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#1 Posted by gamer_152 (14772 posts) -

If you've got a Switch and a range of people young and old, I'd recommend Overcooked. Easy to pick up, cartoony, and absolute chaos in a party environment.

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#2 Edited by gamer_152 (14772 posts) -

I've gotta recommend Donut County and Firewatch on this one. It's also probably worth looking up ISLANDS: Non-Places. That game doesn't have an explicit narrative or let you freely explore, but it's got the look and atmosphere you're after. You might also be interested in Broken Reality and Kentucky Route Zero.

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#3 Edited by gamer_152 (14772 posts) -

The difficult thing about Hottest Mess is a lot of the best candidates are often ongoing issues in the industry. The big problems tend to be the most pernicious, so they don't appear within the course of a year, and disappear before the next; they're more long-term than that. Along those lines, the widespread, never-ending crunch that has happened over the course of 2019 is probably the worst thing so far, and even if that doesn't fit the spirit of Hottest Mess perfectly, maybe it deserves to be the pick because it would draw more attention to an already desperate problem in the industry. If we're picking a disaster more specific to this year, however, it's gotta be Pitchford. I've never seen anyone that high up in the industry spiral out of control in the way he has. I still can't quite believe it's happened.

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#4 Posted by gamer_152 (14772 posts) -

@boozak:I think that the existence of the poster in an of itself is proof of fetishisation of trans people in that world and Resediuk definitely believes that's what's happening in that universe. I'm looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077 too. I'm tempering expectations because I don't think we have enough information to say there aren't huge flaws with it, but what they've shown of the environment design and the breadth of choice in the play has, so far, been very promising. And it's okay to not be emotionally invested yourself in the representation of certain groups of people in that game. I just also think it's important that we're not dismissive or misreprenstative of the people for whom that stuff really matters.

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#5 Edited by gamer_152 (14772 posts) -

@boozak: I haven't seen any critics arguing that the problem with the game is that it contains gangs tied to specific races, saying that it must send a positive message, or complaining that its messaging is too subtle. And when we criticise a game sociopolitcally, we're not just making a moral assessment of the actions of the people within the game, we're talking about how the game itself treats issues. You also can't just swap out privileged and non-privileged groups in any one scenario and expect the social context to be the same. Yeah, the black gang and the white gang in the game are both bad, but only the black gang has this racially charged name attached to them, and you couldn't try to apply the same toxic labelling to the white gang if you tried, because it's not like there's a stereotype associated with white people which has factored into their systemic oppression. While calling black people "animals" very much has for them.

Or, in the case of the "Mix it up" poster, it would be a different story if it was a cis man rather than a trans woman under the spotlight, because while the objectification of a cis man would still be reflective of the deleterious dehumaisation corporations generally employ, it's not like cis men are reduced by society as a whole to a freaky sexual novelty, while trans women frequently are. So, you can't really "both sides" these issues, especially not when the only depiction of these demographics seems to be through this degrading lens. Yeah, it's "realistic" that corporations would be horrible to trans women and that there would be black violent gangs, but true realism requires placing those phenomena in a larger social context, one where you show trans people being more than fetish objects and black people being more than violent thugs, because those are the prevailing representations of those groups in what CD has shown of the game, while white dudes are represented with far more moral individuality and humanity.

If Cyberpunk 2077 believes that black people are human beings, then where is their humanising representation? And what is the purpose of playing into that racial stereotype? Who does it help to confirm that prejudice? And in the case of the trans woman, CD Projekt Red appear to be doing exactly what those fictional evil companies are doing; taking a caricature of a non-cis person and sensationalising their identity for marketing purposes. The game could (and maybe does) avoid doing those things, and still send negative messages and include ambiguity. There's a ton of media out there that contains those elements that doesn't call black people animals.

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#6 Posted by gamer_152 (14772 posts) -

@boozak: The only Bloober game I've played so far was Layers of Fear which I really wanted to like, but just didn't find enough substance in. Each room usually conveyed something narratively and emotionally simplistic, and the puzzles often weren't very deep. It's also not like the gameplay and the story, or the collection of scenes, came together to make something more than the sum of their parts. I'm interested in playing more from the developer, but I thought Layers of Fear was a little over-rated.

On the topic of the Cyberpunk controversies, my objection is not that the games depicts dehumanisation of minorities, but that, so far, we haven't seen the game condemn that dehumanisation. At best, we've seen it copy-pasting objectified archetypes of minorities into the world, meaning the objectification is adopted by the game without question. At worst, the game seems to be in explicit agreement with those gross depictions of the oppressed. Like, in the case of "The Animals", you don't see a white person calling black people "animals" and then them being proven wrong or getting rebuked by a more likeable character; what you see is a group of black people in the game labelled "animals", and then those black characters living up to that offensive stereotype. How the characters in Cyberpunk treat the oppressed and how the game does are not the same thing, and removing vulnerable demographics from the game is not the only alternative to that kind of shoddy depiction by the game. Another option is to argue against the people and organisations in the world who believe in it. I think that other critics of the game's sociopolitics generally feel the same way. And hey, maybe Cyberpunk does have a counter-argument on that dehumanisation, but with AAA's shaky history on racial and trans politics thus far, I wouldn't hold my breath.

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#7 Posted by gamer_152 (14772 posts) -

@riostarwind: Thanks, I appreciate that. You might enjoy some of the third-party stuff from the Nintendo Treehouse and that new Platinum game they were showing off.

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#8 Posted by gamer_152 (14772 posts) -

Some years, the conferences are pretty divisive, but there seemed to be a lot more consensus this year about what worked and what didn't. The numbers shook out exactly the way it felt like they would at the time, and it's no surprise Nintendo is in the lead. They were helped a lot of this year in that, unlike the companies publishing on the Xbox and PlayStation, they weren't waiting on a new console before they could talk about the big news, but they also succeeded in plenty of ways that the other publishers didn't. Their coverage had almost no filler, they had a lot more gameplay to show than their competitors, and their broadcasts were often easier to navigate.

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#9 Posted by gamer_152 (14772 posts) -

In addition to what @hayt said, I also think it's important to remember that some of those video game controversies key into broader problems in society. E.g. Instances of racial harrassment in the gaming community are a product of and contributor to the larger patterns of racism in our society. When CD Projekt Red end up objectifying a trans person in promoting their game, it's one piece in the larger puzzle of trans people being dehumanised in the communities they live in. When EA throw their economic weight around to screw over the customer, you have to remember that that's reflective of us living in a society where making people happy often comes second to making a profit. When there are instances of workplace abuse and discriminatory behaviour in the games industry and audience, they're often not "fun" for the people they affect, but are a component of the genuinely damaging systemic problems that also create U.S. concentration camps, anti-LGBTQ violence, poverty, etc.

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#10 Posted by gamer_152 (14772 posts) -

I'm not quite sure what the crisis here is meant to be, and while you say that this issue isn't about whether E3 is necessary anymore, it's impossible to separate how the event is run from its utility to the industry. Arguably, there are some blind spots with the expo, but it's less important than ever that companies put all their eggs in the E3 basket because, even if there might be a lot of eyes on E3, there are also a lot of eyes on those companies all year round. Yes, when Nintendo do their Treehouse, people pay attention, but it's not like they don't also pay attention when they put out a regular Direct. Which is also why a lot of these companies operate outside E3 now. Huge publishers like EA generally don't need big cost-cutting measures; they'll spend through their nose on marketing if they get a return on it. However, forgoing E3 is not only a potential cost-cutting measure but also doesn't noticeably reduce the amount of attention they get and allows them to more easily control the environment their games are shown in and the messaging on them that comes through.

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