Saturday, May 12, 2012

EPISODE 70: "Fall of Duty"

Now viewable for ALL AUDIENCES!!! The Game OverThinker takes on "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" and Oliver North...




I like how this one came out, though it certainly wasn't the most fun episode to produce. The "real world" side of this is seriously, seriously ugly stuff; and I never like coming down on a game or a developer for something like this - "your design scheme sucks!" is just an aesthetic critique, and can be a lead-in for humor... "you're associating with despicable people and the increasingly overt ideological-underpinnings of your product are bringing something poisonous and corrupt to the medium" is dark business, and there's nothing "funny" about it.

93 comments:

9jack9 said...

As a casual COD player I agree with this 100%. Though as someone who enjoys the occasional FPS I'd add that I don't think the harsher, crueler, element you bring up is the majority, they're just the loudest. Most people on Live play on mute for a reason.

This all being said, i'd be very interested to see games make political arguments left or right. I think staking out a position on something is the first step to the type of maturity you're hoping for and any discussion fringe-right douche-baggery can only be good for gamers on the whole.

Anonymous said...

I know I should say something a bit more profound and on topic and such but... what was that game between the footage of FEZ and Portal?

Anonymous said...

Your dog is cute <3

J.C. Hedges said...

Halo doesn't seem so bad now, does it? :P

Omorka said...

OMG, you used the word "cisgender" correctly and in context in a videogame vlog! I think I might owe you a sexual favor of your choice for that.

Er, I mean, what I meant to say was . . .

I've always disliked the 3PS genre (not the typical gamer here; my preferred genre is turn-based 4X games), and the rah-rah-military aspect that almost everything in the genre except the Metal Gear games seems to have has always struck me as unpleasantly reactionary, but the rampant misogyny and homophobia in nerd/geek culture predated the internet by decades - just look at Harlan Ellison. Also, as a female nerd who has been in at least the tabletop gaming and SF/fantasy fandom parts of Nerd World since the early '90s, there were more of us around than you seem to think - just not so much in videogaming specifically, and we were there, too, just not in significant numbers.

I like your use of Ivan as the stand-in for the younger gamers who have no particular reason to know or care who North is; it makes sense to have him asking those questions. Although - how old is the Commissioner supposed to be? Does he age in human years or bunny years? (Yes, I realize asking that violates the MST3K Golden Rule.) If the former, it might be amusing to hear a bit of his take - can't imagine he thinks much of scofflaws who get off scott-free, aside from the rest of the issue.

Zeno said...

You say an immature view of war sees it as a noble undertaking yet you criticize North as if there was some way he couldn't be ignoble. Is it somehow ethical to sell weapons to "friend" states but not "enemy" ones?

All warriors are criminals.

Pentium100 said...

I do not really care about the politics external to the game. I do not watch ads, so I do not really care what it shows, though I suspect Activision chose the guy specifically to cause this controversy, because that means free advertising.

I play various different games and I choose the game to play based on my mood. If I played COD (I don't, not particularly fond of games without a story) I would play it for the fun of multiplayer kinda-realistic combat, not because of the politics.

If you make COD (or a similar game) reflect reality (and not be like the old movies about WW2 that show how great the USSR is) then it would not be as fun to play just for the combat - it would become a different type of game.

An adventure game is different - here it is story focused and you can explore all the meanings of war etc.

As for the Xbox Live - I do not have an Xbox (PC only), but I suppose the douche-bags are the loud minority. After all, if you have a room full of people where everybody is quiet and a few people loudly proclaim some unpopular opinion then only that unpopular opinion will be heard from that room.

Twinmill said...

Despite what the title said, and despite my initial thoughts when choosing to watch this episode, I found it... rather insightful.

I have my nitpicks, but, for once, I can't really argue your points, because, with exception, they are fact.

The only notable exception being BF3, a game that at least tried to convey the point that we, as a culture, should look past race (gender, etc.), I mean, it didn't expand on it alot, but it at least tried.

I don't think CoD is completely wrong, though the marketing may be. I think Black Ops 2 might have something useful to say, or at least a compelling campaign, but, no, I honestly don't have faith it'll be thought provoking. There's not much wrong with that, either, something can be good without arousing the mind.

I also want to say that among gamers, CoD isn't the face of gaming. However, to people who aren't gamers, it is. I do think that those games have a right to exist, though I am disappointed in their popularity, and the fact that, despite the hate, most of the people who dislike it will probably buy it.

In fact, no, screw all my other points, I'm going to say this.

If you want to influence gaming, you can; your voting ballet is in your wallet, use it wisely.

Also, I do think games are making progress. We're just in a phase where the progress in maturity is being put on the backburner for the increase in the scale of gaming. Simply put, this medium is growing to the point where it'll eventually include everyone. Just like with movies, there's going to be stuff that appeal to one audience, that the other audience finds sick. It's something we'll have to live with.

When things get settled down, and developers start getting more control over their IPs, we'll see alot more mature games, but we'll also see alot of stupid games, because someone will want to play them. The only difference then, from now, is that the market will hopefully be less skewed, and the games will be much truer to what the developers had in mind.

Steven said...

So, if you like genre's of gaming that Movie Bob doesn't your a wife beating racist? nice to know Bob /s

Still anyone got any links to this Oliver North controversy in the gaming press since apart from Bob and the original Kotaku report I haven't seen anything not even in forums let alone mainstream news.

Megabyte said...

Not one to get political in my gaming.... and honestly, I expected to groan as you started up.

But in all honesty, while you talked about this North guy, I was rather surprised you gave Reagan a pass since he apparently wasn't there at the time due to medical reasons (from your discussion). COnsidering your conversations elsewhere, I didn't expect you to do that (regardless of if it would be fair or not). Other then that, though, remember, we are talking about a Kotick run company here. Controversy to keep CoD in the limelight and not to go stale like Guitar Hero did is the name of the game. No more, no less. (Although I have to admit, showing me a picture of a mech is FAR more effective in getting my attention.... pity for him they still lose since Im on PC mostly and MechWarrior Online and PlanetSide 2 are on the way.)

As for actual politics in games, you might want to look at Planetside 2. Abstract, yes... but the army mentalities sold with their stories might be a lot more interesting to you.

And finally all your complaints about how gamers behave online... well, these are all complaints I hear mainly about XBL.

Mads said...

Maybe it's time you got that cat out of the back once and for all:

Do a show where you discuss whether or not it's worthwhile for you to do game overthinker shows.

You've mentioned this "I don't wanna be part of this community anymore" schtick 3 times now.

Get it out of your system or deal with the fact that the medium needs some help growing.

Also, very informative and very well made game overthinker this time... I think this is a much better use of stereotypes to make your point, because it isn't demagoggery or ad hominem...you really need the moral higher ground to communicate your ideas on subjects such as this, and it's so easy to lose it.

James said...

Just a reminder: Reagan, Clinton, Obama, and Bush Sr. and Jr. are guilty of the same crime as Oliver North - selling weapons to enemy nations.

And again, quit acting like Activision and its boneheaded moves are representative of all modern gaming. They're not.

Anonymous said...

I'm not much into FPS games though I do play them from time to time although it is games like TF and Vanquish.

I didn't know about Oliver North until this video so I learned somthing new.

I keep waiting for you to post about video game nostalgia since the retro thinker showed up.:)

Aiddon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...

Seriously, Bob,

Overdramatic much? I appreciate your message but ending on "I don't know if I want videogames anymore :((((" was pretty silly. Call of Duty is one game out of thousands released every year. There are games outside of the Xbox and other home consoles, and even on those platforms there's plenty more to choose from that suit your preferences, whether they're indie titles or bigger-budget ones.

The perspective that the market is made up of two sides (Call of Duty vs. Nintendo) is becoming more and more apparent in your videos and it's extremely inaccurate. Yes, Call of Duty is one of the best-selling games these days... and Transformers is one of the best-selling films. Gee, Hollywood sure has matured up, huh? People want stupid, explosive and exciting entertainment and both industries are more than happy to provide it.

