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Posted by patrickklepek (3468 posts) -

For someone who writes about games for a living, I don’t read much writing about them. The pieces that do filter into my free time get shared here, and are often far from traditional review and preview pieces. It’s not a slight against my colleagues, but a realization that I only have so much time, and that time should be spent with outside perspectives.

That’s why I’ve highlighted a piece from GQ about PAX East, that’s why I featured Chris Dahlen’s dive into Dark Souls, and that’s why you shouldn’t be surprised if most articles here aren’t from traditional sources. I can't play everything, and even when I do, I'm not an expert. I need others to those gaps, and help broaden my understanding.

8-4 Play is the only other gaming-related podcast that I regularly listen to, and while it’s nice that my friends are the hosts, my real interest comes from learning anything I can about the Japanese gaming market. The rest of my iPhone is filled up with podcasts about politics, economics, sports, and anywhere that’s telling interesting stories (see: Radiolab, This American Life). It’s nice whenever those places do a piece on games, but that’s not very often, and I think it’s important to listen to how reporters present stories on other subjects, and see if it it can inform my own.

If you’re curious, here are all the podcasts I’m currently listening to:

  • Brainy Gamer
  • Chicago Football Talk
  • The B.S. Report
  • Idle Thumbs
  • Irrational Podcasts (Irrational Interviews/Irrational Behavior)
  • Mysterious Universe
  • New Yorker: Out Loud
  • New Yorker: The Political Scene
  • NPR: It’s All Politics
  • NPR: Planet Money
  • NPR: Snap Judgement
  • On the Media
  • The Rich Eisen Podcast
  • Slate’s Political Gabfest
  • Talk of the Nation
  • This American Life
  • WNYC’s Radiolab
  • 8-4 Play

Onward!

Hey, You Should Play This:

You think you know where this is going, but you don’t. I’ll remain purposely vague to maintain the surprise, and I’ll admit I’m getting a little tired of "minimalism" (and, uh, piano soundtracks) as a means of emotionally connecting with the player. It feels a little cheap, and so many other games have used the same trick. I say this while also claiming that Pretentious Game does it pretty well, which perhaps says more about my inability to avoid getting suckered into piano soundtracks. Pretentious Game comes from the most recent Ludum Dare, and the theme this year was “Tiny World.” If you’ve found any other worthwhile Ludum Dare entries, leave a note in the comments or PM me.

And You Should Also Read These:

One of the arguments Anna Anthropy lays out in Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is how we need more games made by people who’ve never thought about making games before. Those without the ability to understand programming languages need to have the tools to make a video game. Have you seen Valve’s level design tool for Portal 2? That’s a step in the right direction. Toolset expansion is not the only point Anthropy makes, but it is the one that feels like it’s gaining real traction. Secret Dad was a Molyjam game made by a wanna be designer who used Game Salad, a piece of software squarely focused as non-programmers. It’s fascinating to play games that feel like they were authored by a single person, and maybe more of that would be possible if more outsiders could join the party.

As game storytellers, we are not directing static stories take-by-take but rather arranging the scenes that will comprise the shape of our story. We can begin to think of the player as someone performing a role we've written rather than as an audience who experiences our story without any input as to its outcome. We allow room for improvisation, room for the player to make a role her own. The audience of a game can be more usefully compared to the audience for a play than the audience in the movie theater. In videogames, the audience is there, live, with the actors -- or as the actors -- experiencing a single performance that is unique, despite the story having been performed and continuing to be performed many times.

It’s fascinating when publications assign writers who don’t know much about games to write about games. When you’re used to talking about games with people who know everything about them, it’s dangerously easy to lose perspective. The audience at PAX encompasses some of the best parts of the gaming community, and the event's a safe place to enjoy your niche. But it's still a gaming convention, and have you thought about how this looks to the outside world? The author of the GQ piece isn’t exactly new to games, but he hasn’t touched them in ages, and his real-time reaction results in some not particularly kind commentary. It hurts because it's kind of true.

