Games and the Government

Swedish government, perhaps due to a more capitalistic mindset than previously elected ones, decided to give an open invitation to a seminar in the parliament yesterday, a seminar about the Swedish games industry. Fragzone has decent coverage of the event, it seems the debate is still about addiction fears, morality and whether games can be considered culture or not but the fact that we are talking about it seems like an improvement.

I don’t agree that Mr. Säfström is actually complaining about the current games journalism, rather he is pointing out the fact that most game-related media today is news coverage and game reviews. Ryan Stancl wrote a feature for GCG a while back, in part explaining to some degree how different approaches would benefit the medium and in part trying to do so himself. People are starting to write increasingly deep features like this even in “regular” media, so at least we’re heading in the right direction.

On a related note, I cast my vote(s) in the Game Developer’s Choice awards earlier. It’s really a shame I can’t go to GDC and see the awards being handed out (and more importantly; see the IGF awards ceremony), but I guess there’s always next year.

Posted on Jan 31/08 by Saint and filed under Gaming culture | No Comments »

/* */



A little more than a week ago, some old disagreements surfaced between John Romero and Mike Wilson, most known for the 2000 FPS Daikatana, commonly known as one of the biggest failures in gaming history. The argument itself is uninteresting, but there’s usually a few people sticking up and claiming that Daikatana wasn’t that bad a game, it was just late and overhyped. Other than that, it was okay, really. Always a sucker for punishment, I immediately tracked down a used copy of the N64 version on ebay so I could make up my own mind.

I read the over-dramatized biography “Masters of Doom” a while back, as I didn’t follow the FPS scene in the 90’s this book is my premier insight into the mind of John Romero and the company he created. Of course this was way back when but my image of Ion Storm was only reaffirmed by playing Daikatana; it seems most of this game was created by some out-of-control dreamers who just threw a bunch of concepts they liked together hoping that the perceived coolness would rub off.

I don’t agree that this game is “okay”. The level design is basically the same as Doom 1 from start to finish with small graphical differences, the enemies are laughable and the story is even less coherent than the already low standards of the time. While it’s nice to see a big variation in themed weapons, most of them are pointless and just clutter up an already confusing GUI. Sure, it’s pretty old, and I played it on an N64 without memory expansion so even though I want to complain about the presentation it seems a little too unfair. Heck, from what I’ve seen from the PC screenshots the levels look quite different from the N64 version. I don’t think it would be correct to say that the game “had potential” though, since the entire direction the game took seems off to me and you’d have to have a very broad definition of “potential” to say it.

… To be honest, though, finding this out for myself was worth the small effort getting and completing the game cost me.

Posted on Jan 29/08 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »

/* */

If only…


Sony has replaced muddled sketches with what appears to be an actual screenshot of the next Team ICO project. The image accompanies several job postings (for planners, animators, artists, etc.) and has been affectionately dubbed “ICO 3″…


Posted on Jan 25/08 by Saint and filed under Gaming culture | No Comments »

/* */

Gizmondo again?


I remember my last year at HGO before the “circus” part of the Gizmondo story had started; A producer and a marketing guy had come to try and pitch… something to us. They weren’t hiring and they weren’t gonna let us develop student projects on it (which is ironic since they’re pitching it as an open platform now), so at the time it was kind of unclear what they were doing there. I recall their presentation as being okay, although it was quite obvious that the platform was intended for them to make money on, not for consumers to play games on. After the circus with the Ferrari, a friend of mine thought I was involved since I too worked with game development in Uppsala, which is as bad-ass a reputation I’m ever likely to get, I guess.

We didn’t believe in it then so I’m just assuming this is a prank until further notice. UK Resistance had, as always, some funny things to say about it though.

Posted on Jan 23/08 by Saint and filed under Gaming culture | No Comments »

/* */

Top Ten Media Attacks of 2007

It gets slightly repetitive, but i guess pointing out the never-changing rambling of ill-informed reporters is kind of the point of the video.

