Jim Sterling hits the nail on the head with this video about Bayonetta 2, or rather the reactions to the game and to criticism of it. The bottom line: it’s okay to think the game and the character are empower and awesome, and it’s okay to think they are gross and sexist. There are good points to be made on either point (and plenty of ground in between), and that’s a healthy discussion to have. What’s not healthy is getting angry about someone else’s opinion and waging a campaign to shut down all critical thought and dialogue.

I’ve been thinking about this game a lot and this video is a good summation of both sides without dismissing either side.

Something to remember though when we talk about any screen shot or instance of any game is the presence of every game’s  invisible character: the cameraman. When we are discussing Bayonetta we aren’t just talking about how the character handles herself but how the camera (and game) treats her. This is simplified version of the concept of the Male Gaze. Not just the characters being viewed, but how they are being presented and the viewer’s relationship with the character.

(Reblogged from discovergames)

I’m so sick of games that would prefer to be movies.

Button Space & Zelda

I’ve talked about the Zelda dungeon design formula before; basically it is that you give the player a new problem, then give them a new item to solve that problem, then give them a boss to kill with that item as a final test of their understanding of that item/mechanic. This formula is a really strong and effective way to give the player new mechanics and get them to use and understand them, but there is a problem with this system: buttons (well a couple of problems, but we are only going to talk about the button space one today).


Real quick though, problems such are predictability (you know the flow of each dungeon before you get to it because it is going to follow the same structure as every other Zelda dungeon and everything happens in dungeons) and repetition (how many mechanically similar dungeons has Zelda made centered around the Bow, Boomerang, Bombs, Hammer, Boots…).

When you find bombs in a dungeon you know you will soon be killing a boss by throwing them in it’s mouth.

When a player wants to tell their avatar to jump, punch, use a bow, or whatever, they have to input that command. They can do this by pressing a button but the problem is that there are only so many buttons they can press, only so much button space. This means that you, the game designer, has to allocate that space very carefully as it is valuable real estate.

A player has to press a button in order to tell the game that they want to use the Hook Shot, but there are far more items the player can use then there are buttons for them to use to input that desire. The game can only give items 2-3 buttons but it needs to let the player have access to all of them so the game lets the player swap up which items those buttons activate at any given time by pausing the game and going through the game’s menu screen.

The ability to pause and change up items is a necessity but that necessity doesn’t make it any less annoying for the player to do. Going through a dungeon is going to require a great deal of item swaps each of which interrupt the game’s flow and have the player scrolling through menus (which is boring): This puzzle needs the bow, boomerang, and bombs; so equip those. This enemy needs the hammer to be killed so pause and swap that in. You need the leaf and the boots now. You need the Bow, do you still have that equipped? Get out the Hook Shot and the boots…


Windwaker has 9 dungeon items, in addition to 4 bottles, 3 bags (each full of more items), and 3 more story based items. You can only equip 3 of these though so a dungeon that regularly asks you to use 5-7 of these items is going to involve stopping the action and going into the menu screen a lot.

This is one time I found that the touch screen was actually super helpful for the remastered HD version of Windwaker on the Wii U. The Wii U touch screen let me more easily swap out what I had equipped without having to pause the game and go through a bunch of menus. It was still a bit annoying and would cause me to get hit a lot as I had to keep looking away from the action to get the correct item out. The biggest problem with the touch screen is that it asks you to look away from the big screen (which is presumably where the action is).

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Changing the way girls see coding.

I really like this. But speaking as a professional programmer, as someone who went through a Computer Science college with a male to female ratio of at best 7:1, I’m less concerned about how women see programming then I am how the industry sees female programmers.

Spoilers: Women don’t avoid the field due to a lack of ability.

(Reblogged from discovergames)



honestly what does it say about you if you continue to give sexist games and developers publicity by whining instead of supporting minority devs

silencing gamergate folk, sending them death threats, giving out their personal info, wailing and screeching about “attacks” on a scam artist, and a female abuser to sanitise the awful fucking things they’ve done

what does it say about your priorities, that instead of making things better by supporting you choose to scream until your head falls off

So we all know that the particular brand of libertarian fedorabros who populate GamerGate and 4chan LOVE to throw around logical fallacies with colorful names like “moving the goalposts” and “no true scotsman,” right? I don’t know if this has already happened, but if not, I think it’s time for them to get around to naming the “mutual exclusivity” fallacy in the post above, because it’s one that they use all the time.

Do you guys see the problem with it? “Why are you doing X, when you should be doing Y?!?” they shout, completely ignoring the possibility (and in this case high probability) that their target is also doing Y; that X and Y are in no way mutually exclusive. It’s like if I said to you “Why are you yelling at people on the internet to tell them not to talk about things that matter to them, when you could be doing other things, like playing basketball or sending aid to Ebola victims?” That doesn’t make any sense, because you could very easily also be playing basketball and sending aid to Ebola victims (okay, probably not that last one, because you’re a selfish asshole, but you get the idea.)

