|By PlatformPCPS3Xbox 360Wii U3DSPS VitaAndroidiPhoneiPadOther HardwareEditor's Choiceby Author||By LatestThe best and worst s : May Returns Fairy Fencer F The Art of Alien: Isolation The Evil Within Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and... Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's... Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Bayonetta 2 Dance Central Spotlight Neverending NightmaresMore reviews||By GenreActionAdventureFightersFree-to-playMMOMusicPlatformShootersSportsRPGStrategyMore genres|
OK I threatened to do this.
I doubt many people expect I would follow through on this threat but here I am doing it.
Now for whatever reason I seem to enjoy calling things syndromes because honestly if you want to claim it’s something in gaming which can be changed and treated then why not.
So let’s start with the first and probably most controversial part.
Now this could be said to stem from the idea of objectification and it’s very important I make a distinction first. This is not talking about things like this.
That is somewhat in keeping with the character of Tina Armstrong. Dress up doll syndrome is deliberately applying fetishistic non thematic clothes to only female character. Now the problem with it is simple it’s working to display only the sexualised characteristics of those characters in question and not reflective of their actual character beyond their looks.
Ok lets do another visual example as a picture is worth 1,000 words and most of the C-blog recappers will thank me for making this 1,000 words shorter.
Look at the following characters and compare them to the real life counterparts they reflect. This is done on some of the more visually obvious character with professions / occupations which are easier to visually reflect.
So hopefully you can see how thematically it’s entirely possible for costumes to say about them as character and unless your character is a nurse or French maid then essentially they are being treated merely as a fetishistic dress up doll is a problem.
However this is pretty easy to counteract. Just add the options in for the male characters. I’ve sure there won’t be some huge outrage because there is the ability to have sexy waiter outfits.
“but but our customers want it” says the company
Yes company very nice but you get two choices to avoid critique:
1) Do it equally
2) Do new costumes that are thematic. It is entirely possible to make outfits to fit in with the game that are thematic you’ve been doing it already.
“But but people in their underwear it can’t be thematic” says some SJW
Here let me show you Zack’s default costume of boxer shorts and a bra.
Ok you might be thinking I’m ragging on Dead or Alive because honestly it’s easy to do. There was a reason I picked dead or Alive for these examples though, because even Dead or Alive is making efforts to change. Sure they’re not that visible but allow me to present one of the costumes in one of their more recent DLC packs.
Little steps sure but steps non the less. So now I’m expect the call of “But different demogrpahics” and to that I say ok, if the market were providing that, I’m not really sure there are that many games exclusively of shirtless ripped men beating the crap out of one another.
.................... I wonder just how many women actually buy these games ?
Now dress up doll syndrome is actually in reality part of a larger issue I’m calling
The simple way to look at it is to create a successful product then only focus it upon on section of the market exclusively by slowly changing it.
What do I mean ?
We’ll here’s a theoretical example of what I mean.
The reality is it would be extremely hard to justify those changes especially the very noticeable physical changes.
Now that doesn’t mean changes can’t be made if for whatever reason there is a plot justification or reason behind it. Running with the theoretical examples again .
You see even the Portal Boots have a raised heel does that mean Chell is not a good character now because technically she's in heels ?
Now this should be distinct from a company splitting the product to try and appeal to two different markets as has been done by companies in the past (and called out by some)
So I know what you’re thinking, this can’t be real right. Well as it turns out some recent examples have happened of just this and are about to happen and let me just now say it. Really Japan ?
Clothing can get wet and start to go see through. Oh and here’s two of the bonus costume unlocks. I wish this were a joke.
Now this nicely leads me into the next I call
Now what this boils down to is a pretty complex and unfortunately fairly subjective issues about the intended theme of a game. In the example about Fatal Frame the problem could be said to be changing the themes of the series from primarily horror to what I’d say would be more in line with slasher films. Now the simple way to look at it is if the theme is evenly applied. What I can boil this down to in theory is pointing out how the chainmail bikini is perfectly legitimate. I’ve said about this before and finally I’ve found a chance to put this idea out into the open. The chainmail bikini fits into the overblown fantasy world. What do I mean ?
That’s what I mean. Now this issue arises as I said by the theme not being evenly applied throughout the game. The example that could be pointed to for this and that made the change would be divinity original sin.
The idea being the female character isn’t fitting into the theme of the game. Now it’s entirely possible for a theme to comprise sexualised aspects such as I keep mentioning the Slasher horror genre. This is essentially how it can be said that Soul Calibur can get away with it to an extent especially since those who want it can make a mankini alternative outfit for any male character alone with a good selection of stripped to the waist and or vest only wearing dudes.
Ok this ones is where some people might scratch their heads a bit and I’d suggest for another take on this you watch Movie Bobs video about it.
In short this comes down the stance or positioning and stance of the character being designed to send a message.
The issue being in many games the Male character has a heroic stance designed to showcase strength while female characters often have a stance that shows off their sexuality rather than power. This is only really an issue if the character is meant to be showing off power not sexuality.
This ones always baffled me and it’s a strange long standing and oddly baffling claim. The best I can figure out is this comes as a result of claims people only want to play as someone just like the. You know all that praise that was lumped on people for say modding old games to let their daughter play Melina saving Mario ? Or the cried against many games this days for “alienating people” by not having a gender select option. Sorry but I played some of the Tomb Raider games and didn’t feel bad I wasn’t playing Larry Croft, it didn’t hamper my experience (Haven’t played the latest tomb Raider I’m not a super huge fan sorry). I played the Metroid games no issue, I played Beyond Good and Evil and man with modern technology the scope that game getting a sequel could have. However possible in reaction to the calls and implication that some people will only play as their own gender companies have decided to go after the 60% share of the market not the 40% share. Yes this idea is plainly stupid however rumours (I can't find a solid source via google here) suggest Watch dogs might have meant to have a female lead.
So let me say looking at those two I have to say the female one looks more interesting (I have not played Watch Dogs but I hear the main character is dull as dishwater). People would rather play an interesting character regardless of the gender and part of the problem with gender select options is it often means aspects of the story which can relate to gender or conditions which occur more to one gender than another can’t often be placed in the story. If you want to tell the specific story of one person then you tell it. I find it insane that there were suggestion the developer of the playstation titled The Puppeteer faced death threats for not putting in a gender select option. Really ? However I have to say the same to publishers trying to push for this kind of change. For me personally an interesting character is what I want to play.
