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LONG BLOG

Cblogs of 10/15/17, 10/14/17 & 10/08/17 - Videogames - Great Political Machine

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Recently controversy brewed. Okay, I am going to have to be more precise, sorry for that jab. Controversy brewed when the Wolfenstein Twitter account posted a Tweet that read:

 

The insinuation is that this is a very blunt political stab at how right wing America has been getting over the years. This is for two reasons. The first is the specific call to liberate America from Nazis who have now occupied it (which we are going to get to in a moment). The second is born from the Tweet itself: Make America Nazi-Free Again feels like a deliberate call back to the Trump campaign boast “Make America Great Again”. Besides claims of “well, “make X great again” is a meme about changing a country for the better”, I accept I honestly can't add to this.

That said, some of the controversy is born from the premise America has been taken over by Nazis, whom you have to kill. To be honest, I am not going to beat the dead horse that is the observation Wolfenstein has been about shooting Nazis since 1981 with Castle Wolfenstein. However, the setting of an alternative history where the Nazis win WW2 and you are a resistance fighter is more recent. Specifically, paperwork was signed allowing MachineGames to make Wolfenstein: The New Order in November, 2010. Senior Gameplay Designer, Andreas Öjerfors, said in an interview the game took three years to finish.

“Well, okay, so Nazis won WW2, doesn't mean they occupied America.” Unfortunately, they did based on a trailer in 2013:

 

So, unfortunately a setting where America has to be freed from Nazis isn't new. It's about 7 years old, starting from beginning of development of The New Order. It is only soon we'll be able to actively take the fight to American Nazi-occupied soil, after taking the fight all over Europe including London. So, it strikes me as odd we're angrily calling Wolfenstein 2 political, especially as it is about fighting a threat that has been so hated and dehumanised for so long: Nazis.

...Yet, it is political. Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is political. Castle Wolfenstein in 1981 was political. Wolfenstein, as a series, is political. However, so are other great games we love. Spec Ops: The Line is incredibly political with a harsh viewpoint towards military bundled with a telling off of military shooters. So is This War of Mine, reminding us civilians get hurt too in military war. Oh, and the Metal Gear Solid series. Far Cry 5. Final Fantasy 7. The Witcher 3. Dark Souls. Legend of Zelda.

As an UK election ad quite a number of years ago said: “If you don't do politics, there's not much you do do”.

 

A political idea contains many things, including things as fundamental as our values. If we believe trans people should be identified by their genetic sex (which is unchanging currently) or their cultural gender or hormonal sex (which can be changed via transitioning) is a political view. If we value nationalism at all costs or if we accept transnationalism to some extent is a political view, especially if video games should be allowed to be imported in or be sold by foreign companies (e.g. Steam). Even our decision of if Link is male or can be female or a different ethnicity in a new iteration is political. That isn't to say the prior three examples are special, unless you get purely simplistic gameplay titles like Tetris then there is always some political bent to it. It's everywhere. It's like patching holes in a boat, after said boat has sunk.

Why is it disgustingly invasive though, like stinging nettles after the Romans imported them into the UK? As I might have hinted at at the beginning of the prior paragraph, it's because we're political. When we make games we still project our values onto what is right to us, to what is fun and what looks good. We will make something look good or bad, and just the nature of that is a political concept, even if unintentional.

“Oh, so what you're saying is you can't have a silly meaningless game? Why does every game have to be serious?” is a likely thought due to the association with politics. The reality is, well, who says politics has to be so blunt or singular in meaning?

Radiator by Robert Yang could be, at face surface, a homophobic mockery of homosexuality. On the other hand, it could also be an intentionally gay collection of games intended for non-straight men about “male sexuality, punishing, eating, and driving”. However, you can also take it as a humorous take on homosexuality in a non-homophobic manner, where everything is made so excessive as to be funny. In a similar way to how Louis C.K. comments on how he laughs at some gay people, not because they're gay but “because they're fucking weird and silly”.

 

Just the decision we can laugh at or with certain topics is a political decision in of itself.

Commenting about how Wolfenstein 2 is unacceptable due to the political nature of it unfortunately leaves you with not much to play. Tetris isn't too political I suppose. That is assuming you don't start personalising them like the blocks of Thomas Was Alone and commenting on multiple colours working together but eliminating those of the same colour thus commenting on race and/or individualism. The idea that shooting Nazis in a video game is okay in a video game setting, or even boring (when done to death) is a political idea relating back to our tolerance of Nazis. In the same way we'd probably get a bit upset if we depicted children being mowed down by the thousands by your heroic protagonist.

So if you agree with or disagree with the idea that Nazis should be depicted as villains getting shot, that's a fair political decision (although if you disagree, it says a lot about our current society compared to prior years). Shutting it out due to screams of “I DON'T DO POLITICAL!” is meaningless without a qualifying statement of what political act specifically you oppose. Do you oppose real world settings? Real world references? Real world people? Will you refuse to buy a game because they reference a Trump meme, and therefore could be related back to alt-right people being compared to Nazis, when talking about their Nazi-murdering game?

“I don't do political” is meaningless as a phrase due to how vague, invasive and all-encompassing politics are. Even if it was meaningful, unfortunately we are hitting a cross-roads where passivity is getting harder and harder to keep. The world is changing. If it is for the better or worse is your decision, but it is changing strongly. To stay passive while clearly holding views of disagreement is likely to end with entering a new age that every fibre in your body detests. Where you wake up each day nostalgic for days gone, increasingly burying in your mind that when opportunity knocked and asked what you'd like from the world around you you instead went back to bed.

Don't go back to bed. Open the door, because the door knocks once.

On that note, let's get to the recaps! Choo choo!

