BaconGames's forum posts

#1 Edited by BaconGames (3821 posts) -

@imsh_pl said:

I agree that there is a trend among intellectuals and academia to use advanced terminology to obstruct rather than clarify. It's kind of like filtering a statement through google translate multiple times - each layer distills the actual meaning and leaves room for interpretation of the used terminology (which has no place in intellectual discourse). This of course works in your favor if your arguments can't stand ground in a simple form, since you can always blame counterarguments on 'misinterpretation', and repeat tautologies as some kind of a profound truth.

However, I think Austin has been doing a pretty good job of not doing that. He seems to have a genuine desire to have a dialogue with the audience instead of patronize them with 'stuff he learned in university'.

That's not just exclusive to game journalism though, most social sciences use convulated terminology to transform subjective conclusions into profound truths.

I can speak quite a bit to this as a social scientist myself and I think both sides are right on this one. Jargon inherently obfuscates and it does play a role in the barrier between any scientific work and public knowledge. The same argument can be said of any field so singling out any one in particular is incidental since they all have it. So yes, in a lot of ways jargon is not inherently a positive when translating the work's thoughts or arguments to a wider audience.

However the other side of that is jargon is important because it is information dense, particularly as a reader is intimately familiar with the concept. So when accuracy of an argument matters, jargon often matters and in attempting to split the difference the accuracy and jargon elements remain because they are important. Since you're mostly writing to a certain audience in University, you can lean into that even more and exercise your stuff at the high level but the best in that environment also emphasize writing and a sensitivity to this very problem. Some take no heed and others focus on it exclusively (look up "Public [Insert Field]"). With that said the quandry presents itself at every level because relative to my position in social science research (graduate level), there's some things I consider way too convoluted for its own good. If you can tell the research is good even if it escapes you, the tendency I think is to first put it on yourself first to step it up and then if multiple attempts fail, then it's at least somewhat on the author to take that into consideration.

Any obstruction that occurs due to the level of writing is largely consequential of the path to how it was done rather than any conspiracy to exclude. Believe me a lot of good researchers out there are weary of this and the many that aren't can get away with it because they largely only want to talk to their own audience of researchers, which is totally fine. It's a bit of a shame but at the same time the stuff gets around and eventually it works its way out.

With all that said I don't consider that a cause to dismiss the good work that is done out there because there's a surface level similarity between the two. I suppose that's the difference and I'll argue it's as much on the audience to be sensitive to the idea that there is such a good thing as good research and it may look similar to lacking research if you don't necessarily know it well enough. In other words it's not reading resentment into someone using certain terminology you might not be familiar with because I don't think that's a great attitude to take.

#2 Edited by BaconGames (3821 posts) -

@basketsnake: That may be and I was pretty young when I played Shenmue myself but I'm gonna sit here and tell you that game made finding batteries in a drawer fucking magic. Of all the games I played as a kid that don't hold up the scrutiny, Shenmue is one of the few that I'm happy I played when I did to gloss over some of its flaws and have my good memories of it. I'm probably someone who would appreciate what Shenmue's about anyway but playing that thing as a young man with my Dreamcast hooked up to a tube TV; that's a goddamn time and place.

For whatever reason the Dreamcast of all systems is the one that I'm the most nostalgic for despite having systems before and since.

Also since there was so much of it, it's fun to joke about all the weird stuff in that game, especially among people who know that game well.

#3 Posted by BaconGames (3821 posts) -

This screams like good intentions passed through the guts of corporate bureaucracy. I think anyone with a level head realizes that something based in the historical context of the Civil War is far from equivalent to hanging the Confederate flag in apparent pride as an individual or entity of the state. After all they weren't going do the actual work to comb through and remove problematic uses of the confederate flag so this was the least path of resistance to "doing something" that was closely related.

The most frustrating part is the fact that Apple singled out games for whatever reason.

@ngilko said:

@notnert427

The bit you quoted literally included me saying "I won't pretend to understand the nuances around the issue". So yeh, your right I don't totally understand this issue, the way a person living in the effected county would. That's the point I made myself.

That said I have studied Criminology to a decent level so I'm not totally uninformed of the phenomenon of mass shootings. So while violence and racism occur all over the world the phenomenon of mass shooting is something that to the best of my understanding happens more in America than in other countries. I'm taking this from something I saw the president Obama say on the news the other day, which was along the lines of "America needs to get to grips with the fact that these sorts of mass shooting happen far more here than other countries" and I think the facts back that up. From memory America had more mass shootings in the last 15-20 years than any other developed country.

So, that's where I'm coming from on this, I'm genuinely interest and trying to make an observation on how this story about Apple links a larger context.

