GWJ Conference Call Episode 166

Conference Call

Dante's Inferno, The Saboteur, PixelJunk Shooter, WoW 3.3 Patch, Dicks And Opinions, Your Emails and more!

This week what begins as a perfectly fine conversation about strong opinions turns into a vile ambush on Shawn Andrich by one Sean Sands. What a dick. If you want to submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563.

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. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

"PodunkStump" (Ian Dorsch) - www.willowtreeaudio.com - 0:32:18
"Los Pistoleros" (Ian Dorsch) - www.willowtreeaudio.com - 0:50:57

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Message boards inherently suffer from excessive 'discussion' because the internet lacks that thing that tells us "It's time to shut up now".

Dick overload.

Couple of quick comments about the Saboteur...

Personally, in this case, I feel the "nude DLC" (which is actually only DLC on the console versions - it's already part of the PC version, switched on by default) is entirely in context and makes sense (if you go into the changing room in a Parisian Burlesque in the 30's/40's, you'd expect to see some boobage ) It's not like the average parisian woman on the city streets is suddenly walking around topless.

I'm also enjoying the game MUCH more than I did Red Faction (probably because the story is much better - and far less serious). The smashing buildings stuff got old for me pretty quick in RF but I'm still enjoying the challenge of taking out a thick cluster of "freeplay" targets in Saboteur without setting off any alarms (the silenced pistol is key).

I hope to avoid being a dick in my following comment.

On the Bayonetta demo, it seems strange that we may forgive the style and trappings of a game, such as Dante's Inferno which mechanically is a god-of-war type game while Bayonetta, another action game it attacked for its presentation. It certainly seems fair to say you don't want to play a game because of the way it presents itself but to simply dismiss Bayonetta, while playing Dante's, and assuming that they are equally sound mechanically seems like an odd position to hold. It may well be juvenile but then so is the absurd amount of gore and blood that is extremely common place in many games now and that people don't seem to have as large of a problem with anymore.

I guess this is aimed at Corey's comments but I mean it in a more general sense to the extreme amount of backlish it seemed to get from the discussion in general. It is certainly pandeirng with it's presentation of women but then so is a lot of the camerawork and angles in Transformers 2 of Megan Fox or all the men without shirts in Twilight: New Moon, and far worse forms of male-pandering and sexualisation exist in movies and television on a regular basis. To call it misogynistic seems to go too far, it is simply extremely honest in what target demographic it is attempting to serve. I don't mean to defend it but simply to say that it exists in our media on a large scale. Oh man, this comment looks too long, that probably means I have been a dick.

In my opinion, the misogynistic quality of the presentation in Bayonetta is just far too ridiculous to take seriously. For me, anyways, it's just a way for the devs to cater to the sexual fantasies of young men while winking at the rest of us older men and women sideways - I mean, can anyone really take the character seriously?

It seems to me that it enters into that world of too-crass-to-be-serious kind of aesthetic that is at the heart of the satire in South Park, without being quite so obvious about it, at least to the less sexually frustrated male gamer. I mean, seriously, the game takes crotch shots, for crying out loud. It's ludicrous.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but this IS a Japanese game, and Japanese games do have a tradition of sexualizing content both for fanservice and satirical purposes, sometimes simultaneously. Does anyone take Travis Touchdown in No More Heroes seriously? No. He's lame and idiotic. He's so lame he circles right back into awesome.

From my perspective, games like Dante's Inferno and certainly Dragon Age are more transparently manipulative in that they often introduce pop-culture hot-buttons in order to generate some kind of sensationalist rise out of the audience, in place of putting in better content. The Redcliffe issue in DAO is a very obvious case in point.

Some games from the Japanese market also do these hot-button culture content things, but Americans wouldn't get it, and the Japanese don't know enough about American culture, in general, to know when something is pushing a American cultural button and when it's just totally offensive.

On the subject of dicks:

The entire podcasting crew are dicks. So is everyone in community.

