Journalist Tells Industry To Grow Up

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Oh come on, Oneechanbara is a B-movie game just like Earth Defense Force, complaining that those lack artistic merit is like complaining that a lorry doesn't outrun a Formula 1 car.

Pointing at Citizen Kane will trigger the wrong associations. Too many people think games must become high art or like movies, the problem is that the game medium is not the movie medium and should not be treated as such. A game is not about introspection or cultural experiences, it's first and foremost about providing the player with an enjoyable interactive experience. Your average person won't even know about stuff like Ico or Rez, much less care. What matters is what Shamus said, games more people want to PLAY. Only by playing can they experience what videogames really are, obviously an interactive medium won't be conveyed to someone who doesn't interact with it. Talking about introspection and other story related stuff makes people think they need to stuff even more story into a medium that is not suitable for conventional storytelling. The game medium is defined by its interactivity, not by its ability to glue conventional media to it that elevate it to art in the moments between repetitive monster bashing. As such I posit that Tetris is closer to art than Metal Gear Solid.

Besides, aren't we seeing gaming grow up with games that aren't about space marines and whatnot but about fitness or dogs or whatever? They are certainly reaching people the core games didn't and I don't think that that's only because of the subject matter. If you made Final Fantasy to have fitness exercises in its cutscenes instead of a C grade anime story you'd still not reach these people. A game is and will always be first and foremost a GAME. Its interactivity is its primary purpose and the thing that defines it. For games to "grow up" they have to adjust their interactivity to be grown up, not their graphics or story. And it seems that at the moment that consists of going back to the arcade ideals of gaming.

zifnabxar:
You could argue that the switch from those genres has started with casual games, but the crossover isn't that major and the more mainstream games are still dominated by the "guy games."

"More mainstream"? Last I checked the "casual" gamers ARE the mainstream.

Kazturkey:
I think she should shut up and not play games with scantily clad women and alien killing if she doesn't like them

She's talking about the perception other people have of gaming, she can't just decide what games they should be exposed to.

That was very courageous of that journalist to say that about a bunch of people who arent going to do more than tell him to go screw himself. Its kind of like how Bill O'Reilly applauds himself for courageously someone who couldnt possibly be able to do anything about his $10m a year contract to piss off.

I believe that it is somewhat unreasonable to expect mature, intellectual content from a game (a contraption designed for the amusement and entertainment of all).

I have had a good time with deep and complex games and films but I've also had good times with films and games that can only be described as 'mindless fun'.

Just because it isn't reeking of 'brainy fellas only' doesn't mean it's somewhat lower or unworthy as entertainment.

Gears is still a franchise that's primarily about big guns blasting big monsters.

I see her point but it would've been a much more valid argument 5-10 years ago. With the wii we've seen quite a few games that don't OD on testosterone. But even before the Wii we still had the Sims (a living, customizable dollhouse), Puzzle games, and things like Katamari which appeal to a wide range of people.

Sure, most of the big budget titles are manly BFG games but we may see that changing now.

However, you have to look at the history of all games; most of the big ones over the eons have been about fighting/hunting: chess, darts, tiddly winks... okay maybe not tiddly winks... maybe.

What Ms. Chaplin is glossing over in her comparison between games in movies is that before there was Citizen Kane there was Birth of a Nation, the first feature-length film, IIRC, and one of the first to put a real story up on the screen. Pity that it's also a fluff piece for the KKK...

(She's also glossing over the current crop of shoot-em-up and exploitation films, as well as all the games that don't pander to the boobs-and-bombs crowd.)

-- Steve

Malygris:
Her remarks are completely invalid. Games are no less sexist or juvenile than movies, music and television, and if she wants to throw out Citizen Kane and the Beatles, I'll counter with Psychonauts and Super Mario Bros. Cherry-picking the gems isn't somehow more valid or relevant based on the sea of shit from which you pluck them.

It sounds to me like the real problem here isn't games but her obvious issues with "guy culture." I wonder how she feels about "chick culture."

