The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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irixith
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by irixith Sat Apr 04, 2015 7:06 pm

Jmustang1968 wrote:There is another social media outrage with Pillars now. In a side quest, an NPC asks you to kill a child, and that is one option to complete it. Will be interesting to see how Obsidian deals with this.


Excellent. EXCELLENT. I hope they keep it. Part of what makes games fun is being able to make the choices that you can't or won't necessarily make in real life, because of the consequences.

- I've never used the services of a hooker, paid her, dropped her off and then beaten her to death to get my money back and then some...but I've done it in GTA.

- I've never used mind control to cause my friends to shoot each other, but in KOTOR, I used mind control to get Zaalbar to shoot Mission. (Dark Siiiiiiiide!) Hey, it's not like I pulled the trigger.

- I've never sold my friends into slavery, but I can do just that in Planescape: Torment.

Killing a child is an excellent player quest...allow them to make the choice and have the choice follow them. Whether or not it's ambiguously "right" or "wrong" is immaterial. Let the choice feed the story, and immerse you in your character.

--

I have a longer bit to say in relation to the first post, but it's almost 5,000 words and I'm trimming it down.
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irixith
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by irixith Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:20 pm

WARNING: Post might offend.

dsheinem wrote:Do you think this kind of thing is ever a good idea? Is it reasonable/acceptable in certain circumstances but not in others?


The short answer is "no". No it is not acceptable, period. It's not reasonable in certain circumstances but not in others, it's simply not acceptable, period.

The long answer is that we (the global, all of us kind of we) have allowed vocal minorities to dictate what gets said, how it gets said, and who gets to say it. We've allowed "offended" to be this catch-all bucket of immediate knee-jerk pandering backpedaling hoo-hah. We've allowed the LGBTQ+ community to toss an awful lot of invented, nonsensical, unnecessary language and terms out there that allow various members of that community to be "offended" at pretty much any portrayal of themselves or their identities that they don't like, AND for them to act as if they're on some sort of superior moral high ground to boot. Basically, we've allowed the language police to control words, thoughts and attitudes that are far beyond their individual purview. Political correctness to save people's feelings has gone too far.

Enough. ENOUGH.

The author tells the story however they want to tell it. For example, "A Song of Ice and Fire" is an absolutely tawdry tale filled with some of the worst attitudes and behaviours towards women I've ever read. Many passages throughout the books read like they were plucked directly from the mind of a pre-pubescent, narcissistic, green-around-the-gills boy. Either GRRM has some sort of Peter Pan syndrome and writes what he knows, or he's a damn genius who is so gifted at his craft that he made me think the first thought was a possibility. Yet, disgustingly depraved as the books are, isn't Game of Thrones one of TV's current darlings? I don't see crowds of pitchfork holding malcontents threatening to burn everything GRRM owns to the ground if he doesn't go back and re-write massive portions of his story. Of course you don't, because that would be ludicrous. It's his story, he can tell it how he wants to. Changing it would be silly, because the change vs. original text would float around forever and fuel the debate as to why it was written and why it was changed ad nauseum...

...kind of like GL having to suffer over Han/Greedo who shot first. There are two different cuts of the film that tell two different stories, and no matter how much he moved forward with his revisionist version of history, the original source still exists and keeps the debate rolling. He voluntarily revised his own story while IGNORING what everyone else had to say about it, because it was HIS DAMN STORY. He probably falls asleep every night after bathing in a huge tub full of fanboy tears, cried because all of his endless meddling and tinkering. What does he care? His story. Like it or don't like it, it's his story, not your story. JKR says Dumbledore is a gay man after the publication of the series is complete. Her story, her character. Legions of her fans were outraged. Oh my god, how disgusting, what a pervert, and he teaches CHILDREN, won't somebody please think of the CHILDREN. I must have missed the gay sex chapter in Harry Potter. Which is unfortunate, because I can totally picture Dumbledore in BDSM gear in a secret dungeon at Hogwarts, getting it on with other wizards. Whatever. What's JKR to do, re-write the books and make sure Dumbledore specifically states that he's into the ladies? Get real.

