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Worth Reading: 09/27/2013

As we move away from GTA's release date, there are only more thought provoking pieces about the game, not less.

A common question I’m asked is about writer’s block. There are few things worse than the paralyzing anxiety of trying to make a very specific point and, for whatever reason, it just won’t come out.

Instead of banging my head against the wall, I move on. That’s my solution. Having to write an intro to a review before you’ve written the review itself is such a backwards concept, so I’ve now ditched the idea entirely. Of course, everyone has their own process, but how are you supposed to “introduce” people to your thoughts before you’ve formed them? Start writing about the elements where you do have something to say. Then, come back.

This has never been more paramount than when sitting down to start crafting my TEDx speech.

A little while ago, a fan of the site reached out, and said he was helping organize a TEDx event in Dearborn at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He figured some articles I’d written might translate into a speech. I didn’t take the idea seriously, but going through the exercise of pitching a talk seemed useful, so I submitted something and forgot about it. I didn’t expect an email during PAX that asked me to show up and give the talk.

Woops. Too late now? Yep.

(The speech is loosely inspired by this article.)

My rough draft was due today, and somewhere around Monday afternoon, that notion set in. It was no longer an abstract thing to brag about. Not only did I have to find something to say, but it’s a TED talk, man. You have to say something big and inspiring! What if I didn’t have anything to say? What if what I had to say felt forced?

But I remembered my own tool, and found it worked here, as well. I started writing, and stopped worrying about where it was going. When an idea for a line would arrive mid-sentence, I would stop writing that sentence and jot down the ideas that had come out of nowhere. It was the least amount of fun I’ve had writing anything in my life. Usually, I remove the anxiety of writing anything by knowing I’ll have another chance to redeem myself. There is always another day, another article. In this instance, for the first time since college, I’m staring down the barrel of a piece of work that needs to stand on its own, and there are no guaranteed do-overs.

Several late nights and a few heartaches later, there are 3,343 words in a Google document. These words are my rough draft. It is not final, it is not finished, but I’m not totally embarrassed by what’s on the digital page, either. I got there by saying “screw it.” If you're facing a similar dilemma, stop worrying and get started.

(The talk takes places on October 19. You can apply to grab tickets here. We’ll probably do some kind of Giant Bomb meetup, but I’m not sure of the details. Those will come later.)

Worth Playing

Hey, You Should Read These

There’s been so much good writing about Grand Theft Auto V, even if some of it’s spoiling moments I haven’t witnessed myself. This seems to be the new cycle for game criticism. Reviews are in the tough spot of providing advice to consumers about the quality of new game, while also wanting to say something more meaningful about the experience. Depending on the review, anyway. We seem to get the most meaningful, thoughtful pieces in the weeks after, as the game begins to digest, and people are given an opportunity to really reflect. That’s what the next three pieces represent, while the last one is an interesting, provocative Q&A.

"One of GTA V's characters admits at the end of the game, 'I'm getting too old for this nonsense.' And you know what? I felt the same thing numerous times while playing GTA V, even though I continue to admire the hell out of much of what it accomplishes. So if I sound ambivalent, Niko, I think it's because I'm part of a generation of gamers who just realized we're no longer the intended audience of modern gaming's most iconic franchise. Three steps past that realization, of course, is anticipation of one's private, desperate hurtle into galactic heat death. I'm left wondering when I, or any of us, express a wish for GTA to grow up, what are we actually saying? What would it even mean for something like GTA to 'grow up'? Our most satirically daring, adult-themed game is also our most defiantly puerile game. Maybe the biggest sin of the GTA games is the cheerful, spiteful way they rub our faces in what video games make us willing to do, in what video games are."

"Zero Dark Thirty is an examination of the same topic as By the Book, but with an important difference. Kathryn Bigelow’s and Mark Boal’s movie carefully skirts editorial opinion. One of the things I deeply appreciate about Zero Dark Thirty’s narrative arc from 9/11 to the cathartic killing of Osama bin Laden is that it leaves me to examine how I feel. It does not tell me how to feel. It does not exaggerate torture. It doesn’t even demonize the torturers. It is a dispassionate procedural that leaves viewers to decide what they feel. Discussions about Zero Dark Thirty say more about the people having the discussion than the movie. That’s its genius."

