Diecast #83: Game Awards 2014, GTA V “Banned”

By Shamus
on Dec 8, 2014
Filed under:
Diecast

272 comments

Trigger warning: In this episode we talk about mass murder, censorship, and social justice. These are touchy subjects. Just remember to be nice and to not to post angry and we’ll get through this.

Thanks again to special guest George Weidman of SuperBunnyHop for joining in.


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Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Chris, George Weidman (SuperBunnyHop), and Shamus.

Show notes:
2:00 George and Chris have been playing Far Cry 4 together.

4:00 The Game Awards 2014.

You can watch the entire show on YouTube. The whole “Dorito” joke is a reference to Doritogate. We joke, but the whole story is pretty sad. The journalist who criticized it wound up being fired, and the guy who participated (Geoff Keighley) went on to greater things and eventually hosted this awards show. I don’t think Keighley is a villain by any stretch, but he is kind of the poster boy for capitulating, malleable journalism in the face of overbearing publisher PR control.

20:00 Grand Theft Auto V pulled from the shelves of Target in Australia.

I have no idea what happened to this conversation. We became so sarcastic we wrapped all the way around and started arguing our sarcastic points in earnest. Or something?

I can only speak for myself, but I think my position is: GTA V is no worse in content than dozens of other things you can buy at Target and its removal is nothing more than shrill voices getting their way. On the other hand, I’m having trouble marshaling my outrage because the game is so obnoxious and sanctimonious towards the American culture that makes its success possible. The game is greeted with both fawning adulation and outraged calls for censorship, and I don’t think it deserves either.

Disclaimer: Haven’t played V yet because they’re dragging their feet on a PC release. This opinion is based on my impressions of IV, and of the bits of the game I’ve seen so far. I’ll find out first-hand when they finally get around to the PC release next month.

35:00 MAILTIME!

Dear Diecast,

Why do so many games that let you be a bad guy never let you be THE bad guy? Like in Overlord, you’re always opposed by people who are worse than you somehow. Never better than you. Do people just want to DO bad, no BE bad?

Yours,
Ira

Dear Diecast!

With all the Dragon Age talk you guys have recently, I wonder if you’ve heard the news: the game has DRM that hasn’t been cracked, so far. This so called Denuvo DRM is also in FIFA 15 which has been out for 2 months, and also hasn’t been cracked.
There has been rumors about it causing technical problems, but the worst they can really seem to pin on it is a few percent performance decrease. Any opinions? If they’ve finally made an uncrackable DRM, is that good or bad?

Your biggest fan,
Csirke

Dear Diecast,

Shadows of Mordor has been criticized, including by Shamus, for completely contradicting much of the defining characteristics, central message, and tone of Tolkien’s work.

Has playing it given you any sympathy to people who object to the bait-and-switch they faced when playing Spec Ops: The Line? Would you have been able to appreciate the artistic statement if Shadows of Mordor had just been well-executed enough that it seemed to be saying Tolkien was wrong deliberately, yet still marketed itself as a straight Lord of the Rings game?

F. T. Garcia

Dear Diecast,

Josh: What is your favorite type of tea?
Shamus: What is your favorite alcoholic drink?
Everyone else: Answer whichever you want.

-Anthony
PS: Sure hope I didn’t get the first two questions confused. Nah.

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Footnotes:



A Hundred!A Hundred!20202012272. There are now n+1 comments, where n is a big-ish sort of number.

From the Archives:

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Random farcry 4 thing that happened to me:While strolling around*,I came upon a fight between a bear and a tiger.It was mesmerizing.The bear won,so I rewarded it by throwing knives at it until it died.It was an awesome moment.But a bit later,as if the game wanted to say “You thought thats awesome?You aint seen nothin’ yet!”, I stumbled upon two bears fighting.They wrestled for a bit,until one of them ran away.It was amazing.I love wildlife in far cry 4.

    *By strolling around,I mean climbing the nearest mountain,hurling myself off a cliff,floating down,then repeating.Unless I find a copter,in which case I fly up to the top,hurl myself into nothingness,float down,then continue strolling.

  2. Infinitron says:

    Before he became the Dorito Pope, Geoff Keighley did good work, like this article on the rise and fall of Trilobyte, developers of The 7th Guest: http://web.archive.org/web/20061130124830/http://www.gamespot.com/features/btg-tri/index.html

    • Jokerman says:

      Dear Csirke,

      You are not their biggest fan, I AM!!!

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Wait:

      “We would like to emphasize that we need to collect a variety of different purposes of computer hardware information, simply because Denuvo 64-bit encryption machine needs to detect a variety of hardware information on your computer”

      What does that mean?Is this once more the “if you change one component of your computer,your game wont work anymore” thing?Because if so,its more hassle than work.

    • Ventus says:

      It’s funny because people are claiming this means Denuvo is a failure and thus all DRM is a failure because it gets cracked eventually but in reality, it did it’s job. Most game sales are during the first week, as I’m sure most people know, and so that’s the time most publishers seem to want to protect the game from pirates. For the first week after release, with everyone talking about it and the hype around the game actually coming out, if you wanted to play and get involved you had to buy it. Of course, looking at sales figures I don’t think they actually improved all that much, despite the lack of piracy. It’s almost impossible to say for certain simply because of the massive number of factors that are involved but one could claim that it means either pirates didn’t actually care about this specific game or that the amount of pirating that actually results in lost sales is much smaller than people anticipated.

      As said here, the aim is not to stop the pirates “FOR EVVAAAA!!!”, but to delay them, to minimise the impact piracy has on sales.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        “Of course, looking at sales figures I don’t think they actually improved all that much, despite the lack of piracy.”

        Its almost like the majority of the people that wouldve pirated it wouldnt buy it anyway.And if anything this just shows that drm doesnt work.If its goal is to turn pirates into customers that is.If its goal is to deny second hand sales,then it definitely does its job,for quite a while now.

        • Hydralysk says:

          Denuvo and it’s ilk aren’t even denying second-hand sales. That ship has already sailed since Steam, and online retailers like it, have become the pretty much the only way of buying PC games. A boxed PC game has become somewhat of a luxury item now, and even then some of them just contain a Steam code on the DVD.

          The second-hand market only exists on consoles now, which don’t have to bother with all these DRM shenanigans (mostly).

      • Piflik says:

        Well, a pirated copy is not a lost sale. Most people who pirate games wouldn’t have bought it in the first place. If they can’t pirate a game they want, they pirate another one. There are enough games to play, and since they don’t pay for their games, they don’t really have to filter. Gamers like you and I, who pay for their hobby, usually go for quality. We get one or two big games a month, max, and want them to last us for hours and entertain us the whole time. Pirates go for quantity. They get a game, play it for some time, and if it is bad, they download the next one. A pirate can play a dozen games a day.

        It is kind of sad that the big companies fail to realize this, but then again they seldom realize anything, so we get one CoD- or WoW-clone after the next, riddled with macro-transactions.

        • Csirke says:

          Even though I don’t completely agree with your description of the archetypical digital pirate, you raise a good question. I wonder if they did manage to make an uncrackable DRM, and at some point, all new AAA games (or even all new games) used it, would that increase sales? Because it’s true, when 99% of games are cracked, then a pirate who can’t play DA:I has millions of other choices, so he/she isn’t forced into a purchase as much.

          • TSi says:

            There isn’t any perfect drm. Even one that keeps some content online thus forcing you to log-in to get that vital content could be emulated or side-loaded at some point so nope.
            The only thing i can think of is something like OnLive where your game isn’t installed on your machine but on a server you have no control over. This means a lot of issues from input lag to visual quality, no modding suport, connectivity issues…

          • Steve C says:

            It wouldn’t increase sales, it would reduce them. DRM doesn’t stop pirates but it does stop second hand sales. The industry thinks second hand sales are the same as piracy and is hostile towards it. Except they desperately need it and don’t realize.

            Enough people resell their games that it is a necessary part of the industry. Selling old games effectively reduces the costs to consumers when they purchase new games. People who would never buy BroShooter2 at full retail price have an option with a used copy. If they like it they might even buy BroShooter3 at full price on release day. AAA industry is the most impacted segment of the market. If they somehow managed to lockdown everything with DRM they’d slit their own throats due to the market contraction.

            Consider how the automobile market would change if when you went to sell your own car if the old one was always worth $0. Now consider how that would impact buying new cars.

            • Felblood says:

              So, what if every car was a 2009 Suzuki? (That was the last year they made cars.)

              • Steve C says:

                Suzuki cars did not stop working in 2010 just because they stopped making them. The cars also continued having a resale value. If a company who uses DRM turns off the authentication server (likely due to bankruptcy) then it would be like the cars suddenly stopped working in 2010 and they would have $0 value.

                • Felblood says:

                  Actually the airbags in mine were remotely disabled when they were recalled, but I can’t get them fixed for free, because their aren’t any authorized Suzuki dealers near me. (Why would anyone agree to be a dealer for cars that are no longer made?)

                  So, it actually is kind of like having legacy DRM from a defunct company screw up your game. Except instead of a video game, it is a key safety feature in my rapidly disintegrating, crappy car.

                  • Felblood says:

                    Oh, and no they really don’t have any resale value.

                    Trust me, I am so far underwater on this thing it would be funny, if I was a fictional character. I will own this car until it dies, or it kills me. Odds are good we will die together.

            • Wide and Nerdy says:

              That’s absolutely beend the case with me. I don’t buy used but I do buy older installments at deep discount. I have then gone on to pay full price for Batman Arkham origins, dragon age inquisition, and mass effect 3, and also gone back to get other old games which since I do digital, is money in their pocket. I even very nearly bought elder scrolls online and I normally hate mmos. While I buying through steam. I can tell you these would be my buying habits even for used games.

          • 4th Dimension says:

            Depends on the class of the Pirate. If he has enough income and it proved that the crack truly is uncrackable and he really wants to bay for the game he might buy it about a month after launch or on a sale. But a pearson with lot less income like somebody from non western country will never pay 70+€ for a GAME. He might buy it couple of years later on a Steam sale if it costs 5-10€.

            • Felblood says:

              I completely agree with most of your sentiments, right up until you start sounding like you think there’s no lower class in Western countries.

              When I was a single upper-middle-class guy. I made a point of not just buying my games, but buying up the games and movies I had pirated in college. –in no small part because of Shamus’ influence.

              Now that I’m an increacingly-lower-class family man, I don’t lose any sleep over tripping over to the pirate bay, and picking up the latest RGM releases. That money isn’t mine for spending on games; it belongs to my wife and daughters and keeping them fed and housed.

              I’d probably feel more guilty if I was still living in independent survivalist Idaho, rather than subsidized socialist Washington. You move 50 miles in this country, and suddenly you are surrounded by a totally different culture.

              • 4th Dimension says:

                I was speaking from expirience as someone not living in a first world country so I wasn’t really saying everyone in the West is wealthy but you certanly have a much higher standard of income.
                Also there is the social factor. Over here 99% of software is pirated, unless it’s completly free. That small part of nonpirated software is mainly due to free licenses that Microsoft gives out from time to time to institutions, and some Bussines firms need to use legal software in order be be certified. And some people that have enough money to buy from Steam during sales.
                But everywhere lese the defauld way to get some software is to ask your friend or pirate to burn you the disc, or download it yourself. Bussiness and institutions when they need some software package they emidiatelly go for piracy (say you are a school professor and want to teach your students some basic image processing things, you go and emidiatelly download the entire Adobe suite and install it in the entire computer classrooom).
                As such considering that launch prices are WAAAAYYY out of our bying range, and that it’s simpler to pirate (since most of the shops only sell pirated software), and that paying for something that is “free” is considered throwing money, new fancy DRM is not likely to help publishers stop us from pirating.

                • Felblood says:

                  Oh, I understand completely. I’m sorry if I came across as combative. I guess I just feel like I have to stamp down that “You Americans have everything, over there in New Yorkimerica,” attitude wherever I see it.

                  I kind of miss the pre-DMCA era, of American piracy laws. Not only for the regular reasons, but also because I miss being able to claim that I could download games under “Fair Use,” for educational purposes, because I was studying game design, independantly. It was all part of my self-directed “Survey of Video Games 101”.

                  Fair Use for educational purposes used to be so vaguely defined, it was essentially a formal exclusion for starving artists and students.

                • Zak McKracken says:

                  “say you are a school professor and want to teach your students some basic image processing things, you go and emidiatelly download the entire Adobe suite and install it in the entire computer classrooom”

                  … and Adobe should be happy about this because that is how they became the tool that everybode wants and knows how to use… as soon as that professor or some of his students get into a position to actually afford it (or where must have a legal copy for some reason), then they will buy only Adobe CS for all their image-editing needs, completely ignoring all possible competition.

                  => The real losers of this type of piracy are makers of small, inexpensive software that could do 95% of the job for 1% of the money. And it’s also reducing the demand for free software, of course. I’d much rather everybody learned to use Gimp — if then just 0,01% of those new users contributed in some small way to the project, that’d make a huge impact.

                  • Mike S. says:

                    Adobe gets most of the benefit they would from that by negotiating site licensing with universities. They get some money (probably quite a bit, though much less than what they charge retail customers) and students and faculty get Adobe CC “free” (i.e. paid for by their tuition).

                  • 4th Dimension says:

                    That would be true if professors and students felt the paid vorsions were somehow better. But unless somebody forces them to use paid software, say if an client contractually obliged them to prove they used legal software to do the comissioned work, they will simply continue pirating it, because “that is the way you acquire sofware”.

                    • Zak McKracken says:

                      Well, that’s how I grew up too. I learned most of modern graphics software stuff on Photoshop, from 2.0 to CS2, and never paid for it. Then I finished university, started having a proper income, but switched to Gimp. Then everyone and their mothers started asking funny questions about why I don’t just use Photoshop.

                      The thing is: Adobe still profited from this because it’s created a situation where it is virtually the only commercial photo editing software. The entire market can be (roughly) divided into two groups: Those who pay for Photoshop and those who don’t, and no competitor can ever amount to anything in this climate because they cannot possibly get to where Adobe is. Doing that would require them to compete on price (nope) with fewer features, slowly working their way up, building a customer base, going from hobbyists to freelancers to companies but that “in-between” market simply does not exist. “No way am I spending a couple thousand Euros for graphics software” sounds quite logical, but what about just 20? That just does not exist since there are zero customers in the market who would pay one percent(!) of what Adobe asks for 80% of the features.
                      Especially demographics who don’t have too much money would be the target for that market, but the fact that they are rather pirating means that Adobe is safe. They know this and that’s why the price is going up and up and up, and rather than lose money to piracy, it just helps them kill their competitors’ market.

                      I’m just using Gimp since I’ve realized that. And Darktable, RawTherapee and Hugin. Had some paid shareware in there, too, but most of it is just not very good. I’m missing out on a few features but productivity is not that important if it’s just something I do to relax.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          I wouldn’t normally point out a typo so understand I’m asking this question because if there’s a chance that its a real word, I want to know:

          What is a macro-transaction in this context?

        • Kalil says:

          From what I have directly observed, the archetypical pirate is either a kid, a college student, or a low wage earner who /cannot/ purchase games on their own accord. In fact, this was me for the first 2.5 decades of my life.
          I haven’t pirated a game since graduation. Actually, the opposite, in a way – I’ve bought copies of many of the games I pirated as a kid.

          • Felblood says:

            I think that it’s disingenuous and possibly harmful to assume that we are the only type of pirate, but I think it’s fair to say we make up the majority.

      • Csirke says:

        Yeah, I agree that is their immediate goal. And there still isn’t a crack out for DA:I or FIFA, even though Denuvo is supposedly cracked.

        And it sounds like a pretty stupid crack to me, it sounds like they will have to update it every time a new type of processor comes out or something? They’re doing some sort of emulation for the sake of Denuvo, if I understand correctly. So it’s not like most cracks that avoid the DRMs code paths, they just pretend to be uncracked for Denuvo.

        • Ivan says:

          If the primary purpose of the DRM is to protect that vital first week of sales then wouldn’t the best thing to do be to update the game after both that week and when the crack comes out in order to remove the DRM?

          As “Steve C” pointed out above, there is value in allowing the second hand market to exist, although this could also be curbed by putting the game out on sale in a reasonable time-frame and possibly even eliminate the second hand market almost entirely if they priced the game aggressively enough. After all, with digital distribution, once you complete the product it takes next to nothing to produce an essentially infinite supply. Getting all the hold-outs you can should be top priority, and would extend the sale life of a game by quite a bit.