See now here’s a weird syndrome and this actually relates more to people outside of the industry or the development process. This relates to those pushing the image or under the impression that video games should just be for boys. Now if a company does just want to market to boys or to girls I’m not going to say there is anything wrong with it. The problem comes with the claim or assumption that only guys play video games as was seen with Naughty dog having to ask the market testing group they employed to actually ask some women becasue they only asked for male opinions not female ones despite a big part of the game being Ellie.
So I’m at over 1,500 words now. I know people don’t like these blogs going on hugely long so two short paragraphs one about how all this can break down in an instant and one very short one. Then if you want a part 2 feel free to say (there probably will be one anyway though).
Ok so these observations and problems are only valid because at present the market isn’t greatly diverse and there isn’t as much representation. If video games had their equivalent of: Twilight, The Hunger games, The mortal instruments , The Host, Divergent or whatever the hell else has become popular with Tween girls now. Then you could write off the entire argument I’ve just made by simple pointing out that there are different products for different demographics present in the market. Twilight is definitely not for me, of 5 attempts to watch it I’ve not made it more than 15 minutes in thanks to insane headaches or random anime style nose bleeds. My Body literally rebels when I’ve tried to sit through Twilight. The hunger games is ok though, well the second one was, the first one was kinda crap as a film. So if there is a niche to be carved out (which there is) then it would be nice to see it happen and not just some multi million dollar hidden object game. Also can someone explain the attraction to hidden object games that seems more prevalent with women ? I’m not joking my ex who was insanely good at Metal gear solid and love GTA and Saints row still had a huge love of hidden object games too and from what I hear it’s not uncommon either as the rise of the mobile market as more female dominated shows.
What I’m pointing out here are issue to address if as a developer or company you are specifically going for a broad appeal game intended to reach as many demographics as possible. Now I would argue to an extent the notion of trying to appeal to everyone is both an act in futility and something that would actually be damaging to a product to an extent but that’s an argument for another day. The reality is unless you want to claim that everyone should play and enjoy the exact same things then it is possible to merely cater to wider demographic with a range of products rather than one product trying to appeal to all. The funniest thing is if people want specific proof of the fact different demographics want different things the whole present argument labelling sexualisation in all cases as sexist and claiming it’s putting off female gamers is just that evidence. If the market were more diverse, then it would be ok to have even games that do give fan service but I’d still say it’s objectionable to change a series to include fanservice when it wasn’t previously present. Have faith that your product / series will remain popular without trying to add another draw that doesn’t improve the original formula.
So why am I doing this ? Well firstly I hoped Anita’s series would be good. I hoped Anita's series would manage to talk about issues. It didn’t and doesn’t look like it ever will. I’m talking about this because me and other’s have already addressed the problems with Anita’s series and you know what ? It comes down to something when a White Cis –Male hack writer like me is having to address these issue. Meanwhile the feminist pop culture who got $158,000 to address it is more interested in the discussing the implications of not getting an instant game over for killing a hooker. So If me talking about this, and writing articles like this means every time we have a new AAA games released without a gender select I don’t have to have a discussion about how that one item is now hugely sexist then so be it.What I’m doing is looking at this industry in a far more macro scale rather than calling out individual games and simply stamping the word sexist on it. People only “win” if we let them, people only get to show gaming as hughely sexist if we firstly don’t challenge their fallacies (which I and others have done) and secondly don’t bring up and address the actual problems. Not just the objections people have which they want to label as sexist.
So you know what, all you video game writers , journalists and Bloggers supporting Anita, you’re also not discussing the problems. It’s not discussing the problems to parrot the words of someone who at one point claimed the more innovative and beneficial sector of the video games market was mobile games. It’s not discussing the problem to just stick her videos on your front page. You know better than that or should do and you shouldn’t need a hack writer like me calling you out on this. I’ve been told enough times by people what Anita has and hasn’t said, I’ve been told enough times what she meant. Most of the time she didn’t say that and that meaning is a stretch. So you know what write one of these, this is another open challenge throwing down the gauntlet. Make it so I don’t have to keep writing these. Because you know a situation has got bad when a hack like me with no actual training in media studies or arts is the only one writing this stuff.I’m discussing it because I’ve yet to see people really put my take on the table.
Now that’ll be $50,000 please.........
I am of course joking.
Housekeeping at the end of this
Upcoming stuff related to this article from me:
So Part 2 whenever I get round to it here’s the planned topics so far
Can I have some character with my sex ? Syndrome
The wrong character syndrome
Some other things if I can think of them if not enjoy a far shorter article.
Part 1 Extra
Why are you doing this
Oh [insert deity] why are you doing this
Questions vs............. Anita 2 why won't this thing stay dead ?
Header = me
Half Life 3 fake screenshots = Fake Factory members
I'm Starting to question my choice of Attire = LuckyFK
Divinity original sin = Farhang Namdar
Soul Calibur custom character = hwoarang93
Warrior stances = marinka18
Red sonja strikes = Elias-Chatzoudis
Male poses = Ehren English
So hello again and welcome to another of my weird on break blogs and again an idea that I think might come up again and become a series of blogs. Originally I was going to call it “Critical Floor” (intentionally the wrong word being used this time) and take a look at elements in video games that are a comment or commentary on either various issues, other artistic works, ideologies and concepts / themes.
So on with the article.
Did you ever Notice that Burtal Legend actually comments mentions Shakespeare’s Hamlet ?
Well at least I think it does.
You see one of the main characters in Brutal Legend is a member of the human resistance and her name is Ophelia the same as a character in Hamlet.
Ophelia of Brutal Legend next to a painting meant to depict Ophelia of Hamlet.
Now I know what you might just be thinking it’s a name so what right ? Well it would be if in Hamlet it weren’t suggested Ophelia threw herself into the river from a willow tree. Very similar to how feeling betrayed in Brutal legend Ophelia throws herself into the sea of black tears.
Oh but it doesn’t merely stop at Ophelia throwing herself into a mass of water, oh no. You see I mentioned in Hamlet how Ophelia threw herself in off a Willow tree ? Well meet the Drowning Doom’s ultimate unit. A Tree that looks very similar to a dead willow tree.
Now there is one more little not to Hamlet in Brutal Legend's story, it’s a slight difference to the events of Hamlet but it does seem very much to be a further mention of Hamlet. In Hamlet, Hamlet himself kills Ophelia’s father. In Brutal Legends Eddie Rigg’s father actually killed Ophelia’s Father.
So there you go, a weird random silly little article I’ve been planning to write for a while. Also comments very much approciated on the name if you prefer Critical Floor or you prefer Hey did you notice :
So after my recent blogs this one might seem quite strange. It doesn’t fit into any actual category really. It doesn’t even make sense as a topic on its own really and that’s because it’s a bunch of little bits that have piled up and never really warranted an individual blogs to deal with on their own.
