Critical Miss: Top Five Games of 2012 #5

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Mojo:

Moonlight Butterfly:

You aren't annoying me at all. I just don't see why you think it's normal that someone wouldn't want to play the game they just paid for. No one is going to pay for a game and then just switch it off half way through.

Of course you want to play a game you just paid money for, nothing wrong with that. But as "DeadpanLunatic" pointed out a few posts above (and I tried to in my posts) is that Spec Ops is about blind obedience. You paid money for the game and the game told you to do something, better do it since you don't have a choice, right? But you DO have a choice. Spec Ops doesn't expect you to quit, but I wants you to think about the choices you made and consider if you maybe did have other options even if they weren't made clear in a ingame dialog or menu.

But you don't have other options unless you want to waste your money. Not entirely sure how else I can say it to get you to understand.

Glad to see that this thing is getting more attention.

I...is there anything that gamers won't tear each other apart over?

ccdohl:

SonicWaffle:

ccdohl:
On another note, does the society in Starship Troopers worship the army? Because when I read the book and watched the movie, they both featured numerous civilians who discouraged the main character from joining, or disparaged his choice from another branch, like the navy, or from the outside.

I mean, maybe they had some harsh punishment for criminals, but so does Singapore, and we don't call them fascist, at least when we use the word correctly.

The only people with the right to vote were those who served in the military. It was the basis of their democracy. So yeah, I'd call that a form of worship, making veterans the only people whose voices matter.

That's what you'd call worship? It's a bit like saying that the United States worships non-felons over the age of 18, but okay.

Isn't that a bit backwards? Ordinary citizens did not have to do anything to earn the vote beyond surviving for 18 years and not getting caught for any major crimes they may have committed.

In the world of Starship Troopers, those same ordinary citizens have their rights witheld from them until they complete military service. It isn't just the right to vote, there are a variety of other priveliges which are only available to veterans. Essentially soldiers are the aristocracy, placed at a seperate level of society which makes it clear they are better than everyone else. So yeah, I'd say that as a culture, there's a serious case of military worship going on.

erttheking:
Glad to see that this thing is getting more attention.

I...is there anything that gamers won't tear each other apart over?

Not on this website at least, and damned proud of it! If there were an all-internet friendly bickering championship the Escapist wouldn't attend because we'd be unable to agree on a team name :-)

SonicWaffle:

erttheking:
Glad to see that this thing is getting more attention.

I...is there anything that gamers won't tear each other apart over?

Not on this website at least, and damned proud of it! If there were an all-internet friendly bickering championship the Escapist wouldn't attend because we'd be unable to agree on a team name :-)

I know I know, complaining can't just be thrown away and I've said myself that it can be important, but you know sometimes I just want to go onto this website and talk about video games WITHOUT getting into a fierce internet debate. I'm starting to think that this website just isn't going to scratch that itch for me. I have anger issues, I get angry way to easily and it's a problem I don't like to fuel. Sometimes I just want to kick back and relax sometimes, but this website is just so freaking negative and confrontational that I just can't relax.

You chose to buy the game, you chose to keep playing. That's the point. I bought the game, I tried to get as many headshots as possible, I got a little thrill out of killing my enemies. And by the end, I felt dirty. Masterfully done.

Mojo:
Fair enough. I get your point of wanting to get everything possible out of something you paid for and quitting would interfere with that. The game probably never expects you to quit but it wants you to at least consider that you have the option to do so and don't HAVE TO kill innocent people only because that is the only choice the game gives you.

Certainly every player is aware that the option is there, but the same goes for every other game too. Don't like the way Mario keeps jumping on the poor Koopas because that's the only way to progress? Turn it off! We just don't think about it because that means sacrificing not only our money but our potential future enjoyment in the name of outrage over something that isn't really happening.

If a real, live human died every time you pulled the trigger in Spec Ops then yes, I see why you'd turn it off. However, all that's happening is that a fictional human who was on the screen a moment ago is no longer on the screen. Perhaps the main character is doing bad things, and perhaps the player is the agency behind these things, but the player is also fully aware that these things are not really real. It influences the decision as to whether or not to turn off a game because while the actions of the character may repulse you you're still aware that the character and his actions are a fiction.

Mojo:

SonicWaffle:
I forgive you. I am a benevolent god.

All hail SonicWaffle, king and benevolent leader of all Waffles!

All hail.

erttheking:

SonicWaffle:

erttheking:
Glad to see that this thing is getting more attention.

I...is there anything that gamers won't tear each other apart over?