Cosplay is short for "costume play." Good cosplayers get photographed here a lot. It's a common courtesy extended by everyone who comes here in costume, and probably a substantial reason they dressed up in the first place. When it comes to the scantily-clad female costumers, it's customary put your arm around them without actually touching them, thus the comically hands-off "hover arm" that's a bit of a sexually frustrated geek trope in itself. There's a lot of hover arm going on right in front of me, in fact, as a tall, gawky guy having his photo taken with Catherine is treating the girl's pale bare shoulders like the surface of the sun. Female objectification and titillation is a fact of life here, pretty much guaranteed by the decreasingly so but still predominantly male audience that gaming draws. The weird, anesthetized sexualization that persists here often goes unmentioned. Many female characters in gaming are strong figures, after all, even if they have to navigate their bare midriffs and enormous, heaving chest plates while fighting the forces of darkness. One woman, who'd in fact been paid to show by the maker of the game she was cosplaying, was asked to leave the exhibition grounds, on account of her character's outfit being a jumpsuit that opened at her cleavage and closed just short of the wrong hairline. Of course, when you consider that the game's main character is named Lollipop Chainshaw, the problem begins long before a paid performer and her choice of source-material-faithful dress. Who knows if that is something that can be helped in an industry that, while it grows broader, older, and more female by the day, would still probably call the ten-percent female attendance at PAX (just eyeballing) a healthy turnout.
Staff
#1 Posted by patrickklepek (3468 posts) -

For someone who writes about games for a living, I don’t read much writing about them. The pieces that do filter into my free time get shared here, and are often far from traditional review and preview pieces. It’s not a slight against my colleagues, but a realization that I only have so much time, and that time should be spent with outside perspectives.

That’s why I’ve highlighted a piece from GQ about PAX East, that’s why I featured Chris Dahlen’s dive into Dark Souls, and that’s why you shouldn’t be surprised if most articles here aren’t from traditional sources. I can't play everything, and even when I do, I'm not an expert. I need others to those gaps, and help broaden my understanding.

8-4 Play is the only other gaming-related podcast that I regularly listen to, and while it’s nice that my friends are the hosts, my real interest comes from learning anything I can about the Japanese gaming market. The rest of my iPhone is filled up with podcasts about politics, economics, sports, and anywhere that’s telling interesting stories (see: Radiolab, This American Life). It’s nice whenever those places do a piece on games, but that’s not very often, and I think it’s important to listen to how reporters present stories on other subjects, and see if it it can inform my own.

If you’re curious, here are all the podcasts I’m currently listening to:

  • Brainy Gamer
  • Chicago Football Talk
  • The B.S. Report
  • Idle Thumbs
  • Irrational Podcasts (Irrational Interviews/Irrational Behavior)
  • Mysterious Universe
  • New Yorker: Out Loud
  • New Yorker: The Political Scene
  • NPR: It’s All Politics
  • NPR: Planet Money
  • NPR: Snap Judgement
  • On the Media
  • The Rich Eisen Podcast
  • Slate’s Political Gabfest
  • Talk of the Nation
  • This American Life
  • WNYC’s Radiolab
  • 8-4 Play

Onward!

Hey, You Should Play This:

You think you know where this is going, but you don’t. I’ll remain purposely vague to maintain the surprise, and I’ll admit I’m getting a little tired of "minimalism" (and, uh, piano soundtracks) as a means of emotionally connecting with the player. It feels a little cheap, and so many other games have used the same trick. I say this while also claiming that Pretentious Game does it pretty well, which perhaps says more about my inability to avoid getting suckered into piano soundtracks. Pretentious Game comes from the most recent Ludum Dare, and the theme this year was “Tiny World.” If you’ve found any other worthwhile Ludum Dare entries, leave a note in the comments or PM me.

