Top
All Channels
Insert Thought Provoking Quote Here

DragonKnight

Contributor
CRank: 9Score: 0

Regulated Development By Committee Is Closer Than You Think

It's late at night and I should be asleep, but I just finished watching a 3 hour rebuttal to the latest Anita Sarkeesian video and something struck my mind. It inspired me to write this blog which will partially be about Anita's new video, but mostly about current events in game development and where it's headed. For starters, if you have confidence in your mental stamina, and stability, sit through Anita's video and pay particular attention towards the end where she makes an attempt at explaining why the subject of her video matters in the real world. I say this because it's something I'm going to get to eventually in this blog.

Prepare to go insane here: https://www.youtube.com/wat...

Back? Ok, let's continue.

After I watched the 3 hour dissection of Anita's video, I was caught thinking about recent events like the Tomodachi Life or Ubisoft non-issues that were made into scandals and what game development must be like today. I realized that the saying "you can't please everyone" has changed to "you probably won't please anyone" these days. The ratio of happy to unhappy gamers is nearly dead even, if not surpassed by unhappy gamers, and NOT for legitimate consumer issues, but for minuscule, unimportant social issues.

The way things used to be, and the way they should be, is Game Developer makes Game and people decide whether the game is good from judging its gameplay, story (if it applies), and overall enjoyment while playing.

This doesn't happen today. Instead games are judged on graphics, character gender, character orientation, character ethnicity, ethnic or gendered depictions, then gameplay, story, and fun factor.

This has lead to a terrible, terrible state of conditions for game development. No matter what they do, they can't win for trying. Don't believe me? Ok, well see if any of this sounds familiar.
============================= ============================== = ===
I am taking on the fictional role of Game Developer and I want to develop a game. I have all the ideas necessary for the game already planned out and am ready to go, so I announce the game and a teaser trailer at E3, so you know that it shows pretty much nothing of significance all in glorious CGI.

Random Person A: "Is there a female character option?"

Me: No, the main protagonist is male.

The Internet: You're sexist.

Random Person B who is with RP A: "Why is there no female option?"

Me: Well, there are several reasons. For one, I'm a male myself and so it's easier for me to create stories from a male's perspective. To that end, the story for this game is designed to be about this guy. We've already begun development as well, so there are obligations with time and resources to consider.

The Internet: You're sexist, and we don't believe your lies.
============================= ============================== = ===
Random Person C: Will there be options involving homosexual relationships?

Me: No.

The Internet: You're a homophobic/transphobic/toaster phobic bigot.
============================= ============================== = ===
Random Person D: What ethnicity is your protagonist?

Me: He's a Caucasian.

The Internet: You're racist.
============================= ============================== = ===

Random Person E: What resolution and framerate are you aiming for?

Me: Well, this game doesn't have a heavy requirement on response time, so we're going for a steady 30FPS. As for resolution, we're hoping to hit 1080p, but most likely will have to settle for 900p.

TotalBiscuit: Your game isn't at 60FPS? I'm not buying it.

PC Elitists: ^^ This. I'll just wait until it's modded.

Random Person E Part 2: Will the game be released on PC?

Me: We have no plans for that yet, but never say never.

PC Elitists: Sh*tty developer probably would make a sh*tty PC port anyway.
============================= ============================== = ====

So? How prevalent do you think those examples are these days? The ironic thing is, many of these games that have these complaints levied against them still do relatively well, so it seems that the people complaining are only doing so because they either just want to complain, or they have that mob mentality going on.

Getting back to Anita's video, we're also being told what we aren't allowed to have in games and this creates a lot of contradictions.

We want games to be mature and realistic, yet people like Anita don't want to see strippers or sexualized women in games despite those being things that exist in the real world. She focuses on the fact that there are sexualized women as being the problem and ignores context. Apparently, if you want to make a game that's as real as possible to life, you have to do it with pre-approved female characters.

She also implies that even NPSO's (Non-Playable Sexual Objects as she calls them) should have a fleshed out story because otherwise they exist only as objects in the protagonist's narrative. Can you imagine a game like Grand Theft Auto either without any strippers/hookers/sexualized women at all still trying to claim near-realism, or having literally every NPC (or NPSO) have it's own story and narrative that was pre-approved by people like her?

