Thursday, April 28, 2011

Extra Credits does Other M

Yes, I've seen it - we work for the same bloody website ;)



Why is "Extra Credits" the best gaming show on the web? Because when THEY make the Other M episode, they spend 99% of it on things like narrative mechanics and localization, maybe 1% or less on percieved socio/political "messages"/issues that simply aren't really there and ZERO percent of it on dime-store analysis of the alleged "cultural misogyny" of a foriegn culture they don't belong to.

69 comments:

Popcorn Dave said...

Obvious troll is obvious.

counterpoint said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
counterpoint said...

@Popcorn Dave

Wow, hypocritical, are we?

@Bob

So, what do you think? They do make some compelling arguments.

Eric said...

This is the first video from Extra Credits I've seen in a while that I actually enjoyed. I'd grown tired with their shows full of half-ideas and sweeping generalisations rather than real, insightful content, but this one gets things back on track with some truly insightful analysis and critical thinking. Great stuff from them, and I agree a good deal with what they have to say.

Cerberus said...

I love your work, MovieBob for the most part, but I still feel that you're responses with regards to Other M are based on trying to deproblematize your enjoyment of the gameplay aspects you enjoyed and fully justified resentment on those who tried to use the issue to issue blanket condemnations of Japanese culture.

Unfortunately, doing so, you erased genuine critiques of Samus's character which were genuinely problematic if not sexist (because of the sexism of a small group of people, not an entire country). Specifically, giving her an Elektra complex that made her to stupid to protect herself until a man ordered her to and often requiring men to enact the main plot points turning her into a passive participant in her own game.

Cerberus said...

Furthermore, you missed why this is so bloody important and thus angering to female gamers.

It's not because she was the most fleshed out character on God's green Earth. It was because she was the first female protagonists, one of the few female main protagonists out there, one of the rare non-sexualized female protagonists, and possibly the only female protagonist who is also an icon of gaming and its history.

Let me point out what that means. For female gamers, playing video games, there have only been a handful of people we can connect to as easily as male gamers and very rarely did we get a character who matched our sex. Worse yet, many characters we do get as women are obviously there for the male audience, dressed in skimpy outfits to titilate a targeted male audience.

And here was one who was tough, brave, clad in a sweet battle suit, and got to be every lived out fantasy that male audiences took for granted when urging Mario to save the princess, Sonic to defeat Robotnick, Simon Belmont to beat Dracula, and so on.

Cerberus said...

Furthermore, Samus, being the sole female gaming icon is the sole proof that women belong in the video game fan community. Here is this one figure who is among the cherished, part of the history of gaming from its early days. Here is proof that female gamers are not an aberration, to be ignored or worse yet, battled back. We came with Samus, many of us there since the early early days.

I note that, because I think the emotional weight of having a character who is not only an icon like say Sonic but the icon, the sole icon for a group of individuals, mistreated in this way, and worse in a way that diminishes what a woman is (oh, let's make her weak and unable to function, let's give her daddy issues, let's put her in an abusive relationship, but let's treat that as normal), is really not focused on enough.

This character is the icon for females in gaming, the one thing that says we belong, that we can have heroes who get to save the world without dressing in a bathing suit or wearing a thong or having breasts that break the fourth wall.

And then, the developers spat in our face, said, nope you do not belong. This is a game for a male audience and we will include story elements so egregious that only a male audience will be able to ignore them (not because they are bad people, but because they are not focused on them and are thus able to be elided over to enjoy other elements).

We will say, that this icon can be reduced by sexism in an instant.

And I think this is a lot of the source of the backlash. From female gamers, from fans of the character who recognized her uniqueness in gaming history, to men who couldn't ignore the sexism to enjoy the gameplay.

Cerberus said...

They took our one icon and made this. There is no way I could adequately make a comparison to how traumatizing this is. Perhaps imagine if Michael Bay decided he didn't just want to ruin Transformers, but was inspired by Avengers and wanted to make a movie that took every 80s nostalgic character and brought them together for a two and a half hour epic filled with as many racist robots, pot-smoking plots, and dogs fucking as he could. And he did this to every character.

That's what this game represents to female gamers.

A true punch to the soul.

I agree with your responses to those who would use this game as a weapon against Japan and Japanophiles. I agree that you should be allowed to enjoy the gameplay as a separate entity in and of itself.

But I think in doing that, you have become willfully blind to exactly what this game means to female gamers and what you defend when you insist on all or nothing.

I'm sorry for the length of this response and I would have emailed it to you, but I couldn't find a means to. But this needed to be said to you because your review angered me and your defenses anger me and I wanted you to know why, because I think you are a good person.

counterpoint said...

@ Cerberus

First off, I have not played Other M yet, so I can't directly comment. Furthermore, you've obviously thought this through more than I have, so... well, I guess I'm just acknowledging that.

That said, I think perhaps you are overstating Samus' value and awesomeness as an icon of female-ness.

