Collective Guilt and Beauty in Games

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Collective Guilt and Beauty in Games

Apparently, Yahtzee doesn't appreciate the beauty in games. About that ...

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Bringing up that Final Fantasy was probably one of the best pieces of evidence to bring up to your point, seeing as so many people have reacted negatively to the XIIIs. I think putting effort into making your environment look nice is a noble thing (see Dark Souls, Rayman Origins/Legends and Dust: An Elysian Trail), but I suppose looking attractive doesn't make beauty when the rest of it doesn't hold together. Luckily Rayman Orgins/Legends holds up as beautiful in my eyes then.

Didn't you give Crysis a sort of pass because it was good to look at and the gameplay wasn't THAT bad? It was years ago, though.

ImBigBob:
Didn't you give Crysis a sort of pass because it was good to look at and the gameplay wasn't THAT bad? It was years ago, though.

I don't recall his Crysis review giving much weight to how good it looks. I remember the usual clunky controls and story complaints. I often find that his complimenting a game's looks is just so that he can say SOMETHING good about it. What was the review where he was complimenting the way the game's fire looked? Something about leaning too close and getting your eyebrows singed? Prince of Persia got the obligatory "looks pretty good" comment as well I think.

I wonder what he'd think of Contrast. A hastily scraped together glitch ridden awkward plod that is average at best when it comes to looks, but man did I love the story and the puzzles.

I wouldn't have gone with the beauty angle. I'd have gone with the "Yahtzee never likes JRPGs" angle.

a mere papier-mache construction over the top of a noisy Russian tank that rattles and stop-starts as it trundles across the rocky ground, shooting trained bees from its cannons that fly up your earholes and scrape the little bones with sewing needles.

Now there's a back-of-the-box quote if I ever I saw one.

I think for me, the biggest take away from Yahtzee's article was that insidious truth that when people question your ability to perceive beauty, they are really question your opposition to their standards of beauty. It's something I have though for a long time, but I haven't articulated that well. I've always led my opinions with the caveat that they are, as a point of fact, just my opinions and yet people still tend to assume I'm making objective truth statements.

I really don't like androgynous anime and videogames. It grates on my aesthetic. But that's not to say that people can't find it beautiful. They are not wrong, I am not right. It's a matter of taste. I too find value in function over form. That's why I build my own PCs and would not buy a Mac. I like getting the right part at the right price and knowing how my computer fits together harmoniously. Macs are pretty no doubt and I don't fault people for liking their beauty, but they value form over function. I can and do get more for less when I make my own.

It's very easy to fall into the trap and label me as anti-JRPG and anti-Mac. The truth is, they just do nothing for me: they don't speak to me. I am glad that they speak to other people, and hope that they continue to do so.

In a larger sense, I've had to struggle with this type of disconnect my whole adult life in having to explain to well-meaning extroverts why I just don't like to do the same things they do, at least not as often as they do it. Their perception of life and how to enjoy it contradicts my own. I can't see the "beauty" of a large party full of strangers or a night out pub crawling, so their response is, "you're wrong" or "how can you not enjoy x". I never force my beauty on them and say "How can you not enjoy an evening with a good book?" or "Why don't you have the patience to play this board game?" Time and time again, I see extroverts attempt to force their mores on introverts and never the reciprocal, but perhaps that's just my perception.

I suppose even in the introverted world of videogames, there are still aesthetic "extroverts" uncomfortable with those of us who choose to see the beauty in our games differently.

Silk_Sk:
What was the review where he was complimenting the way the game's fire looked? Something about leaning too close and getting your eyebrows singed?

That was Alone in the Dark, a game that he absolutely savaged on pretty much every other point.

And as for Crysis, Yahtzee highlighted my favorite aspect of the gameplay, the open-endedness of the various combat areas. I always enjoy a game that just tosses you in a good varied arena and tells you to solve the problem however you like.

Yahtzee specifically mentioned the Spaceship area in Crysis as wowing him enough visually that it managed to hush the parts of his mind criticizing the poor level design. (specifically between 1:19 and 1:45. Yes I did look that up just now.)

Oh, and everyone bringing up the Crysis review has just made Yahtzee feel old.

Yahtzee when he was still in his twenties:

Crysis is so pretty that if it were it an inmate in a male prison it would be the bitch of every motherfucker in that prison before you could say "Andy Dufresne"

Whoa. A column that's only one page long. That threw me for a loop. I kept looking for the next-page button, wondering if they'd moved it again.

