Sunday, 26 January 2014

Suicide Gaming 2013 awards: The Back Hands

Much like the mixed feelings of regret and confusion you get from the probable aftermath of drunken idiocy of the new years piss up, waking up in your own urine and wondering who's vomit that is in your hair (because you don't remember eating prawns). We must now take stock and look back over the shitty parts of the previous year, because, let's be honest, this is what you came for. But like the positive, Glad Hands having one, the 2013 Back Hands have an omission too. The Spike TV VGX awards are left out because, how may of these have Spike TV made? It's still the same people (Geoff Keighley included)  behind the awards show, do you think they're suddenly gonna realise how good telly is made? If you're expecting the glorified advertising block that is the VGX is anything close to a genuine awards show, then more fool you. Plus there's a more obvious top offender for 2013, so lets get on with it, shall we?



Microsoft


You knew this was gonna be here. didn't you? Microsoft had a complete clusterfuck of a 2013, to the point where you wouldn't be blamed for thinking all of upper management had pissed off and left interns in charge. MS's new console, the confusingly named, "Xbox One" had some of the most regressive, anti-consumer policies this side of a Monsanto crop. MS still had a fair amount of goodwill until it's first live stream to announce the new console, with the emphasis on media apps, like watching sports. You know, like you do on television, but with Xbox One you can watch them via a plastic box that charges you a subscription to access what you were watching on your TV anyway, and  still needs a TV to work in the first place. Then came the rumours that the Xbox One was to implement DRM that would block the user from playing pre-owned games, the concept of having to sign in once every 24 hours or the user is locked out. Cue lots of PR/avoidance which then turned to outright  insulting the intelligence of the userbase. Most notably when former creative director at MS, Adam Orth, sarcastically (according to him) said that people who didn't like the rumoured always online aspect of the Xbox One should "deal with it", which lead to his resignation. Regardless, when pressed on the matter, MS president of Interactive Entertainment, Don Mattrick, confirmed that the Xbox One will have to sign on once ever 24 hours and games could not be physically shared or sold without the secondary "owner" paying a fee to the publisher. In response to the obvious backlash, Mattrick said anyone who didn't like could simply, buy an Xbox 360. Essentially telling Xbox fans, "here's the new console, you don't have a good internet connection? Then fuck off." And even then no one at MS could fully explain how the game sharing thing worked. It's still unclear whether MS were totally incompetent or Mattrick had taken a bung from Sony to throw the console war?  An overall feeling of confusion and betrayal best summed up in this breakup letter to Xbox  by the immortal John Cheese. Then Mattrick fucked off the Zynga and MS had no choice but to backtrack on the DRM and pre-owned when they realised people actually gave a shit about pre-owned games and not having to be chained to their living room via a underpowered, hyperbole box. Plus Sony got a massive head start simply by doing the opposite. Now MS is playing catch up with false platitudes and questionable promises, and frankly, I don't buy it...literally. And neither should you just for the sole reason you (the buyers of the Xbox and Xbox 360) are the reason Microsoft are even making their third console in the first place. Don't let them forget it.



Phil Fish




Yes, his comments about the Japanese games industry were borderline offensive. Yes, he often comes across like a petulant teenager who really should learn to think before he speaks (or at the very least hire someone to run his twitter account) and yes, you can often label him as dishing it out and not taking it. However, that's not why he's on this list. If you followed his meltdown on twitter, instigated by official camel-breaking straw, Marcus Beer, aka, "Annoyed Gamer", aka, "Anger-gimmick reviewer #259" called Fish and Jonathan Blow "fucking hipsters" on a podcast because both didn't answer straight away to a story Beer had asked them about. Cue a twitter shit-storm where Fish, Beer and anyone on the internet spoiling for a fight, that ended in Fish cancelling development on Fez 2 and quitting the games industry entirely. The reason Fish has won a end of year Back Hand  isn't because he got over sensitive and should learn to log out of twitter when things get hectic. No, he's on this shitlist because he quit the best job in the world because of some arsehole on the internet. I don't know him personally so I don't know for sure whether he walked because he wanted to storm out dramatically leaving a chorus of "please don't leave us Phillip!", hoping to leave a trail of broken hearts and cries to return (which, in my experience doesn't happen). Or he had to honestly get away from social media and video games entirely, because internet twats think freedom of speech means freedom to hurl whatever abuse to anyone without repercussions. But either way it fucking stinks because, I don't know about you, but I'd rather have less game journalists in the world than game developers. So Mr Fish, you need time to clear your head, take some time to reflect then get back into what you do best. But as long as you let the mouth breathers who think all video games is their exclusive domain and they dictate to all, then this back hand remains. Get your  priorities straight and tell yourself you don't need to reply to every cunt on twitter.