Yet video games somehow are held to a different standard, quite possibly because they are more easily updatable than a book, or a movie, even though the original version of game sans modification will always exist in the same way as the original books or movies. Perhaps it's because games are interactive, and rather than imagine the finer points of the story you get to experience them in a weird first-hand/third-hand mashup. I don't know. In the first case, we're talking about a "transmisogynistic" limerick. Except, there's no such thing as "transmisogyny". If anything, wouldn't it just plain old misogyny, since "trans women are women"? No wait, that doesn't make sense either.

There's a narrative that persists in the transgender and greater queer community that stems directly from modern queer theory: "trans women are women", and "trans men are men". Except that's not true, and it's a gross perversion of the language in order to try and normalise something that many people can't, won't or don't want to normalise. In fact, it's dangerous to trans and queer people, because many of them actually believe this to be true. It is not.

If you, as a "trans woman", sufficiently "pass" (aka your looks and gender performance are of a quality that fools males and females alike into believing that you are a born female), and you've had the requisite genital reconstruction, and you manage to get a man to have sexual intercourse with you WITHOUT informing that man that are trans at some point beforehand, you have put yourself in the worst kind of danger.

You have tricked a man into having sex with another man against his will.

Incendiary, I know, like Lord Voldemort, that is the-thing-which-cannot-be-named, and the thing that the obfuscation of the language tries so hard to cover in a quest to protect of all things, hurt feelings. Of course it's something that could get a trans woman hurt -- they have selfishly taken away the man's right to choose what HE does with HIS body, and likely confused him about his sexual orientation to boot. They have pushed their beliefs (believing themselves to be female) upon a man who has every right to believe in basic biology and not I-am-whatever-I-say-I-am. It's got nothing to do with having an open mind, it has to do with the absolute base definitions of male, female, homosexual and heterosexual. Other people are not attracted to your gender feelings, and if you managed to trick them against their will, the consequences are yours to suffer, because YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER. You should have placed a higher value on your safety, and the feelings and beliefs of your partner. It does not matter how much queer theory kool-aid you drink, consent matters. Biology matters.

There's a good joke in there somewhere. Perhaps in the form of a limerick? Jokes do tend to come fast and furious the more serious a person takes themselves. I'll defer to George Carlin for a moment here:

Ohhh, some people don't like you to talk like that. Ohh, some people like to shut you up for saying those things. You know that. Lots of people. Lots of groups in this country want to tell you how to talk. Tell you what you can't talk about. Well, sometimes they'll say, well you can talk about something but you can't joke about it. Say you can't joke about something because it's not funny. Comedians run into that shit all the time. Like rape. They'll say, "you can't joke about rape. Rape's not funny." I say, "fuck you, I think it's hilarious. How do you like that?"

George had a way of hitting the nail right on the head. Lots of people want to tell you how to talk. No! Just like I said at the beginning of this diatribe. If your sense of identity (whatever that is, in this case, being transgender) is so fragile, so precarious that a limerick is enough to drive you off the edge, you've got some 'splainin to do. Lighten up, smarten up. You are not beyond reproach, or beyond the reach of comedy. Just like Forlorn Drifter in the happy/sad thread. Many times a joke is positive, inclusive, camaraderie-inducing, letting you know that you're a part of the group by ribbing you. Are people honestly going to suggest to me that the author should have to remove his joke because it hurt their feelings? There's sensitivity towards trans people, and treating them like human beings, and then there's pandering towards trans people, and allowing your language to be policed while they threaten to burn all you own down to the ground. This particular example was "oops, content didn't get vetted properly, whoops, disappear"....except it did get vetted, because it was contributed, programmed into the game...and then backpedaled on when someone complained. That's nonsense. Don't like the joke, don't play the game. You aren't entitled to anything, except perhaps a refund for the game not meeting your expectations. Perhaps take that money and invest it into learning to poke fun at yourself, or at the very least not take it all so bloody seriously. Especially when, as I've elaborated, the entire context for which being offended is predicated...is not even a real thing...it's just a one-sided view on a two-sided issue.

