ps238principal (ps238principal) wrote,

Militant about pacifism reporting...





After posting one of the many pacifist approaches to video games recently, I've seen several articles and even heard a report on On The Media about this new "trend" in video gaming, as if all of a sudden, players are deciding that violence just isn't their bag anymore. This isn't really a fair presentation of this behavior, as anyone who has ever seen Sims trapped in burning houses or Roller Coaster Tycoon virtual park-goers board a ride that ends with a ramp into a wall will tell you. Not to mention that the games cited at the beginning (Deus Ex and Metal Gear) have the pacifist options not only built in, but they're often easier to use (tranq weapons are often overlooked game-breakers). Also, there's what I often call the "Doctor Who method of mass murder" in games, where you don't personally take anyone out. Instead, you either trick someone else into doing it for you or you push a button, set off a device, etc. that erases the bad guys, usually via a series of more complicated or skill-based tasks. Use of proxies isn't mentioned, like in Fallout 3 when you have the Fawkes companion around; he'll pretty much wipe out anything that crosses your path without you even lifting a finger. Why all the sudden interest in people playing games with the potential for enormous acts of violence turning to non-violent play styles? My guess is that any time something has a bearing on the brutality of gaming environments, that becomes the focus even though it's really only one part of a larger idea. The OTM story touches on some of the concepts below, but then keeps plowing on past it: Games are toys, they'll be played with, and it's fun to try and take them apart or misbehave with their original intent, because:

- It's a challenge. There's a reason why "achievements" exist, and it's something missing from OTM's report, above. Yes, a lot of these games are single-player, but they're almost all linked to a roster of things you can do in the game to get a little "que bonus!" graphic next to your name. A lot of players might want to get all of the stars in a Mario game, but I think fewer would if there wasn't a way to document it for your pals to see. Also, once you've mastered a game to where you can finish it with ease, a reason to replay it helps to add value. I'm wondering if some reporters think the point of Batman: Arkham City is to avoid criminals and look for Riddler clues.
- It gives players choice, or the illusion of choice. While level design usually follows a linear model, the style of play does appear to be expanding. In the past, you had separate games if you wanted to shoot, sneak, or skill your way through a scenario. Now, you can do all three in the same game, which allows for nonviolent options in games where you have city-leveling firearms at your disposal. Sadly, a lot of games don't offer much in the way of lasting consequences for blowing up or not blowing up something/someone, as that would require a more complicated plot.
- I'm going to get away with doing the opposite of what "they" want me to do! While more often than not, players are just finding Easter Eggs or hidden ways through a game, in rare cases playing counter to what the game expects of you can reveal gaps in the game's code. Perhaps a wall wasn't meant to ever be reachable, but a movable object can be used to springboard up to it and you can pass through, getting "outside" of the level. You feel a bit like Indiana Jones in The Matrix, blazing new trails for your fellow gamers to follow. Tell someone they can't save the kingdom without murdering dudes and several players will shout "oh, yeah?" You'd get a similar reply if you told them they couldn't murder a single dude, including the dragon guarding the castle.

The story from On The Media seems to forget its own history, as they ran a piece several years ago where a reporter talked about how his own young daughter drowned an unhappy customer in her Roller Coaster Tycoon game out of frustration that he couldn't be made happy. This passed without comment on gaming violence being a trend in all-ages games for some reason. Then there were other stories from the same time frame about "opposite" behavior in GTA III where players decided to grab ambulances and pick up injured people or The Sims Online, a pretty non-violent game, that developed its own version of the mafia. For more on this, they could have looked at two relevant TV Tropes pages (warning: these are TV Tropes pages) on Video Game Cruelty Potential and Video Game Caring Potential. I'm not upset that the whole "violence in games" concept is being brought up yet again. I'm just amazed the real core of the story, that games are now so complex we can do things the designers never really intended or emphasized, was pretty much glossed over.

Turning from one "get off my lawn" topic to another, DC Comics has released some images from its Earth-2 universe, which lets writers kind of do whatever they want without (much) fear that Bob from Marketing will tell them they can't have a female version of Lex Luthor kill Superman with a Kryptonite yo-yo or something. The costumes are interesting, but they seem to have a case of what I'd call "random organic textures" showing up, mostly if a hero has metal bits around their wrists and/or ankles. Then there's Power Girl. The article laments the removal of the hole in her outfit over her cleavage, but it overlooks something even more fundamental: Some letters, in this case, "P," don't really look great on a heroic costume (though there can be exceptions). I could only think of two other attempts to "P" on an outfit: Puck and Prime (who kind of cheated by basically shaping it like a shield). Often, you're better off picking a symbol or logo. Other than the fact that most comic-book chests don't give you a ton of room to show off a letter without it getting distorted somehow, do you think Batman would command the fear he does if he sported a big "B" on his pecs? His sidekicks are the ones with the "R" on display, and look what keeps happening to them (though the cape with the bright yellow interior might help with their injury histories). :)

This looks like a good place to segue into another comic book item, the upcoming Doctor Who/Star Trek TNG crossover! Dare we hope for something more groundbreaking than even the fabled 'Trek team-up with The X-Men? I'm just hoping for some kind of special edition "Enterprise Bridge with Blue Police Box" playset to come out of the deal. We've also seen Amy making Star Trek jokes for some time now, so I'm sure her knowledge of phasers and dilithum crystals should become quite practical (and funny, I hope).

Once the Doctor and his companions are done there, maybe he (or what's left of Torchwood, I'm not picky) could nip on over to Minnesota to see why foam growing on pig farms is causing hog barns to explode. I blame the Zygons, because someone has to have them doing something eventually, right? Okay, onto the good stuff:

- Need some quick cards for February 14th? How about some featuring Ancient Greek Lady-Monsters?
- Bill Gates wrote a simple game for IBM PCs a long time ago. Now, you can play Donkey.bas on your iPad, because... reasons.
- I don't know why this works, but it does. Presenting Derpy Quinn.
- Why has no one ever made a game about how cats can naturally stretch their necks and use their heads as weapons until now? Cat Stretch is here to fill that void.
- Sticking with bat-stuff, here's Batman as directed (in movie poster form) by several famous moviemakers.
- An artist whose work I didn't even know I appreciated passed away recently. Adam Adamowicz was the concept artist for Fallout 3 and Skyrim.
- Did someone say Skyrim? Again, even if you don't play, this video of proposed mods that screened at a design and creativity conference earlier this year is pretty fun to watch. It's also set to the best song remix involving arrows and knees I've heard to date.
- If you're like me, and I know I am, you grew up with the images from the war on drugs that had lots of illicit plants or powders in brick-like bags. I have to say this is the first time I've seen what 15 tons of meth looks like, along with its "official" container.
- In case anyone has been searching for a certain video game walkthrough for the past 30 years or so, this might be what you've been looking for. Wakka-wakka, indeed. :)
- Thanks to Modern Science(TM), getting your cat ready for travel has never been easier!
- And if you're visiting one of the colder regions of our planet, be sure to bring your self-packing snow removal cat!
- There are times when I wonder if I could just retire comfortably instead of upgrading whatever I blast pixels with, as the next Unreal engine will require a device at least ten times as powerful as an Xbox 360.
- Universal Studios is looking to make a movie currently called Dracula: Year Zero, which looks to draw upon history a bit more than most films about ol' Vlad Tepes.
- My Dinos and Me is a unique partnership between you, a guy who can shoot monsters, suck up their remains, and feed them to your dino, who continues to eat monsters while you try to blast the UFOs that appear to be where the monsters are coming from. Simple, right?
Tags: costumes, dc comics, doctor who, fallout, pacifism, skyrim, star trek
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