#1 Posted by MisterFaulkner (44 posts) -

I’d like to start by saying that hearing Max speak with an American accent is absurd. For me, it’s equivalent to hearing John McClane speak with a Chinese accent. Max is an Australian character, and I really have no idea why someone would want to reimagine his heritage. Is it possible that an artist could reasonably convince me that an American revisioning of this story would work? Probably. But fortunately this argument is moot for Avalanche Studios, who announced today that Max will now be speaking an “Aussie accent” in their game. While part of me is relieved at the news, an “it just feels right” kind of relief, another part of me is dreadfully afraid that this developer’s reaction to fan feedback might become a trend.

I am obviously not a part of the Avalanche team: I don’t sit in their development meetings and I don’t drink their coffee. I am just a gaming consumer watching a new product evolve after an early E3 demonstration, but it seems fairly obvious to me that the fan backlash against Max’s new, gruff American swag is steering the Avalanche ship on this call.

Remember Mass Effect 3? How awesome was that?! I have no idea how awesome it was because I never played it. Going into Mass Effect 3, I already had some nervousness about how the game would wrap up a story branching into so many directions. I guess I was mostly disappointed that my relationships with Ashley and Miranda were not likely to collide in the epic battle that I had fashioned while playing, but I was still in! They had me! One ME3 preorder, please! However, all my desire and anticipation vanished after learning that Bioware would be altering the final ending. The fans had spoken, and Bioware listened.

I experience games as art, and while I recognize that many games may not release under the same presumption (FIFA, Call of Duty, Dance Central), those are not the games I predominantly enjoy. I like moving stories that bring about genuine catharsis. Think The Last of Us. Think Journey. I fear that these sorts of developer responses to fan feedback is dangerous to video games in the long run. There is no doubt that the experiences games offer grow more and more visceral each year - an exciting thought - but the treatment of these games at times feels very defeating to an appreciator of art. Seeing a developer alter a game makes me imagine William Shakespeare altering the ending of Romeo and Juliet, or Led Zepplin rereleasing When the Levy Breaks with new, crowd-pleasing harmonies and guitar riffs.

Video games are expensive products and are expensive to make; there’s no denying that. A company tackling a AAA game like Mad Max surely needs to ensure that they have happy customers, but this comes with a price. If we are to respect the writers of Mass Effect for their story (their art), then we should not be actively or passively convincing them to make changes. If Avalanche had a reason to make Max an American in their version of his story, they should have stuck to their guns and justified the change in the first place. Making decisions like this based on fan reaction diminishes my trust in Avalanche. If Max’s accent does not really matter, then why did they make it American in the first place? If the ending to Mass Effect 3 was incomplete, why did it ship with that ending at launch?

What I do not mean to say is that fan feedback is universally bad - not true. Feedback is paramount in the gaming community for tightening gameplay systems and providing a metric for people want to experience in games. I only call for developers to commit to their games as an artist commits to a canvas. If this sort of response to backlash becomes a trend, we have the potential to see more and more diluted gaming experiences and less and less unique artistic ideas.


But seriously, really happy that Max is Australian again.

@misterfaulkner

#2 Posted by Khann (2764 posts) -

Wait.. they were going to give Max an American accent?

Forget whatever reasonable points you've made in your post re: changing because of customer feedback... that's absurd.

#3 Edited by believer258 (11563 posts) -

More than likely, Max's accent was made American because someone, or a group of someone's, in charge of providing money for this game thought that an American accent would sell better in America, where AAA games seem to sell the most. Mass Effect 3's ending wasn't what I would necessarily call "incomplete"; rather, it was just a deus ex machina. Which would have been fine, I was expecting one, but it was a poorly executed and frankly quite stupid deus ex machina. I don't know if Bioware's decent writers have left or if the company is just stretched too thin (I wouldn't doubt the latter), but it wasn't satisfying or cathartic in the least.

In the meantime, I really enjoyed Just Cause 2, but if that game is art then it is solely in the realm of mechanics and gameplay. Unless Avalanche hired new writers, then I doubt that Mad Max is going to have a story or atmosphere that makes it what you're expecting it to be.

Aaaaaaaaaaand finally, if an artist listens to fan feedback and comes to agree with them, then that is their business. I don't think it has anything to do with "integrity". Ultimately, it's the choice of the artist to change, not the public, and that's what has happened. Or a publisher has stepped in and said "Hey, people want Max to have an Australian accent, so you're changing it to Australian", because publishers need money and they like decisions that they think will make them more money.

