Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

March 30, 2009 -

On Friday at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, journalist Heather Chaplin told the game industry that it's time to grow up.

Pixel Vixen 707 has an extensive recap of remarks made by Chaplin, co-author of the well-regarded 2005 book Smartbomb (with GameCulture editor Aaron Ruby). Chaplin made her comments while serving on a journalist's rant panel at GDC:

[Chaplin] reports at NPR among other venues. She says this puts her in the role of a “translator,” trying to tell the mainstream why gaming even matters. This also means explaining a lot of big-name games that feature zombies, and aliens, and girls in metal bikinis wielding axes. And while she’s heard the excuses - it’s “a very new medium” - she’s way past accepting them.

Like Wendy slapping around the lost boys, Chaplin patiently but firmly laid down the line. “It is you guys as game designers who are mired deeply in ‘guy culture,’” Chaplin said. The problem isn’t the medium: “You are a bunch of stunted adolescents.” Games avoid any of the things that separate men from boys: responsibility, introspection, intimacy, and intellectual discovery. And “when you’re talking about culture-makers, this is a problem.”

MTV Multiplayer's Stephen Totilo has more:

She knows the big players and has hung out with top designers like Cliff Bleszinski and Will Wright. She singled Bleszinski out in her talk, saying she liked him, but that she was distressed by how juvenile most major games are. She dismissed top games as “power fantasies...”

She said game developers need to stop using the youth of the gaming medium as an excuse. At the same age of their medium, Chaplin said, movies had had Fritz Lang and were on the verge of Citizen Kane. Rock n roll had Bob Dylan and the Beatles...

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Comments

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

So stealing a time-manipulation mechanic that had already been done to death is something to lauded?

Sorry, I just felt Braid was hideously over-rated by people desperate for an Indie 'champion'

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

Huh? What high profile game had done what Braid did?

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
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Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

The closest I can think of is Prince of Persia.

| XBOX LIVE GamerTag: Harry Miste | Steam ID: Harry Miste | PSN ID: HarryMiste |

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Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

I'd probably agree, PoP:SoT is the closest to doing time-manipulation like Braid, but Braid did so much more.  It truly is unique, even among time-manipulation games.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

The UK has been giving BAFTAs to games for a couple of years now. A good start.

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

Yep, good start.  And the various indy game festivals are another step in the right direction. More big-studio participation in the festivals would probably be a good things. The media love festival type events.

Putting more advertising dollars into showcasing other games would also really help. When I watch TV I see very little beyond Gears of War, Halo, and a few other games along those lines. The game industry still depends a little too much on word of mouth and gamer hubs for advertising the more intellectual/emotional games.

Heh. Maybe some studio needs to give dating sims another shot for the US market. Break into the trashy-romance market and high emotional content games are not that far behind.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

Oh good lord, NOT another McKenzie & Co!

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

I was more thinking of taking the Sims and expanding on that more.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

I was not aware that rock n roll was a medium.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

I'm an electronic artist, welcome to MY world.  -.-;

"HEY! LISTEN!"

"HEY! LISTEN!"

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

We have Left 4 Dead.  I don't care what anyone says, that's a masterpiece of brilliant level design, teamwork, and balanced gameplay. 

What about Final Fantasy, every one since IV with the exception of FFX-2?  BRILLIANT story, amazing art, and great gameplay.  How about Silent Hill, Dead Space, Call of Duty, etc.?  When's the last time you saw a truly brilliant movie?  That's what I fuckin thought.

Grow up yourself.  When's the last time that paper media did anything except fellate Obama?

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

I loathe and hate FPSs, just something about them annoys me and in general I don't play them, but I love Left 4 Dead it's really fun.

 

I also thought FFX-2 was a great plot, but then again I happen to like Romance being one of those Hopelessly romantic women and all that rot.

