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5:34 AM on 03.08.2013

Tropes? Damsels In Distress? My Critique.

Anita Sarkeesian finally released her first video. To be honest, I was actually expecting it to be much worse. I think my low expectations led me to be fairly impressed. I donít really have a problem with Sarkeesianís idea of pointing out ďtropes vs womenĒ as an attempt to help avoid boring cliches and enrich gaming experiences. To be honest, that sounds like a great general thing to do. Iíd like to see less tropes regardless of the characterís gender. After watching her first video on the damsel in distress, I actually agree with her to a certain extent. My problem with Sarkeesian boils down to her completely inaccurate statements from her original Kickstarter video. They are:

"Have you ever noticed that with a few notable exceptions basically all female characters in video game fall into a small handful of cliches and stereotypes?"

This isnít true. There are A LOT of exceptions. If a game involves boring cliches with the female characterís, chances are that they apply to the male characters in the game too. This isnít a female specific issue. Itís genderless.

"Unfortunately, in addition to all of these benefits, many games tend to reinforce and amplify sexist and downright misogynist ideas about women."

Nope. They donít. Iíve played thousands of games in my lifetime and I donít ever remember a single misogynistic moment in any of them. I also explained how they arenít sexist in a previous blog.

The tropes that Anita mentions are pretty vague and can either be applied equally to men, can have an alternative analysis that shows that itís the male who is actually being stereotyped, or there is a male specific trope that is just as bad. Letís take a look at the things she calls ďtropesĒ:

Damsel In Distress: I guess women arenít good enough to want to save or protect them. But, hey. This one is a legit trope. Letís give it to her.

The Fighting Fucktoy: Based on the other trope names, it looks like she didnít want to call this one ďthe sexy heroineĒ.

The Sexy Sidekick: I guess female characters arenít allowed to be sexy... or sidekicks.

The Sexy Villainess: I guess female characters arenít allowed to be villains.. or sexy.

Women as Background Decoration: NPCs? Women arenít allowed to be background decorations either, apparently.

When you look at every potential character of any kind in any game, what do you have? A hero or heroes, their sidekicks, the villains, and the NPCs. You can pick ANY male character and heíll fit into one of those categories too and very frequently heíll also be ďsexyĒ. These arenít tropes. These are general character categories. The only real trope here is the damsel in distress. Let's hope her videos prove me wrong on my assumptions.

The damsel in distress trope can be further generalized into an ďanything in distressĒ trope. There are probably just as many video games and stories about saving the world or land or people from some great evil. Why are the heroes always trying to save the land? Why do these tropes portray ordinary people as weak and helpless? Why does it reinforce the idea that society should look down on.... society? With the exception of religious fundamentalists, does anyone in real life go around calling for a hero to save the world? No. So why would this trope reinforce any idea of female weakness or objectivity. Why canít it just be what it is?

Hereís an alternative analysis. Perhaps this trope reinforces a completely different idea. Maybe it reinforces the idea that females are worth saving and protecting and men are not. Females are looked upon greatly while men are nothing more than tools to defend them. The life of the male, even in videogames, is of little concern. Usually, especially in older games, you have to lose many lives in order to accomplish the task of saving the woman. Even in real life, we always focus on saving women and children first while men come last. Lifeboats? Burning buildings? In wars we send the men off to fight and die while keeping the women out of harmís way. So when we speak of objectification, which would you rather be? A tool of war that can easily be discarded and replaced or a beautiful prize to be fought over and won? Virtually every single RTS game has exclusively or mostly male troops. Is this also sexist or misanthropic? Iíll go set up ďTropes vs Men In VideogamesĒ now.

Even though I can agree with her to an extent on the damsel in distress trope, if she sent me all of the cherries she picked in the process of making this video, I could bake a few pies. The majority of her video was focused on three Nintendo IPs: Donkey Kong, Zelda, and Mario. When she mentions Zelda and Mario in particular, notice how she only focuses on what she calls the ďcoreĒ titles. Zelda and Mario have always had a framework for each title. If you take out part of that framework, they become spin-offs instead of core titles, donít they? Could you imagine a Call of Duty that doesnít involve fighting in a war or fighting terrorists? Could you imagine a Final Fantasy that doesnít include chocobos or a character named Cid? No? Then why would you complain about a ďcoreĒ Mario game involving Peach getting kidnapped by Bowser?

What would you even call a game where you play Peach and rescue Mario? Oh, I know! ďSuper Princess PeachĒ! And that just happens to be a real game. So Nintendo already gave into these kinds of demands and Sarkeesian is still attacking them? When you look at the broader Mario franchise, Peach is a playable character in many of them. Why does she only focus on the ďcoreĒ Mario titles? Perhaps because then her argument isnít nearly as strong. Pass the cherry juice please!

Now onto Zelda. Iím no expert on Zelda but I have played and beaten a few titles. Her argument isnít quite as strong with Zelda because, as she mentions in the video, Zelda plays an important role in many of the games. She doesnít usually sit idly by and wait for Link to come to her rescue. She still states that the trope applies which is fine. But even I can still point out an inconsistency in a Zelda title. She never once mentions Midna from Twilight Princess who helps Link escape from a prison by breaking his shackles. Midna acts as a massively helpful character through the entire game. At certain parts, I felt as if I was a side character in Midna's story. In Linkís Awakening, Link appears to be saved by a girl, Marin, who finds Link washed ashore on a beach. There was no Zelda to be saving in that title either. It was entirely about waking the windfish.