Not on this website at least, and damned proud of it! If there were an all-internet friendly bickering championship the Escapist wouldn't attend because we'd be unable to agree on a team name :-)

I know I know, complaining can't just be thrown away and I've said myself that it can be important, but you know sometimes I just want to go onto this website and talk about video games WITHOUT getting into a fierce internet debate. I'm starting to think that this website just isn't going to scratch that itch for me. I have anger issues, I get angry way to easily and it's a problem I don't like to fuel. Sometimes I just want to kick back and relax sometimes, but this website is just so freaking negative and confrontational that I just can't relax.

I've not really seen any evidence of that in this thread - nobody appears angry, we're not SHOUTING IN ALL CAPS or swearing at one another. It's just a discussion of opinions, and not even a particularly fierce one. In fact the majority of the threads I visit on this site tend to have some interesting back-and-forth, with the deliberately antagonistic or offensive posters being something of a minority.

Of course we disagree. There are hundreds of us using the forums at the same time, so for literally any opinion you could post there will be someone who doesn't agree. Luckily, disagreement is not a call for anger, and we can all happily chat about our conflicting opinions without calling anyone a titbiscuit :-)

Have to say, after playing through Spec Ops: The Line relatively recently, I have to agree wholeheartedly with putting it in the top 5. I see a lot of people criticizing the WP scene, and I get why... but I think an element of the railroading with that

(fair warning, incoming mega-spoilers, disengage and don't read if you haven't played or spoiled the game for yourself)

is this is the first moment Walker's actions are ripped out of your hands. His squad doesn't want to do this. You, if you know what is coming or know how horrific WP can be, don't want to do this. Walker doesn't care. This is HIS mission... as he sees it at that stage. He's already off in the head, obsessing over seeing this through and being heroic. Yes, on the most obvious level, he COULD walk away, report to his superiors. He won't. That isn't who he is. He plunges ahead, even knowing deep down this isn't what he's here for, isn't what he should do... because he wants to see this through, and he's dragging you along for the ride.

I would argue that it's one of the reasons most of the choices in the game come AFTER this scene... because his mental break and 'Konrad' test, all that, is his brain DESPERATELY trying to remind him he DOES have a choice. But other than minor elements here and there, he's not listening. He's lost in his delusion. He's the hero. He's going to right the wrongs. Take out every bad thing he's ever done on 'the bad guys'. He isn't so much a mirror on the player, though his efforts and the climax do stare you in the face to ask you why YOU played this far. He's the worst elements of the (no pun intended) escapist, retreating into a fantasy to blame his actions on. He's everything most of us hate in a gamer, made larger than life, and then we're given the controls and told to play as him. And while by the end I had more pity for him than anything, I still deeply disliked him, which is kind of the point.

Konrad's famed big speech is aimed at Walker but hits you too, IF you were playing through the game gung-ho Rambo super-hero mode heedless of what you've done or who you've hurt. But if you tried your best to corral Walker, to force him not to lose himself as a monster, to not play the game, spare lives, etc., the only one that speech is for is him. Yes, you could have turned the game off any time, but that's not all the game is asking you to consider. It's asking you what YOU chose when it DID give you a choice. That's why in the ending what you see is based on what you decided to do in those moments.

To sum up, walking away was an option only in the abstract; in the diseased and obsessed mind of Walker, already just short of cracking wide open into full-blown insanity, there was no walking away, no retreat. Heroes don't walk away. And if that sentiment isn't your cup of tea, if it in fact disgusts you especially considering what came after, congratulations. You're not Walker. You didn't cross The Line.

SonicWaffle:
Thing is, I think I've left it too late. Everyone has been talking about this game, for months now, and it's been impossible to avoid spoilers. I've got an understanding of the plot, the character arc, the message the game is trying to convey - given that the actual gameplay is generally described as mediocre-to-bad, I don't think I could force myself to sit through it just to find out things I already know.

Here's the real kicker then.
The best part was how it subtly hid the sucker punch to the groin as you played.
Now that you know it all it will never hit you like it did the rest of us.
I'd suggest playing/fourcing yourself through it it anyway because as I played I knew some major spoilers too but it was the small stuff that had me intrigued. The audio logs that I just had to find, the banter between your team mates.
Fact is the best part wasn't the only good part, in fact the only bad part was the gameplay which is still tolerable.

As I said, play it, you need to experience it first hand.

I think I'm too jaded to get the full experience of Spec Ops. I never really felt guilty for any of the things I did, but I can see how it might spook a military FPS enthusiast.

Everyone who's banging on about how we had the choice to stop playing the game should feel bad about themselves for making such a foolish argument.

Staskala:

What makes The Line brilliant isn't the way it - quite boldly, for a game - suggests that the American military might not be the force for universal good it's often made out to be, and that our collective obsession with violence, both real and imagined, might not be healthy.

A German dev making a negative statement about the US military really isn't being very bold. The game is a lot of things, but I'll never get how people can seriously call it daring. The "you think you're a hero but objectively you're actually doing pretty shitty things" angle is also extremely basic for German - and pretty much all other - anti-war material.

