NietzscheCookie's forum posts

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#1 Posted by NietzscheCookie (122 posts) -

Just saw the trailer. I'll admit its a pretty good guitar track. I hope someone makes a version with the Dark Arts 'quack quack' sound at the very end. I heard Rorie is trying ff xiv again lately and even Jeff expressed interest in giving it a go on the extra life stream.

I'm probably going to dive back in. How about you?

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#2 Posted by NietzscheCookie (122 posts) -

I was looking forward to the writing quality, as the creator Aaron Ehasz wrote pretty much every great Avatar episode. But I was sceptical of the 2D-3D blend. It was pretty awesome overall in look and story. I feel like the animation framerate could be just a bit higher, but I would believe it if somebody told me that its already at the max value before it turns into 3D garbage.

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#3 Posted by NietzscheCookie (122 posts) -

A 6 from Gamespot and a 9 from IGN is a pretty big disconnect. I need a Brad Shoemaker review before I put money down. Now more than ever.

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#4 Posted by NietzscheCookie (122 posts) -

This series is great. The only fond memory I have of XIII's story is that moment where the Pope guy reveals he's actually your god disguised as the Pope. For better or worse, its a very final fantasy moment and made me nostalgic for other bad plot twists from the series history that I had enjoyed.

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#5 Posted by NietzscheCookie (122 posts) -

Great write up! I can confirm as an Australian that Vanille's accent sounded wildly inconsistent and strange.

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#6 Edited by NietzscheCookie (122 posts) -

Those are some familiar art assets. I sure hope its less buggy but somehow doubt it will be.

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#7 Edited by NietzscheCookie (122 posts) -

@spaceinsomniac: All it means is that narratives that suggest that modern game criticism must be a stealth continuation of night trap panic are false. Whatever your opinion of most game journalists, there can exist good commentators.

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#8 Edited by NietzscheCookie (122 posts) -

@theht said:
@nietzschecookie said:

@theht:

Insightful as always!

I think we're just applying different meanings to the word agency here. Part of games being a new media is there being a severely limited vocabulary for how we talk about these issues. And clearly we agree that there's a whole host of things that can be critiqued beyond a lack of story context. If you prefer to call it a 'dehumanizing element' or a 'gameplay/narrative disconnect over character use', that's fine with me.

The idea of trusting user experience of media and requiring a litmus test for engaging with a work sort of misses the purpose of art. The thing is, problematic or not problematic isn't actually a binary issue. All work is problematic by degrees, existing on spectrum because the truth is, Society is problematic. Its a chaotically constructed mess of norms, beliefs and customs. Art can't transcend that, it can only try. The thing that makes Nier:Automata great is that it fundamentally understands this about social construction and engages with it. Its a rare thing, and its done really well for the most part. Which is why its also a work that invites 'The Conversation'.

Part of the point of art as a human endeavour is to explore the human experience and hold a mirror up to the world. In this sense art can never go too far in how problematic it is, because its just the Artist's vision, but at the same time its up to all of us to engage with all art and fulfil that art's destiny in saying something by responding to what is says, and indeed the ways it displays our society in a new light and shapes future ones. Art in a vacuum is worthless.

Discussions of censorship and whether a specific work objectively crosses a line into causing societal harm is a completely false narrative.

All works are on the spectrum and some create more discussion. If we don't engage with fiction, then its just raw entertainment and we may as well watch the Mark Wahlberg Transformers films forever.

To act as such a critic is never a slippery slope because there's just no reason to ever run to the extremes of classifying things. Its also vital in that our discussion of art is itself a discussion of society. The relevance to real people doesn't just come from limiting disbelief and substituting real people with fictional ones, it comes from the ways our idea of what a person is, as imaginative creators, originates in our experiences with real people. The Conversation is always larger than just this one work, the work is just the centre piece to talk about ourselves and our civilization.

Again, its not objectifying that's the issue, its the idea that objectification can always be compatible with all scenarios, situations and contexts. The poster example falls onto that spectrum somewhere. There is no test and we don't need to run to extremes to save objectification from being synonymous with dehumanization. We can rather rely on the subjective experiences of people to discuss an art work in its context and how it uses objectification. We can also rely on people to subjectively not be concerned or inspired by anything they experience and not show up to the discussion. To put it another way, displaying an otherwise ordinary sexy pin-up poster of snake that, does nothing else but titillate, at an art gallery would of course encourage criticism.

