Escapist Podcast: 160: Mass Market Appeal vs Niche

160: Mass Market Appeal vs Niche

This week, the Escapist staff answers a couple user questions about where we'd like to see a game be set and if games should be made for everyone.

Watch Video

see the explanation by Greg in the video as to why the disclaimer is on the page makes sense, but that is the information that should be in the disclaimer itself not just boiler plate: this person exists, and has a stake in the Escapist, and this other company that you need to do extensive investment portfolio research on.

GO ROYALS! #takethecrown #partyatpaulruddsmomshouse #kcroyals

Also why does someone always have to bitch about the disclaimer. #dealwithit

As a Twins fan I feel slightly disgusted about the Royals going to the World Series.

I'll still cheer for them though since they haven't been in a while, they're in my division, and I really hate the Giants. Mainly because I hate the Giants.

As for the disclaimer, it doesn't bother me since all that's really needed is that little bolded bit at the bottom of the page.

I think a really cool place for a video game setting would have to be Barcelona or Madrid. There's some really cool architecture there that would be pretty damn neat to explore. In the states, I would have to say New Orleans. I know inFamous 2 took place there, and I think AC: Liberation as well, but that city has some rich history there that I think should be explored more.

Possibly Pittsburg and Baltimore too. But I agree, I'm getting a little tired of games taking place in New York City or LA, or their knock-off version of it.

bdcjacko:
Also why does someone always have to bitch about the disclaimer. #dealwithit

first I have never complained about the existence of the disclaimer, but that the disclaimer is not saying much of anything besides reminding people that The Escapist is owned

the point of putting the disclaimer there is to show that they are demonstrating journalistic integrity: "that we are affiliated (maybe indirectly as the case may be) with this individual, and therefore we are telling you about this affiliation." but then why is it important to state this affiliation in the first place. For example if a person was to say they were previously friends with Ted Bundy before his murderous transgressions happened then if they were to talk about being friends with him they would probably preface it with a disclaimer of "I knew him before he was a murderous psycho"

the point of the disclaimer is disclosure under the flag of journalistic integrity (commendable), but not stating why that disclaimer is being posted is like running into a room, and saying "Jimmy Johnson is my boss", and then running out. if they are going to tout Disclosure, and Journalistic integrity then also state why you are disclosing this in the first place. I feel like I am only being given half the story, and as such in order to get the rest I have to do "a lot" of digging.

#WhyAmINotEntitedToTheFullStory #IDontCareIfItsNotARealHashtagAsTheConsceptOfHashtagsIsJustAnExampleOfOverCatagorization

OT: I think Jim has mentioned a few times on Jimquistion that many publishers want to have the widest appeal to make the most profit. And maybe to help clarify Justin's point that these game publishers would rather see a 50% profit on $5 million rather then doubling their money on $1 million. thereby if a focus test says that these 10 changes result in 80% of people "liking" the game as apposed to 40% in its current state then extrapolating out to the entire populace means doubling the number of purchases thereby turning a bigger profit.

I looked at the Hatred Trailer, and I see no real way for this to be explained as anything other then a "murder Simulator" and potential cannon fodder for "why we need tighter regulations, and restrictions on video games". in a way I do wish that the Peggi system would be adopted in the US as it is a lot more explicit, and meaningful a system as apposed to a mother in a store saying "I think my 8 year old son in Mature"

capta: Select * from table
what is *, and why is it on a table

gardian06:

bdcjacko:
Also why does someone always have to bitch about the disclaimer. #dealwithit

first I have never complained about the existence of the disclaimer, but that the disclaimer is not saying much of anything besides reminding people that The Escapist is owned

the point of putting the disclaimer there is to show that they are demonstrating journalistic integrity: "that we are affiliated (maybe indirectly as the case may be) with this individual, and therefore we are telling you about this affiliation." but then why is it important to state this affiliation in the first place. For example if a person was to say they were previously friends with Ted Bundy before his murderous transgressions happened then if they were to talk about being friends with him they would probably preface it with a disclaimer of "I knew him before he was a murderous psycho"

the point of the disclaimer is disclosure under the flag of journalistic integrity (commendable), but not stating why that disclaimer is being posted is like running into a room, and saying "Jimmy Johnson is my boss", and then running out. if they are going to tout Disclosure, and Journalistic integrity then also state why you are disclosing this in the first place. I feel like I am only being given half the story, and as such in order to get the rest I have to do "a lot" of digging.