Which is why the words "for a game" follow that statement. The largest audience for games is North America, and considering the current state of gaming, denigrating the military in a game is a bold statement.

Moonlight Butterfly:

But you don't have other options unless you want to waste your money. Not entirely sure how else I can say it to get you to understand.

I don't get how that takes away your choice to stop playing. As I said multiple times before, Spec Ops wants you to at least CONSIDER that you are never forced to play. And wasting money is relative, you could play the game, stop after 30 minutes and still say it was worth your money.

itsthesheppy:
You chose to buy the game, you chose to keep playing. That's the point. I bought the game, I tried to get as many headshots as possible, I got a little thrill out of killing my enemies. And by the end, I felt dirty. Masterfully done.

What this guy said.

SonicWaffle:

Not on this website at least, and damned proud of it! If there were an all-internet friendly bickering championship the Escapist wouldn't attend because we'd be unable to agree on a team name :-)

SonicWaffle:

erttheking:

SonicWaffle:

Not on this website at least, and damned proud of it! If there were an all-internet friendly bickering championship the Escapist wouldn't attend because we'd be unable to agree on a team name :-)

I know I know, complaining can't just be thrown away and I've said myself that it can be important, but you know sometimes I just want to go onto this website and talk about video games WITHOUT getting into a fierce internet debate. I'm starting to think that this website just isn't going to scratch that itch for me. I have anger issues, I get angry way to easily and it's a problem I don't like to fuel. Sometimes I just want to kick back and relax sometimes, but this website is just so freaking negative and confrontational that I just can't relax.

I've not really seen any evidence of that in this thread - nobody appears angry, we're not SHOUTING IN ALL CAPS or swearing at one another. It's just a discussion of opinions, and not even a particularly fierce one. In fact the majority of the threads I visit on this site tend to have some interesting back-and-forth, with the deliberately antagonistic or offensive posters being something of a minority.

Of course we disagree. There are hundreds of us using the forums at the same time, so for literally any opinion you could post there will be someone who doesn't agree. Luckily, disagreement is not a call for anger, and we can all happily chat about our conflicting opinions without calling anyone a titbiscuit :-)

Yeah, when I said I get angry way too easily, I also meant that I get angry over things that I probably shouldn't, and I kinda get angry when I open a thread and see YET ANOTHER thread that's 75% people arguing. I know, I've said that it's important, I know that, I'm just saying that, you know, something else every once in awhile would be nice.

It's less that people argue on this website that frustrates me, and more of that's all they seem to ever do. And I'm going to admit to a certain amount of bias here, it kinda feels like the handful of games that don't get torn to shreds on this website are ones that I don't particularly care for, where as the ones that I do like are at the centers of massive raging debates, Spec Ops for this, XCOM for crippling unfairness and Dark Souls OH DEAR GOD Dark Souls.

I dunno, what was supposed to be a relaxing pass time is just becoming so frustrating for me.

"You had the choice to stop playing" is the biggest load of horseshit I've ever heard.

Interested to see the rest of the top 5 though.

SonicWaffle:
It's a game.

You say this as if it makes gun violence a perfectly natural thing. This has never been about the distinction between reality and fantasy, but about why we want these exact things in our fantasies. It's interesting that even people who vouch support to the idea of placing videogames as a medium alongside film and books (Not sure if you would count yourself among them) fall back to the "It's just a game" defense when talking about something like this. Let's not waste time with critical readings because they are not worthy of thorough inspection and let's not think too deeply about what things could potentially imply.

Because to some people, these games are fun. That's all it comes down to. Certainly we're complicit in the industry trends, but these games have become an industry trend because people enjoy them. It doesn't always have to be deeper than that.

It absolutely does. "They just happen to be fun" is a decrepit analysis even from a mechanical standpoint, how elements connect and interact to create this experience, let alone the setting and context of this specific power fantasy.

Does playing Arkham Asylum mean the player is supporting vigilantism? I think it just means having fun with a game while also getting to be Batman, because fuck yeah Batman. Playing Minecraft isn't showing your support for the construction industry.

These games are also consciously trying to be unreal and fantastical while others try to be perceived as realistic. Small difference.

Playing a Modern Military Shooter is similarly not automatically a show of support for the actions of the modern military or subtle approval of violence and racism.

Except, it ever so slightly is. By buying them, playing them and creating demand for more we do reinforce the messages and stereotypes these games perpetuate. Quite obviously it's not that simple, and some ways to enjoy them are more subversive of 'intended readings' than others, but consuming these games always signifies something.

This doesn't mean we are bad people for enjoying them, nor does Spec Ops really say this. It's just interested in asking these questions.