And You Should Also Read These:

One of the arguments Anna Anthropy lays out in Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is how we need more games made by people who’ve never thought about making games before. Those without the ability to understand programming languages need to have the tools to make a video game. Have you seen Valve’s level design tool for Portal 2? That’s a step in the right direction. Toolset expansion is not the only point Anthropy makes, but it is the one that feels like it’s gaining real traction. Secret Dad was a Molyjam game made by a wanna be designer who used Game Salad, a piece of software squarely focused as non-programmers. It’s fascinating to play games that feel like they were authored by a single person, and maybe more of that would be possible if more outsiders could join the party.

As game storytellers, we are not directing static stories take-by-take but rather arranging the scenes that will comprise the shape of our story. We can begin to think of the player as someone performing a role we've written rather than as an audience who experiences our story without any input as to its outcome. We allow room for improvisation, room for the player to make a role her own. The audience of a game can be more usefully compared to the audience for a play than the audience in the movie theater. In videogames, the audience is there, live, with the actors -- or as the actors -- experiencing a single performance that is unique, despite the story having been performed and continuing to be performed many times.

It’s fascinating when publications assign writers who don’t know much about games to write about games. When you’re used to talking about games with people who know everything about them, it’s dangerously easy to lose perspective. The audience at PAX encompasses some of the best parts of the gaming community, and the event's a safe place to enjoy your niche. But it's still a gaming convention, and have you thought about how this looks to the outside world? The author of the GQ piece isn’t exactly new to games, but he hasn’t touched them in ages, and his real-time reaction results in some not particularly kind commentary. It hurts because it's kind of true.

Cosplay is short for "costume play." Good cosplayers get photographed here a lot. It's a common courtesy extended by everyone who comes here in costume, and probably a substantial reason they dressed up in the first place. When it comes to the scantily-clad female costumers, it's customary put your arm around them without actually touching them, thus the comically hands-off "hover arm" that's a bit of a sexually frustrated geek trope in itself. There's a lot of hover arm going on right in front of me, in fact, as a tall, gawky guy having his photo taken with Catherine is treating the girl's pale bare shoulders like the surface of the sun. Female objectification and titillation is a fact of life here, pretty much guaranteed by the decreasingly so but still predominantly male audience that gaming draws. The weird, anesthetized sexualization that persists here often goes unmentioned. Many female characters in gaming are strong figures, after all, even if they have to navigate their bare midriffs and enormous, heaving chest plates while fighting the forces of darkness. One woman, who'd in fact been paid to show by the maker of the game she was cosplaying, was asked to leave the exhibition grounds, on account of her character's outfit being a jumpsuit that opened at her cleavage and closed just short of the wrong hairline. Of course, when you consider that the game's main character is named Lollipop Chainshaw, the problem begins long before a paid performer and her choice of source-material-faithful dress. Who knows if that is something that can be helped in an industry that, while it grows broader, older, and more female by the day, would still probably call the ten-percent female attendance at PAX (just eyeballing) a healthy turnout.
Staff
#2 Posted by Daveyo520 (6651 posts) -

Great feature Patrick.

#3 Posted by joachimo (200 posts) -

Oh yay! Thanks Patrick

#4 Posted by swordvan (25 posts) -

Good read, that game seems pretty funny.

#5 Posted by Xeirus (1293 posts) -

Patrick why aren't you in the stream with Drew and them for the North korea stuff?!

#6 Edited by Sweep (8817 posts) -

Hey guys, look who I found!

Moderator
#7 Edited by Christoffer (1757 posts) -

This is always going up when I'm in the worst state to read anything. I made it half way through, but now I have to go to bed 3am here in scandi.

Love your content, Tricky! Keep it going.

#8 Posted by superscott597 (109 posts) -

You're the best, Patrick.

#9 Posted by Itrytobreathe (33 posts) -

Patrick, what was the game you posted a link to in the North Korea stream? Was it called "/follow" or something similar? Trying to track it down.