#4 Posted by Zeik (2192 posts) -

I think it really comes down to a case by case basis. I do think there is cause for concern in giving too much power to consumer feedback, because developers shouldn't be expected to change anything at the drop of a hat just because the internet causes a fuss. On the other hand, making Mad Max Australian just makes more sense period.

I think it's up to the developers to know when feedback is legitimately worth addressing and when it's just the Internet being loudmouthed reactionaries.

#5 Edited by YoungFrey (1321 posts) -

So, are you just as mad that the new Mad Max movie isn't starring an Australian?

Also, speaking as an American, what about Max is uniquely Australian? I can't remember anything particularly that wouldn't work just fine on an American. Loner out for revenge against thugs in the desert while looking gorgeous in tight pants.

#6 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (5135 posts) -

I don't know if I'm happy or scared I live in a world where the Internet's rage can make a real difference.

#7 Edited by EvilNiGHTS (1093 posts) -

Actually, the first time I watched Mad Max, the DVD I rented had two sets of English dubbing: with American accents or the original Australian dub. The American dub was enabled by default. I believe that's the version Americans got up until 2000 anyway...

#8 Posted by SilentPredator (122 posts) -

The whole situation reeks of inexperience or perhaps naivete. It seems pretty obvious that if you're going to use a license, you need to respect the source material or you're going to piss the fans off.

#9 Posted by tourgen (4426 posts) -

You know, the only thing that annoys the fuck out of me is the amount of people who always say Mad Max when they are talking about The Road Warrior. God dammit people this is important shit! Get it right!

I saw Mad Max and the Road Warrior way too young and as a result have always wanted to move to Australia where, apparently, everyone has awesome Fords with blowers and bitchin shotguns.

#10 Posted by StudioErebus (45 posts) -

Mad Max 2 is one of my favorite films...

#11 Edited by MooseyMcMan (10370 posts) -

I'm pretty sure the original American release of Mad Max had all dubbed voices with American accents.

But I've never actually seen that version, so I can't say for sure.

I'm not saying that it should be anything but an Australian accent in the new game, I'm just saying that (I think) there is precedent of this happening.

Regardless, as someone who absolutely loves the first two Mad Max films, and absolutely hates the third one, I'm still excited for this game.

#12 Posted by tourgen (4426 posts) -

I AM THE NIGHT RIDER!

#13 Posted by Hailinel (23680 posts) -

The whole situation reeks of inexperience or perhaps naivete. It seems pretty obvious that if you're going to use a license, you need to respect the source material or you're going to piss the fans off.

This.

While developers should be free to pursue their visions independent of internet complaints, if they're working with an established property, they have an obligation to be respectful toward that property. And in the case of Mad Max, that means staying truthful to its Australian characters. Mad Max with an American accent isn't Mad Max, and I can safely say that regardless how the rest of the game pans out, if Max was portrayed as American, I would not buy it. And I say this as an American.

#14 Posted by Clonedzero (4043 posts) -

Personally i don't care. As long as its a dude in leather with a shotgun and dog in a car shooting bad guys. I'm cool.

I'm not a purist. I understand when someone wants/needs ot change things to do something else. Like Star Trek fans who nerdraged about the JJ abrams Star Trek movies. Fuck off.

I care if its good and maintains the themes and tones of the movies. I don't give a shit what accent he speaks in. Jesus christ.

#15 Edited by CornBREDX (4754 posts) -

Max better be Australian. No fucking way is he American.

I'm American, and a big fan of Mad Max but I find that outrageous (This is the first I've heard of that).

It's not Mad Max if it's not in Australia. That's just part of the tone and mythos of the story. You cant just change that- it wouldn't have worked.

#16 Posted by Hailinel (23680 posts) -

I'm pretty sure the original American release of Mad Max had all dubbed voices with American accents.

But I've never actually seen that version, so I can't say for sure.

I'm not saying that it should be anything but an Australian accent in the new game, I'm just saying that (I think) there is precedent of this happening.

Regardless, as someone who absolutely loves the first two Mad Max films, and absolutely hates the third one, I'm still excited for this game.

I saw the dubbed version on TV many years ago. Compared to the original Australian audio, it's horrible, as dubs go (not to mention hilariously unnecessary).