Whether Activision are being tasteless or not (well, okay, duh), I think you need to expand your horizons a bit and realize that the world of gaming is one that can appeal to almost everyone... you just won't find all those titles being advertised on TV, or being produced with $100 million budgets.

Regarding games and maturity in general: yes, videogames traditionally have celebrated diversity, at least in abstract and simplistic ways. They still do, if you actually take the time to look for the right ones. Your beloved 80s franchises were marketed towards children, and whatever subtext was included in a cast of game characters had nothing to do with the success or failure of those franchises. They were around because kids like cartoons and ate up the games, shows and toys. Don't try to turn it into something else; it's just as cold and exploitative as any Oliver North-fronted advertisement.

Aiddon said...

fuck off, James. Or at least find some new material, ya stupid berk.

Anyway, this is pretty despicable on Activision's part. Of ALL the people they could have used to promote a military shooter they pick some wackjob who sold weapons to murdering, raping terrorists? Ya really couldn't have found ANYONE else? Fuck, the Discovery Channel and documentaries use TONS of real-life ex-military/government personnel and they couldn't have found one of them? Activision in general seems to be a company that lives off of controversy and pandering to one of the WORST segments of gaming and, quite frankly, I really just hope the bubble bursts for them in the coming years because it's a wakeup call they SORELY need. Gaming in general needs to get away from this bullshit macho fantasy they've been perpetuating for the past few years now and grow up. I'm pretty sure a lot of screenwriters would look at these ads and go "WTF is WRONG with you people????". Not exactly something we want people to think if we're to be taken "seriously." And furthermore the fact that "war" in games like CoD is played out like some tepid junk movie also kind of indicates that gamers don't give a shit about being challenged but just want endless comfort food to escape in. Pretty much every "blockbuster" in gaming is a Michael Bay movie with all his worst excesses. It's kind of funny how most of the games trying to make statements about war are set in unrealistic settings (such as Tactics Ogre's Game of Thrones-esque/D&D fantasy setting or Mass Effect's sci-fi backdrops) while a "realistic" war game might as well be a fucking cartoon.

P.S. What's kind of funny I just finished a class on Latin American history and my term paper was on the Pinochet regime of Chile who was ALSO started with support from some shady US officials (though that was the Nixon era). Central and South America during those years just couldn't catch a break

Eric said...

@Aiddon:

"Get it out of your system or deal with the fact that the medium needs some help growing."

The games industry doesn't need help growing. It's already doing a bang-up job on its own. It just needs time, because the changes necessary can't and won't happen overnight. Besides, gamers themselves have a lot of growing up to do first.

Know why Call of Duty dominates sales charts? It's because it's currently one of the few ways players can get big, stupid, pretty and explosive action and yell obscenities at minorities. Activision and others are creating games that play right into that market. Do you really think that politics has anything to do with it? Don't be so naive: it's where the money is.

What needs to happen for the games industry to grow up is twofold.

One, control of intellectual property needs to leave the hands of publishers. Right now it is impossible to make games of any sizable budget without being beholden to someone, and publishers want their games to sell as much as possible because they are (SURPRISE!) corporations who are legally bound to minimize costs and maximize profits. They aren't evil; they're doing exactly what they're supposed to do as defined within American business culture and law.

That's changing because digital distribution and cheap development platforms are becoming available. Look at the thousands of games released on iOS, LIVE Arcade, Steam, etc. to see that there are plenty of game developers out there with great ideas and who don't want to sacrifice their intellectual integrity. We're already starting to see a breakdown of the traditional publisher model... but that's only going to happen when the technological arms race that fuels mainstream games becomes prohibitively expensive. That's also not going to happen too soon so long as labour can be so readily outsourced to India and Asia.

Two, gamers need to grow up. It's easy to say "gaming culture used to be so much better, more innocent, etc." because it was... the culture was full of children! What do you expect when 90% of the games market was made up of the 4-18 demographic? Now that those people have grown up and continue to play games, and have developed their own political opinions and ideals... is it any surprise that a lot of those people also tend to have certain political views? Videogames of the 80s weren't some magic bullet that taught people to be good and intelligent. They grew up like everyone else. Games might have taught some people a few things, but I don't think it's fair for someone like Bob to impress his own experiences growing up with game and geek culture onto everyone else.

It's fallacious to say that Hollwood has grown up, too. Films that discuss interesting and meaningful issues without appealing to wider audiences tend to be failures at the box office if they have any kind of budget. Being successful in Hollywood isn't just about making smart movies, it's about making movies that appeal to an audience - the smart stuff comes after.

We're fortunate that many great filmmakers have appeared and gained control in the film industry (which hasn't happened in the games industry, due to the larger collaborative forces behind big-budget games, and publishers' interests in downplaying individuals), but let's face it: even if we allow that films are a bit more intelligent than games, and that the film-going audience is a little more highbrow, people are still people. The best-selling stuff is still the stupid, politically reprehensible crap, toy commercial kids' movies, offensive comedies, etc.

Games aren't growing up because gamers have yet to grow up, and because the business model for creating and selling games does not support it This has less to do with some abstract "maturity" and more to do with the simple hard realities of the world: how games are made and who they're made for.

James said...

Eric: Don't think you'll convince Bob that his biased attitude is wrong or inaccurate. He'll never admit to it. To him, it'll always be military FPS games vs. Nintendo. Any good from the industry in the last 10 years (Mass Effect, Skyrim, Persona, ect.) just doesn't exist in his world.

Sabre said...

For those wondering, the game shown between portal and fez is 'Mighty Switch Force' by Wayforward. It's a 3DS downloadable puzzle platformer.

Arturo said...

Job well done Bob, although I will say that a small chunk of what you've said here involves things you've already repeated once or twice in previous episodes, although to be fair, one can only have so much backed-up info regarding military FPSs when they're a constant presence in your show.

Also, do you remember when Robin Williams and his daughter did those commercials for Ocarina of Time 3D? That was neat. Somehow, we don't get more stuff like that anymore.

id said...

The people saying Bob is wrong for presenting things as a dichotomy between Activision on one side and Nintendo on the other are correct, but merely being correct isn't sufficient for engaging in meaningful discussion here.

If you go find a non-gamer on the street and ask them what they know about video games the two things they'll likely know about are Mario, Sonic, Pokémon and Kirby on one side and grey-brown military-fetish shooters on the other; the dichotomy is in their heads, even if it is wrong, so you need to acknowledge it before you can talk meaningfully about how this influences peoples' opinions on the medium.

Aiddon said...

@Arturo

That's mostly because Nintendo aims at the whole family and not just the douchebag male leeching off of mommy and daddy. I would even dare say that their ads are just better put together and more pleasant. Activision's are just white noise and explosions.

James said...

I hope that Bob will read this article: 6 Reasons Modern Gaming DOESN'T Suck.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-reasons-modern-gaming-doesnt-suck-anti-rant/

REPTILE 0009 said...

Maybe people should stop acting like COD is the root of all the problems in the gaming industry? I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with the gaming industry being represented by COD. I like COD, millions of people like COD. The COD series are high-quality, triple-A games with big budgets and huge marketing. I can safely say that they are good, if not great games.

Also, I wish people would stop acting like online douchebaggery is exclusive to the COD community, or gaming in general. It’s everywhere in life, and internet simply allows these douchebag to be more vocal about their stupidity.

JodeciDeion:TheWon said...

Sorry James, but your link in no way did even a decent job explaining why modern day gaming is great. Everything that was named was already going strong before this generation. In some cases the argument wasn't even accurate. Look at this way Activision makes a new Call of Duty game the commercial is about being a sniper. For controversy they use footage from the DC Sniper, and his likeness to sell the game. Do you still have not have a problem? The only difference between the too is one guy got put away, and the only got away free.

Anonymous said...

I guess I should count myself thankful I don't play much CoD. Oliver North? Really? The implications that carries.