I'd like to think that both an inside and outside perspective on that can be valid and contribute to the discussion. :)

But also, this is super dumb.

I think you have to recognize that people will always be caught up on symbol as a proxy for the issue itself and people often use the symbol in that way, which amplifies it. That and what you're reading as an unwillingness to deal with it is really the complexity in having those issues embedded in the fabric of American life which both produces a sense of justification and many points of resistance. If anything the hardest part and the most disconcerting part is that it's damn near impossible to get a unified effort toward most any change in American society.

It's interesting you mention criminology because I've studied that quite a lot myself and so you may be familiar or at least receptive to the idea of routine activity theory. Which is a macro-level structural observation about the frequency of crime as a function of opportunity with respect to the circumstance. So if you hold all other things constant, are more things to steal itself a contributing factor to the "rate" of things getting stolen more than cultural and biological factors? We see this when we graph on a curve the rate of theft by poverty rate in a neighborhood and we see the curve taper out significantly beyond a certain point (I believe between 40-60% below the US poverty line). This means that eventually the poverty feeds back into opportunity for theft so it levels out even if poverty increases. Whatever cultural factors link localized poverty to localized crime eventually run into structural factors is the point.

So in this case, the structural component is the proliferation of firearms itself trickling down into all these varied situations which have access to the use of firearms where they might not otherwise. The raw numbers of guns around and linked to that, the ease of obtaining them whether by law or an informal black market. I believe last I heard a few years ago, the US has over 200 million firearms.

Although I'd say the link between the Apple story and the larger context is at best incidental given how arbitrary this was put on games and how confusing it is given the targeting of ostensibly historical content. If Apple removed one game that was clearly glorifying the flag then we can talk. As it is, people who agree with removing the flag as a cultural effort are scratching their heads.

#4 Posted by BaconGames (3821 posts) -

@graf1k: I feel like that's ascribing a lot more detail than any of us know about their funding over the years. Also characterizing it as bankrolling failures strikes me as hyperbolic when the reality is either they did so seeing ulterior value in the work beyond financial success or they aren't going in assuming it will fail financially. Unless it's an entirely cynical and mercenary job, I don't think anyone goes into a project thinking it will be a failure from any aspect of it.

There was a program in place, they applied for the funding, maybe they felt they got less than they and others should, but they got it, they made the game, went out of their way to course correct for more player appeal and the thing failed. The implication is there's little to no recourse to work on a new project from private or public funding and that's why they had to close shop. So the story of their financial woes stems partly from the grant fund issue in Belgium as far as they saw it and that's why it's part of the story.

Austin then took that and talked about what that might mean for grant funding and what that should mean for our improving approach to funding games.

#5 Edited by BaconGames (3821 posts) -

@graf1k said:

@bacongames: That's why, despite what my earlier comments may imply, I'm actually in favor of public funding for the arts, to an extent. That said, I don't buy this notion that games can't be avant garde and engaging. Not even fun, just engaging. Paper's, Please wasn't exactly what I'd call fun, but it dealt with some things that rarely come up in video games, and it did it in a way that engaged people. There are so many indie "artsy" games that have been able to do this, the fact that ToT and their game(s) couldn't manage this for all but the smallest crowds speaks more of the artists than the subject matter, or the market for that matter. It's like the people that argue that "school isn't for learning, it's not meant to be fun". It's absurd. It's been proven time and time again if you make learning fun and engaging, people are not only more willing students, but they grasp the subject matter better in the end. I've read some reviews of Sunset and, based on what I've read (admittedly I never played it), there's nothing the game does that precludes fun, or at least engagement. By the accounts of the a number of the reviews though, it was a novel and somewhat interesting story with deathly boring gameplay. Even one of the more positive reviews called it "drudgery".

I somewhat agree but I think that's part and parcel for grant funding. In a big picture sense, you're gonna fund some duds and the game itself isn't automatically valuable even if they grant was meant for that. However you gotta take the hits with the misses because I think you'd lose a lot more by not having it at all than the occasional dud that comes from it. At least that's my view on it.

Also I'll echo an earlier point that from a cultural perspective, failures can still be valuable if other creators look at the failure and learn from it. It's often a quiet process so we don't see the value immediately but who knows how many of our favorite games exist the way they do because the developer looked at some failed attempts and learned from those.

#6 Edited by BaconGames (3821 posts) -

@claybrez said:
@bacongames said:
@claybrez said:

I feel like the argument for more funding seems a little misguided. A medium sized art game failing to sell particularly well proves why these kinds of game don't often secure funding easily in the first place. If even you provide grants for their development, you'll never remove the financial risk for creating something niche.

