Jimquisition: Think of the Children!

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Think of the Children!

Children are the holy grail of conflict.

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Yeah, I hate when kids are just there to be plot devices.

You know, I used to care about children. Used to not hate them.

Then Fallout 3's Little Lamplight happened.

Now every time I see a child in game I view it with suspicion and contempt. Either they'll use their perk as children to bitch you out knowing you aren't able to do anything back, or they'll be a cheap pull at a heart-string.

So thanks, Bethesda. Thanks for making me hate kids in games.

Oh, and Retro-City Rampage is available on GoG as well. So if you want it without DRM and some extra stuff like the soundrack, go GoG.

My favourite child character in a genre film? Newt from Aliens. Yeah, she was definitely a scared little girl, but she showed the survival instinct that allowed her to survive for weeks on a xenomorph-infested complex (about 1:00 in the clip below):

When it comes to Telltale games, day care.

like with ME3. i really dint care for this little kid. not even when he got blown up at the beginning of the game.
they always have to make these kids as the innocent once. to give you the feeling you need to help them but they really fail a it most of the times.

Falseprophet:
My favourite child character in a genre film? Newt from Aliens.

I had the exact same thought as I was watching this. A Newt-like character would be good for a sci-fi horror game - vulnerable, but also endearing and capable. I could see her being useful like Farah in Prince of Persia, crawling into spaces the main character can't fit through and stuff like that.

Metalrocks:
like with ME3. i really dint care for this little kid. not even when he got blown up at the beginning of the game.
they always have to make these kids as the innocent once. to give you the feeling you need to help them but they really fail a it most of the times.

I saw it as that you weren't supposed to care for the kid himself exactly. More, he was meant to be representative of all the people suffering on Earth while you're away trying to get help, because the deaths of millions of people is really hard to depict and imagine.

The Carl in the comics is far superior to the assfuck in the tv show.

And Clementine... Don't get me started on Clementine. I love her as a character.

Like the child in Mass Effect 3

What pissed me off even more with that was how ridiculously heavy handed they were with it. They even go so far as to make Shepard have nightmares over the kid. This one kid, amongst millions of deaths, including ones that were a direct result of Shepard's actions? It's just idiotic.

I <3 Telltale.

Also, see MW3's 'shocking moment' for the perfect example of a cheaply written, token child appearance.

Jim, what were you thinking using Jack Thompson's picture in this weeks video?! Don't you realize what you have done? Now he's going to sue you for a death threat, when he hires a lawyer as crazy as he is.

Beyond that there's not much else I can say here because I can't recall a single game I've played that had children as characters in them that weren't some sort of edutainment crap. The flying baby things in Doom 3 were whiny assholes though, I hated them.

I'm surprised you didn't bring up Double Fine as a studio that knows how to write kids, more than a few of their games star children as the main character. Psychonauts, Costume Quest, and stacking all have children as main and supporting characters.

Writers writing stories about children don't have children of their own, thus they don't know what children are like, only the archetypes that have been established by other writers without children. The writers themselves think that children are annoying and helpless, hence they way they portray them.

Oh man Jim, did you have to use that image? Every time I see that image of the Walking dead game, I think of Goof Troop.


Particularly Pete and his family. It's really, really hilarious that the weird shadow from the art style does that, because practically speaking, I don't think she should have a giant black spot around where her nose is in that particular lighting.

But on topic, I do agree with what you said, as well. I don't think children as where this ends, though. I see this also when people add race for the sake of political correctness. Like when they add a black guy to a game/show/movie who's only personality trait is hes the black guy. Summery: the Entertainment industry (all of them), think we are stupid, and they will use the most basic of things to try and create the illusion of depth.

I enjoyed this episode.

Fallout 3 had good and bad examples of kids in games.
Little Lamplight? HORRIBLE
Bryan Wilks from THOSE!? Actually well done.

In ME3 vent kid was just so narmy I cant even hate it.
Shepard angsts more over a little kid then seeing:
A LI die, blowing up 300,000 people, deciding the course of the galaxy.

I mean I felt HORRIBLE after the Genophage cure. Shepard? Two lines at most.

Wait wait wait...

I can play games, and have Jim Sterling in front of me at all times. No longer do I have to choose?

Hallelujah! Praise god, and thank him for Jim Sterling!

OT: I really liked Emily from dishonored, she is obviously sad and scared about this whole situation, but still manages to stay generally upbeat when you are around. As well as trying her best to act her part and stay mature.

One of the few characters that made me want to protect her, simply because she was a good character.

Irridium:
Then Fallout 3's Little Lamplight happened.

Now every time I see a child in game I view it with suspicion and contempt. Either they'll use their perk as children to bitch you out knowing you aren't able to do anything back, or they'll be a cheap pull at a heart-string.

So much this. I really wanted to slap them to show them a bit of respect, mouthy little fuckers. So annoying and when you do shoot them, i feel that im entitled to and they do deserve it, no damage done. But they can shoot you and you have to leave....or be killed by the brats. I so wished i could lead a Deathclaw to their little hide out.

