Jul 24, 2008

[Fat Princess]

Feministe breaks it all down here. Great discussion in the comments, as well.
"In Fat Princess it’s not an unexpected surprise, but more of a prank that the opposing forces play on each other. Each side has captured the other’s princess; in addition to fortifying, defending, and capturing territory, you can feed your captive food. Because women are helpless in the face of cake, of course, she just eats and eats. And of course, absolutely anyone who eats a lot is going to balloon up into a spherical caricature of a heavy person, right? That’s how fat people get made! And of course she’s so heavy that it takes a whole crowd of soldiers to carry her! Because that’s what fat people are like! The cartoon-logic is impeccable. It’s also very recognizable, from a long history of our culture mocking the fat, blaming fat people for their bodies, perpetuating all sorts of bullshit about fat. It’s so recognizable that it doesn’t really need to be explained to anyone who has a problem with this kind of mockery.
The most ridiculous gamer-community defenses of this game are the flimsy ones that claim that Fat Princess doesn’t really perpetuate negative stereotypes about fat people, or that it’s pro-fat because you’re trying to rescue a fat girl. I’m sorry, but it’s been obvious since it was announced at E3 that a lot of people found this game downright hilarious. Just look at the coverage from last week. And it wasn’t because of the cartoony little soldier boys and girls hacking each other up; Castle Crashers, another hotly anticipated game with a similar art style and theme, didn’t get the same “OMFG I’m laughing my ass off” reaction. The game is absurd, deliberately so, because of the inclusion of the eponymous Fat Princess."
Unfortunately, gamerdom is incapable of responding to criticism of this game in any way other than basically screaming 'STFU you fat b*tches!' over and over (While, of course, accusing the criticizers of being the hysterical angry ones). Why am I not surprised? =P

Jul 12, 2008

[The Importance of Moderation Online]

The quickest way to ruin the potential for an inclusive, intelligent online community is to have a poor moderation system (or none at all). Many people fear the accusation of 'censoring' others, or violating their free speech, even though those constitutional rights do not apply to private citizens' control over their own property (i.e. blogs, websites or forums).

The example of the Kathy Sierra debacle and it's resulting debates on web conduct, as well as a more recent event on Wired, illustrates clearly why allowing asshats unrestricted access to a web space quickly spirals the entire atmosphere of the community down the toilet. It eventually becomes simply an echo chamber for the lowest of the low, repelling and silencing anyone whom the trolls do not wish to be heard. Any chance for intelligent, constructive interaction in that space is then destroyed.

The actual side affect of proper moderation of a web community is that a free exchange of ideas becomes truly possible once those who are incapable/unwilling to behave like civilized beings are not allowed to usurp control and set the tone to their own low standards. Your personal web space is your own; do not be afraid to stand up for it.

Related reading:
'If Your Website's Full of Assholes, It's Your Fault'
'How to Keep Hostile Jerks From Taking Over Your Online Community'

Jul 11, 2008

[The 'Casual' Fallacy and the Blue Ocean Rising]

Okay, I've just read this article called 'Birdmen and the Casual Fallacy', which is talking about how there is no such thing as a 'casual gamer market'. The entire series of articles here (especially 'Drowning in the Blue Ocean' which explains the REAL definition of a console 'generation') are must reads if you have any interest in the gaming industry or the 'casual vs hardcore' debate. They will challenge your entire perspective.

Here is a snippet:

"The game industry was, and still is, distinctively hardcore. They generate their profits from sequels and big blockbuster games. The developers are all hardcore. The publishers are generally hardcore as well.

When a hardcore gamer looks at a hardcore game, he sees sophistication, magnificence, and, most important, art as if it were a mirror image facing him. When a hardcore gamer looks as a casual game, he sees simplicity, non-art, easiness, and, in sum, a retardation of gaming. Hardcore view casual games not as progress in gaming but as games tailor made for gaming retards.

“Retards!?” says a shocked reader. “Surely you can’t say what you mean!” Why not? When a casual gamer picks up the standard dual shock controller, he gets confused. He doesn’t have the patience to wade through these elaborate 3d worlds or memorize fourteen button combinations. While the hardcore call him “stupid”, he retaliates by calling gaming “stupid”.

Anytime you read ‘casual games’ in the news, just replace ‘casual’ with the word ‘retard’ and you will get how it is truly perceived by the industry. “There is a casual gamer boom!” should translate to “There is a retard gamer boom!”. The “EA Casual Games Division” really is translated to “EA Retard Games Division”. “Why are you calling casual gamers retarded!?” thunders one reader. I am not. I am saying that the hardcore industry is the one who thinks this way. ‘Casual’ is just a nice way of saying ‘dumb’ in their eyes.

The reason why hardcore gamers’ hearts sink when a company says they will make the game include ‘casuals’ is because they know that all the edge, difficulty, and passion will be ripped out to make a generic, easy, and soul-less game.

Despite every company and their dog making these ‘casual’ games, the so-called casual audience is not buying them (just as they didn’t buy the platformer clones of the 8-bit generation, the fighter clones of the 16-bit generation, the GTA clones of last generation, and so on). When seeing their ‘casual games’ flop while seeing Nintendo’s ‘casual’ games in the bestsellers, the third parties growl and say, “IT IS ALL NINTENDO’S FAULT! People only buy Nintendo games! Third parties can’t succeed on this platform!”

The problem is not in these companies’ execution of their plan. The problem is their world-view. Their perception is totally off, and it is costing these companies millions upon millions of dollars. Don’t you think, guys, that it is time to think about things a littler harder before you waste more millions?

There is No Casual Gamer."