#WhyAmINotEntitedToTheFullStory #IDontCareIfItsNotARealHashtagAsTheConsceptOfHashtagsIsJustAnExampleOfOverCatagorization

OT: I think Jim has mentioned a few times on Jimquistion that many publishers want to have the widest appeal to make the most profit. And maybe to help clarify Justin's point that these game publishers would rather see a 50% profit on $5 million rather then doubling their money on $1 million. thereby if a focus test says that these 10 changes result in 80% of people "liking" the game as apposed to 40% in its current state then extrapolating out to the entire populace means doubling the number of purchases thereby turning a bigger profit.

I looked at the Hatred Trailer, and I see no real way for this to be explained as anything other then a "murder Simulator" and potential cannon fodder for "why we need tighter regulations, and restrictions on video games". in a way I do wish that the Peggi system would be adopted in the US as it is a lot more explicit, and meaningful a system as apposed to a mother in a store saying "I think my 8 year old son in Mature"

capta: Select * from table
what is *, and why is it on a table

They talk about games made by Take2, they disclose that someone from Take2 has a stake in their parent company, Defy media. Seems pretty cut and dry to me.

Whilst it's nice to hear someone talk enthusiastically about something, please never ever talk about baseball again. No matter how boring people think any sport is, it's much more boring to hear someone talk about it (especially when they talk about a sport that doesn't really leave the shores of the U.S.A.) Sorry, petty complaint over.

I only played the first Assassins Creed and since alternative possible setting were mentioned, what about China during legalism? Vertical city: Maybe Angkor Wat, South Indian Vijayanagara architecture, or just riding the anachronism to a mythic place like Shangri La carved into mountainsides.

bdcjacko:

gardian06:

bdcjacko:
Also why does someone always have to bitch about the disclaimer. #dealwithit

see above

They talk about games made by Take2, they disclose that someone from Take2 has a stake in their parent company, Defy media. Seems pretty cut and dry to me.

where as to know that that connection between say Rockstar, 2k, and Take2 exists (where they like Zeni-max take on the Silent/shell publisher mantra) means you have to know what your looking for, or see the item in isolation (with the disclaimer) to find the information relevant to even look it up. like in some of the gallery articles (Disclaimer: these I did complain about for the reason that follows) it was set in such a way that every title in the gallery had the disclaimer, and it was as though Take-Two has a stake in: ID software, Sega Interactive, and other companies as well; which given that information does not make it easily findable information as too why the disclosure is made.

gardian06:

bdcjacko:

gardian06:
see above

They talk about games made by Take2, they disclose that someone from Take2 has a stake in their parent company, Defy media. Seems pretty cut and dry to me.

where as to know that that connection between say Rockstar, 2k, and Take2 exists (where they like Zeni-max take on the Silent/shell publisher mantra) means you have to know what your looking for, or see the item in isolation (with the disclaimer) to find the information relevant to even look it up. like in some of the gallery articles (Disclaimer: these I did complain about for the reason that follows) it was set in such a way that every title in the gallery had the disclaimer, and it was as though Take-Two has a stake in: ID software, Sega Interactive, and other companies as well; which given that information does not make it easily findable information as too why the disclosure is made.

Look, they are saying there is a connection and do with that what you will. I don't see why that is so hard to grasp. Also that is all they have to do, they don't have to give you a flow chart showing how they might be tangentially connected to every company there is. That is on you if you don't trust their journalist integrity.

Though I don't know why you would question the journalist integrity of a podcast that starts off by claiming the community manager was on the same river boat as John Kerry during the Korean War. Sounds pretty legit to me.

TwistedEllipses:
Whilst it's nice to hear someone talk enthusiastically about something, please never ever talk about baseball again. No matter how boring people think any sport is, it's much more boring to hear someone talk about it (especially when they talk about a sport that doesn't really leave the shores of the U.S.A.) Sorry, petty complaint over.