#10 Posted by ch3burashka (5009 posts) -

What the hell, Patrick, why aren't you listening to the Giant Bombcast?!! Team player my ass...

Personally, I'd suggest Talkradar had it not fallen into an abyss. The next best thing (seeing as how it literally is) would be LaserTime, along with VGMpire and Cape Crisis (hulkdick.com, everybody!).

#11 Posted by dvdhaus (355 posts) -

@Sweep said:

Man, that photo is making me miss PAX East :(

Agreed!

#12 Posted by TheHT (10876 posts) -

Holy crap, how do you find the time to listen to all of those podcasts?

#13 Edited by MarkWahlberg (4578 posts) -

The New Yorker has had some amusingly accurate articles on video games (as well as a few that were less so), such as the the one featuring the infamous 'Uh' quote. Whenever a good article on games comes up, written by someone who isn't as familiar with the subject, it's often fun to read not because it presents any new information but because it tends to actually mirror my own attitudes towards the subject, while being more... grounded. I don't identify with a lot of gaming subculture, so it's refreshing to see that an 'outsider' can have the same interest in gaming without getting scared off by how weird things can get. And when they come to different conclusions, well, that's what reading's for.

#14 Posted by ballsnbayonets (155 posts) -

JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE! one of the best podcasts

#15 Posted by Triphos (79 posts) -

I thought Pretentious Game was pretty bad, and I'm sure I've played another game that does the exact same thing but better.

#16 Posted by Brodehouse (9581 posts) -

That girl works out a lot. I guess you'd have to to look like a video game character.

#17 Posted by Irishranger (245 posts) -

Yeah, dude from GQ may be dropping some truth, but he still fails on fact checking...just sayin'.

#18 Posted by ptys (1883 posts) -

Hey Patrick, you should write the date a bit more official like 'Worth Reading | April 27th, 2012' as the numbers make it look like a blog entry, not an article. Just some feedback, love your work!

#19 Posted by Video_Game_King (35985 posts) -

@patrickklepek said:

I’ll admit I’m getting a little tired of "minimalism" (and, uh, piano soundtracks) as a means of emotionally connecting with the player. It feels a little cheap, and so many other games have used the same trick.

Damn it. Now I know there's no way I could ever recommend Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon to you, like, ever.

#20 Edited by DrifterInGreen (49 posts) -

"Of course, when you consider that the game's main character is named Lollipop Chainshaw, the problem begins long before a paid performer and her choice of source-material-faithful dress"

???

#21 Posted by pwnmachine (392 posts) -

Hey Tricky! Thanks for the list...

#22 Posted by Xtrminatr (256 posts) -

No MBMBaM Patrick?!?!

#23 Posted by beard_of_zeus (1669 posts) -

I feel like I would go insane with anger and depression if I listened to more than zero political podcasts, so I don't know how you do it, Patrick. Watching The Daily Show and Colbert Report religiously is about my limit on politics, and their sweet, sweet comedy helps to lessen the blows of how crazy America is.
 
Speaking of podcasts, if ya'll aren't already listening to My Brother, My Brother, and Me, what are you doing with your life? They just hit episode 101, so now is as good a time as any to fill that empty hole in your heart with comedy, joy, and (poor) advice.

#24 Posted by mosespippy (4032 posts) -

I have two podcast recommendations for you. The first is 99% Invisible, which I believe was recently featured on radiolab. It's about design. Everything from architectural or industrial design to product design. It's between five and 15 minutes per episode. The other is Too Much Information with Benjamin Walker from WFMU.org. The great thing about that show is that I can never tell if the stories are real or fake. Both hosts have contributed to Snap Judgement and the backlogs are worth listening to.

#25 Posted by fisk0 (3849 posts) -
#26 Posted by Theavy (78 posts) -

Yes, Mysterious Universe is awesome

#27 Posted by RetroVirus (1457 posts) -

Wow, and I though I listened to a lot of podcasts.