Consumers do hold power over the market. This type of game is very popular. Taking the two facts together, what does that tell you? To me, it says that first-person shooters are fun, and that in the most part they're not too bothered if they're shooting terrorists or aliens or demons as long as the game is an enjoyable experience.

Again, these games being fun shouldn't be taken as a simple fact of life, or else why are some people able to engineer the experience more successfully than others? It's also worth talking about how these games other human foes until terrorists are basically interchangeable with demons. Just a thought.

Odin311:
During the whole game I kept thinking "this isn't what I would do" Forcing a player to do something isn't innovative or unique.

If the game convinced me as the player to make the choices, that would have been something.

As it is it was a OK game with an OK story line and OK game play.

My thoughts exactly.

Granted, I walked into this knowing a bit about the game beforehand. It seems to me either:
A. This game was meant to be played with no before-hand knowledge of the content.
or
B. There's some deep message behind the initial facade of 'war's bad, war's not a game' that actually has a more pertinent message.

NinjaDeathSlap:

Eh, that's debatable. In a lot of games with choice the 'choice' just becomes a programmed response based on what play through you're doing at that time. If your playing as an asshole, you make all the asshole decisions without a second thought as to context, or what you would honestly do faced with this situation, or what you think your character would do based on their background and what they appear to believe in. It's arguable that had people been given a choice it actually would have made them think less about what they were doing.

The game forcing you to do these things may also be making a point in and of itself. You're a soldier after all. Soldiers don't get choice, they follow orders. Over the course of history many individuals have tried to wash their hands of the suffering they caused by claiming that they only ever did what their superiors ordered them to do, and that they didn't have a choice, and indeed, all Walker ever did in Spec Ops was follow at least what he interpreted to be his orders, but the game doesn't except that as an excuse. The game is subverting its own mechanics to make a point about the dangers of willingly giving up your own power to choose for yourself what's right and wrong.

Morality Choice: This is true. However I, for one [/sarcasm], play through the first time as I choose. Ideally that gets me one of the (often highly) polarized endings. Then I'll go back for the other ending(s).

I'm not in touch with the youngsters anymore, that has become clear. I was shown Platoon at a young age and decided war was bad. I'm guessing from the (reportedly) declining enrollment in the military the kids these days are somehow getting the same message. The largest deterrent to me ever entering the military was the forfeiture of decision and morality. It seems to me people are past using that as an excuse. Who knows, I could be wrong.

Thyunda:

Zhukov:
That comic perfectly encapsulates my main problem with the game.

It forces you to do something and won't let you progress until you do, then spends the rest of the game trying to make you feel guilty about it.

I love what it was trying to do, but the implementation left much to be desired.

I think it's more aimed at people who play first-person, modern-military shooters more often than us here. We lack the fascination with using the latest hardware to wipe out poorly equipped and disorganised militias.

If your usual game is Call of Duty or Battlefield, you're quite likely to go through shooters just gunning down whoever registers as an enemy on your radar. If, however, like most of us here, you play a variety of games featuring moral choices and civilian NPCs who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, then yeah...this game will probably not have the same lesson to teach you. We already KNOW what this game has to show, but then, we're not the target audience of the Spec Ops label.

How charmingly elitest of you.

Machine Man 1992:

Thyunda:

Zhukov:
That comic perfectly encapsulates my main problem with the game.

It forces you to do something and won't let you progress until you do, then spends the rest of the game trying to make you feel guilty about it.

I love what it was trying to do, but the implementation left much to be desired.

I think it's more aimed at people who play first-person, modern-military shooters more often than us here. We lack the fascination with using the latest hardware to wipe out poorly equipped and disorganised militias.

If your usual game is Call of Duty or Battlefield, you're quite likely to go through shooters just gunning down whoever registers as an enemy on your radar. If, however, like most of us here, you play a variety of games featuring moral choices and civilian NPCs who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, then yeah...this game will probably not have the same lesson to teach you. We already KNOW what this game has to show, but then, we're not the target audience of the Spec Ops label.

How charmingly elitest of you.

You know, when I was asking about if gamers could talk about anything without ripping each other apart, this is what I was talking about.

Zhukov:
That comic perfectly encapsulates my main problem with the game.

It forces you to do something and won't let you progress until you do, then spends the rest of the game trying to make you feel guilty about it.

I love what it was trying to do, but the implementation left much to be desired.

Actually, there were quite a lot of instances in which you could take a humane alternative, with the exception of the white phosphorous scene. It's just that the humane options weren't always that explicit, which I suppose they wouldn't be on the battlefield.

erttheking:

Machine Man 1992:

Thyunda:

I think it's more aimed at people who play first-person, modern-military shooters more often than us here. We lack the fascination with using the latest hardware to wipe out poorly equipped and disorganised militias.