Sarkeesian is right on this much so far. The ďdamsel in distressĒ is a real trope. But it doesnít really exist as much anymore and where it does exist, it isnít as blatant. So Sarkeesian already has her wish partly granted with this trope. As for the Zelda and Mario titles, I happen to like going to rescue the princess. Itís what I expect. Itís part of why I buy the games. After saving Peach 13 times, whatís one more going to hurt? She had to cherry pick pretty hard to come up with her examples. She claimed ďhundredsĒ of examples but didnít even show a tiny fraction of that number. And for being a trope thatís supposedly one of the biggest violators, I expected far more. Youíll also notice how she focused primarily on much older titles. And even then, if you look at alternate entries in those titles, there is no longer a damsel in distress. In Adventures of Lolo 3, LaLa is right by LoLoís side.

This trope was an easy one. Iíll give it to her. Since sheís working on a part two of this particular trope, Iíll hold off on too much more criticism and end my rant here. But Iím very interested in seeing how she does the other ďtropesĒ that arenít really tropes. Iíd also like to hear her actual solutions. What does a well developed female character that doesnít fall into your trope categories entail? Can you give us examples of these wonderful female characters? Iím looking forward to her future videos.

Some other stuff:

I borrowed Girlwriteswhat's argument from her popular youtube video and applied it to this trope.

There's also this other girl who completely destroys the "objectification" accusation that feminists frequently use. I recommend watching these video and subscribing to both of these ladies.


1:13 PM on 03.07.2013

Video Games & Sexism: Nope. They Aren't Sexist

Last year, Anita Sarkeesian sparked some incredible controversy with the introduction of her Kickstarter project titled ďTropes vs WomenĒ. There were legitimate arguments, less-than-legitimate arguments, insults, threats and more. For quite a few days this one lady managed to get so many man panties in a wad that it was difficult to tell whether she was serious or just a really successful internet troll. After the amazing fundraising success, she wasnít heard from until just recently. She finally announced the release date for the Kickstarter project and the fierce controversy is starting again.

I happen to be one of the strongly opinionated people interested in making my case. I have a major issue with many of the people who are quick to label things as sexist, racist or homophobic. That is because the majority of people automatically associate these words with horrible acts of violence or major violations of peopleís rights. My main goal in this article is to prove that, no, the vast majority of video games and other products of entertainment are not sexist, nor do they portray elements of sexism. That is assuming weíre using the definition that is inside the minds of most. That is assuming that we see sexism as male or female hate and degradation.

One thing Iíve noticed about people who are very quick to label things as sexist or racist is that they often exploit the preconceived emotional aspects of the words and then use a different, more specific dictionary definition of the words to make their points technically accurate but extremely misleading. When the words ďsexistĒ or ďracistĒ are used, images of slavery, Jim Crow laws and times before women could vote are often depicted in our minds. But one of the actual dictionary definitions of the words simply references ďdiscriminationĒ which, as Iíll explain shortly, isnít necessarily a bad or good thing. These tactics remind me of the people who frequently evoke Godwinís law when making political arguments.

If we use one of the dictionary definitions of sexism or racism, Iíll come out and admit to the world that sexism and racism arenít bad things. That is because discrimination itself isnít a bad thing. Every single person regularly engages in sexual discrimination. Unless a person is bisexual, chances are that they engaged in sexual discrimination every time they chose a partner. The vast majority of people also make racial preferences when choosing a partner. Children often seek role models that resemble them in some way. Black children often find role models in famous and successful black adults. Young girls often look up to various famous and successful women. These are just a few examples in order to illustrate my point. Almost everyone engages in sexist or racist behavior (by one definition) but this behavior isnít a bad thing at all. Itís completely natural and it doesnít make us bad people in the least. Though, for the rest of this article the specific sexism Iíll be referring to is mostly synonymous with gynophobia.

The reality is that the vast majority of people in the first world today donít see women or blacks or anyone else as a subspecies of human. Most people in the USA donít degrade people based on the color of their skin or what sexual organs they happen to have. This is especially true in the entertainment industries. It would be extremely difficult to find a single person who develops video games to admit that they dislike anyone based on race or sex. Because of this, most people arenít actually discriminating against anyone based on these features when they make their games. Therefore none of these games or any parts of their games are racist, sexist, or homophobic. And if such a claim is made, the accuser should have evidence that the actual intention was to be derogatory. Otherwise the accusation should be thrown out. There are countless accusations made all of the time and 99.999% of them are completely bogus.

Googling for relevant pictures with minimal success...

The people who claim that video games and other things are often sexist or racist will usually justify their purpose and say that the developers should be more sensitive and considerate for the feelings of all of the people who might play their games. They should avoid stereotypes and make conscious efforts into equalizing the aspects of the games that involve sex or race. If a game developer actually does this, great. But if they donít do this I still see no reason why they should be condemned. I happen to hold the view that the people who make the claims of sexism or racism are the ones who should be sensitive and more considerate. When a claim of sexism is likely to have people associate the accusee with a hater of women and womenís rights, the accuser should make sure that they specify the reasons why they made the claim, why they think it is bad and what the person or group should do differently. The people who accuse others of sexism, racism or homophobia should have strong evidence to support their case; not just point at anything that could potentially be interpreted as degrading when you squint your eyes and cock your head to the side.