A difference in meanings might be the case. I define agency as the quality of being able to enact self-control and self-determination. In a video game this is squarely within the purview of the narrative when it comes to pre-defined characters, as any time the player is with agency, the character is not, though the player can certainly role-play (whether deliberately or because the game has lulled them in, emotionally). In these sorts of video games the player is an invisible ghost that inhabits a character during gameplay--technically apart from the narrative, wherein a character's agency in granted to exist. Things like Max Payne might blur that barrier on occasion, or something like BioShock might play with that relationship, but despite these explorations, gameplay in these kinds of games is still separate from the narrative, with agency of the player relevant to the former, and agency of the character relevant to the latter.

So when the two spheres clash rather than align or play off of each other, the experience can feel disrupted. But I source that disruption with the clashing of the spheres, rather than what I view as an illogical exaggeration and overemphasis of a pre-defined character's agency's role in a video game. If I went in for the latter I'd have fundamental issues with the medium itself, as all elements of gameplay (saucy costumes or otherwise) would be an indignity with respect to that character's agency, as opposed to more passive media like books and film (unless I then went on to apply that logic to creators as well, instead of just users, in which case I'd find books and film problematic in that very same sense). If it's the very act of clashing between the gameplay and narrative that you're referring to, rather than an idea that concerns over the character's agency should extend to and supercede arbitrarily isolated gameplay elements (in this case referring to costumes and camera control), then I think we're on the same page there.

I definitely don't want any kind of litmus test required for engaging with any of these mediums, and I hope I didn't somehow give off the impression that I did. Art is for everyone, though the desires and tastes of everyone may not be instantiated in every individual work. Whether someone wants to engage with a work on a deeper analytical level is up to them, and you certainly cannot force an unwilling participant to engage in or with analysis (let alone the game itself), nor should we explicitly or passively implore their abstention in conversations around art. Art shouldn't have gatekeepers, and neither should The Conversation™ around it.

And it's not that every work in-and-of-itself is either problematic or not, as a whole. Works are complicated as fuck, quite like you describe, given that they're testaments to worlds unto themselves. Not just fictionally, but in the sense that they're reflections of reality as filtered through an individual's (or team of individuals') existence. However, relative between people can an aspect of a work be problematic ornot. Person R might think 2B's booty is problematic, and Person S might think it's perfectly fine (and also not problematic; sorry, I really like puns). Both are valid. But every opinion is "valid," and every work is filtered through the world of the individual who's using it. An interpretation of art in a vacuum literally cannot exist, or at least I cannot imagine how it would. And yet, the scope of which an individual understands and chooses to interpret a work may differ from others, and that's for them to decide. Discussion is how we weed out which opinions and which interpretive ranges are better, if there's even a qualitative disparity to be observed at all. That's case-by-case of course.

To that end, the question of a social regression is, to my eye, vitally important. If we're to eventually fall into misogyny, misandry, or a kind of interpersonal nihilism (and not the wispy cutesy kind of nihilism) via the enjoyment of a fictional character's physicality, we should investigate the veracity of the insinuation.

As I've laid out, I'm not an absolute moral relativist. I do adhere to there being a right and a wrong (to be consistently further sussed out by thoughtful life), including when it comes to determining what's best for society and for individuals. If someone is concerned about normalizing the minimization of a fictional person's role in their objectification (which either is or isn't a dehumanizing process), I think it's fair to assume (unless otherwise informed) that they think such a thing could be bad. The "why" and the "how" and the "what if" are the next steps in determining whether that concern is justified or much ado, and what measures, if any, ought be taken either way.

I think we're in broad agreement here then.

I'm using agency to refer to a vastly complicated array of artistic techniques that can contribute towards the subjective ideation of what we would typically think of as a person, ranging from the ideation of the most slightly anthropomorphic chair to the most believable of characters. It's a usage that's long been applied to narratives as well as games as simple as Asteroids, sculptures, biographies, surrealist art, chairs themselves or just about anything. It has a passing resemblance to the literal definition you use and a similar origin, but otherwise not exactly one-to-one.

I would add that the difference in opinions, for me, comes down to what I mentioned before about being concerned or inspired.

If what inspires you concerns me, or vice versa, that's a spark for the best of conversations about where we're heading as a society and where we should be heading. But when one side is concerned by something, and the other side is merely not, or is just less concerned, it makes for conversations that seem far less vital to me than they will to you and others.

I suspect that merely originates from a different view on just how problematic the society we live in today already is. We may not agree on that front but I'd like to thank you for the respectful exchanges.

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#9 Edited by NietzscheCookie (122 posts) -

@theht:

Insightful as always!

I think we're just applying different meanings to the word agency here. Part of games being a new media is there being a severely limited vocabulary for how we talk about these issues. And clearly we agree that there's a whole host of things that can be critiqued beyond a lack of story context. If you prefer to call it a 'dehumanizing element' or a 'gameplay/narrative disconnect over character use', that's fine with me.