          Is there something else that the DRM is supposed to be doing that I’m missing? Because it obviously does not stop pirates in the long-term.

          • Sleeping Dragon says:

            I still think large part of the whole DRM song and dance is done to create an impression of protecting the game from piracy. Unless it’s some new, fancy method in most cases the crack is out within hours of release, heck, often it’s out before release. To me the question is who the impression is created for: the higher-ups within the company? the shareholders? the government agencies? the gaming public? Could this be a case similar to that of protecting the trademark? Maybe it’s so that, in theory, if they decide to make a show-trial out of someone they have a stronger proof that a given copy of the game is actually pirated since the program was altered?

          • Zak McKracken says:

            I don’t find that article anymore but I read an interview with a former music manager titled roughly “of course pirating is good for music sales, get over it!”

            There are many people working in the creative industries who know these things don’t work but a large instituion is always waaay more conservative than its average member, and then there are investors who are a slightly hysterical pack. If you tell them (who don’t play games and don’t deal with tiny details) that you effectively want to “stop protecting their investment” … bad idea! It’s a bit like papers please, but imagine the dictator or Artstotska being in a similar situation as the player … because even if the majority of investors don’t pull out, if just some pull out, your stock will drop.

            As I said earlier: The only way to have DRM that might be effective in the first week but does not hinder people after that is by requiring companies to remove it after a short preiod, by law. Of course enforcing that this is done in a good manner (because other than that law, there’d be no incentive for a company to do this) you’d need to have some more rules how it has to be done, and it needs to be enforced, so … that law might not be such a brilliant idea. I hope there are smarter ways.

        • guy says:

          Eh, now that they’ve cracked it once it’s going to be much easier in the future. Two months isn’t exactly a record; I recall hearing six for Securom. I would not be surprised if they can set up an automated cracker by the time the next game comes out.

      • lurkey says:

        Well, the foul thing that Assassin’s Creed 2 was burdened with also took quite some time to crack, so did, if I recall correctly, good ol’ Securom’s iteration 1.0 that got shipped with Bioshock, so it’s not like Denuvo’s crack delay is even a new thing. And of course it won’t change anything. Pirates gonna pirate, corporations gonna corporate…that is, treat pirated copies as lost sales and think “Hey, Dragon Age 2 with lousy DRM sold wayyyy worse than Inquisition with Denuvo, meaning DRM works, you guys! Lets slap it on everything!”

        Still, here’s hoping that at least those cracks piss corporations off. Suffering of evil entities make universe better.

      • Zak McKracken says:

        Something to read (results of random search, I know there are even better ones out there, including proper academic papers):

        http://www.zeropaid.com/news/100921/what-filesharing-studies-really-say-conclusions-and-links/

        https://torrentfreak.com/swiss-govt-downloading-movies-and-music-will-stay-legal-111202/

        http://boingboing.net/2010/03/04/free-ebooks-correlat.html

        http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/03/copyright-math-vies-with-string-theory-for-most-complex-profitable-potentially-ridiculous-theory-vid/

        => My conclusion: DRM is neither worth the money spent to create and maintain it (including the idiotic sums spent on lobbying for its legal framework, and the erosion of civil rights that goes with it) nor the hassle that honest customers need to put up with as a consequence.

        Also, it can in principle never be unbreakable, unless the actual game runs on a server, and it’s just streaming to your screen, but even then you could break into the server, since it needs a network connection :)
        Then, having your customers be encumbered by DRM forever for the sake of fewer unauthorized copies for a week or two … it all does not add up.

        • Counterpoint: I love my Dethek rune-decoder-wheel from the old “Pool of Radiance” game. :)

          • krellen says:

            That thing was neat. I may still have mine.

            • I do miss “feelies” in video games that weren’t all only available with pre-orders. I think I still have an EQ cloth map somewhere and some of the Hitchhiker’s Guide items from the old Infocom game.

              • Zak McKracken says:

                Yes, and the cloth maps that came with some of the Ultima games were cool, too.

                How much cooler would these things have been if the game had also been tied to some server that would be shut down after five years, to make that cloth map useless? Or if you could have been sent to jail for showing it to other people or taking photos of it?

                Even the code table from Zak McKracken was kinda cool. Printed on dark brown paper to prevent copying. Of course they didn’t take into considerations that schoolkids at my age had much more time than money, so there were handwritten copies of that thing available, and photocopies of those…)

                Sorry for being sarcastic but I just found out that Elite:Dangerous will be tied to a server as well.
                A few weeks ago I saw the original Elite run on a C64 in a museum, and I played a round of Populous II last weekend. That won’t happen to any of the current “big” games.

                • I think those maps printed in dark ink on dark paper didn’t take into account being dipped in a bleach solution, making them ugly, but usable to a photocopier. :)

                  Of course, one could make the argument that one could misplace a codebook, map, wheel, or whatever a lot easier than a major company losing their authentication servers in the short run. Perhaps it would take legislation, but perhaps a “final patch” that unlocks every purchased copy would be in order, should the business go under?

                  • Zak McKracken says:

                    Yes, it would. This was said very often ion the days when server-bound DRM started happening. I don’t think any company has actually done it, ever, and there are a lot of DRM servers that were taken down eventually.

                    The problem is: If there’s this game that’s not making you any more money, why would you pay to keep the server running, or why would you pay to create a patch to release the people who still want to play it? Doubly so if the company has a financial problem and is about to go under. Or about to get acquired by EvilCorp who are known to hate their customers: Releasing a patch in the latter situation would be reducing the market value of your company, in EvilCorp’s eyes!

                    No, the only thing that works is either not having DRM in the first place or forcing games companies by law to have a de-DRM patch on launch-day that must be released to the public after a certain period. Though the latter approach would likely lead to very buggy patches, unless some other measures are taken, and then it gets messy, so … just don’t. Please.

                  • Zak McKracken says:

                    as to the “misplacing stuff”: That’s certainly true, but then many games require some account these days and passwords can be forgotten, e-mail accounts closed and two moves later you dig out that game DVD from a cardboard box and realize that you have lost the information required to get permission to use it…
                    I actually write the account information on the inside of every boxed game I have that requires a login. But I still have to rely on the server to run and my internet connection to work, and … gah, do I hate waiting 2 minutes for the verification e-mail to arrive every single time I want to play Guildwars II!

                • Felblood says:

                  No! I cannot agree! Why?

                  I have told this story on this site before, but it’s a cautionary tale that deserves to be trotted out every few years.

                  As a child of about 9 or so, I received the greatest gift a kid of that age could get, in the mid-nineties. The CD-ROM game Top-10 pack, in the giant red box. Seriously a 2.5 X 4 foot box for 10 CDs, containing 19 games. I’m not sure who decided these games were the top 10, and they weren’t all winners.

                  This story is about the copie of Ultima 7 and Wizardry 7 that came in that giant box.

                  Even as a kid, I could tell that Ultima 7 was something special compared to the usual fare. The only RPG I had really played before this was Super Mario RPG. Can you guess what wasn’t in the box? The map. –The map that you need to get out of he first town, unless you live in 2004+ and can just look up the answers on the internet. This was the first time that DRM screwed me out of a legitimate purchase. It wouldn’t be the last. Screw feelie based DRM forever.

                  Wizardry 7 was another great classic RPG, that I almost missed out on. Another thing that didn’t come in that ridiculously huge box was manuals. Someone had hit on the bright idea of dumping the manuals to plain text and making new CDs that didn’t need to come with them. They didn’t include the pictures or page numbers.

                  Want to load your saved game? Please enter he 3rd word on the fifth line of the second paragraph of page 237. I didn’t know any swear words back then, so I had to make do with inarticulate howls of rage.

                  Thankfully, my mom was pretty savvy with computers, and found a way to break the DRM on Wizardry 7, and I learned a lot of great things to (not) do if I ever made an RPG. She didn’t know anything about EULAs or the legal rules of consumer license enforcement, but I learned some valuable lessons about both that day.

                  • Zak McKracken says:

                    Your mom broke the DRM for you … that’s amazing!

                    I hadn’t even been aware that the Ultima 7 map was supposed to be DRM. I didn’t have it on cloth either, I think it was on paper. I recently got the GOG version that comes with a scan.

                    So … I wasn’t implying that object-based DRM was a good thing. It didn’t really work (as I said erlier), and as your story shows, it was still able to prevent legitimate use.
                    So, screw DRM!

                    I think we can agree on that.

  3. Grudgeal says:

    I liked IX too. It’s a toss-up between it and VI.

    • tmtvl says:

      I like Final Fantasy VIII & VI. I also like V, but not quite as much as the other two. I kinda like the gameplay of X, but the characters really don’t do it for me.

    • NotDog says:

      Where in the podcast did this get brought up? I’m currently not able to listen to the whole thing.

      I’ve completed IV and the first half of VI during high school and (probably) early university. I missed the PS1 era and am only now playing through the mid-series. I finished two and a half discs worth of IX but had to stop due to needing a new memory card. Since then I put IX on hold and have completed VII and am now playing VIII, where I’m currently in the middle of the third disc. I also have a copy of X on hand.

      I can sort of see how VII got popular back in the 90s. Most of my complaints against it are the kind I’d level at most JRPGs, along with how starting in Midgar sort of skews the game’s first impressions compared to what the game’s setting is like overall. It’s a solid game otherwise.

      Since I’m in the middle of VIII, it’s on my mind so I have more to say about it. I’ve heard some people say how bad VIII was, and how it most represented the franchise’s turn for the worse, but personally there’s only a few things I’ve found wrong with it. The Junction system could have been interesting but was made annoying by being dependant on having to collect stacks of magic spells. Some of the plot developments were revealed without enough dramatic weight; a character would say “I was mind controlled by a sorceress from the future” instead of “I was mind controlled by a sorceress from the future. From. The fucking. Future” (these could be translation bugs). The ultimate villain has been generally underdeveloped given its concept, though at least it isn’t as bad as Zemus/Zeromus from IV. And there’s this one plot twist in the second disc where the main characters, gathered in a bombed out basketball court, realize that Squall was M. Nite. Shyamalan all along. This twist has so far only served to connect the main characters to the initial villain, and it brought up a potential plot point with the Guardian Forces (the summons) only to apparently drop it.

      On the other hand, the rest of VIII’s plot isn’t that bad (this game’s plot is not the Skyrim Thieves Guild) and I’m finding its setting the most interesting of the PS1 Final Fantasies. And in spite of what other people have said I find the main characters themselves hold up fairly well, though it took some time before they became endearing to me.

      IX on the other hand I started off liking but, thinking back, I’ve grown more disappointed in it. It’s a good game; it just doesn’t feel that fresh and original anymore after playing the other PS1 Final Fantasies, whatever the flaws of the other games were.

      Regarding X, while I haven’t played it reading Shamus’ archives is a bit interesting since he played X before and had a somewhat positive experience, though with the caveat that the “the plot is… highly unusual” (Shamus did a plot analysis I haven’t read because spoilers). On the other hand, Square Enix got put under Story for games developed in Hell four years later with X as a representative, so I’m curious how Shamus’ opinions of the franchise have changed over the years.

      Finally, I’m willing to conclude that VI is basically the Morrowind of Final Fantasy games.* Interpret that however you want.

      That said, I’m likely to sell off my Final Fantasy collection after finishing them while aquiring other, probably better JRPGs anyway.

      * At least in the West. I have no idea how the franchise has been and is currently received in its native country.

      • The Rocketeer says:

        Trabia Garden! Called it! Manageably stupid!

        • NotDog says:

          And you know, I can see ways to fix that scene and the story leading up to with without throwing out the whole game. The easiest fix would be dropping the amnesia bit. Make all the characters know each other from the start, and leave only Matron being Edea and “Sis” being Ellone as the big revelations.

          And the characters themselves have been fairly consistent, which I guess pushes the Trabia scene into “manageably stupid.”

    • krellen says:

      So I’m going to make a statement that I fully expect to be contradicted immediately, but here goes: I don’t know that I have ever met anyone that named FF7 as their favourite for whom FF7 was not also their first.

      • The Rocketeer says:

        Yep, here’s your contradiction.

        I played Final Fantasy IV (Final Fantasy II on the SNES) to completion at least a couple years before ever playing FFVII. FFIV is still one of my favorites, though! Although for at least a year after playing FFVII, if you asked what my favorite RPG was, I would have told you The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, because I didn’t distinguish any kind of RPG from any other kind of RPG.

        Because I was eight years old, and video games were “Nintendo games,” with only about three genres I could distinguish: Mario games, RPG’s, and everything else.

        The one thing I’ve learned for certain about Final Fantasy is that generalizations like that say a lot more about the people you tend to hang around, not about the games themselves. I’ve got a few generalizations of my own, but I know they don’t fare much better than a coin flip.

    • Felblood says:

      IX was my first FF, and it’s art style will always hold a special place in my heart, but I think Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is my favorite.

  4. Grudgeal says:

    I think Syndicate (the original game) is a good example of a “evil” game. You play the evil corporation, you war against other evil corporations for power, control and influence. You’re all industrial-grade, uncaring villains using disposable, mind-controlled agents who are explicitly kidnapped off the streets and lobotimised, to commit large amounts of collateral damage, blowing up buildings, killing or kidnapping wage-slaves and too bad for anyone unfortunate enough to get caught in the crossfire. And the only reason you do it is for a bottom line.

    Really, all strategy games have you committing some kind of mass-scale evil or another, but Syndicate really stand out for me for letting you be an evil overlord. You don’t have a choice *not* to commit war crimes.

    Of course, whoever made the obligatory reboot FPS completely missed out on that. Some video game writer/analyzer (and if it was {errant signal} then I’m going to look really stupid saying this) took them to task on that.

    • Piflik says:

      Dungeon Keeper would also be an example. Although this doesn’t really reflect in the gameplay. No civilians to terrorize…

      • Grudgeal says:

        Dungeon Keeper was a lot more tongue-in-cheek about it though. I’m not saying that Syndicate was entirely straight-laced, bare-faced “you are evil”, but Dungeon Keeper was more Overlord/Evil Genius-esque in its sort of winking “oooh, look at how evil you are” treatment of the player, what with you being called “wicked one” and the second game having “it’s good to be bad” as its tagline.

        Gameplay-wise, Dungeon Keeper rewarded you for building an effective dungeon, making your employees happy, and train, nurture and care for them to build the best possible fighting force and then kill your opponents to be given an ‘evil’ story outcome. Syndicate rewarded you for using the brain-washing ray to turn civilians into cannon fodder, assassinating people on the open street to cause distraction and terror and managing your agents’ drug dosages to change their AI behaviour (or just override their free will altogether) to build the best possible fighting force and kill your opponents for an ‘evil’ story outcome.

        Also, being the CEO of an amoral mega-corporation is somewhat more resonant with what we associate with ‘evil’ in real-life. At least as opposed to being a spell-slinging underworld-dwelling demon god building dungeons you raid in a game of D&D.

        • Steve C says:

          In Dungeon Keeper you were Evil because someone painted you with a big evil brush and went Mwhahaha. Really you were minding your own business and invaders would come into your home and try and kill you. Though the torture chamber probably wasn’t cool.

          • Felblood says:

            I dunno,man.

            Once the champions of FluffyBunnyTown have thrown themselves hopelessly against the defenses of your latest Dungeon Keeper colony, it takes literally no time for the place to turn into a smoldering ruin and be renamed DreadSorrowMire.

            Just because you aren’t getting up close and personal with the civilian cost of your empire doesn’t mean they didn’t make it clear what was happening off camera.

    • krellen says:

      You could be genuinely evil and do genuinely evil things while playing the City of Villains side of City of Heroes. One quest chain involved deliberately undermining the charity efforts of a group of heroes in the Rogue Isles (and a frequent feature was high-conflict (high-body-count) bank robberies in Paragon City, which I suppose could count as state-sponsored terror.)

      • Aulayan says:

        However City of Villains also had a vast majority of its “Villain” missions being “Go beat up this villain group”. The times where you got to be a villain were few and far between.

        And once you hit endgame content, it vanished. “Team up with Heroes! Weeee”

        • Attercap says:

          City of Villains, by virtue (no server pun intended) of being an MMO also meant that any “red-side” character still often felt reactive, rather than pro-active. Villains are typically proactive characters in comics; creating the issues heroes respond to. That said, in CoV–and especially for me in Going Rogue–there were some extremely villainous moments where a character’s grime could really shine.

