Jimquisition: Lugoscababib Discobiscuits

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I get the point of Bioshock being violent, but the violence was so catoonish that it brought me out of the game. A lot of it looked like it could have come straight out of Team Fortress 2.

Disregard... you have already stated your opinion on the matter I questioned, no sense in drudging up the past.

I agree with most of this, but disagree that Bioshock Infinite incorporated the violence into the narrative well. Last of Us though? While I may not have enjoyed that particular game's combat very much, the violence very clearly serves the story there. I don't know how anyone can play the game and not get that, even if they disagree with the game's tone/message/whatevs. The violence, and the degree of violence served that story. Infinite, while there being combat serves the story, the way it was handled didn't.

Hey Jim, did you lose some weight? It looks like you lost some weight. If so, good for you. Keep it up. We don't want you to die. We know god wants you by his side, but it will have to wait.

I don't care much about this issue, but it really was a huge problem in Tomb Raider. And not just because of discobiscuits, but because the series had always relied on platforming puzzles more than action. So to suddenly have that shift in...genre, essentially, and in such a strange way makes no sense. It's a good thing for Tomb Raider that shooting mechanics are so damn satisfying. But I wouldn't have minded if it was introduced more slowly and carefully into the game. Lara got her huge arsenal of firepower and the expertise to use it way too fast.

m19:
Good episode.

However I never saw that problem with Tomb Raider either, at least not as much as people seem to. It's a story of a girl who's trained both physically and to use weapons by an ex-special forces dude (you'll miss it if you don't pay attention). And the whole premise of the character arc is that she doesn't know herself. Hence after the first "that just happened" freakout, she shocks herself with what she can't do, "It's scary just how easy it was."

Yes the combat is exaggerated like in much of gaming but it is not completely at odds with the narrative or glossed over.

I bought that in the Steam sale and have been playing it over the weekend. I did hear a quip about her having to do a lot of hikes. But I didn't hear anything specific about weapons training.

I figured she was taught the skills relevant to archeology. Long hikes. Living in remote, harsh environments. Maybe learning how to use a gun to keep unwanted wildlife away. But not how to kill dozens of mercs. Not how to use a bow either, that takes years of effort for no forseeable purpose.

Solid episode. Thanks for bringing this up. I actually heard a person use this in-person recently for a book and had to explain that a failure to immerse in the plot is not what the term means, just a potential result.

So who's the target audience for this episode?
There are people who know what Ludonarrative Dissonance is, and they don't need this episode.
There are people that don't, and if these people use a word they don't understand to prove a point, they'll most likely not stop using it just because someone reasons with them.

Ludonarrative Dissonance is an interesting topic, true, but explaining it properly would be a much more constructive way to deal with it than just ranting about people misusing the word.

mjc0961:

If that is the complaint, if that is the problem people have with the game, then they should say that instead of shouting "ludonarrative dissonance!" when it does not apply. The gameplay and story differing from each other and an interesting world that players aren't allowed to explore because they're being railroaded from shooting gallery to shooting gallery are two massively different complaints. You aren't really contradicting anything said in the video. In fact, you're pretty much proving Jim's point: that people are tossing ludonarrative dissonance around because they aren't intelligent enough to properly articulate what their actual problem with the game is.

themilo504:
The violence never bothered me in bioshock infinite, what did bother me was how booker was a one man army gunning down thousands of cops soldiers and HUGE SPOILERS vox members, even with all of the vigor's he has that's ridiculous.

It also bugged me how long it took before soldiers started to appear, you would expect them to start showing up very quickly but instead they send out hundreds of ill-equipped cops to be gunned down in mass before bringing out the big guns.

Welcome to shooters, you must be new.

Well that is exactly it, not because it is used extensively is the criticism any less true. And YES, this does constitute some ludo-narrative dissonance. A lot of games tend to require some narrative flexibility to make a game more enjoyable. It isn't a huge issue, but it can start grinding when it becomes an over-used trope. This is accentuated when a game takes itself very seriously, and tries to present a thoughtful narrative, but immediately throws in wave after wave of hundreds of increasingly difficult enemies just as mechanical stepping stone, starkly contrasting with the human exposition just presented, and severing a lot of the logical and emotional connection with our reality that it may have achieved before. With universes so thoughtfully crafted, it is these smaller details that show the cracks and the tension between game mechanics and game narrative.