"Grand Theft Auto games are conspicuous in the verbs they offer to the player, and those they withhold. You can shoot or not shoot, punch or not punch, steal or not steal. What you can't do are make any meaningful choices that affect the world or the story. You can play a relatively mayhem-free game in sandbox mode, but what's the point? There is nothing else to do. And if you want to progress through the story, you are stuck with even more restrictive verbs. Rest assured, you will be punching, shooting, and stealing."

"GTA is what it is. Anybody that expects anything different is fooling themselves. I love women. I’m crazy about them. I have a beautiful wife, who’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me, and I teach my son to respect women and other people’s position in the world, whatever it is.…People are always looking for something to hate on. If this is something for them to target and hate on, that’s their thing. I look at it as satire."

If You Click It, It Will Play

Like it or Not, Crowdfunding Isn't Going Away

  • You might want to run a spellcheck on your PlayStation Mueseum, Max.
  • There isn't much time left for Neverending Nightmares. It'll make it, I bet.
  • Gonna have to consider a whole room for storing these new peripherals, like STEM.

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
112 Comments
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Posted by ZachMorrissey

Great work Patrick!

Posted by Morningstar

Much obliged.

Posted by HistoryInRust

Tom Bissell's writing is nothing short of transcendent in the Grantland piece.

I think he'd be a fascinating guest to feature in a future Dumptruck, considering his textured, creator/critic hybrid perspective of game writing.

Edited by ElGuapo

Nuff said...

Posted by clumsyninja1

As much as I love GTA V, i felt San Andreas was more a complete and rich game.

Edited by shrinerr

Coincidentally, the last link of that tumblr is run by Ashley Burch, brother of Anthony and star of HAWP.

Posted by Miyuki

Thanks, Patrick, for assembling these. I always love your links. In particular, thanks for the link to the PBS Game/show Youtube channel. Great commentary on current issues in games, and I hadn't heard of it before!

Posted by Hassun

That Tom Bissell article is so sad. You could use almost all new games with it too. It's that feeling when you feel like you've grown too old to enjoy many games.

Edited by Clonedzero

Whats with all these articles being "I didnt like GTA because it was a GTA game, now look at me as i attempt to look smart by expecting the game to be something its not"?

Its fine that people don't like it. But all these articles are just silly clickbait. It's all "i didnt like this much, look how offended i am!".

Meh.

Posted by patrickklepek
Staff
Posted by joshwent

Whats with all these articles being "I didnt like GTA because it was a GTA game, now look at me as i attempt to look smart by expecting the game to be something its not"?

Yeah, that "Verbs" essay is really disappointing. There's a growing trend of critics who dismiss games and call them failures because they can't play them exactly how they want.

In some games, the story is created by you, the player, as the main character/s. In other games, you're experiencing the story through the main character/s. Just because I can't make Franklin put the guns down, go to college, and get a steady job, doesn't mean the game is flawed. It means your ability to experience story is.

Posted by Milkman

All those pieces about GTA V are super interesting.

Tom Bissell's article in particular is really great. I think GTA V is undeniably a more fun game than GTA IV but I think that comes at the expense of protagonists with a clear motives or even motives that just make sense. Trevor makes me laugh but I don't care about him. I wanted Niko to win in the end, even though "winning" under the circumstances of GTA IV seemed just about impossible and while I haven't finished GTA V yet, I could not give less of a shit about what happens to any of these characters.

Also, I really have to question why there is not more discussion about the torture scene. When looking at parts of GTA V that warrant discussion, I think that scene is way more worth talking about than the game's representation of women. And don't get me wrong, their representation is terrible. But GTA V's representation of EVERYONE is terrible. I played a pretty substantial amount of the game but I don't think I've come across one character that isn't just a ridiculous asshole. "Nuance" isn't really something that GTA is interested in, regardless of gender.

