One of the great benefits I’m afforded as part of Giant Bomb is that I’m able to work at my own pace. That’s really not true of a great many other places, and it means I don’t often have to force myself to form an opinion about something.
I don’t have much to say about Grand Theft Auto V, partially because I haven’t spent enough time with it to say anything beyond being impressed with psuedo Los Angeles and wondering why anyone would want to play through the whole game with the lock-on aiming system cranked up.
But other people do have strong opinions on Rockstar Games’ latest, and a few of those are shared below, in addition to your regular cocktail of video game linkery. The sheer popularity of the GTA series means it becomes a defining moment to use the franchise as an opportunity to make a point, since so many damn people are listening. The GTA series means different things to different people, and that’s what makes reading about everyone’s experiences so worthwhile.
We’re just a few weeks away from the start of October--Shocktober, as I’m calling it--and I’m going to pull the trigger on doing something more ambitious with my horror coverage on Giant Bomb that month. I’m still figuring out what that means, but two things recently slotted into place that have me really,excited about what’ll be possible next month! One of them is the image to your right, and the other one will totally surprise you.
Hey, You Should Play This
And You Should Read These, Too
The response to Platinum Games’ The Wonderful 101 has been mixed--depending on who you talk to. The press haven’t been very favorable to the game, and Zeboyd Games’ lead designer, programmer, and writer Robert Boyd has a theory as to why. I’m not necessarily endorsing Boyd’s view, since I haven’t had a chance to sink my teeth into The Wonderful 101, but he argues there are some games that are uniquely situated to be less favorably reviews by critics. There is definitely truth to the idea that circumstance influences game reviews, though it’s hard to say if it’s different than other mediums that require a substantial time investment (i.e. books).
"Where it gets to be a lot more hit & miss is when the press is faced with a skill-focused game that doesn’t easily fit into a pre-established category. These are games designed to be played over a period of months, honing your craft & improving your scores & times, not rushed through to see what happens at the end of the story. And if the reviewer doesn’t even realize that this is a skill-focused game and instead thinks that the game is an experienced-focused game because it’s single-player and has a story? Heaven help the developer of that game who is hoping for a good metacritic score because they’re not going to get it."
If you’re willing to have part of Grand Theft Auto V spoiled for you, I must highly recommend you read this excellent, thought provoking piece by Simon Parkin. Yeah, Parkin was featured here last week, as well, but so long as he keeps writing pieces like this, I’ll be happy to flood this column. Anyway, what Parkin proposes is what, if any, consideration game makers should have for the characters they allow us to inhabit. Parkin isn’t suggesting censorship of Rockstar’s vision, but consideration about where creative boundaries exist.
"The question of whether—or to what extent—literature should allow readers into the minds of terrorists, murderers, and abusers both fictional and historical is one that continues to trouble authors. But if video-game creators share such qualms it hasn’t stopped the production, in the course of the past forty years, of games that ask players to march in the boots of legions of despots and criminals, both petty and major. Long-time video-game players are guilty of innumerable virtual crimes, from minor indiscretions like jaywalking, in Atari’s Frogger, and smoking indoors, in Metal Gear Solid, to more serious outrages like driving under the influence, in Grand Theft Auto; gunning down an airport filled with civilians, in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II; and full-scale genocide in Sid Meier’s Civilization series."
It warmed my heart to see Jordan Minor shine a spotlight on my new city. Sure, I don’t live in downtown Chicago just yet, but that’ll change in the months ahead, and I could not be excited about the prospects for the future. Chicago is a city brimming with video game talent, and it’s only a lack of exposure to what’s here that explains why Chicago isn’t thought of right next to Austin, Toronto, New York City and other American cities with budding video game scenes. You can expect I’ll be doing everything I can to change that once I’ve settled down in the windy city, and some of my hopes and dreams go far beyond simply writing up profiles of the games being made here.
"The city once had a thriving industry thanks to classic arcade companies from the ’70s coin-op and pinball days like Midway, and Chicago branches of massive, global publishers like Electronic Arts. But since 2007, poor management, unsustainable growth and an overall rough market caused their collapse. The few remaining big studios include Injustice: Gods Among Us and Mortal Kombat masterminds NetherRealm Studios and Jackbox Games, the trivia buffs behind You Don’t Know Jack. Now, far from the dominant California games industry, Chicago and its developers are left fending for themselves. However, as shrinking major publishers everywhere worry about the next generation, Chicago’s independent growth rises."
If You Click It, It Will Play
Like it or Not, Crowdfunding Isn't Going Away
- Octopus City Blues is exactly the kind of weird this man can get behind.
- Hyper Light Drifter comes from the same designer as Samurai Gunn, and it looks amazing.
- Lilt Line is one of the most overlooked games of the past few years.
No Shortage of Reactions to Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto V
- Chris Plante considers why so many people care about GTA in the first place.
- Stephen Totilo takes a very specific look at how GTA treats and portrays women.
- Dennis Scimeca argues GTA's blatant skewing of American culture is vitally important.
- Kris Graft on when hugely anticipated games receive left-than-perfect criticism.
- Leigh Alexander feels more trapped than freed while playing Rockstar's latest.
- Cameron Kunzelman wonders why GTA's open world is constrained by a conservative narrative.
- NPR reports on women who admit GTA has faults but can't help but enjoy it anyway.
Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"
If your business model is to use Kickstarter funding to build a prototype to attract potential investors, you really need to say so up front— Bennett (@bfod) September 19, 2013
Does Grand Theft Auto V come on a premium pretzel roll?— Mitch Krpata (@mkrpata) September 16, 2013
Like, waiting in line to play? RT @gamespite Walked up to the Castlevania kiosk and almost bumped into Koji Igarashi.— Chris Kohler (@kobunheat) September 20, 2013
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Eric Zimmerman files a manifesto about the future of...well, the world. And games.
- State of Play is a documentary looking at professional gaming in South Korea. Any good?
- Activision has hired lobbyists to advocate for a Senate bill investigating impact of game violence.
- I never want to visit this horrifying village in Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
- A conversation with the developers of Saints Row IV about their ridiculous open world.
- This is one hell of a way to explain the fiction of Metroid, Kotaku. Bravo.
- John Teti wonders if Keiji Inafune is skating too close to the sun with Mighty No. 9.
- Yes, this is a "making of" feature on the FMV X-Files game.
- Tested spent some serious time with Nvidia's Shield device.
- Chris Franklin gives some really thoughtful consideration given to the term "ludonarrative dissonance."
- The developers of That Dragon, Cancer respond to the recent problems with Ouya.
- This is some of the crazy stuff that Matt Rorie deals with for us behind-the-scenes.