Agree. I feel she has SOME legitimate complaints but now more then ever, very deep games are being made. And it's important to remember- how many movies are deep classics? Now how many "BLANK" movie!" Movies have been made? Scary Movie 1-4. Disaster Movie. Superhero Movie. Epic Fantasy Movie. I'm missing some probably. No one argue any of these were any good- Scary Movie was a light hearted lampoon at best, the rest are self perpetuating disasters of stupidity and tits.

In the end it sounds, and I hate to sound sexist, like some bitchy lady who doesn't like men. Sorry, thats what I hear.

THAT BEING SAID!

I do feel the industry needs to grow up, but not necessarily in the 'tits n guns' area (which is on the reduction as we become more and more self referential and acknolweding) but rather, in the area of breaking formula's and concepts, as well as preconcieved notions. The industry is changing in it's business models, the EA dive and subsequent shifts is hard evidence of that.

ITT: Children whine because someone insulted their passion.

FACT: She's bringing attention to the majority of games. The argument "not all games are like this" isn't a sufficient defense. It's a decent one, sure, but it doesn't change the fact that most games feature big muscular men and petite women who run and shoot in high heels. It's ridiculous. If it doesn't bother you, that's fine. RE5 featured both of these things and I still found killing zombies to be fun. But there's nothing wrong with this woman wanting more from the video game industry. Even a game like Half-Life, a game that is essentially the same from every other shooter (you kill tons of aliens), can be respected because Gordon isn't a walking tank of muscle and Alyx doesn't look like a porn star.

Keane Ng:
Back when they were around the same age, film was on the eve of Citizen Kane, and rock n' roll already had The Beatles and Bob Dylan. Well, I'd argue that 60's Dylan was as much of a stunted adolescent as Cliff Bleszinski, but that's an argument for another day.

Wait a minute..you just compared Bob Dylan with Cliffy B? No matter which way you spin that it's like comparing god to a plague-rat... just wow.

I do kind of know where you are coming from with the stunnted adolescence of Dylan's earlier work, but it actually worked in his favor.

Here is something funny about Cliffy B that I found on the Rolling Stone website:

ENEMIES SAY: "CliffyB is such a fag," posted one anonymous gamer online.

KEY QUOTE: "If I had a nickel for every time I was called a fag on the Internet, I could retire."

Anyway, back to topic:

Games really need to grow up. I don't think a certain immaturity is a problem, but the general standard of games and the content of games is so piss poor it almost hurts. Since the key audience is so young I doubt we can ever make a real meaningful progress in this department. The only thing left to hope for are the few gems that come out of the hands of Schafer and the like. Let's have some more games about human psychology and the exploration of the mind, shall we?

KDR_11k:
Its interactivity is its primary purpose and the thing that defines it. For games to "grow up" they have to adjust their interactivity to be grown up, not their graphics or story.

Good point but I would say, cause I'm that kind of guy, that story, but more precisely narrativity, in video games should grow along interactivity to provide a deeper "interactive/narrative" experience. You know, interactive storytelling with emergent and embedded narratives. And I still think video games need to find their own critical vocabulary to better themselves and give us meaningful experiences. From that, we can decide what can be considered as "art" in this medium.

Also, I use her rant (and let's not forget it was a rant panel, this tend to get exaggerated on there) to talk about the maturity of the "devoted" culture around video games (i.e. us). Escapist isn't that bad when it comes to its community's maturity level but I feel like a good percentage of the "devoted" culture is totally immature and really adolescent, in the "you're 13" sense, if you see what I mean. Here's a recent example:

Molyneux tells at his GDC panels about "creative process called "experiments" where anybody in the company can take a stab at developing a game mechanic or a piece of technology to be used in a future Lionhead game" and how one of those experiment was a tech demo, The Room, made by Mark Healey, Alex Evans and Dave Smith, 3 of the 4 guys that would go on to make Media Molecule and take the idea behind that demo to make LBP. Now, a guy on Kotaku, a site with some very good writers and contributers, come out with this story but give it a spin to make it seem like Molyneux decided that the basic idea behind LBP was not good and wasn't going to sell. You now have 46 posts, with the exception of maybe 10 or so, that are either fanboyism :"VanFinale: And that's why I prefer my PS3 to my 360. " or pure insults " Armuun: overblown windbag piece of human garbage. every freaking game he makes is a pretentious piece of shit anyway."