The interpretation of the originator is the key to determining whether something is actually sexist. Sexism is a state of mind. Calling something sexist because we personally interpret something that way does not magically make it sexist. Tropes may certainly exist but they are far from sexist. And as much as Anita Sarkeesian might like to deny it, tropes for males also exist in video games and they are just as ridiculous. Sexism is a real thing and real people do engage in real sexism and when people actually engage in real sexist behavior it should be pointed out. But Sarkeesian is crying wolf in this instance and it is my opinion that she is doing a disservice to the cause of feminism as a result.

So there you have it. Itís all about the definition we use but I say video games are not sexist. There are certainly minor exceptions here and there but in the grand scheme there are very few instances of real sexism in the mainsteam videogame industry. If and when we call out games on sexism we should be careful to not play with the emotions of our audience or mislead them. Letís give them a detailed description, explanation and a practical solution with each accusation we make. That would be responsible action to take.   read

4:27 PM on 04.04.2012


Dear Destructoid Diary:

So I was on the internets today minding my own business when, all of the sudden, I notice Shadowrun on Facebook mentions a new Shadowrun game project on Kickstarter! It's been 18 years since a REAL Shadowrun video game has come into existence on western shores! And.. you don't know how much I love that old Sega Genesis game.

That Sega Genesis game is my favorite game in the world. I've played thousands of games in my time. I've beaten hundreds. I've played and collected dozens of computers, consoles and handhelds. I've spent countless hours of my life dedicated to this medium. Yet the experience I consider the best was when I played the Sega Genesis version of Shadowrun.

This game had everything. You could explore an entire city and take on so many types of missions. You could break into corporations to steal prototype products, jack into the matrix and recover important data or disable alarms. You could fight with magic, grenades, and guns. You could join gangs and get to know important people who could supply you with useful equipment.

There were so many different skills to increase. It had two different battle systems (one for real world combat and one for the matrix). You could install new cybernetic implants into your body to make you quicker; get attachments and upgrades for your weapons; and get new upgrades and software for your cyberdecks. I could go on forever. All of this was in a game that came out in 1994 on the Sega Genesis and nothing touched it since.

I prayed for a new Shadowrun game (or ANY cyberpunk game) to come out that had that level of content and freedom while still maintaining the awesome atmosphere, music, and story. Microsoft finally teased us in 2005 by mentioning the new Shadowrun game in development... was a FPS. My soul was crushed.... but wait! Deus Ex and System Shock 2 were both fantastic cyberpunk FPS RPGs. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all?

"Haha suckers. This is going to be a multiplayer only arena FPS that has nothing to do with Shadowrun." - Microsoft

Needless to say, I'm EXTREMELY excited for this title and I urge my fellow Dtoiders and gamers to go ahead and put in the $15+. The only other RPG that ever came close to competing was an obvious choice.. and I'll never see another Planescape: Torment. That makes me very sad.

SO IN CELEBRATION, I'm breaking out the old JVC X'Eye to play my favorite game!!

Things are about to get sexy!

It fits like a penis into a vagina. Oh, yeah~

Thanks for reading!

Also, check out Shadowrun Online!   read

8:09 PM on 11.30.2011

Everything You Know About Piracy Is Wrong

It seems we hear all of the time about some media developer or publisher complaining about piracy. The statements range from barely justified to completely absurd where the latter is far more frequent. From my personal perspective, it seems that the majority of the time these developers are simply using "piracy" as an excuse to avoid the real issues that affect the sales of their products. These days, if you make a poor product or are too lazy to port your product to certain devices, you can hide this fact by blaming piracy.

I obviously take issue with this but I go even further to ask why piracy has such a bad reputation in the first place. I can easily make the argument that piracy potentially helps the various media industries. In order to debunk the arguments made by these people, we must first look at the claims as to why piracy is supposedly bad and if these statements have any factual basis. Let's make a short list. Piracy is bad because:

1: It is theft and theft is immoral.

2: It leads to many lost sales that would have otherwise been made.

3: The lost sales deter developers from developing on a broader range of devices, affect the development of future media, and can potentially cause the developer to go out of business entirely.

4: It forces extra expenses to be focused on anti-piracy measures such as DRM.

It is theft and theft is immoral.

Theft is certainly immoral but is piracy theft? This question is complicated because it doesn't apply to the traditional idea of theft and opinions on what exactly constitutes legitimate private property varies greatly. The original copy is not removed. The owner is not deprived of anything. The only victim is theoretical. It's hard for anyone to say one way or the other without some detailed thought and reasoning. I could probably write an entire book on this question alone. However, I can sum up the focus of my point by applying it to the physical world.

Let's assume that we have the power to make a copy of a physical product with relatively little cost and minimal effort in a similar fashion to how we "pirate" digital media. Let's say someone invents a very cheap duplication device. I might have the ability to make a copy of my friend's laptop or bicycle by borrowing it and using my duplication device. The original owner of the product is not deprived of his product. The bicycle and laptop manufacturers then claim I "stole" their product. Are they correct?

Here's another one. Let's travel back in time to the days before digital technology and cheap book manufacturing. I borrow a book from a friend. I enjoy this book so much but have no ability to purchase my own and my friend wants me to return this book soon. I decide to manually copy the contents of the book onto my own parchment. Did I steal anything from anyone? If yes, why is it theft and what exactly did I steal?