Sounds kinda nuts doesn't it?

The final thing I want to talk about, in relation to Anita's video, is where she makes the claim that talking about this matters because studies (which she doesn't provide) show that media has an impact on real world perceptions of women. At that point I had to say that if I already didn't consider her to be completely off her nut, that one part would convince me by itself.

Now why do I say this? The answer is because she's completely wrong.

She's implying that people who play Grand Theft Auto or games that are similar to it are more likely to perceive women in the real world the way they are portrayed in games, and also LESS likely to lend aid to a woman if she is in danger and needs help. Putting aside that immense hypocrisy on her part, given how she's been adamant that a man helping a woman is in fact objectifying/damseling her, this is the same reasoning that people like Hack (sorry, I mean Jack) Thompson, FOX News, and even government officials from around the world have tried to use to link violence, specifically mass shootings, to video games.

Now, as all of us know, that question has been thoroughly studied and debunked as completely false. So if we know that games don't cause violence, how can Anita muster up the unmitigated gall to make the claim that Grand Theft Auto will cause you to try and buy sex from a woman, and then kill her to get your money back?

I hope I'm not the only one that thinks that is ludicrous.

So what does this tell us? Well every instance of someone saying that gender and ethnicity and orientation matter for the maturity of the industry (none of that is true because maturity is independent of such things), every instance of someone trying to tell us what shouldn't be allowed in games (especially when it's contradictory to the previous claims about gender/ethnicity/orientation being necessary for maturity) because it taints real world perceptions, and every instance of someone shaming developers because of their choices in visual fidelity tells us that backseat development has reached heights never before seen and that a kind of "Nanny State" of regulated game development seems like an idea that would actually happen.

By the logic of all these examples, the perfect game would be one that releases on literally every known platform but leads on PC so as to have maximum graphical capabilities, is open for modding, features absolutely nothing realistic at all (because it could be offensive and taint real world perceptions of a specific group), or if it does then it must be accompanied by a staggering number of narratives and warnings (though some would still complain about its inclusion anyway), with a main protagonist that is either completely androgynous or comes with a Character Creation system and Relationship system so incredibly complex that you can literally make any single person on Earth have any kind of skin tone imaginable (including blue, we can't be Smurfist), be any gender, and be able to marry and sleep with literally anything, including but not limited to inanimate objects like a car's tailpipe.

It would also have to be cheap with a Steam sale one month after launch at the earliest, feature absolutely no DLC unless it's a $30 expansion pack that is basically a new game, discounted to $15 after one week, and it could only be in development for a maximum of 2 years.

I think that about covers every base. As soon as Ubisoft makes that game, then they can be forgiven for their hateful sexism with Assassin's Creed Unity.

Someone told me here that I have "unusual beliefs" when it comes to these subjects. I actually don't. I have a singular belief. It's known as "Freedom." The freedom for developers to make the games they want to make because THEY are the ones expending the effort to make them. The freedom to not be insulted, attacked, belittled, and berated for the choices they make in developing THEIR games. The freedom to be the artists we say they are, free from demanding they change their expression to suit ours.

Freedom. It's either for everyone, or it's for no one. There is no middle ground where you have the right to make demands and they don't have the right to develop their own vision because it will offend or upset your sensibilities.

I've said this in numerous places, and I'll say it here. If you're for the freedom to express yourself however you want to, then you have to be for the freedom of others to do the same. If you're not for that, then you're actually for personal privilege and don't deserve the freedom to express yourself however you want to.

Let developers make the games they want to. If they're broken, or if they suck all around, express your displeasure with that. But remember that developers are people too, and if you wouldn't like someone calling you sexist, racist, or homophobic; what makes you think you have the right to do it to them?
============================= =============================== ===========

**CORRECTION** In citing an example to user SeraphimBlade, I used a war in error. I had confused the Civil War for the Revolutionary War, which was the example I was trying to use. Technically speaking, both were a civil war, though the motivations behind them were night and day. Apologies for this mistake.

The story is too old to be commented.
ZoidsRaven775d ago

Feminazis don't care about gaming progression as much as they'd like people to believe. A developer's creative freedom ends where their entitlement begins. 7_7

DonDon774d ago

Blog of the month right here. Very important message here folks. Dragon is speaking truth!

