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Worth Reading: 09/20/2013

It's been a busy week, and there's lots to consider as we head into the weekend. Join me?

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 GamesThe 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."

"How Evil Should a Game Allow You to Be?" by Simon Parkin

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

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"

Oh, And This Other Stuff

90 Comments
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Posted by SomberOwl

Oh Yeah. Love me some Worth Reading while listening to Worth Playing.

Posted by WesleyWyndam

Woo-Hooooooooooooo!

Posted by Nekroskop

You're getting better. Keep it up.

Posted by CrimsonJesus

wondering why anyone would want to play through the whole game with the lock-on aiming system cranked up.

dang shots fired

Posted by Brenderous

What was that "Ready For Action" video?

Posted by hanktherapper

I'm enjoying Zeptember too much. Shocktober can wait.

Edited by Itwastuesday

I think this is one of your better Worth-Readings. Though, I can't tell if "left-than-perfect criticism" is a typo or a turn of phrase. I can just hear a Fox News pundit responding to criticism of himself as "some of my LEFT-THAN-PERFECT critics out there...." which is terrible and great.

Edited by Humanity

That Leigh Alexander piece linked in the article is even more pretentious than her Tumblr "thoughts."

Patrick should write a companion piece about the sad fate of the Tetris blocks, doomed to forever fall down into a cascading loop of tragic inevitability.

"As I took my hands off the controls, it was not the joy of solving a puzzle that washed over me, but the sad realization that the blocks themselves exhibit no free will, no sense of self, doomed to forever fall and be replaced by doppelgangers for my enjoyment - thats when the tears came.."

Posted by ejiehi

Patrick is gonna have some sort of Videodrome horrorshow thing happen to him when he uses the Oculus Rift.

Posted by Gaff

wondering why anyone would want to play through the whole game with the lock-on aiming system cranked up.

dang shots fired

It's not even funny how many people are taking pot shots at GTA V's targeting system.

Posted by ZmillA

@gaff said:

@crimsonjesus said:

wondering why anyone would want to play through the whole game with the lock-on aiming system cranked up.

dang shots fired

It's not even funny how many people are taking pot shots at GTA V's targeting system.

I don't think people are saying its bad (because it definitely isn't. It's just that it's so much fun/rewarding to use the manual aim

Edited by clumsyninja1

Is that the Last of Us song?. Nevermind is think is Bastion...

Edited by Faythdream10

"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."

Unless you've fallen to hopelessness, I think you meant "more excited" here. "Windy City" is usually written out as a proper noun and in quotes, as well.

Free copy editing!

Online
Posted by Sergio

OMG! There's a Kangaroo with a baby in its pouch in Animal Crossing?!

Posted by Wilshere

@humanity said:

That Leigh Alexander piece linked in the article is even more pretentious than her Tumblr "thoughts."

Patrick should write a companion piece about the sad fate of the Tetris blocks, doomed to forever fall down into a cascading loop of tragic inevitability.

"As I took my hands off the controls, it was not the joy of solving a puzzle that washed over me, but the sad realization that the blocks themselves exhibit no free will, no sense of self, doomed to forever fall and be replaced by doppelgangers for my enjoyment - thats when the tears came.."

tl;dr I want to play Sims.

Posted by jimmyfenix

@zmilla said:

@gaff said:

@crimsonjesus said:

wondering why anyone would want to play through the whole game with the lock-on aiming system cranked up.

dang shots fired

It's not even funny how many people are taking pot shots at GTA V's targeting system.

I don't think people are saying its bad (because it definitely isn't. It's just that it's so much fun/rewarding to use the manual aim

Yes Patrick is not saying it is bad but i think their was one person "Cough" Jeff "Cough" Who said Don`t use Manual aim which people took offense to. I would use Manual aim but you die so easy in that game and it isn't like Max Payne where you can use pain killers!