On a lighter note, I think I know what you plan to do to save the RetroThinker. Fex, some game I don't know the name to, Portal, it looks to me like you're gonna show the RetroThinker the gaming scene's last Bastion of innovation.

The Indie Game Scene.

I often had the thought of you sitting the RetroThinker down in front of a computer, and saying to him "Retrothinker? Welcome, to the world of independent video games." before clicking the mouse, then we see the RetroThinker's face making expressions like he's reacting in shock and awe to what he sees while we see title art and screenshots of various indie games, like Fez, Cave Story, Super Meat Boy, And Yet It Moves, World of Goo, Aquaria, Machinarium, Octo Dad, etc., pass by his head while the Hallelujah chorus plays. Do you think that could be the thing to restore The Game RetroThinker's opinion of gaming? It could also play into a more hopeful next episode, which, IMHO, would be a nice follow-up to an episode like this. Ever considered doing an episode about indie games & the good they do for the industry?

Botman said...

This episode was relatively straightforward and not that bad, up until the last minute of the story, which became the exact embodiment of the reason I didn't want to see you cover this subject during the current story arc.

Ever since the Retro/Necro story arc started, I thought the general theme would simply be that modern games like Call of Duty and Madden were not inherently evil, and we shouldn't hate them, or demonize the people who like them. That they don't deserve to be destroyed, and we should have a "live and let live" attitude.

But by covering the Oliver North story this episode, you gave us the impression in the last minute of the episode that the theme of this whole arc is "Yeah, fuck those games. Only these OTHER games (that I personally approve of) are worth saving from destruction."

I'm now genuinely confused at how you expect us to take these stories or the Overthinker seriously as a character, if they're always going to be nothing but "comedic" extensions of your own opinions, with nothing to ever seriously challenge them outside of stereotyped caricatures like the Antithinker and Strawman.

I guess it's my fault for thinking you might have become better then that when you started this story arc. It had potential, but this episode seems to be killing it.

James said...

Botman: That's exactly the agenda Bob tries to push with every show; he's always right, and any dissenting opinion, no matter how valid, will be mocked, misinterpreted, or ridiculed.

Halisann said...

Look, Bob...While I do agree with you whole heartedly about CoD and it's right wing bullcrap, I have to say that you tend to assume that ALL of gaming is like CoD. I'll say what I always say on every video you mention Cod. NOT ALL GAMING IS LIKE COD AND NOT ALL GAMERS LIKE COD. In fact most of the people who you would call real gamers HATE CoD. They Despise CoD and everything that it stands for. Sure we sang the praises of the first modern warfare but that's it. You always mention how gamers hate gaming becoming mainstream and whatnot? Well Cod is a game that tries to target the mainstream...not real gamers. If gaming becoming mainstream completely means more CoD and less Bastion...then I don't ever want it to become mainstream. Sadly we can only do what we can but please for once just realize that the whole gaming industry is NOT COD

-signed: A game designer

REPTILE 0009 said...

@Hailsann
So you’re saying that if you like COD you’re not a real gamer? Guys like xJawz, XboxAhoy, GUNNS4HIRE, the NGT crew, WoodysGamertag, WingsofRedemption, Miles923, and Drift0r and more importantly, ME are not real gamers, simply because we like COD and play it competitively? As a matter of fact, what do you define a “real gamer” to be?

Jannie said...

Hailsann is engaging in a "No True Scotsman" fallacy, a particularly odious logical fallacy used in the past to justify some of the more absurd discriminatory beliefs of various people. It's not worth even arguing with him about it, let him stew in his juices and feel intellectually superior.

Actually though Bob said something in his video that, for me, truly was eye-opening.

Not about Hollywood being "mature" or games somehow "immature" because frankly that's so incredibly subjective it's almost impossible to properly articulate just how much...W and Green Zone, and most of those other movies, were such blatant cathartic bullshit I have genuine trouble believing anyone REALLY thinks they're thoughtful or "challenging" (whatever that means) and all of them are quite obvious left-wing diatribes.

The fact of the matter was MOST of the country was, and all but a few still are, solidly against Bush during that period, which is why those movies were made. At the end only about 5% of the population even LIKED him and a huge chunk believe and still believe (including myself) he illegally stole an election. They were reflective of a feeling of an illegitimate president's worthless and costly war not any kind of attempt at thought provoking cinema.

No, what he said that really made me think was what he said near the end about what gaming, in his opinion, used to represent and what it does now. And more so it actually made me have a kind of epiphany, mainly be reminding me of a completely different medium: COMIC BOOKS.

Or more specifically the Silver Age and the fetishizing of it by comic book readers.

That short part at the end, starting with the Nintendo cereal picture and onward, FYI, actually has made me reconsider some of my views on what the hell these anti-modernists (I don't think "retrogamer" is an appropriate term anymore, and I'll explain why) are actually thinking.

Jannie said...

So I'm listening to this and Bob started talking about what gaming, in his mind, used to be and it's the usual "retrogamer"/anti-modernity thing about pastel colors and cartoon characters and nonsensical plots ("garish", in his words) and how it now represents what in his opinion is somehow macho or otherwise patriarchal.

Now for me, as a non-man, this was like "wait, what?" because at no time during a playthrough of Gears of War or Modern Warfare 2 did I ever feel somehow a patriarchy was in place here...indeed, Gears is a game where the females are perhaps the MOST covered up, least sexualized, most independently minded of any modern series--including Metroid since that whole "Samus Aran as a crying schoolgirl" malarky with Other M.

So I'm thinking about WHAT the hell that could even mean, as if "macho" means anything at all in ANY context, outside of just an insult, but then it struck me as odd.

Things like really bright colors and ridiculous cartoon mascots and all that...those things were never MEANT to appeal to anyone but children. And not even older children like 10-12 but little, baby children like 3, 4 or at most 5. Those games were so bombastic, so bright, so mindless and numbing only children, I imagined, could appreciate them. And yet people DO appreciate them who AREN'T children and now I'm confused.

So that's when suddenly I was reminded of comic books and the aforementioned fetish towards the Silver Age.

Jannie said...

Quick primer: the Golden Age of comics were the first superhero books, after Superman became a smash hit, and introduced characters like Batman, the Flash and Green Lantern to the world. The Silver Age immediately followed it.

But the Golden Age of Comics were NOT for children, not really. They were marketed to kids but, in all honesty, parents were right to be scared of that. They were filled with violence and sex and the most vile kind of racism, sexism, misogyny and cruelty. Batman used to kill literally all the time, so did Superman. Captain America used to mow down people by the dozens. Crime and horror comics featured violence on a level not scene until Saw became a thing.

And I don't think I need to explain that Blacks, Asians and any non-white, non-male in the comics were basically either non-existent or barely human.

The Silver Age was the complete opposite in many respects. Much of the violence was removed, nearly all of the sex, and replaced by "garish" and overly colorful and cartoonish characters. None of it was taken even the least bit seriously, and it was all so ham-fisted and absurd as to stagger the belief of most modern fans if they picked one up.

For example, one Silver Age story involved Superman using his hair to sponge up molasses spilled across Metropolis by a godlike alien child dressed like Batman.

These stories were designed for little kids. Little LITTLE kids, like three and four years old. They fell apart at even the slightest attempt at any kind of intellectual scrutiny and demanded nothing but complete, near-mindless acceptance of them.

After the Silver Age came several following eras, including the modern or Dark Age. Comics now are supposed to be "Dark" and gritty but they're no more so than the Golden Age. So why is it that many readers today lament those old comics going way. Well, it occurred to me the same thing is happening with gaming.

Jannie said...

See, when most of Bob's generation started gaming, they were children. Small children, like maybe five or so years old. Back then the companies exposed kids to such extreme proselytizing and hyper-aggressive ads that they were almost turned into a small cult.

THAT is why 80s babies tend to look back so fondly on Transformers, despite the terrible animation, even worse writing and unbearable childishness of it. Because they were indoctrinated from a young age to believe that was the ONLY way things could be. In a way it became liken to hypnosis. It was a guttural, visceral, almost instinctual attraction to those things even when they know it's bullshit. It's like a cult, hooking them as young as possible and then holding them in place with constant reinforcement.