People like me speak up, criticize, and agitate for change in the vanilla-white-bread AAA industry (which is actually important and effective, despite your dismissal), and we also support diverse games and diverse developers. It’s really not that hard to do both, and most of us do.

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Gaters need to stop complaining about people complaining about Gaters, don’t they know there are real issues that need addressing like the inevitability of death?

We are all going to die (every single one of us!) but Gaters just keep going on and on about people “making fun of them”. Get your priorities straight GamerGate.

(Reblogged from discovergames)

Changing what Ogre Battle 64 values.

Yesterday, I talked about Ogre Battle 64 and how in spite of what the characters in the game valued the game itself valued violence and slaughter. I want to stay on that topic but today I want to talk about a couple of ways the game could be changed such that the player is encouraged to act in a way similar to the game’s hero, Magnus Gallant. We want the player to feel like the character, and getting them to act like them is an important step along that path.


Get players acting and feeling like the character and then all of the cool things about the character are things they become able to project on themselves.

Imagine being cool enough to be able to pull of that sash.

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What does a game value?

<Mild spoilers for a bit of the early game of Ogre Battle 64>

The main character in Ogre Battle 64 is named Magnus Gallant. He is a military man whose convictions are strong enough to that he willingly goes against orders in pursuit of the merciful/just path, for example several times he takes enemy troops prisoner when he has been ordered to kill them all. He is repeatedly shown to hate war and only goes into battle in order to stand up for his ideals. Battle isn’t something he relishes in, it is a cruel means to a necessary end in his eyes.


His fucking huge eyes.

There is a problem with his characterization as a kind and merciful commander though, the gameplay. See, in Ogre Battle 64 you field many groups of units you run around on the map in order to take over towns, castles, and defeat enemies. Units gain exp and level up which unlocks new classes for them become.

The thing is though that the only way to gain exp in this game is to kill enemy units. Not just hurting them or taking objectives, a troop gains exp after a skirmish only if they kill an enemy, and if you kill everyone in an enemy troop you get a free item. This means that the optimal way to play the game is to kill every enemy on the battlefield, not because they are in your way but rather because you need to farm enemies for their precious exp if want to be able to stay ahead of the game’s difficulty curve.


When a troop of enemy units has lost it’s leader (as the this one has) it is not a threat to you anymore because they won’t go after your units (they will always run away) and they won’t try to take objectives (towns, castles…) anymore. They are harmless, but you will chase after and kill them anyways because they have valuable experience and items for your characters to mine.

So while in the story segments Magnus is kind and merciful, someone who takes risks to protect not just his own troops but to protect enemy troops as well, the in game Magnus Gallant is bloodthirsty and cruel as that is how the game rewards the player for acting. When he goes to battle, none of those whom he fights survive.

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And here, then, is the largest problem with these systems as they stand. No matter how many songs the Orcs of Mordor sing, no matter the desperation of the out-of-work Chicagoan teacher, all I can do is hurt people.
(Reblogged from pushtosmart)

Anonymous said: Would you agree that both sides of the gamergate issue need.... Grow up? I mean there was the Dell CEO who literally went on twitter and said GamerGate is the tech worlds ISIS. If I remember correctly GamerGaters have never killed anyone. I mean there are some really nasty things said on both sides. And as an observer it is mind numbingly awful. I mean shesh peep don't swear all the bloody time, it makes you look like a moron. Am I right or completely wrong on this?


Not completely wrong, maybe, but pretty wrong.

I’ve seen a lot of this “both sides” rhetoric, and while it’s effective deflection, it fails because it ignores two important things: scale and context. The way the argument is generally used is to downplay the bad behavior of GG people and try to put everyone on the same moral ground. And it’s a good try, I’ll give you that: “Sure, we’ve done bad stuff, but so has the other side, so let’s just agree to forget the bad stuff done by BOTH sides!”

But as I said, what that ignores is scale and context. Let’s set up a scenario: Person A steals and burns all of Person B’s belongings, gets Person B fired from their job, and hires someone to stalk and terrify Person B 24 hours a day. Finally, Person B gets mad and keys Person A’s car. If Person A then says “We both did bad stuff, so let’s just forget about all that, because we’re equally to blame,” most sensible people would just laugh and laugh. Because they’re not equal, are they? No. One bad action up against 10 is not equal blameworthiness, and I’m not at all persuaded by GGers’ cynical ploy to shift blame in this intellectually dishonest way.

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(Reblogged from discovergames)