If Iím a local cover band at a local bar am I stealing? If someone draws a picture on a paper and I can look at that pictures and draw an exact duplicate am I stealing? These examples are the physical equivalent of what a person does when he downloads copyrighted materials illegally. If you have an extreme and very broad sense of private property, you can make the assertion that ďpiracyĒ is theft. If you are like myself or the developer of Minecraft, you probably have a difficult time calling it theft.

There's one last thing I'd like to add. Is there any moral justification for piracy? What if a product I want has been discontinued? I modded my Sega Saturn in order to play Panzer Dragoon Saga and Dragon Force. Did I steal these games? If so, who did I steal from? How could I have supported the developers since they are discontinued? What if there is no way for you to be able to determine whether or not purchasing the product is justified? PC games have no rental service and the demos are few and far between. Sometimes even when there are demos they do a poor job. I have personally "pirated" many games simply to determine whether or not I wanted to purchase them. I did this for many games in the past. I purchased every one of those when I had the funds. Was this still theft and still immoral even though the "piracy" led to additional revenue for the industry?

I hate the word piracy. A word used to describe people who murder, rape, and pillage should not be equated with downloading a piece of data off of the internet.

It leads to many lost sales that would have otherwise been made.

Does "piracy" lead to lost sales? Many developers and publishers seem to think so. In fact, some go so far as to assert that every pirated copy is a lost sale. Anyone with half of a brain knows this is completely absurd. It's obvious that many of the people illegally downloading media would not have purchased the media otherwise. The simple fact is, there are too many factors and too much unknown data to be able to determine whether or not piracy leads to lost sales.

I'll mention some of the main determining factors. The first has already been mentioned. Assuming piracy did not exist, how many people would have purchased the product that didn't in reality? Logic tells me that this number is probably a very low percentage. The second factor has also been mentioned. Some people illegally download material in order to determine whether it deserves a purchase. This leads to additional sales for the industry.

Another major factor is the positive side effect of free exposure which acts as a form of free advertisement. I grabbed the Deus Ex: Human Revolution leak before the release. After completing it, I immediately preordered my Augmented Edition copy. In addition, I was constantly informing my gaming friends about the game and telling them how great it was. This led to more legitimate purchases and even further exposure that would not have occurred had I not illegally downloaded this game. Eidos were even nice enough to let us discuss the leak on their forum! I have many similar experiences but that was the first that came to mind.

There are obviously many other factors but I'd say those three are some of the more important ones. The positive side effects of piracy can potentially cancel out the theoretical "lost sales" or even lead to more sales than would have occurred without piracy. Notch and Gabe Newell don't see "lost sales" but rather "potential customers". I think this is a proper business approach. In the end, it is impossible to know for sure if piracy helps or hurts sales overall.

The lost sales deter developers from developing on a broader range of devices, affect the development of future media, and can potentially cause the developer to go out of business entirely.

Every week or so some developer or publisher mentions some kind of nonsense about how excessive piracy is preventing them from developing for PC. We already know that it is impossible to determine the overall effect of piracy so this argument is false. The reality is that it is easier to blame piracy for all of the ills than to say, "Our games do not have the level of quality required to justify development on the PC. The risk is too high that people will not like our games so we have decided to develop exclusively for consoles where the user base is greater." To say this would be suicide for the games and possibly the company.

This argument also ignores the fact that piracy is absolutely rampant on the consoles and handhelds as well. The only current console that remains a slight exception to this is the PS3. I don't think I know anyone with a DS, PSP, Wii, or 360 that is not modded for playing copied games. The 360 and Wii don't even require hardware modifications.

Reality shows that if you make a good game that appeals to many people, it will sale. Like anything else with economics, it's all about supply and demand. If a developer makes something that I want badly enough, I will purchase it. There are endless examples of this. If a person or group decides to believe in scare tactics and this prevents them from developing quality media for any device, they do so at their own disadvantage.

It forces extra expenses to be focused on anti-piracy measures such as DRM.

DRM is a strategy that many developers and publishers use to counter piracy. The vast majority of gamers agree that DRM can only ever hurt the customer because the person downloading the product illegally doesn't encounter the DRM. At best, the DRM prevents the game from being cracked for a very short time. The companies that reward their customers with minimal (or zero) DRM and offer many benefits to purchasing the product instead of pirating receive their own rewards in exchange. Good Old Games and Steam are massively successful for their business models. The companies that incorporate a "guilty until proven innocent" attitude (ex: Ubisoft) towards their customers receive deserving criticism and lack of sales.

Some companies have done a great job at using their creativity in order to fight piracy. Others run to the government and lobby for draconian laws. It shouldn't be so obvious to see who is in the right and who is in the wrong. For examples of great attitudes towards piracy, check out Notch (Minecraft) and Gabe Newell (Half-Life, Left 4 Dead).

If a company decides to invest the resources into DRM, this is their own choice. There is no solid evidence that DRM diminishes piracy. The resources poured into this are based on either ignorance or blind hope. It doesn't matter what kind of DRM you have, your media will be cracked and illegally distributed if it is popular enough. The faster companies accept this and learn to deal with it instead of whining to shareholders, customers, and the government, the faster they can get back to making quality media and software.