This woman talks big and acts like she's all that, but I don't think she's ever actually played any video games. She just doesn't sound like it to me, specially with that comment about responsibility and stuff....RPGS, Strategy games, Simulations all those aren't immature (Anyone played Harvest moon, you gotta stay on top of everything or your crops wither, your animals die, and just a lot of bad can happen, I've become loads more responsible in my RL life thanks to taking care of my farms for so many years.)

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

I have to congratulate you on finding a way to put anti-Obama messages in every thread. But besides that, do you really think the writing for FF is brilliant? I'm not just talking about the story, I'm talking about the dialogue. Final Fantasy might have good stories, but those games are a long way from having believable adult dialogue. I can't really comment on FF IV through VII though (and XI), because I haven't played those. Do they have better writers? And Left 4 Dead has insanely good gameplay, but not much in the way of story. Ever played Half life 2? Now that is fantastic writing.

As for brilliant movies, just the other day I watched Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind and a few days before that I saw Gran Torino. Both brilliant.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

so so level design and unfinshed AI..they should have made it MP only.....

The story and writting is so so as well all in all we gamers would rather have crap story or non and have good gameplay...but now adays we get weak game play and so so writing...

 


Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.


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Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

"When's the last time you saw a truly brilliant movie?"

Slumdog Millionaire?

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

Yeah fucking right.  That movie was such a cheap lie.  Gran Torino was a better movie than slumdog millionaire.  Remember, just because people give it awards, doesn't mean that its actually a good movie.

 

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

Yep, a lot of reviews of Slumdog used the term 'groomed for the Oscars' which says it all really.

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

*Reply meant for Austin, not Sabre*

People can have their opinions about movies. Just like you can.

It's impolite to tell someone they're flat out wrong about their opinion.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

I don't know what kind of retarded PC world you live in, but when someone has a moronic opinion, I call them out on it.  And if anyone here watched slumdog millionaire and didn't smell the bullshit and oscar grooming from miles away, they need to have their head examined.  The movie is terrible.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

I liked the music, does that count?  ^^

"HEY! LISTEN!"

"HEY! LISTEN!"

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

My opinion is that you're wrong.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

LOL!!!

Oh wait, you're serious....

(Well, I didn't like it, anyway.)

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

It reminds me a rant against the (French) comic books industry by critic Thierry Groensteen. In one of his books, he talked about a "treachery of the editors", blasting them for (among other things) catering too much on adolescent fanboys.

I understand her rant (and I would agree with her to a point), but it's important to remember that this immaturity concerns not only video games, but also all other popular media.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

But her point is that whereas other media have their seasons for garbage (i.e. the summer blockbuster), the game industry's garbage season is year-round.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

The first feature film made was in 1906, Citizen Kane was made in 1941. SO by her logic the games industry is at least 35 years old. Not only does she fail at knowing games, she fails at comparative history.

 

EDIT: Not her, my mistake. That MTV douche fails in this post.

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

How old would you say the games industry is?  Pong came out in 1972.  Space Invaders in 1978.  Using either of those as the starting point would make the games industry either 37 or 31 years old and seemingly comparable to the film industry.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

OK, my bad, I failed hard this time!

Although he is still displaying general ignorance of anything outside braindead 'blockbuster by numbers' games.

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

Actually, thats a woman.  Sorry for correcting.


Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

Stephen Totilo is a woman?

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

*5th grade chorus*  "OOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH"

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

It's called "human error" so no worries, man.

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"A Chrono Trigger is anything that unleashes its will or desire to change history!" -Gaspar

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

Games avoid any of the things that separate men from boys: responsibility, introspection, intimacy, and intellectual discovery

What freaking games have you been playing?  Silent Hill, Final Fantasy, Tales (symphonia and Vesperia were all i played), MGS.  All these games and more deal with higher things than just "let's kill'em all"

Hell, Silent Hill alone is all you really need to say.  point out James, Harry, or Heather, even Alex and tell me that doesn't deal with a higher plane of thinking

 

although in her favor, Gears of War and the such really are "guy games" and not exactly the deepest thinking games out there.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

"Games avoid any of the things that separate men from boys: responsibility, introspection, intimacy, and intellectual discovery. And “when you’re talking about culture-makers, this is a problem.”"