So what am I doing ?
Well I’m addressing as many of the major mistakes, miscommunications and general changes to event’s and articles I’ve posted here on Destructoid over the years. I’m doing this in an approach similar to BBC shows like Newswatch except without a panel of alternative views. The reason I’m doing this as a separate blog rather than updates to them is many people will read an article and then leave it often not coming back. Now I could reply to them using the disqus comments system but it’s quite possible for them to not notice or (considering how old some of these articles are) not remember much anymore. Consider this me attempting to be a better Garmz Juranalist.
Oh and comments on my spulling and gamma are noted but unless it changes the context due to an error I won’t be specifically addressing them here.
So for those of you who’ve ever complain that I messed up, your day might finally have come.
I’m starting with the oldest first. Also no those blogs meant for pure entertainment like my predictions of gaming doom one, those probably won’t be addressed here as they were designed to be wrong.
How Valve Killed cross platform gaming
Correction: Valve didn’t kill cross platform gaming so much as Microsoft did because Valve killed their attempt at a monopoly of the PC and console markets.
Wallet Warriors Unwelcome
Clarification: Just because you spend money on a free to play game doesn’t make you a bad person. Spending $2,000 simply to win, because the game lets you, does make you a dick though. More than that though it makes the developers who allowed this giant dicks and just harms the industry as a whole because idiots like you are spending insane cash on games just to be able to win. So to you I say, look at what you’ve caused are you happy now ?
PC gamers may need to make a choice between Valve and microsoft
Update : PC gaming never really had to make a choice because windows 8 was kinda shit so most PC gamers and developers stuck with windows 7
Speculative specs of the next generation
Redaction: The Specs for the next generation consoles (now the present) I talked about were based on complete bollocks found on the internet before their release they are completely unrealistic stats and shouldn’t be believed.
The Sarkeesian the dice and the mirror
Correction / Apology : Oddly my most controversial article to date and I’m sure it will continue to be. The biggest criticism is the lack of inclusion of sources. I owe you readers an apology and will try to keep this in mind in future as you might be noticing with the heavy amount of links and videos in my more recent articles. Not all the sources I used for the article are seemingly still around and without copies of them I just hope you can trust my journalistic integrity enough for me to say I saw them and they seemed solid enough to write an article on. You can however cross reference the date of the article and Anita Sarkeesian’s own tweets confirming she was at the EA Sweden the home of DICE and take note of Anita’s Tweets when she mentions Mirrors Edge 2 or EA.
Microsoft to shoot the early bird
Correction: It turns out Microsoft may not merely have been banning people playing games early but for pirating the games. I don’t have any solid proof these people banned were pirates but nor do I have proof they bought legitimate copies.
Sony Leaks it's own console security codes
Correction: Sony didn’t release the PS3 system code a second group of hackers did to prevent another group trying to profit.
Two articles about the controversey around an XBLIG game and the developers reaction to reviews.
Update: Since the two articles I did upon the actions of an indie game developer (and over a year on) I did received an apology of kinds from the developer in question. I am unaware of if other reviews particularly the one most criticism and accusations were aimed at has. The developer, as far as I’m aware, has decided to pursue other lines of work. As far as I’m aware there is no public press release apology. As such while I hold not personal grudge against the developer I maintain that I will not be covering games from them until the issue is fully resolved not just with me but all parties involved.
Why I'm still excisted for the Ouya
Update: No-one did put Porn games on the Ouya.............. yet.
This is one I time I made a prediction that turned out to be very wrong as no-one really put anything on the Ouya let alone porn games. The idea could still happen but it seems unlikely. Oh and yes this will be addressing some of the wild predictions I made that could have been damaging somehow.
Remember me could be memorable
Apology: If you bought Remember Me based on my say so and the impression I gave in my preview piece, then I owe you an apology. As you’re probably aware by now the game turned out the be rather shallow in the end and during my very short time with the game I was unable to notice this. I will however still be doing preview pieces when I can just take anything I say in a preview piece with a mountain of salt. I don’t do paid preview pieces (not due to ethics I’m literally not big enough for people to offer them) and do try to disclose any possible items I was given or acquired from the developer which could lead to bias being present, beyond any personal excitement for the game I have.
Update: Microsoft haven’t been screwing indie developers as badly as I thought they would. Don’t get me wrong their Indie games policy is by far the worst out of the three console manufacturers so far with the parity clause but Microsoft have been trying to do better and as far as I’m aware are paying developers close to on time now.
Microsoft are selling a broken game
Update: Banana Bonanza a game inherently broken and sold on misleading deceptive marketing was pulled from the Xbox Market place as of 7:30am GMT on 03/04/2013. Is has not returned.
What the hell is going on at Microsoft first a broken game now paid Beta testing ?
Redaction: I have spoken to the developer Vikingfabian and he did explain that he did see the problem and explained that it was an impossible choice to make. Microsoft in, their infinite wisdom, had designed the XNA system such that until a game was released you couldn’t use Xbox Live even for network testing. This meant developers had to release their games and then quickly patch the netcode after release. While I still don’t agree with the solution being used here of selling access to a selection of Beta’s I can understand. VikingFabian set the price to drive people away so he could simply get the 100 free codes to distribute and have people test the games.
Review of XBLIg game The Survivalist
Update: I have been informed (but cannot attest to it personally) that a recent patch has fixed many of the issues I reported in this review.
The Oculus rift 480p and my trip to the opticians
I failed to adequately state that the version of the rift I tried was a now previous version. The more recent version has better resolution and tracking on it.
I got the resolution wrong as apparently the version I played was most likely the 800p. However this actually makes me more concerned as the believing the version I played to be a low resolution one made me more optimistic about the next version.
Addressing a specific complaint: now I’m addressing this because it was directed at me.
“you should've tried dk2 before posting your article”
So I think it’s only fair I address this complaint in a completely mature and fair way.
What it’s how many places such as Gamasutra and Polygon seem to be handling criticism of their articles recently.
Ok a completely fair and mature way after I’ve had my moment of being silly and immature.
The developer kit 2 was only released a month or so before my article. I’m not a developer so I’m not entirely sure why I should be buying resources normally meant for developers. This is especially considering my laptop probably isn’t capable or suitable for use with the Oculus rift and it’s graphical / processing requirements.