        • krellen says:

          I refuse to acknowledge the so-called “endgame” of City of Heroes. It never should have happened.

          Also, with the sheer number of villains and villain groups the game had, in-fighting amongst them is the only explanation for why one had not already triumphed.

        • I believe there were missions that were more on the proactive side. I think you could read the newspaper and select from some that were along the lines of “Professor Poindexter has invented a MacGuffin of Awesome. It’d be a shame if some intrepid criminal stole it from him…”

          Still, there was only so much you could do with an MMO setup.

          Though now that I think about it, one could easily take most existing RPGs and recast things so that your acts are more villainous. I mean, it’s not like we aren’t already going into houses and stealing everything not nailed down to fund our enterprises in most games already. We just wave a badge that says “Greater Good, please step aside.”

          • krellen says:

            Yeah, the newspapers and the bank robberies were probably about as proactive a mission as you were going to get out of an MMO of the time (Remember, City of Heroes is actually a bit older than WoW.)

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      I think Rutskarn hit the nail on the head with his observation. People want to be dicks when it subverts expectation. Yahtzee made a similar observation about the go to example, Overlord.

      Regarding Overlord, it especially doesn’t help that your sniveling Chancellor is basically telling you which evil things you should be doing a lot of the time. It pretty much completely robs the joy from it. Worse, having taken our freedom, you at least need to provide us reasons for what we’re doing and the game really doesn’t. If I decide to be evil, I know why I’m doing it, I’ve supplied my own motivation. But if you’re assigning me an evil task, you need to make it clear what my motivation is supposed to be (not necessarily spell it out but make sure its clear from the context).

      To me the game completely broke down when you’re told to kidnap 10 women for your throne room. I expected that they would serve some kind of purpose like being lounged around the room in vaguely sexy poses, maybe one would be serving food and another would be their to fan you or something. Anything. But they all just stand around in your throne room facing random directions confused. It comes off like the Overlord kidnapped these women because he heard that Overlords kidnap women, but having done so he has no idea what to do with them. I just saw that as symbolic of the whole game.

      The second game was better but still not good.

      I also agree with the writer of the question, I had a bad feeling as soon as I learned that the “heroes” I was supposed to be overthrowing were actually bad guys now and that the towns folk were actually grateful to me for liberating them. THATS NOT HOW THIS IS SUPPOSED TO WORK. So after taking each town, I had to go back in and wreak mayhem for no other reason than to send the message to my new subjects “No, you don’t get it. I’m the EVIL OVERLORD, you’re supposed to hate this.”

      I suppose thats kind of funny in its own way but it doesn’t come off as intentional, even in a game thats about being evil for no reason.

      But I prefer open world games now for my evil. Being evil means more when the game also fully supports being good. Fallout New Vegas is perfect for this IMO. And they do a good job of leaving stuff places where you can trigger mayhem if you want to without highlighting it like “Gosh, I sure hope someone doesn’t press the self destruct button.” If you poke around, you can find the button that releases all the monsters from their cages overrunning the monster fight pit and the Westside area. Thats when a designed opportunity for evil feels good.

      • It works both ways. Players like subverting almost any game mechanics available.

        There was a radio story when GTA III/IV and one of the Sims games were big, and they noted that GTA players were taking over cabs and ambulances to see how fun it would be to run those vehicles as they were designed, while in the Sims, players were forming what were basically organized crime syndicates to affect other players’ happiness ratings.

      • Zak McKracken says:

        I think that is just sloppy writing and not understanding the first thing about character motivation.

        In your typical action-schlock game, the good guy is good because that’s what good guys do, and the evil guy is evil because he’s got a goatee and a scheme and stuff. Most video game bad guys don’t have a coherent plan, a proper aim, motivation or are good and pursuing any particular goal. They just do evil stuff for the hero to interfere with.
        So if the kind of person who makes that kind of videogame, started making one where you play the bad guy … well I guess then that’s what you end up doing.

        I loved Dungeon Keeper. Not proper evil, more comically evil but at least the “good guys” were painted in sufficiently annoying ways that it was fun beating them. And you got to torture your own employees. And all those things served a purpose!

        Oh, and in Warcraft III you played (partly) as Prince Arthas who is slowly falling to the dark side during the game. Painted in fairly broad strokes (Blizzard’s RTS games were neer a good storytelling device) but it sort of made sense. Villains without motivation or purpose just make no sense whether you play them or not, but that seems to be the standard stereotype for videogames.

    • Rutskarn says:

      Syndicate is a great example because its evil is all a natural function of its structure. It’s an honest wargame, in a way–it’s a turn-based strategy game examining the actual consequence, means, and implications of the player achieving global domination.

      • Felblood says:

        Syndicate just gives you all the tools and motivation you need, and then just let’s nature take it’s course.

        Why wouldn’t you assassinate a fictional ruler, if it increased your income?

    • Merlin says:

      If we’re okay including board games, Chaos in the Old World is a good candidate for being a bad guy, in addition to being a pretty shnazzy game in its own right.

      The players take the parts of the four Chaos Gods of the Warhammer Fantasy world, each trying to bring ruination and suffering to the world in their own way. It’s understandably more abstract than a video game – nary a ludicrous gib to be seen – and it demands you muck with each others’ plans as often as you deal with the board itself, but the fact that it’s all in service of summoning cultists to corrupt the land goes a long way. The fact that the “board” can win if the players don’t work quickly enough (or more likely, waste too much energy fighting amongst themselves) makes for an amusing dynamic as well. Despite being a competitive game, more than once we’ve set our differences aside to make sure that, if nothing else, the good guys don’t pull out a squeaker in the end.

  5. Wide And Nerdy says:

    You know whats funny? I was thinking about sending in a joke question about why SuperBunnyHop hadn’t been on recently (acting as if I thought he was a regular cast member) and if I had, that would have been the second time a question of mine lined up perfectly with your special guest selection. But it would have been stupid so I dropped it.

    Always happy to see him on though. Good times.

    BTW, small factual correction that probably doesn’t affect anything you said about the story, it is Target, Kmart, and some New Zealand retail chain that the game was pulled from. They’re all owned by the same parent company.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      And now you see that you shouldve sent it,because hilarity wouldve ensue.So next time you get an idea like that,do it,dont hesitate.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      Another show note. George notes how Mumbles commented on his voice being cute. I’m rewatching the Spoiler Warning about Mass Effect 2 and Mumbles says the same thing about Garrus’ voice. And if you listen to them, there are definitely similarities in how their voices sound.

  6. silver Harloe says:

    I was expecting Josh to say his favorite “tea” was Long Island Iced Tea.

  7. tmtvl says:

    About subverting Tolkien, maybe a game portraying the Orcs as a people suffering from racism being manipulated by Sauron but not being intrinsically evil (yes, I know it doesn’t make sense in the world of LoTR, but it’s just an idea)?

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      Yeah. As you acknowledge, you’d basically have to defy lore to do that. But you could focus on the fact that they’re “broken and ruined” elves. Maybe paint them as victims who are given no sympathy when they can’t help what was done to them?

      Still, part of me appreciates that about his work. He went out of his way to make sure “look these are not people, and for contrast let me show you these conflicts between different races who are people.” Thats pretty good for the 40’s and 50’s.

      • Purple Library Guy says:

        Even at that, LoTR has more sympathy for the orcs than lots of fiction has for bad-guys who aren’t carefully defined as intrinsically bad. I mean, I believe it’s Gandalf who says about Sauron, “And for me, I pity even his slaves”. And when you overhear some orc dialogue around Shelob’s lair . . . OK, they’re clearly bastards, they have basically no sympathy even for each other and pretty much hate everyone else. And yet . . . there’s this bit of talk where the orc dude is saying something along the lines of, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just can all this big war, big boss stuff and just go live in relative peace, relax and do a bit of small-time banditry on our own hook?” and I found myself kind of sympathizing.

        • Wide and Nerdy says:

          I’d forgotten that. I think I’ve heard he was never quite satisfied with how he crafted the orc as villains.

          Gollum also gets some sympathetic treatment. As a modern reader I actually find it refreshing that he never redeems himself.

          I also like that, even though the villains never redeem themselves, the heroes always make the attempt. In a way that means more to me than on Star Trek where that kind of faith is always rewarded. Though I suppose it was rewarded with smeagol to a point.

          • Mike S. says:

            Tolkien never resolved the conflict between wanting to have intelligent monsters for his heroes to fight and believing that, because evil is fundamentally an absence and incapable of creation, everything has to have an origin in and the potential for good.

            So the Orcs, for example, are either horrifically manipulated and bred Elves (as in the published stories) or Men subjected to the same treatment (as he later seems to have decided). Either way he could never believe that they were fundamentally and absolutely incapable of redemption. But he also wanted to write stories of good warriors heroically mowing down their enemies and cheering about it (e.g., Legolas and Gimli’s numbers competition). So for the purposes of the story, they’re so far beyond hope that no one raises the question, at least.

            (Though there are still standards of behavior no matter how bad your adversary: “I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood.” And as you note, lots of people in the story think that Gollum is pretty much in the same class, and the entire fate of the world turns out to depend on not making that presumption.)

            And to his credit he wasn’t willing to take the standard heroic fantasy choice of doing that to humans of other races. The good guys may be all northwestern Europeans, and the east and south may be full of what are effectively devil-worshippers. But in addition to making Numenoreans some of the worst villains, Tolkien takes pains to make clear that the Easterlings and the Southrons are on the bad side due to being systematically lied to for thousands of years, while in the physical and sorcerous grasp of an evil demigod. Aragorn frees them rather than conquering them. And there’s the great scene where Sam sympathetically thinks about how the dead Southron wound up so far from his home.

            So he came up with Orcs– but he was never really completely happy with it. He’s all over the place on Trolls too. They were made “in envy and mockery of the Ents”, but in some places he wants them to be animate stone running on a piece of Morgoth’s or Sauron’s malice, without a will of their own– sort of like what the Dwarves would have been if God hadn’t intervened directly to give them free will. But he’s still stuck with The Hobbit’s very human Trolls, who are even sometimes lazily and ineffectually sympathetic about the people they’re about to eat. (There’s a letter in which he tried to convince his correspondent, and I think himself to some extent, that what they were expressing wasn’t really pity in the moral sense.)

            Balrogs (and Sauron) are easier, since they’re precisely demons– ex-angelic beings that chose to reign in Hell rather than serve in paradise.

            And then there are dragons, and giant spiders, which can be sort of figured to be the same sort of thing. But honestly it’s pretty clear that Tolkien populated his world first and then tried to systematize that, rather than knowing how everything fit together as it appeared. (Hence., e.g., Tom Bombadil.)

            • Joe Informatico says:

              There is a system to Tolkien’s beliefs. It’s Catholicism. Evil exists because of original sin, but any evil being who seeks contrition can have it by changing their ways. Even Sauron and Morgoth.

              That’s about as much of a system that Tolkien would be working from, because he wasn’t writing a game setting or a consistent setting for a multimedia franchise that fans could argue over continuity and canonicity, he was writing mythic legends similar to the North European poetic epics he loved and studied as a scholar.

              How could he have a system, when before Tolkien almost nothing like that existed in fiction? Before Tolkien, most SF&F authors were working pulp writers just putting out the next story as quickly as possible for a paycheque, making stuff up on the fly. It’s kind of amazing in retrospect how well something like Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories fit together. Tolkien had a steady and secure day job studying and teaching ancient languages and literatures, and then made up languages and stories based on his day job over the course of decades. Post-Tolkien, a lot of epic fantasy writers feel pressured to make their secondary worlds as detailed as Middle-Earth despite being working writers with crushing day jobs.

              • Mike S. says:

                Tolkien approaches Catholicism in his subcreation the way he does the real world: first there are the things that exist in it, and then he finds how they fit into natural and supernatural law. Nothing can be inconsistent with premises like “evil can’t create, only twist” or “nothing is evil in the beginning, even Sauron”. But that doesn’t mean that Tolkien knew how things fit together when he created a malicious willow or a mountain that was hostile with intent. It was a process of discovery for him as much as for the reader.

                He did care deeply about consistency. That’s one reason he often spent more effort revising than actually writing, including redoing bits of published works for no better reason but to bring them better into line. (TLotR has a perfectly good explanation for why its story of the Ring and Gollum isn’t consistent with The Hobbit. Then Tolkien rewrote Riddles in the Dark anyway. He changed the names of First Age Elves Finrod and Inglor to Finarfin and Finrod, and by gum he changed them in a reference in the first half of Fellowship, that no one but a serious Tolkien geek even notices.) He’d toss off throwaway references (“the Five Wizards”, “the cats of Queen Beruthiel”) and then be compelled to fill in the backstory after all.

                If he’d been more willing to let each myth be its own thing, with no more need for consistency than any two Norse or Greek stories, maybe we’d have a completed version of The Fall of Gondolin. (Well, he only worked on it off and on for 50-plus years.)

    • NotDog says:

      If someone wanted to subvert Tolkien they could probably do an adaptation of The Last Ringbearer.

      • Wide and Nerdy says:

        I absolutely love Tolkien to pieces but the synopsis you link to makes your suggestion sound awesome

      • Josh says:

        This was what I was sort of hinting at when I was talking about loving the idea of a Tolkien deconstruction.

      • Zak McKracken says:

        I’ve only read the synopsis but that sounds a little less like deconstructing Tolkien rather than making the point that whoever controls the narrative gets to be the good guy.
        Which is a good and valid point but not really attacking Tolkien, as far as I can tell.

        I remember a similar collection of stories where classical fairytales are turned around. Hänsel and Gretel run away from home, meet an old friendly woman who gives them shelter and good food, and end up pushing her in the stove in order to have the house for themselves. Of course that’s not the story they tell when they get home again… Not really an attack on the original story but something that makes an important point.

    • Dragmire says:

      Isn’t that the story of Warcraft 3… kind of?

      • Felblood says:

        Not exactly.

        Warcraft 3 did nothing to make Ner’Zul, Gul’dan, or Blackhand into misunderstood good guys with bad PR. It just went out of it’s way to make it clear that, whatever cultural biases might have informed their decisions, they weren’t genetically evil, and had their own free will.

        Thrall and Grom proved the Orcs could overcome the Bloodlust and the Black Blood Curse, if they chose to fight it. However, that serves as an indictment of their forebears, who often made the problem worse for selfish reasons, rather than an attempt to whitewash their sins out of the canon.

        This can be a subtle distinction when the Orcish Horde has spent the last 2 games, plus expansions, losing wars, up to an including the destruction of their entire homeworld.

  8. tmtvl says:

    Josh, there’s a mead brewery not to far from where I live, want me to send you a bottle?

    You can find their site here.

  9. Wide And Nerdy says:

    As someone who has been angsting over his age lately (I’m about to turn 36, commence eye rolling) Shamus joking “I’m almost dead. There’s so little time.” Was a much needed laugh. Thank you. You’ve more than once defused my anxiety about aging.

    • Jokerman says:

      I just hit 26 (more eyes rolling) and felt the same thing… “Did i just waste 26 years? Yep.”

      • Trix2000 says:

        The worst part is then realizing you technically have nothing to complain about still, but that just means you have a lot of time for that feeling to get WORSE.

        If I feel old now, what’s it gonna be like in a decade or two? :(

        • Ivan says:

          I know right? I mean you were probably in school to about 22, and honestly, what funds have you had to work with in the 4 afterward? That’s assuming you didn’t go on to grad-school right after the fact. I will say I haven’t gotten to do as much traveling as I would have liked, but there honestly hasn’t been that many missed opportunities.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            Do you guys really beeline college these days? Back in my day, a “4 year” degree usually took 5 or 6 years because, life. Granted some people who really knew what they wanted going in got straight through.

            • Ivan says:

              Well part of it is that it’s getting a lot harder to afford to go 5 or 6 years. So even if you don’t know exactly what you want to do you are strongly encouraged to decide. Generally though most universities advertise saying that you’ll have a degree in 4 years so there is the expectation that this is the average. I honestly have no idea if it is actually the average though.

    • Sacae says:

      I just turned 25 a few months ago and my mindset was “One third of my life gone.” So I signed myself up to die at 75.

    • silver Harloe says:

      I’m 44. Your age angst is so cute.

      side note: except for Mozart, I don’t really expect ANYone to accomplish anything by 16. So you haven’t wasted X years, you’ve only wasted X-16 years. Be cheered?

