(sung to the tune of Jonathan Coulton's "Code Monkey")
Viredae get up get coffee. Viredae go to job. Viredae have boring meeting, with boring manager Rob. Rob say: "Viredae very diligent, but his output stinks. His designs not functional or elegant, what do Viredae think?"
Viredae think maybe goddamn manager wanna draw UML himself. Viredae not say it out loud. Viredae not crazy, just proud. Viredae like Wiimotes, Viredae like joysticks and gamepads too. Viredae very simple man, with big, full, precious memory cards. Viredae thinks games are real cool!
This little thought tangent was brought on by the whole hubbub created by the game "Dragon's Crown", many people are, shall we say, ashamed of how the game is hyper-sexualized.
I responded in one of the blogs here on Destructoid that one of the best solutions is to encourage women to become game developers, and my first response in my head was that the industry is arguably so lopsided and impenetrable to them, bringing my mind to a few articles released recently. it seemed that only %3 of programmers were women, and only %11 in the field of design, the only field where the balance was more palatable was art and animation, where %60 of them are women, not to mention the following chart concerning wages:
The disparity involved could easily be considered off-putting, but... That's the AAA market here, right? What about the indie scene, the revolutionary new market that is literally a free for all, no barriers there, right? Everybody can use the same tools, some of which don't even require programming as a skill to create full and enjoyable games.
Apparently there's an imbalance there as well.
I'm a big fan of the indie scene, I enjoy listening to Destructoid's own Jonathan Holmes on his Indie game dev interview show "Sup Holmes", and it only then hit me:
I must have not heard more than three or four female developers on the show, as compared to several dozen male developers.
That couldn't be the case, could it? Maybe it was just a coincidence, a matter of scheduling or something similar, so I sought an answer right from the source:
My suspicions were proven true, something is wrong here, the one area that you could consider unequivocally fair and even was still a "boy's club", so to speak, What the hell?
It couldn't be the qualifications, like I said, many of the tools out there don't even require prior knowledge, not of programming or art or any such thing.
And I'm pretty sure women have an even bigger incentive to enter the market, if only to create things that cater to one's personal interests, which are apparently being both ignored and extinguished by many blunders in the AAA sector.
Now I don't really have an answer to this particular dilemma, All I can do is ask the question:
By now you've probably heard the news about Nintendo's sales projections, and how they've essentially failed, but did they really?
Well, here's the thing, the answer is a bit of a yes and a bit of a no at the same time.
See, the best way to describe this is that Nintendo, in this scenario a Spy young 8th grader who's working hard in school to get an A, but after all the hard work it put in, it only managed to get a C, now a C is by no stretch of the imagination a failing grade (barring special circumstances), but to Nintendo, it won't get that shiny new toy it was begging its parents to get for them if they got an A, it's a good effort, but they really wanted more.
And that's the situation we have here, Nintendo actually made money this year, but they were expecting to make much, much more than this, and so they essentially failed at the goal they set for themselves.
But if that's the case, then why the hell did Nintendo have such high expectations for themselves? The answer lies in two Words:
You see the Wii U isn't technically a failure, it's only one as far as it's stacked against the Wii.
Here's the thing though, the Wii is kind of an anomaly, I don't think any other Nintendo console (or ANY console, for that matter) has had as successful a launch as the Wii, normally there are always pitfalls in the first year.
What happened here isn't so much a failure as unmet expectations; Nintendo's projections assumed that since the Wii did phenomenally, the Wii U will also do just as well if not better, that's how sales projections usually go, unless there's some reason to believe otherwise, but that wasn't really the case.
What was the case is that the Wii U got its hardcore audience who would buy the console right off the bat on faith, and is still waiting to shift units on those who want to wait and see what the console has to offer, ideally that gap doesn't exist because you have a good line-up of games to continuously attract costumers, and Nintendo sorta flubbed that.
Unfortunately for Nintendo, this isn't an unavoidable mistake, Nintendo should have been able to see the differences between the Wii and the Wii U, both in terms of the market surrounding it and the climate of the video game industry.
Of course, I'm sitting here talking about this with hindsight being 20/20, it's easy to talk after the deed is done, but then again, I'm not a marketing executive, I'm just a guy sitting on an armchair (literally) typing away at his screen watching the fallout.