 

* - I dig Cedi's mulling over what it means to make defeat in a video game part of the story and possibly even an ending determinant over the typical game over screen. I think it is interesting to make losing part of the hero's quest, falling against over-powering odds, before the cast trains, takes part in a rematch and wins. This is akin to Beatrix in FF9, as she starts off making you choke on her sword before finally in the end Zidane is able to over-power her (damn that sounds like an S&M relationship...). Yet it is nice for the option of winning every battle to be there too. Just depends on execution, as always.

* - Power creep is the type of double edge sword that people question why anyone would want one half of the blade. Some do enjoy having the numbers roll bigger and bigger, getting stronger and stronger, hitting ever harder, but most see it as needless padding that developers often fall into. On the plus side, Cedi describes how Fire Emblem Heroes is circumnavigating the power creep to an extent, on the downside, “to an extent”.

 

S – 31 Days by Agent9 keeps on keepin' on with Steamworld Dig at Day 15...

S - ...Secret of Mana as Day 14...

S - … And Day 8's Resident Evil 0.

S – So, uh, dephoenixlikessandwiches done did one of thems Choose your Own Adventure tales, and this is chapter 4.

S – Edgelord Kerrik52 (damn, what a name) hits part ten of their first person retrospective of From Software, completing Shadow Tower Abyss in two parts.

S – He also engaged in a fever dream about anime? Symphogear? AXZ? Fuck man Kerrik52, I don't know how to anime.

 

This week, I've been mostly listening to: Otherside (quiet) from the Tokyo Dark soundtrack. However, it's not on Youtube. The second most listened to track from the Tokyo Dark soundtrack is True Sadness, which is!

 

I – New intern to Destructoid Kate Reis introduces herself to us.

 

T – So earlier in the month I completed Danganronpa V3 as a review, but it had one of those wonderful endings that was hard to reveal to audiences why it was so good. Bass, dipping way deep into spoilers, talks about the ending I can't reveal without spoilers and why it was so unusual and genuine.

D – Another update of Donley Time's Boss 101 just before the impending release date of 2nd November!

R – Ys is a series that I've wanted to be into, but could never manage it. It always felt too... Anime? Like a game I've seen a thousand times, not managing to break out of it's mould enough for me to salvage time for it. Yet, Blanchimont gave Ys 8: Lacrimosa of Dana a very high score. So who knows?

 

It seems that paranoia is something built into our culture. Either in the form of something we value being taken away, something we don't like entering it or another form of corruption. Which while it is amusing to see people lose their mind as they froth as their Daily Mails, Fox News or Infowars, it is horrible as hell to see it become part of the mainstream like this via the exploitation of information by media and politicians. Are there important questions to ask ourselves amongst the rise of the right wing? Definitely, but it seems to have been manipulated by forces that profit from our dysfunction to a point where the original question has been buried and forgotten. To call the constant slew of moral panic sheer madness is to somehow simultaneously suggest the situation is more structure and more chaotic than it actually is. On face value the constant selling of moral panics has created pandemoniums, one after another, to a point that everyone is affected. Deeper though, the moral panics are controlled to maximise media sales and to profit preferred political figures and political ideologies. The cunts. 

 

? - It looks to be a collaboration book blog post! If you're involved with Dinosir's book collab, definitely worth a read!

? - Bass fields some suggestions to improve Steam's Featured & Recommended section.

 

I promise we'll go back to video games by the next recap. I'm sorry how political this got. 

 

- Riobux

LPotD.

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About CblogRecapsone of us since 11:27 PM on 07.02.2008

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Current "Bloggers Wanted" assignment

Costume Party

When it comes to October, it's pretty easy to come up with an idea for Bloggers Wanted. Halloween presents a lot of options. People will start playing horror games and marathon scary movies, but then there's the ultimate question for the day itself:

"What am I going to wear?"

Costumes are, after all, at the very heart of Halloween's fun. Whether you're playing a game with a canon character like Lara Croft, Spider-Man or a customized character in Monster Hunter World or an MMO, you're still faced with the question of what are you going to look like. Sometimes you even have stat bonuses to further complicate things, while other games have made it so you can have all the lovely stat bonuses and still make something that looks nice to you. Some folks even take this all huge step further and will realize such costumes for real-life cosplay.

As someone that posts often about Final Fantasy XIV, I have spent countless hours obtaining all kinds of armor, weapons and accessories from various corners of the game and only for the reason of it looking cool. In fact, once I have a job at 50, I feel obligated to give each of my jobs a fanciful glowing weapon before I press forward.

And then I give each job their own little pet sidekick, because I have decided my character is a Disney princess. Then I write macros that give them a blend of super sentai/Sailor Moon transformations because henshin a-go-go, baby!

But, if I'm honest, my one true love in regards to outfits in the game is the Invalician Samurai set, which I got from the Rabanastre raid. The design is pulled right from the Final Fantasy Tactics' art concept of the female samurai and is wonderfully realized.

But sometimes looking good comes at a price, too. I remember my favorite look for my Corsair in Final Fantasy XI required me wearing pants that reduced my movement speed by twenty percent and some of the best stat-based builds in Monster Hunter can make you look silly.

So this month's topic for Bloggers Wanted is costumes. Whether the costume is realized in-game or in real-life, we'd like for you to to discuss your favorite creations or tributes to characters, whether it's a custom look, a canon character or even a character skin like you'd find in Overwatch or Fortnite. You can discuss cosplays you've done, or cosplayers you admire. You can even talk about the plights of stat-based function over fashion.

The sky is the limit on this one, so head on over to our community blogs and get to writing! Use the prompt "Costume party: [Your title here]" and be sure to place "Bloggers Wanted" in the tags!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have get Bayonetta dressed up. She's heard about everyone and everything becoming Princess Peach and she would like to remind the world she was ahead of the curve on that.



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