KSI & Sponsors



 
Just when you thought it was safe to be female and go to a gaming event, the walking slab of fuck-meat, KSI rears his unlovable face once again. Or rather his corporate sponsors tried to force  upon a public undeserving the sight of the disgusting, asexual lump that he calls a body. What happened was a few outlets and individuals openly questioned Microsoft's UK PR hiring the convention sex pest to perform at the UK Xbox One launch, seeing as MS were all about aiming their new console at more of a family friendly audience. Which begged the question, did MS have no idea of KSI's often objectionable behaviour and content when they hired him? Or did they not care because he's a popular Yotube personality amongst angry, young misogynists, and they need to hit that market? A question most notably posed by VideoGamer.com's Matt Lees. In which he questioned the  use of KSI -who's only contribution to comedy is impersonating a rapist and playing Fifa- by family friendly brands who sponsor KSI, like BT, EA, The Gadget Show and MS. So, does the youtube "personality" do in reply? Ignore the initial furore? Make a rebuttal video? Make a honest vlog, explaining that he's portraying a character and he doesn't endorse sexual harassment? Nope, the prick flagged the video because it used clips of his sexual harassment at Eurogamer Expo video.That means VideoGamer (even if they overturn the flagging) lose out on six months of ad revenue. So KSI not only is against a free press, but is also happy to use the broken Youtube content id system to stop people's income. Funny how the people who leaped on Lauren Wainwright for threatening Eurogamer with legal action were strangely absent when KSI was censoring a video critique of him, eh? I guess they're all as much of a coward as KSI is. And as much of a hypocrite as all the corporate sponsors, who hired him to to wank their brands off to his four million subscribers, then tried to wash their hands of the responsibility of doing research on the unfucakble scumbag.



Penny Arcade



If it wasn't bemusing enough how PA made itself into a gaming media power house, hosting the biggest gaming conventions in America, PAX,  off the back off a below average web comic then. It's equally mind boggling when, despite their seniority in games media, they still act like two teenage pricks in their bedroom with a web comic. More so with PA co-creator, Mike Krahulik, who flip-flops between being a shafting bully and crying victim. The origin for this behaviour goes back to 2010, with the whole "Dickwolves" controversy started (which you can read about in detail here), which came to light yet again when Krahulik, at a PAX panel, brought up the Dickwolves debacle and the flack PA took for making Dickwolves a t-shirt (which PA soon withdrew), and said he regretted withdrawing the Dickwolves shirts. This is a man that has denied contributing to rape culture, yet made it's uniform. Whether he's honestly ignorant that his outbursts make him just like the rape apologists that wear the very shirts he boasted about wearing to PAX,because he's fighting censorship, or is being a plain old dickhead is unclear. But this whole, "Well I didn't know all these people that read my comic strip and hang on my every word-especially when I'm grandstanding at a massive convention I helped create, were gonna run with a stupid stance I took over valid criticism, which then got hijacked by an insidious subset of sociopaths." act is getting hard to swallow. So pardon me if I look at the proposed "diversity lounge" with a touch of cynicism. A safe "space" for women, people of colour and LGBT, as opposed to making the whole convention safe for everyone, even trans-gendered people, who Krahulik won't properly recognise. But it's alright now, because Penny Arcade now, supposedly, has nothing to do with PAX -as well as dropping their video content and sacking big Benny Kuchera- as stated in Krahulik's blog post. If  Krahulik is sincere about trying to make amends for his bile, then he will have to look hard at himself and what he's done and maybe think about openly confronting his misgivings as a way of educating the young boys and lost puppies of the MRAs then good luck to him. Unless he's just a sneaky cunt who's lying low until the storm blows over while still coining it in from PAX? We'll see.



SimCity



Perhaps not the last, but definitely the largest nail in the coffin of Digital Rights Management, as SimCity was the perfect advert not to use DRM in the architecture of your video game, and a textbook case of corporate idiocy. EA and Maxis (for lack of a more exact term) fucked up royally with SimCity because of EA's greed and total lack of foresight by making the latest incarnation in the SimCity franchise to be exclusively available from EA's online game service, Origin and would require the user to be always connected to the EA servers to run the game. So, the game launches and guess what happened? Day one, the servers crash and all those people who paid full price for a digital only game couldn't because despite EA being one of the biggest publishers on the shitting planet, it couldn't afford -or couldn't be arsed to buy- servers big enough to handle the obvious world-wide traffic. Cue lots of disgruntled customers, the Vice President of Maxis avoiding questions about the outage and constantly excusing their customers not being able to play the game they paid for, because they were being silly for being pissed off at not being able to play a game that was designed to be connected online. It's the future, and it was fighting piracy or something. And by no means should we have listened to the rumour that SimCity could actually be played offline. In fact, hacked versions of the game could be played offline, so it begged the question, what was the point of legally buying a product, that implemented a deeply flawed anti-piracy, anti-play-your-game-on-anything-but-cunting-origin  digital tether, while people playing hacked and pirated versions were free to build their city for free? SimCity is exactly why almost no one trusts any sort of always-on service, nor should they. EA fucking gouge the shit out of  or sequel games to death but when you have a online game service that can't even do the one thing it's supposed to - you know, play games when you want - then EA and Maxis deserve no praise whatsoever for finally making SimCity work offline. And it only took them six months to do it too.