I have been asking them for weeks to talk about baseball. It is way more exciting than Magic the Gathering.

bdcjacko:

TwistedEllipses:
Whilst it's nice to hear someone talk enthusiastically about something, please never ever talk about baseball again. No matter how boring people think any sport is, it's much more boring to hear someone talk about it (especially when they talk about a sport that doesn't really leave the shores of the U.S.A.) Sorry, petty complaint over.

I have been asking them for weeks to talk about baseball. It is way more exciting than Magic the Gathering.

Why would you ask them to not talk about Magic: The Gathering because it isn't about video games to turn around and ask them to talk about baseball? They're pretty much equally not about video games and enjoyment of both is subjective.

My personal belief is that the gaming industry is being hurt by stockholders for they need to maximize every penny they spend in the game and that is what is stiffling people trying to be inventive with what they are doing. Gamers also I think are part of the problem, for look at the complaints towards different franchises when they try and make changes as well. Now I believe that problem is more problematic with with games that are harder to quantify mainly the RPG genre.

As far as sequels doing better the original I think part of that reasoning is because when there is a new franchise people aren't always on board with it and their friends will lend them their copy and they start to enjoy it, so when the sequel is released you will have both people buying the game instead of just the first one and then loaning it to their friends.

Mezahmay:

bdcjacko:

TwistedEllipses:
Whilst it's nice to hear someone talk enthusiastically about something, please never ever talk about baseball again. No matter how boring people think any sport is, it's much more boring to hear someone talk about it (especially when they talk about a sport that doesn't really leave the shores of the U.S.A.) Sorry, petty complaint over.

I have been asking them for weeks to talk about baseball. It is way more exciting than Magic the Gathering.

Why would you ask them to not talk about Magic: The Gathering because it isn't about video games to turn around and ask them to talk about baseball? They're pretty much equally not about video games and enjoyment of both is subjective.

I have no issue with the podcast going off topic of video games. I like when they talk passionately about any subject.

Ok, let's talk about Hatred.

I know you were just making spontaneous observations, but I am going to suggest that you were allowing your opinions and response to Hatred be channeled into some traditional patterns of "Are video games art?" and "Do video games cause violence?" and "Violent video games make people upset and our industry is fragile and it would be nice if no one got upset so let's try not to upset anyone pointlessly." All of which are understandable and human reactions. But also flawed.

First, video games are art. Video games must permit anything. Art permits anything. That equally includes Goya's depictions of torture and a film like Escac Corten. Some art upsets people. Some art is intended to upset people. The comedy of Andy Kaufman was intended to upset people.

If Hatred does nothing but upset people, then that's enough. Art does not have to appeal to only our "nicer" emotions, nor does it have to solve social problems. Art may cause social unrest, raise troubling questions and make life less comfortable. (There is no "should" there -- no obligation -- and pictures of frolicking happy rabbits are perfectly legitimate too.)

Wanting the "punchline" is like preferring George Carlin to Andy Kaufman -- both said and did things that were (objectively) upsetting. But Carlin said those things at a point in his career where he'd established credentials and a reputation and if he said something "disturbing", everyone already had an image in their mind that he was a "good guy" and that it was "just a joke". Kaufman made sure people did not have a comfortable point of judgement of his work, so when he upset people, they reacted in authentic ways. (One could also compare the acts and audience responses of Don Rickles and Sacha Baron Cohen.)

Similarly, when watching Escac Corten, one wants a punchline -- and as a piece of entertainment, it certainly delivers one. But should one? But is it enough? And how far does one have to go to get it? And what about Kaufman and Cohen anyway?

Wanting a punchline is legitimate. It's human. It's the natural desire to "find meaning" in the small things in life in order to find meaning in life itself. One can debate the meanings people find and even the legitimacy of an overall meaning, but one cannot deny that people look for one and any work of art is going to have "What does it mean?" asked about it. And the "punchline" is simply the creator telling the audience, "This is what it means".