Kavorklestein770d ago PersonalAttacksShow
catch774d ago

This is a good example of "Argumentum ad absurdum".
People complaining about underrepresentation or human rights issues isn't going to result in some Orwellian control over development. No matter how extreme some of the voices are those voices only represent the individual. By complaining about these issues people are letting developers and publishers know what they want. It is obvious they know they have the option to purchase or not in the end but there is nothing wrong with saying what you want or what you personally find offensive.

It is ultimately up to the people making the games to listen or not. Nobody (reasonable) is holding a gun to their heads they are letting an industry know what sort of products they want.

In an industry that considers profits when deciding what gender, sexuality, race, etc. To make the characters The voices of customers should be heard so they can make more informed decisions. This isn't about artistic vision as that has always been compromised by profitability.

In the end your voice is heard as well and so are the voices of the developers. If changes are made it is because enough people want them and there is nothing wrong with that. There will always be games that cater to different groups of people including you and anyone else afraid that things will change for the worse and if they are worse in your mind you also have the option to not purchase.

DragonKnight773d ago

You're overblowing the title of my blog. The point I'm making is that developers are in a no win situation and we've already seen then make poor changes to the industry to suit things that either don't matter, or we've told them not to do and they do it anyway.

Examples: The immense casualization of games due to Nintendo's success with the Wii. The increased use of microtransactions due to the success of the casual mobile market. The dilution of game quality to accommodate a ridiculous notion of necessary parity between versions.

We've also seen people like Anita Sarkeesian, who is a definite con artist, be awarded with Ambassadorial titles and rumoured to be consulting on the development of women in games. So we see that developers are starting to cave to the public pressure of people making unnecessary or unfounded demands.

How many developers do you know that like being told they are sexist, that they are holding back the industry just because of the gender of their protagonist? How long do you think an industry so heavily reliant on public relations is going hold up against continued abuse of that level before they start making moves that have nothing to do with game quality and are just being done to appease the loud, irreverent people who attack them?

Hell, we're already seeing it with Nintendo and Ubisoft who've had to say "we'll consider it going forward" and so the likelihood that they'll make games with concessions to those demands is already higher. Demands that mean nothing, that should never have been an issue.

And let's not forget the graphics issue. Companies are being blasted for what resolution and framerate their games run at and when they make their own concessions to bump up that framerate and resolution, they get blasted for that.

To think that the potential for what I'm saying isn't there just means you're not even acknowledging basic issues that are right in your face.

catch773d ago

But those things that you consider bad are not objectively bad. They would never listen to ridiculous requests without thinking about the end product and whether there is a market for it. Also, just because you personally don't consider something important does not mean others don't.

Even if some developer listens to every extreme opinion and tries to implement them what is the worst that could happen? The game would either sell or it wouldn't. People would like it or they wouldn't. If it did poorly it would be noted and avoided. I Consider your arguments as silly and frivolous as you consider theirs. It comes down to opinion and developers still have a choice. People should never be silenced just becuse some are comfortable with the status quo.

DragonKnight773d ago

Your logic would make literally nothing objectively bad, and everything subjectively bad or good. It doesn't work that way I'm afraid.

When a developer simply makes a game the way they want to make it, free of caving into unreasonable demands, then the quality of their game can be freely judged and the responsibility of said quality rest only on them.

When developers make concessions to unimportant issues and unnecessary factors, they are including elements in the game they didn't intend to put there in the first place, and have to work around those elements that they didn't want there to begin with. When the game turns out to be bad or good, the question of "was it because of those demands, or was it in spite of them" will come up.

What I personally think isn't what I'm talking about. It's a verifiable position that gender doesn't entice sales. If it did, then games with female protagonists would either completely tank, or blow the roof off in sales. That doesn't have to be a personal position to show importance or not.

I consider your arguments to be ignorant and missing the point.

"People should never be silenced just becuse some are comfortable with the status quo."

I particularly consider this to be ignorant because it assumes that there is a concerted effort to keep things the way they are when nothing of the sort has ever been suggested. I don't care about what gender or orientation a character in a game is, I care about developers being free to make the games they want and to have them criticize for LEGITIMATE problems with the game, not social issues of the real world, that are just as ridiculous there, boiling over into games and causing unnecessary problems and headaches for no reason.