Am I defending piracy? Not really. I simply know that it's an issue that is completely blown out of proportion and a very different viewpoint and approach for the industry, customers, and the government have to made in order to come up with a reasonable solution. Iíll end my rant here but Iíd like to go into more detail about where piracy comes from and what companies can do in order to combat piracy without the use of government. Stay tuned for a future blog covering this topic. Thanks for reading!


4:14 PM on 11.17.2011

Skyrim is a Huge Disappointment

Hello everyone. Are you enjoying your time in Skyrim? I certainly am. Itís easily the most beautiful and solid Elder Scrolls title to date. Iíve already invested 60 hours into the game and I feel like Iím only getting started. So what is with my blog title?

The majority of people coming to Skyrim have (probably) either never played an Elder Scrolls game before or have only played Oblivion. For these people, I can only imagine how amazing Skyrim is to them. However, Skyrim and Oblivion were not my first Elder Scrolls games. My first title was Daggerfall. Iíve personally experienced the evolution of the series over the past 15 years and it is a huge love/hate thing for me. Compared to Daggerfall, Skyrim feels like a lite version of an Elder Scrolls title. They made many sacrifices to the key features of previous titles in order to bring you the game you see today. This is a huge disappointment for me.

Before I go further into this, allow me to explain my preferences in these types of games. I love freedom. The more freedom you give me, the happier I am. The more stuff I can do, the better. I also am a fan of reasonable complexity and I like learning curves. So, my ideal video game would be as close to a P&P RPG as possible. Thatís obviously not possible so I will take the closest thing I can get. My personal favorite video game of all time is Shadowrun for the Sega Genesis. It was true to the original Shadowrun and provided an insane amount of content and freedom. At least I thought it had an insane amount of content and freedom until I played Daggerfall (The Elder Scrolls II).

Daggerfall completely absorbed me. There were tens of thousands of square kilometers of land that was possible to travel. There were thousands of towns, dungeons, temples, and homes throughout the land and you could visit every single one. Towns and cities were literally the size of real towns and cities. The list of guilds you could join was crazy. The amount of abilities in Daggerfall were double that of Skyrim. The amount of spells was crazy and you could make your own custom spells. Daggerfall also wasnít afraid of providing adult content. There was a fair amount of nudity, sexual content, and crazy gore that youíd never see in another Elder Scrolls game again.

Pick a province on the main map and then choose a dot or search for a specific place you want to go.

This is the map for the city of Daggerfall.

Because the land size was so huge, an instant travel system was the only viable means of travel in most cases. But unlike Oblivion and Skyrim, it was more than just a ďclick and poofĒ. You could purchase horses and also purchase wagons for the horse. You could also purchase boats. When you traveled, you had to select many options such as how you wanted to travel, whether you would stay at inns or camp out, and if you would travel carefully or recklessly. This determined your travel time, cost, and possible dangers you might encounter on the way.

This doesnít even begin to cover the craziness of the game of Daggerfall. No other game has ever come close to matching the things that Daggerfall accomplished. Everything about that game was incredible with the sheer amount of stuff that was there. Unfortunately, there were plenty of negative things to counter the much of the good. Most of the stuff in the world was randomly generated. This meant that most of it was the same and that there was no point in actually trying to visit every possible place even if you could. The graphics were fairly outdated for the time and the combat system was nothing to be proud of. To top it all off the game was very buggy and was difficult or sometimes impossible to complete the main story. Daggerfall ignored quality for the sake of quantity and, for the most part, I loved it.

Then there was Morrowind (The Elder Scrolls III). I had hoped that Bethesda would build upon the Daggerfall formula, improve the graphics, increase the variety of content to encourage more exploration or cities and dungeons, and minimize the bugs. The last thing I wanted was for content to be stripped out. Morrowind was developed for both Xbox and PC and went in a completely different direction than Daggerfall.

There was a heavier focus on quality. They replaced Daggerfallís huge generated world with a fair sized island that was built by hand. They replaced the randomly generated quests with scripted quests. They replaced the realistically sized towns and cities with ďcitiesĒ that could barely be labeled a village in our world. The travel system was replaced with teleportation spells, boats, and silt striders (Morrowindís taxi service). Since the land was easy to travel by foot, I approved of this new travel system.

This wasnít terrible. It was just different. When I first played Morrowind, I had nothing but love and no regrets. I still had my stats, the majority of my abilities, the majority of my spells, my enchantment system, my spell creation system, my alchemy, etc. I could still disarm traps with spells. I could lockpick every single door in the game with lockpicks or spells. This seemed to be the perfect middle ground between quality and quantity. My freedom wasnít gone, it was just replaced with a different system.

I loved focusing on speed and athletics while having permanent levitation and slowfall abilities ready. After beating the game, I grew my character to the point where I could fly over cities and nuke them with my retardedly overpowered customized destruction spells. I felt like a character out of Dragon Ball Z and it was great.

If you have my same experience, you can imagine my disappointment with Oblivion. They gutted so much. Where were my teleports? Where was my levitation and slowfall (and many other spells)? Why have more abilities been cut out or condensed? What the hell is this stupid instant travel? Why canít I lockpick this door? Why do I need a special key? Why do I have to zone into cities? Morrowind only required you to zone into indoor areas. Why canít I jump over this even though itís obvious I should be able to? I felt.. extremely limited. I felt confined and restricted in comparison to previous titles.