Also, assuming that by using a term people are not intelligent enough is insulting. It is possible that they are observing that division between game and story in ways that you may not have thought about, or even that this fractures are pertinent only to their experience of the game or their playstyle. I'm sure there are people using the terminology without full knowledge of it's meaning, but so far I have not really seen that as a standard, so why be insulting straight away?.

mjc0961:

Eric the Orange:
I'd be interesting in seeing some of what Jim is talking about here. 'cause the only one I can think of is the EC episode, and there reasoning wasn't just "violence".

Link to the episode for those interested.

http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/in-service-to-the-brand

Doesn't surprise me at all that Extra Credits was wrong. Did they talk about how Gears of War is a first person shooter again too?

Well, the fact that EC made a mistake defining the genre of one game (not really a very important mistake in relation to this topic) doesn't make their reasoning about this subject wrong (that is in fact a fallacy). To be honest, EC's analysis of Bioshock is rather clear, coherent, logical and correct(I will not say it's true, because they make a few subjective observations, but it makes a lot of sense). In any case, you shouldn't dismiss it so quickly without even trying to understand it's explanation. And no, it isn't solely based about the violence.

uanime5:
I'd say both Bioshock Infinite and Last of Us do have ludonarrative dissonance because the story is trying to tell use how great/moral/right/sympathetic the protagonist is but during the game the protagonist keeps killing everyone who opposed them, rather than try to resolve their problems in any other way. As long as the gameplay only allows the player to act as a mass murderer a narrative that shows this character acting any other way has a high chance of exhibiting ludonarrative dissonance.

Except they don't...

Maybe slightly in the case of Booker, since although he is a desperate, tough war veteran with a shady past, he seems to be troubled about it, and wants to correct his wrongs. So I'll grant you that he does seem like a good guy that has done wrong, so there is some dissonance with his endless killing.

But Joel!?

Don't you just love it when people use terminology that that they don't understand the meaning of and instead just use to sound sophisticated when all they're really saying is "Stop liking what I don't like."

Twenty Ninjas:
It'd be useful if Jim actually gave examples of the people who used the words so vile and repugnant as to make him yell at them over the internet. Because at this point I don't know if there actually are people (who are meant to be taken seriously) that say such things or if Jim is just misinterpreting justified criticism.

Indeed. It seems to me that most people here are on the same page about discussing certain games having problems with exactly how violence is portrayed, while still being grievously outraged against this illusive mob of "those people out there" who are supposedly shouting "ludonarrative dissonance" without any proper context.

I just started playing Tomb Raider a couple days ago, and I noticed this discontinuity myself. I'm seeing Lara being afraid and traumatised, yet somehow she's able to pick up a bow and arrow, or a pistol and simply kill mooks with ease. Even the Heavies with riot shields are no match for her. I'm starting to think she's play-acting all the innocence and was actually trained by ninjas or something.

Well look there's my new phrase for the week.

My question is, are the people you say are using the phrase incorrectly actually annoyed because they feel the violence level of the game doesn't match up with the narrative's depiction of the games protagonists? Or are they just annoyed the narrative is shallow and ineffective, and usually at a lesser literary level than of that of an old 1980s "action film"?

Amazing show this week.

I have to still disagree about Infinite, as the combat in it highly does break with the narrative. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be violence, but the way it is done is that this city, which is supposed to be some upright moral haven, is loaded with soldiers and warriors and weapons a plenty, basically prepared to murder anyone within the city that they damn well please with a lead sandwich. While I am willing to accept this part on the grounds that it is Columbia's sole purpose to basically set the world aflame and destroy modern society, so of course they need trained soldiers and killers and weapons a plenty. If that is also so, then how is one man, who participated in all of one battle in his whole life, that was more of a massacre than an actual battle, is capable of mowing down this army that was capable of destroying entire cities, which we were even shown at something being possible. The story itself is about a man, who is all human. He shouldn't be this juggernaut capable of downing armed and trained masses. That makes no sense.

