By thenesta 1 Comments
It's 9:30 AM, PST. I've been up for a while, I should probably go to bed, but I'm afraid I can't pass up an opportunity to chronicle one man's decent into madness. Last night, after Spike TV's Video Game Award ceremony, indie developer Robert Boyd lost his shit. The problem? That The Walking Dead had won the award for Game of The Year, not to mention several other awards, and Telltale itself receiving an award. Boyd states in a few of his Tweets:
Generally disappointed with the majority of the VGA decisions so hey, at least they're consistent from year to year. :)
What really bothers me about the VGA is how it really emphasizes the fact that the blockbuster game industry is going places I can't follow.
Extreme violence, horrendous language, and more! Gotta be edgy to the max! It just makes me sick.
I'm sad we live in a society where moral ambiguity and shock values are considered art. Instead of, you know, trying to uplift.
Now, obviously Boyd is entitled to his opinion that The Walking Dead is a shitty game, and make no mistake about it, that's exactly what he thinks. As Boyd has stated in other Tweets last night that he felt the writing was unimpressive, the vulgar language was offensive and even going as far as to make a joke saying that: The Walking Dead is a "choose your own adventure game" that won the VGAs, while his zombie themed game Molly The Were-Zompire did not win a VGA in 2009. Sure, it's a joke, but the fact remains, Boyd is tearing down a game he has no respect for. This maybe wouldn't come as such offensive behavior if it wasn't little more than a childish tantrum that a grown man threw right after Telltale won big at the VGAs. A mainstream event, held on live televsion, where an adventure game developer extraordinarily enough bested juggernauts like Assassin's Creed III and Mass Effect 3. And maybe I'm overreacting a bit myself, but it just seems petty for developer to insult his peers in their moment of triumph. Your mileage may vary.
Obviously that isn't the bigger issue here though. It's the fact that Boyd somehow feels that The Walking Dead is part of a bigger problem in the industry. As made clear by the above statements, and the response I got from Boyd when I confronted him about his soreness over The Walking Dead winning:
TWD winning is symbolic of a greater problem
Boyd clearly feels that the games industry is corrupted by a market that is overrun by violent video games. He's not totally wrong there though, many of the most popular blockbuster games are in fact violent, or otherwise mature video games. But it's ignorant to focus on that one aspect of the market, while at the same time plenty of family friendly, or at the very least, games devoid of any mature content are more than successful on the market. While Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War, and Grand Theft Auto might lead the charge in the violent side of things, just about every Nintendo franchise is a top-seller, you also have franchises like Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy, and various Sports games which also do ridiculously well. And that's just counting the multi-million dollar franchises. So, yes, only violent video games are selling well if you turn a blind-eye to the rest of the the industry. Not to mention the fact that nothing is stopping developers from making games of any subject matter, regardless of how well they sell.
Granted, this could have all been the frustrations of a man who got caught up in the moment of a game he didn't like winning a Game of The Year award. Wouldn't be the first time that's happened to someone, certainly not me either. However... it was the comments this morning that really lead me to believe that Boyd is a little fanatical in his belief about mature rated games.
Boyd picked up the torch from where he left off last night, and continued his ranting about the VGAs and violent video games, which you can see in the following Tweets:
You know my whole VGA ranting wasn't really about the VGAs at all or even the games that were nominated.
I'm just getting frustrated that stuff like Uncharted->Last of Us and Tomb Raider are turning into things I can't in good conscious play.
The new Tomb Raider sounds like something that could be an all-time favorite of mine but it sounds like they're ruining it with violence.
Again, Boyd is entitled to think whatever he wants, and if he truly can't enjoy what are looking to be some of 2013's biggest games, than that truly is a shame. However saying things like "ruining it with violence" is a bit extreme, not to mention entirely subjective. But it doesn't stop there...
And we can't even lay the blame solely on the developers. If people weren't buying these kinds of games, publishers would stop making them.
Whoa, what? While the statement isn't entirely false, I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that developers only craft games in a mature setting to cash in on a blood-thirsty audience. Let's not bullshit, the money helps, but even if that wasn't the case, developers wouldn't just altogether avoid mature subject matters. In much the same way a developer might not think a turn based strategy game would sell as much as a first person shooter, but does it anyway. If we were to take this into the realm of films, then I supposed David Fincher wouldn't have made an English adaptation of a Sweidsh film, and book series about a girl being raped. He'd just make a shitty kids' CGI movie and call it a day.
Speaking of movies, Boyd has something to say about those too! When someone on Twitter asked Boyd if games should be treated differentially than other forms of media, Boyd had this to say:
No, but movies are kind of a lost cause at this point.
So even movies are beyond redemption in Boyd's eyes! Despite the fact that most of the top grossing movies in the world are in fact NOT R Rated. I suppose at least you can take some small comfort in the fact that Boyd at least considers all forms of violent media equally worthless.
Finally, to top everything off, Boyd had one final outrageous thing to say in regards to violent media:
Anyone who thinks this kind of stuff doesn't affect them is fooling themselves. It may be gradual & subtle but it has an effect.
WOW! Alright, so we shouldn't be any stranger to this argument at this point right? For years games have been treated as a punching bag by the media. Video Games have been setup as some sort of grand scapegoat that can explain away all the flaws and mental illnesses a person might have had before committing a violent crime.
Gee, you know what this is reminding me a lot of? Jack Thompson. A man who spent years of his life, fighting a ridiculous battle to try and restrict, or out right ban the selling of violent video games in the United States. Thankfully the lunatic was finally disbarred to much rejoicing. Furthermore, as of last year the Supreme Court ruled that video games are protected by the First Amendment. Making it perfectly legal, not to mention acceptable to produce and sell violent video games in this Country.
With that said, it should just be common sense that creators are going to tackle mature subjects. Why wouldn't they? Otherwise we'd just be moving backwards, and not expand on the amount of subjects that can be conveyed effectively in this form of media.
Clearly I'm overreacting at this point, and the simple fact of the matter is that Robert Boyd is just a narrow-minded individual who has a very zealous belief on whether violent media should even exist or not. And that's especially weird considering his current project, which is Penny Arcade Adventures Episode 3, and it's sequel. Considering the original subject matter of Penny Arcade, it's pretty baffling that Boyd is in charge of making these games. Only now do I see the stark contrast between the original games by Hothead, in which it featured gibs, and a hobo scientist who pissed on things for research. And a much more mild, if not neutered story.
In closing. I dunno, I guess I was just put off by Boyd's opinions. And I say that as someone who has enjoyed his games, and frequently enjoys his commentary on JRPGs, and Kickstarter. I've seen Boyd complain about violent video games, and vulgar language in the past, and it has always put me off, as someone who is open minded and able to enjoy different forms of expression. But I guess this time it was just too much, in rapid succession and at a very bad time, where I thought Telltale should be celebrated for a great achievement. Not shunned for making something Robert Boyd didn't like.
I'm out! *drops the mic*