Posted by MrMazz

I find GTA5 world map and out of mission narratives to be largely amoral and ultimatly just a tool for the user to user how he/she wants. For me I don't gon on random murder sprees (which might also be why I find Trevor so unbariable), in fact the only time I did go on a spree was whne I was rolling through the Hood as Franklin and whatever the Purpel Gang is called decied to shoot and kill me. I was busying checking my phone instead of watchign my six on teh mean streets of Los Santos. Once I got out of the hospital I reaked terrible vengance upon all those in purpel. Moral of the story Games can put in blocks for you being "evil" but the end usage of a games mechanics are largely determined by the user

Posted by JouselDelka

Why does the GTA V reaction section exist in your article? Why did you put it together and why should we care about it?

Other than that, stellar article, enjoyed the stuff you put in there, thanks for the good work.

Posted by WickedSickDanceAttack

I'm so happy that you linked that article on Journalists being incompatible with certain games, more eyes need to read that thing!

As an avid fan of character action games and fighting games. I've been in constant disagreement with review scores! Some games really can't be reviewed in the traditional sense of slugging through it as fast as you can. I doubt the industry will start hiring Character Action Specialists or FGC Competitors to review games, but it would be nice!

Posted by SmiteOfHand

Happy to see Boyd's article prominently displayed.

Edited by mrfluke

ignoring the gta 5 reactions column,cause im not the person to dissect a game for its morals and archetypes (and also leigh alexandar is the worst),

im more the type to just enjoy a quality game for what the creators made it out to me. just finished gta, and i think it well deserves the 98 metacritic, hell of a game. and oddly enough, to me i actually think the game has some positive morals/messaging it tries to convey (doesnt really come through till near the end of the game)

pretty fantastic lineup for worth reading though

im back on board with you on worth reading!,

very happy to see your a lot more "even" in your beginning writing and in your commentary writing than the usual imo one sided affair .

the robert boyd piece is goddamm BRILLIANT and i fully agree with his view.

Posted by bybeach

My favorite of the 2 Worths, I guess I like reading the opinion and thought pieces. I will eventually check out Worth Playing and at least mediate that attitude into more of a balance.

Edited by SatelliteOfLove
Posted by Nate

Wow. That Bastion song from PAX is incredible! Forgot how much l loved that song and how much my love of that soundtrack influences my love for that game.

Edited by Video_Game_King

Didn't realize Toronto was an American city.

Anybody else getting some Jersey Girls vibes from The Wonderful 101 article? Not saying that he doesn't make legitimate points, but just that this is vaguely reminiscent of that other scenario.

Posted by cooljammer00

@zmilla said:

@gaff said:

@crimsonjesus said:

wondering why anyone would want to play through the whole game with the lock-on aiming system cranked up.

dang shots fired

It's not even funny how many people are taking pot shots at GTA V's targeting system.

I don't think people are saying its bad (because it definitely isn't. It's just that it's so much fun/rewarding to use the manual aim

Yes Patrick is not saying it is bad but i think their was one person "Cough" Jeff "Cough" Who said Don`t use Manual aim which people took offense to. I would use Manual aim but you die so easy in that game and it isn't like Max Payne where you can use pain killers!

In his words, he didn't like Max Payne 3 or Red Dead Redemption and GTA 5 "Isn't a shooter" so I mean...I guess?

Posted by TowerSixteen

Damn, that Simon Parkin article is terrrible. Some choice quotes!

"Video-game violence is, like all onscreen violence, an act of play."

I'll remember that next time I see Schindler's List.

"A creator has no moral obligation to his or her fictional characters, and in that sense anything is theoretically permissible in a video game. But a game creator does have a moral obligation to the player, who, having been asked to make choices, can be uniquely degraded by the experience."