That same concept, the idea of getting kids as young as you can and filling their heads with nonsense and propaganda, was practiced by game companies too up until very recently. Like the late 1990s even. When Sega died and Nintendo fell to Sony for a while as the new top dog, that indoctrination stopped and games were now aimed at older (like, 12-14 older) kids who were no longer under this level of propaganda and indoctrination.

So when these people, now adults, see these bright colors and inane characters they immediately go back to that original programing and in an almost Pavlovian way they CAN'T say no, nor can they intellectually scrutinize it or ask any logical questions. Comic book fans are the exact same way for the most part, but in their case it was self-enforced instead of by outsiders.

The thing is, when they talk about what they see in Modern Warfare or Black Ops they're not talking about what is actually there but what was ALWAYS there in EVERY game but which they were never prepared or capable of really seeing because they were conditioned to respond favorably to it before, under different circumstances.

It's ok for Link to bash someone's brain in with a boomerang but curb stomping a guy in Gears of War is "violent" and "gritty".

Unknown said...

Hey: I tried to login to screwattack to leave this comment, but I couldn't! I couldn't register... the only options were "long in" or "forgot your password?"

But I never had a password in the first place, and couldn't figure out how I was supposed to register as a member...

Anyway, I really enjoyed your video, I'm glad to see someone doing things like this: examining the impact of games and advertising campaigns in a broader political context. But tell screwattack that their register/login system is throwing all sorts of obstacles in between me and participating in the discussion...

Shark said...

Hollywood made a couple of anti war movies and shorts before the Vietnam War Era. "All Quiet on the Western Front", "Peace on Earth", "Good Will To Men", and "Education for Death" handled the subject of war better than the post 9/11 movies.

Anonymous said...

Awww, James, did da big bad fat man make fun of your CowwaDoodies? Did he? Well you go tell your Mommy and maybe she'll call his Mommy and have him grounded!

James said...

Anonymous: I don't like Call of Duty. I just don't want Bob to act like it's the only thing representing modern gaming and ignore all the good aspects of the industry.

Graham said...

I think this news might strike your fancy, Bob. It looks like even game developers are getting tired of making FPSes.

http://gonintendo.com/?mode=viewstory&id=177179

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how Bob is presenting a "COD vs. Nintendo" perspective here when none of the 3 modern games he showed at the end as being worthwhile were developed by Nintendo, and only one of them could even be played on a Nintendo console.

Connell said...

Here's an interesting question: would Activision ever have the balls to put a gay main character in COD?

Anonymous said...

Oh right moviebob doesn't want to quit gaming when publishers drive developers into the ground, lock content thats on the disc and deman more money, go to congress to support the sopa bill, openly mock and treat customers like shit by even BANNING YOU FROM ACCESSING THE GAMES YOU BOUGHT BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU POST ON A SEPERATE FORUM.

No no! Thats all cool apparently, but once Call of Duty gets a popular novelist and journalist who no one really talks about what he did three decades ago, to advertise there game, THE INDUSTRY HAS CROSSED THE LINE!

But hey this is from the same person who said PC gaming was dieing because laptops are getting more powerful...what.

For someone called the game overthinker, you sure don't think when you make these videos do you?

John M Osborne said...

@Connell interesting fact - the hero of the 2nd Medal of Honor game was female, and it tanked. This set a bad precedent. I would personally want to see more diverse characters in a COD style shooter, even though military shooters have never been my thing (aside from TF2, but that is sort of an exception)

John M Osborne said...

Bob -

First let me start by stating I am both not a fan of military shooters, and I have a deep political hatred for Ollie North that borders on the personal.

However I actually think North is the right person here, even though I do agree that there are plenty of other military figures that are available.

As far as I know, this is Black Ops 2, the sequel to a very right wing Ramboesque COD game. A game that usually went to the side of controversy, and about being on the dark, underhanded, covert side of war. In other words, the exact same things as the Iran Contra affair.

That being said, I would rather see a game based on the CIA style spy business that isnt about commandos with guns but rather about information gathering and asset control. Something where not only do you need different narratives, but you need to actually befriend and work with traditionally enemy states (and, by extension exposure to cultures and races). To make hard decisions like giving weapons to one bad group vs. another bad group, because the first bad group will help you in another way. To find ways to enter a religious temple without causing diplomatic incidents. Those are the sort of constraints I would like to see a player get creative with.

You know, the exact opposite of the Iran Contra affair

Anonymous said...

James, the one thing that struck me about that Cracked article when I read it a few months back is that most of those six arguments mention how games could *potentially* be better because of DLC, multiplayer, better graphics, etc. The author chose to blinker himself in blind optimism and idealism while ignoring the sad realities. Potential that isn't being realised means precisely dick.

And yeah, you're sounding like a fucking broken record. Cut a new groove already. Yes, America sells weapons to people they shouldn't. When Eisenhower left office he warned of the military-industrial complex, and that warning fell on deaf ears.

Aiddon said...

the problem with the Cracked article is that you have to put a BIG asterisk next to every single point he tries to make. Games can potentially do all the things he mentions, but unfortunately even the supposed "good" ones have a bad tendency to NOT do these. The writing one in particular I take issue with as I don't see ANY difference in narrative quality from the PS1 era and now, with the sole exception that gaming decided to get more sarcastic and smug in their dialogue delivery. And that people think that good dialogue equals a good narrative.

Jannie said...

I realize what I said was precariously close to stream of consciousness, and I probably needed a few hours to better consolidate my thoughts into a more coherent whole, so here's a more concise way of saying it.

What exactly IS Fez? Like what is it, in context. It's basically just a formless white thing moving across formless green blocks on a vertical plane, whatever attempt at any kind of story or complexity is token at best and no attempt is made at verisimilitude whatsoever. In that respect it's a perfect example of what games actually represented for years, until a combination of graphical quality and a change in aesthetics forced them to develop along a wildly different path.

All those games ever asked is that you never, ever think about or ask questions about what is happening. You just quietly and with no attempt at rationalization accept what is on screen. But modern games many times ask you to actually consider actual things that exist in the actual world. And that is when the cracks in the edifice form.

If you look back on that whole generation in the Console Wars era and even into the mid and late 90s, kids never had a chance. Every show was some kind of commercial for games, they had GAME SHOWS about those games, ads for the games in between ads for Transformers and GI Joe, and then you even had CEREAL marketing the games to you. There was no way to function in that world, if you were under the age of ten, without instantly being bombarded with the most aggressive ad campaign imaginable. It was that way for ALL toys in the 80s and 90s. That is why eventually parent's groups had to demand they simply stop showing those old cartoons because they were turning kids into cultists.

When the dam finally broke and all that fell away, when two whole generations of kids, maybe three depending on how you count it, suddenly found they had a real choice in the matter and at an older age, more capable of scrutiny, games changed from simply numbing bright flashes and sounds to attempting stories and character development.

This can even be seen in cartoons. Compare Young Justice or any of the DC Animated series, with their serious, almost grim setting and realistic character evolution, with their 80s and 90s counterparts like GI Joe and Centurions which were quite literally nothing more than very long commercials. Compare the new Thundercats to the old Thundercats, again a more "realistic" or at least realistically plotted show against a half-hour toy commercial. I mean, hey let's go there, compare My Little Pony NOW to what it was in the 80s.

Kids today, and teens and young adults, are exposed to little or no real aggressive ads from toy and game developers. They make products for their audience and then let it speak for itself for the most part. But just a couple of decades ago kids, very young ones too, both male and female, were subjected to EXTREME levels of proselytizing and aggressive campaigning such that they built up an almost programed response to these colors and sounds which, even in context, mean little to nothing. That's why you have people GENUINELY defending the G1 Transformers against the movies, in the belief that they're actually somehow structurally BETTER.

It's "bellyfeel", if I may break into newspeak here.

Jannie said...