This also brings me to the bigger issue with the complaint. The developer Kit 2 is $350. I like all other C-bloggers am not paid by Destructoid nor do we get expenses (and rightfully so cause I'm really shit). This is why you’ll find many of my reviews being of indie games that cost $1 as I’ll happily pay that to try out and review a game then potentially tell people if they should check it out. Considering my reaction to the Oculus rift DK1 I’d have to have a very serious interest to want to pay over £200 for the device. My interaction with in development gaming hardware is limited, mostly to shows I attend. The one main one I do attend being Gadget Show Live, I am not a developer, I do not go out drinking with developers so I do not realistically have access to developers working with this technology or who are heavily invested in it.
I will say in the future if at the next Gadget Show Live I do try the DK2 Oculus rift I will give my impression on that. I do also have an upcoming blog talking generally about more immersive video games and it’s one I’ve had planned for a long time. As it stands the article on the Oculus Rift was merely to discuss my experiences with the version I got to try. If / when I get to try a the new version I will try to speak on that.
Well there we go. If you feel your complaint wasn’t addressed then feel free to contact me and point it out, then when I’m doing another one of these I’ll try to better address it. However I should note I will not be individually addressing every spelling error pointed out. Nor will I be addressing differences in opinion including but not limited to examples such as: “but my game isn’t bad it’s really really fun” and “I don’t think you should have taken that tone a more optimistic tone would be better to not drive people away from [insert product here]”. The second example being especially relevant as I am not part of the PR for a product I only have an obligation to talk about it how I see it be that positive or negative.
See not that hard is it Kotaku ? If a hack like me can address complaints without calling everyone spoiled entitled shits maybe you and your ilk should to, you know rather than censoring the comments.
So why the hell am I talking about Gamergate, well I’ll let Matt Lees explain.
I’m not going to hold you to the same level as Matt Lees wants people to be in talking about additional subjects, I’m not going to say “There is no neutral on a moving train”. If you don’t want to talk about it you don’t have to. If you don’t want to care you don’t have to. I’m literally talking about it so others don’t have to talk about things all the time. So people have the right, like I did in my Half Life article, to not have to comment on some aspects. What aspect did I not comment on in my Half Life article ? Well the fact there are no female scientists or security and the only female characters are the enemy special forces. Should I have talked about it as a scientist very concerned with the under-representation of women in science ? Yes I could have done but I didn’t want to use the discussion of Half Life merely as a vehicle to air my own personal politics if I were going to discuss that issue I’d be clear about that issue not jam it in there hap hazardly. Yes gender politics and gender issues are something that does need to be discussed in relation to gaming, but to discuss gaming they aren’t something that also must be discussed first.
Now a lot of people will no doubt say “Well Everything means something” but do people want a ham fisted attempt to discuss Fergusson as a reviewer in a review claims that Battlefield Hardline is deliberately attempting to glorify the actions of the police in Fergusson ?
I’m sorry but I highly doubt the developers of a game in production well in advance of the events of Fergusson set out to make some deep political statement and in reality, most likely, wanted to make a modern cops and robbers game. Is Fergusson something that people think should be talked about ? Yes and I think it does warrant a discussion, even not being from the US. However it should be one had by those who want to have it. I’m from the UK and we don’t have really heavily armed response units. We do have fire arms divisions in the police and essentially swat team however they’re used very differently and it’s often an issue of proportional response. We had somewhat similar events in Fergusson here in the UK and some people took it as reasoning enough, to use the cause of someone being shot, as justification for widespread looting to “Protest”. That’s not protesting but from what I hear in Fergusson the people hit by this were actually protesting and it was very much the minority using it as an excuse to go looting.
Now you might be wondering about the title and the idea is simply this. Feeling oppressed does not mean you should want to turn the tables to become the oppressor. Claiming video games need stop doing things you personally dislike and thinly justifying it as “because it’s offensive” is a terrible way to try and change the market. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the market is big enough for people to carve out a niche if they want. The idea that there can be only one set of people being catered to is a very stupid idea, especially in modern gaming with the age of digital distribution and numerous ways to make games. You don’t want violent games, don’t buy them.
The way to change things isn’t to make people feel bad for not agreeing with you. It’s not about taking over yourself it’s to talk and declaring cultural war is one of the stupidest ideas ever.
So why did I get involved in Gamergate, well I was kinda dragged in kicking and screaming initially after trying to cheer someone up on the internet.
After Jon Tron had been facing a lot of social justice warriors I tweeted him this picture above. Intended as a fairly cutting commentary upon the stupid mob justice style berating people were getting and not being allowed to talk or defend themselves.
Well it blew up didn’t it and I personally had people calling me anything from an asshole to even one guy claiming I was a “White Supremacist”. Now that picture was one of a number of possible ones I considered and I deliberately picked it as there was no comment or indication of race at all present. Here were some of the others.
The commentary was NOT comparing the plight of Jon Tron to black Americans, it was never meant to be, because black Americans weren’t the only people lynched. It was meant as a commentary on the dangers of lynching culture and pulling people up on a perceived crime without letting them talk and without listening. So here I was facing a small scale example of the present problem going on. The person I was arguing with wasn’t listening and was just insistent I was the villain, I was an asshole and I should feel bad for their interpretation for the perceived crime. Someone had approached me on twitter and already made up their mind before listening as I’m seeing people admitting to doing here on Destructoid.
I’ve seen people claiming to be fighting for social justice telling people to go kill themselves for the good of humanity. This isn’t the kind of equality I want to see, equality build on a base of oppression and fear.
The point I really snapped though was when Jayd3fox was allegedly targeted. Before I’d been very much of the mind set that the actions of certain people were pretty shitty and DMCA abuse was a huge dick move trying to shut people up, but this struck home.
Who is Jayd3fox ? Well she’s an internet commentator who was attacked for making a parody video.
This parody video above infact. I know some people out there are going to go “Oh rushing to the defence of a woman in trouble eh?” No I’m standing up for the right of people to make a parody. I’m standing up because some-one dared to do something different from their normal content and for all intents purposes made a very cutting very well done parody video. Defending people’s right to critique is pretty easy. However so few people seem to want to defend peoples being allowed to make a parody, which I’d argue is a far more effective method of critique. It has been done to public figures for many many years here in the UK and what’s more it actually works to help involve more people in present issues by making light of the subject rather than a heavy slog. It was said shows like Spitting Image did more to actually get people interested in politics and the names of politicians than any campaign or any amount of people saying why others should care.
You know why I’m saying something about the Jayd3Fox thing ?
Because her reaction wasn’t 24 hours later to plug her Patreon, she posted an explanation video and essentially shut everything down, donation links the lot (plenty of small youtubers have donation links and youtube has started a Tip jar system that's being rolled out soon). You know why she came back ? Because people rallied round and said that what was going on wasn’t right. That her content should exist and someone shouldn’t end up producing a video of them in tears because they merely had the gall to disagree with someone and make a comedy video.