Why? Well, her femaleness was HIDDEN from view for the entirety of the first game, for instance! If you weren't particularly good at the game back in the 80's, you would have gone a long time without even knowing she was a female. In fact, if you go slowly through the games, and don't get 100% completions, Im pretty sure SEVERAL of them never indicate her female-ness directly (because of the lack of helmetless ending pic)

And, for the record, when we DO see her as a woman, she IS sexualized, at least somewhat (bikini shots, etc.)

So? Well, I can't really consider Samus to actual be a truly successful archetype of a female game-character, if her identity has remained a non-issue for the vast majority of her history. If anything, I think Samus may be better considered a prototypical ANDROGYNOUS character. The helmet, the build of her suit, the lack of speech (until now) - all of these things suggest a sort of non-sex for samus.

However, I do get that gaming culture has created her into a sort of chick-gamer symbol. I view her as one myself. However, that's not the same exact thing as saying she was created as such. Batman and Robin are also a symbol to the gay community, but we don't hold DC Comics accountable when they don't portray them in a way that serves the desires of that group.

So yeah, you make great points, but I wonder that you may be making too big of a deal over the role of samus herself.

Heitomos said...

I watched that episode earlier today, and about 8 hours later, saw your own episode 40 on the same topic, and I agree and disagree with some of the things discussed in both. Overall it was very entertaining to watch, and did make me think, which means that you've accomplished your goal, I believe.

I enjoyed the gameplay overall of the game, but it did make a lot of mistakes when handling such a popular franchise, and while it didn't fail in gameplay (save the extreme linearity, but that was just a small tick of mine), I believe it failed miserably in narrative, and yet, at the same time, it succeeded greatly at portraying a bad thing using it's narrative.

I could go on to explain why I despise the narrative, but, instead of being another whiny complainer on the internet, I will instead provide a link to a very well thought out and thought provoking essay that completely changed by point of view. Take from it what you will, but I can almost guarantee it will make you think.

http://moonbase.rydia.net/mental/blog/gaming/metroid-other-m-the-elephant/article.html

Thanks for the time you took to read this, if you did.

Heitomos a.k.a Kirk

Smashmatt202 said...

"Why is "Extra Credits" the best gaming show on the web? Because when THEY make the Other M episode, they spend 99% of it on things like narrative mechanics and localization, maybe 1% or less on percieved socio/political "messages"/issues that simply aren't really there and ZERO percent of it on dime-store analysis of the alleged "cultural misogyny" of a foriegn culture they don't belong to."

...Huh. I never thought of it that way...

imsmart said...

Extra Credits is the best gaming show on the web because they can tune out the vocal minority. They're like the one-eyed man in the land of the blind.

jackspicer88 said...

ENOUGH with the GODDAMN "elephant in the room" editorial. There are people here who ACTUALLY have been in abusive relationships (including myself), so show a little more tact here. We can say that the story needs work, but this bullshit concept that "Adam abuses Samus" and how the story is "sexist" needs to STOP. RIGHT NOW.

Aiddon said...

First off, is anyone having trouble lately at Blogger? I kept getting error messages when I wanna post something

Anyway, I still agree with Bob. My problem with this whole "action = character” argument is that it doesn't exist when it comes to videogames when you factor in gameplay. That's NOT the character engaging in those actions, that's the player. That's the tragic flaw of Daniel's argument: gameplay can never, ever be a basis for characterization. As said here:

http://ilyaquant.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/w4d34-money-never-sleeps-and-on-videogame-characterization/

And, OH DEAR GOD. That STUPID freaking "elephant" article again. You'd think that the people who wrote it would have taken it down after several people who HAVE experienced abusive relationships (myself for example) called them out on their bullshit. That article is just disgusting.

Smashmatt202 said...

Wait, who brought up the Elephant article? Extra Credits said to search Google for BOTH sides of the argument.

Was it Cerberus that mentioned the Elephant article? I wouldn't know because I didn't read his long-ass comments... yet.

Popcorn Dave said...

Yeah, the player's doing the jumping and shooting, but Samus is the one who chose to be there, she's the one who's got the skills to pull this stuff off. By allowing the player to do something, you're characterising her as someone who could believably do these things. It's unavoidable.

Everything Daniel said about her in that last section was concrete, canonical fact, and a lot of it is shown to us, or at least reinforced, through gameplay.

The article you linked to compares this to a fantasy hero who's characterised by his ability to kill monsters, and says "is that a truly deep character? NO". But the thing is, no-one said Samus was a deep or three-dimensional character, just that she WAS a character, and you shouldn't call her a completely "blank slate" just because we haven't seen her in modern-style cutscenes before. Even Daniel admitted that characterising Samus was filling an empty vessel.

Is "doing" sufficient to fully realise a complex character? Ehh, probably not. "Show, don't tell" isn't meant to be a hard and fast rule, it's meant as a guideline (some things can only really be told). "Do, don't show" is the same, just a general guideline that wherever possible, you should allow a player to experience the plot rather than just throw monologues at them.