#17 Posted by Clonedzero (4043 posts) -

Max better be Australian. No fucking way is he American.

I'm American, and a big fan of Mad Max but I find that outrageous (This is the first I've heard of that).

It's not Mad Max if it's not in Australia. That's just part of the tone and mythos of the story. You cant just change that- it wouldn't have worked.

I mean ive seen all the mad max movies several times. But uh, maybe i missed something, but what specifically about it is "Australian" other than the accents and the vague location of it?

Like what is it about Mad Max that requires it to take place in Australia? I'm not trying to be a dick, I'm just curious, cus aside from the accent absolutely NOTHING stands out as being Australian to me. If theres something i missed please let me know.

#18 Edited by danm_999 (74 posts) -

@youngfrey: The character is still Australian though, even if it is played by Tom Hardy. So long as the accent is up to snuff, it's not the same issue as people had here with the character being changed.

#19 Posted by Hailinel (23680 posts) -

@cornbredx said:

Max better be Australian. No fucking way is he American.

I'm American, and a big fan of Mad Max but I find that outrageous (This is the first I've heard of that).

It's not Mad Max if it's not in Australia. That's just part of the tone and mythos of the story. You cant just change that- it wouldn't have worked.

I mean ive seen all the mad max movies several times. But uh, maybe i missed something, but what specifically about it is "Australian" other than the accents and the vague location of it?

Like what is it about Mad Max that requires it to take place in Australia? I'm not trying to be a dick, I'm just curious, cus aside from the accent absolutely NOTHING stands out as being Australian to me. If theres something i missed please let me know.

Because it's post-apocalyptic Australia and the films were made in Australia by an Australian cast and crew. The films are a product of Australia. To just up and Americanize Mad Max is a slap in the face, unintended or not.

#20 Posted by Clonedzero (4043 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@clonedzero said:

@cornbredx said:

Max better be Australian. No fucking way is he American.

I'm American, and a big fan of Mad Max but I find that outrageous (This is the first I've heard of that).

It's not Mad Max if it's not in Australia. That's just part of the tone and mythos of the story. You cant just change that- it wouldn't have worked.

I mean ive seen all the mad max movies several times. But uh, maybe i missed something, but what specifically about it is "Australian" other than the accents and the vague location of it?

Like what is it about Mad Max that requires it to take place in Australia? I'm not trying to be a dick, I'm just curious, cus aside from the accent absolutely NOTHING stands out as being Australian to me. If theres something i missed please let me know.

Because it's post-apocalyptic Australia and the films were made in Australia by an Australian cast and crew. The films are a product of Australia. To just up and Americanize Mad Max is a slap in the face, unintended or not.

So if an Australian team made a game from a movie that took place in commando even though nothing in the story, or characters actually mattered where they were from, and put it in australia even though it was from america that'd be horrible too?

Like if they remade the Warriors and put it in australia?

#21 Edited by Hailinel (23680 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@clonedzero said:

@cornbredx said:

Max better be Australian. No fucking way is he American.

I'm American, and a big fan of Mad Max but I find that outrageous (This is the first I've heard of that).

It's not Mad Max if it's not in Australia. That's just part of the tone and mythos of the story. You cant just change that- it wouldn't have worked.

I mean ive seen all the mad max movies several times. But uh, maybe i missed something, but what specifically about it is "Australian" other than the accents and the vague location of it?

Like what is it about Mad Max that requires it to take place in Australia? I'm not trying to be a dick, I'm just curious, cus aside from the accent absolutely NOTHING stands out as being Australian to me. If theres something i missed please let me know.

Because it's post-apocalyptic Australia and the films were made in Australia by an Australian cast and crew. The films are a product of Australia. To just up and Americanize Mad Max is a slap in the face, unintended or not.

So if an Australian team made a game from a movie that took place in commando even though nothing in the story, or characters actually mattered where they were from, and put it in australia even though it was from america that'd be horrible too?

Like if they remade the Warriors and put it in australia?

Took place in commando? What?

#22 Edited by CornBREDX (4754 posts) -

@clonedzero: That'd be awful. Unless there was some twist like if it was the Australian branch of the Warriors (it's plausible, there are branches of gangs in other countries- Latin Kings, Crypts, Bloods).

Your example doesn't compare because of this.