Edited by Nodima

I feel like the DMA Design guy is letting his feelings on torture cloud how that scene actually feels. As someone else noted (perhaps it was the Bissell piece?) earlier this week, (spoilers tags added to protect Patrick and/or slower players)

the information gleaned via torture is barely enough to do the job you've been asked to do, and at the end of the day none of the characters are very sure they've done the right thing; Trevor clearly doesn't look at it as more than a job and Michael's very pithy about whether they hit the right guy or not. The mission (and truthfully the entirety of the IAA/FIB rivalry plot that conquers the middle section of the game) is both a (perhaps clumsily plotted) critique of and sending up of the "FBI/CIA mythology", as well as the ways in which the U.S. government seems to cannabalize itself without a clear purpose.

The torture scene was one of the best-produced segments of the game cinematically, but it was also one of the most text-rich. In expecting to get "just another GTA game" and getting "just another GTA game", I feel like some of these writers are missing just how great it is to have one of those, especially with the increased fidelity in every aspect of the game, including its subtext.

Posted by SomeJerk

With GTAV I love it how you're suddenly not allowed to ever portray women negatively while it's fine in books movies TV. In the real world there are topless strippers, there are thrashy mothers, there are spoiled bratty daughters and there are also fine BBW ladies with great personalities that you can't help to love, that's in GTAV too so fuck each and every single person who thinks GTAV is misogynist because it does what other forms of entertainment that delivers fiction has done since forever.

That said, give me an overweight small-breasted insecure bisexual black republican woman who wears pants and a good attitude better than Lightning for a lead character in a game that suits it and I'll happily give it a shot. Playing as a ditzy lead female or an underbite-action-female-like-whatshername-who-is-in-every-film-as-ThatFemaleCharacter in games is dull, playing as generic poorly written dudebro is just as dull, and while at it, write these games like they were books, not films < the reason I think GTAVs story is nothing to write home about but the ditzy lead female JRPG I bought by mistake had a story I talked to non-gamers about because it made me feel for every character and also cry.

Posted by umdesch4

Thanks for that "Box" video link. Mind = blown!

Posted by jimmyfenix

Whats with all these articles being "I didnt like GTA because it was a GTA game, now look at me as i attempt to look smart by expecting the game to be something its not"?

Its fine that people don't like it. But all these articles are just silly clickbait. It's all "i didnt like this much, look how offended i am!".

Meh.

Edited by jimmyfenix

@somejerk said:

With GTAV I love it how you're suddenly not allowed to ever portray women negatively while it's fine in books movies TV. In the real world there are topless strippers, there are thrashy mothers, there are spoiled bratty daughters and there are also fine BBW ladies with great personalities that you can't help to love, that's in GTAV too so fuck each and every single person who thinks GTAV is misogynist because it does what other forms of entertainment that delivers fiction has done since forever.

That said, give me an overweight small-breasted insecure bisexual black republican woman who wears pants and a good attitude better than Lightning for a lead character in a game that suits it and I'll happily give it a shot. Playing as a ditzy lead female or an underbite-action-female-like-whatshername-who-is-in-every-film-as-ThatFemaleCharacter in games is dull, playing as generic poorly written dudebro is just as dull, and while at it, write these games like they were books, not films < the reason I think GTAVs story is nothing to write home about but the ditzy lead female JRPG I bought by mistake had a story I talked to non-gamers about because it made me feel for every character and also cry.

Posted by Milkman

It's all "i didnt like this much, look how offended i am!".

Meh.

None of these articles are even slightly saying that.

Edited by Crembaw

I feel like asking if video games 'need' feminism is a bit of the wrong question. The feminist angle will always be there, just like there will always be communist, fascist, populist, libertarian et al. angles to literally every single piece of work. Anita Sarkeesian is just the most visible mouthpiece for her brand of that angle, and thus the most obvious and direct target for both valid criticisms (there are many) and invalid vitriol (there is too much). That said, I do have a personal disagreement with her third-generation brand, to be honest, to say nothing of her questionable research methods, so my view may be colored on the subject.

Definitely interesting, though. I'll keep that video tabbed for when I am in a more analytical mood.