And for, I realize, the huge number of people not nerdy enough to know what newspeak IS bellyfeel is basically deep, deep indoctrinated responses to certain concepts.

Joe said...

@Jannie:

Now for me, as a non-man, this was like "wait, what?" because at no time during a playthrough of Gears of War or Modern Warfare 2 did I ever feel somehow a patriarchy was in place here

Really, Jannie? In MW2, Russia invades the United States, attacking Washington, DC, and you don't see a single woman--not one--wield a weapon to help fight off invaders of the homeland. You don't even see a single woman trying to offer support or comfort, Molly Pitcher-style, to fighting men. There are simply no women on the battlefield at all. The only women in the whole game are some Russian civilians who get gunned down during the "No Russian" mission.

During WWII, British women were manning AA guns and even though not officially permitted to join the Home Guard, organized several unofficial homeland defense units. Meanwhile, on the other front, Russian women pilots were regularly strafing German targets while female Russian snipers were racking up some of the most impressive kill records in the war.

Yet MW2 would have us believe that even though the US military has thousands of women on active duty, all sworn to the same oath as their male counterparts, not one of them would fight against a foreign invader in defense of the capital of the United States. And you don't see evidence of a patriarchy? Or an insult to every woman in uniform? Because patriarchy means a whole lot more than women in skimpy clothing.

antecedentless said...

@Joe Bob made the same claims in his MW2 vs. new SMB video. I remember seeing at least one screenshot, maybe in MaximumPC showing a female soldier. Because uniforms are not "form fitting," they can be easy to miss. Downloading SDK to check if I am right.

Austen said...

You know, I'm getting really tired of the "right-wing people are stupid, left-wing people are brilliant" left-wing argument, which has parallels in Bob's choice of images displayed during his "Mature vs. Immature" argument. As a right-wing gamer, that was insulting and petty.

Similarly, I'm also getting increasingly tired of Bob's rose-tinted glasses nostalgia for "the good ol' days of gaming" vs. modern gaming. I'm sorry that he don't like that every other game these days is merely a cookie-cutter FPS rather than a cookie-cutter generic cartoon mascot platformer. Honestly, I'm getting tired of the barrage of similar-looking FPS games myself, but there's still a variety of other games in other genres to enjoy. Occasionally, I like playing a Call of Duty/Killzone/Resistance/etc. game (mainly for the campaign modes). I guess that apparently makes me an Immature 1990s Lowest Common Denominator Douchbag who goes online and spews racial/sexual obscenities. Because, AFTER ALL, despite it probably only being a likely proportional minority who act that way, ALL FPS gamers are the scum of the earth.

Honestly, I'm sick of Bob's tired routine of ****ing and moaning about how much "better" gaming "used" to be. If gaming is SO terrible now (outside of Indie games, apparently) that he can't be bothered to look at the industry as more than "Call of Duty-style games vs. Nintendo-style games", I question the value of his opinion as a games commentator. In my opinion, every era of games has had its strengths and appeal, but I wouldn't trade the variety and quality of the games I play now for the games I played a child any day.

Austen said...

And as for the whole Oliver North "controversy", outside of Twitter and Movie Bob, no one really seems to care. Maybe he was the mastermind that Bob makes him out to be. Maybe he was just the Fall Guy for a larger player. Whatever.

With all the problems in the world today, I have bigger things to care about than former-Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North doing a few advertisements I will likely never watch for a game I'm not sure I'll buy.

Cathartic Cat said...

I would be very interested to hear more about your theories on the intersection of anime and gaming culture in the 90s. (which you briefly mentioned in this video) It could be a great topic for the Big Picture.

Anyway I really liked this episode, it was very informative and well thought out. Too bad most of the commenters are just seeing it as "Bob hates FPS's and love Nintendo" because this really is more of a political video, not one about gaming tastes.

James said...

You notice that Bob isn't even addressing any criticism? He's just ignoring it, sitting smug in his own little world because he's convinced he's right and any dissenting view isn't worth listening to.

PadMasher said...

Though, I'm completely sick of Bob talking about CoD (it's just an old subject at this point), I think this was a pretty good episode and I pretty much agree with him. However, I hope Bob understsnds that the homophobic, racist, bigots he is talking aren't exclusive to FPS games or games period for that matter. I'm sure he does but, it just sounds like he is pinning it on CoD even though that probably wasn't his intention.

I understand the correlation he's making. Games about headshots are naturally going to attract some of the more violent and rude gamers. I've had run ins with these people while playing fighting games online so I get what he is saying. Honestly, I think the nature of the gaming community as a whole has changed for the worst. From objectifying ass-hats to pretentious dumb-fucks, nerd culture has proven to be no better (maybe even a little) than any other medium-based cultured. It kinda makes me wonder what "nerd" even means anymore because technically anybody can be considered a nerd nowadays yet that's still far from a complement.

Maybe the problem is that, deep down, our culture was always like this and wasn't until the internet that we were able to notice? Maybe we're just attracting the wrong people into the community? I don't have a clue how the fuck we got to this shit but, this is not the same culture I dreamed of being a part of when I was a kid. I know things change but, into THIS!?!?

What I find ironic is that in gaming guest to be "taken seriously", we've become more laughable than ever before by ignoring what made gaming great. Not all of those old games were cutesy platformers and some (for example: Megaman) grew into more mature franchises with deeper stories. We don't need army men and space marines to tell grown-up stories. All we need are good writers.

With all this drama about maturity and that whole REtake ME shit, is REALLY worth trying to get into this industry? I always wanted to have something to with video games but, I'm hesitate to get involved in any industry where creatively bankrupt trite like CoD makes millions, pretentious fucks pass off nonsensical "games" as art, a potentially great IP can get shot down by greedy publishers before even hitting shelves because consumers are...well stupid and publishers are too chicken-shit to take chances, and an entire franchise (see Sonic) can get thrown under the bus by te popular opinions of those who don't shit about it. I'm still considering going to school to learn about game design but, not if it means taking headache powder for the rest of life.

As for Oli, I going to be completely honest. War is stupid. War is simply what happens when 2 or more countries have a fallout over some truly petty shit (remember what the Civil War was about?) and instead of reasoning with other, they blast each others brains out. It's no different than bullying or 2 kids fighting at a playground. No blood would needed to be shed in any wars if we as a species weren't so predatorial. So really, why does Oli shilling Black Ops even matter? Considering what CoD is about, Oli's presence seems rather fitting. I wasn't going to buy it anyway. Activision, feel free to wake me up when you guys release a new Spider-man game.

counterpoint said...

good episode, robert!

Megabyte said...

*Looks at web of time or whatever the hell the last spidey game was called....*

Buddy, for the sake of your soul, just dream on through that one, too....

Ill wake ya for Fall of Cybertron, though. ;)

Smashmatt202 said...

I have no idea who Ollie North is... but if he was convicted, even if whatever legal BS allows him to still walk free... That just says something really BAD about whatever he endorses, you know?

Unless you support him, in which case... Um... Less power to you.

Yeah, even though Bob SAYS he doesn't endorse or encourage any kind of political point of view, that STILL won't stop the super right-wing guys who constantly post here from calling him a damn dirty liberal or whatever...

I try to be more open-minded then that. You know, listen to what he has to say, and think about it, if only for a little bit... Although I still tend to give knee-jerk reactions to what he says...

Oh cool, he's actually showing the ad campaign, that's a plus!

This is a "fun" show? You know, even though I like how Bob insists on having fun with his topics and stuff, I REALLY like episodes more when they're about more insightful stuff, and ESPECIALLY if they get into politics. I don't know, Bob just has interesting things to say about them, and I like it.

I knew the comparison to O.J. Simpson was going to come up. I was going to use him as an example myself at the beginning of this post, but I decided against it...

Oh GOD, American Dad! You know, that show has actually gotten a lot better over the years. I rather like it. Too bad we didn't get to see it... But now I'm going to check it out myself!

Okay, a lot of this history stuff is going over my head, I'm going to have to watch this video a second time through to get the whole picture.

