Poetical Wax

Another Stupid Response to Christina Sommers Stupid #gamergate Video

Make no mistake, I disagree with Christina H Sommers.

However the recent Polygon article on her new video “Are Video Games Sexist” is an embarrassment. It’s basically a description of the video with lots of scare-quotes and personal attacks. So I’m writing this because they couldn’t give enough shits to write anything decent about it. Maybe I shouldn’t give any more of those shits than them but I think this Video is a good encapsulation of the Anita Sarkeesian detractors so if I’m going to respond to anything this’ll do.

“Conservative” or not, Sommers’ made a vacuous pandering video that’s obfuscated by a few irrelevant facts. First, the title question: Are Video Games Sexist?

I answer that by asking you ‘Who’s accusing Video Games of being sexist?’ Media can’t be inherently sexist, just those who create it. Video games are for everyone and by setting up the argument as Video Games being either sexist or not sexist she’s creating an easy target to take down. Video Games AREN’T sexist. I’m not claiming that, Anita Sarkeesian isn’t claiming that. Nobody is claiming that. Anything she says beyond this point is rendered moot because the question is one of her invention. It’s, essentially, a strawman.

Lets move on though to her first ‘fact’. She draws an imaginary line between ‘casual’ and ‘hardcore’ gaming. By doing so she can say that gaming is indeed a boy’s club because most studies show that people self-identified as gamers are overwhelmingly male. The problem with this first irrelevant fact is where you draw that line between ‘casual’ and ‘hardcore’. World of Warcraft is notoriously welcoming to women as are many MMOs. Are they casual or hardcore? What exactly defines a game as hardcore? The distinction is unnecessary and is only invoked to serve as a way to conveniently remove millions of women from the discussion because they’re threatening to Sommers’ point.

What is that point? It’s that Gaming is for boys by boys. She wants to answer the question “Are Video Games Sexist?” with “Yes, but it’s okay because they’re for boys.”

Lets not talk about that yet though, there’s more irrelevance between here and there.

She asks “Are there video games that are rife with sexism, is that true?” and “Do they promote a culture of misogyny and violence that must be dismantled” She doesn’t pause to answer the first question which any person taking themselves seriously would answer yes. Of course. While Video Games over all can’t be ‘sexist’ anything individual examples are most certainly “rife with sexism”. So of course, she answers no, without providing any relevant counter-examples that would disprove the claims of activists in the community.  The second question is loaded. She’s basically asking two more within it; 1) Do they promote a culture of misogyny and 2) Do they promote a culture of violence.

Video Games were for a very long time connected with violence. That’s because we had a limited understanding of how violence manifests and what can cause increases in it. Psychological studies have recently began to debunk the idea that media is a direct cause of violence and Sommers uses these studies to somehow imply that since they don’t cause violence they cannot reinforce inherent sexual bias. She never presents any relevant data to show that they don’t reinforce a culture of misogyny. We’ve long understood that unconscious and inherent biases are reinforced when someone is presented with images and narratives that agree with those biases.

We’ll tie all this together in a second but first I wanted to point out that while people are upset that Sommers is called an ‘anti-feminist’ when she self identifies as an ‘equality-feminist’ she refuses to accept the idea that Anita Sarkeesian is a feminist. Calling her a ‘gender activist’ and a ‘hipster with degrees in culture studies’ but not ‘feminist’. That refusal is purposeful and shady as fuck. If you claim the title of Feminist then you cannot petulantly withhold it from someone else just because you disagree with them. It’s possible for both yourself and Anita Sarkeesian to be feminists while simultaneously disagreeing. Also, gaming is a hetero-patriarchal capitalist pursuit and I don’t think she would disagree with me.

