Thursday, September 16, 2010


The "Extra Credits" folks graciously did me the honor of giving "Episode 33: Building a Better Gamer" an (unsolicited) plug at the tail of their new episode this week. Since that WAS about half a year ago, I'm popping it back up right her for anyone who's come looking for it:

Coming Soon: An episode about a Special Lady.

Coming Later: Revolution.


ScrewAttackSamus said...

Special Lady????? It's not...THAT is it?

Lockgi said...

I'm just hoping you don't do that David and Goliath thing you do, where you occasionally do, where you side against what the larger opinion is, simply because it is the one that has more people backing it up. Therefore, in your own words, will piss off a lot more people.

I actually hope for a good Game Overthinker on this one. Regardless of how bold the move was, this was still a miss step for the Metroid series. It needs to be analyzed.

HiPhish said...

Bob, I can already see where next episode is going to...

Samus is not a character. She's an avatar, linke Mario, Link or a Mii. From the very first games it was meant for the players to project their personality and imagination into the videogame protagonist. You were becoming Mario, Link or even Samus.
This has nothing to do with technical limitations. Ninja Gaiden on NES hat it all: cutscenes, a coherent story and even feelings and drama.

So, whatever Nintendo comes up with as a characterization for Samus, it's going to be wrong. Not wrong per se, but wrong, because it will only fit the imagination of a limited amount of players. Maternal feelings Samus or badass Samus, it desn't matter. The only right way to portrait Samus is in a neutral way that lets the play fill in the blank spaces.
If Nintendo wants to flesh out characters, they can use the Fire Emblem series. Fire Emblem has from its beginning on NES to its latest debut on Wii been full of text. So it's not like Nintendo keeps avoiding characterization. Or even better, they can make an entirely new game. if it's that good, it should become successful, shouldn't it?

Bottom line: Once you start a series, you can't just ignore all players' imaginations. Either make fully developed characters from the beinning, or stick with the avatar way. Just throwing in a manga (which was only released in Japan, BTW) to tie up loose ends does not help. I mean, come on, how many long-time Metroid players have read the manga? it's a videogame series, it should not expect you to read a comic, which was not even released in you territory.

Unknown said...


really, i have to disagree with Samus being an avatar. she certainly was right up until the reveal of "he's a she?!?!" in the original Metroid, which was one of the earliest(and most brilliant) subversion of gamer expectations in console gaming. but from that point on, her gender really prevented her from being fully projected upon by anyone with a penis. the whole point of an avatar player character is that they are an idealization of the player. you want to be them, in their world, with their abilities and, for many, their idealized physical appearance. we live vicariously through the avatar, and the fact that most blank-slate avatars have a gender that reflects the overwhelming demographic presence of guys in gaming is hardly coincidental. but Samus forces the male gamer into the same position that female gamers had playing as the Doom Guy, or Gordon Freeman, the position of not being able to move past the "my avatar has different naughty bits than me" problem. this is a large part of Samus' appeal as a character, and something the Prime trilogy consistently built on and reinforced.

HiPhish said...

You're blowing things out of proportions.
Girls don't have a problem playing as Mario or Link (yet girls don't play Metroid), so why do you have a problem? Heck, following that logic no person in the world could identify with Kirby, so his character would have to be fleshed out.
Her gender was never relevant, it was just a joke from the developers, and then they kept with it. I don't have trouble imagining being that space warrior on the screen. She's not real. And even if you can't project yourself into her, you can imagine her. What Other M does is basically saying "screw you, our imagination is better!". it's like with Star Wars. In the original trilogy you had this evil guy with superpowers called Darth Vader. Back then it was a mystery what he looked like before. So viewers' imaginations ran wild. Then comes the Phantom Menace and... well, let's just say my 12-year old brother burst out laughing when he saw Anakin.

but Samus forces the male gamer into the same position that female gamers had playing as the Doom Guy, or Gordon Freeman, the position of not being able to move past the "my avatar has different naughty bits than me" problem.
Where do you get the idea that girls have such a problem?

Smashmatt202 said...

Special Lady? God, I can't even begin to imagine who that would be...

Revolution? Why? What kind of revolution?

Well, yeah, I want to show my parents both these videos so they can get a better picture on what kind of shit video-game-players go through.

