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

by Exhuminator Mon Apr 06, 2015 8:15 am

MrPopo wrote:when you unintentionally create something that is offensive that changing it when it is pointed out is not censorship.

Saying you would allow your investors their own creative input, but then going back and restricting said investors' right to free speech after said input is censorship indeed.
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by Erik_Twice Mon Apr 06, 2015 8:28 am

The Pillars of Eternity thing is a very grey area, with unusual components, but there are lot of examples out there. I think Hotline Miami's "optional content" is a good example, particularly since the press doubled down and told them that if they were making it optional they might as well remove it. Huge dick move.

The great problem with this is that games are not respected, nobody bats an eye if you modify a game, there's no respect for artistic visions or for games as part of human expression. I remember when Roger Ebert said that he would burn every single game on Earth to preserve Huckleberry Finn and nobody flinched, that's the kind of culture games live in.

And creatives don't matter. They don't even get proper credit so even the slightest "controversy" is going to steamroll them.


My biggest worry is not direct censorship. My worry is that games do not even make them to the point that they could be censored because they are not allowed to exist in the first place.
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by Exhuminator Mon Apr 06, 2015 8:51 am

Erik_Twice wrote:Roger Ebert said that he would burn every single game on Earth to preserve Huckleberry Finn and nobody flinched, that's the kind of culture games live in.

That was the culture games lived in within the mind of an outdated critic who was entirely out of his element in judging a new medium he had no holistic grasp on. Nobody flinched because it was just an old man shaking his cane. I don't think society at large shares his point of view. Certainly generations of people my age and younger do not.
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by Erik_Twice Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:00 am

What I mean is that many - specially the press - raved about his insight and carefully tried to explain why he was wrong while paying not attention to many of his extremely dumb lines. I mean, there were lots of articles wondering if "Ebert was right" and paying him an undue respect despite him being, well, the perfect target for mockery in this regard.

Basically what I think is that gaming culture is so terrible afraid of not being respected that when someone who prided himself on not playing games said that he would burn every single game in existance he was paid heed.

Really, for every article saying "Lol, what the hell you are talking about?" there were ten praising him and kindly telling him he's wrong, while half-agreeing with him that games aren't actually that great yet.
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by Exhuminator Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:14 am

Erik_Twice wrote:while half-agreeing with him that games aren't actually that great yet.

The key word there is "yet". So to be fair by the time Ebert was a film critic, his beloved medium had a much longer amount of time to evolve than where video games are today. Given the same amount of time to mature, video games as a medium will prove how short sighted and ignorant he was.
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by dsheinem Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:26 am

A few things in an attempt to refocus the thread...

-I'd like to think we've moved past the gender/sex stuff for now, as while that discussion is worth having and has some relevance to the topic, I think it is in and of itself a bit of a tangent.

-Roger Ebert was a deservedly respected film critic throughout his life and a generally thoughtful writer on a range of subjects. He was never an "old man shaking his cane" or some such - that's dismissive of his age and ignorant of his work. I also think, as a critic of a medium with qualities to which so many game developers have admittedly aspired in their own work, his opinion does and did matter to the discussion of "are games art?" He wasn't the first voice in that debate, he wasn't the last word, but that flurry around his essay(s) produced a lot of well-stated ideas and points to consider from those inside game industry/game culture and those outside of game industry/game culture. What was especially interesting was to see who agreed and disagreed with Ebert and how often those expressions on either side came from places you wouldn't have expected. It was a valuable moment of introspection and served as an exigence for new kinds of writing for new kinds of audiences, and for that alone Ebert and his essays deserve the respect of people who think critically about video games.

- Erik_Twice, you keep mentioning "the press" (their supposed role in the HM2 stuff, their response to Ebert, etc.), which is bringing this discussion much closer to the whole GamerGate thing than I am trying to suggest with the OP. Basically, I don't want the thread to focus on supposed "press-based efforts at censorship" as much as I want to consider examples that were clearly driven by those who played the game, those speaking out on social media, etc. Certainly a discussion of the press is relevant to the extent that it covered these player responses, but the impetus in the examples I am interested in should be squarely grounded in audience feedback post-release.

Exhuminator wrote:The key word there is "yet". So to be fair by the time Ebert was a film critic, his beloved medium had a much longer amount of time to evolve than where video games are today. Given the same amount of time to mature, video games as a medium will prove how short sighted and ignorant he was.


This is not true. The earliest feature films were being shown at the very turn of the 20th century, but by the mid 1920s we had films that were - even in their own time - widely heralded as crowning accomplishments of artistry (Ben Hur, Metropolis, etc.). If we are generous and place video games origins as late as 1972 (the Odyssey), the medium has already been around for 43 years. By that time in the history of film, at least a dozen films that are still today on the American Film Institute's List of 100 best films were already released (e.g. Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, City Lights, The Wizard of Oz, etc.) and Hollywood had established itself as artistically valid.

That said, Ebert did begin his review work in the 1960s and yes, film had been around longer than then games have been now...but the medium already had decades of established artistry.
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by Exhuminator Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:46 am

dsheinem wrote:He was never an "old man shaking his cane" or some such - that's dismissive of his age and ignorant of his work.