What's wrong with the elephant article, by the way? I haven't played Other M but unless he's seriously misinterpreting what happened in the game or leaving key details out, it seems pretty reasonable to me. I certainly haven't heard any more logical explanation for the varia suit issue.

jackspicer88 said...

@Popcorn Dave

The writers of the "Elephant" ignore key facts within the game of Other M in order to jump to the conclusions that the relationship between Adam and Samus is "unhealthy". So yes, the writers DO misrepresent what actually happens in the game in order to demonize the game and Sakamoto as a whole.

Aiddon said...

don't make me laugh. Daniel and James' argument collapses when your realize even characters who DO have personality (Niko Bellic, Ezio, the current Samus, Cloud Strife, etc) don't decide their actions most of the time, that's the PLAYER'S choice. The only reason they're there is because THE GAME REQUIRES IT. The thing is, in film you CAN have characterization just through showing. Look at silent films. With GAMING, it's impossible to have ANY character through just gameplay because the person on screen has their actions decided by an outside source. Gaming will NEVER be able to characterize through gameplay.

And quite frankly the elephant article is still trash. That is sensationalist journalism in gaming form and, like I said, being a victim of abuse I can say without a doubt that article has no clue what it's talking aside from watching a few Lifetime channel movies. But, after I saw that no one gives a shit when I say that it proves to me that gaming culture still has a way to go to be reasonable adults.

Popcorn Dave said...

"even characters who DO have personality (Niko Bellic, Ezio, the current Samus, Cloud Strife, etc) don't decide their actions most of the time, that's the PLAYER'S choice"

The player doesn't choose whether or not Samus is a heavily-armoured bounty hunter going into an alien-infested spaceship without backup, but that fact is still expressed to us through gameplay. We don't get to choose whether or not Kratos is a crazy violent bastard, but we experience it ourselves in God of War's combat system. I know we usually find out the same information from cutscenes anyway, but it's still an important way of getting information across and (more usually in modern games) hopefully backing up what the cutscenes are telling us.

I'm not saying for a moment that you can create a fully-realised character just by having them walking around doing stuff, and I don't think the EC guys were saying that either - they were using the examples like banter between team members and radio chatter, which can be combinations of doing, telling AND showing depending on how they're done. Remember, Daniel said devs should use "all the tools" to make a strong character.

Philbo said...

To use the Kratos as an example, as Popcorn Dave just did: in almost every GoW game the first level is Kratos destroying a powerful monster such as a Hydra, something no normal person/soldier could do. What does this say to the player about Kratos before any real story has been included about the game: That he has the power, skill and inclination to fight ridiculously huge mythological beasts.

Not much you might think, but would some cutscene opening with Kratos turning to a soldier and saying "Hah, I once killed a Hydra" have had the same effect? They both fulfill the same purpose.

And that has nothing to do with the player. Unless you are completely incapable of immersing yourself in a game when you defeat a Titan, Eagle jump off the highest building in Acre, bounce on top of Dr Robotniks latest invention do you think "Wow I'm powerful, look at me go" or instead think "Wow [insert character] is amazing".

If it's the first, you have delusions of grandeur. I'd suggest staying away from tall buildings before you forget it's Superman who can fly and try to take off yourself.

As for the player deciding actions, when you read a book who turns the page? Who presses play on a movie and doesn't press stop until it's finished. The argument that it's all player choice extends to eveything; There are two options: you play the game and get the story or you stop. You turn the page or you stop. You watch the film or you stop. Irregardless of what you do in the interim: re-read a passage, collect all the flags, play part of the film in reverse, once you continue on player choice is taken out again.

Cerberus said...

Aiddon-

With respect to what you have suffered through, I'd have to disagree very vehemently. I've never read this "elephant article", but the fact that Samus and Adam's relationship is emotionally abusive, or at least an offensive portrayal of an Elektra complex and a deeply unreliable and fucked up main character (and not in the sense of being complex or vulnerable), is rather obvious.

In fact, I would argue it is pretty much textbook for an emotionally abusive relationship and sadly, I've had my fair share of encounter with those.

Indeed, the only way one could deny the problematic or abusive nature of Samus and Adam's "relationship" in Other M would be to see no problem between the relationship between Bella Swan and Edward Cullen.

Hell, the reason that Samus is such a painful betrayal as characterized (and I'm willing to lay most of the blame on Team Ninja and their animators and the breakdown of communication that created this abomination) is because we are not playing as Samus Aran, bounty hunter and loner, the character every girl who rejected the pressure for the boy race and stayed home to play video games could look up to, but is instead Bella Swan.

And frankly if I wanted to identify with Bella Swan, bounty hunter, I'd buy Team Ninja's rendition of Twilight.

I get that people want to defend Sakimoto or Japan or just liked the gameplay or Nintendo in general.

But the sexism here is not ignorable. It's bad. Really, really bad. And the choice of character to insert that sexism into was far worse.

Women don't get good characters or near-blank-slates to feel awesome through.

