GWJ Conference Call Episode 593

Evil Within 2, Subnautica VR, Darkest Dungeon, Special Guests Shawn Elliott and Jeff Green, When a Game Becomes Good, Your Emails and More!

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This week Shawn and Amanda welcome former GFW Radio podcast alums Jeff Green and Shawn Elliott to the podcast!

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind.

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Wash Out - Broke for Free - http://brokeforfree.com/ - 30:47

XXV - Broke for Free - http://brokeforfree.com/ - 1:15:50

Comments

Listening on a Tuesday night, I feel like I am breaking the rules lol.

00:02:12 Darkest Dungeon
00:06:53 Overwatch
00:13:03 The Evil Within 2
00:17:30 Virtual Reality
00:27:00 When a Game Becomes Good
01:12:40 Your Emails

Mentioned in the show but not linked yet:

Vice's Waypoint podcast episode about Kingdom Come: Deliverance re: GamerGate support
https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/arti...

Haven't listened to it yet but I hope (but don't expect) to hear people realize that it's not offensive for devs to want to produce period games based on conducting good research, even if that means not shoehorning modern tastes into historical settings; simultaneously it's of course justifiable to scorn a developer for their support of or statements regarding sensitive topics. For historically set games I believe people should not rush to judgment about issues, such as whether or not there indeed were dark-skinned Africans in the portion of central Europe depicted in the game and whether the game accurately depicts the roles of women, until there is some sort of consensus by experts unconnected to either the developer or the advocacy groups benefiting from the controversy.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jeff's Dark Souls streams. Some of my favourite moments were when he would pull himself together after a long series of failed attempts on the boss. He'd say to himself, "Right. That's it. No more playing around. I'm going to take this seriously and this time I'm going to beat that boss!" seconds before his character would take one step in the wrong direction and plummet down a lift shaft or the equivelent. The comic timing, although clearly unintentional, was exquisite.

Jeff was (along with the GWJ podcast) responsible for me getting into Dark Souls and Bloodborne for which I'll always be grateful. Before I watched Jeff Dark Souls seemed incredibly daunting. After watching Jeff I thought, "Well, if Jeff can do it..."

I also learned something about what it takes to succeed in life in terms of determination and persistance. Boss after boss I would think Jeff could not beat the current boss he was struggling with or the next boss after that but he would press on and come back from sessions of pure frustration to gradually improve and overcome an obstacle that had seemed unsurmountable. That original Dark Souls play through was funny, silly, wildly entertaining but also inspiring.

Edit: Added a sentence at the end of the first paragraph

I already tweeted you guys but I can't say how excited I am to hear Jeff Green and Shawn Elliot on a podcast again, I am so far behind on my GWJ Conference Call's listening but this jumps to the top of the line.

If TV has taught me anything, you don't say the baby's ugly, you say it's "breathtaking."

Keithustus wrote:

I hope (but don't expect) to hear people realize that it's not offensive for devs to want to produce period games based on conducting good research, even if that means not shoehorning modern tastes into historical settings; simultaneously it's of course justifiable to scorn a developer for their support of or statements regarding sensitive topics.

Hear hear. I was a bit bummed to hear Shawn go from very excited about the game last week, saying it ticked all his boxes and he'd been playing for 16 hours to no mention of playing it, and a few minute addendum on the game director and people having the right not play his game if they disagreed with his views. There is a LOT to be discussed about this game that doesn't pertain to that, and I hope it continues to get discussion for its design rather than politics.

I completely agree that there are two separate (although potentially related) topics that both deserve attention.

1) Boycotting/Not supporting a piece of media because it's made by someone with whom you disagree or disapprove.

2) Not approving of a game for having implicit racism/sexism.

My sense is that those two topics are being a bit conflated right now, and people are jumping from #1 to #2 very quickly. As Assassin's Creed likes to point out in all their intros to try to avoid this type of controversy, games are made by a huge variety of people from all sorts of viewpoints/backgrounds. If there was some very strong obvious statement in the game that supported Vavra's historically questionable GamerGate etc related views, then that'd be one thing, but from having played the game for a while, my experience is that is presenting a stereotypical historical understanding of medieval Europe (patriarchal society and predominantly Caucasian) based on research.