But, uh, yeah, way to do EA's job of holding the medium back another couple decades, Activision. >:(

Oh yes, I remember that episode... Ah, good times... I even used it as an idea that Conservatives might want to buy Halo 4 when it comes out, thereby losing supporters for Mitt Romney, but that's another topic.

Honestly, I completely understand the desire for those more "simplistic" war movies, sometimes we just want to turn off our minds and watch good guys shoot up bad guys... But you know, you can't EXCLUSIVELY have those kinds of movies, or games for that matter. And yeah, the video game industry is still young, and in a particularly immature stage... I'll be glad when we finally grow out of it, though.

All Grown-Up was a lame spin-off of Rugrats, BTW.

Yeah, maybe it's because I'm noticing it now, but the right-wing has gotten particularly outspoken these days, and they're not afraid to say despicable and hurtful things to whoever and whatever. This is why I can't really get into the Republican party, even though I KNOW they're not all like that. I just don't want to be associated with those kinds of people, and I feel Republicans, if they don't want people to make fun of them or talk down to them, should really find a way to make them more appealing and less... needlessly ignorant and hateful.

Honestly, I totally agree with Bob on this. Sorry, but to me, he's just making a whole lot of sense here, especially near the end with his summation.

And really, this is THE perfect tie-in to the plot that's going on. Gaming really HAS reached a low-point, and it almost seems like the Necrothinker is justified in his war on modern gaming... But still, that doesn't mean we can't still somehow SAVE gaming and keep it from getting to that ultimate low point. Like the mini-montage implies, there are PLENTY of good, creative, innovative games still being made today, and thus, still worth defending the medium!

Deadpool said...

I disagree with the idea that the difference between cinema culture and game culture is one of purely maturity.

See, ultimately, movies are a story telling medium. All movie techniques are generally going to be about different ways to convey a story (which is ultimately a means to get an emotional reaction, or to seed an idea in the mind of the audience).

Games are not. Story telling is ONE of the things games can do. Super Mario Bros 3 for an example has a skeleton plot. Its focus is entirely elsewhere.

Games like Call of Duty are closer to that category. They have a skeleton plot, just a means to get the players from engagement A to engagement B.

Their simplistic look on war is a byproduct of them (and the audience) just not caring. Their villains are silly, non sensical caricatures with no real motive, but then again, so are their heroes.

And this happens in movies too. I mean, Avengers was AWESOME and incredibly popular, but not exactly the deepest, most realistic or instropective look at how war works... What with the invading army shooting random population center with no strategic signficance or military strength to speak of, and the military responding with nuking a densely populated beloved tourist center BEFORE sending in any troops of any kind... But who CARES? It's not a damned war movie...

PadMasher said...

@Deadpool

I agree with what you are saying here. Games are about gameplay first and everything else second though, I don't think this really justifies why video games (especially modern ones) tend to have brain-dead storylines. I just finished Sonic Adventure again today and was reminded just how good the story really was.

The entangled story that got clearer with each arc, successfully conveyed emotions and motives of the characters, a deeper and saddening look into the fate of Eggman's machines by playing as Gamma, and the history behind Chaos which even dabbles a bit into the concept of conquest and it's possible outcomes. Keep in mind this is all in a Sonic game and don't get me started on just how dark Sonic Adventure 2 is regarding Gerald.

If Sonic the damn Hedgehog can have thought-provoking storylines then why can't these "mature" games be anything but, mind-numbing entertainment? There's quite a few good stories in gaming really. Hell, I finished Odin Sphere mainly because of the story. Games being different from movies isn't the issue. The storylines to most modern games simply haven't evolved past saving the princess and shooting baddies. There's no excuse for it anymore.

@Megabyte

I think you mean Edge of Time. It was shitty but, I liked Shattered Dimensions.

Jannie said...

Since everyone says we "need" (as in, don't have) creative and innovative games...

What does that MEAN.

Like in this context, what does "creative and innovative" mean. Because if it means "games like they made back when I was a kid" then it's neither creative nor innovative.

If all you mean is "I want games with bright colors and cute characters" that's also neither innovative nor creative since it's the mainstay of gaming since the medium began almost, and still exists even today both in GOOD games (like Bastion, Rayman Origins and Awesomenauts) and inane "indie cash in" games (like Fez and Braid).

And if what you mean is "I want games that fail at even the slightest hint at verisimilitude and just have way-out cool fantasy stuff" well then...Halo, Crysis, Mass Effect, Skyrim Kingdoms of Amalur, Fallout. We're already there.

So what does that mean, in context.

Jannie said...

Pad Master:

Sonic always was the odd man out in terms of setting and story. One of the reasons Sonic stood out so much back in the mascot craze was because unlike the rest he had an actual personality, however rudimentary at first, and this was expanded upon in later games like the Adventure series.

It was different enough that it actually had a (fairly dark, serious) tv show in SatAM Sonic and the comics too were fairly dark, "gritty" even, though I hate that buzz word.

Sonic will never be Gears of War but it always has attempted to address, in a more mature and realistic sense, the events in the game no matter how outlandish they were. That, in a way, is why Sonic set off the mascot craze and a billion shitty imitators who missed the point completely and just assumed the appeal of Sonic the Hedgehog was "fast animal" and not "interesting character, wide ranging cast and vaguely adult subject matter".

Proving once again that imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery.

Deadpool said...

@ Pad Master

First, games CAN be about story. But they don't HAVE to be about story, which is where the two mediums diverge.

And asking "Why can't Call of Duty have a deep, meaningful look at the true nature of conflict?" is like asking "Why can't Avengers have a deep, meaningful look at the true nature of conflict?"

They both CAN. They don't have it because it's not what anyone shows up for.

You don't go to FPS for war stories, you go to strategy games for that. Turn based strategy games that is...

NathanS said...

@Jannie The early Archie Sonic comics are not at all serious don't get to be so for over forty issues or so.

And the early Sonic games have nothing serious about them, until Adventure 2, unless you count the American box art... which was about selling it as looking serious and about as much to do with the actual content of the games as the American box Art for Mega Man.

Also notably the era after Adventure 2 when Sonic tried going darker and more serious is also looked at as being his lowest point.

PadMasher said...

@NathanS

I see where you're getting at. The Sonic Comic (which I honestly believe is total nonsense) wasn't very serious at the start because Sonic wasn't very serious at the start. That and the comics made the mistake of being based off the western story which introduced characters and a whole damn planet (Mobious) that in no way actually exist in the canon story of the games. As a result, the comics had their own story and tried to blend in the multiple stories of Sonic (many of which have different origins for Sonic) into something that ended up being an overly-conveluded clusterfuck. Their version of Eggman is damn robot for christ sake.

It wasn't until Sonic Adventure (with the advancements in technology in all) that players were able see what Sonic's world was really like. Everything in the Adventure games were already present on the Genesis titles but, we didn't know due to limitations. Eggman turning animals into robots is basically animal cruelty and Amy's story in Adventure shows this. That bird had a family and Eggman took them away.

Even the machines are being abused. Gamma is born as a slave to Eggman and once he breaks free and learns what he truly is, his fate is pretty much sealed. He had to destroy his brothers which Eggman abandoned as trash in order to save them. Even if Beta didn't destroy him, he'd have to destroy himself to save himself.

This is all a result of Eggman's greed and lust for power. He less of an evil genius and more of an arrogant asshat when you really think about. All he wants is control, regardless of who gets hurt, and goes to great lengths to abuse powers which can't control (Chaos) or end up controling him (Shadow).

This was expanded in Adventure 2 when players got a deeper look into the characters and settings. Eggman still wants power and digs up his own grandfather's creation to do this only to have Shadow malnipulate him into his own plan to destroy the entire world so he can get revenge for Maria's death. This is whole stream of events is caused mainly by people's fear of Gerald's work. They tried to destroy his research and write it off as an accident, taking Maria from him in the process.