Then more recently it started to happen. People were being attacked more for simply critique. This was people attempting to use DMCA abuse more to silence others, it was people using other systems including threats and intimidation or in the case of Thunderf00t claiming he was sending abuse.
So why the hell should anyone listen to a Cis White Male like me talking about this stuff ?
Why the hell should anyone care what I have to say on the matter of diversity ?
Well because me and people like me are the perfect gauge for how messages of diversity are being perceived that’s why. If you want Cis White Males to care about or hell any group for that matter then maybe it’s worth talking to them and listening to them to, to understand their mindset and way of thinking to understand how to make a message work better. Simply berating people who disagree into submission isn’t going to help any cause, all it does it will do is create a undercurrent of resentment which if it gets strong enough it will boil over.
What is being seen now with Gamergate is people finally having enough. People having enough with being called rape apologists for their choice of entertainment products. People who have had enough of being told their views don’t matter or their only involvement should be to agree.
I’m watching people claiming to fight for diversity harming their own cause by essentially backing Magento, because “hey it still gets the same goal right ?” That’s the problem, it doesn’t make the change last it doesn’t help people understand the calls for diversity. It doesn’t help people understand the problem it simply tries to make them feel bad for not accepting things right away.
It’s the reason every time someone says how Anita is needed so badly and how she’s doing such an amazing job I have to direct them to read Elsa’s blog. I may not always entirely agree all the time (though it's very rare I find I do disagree) but Elsa does a far better job talking about these kind of issues than Anita and does it without accusing the intended audience of being the villains of the piece.
I’m seeing people call for others to “Listen and believe” and those same people are shutting down criticism. They clearly aren’t listening, they’re just believing what they want to.
I’m talking about this because you know what it needs to be talked about. People can and will say Gamergate has problems because it does. However so does the push of those claiming to be fighting for social justice and yet only one side is acknowledging they have problems. Some of the Social Justice side and seemingly claiming any action is fine to fight for their cause because "the greater good". This is why despite wanting diversity in video games, despite seeing threats as a negative thing (and both sides have been using them) I’m still supporting gamergate because you know what. It may not be perfect but it admits to not being perfect .
If you want a culture war you have one. If you want people talking about these issues well done you’ve got it but you don’t get to only have one view seen.
If you want to talk about this then lets, but let’s also admit Social Justice’s own version of Magneto is no way to do this.
So no, you don’t get to say only things you think should be talked must be talked about by everyone. If you want to ever claim everyone should be talking about an issue because of how important it is then you don’t get to belittle others doing the same when you don’t think it’s important. You don’t get to try and drag people into a discussion they don’t want. Let people who don’t want these discussions sit out of them and stop claiming “there is no neutral on a moving train” and a way to force them into the issue either justifying vilifying them or telling them to join you.
I talk about Gamergate because it’s important to show more than one side of it.
My choice is to expose more of the picture.
and if as we're seeing not many in the media willing to show other aspects then I'm going to.
So if you’re happy with what you know fine. If you maybe want to know if there’s more to this then luckily for you I’m talking about it. If you want this discussion then I’m here and I’m talking about it but part of this is both sides needing to listen and being willing to have beliefs challenged otherwise why should I listen to you ?
So you know what, I’m not done talking about Gamergate. Most of my articles so far have been merely talking about issues and ideologies around it and that are important to understanding it and dispelling some myths.  I’ve only once directed an article at anyone involved in the controversies at present and that was only tangentially and not the full set of claims made or as shocking and challenging as I could have gone. I edited a full paragraph section out in edit because it wasn’t a question that needed to be ask. I will however have to talk about it with Gamergate as it was one of the events.
Now let me be clear I’m for diversity in gaming, and soon possibly even my next blog here will be one pointing at the actual problems in gaming. Plenty of people are going to be wondering how on earth I can be on the same side as a publication in the past that had articles like this. It’s a good question and it’s because they’re one of the few addressing the idea there are more sides to this, ok not well as they’re not doing a great job showing another side than their own but then again it’s their prerogative just as it’s other press sites to only report the side they want. The difference is when you ask the public to support you after basically telling them to fuck off. The mainstream non gaming press tends to work because there are pretty vocal voices on both side and groups with varying degrees of “lean”. Very few people are talking about the gamergate side as anything but the villains and here’s the funny thing. People will no doubt be mad about me talking about gamergate and the reality is I’ve not, not really, I’ve talked about the ideologies surrounding it, I’ve talked about dispelling the myths round it, I’ve addressed one of the very pressing arguments against those in gamergate and I’ve pointed out some things that just don’t make sense about the person who declared this culture war.
So why am I talking about gamergate ? Because as much as I scoff at the idea of an Atheist community I’ve seen what happens there when people try to also conflate issues. Yes I’m talking about Atheism+. I’m an Atheist myself but I find the idea comedic that Atheists would have such gatherings and all flock to buy certain books but that’s cause I’m not a hard core destroy all religion Atheist. However I can still look over this and see how insane it is to try and turn one subject into merely a vehicles for others and to try and make it so discussion of one thing can’t happen without immediate discussion of another also. I’m standing here saying if the only way I get to talk about video games, just video games, and not have to talk about how Resident Evil 7 as disrespecting ebola victims is to stand up and talk about issues surrounding gaming then so be it. If to be allowed and to tell some out there to let me talk about gaming I have to talk about gamergate then I will.
How many issues must I talk about when I talk about video games ?
I’m talking about gamergate because in the end as much as I want to talk about video games people don’t want me to just talk about video games. I don’t expect people to want to talk or care about gamergate. I want people to be allowed to just happily talk about video games and if that means me and other standing up and saying we don’t need Gaming+ to take over then so be it.
Just to be completely clear, this doesn’t mean issues can’t be discussed, just that to discuss video games doesn’t mean you have to discuss them. If you want to discuss these issues then do, just give them the words they deserve and don’t insert them ham fistedly.
I’m not claiming to be some Homosuperior Xman.
If you really think I’m not going to try to do a good job of talking about gamergate and talking about things the media aren’t saying then I’m sorry. However the fact I’ve just pointed the past actions of the main publication (not an article by the same journalist just the same publication) talking about gamergate should give you some indication that I’m prepared to call bullshit on either side here if I see bullshit.
