The Big Picture: Everything Means Something

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Everything Means Something

Overanalysis of movies, tv, video games, comics, etc, can be a problem, but that doesn't mean we should avoid taking a closer look at the games, movies, tv shows and comics that we love.

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Damn it bob, why did you make this episode (Great episode by the by)!

Now I'm kinda weary of writing a novel, I mean what political views will the masses pull from my work.... Man people are scary.

Man, do you need a oxygen mask or something? I don't think I could like that so fast without passing out XD

Great episode, loved the introduction too.

Ha, loved the episode Bob; very topical considering that whole SJW B.S recently.

Actually, some of those examples you brought up would make really good episodes in their own right.

So over-analyzing things can be good?

And here I was thinking it was just for fun...

Oh, this will be a fun topic (eyeroll).

While I do think there are themes that are 'implicit' written within a game's cutscenes and gameplay (Even John McIntosh and Carolyn Petit say that the game's gameplay speaks more than its supposed story), I do think a lot of the themes feel unintentional and don't really want to comment on anything other than "We're just like GTA, buy us" or "We're just like Skyrim, buy us", etc.

So, to a lot of consumers, all of the ideas of games being political feel like overreach or in their terms "clickbait", as in trying almost too hard to link a seemingly unconnected game to real life events.

To me, who plays and enjoys a lot of games with cutscenes, such as games from Bioware, Telltale games, visual novels and even Quantic Dream, I can easily tell the set of values put on display because there are a limited set of options. Stuff always gets cut out from the final product so the question remains: why does this this option exist out of the thousands of other options that were cut out?

One example, in Heavy Rain, Madison has to find the nightclub to help Ethan find his son. The doctor invites her in and offers her a drink. Madison can drink the alcohol and go through a torture porn sequence where she has to run away from the doctor or not drink the alcohol and let the doctor go to another room. This entire torture porn sequence is avoidable and adds nothing or very little to the plot. But the question remains out of all the resources, why did the animators spend time making this scene?

To me, while themes are implicit, they're not always intentional, but rather a case of Monkey see, Monkey do. The video game industry is trying hard to become legitimate, so it ends up copying a lot of other works in the medium for that legitimacy. To me, a lot of the controversy surrounding Gamergate is more of people fighting the symptom and not the disease.

Or, I could just be spewing a bunch of nonsense from my mouth.

That really could have been a junk drawer episode, based on how much you moved about. I haven't a clue what the reasoning behind this is, so if someone could explain whatever provocation there was, that'd be swell.

I'd vote Haggar. he gets things done. #standwithhaggar

Dammit Bob, "Tri-syllabic" has Four Syllables. You Monster. #GrammarGate

Great video, the intro was really funny.

I actually love overanalysing stuff, it broadens the view and is fun to see things about a piece of media in a different perspective.
Like, I played portal so many times it's boring now, but then I read a political reading of the story and especially final boss fight yesterday and immediately started it up again to look for clues, and it was like WHOA, not really subtle, why did I not notice this before? So yeah, even if it's not what the authors intended, it can be read that way anyway and many people will do.

(Actually, there is an interesting video about authors intent on PBS idea channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVm65tlhqw8
they use Neon Genesis Evangelion as an example)

That's why I like some of the game theory episodes, too, e.g. the one where he argues that Majoras Mask can be interpreted as an analogue to the Kübler-Ross stages of grief.

*claps*

also Batman is definitely reason 2. He's a god damned nut case and as much a sociopath as Two-Face, The Penguin etc. (maybe not the Joker).

Do we really need to be told to look more deeply at things? (looks at the gamergate fiasco) okay I guess that's a yes....

Woah, Bob, self-awareness overload in the first ten seconds of the video. I'm gonna need to take a break to process that now.

Edit: Now that I've actually finished watching it, this may be one of my favorite Big Picture episodes.

I think what people are primarily afraid of is that possibility of games needing a "checklist" of ethnic or social minorities that you HAVE to include in your game in order for your game to be considered "progressive", and if it's not "progressive" then it won't get good scores or attention. In other words, it stops becoming about how good someone's game is, but rather about how many external issues that game tries to push on the player. I'm all for more inclusion in games, but I don't want "checklists" that the "progressive" gaming media tries to push.