For every muscle bound chest-bumping shooter, and even through every male-identified princess-saving short-guy, we women get the occasional scrap. Oh hey, Aya Brea, nice to see you Jade, doo de doo, oh hey Heather Mason, looking at watch, oh cool Chelle!

How much time passes between those games? How many are these under the crush of male-empowerment fantasies of every genre.

And how many more even bother with a female empowerment fantasy, deconstructing things like stalking, rape, societal sexism, or just the way you are made to feel powerless, but not in a way that takes it for given?

Sure, we can claim that that was Other M's broad goal. But they failed that goal, badly. In fact, the only games I can think of that really explored that is Silent Hill 2 and 3.

counterpoint-

I meant more when playing and in character model. Also, the geek buzz community was similar then to now. Sure, less intense, but it certainly had gone underground and people usually knew by Super Metroid and certainly by Gamecube era, everyone knew through the Metroid Prime series and Super Smash Brothers.

The important thing is the pedigree and what that stands for. An icon of gaming that was female and wasn't just sold as bump her against the back wall so you can check out her large breasts. Sold as kick-ass, something that could be just as targeted as a female audience as a male, something worth respecting.

That's not something women gamers get all that often.

In fact, it's not something we really get at all.

And if you can't understand what that feels like, then I guess my words or the words of anyone else couldn't explain it.

But, I'm going to say, it hurts. It hurts a damn lot and there isn't a damn day in this misogynist community of gamers that those few good female gamers have been the only things telling me I wasn't the shit they stepped in.

And that meant a lot.

RestamSalucard said...

I have to say this is starting to sound a lot less like a debate and more like the Four Yorkshiremen skit from Monty Python.

Cerberus said...

Also Aiddon-

Of course gameplay can define character.

Take Nico Belloc. When playing him, we can make him a Joker-style terrorist, plunging the city into chaos in a vain attempt to stop his made homocidal spree or we can make him a struggling immigrant trying to respect as much law as we can and still progress the story. Vastly different characters to be sure, but...

What remains immutable?

We know that Nico has done horrible things in the past. That he is more than familiar with the criminal underbelly and through gameplay we know he has experience with a number of firearms, going up to rocket launchers and knows how to break into and steal vehicles in very little time. That he knows how to throw his weight around in physical combat and that he has a backstory that reflects that. We also know that this backstory encompasses all possible means of playing this character. He can be a person who just tries to make a new life for himself or a person who's snapped and given up the pretense.

We also know his story is ultimately tragic. No matter how much you try and play him as model citizen, the story mission or a citizen's unlucky jump will yank him right back into the criminal underworld.

The rest is there for the player to flesh out in their version of the character.

And a good gameplay characterization will fit the story elements organically so the way you naturally play the character fits with what you are told about the character, so much so that it doesn't come as a surprise.

Which is why Metroid Other M, failed so hard. It assumed it had a blank slate with no character and decided to import their Bella Swan mess (probably not consciously) and well, that didn't jive with what has been established through previous games' backstory. Nor did it's gameplay jive with its own story (see also how gameplay missteps made the cutscenes far more insidious in its claims that Samus and Adam love and care for each other).

Popcorn Dave said...

jackspicer88: What did the article writers get wrong? Honestly curious, as I said I didn't play it but I've heard a lot of people say similar things.

Cerberus: Check Heitamos' post about a third of the way down the page, there's a link to the Elephant In The Room article if you're interested.

RestamSalucard: Hahahaha... harsh, man, but I know what you mean!

jackspicer88 said...

@ Popcorn Dave

I truly believe that this person says what I need to say a lot more eliquently about how the article is incorrect.

http://katt120.deviantart.com/art/Metroid-Double-Standards-189707354

Aiddon said...

@ Cerberus

Call this dismissal if you want, but I am NOT going to bore myself to death with a post that drops cheap hyperbole like "Twilight." I like Other M, I will continue to defend Samus' characterization. I despise sexism with all my soul, and would NEVER defend a sexist portrayal of anyone. Daniel wants me to take gaming seriously, then here it is. All this exercise about Other M has taught me is that having any faith in the gaming community is pointless.

Bob, it looks like Episode 33 is going to take awhile longer

Patman_Forever_51 said...

Ahem, they also don't call anybody who disagrees with them japanaphobe racists. Just sayin'.

imsmart said...

The problem with all of this is that gamers are mostly interested in gameplay. Things that don't relate to gameplay won't interest them, and things that negatively affect gameplay will annoy them. Consider SimCity: it was accessible, entertaining, complex, clever, cathartic, and immersive, yet it had basically no characters or story. To me the conclusion is obvious: a game doesn't need stories or characters like a book or movie does.

David said...

Well Bob, it doesn't eliminate the fact that they have proven wrong many of your points.

As I said before, your opinion about "Other M" seemed to be majorly reactive. In other words, you were alienated by the comments of people who were bashing the game. You didn't want to agree with them, so while you played the game, you were looking for things that would prove them wrong, instead of looking at the game for what it is.