Ryan Keys said...

I commented on the Escapist the other day I thought you did a better job, albiet alot more heavy-handed with Building a Better Gamer.

I do have to say though, the people who are really the problem with this kind of thing, aren't going to listen to anyone, and even if we get over that issue, we have the fact that we might not ever get seen beyond that original stigma.

When people think of Black Metal, they think of burning churches. It doesn't happen anymore and Black Metal musicians are so beyond those 'tear down the opposition' sweedish bands from the begining, but it's the early stuff that people still latch on to.

Neon304 said...

I think the next episode is going to be the idea of olf franchises changing. No doubt Samus used to be more of an avatar, but as time goes on she will become less and less mysterious, just like Mario's peronality has grown over the years. These characters can't keep showing up in games and remain just avatars forever, they will inevitably either find their own identaty, or stop apearing. Nothing good lasts forever, but then again, not all change is bad.

REPTILE 0009 said...

A. Have you played Reach yet?
B. Have you ever thought about doing a comparison between the Wii's biggest game, Super Mario Galaxy 2, And the 360's biggest game Halo Reach? P.S-If you do, try to be fair and non-biased.

Anonymous said...

If you're looking for a fair and unbiased view, I doubt you'll find it here.

Remember, this is Bob we're talking about. The guy specifically said he's out against FPSes mainly because it gets a rise out of people.

And, really, why do you want hear his thoughts? Does Halo: Reach become less enjoyable just because some retro fanatic on some blog says so?

I say enjoy the game, have fun and leave the supposed "Game Overthinker" to spew his bullcrap to whoever's gullible enough to believe it.

beyrob said...

Bob, I'm glad you're going to do one on Samus. Other M is the most devicive game to come out of Nintendo's flagships since perhaps Majora's mask (an exelent game) or Sunshine (good but with a few flaws). I sencirely liked this game, yes perhaps not the best Metroid out there but a step in the right direction even if not the most graceful one.

Josh said...

Bob, I hope you don't consider me as taking you out of context on this, but I linked you in my discussion on gamers, fanboys, behavior & respect.

David said...

Wait a minute.

Bob puts his guts on the line for doing some bold constructive (although arguably overacted) criticism about the gaming culture and what most people talk about in the comments is about Samus Aran?

Please, tell this is a glitch on the blog that put the comments for the next video on this one, or it is just me that is seeing the wrong page. If it isn't either of both, I quote Bob:


I have to say that I admire Bob for this video. But maybe you should have use more subtlety in some places, because I gotta tell you: I understand that you were pissed off, but yelling and using the F word are not the best way of showing moral authority, let alone setting good example.

But I get the bottom line, which is 100% truth.

Also I have to confess that I'm guilty about the current events thing way too often.

Partly because I live abroad (I'm Spanish but live in Germany) but that doesn't excuse me for not knowing some current things both about my homeland and the country I live in. Specially now that Europe is practically going down as an economic power and Spain is the game breaker victim: If Spain goes down after Greece, Ireland (both already down) and Portugal (which seems to come next), the whole freaking Euro goes down with it.

But I digress. The point is that gamers should make an effort to improve as human beings, and not using the attacks to our medium as an excuse for not doing better.

Congratulations for such a great video, Bob. Just try to do better in the manners next time.

David said...

OK, I dug more in the blog and, indeed, it was just a re upload of the original video, in which people talked about the issue at hand.


Jamie Walshe said...

I completely agree with you on all of the points that you have made in this video, although in terms of the cultural awareness, there are some fields that are socially acceptable, such as TV, comic books, and more obscure literature, that doesn't mean to say that everyone has to read the same thing, I mean some people just like something that is a bit different from what everyone else is reading. And the actions and some of the things that people say on Xbox Live is probably the main reason that I got a PS3, not saying that there aren't any douches who have a PS3, but there are generally less of them on PSN.
Also, don't you think that kids these days are actually growing up much faster, not in a good way, but in the way that was shown on the video, using stupid and racist things online that they don't really understand because they heard their drunk 21 year old brother say it and they thought that it would be cool. Anyway, I had a point here somewhere.
Oh yeah, you are probably one of the most informed people that I have met on the internet, and I am a huge fan of the things that you have to say.
Good Job and keep up the excellent work!!!