And yes, I realize my use of scarequotes might come off as trying to say that progressivism is a bad thing, which it's not, I just think what it means is debatable and that many people who call themselves progressives cling on only to the oldest/intellectually non-evolved version of it and then pretend like that is the only possible right version.

I think you could actually use that criticism to inform a newer more interesting version of Batman. I dreamed up a TV version which would actually be called Batman and Robin. The show begins with Robin's intro and Bats has been operating for some time. Having him explain things to Robin allows for the exposition missing from a lot of live action Batman stuff.

In the show the updated Batman would be focused on developing charities and industry in Gotham to get rid of the crime. Thing is by the time he got his shit together to do so the Mafia was so entrenched that they began to attempt to sabotage his fund raisers, factories etc as they see it as a threat to their own empires. Who buys our drugs and stolen goods if everyone is self actualizing in their new jobs. The Graysons were actually performing at a charity event held by the Wayne foundation in Crime Alley when murdered and thus kicks off the show. Then you get into the mentally ill criminals he views as his responsibility because they started showing up in droves after he used theatrics to scare the mob. Finally you get the Terrorist organizations like the League of Shadows showing up, because they are not happy about Gotham's recovery as it disproves their decay thesis and go after Wayne's empire.

That's the thing about when people make criticisms like this. If we don't just say nuh-uh its not that at all you can see improvements to the think you like. I loved playing as Peach in 3D World. Its possible inclusivity discussions helped Nintendo make that decision. In which case a benefit was gleaned. If we hold these discussions respectfully we can get a lot out of them.

Sorry to disappoint you, Bob, but no. This is not, in fact, the big picture. It's a bigger picture, to be sure, but is it all-encompassing enough to earn the definite article? THE big picture? hardly. I can list several topics that were not even mentioned, let alone covered in any significant manner: space, gymnastics, calculus, the list goes on.

#humility
#sarcasm
#hashtagsarebs

Hehehehe, the Haggar and Angry bird bits were the best. Good episode as usual. Keep em comin' Bob!

Great ep, Bob, and good food for thought.

One of the things that have frustrated me ever since Saarkesian ever popped up was this seemingly pervasive attitude of...what I would characterize as litigious 'defense of the medium'.

I don't know how to fix it, or whether it can be fixed, but this episode is a great counter to it. "Everything means something, even if you don't mean it to." From 'gay couples' in tomodochi life to 'Roman/American' Angry Birds, examining deeper meaning in art (even if it wasn't the artist's intent, is always an interesting exercise).

That said, I challenge you to say one good thing about CoD; any of them. '9/11 catharsis' has been your go-to for years now, so see if you can bring yourself to find anything redeeming about it.

Good show, Bob.

I love how you make fun of the idea in this episode, but in other blog posts and twitter status you try to make this kind of analysis with no hint of irony.

Even over analysis of fiction and fantasy has its place; applying meaning to something the author or creator clearly didn't intend can have some wonderful effects on the "meaning" in the first place.

I'm reminded of the book the "Tao of Pooh" (something I've read excerpts from but only recently decided to purchase). It implies that each character in the Pooh universe is a representative of different paths to enlightenment, but Winnie the Pooh is the only one who follows the correct path. Now its ridiculous to say that that Alan Alexander Milne had been thinking about that when he first came up with the characters, but that doesn't make the "Tao of Pooh" any less insightful.

Interpretation is a powerfull tool, and the best authors can have stories that have many. THe best stores, poems, pieces of artwork, and of course, video games, all can be interpreted in many different ways, which provokes deeper thought and discussion.

Funny, thoughtful, not brimming with seething anger at its own audience while encouraging that audience to think in a way that was likely to actually engage said audience to do so. Bravo.

So Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch is about the Vietnam War?

Nothing but laughter and applause from me. Great episode, well written and delivered.