If the concern is specifically about lack of diversity, The Witcher (and many other great medieval fantasy media) got mostly a pass for being completely whitewashed, even though it's a fantasy game that could do whatever it wanted (as is the case with many fantasy medieval games). It seems a bit odd to take frustration from the whitewashing of medieval fantasy, and apply that frustration to an attempt to represent a historical understanding of 1400th century Czech Republic.

As Shawn stated, I understand both not wanting to play a game made by someone you disagree with (but I'd suggest that if that was applied to designers in general, we'd be playing a lot fewer games), and not wanting to play games that aren't representative of strides we've made in modern society in terms of diversity and gender equality. It will just make me sad if Vavra's Gamergate associations become what this game is known/remembered for, instead of being one of the most innovative rpg's in recent memory.

If the concern is specifically about lack of diversity, The Witcher (and many other great medieval fantasy media) got mostly a pass for being completely whitewashed, even though it's a fantasy game that could do whatever it wanted (as is the case with many fantasy medieval games). It seems a bit odd to take frustration from the whitewashing of medieval fantasy, and apply that frustration to an attempt to represent a historical understanding of 1400th century Czech Republic.
As Shawn stated, I understand both not wanting to play a game made by someone you disagree with (but I'd suggest that if that was applied to designers in general, we'd be playing a lot fewer games), and not wanting to play games that aren't representative of strides we've made in modern society in terms of diversity and gender equality. It will just make me sad if Vavra's Gamergate associations become what this game is known/remembered for, instead of being one of the most innovative rpg's in recent memory.

The conversation around other games is just that.. other games. Let's not delve into "whataboutisms" when it comes to discussions around this particular game.

If we strictly focus on the realism aspect based on research it becomes problematic because you can cherry pick what version of the documented research you wish to adhere to. So in a vacuum if the developer was not a gigantic gamergoober supporter I would be fine with their particular representation of history. But when you layer the goober aspects then it starts to seem more like just another portrayal of white man > *, and diversity is the real enemy.

As well there is a thread for the game in the forums right now so I don't particularly see any great concerted effort to attack this games politics and in fact it seems like people are playing and discussing the game just fine.

There are minorities in the game. The designer's research made clear groups from around Turkey were in the area during that time, so they're included.

No, it's not cherry picking when historians' ranges of how many dark-skinned people were in an area range from 0 all the way up to 1 or 2%. The lack of consensus and uncertainty isn't about whether there were significant communities but whether there were even a few isolated individuals. Does that mean that a historical game should therefore put in a few isolated individuals, on that possibility? I am comfortable with designers deciding that because a group had no real historical impact or presence that they don't need to be in a game. This isn't some unabashedly fake and romanticized version of what everyone knows was the case, such as Gone With The Wind. What the game reminds me of is the TV series of near where I grew up, Deadwood, South Dakota. In it like the historical accounts, there were a tiny number of Chinese, so that's what's in the show: IIRC, one Chinese family. No Africans, no other people that weren't there then.

Yes, it's good the forum discussion and the rest of the internet is enjoying the game. (Well, except for the bugs.) That some of the discussion about the game is that people are generally impressed with the diversity in the portrayals of women and the benality of some of the quests and systems shows that the game isn't the GamerGate white pride vehicle that some had tarnished it as before release.

Enjoyed the show this week and hearing from Jeff and Shawn. Interesting perspectives from in the industry.

Darthus wrote:
Keithustus wrote:

I hope (but don't expect) to hear people realize that it's not offensive for devs to want to produce period games based on conducting good research, even if that means not shoehorning modern tastes into historical settings; simultaneously it's of course justifiable to scorn a developer for their support of or statements regarding sensitive topics.

Hear hear. I was a bit bummed to hear Shawn go from very excited about the game last week, saying it ticked all his boxes and he'd been playing for 16 hours to no mention of playing it, and a few minute addendum on the game director and people having the right not play his game if they disagreed with his views. There is a LOT to be discussed about this game that doesn't pertain to that, and I hope it continues to get discussion for its design rather than politics.

I completely agree that there are two separate (although potentially related) topics that both deserve attention.

1) Boycotting/Not supporting a piece of media because it's made by someone with whom you disagree or disapprove.

2) Not approving of a game for having implicit racism/sexism.