Edited by Clonedzero

@milkman said:

@clonedzero said:

It's all "i didnt like this much, look how offended i am!".

Meh.

None of these articles are even slightly saying that.

Really? Cus i read a bunch of them and alot of them were pretty much standing on a soapbox saying "im offended and disgusted" that DMA Design article is pretty much just that.

But whatever dude. I don't care.

Posted by believer258

@joshwent said:

@clonedzero said:

Whats with all these articles being "I didnt like GTA because it was a GTA game, now look at me as i attempt to look smart by expecting the game to be something its not"?

Yeah, that "Verbs" essay is really disappointing. There's a growing trend of critics who dismiss games and call them failures because they can't play them exactly how they want.

In some games, the story is created by you, the player, as the main character/s. In other games, you're experiencing the story through the main character/s. Just because I can't make Franklin put the guns down, go to college, and get a steady job, doesn't mean the game is flawed. It means your ability to experience story is.

This. So much this. Not every game has to have a story where player choice fits into it - making the player take part in a concrete story can have just as much effect as giving the player several different "choices", and I put choices in quotes because it's almost always just variations on the same event.

@somejerk said:

With GTAV I love it how you're suddenly not allowed to ever portray women negatively while it's fine in books movies TV. In the real world there are topless strippers, there are thrashy mothers, there are spoiled bratty daughters and there are also fine BBW ladies with great personalities that you can't help to love, that's in GTAV too so fuck each and every single person who thinks GTAV is misogynist because it does what other forms of entertainment that delivers fiction has done since forever.

That said, give me an overweight small-breasted insecure bisexual black republican woman who wears pants and a good attitude better than Lightning for a lead character in a game that suits it and I'll happily give it a shot. Playing as a ditzy lead female or an underbite-action-female-like-whatshername-who-is-in-every-film-as-ThatFemaleCharacter in games is dull, playing as generic poorly written dudebro is just as dull, and while at it, write these games like they were books, not films < the reason I think GTAVs story is nothing to write home about but the ditzy lead female JRPG I bought by mistake had a story I talked to non-gamers about because it made me feel for every character and also cry.

Wait, what about Lightning is "ditzy"? She's dry, if anything.

Also, a character who is different on the surface but is only defined by a trait or two is just as boring as a character who looks generic and is only defined by a trait or two. The writing and dialog are what counts, and a well-written conventionally beautiful lady is far more engaging than a lady defined by any or even all of the traits that you mentioned.

Edited by Daneian

I'm so tired of the argument that the hatred thrown at Sarkeesian and Petit is somehow proof that videogames are sexist and need feminism. It generalizes the group based on the actions of a percentage of the members in it and then lays blame for those actions directly at the feet of the medium. This sure didn't fly when videogames were accused of causing violence.

And it apparently doesn't work both ways. The same mentality that causes people to attack Sarkeesian for making her videos causes other people to attack Kojima for trying to make one of his characters more erotic, but i haven't seen any videos on that. If attacks against one proves that videogames need feminism then what do attacks on the other mean?

Online
Edited by Milkman

@clonedzero: You're right. The DMA Design article kind of is just that but I was more referring to the four main articles that Patrick linked.

Posted by Bocam

@milkman said:

@clonedzero said:

It's all "i didnt like this much, look how offended i am!".

Meh.

None of these articles are even slightly saying that.

Really? Cus i read a bunch of them and alot of them were pretty much standing on a soapbox saying "im offended and disgusted" that DMA Design article is pretty much just that.

But whatever dude. I don't care.

Then why waste your own time posting the comment?

Edited by jimmyfenix

Did you guys know that Amnesia Machine for pigs was going to have a rape scene ?

Pinchbeck: There was a pig fucking a dead body. The problem was it just looked like the pig was raping someone. It started off fucking a female body, and actually it just looked like rape. So we switched it out for a male body, and it looked like gay rape. No better. We were trying to make a point of how animalistic the pigs were. But it didn’t add enough to justify the schlock.

Jessica Curry: We were lying in bed together and Dan tapped me on the shoulder and woke me up and went, “Pigs fucking human corpse.” I thought, “Who the fuck have I married!”