I like the overanalysis because it's something I do myself. Seeing others do so - and in the case of MovieBob, consistently do so well - makes me feel less alone. It's a big reason I read the Escapist regularly.

hentropy:
I think what people are primarily afraid of is that possibility of games needing a "checklist" of ethnic or social minorities that you HAVE to include in your game in order for your game to be considered "progressive", and if it's not "progressive" then it won't get good scores or attention. In other words, it stops becoming about how good someone's game is, but rather about how many external issues that game tries to push on the player. I'm all for more inclusion in games, but I don't want "checklists" that the "progressive" gaming media tries to push.

And yes, I realize my use of scarequotes might come off as trying to say that progressivism is a bad thing, which it's not, I just think what it means is debatable and that many people who call themselves progressives cling on only to the oldest/intellectually non-evolved version of it and then pretend like that is the only possible right version.

I agree that that is what a lot of people seem to be afraid will happen if they don't fight the supposed 'Social Justice Warriors'.

My next question would than be, why? Why do they think that this will happen when it's not what anyone who thinks gaming matters enough in the first place to care wants to see? I've heard (and I go looking for this stuff a lot more than most) precisely no-one ever argue in favour of a progressiveness checklist or anything of the sort. As far as the vast, vast majority goes, all people want is for the people in charge of the industry to realise that there is actually a market for more diversity in characters and for the themes explored through them, and so we cheer on games that dare to give us something different when they get good press, because there's a chance that if we cheer loud enough, a publisher might notice and think "Hey, we could get in on this!". Gaming is now the biggest entertainment industry in the world. Do people really believe that there isn't enough shelf space to accommodate a broader range of tastes?

Nothing about what I (and, as far as I can tell, everyone like me) am 'fighting' for, will result in any kind of embargo on musclebound, straight or seemingly asexual white dudes being video game protagonists from now on. I guarantee that, even if we 'win' those guys will still be around in abundance for a lot time yet, and I for one won't begrudge that in the slightest. What's more, all the hundreds and hundreds of games like that that have been made previously will still be around to enjoy by anyone who wishes to play them, and that will be just fine. All it comes down to, is wanting to see a few more games on the shelves beside them that look to be catering to other tastes, in accordance with the increasing numbers of women, racial minorities, open homosexuals and other non-straight sexualities and/or genders wanting to play games these days, but currently doing so in the face of an industry that barely seems to be aware that they exist.

That's what baffles me when I try to deconstruct this whole maelstrom. When you get right down to it, nothing about the status quo is really being 'threatened' here. Not every change has to be a revolution.

Bob proved that over-analyzing is what he does best.
Great episode, probably one of the best yet.

I don't mine pointless Overanalyzes but unless it's a joke I just don't really see the point, it's a waste of time that you could be spending analyzing things that actually require some analyzes.

Also is this topic actually a part of the gamer gate discussion? Last time I checked it wasn't but that was almost a week ago so it might have changed.

04.16 Almost nobody buys cod because of the single player, its popular because it has a good multiplayer, its success had nothing to do with politics and claiming otherwise is just as silly as claiming that Mario is only popular because the cold war created a demand for simple black and white stories.

It fascinates me the dislike people hold for "POLITICS".
If you're having a conversation in a chat environment and the topic changes to discussing "Politics", people suddenly go "yawn boring".

Unfortunately for them, politics is part of life.
Ever get annoyed at how infrequent buses are or how unreliable the trains are? Politics!

Annoyed that you get terrible internet outside of the bustling metropolis? Politics!

By not caring about politics at all, means you do not care what happens in the world. You won't mind if someone decides that they'll tear your home apart for the sake of building a motorway bypass.

Politics is part of everyday life. From the mundane, to the weird people that appear on Fox News. So, try to get an interest in some of it.

Just a slight correction there Bob... the reason the Samus reveal was such a surprise says less about the state of gender issues and more about the fact that the player was essentially lied to. You see in box, blurb, the manual and quite a few hint guides Samus was referred to as 'He'. The game was deliberately deceptive from every angle heck you only got the reveal if you finished the game in a certain time.

It's why I don not consider the first true female protagonist of video games... that honor goes to Alys from Phantasy Star.

Otherwise yeah.. spot on

Most people do not have a problem with analysis of games and how it may relate to cultural/political landscape like in GTA, Bayonetta or MLP. Actually a lot of enjoy that stuff. Some people will always piss and moan and just say give us an X/10 score.

