No Time To Play
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Weekly Links #34

This is another short week. The biggest news, of course, is that the overgrown boys of gaming -- you know, those who take pride in the size of their virtual, um, guns; those the big publishers still target exclusively -- have crossed every imaginable limit. It's not the first time Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency fame has taken flak for pointing out the frightening amount of misogyny in gaming. But this time one of the drooling baboons has ventured into the criminal realm, driving Ms. Sarkeesian to leave home and seek police protection from direct and credible threats.

Just to make it clear: I like games with big guns too. And I'm not above seeking a bit of eye candy every time I can. Maybe that makes me a little sexist; maybe all men are, just a little. But what this guy did? It's not just literally against the law. It casts a dark shadow over both gaming and real men -- you know, those who show a minimum of respect towards the other half of the world's population.

If you can't do that, then get the fuck out. Just... out. There's no place in civilized society for violent bigots. And societal standards are already way too low as it is.

In news that relate to game development proper, Retro Remakes has an article well worth reading about color in games. Apparently, if a shooter isn't brown then it must be blue or orange. Still just one color, as if AAA art directors had tinted glasses welded over their eyes. And at least if they were rose-colored...

I complained about it before. On two occasions at least. And it's not like my own work is perfect -- the buildings in Attack Vector are various combinations of grays, with a single one being brown. Could have done better. No, really. But even so, the pixel art I cobbled together over a couple of weekends, using a meager 16-color palette, is somehow more varied than that churned out by the many pro artists of a large, well-funded game studio over months of development.

How come?

In related news, Shamus Young (who's also complained about color in videogames at least once) explains what made Silent Hill 2 great, and why focusing on the monsters is missing the point. That's something I myself struggled to explain to a fellow budding writer. Because you see, it's about something all the arts have in common, namely theme. Ask a young game designer what his game is about; they're likely to answer, "oh, it's a first person shooter featuring a ninja who uses throwing stars and whatnot instead of guns". If pressed, they might quickly think of a story in which the protagonist goes on a rampage after being left for dead during a mission. Whereas Chris Crawford would tell you, "it's a game about betrayal and the importance of subtlety". And that, you see, is something that can drive every little design decision, making for a game that feels whole, and getting you out of tough choices.

(Exercise for my older readers: can you think of a famous work of fiction whose theme is betrayal?)

Last but not least, a site called US Gamer treats us to a retrospective of LucasArts' early days. I've read about their early titles before, but not like that, with interviews and whatnot. And you know, those people say a lot of things that warm my heart. About going with the flow; heeding the platform's limitations instead of fighting them; approaching game design from various directions; and, yes, having your games stand for something. But perhaps the most important lesson was that those people had the freedom to work on what they felt passionate about instead of chasing the latest market fads. Which often led to them creating those fads everybody else chased. And there's no best way to stay ahead.

Sadly that's all I had for today. Until next time.