It happens quite often.

David said...

I hope if you don't mind if I make a three part post, but I think it's better if I put like that for the three points I want to discuss.

The next one is about the infamous "The Elephant in the Room" article.

The "Elephant" article is clearly biased and missguided with the "abusive relationship" thing, but the article is right about most of the rest. When it points out the plot holes, it points it rightfully and explains correctly why they don't work.

When they loose their track is when the interpret those plotholes as a possible unconscious misogyny from Sakamoto, when they are obviously due to absurdibly poor writting skills, even for video game standards.

All in all, the only thing that can be said for sure is that the writting of "Other M" is one of the most tragic failures in videogame history as a narrative medium.

Both because of the epicly poor narrative skills on the part of the developers and because of all the historic implications in a "meta-game" kind of way.

David said...

The last part is about about gameplay characterization.

Aiddon, I'm sorry, but I will make you laugh and you are going to have to deal with it:

ACTIONS DO DEFINE CHARACTER.

That's true in videogames and in ANY other medium.

Are actions the 100% of a characters personality? Nope. BUT THEY ARE A HUGE PART OF IT.

That's why Samus and other mute characters like Link and Gordon Freeman are not total blank slates.

And yes, in videogames actions come from the gameplay.

The point that is the player the one that executes those actions is irrelevant: They are still the character actions, too.

That's why when there is an adaptation from or to a videgame we want to see the characters do the same actions. For being more clear in this point, I will put two examples:

When we get a "Spider-man" videogame, we want to be able to save the day by jumping, wall climbing, web swinging, etc... Because that's what Spider-Man do. If he didn't do it then he wouldn't be Spider-Man anymore, even if he mantained his "With great power comes great responsability" motto.

And the same happens the other way around. If we get a videogame flick, we will want to see the characters do the same stuff they do in their videogames. Because what they do in their videogames is what make them what they are.

The "Show, don't tell" motto is, in reality a short: "Show characters do things, don't tell what they do or how they do it". (Which it's at the same time a short for other narrative techniques that are too long for explaining here)

And in videogames is better to make the characters do those things instead of showing them doing it. And how do you make videogame characters do things? Through gameplay.

Hence: "Do, don't show".

Aiddon said...

Unfortunately, I'm not laughing. You're just annoying me.

Actions DO define character....but gameplay doesn't and that's 90% of actions in a game. And it never will. Daniel and James are in DENIAL about it. Just deep-seated, incredibly stubborn denial. Just because a car moves for instance doesn't make it a sentient being, all that means is that someone is driving it (or maybe they walked away without putting on the parking brake, but whatever). When someone creates a wreck, the driver is responsible, NOT the car.

That is all Freeman, Samus (formerly), Commander Shepard, Link, Mario, and Master Chief are: human-shaped cars and we're behind the wheel. OUR actions, not theirs

Knight The Arsonist said...

Both sides make some interesting points. I think both unfortunately ignore the fact that this game was also really good fun to play., which surely makes all the criticism against it ring a little hollow.

Ian said...

For those of you that say 'I've been in an abusive relationship and the Elephant article is BS,' I'd certainly like to hear WHY it's BS (your words, not someone else'; after all, you claim you were in an abusive relationship, tell me how Other M's was different from yours). As someone who has played the game, I can safely say that the article doesn't skip on anything from the game's story and raises a very clear argument. If all you can say is 'it's BS' and nothing else, it's just making your side look worse.

And Aiddon, gameplay DOES define character, because it illustrates the characters' actions; namely, what they can and can't do. This is most evident in Other M when I'm not given the gameplay option to ignore Adam's orders and just let myself almost burn to death in Pyrosphere just because he didn't authorize my non-lethal, heat-proof suit. What this tells us is that Samus is willing to hurt herself because of her orders, and she won't even ask for permission to use her suit.

Need more examples, from other games perhaps? Again, we know Nico from GTA4 is a criminal because you have the ability to go nuts and kill civilians while we know a character like Link is a hero because you can only kill evil monsters and not civilians.

Game characters are not like cars; you can only do what the game designers let you do. A car can't stop you from doing anything.

Popcorn Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Popcorn Dave said...

When "the player" is running through Brinstar taking on gigantic alien infestations single-handedly, what's "Samus" doing? When "the player" is ripping a god's entrails out and stomping on the remains, what's "Kratos" doing? When "the player" in Thief is sneaking around in the shadows and spying on guards, what's "Garret" doing? Saying that nothing that happens in gameplay can count as characterisation in any way is essentially saying that gameplay is non-canon and (presumably) only stuff like cutscenes and text boxes are important.

The fact that videogame characters can do the things they do, and put themselves in these kinds of situations, is important character information. I didn't choose to be doing these things in these settings, the character did (it's also the character that decided to learn these gameplay skills in the first place). But the player still experiences it through gameplay rather than exposition.

Arturo said...

uggggh
I thought we all put this to bed months ago

Nice try EC, but I'm still leaning more towards Bob's side of the argument.