#28 Posted by nesagwa (62 posts) -

@DrifterInGreen: Sexism and misogyny has been a problem in gaming and internet culture for decades - both in the US as well as in Japan. What's confusing about that?

#29 Posted by fistfullofcats (24 posts) -

I love it. Thought I wouldn't be doing my duty to comedy and podcasts if I didn't tell you to listen to Never Not Funny. I know your co-workers (at least Jeff, Ryan, and Vinny) do.

#30 Posted by Meteor_VII (125 posts) -

I gotta say the GQ article doesn't surprise me in the least. I personally am a pretty hardcore gamer and would probably take pictures of cosplay if I ever went to pax (have yet to be to one) but I can totally see by people who don't play or who what videogames even are, that being then sent to see what pretty much in the biggest gaming convention ever would be not an awesome experience.

#31 Posted by InsidiousTuna (376 posts) -

Disappointing lack of MaximumFun podcasts in that list, Klepek.

#32 Posted by AllanIceman (1322 posts) -

Love this feature!

#33 Edited by Moonshadow101 (555 posts) -

Pretentious Game was effective enough. Games like that work quite well being so short.

My total lack of crossover with that podcast list (Of my 25, none are on that list) makes me sad. Will try to amend. Not that there's a chance in hell of my ever listening to "Chicago Football Talk."

The Bugle is probably the only podcast I would recommend to anyone without reservation, or regard for taste or preferences. Assuming they're not simply terrible people who hate laughing and being happy.

#34 Posted by DrifterInGreen (49 posts) -

@nesagwa:

My original post’s point was

1. The main character is not named Lollipop Chainsaw

2. He misspelled Chainsaw

3. Even if the character was named Lollipop Chainsaw how does that indicate problems with the game?

He sounds like he has no clue what he’s writing about

#35 Posted by G0rd0nFr33m4n (762 posts) -

I listen to 3 podcasts: Gaintbomb, Tested, and Radio Dave on Gaintbomb ...... :( Your list makes me feel small Patrick... and so does your hair.... STOP MAKING ME FEEL SMALL PATRICK YOU BULLY !

#36 Posted by Brendan (7686 posts) -

That GQ article was actually pretty good. I don't read it religiously but there's often really good writing in it that people who would judge it at first glance wouldn't expect.

#37 Posted by FonkyMucker (146 posts) -

Thanks again Patrick.

Since we are talking about podcast, if you enjoy Chicago Bears centered podcast I highly recommend Bear Down podcast http://www.beardownpodcast.com/. It's a comedy podcast centered around the Chicago Bears. Matt Walsh from the Upright Citizen Brigade along with some others put it out.

#38 Posted by Soapy86 (2620 posts) -

Mysterious Universe is a great podcast. For those unfamiliar, it's a mostly lighthearted, and more importantly, grounded podcast about all things paranormal.

#39 Edited by deerokus (533 posts) -

The actual best podcast on the entire internet is Dan Carlin's Hardcore History. His series on the fall of the Roman Republic stretches the definition of podcast to 'especially long Audio Book'.

#40 Posted by YOUNGLINK (538 posts) -

I HEARBY DEEM THIS ARTICLE, WORTHY!

#41 Posted by BitterAlmond (401 posts) -

@Christoffer said:

Love your content, Tricky! Keep it going.

Glad to see the "Tricky" nickname is sticking. Hope Patrick actually likes it (he'd better; it's awesome).

Also, how terribly condescending was the GQ article? It was true enough, but nowhere near fair.

#42 Posted by OriginalGman (292 posts) -

I don't know what convention that GQ writer attended, but I'm pretty sure that the percentage of females at PAX East this year was WAY MORE than 10%. I was really surprised how many more moms, daughters, girlfriends, wives and just single geek ladies there were, compared to when I attended in 2010. The only shame is that I have to be surprised by that, but I won't be next year.