Posted on Jan 23/08 by Saint and filed under Moral panic | No Comments »

/* */

Call of Duty 4


I usually don’t say much about the actual games when they’re too well-known, it remains true in this case but it’s mostly because I honestly don’t know what to say. Maybe I’m not the right person to talk about CoD4 since I didn’t play the multiplayer and I’m not particularly interested in weapons or military, but then again, why would I need permission?

Call of Duty does some interesting new things with interactive cutscenes that basically end with the character you’re playing being executed, it isn’t much but it’s breaking convention and gives the game (and it’s non-focus on the protagonist) a whole new level of seriousness. It is also a rather nice-looking game, albeit not technically and it’s a little rough on the edges. I also wouldn’t call the design original as you’ve seen it all before (though maybe not in games), rather it gives a realistic feeling – Which applies to the whole game, actually, and I guess that is why people like it. I personally don’t think “realism” is an excuse for anything in games, especially not the instant-death moments that occur frustratingly often. Sure, realism can be used for presence (although that can be achieved without it – see Bioshock), but I thought the military clichés detracted more from that than the audiovisual presentation added.

And this was probably what kept me from enjoying the game to the fullest, that I wasn’t really sure if the developers where making a parody or social commentary, or if they were really serious about all of it. Call of Duty 4 plays the military clichés in much the same way that Gears of War plays the machismo ones, and if you can’t just run with it it becomes sort of uncomfortable.

It’s still a great game (although I’m not sure it’s a worthy contender for “Game of the Year”), but it spends a lot of time setting a mood I don’t really like.

Posted on Jan 19/08 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »

/* */

Oh, for crying out loud…

This demonstrates rather well why I do my very best to stay away from arguing on the internet. I feel guilty writing this post since it goes against just that, so I’ll try to keep it short.

There’s no question about the fact that the casual conversation with anonymous individuals that exists on the net is more often than not pretty hostile. I used to think this evolved from a lack of surveillance, understanding and response – kids made up a big part of the early adopters, some might not have come to realize just how valuable courtesy can be and their parents didn’t really consider the internet a communication channel so they didn’t tell them to play nice – the way they would have in real life. The boon of anonymity, never being held responsible for what you said, didn’t help. It was no-ones fault, really, it was just the initial anarchy that would maybe someday form into a new kind of organized society.

I no longer believe that, though, for the general idea is the same thing columnists, show hosts and the like are doing – the same things they did in paper or on radio even before there were computers. And I honestly don’t care if it’s written in a “proper” way, trashtalking people just to get a rise out of them doesn’t get any more noble because you are paid to do it.

Posted on Jan 16/08 by Saint and filed under Meta-blog, Moral panic | No Comments »

/* */

Will gamers save the world?

Videogames are still kind of low-profile in Sweden compared to how it is in the US; it’s not really something you talk about. Well, it wouldn’t be if I didn’t hang out with gamers and developers almost exclusively. I used to have a stance on the meaning and purpose of playing videogames, but as I grew older and the “research” became more frequent it became obvious that you can’t take everything seriously – and since you can’t, how do you decide? I chose to chalk it down as individuality, but there always come times when you need to stand up for what you do.

This article from an old PC Gamer highlights some of the reportedly positive sides of gaming; it’s blatantly one-sided but since the “other side” can get away with both that and not only misrepresenting the facts but flat-out lying, I think it’s a fair counterpoint.

Posted on Jan 15/08 by Saint and filed under Gaming culture, Moral panic | No Comments »

/* */

Seriously; we don’t play information


… Yeah, it’s really nice of the National Museum of Science and Technology to have a videogame exhibition, but for the umpteenth time – the swedish word for computer games is “datorspel” and not “dataspel”. We play games on computers, not data – If you want people to learn something, at least get it right yourselves.

Dataspel är en interaktiv utställning om svensk dataspelskultur och historia från IT-ceum i Linköping. I utställningen kan man testa tv- och dataspel från alla tider och lära känna människorna bakom. Vilka är de som skapat spelen? Hur är spelen uppbyggda? Vem spelar? Kan de vara farliga?

Utställningen öppnar den 19 januari och pågår till och med 19 mars.


Posted on Jan 09/08 by Saint and filed under Gaming culture | No Comments »