Honestly, it's not hard to find that level of immaturity, or even worse, everywhere around the "devoted" culture of gaming, and that is sad. Hell, I can't even count the number of people that called her a bitch on the Destructoid post about this. No really mature. You can have arguments but damn, drop the name calling....... idiots.

Though I mostly stay away from those sorts of games, I do think it's true that a large percentage of games do sort of cater to this "guy culture." Of course it's close-minded to say that all games are like that, but unfortunately those games are what a lot of people will see.

Baby Tea:
Wait a minute!
So she's saying music and movies are deep and intellectual, but games aren't?

What movies is she watching? What modern music is she listening to?
I'd say all three markets are all equally plagued with crap and 'man culture'.

Modern games like Mass Effect, Bioshock, and even Fallout 3 offer violence to be sure, but not in a 'space marine with huge muscles with a busty barely dressed broad by my side' sort of way. Especially Mass Effect, which offers some of the best character interactions I've ever seen.
Even 'old' games like Baldur's Gate, Fallout 1 and 2, System shock (Seeing a pattern here?), and, heck, even Splinter Cell offer far better stories, emotions, suspense, and thrills than 90% of the modern cinema!

And don't even get me started on a lot of modern music!

I won't deny that much of the industry is certainly in this rut, but every media industry is! It isn't unique to games, and if she's thinking it is then she really needs to take the rosey glasses off when she buys her next movie ticket or CD.

EDIT: DANG it Sewblon! Ninja'd!

Ninja'd or not, that was well said. I agree wholeheartedly. I personally avoid watching many movies because I know I will hate most of them.

My opinion:

My favorite game right now (the original Condemned) doesn't rely on what Chaplin doesn't like to see (massive guys with massive guns / stickwomen with giant breasts). Instead, it felt like playing an awesome detective movie with some supernatural elements thrown in. So while I see her point, I am nowhere near agreeing with her because most of my favorite games rely on atmosphere and good writing (Bioshock is another example, but that has been said already).

She really should play some different games if she hates the ones focused on "guy culture."

Malygris:
Her remarks are completely invalid. Games are no less sexist or juvenile than movies, music and television, and if she wants to throw out Citizen Kane and the Beatles, I'll counter with Psychonauts and Super Mario Bros. Cherry-picking the gems isn't somehow more valid or relevant based on the sea of shit from which you pluck them.

It sounds to me like the real problem here isn't games but her obvious issues with "guy culture." I wonder how she feels about "chick culture."

This is what I was going to say.

Ultimately Games are influenced by Movies, TV, comics, and all that stuff. And this isn't new. Look at just about any ancient culture and you see muscle bound male protagonists and sexy femme fatales.
Of course all that doesn't make it right. Just once I'd love to see a average looking or even homely female protagonist that saves the world in a popular game. Just not as a gimmick of course. heh

I read an article that went a bit more in depth to what she said, and agree with some of it in an odd way. A point that she seemed to dance around is that we're playing the personal issues (in game form) of the developers. Maybe we are- so what? It's fun.

Games don't need to grow up, developers do.
I'm looking at you Cliffy B.

You must admit, she has a very valid point. We can point out exceptions until the end of time, but the fact is that in the game industry, these are the overwhelming minority. For every BioShock there are ten Gears of War clones that rely solely on shock violence to sell a mediocre experience. For every Alyx we have 173 female characters running around in a bikini and thong while fighting aliens.

