From Urban Warfare to the Demise of the Neopets Economy

From Urban Warfare to the Demise of the Neopets Economy

Neopets

Hello, Escapist readers! As part of our partnership with curation website Critical Distance, we'll be bringing you a weekly digest of the coolest games criticism, analysis and commentary from around the web. Let's hit it!

Remember Neopets? Victoria McNally does. On The Mary Sue, McNally reflects on the game's economic history since its 1999 release:

In Neopets, the rising rate of neopoints got particularly bad as it expanded. The trend didn't go unnoticed, either; as early as June 2001, many economically savvy users noted in the Neopian Times that inflation was occurring and might need intervention to balance itself out... [suggesting] the site is now "a horrifying and disturbing look into the faults of late capitalism and the unfettered exploitation inevitable in unregulated economic systems."

At Paste, Maddy Myers reflects on the pre-9/11 anxieties represented in the original Reisdent Evil along with what would now be considered its genre-defying message of cooperation, "Most strikingly, however, the original Resident Evil differs from post-90s-era zombie videogames because it does not have a libertarian message."

Looking to more recent events, on the subject of the violence and police militarization in Ferguson, Missouri, EA's upcoming Battlefield: Hardline has been scrutinized by a number of writers for its indifference and outright enthusiasm for the "warrior cop" figure seen in so many images of Ferguson over the last week.

Mike Williams of USgamer warns that "Life Imitates Art":

Battlefield: Hardline plays on the growing militarization of the police, showing scenes of all-out war between heavily-armed police and criminals. It's a war game in a different skin, something that should probably disturb us more than it does.

His concern is that Hardline equates police with soldiers and cities with warzones.

Meanwhile, in an article for The Paris Review, Kevin Nguyen is disquieted by how nonchalant the game appears to be toward police violence: "Simply put: as a cop in Hardline, you have the choice of killing people or not. The decision is entirely dependent on your mood."

Moving from urban warfare to the very real economic conflicts powering games, Mike Joffe investigates the relationship between conflict minerals and electronics(content warning: discussions of rape and slavery):

The current climate of phone consumption encourages people to upgrade and replace phones as often as possible. This is mirrored in the video game industry, where the lifespan of consoles is ever shrinking in favor of increasingly incremental upgrades. Even activist groups admit that recycling, even on a colossal scale, can not approach meeting the current demand.

Lastly, taking aim at the idea of 'objective' games criticism, at Magical Wasteland Matthew Burns uses an analogy of a consumer-king and his board of advisors to break down the consumerist logic behind the gamer-reviewer relationship.

Want more? Be sure to swing over to Critical Distance to have your fill!

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Yeah, the economy in Neopets is bad. The economy in most web-browser pet sites tends to be bad.
I guess it seems foolish reading something you already know, but I thought that was an interesting article.

As someone who still plays Neopets (damn guilt-based gaming!) I can see why the economy is a bit of an issue, especially when certain items get priced unreasonably high. Not to mention the problem of having important quest-based items only available for buying with Neocash, which involves debit cards. Seriously, what the hell?!?

"This is mirrored in the video game industry, where the lifespan of consoles is ever shrinking in favor of increasingly incremental upgrades." - Mike Joffe

Sorry but what's he on about here? The lifespan of consoles is shrinking? How so? It was my understanding that consoles lifespans have been expanding. Each generation has been longer than the last since, I think, generations 2-7.

I have to admit, Battlefield: Hardline, and whether it could be considered in good taste anymore (or in the first place, even), was one of the (many, many) things that did come to mind following the Ferguson riots. The militarisation of the police is a very troubling development, and seeing country sheriffs driving around small towns in armoured personnel carriers is actually kind of terrifying, and now that it's at the forefront of public discussion the whole venture from EA does look quite as (for want of a better word) harmless as it did before.

Given there was something of a polite backlash against just how over-the-top, violent and intensive the gunfights were in the beta/E3 demo (something which, to their credit, Visceral have said they're going to tone down in the final game), I wonder if EA is perhaps taking another look at Hardline and perhaps make further changes to perhaps not glorify its subject matter quite as much.

What i do find disturbing about all these analysis that people do about video games is how you can link almost any form of medium (written/visual) used in entertainment and come up with some form of social commentary. For example Super Mario Brothers promotes gluttony/obesity as you play as an overweight person who continuously eats mushrooms to get bigger.
While hardline is in an urban battle zone, it was in development and known about LONG before the riots occurred. Yet something like BF, COD etc are ok because its soldiers, but they are still killing people!!. But by the time hardline comes out the masses will have moved onto the next american shooting event and there will be just a quiet mention to the events that are major news at the moment.
People wonder why the games industry is slowly being homogenised its things like this that are doing it. When a publisher/developer attempts something new or edgy (which is what everyone screams for) they get articles like this appearing

At the very least, the post shows McNally doesn't have the slightest idea of what constitutes a capitalist economic system. The only people with any creation agency are the programmers.

Raynor Stott:
What i do find disturbing about all these analysis that people do about video games is how you can link almost any form of medium (written/visual) used in entertainment and come up with some form of social commentary. For example Super Mario Brothers promotes gluttony/obesity as you play as an overweight person who continuously eats mushrooms to get bigger.
While hardline is in an urban battle zone, it was in development and known about LONG before the riots occurred. Yet something like BF, COD etc are ok because its soldiers, but they are still killing people!!. But by the time hardline comes out the masses will have moved onto the next american shooting event and there will be just a quiet mention to the events that are major news at the moment.
People wonder why the games industry is slowly being homogenised its things like this that are doing it. When a publisher/developer attempts something new or edgy (which is what everyone screams for) they get articles like this appearing

wait what?
There is no ill contempt or agenda to this piece .
They are simply talking about how generating currency out of thin air with no effective drain will break an economy,& then talked about applied fixes to the game.

it's much like biologist studying this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrupted_Blood_incident. They were studying the problem for what it is nothing more

I enjoy looking at the Neopets economy because it's basically pitting children against adults with their own kids who have been playing so long that the economy is basically under their control. It's almost comically bad.

weirdee:
I enjoy looking at the Neopets economy because it's basically pitting children against adults with their own kids who have been playing so long that the economy is basically under their control. It's almost comically bad.

Wait. But there's no means of production in Neopets.. no?

This might be a crazy idea... but given that Tantalum purchases fund rebel groups... why don't chip makers donate to the DRC government?

That article about conflict minerals in the gaming world gave me the feels :(

 

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