I have the first two Walking Dead chapters because they were free with PS Plus early August, but have no plans to play more episodes. I think they are barely interactive motion comics and I'm opposed to it solely on that alone.

This really could've just been titled "TellTale's The Walking Dead is fucking great, and you should play it fuckwits.... PS Thank God For Me"

And ya know what? This game fuckin' deserves it. I didn't think anything would be able to match Mass Effect 3 in terms of emotional depth and impact on me, mostly because it had two other games to base itself off of so didn't have to do the really hard work of getting me invested, but fuck it if the first 4 episodes of the Walking Dead haven't made me think that TellTale just might pull it off.

I know how it will end, but I can't wait to get there. Really looking forward to see where they go with Season 2.

100% Agreed.
Couldn't stand the writing in Heavy Rain *early game spoilers to follow*.

Like when the dude's first kid randomly runs off and gets hit by a car.
A kid his age (10 according to the game's wiki) should damn well already know to be careful crossing streets. I mean, fuck, my parents trusted me bike to my friends' houses alone when I was that age and some how I managed to not get run over. I even managed to crash my bike a couple times (going down hills way too fast >.>) and amazingly only came out with scrapes and bruises - who knew I wasn't actually made of porcelain?

Hell once I even got separated from my dad in the super market and couldn't find him. Do you know what I didn't do? Randomly run out into the street for no apparent reason. I found someone who worked in the store and told them I couldn't find my dad ...

Believe it or not kids aren't completely stupid and generally don't just randomly do stupid shit just because they're kids. They are capable of listening and learning and understanding things.

Alright /rant

Aww, I had to stop midway through because I haven't played Walking Dead yet, but I intend to, so I don't wanna be spoiled. Great ep untill that point thoug, but I respectfully disagree about Dawn. Yes, she's a pain, but she is meant to be the annoying kid. And I know, as Yahtzee said, just becaus you intended to do it doesn't mean it isn't still annoying, but we as an audience are supposed to feel like that, not to have an artificial bond of attachment to her like your other examples (or like the other characters have to her, quite literary). And I do feel she grow as a character AND we as an audience (well, me at least) grew to like her, even if she still was annoying as fuck at times

I know this is just the funny side-bit of your video but Gad Damn I agree with the satire about politicians using their children to score points! It's so irritating and always completely transparent. I remember back in 2010 with the UK general election, where David Cameron and Gordon Brown were basically having a 'Who's Sons Death Was The More Tragic' contest. It was actually revolting.

Also, yeah, spot on video as usual. Yes, we know, 'children are the future' and all that, but quite frankly if a particular child is nothing but a constant, irritable burden when shit hits the fan, then you'd probably be doing the next generation as a whole a favour by clubbing their head in before they get someone more deserving killed.

I've just started playing Dishonored and what's struck me as odd so far (admittedly I've only really just escaped so I have a long way to go yet) is that the resistance doesn't seem to have any kind of long-term plan for fixing Dunwall's problems other than restoring the true Empress (who is a little girl) to the throne. Now, I'm certainly on board with deposing the current leadership after what they did, and I can understand that the crown is hers by right, but I have to wonder if this will actually make things any better on the whole. She's, what, around 11 years old-ish? and before she was abducted she seemed more interested in playing hide and seek with me rather than learning how to rule from her mother. If the last Empress didn't have any solution to the plague, why should her child fair any better? Does she really have the aptitude or experience to lead in a time of such crisis, or will she just end up as a figurehead, used as a pawn by power-hungry advisers?

When I met her at the beginning of the game she was perfectly nice, but I didn't really get a lot of time to develop a bond with her, so my emotional response to her kidnap can't quite outweigh the holes I'm seeing in the practicalities of this plan.

OniaPL:
The Carl in the comics is far superior to the assfuck in the tv show.

And Clementine... Don't get me started on Clementine. I love her as a character.

So glad some one else said this to! TV Carl is one of many reasons the TV Walking Dead is bland.

I kinda liked the Lamplight kids, they at least had character.

I never got through Heavy Rain, I found it as compelling as wallpaper paste and the lack of sympathy I had was a big part of that.

Worgen:
I'm surprised you didn't bring up Double Fine as a studio that knows how to write kids, more than a few of their games star children as the main character. Psychonauts, Costume Quest, and stacking all have children as main and supporting characters.

I think that misses the overall point. Jim was talking about more realistic and adult stories, in which children are weaker then the adults. Games like Costume Quest cast children as heros for a sense of cartoony charm rather then sympathy. They are charming and likable but not realistic and Jim was basically talking about children as supporting characters, not leads in which children have super natural powers and are more capable then in real life children. Its a deferent character concept entirely.

Princess Emily from Dishonored wasn't too bad either.

Legion:
Like the child in Mass Effect 3

What pissed me off even more with that was how ridiculously heavy handed they were with it. They even go so far as to make Shepard have nightmares over the kid. This one kid, amongst millions of deaths, including ones that were a direct result of Shepard's actions? It's just idiotic.

