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Double, double toil and trouble...

Hey all,

 I hope the day finds you happy and healthy. 

 I’m little delayed this week due to a guest appearance on the Pink and Deadly podcast. A good time was had by all. That episode should be up next week. Check out the ladies. You wont be disappointed. 

 Anyways on the the meat of the week. If you follow my show (Gaming Unlimited) or pay attention to the gaming industry, you’re aware of the dust-up between Activision and the former heads of Infinity Ward (Vince Zampella and Jason West). Well the story has gotten more muddied. Our “friends” at Kotaku posted a great summary of the events so far here

 Last week Activision counter-sued Zampella-West. This was of course reaction to Zampella-West suing them. I’m not going to into the details of either suit, that information can be easily found. Among last weeks developments was the announcement by Zampella-West of the creation of Respawn Entertainment. Now this is interesting due to a couple of factors. One: This new “studio” is being founded on funds from EA (one of Activision’s competitors). Two: the timing of both the announcement and formation seem to have happened at Warp Speed. 

 From here is my opinion. This may or may not reflect the views of anyone else here at The Total Gamer. Please bear this in mind when commenting. 

 The more details I hear, the more I’m being swayed towards Activison’s side on this. No body in this is pure as the driven snow and there’s plenty of blame  to be spread around. I know that I’m in the minority on this. I’ve been moderately following this via and Dan Amrich’s One of Swords podcast. Dan does talk about this on the ‘cast but not to any great length on the website.  

  With that being said, I have to ask what’s with the insta-hate for Activision? I mean from second 1, the group mind decided that this was all Activision’s fault. I really don’t think that was either appropriate or fair, especially when very few people knew all the details.  

  I’m sure by now you’re wondering why I’m starting to side against the Boys formerly from IW. Well, a couple of things. Based on the third and fourth hand information that’s out there, I’m starting to think that Zampella and West played Activision for fools. The main argument I seem to see from the group mind is that Activision some how took advantage of IW when IW sold themselves to Activision. I’m starting to get an impression that the then leaders of IW basically threw a temper tantrum when they were told that they were expected to behave in a specific manner. 

  Bottom line on this is nobody’s coming out of this clean. I can’t say I’ll never buy another Activision or any game from Respawn, but knee jerk reactions and insta-love/hate has served no one. 

 That’s my opinion. What’s yours?



On Gaming and Identity.

     Hey all. I'm repostng my orignal blog post from here. Let me know what you think about it.

     If you been noticing that a lot of my blog post are coming by way of Kotaku, you're right.  I'm lucky that my workbench has a computer with an active Internet connection with little or no filters and a boss that lets me do some lite surfing at work.

      Anyways, this week's post is something was sparked by an article on Mass Effect 2 by Ms. <a href=""><em>Tracey John</em></a><em>. </em>The full stories are listed on her page at 1Up. Kotaku has this as a bio for Ms. John: "<em>Tracey John has written about video games for MTV Multiplayer, Wired, Time, Massively and ToyFare, and is currently an editor at UGO Entertainment."</em>

To head off any complains, I'm not speaking to the nature of the stories.  This is my reactions and the thoughs that it spawned in me.


     First off,  the first story appears to one part of a multi-part story that Ms. John wrote following an interview with Casey Hudson (Director/Lead Producer, Bioware) at GDC last month.  Based on the tone and topic Ms. John took leads me to infer a few things about Ms. John. I am not going to make public those conclusions. They are not relevant to the topic at hand.

      The article seems to take issue the Miranda character and the apparent over sexualization of her. Ms. John chooses to display a screen shot that emphasizes Miranda's posterior as part of the story. She then lightly challenges Casey on the reason for the camera shot. Casey's reply was to ask why this was important to her. He also adds that there are similar camera shots of the Jacob character. On it face, this is not much of a global issue. This exchange struck me more of a personal nitpick rather then a issue of sexual relations or gender politics. At least until I read another part of this overall story.

     Ms. John also has posted a story, also from GDC, about her interview with Dr. Ray Muzyka. From Wikipedia: "Dr. <strong>Ray Muzyka</strong>is the General Manager and CEO at BioWare Corp as well as a Senior Vice President and Group General Manager of the BioWare RPG/MMO Group of Electronic Arts (comprising BioWare Edmonton, BioWare Austin, BioWare Montreal and <a title="Mythic Entertainment" href="/wiki/Mythic_Entertainment">Mythic Entertainment</a>, now BioWare Mythic) at BioWare's parent company Electronic Arts. He co-founded <a title="BioWare" href="/wiki/BioWare">BioWare</a>in 1995 with the other co-founder and VP of BioWare, <a title="Greg Zeschuk" href="/wiki/Greg_Zeschuk">Greg Zeschuk</a>, after they earned their medical degrees at the University of Alberta.<sup>[<em><a title="Wikipedia:Citation needed" href="Citation_needed">citation needed</a></em>]</sup>After selling BioWare to <a title="Electronic Arts" href="/wiki/Electronic_Arts">Electronic Arts</a>in 2008, Muzyka became a General Manager and Vice-President at EA in addition to his General Manager/CEO role at BioWare." The title of that article is "BioWare Explains Why There's No Homosexuality in Mass Effect 2". In that article she asks why her female Commander Sheppard could not romance Tali'Zorah vas Normany. If you are curious to read the response you can do it <a href="">here</a>. I got the impression that Dr. Ray's response was not what Ms. John was looking for.

     Now here is where my inferred conclusion come into play.

     With the current polical climate, any thing that has a identity component has been grounds for attack from one segment or another. This is not going to be a political rant/blog post. This is my observation of the real world and how it plays into our virtual one.

    Lately it seems that their has been a big push for more homosexual themesin games. This appears to mirror the more aggressive stance that some members of the homosexual community has taken towards demanding acceptance and what they perceive as redress for perceived discrimination. The recent debate over <a href="">proposition 8  in California </a>is the most recent example of this issue. I am detecting some of this in the two articles from Ms. John's articles.  While this may seem random, but while thinking about this I remember reading a comment made on a website for a review of James Cameron's "Avatar". The commenter was complaining about the lack of a homosexual romance and the apparent promotion of a heterosexual romance. For the record, my feeling is this: What you do in the privacy of your home with whom you choose to do it with is your business. I do not need to know about it. I personally do not have an issue with this. But I do have an issue with the knee jerk reactions that the themes seem to create. If you do not have a Gay character or romance subplot, you are a homophobe. If you do have Gay characters or romance subplot, then you are pedaling "perversion". You have a classic no-win scenario for the developer and a source of more criticism for gaming in general.

    I play games to escape to from the real world. While each of us will deal with real world issue in our own ways, why is it that people need real world themes in their game? Why do some in the entertainment community feel the need to push social commentary into our games and entertainment? I know that Star Trek was famous for injecting then current social issues into the story lines by way of science fiction. When presented with a light touch, you have the time to concider the point that is being made. It has been my perception that the ones shouting the loudest for tolerance and diversity are the least likey to demostrate it.

    I know this is not a situation that will resolve itself easily or quickly. But with people who are willing to be intellecally honest with each other, common ground can be achieved.

That's my take. What's yours?