      • krellen says:

        One of my favourite things about this site is that at 38, I am not the old man of the group.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Well what heightens it for me is I didn’t get into tech support until 29 and didn’t get a web design/develop type job till less than two years ago. Everything I’ve read makes me feel really old for this field and I worry the mind is going to start to go before I get any good and am able to really accomplish anything.

        If not for that, I don’t think my age would bother me that much.

    • Humanoid says:

      My thinking at the moment is that if I can ‘waste’ the second half of my life in the same way I wasted the first, I’ll go out pretty satisfied.

  10. Vorpal Smilodon says:

    __Some play as really evil games__
    Intended: KotOR, Planescape
    Un-intended: the Sims, Rollercoaster Tycoon

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      I thought by now that the Sims developers were well aware of this.

      I heard that if you build houses with no doors so that your sims starve to death eventually the game gives you a message “you know, you’re supposed to be helping these people right?” or something like that.

      Also to add one to the list, Fallout New Vegas is great at both having an open enough system for completely player driven evil and leaving lots of convenient opportunities lying around (lots of buttons you can press to unleash mayhem if you go poking around.) My favorite is “Come Fly With Me.” You have to be pretty patient and have lots of self control to get all the way through that quest without giving in to the urge to screw someone. I seem to recall there’s one dialog sequence where you repeatedly get the option to give in to a guy’s desire for revenge instead of talking him out of it as if to say “Are you sure you don’t want to screw these people over? Cuz you can totally screw these people over. You sure? Just sayin.” And the option is still available later. And the people are ghouls. They really seem to want you to screw someone over but its quite rewarding and strangely beautiful to see it through because the path the quest takes is bizarre. Wish all the quests were like this one (though I suppose that would undermine its value.)

    • Attercap says:

      Black & White was a rare “god game” case where playing as an evil/capricious god could be a was a gameplan from the get-go, instead of an occasional diversion from standard gameplay.

      • Dude says:

        Except, it’s far more difficult playing as an evil god than it is to play a good god. Unless you’re just going to end the game in four hours because everyone is dead.

    • Steve C says:

      An evil game that comes to mind is “Destroy All Humans” and it’s sequels. Mission #2 is called “Earth Women are Delicious”. Guess what, you are the bad guy.

      Also in Warframe you are not the good guys. It’s not a great example but I’m playing it right now.

    • Blake says:

      I think the game that lets you best be a bad person, without there being any worse person out there, is The Sims.
      Almost everyone has been a terrible terrible person to their Sims at one point or another, but in line with what Rutskarn was saying it’s because it’s all cartoony and fun, where if you heard the tortured screams of your sims as the starved/burnt/drowned to death, you’d probably not want to play it any more.

      And GTA V, as an Aussie I can tell you having Target (and now Kmart) pulling GTA from their shelves is fine. Their family stores, and I have no problem with them only stocking things that fit with their brand.
      And it’s clear they are as clueless about games as their customers anyway, check out this photo: https://twitter.com/blueredandgold/status/534545205756579840/photo/1 – it’s basically a full page ad saying ‘best toy prices’ that shows 3 things, 60% off certain Spider Man and Barbie Dolls, 30% off Peppa Pig toys, and GTA V for $64.
      With carelessness like that, I wouldn’t trust them not to sell the game to minors.

      Besides, all the main video game stores aren’t going to pull it so if you want your adult games you go to a place that deals primarily with games, not a place that sells kids clothes.

  11. kunedog says:

    I still fail to see how such a huge platform was given to Jack Thompson when there was almost zero scientific evidence for anything he said.

    http://www.gamespot.com/articles/research-shows-no-link-between-video-game-violence/1100-6423385/
    ——————————————–
    In September, researchers at Villanova University and Rutgers University published the results of an in-depth study that suggested violent video games do not lead to increases in real-world violent behavior. Now, a pair of follow-up studies from Stetson University researcher Christopher Ferguson have reached the same general conclusion, finding that there is no evidence for a link between video game or movie violence and real-world violent behavior.

    The second study focused on video game violence. Ferguson looked at Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) data for games released between 1996 and 2011 as well as federal youth crime data for the same period. What he found was that violent video game consumption was “strongly” correlated with declines in the instances of youth violence.

    This downward correlation is likely related to “chance,” and should not be taken as an indication that playing violent video games can lead to a safer world, Ferguson said.
    ——————————————–

    From the very beginning, people should have treated Jack Thompson as if the burden of proof were on him to show real-world effects of video game content. Because it was.

    • Purple Library Guy says:

      Convenient alternative to looking for less superficial problems which nobody with power wants fixed. Someone came up with a cheap moral panic that means we can dodge real issues more effectively? Give that man some air time!

    • Rutskarn says:

      It was all tribal. Jack Thompson was an old-guard patriotic wise wealthy lawyer-man who told the mothers and lawmakers who trusted him that the new, strange, scary toys of the other tribe really WERE evil. The facts and arguments were almost immaterial.

      In response, we sent him and his supporters pretty terrible abuse, lodged our rebuttals in the form of profanity-studded webcomics, and did little to convince them we weren’t the snickering remorseless psycho gremlins they’d decided we were.

      And in the meantime, the vastly larger sums of a.) moderate people with grievances about the proliferation of violent videogames among children and b.) more thoughtful and diplomatic gamers willing to respond with more patience than their attackers either got drowned out or sucked unconsciously into their respective war parties out of their desire to see SOME good done.

      That’s how I remember it, anyway.

      • Mike S. says:

        Plus ça change…

      • kunedog says:

        Arguably all of it had already been settled via compromise a decade earlier with the “moral panic” over Mortal Kombat. Nintendo self-censored the SNES version and lost millions, while Sega raked in the cash. MK II would be released with blood and gore on both consoles, but with the new Mature rating. Parents could inform themselves and choose accordingly, while the choices of consenting adults weren’t to be fucked with.

        In response, we sent him and his supporters pretty terrible abuse, lodged our rebuttals in the form of profanity-studded webcomics, and did little to convince them we weren’t the snickering remorseless psycho gremlins they’d decided we were.

        I wonder how we won then, without convincing the moral guardians. And we won hard. AFAICT Thompson has no lasting influence in the industry at all (ESRB ratings were already in place before he focused his attention on games), just a reputation as a discredited (disbarred) disgrace. It bodes well for defeating the current moral panic over stuff like GTA5.

        And in the meantime, the vastly larger sums of a.) moderate people with grievances about the proliferation of violent videogames among children and b.) more thoughtful and diplomatic gamers willing to respond with more patience than their attackers either got drowned out or sucked unconsciously into their respective war parties out of their desire to see SOME good done.

        a) is exactly how Jack Thompson describes himself. I still think he is wrong.

        • ehlijen says:

          Just because he didn’t win doesn’t mean the other side did. Gaming is still not seen as a fully mature and wholesome hobby, this latest story is an example.

          And he mostly lost because he didn’t make a good case, not because he was defeated in an argument. No one ‘won’, one player was simply forced off the field, but both parties remain where they started. This will go on for some time yet.

          • I disagree. Gaming has become mainstream, a fixture that isn’t going to go away. The Jack Thompsons of the world basically gave themselves enough rope to hang themselves with. Had he been willing to make a name for himself as a critic of the games industry, he might not be the laughingstock he is today. Instead, he tried to outright ban some of them, making claims that sounded like they came from a pulpit than from actual concern over cultural effects, a lack of artistic merit, or whatever.

            It’s like comic books, movies, and some TV. At one time or another, each of these mediums were the source of all ills, according to some. Eventually, people stopped listening and these media have been with us ever since. That doesn’t mean they’re above criticism or analysis, of course. If I publish a comic book of completely ribald and offensive materials and someone’s critique gets attention, then my comic will definitely come in for some scrutiny, if not hostility. It’s not going to result in all comics being banned, however.

            • Wide And Nerdy says:

              Its age. The first generation to have widespread use of video games in the home throughout their childhoods is now in their 30’s and 40’s. We grew up with the first round of moral panic. We know video games and we know how to protect our children from what we deem inappropriate for them. Or at least thats true more and more. We’re also mostly savvy to other “new” media (though we do express some befuddlement at how to manage children’s access to mobile devices since that one is new.)

            • ehlijen says:

              Gaming was around before Jack Thompson, and it gained or lost little in the arguments he started.

              You said you wonder ‘how we won without convincing the moral guardians’. We didn’t. He just didn’t either. Gaming just kept growing without any side convincing any other because the market had not been saturated yet.
              Few if any who had a strong opinion one way or the other had it changed, there was no ‘victory’.

              It does mean we likely don’t need to worry about game censorship, true, but it does not mean that the reason we don’t have to is that gaming has somehow proven it is a mature art form. Opinions to the contrary still abound and challenges to the medium’s validity still crop up regularly.

    • Ofermod says:

      “From the very beginning, people should have treated Jack Thompson as if the burden of proof were on him to show real-world effects of video game content. Because it was.”

      When has that ever been the case with media hysteria? It would be nice, sure, but people always want to ignore the burden of proof for media criticism when it aligns with their own preconceptions. And then ignore it whenever it goes against them. Basic human nature.

    • Joe Informatico says:

      Thompson got his play with the older forms of news media: cable news networks, newspapers, talk radio. The audience of these media are dominated by baby boomers and older demographics, for whom video games have generally been a children’s toy or idle curiosity at best, and at the other end, “strange new technology I don’t understand and that frightens me.” The demographics who grew up with games and play them most often increasingly reject these older media. Let’s remember that most of these news outfits are part of conglomerates that have TV networks and cable channels, book publishers, music labels, and film studios in their vast portfolios, while the video game industry–especially back in the 90s–was still largely outside of other media sectors, but had a disproportionate cache among younger media consumers. (This is probably ancient history now. Microsoft and Sony are huge multimedia conglomerates, there are major deals between game publishers and Hollywood–e.g. Disney and EA for the Star Wars license, etc.)

      So part of this was a classic Old Media vs. New Media conflict. Old Media is afraid New Media is going to take away their audience, so they leverage their influence to try and discredit New Media.

      Classic historic example: Orson Welles’ infamous radio broadcast of War of the Worlds allegedly triggered mass panics from listeners who thought Earth was actually being invaded by Martians (despite frequent breaks reminding listeners this was a radio drama by the Mercury Theater Players). Historians are extremely skeptical of this account today. In all likelihood, a few people might have called the police or their local radio station asking for information, but it’s unlikely there was mass hysteria or rioting in the streets. But for days newspaper editorials castigated radio for being irresponsibly reckless, and suggested government regulation might be in order. Of course, newspapers feared they were losing readers to New Media–radio.

  12. mhoff12358 says:

    Woo for sierra Nevada IPA. The problem is, I’m not sure if I legitimately like the hoppiness of it, or if it’s just Stockholm syndrome from my first beer bring a sidekick extra pale ale and just sticking to similar things.

  13. overpoweredginger says:

    With regards to Chris’ comment on people upset that Spec Ops criticized MMShooters: I think you’re missing the point. As I understand it, the game is basically a middle finger to anyone who enjoys or supports a very specific sort of neo-imperialist, self-righteous attitude about military power and usage. The problem with this is A) the game is flipping them the finger, so you can’t really tell them not to be miffed and B) I’m willing to wager that Yager missed more than they hit.

    The game speaks to the player and not to an in-game representation of the attitude being derided, which implies that the game assumes that everyone who plays it is of the aforementioned new-imperialist mindset, which is really risky. It’s completely possible for “the player” to only be playing for the gameplay and not care about the story/themes or it could be their first MMS and they are seeing what all the fuss is about. Neither of these examples are guilty of what SOTL has disdain for, but the game still gives them the finger anyway.

    • Rutskarn says:

      I wouldn’t agree that’s what Spec Ops does. I think it’s very clear through its portrayal of the protagonist that this kind of I-mean-to-do-good-so-I’m-the-hero zeal is the subject of its focus. Most of its addresses towards the player (Do you feel like a hero yet?) felt to me calling for reflection more than *outright* personal attacks.

      For the record, I knew exactly what Spec Ops was doing, sympathized, and didn’t feel particularly attacked while playing it. I felt like it was flipping the bird towards an attitude more than the player per se.

      But honestly, I don’t think it’s outrageous or unjustifiable that somebody might take the game personally. I’d have to speak to them personally to really understand how they felt.

      • Trix2000 says:

        To me, it just felt like the game was saying “Wake up and THINK about what you’re doing!” It wasn’t there to tell the player that they were a bad person (heck, it even says once “you’re still a good person”, though I suspect that was more aimed to replicate inner dialog) but to point out “Hey, if you’re such a good person… why are you doing this?”

        I feel like the ultimate goal of the narrative wasn’t to say “War games n stuff are bad and you should feel bad for playin them” but more like “Playing the hero should be more than just shooting the ‘bad guys’.”

        • Nelly says:

          Spec Ops feels like Agit Prop theatre. E worst of this simply hits you with a message, but the really good stuff is intended – like you say for Spec Ops – to get you to think about the issues. There’s a bunch of methods, and I think that the one Spec Ops could have benefitted from was a Brechtian Alienation effect, where the artist tries to prevent the audience from buying into the story – prevent them from loosing themselves and the theory says they will be more able to think about the message. this might have helped with the feeling of those people who thought it was targeting them rather than inviting them to think. But then, it may have been harder to make into an entertaining game.

          FWIW I went into the game not really enjoying Modern Warfare games but having heard it as a treatment of Heart of Darkness and enjoying that sort of thing I picked it up and thought it was interesting

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        You know, when you put it that way, the “do you feel like a hero?” line thats being interpreted as “you suck gamer” could better be interpreted as “Wouldn’t you rather be playing a real hero? Cuz this isn’t it.”

        And I could get behind that a little more. Its like “ok, we made this game and you’re playing it but lets be honest about what this is.”

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Thats not what spec ops does.It gives you the finger ONLY if you identify with walker,and very VERY few people actually do.And those that do,well they deserve it,because walker is a deranged individual,so why the hell would any sane person identify with him?

      • Trix2000 says:

        I don’t know if it’s quite that simple – we might not directly identify with him, but there’s still that connection since we ARE in control.

        And while Walker’s decisions and actions are not really justifiable, his gradual ‘fall’ throughout the game seems entirely reasonable for a person. The situation was really bad and he thought he had the means to fix it, when he really didn’t… so much of the later game turns into more Sunk Cost Fallacy at work. The road to hell is lined with good intentions, after all.

        I’d say the connection to Walker is meant more to help us understand and think, rather than to simply put us into his shoes. To both sympathize with his tragedy, and perhaps recognize the mistakes he made so that we are better prepared to avoid them ourselves (mistakes in judgment/logic, I mean… I don’t think the developers expect most people to be thrust into disaster areas with a gun anytime soon).

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          But we are not in control.Walker is the leader of the squad,and he is giving all the orders,we are just the fourth shooting dude of the squad,listening to those orders just like lugo and adams.

          • Trix2000 says:

            You’re still moving him around and doing the actual shooting. No, it’s not going to make you Walker, but it’s a heck of a lot better connection to the guy than watching him in a movie, for example.

            I’m not speaking for control of the situation as a whole – it’s pretty clear even Walker doesn’t have control of it after a point.

  14. 8man says:

    I think you guys are being really patronising about people who don’t like Spec Ops. I think most of the people who didn’t like it (myself included), didn’t like it because it made it’s point in a really forced and hamfisted way. It takes away player agency and makes the player do the really terrible things it itself blames you for doing even if you actively tried to avoid doing them, like with trying to kill the infinitely respawning enemies in the white phosphorus segment instead of using the weapon.

    I was fine with what it was doing in concept, it just happened to do it in the worst way possible. What if you actually had the choice, and the white phosphorus was just the easy way out of a really difficult encounter? Atleast there the game would’ve actually had a point in condemning the player for their actions.

    • Rutskarn says:

      I think we all have a response to that (probably a different response for each of us) and for why we like the approach its taken. But you’re not wrong for not liking it, and you’re absolutely right that we overgeneralized in this podcast.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      The game does not blame you for what it makes the protagonist do.In fact,it does lots of things to deliberately distance you from walker,even from the start(its third person,not first person).It blames walker,people that identify with walker and designers that glorify walker type people.

    • Mersadeon says:

      I think you misunderstand that scene. The whole point was that you could have turned off the game, if you were so averse to using the phosphor. But you didn’t.
      Just like Walker could have simply left, you could have turned off the game.