Pinchbeck: But you’ve got to push it too far to find out where that line is. If you tiptoe cautiously up, you’ll always fall short. That’s how you find something with a real edge.

http://kotaku.com/shocking-cut-amnesia-scene-is-basically-the-definition-1412813931

@patrickklepek What do you make of this ?

Posted by Ax23000

@joshwent said:

@clonedzero said:

Whats with all these articles being "I didnt like GTA because it was a GTA game, now look at me as i attempt to look smart by expecting the game to be something its not"?

Yeah, that "Verbs" essay is really disappointing. There's a growing trend of critics who dismiss games and call them failures because they can't play them exactly how they want.

In some games, the story is created by you, the player, as the main character/s. In other games, you're experiencing the story through the main character/s. Just because I can't make Franklin put the guns down, go to college, and get a steady job, doesn't mean the game is flawed. It means your ability to experience story is.

Well, isn't that what criticism IS? How exactly can you critique something without saying what you feel it failed to do?

Posted by Video_Game_King

@ax23000 said:

How exactly can you critique something without saying what you feel it failed to do?

Take a literature course?

Posted by Daneian

@joshwent said:

@clonedzero said:

Whats with all these articles being "I didnt like GTA because it was a GTA game, now look at me as i attempt to look smart by expecting the game to be something its not"?

Yeah, that "Verbs" essay is really disappointing. There's a growing trend of critics who dismiss games and call them failures because they can't play them exactly how they want.

In some games, the story is created by you, the player, as the main character/s. In other games, you're experiencing the story through the main character/s. Just because I can't make Franklin put the guns down, go to college, and get a steady job, doesn't mean the game is flawed. It means your ability to experience story is.

This. So much this. Not every game has to have a story where player choice fits into it - making the player take part in a concrete story can have just as much effect as giving the player several different "choices", and I put choices in quotes because it's almost always just variations on the same event.

Yeah, I wasn't aware of this criticism in the previous generations. I wonder if its recent appearance came with the rise of western game development on consoles and the non-linear story and gameplay philosophies that they had evolved on PC's.

Online
Edited by Roadshell

@daneian said:

I'm so tired of the argument that the hatred thrown at Sarkeesian and Petit is somehow proof that videogames are sexist and need feminism. It generalizes the group based on the actions of a percentage of the members in it and then lays blame for those actions directly at the feet of the medium. This sure didn't fly when videogames were accused of causing violence.

And it apparently doesn't work both ways. The same mentality that causes people to attack Sarkeesian for making her videos causes other people to attack Kojima for trying to make one of his characters more erotic, but i haven't seen any videos on that. If attacks against one proves that videogames need feminism then what do attacks on the other mean?

Seriously. That video didn't have a thing to say one way or another about any of Sarkeesian's actual points about videogames, he's just holding her up as some kind of martyr figure.

What's more, I'm sick of seeing lazy articles where authors just collect a bunch of racist/sexist/homophobic/violent tweets or comments for seemingly no reason except to say "isn't this shocking?" No, its not shocking. You can probably find people someone on twitter saying something disgusting or scary about pretty much any subject. Pretty much anyone who's anyone has gotten meaningless online death threats from trolls and to collect this stupidity and take any of it seriously serves no purpose except to demonize and smear whatever group those commenters/tweeters are supposed to represent and to give these people the attention that they clearly desire. And no, this probably isn't some new internet phenomenon either. I'm sure if you went to any print newspaper back in the day they could have shown you a crank file full of creepy letters on all kinds of subjects that they received.

Posted by Parsnip

If comedy is easy then why wasn't Borderlands 2 more funny?

Just saying.

Edited by yeliwofthecorn

Patrick, on the topic of Zero Dark Thirty, I'm kind of surprised at how many people are taking the narrative presented in that movie as factual. The linked commentary in particular seems pretty poorly informed and takes the movie being factual for granted. Not trying to get political here, just saying the film was not the unbiased presentation of "the facts" that many seem to believe.