I get the feeling that they talk about what they see as faults in the game as if they were exclusive to it. I'm pretty sure that if you check your local bargain bin, you'd find much better examples of games for this discussion.
Plus, the reason they're making such a fuss about it is beause Metroid is a big franchise.

I'm sick of hearing about this

Popcorn Dave said...

Well, their main point was pointing out how Other M was a bad way of turning a famous silent protagonist into a full-fledged character. Most games in the bargain bin aren't working with a well-known protagonist and so people don't really care if the writing is bad.

Also, when you're doing this kind of in-depth analysis it's always better to use examples your audience is familiar with, otherwise you'd have to spend half the review summarising the basic details of Generic Space Game XYZ before you even start talking about it.

But yeah, I agree they're pretty damn late to the party, and although they made their points well, it's nothing we haven't heard from other people already.

CAPTCHA: floddle. That is possibly the greatest word I have ever heard in my life.

Sutter said...

I fail to see how the characterization given in other m to samus is necessarily inconsistant to what we've seen before. She still does all of the ting that she does in the other metroid games (especially if we're taking gameplay as characterization) She still kicks all kinds of ass, and it's still established that she doesn't like it when people underestimate her just for being a woman. They just you know, add some depth to the character. Granted there are moments that make me go tf (such as the vaira suit thing) but i think that that has MUCH more t do with the devs not really thinking about the implications of that form a story standpoint. I als don't have much of a problem with the Ridley scene. It seemed to me she had though she had FINALLY gotten rid of Ridley, but that just when she thought she could finally move on, the creature that killed her family comes back again.

sydney said...

Not to be misogynistic, but...

There's NOT any cultural misogyny that needs to be addressed?
THAT'S the elephant in the room; I've never even heard anyone saw jackshit about "Adam abusing Samus" until now.

Is there really no overtones of misogyny in Japanese culture?
REALLY?

Shane said...

Blah blah blah blah yeah whatever people, I just want to know why you keep using the word 'bloody' so much lately, Bob. Got a new British friend or something? Watching a lot of ZP?

Josh Bryan said...

I meant I didn't want to be cultural insensitive.
I'm not misogynistic.

Philbo said...

"Just because a car moves for instance doesn't make it a sentient being, all that means is that someone is driving it (or maybe they walked away without putting on the parking brake, but whatever). When someone creates a wreck, the driver is responsible, NOT the car."

You're missing the point Aiddon. How do you know that the thing above is a car? You could just say: "it is a car" or you could look at the things shape (car shape), actions (drives), and purpose (transport people places) and come to the conclusion that it is a car. That is what EC is getting at. And that is what games can do.

Irregardless of whether the palyer does it, you can call Kratos a God killer, or kill a God; either way you come to the same conclusion. I don't get how you don't understand this. Is it stubborness now?

Twinmill said...

No, I didn't read all of the comments, but...

-_- sigh... @ all the hate on Extra Credits, one of the few gaming shows left that offer a purely, unbiased neutral standpoint, for the good of all gaming. Seriously, they make an effort to keep their opinions out of the show, and while, yes, sometimes you already know where they're going with an episode before it starts, there's still alot of insight to be had from actual industry insiders. That's why I read the MMORPG columns frequently.

They work on games; they have a perspective very few gamers have.

Aiddon said...

no, I understand where people are coming from with the "gameplay = characterization" thing since it SHOULD be the equivalent of in films or comics with "show don't tell", because you CAN make characterization in those media without resorting to dialogue. But the thing is, gameplay is impossible to enact without a player who can in fact throw all supposed characterization for a character in a game out the window if they feel. Seriously, you can make Gordon Freeman an irresponsible, cowardly dick if you feel like it.

The reason I use the car analogy is because EVERY character in gaming is just like a car: they do NOTHING unless the player demands it and 90% of that action can be radically varied due to the player's will. When someone plays a game and commands Kratos to kill the Hydra they think "Whoa, "I" did something completely awesome", leaving Kratos out of the picture. I think I'm suddenly realizing why Ebert believes gaming can't be an art form. When your unique feature can never characterize, it kinda makes a LOT of argument and such disintegrate.

Smashmatt202 said...

@ imsmart

First off, I think we've reached a point where gameplay is either a really big part of the game, or at least half as good as the story, atmosphere, immersion, etc. Unless you're a iPhone game/app or Nintendo, selling your game on just good gameplay alone isn't going to cut it in this modern age.

Secondly, Metroid: Other M's gameplay... Well, I don't want to say it sucks, but it DEFINITELY could have been a lot better, ESPECIALLY when using the missiles!

imsmart said...

@Smashmatt202 Minecraft?

Popcorn Dave said...

" a player who can in fact throw all supposed characterization for a character in a game out the window if they feel. "

But most games don't let you. You can't roleplay Niko Bellic as a law-abiding church boy, you can't roleplay Mario as a guy who's afraid of heights, you can't roleplay Abe as a badass action hero. You get a little bit of leeway but sooner or later either you die or you can't progress.