I was speaking relatively of his knowledge of gaming only in that aspect. He was dismissive of gaming because of his ignorance of the medium. This is a behavior you'd expect from a cane shaking old man.
dsheinem wrote:the medium has already been around for 43 years. By that time in the history of film

Ebert became a film critic in 1967, movies had first begun being shown commercially in the 1890s. By the time Ebert began critiquing his chosen medium, it had been evolving for over 70 years. We would need to see video games after seventy years of evolution to even begin a fair contrast relatively speaking from his point of view.

Only recently have games reached a point at which they are technologically powerful enough to convey fuller artistic vision, and the human condition to a reasonable degree. The uncanny valley effect is still pervasive and this is a big problem. A problem that even the earliest films did not have to contend with. So saying "movies were this after 43 years" versus "video games are this after 43 years" is illogical because it assumes the two mediums were equal from a technological perspective to start with, and they most certainly were not.

That said the graduation curve of gaming technology is a spline not a ramp, and looking forward another 30 years I can see games having zero technical hurdles, with only artistic ability of the developers themselves being the hindrance.
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by Ack Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:52 am

dsheinem wrote:- Erik_Twice, you keep mentioning "the press" (their supposed role in the HM2 stuff, their response to Ebert, etc.), which is bringing this discussion much closer to the whole GamerGate thing than I am trying to suggest with the OP. Basically, I don't want the thread to focus on supposed "press-based efforts at censorship" as much as I want to consider examples that were clearly driven by those who played the game, those speaking out on social media, etc. Certainly a discussion of the press is relevant to the extent that it covered these player responses, but the impetus in the examples I am interested in should be squarely grounded in audience feedback post-release.


It's worth noting in the case of Hotline Miami 2 that the complaints were made pre-release based on a demo at the 2013 Penny Arcade Expo, and they did actually start with journalists who demoed the game, particularly Cara Ellison of PC Gamer.
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by dsheinem Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:57 am

Exhuminator wrote:Ebert became a film critic in 1967, movies had first begun being shown commercially in the 1890s. By the time Ebert began critiquing his chosen medium, it had been evolving for over 70 years. We would need to see video games after seventy years of evolution to even begin a fair contrast relatively speaking from his point of view.

Only recently have games reached a point at which they are technologically powerful enough to convey fuller artistic vision, and the human condition to a reasonable degree. The uncanny valley effect is still pervasive and this is a big problem. A problem that even the earliest films did not have to contend with. So saying "movies were this after 43 years" versus "video games are this after 43 years" is illogical because it assumes the two mediums were equal from a technological perspective to start with, and they most certainly were not.


I read your original statement to be suggesting that film had only attained status as "art" because it had been around for long enough to get to that place. This is an argument that I've heard people make about games in the past, too, so figured I had encountered it again.

Ebert started in Chicago in the late 1960s (1967 I guess?), but I am fairly certain that he began reviewing films in the earlier part of the decade when he was in school. In any case, whether the medium had been around for 60 or 70 years is irrelevant, because it only took ~20 years for it to be seen as artistically valid and, today with the gift of hindsight, we typically see all film (including those from before that period) as having various kinds of artistic merit.

The larger point is that games have always had artistic merit, even if the status hasn't been bestowed upon them. The general public saw film as art within 20 years or so. In ~45 years, gaming doesn't have that same respect, despite having produced many titles that clearly have artistic merit.
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Re: Changing plot content of games based on player outrage

by Jmustang1968 Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:58 am

I generally dislike the knee-jerk changing of things based on social media campaigns. No game will please everyone, and usually those who dislike a portion of the game are the loudest.
So developers and publishers have to be very careful with fan feedback. Do they listen to the loudest vocal minority who may not necessarily represent their audience well? Doing so could then make the game worse for all the players who enjoy it but just didn't have a reason to post any feedback. But on the other hand, you would think a developer listening to their fan feedback could be a great way to strengthen a game for its player base. This is tough to gauge and balance.

For the PoE thing, I think it was a bit blown out of proportion. The person who raised the issue wasn't even playing the game, but had it pointed out to her by an acquaintance. There are several groups that are somewhat of PC watch dogs on social media, twitter especially, who raise a stink and stir up outrage for certain offenses and thus try to put pressure on devs/publishers to change things. This inevitably brings out opposing sides and lots of nasty words are exchanged, then we have a new controversy and bigger media outlets pick up on it. This has seemingly become more frequent as of late, and I will be interested to see what type of impact it will have going further.

Had this been a character specifically written into the game, I would've really objected to it being altered. Writing a fictional character acting in ways we might not find tasteful is an excellent way for an audience to reflect on their views concerning a topic or behavior. This type of thing is prevalent throughout history in works of literature, film, and other art.

The Pillars thing is different because it was just some backer message on a tombstone meant to kind of fit a medieval setting and be something you might see on a grave marker. Obsidian didn't outright pull it, but discussed it with the backer and had it changed. No biggie, it really had no effect on the game as it served no functional or productive purpose, and I think they handled it in good faith.
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