      Giving the player the choice between a hard encounter and an easier one with the phosphor would have undermined that. It wanted to show you that you HAD a choice, a meta-choice: turn of the game, leave the scene. Yeah, it’s not fullfilling, but that’s the point.

  15. IFS says:

    On the subject of Driver San Francisco (I haven’t played it as driving games aren’t really my thing, but I watched a very entertaining LP of it) you aren’t actually possessing anyone the main character is in a coma the whole game (so its all happening in his coma dream for the most part) after an accident while chasing the villain in the opening. The main story missions come from him hearing the news playing in his room at the hospital (hence why the villains plan progresses even when you foil him, he’s succeeded in reality just not in the coma dream). Really the game plays around with the whole coma dream premise fantastically with some sidequests near the end basically telling the main character to wake up, and if you fly high enough up in the map you hear the heart rate monitor.

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I think your musings about playing evil guys can be summed up as:
    People like playing lawful evil,but no one likes playing chaotic evil.

    • silver Harloe says:

      except in GTA, where players are *at best* chaotic neutral?

    • Trix2000 says:

      My experiences with tabletop (albeit slightly limited) would disagree with you.

      …But then again, I don’t know how many of the players did actual chaotic evil as opposed to plain crazy/random.

    • Humanoid says:

      I can’t decide whether Stupid Evil or Chaotic Stupid is more fun to play.

      (Or, as posited by someone I forget, True Stupid)

    • krellen says:

      My nearly thirty years of RPG experience suggest the exact opposite conclusion. Lawful Evil is, by far, the least popular alignment (both in the actual alignment system and in functional play.)

      • Dragmire says:

        *note – I’m not experienced with tabletop gaming. There may be games which may counter any/all points that I’m presenting.

        That may depend on your position of societal power. A person acting alone or in few numbers will likely exert their power in whatever they currently fancy when deciding to play evil. However, if they are in control of a sizable group, then they’ll likely want to be more stable and long term goal driven to maintain the extension of their dark will.

        In other words, if a player’s ability to accomplish their evil intentions is dependent on the organization and efficiency of a group, I would think that players would default to a more structured alignment.

        I just don’t think there are any, or at least very few, games that give allow for a player to be solo with the choice of chaotic/lawful evil alignment or leading an organization/tribe/group etc.. with the same chaotic/lawful evil choice.

        On second thought, doesn’t Eve Online have a whole in game organization devoted to being douches(So I’ve read on the internet…)? Wonder what it’s like being a grunt in a group like that.

        *Edited for clarity and a little formatting.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      And now that all of you have decided to “prove me wrong”,Ill invite you to reread my statement once more.I never said that I agree with the statement(nor disagree with it).Just that its a summation of what they were discussing on the podcast.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      I don’t think I’d mind chaotic evil, as long as it’s not “loony toons cardboard evil-for-no-reason” madman style …

      Like, being allowed to punch NPCs who annoy you would be cool, and that’s no lawful evil at all. But a game expecting you to punch eight random NPC and then kick five in the crotch to advance to the next level … that’s not chaotic evil, that’s actually lawful in a ridiculous way. There needs to be some motivation.

      A proper serious, “realistic” game where you play an evil guy? Now, that would maybe be Spec Ops or something, but that type of thing would need to give me extremely good reasons to go evil … and I’d probably be extremely dissappointed if you got a “happy end” by just winning over the good guys.

    • Felblood says:

      I would rephrase that “no one wants to play stupid evil.”

      –but it’s also true that nobody wants to play chaotic evil on rails.

      It’s a conflict between the character you’re playing, who is free spirited and self-determined, and the mechanics you’re playing which force you down a specific path.

      It’s ludo-narrative dissonance.

  17. shiroax says:

    You diss Udina a lot, but I went save council then tell them to screw themselves in one playthrough, and he actually has a point from that perspective.

    • Josh says:

      I always thought turning Udina into an unequivocal villain in 3 was a big misstep. He had always sat in this grey space where he wasn’t a nice guy but it did seem like his heart was in the right place, and many of his arguments had some sense to them. By the beginning of 3 I found myself sympathizing with his position. He had the potential to be a tragic anti-villain, taking extreme steps to do what he thought had to be done to save his people. Perhaps Shepherd could even have the option of supporting him, since the council had been so completely useless for the past two games. It’s not as if Shepherd hadn’t been in the position to kill the council before.

      I guess he did kind of take extreme measures in the end, but he went about by taking the WRONG extreme measures and made a deal with THE WORST ORGANIZATION IN THE UNIVERSE and then promptly got killed for his stupidity. And then as a further insult, the game later suggests he was probably indoctrinated. What a waste.

      • Shamus says:

        You know, in all the usual ranting about the ending I totally forget about all the shitty little details like this. And then I’m reminded and I get mad again.

        Why have differing viewpoints, ideologies, and shades of pragmatism when we can just make JERKS=BAD GUYZ! LOLOL!

        What a stupid waste.

        • This is why compelling villains are difficult. The best ones are mostly those with clear and believable goals who are willing to do heartless, careless, or otherwise immoral things to attain them, but don’t see said actions as wrong (or at least, not as wrong as NOT doing them).

          It’s why I never did care much for the Emperor in Star Wars. We did, at least, see him be evil, order people to do evil things, etc., but he never had much of a goal in mind other than “be in charge of things because he wants to be in charge of things.”

          I wish there had been a hint of what he was going to do once he’d destroyed the Rebellion. For instance, one of the villains/darker characters from Fallout New Vegas, Mr. House, DID have a goal if you talked with him enough. He saw a future after he controlled the Dam and New Vegas where he would use his wealth and power to get man back into space within 50 years and colonizing other planets in 100. He just didn’t care how many people, good or bad, were killed or otherwise hurt on the way to said goal. My one wish was that the House ending had mentioned this, but even Obsidian forgets things, I suppose.

          Another good one is Bestor from Babylon-5. He’s a Psi Cop who hunts down rogue human telepaths. In B-5, telepaths have three choices: Join the Psi Corps (and likely do awful things to further its aims), take drugs to inhibit their abilities but stay in society (which makes you pretty much a zombie), or go on the run and hope you don’t get caught. Bestor seems like a Nazi, but he rationalizes that telepaths are so rare and valuable, and that society distrusts and hates them so much, they have to be protected and be allowed to breed/grow or a valuable edge humanity has will be lost. He therefore has little compunction about killing “norms” to save a single telepath, which makes him a bad guy, but his motives for doing evil things makes perfect sense.

          • Chris says:

            He therefore has little compunction about killing “norms” to save a single telepath, which makes him a bad guy, but his motives for doing evil things makes perfect sense.

            Bestor was -all- about the organization, not about protecting telepaths. Individual telepaths had no rights, including having PsiCorp arrange for the “breeding” of telepaths whether they wanted to or not. He had no problem sacrificing a whole ton of rouge telepaths in order to punish them for trying to escape PsiCorp’s control. Lawful-evil, yes. Sympathetic, not so much.
            If you’re looking for a B5 character with evil tendencies who is very sympathetic, you’d be better off pointing out Ambassador Londo Mollari. His efforts to return power to his people result in uncountable deaths, and he is even warned with a prediction that he would have blood on his hands. (“..millions of voices..crying out your name.” “My followers?” “Your victims.”)
            Yes Londo is a protagonist of the show (and my favorite) but sympathetic though he may be he is no hero. It is rather interesting that the show sets him up as a protagonist given so many of the plots he sets in motion would be well suited to a villain.

            I’m surprised no one has mentioned Bard’s Tale, the game has multiple endings, based on the puppy your character interacts with, and what final choice your character makes in dealing with the villain at the finale. That was a game where the “evil/bad” endings are so much more entertaining than the good one. (Spoilers: And I like the idea of the hero deciding at the end that if they can get their puppy back, they’ll walk off and forget stopping the rise of demonic forces intent on conquering the land.)

            • Phill says:

              While Bester had a rather authoritarian way of running Psi-Corp, I would suggest you are wrong about him not wanting to preserve individual telepaths. He just saw (quite accurately, it could be argued) that the only way to realistically safeguard all telepaths was for the Corp to be in control, and so individual telepaths were less important than the wellbeing of the Corp – particularly rogues who were actively opposing it.

              If he was willing to damage the Corp to preserve individuals, then the Corp would never become strong enough to be in control, and no telepaths would be truly safe. Presumably he’d argue that once the Corp [i]was[/i] in control, the crisis would be over and individual freedoms for telepaths would improve. (Presumably George Orwell would argue that the crisis would never be over, and that the situation would get worse for everyone indefinitely even as the Corp gained more and more power ;) )

              Babylon 5 is a good place to look for interesting villains though, because with the exception of the Shadows – and Cartagia – I don’t think anyone is simply pure evil. Or pure good (except for saint Sheridan perhaps). Most people have good and bad in varying degrees, and do their best and worst actions from understandable motives.

              • Even the Shadows weren’t entirely evil: They believed that evolution and strengthening of the child races came from conflict. They were like the person trying to create the most virulent organism through exposure to rivals for resources and a hostile environment.

                Their opposite, the Vorlons, believed that the same would come from the child races doing what they were told by their elders, progressing through civilization and being “rewarded” with advancement from said elders.

                When it came down to it, this argument between them had a big irrelevancy: How many of the child races (us) lived or died while they “argued,” often using us as proxies. Had the Shadows been true comic-book evil, I think they would have done something a little more rash at the end of the War of the Shadows, yes?

          • Mike S. says:

            I hadn’t thought of it till now, but the regime for telepaths in B5 is more or less identical to the one for mages in Dragon Age: join up, have your abilities suppressed by a process with horrible mental side effects, or run and try to remain hidden as an outlaw.

      • Mike S. says:

        Like much of ME3, Udina’s actions hinge on one of its big implausibilities: Cerberus suddenly having the resources to challenge multiple interplanetary powers. In the first game, they were a small terrorist group, and in the second, we’re explicitly told that the organization is kept on a scale TIM can personally oversee. Now they’re everywhere. (The game explains where they get infinite cannon fodder, but not the fleets, weaponry, and other resources.)

        But stipulating that Cerberus is that powerful, Udina’s actions are, I think, at least understandable. I actually liked his conversation with Shepard early in ME3, when he’s counting their losses, and wryly reflecting on the fact that he’s the most powerful man in human history and is nonetheless basically helpless against the Reaper threat. He’s desperate, and the other Citadel powers are preoccupied with their own defense. (Understandably so. But that does him and the Alliance no good.)

        The Citadel is the administrative heart of the galaxy– its importance has been restated in every game. Control of it would at least give him leverage in pressing the asari, salarians, and turians for coordinated action, as well as the only base that’s even potentially resistant to Reaper attack. (The only other plan, the Crucible, is a complete Hail Mary, and it’s not as if improving his access to resources and power would hurt its chances.)

        So taking as read that Cerberus is capable of mounting a coup and putting Udina in charge of the Citadel, I can see Udina deciding that the possibility is worth a shot. It’s not cartoon evil, it’s grabbing at the biggest source of power he can see (even if it’s not big enough) to address the worst threat humanity has faced.

        (It does require him to overestimate the likelihood that he can manipulate, control, or sideline TIM, but that’s an occupational hazard of powerful people. They got where they are by consistently winning those sorts of contests, after all. So they tend to assume they can continue to do so, till they run into someone better at the game than they are.)

        And Udina’s alternative seems to be to sit in his office with nothing to do but not have his calls returned by the other Councillors (while Shepard risks the Normandy to retrieve random holy books from occupied systems), as the polity he nominally represents is systematically burned to the bedrock.

  18. Daemian Lucifer says:

    That thing about denuvo and ssd is not complete bullshit.Its just that the culprit is lords of the fallen,and not its drm.

  19. WILL says:

    Please do not post trigger warnings, they are my trigger.

    • Rutskarn says:

      I’m of the opinion that if we can take the time to warn someone who hasn’t seen Iron Man 2 that listening to our podcast might lessen their enjoyment of it, we can take the time to warn someone with PTSD that listening to our podcast might bring them back to the worst day of their life.

      • Shamus says:

        Part of the problem is that Trigger Warning is horribly misused in some arguments as a sort of “You’re not allowed to bring up that subject in this discussion”. Like question-begging, preemptively calling people racist, and crying censorship when people disagree with you, it’s a lame-ass rhetorical gizmo used by people who are trying to “win” arguments instead of exchange information with other human beings.

        For this reason, I totally get why some people find TW’s annoying.

        But like Rutskarn said, they do have their place as a matter of basic manners, just like a Spoiler Warning. In this case I was using it in a more lighthearted way to say, “Warning: We’re about to talk about a subject in which people typically RAGE OUT. So be cool.”

        So far so good, by the way.

        • Dragmire says:

          Has it always been called Trigger Warning? I ask because I have only recently begun to see that particular term used. Usually/In my experience, when notifying the audience that there is something that will affect a certain minority of people in a negative manner then it comes after the generic word “Warning”. The examples I can come up with on the spot are the warning on the 3DS cases about extended use of the 3D effect and the warning on South Park cases about the content not being for children… (they were the closest things around my desk). This is besides the seizure warnings we’ve all seen on video media.

          I suppose it just sounds weird to me because I’m still new to the term.

          I hope I’m not being insensitive by saying this but doesn’t “Trigger Warning” sound like the name of a video game mechanic?

          • Shamus says:

            It’s new to me. The entire concept is new to me. I think I first saw it within the last five years or so.

            • Felblood says:

              Previously, I have only ever encountered this figure of speech in the form of people whining about how they are tired of seeing it everywhere.

              I simply assumed that this is what reddit looks like from the outside.

              As someone who has got legitimate PTSD flashbacks from some of your other writings in the past, I guess I can see both sides of the issue. The trouble is, it will always be a judgement call on what topics merit a warning label and in when, so people with poor judgement will always be harping on people who made reasonable decisions, because the internet is for dumb.

              (For the record my triggers include: Children, bullies, chase scenes, lazy, inept or irresponsible authority figures, oppression, violence, humiliation, undeserved punishments, intimidation, social outcasts, and yes-its-more-specific-usually-but-seriously sunshine or the outdoors. I don’t expect anyone to think they need to try to write around my laundry list of personal hangups.)

      • AR+ says:

        “Trigger warning” is one of those things that has a perfectly neutral and useful meaning but which has a political connotation. Using it implies certain sympathies that go a bit beyond its straightforward interpretation of, “causing panic attacks for people with PTSD is bad, let’s not do that.”

        “Content note,” on the other hand, is still neutral as far as I can tell , and doesn’t validate the over-sensitivity of those who have caused TW’s negative connotations while still serving the same purpose. It let’s you know there is something ahead that you might prefer not to see w/o implying it might give you an anxiety attack if you do.

      • Mersadeon says:

        Well, as long as those are actual, reasonable trigger warnings I understand that. I simply hate overdoing. It cheapens the whole thing to put “trigger warnings” on everything that might ever be slightly uncomfortable to some demographic.

    • krellen says:

      So, I really do have trauma that gets triggered on a regular basis, and while “trigger warning” isn’t one of my triggers, the language used by the crowd that heavily encourages the use of trigger warnings is. I get triggered daily, easily, and often more than that.

      There exists a subset of abuse survivors that believe the way to heal is to trigger yourself until you can deal with real life in a somewhat normal fashion again. I am one of those. But when you come across your triggers unprepared, it can be pretty devastating. The first time I was triggered led to me abandoning a community I had been a part of for eight years.

      I’m not really sure what my point was, except maybe to share. And maybe to say “I get your joke, but it might not be the best joke.” Like, I was actually going to feign outrage at your joke, but I just can’t bring myself to do it now.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        I can relate a little (I think). They play a game with terminology, creating words and phrases loaded with their assumptions. They’re trying to shape thought by shaping language. And it really irritates me. Even worse, they coin a term and then declare victory by saying “yeah, that thing you’re talking about? We have a word for that.” Like it proves anything. Sad thing is, it is a pretty powerful technique. Worse, they think they’re justified in doing it because they’re having to reprogram culture. Some of the worst things come from good intentions.

        Other political groups do this too but aren’t nearly as persistent or subtle about it (usually they’re right out in the open with it)

      • Rutskarn says:

        If you’re willing to talk about it, I’d really like to hear more about this. A lot of us don’t really understand what we’re doing, and sometimes our behavior is as much superstition and hearsay is it is grounded in people’s real experiences.

        My e-mail address is rutskarn at chocolatehammer.org.