Yeah, you can sometimes mix things up by killing innocent people or doing a pacifist run for example, but those instances are the exceptions rather than the rule. Most games either punish you for going outside the "proper" characterisation or they just deny you the opportunity (like Ian said, Link can't kill innocent people; in many other games, you fail the mission automatically). Outside of WRPGs and games with morality systems, you have to behave as the character would, or you just won't get through the game.

Nik said...

Well, their main point was pointing out how Other M was a bad way of turning a famous silent protagonist into a full-fledged character.

Except that it wasn't. Metroid Fusion was the game that first characterized Samus through narrative and not just gameplay. It established, explicitly, that she hates taking orders (said so by herself), and displays her defiant streak in how she betrays the Federation's wishes without a second thought for the good of the galaxy.

That's something else that EC forgot to mention -- Other M is not the game that deserves the credit for defining Samus, so why do they talk as if it is?

It's almost creepy the degree to which Metroid Fusion and its role in defining Samus looong before Other M is being ignored.

Popcorn Dave said...

Good point, Nik, and you're right. It's a bit weak how both Bob and EC ignored the characterisation we'd already had in Fusion.

Nick said...

@jackspicer:

Thanks for that link, I hadn't thought of it that way. Wow.

Smashmatt202 said...

@ imsmart

...Crap, how'd I forget about that?

Aiddon said...

yeah, it is kinda weird how everyone is ignoring Fusion. I guess people are going to be even more confused about the canon when Sakamoto finally gets around to doing that sequel to Fusion (though I realize that one day Metroid may need to END)

Nik said...

Thanks Popcorn Dave.

Hah, that deviantart thing is great! I have used that exact example (regarding Snake and The Boss) in discussions before. On the Escapist, even.

The best retort I ever got was that Snake was an explicit rookie, while Samus was supposed to be an expert at this point. But even that retort was a tangent, leaving the context of sexism in favor of simply saying that even if Samus had been a man, it wouldn't have made sense for him/her to act like such a rookie. One way or another, talk of sexism in Other M is totally off-the-ball.

Aiddon said...

The thing is Snake WASN'T a rookie; he was new to THAT kind of mission, but he was a seasoned veteran of many types of special operations.

Smashmatt202 said...

I think the reason why everyone's ignoring Fusion is because:

1.) Fusion wasn't as popular or as widely played by everyone.

2.) The gameplay and story were similar to that of Super Metroid, so no one really seemed to take notice of the story that went on there.

3.) Metroid: Other M is a bigger deal then Fusion because in Other M, there were different developers making the game and the story is the main focus of the game, as opposed to the other Metroid games, which story was secondary, or of minor importance.

Arturo said...

All this hate towards Other M seems to come from people in the West. Is anyone aware of how well received the game is in Japan?

Smashmatt202 said...

That's just it, isn't it? Isn't it weird that Japan seems cool with this sort of thing?

And by that I mean, Nintendo seems to make games that appeal primarily to Japan. The fact that people overseas like it is probably just coincidence.

At least that's the impression I've gotten lately. Probably a stupid idea, but I don't know, but what I DO it seems that the game COULD have been better translated. For some reason, Japan likes being told things, there's no subtlety in anything. Particularly the humor. I've noticed this in a lot of anime I watch, but whenever there are jokes, part of the joke is that one of the people has to exclaim what the joke is. As if we're too stupid to realize it.

Aiddon said...

I...really don't know what the reaction in Japan was. Sales-wise it beat out the Prime games easy, but actual opinion wise I don't know

Matthew Black said...

Thank God for this. Technically it's pure patronizing, but done with genius and consideration.

fox said...

Way to sweep under the rug the fact that they completely OWNED you, Bob.

smile said...

I feel the video was more about 'how to not challenge fans and give gamers what they expect' rather than 'bringing narrative to a long running series'.

Did Extra Credits really make that video from the perspective of game designers or writers? Because they felt more like salesmen in that video.

Aqua said...

I think the reason Extra Credits is the best gaming show online is because they actually UPDATE every week. Or maybe because it's a TEAM of people working on it. Picking up any hints Bob? Why not try getting some help with what you do. And I don't mean your un-funny brother. Seriously, there's things happening all over te place in the gaing world that the others haven't tapped, so what's the hold-up?

Aiddon said...

the only actual designer EC has on it screw is James and even then he doesn't work as a designer anymore (at least from what I remember). Daniel is an animator at Pixar and their illustrator is a freelance graphical designer.

The Karligarchy said...