Anyway, back to the main point. She says that many women involved in feminist activism inside video games want the male Video Game culture to die. This is simply not true and is more pandering to the specific audience the video is meant to make happy. Not a single serious critic has called for culling of video games targeted at men. Like any media (this is a pattern) there’s enough creative latitude to make games for everyone. That includes gross pigs. As with most of the bullet points brought up by the video, it’s all in an effort to stroke the ego of gamers. She even goes so far as to give matronly compliments to gamers in a sickly-sweet voice.

She ends the video by telling critics to “stand down.”

So what should we take from this video? She proves that gaming is a boys club and she proves that vocal critics are attacked. Then she has the audacity to tell these same critics to shut up. This ‘keep your head down’ mentality is repeated through the, yes, patriarchal culture of video games. People say that there are plenty of women in games development and culture who aren’t attacked because they don’t speak up. That’s the important bit I italicized there. They say ‘keep your head down’ and anyone who doesn’t is subject to harassment. So of course they’re encouraged to not speak up.

Are Video Games sexist? No. Of course not. And nobody claims they are. Are they mostly patriarchal media that reinforces unconscious gender bias? Absolutely and Sommers does a great job of proving that to be true.

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I Don’t Support #Gamergate, But I Understand

I don’t support #gamergate.

But I understand.

Lots of stuff has happened in the 2 weeks since I wrote a response to Total Biscuit and his call to peace. Unfortunately both articles served more to be a small part in an opening salvo of commentary. The fires were stoked and gates were opened and Adam ‘I’m a giant conservative asshole’ Baldwin took up the cause against Zoe Quinn and her supporters with the now ubiquitous #gamergate. Things have, to put it kindly, evolved from there.

When it first began the hashtag was mostly filled with the kind of vitriol you would expect from people tilting their subtly (and not so subtly) misogynist lances at windmills. There were a few people with legitimate concerns about proper corruption in the enthusiast journalism of gaming… but mostly it was just a bunch of assholes fueled by hatred of Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkisian lead by Adam Baldwin retweeting the same ridiculous video over and over again. Throughout this humble beginning there was no evidence of any collusion or corruption (more on that later, collusion anyway).

Over the days however it became painfully obvious that the ‘movement’ was being co-opted from within to be… well, to actually be about corruption in games journalism. Yesterday and today you could see a wave of concerted effort by those within the hashtag to move discussion away from Zoe Quinn and her fabricated controversy into more substantive things. Those people will still tell you “#gamergate isn’t about sexism!” and they might be right as of this posting. They cannot deny that it began that way and that certain elements of the movement are still very much, as they’d hate to hear me say, problematic.

You see, gamers are silently coming to terms with the very real specter of sexism that pervades our culture and are working to remove it, while simultaneously insisting that it doesn’t exist.

There are problems with this tactic though. Videos that begin with misogynistic accusations against Zoe Quinn still circulate and are still made. Adam Baldwin is still considered a ‘leader’ of the movement. And people are still using #gamergate as an excuse and shield to harass and abuse.

People are hiding within the movement a new, subtle sexism that is supposed to be “Anti-SJW, not anti-woman” but in reality is just ‘classy‘ sexism.

Instead of outright hatred toward women. They say:

All you really need to know about SJW is that anything they touch has comments disabled.#GamerGate

Catching up on #GamerGate & I can’t even pretend to be shocked that faux-SJ white hipsters are trying to use minorities as weapons

Among other, stupider stuff. A search of “SJW” within the hashtag reveals that for many, this movement is really about the silencing of their progressive opposition. If you pay attention to what individual people say you start to realize that there’s a few groups within this protest and they’re overlapping.

There is the small core of, I won’t sugar coat it, assholes who helped orchestrate this in order to lash out at a few women they see as specific targets, then there is a large gooey coating of people concerned with ethics in journalism. Throughout that is a handful of nuts who hate “SJW” and want to stop progressive video games. All coated with a layer of people who believe journalism is corrupted by SJW women who need to be chased out of the industry.