I'm going to forget I saw that. Now I'm going to go back to my Mass Effect, Metal Gear Solid and Farenheit (Indigo Prophecy)

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Papa Midnight

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

Are you saying Fahrenheit was a mature game? that game wasn't mature, it wasn't even done! They cut out the middle part and instead included the worst sex scene ever. There was nothing intimate about that. Introspection was missing too, with the main characters suddenly bumping uglies for no reason (maybe the woman had a undead fetish?).

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

Would it be inappropriate to use the term 'Feminist Agenda'? Because that's what it sounds like.

And yeah, Gears etc aren't exactly intellectual, but neither are summer blockbuster movies.

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

But summer blockbusters only tend to appear in the summer.  Summer lasts all year in the game industry.  That's the whole point of that journalist's rant.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

It would be highly inappropriate to use the term "feminist agenda". First of all, that's a pretty empty phrase, considering there are many types of feminism and the term itself is often thrown around without any semblance of real meaning in an effort to demonize women who dare to express an opinion; especially if that opinion is critical of a traditionally male-dominated sphere.

And second of all, if this were a man making the same comments, would he too have a "feminist agenda" in your opinion?

I can answer that question already, and the answer would be no. Such a thought would not even come up. So, yes, it's incredibly inappropriate.

 

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

Then you answered wrongly and it serves you right for putting words in my mouth.

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

Well,if that's the case, fine. But I have a hard time believing that since it's pretty obvious that the only reason the phrase "feminist agenda" (or similar) entered this discussion was because the speaker in question is a woman.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

I'd venture that he's referring to this bit: “It is you guys as game designers who are mired deeply in ‘guy culture,’” Chaplin said. The problem isn’t the medium: “You are a bunch of stunted adolescents.” Games avoid any of the things that separate men from boys: responsibility, introspection, intimacy, and intellectual discovery. And “when you’re talking about culture-makers, this is a problem.”

It's almost like she's implicitly saying that women would make more "grown-up" games and implying that the games industry is a "boy's club" at large.  Plus, sounds very much like she's saying that there aren't any/many "women's games" in the sense of games that are less about juvenile male fantasy and more about mature feminine realism.

In one sense, she's right, but it's also that for a lot of the people working in the games industry today, many of them were growing up at the time NES came about, and back then much the attitude I ever saw across the board was that playing video games was "a stupid boy thing" and especially considered to be a "loser boy nerd" thing for those closer to the junior high/high school age, much in the same way lots of people viewed D&D playing.  Imagine the results 20 years on from that scenario, were the positions and roles reversed completely.

What bothers me is that this notion of somehow games have to "grow up."  Games are meant to be escapist fantasy at their most base and simplistic.  I will never fully understand the fascination with the Sims because to me, I don't see a point in playing it.  It is me playing an avatar living a life, and everytime I think of that I can only think of it as the saddest kind of escapism there is, and that's probably more in line with her thinking of a "grown up" game because it incorporates responsibility (keep people fed, keep the house clean!), introspection (Shall I try to woo that girl?  Should I take the ladder out of the pool?), intimacy (I am watching my avatar rub pixels under a sheet with another avatar oh god yes you naughty little avatars), and intellectual discovery (holy hell what have I done with my life the past two months?!?).  I jest, but that is essentially the other end of the pole of what she's describing as juvenile male "I am Capt. Awesome and this is my awesome gun shooting everything and now I save the hot chick" end.  I think she might've rather have just pointed to that Matt Hazard game, since that's apparently supposed to be a parody/homage to just that kind of character and game.

Granted, I've only interpreted one way she meant that, but the choice of words certainly looks that way.