Again, it wasnít the most terrible thing in the world. The game was being consolized for the masses. Elder Scrolls was mainstream and therefore it had to be simple. Your average gamer couldnít handle 5 minutes of Daggerfall. It could have been worse. I still had most of my abilities and stats. I had my limited spell creation and limited enchantment system. I couldnít fly or slowfall but at least I could still max out my speed and athletics, down some skooma, and run like Superman. My freedom wasnít entirely gone, so I sucked it up and enjoyed the game.

When Skyrim was announced I was terrified and excited at the same time. I knew what would happen. I knew it. Oh, beautiful Skyrim. How I love you and yet how I hate you. Why did you continue down this horrible path? You are such a good game. You deserve every bit of praise and love you get. You deserve all of the millions of sold copies. If only I hadnít played the previous titles, Iíd see you as a nearly perfect game. But I have been spoiled by my love for freedom and you have stripped me of most of the key ingredients of, not only previous Elder Scrolls titles, but of RPG video games in general.

Back in the day, when someone referred to an RPG, they were usually referring to a pen and paper game like Dungeons and Dragons. In these games, the players make their characters and take these characters into the world that the dungeon master describes. The players have an infinite amount of freedom in what they can or cannot attempt to do because the dungeon master can use his own judgement to determine potential outcomes. When someone makes a computer RPG, they usually tried to make this experience as close to the P&P games as possible but they obviously canít allow for infinite freedom as the P&P games allow.
This video sums up many of my opinions on the Daggerfall vs Morrowind vs Oblivion debate.

Skyrim has been completely stripped of main stats. This was a key ingredient to every single main Elder Scrolls game and the vast majority of RPG games in general. Skyrimís skills have been stripped and condensed to a level that makes me cry. The amount of spells has been reduced to almost nothing in comparison to Daggerfall and Morrowind. I canít even do something as simple as water walking or feather anymore (which is completely unacceptable). But far far worse than that is the lack of the spell creation. Being able to create my own spells was very much a key feature to Elder Scrolls game for me. No, the smithing system doesnít make up for it.

I wish it stopped there but it doesnít. It just keeps going. Athletics and acrobatics have been cut entirely. You have a preset speed for walking, running, and sprinting. Skooma doesnít even help anymore. The enchantment system is extremely limited in comparison to previous titles. When you add that to the fact that all of my related issues with Oblivion have been kept and/or furthered in Skyrim, you have a game that I have a hard time calling The Elder Scrolls.

Daggerfall was pure quantity. Skyrim is pure quality. Daggerfall was closer to a real RPG. Skyrim is closer to an action/adventure game than a real RPG. It was made for the mainstream... the masses. It is similar to Diablo in this way. It is very simple and very easy to play. It doesnít have many of the elements needed to be considered an RPG by the standards of the hardcore but it is still extremely fun and addictive. More people will love it this way than if they improved upon the Daggerfall formula.

I want to complain and hate Skyrim but I canít. Itís just too good to hate. But I will always have a hard time calling it an Elder Scrolls game. Many people might disagree with me on this and thatís fine. This is simply my opinion. My niche is RPG freedom and reasonable complexity and my niche is dead. Oldschool style computer RPGs are dead. I hope to prove myself wrong on this someday but thatís a project for another day. Iíll end this by quoting Thomas Jefferson since quoting important historical people is a cool way to make you sound smarter.

For those of you interested in trying Daggerfall (Elder Scrolls 2) or Arena (Elder Scrolls 1), here's a link that sets up the game, dosbox, official patches, unofficial patches, and some mods. It's great for those that just want to install a file and play the game. Daggerfall works great for me on Windows 7 using this. Both of these titles are freeware so enjoy!   read

8:03 AM on 01.11.2009

Opinion: Hardcore games don't exist. Only hardcore gamers.

After reviewing the comments on my previous blog and reading through comments on various forum thread I have made recently, I have finally come to a conclusion about my stance on what exactly a hardcore game or gamer is.

I don't believe a single hardcore game exists. Either that or I believe every single game that ever was and ever will be is hardcore. It's just a game. It's data that intended to be interacted with. It's each individual gamer that decides in each play session which games are not casual. The general person may play Wii Sports for about 20 minutes and call it a day. Perhaps even a month (har har). However, people like myself tend to take a game like Wii Sports and beat every champ in every sport and still double the score just because they can. In that instance, Wii Sports would not be used casually and therefore would not be a casual game.

Hardcore games simply do not exist. Only hardcore gamers. Hardcore gamers are people that have an extreme love for games. It involves their very being. Gaming completes them. It more than just a hobby. It's a way of life. Though, a true hardcore gamer has no serious bias.   read

4:59 PM on 01.08.2009

What is a hardcore game or hardcore gamer?

For the past few days, I have found myself rummaging through the depths of the internet. I was peeking and peering upon all of the gaming news. I scrolled through all of the comments reading them one at a time and as much as I already knew about all of the gaming stereotypes, I found myself in a new level of confusion when someone simply asked, "Hardcore? What does that mean?"

I try to stay neutral in my opinions of all of the game systems. I own all of them except the PS3 which I have full access to. I even own a GP2X and hopefully a Pandora soon as well. I love them all. However, I find myself playing on the Wii more than any other console and with the extremely negative views toward the system I jumped right in the flame war to defend it even while heavily outnumbered on the communities I was in.