So does this spell doom for Nintendo? Well no, I'm pretty sure things will pick up once Nintendo releases Pikmin 3 at least; the company's one strong suit has always been its first-party releases, and I doubt that will change any time soon, what will be the big tipping point is if Nintendo can actually encourage third party developers to actually create stuff for them, and I'm fairly optimistic about that.
Maybe I'm just that much smarter or much more adept at computers than most people, but it has always mystified me how people say that it's too hard to build a gaming rig, some say it's too expensive...
True, most of those people haven't touched a video card part in years, if ever, but what do I know?
So just to make sure, I'll run down the list of the three biggest "excuses":
1.I don't know how to build a PC
Let me make this as simple as possible, do you know how to use this:
And can you differentiate between the previous one and this one:
If you do, then congratulations, you can spend at most 15 minutes in front of a gutted PC and figure out where everything plugs into what..
If you failed to pass that test... Well how the hell are you reading this?
If you did not catch my snooty, condescending tone back there, I'm implying that building a PC is as easy as taking a piss, you don't need to be a genius to build PCs, it's not a god given talent that supernerds can lord over you from their ivory towers, You're taking give-or-take six parts (Motherboard, Hard Disk, Graphics Card, RAM, CPU, power supply and maybe a disk drive) and plugging them into a case, good job, you just made a PC.
Some people are worried that you might end up buying a wrong part or something incompatible, but really? Just ask the person you just bought the part from if it will work with this other part you're buying, at most it'll take five more minutes to call that other guy who DOES know more about PCs and him taking a look over before giving you a pass or getting you a proper part.
2. It's actually much more expensive to build a PC than to just buy a console
I hear this one a lot, and the conversation usually goes something like this:
Idiot: "When you count in the upgrades and the bad parts you have to replace in the long run, PCs are much more expensive than consoles."
Me: "Ah, so you build your own PCs then?"
Idiot: "... No, because they're too expensive."
Let's set aside the fact that you're already considering to plop down a hefty price for at least one console, a couple more hundreds and/or few hours of learning a new skill is not going to kill you.
Let's even forget the fact that the previous argument is a bit too strawman-ish and over the top, but you get the idea, arguing from a position of ignorance, it's true that:
A) a "good" gaming rig can cost somewhere from $600-$1000 and
B) it is true that you will eventually need to upgrade your rig.
But here's the thing:
A) what people consider a "good" gaming rig right now is technically more powerful than even the PS4 and
B) upgrading your rig comes at a fraction of the cost, and you won't need to do that until at least the next console generation cycle (i.e. PlayStation 5 days)
So while you do need to pay about $600 NOW, in the long run you'd be paying about the same amount as you would with consoles.
But it gets even better, you see, we have something that makes owning a PC much more economic than owning a console, it's a beautiful thing called "Steam":
Just imagine a choir singing in the background
Aside from being somewhat cheaper to buy games in general on the PC (most AAA games cost $50 instead of $60 at launch), Steam practices this revolutionary tactic of "putting games on sale", where you can get a relatively new games for half or lower than their original prices at given points in time, and those cuts in game purchases usually save you a lot more money in the long run than shying away from a single big payment at the entry point, not to mention the larger variety of games you can actually play.
But I shouldn't salivate on Steam's cock (or vagina, anthopomorphizations are not set in stone and I'm all for gender equality in my racy humor) for too long, it'd be too unsightly.
Let's talk more about upgrading your PC, you see, when you do that, the cost of upgrading one's PC doesn't vary that much, as it usually costs somewhere in the range of $150~$250 to just stay in the same bracket every console generation cycle, so in essence, the concept of PCs costing more than consoles will become more ludicrous with the passing of each generation to come for you, you don't belive me? Let's do some math then:
Let us assume that you're a gamer on a budget and can only afford either a PC or a single console, and on average, you're paying $400 for a console right out of the gate in the console generation (It's usually more, but I'm being optimistic), while getting a PC of equal or higher power would set you back for $600, let's see how the total goes along the console cycles:
1st cycle: Consoles($400) PC($600) (PC is more expensive)
2nd cycle: Consoles($800) PC($800) (already PC gaming has caught up to Consoles)
And that's only assuming you still spend the same amount of money on games you did when you used consoles, at which you have more games in your library than you used to, either that or you save even more money that pointed out on the table above.