My sense is that those two topics are being a bit conflated right now, and people are jumping from #1 to #2 very quickly. As Assassin's Creed likes to point out in all their intros to try to avoid this type of controversy, games are made by a huge variety of people from all sorts of viewpoints/backgrounds. If there was some very strong obvious statement in the game that supported Vavra's historically questionable GamerGate etc related views, then that'd be one thing, but from having played the game for a while, my experience is that is presenting a stereotypical historical understanding of medieval Europe (patriarchal society and predominantly Caucasian) based on research.

If the concern is specifically about lack of diversity, The Witcher (and many other great medieval fantasy media) got mostly a pass for being completely whitewashed, even though it's a fantasy game that could do whatever it wanted (as is the case with many fantasy medieval games). It seems a bit odd to take frustration from the whitewashing of medieval fantasy, and apply that frustration to an attempt to represent a historical understanding of 1400th century Czech Republic.

As Shawn stated, I understand both not wanting to play a game made by someone you disagree with (but I'd suggest that if that was applied to designers in general, we'd be playing a lot fewer games), and not wanting to play games that aren't representative of strides we've made in modern society in terms of diversity and gender equality. It will just make me sad if Vavra's Gamergate associations become what this game is known/remembered for, instead of being one of the most innovative rpg's in recent memory.

Thank you. I thought I was losing my mind. If I stopped playing every game made by a designer with worldviews/viewpoints that ran in opposition to my own, I'm sure my backlog would shrink to almost nothing.

As long as the game is not overtly or purposefully being hateful or advancing a horrid agenda, play on!

Kingdom Come is not for me on a gameplay level, but if it were, I'd happily plunk down my cash to play it with no hesitation whatsoever.

Appreciate the variety of thoughtful responses to my post and, as was mentioned by others, am glad to see people are enjoying the game (or not) on its own merits.

I found this article on heavy.com, which is responding to the current debate, and Vice's stance on not covering the game:

https://heavy.com/games/2018/02/art-...

I think it largely captures my viewpoint well. I am a strong proponent for curiosity and engagement with things that are shocking, new or surprising. It's been my observation that part of the reason that much of the US in in the fractured, angry political state it's in is that people are encouraged to remain in thought/opinion "bubbles" and high five each other when an "other" that disagrees with them is identified (on both sides of the aisle).

So I really appreciated Heavy's suggestion that if Vice was shocked and concerned about Vavra and his expression of his views through this game, engaging with the topic thoughtfully (such as inviting Vavra on their podcast in an attempt to really understand him), or writing an article about the variety of historical research would have a much more profound effect on stimulating discussion that might actually change minds or cause more thoughtful engagement with the topic in the future, as opposed to conscientious objection or boycotting, which has both the potential effect of throwing the baby out with the bathwater (in terms of rejecting the game because of him) and also of only expressing condemnation rather than exploration.

Shaming can be a powerful behavioral modifier, but in my experience only for specific undesirable external behavior, it's not at all an effective way to change viewpoints, it only drives them further underground (as we saw in the recent presidential election).

In any case, I don't mean to take this conversation into the highly political, I just wanted to highlight an article that I found to be a provocative (in the positive, thought provoking way) one on this debate.

Btw, Shawn/mods, let me know if focusing on this semi-charged topic is a no-no, or in this particular thread. I'm a super long time podcast listener, but don't engage with the forums much (though I'd like to), and so want to be ensure I'm being a positive community member. =)

It would have been interesting to hear Jeff and Shawn's take on early access - especially in the context of the topic of 'how do you know when it is good', and to be able to contrast it with Soren's from last week.

Darthus wrote:

Appreciate the variety of thoughtful responses to my post and, as was mentioned by others, am glad to see people are enjoying the game (or not) on its own merits.

I found this article on heavy.com, which is responding to the current debate, and Vice's stance on not covering the game:

https://heavy.com/games/2018/02/art-...

I think it largely captures my viewpoint well. I am a strong proponent for curiosity and engagement with things that are shocking, new or surprising. It's been my observation that part of the reason that much of the US in in the fractured, angry political state it's in is that people are encouraged to remain in thought/opinion "bubbles" and high five each other when an "other" that disagrees with them is identified (on both sides of the aisle).