That you would reduce it to "being satisfied with the status quo" just completely eliminates the ideas developers have and their right not to be attacked for expressing what they want to the way they want to.

catch773d ago (Edited 773d ago )

Again those are simply your opinions that social issues are ridiculous and illegitimate. I strongly disagree.
See how that works? Subject to opinion. That games sell with or without female protagonists hinders on many too many factors to single the gender specifically. There are millions of gamers all with their own motivations for purchasing. You can't simply declare it makes no difference because of correlation.

The idea that developers have been free to make whatever game they want is actually laughable when publishers pressure them to make changes all the time. Maybe a few are given total freedom but that would be a very small list.

As far as concerted efforts to avoid change go I can't imagine what other motivation you had for this blog? To try to convince people that voicing their opinions about social issues is somehow bad and developers should be free of criticism for it because you personally feel they are unimportant?

DragonKnight773d ago (Edited 773d ago )

Social issues in games are unimportant. Games are entertaiment, and unless designed to make a specific commentary on the real world, entertainment is ALL they are and all they should be viewed as. We can't claim they are art because here gamers are trying to demand what is acceptable and unacceptable art, what should or should not be included in art. Gaming, therefore, must default into a product of entertainment and not art. Art is not the expression of the audience, it is the expression of the artist, therefore how you want your expression to come off in a game is literally not a consideration unless YOU are making the game.

Social issues are matters of the real world. They apparently have an impact on how people can live their lives. They have no purpose in gaming. That isn't an opinion, that is just the fact of what each is.

"That games sell with or without female protagonists hinders on many too many factors to single the gender specifically. There are millions of gamers all with their own motivations for purchasing. You can't simply declare it makes no difference because of correlation."

Actually I can. I couldn't if the amount of games with female protagonists was exactly equal to the number of games with male protagonists. And I couldn't if no one ever said "I can't enjoy a game with *insert gender here* as the protagonist" but the very fact that games with female protagonists, that also suck, tank and games with female protagonists that don't suck sell well, proves more that people will want a quality game regardless of gender.

Example: Tomb Raider series pre-reboot. First game sold because of how Lara Croft was an aberration in design for the time. The rest of the series kept getting worse and worse, and sold worse and worse. If gender played a role, the quality of the game would matter less and reception wouldn't be as negative. A good game is a good game, and vice versa, regardless of gender.

Developers are free to make what they want. Publishers can't make demands to change games that don't exist. A developer needs to pitch an idea they have before a publisher can fund it. Some developers, like Rare, get shoehorned into making games that their publisher wants them to make, but every game has a beginning point where it was something a developer wanted to create. Therefore, they are free to come up with ideas for games, and then make them so long as they pitch the games well.

And finally, you're being immensely glib. To oversimplify my stance as being "you're trying to tell people not to criticize" just tells me that the point of my blog either completely doesn't matter to you at all and you just decided to comment on an opposing stance for the hell of it, or the point flew over your head.

You've had ample time to understand what I'm saying, and I've even had to repeat myself in these comments to you, so I'm not going to take any more time to explain anything to you.

Feel free to join the hate parade the next time a developer decides that what you want between the legs of a fictional character is unimportant to the quality, and vision, of their game.

catch773d ago

I understand you perfectly well you just aren't making any points that I agree with. Social issues are important in gaming because they are important to gamers. Not all of them obviously but more and more all the time as evidenced by your frequent rants against them.

Saying something is a fact doesn't make it so. And again you are mistaking the correlation of game sales regarding gender with a lack of importance when it is only a factor with potential to affect sales depending on other aspects of the game.

I can tell you from personal experience I do vote with my wallet and consider social issues when making a purchase so that alone is enough to dismantle many of your arguments as you claim they make no difference. The weight of those issues is up to the individual and developers and publishers should want to know why and to what degree. More of them listening is good because it opens more options for developers not less. If they know there are people who will buy well made games with socially conscious ideas then they are more likely to get a green light for any ideas they might have had for one.