The Xbox 360 and the PS3 are considered my the majority to be considered the "hardcore systems". The Wii is considered to be the "casual system". I am always confused by this so I decided to look deeper once the question was sprung upon me. In this article, I'll cover some various complaints with the Wii and try to understand why it isn't "hardcore". I'll also argue many of the points made against the Wii. Don't get me wrong. The Wii has many faults. Every system out there does. However, it isn't a "dust collecting" worthy machine like everyone seems to believe. I'll attempt to dispel some of that thought.

What is a hardcore game?

Let's go over some various options for answers.

1: A game that has a steep learning curve. Be it controls, game play, depth of options, or anything else.

2: A game with either great reply value or a game that requires a great amount of time to advance or complete.

3: A game that involves an incredible amount in intense, heart pounding action that causes a high level of emotional stress.

4: A game specifically targeted towards an adult audience and not toward anyone else.

5: A game that is very unforgiving and/or requires a great deal of skill to advance or complete.

What is a hardcore gamer?

We'll go over some options for this as well.

1: A person who puts a great deal of time into playing and researching video games.

2: A person who generally plays on a console opposite of what the majority plays on or plays on the console with the least amount of "shovelware titles" (Shovelware being poor quality games quickly produced at low cost).

3: A person who only plays games specifically targeted toward an adult audience and no one else.

Hardcore Answers?

Learning Curve
So, lets begin by going through the options of the first question. The are quite a bit of games that have a steep learning curve. Most RTS games, western RPGs (Elder Scrolls, Bioware, AD&D), tactical RPGs, stealth action games, or fighting games. Occasionally, a FPS requires a small learning curve like System Shock, C&C Renegade, or UT2k4 / 3. Each system seems to have these games. Going by exclusives, PS3 has Valkyria Chronicles and a beautiful Naruto fighter. Wii has Brawl, Tatsunoko vs Capcom, Battalion Wars 2, a few great anime fighters, and Fire Emblem. Xbox 360 has Fable 2 and two great Naruto platforming/adventure/rpg/fighter games.

Replay Value & Action Games
When it comes to reply value, it's always a plus. It gives the players a reason to keep coming back for more. Unlockable characters, items, and tougher difficulties make the games more fulfilling. Fast-paced action games are great and all but it seems that there haven't really been much innovation with it in a while. I suppose that's why I've stuck with Quake 2 & 3 as well as the UT series when I need to get my blood pumping.

Mature Titles
Adult only or extremely mature games don't necessarily make them good. You can't just throw some titties and gore and random profanities into a game and call it a day. But if that's what you go for then each system still offers plenty of gore for everyone. The Wii will supply you with a healthy dose of No More Heroes, Manhunt 2, Godfather, and Mortal Kombat: Armageddon and we have Dead Rising and MadWorld coming up soon.

Online FPS
I began pondering about what exactly the other systems have that the Wii doesn't. The Xbox 360 only has a few exclusive titles and most of those are sure to be ported to PC eventually (Fable 2, Halo 3, and maybe Gears someday). The only thing it's lacking in compared to the other systems is online shooters. That must be it, right? The PS3 and Xbox 360 are littered in online shooters, most of which can be played on both systems and on the PC. The Wii really only has Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 and CoD:WoW, both of which play fantastic online (which makes me confused about the so called "poor online service"). There's also The Conduit coming soon which will support online, voice chat, and the Motion Plus adapter for better accuracy.

Poor Online Service
It is assumed by many that the Wii has a poor online service. In comparison to the one you pay $60+ a year for, sure it is but overall, this is a myth. In fact, most of the online games play great over the Wii. There are a few exceptions such as Brawl. Hopefully, they'll get it right next time. I won't lie. Friend codes are bullshit. But did that stop me from enjoying Medal of Honor, CoD, Mario Kart, Guitar Hero, Metroid, Zelda and a large amount of other online Wii and DS games? Not at all. I do hope Nintendo learns for the next time around. There are far better methods of parental controls that don't prevent you from meeting and befriending other online players in the games.

Hardcore Gamers?

It seems to me that the people who claim to be "hardcore gamers" can usually be lumped in the the #2 and #3 categories. But wait. The Wii is full of tons of shovelware, right? That must mean it's catered to non core gamers and rather to families or stupid people buying random things for their kids. Most of the Atari 2600 games were shovelware. The original Nintendo had more shovelware than anyone can count. The Super Nintendo (Genesis had a large share too) had the same. The PS1 and PS2 had a MASSIVE amount of shovelware. The DS is more guilty than anything else of this. Do you know why? It's because they were the most popular systems. If you're going to pump out quickly and cheaply made crappy games, what system is the obvious choice? The one that sold 100 million or the one that sold 20 million?

No Good Games
It's commonly thought that the we doesn't have any decent titles worth playing besides the handful of first party titles. This is a huge myth which I will dispel at the end of this article. See the very end for a large list of many excellent games and many fair games worth checking out.

Conclusion of Study: My Answers

A Hardcore Game is still not clearly defined and probably won't ever be. Opinions of what it is vary from person to person. Some people may not think Mario games are hardcore since they are targeted to the general population. I tend to think they are up there with the best hardcore games. In my opinion, a hardcore game includes many, but not all of the elements previously mentioned. It is addictive. It requires a fair amount of skill. It may cater to ANY audience at "E" or above. It has great reply value. Sometimes it includes many of the other elements mentioned. If a steep learning curve is what determined hardcore then Eve Online and Dwarf Fortress would be a couple of the most hardcore games currently. I do think they are hardcore but I don't think it's for that reason alone that makes them that way.