      • Soylent Dave says:

        I approach this from a slightly different (but I think related) angle.

        I have a PTSD, and my triggers are (were.. I’m mostly out of the other side of it now) incredibly ordinary things.

        Which meant that ‘Trigger Warnings’ were basically useless – reading about or watching films that contain some ‘obviously’ violent or upsetting imagery wouldn’t trigger a traumatic flashback.

        But watching a daytime TV drama, or an advert, or some characters interacting on Battlestar Galactica? Yeah, that totally did.

        While I didn’t really confront the triggers directly (in fact for a while I would only read or watch things that I was absolutely familiar with, so as to avoid flashbacks.. which worked sometimes), I did develop a coping strategy of seeing it coming and switching off (or stop reading, closing the tab, whatever).

        (a coping strategy which I believe was only possible because I was also receiving counselling, I should note)

        But the whole experience has led me to wonder what is achieved by Trigger Warnings themselves, and whether they really work. I know for me that they were impractical anyway – but also that if there had been warnings, they’d need to be so specific that the warnings would likely have triggered me.

        I think we’re treating them a bit like “contains flashing lights” warning for epileptics, which is a verbal warning of a visual threat… but a descriptive warning of threat which exists only as imagery..?

        I’m not sure it’s worthwhile.

        (but then, ‘not worthwhile for me’ doesn’t mean ‘not worthwhile for anyone’ I guess)

        • krellen says:

          I agree that Trigger Warnings don’t seem very effective to me, but that’s possibly due to the weirdness of my own personal triggers. Because of how I was first triggered*, my triggers are the specific terminology of third-wave feminism – things like “rape culture” and “patriarchy”, and the ideas surrounding those. No one is ever going to Trigger Warning those things, because it sounds ridiculous that anyone could be affected by those things (except I am, and just was, even though I’m the one that said them. Even I don’t really get it.)

          (*In a conversation about the subject, I objected to the idea of “rape culture”, especially the idea that it is a “male problem” that men need to address – meaning that I need to confront the source of my own trauma due solely to my gender. The triggering event was the reply I got that told me my personal experience was irrelevant, as male victims were less common.

          I’ve also got twenty years of repression to work on, since I refused to believe my memories were real until I actually looked my abuser in the face again twenty years later (I didn’t even believe he was real until then.))

          It’s entirely possible intentionally triggering myself isn’t the best thing in the world, but I’m never going to avoid my triggers regardless of how many warnings are offered, so I don’t know what else to do.

          • Chris says:

            I hadn’t come across the term until I started reading some webcomics with more realistic storylines. It seems like a polite “heads up” kinda warning, but I can see how useless it could be. Everyone is different, and what triggers one person might not even occur as significant to another.
            The cruelest thing someone can say to another is that their gender(race/etc) means that they don’t know suffering. Sorry to hear you had such an awful response, Krellen.
            Men aren’t given the freedom to express emotion or admit to a lot in our society, which leads to horrible assumptions that these problem don’t exist. And victim-blaming occurs alot for men as well. I’ve got family in the military, and there are so many problems that go unaddressed because people are convinced that they can’t talk about it. :(

  20. Dt3r says:

    Angry Orchard, nice choice Rutskarn. I’m not a huge fan of beer either, so I either have liquor or cider. If you like cinnamon there’s a seasonal version of Angry Orchard that they release this time of year.

    • Supahewok says:

      I prefer whiskey and brandy but if I want to drink something beer-like (cold, not wine, goes with dinner, social) cider is what I go for, because thus far beer is the only alcohol I’ve tried that I absolutely cannot abide. Angry Orchard is a good choice, although sometimes I get Woodchuck if I want a different flavor, like Pear or Raspberry. I can’t tell much different between their “regular” flavors.

      • Dt3r says:

        Woodchuck always tasted a bit weak for me. DeMuncks is good, as is Crispin. I enjoy Doc’s, but I’m pretty sure that’s a regional thing.

        If I want a change of pace sometimes I’ll mix angry orchard with a shot of Fireball whiskey.

    • Epopisces says:

      I’ve found it INCREDIBLY hard to find cider that isn’t at least lightly carbonated. Every other alcohol is bitter (wine), hard liquor, or carbonated. I just want alcoholic fruit juice. That’s it, really.

      And the thing is, many breweries advertise as though they were hearkening back to the days when cider was a thing in New England.

      Y’know. Before carbonation was in every drink.

      • Neil W says:

        Back in the day when my Grandad made his own cider, it would start off very sweet and slightly fizzy, then as summer went on it would get stronger and less sweet and fizzier, and by the end of the barrel (and autumn) it would be very strong, bone dry and slightly fizzy. So it’s really about when you stop the fermentation process. A natural fermantation means that it will always be slightly carbonated (CO2 being one of the by-products). Of course theree’s absolutely no reason the brewer couldn’t remove (most of) the dissolved gas, or add more, or generally make it as fizzy as they like.

  21. Mormegil says:

    Too early in the morning for me to have listened to the podcast yet here in Australia so I’ll comment without listening (dangerous I know). The important things to remember about the ban are that if you want to get GTA you can walk 30 metres from most target stores to an electronics boutique and buy it there and that this is a privately owned company deciding they don’t want to stock something, not the government making a blanket rule that nobody can have it – this actually represents progress in Australia. Rejoice, buying controversial video games is now just mildly inconvenient instead of impossible.

    • Humanoid says:

      On the other hand, screw EB and their $100 RRP games. I bought Smash Bros from Target anyway because a $20 saving is worth more than my principles. :D

      (Normally I’d import all my games anyway, but Wii U games perhaps surprisingly attract no real Australia-tax, so happy to buy locally)

      • Supahewok says:

        Is that due to some Pacific trade agreement with Japan? Reduced tariffs and taxes and whatnot?

        • Humanoid says:

          Nah, games prices in Australia have always been the result of pure profiteering – look at Steam prices for example where no taxes or tariffs of any sort are charged, or can be charged, by the government. (They’d love to tax it, of course, but as Valve has no local presence, this is not possible) And that other Japanese console vendor is still charging as much as always – GTA5 for PS4 is $100 as usual.

          So it’s probably Nintendo just being less of a jerk than most other publishers in this case. Or being more desperate for sales, depending on your viewpoint.

  22. Zeta Kai says:

    IMO, Valley Vineyards (www.valleyvineyards.com) makes by far the best honey mead. Of course, to be fair, I live within 30 miles of them (SW Ohio), so I can usually find bottles of the stuff at the local ren-fest or the nearest Whole Foods / Fresh Market. It is the most delicious winoid that I have ever tasted; it is the only thing that could convince me to develop a drinking problem. Beer’s cool, wine is okay, by mead is where it’s at.

  23. Alex says:

    I am an Australian who has never played GTA5, and never will – I don’t want to play as any of the core PCs, let alone all of them, so I’m not interested in buying the game – but I’m firmly on the side that says Target is in the wrong here.

    This was not an informed decision made by Target that they wanted nothing to do with the game, it was Target rolling over for a bunch of jerks who lied to make GTA5 sound worse than it really is – if the government had not already established that their claims were lies, it would be illegal to even bring the game into the country.

    Australian gamers have a big problem with both idiots subjecting us to idiotic censorship (until a few months ago, it was literally a crime for me to own an international copy of Left 4 Dead 2) and companies screwing us over for no reason, so having both happen at once is why it annoys us. And that goes double with our current prime minister being just the kind of asshole who would try to use this to undo what progress we have made.

  24. Zukhramm says:

    Rutskarn says something like “If what they were complaining about were actually in the game”. Uhm. Didn’t you just talk about that just a few minutes before? It’s been there since at least GTA 3.

  25. Nick says:

    I recently decided to watch through the Simpsons from the beginning. Looked into the cost of buying the DVDs, and there isn’t even a large compilation set I could buy and the cost on per-season DVDs was prohibitive.

    So, I’m watching the Simpsons for free online instead

  26. The Rocketeer says:

    Hey, Shamus on this page for DX:HR Episode 12: Ye Olde Firearms Shoppe, the embedded video doesn’t work. The link to YouTube below the broken embed also doesn’t work, and just leads to the front of YouTube.

    But the episode’s YouTube page seems to work just fine, so I suspect this is just a broken link.

    On an unrelated note, does Josh still have the TF2 Special you ran before the ME2 season? It was never restored with the rest of the Viddler stuff.

    • Shamus says:

      Ha. Looks like it was a really annoying edge-case where the WordPress parser would freak out when it saw a double hyphen in a YouTube URL and replace both symbols with something else entirely.

      This: --
      Would get turned into a special symbol: —

      For people arriving from the future via Google: The solution is to replace one or both of the hyphens with this: -

      Yes, that’s a little strange looking, but it creates a hyphen that the parser will ignore.

      • The Rocketeer says:

        You know, I saw that double hyphen when I was cutpasting the URL’s, and thought that was probably the issue. Not that I know anything about coding, but it just stuck out to me because you so very rarely see that in a web address.

  27. Joe Informatico says:

    Interestingly, I found this review of Shadow of Mordor that actually defends the thematic choices the game’s premise made (even while concluding the actual writing was garbage). They even bring up Shamus’ review in the comments. The operative paragraphs are here:

    Some reviews have griped that there isn’t any sense of permanent accomplishment with this; there’s always more orcs to fill in the gaps in the ranks, you never actually beat the orcs. This kind of misses the point. First off, the entire plot and atmosphere of Shadow of Mordor is that Talion and his elven copilot are fighting a battle against Sauron which they can’t win. We know for a fact that in the long run, Sauron wins out and becomes the dominant force in Mordor, and that Sauron himself won’t be defeated until Frodo and Gollum part ways in Mount Doom. Moreover, as the story progresses Talion and his elven pal end up becoming increasingly willing to use Sauron’s own weapons against him – particularly once you unlock the power which allows you to bend orcs to your will – and whilst the main plot ends with a minor victory against Sauron which has long-term consequences that help shape the War of the Ring, it also sees the duo charting a cause which can only end in disaster.

    I don’t think this is accidental by a long shot; in fact, I think this is a place where Monolith manage to be sneakily true to Tolkien in spirit, if not in specifics. The Middle-Earth canon is absolutely stuffed to the gills with stories like The Children of Húrin, wherein a flawed and imperfect protagonist for reasons of angst takes up arms against the Dark Lord of the hour (usually Morgoth) and ends up coming to a bad end due to their character flaws ultimately working towards the Dark Lord’s own ends. Part of the deal of being Dark Lord of Middle-Earth is that you get to be this omnipresent force of evil that, in a pseudo-Christian fashion, gets to twist every sin or imperfection so that in the long run it turns to your advantage because every discordant note in creation can be traced directly back to Morgoth.

    • John says:

      That’s a not-unreasonable point. When I first heard about Shadows of Mordor I asked myself “Does anything like this ever actually happen in LOTR?” and the story of Turin was the first thing that popped into my head. Turin sounds like a modern AAA action game hero. He’s a young white dude. His home and loved ones are attacked in the opening cut scene. He spends the rest of the game fighting the armies of the villain responsible, often on his own. He’s super bad-ass, killing mooks by the metric ton. He’s full of angst, all the time.

      Of course, the story of Turin is explicitly and deliberately a tragedy. The violence is depicted as futile from the very beginning. Turin’s actions repeatedly ruin the lives of his friends, his allies, and his family members. I think that most gamers would find a game that put you in the role of Turin (and still stayed true to the lore and tone of Tolkien) really, really unsatisfying.

    • Kalil says:

      I haven’t played the game myself yet, but I’ve been watching my housemate play, and it feels like much of the dialogue strongly hints that Talion is doomed to be corrupted into a tool of Sauron. His elven possessor keeps mentioning the possibility, and lampshading the futility of rage/vengeance, right before encouraging Talion to continue in his futile pursuits. It will be interesting to see if they explore this further/more explicitly with the DLC.

      • Fnord says:

        It felt like they were setting up to do more of that than they actually did.

        Like, the whole scheme with taking over the orc army is suggested by Marwen as being controlled by Saruman. And there all sorts of build-up about her being sick, and the room filled with darkness. And then you finely cure her, and the truth comes up about Saruman’s influence, and…you keep following the same plan.

        Right at the finale, there’s the cut-scene where it’s revealed that Celibrimbor did basically the same thing and he and Talion are doing now, using the stolen Ring, fighting Sauron by dominating an army of Orcs and generally being a badass. And it looks like he’s winning, even. But it backfires in the worst possible way, ultimately benefiting Sauron by delivering the ring back into his hands. And you’ve been doing the same thing, and for you…it seems to work great. You kill the black captains, including the Black Hand taking guise of Sauron, it’s presented as an effective victory, and Talion makes a big deal about continuing to fight. Despite the never ending army of orcs the review mentions, the other shoe never seems to drop about the ultimate futility and problematic nature of their scheme.

        Did they feel that an ending that doesn’t affirm everything the players have done as victory wouldn’t sell? Did they compromise a more thematically complex /appropriate story to make room for post-finale gameplay and (notably) DLC? Are they secret geniuses planning on releasing a final DLC that delivers on the theme of tragic futility?

  28. BitFever says:

    As someone who did play through the slog of boring combat that spec of the line was I will state that I personally think they make the game increasingly dull and unbalanced as the game goes on to try to actively stop the gamer from playing. It isn’t even supposed to be fun, I think it’s supposed to drive home the point that you’ve been doing horrible things that you didn’t even enjoy because “you wanted to be a hero”. The poor gameplay that you have to actively force yourself through drives that home.

  29. Henson says:

    Chris: “It’s like, either games are art, or they’re not.”

    Why can’t they be both? I’m don’t particularly like calling games Art and dismissing their nature as consumer products for a paying audience as well. Games are both expression and product, and the degrees to which they are one or the other changes from title to title (this of course depends on what definition of Art you happen to be using). If I pay $10 to go see an awesome Action Western at the local movie house, I’m gonna feel ripped off if the movie lectures me for enjoying the thing I went there to see in the first place. Conversely, Spec Ops obviously has artistic merit, and it’s a game I’d very much like to get my hands on one of these days. I don’t want to undermine Art by imposing consumer demands, but I also don’t want to dismiss consumer demands by declaring ‘Art’.

    That said, my sympathy for the people pissed off about Spec Ops is highly dependent on how clear the reviews were about the nature of its genre. If they were expecting ‘bro shooter’ based solely on ‘FPS’ and the box art, well, “buyer beware”.

    • kanodin says:

      I know personally the only reason I bought spec ops was because reading a review or two saying it was a really interesting deconstruction. Of course I read that on sites into that kinda stuff, so the real question is what did the big dudebro outlets say.

      • Henson says:

        This is the same reason I got interested, too. I can play a dozen different bro shooters, but very little like Spec Ops, from what I’ve gleaned. Yet, if the audience for bro shooters is large enough, would that induce the Spec Ops publisher to market it as such? I don’t suppose there’s a ready-made audience for ‘depressing shooter’ (it would more likely be a slow burn in terms of sales), and Spec Ops got a lot of attention due to how much of a surprise it was – by how reviewers were expecting something completely different. And still, marketing it this way would mislead consumers about what kind of product they’re buying. I end up going in circles about this.

        Of course, all this is moot if Spec Ops’ publisher didn’t market the game as a bro shooter. Frankly, I don’t know because the game didn’t appear on my radar until after people discovered what it actually was.

    • Flock Of Panthers says:

      I’ve got similar thoughts coming from a musician background.

      The medium can include purely functional items, consumer product, and art.

      I think the funny trick though, is that the decision of where piece A fits is up to each individual person.

  30. djshire says:

    [ANGRY POST]

  31. Smejki says:

    Could you alter the title? GTA wasn’t banned. One company just decided to not sell it and be all vocal about it.

    • Shamus says:

      I don’t know if you’ve listened to the show, but that was actually part of the discussion. “Removed from shelves at some retailers in Australia” is a bit too long for a post title, particularly since it’s not even the whole title. :)

      Although now that I think of it, I suppose putting banned in quotes would be more clear. Looking at it now it does seem sort of clickbait-y.

      • Smejki says:

        Good enough! Thanks.
        Yeah I got to the part later but it still doesn’t change the original title from being misleading. Although not intentionally.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          We can’t have people talking about censorship or bans. Then people might think this was a bad thing.

          Yes I know, its not technically a ban or censorship, just like if I hit someone with a baseball bat repeatedly, I’m not “shooting” them but in both cases its bad for the same reasons.