I'm also talking about it because corruption in the media, a media meant to be protecting consumers to an extent is a disturbing thing. It's not new but the sacle this goes up to even implicating some academics and abuse of acadmeic systems (systems of great importance which I an many others hold in great importence). Press corruption and collusions is what is keeping this going in the end. If that's the driving force then it also needs to be addressed not just to stop this shit storm but also to remind the press they are meant to protect consumers not their financial intrest in the client they're now working PR for or the developer they want to see succeed. I'd love some developers to succeed but that didn't mean I didn't rip Derp of Duty a new one.
I was talking about Gamergate before my articles here. I'm talking about it now because it's something I feel needs at least someone talking about other than a twitter hash tag, a few small sites and a good chunk of people condemning it.
Now the question was asked before "Why here on destructoid and not the corrupt sites". Well destructoid is allowing it to be talked about, other site well they're banning people so I wouldn't get to talk I wouldn't get to write article like I have done as they'd be deleted on less than 30 seconds.
So yes I will be talking about Gamergate in the future, not just ideologies and philosophies important to understanding the debate here but the actual events of gamergate and the actions of people involved. Why have I not been talking about them ? Well I’ve been waiting to collect material together, to make sure what I write isn’t out of date in 2 days because trust me on this is pretty damning so far I’m waiting to see if there is a big development which entirely changes what I’ve collected.
Next Blog, something a bit different with only one paragraph in any way relating to gamergate.
In a future blog, picking up the gauntlet I threw down before
In more future blogs at some point, the events of gamergate.
I'll leave you with this image that I think just says so much about the present issues.
So plenty of people have been saying Gamergate is nothing and people didn’t care about trying to maintain some level of ethical journalism. The commonly cited reason being “Well you didn’t get this mad about [insert controversy here]”
So here I am again, doing another one of these blogs to point out something that really should be stupidly obvious. You know what, this shits getting old and I’m seriously getting fed up of having to make this crap to dispel myths, you realise I have like 15 more of these things to do clearing up this shit storm right ? I was going to have a controversy free weekend and let the C-blogs have a nice rest rather then throw more of this in but no. I don’t get to do that I get to watch the same damn arguments trotted out again and again. You want to yell at me for this here’s my Twitter go nuts.
For those who don’t know Doritogate began when Geoff Keighley was seen doing interviews between Mountain dew packs and Dorritos all with nice Halo 4 advertising on them. Robert "Rab" Florence made an article about this also discussing how certain British journalists at an industry show might have been making tweets in the hope of winning a PS3. Lauren Wainwright or her bosses made a legal threat against Eurogamer and made them change the article to remove reference to her. Robert "Rab" Florence then quit due to allegedly believing the industry corruption was getting worse. Wainwright at one point had on their resume that they worked for Square Enix. This caused a huge number of complaints about how the gaming press and PR of certain companies might be too close.
So why the hell am I saying talking about this ?
Well let’s see what happened ?
Max Scoville working then at Rev 3 made this video mocking Doritos gate and gave birth to the Doritos mountain dew challenge.
Oh yeh and Jim Sterling made a video about it.
It even made Anrgy Joe’s top controversies list.
Let me point out why there wasn’t a huge public month long uproar about it. Because there didn’t need to be. The industry called out shitty practices in itself and you know what’s worse than the public saying you’ve done wrong ? Your own peers and the industry you work in the people on par with you in terms of professionalism (supposedly) saying you screwed up. There was no huge public outcry because there didn’t need to be the industry had acknowledged and called out the issue and people were being shamed quite publicly by the press for it. The people who are meant to be better qualified (they’re getting paid to write I’m not) were dealing with it.
What does it boil down to ?
Youtubers were being paid by companies to do lets plays of their game or talk about let’s say the Xbone in a positive light.
Some weren’t telling people this and others had it as part of the contract that they couldn’t talk about it.
What happened ?
Well total biscuit made a video on it pointing out how there are problems and why it happens.
The short answer is that under FTC regulations anyone promoting something and not disclosing it is breaking the law (The UK has the advertising standard comitee you can contact). We have no way to tell who is and who isn’t doing it unless they say. Calling any youtuber doing a let’s play out could catch a lot of innocent lets players in this and have them being blamed for something they didn’t do.
One such thing that caused a lot of controversy has been the Yogs Discovery program. Essentially the Yogscast offer to do lets plays in an indie game for a cut of the sale over a period of time. People were up in arms about this because “OMG stealing from the indie developers.” Well know Yogscast were offering essentially an advertising deal in a way that’s pretty different from most other companies. They were offering to do videos on the game and showcase it for a cut of the sales. Yogscast was hiring out their 7 million + subscribers to look at something a little different and that could be a risk. The balance being the viewers get to see something new cool and different and Yogscast get to make sure any drop in their views because they aren’t still doing minecraft stuff is made up for. It’s a pretty good deal as averaging about 100,000 views it’s being seen by plenty of people and there’s the added advantage of unlike traditional adverts this sticks round and doesn’t simply end right away. It means the indie developer isn’t paying out money upfront and as such a good rise in sales will cover the costs if the rise in sales doesn’t come then oh well less profit in the end. Now this does have it's own issues such as concerns from other youtube partners.
So what’s important to know about the Lets player situation.
Now actual lets players come in three main varieties though people can have aspects of multiple ones:
Technical lets player
Reactionary lets player
Podcast lets player
Now a Technical lets player will discuss the game, tips and tricks and tell you why they’re doing what they’re doing, this is almost a video walkthrough really.
Reactionary lets players simply talk about what’s going on in the game and react to it often with some kind of comments about it be it excited comments or snide jokes riffling on the game.
Podcast lets players use the game as almost the background and discuss events going on. Normally podcast lets players are groups of lets players who discuss various subjects while the game is almost like the background music for such discussions.
Again Lets Players can be a number of these. Here's an example of what I mean and yes this is a fellow indie game reviewer who I'm going to shamelessly plug here and no he is not a Gamergate supporter. This should give you a bit of an example of a more technical lets play but with elements of reactionary.
Now as well as lets players there are critics and pundits who discuss the game and offer an opinion on it. Sometimes based on first impressions or a short time with the game.
Again here's the same indie reviewer doing a impression based video.
There are even reviewers on youtube believe it or not like Anrgy Joe.
So I find it quite funny people are seemingly objecting to lets players getting hold of this. The reality is almost all of the lets players would be unaffected by the terms of the deal. Technical lets players would still talk about mechanics and tricks in the game, reactionary lets players would still be able to whoop and holler and podcast lets players would still be able to talk about potato restaurants while playing. Ok so those who Riff on games wouldn’t be able to take the deal really but again most riffers only riff really bad games anyway and their content is often as relevant long down the line.
The reality is if a youtuber takes one of these deals and doesn’t tell people.