Along with that, the Vigors were just shoehorned into the game because "Bioshock needs super powers" which is horse shit because I never even used them. And also, the rummaging around trash cans in a city that hasn't been completely destroyed is also immersion breaking. Them having random places to buy guns and ammo and upgrades also makes little sense, as how many people in the city actually owned a damn weapon? Besides the police and such, only you and the rebels had guns, and even the rebels were supplied elsewhere, so in no way do those shops make sense in the game.

There is a lot wrong with the Infinite gameplay. There being loads of violence is not what is wrong with it, but gameplay wise and even still combat wise there is still plenty wrong.

As with The Last of Us; Joel's combat mode including loads of violence makes sense, as Joel was shown to be inherently a violent and even a pretty bad person. Sympathetic, sure, but he is not a good guy by any stretch of the word. Ellie, on the other hand (which is where most people point their disdain towards) only ever is forced to kill one person. Throughout the sections that you play with her, it is entirely the player's choice as to if Ellie performs any acts of violence, not Ellie's. The player can easily choose to use stealth, something the game even at plenty of times says you can and should use. Stealth is a massive part of the game, meaning Ellie is never put to the point to where she actually, canonically speaking, kills anyone, except that one point in the game, which was meant to be her turning point. It was a moment that made sense.

Racecarlock:

Jimothy Sterling:
Lugoscababib Discobiscuits

This week, Jim loads his gun and shoots holes in the argument that certain games suffer from ludonarrative dissonance, just because they're violent.

Watch Video

Oh man, speaking of people automatically dismissing violence, have you read greg tito's GTA V review? Oh yeah, how dare a GTA game be violent.

I just read that and...really couldn't quite believe it. I have to wonder if Greg has ever played a GTA game before? It's a series based on jumping into cars, mowing down pedestrians on the sidewalk before picking up a hooker, screwing her in a back alley, then beating her with a baseball bat to get your money back once you're finished. In other words: GTA is a series based on over-the-top violence. I get the feeling that Greg's the type of player that always drives on the road and stops for every stoplight when he plays GTA.

Oh, and Jim....that really is a damn fine suit you've got there.

Legion:
It's also quite frequently a case of people picking up the word but not actually comprehending the specific meaning of it. The mainstream media keeps referring to "internet trolls" in their articles when the people they are describing are not trolls at all. They seem to have mistaken the fact that being nasty to somebody online is not the meaning of trolling, it just happens to often coincide with it, yet most articles referring to trolling simply use it as another term of bullying, harassing or threatening.

How true. It is agonising to listen to teachers and counsellors speak publically, using troll as though it were synonymous with bully.

What of the people who understand and can use terms like ludonarrative dissonance? Is this (arguably contrived) language worth keeping, given that it is so often misused?

Luuudooo... Luuuudo frieeend~

Oh noes, TEH VIOLENCES! Almost as bad as TEH SEXIES!

Next time, do an episode that 1: isn't about gender issues, 2: isn't about publishers, and 3: doesn't rip off a MovieBob episode.

Edit: Okay to be fair, it does come out with a KIND OF different point at the end.

C2Ultima:
I disagree slightly about Bioshock: Infinite. The reason the violence feels off is because a good chunk of the game is devoted to exploring the conflict between the Founders and the Vox Populi, with the conclusion Booker and Elizabeth come to being "Both of these guys are horrible and violent, and they're both in the wrong." Implying Booker and Elizabeth are in the right, even though Booker kills more people than any of them.

Wrong. It's only stated by the sides themselves that they're in the right, (big surprise) but both Booker and both sides actions throughout the game makes it quite clear that BOTH the Founders and the Vox are bad, and that it wouldn't really be much better for either to be in charge instead of the other. Also, neither Booker or Elizabeth are under any illusions that what they have done prior during the game is good, quite the opposite in fact, especially Booker.

Okay. I love how you don't even try to pronounce that word throughout the video. Every time you did, I chuckled.

I can't say that there are too many games where I find there to be something in the gameplay that just makes me stop and question what's going on. And even when something does make me scratch my head, if the game is fun, I don't usually let it bother me or ruin the game.

It would have to be pretty big to ruin a game for me. And I can't think of anything like that off the top of my head.

Silentpony:
Also did this week's episode seem shorter than normal? It just feels like it was over really quickly.

I know. I miss Jim, too.