For reference, the torture of Mohammed not only did not help lead to the capture of Bin Laden, but actually provided false information. http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/12/18/sen-mccain-rejects-torture-scene-in-zero-dark-thirty/

Posted by Brazzle

@hassun said:

That Tom Bissell article is so sad. You could use almost all new games with it too. It's that feeling when you feel like you've grown too old to enjoy many games.

But what a great fucking article it was.

Posted by csl316

I always hear that for writer's block, you just gotta start writing. It can be anything, nonsense, just stream of thought. As long as you get your brain doing things.

I dunno, works for guitar! Just play, man...

Edited by ll_Exile_ll

The article by the DMA guy just completely misses the point of the torture. It is supposed to make the player uncomfortable. It's not in the game because "it's so fun to torture people", it's in there to really drive home what a piece of shit Trevor is.

Also, I was really bothered by the use of the term "authentic works of art", as if implying that GTA V has no merit as a work of art. He clearly doesn't view it that way, considering he completely missed the entire point of the scene and the statements it makes about Trevor's character, the effectiveness of torture, and government agencies.

It's really disappointing to see an actual game developer take such a narrow minded view of games and assume that scene is meant for some sort of immature gratification.

Posted by MrMazz

I've been really diggin the PBS Game/Show show. As always my favorite article posted to Giant Bomb.

As someone with writers block at the moment, I normally just focus on a small thing or just walk away if I can.

Edited by Bam_Boozilled

I just beat GTA5 and now I come on here and the flames of debate are still going strong. I think I'll keep a safe distance so as not to dampen my love for the game. Especially since multiplayer is going to come out and that is what I'm really looking forward to now. Reading about this stuff will just frustrate and anger me and lead me to write pointless arguments.

Done that too many times now, no thanks.

Edited by ptys

Congratulations man, I guess. You are great at engaging an audience once you get your hook in, many a Bombcast I could have listened to you ramble on about the Evo scene or the closure of 38 studios for hours. I think you have a great talent for dramatising the world of video games, much like the Infinity Ward 'Scoop'!

Edited by GrantHeaslip

@daneian said:

@believer258 said:

@joshwent said:

@clonedzero said:

Whats with all these articles being "I didnt like GTA because it was a GTA game, now look at me as i attempt to look smart by expecting the game to be something its not"?

Yeah, that "Verbs" essay is really disappointing. There's a growing trend of critics who dismiss games and call them failures because they can't play them exactly how they want.

In some games, the story is created by you, the player, as the main character/s. In other games, you're experiencing the story through the main character/s. Just because I can't make Franklin put the guns down, go to college, and get a steady job, doesn't mean the game is flawed. It means your ability to experience story is.

This. So much this. Not every game has to have a story where player choice fits into it - making the player take part in a concrete story can have just as much effect as giving the player several different "choices", and I put choices in quotes because it's almost always just variations on the same event.

Yeah, I wasn't aware of this criticism in the previous generations. I wonder if its recent appearance came with the rise of western game development on consoles and the non-linear story and gameplay philosophies that they had evolved on PC's.

I think you're onto something. I get why people like games that give them more agency, but I generally don't, and I resent the idea that games need to give the player some form of narrative authorship. I like having a story told to me, and barring a few outlying cases, games that take a firmer hand in storytelling are able to tell more interesting stories.

The author says you can't "make any meaningful choices that affect the world or the story", and it doesn't seem to occur to him that it could have been a deliberate choice rather than design flaw. It's a fair criticism in the sense that the author is entitled to his own preferences, but I don't like the way some of this stuff is framed in language that implies more player choice and agency is inherently better.

@daneian said:

I'm so tired of the argument that the hatred thrown at Sarkeesian and Petit is somehow proof that videogames are sexist and need feminism. It generalizes the group based on the actions of a percentage of the members in it and then lays blame for those actions directly at the feet of the medium. This sure didn't fly when videogames were accused of causing violence.

You're not alone, and frankly, I think it's a manner of time until a similar critical angle is applied to violence in video games. Once we've opened the door on calling for artistic self-censorship based on value judgements and the premise that people derive their values from art (and not the other way around), it's going tough to stop the precedent from being fairly co-opted for other issues.