I think what a lot of people have a problem with is the pretentious bullshit and crazy conspiracy theories like saving Princess Peach is encouraging domestic violence.

The big conspiracy theory is the feminist concept of patriarchy (as opposed to real patriarchy).

The concept that my life is easier because I am a man despite the fact I am a poor person in Detroit with schizophrenia struggling to find a way to get treatment for said illness. It does not matter that I have been discriminated against and ostracized for mental illness I am straight and cis gendered. Yeah those whiny bitches from the upper-middle class have it so hard and I should not even be allowed to speak on the subject if I disagree with any part. After all why should I be allowed to speak I am "crazy".

hentropy:

And yes, I realize my use of scarequotes might come off as trying to say that progressivism is a bad thing, which it's not, I just think what it means is debatable and that many people who call themselves progressives cling on only to the oldest/intellectually non-evolved version of it and then pretend like that is the only possible right version.

Sorry, but is it somehow more 'evolved' to court gloom-and-doom thoughts about radical progressives overthrowing the game industry and imposing some sort of devious 'affirmative action' on the game-making process, as if that's even remotely possible while profit-seeking capitalism is the name of the game. If more minorities and women end up in games, it won't be because of reviews as much as the million-and-one ways that products get focus-tested and tweaked to match a theoretically-maximal audience before release. In the end, it's as cold-and-calculating as the decision to stick Samuel L. Jackson in Star Wars or to make Zoe Saldana's character more important to the plot of the newest Star Trek (a smarter, more competent female character rather than the crappy side character she used to be). The way I see it, it's less forcing progress on people than it is attempts to mirror the potential market, which is what capitalism does.

I would argue that the anti-progressive conservative 'movements' of late, thinly built as they are around an old-fashioned sentimentality for a 'gamer culture' that's never represented the majority of spending power on the gaming market (maybe in the PC-gaming realm, but not elsewhere), are acting more radical than any progressive movement, since their entire agenda would have to be built on an assumption that (a.) the capitalism of the gaming industry is somehow in danger of ceasing proper functionality and therefore that (b.) it needs to be set right by some means or another (I'm reminded of the sci-fi idealists in the political realm who think that electing Rand Paul or some other such John-Galt-like figure would magically set the country back on a truer path, viewpoints that, while noble in a vacuum, tend to ignore a lot of dark truths about humanity, the history of civilization, and the true nature of capitalism).

BigTuk:
Just a slight correction there Bob... the reason the Samus reveal was such a surprise says less about the state of gender issues and more about the fact that the player was essentially lied to. You see in box, blurb, the manual and quite a few hint guides Samus was referred to as 'He'. The game was deliberately deceptive from every angle heck you only got the reveal if you finished the game in a certain time.

It's why I don not consider the first true female protagonist of video games... that honor goes to Alys from Phantasy Star.

Otherwise yeah.. spot on

They were never lied to, in the English language "he" can be used interchangeably for either gender if the gender of the person is unknown.

But sometimes, you just really want to kill ninjas.

NinjaDeathSlap:

hentropy:
I think what people are primarily afraid of is that possibility of games needing a "checklist" of ethnic or social minorities that you HAVE to include in your game in order for your game to be considered "progressive", and if it's not "progressive" then it won't get good scores or attention. In other words, it stops becoming about how good someone's game is, but rather about how many external issues that game tries to push on the player. I'm all for more inclusion in games, but I don't want "checklists" that the "progressive" gaming media tries to push.

And yes, I realize my use of scarequotes might come off as trying to say that progressivism is a bad thing, which it's not, I just think what it means is debatable and that many people who call themselves progressives cling on only to the oldest/intellectually non-evolved version of it and then pretend like that is the only possible right version.

I agree that that is what a lot of people seem to be afraid will happen if they don't fight the supposed 'Social Justice Warriors'.