          Its like if I put my finger one inch from your face and said “does this bother you? does this bother you? I’m not touching you.”

          • But if you insist on calling it a ban or censorship, you’re cheapening and misusing the words themselves. It’s how “fascist” has gone from having an actual meaning in political studies to mostly meaning “someone who has an opinion I disagree with on the internet.”

            • Wide And Nerdy says:

              Now, that’s a fair argument. I will concede the point.

              I do think we need some kind of term for this though. Arguably a term with a lesser connotation because I don’t think anyone thinks this is as bad as an actual ban or censorship. To me it is a bad of the same kind but to a lesser degree and I don’t want anyone to be able to argue “its not technically censorship therefore its fine.”

            • straymute says:

              I don’t have a problem with calling it censorship in the context of what Aussies are going through with gaming. They know the end game of these people is to get rid of the game entirely and this was just one avenue through which a successful attack was launched.

            • Mike S. says:

              According to Orwell, that was already true of “fascist” by 1946. (Give or take the Internet.)

  32. Paul Spooner says:

    If all your looking for in your alcohol is the ethonol… you can’t beat vodka. I keep a big old jug in the freezer. The chill helps to keep it from going up your nose, and somewhat deters over-drinking.

    • Aitch says:

      Or, if like me, the thought of a shot of vodka makes you physically shiver and salivate in nausea, there’s something great out there I recently discovered called ROOT by Art in the Age – small distillery down in Philly, buncha hipsters making neutral spirits flavored with north american herbs and spices. The first time I tried it I was blown away, and stuck with the epiphany “Whoa, drinking not only doesn’t have to suck – it can be positively delicious”.
      Anyway, it smells and tastes just like birch beer or a really good root beer like IBC. Imagine Jaeger if it was hand crafted and without the licorice. It’s knocked Woodford Reserve off it’s pedestal to #2 in my list of exceptionally tolerable alchohols, quite the feat. Also, their RHUBARB flavor is very nice too if you’re a fan of slightly sweeter things or rhubarb pie, and it doesn’t just taste like strawberry. Not sure how far out it’s available just yet, but regardless it’s worth getting a bit of if you can, especially for the price of $30.

  33. krellen says:

    Thoughts from Highway 285, which I was on for like six hours today:

    Hey George (dunno if you read comments, if not, can a caster pass along the question): when was Final Fantasy 6/3 ever 4? I cannot think of any time when that was true – AFAIK, 2, 3 and 5 all got American releases at pretty much the same time.

    Maybe you just needed an EDI: “That was a joke.”

    On the GTA topic, my main thought on the issue is that it doesn’t really matter what Target or any other physical shelves boutique does vis-a-vis video games because physical distribution is completely obsolete.

    However, it still does set a somewhat dangerous precedent (and Chris touched on this), because Steam doing a similar thing would be close to censorship, because of Steam’s complete domination of its market. So while it’s easy to argue that a private company can do whatever it wants, it becomes a bit harder to argue that when that private company has an almost governmental monopoly in its market.

    Target has plenty of competition, but if a near-monopoly company like Steam, or Microsoft, or Amazon decides to censor something, that’s a thornier issue.

    • Mike S. says:

      Steam’s not a natural monopoly along the lines of utilities, where it’s not practical to run another gas line to your house if you don’t like the business practices of the local energy company. Adding Origin or Amazon, or downloading a standalone exe, doesn’t even require any financial outlay the way getting a different console platform does. Steam’s dominance has no enforcement mechanism to speak of, other than customer convenience.

      Given that (and the in the obvious absence of any legal issue), what ethical obligations does Steam have with respect to what games it chooses to offer?

      • krellen says:

        The reality of Steam’s monopoly, regardless of why it has one, requires it to operate as if it is as dominant as it is. Thus, Steam should strive to be as open a platform as possible (as should Amazon and Windows).

        • Mike S. says:

          As you envision it, should Steam engage in any curation? Or should any user be able to upload and sell any game via the platform?

          Does Steam have the ethical right to make decisions about what they choose to make available? Can they legitimately decide that any content is beyond the pale? (To pick a deliberately extreme example, how about an ISIS recruitment game, involving the activities that group has become notorious for?) Or are they morally bound to take and sell all comers until/unless their market share drops?

          • krellen says:

            When you are a (near) monopoly, permitting a thing does not equate to endorsing a thing. Comcast allows piracy over their cable service, but this does not mean – or even imply – that they thus endorse piracy.

            Because Steam is effectively the only digital distribution platform, it is important that they allow delivery of games regardless of the content of them. And it is also important that consumers realise that a thing being on Steam does not mean a thing endorsed by Valve.

            Valve is not our moral guardian – and neither is the government or any other entity, for that matter. Morality is the province of the individual, and it is up to individuals to decide for themselves what is and is not acceptable, and not to enforce that decision on anyone else.

            • krellen says:

              While I’m glad no one has come back with this yet, I just want to point out that this applies to works of arts specifically, not all things in general. I’m not saying that if someone decides it’s moral to kill that they are right to kill.

              Longtime readers might remember that I believe in absolute morality – there is one singular, true moral guideline in the universe; we just don’t know what (all of) it is yet.

  34. Tizzy says:

    Pro tip for GTA fans: in real life, having sex with a prostitute is not the best way to raise your health, quite the opposite!

  35. Blake says:

    I think the game that lets you best be a bad person, without there being any worse person out there, is The Sims.
    Almost everyone has been a terrible terrible person to their Sims at one point or another, but in line with what Rutskarn was saying it’s because it’s all cartoony and fun, where if you heard the tortured screams of your sims as the starved/burnt/drowned to death, you’d probably not want to play it any more.

    And GTA V, as an Aussie I can tell you having Target (and now Kmart) pulling GTA from their shelves is fine. Their family stores, and I have no problem with them only stocking things that fit with their brand.
    And it’s clear they are as clueless about games as their customers anyway, check out this photo: https://twitter.com/blueredandgold/status/534545205756579840/photo/1 – it’s basically a full page ad saying ‘best toy prices’ that shows 3 things, 60% off certain Spider Man and Barbie Dolls, 30% off Peppa Pig toys, and GTA V for $64.
    With carelessness like that, I wouldn’t trust them not to sell the game to minors.

    Besides, all the main video game stores aren’t going to pull it so if you want your adult games you go to a place that deals primarily with games, not a place that sells kids clothes.

    • Ranneko says:

      Oh dear, especially given that even the image they use has a nice big R18+ on the thing, how does no one point this out in the entire production process of that flyer?

    • M. says:

      “With carelessness like that, I wouldn’t trust them not to sell the game to minors.”

      With carelessness like that, they’ve got bigger problems than selling R-18 games to minors. “We’re just too damn dumb to realize that this game with R-18 plastered all over it, and which has been the media poster child for violent and sexual content for literally more than a decade, and which has guns and scantily clad women ACTUALLY ON THE COVER, isn’t a toy for five year old children” isn’t an excuse for censoring the game and calling it a day; it indicates that Target has fundamental problems like having no idea what they’re selling to people. This is the equivalent of putting cans of bleach in the soda machine.

  36. Ivan says:

    I think you guys make an interesting point on most players who say they want to play the villain not necessarily wanting to be so pointlessly cruel as is portrayed in Hatred.

    I see it a little different though, because I would say while the pro(?)tagonist of Hatred is certainly villainous, and he’s not who most of us want to be when we say we want to be the villain, he still doesn’t even feel like a villain. I mean honestly, this guy is a minion, maybe a boss at best, but he could never be the villain. We want to be the guy who is taking over the world, and we don’t want to feel like we’re making it a better place (Ah-la Overlord II) we just want to feel like we’re making it ours.

    I feel like the villain fantasy is about being selfish rather than spiteful(Hatred). I mean most of us are pretty used to being told that selfishness is wrong and it would be really nice to just get to indulge in that once in a while where you won’t have to feel guilty about it afterwards.

    But everyone seems to be uneasy with the idea of letting the player be the bad guy. They always want to make you be the lesser of two evils. Even Payday 2, a game about mowing down cops and robbing banks has cut-scenes and trailers that depict newscasts that paint your group as some sort of new-age Robbin-hood. You know, despite all the widows.

    Idk, I guess it’s not simply about letting the player be selfish, or I wouldn’t be complaining about Payday, I think you also need to feel like it’s you against the world because if anyone likes you then it just doesn’t feel genuine. I mean seriously, I just smashed your militia and burned down your farm, and now I’m gonna conquer your town. So whatcha’ gonna to do about it?

    Ok, maybe you want to be a little spiteful…

    • Flock Of Panthers says:

      Honestly, I think it’s just down to how hard it would be to write.

      Imagine a game where you play Sauron.
      Not Overlord, not evil Corvo, Sauron.

      Who gives you quests?

      If you are the one real bigbad, you should have the freedom to proactively decide how to pursue your goals.

      Joker, Sauron, Khan, Hannibal Lector. Who do they take quests from? An over presumptuous imp like Overlord?

      The easiest solution is to make an evil badder than you. Revan reborn, huh? Well, best stop Malak before you really start villaining.

      • Mike S. says:

        The villains active/heroes reactive issue is real. But I think it’s in principle doable– you just need enemies who are creating the problems for you. The questgiver doesn’t need to be your boss. (How many RPG quests are random people asking for help, either out of the goodness of your heart or in exchange from some family heirloom that they might be willing to part with?) In this case, it may just be the minion who reports the unfolding situation.

        “Your intelligence agents tell you that someone is trying to infiltrate your dungeons to get to your dwarf prisoner. Obviously you could execute him, but the very fact that this is happening suggests that there’s information the dwarf hasn’t given up. Allocate resources based a) tightening security; b) stepping up the pace of the torture; c) just cut things short, risking your own lack of knowledge to deny it to the enemy.”

        “Your agents have picked up some sort of… thing… that shows clear signs of exposure to the Asset. Maddeningly, he seems to have lost it shortly before you got him. But he’s got some clues about where it went next. Choose which steps you want to take to localize it.”

        “You’ve got a region, at least! But it’s too early to just send a host through the damned tarks. So it’s a task force: use orcs? (obedient, but uncreative) Wraiths? (tough, but with a bunch of arbitrary limitations, and not exactly hard to notice) Work through the wizard you suborned, who has contacts out there? (but how far can you trust him?)”

        “Well, that was buggered up, and now the Asset is on the move. Try to guess what route they’ll take and concentrate on a chokepoint, or spread out to have a greater chance of finding them at the cost of bringing less force to bear? And how much info should you share with that ambitious wizard minion…?”

        “They’ve got one of the Elendili with them! They’re all supposed to be dead! If (when!) he uses the Asset, it could be a disaster. Focus on him? Or is he some sort of feint to do something else with it…?”

        “A border fortress briefly captured some sort of (elf?) spy, but he escaped– through two towers worth of orcs, and the spider! Sounds like we’ve got a Beren on our hands. But we have a war to fight, which could go really badly if the tark “king” pulls the Asset out of his cloak. Concentrate resources on the war, or on tracking down the spy?”

        “Crap. Crap. Crap! You made the wrong choice, and now your (suitably overwhelming) forces are pinned down dozens of leagues away from where they need to be. The spy is within minutes of melting down the Asset… if he can make himself do it. Begin the countdown for the timed mission…”

      • Soylent Dave says:

        If you’re the real Big Bad, then your enemies are the Good Guys.

        Depending on how open world the game is, this should still be relatively easy to fit into a game (might be a bit more reactive than pro-active, but it’s not like games don’t do that already…).

  37. Soylent Dave says:

    Shamus – so would you say that you react to GTA’s satire of US culture so differently to Spec Ops’ satire of bro-shooters because you disagree with the message of the former?

    Or is it something else?

    I’m not suggesting that GTA’s satire is particularly sophisticated (indeed, it’s increasingly the case that GTA has begun to inhabit almost everything that it’s simultaneously claiming to satirise / parody), but your differing reaction to the two games did leap out at me a bit, considering that they both do a similar ‘fuck you’ to their audience.

    (GTA V (which I know you haven’t played) rather more explicitly, mind – Trevor is a character who *in character* behaves exactly the way the stereotypical ‘chaotic evil GTA gamer’ plays when dicking about, and he’s also utterly, irredeemably, deliberately repellent)

    Is it the target of the satire that makes the difference in how you feel about it, or the quality of its execution?

  38. Bad guys, man I’d love to see more games with a proper bad guy, ala going darkside in KotOR, but being able to choose/do so at the start of the game instead (buy “hiding” it from the other characters).

  39. No DRM if perfect, as long as the code (game) is running on external hardware it can be cracked.
    Only perfect solution would be a terminal consisting of a mouse, keyboard, monitor and a framebuffer and network connection I guess, streaming the individual game frames.
    But unless they solve the issue of the speed of light there will always be a issue of latency, New York to Sydney is like around 90ms in distance now add computing latency and stuff on top of that, streamed gaming will never match a dedicated machine you are sitting in front of.

    Also note that the guys behind Denuvo said that it’s not a DRM but a anti-tamper protection layer to protect the DRM (Steam, Origin etc).

    Which I can confirm as tampering with the game itself (hacking the player character stats/attributes etc. I love doing that) does not seem to be an issue.

    Oh and here’s some nice irony for you. I bought DA:I from a “local” retailer, and it was the digital download version (cheaper than the physical one), and here’s the kicker, the digital download is provided by me entering a code int Origin.

    Now Origin also sells the exact same digital download, but for a higher price.
    This will only make sense if the retailer does some marketing for the game, but if not then Origin is really loosing out because why buy from Origin directly when you can buy Origin games cheaper from um… not-origin but still get the game from Origin.

    Makes no fucking sense at all, some suits really messed up something somewhere here. It’s a digital copy, the retailer emailed me a serialcode, but I’m getting the game from Origin but for less money than if I’d pay for it at Origin.

    One would think they’d figured out this digital retail thing by now but nooo.

    Know what I’D do? for digital downloads like that? The retailer simply provides a link to Origins with a special URL, the retailer then gets a kickback for every purchase. That way I get an incentive to go to Origin to buy the game and the retailer can get motivation to market it.

    I’d love to see the arrangement the retailers has with Origins that allow them to undersell Origin with downloads FROM Origin.

    • Mike S. says:

      That’s not all that uncommon with physical goods: producer sells at list price, retailers use discounts and loss leaders to drive sales to their outlet. It’s not an inherently bad deal for the producer as long as the sale is worth it to them.

      (After all, the entire point of retail is that the producer gets less money per sale than if they didn’t have a middleman, in exchange for the services of someone who is theoretically better situated to make sales.)

      It’s basically the same thing as a Steam sale, except using user search effort/retailer marketing effort instead of time as the distinction: someone who bothers to track down that retailer may be motivated to buy the game right now instead of waiting, by the perception of getting a good deal. (Just as people leap onto games they may have been indifferent to when they’re “half off for a limited time!”)

      EA could choose to limit the extent of the discounting, by providing the retailer with a specific number of codes, after which they’re “sold out”. Or it could give the retailer motivation to promote, by selling at the lower price to as many people as that dealer can communicate the deal to. Either strategy could make sense.

  40. My favorite non alcohol drinks are Milk (not skimmed, not full, the one in between), but mostly Kakao 1-2-3, it’s instant Cocoa and each cup is about 2 DL mixed, and it’s not unusual for me to go through half a pack a day (about 2 Liters per day) sometimes.

    As for alcoholic, lately it’s been a bottle of Sheridan’s. I love the taste of it but holy shit that bottle is infuriating, trying to pour it just right is not easy and often you find that one half is getting “out of sync” of the other.
    Myself I find the mixture balance more important than the white chocolate floating on top, if it was all mixed in a bottle like Bailey’s etc I wouldn’t mind at all.

    You are supposed to get a 2:1 layering, apparently at some point the pourer head was redesigned (to be cheaper), I wonder if the original head was as fickle as the current one. If you tilt slightly wrong the ratio is way off.

    But regardless of that, holy crap is it good. I don’t like the alcohol taste and I do not really notice it here, I’m not a whiskey guy (don’t like the taste) but I love this one. It’s 15% (30 Proof) so it does have some kick too it but not too much, so it’s a nice liqueur in that respect.

    I mean, it’s whiskey, white chocolate, coffee (*), it’s like adult candy. Every weekend now leading up xmas this december I’ve enjoyed a shotglass of it. I might just make this a habit each december.