While I find this episode interesting for many reasons (which I won't list) one of them stood out to me, from a purely technically-critical stand point.

As Jim pointed out himself in the beginning of this clip, this is one of the first episodes he's done in a while that don't touch upon his two or three most prominent topics. This 'phenomenon' presents itself in a very interesting manner.

I can't be the only one who noticed the rushed pace of this episode's narration, right? This points to a very particular trait, that many performers (narrators, actors, voice-actors, etc.) share amongst each other, and that is that often actors (of any creed) when given a text of slightly harder linguistic quality; or a text they don't particularly find interesting or engaging and/or a text that is either fresh or alien/foreign to them, these same actors tend to skim through the text and fail to work with the language in it.

Now, maybe the quick pace was intended or was accidental (perhaps he was in a hurry, I don't know?), however, given the fact that Jim is an excellent narrator, who often uses the language of any text presented to him, to such a great extent, I've often gasped with surprise at it's unique usage, and how he tends to put particular emphasis on words; how he plays around with them and infuses them with various, often quickly-interchanging actions/tactics (emotions and feelings, intentions, etc.), here he downplays that talent of his, and though the reason may not be clear, I do suspect it may be the fact that he's distanced himself from his established comfort zone (vis-a-vis the aforementioned topics, he sarcastically detailed in his opening).

This requires further observation, but if true, serves to highlight how deeply he cares about his most frequently discussed topics (if that weren't already evidenced by his frequent discussion of said topics).

OT: Good show, though, as always your thoughts aren't further away from my own.

Jim, you so sassy. Love it.

immortalfrieza:

C2Ultima:
I disagree slightly about Bioshock: Infinite. The reason the violence feels off is because a good chunk of the game is devoted to exploring the conflict between the Founders and the Vox Populi, with the conclusion Booker and Elizabeth come to being "Both of these guys are horrible and violent, and they're both in the wrong." Implying Booker and Elizabeth are in the right, even though Booker kills more people than any of them.

Wrong. It's only stated by the sides themselves that they're in the right, (big surprise) but both Booker and both sides actions throughout the game makes it quite clear that BOTH the Founders and the Vox are bad, and that it wouldn't really be much better for either to be in charge instead of the other. Also, neither Booker or Elizabeth are under any illusions that what they have done prior during the game is good, quite the opposite in fact, especially Booker.

I never said that the Vox or Founders were in the right (though I would argue that the Vox hardly ever seem to be "just as bad" as the Founders). It's just that Booker is also a killer, but the game still presents him as the hero, and in the right for his deeds in Columbia. The deeds he comes to regret are past actions that occur before the game, not during the story in Columbia. The game is very nonchalant about him killing tons of cops during the course of the story, and the gruesome nature of the fights combined with the sheer number of battles there are just became a little distancing for me in the end.

NWJ94:
Interesting. While I don't disagree with your point about Bioshock, I would add though that while I personally loved Infinite (even more than the Last of Us) I was irritated somewhat at the pacing of the violence. Something more akin to the Last of Us, long periods of calm followed by short bursts of intense violence would have done a better job conveying Bookers dark nature and reinforcing the violent tone of the game by never letting us get inured to it. The beginning of the game did this perfectly, a long walk through the peaceful city, followed by a short burst of intense violence/blood at the raffle which kicks you into the mind set the game was going for.

Later when you're just mowing down waves of police officers it starts to lose its sense of weight and turns them more into generic game obstacles. The violence didn't undermine what the game was going for, but it could have presented in way that helped to reinforce it better. I would guess that was probably what many reviewers were going for. (BTW I'm heavily paraphrasing Extra Credits here, their episode "In service to the brand" did a better job explaining it then I probably did)

Overall great episode, nice to have something to look forward to on Mondays.

People seem to think that every game, book, or movie with a "message" has to be either against or for its subject matter. I think that this is an injustice. Why can't the game's message be a simple statement? This is the same complaint many have had with the game Spec Ops: the Line. People said that for a game that seems to hate guns and violence they do seem to celebrate it too much. I believe that this is a completely wrong way to look at narrative.