To apply that more directly to the issue at hand, if a prominent U.S. lawyer opened a moral crusade on video game violence and a bunch of YouTube commenters called him names and sent him death threats, would that mean video games had a violence problem?

It's weird watching critics and journalists who raised such a fuss about the moral hysteria over video game violence setting up the groundwork for its resuscitation.

I really hope I'm just overreacting, but I'm less and less sure of that.

Posted by Nekroskop

@elguapo said:

Nuff said...

"Hell yeah Mr. White got all the bitches, yall!"

Posted by Pixeldemon

The GTA V torture scene is such blatant satire and criticism of the practice of government-sanctioned torture, I don't know how anyone could possibly think it's in there "just for fun". It doesn't ask the player to decide whether it's a good or bad practice. It is a completely anti-torture, pro-human rights statement.

Observations in spoiler text:

1 - The prisoner is a completely innocent person. Of course the player should be sympathetic to him.

2 - The perpetrators are shallow government scumbags who just want to advance their careers. They even let their buddy come in and abuse the prisoner for fun. These guys are not heroes protecting freedom.

3 - The results of the torture lead to useless information and a very bad outcome: the killing of a philanthropist (a good guy) based primarily on superficial racial profiling.

4 - Afterwards, during the drive to the airport, Trevor consoles the victim and lectures about the evils of government agencies run amok.

So can we stop pretending the intent of the torture scene is somehow unclear?

Edited by Nodima

@pixeldemon: Thanks for making it clearer than I could. That game was such a 3 or 4 day blur I couldn't remember all the specifics. The ending to that sequence does seem to play the whole thing for some kind of laughs (and, like many other moments in the game, is utterly ridiculous if you stop to think about it) but everything else is very deliberately portrayed as bad decisions and inefficient/appalling.

Posted by carnifexseverian

So, I have no problem with Anita Sarkeesian having a strong opinion on sexism in video games and making youtube videos about it. Personally I don't really care about the subject but if there are folks out there that feel this is a battle to be fought, more power to them.

But for the love of god do we need to compare Sarkeesian to Rosa Parks, really? Its insulting and embarrassing to hear. Parks' standing up against segregation was one of the most courageous acts in american civil rights history. Sarkeesian purportedly finds sexism in Zelda.

Is it too much to ask for a shred of perspective?

And yes the Tom Bissell article is fantastic and I'm not surprised its found at Grantland. One of the few places I can go to find smart, extremely well written articles that don't treat the readers like idiots.

Posted by Special_K

I think there's a conversation to be had about feminism and video games, but I would take pause before labeling anything profoundly misogynistic. If I'm Dan Houser, you might as well be calling me profoundly misogynistic. I'm sure if you told Dan Houser point blank his game is misogynistic he'd probably give you an interesting counter argument.

It's easy to look like like you're in the right when the lowest common denominator is calling you "it". We get it, the internet sucks, you're not telling us anything new. I'd much rather see an intelligent discussion about the issue instead of watching people point to the comment section muck and saying "What'd I tell ya?"

Edited by Marokai

@roadshell

Seriously. That video didn't have a thing to say one way or another about any of Sarkeesian's actual points about videogames, he's just holding her up as some kind of martyr figure.

The sheer vapidity of so many of these sexism videos or articles, be they from Sarkeesian or anyone else, should be everyone's biggest problem with them, as well. It's not just that video that's so frustratingly shallow. Anita basically got handed 150k on Kickstarter to make a series of videos of her stringing together clips from other people and narrate over them by reading off excerpts from TV Tropes. I don't even know what Anita's particular brand of shallow, sex-negative feminism prescribes to do about any of these problems, aside from standing around complaining about it. She was reflexively tweeting about "sexism and misogyny running rampant throughout GTA V" before the game was even released.

I infrequently listen to the audio version Real Time w/ Bill Maher, and last week at the end of the episode Maher and his guests spent a few minutes complaining about how they have difficulty reading their twitter feed because it's "full of so much garbage and hate." These are people who just talk about politics or the environment or economics or what-have-you. These complaints go around about everything. This isn't a video game problem. It's not even really an internet problem, but it's just so easy for people to score cheap points by saying "look at what this mean person said!"