Ashriel772d ago (Edited 772d ago )

wow, so Ubisoft making more diverse characters is now a "concession" ? that sucks :/

+ Show (3) more repliesLast reply 772d ago
ZoidsRaven773d ago (Edited 773d ago )

'It is ultimately up to the people making the games to listen or not. Nobody (reasonable) is holding a gun to their heads they are letting an industry know what sort of products they want.'

I feel you are missing the point. They can seriously make the game however they want, but that's not the big picture. The SJW won't stfu until they (in some way) hurt the image/reputation of the company (see Tomodachi Life). That also has the potential to effect business choices/partnerships.

Social issues in video games are not important because they add nothing to the quality or value of a game. Can you see how little of a difference it would have made if we knew Mario was gay and or black in the first Mario game? Did you seriously enjoy it more because Mario was black and or gay?
Yes? Then perhaps you place too much value in being said represented grope.
No? Reasonable. After all, a video game shouldn't be considered good, better, mature and or progressive just because a grope has representation. Nor should movements be made to slander and or force (via shaming) a developer/publisher to include a grope just because their inclusion wasn't favorable or they weren't featured in the developer's vision.

'I can tell you from personal experience I do vote with my wallet and consider social issues when making a purchase'

I feel that makes you a part of a larger problem. You'll seriously consider social issues when forking over money for a game? I can tell you right now that that's not a good reason to support any form of media.
I've seen too many people support things because of representation alone.
'I'll watch this show because it has black, female and or gay characters'
'I'll buy this movie because it has this black, woman and or gay actor'
'I'll buy this music because this "artist" is a black, woman and or gay musician'
'I'll vote for him/her because---' You get the point.

I should hope you don't think it's a good thing that developers/publishers add these kind of characters just for representation's sake and nothing else, I think there is a name for that kind of character. It's the token character. 7_7

coolbeans773d ago (Edited 773d ago )

This is overblown. For whatever vocal minority yells mean words (which admittedly does get pretty gross to see how far it goes) against those games, that fact remains they're still selling.

"So? How prevalent do you think those examples are these days? The ironic thing is, many of these games that have these complaints levied against them still do relatively well, so it seems that the people complaining are only doing so because they either just want to complain, or they have that mob mentality going on."

Even you acknowledge that. So when some of the "most mature" titles of today are getting great critical and commercial acclaim, how can anyone possibly suggest the industry's now going to be a Nanny State by those sorts of people? Especially when considering that just last year news cropped up of DONTNOD getting by with a female protagonist or Druckmann having to clash with the publishing/marketing team to have one of his dual protagonists on the front cover of the game due to gender.

Considering which changes over original artistic vision have been made before, Retake Mass Effect, I'd figure there's a much greater influence out there from diehard fans compared to those examples. EDIT: <---Which is a great thing. I don't mean that to carry a negative connatation.

DragonKnight773d ago (Edited 773d ago )

The quote you provided is a quote you seem to misunderstand.

I'm making the claim that the complaints being levied against developers, complaints over non-issues, are being made by people who are disingenuous. This doesn't mean they aren't loud and that their attacks aren't hurtful against the developers themselves. This also doesn't mean that disingenuous people can't make unnecessary changes happen. I again point to Nintendo and Ubisoft.

Nintendo was accused of being homophobic and Ubisoft accused of being sexist. As a result, they are likely going to include homosexual relationships, and have a female protagonist respectively, in their next games. Not because if they don't it will affect sales, not because it's the vision they have for their game, but because they don't want to be attacked and possibly have their image further destroyed by those people who would say "YOU LIED! WHERE'S OUR HOMOSEXUAL RELATIONSHIP OPTIONS YOU PROMISED, WHERE'S OUR FEMALE PROTAGONIST!"

Gaming is very PR centric, and that's the reason Mass Effect 3 had a retconned ending. Bioware were thinking of the future of the franchise and didn't want people to be turned off because of a bad ending in one game.

However, I mentioned in a previous blog that going after a publisher for a game that is broken, or is terrible despite the hype put behind it, or in the case you mentioned, the developer lied about what the endings were going to be like; those are legitimate reasons to go after a developer. Those reasons affect game quality, meaning most people simply can't enjoy themselves because there is something fundamentally broken about the game.

But attacking developers because they didn't represent YOU in their game is not a legitimate reason. Developers even considering to accommodate those attitudes is what I'm talking about. The only changes that should be made to games and the industry are those that are necessary to make it better, to put out high quality games.