Bioshock Infibleh's main protagonist Booker DeWitt, [spoilers] is revealed to have had a violent past: he murdered a lot of people (Native Americans) at the battled of Wounded Knee. Seeking some sort of forgiveness he tried to redeem himself in the cleansing waters of Baptism, only to realize that water wouldn't wash away his dirty deeds. Much Later in the game we learn that [mega spoilers] Comstock is really Booker DeWitt from a universe where he went forward with his baptism, accepting the forgiveness that Christianity has given, then takes it to the extreme and uses it justification for any horrifying acts he commits.

So what do we perceive from this? We know that Booker and Comstock are the same person, ergo they have the same personality flaws and traits. Both of these men justify their actions in different but similar ways. Both of these men sought forgiveness for their sins, Booker's forgiveness being personified in Elizabeth. There is a phrase that comes up continually in Bioshock Skynet, "Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt." This is how Booker justifies his murderous ways. Booker and Comstock are the same.

"Will the Circle be Unbroken" is a song that gets played in the introduction to the City of Columbia, once during a small cut-scene in the back of bar during the beginning of an uprising, and once in the credits. But what is "the Circle" that the songs preludes to? I think that "the Circle" is the cycle of violence that seems intent on repeating itself; violence begetting violence. Elizabeth acts as a sort of conscience for Booker, but she is also innocent and only knows right and wrong from the stories she's read. This is why she helps Booker when she sees the oppression Comstock created. Only when the cypher is destroyed does she become all-knowing and powerful. This is how she figured out the only way to end this cycle of violence was to kill Booker.

So the way I interpret the narrative of Bioshock Infinite is that it's more of a statement of events rather than a condemning of morals. The writers are trying to say that the cycle of humanity is violence, and the only way we could possibly end this cycle is with our own death. Comstock says, "One man goes into the waters of baptism, a different man comes out, born again. But who is that man who lies submerged? Perhaps that swimmer is both sinner and saint, until he is revealed unto the eyes of man." So the way the game interprets this is that baptism is the cycle of life being born of death, and the only way to stop this cycle is to not be born again. Anyway, that's my interpretation.

I'm glad to hear I wasn't the only one who thought the eating out of bins was weird in infinite.

I actually started referring to the game as "the adventures of super tramp" as you essentially play as a magic tramp who powers his abilities by eating and drinking discarded sandwiches and beer.

Ludonarrative dissonance, huh? I typically just use the TV Tropes terminology of "story and gameplay segregation". Shame to see people misusing it, like they misuse so many other words... Like Autism for example.

Bad Jim:

m19:
Good episode.

However I never saw that problem with Tomb Raider either, at least not as much as people seem to. It's a story of a girl who's trained both physically and to use weapons by an ex-special forces dude (you'll miss it if you don't pay attention). And the whole premise of the character arc is that she doesn't know herself. Hence after the first "that just happened" freakout, she shocks herself with what she can't do, "It's scary just how easy it was."

Yes the combat is exaggerated like in much of gaming but it is not completely at odds with the narrative or glossed over.

I bought that in the Steam sale and have been playing it over the weekend. I did hear a quip about her having to do a lot of hikes. But I didn't hear anything specific about weapons training.

I figured she was taught the skills relevant to archeology. Long hikes. Living in remote, harsh environments. Maybe learning how to use a gun to keep unwanted wildlife away. But not how to kill dozens of mercs. Not how to use a bow either, that takes years of effort for no forseeable purpose.

I don't know about gun use, but it is stated in the game that Lara was on the archery team in her college or something of that sort. It was stated quite early in the game I believe, so it might be easy to forget.

Cheers to you for referencing a Bosch painting.

I've never heard this argument used before, and I think I'm glad I haven't. It sounds like the type of thing that would get woefully misused.

And I'm glad I wasn't the only one put off a little by Booker eating absolutely everything.

I get the feeling this video was directed at the Escapist community. We like to use "ludonarrative dissonance" like it's going out of style.

C2Ultima:

I never said that the Vox or Founders were in the right (though I would argue that the Vox hardly ever seem to be "just as bad" as the Founders). It's just that Booker is also a killer, but the game still presents him as the hero, and in the right for his deeds in Columbia. The deeds he comes to regret are past actions that occur before the game, not during the story in Columbia. The game is very nonchalant about him killing tons of cops during the course of the story, and the gruesome nature of the fights combined with the sheer number of battles there are just became a little distancing for me in the end.