My next question would than be, why? Why do they think that this will happen when it's not what anyone who thinks gaming matters enough in the first place to care wants to see? I've heard (and I go looking for this stuff a lot more than most) precisely no-one ever argue in favour of a progressiveness checklist or anything of the sort. As far as the vast, vast majority goes, all people want is for the people in charge of the industry to realise that there is actually a market for more diversity in characters and for the themes explored through them, and so we cheer on games that dare to give us something different when they get good press, because there's a chance that if we cheer loud enough, a publisher might notice and think "Hey, we could get in on this!". Gaming is now the biggest entertainment industry in the world. Do people really believe that there isn't enough shelf space to accommodate a broader range of tastes?

Nothing about what I (and, as far as I can tell, everyone like me) am 'fighting' for, will result in any kind of embargo on musclebound, straight or seemingly asexual white dudes being video game protagonists from now on. I guarantee that, even if we 'win' those guys will still be around in abundance for a lot time yet, and I for one won't begrudge that in the slightest. What's more, all the hundreds and hundreds of games like that that have been made previously will still be around to enjoy by anyone who wishes to play them, and that will be just fine. All it comes down to, is wanting to see a few more games on the shelves beside them that look to be catering to other tastes, in accordance with the increasing numbers of women, racial minorities, open homosexuals and other non-straight sexualities and/or genders wanting to play games these days, but currently doing so in the face of an industry that barely seems to be aware that they exist.

That's what baffles me when I try to deconstruct this whole maelstrom. When you get right down to it, nothing about the status quo is really being 'threatened' here. Not every change has to be a revolution.

Of course no one is arguing directly for "checklists" using that terminology. I think there is a lot more common ground on this issue than people will admit. There aren't very many people who want to purge all women from games or close off games from being inclusive. I've argued over and over that more inclusion is, if nothing else, a good business move.

But to illustrate the point, let's take Gone Home. I didn't think it was a horrible game, but I can't say I'm eager to play it again. It's an interactive story, I'm familiar with such things due to visual novels. But of course, it's most known for tackling issues regarding homosexuality. That is a part of it which got a lot of attention from the gaming press. It won awards. The fact is that it wasn't much of an actual game, just a visual novel only has some game-like qualities due to the interactivity. I probably won't be playing it again in another year or two. I'm not everyone, of course.

Still, it seems like it wouldn't have got quite as much attention without the homosexual themes. It's impossible to know for sure, that much I admit to.

If we are to accept that those themes had some bearing on whether it was a "spectacular narrative" or a "walking simulator", then we also get a passive admission by the gaming press that having those themes were one of the reasons it got so much attention. Meaning that, if I want to make a splash and impress the gaming media, I have to talk about "progressive" social issues. If I don't and just put a story full of male protagonists, then it will be written off as just another one of "those" games regardless of its content.

It's not what you're arguing or what you're openly advocating, it's the RESULTS and effect of what you're advocating, which some fear will result in a watering down of games so they can cram more social issues in them in order to get 10/10s from the gaming press.

NinjaDeathSlap:

hentropy:
I think what people are primarily afraid of is that possibility of games needing a "checklist" of ethnic or social minorities that you HAVE to include in your game in order for your game to be considered "progressive", and if it's not "progressive" then it won't get good scores or attention. In other words, it stops becoming about how good someone's game is, but rather about how many external issues that game tries to push on the player. I'm all for more inclusion in games, but I don't want "checklists" that the "progressive" gaming media tries to push.

And yes, I realize my use of scarequotes might come off as trying to say that progressivism is a bad thing, which it's not, I just think what it means is debatable and that many people who call themselves progressives cling on only to the oldest/intellectually non-evolved version of it and then pretend like that is the only possible right version.

I agree that that is what a lot of people seem to be afraid will happen if they don't fight the supposed 'Social Justice Warriors'.

My next question would than be, why? Why do they think that this will happen when it's not what anyone who thinks gaming matters enough in the first place to care wants to see? I've heard (and I go looking for this stuff a lot more than most) precisely no-one ever argue in favour of a progressiveness checklist or anything of the sort. As far as the vast, vast majority goes, all people want is for the people in charge of the industry to realise that there is actually a market for more diversity in characters and for the themes explored through them, and so we cheer on games that dare to give us something different when they get good press, because there's a chance that if we cheer loud enough, a publisher might notice and think "Hey, we could get in on this!". Gaming is now the biggest entertainment industry in the world. Do people really believe that there isn't enough shelf space to accommodate a broader range of tastes?