I think the dreams were less of a reflection of Shepard's grief over that one kid in particular, but rather what that kid represents. Shepard tried to save him, and failed. Now, he/she's tasked with saving the whole Galaxy, and is terrified they'll fail there too. The kid becomes symbolic of everyone who has died, and are still dying, and the hopelessness that Shepard feels going up against that when he/she sees themselves failing to save even a few individuals.

It's just my interpretation, but I don't think it was as simple as 'A child has died. You haz a sad now!'

Jim: I'm ashamed at you for banging that baby's head on the podium!

Everybody knows that the best way to quiet a screeching baby is by applying steady (but very FIRM) pressure on baby's Reset Button (also referred to by some as "the fontanelle" or the "soft spot") until it's still and quiet! Banging it head first into the podium takes much longer to quiet it down, because the angle's off half the time.

Plus, all sorts of social workers, cops and concerned citizens start kicking up a fuss if they see you do it YOUR way. With the firm, steady pressure, you can also sing a lullaby, and camouflage the pressing of the Reset Button, and everybody breaths a sigh of relief when things quiet down again.

So, how do the REST of you get out of being asked to babysit for your friends' kids? :-D

Jim, thank you for nailing the reason why I didn't give a damn when that stupid child died in the "Hunger Games" film.

In fact, I burst out laughing when it happened.

Rare occasion I disagree with Jim Sterling
Carl, from The Walking Dead, is an annoying little twat, yes; but I think it's deliberate.
Let's run down his list of role models in the new world:
His father flips back & forth between gutless & psychotic (not to mention alive & dead)
His mother is a fucking intolerable leech (my humble opinion)
Daddy figure #2 (Shane), while I think was a step up from Rick in the father department, had a quickly slipping grasp on reality
Most of the other adults Carl was around spent their time squabbling, that is when they weren't busy pissing themselves scared.
All things considered, the kid's turning out as one could reasonably expect

I love, love, LOVE TTGs Walking Dead game. Even if it's "choice" is really only the illusion of choice. The voice acting and writing are just so damn good.

Falseprophet:
My favourite child character in a genre film? Newt from Aliens. Yeah, she was definitely a scared little girl, but she showed the survival instinct that allowed her to survive for weeks on a xenomorph-infested complex (about 1:00 in the clip below):

One of my favorite lines from that movie:
Ripely: "This little girl survived all on her own for a week without any military training at all!"
Hudson: "Well fuckin' put her in charge!"

Telltale is a studio known for storytelling so they have had practice and made good characters.
Their Jurassic Park game also does this.

But there is a lazy way to do this that may still work. Dead Rising 2.
They make her a gamer maybe to make us think of what we were like at her age,(I believe most of us became gamers at that age). And she is the only person Chuck has from his old life so that's another reason to protect her.
SPOILERS FOR DEAD RISING 2 OFF THE RECORD; Chuck actually becomes a psychopath without her in this game.

Then there is the third way: Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson. Homer is not the most likeable character and is not the one Matt Groening modeled or named on himself, Bart is.

Interesting. Definitely some things worth chewing on. The bottom line is that characters should be characters, with some depth and thought put into them.

It's kind of funny in a way, though: children as "inherently valuable person in need of rescue" may have been the obvious progression from "damsel in distress" in an allegedly more enlightened age.

Regarding the "you won't get it if you aren't a parent" thing: While I certainly agree that children, too, should be fully fleshed out characters if they're to garner our sympathy, to a degree, a situation like that in Heavy Rain may not be about sympathy for the child, but rather for the parent. Someone who does care for a child is more likely to envision themselves in a similar situation, filling out the emotional resonance (if not necessarily the actual details of the child) with their own experience. I'm not saying this is a good excuse for making children who are ciphers, I'm just saying that's part of the reason it can still be effective to a degree without that development.

In some ways the most annoying thing about Dawn was that she was a 15-year-old largely written as if she was about six. By the time they're fifteen, we expect young people to have, at the very least, a degree of autonomy coupled by a certain amount of self-preservation. Dawn was the worst combination of selfishness, heedlessness, and the presumption that everyone else owed it to her to get her out of the situations she had gotten herself into. We wanted her dead because she thought nothing of adding more problems to people who already had more than enough, not to mention regularly having responsibility for saving the lives of thousands. Hell, even some six-year-olds could see the problem with that.

That whole thing and not one mention of Psychonauts? Ah well, I guess we have to plug the newer games...

SonOfVoorhees:
So much this. I really wanted to slap them to show them a bit of respect, mouthy little fuckers. So annoying and when you do shoot them, i feel that im entitled to and they do deserve it, no damage done. But they can shoot you and you have to leave....or be killed by the brats. I so wished i could lead a Deathclaw to their little hide out.

I always wondered why anyone was so incensed by the inability to kill children in Skyrim. And then...

"Another wanderer, here to lick my father's boots. Good job."

GRRRAAAAAA die you little...

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