Now there are issues with paid youtube video content I’ll give you that. The main one is actually a technical one relating to the required disclosure. On some apps, tablets / mobile viewing platforms for various reasons (which I don’t know) the about section is not included or viewable meaning unless you watch the content on a computer or device that can show you the about section then you won’t know it’s advertising material. This is a technical problem with the systems in place and honestly it’s one various youtubers are trying various ways to identify this content, be it with TBs paid promotional content disclaimer or with Jesse Cox titling his paid promotional stuff as Jesse sells out.
Youtube is an open platform and it is one that’s free. The way youtubers make money is via advertising and before anyone says “Well they’re selling their audience right” trust me you guys aren’t paying them / making them that much only pretty big channels or networks get good money in really or what I call the youtube Old guard who were some of the first partners when it was invite only.
Full disclosure I am a youtuber partner and I was one of those invited to be one in the early days, I’m not a big youtuber, I have barely used it and I don’t make a living off it. I’ve been around for a long time and talked to plenty of people on youtube in my time. I’ve also had dealings with Warner Brothers in the past, more specifically content ID fights with them because fuck you Warner Brothers for not respecting creative commons rights. See how hard that was, I mean i had to type a whole paragraph here for the sake of transparency how could anyone possibly be expected to do that right ???
Sarcasm aside I put it to those of you saying about lets players doing paid content and not saying what they expect. What the hell do you expect people to do ?
Personally I only tend to follow youtubers who produce content I enjoy and or trust not to try to hide this information. The reality is paid content doesn’t matter if you’re honest about it being paid content as then the consumer is informed and can make an informed judgement about the product.
Because they don’t need to be, action is being taken where it can be already and people are acting to work on this. To be honest people might say journalists don’t earn that much the reality is the youtubers taking these deals probably aren’t even making enough to live off youtbe , it’s a supplementary income to them and not much else. Also there will always be people on an open platform like youtube out to make a quick buck however you’ll find they vanish pretty quick. There are ways and tricks used by people in the system I will admit but often once the tricks are closed people tend to find it’s not worth keeping on. Or they quit when they get called out on their actions. You know people in the industry policing one another like the gaming press did at one point ?
The public weren’t in all out war over these because other people were taking the action already. With Gamergate, it’s very much being seen as a lack of action and outright hostility and attempts at retaliation from the gaming press.
Gamers sent death threats to Anita Sarkeesian and forced her from her home (which I talked about and questioned in a previous blog )
Oh and I've covered controversies the mainstream press didn't in the past.
Microsoft selling a game on Xbox live that wasn't functional, not glitchy, not game breaking bugs a game that literally was corrupt on the xbox live system so it wouldn't even load
And assortment of non controversies because of percieved issues that people whipped up into claiming they were huge things
Indie developer acting like a dick to a reviewer
Microsoft Screwing over indie developers
You know Twice
So yeh if I see reason to be involved or no-one talking about it I do say something, I don't on every issue but feel free to look back through my blogs here I've talked plenty about #Deal with it and the Xbone and even Kinect.
So yeh I've commented on plenty of them in the past. Thats where I was.
So this blog started life as a stupid concept of ripping off one of the ideas of the BBC show I’ve never seen Star Wars. The concept being you set yourself the task to do something you haven’t done before and you believe is either culturally relevant or would have a meaningful impact.
Now the truth is I have technically played Halflife 1 before but I didn’t play very much of it. I played the PS2 version (which for real Hardcore Half Life fans actually has an extra Co-op game mode and story that has never been on any other platform to date). Now I never actually got very far into the game and yet I own Halflife 2 on three platforms, I’ve finished the game maybe 7 times now. So in a fairly recent Steam sale I picked up Half Life and finally I decided to play it. This is not Black Mesa Source, this is not even Half Life Source, this is simply vanilla Half Life with no HD textures or improvements.
Well I’ve finished it and I have to say, it really doesn’t hold up. I’m not joking there’s a very apparent reason for the remakes. I’m not someone who never played any FPS games from the olden times of video gaming. I played Goldeneye 64, I played some of Turok I have even played Wolfenstein 3D on the SNES. So whe I played Half Life I expected something to really warrant the great praise it received and the standing it seemed to have. What I found was a game that did attempt some different ideas but also fell into many of the problems of the FPS genre’s past making it feel very archaic.
So let’s start with the graphics. This isn’t an objection to a lot of it. The model work in many places is fantastic for the time with very detailed models rather than the square headed 3D characters of the past. However this is almost entirely ruined by some of the environments and the textures in some places look stretched and distorted while others seem to fit the items perfectly.
In places you’re having to jump about between platforms and the problems become worse as the platforms you have to jump to in some areas are textured exactly the same as the wall they’re next to making it difficult to tell quite where the platforms are. That’s right the problem is so severe that it actually impacts gameplay.
^It's easier to see the platforms in this example but it shows the problem of them blending in a bit too well too.
So let’s now talk about gameplay. Half Life has three main gameplay types. Initially there is obviously the shooting element, then there are the odd puzzle style element to overcome and finally there is the first person platforming. Yes that’s right you can pretty much lay the blame for every game throwing out terrible first person platforming at the feet of Half life. A lot of the problems with the first person plat forming in Half Life can be laid at the feet of the pre source physics engine which will seemingly stop all momentum if you so much as scrape an object. What this amounts to is while you should be able to easily leap onto certain boxes you have to very quickly master the lost art of video game crouch jumping, if you ever want to climb on boxes that is. There’s even that most despised of modern game things, forced stealth sections. Only two sections but if you mess up it’s almost instant death.
Now I played the game on easy because I know a problem with older FPS games (and still one some modern games have) are bullet spongy enemies and the harder the difficulty the more spongy they were. Even playing on easy had me getting bored with just how bullet spongy certain enemies were (mainly the human military), the situation got s bad I quickly abandoned the assault rifle unless I also had grenades for it as the weapon was pointlessly slow at killing enemies and hard on ammo.
Even playing on easy I died a lot from honestly cheap deaths and the game quickly changing its own established rules. To give you a couple of example on one section I died multiple times on a section where unknown to me as you walked past a section of wall part of the top was blasted open and a sniper hidden in a sniper nest was revealed behind you after you’d just passed there. The game even at times spawns in enemies behind you and infront of you at the same time. The worst offender though has to be the sections with laser trip mines; initially you run into these and will quickly discover that grenades or good shooting with the pistol, so when you come to a warehouse corridor full of them you’ve been taught throughout the game to just destroy them. So I did just that and died. OK I thought maybe I was just too close, so I tried again making sure I was a good distance away only to die again. You see the whole warehouse is wired to blow if just one of the mines trips but the game doesn’t tell you this it waits for you to screw up and you have to figure it out. Changing the rules like this becomes unfortunately common such as in the end game areas of Xen where some areas have normal gravity and fall damage while others will not penalise you at all. Or when a solider places a satchel charge in the pipe you’re in an instead of merely huge explosion it fills the pipe with a huge fireball.