Conspiracy

I had a long conversation with this person a few days ago about the goals and intentions as they saw it of #gamergate. They expressed genuine concerns about journalism and were never hostile towards me. There was nothing about this person that made them seem like they were unreasonable. Until I asked them why “SJW” was being pilloried by the majority in the movement. You can see his response to the left.

The same sentiment was repeated to me several times. Social Justice Warriors are in bed, literally or figuratively, with journalists and it’s ruining video games.

The problem with this supposition is that there is little evidence of social justice bleeding into games journalism.

Out of 84,796 articles published by the video-game press in 2013, 0.44% talk about feminism, sexism, or misogyny.

Out of 65,950 articles published by the video-game press in Q1/Q2 2014, 0.44% talk about feminism, sexism, or misogyny.

Tilting at the windmill of progress. It’s true that there has been improvements. Sites like Rock, Paper, Shotgun have made specific statements in regards to people complaining about how progressive they are. The statistics don’t lie, however, and the people who’ve style SJWs as some kind of inevitable tidal wave that will wipe out the games they want to play are paranoid and, perhaps unintentionally, sexist.

So no I don’t support #gamergate. Again though, I understand.

You see these people have been playing Video Games their entire lives. It’s been an escape for them as much as for me or anyone else and they desperately want to protect them from biased interlocutors. People like Anita Sarkisian and Jenn Frank are once again ostracizing them and encroaching on what has always been their safe place. The original Leigh Alexander article that lit this fire put it better than I could.

This is hard for people who’ve drank the kool aid about how their identity depends on the aging cultural signposts of a rapidly-evolving, increasingly broad and complex medium. It’s hard for them to hear they don’t own anything, anymore, that they aren’t the world’s most special-est consumer demographic, that they have to share.

They’re watching the walled-garden that was Video Games get torn down by artists and cultural critics who don’t share their life experiences. People react to this with the ‘fake gamer girl‘ shame trend. Gamers desperately want to keep gaming to themselves. Unfortunately for these few, these huddled masses of mostly well intentioned nerds, gaming is for everyone in 2014 and that means the language of Social Justice and the critique based on that cultural perspective is only going to become more pervasive.

Fortunately for those of us who just want to play games, #gamergate isn’t going to stop anyone from making games, SJWs or not.

And they may actually be doing some good by shining a dirty black-light across all of games journalism so that everyone can see their gross protein stains. Like I said before, I would touch more on corruption and collusion as it seems that throughout all this it’s been discovered that there may be proper bullshit going down with the IGF, IndieCade, and IndieFund. I can’t, in good conscience, link to the video detailing this (because of the gross fake Ventura “Quinnspiracy” intro) but needless to say that if there has been wrong doing happening within the walls of my beloved indie development scene we need to flush it out.

Oh, and if you’re reading this and are against the trend of social justice within video games… don’t be afraid. No one is going to stop you or anyone else from playing whatever game you want.

 

In Response to Totalbiscuit’s Plea

I’m not sure what Total Biscuit is hoping to accomplish. His attempt to appear ‘neutral’ or nuanced while simultaneously marginalizing people like Sarkisian and her opinions are rather at odds with each other.

Let me take a bit of a step back. Recently, over the past 14 or so days, the discourse around certain vocal people in the video games development and commentary community has gotten rather poisonous. Zoe Quinn had to leave her home after targeted threats to hearth and family and within the past 2 days Anita Sarkisian has had to do the same. All, or at least some, of this stems from accusations of which I will not entertain in this blog post. Needless to say, the people accusing Zoe Quinn are desperate and aimless. In response to all of these awful occurrences, Leigh Alexander wrote up one of her textbook fiery and confrontational opinion pieces about gaming and “gamers”.

Total Biscuit, a YouTube celebrity but otherwise pretty okay guy, had mostly stayed out of the fray. He’d made a few comments here and there and voiced a bit of a persecution complex but otherwise stayed out of it.

Until today. He felt a reasonable voice needed to be heard. Unfortunately, despite his best intentions, I think he lost the thread beside what he feels is a legitimate reason to be miffed at the entire progressive video game movement.