PS: Need tips on how to make money from the above commentary. Suggestions welcome. Please send by PM. Currently planning on producing anti-GWJ TV spot.

PPS: The Drunken Gamers are totally better.

It's dangerous to presume that someone posting in a thread against the general thrust of opinion is only doing it to trying to get a rise out of the previous posters. Sometimes the undiluted praise or derision in a thread can become self perpetuating. People who agree join in enthusiastically and those who disagree refrain from posting. Hoping into a thread and saying, "Actually, I don't agree with the consensus because of A, B and C," can be a good thing.

We probably all have a tendency to presume that, when the majority strongly disagree with us about a game, it is because they are on the fanboy/hater bandwagon and when one individual is going against the general verdict on a game that they are just being contrary for the sake of it.

My general rule, when posting, is that I'll leave it to the reader to decide who is right on a particular topic. I post my opinion. Someone else posts their opposing opinion (the bastard) and then, rather than trying to wrestle each other into submission, we let whoever is reading the posts decide who they agree with.

On the nudity/misogyny debate, I think my wife put it best when she was watching me play the Dante's Inferno demo: "She has nice tits."

I think some of the issue with the "adult" or "mature" content that gets packaged into games is the complete lack of maturity that goes into creating it. God of War has a threesome, Saboteur has naked boobies, Bayonetta has the hair suit that goes away as you take damage and Dante's has unbabtized babies. These all scream adolescent maturity level, which quite frankly, it seems a lot of developers have. Their hobby (mine included) used to be an introverted one. They weren't the social butterflies, they were the nerds, geeks, dorks, whatever... They got into development, programming, etc... which is also fairly solitary. Yes, you collaborate to get the entire project done, but what you code is all you. They are good at what they do, but put them in a cocktail party and you get all sorts of awkward conversations.

I know I'm generalizing quite a bit, but I don't think being a gamer in the 80s then a developer today forced you to be terribly social. As a result, you get insulated and isolated. You interact with your own group of like minded people and there is no driving force to make you more "socially acceptable" or to teach you how to behave in heterogeneous groups. This stunts emotional development. I believe as gaming goes more mainstream, and there's more interaction through online multiplayer (including the dreaded smacktard on XBL), you will see more people being drawn to create games with more diverse backgrounds. Hopefully, these people will be a bit more emotionally mature, and as a result, the content introduced will be less ham fisted and much more nuanced. It seems like our choices for "mautre" content these days are:

1. Men's adventure novel type content (military, space marine, all around general bad ass)
2. Sexual content straight out of Penthouse Forum (I never believed this would happened to me)

I think there's an element to this that we're missing. This stuff appeals to 12-15 year olds, not because that's who the content is targeted at. It appeals to them, because the people creating it are emotionally stuck at 15 years old, and this is what they think is mature content.

Oi. He said it.

Hemidal wrote:

I think there's an element to this that we're missing. This stuff appeals to 12-15 year olds, not because that's who the content is targeted at. It appeals to them, because the people creating it are emotionally stuck at 15 years old, and this is what they think is mature content.

No this is what they know sells. Big difference. There are often dozens of people guiding games through development, to suggest they're emotionally stuck at 15 years old when they're often some of the most bright, talented people the world has to offer is a pretty broad assumption to make of an entire industry.

There's nothing wrong with targeting teens. Just because the ESRB calls a game "Mature" doesn't mean it's for YOU. It just means it has extreme content. If you want truly mature games, you can dig through the bargain bin or hit the indie scene. That's where most of them are right now.

I played the Dante's Inferno demo after we did the show. It was excessive and over the top in the same way the God of War series is. It's clear that's what they're going for and I think they've hit the mark. I'm looking forward to playing the full game, even though I worry my wrist will die mashing buttons to get health. I hate that crap.

Hemidal wrote:

I think there's an element to this that we're missing. This stuff appeals to 12-15 year olds, not because that's who the content is targeted at. It appeals to them, because the people creating it are emotionally stuck at 15 years old, and this is what they think is mature content.