Thanatos2k:
I wouldn't have gone with the beauty angle. I'd have gone with the "Yahtzee never likes JRPGs" angle.

Except for Earthbound, the first few Paper Mario games. Even Final Fantasy VI.

I think you may be onto something with the idea of games that deliberately eliminate sexuality being given undue praise. I remember seeing reviews of Tomb Raider when it came out calling the game feminist just for having its protagonist not dressed in fetish gear. I think overall though it's less of a symptom of general fear of sexuality (although that is present, given that these games are usually made in the states after all), but a desire to oppose what are considered immature elements of gaming culture such as ridiculous oversexualisation of women (I personally see no similar counterpart with men, muscles like watermelons are the stuff of power fantasies, not sexual ones) in an attempt to present themselves as mature and artistic.

Really interesting piece, especially when you talked about what makes a game beautiful. I can appreciate enjoying the beauty of mechanics over style when it comes to video games since that is a big part of what makes the medium special.

I guess that just makes me superficial since I'm a huge sucker for unique art style in games. I mean I will actually go out of my way to buy a game that has a pretty aesthetic; Bastion, Limbo, Journey, Puppeteer, Broken Age, Dust: An Elysian Tale, Fez, Shadow of the colossus, the recent Rayman games, and yes even Child of Light were all impulse purchases.
Heck, my favorite game is Okami and that certainly had its fair share of issues in both the gameplay and story.

Mahoshonen:

Thanatos2k:
I wouldn't have gone with the beauty angle. I'd have gone with the "Yahtzee never likes JRPGs" angle.

Except for Earthbound, the first few Paper Mario games. Even Final Fantasy VI.

Paper Mario is weird, and barely even an RPG at times. Probably explains it.

Evonisia:
Bringing up that Final Fantasy was probably one of the best pieces of evidence to bring up to your point, seeing as so many people have reacted negatively to the XIIIs. I think putting effort into making your environment look nice is a noble thing (see Dark Souls, Rayman Origins/Legends and Dust: An Elysian Trail), but I suppose looking attractive doesn't make beauty when the rest of it doesn't hold together. Luckily Rayman Orgins/Legends holds up as beautiful in my eyes then.

XIII was quite an enjoyable game, in both form and function, with a style not seen since Comix Zone.

Yahtzee is 100% correct with this whole article, but I feel it could be taken, logically, one step further. I've recently been milling about the idea that the internet puts too much weight into the opinion of individual critics, which I think is a foolish practice on the internet. There are many, many critics out there each with their own tastes. The trick then becomes not to find the most popular critic but rather find one who's tastes are similar to your own, and who communicates their experience in a way you can understand.

For a direct example: I don't watch zero punctuation for the review as such. This is because just can't agree with him on all of his perceptions and as such can't really trust weather I'll enjoy something he does. However I prefer to mine the videos for game development philosophy or insight that Yahtzee covertly shares, and, naturally, the entertainment. Though I do find that moviebob and myself are very in synch with our film tastes and what we want out of films. So I give his opinion significantly more weight than what I would to Yahtzee as to what I should spend money on.

Suffice it to say we really do need to re-evaluate the entire way in which we approach the criticism industry in this new age. we are long past relying one a single man in the national paper telling us whats hot and whats not, we can pick our critics as we do our entertainment thanks to the internet.

Antsh:

Evonisia:
Bringing up that Final Fantasy was probably one of the best pieces of evidence to bring up to your point, seeing as so many people have reacted negatively to the XIIIs. I think putting effort into making your environment look nice is a noble thing (see Dark Souls, Rayman Origins/Legends and Dust: An Elysian Trail), but I suppose looking attractive doesn't make beauty when the rest of it doesn't hold together. Luckily Rayman Orgins/Legends holds up as beautiful in my eyes then.

XIII was quite an enjoyable game, in both form and function, with a style not seen since Comix Zone.

Except that was a reference to Square-Enix's Final Fantasy XIII, not Ubisoft's XIII.

P.S. Thanks

Antsh:

Evonisia:
Bringing up that Final Fantasy was probably one of the best pieces of evidence to bring up to your point, seeing as so many people have reacted negatively to the XIIIs. I think putting effort into making your environment look nice is a noble thing (see Dark Souls, Rayman Origins/Legends and Dust: An Elysian Trail), but I suppose looking attractive doesn't make beauty when the rest of it doesn't hold together. Luckily Rayman Orgins/Legends holds up as beautiful in my eyes then.