If your usual game is Call of Duty or Battlefield, you're quite likely to go through shooters just gunning down whoever registers as an enemy on your radar. If, however, like most of us here, you play a variety of games featuring moral choices and civilian NPCs who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, then yeah...this game will probably not have the same lesson to teach you. We already KNOW what this game has to show, but then, we're not the target audience of the Spec Ops label.

How charmingly elitest of you.

You know, when I was asking about if gamers could talk about anything without ripping each other apart, this is what I was talking about.

So calling people out for their douchbaggery is "ripping them apart" eh? Good to know.

SonicWaffle:
Snip.

I utterly fail to see why we can't have both. Why can't we have the dumb shooters and the smart shooters? Why must we limit the medium to such a base, safe and predictable level? God forbid something in this medium challenges us, or makes us rethink how we perceive gaming and how it can tell stories. Do you know how utterly boring it would be if gaming was consigned to an eternity of 'just fun' as people like you seem to desire?

Machine Man 1992:

erttheking:

Machine Man 1992:

How charmingly elitest of you.

You know, when I was asking about if gamers could talk about anything without ripping each other apart, this is what I was talking about.

So calling people out for their douchbaggery is "ripping them apart" eh? Good to know.

He didn't really seem like a douchebag. It was more that he was confirming the existence of the causal market. Also you more or less just called him an elitist and walked away, without elaborating on the point.

Hmmm, still need to play this one. Waiting to catch it in the bargain bin at work.

This cartoon is now my favourite thing. I'm going to look for every opportunity to spam the link in every conversation about Spec Ops and games in general from now on

DeadpanLunatic:

SonicWaffle:
It's a game.

You say this as if it makes gun violence a perfectly natural thing. This has never been about the distinction between reality and fantasy, but about why we want these exact things in our fantasies. It's interesting that even people who vouch support to the idea of placing videogames as a medium alongside film and books (Not sure if you would count yourself among them) fall back to the "It's just a game" defense when talking about something like this. Let's not waste time with critical readings because they are not worthy of thorough inspection and let's not think too deeply about what things could potentially imply.

In fact I do count myself amongst those people. However, I would say the same thing about a book in which the character did something despicable - upsetting perhaps, but "it's just a book". It isn't happening outside my window. That in no way dismisses the need for critical reading (in fact, I work for a blog whose entire purpose is critical dissection of video games by a group of very, very smart people - and also me, the Sesame Street style one of these things which is not like the others :-P) but it does always keep at the forefront of the mind that what is being discussed is fiction. Fiction can and does reflect the attitudes of those who consume or create it, but we must never forget that there isn't usually a direct correlation between enjoying a thing in fiction and the same thing in real life.

One thing I've pondered before now is why so very, very many of our heroes are those who bend or break the law if they feel it is right to do so. Robin Hood, the crew of Serenity, pretty much every single stereotypical "maverick cop", even Sherlock Holmes wasn't above placing his own sense of morality above the law of the land. Is it that we like heroes who are conflicted, who are not wholly perfect? Is it because they push the boundaries that we ourselves would not dare push against? I certainly don't think it belies any secretive desire to break laws on the part of the consumer. Just because we like to watch it or read about it doesn't really mean we want to go out and do it, a la the "video games cause violence!" argument. We appreciate in fiction what we spurn in reality, always aware that fiction is just that - an escape from reality.

Because to some people, these games are fun. That's all it comes down to. Certainly we're complicit in the industry trends, but these games have become an industry trend because people enjoy them. It doesn't always have to be deeper than that.

It absolutely does. "They just happen to be fun" is a decrepit analysis even from a mechanical standpoint, how elements connect and interact to create this experience, let alone the setting and context of this specific power fantasy.

That's because it isn't an analysis, it's a potential cause for why people are buying these games on a base level. Not because of any deep-rooted racism, not because they buy into Western tabloid culture's military fetishism, not even because they value deep storytelling - because this particular power fantasy is just their preferred type of escapism. Certainly that is then worthy of further though as to why this is preferred, but that doesn't mean we can just off the fun factor.

Does playing Arkham Asylum mean the player is supporting vigilantism? I think it just means having fun with a game while also getting to be Batman, because fuck yeah Batman. Playing Minecraft isn't showing your support for the construction industry.

These games are also consciously trying to be unreal and fantastical while others try to be perceived as realistic. Small difference.

Yet the rational mind knows that these games are not realistic. Even a child is aware that a man shot in the face will not get better by sitting behind a wall for a few seconds or picking up a green box with a white cross on it. They attempt to portray a greater degree of realism certainly, by using items and guns based on real-world technology, but even the most foolish among is is aware that the supposed realism is a sham.