So I really appreciated Heavy's suggestion that if Vice was shocked and concerned about Vavra and his expression of his views through this game, engaging with the topic thoughtfully (such as inviting Vavra on their podcast in an attempt to really understand him), or writing an article about the variety of historical research would have a much more profound effect on stimulating discussion that might actually change minds or cause more thoughtful engagement with the topic in the future, as opposed to conscientious objection or boycotting, which has both the potential effect of throwing the baby out with the bathwater (in terms of rejecting the game because of him) and also of only expressing condemnation rather than exploration.

Shaming can be a powerful behavioral modifier, but in my experience only for specific undesirable external behavior, it's not at all an effective way to change viewpoints, it only drives them further underground (as we saw in the recent presidential election).

In any case, I don't mean to take this conversation into the highly political, I just wanted to highlight an article that I found to be a provocative (in the positive, thought provoking way) one on this debate.

Btw, Shawn/mods, let me know if focusing on this semi-charged topic is a no-no, or in this particular thread. I'm a super long time podcast listener, but don't engage with the forums much (though I'd like to), and so want to be ensure I'm being a positive community member. =)

Many on this very forum have tried to engage with Gators in a thoughtful and best foot forward approach and it went nowhere fast. In the end Gators are gators through and through. Theres no both sides here.. Gators want one thing and one thing only the suppression of anything not white and male. They "gussy" it up under the facade of Freeze Peach or whatever makes them feel better about their bigotry but in the end its exactly what it is.

Your comments above are depressing to me since you attempt to gloss over Gamergate as something it wasnt. We should never forget the damage they did and continue to do.

I'm glad you are enjoying the game and can separate the artist from the art, but don't try and act like the artist isn't who he is and thus of great harm to many in gaming and on this forum.

I find arguments in video games around historical "accuracy" as a means to justify anything not white and male hilarious when the game then features healing potions and teleporting horses.

TheGameguru wrote:

Many on this very forum have tried to engage with Gators in a thoughtful and best foot forward approach and it went nowhere fast. In the end Gators are gators through and through. Theres no both sides here.. Gators want one thing and one thing only the suppression of anything not white and male. They "gussy" it up under the facade of Freeze Peach or whatever makes them feel better about their bigotry but in the end its exactly what it is.

Your comments above are depressing to me since you attempt to gloss over Gamergate as something it wasnt. We should never forget the damage they did and continue to do.

I'm glad you are enjoying the game and can separate the artist from the art, but don't try and act like the artist isn't who he is and thus of great harm to many in gaming and on this forum.

I find arguments in video games around historical "accuracy" as a means to justify anything not white and male hilarious when the game then features healing potions and teleporting horses.

Hey Gameguru, just wanted to drop a post to say that I'm probably gonna stop here, especially if you've found my comments depressing as that was never my intention. I was mostly just to trying spark a conversation about about the potential divisions between makers and their works (or lack thereof) and if it's possible to engage with topics and people that are confusing or disturb us rather than shun them.

You mention me glossing over Gamergate, but I don't recall in my post (and it wasn't my intention) to make any claim or judgement about the Gamergate movement itself or its harm, far from it. And I definitely appreciate that there may have been exchanges in this forum with people who claimed that mantle that ended up being frustrating and futile.

It seems we mostly just have a core difference of opinion in terms of the utility of continuing to try to understand people, even when they've done things which are vile or upsetting or have shown no interest in changing in the past, which I totally get.

I would like to make a small note though, that, as a newish member of the community, your previous post contained a few items that felt a little "ouch" in terms of attributing malfeasance to me (saying my comments were depressing, that I was trying to gloss over the damage of Gamergate and that I was trying to act like Vavra didn't do "great harm to many in gaming and on the forum") and so gave me pause about responding at all.

In the interest of safe spaces, I appreciate the opportunities for everyone to share their viewpoints without needing to focus personally on each other. I've been looking to engage more with the community (long time listener as mentioned, first-ish time poster), and after that final post felt like I had started a fight that I didn't mean to, as like I said previously I was legitimately trying to start what I thought was an interesting discussion.

I suppose it's my own mistake by starting a conversation on a very charged topic with an already established community (akin to bringing politics to the dinner table when you're invited over to dinner with people you don't know very well). In any case, apologies if that was the case, best to you and the others in the awesome GWJ community.