XIII was quite an enjoyable game, in both form and function, with a style not seen since Comix Zone.

I believe he was referring to Final Fantasy XIII (hence XIIIs because there was more than one), which was very pretty and complete crap in both gameplay and story. XIII on the other hand, was pretty awesome.

Thanatos2k:

Mahoshonen:

Thanatos2k:
I wouldn't have gone with the beauty angle. I'd have gone with the "Yahtzee never likes JRPGs" angle.

Except for Earthbound, the first few Paper Mario games. Even Final Fantasy VI.

Paper Mario is weird, and barely even an RPG at times. Probably explains it.

Yahtzee said he stopped playing by the time FF VII rolled around, when they flipped the switch from "Substance" to "Style", then broke it.

Darth_Payn:

Thanatos2k:

Mahoshonen:

Except for Earthbound, the first few Paper Mario games. Even Final Fantasy VI.

Paper Mario is weird, and barely even an RPG at times. Probably explains it.

Yahtzee said he stopped playing by the time FF VII rolled around, when they flipped the switch from "Substance" to "Style", then broke it.

Who is they? There ARE other JRPGs besides Final Fantasy.

Thanatos2k:

Darth_Payn:

Thanatos2k:

Paper Mario is weird, and barely even an RPG at times. Probably explains it.

Yahtzee said he stopped playing by the time FF VII rolled around, when they flipped the switch from "Substance" to "Style", then broke it.

Who is they? There ARE other JRPGs besides Final Fantasy.

"they" = "Squaresoft", now Square-Enix, then just about every other Japanese game dev that makes RPG's following suit.

It's all fun and games until TEH YAHTZ burns something that YOU, personally, were emotionally invested in.

All is fair in love and war and game reviews.

What stuck with me about the editorial was the comment that there were places Yahtzee had been that he found beautiful, but that he didn't think he got more out of it than he would have from sticking a picture of the scene close to his face.

It's funny; there are places that have been like that for me. I remember being underwhelmed by the Grand Canyon when I was a kid (I might feel differently, now.) I spent a week in Utah's national parks in my twenties, and by the end of the week I just wanted to scream, "Yes, it's another big freaking rock, now can we go someplace cool and shady and drink margaritas?!"

But I also remember feeling a sort of awe at Joshua Tree National park. And I remember thinking that the Eifel Tower was just another big man-made structure, smaller than many modern skyscrapers, and what was the big deal... And then standing underneath its legs, looking up, and feeling dizzy with appreciation.

I suppose I want to say a utilitarian view of beauty might just not have found a particular instance where beauty was worth it for beauty's sake. But I honestly don't know it that's true. Yahtzee's view of, understanding of, and appreciation of beauty might just be very different from mine, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that.

In video games, there's beauty that draws you in- a quality I've heard more than once ascribed to Dark Souls- and then there's beauty that just makes for pretty screen shots or feeds certain game makers' secret wishes that they were actually working in cinema rather than video games. I can certainly appreciate a utilitarian view of beauty in video games, especially now as bullshots and resolution actually seem increasingly in conflict with function, both in terms of the amount of system resources devoted to each and the amount of developer time spent on each.

Well said Ben.

Hey, first timer here, where would I go if I wanted discuss Yahtzee's opinions on stuff outside of games, like The Avengers (which was written by Joss Whedon)?

Just finding my way around this area right now.

Steve the Pocket:
Whoa. A column that's only one page long. That threw me for a loop. I kept looking for the next-page button, wondering if they'd moved it again.

i did the same thing. in fact, i only scoured the comments to find someone else to confirm it was only a single page long. i feel like page two is missing. where is the "british born, currently australian based hat" blurb? i thought my browser was up to some shenanigans.

Adam_Sherman:
Hey, first timer here, where would I go if I wanted discuss Yahtzee's opinions on stuff outside of games, like The Avengers (which was written by Joss Whedon)?

Just finding my way around this area right now.

non-gaming yahtzee forum topics go in the political and religious sub-section. that's where all the Yahtzafarians hang out.

Gorgeous last paragraph.