The inconsistency even goes to the enemy AI as it seems like it’s entirely random if they’ll be alerted to you. I had one incident where I walked right up behind the enemy and they never saw me yet in another instance I was two floor above an enemy facing the other direction to me only for him to spectacularly throw a grenade over his shoulder behind himself at me.
Next we come to the game balance which honestly is all over the place seemingly with some section seeing me top up all of 5 health and leave the dispenser not needing any more and other sections seeing me desperately search the level for any kind of HP items on all of 10 health. This issue with the health is made worse by the games auto save system meaning in some situations you might screw up and only scrape through on 10 health and then the game saves and you then have to try to fight through the next area on next to no health and hope to survive. You’ll find most games spread their auto saves or checkpoints out now such that you get at least some health given to you before it saves or creates a checkpoint to avoid you being placed in a scenario where it could be impossible to carry on. I never ended up in quite such a no win scenario but I can see how it would be possible to have your health too low to be able to carry on due to the game taking cheap sometimes unavoidable hits on you.
One thing modern PC FPS players will see as an absolute crime against nature is Half Life has a limited degree of aim assist, I couldn’t find how to turn it off in the options but trust me it’s needed for later parts as the game throws small very harmful mite like enemies at you and later on baby headcrabs which aren’t as lethal as the mites but still slowly whittle your health away. These smaller enemies are a real issue as the game seemingly isn’t accurate enough to support being able to finely target them and as such when close your crosshair will automatically move over them for you (which still only gives you a 50 50 chance of actually hitting the things). The control issues extent slightly further to the plat forming actions as by default you’re sprinting and have to actually hold down shift to move slower and allow more precise movements. If this were a modern FPS auto sprint would be much appreciated but not in Half Life’s blend of shooting and plat forming
A lot of times the game is a little unclear on quite where you’re meant to go or what to do, such as times when you’re expected to exploit the world geometry to get round certain areas in one case I had to refer to a guide to find out I was expected to crawl through a barely visible hole in one of the walls.
Very often Half Life tried to create large cinematic moments but forgets to tell the player so the attempt to create an epic cool moment is quickly lost when the player goes “Ok so where am I meant to go and what should I be doing here ?” My normal tactic was run but in some cases I was expected to stand and fight or to run in a specific direction so often I ended up having to go back and one way or another repeat the event.
The level design is fairly varied but again the lack of direction can be a fair problem. Despite being someone who explores levels quite thoroughly I never got the crossbow in the early section in the shark cage for example.
Oh and one thing I need to point out is at points in Half Life you have to wait for characters to open doors for you. Yeh, you know that thing heavily mocked in many of today’s FPS games.
Even now, years on Half Life has some game breaking bugs. During my play through alone I got stuck in the geometry at least 8 times and was forced to reload a save. I even found a way to get stuck in game such that I couldn’t kill the enemies but they slowly killed me or being trapped between moving objects and seemingly invisible walls unable to escape death. Oh and one incident of physics glitching with the NPC animations causing one characters head to be bouncing round like mad on his neck.
So now onto the story. Half Life does one thing well and that’s the idea of world building. However it doesn’t do story very well as the game seems to lurch horribly from plot point to plot point: Something something samples in anti mass spectrometer ; omething something resonance cascade ; something something dimensional breech ; something something military cover up; something something launch a satellite; something something Lambda complex; something something reactor; something something kill the very powerful being.
The world building is great with the idea of Black Mesa the secret test facility developing experimental technology and discovering the other world of Xen, sending survey teams for samples and specimens only for them to be taken as specimens themselves. The idea of the shadowy Gman and only adds to this.
The problem is the main story itself really does have issues as I only found out why the military were hunting freeman really when I overheard one solider tell the other “Well all I know is he’s killed a lot of my friends so I want him dead”. I’m still not quite sure why I had to launch a satellite.
In terms of deeper meaning and theme to the story of Half Life 1 it’s pretty hard to pick out much. With a bit of divining for meaning I guess you could say the game comments upon the dangers unregulated science could pose to the world as being published in 1998 it was merely a year after Dolly the Sheep was created and the 3 years after the 1995 discovery of the first extra solar planet. It might even be said to be a commentary upon the fermilab top quark experiments. Another meaning and theme you could also suggest is the dangers of military / governmental interference in science trying to fix things with the potential issues the human genome project face and the start of companies trying to copyright sections of genetic code. Unfortunately again this is digging far deeper than is ever really commented upon in the game and mostly the story of Half Life 1 just come off as an excuse to shoot things. The idea of a greater more expansive plot sounds good but Half Life 1 doesn’t hold up well story wise on it’s own.
Honestly I wouldn’t say Half Life 1 is worth a play, not the standard version, maybe the source version or Black Mesa version which upgrades the engine further to source 2.0 and redesigns many of the levels. Half Life 1 had and tried some new ideas at the time unfortunately most of them were very rough or poorly implemented and going back it really does show just how far FPS games have come since then. It seems rather unfortunate that what I take to be the legacy of Half Life 1 in the FPS genre is what today constitutes the worst aspects: plat forming and jumping puzzles, auto aim, waiting for characters to open doors for you, forced stealth sections and deliberate attempts to create cinematic experiences. Instead of ideas present in Half Life such as : Playable cutscenes and alternative approaches to levels and situations.
Half Life 2 I’d say still stands up far better today both in terms of gameplay and story with my experience being only ever being frustrated or stuck on one section (fighting off the combine siege in a prison by setting up and relying on turrets). Half Life 2 corrects much of the mistakes of Half Life 1, keeping more consistent rules and abandoning cheap tricks such as hard to spot snipers and unavoidable damage. It even has a better story with multiple more fleshed our character and better balance to the game giving you just enough health pick ups to keep patched up and not near dead but not so many you feel you’re constantly leaving them either.
Half Life 1 vanilla really does just look like an unfortunate relic of the past and shows why Video Games are one of the few mediums where vast modernisations and updates can actually vastly improve games and their relevance.
So with that I hand this rather insane rather problematic idea out to the C-blogs. Pick a game that is meant to have some significance in gaming’s past be it technological or cultural and play it, see if it holds up for you today or if it just shows how far gaming and progressed past it.