Finally, we have my favorite "excuse" when people don't want to buy PCs:
3. I just don't want to bother with all the drivers and stuff
Question 1: Are you using a computer right now (PC or Laptop, Windows or Mac)? Or own one if you're using a cell phone?
Question 2: Does it work?
If you answered yes to those two questions, then trust me, you can handle the "drivers and stuff" you get from a gaming PC.
Now I've basically talked about why most of the reasons people give as to why they don't want to switch to a gaming PC, I haven't really talked much about the PROs of owning one in that much detail (other than prostituting myself to Steam...), and of course, feel free to tell me of other "excuses" why it isn't outright better to just get a gaming PC and be done with it, maybe I'll even do a follow-up if there's enough fanboy rag-... Erm, "civilized discussion" in the comments.
Now before anyone jumps on my throat about me being a sleazeball for discussing my sexual preferences on a gaming blog, this isn't about that (god knows I've received enough guff for a week).
So let me start by introducing the catalyst for this blog, Jim Sterling:
Jim Sterling in his natural habitat.
First let me give my opinion on Jim's video before I get to the main subject.
I'm not trying to criticize Jim here, I like the dood, but I find it kinda funny that someone who goes on a weekly show trying to gross out his friend as much as possible gets offended by what Team Ninja makes.
Not to mention the fact that traditions where women mutilate their genitals is scientifically proven to be harmful, this? Not necessarily so much.
If the problem is that Jim is simply confused by TN's actions, then I would find that normal, we're all puzzled by one thing or another in this industry, that's just another addition to the conga line, but when it comes to being disgusted by their products, well, I've seen less sexier and more disgusting things come out of this industry, and I'm not even talking about sexualizations, just plain actions and attitudes.
That said, let's get on with the subject of today, attractiveness in the eyes of Japanese people.
Now some of you may be asking why I'm tackling this subject, it may seem irrelevant, but it really has a lot to do with crucial points in the industry, such as global marketing.
For instance, even if Japanese consumers made up most of their purchases, western studios would still produce games that appealed to westerners, not out of ignorance to the global market, but because those games appeal to the developers and their environment, same with the Japanese developers, this is mostly why companies fare so badly overseas, whether Western or Eastern, of course excluding companies like Nintendo who have their own separate and culture neutral styles (Metroid Other M, anyone?).
See, the reason why games like DoA have big breasted, doe-eyed, plastic doll like heroines, or why games like Final Fantasy have fey, effeminate protagonists is because Japanese people aren't sexy.
Or to be more accurate, they don't find "sexy" attractive, most of the time at least, yes you have different tastes, but for most parts, this is mainstream:
You may not find this attractive, but Japanese people would.
See, the main difference between what most westerners find attractive and what the Japanese do, is that the former see "sexiness" as the main criteria, while the latter value "cuteness" more, which would translate into cute, bubbly' women (A la the DoA girls and Vanille from FF XIII) and effeminate looking, delicate pretty boys (AKA the Final Fantasy and DoA boys).
And the fact that the culture and mainstream opinion is tied to this permeates it into the psyche of the developers across the pond, they can't help the fact that the moment someone tells them to "make an attractive character", this is what pops into their heads, because to them, that's what is considered attractive.
And like I mentioned, they are more inclined to follow their intuition on what is sexy than what those silly Americans consider to be "attractive".
So remember kids, next time you criticize someone else's culture, remember that there's someone out there who thinks that cheeseburgers suck.
So I've been away for a while, and what better way too return than by initiating another corner with talking about our favorite subject (in one way or another):
Now before your knee hits the bottom of your desk, hear me out, I can guarantee that you will want to lynch me less when we're done here (hopefully).
Rape is one of those words that can instantly shuffle the butts in the seats the minute it's said, it's not an easy subject to discuss, and with good reason being that it's a traumatic experience regardless.
There is unfortunately still a lot of insensitivity and ignorance about the subject, even outside of video games.
But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't talk about it, hard subject to talk about, it may be, but to plug our ears and try to push away any discussion of it is ultimately detrimental and unhealthy.
