Christ on a cracker.
Oh, Square. I don’t even know anymore.
You guys were given all the time in the world. All the development resources, all the A-list talent, all the designers, illustrators, artists and programmers you could ever want at your disposal, and what have you turned out in the last decade?
A game so bad it wrecked the reputation of the Final Fantasy brand – considered the unassailable bastion of Japanese RPGs. The pissing away of a pedigree so valuable that merchandise of any sort commanding the iconography from games they made decades ago still demands premium prices. Once respected industry leaders and the pride of Japan, Square-Enix have become a joke to their once-loyal fans worldwide. These same fans have long since moved onto other things, like jobs and families and lives of their own.
The last decade in video game development – the seventh generation of video game console hardware – will be remembered for a game industry grown bloated, arrogant, and fat, giving rise to the worst kind of business practices. But I will remember it for the death of Japanese video game development, and the snubbing of an established truth that I had long since proclaimed as gospel: that Japan made the best video games in the world. I will remember it for the loss of faith I had in Square to make games of any sort.
I feel the need to clear my head and get down some of these thoughts as soon as I can muster them, because I don’t really feel like this that often. There’s always the chance of me growing more numb to the events as they pass, and sinking deeper into an apathy I’ve been fighting to escape from all this time.
I want to believe people are better.
I want to believe people are great. I want to believe that we can accomplish incredible things and look upon the work we have done and call it good. I want to not doubt the people around me and I want to view the world not with cynicism but with cheerful optimism. I want to believe the best of the people around me.
I have to try.
Because not to try would mean giving in to despair.
This is written in response to Devin Faraci’s extremely patronizing but well-meaning article, which can be found here. Any comments about the Chinese copying shit are very much appreciated, because we are so very damn good at it and we’d like some kudos for that.
Double disclaimer: this was actually written last week when I discovered the original article, and as such some of the timings referred to are no longer valid (weeks, etc.). Any information that has been revealed over the last week is therefore not referred to in this piece. If Devin Faraci would be willing to start a rational and non-hostile dialogue with me, that would be wonderful. The offer for beer and videogames does actually still stand.
Shown here is the fictional character Mort, from Gunshow’s Anime Club comics. It was, at one time, a far more accurate depiction of me than I would care to admit.
I’ve already said nearly all I want to about #gamergate in an overly sentimental and entirely too earnest plea for sanity on both sides. What I am going to talk about is something else that became readily apparent as the entire fiasco developed and matured into the royal rabbit clusterfuck warren that it is today. And I am going to do it while doing my best to remove my own moral judgment on the situation. I am not judging the actions of the people involved or what happens behind closed doors. What goes on behind those doors is for their ears only, and the only way we have of knowing what goes on behind those doors, realistically, is if someone on the inside opens it a crack.
What I am judging is the absolutely piss-poor ways individuals in the industry have conducted themselves publicly in the wake of these allegations. These public displays of self-humiliation have been so widely documented that there is an actual tumblr dedicated to recording harassment received from proponents of #gamergate, and prominent figures in both the indie games development scene and games journalism have come out and basically thrown themselves on their own swords live and on Twitter Technicolor. When you’re losing a PR war against goddamn 4chan of all people – the site that has a rather-well-deserved reputation as the “internet hate machine”, you have to be fucking up in so many ways that even people who only found out the internet existed sometime last Thursday would call you on your bullshit if they knew. So as an interesting little thought experiment in public relations, I am going to illustrate how I would have handled this if I personally was responsible for PR in the wake of the Five Guys scandal.
While my current title is Creative Editor, I have some modicum of experience in branding, marketing and advertising, and as someone who at least pretends to be professional from time to time I want to see how this could have been turned into a net positive for, if not everyone involved, at least some of the people who have painted targets on themselves while waving flags proclaiming their stand against internet misogyny.
We shall then compare this to how Zoe Quinn and her loosely-defined social cadre of indies and game journalists (“gamejournopros“) have actually handled events. Let’s give this a go.
A new video game generation sees the launch of new IP. Given that the game industry gets notoriously risk-averse and skittish thanks to the presence of The Man when large amounts of money are involved, companies have been unsurprisingly conservative about what they’re doing with the new generation of consoles.
Case in point: Sony Santa Monica has teamed with one of the premier former PSP developers, Ready at Dawn, to release a brand new IP set in a striking alternate past universe where templars hunt werewolves with steampunk technology. Sounds gripping, right?
Brave new letterboxed world, that has such familiar gameplay and camera angles in it.
I hate the word ‘gamer’.
I do this not because of the multitude of unsavoury associations the word brings, but it merely states that to participate in a medium is to give yourself a title, to set yourself apart. This nebulous group is near-impossible to define; by its broadest definition (people who play games), it proves to be more divisive than inclusive in a manner not unlike children picking teams on the local schoolyard – only people the group has through a rigorous hazing process or social groupthink deemed worthy are granted the label.