    (*) I barely managed to refrain from saying something about coffee (TSD regulars know what I wanted to say there.)
    Ironically enough I’m not a coffee drinker, except for this drink.

  41. The GTA V “ban” is silly, this is obviously some advocacy group beating their war drums. Not much I can add as what needs to be said has been said by many others. If you don’t like it then don’t buy it and simply ignore it.

    If you cable package has a channel you don’t like then either tell the company you do not want it (or if it’s part of a base package) simply leave it out of your TVs channel listing.

    Advocacy groups like that tries to dictate what other people should or should not like, one day the shoes going to be on the other foot and they’ll be complaining about their freedoms being stepped on instead.

    I’m also surprised they did not criticize Rockstar for not including male prostitutes, wouldn’t such a advocacy group speak for equality of genders?
    Equality goes both ways, it has to, if it didn’t it would be bias instead.

    I think the retailers that pull the game from the shelves did a huge mistake, was the petitioners really the core customers shopping at those retailers?
    What if elements of those petitioners was incentivized (sp?) by competitors?
    Will the GTA V release for the PC suddenly be available by only one retailer in Australia after new year? If that is the case I guess we know who orchestrated the whole thing don’t we?!

    Will the petioners reward the retailers by shopping at those retailers more?
    Of course not, those protesters are probably boycotting them anyway.
    The only ones hurt are those regulars at those retailer that wanted to buy the game, now they have to go to another retailer instead.

    Even if all retailers in Australia took the cowards way out (Oh noes, we must think of the 18+ children that can’t stand to see the diminishing number of physical game boxes in our shelves even hint at having mature stuff in them.)
    those who want the game can still buy it online (digital downloads), if not locally then globally… because, you know… one earth one people etc.

    • Ofermod says:

      My take is that I’d be opposed to, say, concerned consumer groups attempting to get Harry Potter or Mass Effect pulled from shelves because of “Objectionable content” (and there were plenty of people saying that those two works were objectionable). Now, granted, I enjoyed both of those, whereas I’ve never played a GTA. And I certainly disagree that those two were in any way objectionable, whereas I can see where people are coming from on GTA’s freedom of violence (although it’s not, in my “haven’t played” opinion, too much worse than most other sandbox games like New Vegas or Skyrim). But… it’s not up to lowly me to decide what is and isn’t objectionable in a consumer petition that a store’s going to listen to. It’s up to the masses. And I’d much rather err on the side of “All content is allowed, but some is age-locked for being violent and possibly kind of squicky/cringy” than “The loudest voices will decide what content is and isn’t allowed.” Partly out of principle, partly out of not being secure in always being on the side with the loudest voice. How loud was the outcry against D&D, for instance? I don’t want to risk a resurgence of that, no matter how “much more enlightened” modern society may be.

      Also, the part where the stores were motivated to do so by a petition that misrepresents the game’s content. If people are going to attempt to sway opinion against a game for moral reasons, I’d appreciate if they’d at least not blatantly lie and claim that the game “encourages players to murder women for entertainment” and incentivizes “sexual violence against women”. I can understand moral objections to that, but I’ve never been a fan of people misrepresenting/blatantly lying about something to make/support their point.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      “Advocacy groups like that tries to dictate what other people should or should not like, one day the shoes going to be on the other foot and they’ll be complaining about their freedoms being stepped on instead.”

      In a way,it has already happened.They werent happy.

  42. Somewhat offtopic but I stumbled on this in regards to GTA V,
    GTA may be many things, but few would say it’s art, or is it?
    That’s the cool thing about games, they are what you let them be.

    Lean back, grab your favorite tea or whatever, relax and watch these two videos.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NNyE64iEdA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUeu_d8m0aI

    I don’t know about you, but I’d call some of these art and at the very least inspired.

    Looking at this it’s mind-boggling how only a few years ago it was black and white pong graphics, what will it look like two decades from now?!

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      “Somewhat offtopic but I stumbled on this in regards to GTA V,
      GTA may be many things, but few would say it’s art, or is it?”

      I would call it art.Every video game is art.

      The thing people often forget though is that just because something is art,its not necessarily good or deep or meaningful.

  43. postinternetsyndrome says:

    I don’t know how much editing you do on the show, but there was a lot of empty space in this episode. Long pauses between people saying stuff where it was just silent. It’s not usually like that so I figured maybe you just missed some stuff this time?

    I’d like to say something about the GTAV thing. On the principles side, I sort of agree with the hosts that yeah, Target are well within their rights to not stock a product on their shelves, but it’s also potentially problematic when a private company gets to decide what art people get to buy (although that’s been the norm for all of human history anyway, don’t forget).

    HOWEVER. I’m uncomfortable with your opening salvo of completely and utterly dismissing the idea that GTAV might contain some pretty offensive stuff. Disclaimer; I haven’t played it either, but it’s pretty well known that the game caught the ire of several reviewers, specifically in connection to its portrayal of women. The trans prostitutes often gets mentioned here, since they reportedly exist only to convey hateful stereotypes about transsexuals and transvestites.

    A piece of media can be disgusting even if it tries to brand itself “satire”. Banning the work outright is of course not a solution, but ridiculing those who try to point out this stuff is not helping either, even if this particular petition might have been a bit misguided.

    Ideally, I would have liked to see them publish a critical article of some sort instead, but they have probably done that too, and guess what gets the attention of the whole world? Not civil discussions and informed critique, that’s for sure.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      But thats why we (should) have ratings for.Thats what those things (should be) are used for,so that every customer can decide on their own if something is offensive to them or if its fair game.Instead of trying to ban everything they dont like,people should work to make the ratings much more informative and diversified.If Im ok with graphic violence but not graphic sex(or the opposite)I shouldnt sift the web for all the adult only art to see which ones contain just the first but not the second.Just looking at the box should be enough for that.And in many cases it is,but not always,and not enough.

      And seriously,putting gtav into the toys section of the catalogue?Thats what the store shouldve gotten the flag over,not what games they decide to sell.

  44. Smejki says:

    Interesting points and view have been given from you guys regarding the GTA “ban”. It is easy to say you are uncomfortable with vendor judging art he sells and thus “censoring”. But imagine you are bookstore owner. Would you sell Mein Kampf, LaVey’s Satanic bible or, I don’t know, Marx’s Capital or some other bullshit and potentially dangerous book you strongly disagree with? Well I won’t because I have some moral standards. And given the market is free and the book isn’t banned there’s always a man willing to sell just anything if there are enough customers. And if this is not the case (it’s banned, market isn’t free, or nearly no customers) there’s always some black-ish market. Heh, I could tell you stories how people in Eastern Bloc were getting hands on their desired (ironically mostly harmless) Western works of art. Nothing stopped them.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      But what if your book store had both mein kampf and satanic bible,and then someone complains to you about selling satanic bible,so you remove it,while proudly bragging that you are still selling mein kampf,and everyone cheers you for it?Because thats what happened here.

      • Alex says:

        “Would you sell Mein Kampf, LaVey’s Satanic bible or, I don’t know, Marx’s Capital or some other bullshit and potentially dangerous book you strongly disagree with?”

        I would sell someone a copy of Mein Kampf. I might refuse to stock Zero Dark Thirty, but that’s because it is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts surrounding a series of crimes which the government still refuses to prosecute. Since I’m fairly certain there aren’t three real life spree killers working at Rockstar called Michael De Santa, Franklin Clinton and Trevor Phillips, whose crimes GTA5 was developed to downplay, it really does not compare.

      • Smejki says:

        Yes, that happened here but I am not talking about that. That more than anything seems like a PR/marketing stunt and it’s a bullshit one, no doubt about that.
        I am talking about the opinion Chris expressed, that (and I might be imprecise here so take it with a big ~) he is uncomfortable with idea of a vendor who is not indifferent to all pieces of art he can sell so he should sell just anything that sells (and ain’t banned?). So that’s a message to Chris: Imagine yourself being a bookstore owner and having the opportunity to sell Mein Kampf (where not banned), or some “Kill all non-white people, they are dirty underswines” book or anything you as human completely despise and that people are massively willing to buy it. Would you then stay neutral? Would you sell it? Or would you play an arbiter?

    • Talby says:

      The only way any of those books are “potentially dangerous” is if they have sharp corners. There’s nothing morally wrong about selling a book with objectionable material.

    • silver Harloe says:

      probably should have used “EvilBook1” “EvilBook2” as your examples – using real life examples can lead to political discussion which Shamus frowns upon. I’m really sitting on my hands here.

      Personally, I’d sell copies of EvilBookX (for all X) because the only way to destroy bad information is with better information. Attempts to hide it just give it more power. So I’d shelve EvilBookX right next to the refutations of EvilBookX. But that’s just me.

      • Shamus says:

        I can’t think of anything I would refuse to sell that isn’t already illegal. I probably wouldn’t stock pornography, but only because people don’t WANT to buy their porn at a family store. (And you’d have to keep it all locked up to keep prankster assholes from carrying it all over the store and leaving it open in the children’s aisle, because of course they would.)

        I don’t think selling Mein Kampf will turn people into Nazis and I don’t think selling satanic books will suddenly turn people into satanists. (And it’s all available online for free anyway, and the world hasn’t suffered for it.)

        On the other hand: Letting me run Target would be a monumentally stupid idea because I have no idea what the average consumer really wants.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Sales.You put a sale sticker on it,and people will buy horse manure for $10.

        • Ofermod says:

          There was actually an issue recently with the copyright to Mein Kampf leaving the state of Bavaria and becoming public domain, and they were going to attempt to try to block future printing of it anyway. Or it was leaving public domain and belonging to the state of Bavaria. One of the two. Either way, they were against future editions being published.

  45. Talby says:

    A few things;

    I live in Australia. We’ve been fighting against people trying to censor/ban games for a while now, which is made difficult by the fact that we don’t have a robust constitution protecting us as well as say, America does. So it’s very frustrating when people try to get games like GTA pulled of shelves. If we go a bit overboard in calling out this kind of stuff, it’s because we’ve been fighting against people who want to control what other people are allowed to buy for years.

    The petition lied about the content of the game – you are not healed by killing hookers, and even if you kill them after they’ve restored your health, you DO NOT get the money back that you spent, only a generic amount that is something like 1-25 dollars. So that’s false as well.

    Target is a major retailer but not very good for buying games from. There are many alternatives with better prices and selection, like EB Games and JB Hi Fi, as well as others. However, it might be a problem for someone in a rural area without many stores to choose from, I don’t know. (I live in the city so it’s easy to shop around)

    Target has the right to pull any product off its shelves, just as anyone has the right to petition them to do so. Likewise, I have the right to petition them to bring it back, and to shop elsewhere if I don’t approve. However, I wonder what the reaction from those applauding the ban would be if a store pulled a game like Gone Home from shelves for promoting “sinful homosexuality.” No game should be pulled from shelves for political reasons, leave it to the consumer to decide.

    • Dragmire says:

      Not to contradict you but I’ve heard from other Australians over the net(it was forum talk, so take it with a grain of salt) say that Target usually has prices on new releases comparable to the US prices as opposed to the crazy $100-120 I hear you guys pay for new games(without importing).

      Also, was this real?
      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B3-Y7FMCEAAbYKb.jpg
      *image is of a Target flyer that has GTA5 beside children’s toys.
      *found the image through TotalBiscuit’s Twitter account
      https://twitter.com/Totalbiscuit/status/540474368506470400
      *Just in case you find that more trustworthy

      As for everything else, I pretty much agree with you, I just don’t think Target cares if the petition was fake. At this point, they’ve taken a stance that looks good to the general non gaming enthusiast public which I imagine comprises most of their customers after making most of the potential money there is to be made off that game. This means that succumbing to a counter petition not only invites a potential PR nightmare with their consumer base (or at least to people that will be loud at notifying that consumer base), they also will garner few additional sales as well as look weak in general due to changing stances for repeated petitions.

      I just don’t see an upside for them. The moral victory is likely not a heavy consideration when looking at their bottom line.

      Side note: Are they still selling GTA4, like in a bargain bin or something?

      • Humanoid says:

        Well, not “comparable” to US releases, but almost always cheaper then specialist retailers. Generally speaking, the spread of prices would typically be:

        Specialist games stores (EB Games, Gametraders): full RRP of $90-100
        Electronics type stores (JB HiFi, Dick Smith): $10 less
        Department stores (Target, K Mart, Big W): $20 less

    • Eeeh says:

      This is the consumer deciding – Target, as a consumer and distributor of products, is deciding what products it wants to put its money into. This is not censorship – the government’s not doing it. This is not political – afaik political authorities had no impact on the decision. This is a business evaluating what will be marketable and purchasing accordingly.

      If a company decides that they don’t want to have a certain product on their shelves, that’s their business, regardless of the product. It is in no way censorship, unless legal authorities start forcing the business to behave a certain way. A person or organization doing something you don’t like or agree with is *not* censorship, oppression, etc. It’s just them being different.

      • M. says:

        “This is not censorship – the government’s not doing it.”

        First, the definition of censorship does not say anything about it having to be the government that does it. Check your Webster’s Dictionary, and then ask yourself who is telling you that private organizations removing content isn’t censorship, and what they hope to gain from spreading that falsehood. Second…

        “This is a business evaluating what will be marketable and purchasing accordingly.”

        Yes, it is. Does that make it illegitimate to criticize their action?

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        “This is a business evaluating what will be marketable and purchasing accordingly.”

        Except its not.They had it on their shelves already,but removed it because some of the customers* dont want other customers to be able to buy it.

        *Its debatable how many of the petition signers are actual customers.

  46. Alex says:

    “Would you sell Mein Kampf, LaVey’s Satanic bible or, I don’t know, Marx’s Capital or some other bullshit and potentially dangerous book you strongly disagree with?”

    I would sell someone a copy of Mein Kampf. I might refuse to stock Zero Dark Thirty, but that’s because it is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts surrounding a series of crimes which the government still refuses to prosecute. Since I’m fairly certain there aren’t acutally three spree killers working at Rockstar called Michael De Santa, Franklin Clinton and Trevor Phillips, whose crimes GTA5 was developed to downplay, it really does not compare.

  47. Francis-Olivier(C0Mmander) says:

    Dear diorama casters,
    2 questions, unrelated to each others. They are as follows.

    1)I’m one of those weirdos that think that everything is funny no matter how horrific it is(that’s to say it can be both). I’ve got a few reasons for thinking this way but the only one that seems like real one is that it’s because it didn’t happen to me. As you can imagine it doesn’t make for a very good argument and I was wondering what were your thoughts on it.
    2)What does the group think of the lie of Santa Claus? I get how charming it is but I’m not quite sure it’s worth some of the trouble it could bring when the alternative is to realise how generous parents are to give a gift each christmas.

    • Mike S. says:

      Kids are basically self-centered and see presents as their due. (Find one impressed by their parents’ generosity at birthdays. Or any other time. :-) )

      I’m Jewish, and so was raised without Santa (though admonished not to tell the other kids he wasn’t real). But given the large uncontrolled experiment we’ve been running for decades, I’m not seeing a lot of long-term harm from kids believing in him for a while.

      But the best argument I’ve seen for Santa Claus is from the conversation between Susan Sto Helit and Death in Hogfather (referencing the Santa-equivalent in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld):

      All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

      REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

      “Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”

      YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

      “So we can believe the big ones?”

      YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

      “They’re not the same at all!”

      YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

      “Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

      MY POINT EXACTLY.

      • C0Mmander says:

        That is a surprisingly good argument for it. Maybe not the whole mercy and justice are lies bit but more the whole “gotta start with fantasy to learn the really understand the really important stuff”. I do hope that if they take that question for the Diecast they also talk about that.

        And as for the don’t tell the other kids santa is a lie part, I have to ask if you actually did as such and if you didn’t how old was the kid you told it to and did you tease him about it.

        • Mike S. says:

          As far as memory goes (which, after decades, probably shouldn’t be relied on all that far): no, I really didn’t tell anyone. I was a pretty rules-abiding kid. (And more likely to be the target of teasing than its instigator.)

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        I adore that part.Definitely my #1 discworld thing ever.

  48. Peter says:

    Fun fact about the Denuvo DRM mail: Csirke (the sender’s name) is Hungarian for chicken. It’s pronounced ‘cheerkeh’.

  49. Phantos says:

    For the record, I liked Final Fantasy VIII more than The Walking Dead Game: Season 2.

  50. Jarenth says:

    I’m 28 years old and I still like Final Fantasy VIII a lot. How… how many years do I have left?

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