on GOTY paralysis, Hatred & Valve, and @Nero’s review of DAI

Look, I don’t really even know what to write about today.  I feel like I’ve gotta say something, if only to justify the expensive site redesign.

I’m still playing Dragon Age but I feel like I’ve run out of things to say about it, even if I’m 40-50 hours in and have no idea how much is left.  As far as proper story missions go, I finished “Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts” last night; but meanwhile “Here Lies the Abyss” is still open because I started it before I was properly leveled up.  According to IGN’s walkthrough*, I have 4 main storyline missions to complete, but I’m also doing pretty much every single sidequest I can find – all my companion quests, all the random environmental quests, and most of the fade rifts I come across (although I get bored of those and don’t find them especially compelling).

I intend to finish it – and, indeed, I want to finish it – but I also feel like I have to finish it because only then can I start moving on to the other stuff I’ve put aside.  I’m looking at my GOTY post-in-progress and there’s just so much I’ve yet to get to.  I know I said as much last week, but man.

Why this quest for completeness?  Why am I feeling pressure?  I’m not getting paid for this!  Nobody’s asking for it!  Someone once yelled at me for a post I wrote that I was just writing inflammatory shit “for the clicks” – but on a good day this site gets maybe 20 hits.  I get more views just from cross-posting at Kotaku’s TAY forum, which I’ve only done like 3 or 4 times.

*sigh*

In other words, I’m having trouble even finishing this post because I’m distracted by:

  1. Valve putting “Hatred” up on Greenlight, and then promptly removing it; and
  2. Milo “Nero” Yiannopoulos’ “review” of Dragon Age.

Regarding 1:  I never actually ended up posting my thoughts regarding Hatred when it was originally announced, though they more or less aligned with Polygon’s opinion article.  I just turned 39 and I’ve been playing games for most of my life, and so I’m sure the number of virtual people I’ve killed is in the 6-7 digit range by this point; but as I’ve grown older I’ve found it becoming less and less enjoyable**.  Even so, I continue to do it, if only because the context of these virtual killings is more or less understood to be “entertaining”, and not literal.  But I still have limits.  I tried playing Rockstar’s infamous Manhunt a million years ago and found myself nauseated by the snuff-film aesthetic; I tried playing Postal and just found it hideously stupid.

Hatred, on the other hand, is different.  Hatred is specifically about going on a suicidal shooting spree, massacring as many innocent civilians and police officers as possible.  (Yes, you can do this in GTA if you feel like it; the key phrase in that sentence, though, is “if you feel like it”.)  To quote the developers themselves:

The answer is simple really. We wanted to create something contrary to prevailing standards of forcing games to be more polite or nice than they really are or even should be.

Yes, putting things simply, we are developing a game about killing people. But what’s more important is the fact that we are honest in our approach. Our game doesn’t pretend to be anything else than what it is and we don’t add to it any fake philosophy.

In fact, when you think deeper about it, there are many other games out there, where you can do exactly the same things that the antagonist will do in our project. The only difference is that in Hatred gameplay will focus on those things.

I personally find the game distasteful, disgusting, hideous, nightmarish.  I wouldn’t play it; I wouldn’t accept money to review it for a publication; I wouldn’t want anything to do with it.  Frankly, I find its mere existence to be nauseating, as is the community that’s rallied around to support it.  Even the name smacks of opportunism, a brazen attempt to be “un-PC” while being willfully ignorant that being “un-PC” is, in fact, a very clear political agenda.

Does that make Valve’s decision to pull it right?  Paul Tassi in Forbes makes some interesting observations (the whole article is worth a read):

Though you could also make the mass media argument that if something like Human Centipede (and its even-worse sequel) is available to stream freely on Netflix, that it’s not the most ludicrous thing in the world for Steam to consider allowing Hatred to exist there. Not that I’m encouraging that, but Hatred is hardly the first piece of media to glorify or stylize the murder of innocent people. I really don’t care to defend Hatred as the content is frankly nauseating, but it just seems weird where the line is drawn when we look at what other types of violent media are hugely popular and widely distributed.

Valve is a storefront, and I think they have the right to sell whatever they want; they’re not censoring it, they’re just refusing to sell it.  Valve’s near-ubiquity in the PC market might make some people wonder what the effective difference is, since if you’re not sold on Steam, where can you be?  It’s a tricky question, and I’d like to hear Valve offer some clearer guidelines as to what it chooses to sell, but by the same token I also agree with Tassi’s conclusion:

I think it has the right to exist, but if it doesn’t, I certainly don’t think the world has lost a valuable piece of media.

Regarding 2: I’ll have more to say about Milo in my 2014 GOTY post, but in the meantime, that “review” is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read.  It’s enraging, it’s ludicrous, it’s impossible to take seriously; it’s an expert bit of trolling by a guy who’s clearly pandering to an audience.  (The review apparently came out within 24 hours of his announcement of his forthcoming book about GamerGate, in a funny bit of irony.)   The Gamergate audience claims they want “unbiased objectivity” in their reviews, and yet this review is nothing but bias – sexist, transphobic bias – and it’s also full of straight-up lies and made-up bullshit.  The more you read it – if you can stomach it – the more you wonder if he actually played it.

I’ll let @untimelygamer take it from here:


* I know I say this every time I link to a walkthrough, but I’m saying it again for clarity – I’m not using a walkthrough, I’m just curious to see how much is left.

** Which is probably why I’ve been avoiding Far Cry 4, frankly.

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