There is no narrative way of explaining how Mad Max is suddenly no longer Australian, with Australian people, Australian sensibilities, Australian landscapes, Australian creativity, and an Australian accent after the bombs fell.

It'd be more like if they made Young Guns but reset it in China and Billy the Kid and Doc master the arts of kung fu... actually that sounds kind of cool.

It'd be like when they reset 'Let me in' in America. It's an interesting angle, but it's not the same! Everything about the look and feel of it changes- it's no longer the same amazing story.

Granted it's not being made by the movie people or anything, it's a video game, but I would argue that's not an excuse. If they're going to make the game they better get everything right.

Nerd rage? Ya, a little bit, but i am a firm believer that good things should not be changed thematically. Making it American is a completely different tone in so many ways.

Edit: Your commando thing was nonsense so I ignored it. No, Commando remade as Australian would be total nonsense.

#23 Edited by RadecAU (91 posts) -

@cornbredx said:

Edit: Your commando thing was nonsense so I ignored it. No, Commando remade as Australian would be total nonsense.

Isn't the villain in commando Australian, in a really ridiculous over the top way? I'd kind of like to see a weird inversion of that but mostly because commando is such an insane movie to begin with.

#24 Posted by Hailinel (23680 posts) -

@clonedzero: That'd be awful. Unless there was some twist like if it was the Australian branch of the Warriors (it's plausible, there are branches of gangs in other countries- Latin Kings, Crypts, Bloods).

Your example doesn't compare because of this.

There is no narrative way of explaining how Mad Max is suddenly no longer Australian, with Australian people, Australian sensibilities, Australian landscapes, Australian creativity, and an Australian accent after the bombs fell.

It'd be more like if they made Young Guns but reset it in China and Billy the Kid and Doc master the arts of kung fu... actually that sounds kind of cool.

It'd be like when they reset 'Let me in' in America. It's an interesting angle, but it's not the same! Everything about the look and feel of it changes- it's no longer the same amazing story.

Granted it's not being made by the movie people or anything, it's a video game, but I would argue that's not an excuse. If they're going to make the game they better get everything right.

Nerd rage? Ya, a little bit, but i am a firm believer that good things should not be changed thematically. Making it American is a completely different tone in so many ways.

Edit: Your commando thing was nonsense so I ignored it. No, Commando remade as Australian would be total nonsense.

Here's another thing to consider, Avalanche Studios is Swedish. It's very possible that they were creating the game with the North American market in mind and simply had no idea how offended people would be by making Max American.

#25 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

How does one "experience something as art?"

You get a special tingle in your art gland?

#26 Posted by CornBREDX (4754 posts) -

@radecau: Ya, sure that is fine and I would totally be cool with that. Commando, in concept, is highly representative of what America "needed" at the time. I don't know how to explain it, but it was a product of it's time.

It's ironic that the hero is Austrian by blood but wholly American in sensibility and style. Most Action Heroes of the 80s and 90s were though. Its the sensibility, though, behind the making of the story that drives it. It's different based on the cultural experience that makes it.

That's what makes Italian, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Indian or any other country that rips off a famous film so special. Even if those films are bad, the sensibility that the people making it bring to it is representative of their cultural experience. The life that they know. Like, telling a story about an American having never been to America. It will have a tweak to it that... is not really American.

#27 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

I agree that the game should be kept in Australia. But treating the idea of moving the story to America, or making the main character American, like it's a travesty is a bit ridiculous. The Road Warrior is basically a story straight out of Western movies. Lone gunman "rides" into town. Powerful bad guy wants resources of town. Gunman helps town out of a jam by killing bad guy.

The U.S. has dessert, fast cars, and guns. It would fit just fine.

The best thing to me about the setting of Australia that sets it apart is the fact that it is an island continent. There is that sense of isolation from everywhere else. Along with the idea of hope: "if only we can get to this place on the coast, things will be better."

#28 Posted by Levio (1782 posts) -
@mcghee said:

How does one "experience something as art?"

You get a special tingle in your art gland?

It's called the pineal gland, look it up.

#29 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

@levio said:
@mcghee said:

How does one "experience something as art?"

You get a special tingle in your art gland?

It's called the pineal gland, look it up.

lol

#30 Posted by Hailinel (23680 posts) -

@mcghee said:

I agree that the game should be kept in Australia. But treating the idea of moving the story to America, or making the main character American, like it's a travesty is a bit ridiculous. The Road Warrior is basically a story straight out of Western movies. Lone gunman "rides" into town. Powerful bad guy wants resources of town. Gunman helps town out of a jam by killing bad guy.