If anything, someone needs to explain to her what the word "genre" means.  The reason why games like Gears are like big spectacles of explosions and muscles is because it's meant to be an action game, same as you would expect an action movie.  And funnily enough, I can find the same four qualities she mentions in one classic action movie full of big explosions and masculine bravado:  Die Hard.  How so?  John McClane and his desire to reconcile with his wife.  But that's more the exception than the role, because it's meant to be about action, not pathos nor dramatic exposition.  She's sounding more like she'd rather watch a drama movie that is more paced and about dialogue and relationships and so on, as though she's wanting Terms of Endearment or Steel Magnolias, but as a game.  But to single out only a few names representative of one genre and then say that's the whole industry's verve is a bit much, and especially does no service to her argument in light of so many other games, two of which I'll name here:  Assassin's Creed and GTA IV.  Both feature much depth of plot, and certainly satisfy those four qualities as both Altair grows in knowledge of the events surrounding him, caused and influenced by him; and Niko learns increasingly just how different life was from what he expected it to be in America, and how much of his past still remains in his present.

And really, Terms of Endearment just sounds horribly goddamned boring as a game idea.

tl;dr

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

Somehow I missed this massive post in my first perusal of the thread.  You, sir, win.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

I must say I wholeheartedly agree.

Another factor that we must also take into account is that of Gameplay, at the end of the day games that are fun sell well, Gears is fun to play so it sells very well this makes up for it's admitedly shallow story(though I do think that the universe has potential for a good story and plenty of human drama, the scene with Dom and Maria in 2 is evidence of that) 

I love a good mature and well developed plot in games, but sometimes it  nice to just forget those things and have some fun to say that there is something wrong with this is ludicrous like people have said we have the summer blockbuster in movies, just like theres space there for films like Bad boys to exist beside films like Heat.

Indeed we already have this kind of relationship in games already, in Fps's we have Gears and at the same time half-life 2 HL2 had a serious plot, believeable and compelling characters and at times gave us a glimpse into human nature in the form of the people dealing with oppression.

And as for "Power fantasies" of course games alllow us to live out our dreams what man has not experienced a desire for some form of "power" well, most politicians have for a start. the desire for power is a fairly standard male trait it's a form of masculinity that has to be acknowledged and I don't believe that it should be left behind by developers.

 

Playing GTA alone does not teach you how to maintain,operate or effectivly use any modern firearm, nor bestow unto you the resolve to shoot a human being. Give our public schools some credit people!

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

I must say, I applaud at your comment. It is a shame I'm not much for words to continue praising this comment. Great post.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

I calls 'em like I sees 'em. 

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

Would you care to explain then why exactly this person is pushing a "feminist agenda"? And what is exactly a "feminist agenda"?

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

I don't think it would be that innapropriate. What she said isn't inherrantly feminist, but I would bet money that she is in fact a feminist.

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Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

What exactly are you implying?

The term "feminist" is often misinterpreted and demonized, so that's why I am asking.

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

I don't really see a "feminist agenda", but yeah, summer blockbusters aren't that great.  My cousin said she just saw "The Last House on The Left".  that looked like a completely pointless snuff fest, apparently ending with a dude having his head explode by being put in a microwave.

How is that any better? or the Saw movies, or Hostel, or any other sex and gore movie?

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

I happened to like THLOTL.  it was a remake, yes, but IMO it was a damned sight better than the original.  At least in this one I cared about the characters and what happened to them, whereas the original was little more than an exploitation film.  Was it what the mainstream would consider a "good" movie?  No.  But I liked it and thought it was a competent and well-made thriller/horror film.

Oh, and the microwave oven at the end?  That totally made the film for me right there!

Re: Journalist to Game Biz: Grow Up

Well, the original TLHOTL was MEANT to be an explotiation film, and if I remember rightly, was responsible for starting the original Grindhouse movie trend.

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.
 
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