Yes, other forms of media do it to, but with gaming the number of "guy culture" stuff as she puts it is in a much, much higher ratio compared to the mature stuff than in most other industries. I mean, the occasional bit of fanservice is one thing, but it seems that characters like Ivy or the DOA chicks are ALL DEVELOPERS MAKE. It is pretty bad when characters like Alyx and Faith are praised primarily because they are among the only non-sexualized female characters in the whole fucking industry. Really, the sheer number of "fanservice girls" our industry has is pretty bad.

Meanwhile, games with generic or weak plots are the overwhelming vast majority of games. It is sad that games like Halo and even Gears of War 2 are regularly praised for having above average plots by reviewers. THAT says a lot about how bare-bottom the standards are for stories in this medium.

But, at the same time, I agree that games should be FUN. I love to play Gears of War even though it really is immature, juvenile, and has a terrible plot of stereotypical 'roid users killing monsters. But really, it is completely possible to have a fun game while still having a good plot. The two are too often separated.

Finally, I can't place the blame solely on developers. After all, if we didn't eat up this poorly written or mildly sexist games then developers wouldn't crank them out so much.

I think Heather Chaplin should be wearing a kinky superheroine outfit showing lot's of skin and be carrying a huge sword.

You go, girl!

Cheesebob:
I play games to escape and not have to be mature 25/8 so she can shut it

That is why they are called "GAMES" anything else is either called a "Lecture" or "Life"

So what if games have 500lb men who can take bullets to the face like I eat shreddies? So what if women are sometimes portrayed as prancing nymphetes?

That is the purpose of games, to live out fantasies or just to indulge in teabagging noobs and formost for ENJOYMENT -_-

I agree. I'm a journalist myself and I absolutely respect the bollocks it takes for her to say that. Although, at the same time I despise her for understanding the target audience of the gaming industry (which she does for all those who claim she doesn't get it...you people are stupid).

Games are supposed to be an escape from reality. You WANT to feel like you're built like 10 brick s$%thouses and are carving corridors through hordes of enemies and you WANT your female protagonists to be slim, attractive women. YES, ATTRACTIVE! I'm sorry that it doesn't truly represent 'real life'....but that's the point....IT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO.

Chaplin claims the game industry holds too much immaturity....it's not immaturity....it's just escapism.....

Lvl 64 Klutz:
I, too, agree with her to an extent. But she's only addressing certain companies. There are plenty of successful franchises that don't rely on guns+boobs=$$$. Civilization, just to name one. However, companies like Rockstar need to open an ear to a rant like that.

Rockstar don't rely on 'Guns + Boobs = $$$'. For starters, they did try and change the formula with GTA IV, and look what happens - enough bitching to fill a tanker and sink it. Not all of it unjustified, but still, alot of people seem to have just gone 'wot!?!?!11!? not like gta 3? HATEHATEHATEHAHTE'.

Anywho, I think Saints Row 2 is more 'Guns + Boobs + grossly unlikeable arsehole characters == $$$'.

Of course, Dead or Alive is 'Boobs + cat fights == $$$'

Anywho, I think she's sort of right, but she ignores the fact that their are non gun-shooty-booby games. Its like looking at TV and going 'My, there's alot of crap on TV these days - therefore, there is no good stuff at all!' ignoring, say, Heroes, or Battlestar, or any TV program you actually like.

I agree with her insofar as how sometimes it can seem embarrassing when you're talking to someone about a game and next thing you see a woman/girl either barely dressed or dressed to clearly look like some kind of super slut and particularly if the friend is a woman.

As for gunning down aliens? Hell no, suffer not the xeno to live.

KDR_11k:

zifnabxar:
You could argue that the switch from those genres has started with casual games, but the crossover isn't that major and the more mainstream games are still dominated by the "guy games."

"More mainstream"? Last I checked the "casual" gamers ARE the mainstream.

Haha, I can't argue that. Correction duly noted and agreed with

Chaos Marine:

As for gunning down aliens? Hell no, suffer not the xeno to live.