@joshwent: Agreed wholeheartedly. There's been so much of this going around lately, as well. At some point you just have to accept and judge what the game is presenting on it's own merits, rather than navel gazing about what you, the critic, would've done if you were the developer. I admit it can be a difficult line to find sometimes, in fairness to them, but there is a line.

Edited by Hailinel

@somejerk said:

With GTAV I love it how you're suddenly not allowed to ever portray women negatively while it's fine in books movies TV. In the real world there are topless strippers, there are thrashy mothers, there are spoiled bratty daughters and there are also fine BBW ladies with great personalities that you can't help to love, that's in GTAV too so fuck each and every single person who thinks GTAV is misogynist because it does what other forms of entertainment that delivers fiction has done since forever.

That said, give me an overweight small-breasted insecure bisexual black republican woman who wears pants and a good attitude better than Lightning for a lead character in a game that suits it and I'll happily give it a shot. Playing as a ditzy lead female or an underbite-action-female-like-whatshername-who-is-in-every-film-as-ThatFemaleCharacter in games is dull, playing as generic poorly written dudebro is just as dull, and while at it, write these games like they were books, not films < the reason I think GTAVs story is nothing to write home about but the ditzy lead female JRPG I bought by mistake had a story I talked to non-gamers about because it made me feel for every character and also cry.

Uh...what? As @believer258 said, Lightning isn't ditzy. She's far from it, actually.

If you boil down any character to their most prominent traits and flanderize them, you can make even the most nuanced character seem ridiculous with a few sentences. It's the same way that political cartoons work; twist a few traits out of proportion and you can make a level-headed reasonable human being into the spawn of Satan himself. The thing about Lightning and characters like her is that the writing shows the characters progressing as people. Hope in Final Fantasy XIII gets a lot of shit for the whiny, hate-filled boy he is at the start of the game, but he undergoes a lot of maturation by the time the credits roll. He's not the same character at the end that he was at the start. Neither is Lightning, for that matter.

I can't really say what the arcs are like for the GTAV protagonists because I haven't played through to the end and don't know all of the story beats that happen along the way. I don't think that the game is misogynist; it doesn't paint anyone in a good light despite the fact that Michael and Franklin seem like saints next to Trevor. However, I also don't think that, as far as I've seen, that the writing is as good as it could or should be. It's fine to paint all of the characters as unlikeable, but in a world as real as Rockstar aimed to create, settling back into the same puerile, immature attempts at satire really don't do the game any favors. Listening to the radio while driving around used to be one of the joys of Vice City for me. Now the radio humor just seems tired and dumb, and I try to tune it out. Maybe it's the fact that I'm not twenty-three anymore, but I do agree with the sentiment that GTA, for as grown up as its become, has a lot more growing up to do.

Edited by Entriech

When the notion of video games contributing to real-life violent behaviour was raised, I didn't see anyone who loved games leaping forward to celebrate just how much more violent their hobby had made them.

When the notion of video games being misogynistic or sexist or hateful towards women arose, I saw plenty of people who loved games leaping forward to celebrate just how much they hated women, or specific women stating these opinions.

I think it's entirely valid to look at what seems to be a prevailing sentiment as a justification for why criticism or discussion may be valid.

Posted by Lysergica33

That DMA design guy's article was whack. The game is broken, demand your money back? Um... No? And fuck you for telling me to do so.

The game is fine and the torture scene is no worse than the kind of things you see in all kinds of horror films and that kind of stuff happens in real life anyway. It doesn't need to be some profound artistic statement on TEH NATURE OF TORTURE MAAAAN, it's just there, it's a thing that happens and nobody walks away feeling particularly good about any of it, except Trevor because he just doesn't give a damn. It's a game about people that are morally bankrupt in varying degrees doing shit that is mostly morally bankrupt (and occasionally playing golf.) What the fuck do people expect? Games journalism is weird, guys.

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