Playing a Modern Military Shooter is similarly not automatically a show of support for the actions of the modern military or subtle approval of violence and racism.

Except, it ever so slightly is. By buying them, playing them and creating demand for more we do reinforce the messages and stereotypes these games perpetuate. Quite obviously it's not that simple, and some ways to enjoy them are more subversive of 'intended readings' than others, but consuming these games always signifies something.

This doesn't mean we are bad people for enjoying them, nor does Spec Ops really say this. It's just interested in asking these questions.

Well, I disagree with your analysis that purchasing or playing these titles indicates support for the worst of what they represent, but I don't think that's a point on which either of us is going to convince the other.

Consumers do hold power over the market. This type of game is very popular. Taking the two facts together, what does that tell you? To me, it says that first-person shooters are fun, and that in the most part they're not too bothered if they're shooting terrorists or aliens or demons as long as the game is an enjoyable experience.

Again, these games being fun shouldn't be taken as a simple fact of life, or else why are some people able to engineer the experience more successfully than others? It's also worth talking about how these games other human foes until terrorists are basically interchangeable with demons. Just a thought.

I'm not sure it's quite the same - after all, when the player goes after terrorists, the game will generally at least give a reason or evidence of bad things these terrorists have done or are planning to do. When the enemies are demons, it tends to be more "because they're demons", our cultures long-standing embodiment of true evil. Granted, much of the aforementioned tabloid-level media is doing its very best to equate those they label terrorists with true evil, but we haven't quite reached that point yet.

SonicWaffle:

ccdohl:

SonicWaffle:

The only people with the right to vote were those who served in the military. It was the basis of their democracy. So yeah, I'd call that a form of worship, making veterans the only people whose voices matter.

That's what you'd call worship? It's a bit like saying that the United States worships non-felons over the age of 18, but okay.

Isn't that a bit backwards? Ordinary citizens did not have to do anything to earn the vote beyond surviving for 18 years and not getting caught for any major crimes they may have committed.

In the world of Starship Troopers, those same ordinary citizens have their rights witheld from them until they complete military service. It isn't just the right to vote, there are a variety of other priveliges which are only available to veterans. Essentially soldiers are the aristocracy, placed at a seperate level of society which makes it clear they are better than everyone else. So yeah, I'd say that as a culture, there's a serious case of military worship going on.

Fair point, though I don't think that the manner by which a society affords the right to vote to a person constitutes worship of that person. In addition, it's not just military service but federal service that grants the right to public power. There is a line in the book where someone states that it is a person's right to serve, and any person could be put to work counting the hair on a caterpillar, if need be. Granted, none of the service is made out to be all that pleasant. The main character places infantry at the bottom of his list of service choices, and ends up stuck with it when he doesn't qualify for anything else other than infantry and hard labor.

Further, there is a lot of philosophical discussion in the book, in the form of classes taken by the main character. In one, the teacher poses the question to his class of why only service people get to vote. He turns down guesses from students that claim that veterans are smarter, more responsible, or in any way better, finally arriving at the conclusion that the system that they have simply works well enough for its purpose.

Considering that any person has a right to do federal service, that the service does not necessarily need to be military, and that, in the first chapter, nearly every civilian discourages the main character from federal service, it's hard to say that the society really holds military service in high esteem. On the contrary, they find it to be unnecessary or negative in most cases.

The right to vote is earned by individuals through public service of one kind or another. The virtues of that system are debatable, but it's clear enough to me that it isn't military worship, and it's certainly not fascist.

I think that the reason that this annoys me is that the difference between the attitude of the society at large and the military itself is one of the main themes of the story.

Grey Carter:

Staskala:

What makes The Line brilliant isn't the way it - quite boldly, for a game - suggests that the American military might not be the force for universal good it's often made out to be, and that our collective obsession with violence, both real and imagined, might not be healthy.

A German dev making a negative statement about the US military really isn't being very bold. The game is a lot of things, but I'll never get how people can seriously call it daring. The "you think you're a hero but objectively you're actually doing pretty shitty things" angle is also extremely basic for German - and pretty much all other - anti-war material.

Which is why the words "for a game" follow that statement. The largest audience for games is North America, and considering the current state of gaming, denigrating the military in a game is a bold statement.

Considering the audience, it would be more bold to denigrate Doritos and Mountain Dew.

erttheking:
Yeah, when I said I get angry way too easily, I also meant that I get angry over things that I probably shouldn't, and I kinda get angry when I open a thread and see YET ANOTHER thread that's 75% people arguing. I know, I've said that it's important, I know that, I'm just saying that, you know, something else every once in awhile would be nice.