Also, Thomas Was Alone looks gorgeous and is a pretty good game in many aspects/dimensions. Of course, "looking gorgeous" is here taken slightly out of the meaning it received in the article...

I actually played through Child of Light together with my girlfriend last week (I knew she would like to control the little flying ball of light as she usually doesn't like to play games unless her control of the game is very minimal, but she usually likes to just watch me play). As soon as the game was done we both erupted in a series of complaints we both had apparently been holding back during the time we played the game. These were some of the complaints:

The dialogue was not very good and often did not rhyme at all.
The story was pretty boring.
For an incredibly short RPG that would only let you use two characters at a time, it introduced more playable characters than most 100+ hour RPG's do. I dont know the exact number but I'm pretty certain it had more playable characters than any Final Fantasy-game.
The battles were quite frankly not very fun.

All in all we agreed that it was a nice-enough game that got many things wrong but due to it being very short it didn't really outstay its welcome.

Darth_Payn:

Thanatos2k:

Darth_Payn:

Yahtzee said he stopped playing by the time FF VII rolled around, when they flipped the switch from "Substance" to "Style", then broke it.

Who is they? There ARE other JRPGs besides Final Fantasy.

"they" = "Squaresoft", now Square-Enix, then just about every other Japanese game dev that makes RPG's following suit.

Not sure what you're talking about. The PS1/PS2 era was the golden age for quality JRPGs.

martyrdrebel27:

Adam_Sherman:
Hey, first timer here, where would I go if I wanted discuss Yahtzee's opinions on stuff outside of games, like The Avengers (which was written by Joss Whedon)?

Just finding my way around this area right now.

non-gaming yahtzee forum topics go in the political and religious sub-section. that's where all the Yahtzafarians hang out.

Thank you!

I think this topic will have a continuation after he reviews Transistor ...
at least that's what I hope so ...

Story:
Really interesting piece, especially when you talked about what makes a game beautiful. I can appreciate enjoying the beauty of mechanics over style when it comes to video games since that is a big part of what makes the medium special.

I guess that just makes me superficial since I'm a huge sucker for unique art style in games. I mean I will actually go out of my way to buy a game that has a pretty ecstatic, Bastion, Limbo, Journey, Puppeteer, Broken Age, Dust: An Elysian Tale, Fez, Shadow of the colossus, the recent Rayman games, and yes even Child of Light were all impulse purchases.
Heck, my favorite game is Okami and that certainly had its fair share of issues in both the gameplay and story.

In that case, you'd better watch you wallet the next time you stumble across a Vanillaware game.

Zombie Badger:
I think you may be onto something with the idea of games that deliberately eliminate sexuality being given undue praise. I remember seeing reviews of Tomb Raider when it came out calling the game feminist just for having its protagonist not dressed in fetish gear. I think overall though it's less of a symptom of general fear of sexuality (although that is present, given that these games are usually made in the states after all), but a desire to oppose what are considered immature elements of gaming culture such as ridiculous oversexualisation of women (I personally see no similar counterpart with men, muscles like watermelons are the stuff of power fantasies, not sexual ones) in an attempt to present themselves as mature and artistic.

It's counterproductive to present this argument in such narrow terms. The larger problem with Tomb Raider has never been Lara Croft's breast size or leering camera angles - it's that the gameplay is inventory management, acrobatics, and gunplay. The GAMEPLAY isn't emotionally mature. There's no relationships besides occasionally shallow ones that fuel the plot. There's no real meaning between the characters or deep characterization of Croft or anyone else in the games. That's why when games are made where some effort is put into the characters, like the Walking Dead series, they seem to have come from Neptune.

The entire gaming culture, from developers to gamers, constantly fail to discuss important issues, focusing far too much on body proportions or the precise degree of worn clothing. Gameplay itself is almost never discussed as the problem.

In real life sexuality and body proportions or degree of worn clothing are completely separate. All humans, regardless of details of clothing and physique, are sexual. A game isn't sexual because it depicts women with tight or scant clothing - that makes the game sleazy. A truly sexual game respects it's characters and treats their sexuality as real people would have themselves treated if they were made into video game characters.

sageoftruth:

Story:
Snippy

In that case, you'd better watch you wallet the next time you stumble across a Vanillaware game.

Too true, though I've managed to avoid them so far because I don't own a Vita or a PS3. I'm currently in the same dilemma with Transistor, which makes me cry.

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