I could be way off base here, but that's what I think right now. Great article.

That proof is a bit slight in my view. It might prove it in the minds of those who are conservative with their private funding but that's all it might say. Otherwise the failure of the game could indicate a number of factors about exposure, genre, audience, time, and place. Anyone who's in the business knows a game can fail for any reason and games that don't have much artistic merit can sell millions because of a licensing deal.

Second I think that's kinda the point about funding art for its own sake is that you're bringing more diverse art to the fore by removing (but let's face it, mitigating) that financial risk for the artists.

But in the case of these developers, they're closing up shop because their game didn't sell. They got funding, albeit in a less desirable way, but I don't think you can blame a lack of exposure on funding alone. The only thing I see from a funding standpoint that could've increased their sales is a deeper marketing budget, but that still doesn't guarantee financial success. The way I see it, there's no failsafe for this kind of thing happening. Sometimes games don't sell. Throwing more money at developers is a good way to keep original games around, sure, but the public funding that got their game made in the first place can't be blamed for their game not selling. Certain artistic endeavors are naturally bound to a smaller audience, and there's just no helping that. The original funding has to be in place for that reason. That's why I think the outrage at this game selling poorly is somewhat strange.

I totally agree and now I see now clearly your original point. So we can both agree that it's somewhat imperfect to use this specific issue as a springboard for a general issue even though I'm very much glad Austin did. Because as I said elsewhere and you said here, the grant was no longer a factor once it was commercially released. Now, I'd argue it's entirely valid if hypothetically the committee was unphased by the commercial failure and saw merit in Sunset and chose to fund a future project.

So the real concerning bit is whether or not we're doing enough to encourage more funding so that a grant committee could choose to fund a future project if they wanted to.

#7 Edited by BaconGames (3821 posts) -

Let's also be clear about the point of this article and the issue. It's not that government grants should have saved Sunset from failure. That was on them when they released that game to the public for purchase. It's that grant funding, were it to be more substantial, can further carve out a space for games to take risks that they might not otherwise.

#8 Posted by BaconGames (3821 posts) -

@joshwent: I guess I don't see how they're necessarily mutually exclusive when different art forms already have more established avenues for government grants but largely enjoy a mostly economically driven existence. Having more provision for government grants to any art project does not eliminate the economic environment of the medium and it would be quite the shock if it did.

I think the real misunderstanding comes from putting the cart before the horse on how grant committees operate and what the funds are really meant for. They're not paying artists for bad art when it fails but they're supplementing or fully supporting artists because they recognize a space for art that might not be commercially viable but potentially valuable. Even if we agree the shit is going well, we should recognize that such a space is important because we can never be too sure.

#9 Posted by BaconGames (3821 posts) -
@ratamero said:

@sammo21: true, depending on your concept of "failure" and how it compares to what the people selecting grants consider to be a failure. What I am saying is that what people seem to pose as obstacles for public arts funding are solved problems.

Absolutely and let's not write off an individual failure as a complete one if it happened to be funded by a grant. If any game fails then it can still have value for the culture at large when another developer looks at that and goes "hmm."

#10 Posted by BaconGames (3821 posts) -

@joshwent said:

@bacongames said:

I don't see how we don't benefit by throwing more money into games, especially if it's in the direction of things intended on being new, fresh, innovative, weird, or bullshit.

Because the "we" we're talking about isn't us, it's taxpayers as a whole. "We" already have incredibly simple ways to easily fund any new, fresh, innovative, etc. thing with crowdfunding options like Kickstarter and Patreon. And as you say, that kind of direct funding has lead to a market now where we have exponentially more creative games that benefit lots of us.

But I don't think it's too hard to consider that taking general citizen's money to give a very small government group that same ability to fund games, might have less prolific results.

That still means less money toward games and from a self-interested perspective that sees art as categorically good and more and different games as categorically good, writing off public funding is one less avenue for that.

You're right that things have gotten better concerning funding in a lot of ways but that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep going further in any way we can. Also call me jaded but the argument that its taxpayers money holds less weight when that shit is used to death to justify literally cutting any budget for anything at any level of government.

So I'm gonna sit here and say art is rad (and so is science) and we shouldn't work against funding those more as a public when people sometimes can't see the long terms benefit of that. I'm totally okay with using the money we have to value the artists and scientists in our society even if both can produce clunkers and do. That's worth it for the benefits of the products themselves and what we can say about our culture.

Again the market culture of funding games has been and will be the main way we fund games but as games get bigger and more important to individuals, we should be making it easier to recognize the additional value of using existing government institutions for funding art to fund more games.