Hey, welcome to humanity - we disagree about stuff :-P

There are plenty of threads around that aren't all bickering - check out the Advice Forum for people being generally helpful and nice to one another, or the threads about how tall someone is or their drinking habits or a hundred other non-controversial topics. For myself, I actually prefer a thread where I can get into a big discussion like I have been with @DeadpanLunatic, because it gives me cause to think about my own opinions a little more. In fact, some of what he's (or maybe she, I haven't checked the profile) proposed as a counter-point to my comments I've been unable to think of a satisfactory answer to, but I like that.

erttheking:
It's less that people argue on this website that frustrates me, and more of that's all they seem to ever do. And I'm going to admit to a certain amount of bias here, it kinda feels like the handful of games that don't get torn to shreds on this website are ones that I don't particularly care for, where as the ones that I do like are at the centers of massive raging debates, Spec Ops for this, XCOM for crippling unfairness and Dark Souls OH DEAR GOD Dark Souls.

Dude, I rather enjoyed Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age 2, you don't need to tell me ;-)

erttheking:
I dunno, what was supposed to be a relaxing pass time is just becoming so frustrating for me.

Well, I'm sorry to hear that. I guess there isn't much to say beyond try not to let it get you down. Respond to people who can have a civil, interesting conversation and try to be polite to those who just attack you for your views. Speaking of which...

FargoDog:

SonicWaffle:
Snip.

I utterly fail to see why we can't have both. Why can't we have the dumb shooters and the smart shooters? Why must we limit the medium to such a base, safe and predictable level? God forbid something in this medium challenges us, or makes us rethink how we perceive gaming and how it can tell stories. Do you know how utterly boring it would be if gaming was consigned to an eternity of 'just fun' as people like you seem to desire?

I'm not sure you've really taken my point. I'm also not sure where you got the impression that there are "people like me" and that all we desire is bombastic, stupid, tits-and-explosions games which provide nothing more than immediate gratification. All I've said is that some point enjoy these games without thinking too deeply about them, and that this isn't the end of the world, and it certainly doesn't make them closet racists or psychopaths.

PTS, but as well deal with idea blame or least chain of it special when come to military in general. Ok FP Interesting thing setting up one of men ask him is not choice and Walker said no choice or something along lines of that. Mind you guys there shooting the kill US Military here. Now when see damage they done, him teammate are blame each other since they both hand in it, then Walker for give. Walker Blame the Colonel for putting him that spot, the player blame the deveplorer for not giving them choice. The big choice at the end of game is can you handle the responsibility of your action?

Another thing the game point, and surprise brought it up yet. Is shear insanity that three man and team and can wipe out entire regiment. How idea of that mythic hero over comes everything, walker views and fights like that, but enemy he fight view him as some impossible monster, for feat he performs. If listen to the enemy is later of level of game there scary of Walker.

PTS, but as well deal with idea blame or least chain of it special when come to military in general. Ok FP Interesting thing setting up one of men ask him is not choice and Walker said no choice or something along lines of that. Mind you guys there shooting the kill US Military here. Now when see damage they done, him teammate are blame each other since they both hand in it, then Walker for give. Walker Blame the Colonel for putting him that spot, the player blame the deveplorer for not giving them choice. The big choice at the end of game is can you handle the responsibility of your action?

Another thing the game point, and surprise brought it up yet. Is shear insanity that three man and team and can wipe out entire regiment. How idea of that mythic hero over comes everything, walker views and fights like that, but enemy he fight view him as some impossible monster, for feat he performs. If listen to the enemy is later of level of game there scaried of Walker.

SonicWaffle:
I work for a blog whose entire purpose is critical dissection of video games

Are we throwing around credentials? Shame, I forgot my business card. Got a neat little trick where I throw it across the room and decapitate a statue.

Fiction can and does reflect the attitudes of those who consume or create it, but we must never forget that there isn't usually a direct correlation between enjoying a thing in fiction and the same thing in real life.

One thing I've pondered before now is why so very, very many of our heroes are those who bend or break the law if they feel it is right to do so. Robin Hood, the crew of Serenity, pretty much every single stereotypical "maverick cop", even Sherlock Holmes wasn't above placing his own sense of morality above the law of the land. Is it that we like heroes who are conflicted, who are not wholly perfect? Is it because they push the boundaries that we ourselves would not dare push against? I certainly don't think it belies any secretive desire to break laws on the part of the consumer.

So you think, but it might well do. Again, this has never been about being unable to distinguish reality from fiction. Precisely because they are unreal they might serve as a vent for forbidden desires. We can't, in all honesty, say that they are not, just as we can't actually claim that videogames don't cause violence. There's no conclusive proof to show that they do, so it's unreasonable to work from that hypothesis given how violent crime dwindles in indirect proportion to videogame sales, but can we actually claim to fully understand the connections?

that doesn't mean we can just off the fun factor.

