

“And I got really sick, and I started making games, and I realised games were another way that I could express myself and feel that kind of agency again. Agency in that, I knew I could make things that could attract people to me. Because I just like people. And I want them to engage with my work."

“Yes,” Nina says, “And also I might have said this the other night - it gives me a sense of validation. I never really got validation from my family, and you never really got it from school because it feels so artificial because you are paying to go there. But when people play your games and actually express something about it, whether that’s feedback or a facial recognition that they’d finished it, you can see that they recognise that’s an experience that you can express through a game. Or at least I can pretend that’s what they’re thinking and it makes me feel better about myself.”

“There’s a lot of hope putting something out in the world that someone will come back to you,” Nina says. “With How Do You Do It, I had a lot of people, men and women, coming back to me saying ‘I did that exact same thing’. It made me feel really good about myself. And Ladylike to a lesser extent.”

“I always hated on top too, but my reasons were that I was so self-conscious about my body. I’d always feel gross and fat about being on top. But Emmett likes it. And now I like it. Because I see him liking it, which makes me feel actually good about myself.”

This article is basically the description of a personality disorder.

She says 'she likes people', and immediately follows up with 'I want them to engage with my work'. Because her work is how she expresses herself. And she wants people to interact with that scrutinized, curated and artistically crafted version of herself because that's what she really loves.

Posted by 1101101

@brodehouse: Dude, are you a psychologist or what? (I bet not, since most psychologists would probably be horrified at the thought of diagnosing someone through an article written about them.) If not I think you should really shut up. ’Cause that’s really not cool.

Edited by conmulligan

@brodehouse: I mean, it's a style of journalism. I understand if it's not your thing, but repeatedly insulting the author — especially in a transparently gender-coded way (oh, look, a narcissistic girl, LOL) — is kind of shitty.

Posted by Marokai

@conmulligan: Whoa whoa whoa. How the hell did this escalate from "Brodehouse doesn't like this style of writing or the subject of the article" to "Brodehouse must be a secret sexist."

The way talking about any woman spirals out of control like this is kind of insane. Literally no one has made this about gender. Accusing someone of that out of nowhere is wildly offensive.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@marokai said:

@conmulligan: Whoa whoa whoa. How the hell did this escalate from "Brodehouse doesn't like this style of writing or the subject of the article" to "Brodehouse must be a secret sexist."

Isn't it obvious?

That Cara Ellison thing is hysterical.

Maybe next time instead of page breaks she could do a short run on a pair of bongos. I've seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by Kanye West levels of megalomania, aggrandizing the self into a perpetual heroic epic against anything that upsets its fatuous little bubble.

She says 'she likes people', and immediately follows up with 'I want them to engage with my work'. Because her work is how she expresses herself. And she wants people to interact with that scrutinized, curated and artistically crafted version of herself because that's what she really loves.

Edited by conmulligan

@marokai said:

@conmulligan: Whoa whoa whoa. How the hell did this escalate from "Brodehouse doesn't like this style of writing or the subject of the article" to "Brodehouse must be a secret sexist."

The way talking about any woman spirals out of control like this is kind of insane. Literally no one has made this about gender. Accusing someone of that out of nowhere is wildly offensive.

First of all, Brodehouse didn't just express his dislike for Cara's writing style, he also insulted her and questioned her mental health. That's shitty behaviour, regardless of her gender. But he also assumed that, because she uses a particular style of writing, she must be a narcissist. That's an extremely common insult, irrationally hurled at women who talk about themselves openly, and almost never equitably applied to men.

Posted by Marokai

@conmulligan: It's a common term thrown at the modern games press in general. There was a thread from a few days back where multiple posters (including myself, actually) invoked the term about the press and toward no specific individual. I think you're inferring a bit too much to think that Brodehouse was invoking the term because she's a woman.

Edited by conmulligan

@marokai: I think if you're going to use language with a history of coded usage to describe someone, it's incumbent on you to use it responsibly. To use a non-gendered example, if you're going to call a Jewish guy greedy or a black woman aggressive, you better be damn sure you have a good reason for that specific choice of words.

Posted by EVO

@erinisadrunk said:

RE: Worth Playing.

I wish that you wrote brief descriptions of the games you are showcasing. I found myself checking more of the games when you wrote a brief paragraph or two about them in Worth Reading. I don't always have the time to watch even a 10 or 15 minute video and I would like to know more about the games before pressing play on the Worth Playing videos.

Same here.

Worth Reading has been my favourite feature on Giant Bomb for a while now, partly because of Worth Playing. Since moving it to a separate feature I've found myself checking it out less.

Posted by rusalkagirl

This article is basically the description of a personality disorder.

Hmm...

“Girls are always told that they’re crazy, or that their emotions aren’t real," Nina says.

"They’ll be like, ‘Oh, you’re just saying that,’ or whatever. People have always said that to me. I feel like maybe games are like, ‘No. Fuck you. I’m not crazy. This shit is real.’”

Edited by Marokai

@conmulligan said:

@marokai: I think if you're going to use language with a history of coded usage to describe someone, it's incumbent on you to use it responsibly. To use a non-gendered example, if you're going to call a Jewish guy greedy or a black woman aggressive, you better be damn sure you have a good reason for those specific choice of words.

Here's why I think this is all silly: All of language is littered with multiple meanings for everything. If you hyper-analyzed nearly any term, nearly any adjective, you could find a derogatory meaning for it throughout history. Sometime when you're having a conversation, stop and think about the origin of some of the words you use and how they could offend someone.

Words like "crazy" can be offensive toward someone with mental health issues, even if you've used it in the most innocuous way. Words like "idiot" or "lame" can be offensive toward someone with a physical or mental disability; those are in fact the origins of those words. Saying "they were bitching about ___" is utilizing a slur against women. Using "God" in a sentence is offensive toward religious people who prefer not to hear their deity invoked willy-nilly. When someone says "suck it!" what do you think that comes from? Sucking a popsicle?

That goes on and on, and doesn't even get into the notion of cultural appropriation. When Brad uses the term "gank" to refer to an action in Dota 2, he's appropriating a piece of old school rap culture. When I jokingly snap my fingers at someone in a stereotypically gay fashion, this article from Time.com accuses me of "stealing black female culture."

You could make lists and lists of things people can find offense in because of the origins of some of the now-meaningless things people do and say, which is why people use phrases like "language police" to respond to sentiments like this; the main person here who seems to be constantly reaffirming the negative connotations of these words appears to be you. The intent of the word is what defines how it's being used, and Brodehouse isn't under any obligation to "use it responsibly" because there's no need for him or anyone else to constantly go out of the way to disprove allegedly latent sexism. It's just a word. People use it all the time to refer to anything and everything, and if we started eliminating all of the words in the English language that have weird origins or have been used in disparaging ways toward a group of people, we wouldn't have many words left.

@rusalkagirl: Logically, this doesn't mean much. If I told you "You'll disagree with this, but of course you would disagree with this" and then you go on to, in fact, disagree with me, it doesn't automatically undermine an argument just because I predicted you would do so.

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