He brings up Tim Schafer’s idea that everyone should watch Anita’s videos and then goes on for a long time trying to justify peoples responses to Tim’s idea.

Anita has actively condemned some parts of games that others find enjoyable. She was quoted in a lecture as saying she does not like games because she doesn’t want to go around blowing peoples heads off.

It’s perfectly acceptable for someone to ‘condemn’ parts of things that are overall enjoyable. A sticking point for most people who’re vehemently against “Tropes vs. Women” is that she’s tearing down Video Games as a whole with her baseless, contextless accusations when in reality she’s just pointing out some problematic areas that people would do well to consider when making the art of Video Games.

Well a great deal of people like the violence components of videogames, they’re often key to the mechanics and it echoes the all too recent negative press coverage that pops up around videogames and their violent content. It also demonstrates a certain level of either ignorance of the medium or pandering to her audience at the time (we do not know if she was sincere when she said that) and some people who play games do not like that. To them she is perhaps another person who has come along to try and make them feel bad about their hobby and some of the people who have either been attracted to or aligned with her are very negative individuals, extremists if you will who actively attack others online.

None of what he wrote excuses any personal attack on Anita or people who agree with her analysis. He plays the “I don’t agree with this” card afterwards:

 I do not believe this is a good reason to criticize Anitas videos.

But doesn’t condemn those who DO believe this is a good reason to criticize. There is no middle ground with this specific issue. Those who think Anita’s critical videos are trying to destroy their hobby are, in no uncertain terms, wrong. They’re myopic and often times feel persecution from feminist circles because they’re not ready to come to terms with their own sexism and acceptance of misogyny in a hobby they enjoy.

This is emblematic of the entire ‘Nuance’ argument. TB (Total Biscuit) claims that people are too extreme on both sides without once entertaining the thought that relativity doesn’t have to exist in every discussion. The current campaign of attempted discourse surrounding representation of women in Video Games and developing those games is meant to be an inclusive discussion. Every voice should be heard and considered. That, however, doesn’t automatically mean that every opinion is valid. There are right ways to look at it and wrong ways and attempting to see the validity of each persons viewpoint is only going to lead to a watered down and impotent movement.

To be fair to TB though, he does go on to rightfully condemn the blind activism that Twitter encourages. 140 characters leaves little room for anything but extremes and when someone with a large following of vigilant fans decides, consciously, to say ‘I don’t like X and you shouldn’t like X either’ with no explanation or context… but he also lambastes Leigh Alexander’s excellent article while having zero understanding of what she’s actually saying in it. Despite having full means of contextual relations unlike he would normally have on Twitter.

Just a few hours ago an article was published claiming that “Gamers are over” It claims “Gamer” isn’t just a dated demographic label that most people increasingly prefer not to use. Gamers are over. That’s why they’re so mad.”. The article seems to revel in this idea of a “gamer”, defining what a “gamer” with terms like “obtuse shitslingers, these wailing hyper-consumers, these childish internet-arguers”. I guess it’s easy to attack someone once you’ve labeled them the enemy. It’s much easier than trying to understand where all this anger comes from.

He misses the entire point behind the article. That ‘gamer culture’ as predefined in the generations before, has become unnecessary, repugnant, and redundant. There are, however, a very few within certain communities who are fighting tooth and nail and claw to retain the palisades of ‘Gamer’ and keep it defined by what everyone else agrees is infantile. These people, as Leigh Alexander puts it, are wrong. There’s no nuance here. ‘Gamer’ in quotes isn’t needed anymore and it’s best if we just leave it behind.

Leigh Alexander wrote in her piece:

This is hard for people who’ve drank the kool aid about how their identity depends on the aging cultural signposts of a rapidly-evolving, increasingly broad and complex medium. It’s hard for them to hear they don’t own anything, anymore, that they aren’t the world’s most special-est consumer demographic, that they have to share.