The second example regarding Mass Effect...it's so different. All of this hoopla surrounded Mass Effect, and how your choices mattered and would affect the outcome of the story...and in the endgame, they didn't matter. They sold people on a premise, and they flubbed -- they didn't so much change the story as they added the appropriate variations dependent on your choices -- as originally promised. I will always be OK with a developer making modifications to a product to deliver what they promised.

It will never be OK for a developer to modify story content based solely on player dissatisfaction. Those players get to start a dialogue on why they didn't like it, why it didn't resonate, or perhaps delve deeper into their own belief/opinion structure and examine why the story affected them the way that it did. They don't get to have the creator pander to their whims. That was not the creator's game. They payed to play the game, they didn't pay to have a story whitewashed and told to them with every exact confirmation bias they need to validate their own truths.

That's bullshit. Always will be.
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by Exhuminator Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:48 pm

MrPopo wrote:Or you could do what reasonable people do and listen to the criticism, then determine if you think it's valid enough to change things.

Developers changing a game because of criticism does not make them reasonable people, it makes them cowardly people. Criticism should influence the sequel, not alter the original.
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by nullPointer Sat Apr 04, 2015 10:36 pm

irixith wrote:It's got nothing to do with having an open mind, it has to do with the absolute base definitions of male, female, homosexual and heterosexual. Other people are not attracted to your gender feelings, and if you managed to trick them against their will, the consequences are yours to suffer, because YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER.

That's bullshit. Always will be.

You know what else is bullshit? Blaming victims of violent crime by indicating it was somehow their own fault. Wow. I mean are victims of race crime to blame simply for "being uppity"? No matter the validity of the rest of your message, any of its potential impact was completely robbed at the point it sounded like I was reading a Fred Phelps manifesto.

Scratch that, I've actually read articles that make even those fascists sound vaguely more relateable than victim blaming.
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by dogman91 Sat Apr 04, 2015 10:44 pm

This wave of political-correctness is going way too far, IMO. People nowadays are way too sensitive and over-reactive to stuff that doesn't even mean any harm. :roll:
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by BogusMeatFactory Sat Apr 04, 2015 10:54 pm

dogman91 wrote:This wave of political-correctness is going way too far, IMO. People nowadays are way too sensitive and over-reactive to stuff that doesn't even mean any harm. :roll:


A lot of things need context to determine whether political-correctness is necessary or not and I do feel that, in certain situations, they swing to either extreme from time to time. Like I mentioned in my previous post, when dealing with insensitive material, it is important to understand the context it is put into. If it is vital to the storyline, or to show consequences for horrible behavior, it is acceptable, as the information provided serves purpose. I feel like a lot of games do have insensitive material without context, because they don't reflect the world created, but instead reflect the person writing it.

It is hard to make that distinction and I am not one to jump to conclusions, but there have been times in games where I feel like the writing is offensive, because the writers themselves are bigots. That doesn't happen often, but it has happened.

Look at film. You have movies like Schindler's List which depicts atrocities committed during World War II. Are we offended for the film's existence? No. Do we get offended by the bombastic Troma films that are crude to a large extent? No. Why is this? It is because we have context and we understand satire or view the atrocities seen amidst a backdrop that reflects the message the writer wants to convey. It can be absolutely stupid and absurd, or touching and meaningful, the fact of the matter is we understand what the writer is trying to say with it.
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irixith
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by irixith Sat Apr 04, 2015 10:56 pm

nullPointer wrote:
irixith wrote:It's got nothing to do with having an open mind, it has to do with the absolute base definitions of male, female, homosexual and heterosexual. Other people are not attracted to your gender feelings, and if you managed to trick them against their will, the consequences are yours to suffer, because YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER.

That's bullshit. Always will be.

You know what else is bullshit? Blaming victims of violent crime by indicating it was somehow their own fault. Wow. I mean are victims of race crime to blame simply for "being uppity"? No matter the validity of the rest of your message, any of its potential impact was completely robbed at the point it sounded like I was reading a Fred Phelps manifesto.