I also don't think there was anything there you wouldn't find at an auto show in regards to women wearing revealing outfits. What was there was less people being dragged around, obviously forced to be there and more people actually having a really good time because they love games and the people who play em. You also won't see a dude walking around in his boxers at an auto show (Vincent from Catherine was there, and HE didn't get asked to leave).

So honestly, I'll be more inclined to read what outside sources have to say about my hobby when they start concentrating on the hobby itself and its merits, instead of whatever they think will cause some controversy and generate pageviews.

#43 Posted by Tomeh (66 posts) -

Though I cannot promise it is worthwhile, I made a game for this years Ludum Dare:

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-23/?action=preview&uid=11991

It's a small puzzle/adventure and I took a few puzzle ideas I liked from Fez.

The people who have played it seem to have enjoyed it though which is awesome, I'll continue to do every Ludum Dare I can. Highly recommend the Ludum Dare to anyone and everyone here!

Online
#44 Posted by BisonHero (6159 posts) -

@BitterAlmond said:

@Christoffer said:

Love your content, Tricky! Keep it going.

Glad to see the "Tricky" nickname is sticking. Hope Patrick actually likes it (he'd better; it's awesome).

Also, how terribly condescending was the GQ article? It was true enough, but nowhere near fair.

How could that nickname possibly not stick? The word "tricky" has a long history of being awesome.

#45 Posted by Soviet (2 posts) -

How do heck do you find time to listen to all this podcasts? :P I barely can find few our to check out Bombcast...

#46 Edited by BisonHero (6159 posts) -

From the GQ article, further describing various PAX attendees he sees on a bus:

"And it's not all pimply pale dudes and the jocks they sneer at, either. Seated not too far from me is a pair of black guys who for a minute might seem to be the only other people going somewhere else—until I listen in and hear: "Nah, dawg, it's like a first-person adventure/fantasy. You're saving these villagers from like an evil sorcerer..." and so on."

I guess the implication is that they weren't wearing t-shirts with obvious gaming references like others on the bus were, but that paragraph still reads super racist, as if you see two black guys on a bus and assume they can't possibly be gamers.

The tone of this GQ article is weird.

#47 Posted by Vodun (2370 posts) -

@BisonHero said:

From the GQ article, further describing various PAX attendees he sees on a bus:

"And it's not all pimply pale dudes and the jocks they sneer at, either. Seated not too far from me is a pair of black guys who for a minute might seem to be the only other people going somewhere else—until I listen in and hear: "Nah, dawg, it's like a first-person adventure/fantasy. You're saving these villagers from like an evil sorcerer..." and so on."

I guess the implication is that they weren't wearing t-shirts with obvious gaming references like others on the bus were, but that paragraph still reads super racist, as if you see two black guys on a bus and assume they can't possibly be gamers.

The tone of this GQ article is weird.

Let's put it this way, two skinny, pimply, white kids sit on the bus. Two black kids of similar build sit on the same bus. You are asked to identify two gamers...who do you choose?

It's not racism, it's stereotyping. Why isn't it racist to assume the white kids are gamers, but assuming the black kids aren't...is? Stereotyping is a basic human behaviour, everyone does it.

Stop shouting racism at the drop of a hat, it waters down the word and actual racism can hide in the torrent of useless claims like yours.

#48 Posted by selbie (1841 posts) -

Jebus! How do you get through so many podcasts?!?

#49 Posted by umdesch4 (772 posts) -

Patrick, I know people love to either love or hate you on this site, and I'm a big supporter. I've gotta say this, whatever you may add or subtract from your involvement in this place, you totally own this "worth reading" feature. I can't imagine the other GB guys doing something like this, and every entry in the series so far has been worthwhile in leading me down one rabbit hole or another. Keep up the awesome work.

#50 Posted by Winternet (8005 posts) -

Well, it is called Pretentious Game, so of course it would have piano soundtrack.