And for what other reason do people buy games? While I prefer to speak of engagement, generally, entertainment seems to be the prime reason behind every videogame purchase. The only interesting thing to talk about here is why these things are fun, and how all the other things you listed factor in. And didn't you say previously that no such deeper analysis was necessary?

the supposed realism is a sham.

Suspension of disbelief. Of course we know that we are reading books, watching movies and playing games, not truly experiencing their content, but that's not exactly how fiction works, now is it? Do you really believe people see Modern Warfare as equally fantastical, stylized and surreal as Super Mario? The claim would also beg the question of why anybody even bothers to upgrade graphics if we see through the facade instantly anyway.

Well, I disagree with your analysis that purchasing or playing these titles indicates support for the worst of what they represent, but I don't think that's a point on which either of us is going to convince the other.

Not conscious, willing support no, but consumption and production of meaning is connected, and that won't go away because you disagree. Du Gay writes at length on the subject if you're interested, circuit of culture and all. Somebody with interest in critical readings should be familiar I suppose :P

I'm not sure it's quite the same - after all, when the player goes after terrorists, the game will generally at least give a reason or evidence of bad things these terrorists have done or are planning to do.

It does go a little beyond that, too.

A game writer once explained to me how his development team did its best to "otherize" the enemy in the story it was trying to tell. Military shooters direct a terrific level of violence at more obviously human subjects than other genres of games. If people have any natural aversion to shooting one another - and many theorize that we indeed do - then a game has to convince you that killing these people isn't just acceptable, but desirable, even enjoyable. So the animators did the best to conceal the faces of your enemies even as they charged at the player, he explained, and the story piled on their atrocities that you witnessed. (Full piece)

Just consider the othering, military lingo the games borrow. Your comrades are men, but the other side is targets or enemies or foes, who go down, or are neutralized. Games do some very interesting things to make sure we are comfortable pulling the trigger.

I tried this game, it was so boring it put me to sleep.

Besides, since the game is about teaching the player that they shouldn't kill people for fun, wouldn't the best way to absorb the message be to not play it at all?

Blunderboy:
It would be more effective if there was an actual choice. Rather than being forced too.

Zhukov:

It forces you to do something and won't let you progress until you do, then spends the rest of the game trying to make you feel guilty about it.

I love what it was trying to do, but the implementation left much to be desired.

Odin311:
During the whole game I kept thinking "this isn't what I would do" Forcing a player to do something isn't innovative or unique.

Seemingly half the darn thread:

It's not big, clever or fun because they force you to do it!

Really, guys? The...."BAD THING[1]" in Spec Ops the line happens because the player in a bad position, where they are desperate and have to rely on hard decisions and a little bit of moral duplicity just to pull through. It wouldn't be much of a game if it said "YOU ARE IN AN INCREDIBLY BAD SITUATION AND THIS IS YOUR ONLY HOPE TO SURVIVE: DO THIS DANGEROUS AND DAMAGING THING TO YOUR FELLOW MAN!" and you could just look at it and say "nah".

Besides, I think the greatest part of Spec Ops, apart from the "BAD THING[2]" was the fact that for all the choice it does allow you, bad things still happens and tragedy occurs. I think the that the way Spec Ops drags you kicking and screaming into its unpleasantness makes it so moving in what it does and highlights the potential for video games to expand in this field.

[1] TM
[2] Still TM

WaitWHAT:
Really, guys? The...."BAD THING[1]" in Spec Ops the line happens because the player in a bad position, where they are desperate and have to rely on hard decisions and a little bit of moral duplicity just to pull through. It wouldn't be much of a game if it said "YOU ARE IN AN INCREDIBLY BAD SITUATION AND THIS IS YOUR ONLY HOPE TO SURVIVE: DO THIS DANGEROUS AND DAMAGING THING TO YOUR FELLOW MAN!" and you could just look at it and say "nah".

Besides, I think the greatest part of Spec Ops, apart from the "BAD THING[2]" was the fact that for all the choice it does allow you, bad things still happens and tragedy occurs. I think the that the way Spec Ops drags you kicking and screaming into its unpleasantness makes it so moving in what it does and highlights the potential for video games to expand in this field.

That may indeed be the greatest part of Sec Ops to you. I on the other hand would have preferred it if the game didn't force us down the path of madness, but instead nudged us and guided us down the path. To help us feel that we are doing the right thing. As it is, the game presents unrealistic objectives that most people can see is the wrong thing to do before doing it. That is the problem. I am not asking for a moral choice that lets me be a good guy. I am asking for more creativity in presenting the story so I don't have to be forced "kicking and screaming" along their path. So that at the end of the game, I am forced to look at myself through the looking glass and find myself lacking.

[1] TM
[2] Still TM

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