The U.S. has dessert, fast cars, and guns. It would fit just fine.

The best thing to me about the setting of Australia that sets it apart is the fact that it is an island continent. There is that sense of isolation from everywhere else. Along with the idea of hope: "if only we can get to this place on the coast, things will be better."

That story structure isn't the pure domain of American westerns, though. It's safe to say that it's been around long before the American Old West even existed. And it's not about it necessarily being a travesty to make Mad Max American. It's that it was being done without real purpose. Further, Mad Max is and always has been an Australian series. If there was an American-set reboot, then maybe a game based on an American Mad Max would make sense, but in taking the Australian film and then making an American Max seems like a needless, pointless change. Like, taking the James Bond license and then, for shits and giggles, making a game where Bond is an American from Mississippi.

#31 Posted by Veektarius (4540 posts) -

Mad Max is Australian. If they make him anything else, it strips away the relation of the original material to the game. As such, the licensing becomes meaningless and the game must be taken as an isolated entity rather than drawing on the various events of the movie. I don't see why you'd want to make that decision if you were making a Mad Max game, independent of any artistic integrity bull.

#32 Posted by GERALTITUDE (2859 posts) -

I find it really insulting that marketers think American brains are so small they can only handle hearing their own "accent" whatever the hell that even means in a country like America. But I suppose they are same marketers who believe Americans can't handle playing as people of color either.

#33 Posted by Tesla (1904 posts) -

I think it's great that people voicing concerns and complaints on the internet are sometimes taken to heart by companies. It's obviously not going to turn into a situation where forum rage decision making will replace executives entirely.

I think if the voice of dissent is loud enough, it is in the best interest of a company to consider listening to it.

#34 Posted by Clonedzero (4043 posts) -

@cornbredx: Sorry, it was really late so my post was a bit of a mess. The Commando thing was i was for some reason thinking about Commando and typed that instead of something else. Yeah, trying to discuss something when half asleep, bad idea i guess....

But exactly. Warriors was a bad example on my part because it actually has american cultural stuff in it. I can't think of any actual Australian references or cultural importance in mad max. I just happens to take place there is all. So i dont understand the reason people are so upset.

#35 Edited by Deathstriker (307 posts) -

I would say this change, the Xbox One reversal, and ME3's ending were all good things. "Games being art" doesn't mean they shouldn't be reactive to things.. other mediums do it like the dvd for Lost adding an epilogue scene and the numerous movies that are okay at release and way better for the director cut's version (especially Ridley Scott's stuff). For director cuts and with Mad Max it seems like "the suits" made those decisions and not the creators. Creators aren't going to have 100% control unless they're one of the very top people or they're indie, so I'd rather devs pay attention to fans than suits, since those are the two main routes.

#36 Posted by Deathstriker (307 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@mcghee said:

I agree that the game should be kept in Australia. But treating the idea of moving the story to America, or making the main character American, like it's a travesty is a bit ridiculous. The Road Warrior is basically a story straight out of Western movies. Lone gunman "rides" into town. Powerful bad guy wants resources of town. Gunman helps town out of a jam by killing bad guy.

The U.S. has dessert, fast cars, and guns. It would fit just fine.

The best thing to me about the setting of Australia that sets it apart is the fact that it is an island continent. There is that sense of isolation from everywhere else. Along with the idea of hope: "if only we can get to this place on the coast, things will be better."

That story structure isn't the pure domain of American westerns, though. It's safe to say that it's been around long before the American Old West even existed. And it's not about it necessarily being a travesty to make Mad Max American. It's that it was being done without real purpose. Further, Mad Max is and always has been an Australian series. If there was an American-set reboot, then maybe a game based on an American Mad Max would make sense, but in taking the Australian film and then making an American Max seems like a needless, pointless change. Like, taking the James Bond license and then, for shits and giggles, making a game where Bond is an American from Mississippi.

That story archetype goes back to knights and samurais too, but Mad Max has always had a western, almost meets metal, type feel to it from what I remember of the later movies. If the game is set in America then giving him an American accent is fine, but I agree they shouldn't do that if there's no actual reason behind it. In general, Americans don't care about nationality at all. If we did then Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and James Bond wouldn't be so popular.