That whole incident turns the once peaceful Gerald to lunacy. He devotes all his work, which was meant to benefit mankind, to destroying it for causing him so much pain. He makes this very clear during his execution. It's only when Shadow learns the error of his ways that he is able to truly keep the promise he made to Maria rather then live out Gerald's revenge fantasy. Shadow's own game dives into this even more.

Basically, the story behind some of the Sonic titles have been pretty heavy for a mascot platformer. To say it isn't serious sorta understates the subject matter.

Aiddon said...

I think about it this way, if the CoD franchise is going to even bother with a single-player mode then they had either A) Just say "Screw it" to a narrative and focus on relentless gameplay or B) At least make a narrative that isn't insultingly stupid. Ever since MW2 the plots of the games have become atrocious things that are downright unintentional parody. They're no better than Michael Bay-esque schlock that should have died out years ago.

GiganteAsesino said...

I was about to post a "You know the whole industry doesn’t orbits around call of duty games right" comment but then I saw the ending xD I feel you keep focusing on the negative side of the industry in your shows, there’s a lot of cool good stuff going on right now…

Jannie said...

Ok Aiddon, I'll bite:

WHAT parts of the story are insultingly stupid. Like, describe the flaws in the story. And keep in mind that if it has a logical answer it's not, by definition, stupid. I hear that all the time from you but you refuse to articulate a damn thing so feel free to make this your soapbox on my dime. WHAT is stupid in the story and how can it never be explained by simple logic or other parts of the story?

Jannie said...

Also I'd still like to know what "new and innovative ideas" means here because I've yet to see anyone actually articulate that either.

And "make it like it was" is neither new nor innovative, nor is pointing towards some indie game and saying "do that more" because then it's not new and innovative, now is it?

Anonymous said...

Jesus would everyone just shut the fuck up about how "COD is doing this that or whatever to the industry"?! I have had enough of all of it!

COD is a game. It might appeal to you, it might not. Me? It doesn't appeal to me at all...and that's okay, because I know others find worth in it. They have fun with it like any other game. It doesn't make them gamers or non-gamers or what the fuck ever.

Why do we have to bicker and thrust our chests out screaming; "my form of gaming is more correct than yours!!!" Yeah I am talking to you Jannie. I, once again, do NOT have a problem with COD at all. I am happy you find joy in it.

I am NOT happy with how you insist that there is something inherently wrong with any people who like games that are bright or colorful. Brainwashed....? Really...? By your logic...EVERYTHING that we see on TV is brainwashing us! That Big Mac you were craving after work, its the evil fastfood industry calling you into its cult. Picking Tide over Bizz? Probably brainwashing.

My point? We are all gamers who have different tastes. If you grew up with a nintendo, you more than likely like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid. If you had a Sega system, you are probably a Sonic fan. If you grew up with a PC playing Ultima you are probably picking up your copy of Diablo III right now. If you played Doom you probibly like....wait for it....Call of Duty. Its not so confusing, it doesn't have to be more than it is. There is NOTHING wrong with anyone who goes down ANY of these paths.

Anyone who still wants to argue that one person's gaming is wrong over theirs, needs to get the fuck over themselves. Enjoy the games you like...and for the love of God....don't call someone; "NOT A GAMOR!!!!11one" because they don't agree with you.

By the way, that last part was for all of you....yes including Bob.

Foolish Fool said...

I'm glad someone else mentioned Metal Gear. The Overthinker once made a point of the series having an actual grasp that war isn't a pleasant endeavor (We'll see if that survives Lightning Bolt Action, brr).

How much does capitalism have to do with this? There's a market for dumb, some one's gonna sell it to them. I mean: there are plenty of fiscally minded, small government, pro-rights people scratching heads over how the religious repression folks married the republicans just as much as the Overthinker is scratching his head on worst person shooters. Perhaps the problem is that humanity really does have this as a portion of it and that portion has resources to allot. How does one ensure people volunteer to take their stupidity elsewhere when stupidity leads to irrationality?

David said...

I had initially been hesitant to wade into the discussion here, especially since I am not a regular viewer of the show; however, reading the comments has prompted me to add my opinion into the mix.

I do think the choice of Oliver North as a spokesperson for Black Ops 2 was a poor choice. I don't, however, think it was a malicious choice. I say that to mean, I don't think he was chosen specifically for controversy's sake. I think he is representative of a "black ops" aspect to military action which, combined with his media presence, makes him an ideal candidate to appear in an ad campaign for a game like Black Ops 2. I would imagine his history regarding the Iran-Contra Affair was brought up during a meeting at some point, but it would be good to remember that 18-30 year old males is really the target demographic Activision is aiming for. That means, at the high end, most of their target demo were children when the Iran-Contra Affair took place. I would imagine Activision felt the likely ignorance of their target demo was worth a few lost sales from older gamers and (attentive/politically active) parents buying games for their children.

Regarding the maturity of games versus movies, I have to disagree with you, Bob. I don't think there is such a great difference between the "maturity" of the gaming industry and the movie industry. I think there is a fallacy between even attempting to compare the two. This may sound odd, but movies are always constrained by the necessity of a coherent narrative. Games do not have to present a fully-realized narrative. The interactivity of gameplay means a deep, thoughtful narrative is not a requirement for a good game. An excellent story can make a good game into a great game, but excellent story alone does not make a good game. The CoD games make a good example. I would argue that (most of) the Call of Duty games are good games. They could have been great with more attention to presenting a fleshed out single-player campaign involving complex characters and motives. The fundamentals of the gameplay make them good games. I would equate the campaign of the modern CoD games to the plot of the movie 300. It's entertaining as hell so long as you don't think that's what actually happens.

Twinmill said...

I'm starting to think Activision secretly has a sense of humor, and is just trolling the audience who they know isn't going to buy the game in the first place, to be honest. In which case, props to them.

These comments are food for thought, well, most of them are, anyway, but I have one nitpick from one of the comments above.

Call of Duty may not be innovative that the developers don't want to incorporate a gimmick like a walljump code, or replacing their texture pallets with single color images, but the game is not creatively devoid. Even with Activion breathing down their neck, constantly threatening to cut their budget if they don't cut some features and add some as well to appeal to a wider audience, the game isn't creatively devoid.

The maps are actually well thought out in the older Modern Warfare games, and, fuck, dude, just no, I won't pretend to be mature here. They're developers. I don't care how little you like the game, or the studio for the matter, they're not the bad guys. The point I'm trying to make, is even with Activision as their publisher, the developers do an excellent job creatively on Call of Duty, you just don't notice it because it's subtle. That's coming from someone who would rather play a 12 hour Tetris marathon versus a 10 minute MW3 marathon.

Also, there is plenty of vitriol outside of CoD. Trust me. I just got out of a game of LoL where, I have allchat disabled, but my friend was reading it off. It makes Xbox Live look like a mature environment. Now if you want a mature community, play BF3 for the PC.

Unknown said...

Y'know, I think this speaks much less to what entertainment Rush's "Dittoheads" have been moving to since Hollywood's run by "Godless Liberals" and more that the right-wing fake culture war trying to stem the tide of modernity brought on by the insecurity angry white shoulda-been-alpha males has been so overinflated that it's hard to imagine it all not coming to a head soon.

Navar said...

It is funny that the "mature" viewpoint is also your viewpoint.

Aiddon said...

speaking of Acti's crazy business habits, here's the latest new from the EA-Acti legal debacle:

http://www.joystiq.com/2012/05/16/ea-and-activision-settle-in-call-of-duty-lawsuit/#comments

It's official, Kotick is FUCKING CRAZY

Jannie said...

Hey, Aiddon, I repeat assuming you missed it: you said the story in MW2 is "insultingly stupid" so can you actually articulate in what way? What is a major plot hole, for example?

Jannie said...

Anon:

"Brainwashed....? Really...? By your logic...EVERYTHING that we see on TV is brainwashing us! That Big Mac you were craving after work, its the evil fastfood industry calling you into its cult. Picking Tide over Bizz? Probably brainwashing."

Um...yes? Yes it is?

That's what aggressive campaigning is, in essence, some are just better than others. If McDonnald's wasn't trying to push their food on little kids why have a cartoon clown as their mascot?