I remember when being able to get past the first level of most NES, SNES, or Genesis games meant you were pretty bad ass. You'd spend hours and hours trying to makes any progress and you could be on the last boss, die, and have to start all over. These games today don't generally offer the same amount of challenge. Even most of the games today that are considered hardcore don't make the games too hard at all. I dare all developers to make a shooter game or RPG as difficult as Radiant Silvergun or BattleToads.

A Hardcore Gamer can easily be defined by myself. A true hardcore gamer is a person who has love for ALL games and ALL game systems. They might have preferences but are never "fanboys". They understand that every system was good and bad in it's own ways and don't make lame excuses for why a system is doing good or bad. Does the 360 commonly have faulty hardware? Did Sony drop backwards compatibility on their system and disappoint many customers as a result? Does the Wii have hardware on par (or not much more powerful) with the original Xbox and have a terribly small storage device? Sure. But that doesn't mean any of them are bad systems.

A hardcore gamer is never afraid to try out any title and ignore poor ratings. They always look for a challenge and look to achieve as much as they can. They research both the games they love and the ones they don't like. Their hearts always warm to the sound of a good game regardless of what console it may lie on. They are not graphics whores. They can pick up and play ANY good game even if it's text based or uses ASCII symbols for graphics (that's truly hardcore). They are never afraid to try new things.

Large List of Great Wii Games

I'm almost done. Most of the people out there don't even research all the great titles on the Wii and just assume there isn't anything good on it. That's a HUGE myth. The system has only been out for a couple of years but has a decent library of great games. You people with dusty Wiis have ZERO excuse for that. Here's the promised list. Bolded are my personal favorites.

Great Games Worthy To Buy New:

Wii Exclusives:

Animal Crossing: City Folk
Battalion Wars 2
Blast Works
Boom Blox
Castle of Shikigami III (note: not exclusive in Japan)
de Blob
Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors
Endless Ocean
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
Geometry Wars: Galaxies
Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility
Mario Party 8
Mario Strikers Charged
Mario Super Sluggers
Metroid Prime 3
Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars
Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution 1 & 2
NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams
No More Heroes
Pokemon Battle Revolution
Rayman Raving Rabbids
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles
Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip
Super Mario Galaxy
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz
[b]Super Paper Mario[b]
Super Smash Brothers Brawl
Super Swing Golf Season 2
Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes (Japan import only)
Trauma Center: New Blood
Trauma Center: Second Opinion
Victorious Boxers: Revolution
Wario Land: Shake It!
WarioWare: Smooth Moves
Wii Fit
Wii Play
Wii Sports
Worms: A Space Oddity
Zack & Wiki

Non Exclusives:

Agatha Christie games
Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
Bully: Scholarship Edition
Call of Duty 3
Call of Duty: World at War
Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop
DDR games
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 & 3
Godfather: Blackhand Edition
Guitar Heroes
Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law
House of the Dead 2 & 3
The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Lego games
Manhunt 2
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Medal of Honor: Heroes 2
Medal of Honor: Vanguard
Mercury Meltdown Revolution
Metal Slug Anthology
Monster Lab
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
Prince of Persia Rival Swords
Resident Evil: 4
Rock Bands
Sam & Max: Season One
Splinter Cell games
Sports games
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Decent Games Worthy To Buy Used or Rent:

Alien Syndrome
Battle of the Bands
Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree
Bleach: Shattered Blade
Castlevania Judgment
Cooking Mama (and other Mama games)
Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon
Ghost Squad
My Fitness Coach
MySims titles
Ninja Reflex
One Piece: Unlimited Adventure
Line Rider 2: Unbound
Samba de Amigo
Sonic Unleashed
SSX Blur
We Ski

Great WiiWare Titles:

Star Soldier R
Mega Man 9
FFCC: My Life As a King
World of Goo
Tetris Party
Toki Tori
Lost Winds
Dr. Mario Online Rx
Defend Your Castle
Art Style: Orbient
Bomberman Blast
Space Invaders Get Even
*****soon to come*****
Bubble Bobble Wii
Cave Story
Gradius Rebirth

Exclusive Future Titles To Look Out For in 2009 and Beyond:
(consider this whole list bolded and reccomended)

Boom Blox 2
Deadly Creatures
Dragon Quest X
Fatal Frame IV
Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles x2 (Echoes of Time / The Crystal Bearers)
House of the Dead: Overkill
Kirby (2009 title)
Monster Hunter G (non exclusive)
Monster Hunter 3
Muramasa: The Demon Blade
New Play Control games (not exclusives.. Gamecube rereleases)
No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle
Punch-Out!! Wii
Ready 2 Rumble: Revolution (not exclusive)
Sadness (possible vaporware)
Sin & Punishment 2
Star Wars: Battlefront III (not exclusive)
Swords of Legendia
Tenchu 4: Shadow Assassins (not exclusive / PSP)

That's all I can come up with for now but don't forget all of the great Gamecube games as well as the large list of Virtual Console titles. Now dust off that great system you have in front of you and check out some of the excellent games I have listed.
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