The point being that progressive and inclusive attitudes toward art are always right, and always win out in the end. We cannot keep this nostalgic idea of gaming away from people who want to make new and different things anymore. This terrifies certain people. Those people lash out and attack the most visible and vocal targets. They are wrong. People who agree with the attacks are wrong. Those who are being attacked [I]cannot [/I]be wrong simply by wanting to discuss or make things in a different way.

TB spends an inordinate amount of time setting up a Strawman of Leigh Alexander’s article and then tearing it down and in the end unfortunately he accomplishes nothing.. There isn’t some imaginary battle line between ‘real gamers’ and ‘social justice warriors’. There are a few juvenile individuals violently lashing out and some people are agreeing with the violence. All of those people aren’t wanted or needed in this discussion.

If he wants to be nuanced, than he needs to stop giving shelter to this subset of our community. He needs to be firmly and unequivocally behind progress. If you aren’t with progress, then that means you’re against it. I guess TB has chosen his side. To again quote Alexander’s piece:

You don’t want to ‘be divisive?’ Who’s being divided, except for people who are okay with an infantilized cultural desert of shitty behavior and people who aren’t? What is there to ‘debate’?

 

Therapy’s Stigma Expressed via Rise of the Tomb Raider

 Writers need to stop using psychological health as a narrative crutch and start presenting it as just normal mental maintenance

On Monday, gamers were treated to a trailer for the upcoming Square Enix title “Rise of the Tomb Raider“. In the trailer a bedraggled and hooded Lara Croft is silent as some older male therapist is droning on in Therapy Trope speak about making progress and flashbacks. Lara, in direct opposition to what her therapist is saying, soundlessly grips the arms of her chair as the trailer shows what we can only presume are flashbacks of her time Raiding Tombs. At the end they have an exchange:

Therapist Guy: For many people these traumas become a mental trap… they get stuck, like a ship frozen in ice. But there’s another type of person. You know what happens to them?

*long pause*

…Miss Croft?

Lara Croft: We become who we’re meant to be.

Okay probably not what Therapist Guy wanted to hear…

Anyway, I think the intention is to humanize Lara Croft a bit and ground the reality of the Game World inside familiar tropes of Our World. There’s a bit of an Anti-Authoritarian streak to the whole thing as well because Lara is obviously impatient with these sessions and doesn’t want to be there. The whole session is just a way for the viewer to be interested and then surprised when they reveal that it’s Lara Croft at the end.

Why are you surprised? Because Video Game Heroes don’t need Therapy. It’s not something we ever see expressed through this medium. I don’t blame developers, therapy is something that’s hard to make interesting in a narrative. We don’t have time to sit around and chat about our feelings when there’s a world to save or a tomb to raid. The setting of a Therapist’s Office is altogether alien to Video Games so our reactions are going to be just as alien.

It probably doesn’t need to be mentioned but this trailer caused a bit of a firestorm in certain circles. Leigh Alexander’s most recent article encapsulates the type of visceral reactions that spread all over the internet. She justifiably is perturbed by the continued portrayal of women who kick ass in Video Games as being broken and traumatized while men are not only free to wantonly kill and be killed with little psychological effect, they are only emotionally effected by the death or removal of a woman in their lives.

Self-actualization through peak experiences usually doesn’t involve violent sexual assault or mass murder

The problem with this critical analysis is that Lara doesn’t seem broken or traumatized. She seems bored.  The Therapist practically has to wake her up to get a response and when he does it’s obvious that she’s unmoved by his calming and fatherly speech. The subtext is she isn’t seeking therapy out of psychological necessity.

We, as a gaming public, see a therapist and automatically interpret that as weakness. Therapy is a narrative short cut for emotional conflict or weakness when it should just be a part of the background radiation of setting. Normal, everyday people go to therapists without having to had survived a traumatizing experience or killed scores of drug dealers. Writers need to stop using psychological health as a narrative crutch and start presenting it as just normal mental maintenance.