To some extant, this is true, where I get off is the implication that games are somehow more morally sensitive- that being asked to push a button to kill someone is really worse than just having someone do it in the story. The argument that by giving a person choice, it becomes worse, falls apart for two reasons. The first is that, if an action is mandated by story, it's not really a choice- Or at least, it's only as much as a choice as say, putting a book down or turning a movie off. Second, even if an action is not story mandated, games will always suffer in immersion and verisimilitude by player agency, probably more then they gain from it. When you can go from shooting someone to jumping up and down like a maniac to doing extremely stupid, funny, unrealistic things on the drop of the hat, its stupid moral panic to act like people are becoming so involved the the game world that the barriers between the real and the fantasy are falling apart and there being (in his words) "uniquely degraded".

" In a hypothetical motion-controlled video-game version of “Lolita,” it would be possible to inhabit the body, as well as the mind, of Humbert Humbert. A virtual sex crime might elicit a very different response if, instead of pressing a button to instigate it, you were required to mimic its pelvic thrusts and parries—even if, as in Nabokov’s work, it was included to illustrate or illuminate, not titillate."


Oh fuck you. Any game which did that would be kiddie porn, just like Lolita would have been if it had included loving rendered ten-page-long sex scenes. Trying to say that motion controlled sex with kids would be the game equivalent of Lolita is fucking disingenuous. A game that had the same premise as Lolita and had the same tact to focus on being a character study of horrible people rather than porn wouldn't be any worse for the medium. It would still kick up an UNHOLY shitstorm, but your a fool if you think LOLITA wouldn't also if it was released today with any attention.

This article sucks, in conclusion.

Posted by iragequit

Minor error: And you should read these first paragraph

"...but he argues there are some games that are uniquely situated to be less favorably reviews by critics..."

Just keep playing those experiemental typing games and you'll never miss a key again!

Posted by csl316

I hope Shocktober can match up to the glory of Rocktober.

And holy crap, that Darren/Ashley performance. New song is absolutely incredible.

Posted by Cuuniyevo

Regarding the article "How Evil…"; In my opinion, the companies that produce such games should be allowed to continue doing so without fear of lawsuit or fines, but I will never buy one of them or support their activities. I would watch a GTA movie, but I will not play a GTA game. The reason I make that distinction is because, as is stated in the article, a movie doesn't make you pull the trigger yourself, but the game does. If they were truly open-world games that allowed for multiple solutions and potentially a "good" playthrough, I'd probably enjoy them, but as they are, the only choice I see is whether to get the game in the first place, or not. I realize most of the worst material in the GTA games is in the side activities, which are completely optional, but I've read enough articles and wiki pages to know that the main storylines require you to do some things that I have no interest in playing through for myself.

In most RPG's, you have the ability to play 'good' and/or 'evil' characters, and I will frequently play through them multiple ways, to see what the games have to offer, but a game that requires you to be evil to progress? No thanks. The two exceptions that I can remember enjoying are Just Cause 2 and Saints Row 3, which I found to be so ridiculous and heavily stylized that it was impossible to be offended by their content. They're just stupid fun, and they know it. GTA V, on the other hand, is purposefully built to look and act like a realistic representation of the real world, and some of the people within are actually similar to real-world terrible people that you might meet or even become, if you wanted to be. I know someone who is eerily similar to Michael and it was unsettling to watch in the Quick Look. I can appreciate the craft that went into the game and it's overall quality without ever buying or playing it myself.

But hey, that's just my opinion, and Rockstar can, of course, continue to make their games the way they want them to be made, and every gamer with $60 can make their own purchasing decision.

Posted by Hailinel

A lot of great GTAV discussion, but I'm surprised at the complete lack of reading on Hiroshi Yamauchi here.

Edited by huser

Having not yet played Wonderful 101 I can't say how accurately Boyd's article addresses the issue there regarding review scores, but I think the point that Patrick highlights is pretty spot on. I think there are several reasons GB's Flight Club, Random PC, and Endurance Run videos have such fandoms even though nominally this (and all video games press sites) are about informing purchasing decisions for recent games.