(or a mascot AT ALL for that matter? they make burgers why in God's name would they need or want a mascot if not to market towards children? What other possible use could it be? And mind this isn't something quasi-ironic or meta to appeal to hipsters like The King...)

In fact studies have shown that simple repetition of a phrase can effectively "mesmerize" people into buying products. They've been doing that since the 1950s. Some of the earliest commercials were little more than HEAD ON--APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE HEAD! HEAD ON-APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE HEAD! only in black and white and somehow even MORE aggressive.

Were you not aware of this? I'm not saying that, in any way, to sound like a smart ass or be insulting Anon I'm seriously asking if you never noticed it before? Though I can imagine that if someone isn't aware of how aggressive ad campaigns can be they may not consider them odd, but I still figured people would notice them nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

I like how Bob still thinks he can be taken seriously when he's still forcing in these storyline things that literally no one wants. You'd think he'd be devoting more episode time to defending Nintendo's business fuck ups as of late, and instead he's trying to start a video game version of the OJ controversy. I mean be honest, we all expect the former more so then the latter, right? I mean I expect the latter too, but not more then I'd expect him to suck Nintendo cock for the quinbillionth time. Is it possible the fetish for shitting on everything not Nintendo is starting to over ride the fetish FOR Nintendo?

Aiddon said...

also this:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/117304-EA-and-Activision-Settle-Infinity-Ward-Dispute

So, the EA-Activision thing is settled, but it looks like the Zampella/Ward-Acti thing is still going on. The whole idea of Kotick demanding someone to illegally find dirt on Zampella and Ward is something straight out of the Rupert Murdoch scandal going on right now. Or something out of a crappy comedy.

Zeno said...

@Deadpool:

"See, ultimately, movies are a story telling medium."

Not to us fans of pure cinema.

Zeno said...

@Jannie:

"What does that MEAN."

There can't be a precise definition of creation or innovation because if there was adhering to that definition would be neither creative nor innovative. You're basically asking a more specific form of "what is makes art good?", applied only to videogames.

Anonymous said...

Be honest with me, Bob. And I mean BRUTALLY. FUCKING. HONEST:

If Henry Hill were the pitchman for Mafia 3, you wouldn't raise this much of a stink about it, would you?

Aiddon said...

surprised you haven't mentioned the rumored Metroid x Star Fox crossover:

http://www.gonintendo.com/?mode=viewstory&id=177532

I personally think it's bogus. Retro going back to Metroid sounds a bit too fanwanky plus it doesn't sound like enough of a crossover to truly work.

Hypershell said...

As evident in the lack of news this generated, most gamers likely do not know who Oliver North is beyond "present day war talk show host", which is not a position to be taken terribly seriously. And that's probably all Activision was looking for.

I think the commercial's dumb, and the future-paranoia angle is old and shameful (contrary to popular belief, fear of technology is not new). I think selling weapons is sick, but I also know that both ends of the political spectrum do it. I don't believe that everyone who plays a military game is a sexist warmonger any more than I believe everyone who plays Grand Theft Auto is a professional criminal.

For as despicable as selling weapons is, how does it compare to shooting and bombing the people yourself? There is no morally correct way to wage war. War is a moral compromise in the face of desperation. It's a disturbing eventuality that all "influential" nations must unfortunately prepare themselves for; because while it takes two to tango, it only takes one to massacre.

The "mature" way to handle a threat of violence in our normal lives is to report the aggressor to a higher body, which will forcefully apprehend the aggressor if necessary and deal with them according to established procedures beyond either party's realm of authority or power. That option does not exist in conflicts between independent nations. The moment some asshole decides that the only way they can make their point is to start killing, you have little choice but to speak their language or roll over. It's not honorable, it's not conscionable, and it's not something at all worth celebrating. But it's the way the wretched world is, and sheltering ourselves from it is the reason we pay taxes.

Anonymous said...

Well, if we really were all professional criminals we'd have them outnumbered, am I right?

... Oh dear, I don't mean to panic anyone, but it looks like the sexist warmongers have us slightly outnumbered... But I think you know what to do.

jeffrey said...

Thanks for this great post. very informative indeed. this post helped me in some ways. i just want to say thank you for this informative post.

Aiddon said...

Activision comments on North

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/117461-Activision-Defends-Oliver-North-in-Black-Ops-2

I still call bullshit though. There's a lot more special ops people you could have provide consultation without resorting to a loony bin like this ass.

John M Osborne said...

@Aiddon -

Thanks for the link. It's amazing to read the defenders in the comments though (some of which used the same "defense" I did).

Again, I'm not a fan of either the COD series or Ollie North personally. And I agree that there are plenty of other figures that are less controversial - and less criminal - to have chosen from.

Covert operations, though, are criminal acts in a foreign nation MOST of the time, so it would be hard to find. That being said - the main point of it is NOT to get caught, and to do so in a way that preserves relationships - good and bad. THAT would be an interesting "Black ops" game to me.


An interesting counter to the Iran-Contra scandal is covered int he film "Charlie Wilson's War" and an upcoming film called "Argo" - both about real life, recently declassified covert operations. They make a strong point about doing their work in such a way that they don't get burn bridges and especially cause a war.

Also, listen to the International Spy Museum podcast. CIA, NSA, and others who are interviewed there have done very interesting things - and have strong ethical codes. Most of them are against sensationalist Hollywood things like torture (which exist, but most of the CIA I've heard on the show really hate its use and disregard a lot of the information from them) and Commando teams.

maninahat said...

I get the impression North was picked, not because of his scandalous history, but because the guy is a best selling author and a familiar face on one of the most popular networks in the world - you know, the exact sort of person you'd want selling your books. The fact that he has such a wide audience suggests that there are a lot of people who don't know/care/dislike his previous history. That is what COD are banking on, and it will probably work in their favour, despite attracting criticism.

The sad fact is that the public have a short memory, and are apathetic enough to remember a guy's novels more than his war crimes. But that isn't COD's fault and COD isn't encouraging that mentality, it is simply exploiting it as any sensible business would.

maninahat said...

Also, though I love the breakdown of the stupid "left vs right war movie" theory, I don't think you give games enough credit. Yes, they are less grown up than movies, but games certainly don't just paint a black and white world of good and bad. Comically villainous Russian stereotypes aside, COD puts you through all kinds of morally dubious situations; a CIA agent guns down civilians in an airport terror attack or a soldier slowly dies alone in a nuclear holocaust. Throughout the games, the "heroes" do totally deplorable things for the "greater good", and the finaly message isn't "it's always worth it!" it's "maybe it isn't".

These games are far more mature than Contra or Metal Slug (other retro war games that aren't part of your nostalgia trip), presenting grey areas, or instrospective moments where you can reflect on your actions. FPSs still have a long way to go, but you'd be wrong if you thought new COD went straight for the John Wayne philosophy. Heck, if you compare COD1 to COD:BLOPS (And I mean actually play them), you'll see how much the industry has changed its portrayal of war, all within a decade.

Anonymous said...

Ehhhh, I don't like your dismissing of the Sandinistas.

They were a popular, democratic (and socialist) movement that overthrew the American-backed, hard-right, supercapitalist, corrupt Somoza dictatorship.

The Contras were generally FOR that stuff, and were profoundly antidemocratic and elitist.

Also, that democracy in Nicaragua Ollie was bitching about in that Fox News clip? It was the Sandinistas that began it and, considering their electoral hegemony within Nicaragua today, maintain it stridently.

America, in the 70s, really exercised that Monroe Doctrine and decided to financially support a whole damn bunch of far right dictators. That's how Hugo Chavez can essentially say "death to the Yankee imperialists" and get a whole bunch of cheers.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if this has been already stated in here, but i'ts going to be interesting to see how the new Tom Clancy Rainbow six game due out in early 2013 will be recieved. Since it puts you against fellow countrymen as opposed to the generic islamic-russian-N Korean enemies that have been the goto enemies of this genre.