Nothing about what I (and, as far as I can tell, everyone like me) am 'fighting' for, will result in any kind of embargo on musclebound, straight or seemingly asexual white dudes being video game protagonists from now on. I guarantee that, even if we 'win' those guys will still be around in abundance for a lot time yet, and I for one won't begrudge that in the slightest. What's more, all the hundreds and hundreds of games like that that have been made previously will still be around to enjoy by anyone who wishes to play them, and that will be just fine. All it comes down to, is wanting to see a few more games on the shelves beside them that look to be catering to other tastes, in accordance with the increasing numbers of women, racial minorities, open homosexuals and other non-straight sexualities and/or genders wanting to play games these days, but currently doing so in the face of an industry that barely seems to be aware that they exist.

That's what baffles me when I try to deconstruct this whole maelstrom. When you get right down to it, nothing about the status quo is really being 'threatened' here. Not every change has to be a revolution.

The reason, at least personally, for why people think that this discussion would lead to a "progressive checklist" is because most of the discussion about this is negative. Very few articles/videos/blog posts about representation in video games uses a positive perspective. For the most part when someone talks about representation in video games it's all about how this or that is bad. That you should feel bad for enjoying it, and it should be removed completely. So people worry about games becoming a grey sludge of inoffensiveness. Hell if the damsel in distress trope was removed from video games there might not be anymore games in the Zelda series because a female will likely need help/rescuing at some point in the game.
Discussion and critique of video game in regards to social issues is fine. It just needs to include some positive as well as negative. People should be talking more about what they would like to see added to video games, and less about what they want to see removed.

Caostotale:

hentropy:

And yes, I realize my use of scarequotes might come off as trying to say that progressivism is a bad thing, which it's not, I just think what it means is debatable and that many people who call themselves progressives cling on only to the oldest/intellectually non-evolved version of it and then pretend like that is the only possible right version.

Sorry, but is it somehow more 'evolved' to court gloom-and-doom thoughts about radical progressives overthrowing the game industry and imposing some sort of devious 'affirmative action' on the game-making process, as if that's even remotely possible while profit-seeking capitalism is the name of the game. If more minorities and women end up in games, it won't be because of reviews as much as the million-and-one ways that products get focus-tested and tweaked to match a theoretically-maximal audience before release. In the end, it's as cold-and-calculating as the decision to stick Samuel L. Jackson in Star Wars or to make Zoe Saldana's character more important to the plot of the newest Star Trek (a smarter, more competent female character rather than the crappy side character she used to be). The way I see it, it's less forcing progress on people than it is attempts to mirror the potential market, which is what capitalism does.

I would argue that the anti-progressive conservative 'movements' of late, thinly built as they are around an old-fashioned sentimentality for a 'gamer culture' that's never represented the majority of spending power on the gaming market (maybe in the PC-gaming realm, but not elsewhere), are acting more radical than any progressive movement, since their entire agenda would have to be built on an assumption that (a.) the capitalism of the gaming industry is somehow in danger of ceasing proper functionality and therefore that (b.) it needs to be set right by some means or another (I'm reminded of the sci-fi idealists in the political realm who think that electing Rand Paul or some other such John-Galt-like figure would magically set the country back on a truer path, viewpoints that, while noble in a vacuum, tend to ignore a lot of dark truths about humanity, the history of civilization, and the true nature of capitalism).

I'm not entirely sure what your point is with all those words, however it seems like we agree on most of your points. I said myself that more inclusiveness is a good business decision.

My main point was that some people who describe themselves as social progressives are more interested in shutting down discussion, to talk over people. People who spend their whole life in academia studying these issues, who eventually get disconnected from reality.

Person A: "I think [this media] is sexist for [reasons]
Person B: "I disagree for [reasons]
Person A: "Then you're a sexist."

Intellectualism is all about encouraging the exchange of ideas and looking at things from different perspectives, but it seems like some social progressives simply want to create a new dogma. Just as those heavily invested in religion would say you are immoral for doing the wrong things, it has becomes such with this brand of progressiveness. To them, these things are a science and facts, and shouldn't be questioned or reasoned through any filter that is not their own.

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