There was a comic in the UK called 'Warrior' (Long gone now.) For one issue they put a completely gratuitous busty warrior woman on the cover. When readers complained the editor pointed out that they sold five times (possibly more. I can't remember) more copies of that issue than any other issue they produced. Must be hard to resist doing something like that when you know it works that well.

The Sabateur? Is that the infamous soldier who took it easy on Saturdays

edit: aww my joke is dead now

Certis wrote:

I played the Dante's Inferno demo after we did the show. It was excessive and over the top in the same way the God of War series is. It's clear that's what they're going for and I think they've hit the mark. I'm looking forward to playing the full game, even though I worry my wrist will die mashing buttons to get health. I hate that crap.

Don't forget the button mashing to open doors too...

Certis wrote:

No this is what they know sells. Big difference... There's nothing wrong with targeting teens. Just because the ESRB calls a game "Mature" doesn't mean it's for YOU. It just means it has extreme content.

I agree it sells, but is it selling to that age group? Everything I've read indicates sales are strongest in the 18-29 age group. There's articles that talk about the prolonged adolescence males are experiencing. Getting out of college and moving back with their parents, things like that. That's the maturity level of the buyers. I think there's a lot of factors at play, but I do think some of the creative forces making games are stuck at something less than an adult level of maturity.

I did leave out the entire marketing angle in my first post, but that's a whole other can of worms and one I've gotten more sensitive to since I've become a parent. I have little sympathy for parents who can't be bothered to investigate what they're buying for their child, and I think the ESRB has done a better job getting the info out there. It's up to me what I think is appropriate for my child, and if I buy it for them, I have only myself to blame if I find something offensive in it. That being said, hidden things like "Hot Coffee" I would place blame on the developer. If no one knows it's there, you can't make an educated decision.

I enjoyed todays podcast. I'm curious if the decision to talk about dicks in the forums and boobs in your video games was a conscious effort, or just a happy coincidence. ?

www.robotpanic.com. They'd appreciate this post more than we do. - Certis

Interesting episode. I'm not sure how much value the main topic will provide for listeners who don't frequent the forums or the front page, but it's not like there's much else to talk about at this point in the gaming "season" anyway.

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I'm doing better this time, right? No quote boxes. And a lower word count too!

Edit - context removed

I didn't get that part of it, actually - I mean the podcasters, almost to a man, wax poetic all kinds of ways during the show. How is it a dick to do the same in print? I can understand a formatting or spelling issue, but just length?

Is it a dick to be a touch typist or be a speed reader? It's not like posts are required reading - you can skip as much or as little as you like.

I'm reminded of this song, which to my knowledge is the only song so far to incorporate the lyric, "F*ck off! Or I'll KILL YOU!"

Point taken. You could have left it long enough for someone to pick apart, quote-by-quote though.

Frankly, I don't understand how you can call out Bayonetta as misogynistic and not do the same for the likes of Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Grand Theft Auto IV which are every bit as trashy in their depictions of sex and sexuality.

adam.greenbrier wrote:

Frankly, I don't understand how you can call out Bayonetta as misogynistic and not do the same for the likes of Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Grand Theft Auto IV which are every bit as trashy in their depictions of sex and sexuality.

Maybe, but they don't rub your nose in it for literally every second of gameplay.

They don't? Doesn't anyone else go around Dragon Age with a naked party of characters anymore?

adam.greenbrier wrote:

Frankly, I don't understand how you can call out Bayonetta as misogynistic and not do the same for the likes of Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Grand Theft Auto IV which are every bit as trashy in their depictions of sex and sexuality.

Did you play Dragon Age? A couple optional "sex scenes" with no actual nudity would hardly be considered trashy. Hilarious given that it's like two marionettes pantomiming sex, but that's about it. Mass Effect would be in the same category, both being RPGs where significant time had to be put into building a relationship before you could even get there.

Bayonetta has the main protagonist stopping mid-frame to pose for an invisible camera man with a gun between her legs every five minutes. I think it's great since that's what they want to convey and they're nailing it, but trying to call out a double standard in this case is a bit odd.