I can understand why people would see this minute and a half trailer as one that perpetuates tropes of weak heroines in media and Leigh correctly surmises that our nuance needs to increase in order to portray these woman as more than just broken dolls… but Lara Croft and her new trailer are not a catalyst for feminist action. The exchange at the end of the trailer highlights the problems with presenting mental health issues in escapist media.

Lara obviously isn’t getting any help here and the implication is that there are only two options when dealing with a psychologically traumatic experience. You either stop working as a human or you become who you were meant to be. Self-actualization through peak experiences usually doesn’t involve violent sexual assault or mass murder (as what happened to Lara in the first game).

There is no third option of properly dealing with the experiences and moving on in your life without them defining you or psychologically haunting you. In order for these stigma to be changed, we have to have more and varied representations of mental health in games from here on out, from both men and women.

Lets have Shepard regularly go to therapy, cause lord knows he needs it.

I Probably Didn’t Play the Game of the Year

Game of the Year time is a time for self service. I’ve spent an entire calender talking about and writing about various Video Games, be they good or bad, and now I get to tell you all why this game or that game is really the best that came out of it all year. There’s a bit of a problem with the process though.

I didn’t play all the games.

the-last-of-us-promo-pic

It’s not shocking I guess. I don’t own a Playstation 3 or a 3DS or Wii U and those platforms had some really great games. So when I talk about my “Game of the Year” it’s a bit disingenuous because I have no authority to name a “Game of the Year”. All of this may seem rather obvious I suppose, but when games like ‘The Last of Us’ and ‘The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds’ come out to near universal praise I feel a bit of responsibility for not playing them critically. On our own Podcast James talked very highly of the Last of Us and it’s ending and during out End of Year cast (releasing later this week). I, however, didn’t get to play it.

So what if it really is my Game of the Year and I just don’t know it?

I’m not the only one though. I’d guess that most people who write for publications didn’t play every game released over any given year. Most of the writers from Official Playstation Magazine didn’t play Card Hunter and most console gamers didn’t get the joy of The Stanley Parable or Rogue Legacy. Video Game’s most visible awards show, the VGX, still treats all of it’s viewers as if they’re 16 year old ADD riddled idiots. I do think it’s time we have a proper awards show, with suits and a subdued audience and proper voting and the like… but the medium isn’t ready for that. We still celebrate fart jokes and 5-Star wanted levels.

When a game like Gone Home is held up and compared to a game like Grand Theft Auto V then you know there’s a problem with your system.

If you’re going to participate in the masturbatory practice of GOTY then you need to understand that it’s completely subjective. Jeff Gerstmann put Divekick at #6 on his list. 4chan almost pushed an eroge game into the #1 spot of Kotaku’s GOTY. You know what all of this means? There really isn’t a best game of 2013. Just the games that I liked the most and think you should check out.

Proper criticism over time can’t come in an amalgamation. A lot of people have given awards to The Last of Us. Is that definitively the best game released in 2013? It’s impossible to know. Maybe they didn’t get to play Tearaway.

An Open Letter to Phil Rogers

Today, Phil Rogers (CEO of Square-Enix US and EU) posted a blog about the future of Square-Enix. You can find it here. At the end of his post, he asked everyone to please reply and leave him feedback.

Please feel free to mail me your feedback. I can’t promise I’ll respond to every mail but you can be sure your concerns will be heard and taken on board.

In the spirit of discussion, I wrote him my thoughts off the top of my head. I’ll go ahead and post it here as well so that people can respond to me in kind.

Español: Esta pequeña imagen, muestra el logot...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mr Rogers,

My name is Kody Robison and I first like to say thanks for the opportunity to give you my thoughts on Square-Enix’s direction in regards to it’s Western publishing and development. Without boring you with too many details that would be insignificant to the real discussion, I’ve been a big fan of both Squaresoft and Enix since the release of ActRaiser. That game had major influences on my development as a fan of Video Games and of all media in general. I speak to you now a full 22 years after the release of that game as a father and an enthusiast. I’m not the CEO of a major brand. Nor do I have the ability to make decisions on a multi-million dollar level that may have ramifications on hundreds of people and their future employment. I do, however, have a lot of opinions on where Video Games are and where they are going.