What are you talking about? Booker spends half the game brooding about how horrible a person he is and how the killing he's doing isn't good but he doesn't have any other choice. At no point does ANYONE act like Booker is any sort of hero except the Vox, and they just do that to use him as propaganda as a martyr.

The Vox make it plain that they're no better than the Founders by being complete psychopaths killing anyone who isn't them, including civilians, something Booker can also do but that does not impact the story or dialog because it's the choice of the player to do that. No side, not Booker and Elizabeth, not the Founders, not the Vox is ever presented as in the right for their actions in the game, the lesser of the three evils at the most.

Somebody has to do it:

Ludo! Call the Rocks!

RJ 17:

Racecarlock:

Jimothy Sterling:
Lugoscababib Discobiscuits

This week, Jim loads his gun and shoots holes in the argument that certain games suffer from ludonarrative dissonance, just because they're violent.

Watch Video

Oh man, speaking of people automatically dismissing violence, have you read greg tito's GTA V review? Oh yeah, how dare a GTA game be violent.

I just read that and...really couldn't quite believe it. I have to wonder if Greg has ever played a GTA game before? It's a series based on jumping into cars, mowing down pedestrians on the sidewalk before picking up a hooker, screwing her in a back alley, then beating her with a baseball bat to get your money back once you're finished. In other words: GTA is a series based on over-the-top violence. I get the feeling that Greg's the type of player that always drives on the road and stops for every stoplight when he plays GTA.

Oh, and Jim....that really is a damn fine suit you've got there.

Er...he wasn't complaining about the violence itself, he was complaining about the narrative and the characters being unlikeable dicks. Yeah, the series has always been about violence, but at the very least the characters back then had some positives about them that kinda sorta gave them some appeal. Now you're playing as violent, unlikeable dicks that are violent and unlikeable dicks for the sake of being violent unlikeable dicks.

Now, you may say, that's the hallmark of the crime genre Grand Theft Auto spawned, at least in videogames. But some of the events and missions of Grand Theft Auto V feel more malicious and, well, evil, than the comparatively light-hearted violence of most games, the recent Saints Row 4 being a perfect example. What's missing in GTA V's story is a sense that the characters have been painted into a corner by various machinations beyond their control, like Niko Bellic of GTA IV, or must commit their crimes to mete out justice, as Tommy Vercetti does in Vice City. The three main characters of GTAV do terrible things merely to get paid, and deserve no sympathy. There's no drive in them even to be the best at what they do, the last American value we afford criminals, but rather they commit these crimes with no lifeline thrown to the audience to pull us along in supporting them.

Whaaaaa? An episode not about gender- or developing-stuff, is that a thing now? Beware, you might offend your long term-fans by presenting new topics ;).
Sarcasm aside, good episode.

However, while i agree with your point in general, that sometimes words can be used falsly (ew, shit happens to me all the time, but often i'm able to clarify rather soon), i disagree with some specific points, mainly regarding the dicsussion about Infinite.
In particular, the dissonance of Booker "scavanging" garbage from the streets of Columbia was often mentioned by many in those discussions, but most of the time seen as a minor gameplay issue compared to what i saw as actually critisized about the combat in Infinite.
As i see it, at least the critisism of most gamers was neither the quality of violance presented - at least not for me, on the contrary, i was positively impressed how the game managed to present the cruelty throughout the course of the game, starting with the decent placement of the dead person in the lighthouse, over the first actual "action sequence" at the raffle, in a way getting more intense throughout the game - and i'd say, nor with the "quantity" as such, but more how shallow and "stupid" it is implemented in the game, mostly resulting in predictable and repetitive encounters, which, pared with the quantity, become increasingly tedious.
And that comes along with some other issues, already mentioned all over the Escapist-Forums.
And in the discissions i had about the topic, i neither used, nor read the term of legowhiskers dribbleboosters - at least not until now, but sad truth, i'm not able to keep track of every game-related discussion to begin with.

Buuuuuut, as i would never dare to question or even speak against you, once more i bow and call "amen" to your presentation and thank god for you, Jim :).

Huh, I wasn't even aware that misuse was happening... guess it never goes out of style for people to misuse fancy terminology.

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