Scratch that, I've actually read articles that make even those fascists sound vaguely more relateable than victim blaming.


Not victim blaming. As I explained, when YOU deceive someone and something bad happens because of that deception, you are NOT a victim. It's easy to knee-jerk and see it as a victim situation, but intentional deception does not make you a victim.

Victim blaming is...yeah I raped her, but she was wearing a short skirt! It's a totally different thing.
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by nullPointer Sat Apr 04, 2015 10:59 pm

dogman91 wrote:This wave of political-correctness is going way too far, IMO. People nowadays are way too sensitive and over-reactive to stuff that doesn't even mean any harm. :roll:

I wholeheartedly agree. This (somewhat) modern trend of attempting to enforce "political correctness" is complete malarky. It's absurd. This is an excellently (hilarious) response to the sheer ridiculousness of it.

Victim blaming is not "rebelliously bucking trends of political correctness". It's regressive thinking that takes us back decades centuries. Did you know that under traditional Sharia law female victims of rape are held every bit as accountable as the perpetrator of the crime (and sometimes even more so)? Both victim and perpetrator are considered punishable for this offense. But hey, at least they're not pushing a liberal PC agenda amirite?! :roll:
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irixith
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by irixith Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:11 pm

Again, victim blaming is not what you seem to think it is.

Intentionally deceiving someone into having sexual intercourse with you under false pretenses makes the person you deceived the victim, not you.
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by marurun Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:27 pm

irixith wrote:It's got nothing to do with having an open mind, it has to do with the absolute base definitions of male, female, homosexual and heterosexual... Biology matters.


irixith, I quite often agree with you, but in this case I shall have to disagree. As one of the trans members of our community so appropriately pointed out to me, biology itself is not binary.

Firstly, we must recognize that gender is cultural, and is far from binary. Going back even centuries you have people who were able to cross gender lines or live in-between (two-spirit/berdache, Hijra, etc...) Gender is about social identity and role and, while based in biology, it isn't bound by it.

Biology, too, has variety. In addition to issues involving gender assignment surgery on newborns to deal with malformed genitalia, regardless of chromosomal identity, there are a number of chromosomal conditions where men or women may have an extra X chromosome or two, or even a Y, while men may have an extra X and Y in some cases. There are surely more as this is not my particular area of expertise.

I agree that any consenting partners should be open in their discussions of their bedroom habits and personal lives as it may relate to the bedroom, but where do we draw the line? If a child with XY chromosomes is born with a genital deformity and is assigned the gender "girl" and is given some reconstructive surgery, and then grows up as a girl and never knows their chromosomal makeup, what truly is the difference from a grown former-man who transitions fully because of, let's say, Gender identity disorder? One was made a girl very early on and only knows of being a girl. The latter may have known she was a girl since very young and may have felt forced to live as a boy.

Also...

Intentionally deceiving someone into having sexual intercourse with you under false pretenses makes the person you deceived the victim, not you.


Unless the person "deceived" (see my hypotheticals above) decides to get some kind of revenge. The law does not recognize revenge as valid justification. In that case all you have are two victims instead of one. And I don't think your example can ever be as clear cut as you want it to be. As you present it, I don't even think it is clear-cut.

But, to stay true to the thread...

I think the creator of a movie, book, game, etc... can do whatever they want with their own story for whatever reason. If an outcry alerts them to an issue and they decide it warrants addressing, who are we to second-guess them? If we can't second guess their work, why should we have any right to second guess any changes they later make to that work or the reasons for changing them? The act of creativity and artistry is not sacrosanct. Art has always had an element of the political. In truth, it sounds to me like the original game element was not important to gameplay in the least but was offensive and a bit infantile (IMO). I would find it very hard to defend their "creative vision" against criticism in this case.

I see this case as a pretty clear-cut example of "Creator makes bad decision. Creator is called on making a bad decision. Creator decides to replace bad decision with a less-bad decision that still doesn't amount to being a good decision, but is decidedly less bad." Nobody rewrote their story, here.
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