And as to your examples, if I recall correctly the publisher was right about Remember Me. The game didn't sell well at all. Now I can't say that it's because of the female protagonist or not, but the publisher's concern turned out to have a real world impact. That game tanked.

What do we take from this? We take from this the fact that a character's gender, at best, doesn't not help sales and at worst doesn't help them either. Which just brings me back to my point. Changes that don't matter shouldn't cause people to attack developers because they didn't make those changes.

coolbeans773d ago (Edited 773d ago )

No, I understood the claim.

But anyways...

-It's a rash claim to make that the complaints raised by consumers over so-called "non issues" are disingenious considering that they are substanstiated in specific examples.

"Not because if they don't it will affect sales, not because it's the vision they have for their game, but because..."

When looking at other recent examples for Tomodachi Life's case, such as The Sims 4, there actually IS genuineness in regards to those voicing for inclusion shown in sales numbers. That isn't say I'd want that enforced for Ninty's future TL games now, only to discount your idea that EVERYONE bringing up these complaints must not be genuine (compared to you, I'm guessing.)

-"However, I mentioned in a previous blog that going after a publisher for a game that is broken, or is terrible despite the hype put behind it, or in the case you mentioned, the developer lied about what the endings were going to be like; those are legitimate reasons to go after a developer. Those reasons affect game quality, meaning most people simply can't enjoy themselves because there is something fundamentally broken about the game."

Yeah, I recall you mention that before and it still seems just as arbitrary. You're just drawing lines in the sand of what should or shouldn't be considered legitimate. I have to ask: how is it so clear cut of it being not okay to even dare encroach on the 'SJW' topics but totes fine to demand an artist fixes their original vision just because of a inaccurate PR (something completely seperate from the game proper)?

And even if you provide in-depth clarity I may agree with (the rest mentioned after that really isn't), why does Ubisoft get off the hook for lying when that question's revolving around a female character?

-"The only changes that should be made to games and the industry are those that are necessary to make it better, to put out high quality games."

I remember bringing up something along these lines before and you purposefully misinterpreting what was brought up so I think I'll just avoid this.

-"And as to your examples, if I recall correctly the publisher was right about Remember Me. The game didn't sell well at all. Now I can't say that it's because of the female protagonist or not, but the publisher's concern turned out to have a real world impact."

Sure, Remember Me didn't do well but considering the mixed reception and whatever advertising it may have had...it's tough to say for sure; however, the potential sales has a bit of a chicken versus egg situation. Since games with female leads get about half the funds for marketing the game's they're in (when it comes to averages), is it fair to say Capcom is "right" about their worry when the same chance isn't given?

Not to mention The Last of Us outdid its initial projections by a wide margin. While I can't say credit should be given to Ellie being there on the front cover for HUGE sales, it shows that publisher's corncern actually had the OPPOSITE real world impact. Their worry turned out to be based on a myopic, outdated understanding the market.

So, in effect, these kinds of changes you don't care for do matter to some extent b/c it's challenging the current design-by-commitee part of the industry that pigeon-holes only one set of exclusive traits so often that it'll either quickly decline or attempt to revise an artist's original vision that may distance itself from that hivemind mindset in one way or another. That doesn't qualify attacks on creators, but that does qualify one voice to be heard.

SnakeCQC773d ago

I think she has some valid points but the part where she said players weren't really punished for killing female characters in sandbox games was bs; you get the same level of "punishment" as killing male npcs etc.

TekoIie773d ago (Edited 773d ago )

I watched a few of feministfrequency videos (in the tropes vs women series) and I felt like with everything she talks about I should ask the question "What is your solution?"

Video games aren't like other forms of media. We can be clever with how our games react to situations and work those into the mechanics. The problem is that Anita chooses not to offer solutions, she offers nothing to get the ball moving.

In her view, what would be a good punishment for a player who kills a hooker in GTA5?

Its like some guy who comes round when you bought a new house and points out everything wrong with it... And then just walks out while exclaiming "My work here is done!"...

She does have a game concept video however all she talks about is plot. Even David Cage's games are more than just plot.

Show all comments (36)
The story is too old to be commented.