Primary for me is to watch duders (like the Dave, Drew, and Vinny posse) play games that have nothing to do with a review, hot release, or even GOTY type completeness. They have invested in them. They have hit forums, wikis, and GameFAQs to learn how to play a game, or in Vinny's case, its 38 millenia backstory. They have insights into these games that are evident in the videos that a shoddy tutorial or NOT bothering to read or remember onscreen text/icons (the nerdrage in the comments section of various QL pratfalls come to mind) would fail to provide. IE they are being fans and not doing their job or otherwise commendable due diligence.

Which to be clear, is not an indictment. The GB crew clearly loves gaming harder and more intensely than I have ever done or can, frankly. It's just I think there is a much larger place for niche interests, back catalog, and other entries that aren't tied to informing a consumer on a deadline. Especially as time goes on and niches become nichier and game history inevitably grows and the move to digital obviates the need to engage a game when it comes out or even when its remotely current. Of course who comes up with the money to get professionals to have the free time to engage in such undirected deep dives, run videos, edit them, and pay for the servers to get them to the public is a fair counterpoint. Where are our Medici-like patrons for the video game commentariat?

Posted by gimpanse

@zmilla:

@zmilla said:

@gaff said:

@crimsonjesus said:

wondering why anyone would want to play through the whole game with the lock-on aiming system cranked up.

dang shots fired

It's not even funny how many people are taking pot shots at GTA V's targeting system.

I don't think people are saying its bad (because it definitely isn't. It's just that it's so much fun/rewarding to use the manual aim

GTA V is my first console game since GTA IV and believe me, I need that lock-on. I am so used to mouse&keyboard that I feel like I have two broken thumbs when aiming on a controller.

Edited by Parsnip

Lugoscababib Discobiscuits

Posted by FZackM
@gimpanse said:

@zmilla:

@zmilla said:

@gaff said:

@crimsonjesus said:

wondering why anyone would want to play through the whole game with the lock-on aiming system cranked up.

dang shots fired

It's not even funny how many people are taking pot shots at GTA V's targeting system.

I don't think people are saying its bad (because it definitely isn't. It's just that it's so much fun/rewarding to use the manual aim

GTA V is my first console game since GTA IV and believe me, I need that lock-on. I am so used to mouse&keyboard that I feel like I have two broken thumbs when aiming on a controller.

Yeah, I haven't touched my PS3 in awhile (360 even longer, still in the box from when I moved last) and it's rough aiming at 30 frames per second with no lock on. I really wish they had an in between sticky aim similar to Saints Row 3/4 instead of instant aiming like it is now.

Oh well, hopefully the PC version (in like a year or so...) will have a smoother frame rate for better and more consistent aiming.

Posted by Vuud

Yo what's cookin' P-Trick?

Posted by Food

Woo! Chicago's awesome!

Posted by DeadeyeMcCoy

Fuck the impossibility of visiting Aika Village on a non-Japanese 3DS/copy of Animal Crossing. You can watch YouTube videos and shit, but it's like watching the magic happen behind a screen door.

Posted by MarkWahlberg

So how long until there's a Law&Order (or whatever other cop show) episode where a corpse is found with a Faux-culus Rift strapped to its head?

Posted by TheMasterDS

That Gamasutra article on GTA was beautiful.

Online
Posted by AngerPanda

That Leigh Alexander article felt less like "I'm done with Grand Theft Auto" and more like "I'm done with video games." Most of her problems with GTAV you could carry over to any video game.

Posted by Tiny_Tank

@patrickklepek Thank you VERY much for putting that video of Ashley Barrett and Darren Korb performing my all time favorite song off the Bastion soundtrack, I get chills every time I listen to it, it is just perfectly crafted. The Bastion soundtrack is the only game soundtrack I actually own (oddly enough I own 2 copies of it, but...) I really look forward to Transistor and imagine it will have a great soundtrack also.

That Metroid article is just crazy! and lastly, where's the link to the Clueless Gamer review of GTA V? I'm always looking forward to your content.