Well since we are talking about Other M... again... Here are my thoughts. I´m not going to go down the whole Japan and gender relations thing, or sexist female subordination thing. I want to talk about the character development of Samus Aran in a franchise sense. I also want to start off saying, that I enjoyed other M. I thought the game play was a refreshing fun change. I will play through it again, I recommend it to my friends. Having said that the character development of Samus Aran moved in a disappointing direction in this game and fleshing out of the character I think was bad move for the franchise. One of the greatest appeals of the Samus Aran character is that we as an audience knew little about her but, wanted to know more. The mystery of Samus Aran is integral to her appeal and a key character element of this VIDEO GAME character. Ms. Aran´s appeal is a combination of what we know about her - she´s a bad ass - with what we don´t - why and how she´s became a badass. The staying power of Samus Aran is the fact that she sucks audiences in by having them imagine the answers to these questions. She captivates audiences because the unknown´s about her engage the imagination of the player, something I know Bob appreciates in video games. The more we find out about her the fewer possibilities remain of what she can be. Being told who she is disconnects the audience´s imagination and make her less memorable as a character. This equals bad for franchise. I don´t know how female gamers feel about this but, I feel the gender problems of Samus Aran stem from the sexualization of the character - a process that began before Other M. The sexualization of Samus for male audiences began with the Zero Suit design aesthetic. Zero Suit Samus is where the strength of the character was damaged in favor of sexualization. Does anyone remember Bob´s episode about Bayonetta and females in games and the two types of female characters? The non-threatening sex object with big child like eyes and head, and ice queen, lesbo unobtainable woman. Think about what samus looks like under suit. Big blue eyes, long blonde hair, huge tits. I sort of expected something a little less sexualized from a bad ass desalator of worlds no? Sporty body type, smaller breasts, at least not bulky mammoth mammaries, you know, because of the whole agility thing and fitting into battle armor. Aeon Flux body type or for real world examples look at professional female atheletes specifically runners. Lean sporty body type. I mean, all it would take is a palet swap and Zero Suit Samus could be in the next DOA beach volleyball. I don´t think the issue is really with Adam or the power ups or anything like that I think a major source of disgruntlment started with the Zero Suit design choices. Does this ring true to anyone else?

The Karligarchy said...

In response to the characterizations in video games: Character development in video games is difficult and is still something the medium is discovering how to articulate. It is something unique from character development in literature or film. The way the character controls, the abilities characters generally have, their usual gear - especially in franchises - characterizes who they are as much as what you are told about them or what they say. The level a character is fleshed out is also part of the character´s... character. Take Chrono and Link. We KNOW Chrono and Link. We don´t just recognize them we are familiar and know them and through out their games they don´t say a god damned thing. Link is a courageous, rural, folksy youth or sometimes child. When link is portrayed as child he is playful and a bit gullible and naive. When he is a youth he is strong but, curious, and morally upstanding, helpful, possesses remarkable determination. His strength is his courage. blah blah blah i could go on on about a character who never talks... We are not explicitly told much about him, we are shown a little more but not much. What we do and don´t know about him is a part of his character. Did anyone else ever see the Zelda cartoon and hear link talk and ask your self "who the hell is that?" The best video game characters are characters we have gotten to know through the unique way video games tell stories and present characters. The best games with the most memorable characters rely on the unique qualities of video gaming to introduce their world and their character. Not make playable B movies. SPOILER ALERT this is why there will never be a good movie adaptation of a great video game. This is why there will only be decent movie adaptations of mediocre games, particularly games that are more like playable movies than video games. The truly greatest examples of a particular medium struggle to translate into other mediums. Only mediocre ones do.

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Doctor Cragmire said...

A guy on the internet said this about you:

"Gamers in 2010 make accusations of sexism and misogyny about a video game. Bob rushes to the game's defense, claiming that it's all in our head.

Gamers in 2014 defend video games against accusations of sexism and misogyny. bob repeatedly joins the offensive, claiming that gamers need to be more open minded to groups other than their own, and the sexist/misogynistic nature of the industry."


So yeah, I think you, MovieBlob, just like to troll gamers. Also,

"ENOUGH with the GODDAMN "elephant in the room" editorial. There are people here who ACTUALLY have been in abusive relationships (including myself), so show a little more tact here. We can say that the story needs work, but this bullshit concept that "Adam abuses Samus" and how the story is "sexist" needs to STOP. RIGHT NOW."

No, it doesn't. Quite the opposite in fact, it needs to continue FOR. THE. REST. OF. TIME.

MovieBlob, Metroid Other M is a piece of misogynistic dog shit and so are you.

Doctor Cragmire said...

"For those of you that say 'I've been in an abusive relationship and the Elephant article is BS,' I'd certainly like to hear WHY it's BS (your words, not someone else'; after all, you claim you were in an abusive relationship, tell me how Other M's was different from yours). As someone who has played the game, I can safely say that the article doesn't skip on anything from the game's story and raises a very clear argument. If all you can say is 'it's BS' and nothing else, it's just making your side look worse."

You tell them, Ian. Show them how weak their arguments are.

"All this hate towards Other M seems to come from people in the West. Is anyone aware of how well received the game is in Japan?"

Yes. Not even remotely. Japanese gamers hated Other M for the exact same reasons as American gamers did! Also, watch Fairy Tail. Notice how all the women in that show are very assertive and how abusive relationships are NEVER glorified!?