Expect the Vorigant. Cus those guys are cool!

What's wrong with manly power fantasies? It's not like there are many other ways we can still be masculine, what's wrong with pretending in a virtual world.

While she may have some valid points, and we all know the industry is originality strapped these days, like others have already said, she does seem to be taking a small part of the medium and blowing it up to apply to all of the medium. Also, she doesn't seem to explain in great detail what "guy culture" is, unless she is trying to say that "guy culture" is nothing but massive gun toting men and well endowed women in swimsuits.

Yes well, some games may be immature but every form of media has its equivelant.

I hear a woman moaning, is something else on?
Ah, swimsuits... swimsuits.

Books have their sex and unnesary violence, why should video games be different? Hell, even The Beatles did a song called "Maxwell's Silver Hammer".

Sewblon:
like The Longest Journey

I wuv you.

Lockedup:
Games are supposed to be an escape from reality. You WANT to feel like you're built like 10 brick s$%thouses and are carving corridors through hordes of enemies and you WANT your female protagonists to be slim, attractive women. YES, ATTRACTIVE! I'm sorry that it doesn't truly represent 'real life'....but that's the point....IT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO.

And that's precisely her point.

When people watch a film, it's to experience a story.
When people listen to music, it's for the emotions being portrayed.
When people play a game it's for "blam blam, boobs and guns!!!"

Of course it's not as clear cut as that, but in general the point stands.
Yeah, games could just stay as pure escapism, or they could become a fantastic art form in their own right.

TheGreenManalishi:
Am I sexist for thinking: "she's female, she probably doesn't 'get' the gaming industry?". I don't think thats my genuine attitude, but that was my knee-jerk response to seeing her name.

Yes.

And I see where she's coming from, but she's taking it to an extreme. It's certainly no way to get your point across or win friends. (Also NPR FTW :3)

I think she has some valid points. Her way of presenting them might not the best but I guess that's how you get most publicity.

Quite often I found myself wondering why every game in the spotlight seems to be about armored space marines killing aliens, other space marines or nazis in space. Yes, there are games that have depth and are mature, but they seem to have a hard time grabbing the spotlight and are quite rare anyway. When seeing a game trailer being 'mature' this can be easily translated with 'tons of blood and female characters look like melons sticked to a lamppost' these days.

So I agree that game designers should grow up and try something new, not the next space marine killing aliens or the next WW2-shooter etc. Picturing game protagonists (both male and female) in a way that they seem like normal persons might help as well.

TheGreenManalishi:
Am I sexist for thinking: "she's female, she probably doesn't 'get' the gaming industry?".

Yes, you are.

Lios:
See one-See all logic. It makes me want to beat people up. Like this person.

Apparently she's in game journalism for 8 years. I think she saw more games than bikini squad. How about you read (and think) what she's actually talking about before having the urge to beat someone? Right now you're the one with 'see one see all'-logic.

To put it as harshly and crudely as I can, This "journalist" just sounds like a fracking femnazi bitch.
Yes, there are lots of games with scantily clad women and guys with 5 lifetimes worth of steriods pumping through their systems killing hundreds of thousands of enemies. But I ask you how movies are any better or music for that matter. We are now flooded by non stop bullshit movies with the exact same thing and music has been about barely legal bitches in spandex lip syncing to someone elses music for years.
Plus alot of games have really deep engaging stories, even some that are covered in fanservice are still deep on the inside. They just add some nice visuals to draw you in first.Plant the bitch in front of Final Fantasy VII, VIII, God of War, Silent Hill, Jericho or any number of others, lots of which appear to be nothing but crap at first. Then and only then she can speak to us. Until then she can get back in the kitchen and make me a goddamn sandwich! (Last bit added because this post did not meet my hatred quota.)

Fuck this right in its ear. It's a ridiculous argument.

Games are like any other medium, there are high brow and low brow ones.

You don't see people criticising the movie busines of being in danger of dying due to the plans for another Fast and the Furious movie...