Traditionally, comedy has punchlines, because it's supposed to be instantly gratifying. It may be very intellectual or use obscure references, but the "point" is for the audience to understand what is being said or referred to. Comedians who reference Zeno's Paradox do so in order to make their college-pudding audience feel more exclusive and superior, playing to their vanity and ego.

The comedy of Kaufman (and Cohen, in a lesser way) is not intended to be gratifying at the point where it happens. It's a comedy based in people not understanding the ideas or references. It's a comedy that is intended to be appreciated by smaller or different audience, perhaps at another point in time. (This is where one can draw a line between "comedy" and "performance art" -- a line I think is blurry and unnecessary.) It generally has no "punchlines" that explain the joke -- the intended audience will see that the set-up itself was all that was needed and will provide their own explanation.

I have only seen the trailer for Hatred (remember, it's a post about Hatred) and I only watched it once, a few minutes ago. I certainly see violence, though the portrayal of violence is not particularly intense -- the desaturated colors and the quick cutting prevent it from having the intensity of a more realistic presentation. And I think I see what people would find "instantly upsetting" -- the apparent purposelessness of the violence, insofar as no purpose is presented. Just as people have a natural desire to find meaning (or be given one, lazily), they dislike the idea that something has no meaning -- and "hate for hate's sake" does not seem like enough reason to go on a murder-rampage.

But one can bring a lot more to this trailer than just the observation that it lacks an explanatory punchline. One can ask what effect that presentation will have on the player. And one can ask what possible explanations could be for the actions the character is taking. And one can ask what effect the game itself could have on different players.

First, the player, seeing a character without motive, will naturally attempt to provide a motive. As with so many games that present thinly-drawn protagonists, the lack of a character background makes it easier for that background to be anything the player imagines -- anything the player feels would justify that level of hate and violence.

But the game does not (seemingly) leave things quite as open-ended as they seem. The character has access to military hardware and is a large white male. This already narrows the potential backstory down considerably -- and to a set of options that are generally considered unfashionable. For example, he might be a former soldier whose best friend was just allowed to die needlessly in a VHA hospital and for that he blames the hospital, the government and the people who allowed that government to behave that way -- in short, everyone -- making him a broken, angry, emotionally blinded person who is in so much personal pain that he cannot face his life, and he's going to get himself killed while punishing as many people as possible in revenge for his dead friend and perhaps to motivate reform of the hospital bureaucracy.

See, that's not so hard. People will come up with stories that make sense to them, based on their experience and imagination. If the protagonist were a small black girl who killed people with an pistol, people would probably come up with different stories. Perhaps someone should will that game/mod.

This gets to the next question of what will happen when people play this game. They'll get to see their chosen "fantasy" play out, ending in the death of other people and themselves. There will be a certain "pointlessness" to it, because even though the character dies in the game, they can play it again -- his death isn't permanent. To some, this might seem like it makes the violence look "fun" and "safe" and "easy", leading players to go on their own wild rampages, but that's fairly absurd. Most people will see that the violence achieves nothing at all -- that the game does "end" with the characters death and all one can do is reset and repeat the process. (See Freud's theory of repetition compulsion for some of the significance of that.) One might find such a game much more disturbing if it featured an ending where the violence was somehow "explained" (i.e. given a punchline) by revealing what happens in the world after the player dies, based on exactly who or how many people were killed. For example, imagine the end-screen said, "You killed Doug, a college student who would have gone on to cure cancer!" or "You killed Becky, a psychotic woman who was planning to murder her infant tonight!"

There is at least one set of people who will approach the game differently -- people who are genuinely psychotic. They might not project _any_ backstory on the character, as "violence for no reason at all" may make perfect sense to them. The very fact that someone "wants a reason" for the violence says something about that person.

I think playing a game like this could be very cathartic for some people, helping them project and identify their own personal issues of hatred and anger. For people who are mellow or can't project onto a thuggish looking white dude, that's not going to happen. For people with deeper mental issues, that's not going to happen. Lots of people will experience the game in lots of ways.

Anyway, to keep this short, I'll avoid digressing into the various modes of cultural criticism and the distinction between saying "This game isn't likely to be what you want to buy and play" and "This game isn't good". You know.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here