The recent focus on Mobile Phone development for some of the most storied franchises in gaming history has concerned a great many people. You say in your blog post that you are not abandoning AAA gaming and it’s great to hear that. You say that there is a full slate of games from AAA to mobile to online. My personal concern based on these promises is that you say nothing of anything in between. It seems to me that at todays Square-Enix, there’s not enough room for the types of games that made me become such a fan of the company in the first place. Final Fantasy XV as a huge blockbuster game makes sense. It’s a flagship. You need to lead with your flagships. What about other titles however? Let me pose a question. If you were given the opportunity to publish ActRaiser today, would it happen? I don’t think anyone at Square-Enix would take the risk necessary to greenlight that. Or, an even more scary scenario for me, it would be released as a mobile phone game with social elements and in-app purchases. There is a middle ground, I think, between AAA and mobile phone/social games that Square-Enix has lost sight of. Games that don’t need to sell 4 million units to maintain profitability. Games that build another generation of hardcore fans while simultaneously pleasing those older ones.

Please don’t misunderstand, I happily await the release of Kingdom Hearts III… but at the same time I dread the next announcement of a Final Fantasy styled mobile phone game. Or maybe the announcement of ActRaiser – Farm Edition. The gaming demographic has blown up in just the last 5 years with millions of people realizing that Video Games can not only be a profitable business but also a legitimate entertainment option and hobby. The people joining gaming for the first time have certain expectations that must be met in terms of price and playability and I understand that ceasing development for those people would be akin to burning a giant pile of money. I would just like you to remember that there is a group of people that are not being developed for right now, the people who don’t want a 400 million dollar Chrono Trigger game and would be devastated to see it’s sequel on the iPhone.

Again, I’m not a CEO, just a part of an ever more cynical group of people who fear for the future of some of their most beloved games.

Oh, and I also promised someone to ask you about Final Fantasy Type 0 and the various Dragon Quest games that have not been localized. The audience that I’m talking about above are the same people who would quickly pre-order any announcements of those localizations.

Thank you again for your time,
Kody Robison

A dark room, a story to unravel.

Twice I’ve played a browser game I’m having trouble describing.

From this point on there will be spoilers.  Mild ones.  I’ll let you know when it’s safe to read again.

Here how it starts, nice and simple.

Here’s how it starts, nice and simple.

A dark room” is like dwarf fortress meets asteroid meets…time managment…meets text adventure.  The game evolves as you play, it’s certainly not one thing or another.  It starts with just a room but before you know it:  People arrive.  Things happen and choices appear.  What happened to this world?  Who are you?  Why are you here?  Okay, one of these questions isn’t answered.

I’ll give you pro-tip:  Make fur, you need it.

Spoilers completed, continue reading.

It’s a thoroughly thought provoking game, beautiful in its simplicity.  Uncommon in its mechanics.  It’s like Candy Box, but not like Candy Box.  I have no idea who made it, part of me believes it sprung fully formed onto the internet. [Turns out it was Michael Townsend and was Inspired by Candy Box. Had to look in the page source to find this info.]

Usually when I think browser game I think Kongregate. Mecca of independent game developers and corporate cash cow of Gamestop alike.  Micro transactions add up.

But…

A dark room, it’s everything a browser game can be in a simple addictive package.  Keep coming back and clicking those buttons.  Figure out the mystery, or at least as much of it as there is to be solved.

Sacrifice your time on this altar of simplicity, and gain some reflection, some amusement, and a healthy dose of sadness that there aren’t more games like this out there.

Pro-tip:  This game saves your progress, so don’t feel like you can’t close the tab if you need to.