Posted by tourgen

Wonderful 101 is the only game so far that makes me wish I had a WiiU. Probably one of the best action games of the year .. and it includes touch controls. Who would have thought that could happen.

Posted by tourgen

Wonderful 101 is the only game so far that makes me wish I had a WiiU. Probably one of the best action games of the year .. and it includes touch controls. Who would have thought that could happen.

Posted by ViciousReiven

I never feel as much hate bellow from within me as when there are 'reaction' articles to highly anticipated games.

Everyone seems to have an urge to use the latest game to push their individual agendas, rarely they might make some decent points that they utterly fail to communicate in a way that doesn't make them sound like a dictator of how games should be (or worse what they perceive games as a medium are, or 'who' they're for).

It feels like some psuedo-fake journalism that doesn't even try to understand the real reasons why things happen the way they do, there's no investigating here.

Some of them just use video games as a mouthpiece for their own goals.

Some of them try to dissect the culture without being a part of it or placing themselves in the shoes of individuals that do, instead stereotyping the whole of video game players and enthusiasts with opinions of certain groups.

Anyone who dares oppose them are considered part of the 'problem', which is ironic hypocrisy when they talk about groups of loud internet morons who do the same thing to them.

I am so fucking done with controversy and cynicism, and I feel it's just going to get worse before it gets better.

Edited by WeaponBoy

I love that Zeboyd article so much, glad to see it getting a bit more exposure. I always feel like too many videogame talky people rag so hard on games like DMC, Bayonetta, etc. because they're fundamentally approaching the games the 'wrong' way. That's not to say their criticisms are invalid, but I feel like they often end up glossing over what makes those games great. Think of it more like a single-player fighting game and maybe it would make more sense where we're coming from.

And with that, I'm going to shamelessly dump a great article about DMC4 from a couple years ago:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-05-22-retrospective-devil-may-cry-4-article

DMC4 took the opposite approach and chose to scale its arsenal back considerably since its predecessor. Instead of dumbing things down, it makes up for it with quality over quantity. Primary player character Nero's sword, the red queen, comes equipped with a motorcycle engine (yes, really) which, if revved at just the right moment during a swing, glows bright red and deals extra fire damage for its next attack. It makes every slice a timing-based mini-game which makes Gears of War's similar reload mechanic feel lethargic in comparison.

DMC4, still my favourte DMC game.

Edited by ColonelRick

I'm not sure I agree with Totilo's example of that getaway driver in GTA as some sort of misoginy...Rather, her working for less sounds to me like a small in-game reward for completing that side mission. (you helped her out, she works for less, there's a logic there) It's unfortunate in this case, the character happens to be a woman, because it will only play into the cards of people looking for sexual discrimination where there is about none...Could GTA do with more female characters? Probably, but some of its critics in this area are really grasping at straws. Why does every bad woman in a game need a 'good' counterpart? GTA's men are, without an exception, bad guys. Does it put in straight-laced goody two shoes to compensate? no.

The funny thing about this is that this type of criticism in games journalism tends to be highly reactive; you don't read anything about it until there's a game out which can be construed as sexually (or in another way) discriminatory. People write a piece on it, and go on their merry way. In between those games, writing about the issue is virtually non-existant on the mainstream game industry outlets.

Posted by nsmb2_mario

"Kris Graft on when hugely anticipated games receive left-than-perfect criticism."

Ha! I can't be the only one who laughed at the irony of this typo.

Posted by InspectorFowler

I love you, Patrick. But that Ready for Action video might be the dumbest thing I've seen all week, and I work on a college campus.

Edited by Tidel

I'm fascinated by Hyper Light Drifter. Not just because it looks like Superbrothers' Legend of Diablo, but a lot of the stretch goals, now that it's nearing 1000% of its initial goal, seem to be about making the game itself better, and a lot of backers are vocal about not wanting Heart Machine to commit to too much tchotchke crap. I find that encouraging. Plus it looks like Superbrothers' Legend of Diablo.

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