The idea of trusting user experience of media and requiring a litmus test for engaging with a work sort of misses the purpose of art. The thing is, problematic or not problematic isn't actually a binary issue. All work is problematic by degrees, existing on spectrum because the truth is, Society is problematic. Its a chaotically constructed mess of norms, beliefs and customs. Art can't transcend that, it can only try. The thing that makes Nier:Automata great is that it fundamentally understands this about social construction and engages with it. Its a rare thing, and its done really well for the most part. Which is why its also a work that invites 'The Conversation'.

Part of the point of art as a human endeavour is to explore the human experience and hold a mirror up to the world. In this sense art can never go too far in how problematic it is, because its just the Artist's vision, but at the same time its up to all of us to engage with all art and fulfil that art's destiny in saying something by responding to what is says, and indeed the ways it displays our society in a new light and shapes future ones. Art in a vacuum is worthless.

Discussions of censorship and whether a specific work objectively crosses a line into causing societal harm is a completely false narrative.

All works are on the spectrum and some create more discussion. If we don't engage with fiction, then its just raw entertainment and we may as well watch the Mark Wahlberg Transformers films forever.

To act as such a critic is never a slippery slope because there's just no reason to ever run to the extremes of classifying things. Its also vital in that our discussion of art is itself a discussion of society. The relevance to real people doesn't just come from limiting disbelief and substituting real people with fictional ones, it comes from the ways our idea of what a person is, as imaginative creators, originates in our experiences with real people. The Conversation is always larger than just this one work, the work is just the centre piece to talk about ourselves and our civilization.

Again, its not objectifying that's the issue, its the idea that objectification can always be compatible with all scenarios, situations and contexts. The poster example falls onto that spectrum somewhere. There is no test and we don't need to run to extremes to save objectification from being synonymous with dehumanization. We can rather rely on the subjective experiences of people to discuss an art work in its context and how it uses objectification. We can also rely on people to subjectively not be concerned or inspired by anything they experience and not show up to the discussion. To put it another way, displaying an otherwise ordinary sexy pin-up poster of snake that, does nothing else but titillate, at an art gallery would of course encourage criticism.

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#10 Edited by NietzscheCookie (122 posts) -

@theht:

I appreciate the thoughts, and I think they're well written! I very much agree that its a murky relationship in how the player relates to fictional characters. And I am by no means an expert on analyzing this area of video games. To me the agency question comes back around to the way a film critic would use the word, as you say in relation to narrative conceits and the role characters have in the story. Except that with games we have to re-establish why film critics would think to use this critique in stories and examine whether these reasons for critiquing story character agency imply similar arguments ought to extend beyond the simplest definition of what constitutes the narrative of a game.

You're right that ownership over characters probably isn't the right word. Inhabit is a good word in relation to something like The Last of Us, where empathizing with the character we control and their viewpoint is part of the narrative focus. But inhabit doesn't at all capture why someone would want to blow up 2B's skirt. In that regard, objectification and dehumanization might be concepts that can be separated in theory and in other works but in the moment, when we're supposed to care about these characters and their views, one aspect of design encourages a third person relationship of objectification, and the other a first person 'inhabiting'. Dehumanization may be too strong a word to use, rather, in this sense, its more that it undercuts the attempts at humanization.

It also calls into question what the purpose of this avatar in this world is, much like the agency of characters in a film. Its important to remember that almost nothing happens in a game without designers working hard to make it possible. If a game designer works at modelling something or allowing pervy 'victories' over the character, its not equivalent to leaving the moral imperative up to the player. In some sense, the player and the author share a level of control over the avatar during play in which the author says 'look at all these things you can do to these female characters'. The issue with agency isn't a literal one about 2B and her plight as a fictional character but rather a question about representation.

When we make media that places the focus of enjoying the sexuality of women on the ways in which that sexual enjoyment can be obtained through means that sidestep entirely what said women want sexually, or sidestep the context of that character's situation or awareness, it is problematic, not in the sense that it shouldn't ever be done or transgresses some boundary, but in the sense that the designer might not have thought about these issues and critics are bringing it to their attention. Basically by making otherwise serious fiction that disconnects entirely the sexual enjoyment of a character's design from the context of what that character is doing or stands for, we contribute to a society that normalizes the idea that its ok minimize the role of the objectified in how you derive pleasure from them. Some people won't see it that way because its just fiction, but this kind of representation does matter.

I don't know if you've been paying attention to Hollywood and the entire world lately, but these systemic issues run real deep. Which is part of why I'm spirited about the influence of fiction, and also the way we talk about the analysis of fiction.

As a tangential note, Yoko Taro has expressed his desire to make porn, and I would strongly encourage him to do that. But I do think he could learn from these concerns over Nier: Automata to make better porn. For a better tomorrow.