Bringing up Grand Theft Auto is almost approaching it's own weird Goodwin's Law in some discussions.

I honestly don't see how Dragon Age or Mass Effect is misogynistic in the least, as Certis said. In the case of Grand Theft Auto, the misogyny is so overt that it can't be anything but intentional and satirical. The whole foundation of the GTA series is a reflection of society exaggerated in almost every way, so subtle sexism in the real world is inflated to massive proportions in the game.

The misogyny in Grand Theft Auto is so overt that it can't be anything other than satirical; Bayonetta's is even more outrageous. I get the impression that it's a little like killing a thousand dudes - it's intentionally over the top so that the exaggeration functions as another filter of unreality.

GTA gives very obvious contextual clues that it's being satirical, not to mention the wide smattering of satirical interpretations that establishes a sort of trend. From what I gather, Bayonetta doesn't have either of these things.

Jexhius wrote:

It certainly seems fair to say you don't want to play a game because of the way it presents itself but to simply dismiss Bayonetta, while playing Dante's, and assuming that they are equally sound mechanically seems like an odd position to hold. It may well be juvenile but then so is the absurd amount of gore and blood that is extremely common place in many games now and that people don't seem to have as large of a problem with anymore.

Maybe this didn't get across in the show, but I honestly didn't know Dante's Inferno was going to be as over-the-top as it was. Having played the demo and experienced its mix of religious imagery and "x-treme boobies" I'm not sure I want the full product. I wouldn't say I'm offended, but I'm concerned.

But no, I don't think you're being a dick. Thanks for the comment.

Certis wrote:

Did you play Dragon Age? A couple optional "sex scenes" with no actual nudity would hardly be considered trashy. Hilarious given that it's like two marionettes pantomiming sex, but that's about it. Mass Effect would be in the same category, both being RPGs where significant time had to be put into building a relationship before you could even get there.

It's not the sex scenes. It's the absurd, barely-there costumes on display in each. Mass Effect has a bunch of naked women painted-up with slightly textured, skintight "armor" with their breasts nearly falling out, and Dragon Age has a bunch of women wearing leather bikini "armor" with their breasts nearly falling out. The character designs for Mass Effect 2 are equally silly.

Certis wrote:

Bayonetta has the main protagonist stopping mid-frame to pose for an invisible camera man with a gun between her legs every five minutes. I think it's great since that's what they want to convey and they're nailing it, but trying to call out a double standard in this case is a bit odd.

I didn't notice this in my playthrough of the Bayonetta demo. I'll grant you that the sexuality is more overt in Bayonetta, but to recoil at the misogyny in one and not in the other is strange. In general, unless you're very particular about what you play, you're going to have a hard time finding images of women in video games where they aren't diminished to just their sexual assets.

Personally, I got the impression that Bayonetta was so over-the-top in its sexuality because it was meant to be simultaneously titillating and a parody of video game titillation. As others have said: how do you not laugh?

Certis wrote:

Bringing up Grand Theft Auto is almost approaching it's own weird Goodwin's Law in some discussions.

Fair enough. I was looking for a game that wasn't made by BioWare to support my point; there are others that would serve just as well.

JonCole wrote:

GTA gives very obvious contextual clues that it's being satirical, not to mention the wide smattering of satirical interpretations that establishes a sort of trend. From what I gather, Bayonetta doesn't have either of these things.

I found Bayonetta to be rather obviously satirical. Having played the demo, I'm mildly surprised that anyone didn't see it that way.

Certis wrote:

I played the Dante's Inferno demo after we did the show. It was excessive and over the top in the same way the God of War series is.

I think it's more excessive than God of War. Maybe that's because it's playing with Judeo-Christian themes instead of Greek myths and it touched a latent Catholic nerve in me, I'm not sure yet.

I'll have to go back and listen, but I'm not sure I got my issues with the game across. It plays fine, but its presentation has me troubled.

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