As for me, I'm in my late 20s and yes, I like to shoot the funny aliens and bad guys with my space guns and live in a state of arrested development and look at boobs. I'm sure some of the most intelligent , mature intellectuals in the world love boobs and explosions.

Isn't what she's complaining about primarily a matter of visual and interactive preference? Playing house with virtual dollies in the Sims is no more mature than mowing down hordes of aliens with polygonal action figures so it isn't a strict gameplay related gripe.
If she just wants videogames to shift towards delivery systems for sophisticated interactive stories, she could have said so without the condemnation.
I doubt that she would have the same unkind words for the perenial erotic fantasy weaving art of Romantice Noveling for both girls and women or their televised equivalents. No,' Twilight'(in whatever form)is just peachy, I'm sure.

li-ion:

TheGreenManalishi:
Am I sexist for thinking: "she's female, she probably doesn't 'get' the gaming industry?".

Yes, you are.

I argue that I'm not, but knee-jerk reaction to seeing more complaints about video game culture in the media and from a female journalist lead to that response from me. If you quoted the rest of my post, you'd make me sound like less of a misogynist. I admit that it is a sexist thing to think, but I in no way devalue her opinion as a games journalist because she's a woman.

TheGreenManalishi:
I argue that I'm not, but knee-jerk reaction to seeing more complaints about video game culture in the media and from a female journalist lead to that response from me. If you quoted the rest of my post, you'd make me sound like less of a misogynist. I admit that it is a sexist thing to think, but I in no way devalue her opinion as a games journalist because she's a woman.

That's interesting in a way.
A short check with google showed me that she is apparently a games journalist for 8 years and wrote a book about the video game industry (smartbomb, linked in the OP) which was not bashing games as far as I can tell.

So, if you would have read that a guy told the developers at GDC that they are juvenile and should grow up, would your gut reaction have been:
"he's male, he probably doesn't 'get' the gaming industry?"
No? Talking about sexism then? If you attack her arguments it's fine, if you attack her because she's a woman and might not get 'it' its sexism.

Anyway: you are not the only one bashing her for being female as far as I can tell. The word 'feminist' has also been used in a rather negative manner already. One of the best ones so far:

Anonymouse:
To put it as harshly and crudely as I can, This "journalist" just sounds like a fracking femnazi bitch. [...] Plant the bitch in front of Final Fantasy VII, [...] Until then she can get back in the kitchen and make me a goddamn sandwich!

I have to admit that made it hard for me to take your post serious, but I give it a shot:

But I ask you how movies are any better or music for that matter. We are now flooded by non stop bullshit movies with the exact same thing and music has been about barely legal bitches in spandex lip syncing to someone elses music for years.

Didn't the games industry make more money already than the movie industry? But the movie industry has beside the obvious Michael Bay-blockbuster still enough movies that don't require your brain to shut down. With games: not so much. You mention Final Fantasy VII and VIII which might ok (even though I personally never gotten into it but nevermind) but Jericho? Seriously? How does Jericho come anywhere close to the Citizen Kane of video games (exaggerating of course)?

My point is that the focus in games is rarely the story. The focus is still on gameplay, which is fine, and most developers like to mention how the graphics and sound are awesome and the gameplay is great and... oh yeah, there is also some storyline...

If you don't know it, please take a look at 'Video Games and Storytelling' by Daniel Floyd:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jdG2LHair0&feature=related

Games have the potential to be great storytelling tools but most of the times they don't live up to it. Most of the time they are outright juvenile and sexist (I mean the stereotypes about both women and men in video games). And I'm sorry but I find the manly space marine who only talks in form of one-liners not that intriguing. It would be nice to see more games with interesting story or even a message beyond 'killing aliens is cool'. When you ask me what games I played had great gameplay or enjoyable combat mechanics I can write a long list. If you ask me how many games I played had a really good storyline that sucked me in? Uhm... oh... not that much.

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