Now obviously (or not, I have no idea how I'm actually perceived in these circles) I'm an average heterosexual male, so people would obviously go to the conclusion that I should not talk about this subject, but I like to believe that I'm a rather reasonable individual, one who is willing to keep an open mind and is willing to listen to all points of view, not to mention play devil's advocate every now and then.
Also, I watch quite a bit of reviews of art house films (but not the actual things themselves, not snooty enough), and you would be surprised to learn how many of those have rather disturbing imagery or subjects, you could really compare them with the indie scene in video games, no less.
Except, maybe due to the relatively young age of video games as a medium, or due to the type of culture it, er... Cultivates, there aren't that many games that make you actively think about things around you in real life, they don't reflect on the world or the general outlook of the medium, they're just... There.
Now there are certainly the odd number of indie games who provide an example of these sort of subjects, such As Katawa Shoujo and To The Moon on the subjects of disabilities and the nature of death respectively.
Hell, just recently, we got a mainstream game that took a look at the nature of FPS games and their rather absurd disregard of human life and their consequences, along with a nice study of PTSD in soldiers, not to mention being a nice homage to Heart of Darkness.
Which is why I feel we're kinda ready to grow into the next level as a medium, and move past simply offering choices of entertainment into choices of thoughtful stimulation as well.
So I want my game, which is about rape, in a totally tasteful and thoughtful manner, so I can say video games taught people about rape... In a totally tasteful and thoughtful manner.
So get to it, go and make it invisible developers who I don't know why I'm talking to...
P.S. Also, murder is worse than rape, cause you can't recover from death, and there's still a chance to live a healthy life if you've had the misfortune of being raped, which is still very awful... Also, your loved ones are sad either way, more if you're dead.
Yes, I am trying to catch your attention with that title, and yes, this position may alter by the end of the year, but for now, I can adamantly say that Spec-Ops is one of my top games of the year, period.
I'm not a big shooter fan, either in first person or third. in fact, the time I've played the Call of Duty franchise can amount to less than two hours total (using a friend's copy), I've fiddled a little with Battlefield 2142 after getting it in a bin for about $10, and while it may be hypocritical of me to rag on those franchises, I can say that I was not impressed with what I've experienced.
And with that said, it might surprise people that I'm willing to give SO:TL a 10/10 right here, right now, without even mentioning the gameplay in any significant capacity, aside from a few touches added in to aid what I consider the true focus of this game.
You see, in my opinion, a game has to do one of two things to qualify for a perfect 10 in my book:
A)it has to perfectly pull off every aspect of the game, without missing a beat, ie. perfectly functioning gameplay, story, visuals and sound design, so in my opinion, Vagrant Story would qualify as a 10/10.
B) it has to do something so innovative and stunning with one of the aspects above that it outstrips any need to present any of the other aspects as anything more than above average, a game like, for instance, Final Fantasy VI with its story and characters, or Final Fantasy VII with its direction and design.
Spec-Ops falls into the second category, where it presents its story (an adaptation of the Heart of Darkness novella and/or the movie Apocalypse Now), in a way that only a medium like video games can, by thrusting you right into the heart (pun intended) of the narrative and essentially putting you into the shoes of the characters, hitting you with the full force of its world.
if that sounded like a lot of gibberish, then the short of it is that this is a game so good that might actually make you physically ill, it's a game that, unless you've got a heart of stone, will disturb you.
I'm not really going to go into the broad strokes of the gameplay mechanics (GoW style cover shooter, done) or its multi-player (after the campaign mode, I don't have it in me to play the game in any frivolous capacity), so nothing else there.
While the graphics are definitely snazzy, I don't think that it'll blow anyone's mind away, but one thing that this game excels in is the sound design, from the actual voice acting of your "protagonist" to the minute ticks and nuances of in-game voice that accompany it (pay attention to the "tone" as you progress through the story), and even music (diegetic or otherwise) that serves to set an outlandish and alien tone for the game.
So I will ask you a favor, if you have $60 to spare, buy this game, full price, because if this game can make it, then maybe, just maybe, we can give out a statement that we want more than just a generic shooter, that we actually do prefer our games with more craft and intellect injected into them.
thank you for putting up with a rather dry highlight (there aren't even any pictures!), and of course, thank you for listening.