Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Colonial Marines Developers Should Own Up to Screwing Up

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 5 Mar 2013 16:00
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Digressing for a moment, speaking of Aliens and ownership, this is a question that occurred to me in the wake of the Colonial Marines shitshow: who, exactly, could be said to "own" Aliens? In the same way George Lucas "owned" Star Wars and Gene Roddenberry "owned" Star Trek? Because I can just about narrow it down to Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Dan O'Bannon or H.R. Giger. Maybe this is the root of why Aliens as a property keeps getting misused. There's no firm, fatherly voice telling it to stop slutting it about in every crossover it can get its spindly hands on.

For an industry that routinely demonizes both communist and former communist countries, videogame publishers certainly seem to be fond of communist thinking. You are not entitled to the sweat of your brow, after all, it belongs to the state. Or to the company, in this case. But it's not enough for them to inflict filthy socialism over their employees, they're trying to do it to us, the customers, too. It's only been getting worse with the growth of multiplayer gaming and it shows no sign of slowing down with the next generation of consoles.

I know I teased last week that I wanted to get my rant on about the PlayStation 4, and specifically the concept of a dedicated Share button, but again it seems I've gotten to near the end of a column before getting around to bringing it up. It's worth dedicating a bigger space to it (a video, say, once the Xbox 720 or whatever is announced and I can do Console Rundown 2: Emphasis on Run Down).

For now, suffice to say I continue to despise this notion of marrying gaming and social networking, because not only do I not care what games my friends are playing, I also do not expect them to give a tinker's cuss about mine, and it's tedious enough when Facebook walls get covered in Farmville updates while I'm trying to find the post about what bar we're meeting at tonight. Do you know how many friends I have on the PSN? After having had the console almost since it came out? Two. One of which I added just last week when I found out they were playing Colonial Marines, and thought the experience might be easier if shared. For the most part there are very few people I know who are playing games on release and of those, none are playing during work hours, which I do, because it's my work.

Oh but Yahtzee, you might say. You can use the "Share" button to post videos of your gameplay. That's pretty much the same as those Let's Play videos you love so much, and indeed occasionally create for your Youtube channel. Perhaps, but the vital aspect of an LP is that the creator has no vested interest in making the game look good. LPs are, at heart, a point-by-point criticism, ideally, and all Sony want this feature to be is free marketing.

Most baffling of all is the feature that lets your friends watch you play in real time, and even take control to play for you. That's just perfect. I thought the same thing when Dead Space 3 let you use real money to buy upgrades - you remember games are supposed to be about challenge, right? I don't feel like I achieved something if I needed to buy my way out. Or seek help from the fucking collective.

Your game progress is the property of the people, comrade. Now queue up for your loaf of bread.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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