Youtube



Youtube has been such a pain in the arse, you'd almost think Google were doing it out of spite, for Youtube kicking the shit out of Google Video (remember that?) years ago. Things first took a turn for the crap when Youtube users were asked to ditch their user names for their real names so Youtube could force users to comment and message each other using Facebook's ugly cousin, Google +. Because Google are shit out of ideas to market their social network, so they just jerry rigged it into the massive video streaming site, and if users didn't go for the update, then they don't properly exist, so fuck 'em if they want to comment or like something. Then the tits really hit the can when the new content id system came into place. Literally overnight, videos - many that had been up for years - were being flagged left, right and center. Content blanket flags every-fucking-thing from videos made as obvious parody, critiques, song covers (all which are textbook fair use), videos that used music with full permission of the original artist or even themselves.That's how undiscriminating Content ID is, because it actually flags content on the behalf of the copyright owner, even when the owner is fine with people using their content or the video using said content isn't monetised (which is usually the free pass with most companies). Why is this happening? Firstly, Google don't want another Viacom situation, where other movie/game/music companies threaten legal action over all the misuse of copyright. Secondly, now Youtube is a legit content platform, with many creators making their own original content, pulling in millions of views and that potential advertising space needs to be protected, especially now more established corporations are moving in. Thirdly, it has to be a software-based content check, because it would cost too much to hire enough people to check everything. And fourth and most important of all, Youtube is the biggest video streaming site going, so they can do whatever the fuck they want. Google have probably figured some people will be put out, pissed off and outright forced into leaving (if their channel hasn't been already shut down) and made any sort of video game footage a no-no unless you have a deal with the publishers like KSI and PewDiePie and take the King's shilling to make the kind of advertorial that make the comments section in gaming sites froth at the mouth, yet barely raise am eyebrow when the "real gamers" are happy to do. Youtube might as well cut the bullshit and make their slogan, "Where else you gonna go? Vimeo?" Because now the corporations have moved in, the people who made Youtube the success it is (the users) don't matter  anymore. And when Content id becomes self aware and decides the entire human race is guilty of copyright infringement, we'll really be fucked for sure.




Honourable fuck yous



The Loading Bar- Here's an idea, lets take a crappy, overpriced cafe in the shitty part of Soho (where the gay clubs end and the crack dealers begin), stick a Master System in the window and serve overpriced cocktails and host launch events for publishers who can't afford to hire anywhere nice. Just stick a Playstation one in the front window of a All Bar One, you get the same effect.

The Amazing Atheist- The poster boy for white male privilege on the internet.  Made a video called, "The failure of feminism." The only failing I can think of is that it didn't do a better job of pushing for full access to contraception for women, so his mother could have done the world a favour and have the little prick aborted.

Ginx TV- For finally breaking through on to UK screens on the Virgin Media and achieving what I thought impossible; making Explosive Alan's content look slick and professional by comparison. Say what you want about Dan Maher (by all means) but at least he can talk to camera without constantly tilting his head.

Game Journalists who trash NeoGaf but use it for news sources- Or the "Ben Parfitt Award for hack journalism, and general wankery." If  NeoGaf is full of entitled whiners who know nothing yet you're still happy to post the most erroneous rumour on 'Gaf as news, then guess what? You're a fucking hack and are in no position to even criticise the weather.

Capcom- As hackneyed as it is to ask, seriously Capcom. Are you all on crack? Because where else is all the money going?Because it's not on making better games.

DC Comics- You just had to fuck with Batwoman, didn't you? Was it to tie in with the (now aborted) Orson Scott Card run on Superman, where the super powered alien would protest the "unnatural" marriage between Kate and Maggie? And you couldn't even let us have the fight with Batman, could you?

David Cage- If Cage wants to make games where the focus is more on the story and character development that's peachy. But when the story is recycled from Carrie and some old X-Files (or "Beyond Two Souls" as most call it) episodes and has dialogue and plot holes that would make Hideo Kojima cringe, and loads of fucking QTEs then your game kinda fails it's objective. Oh, and of you are gonna scoff and games like Lollipop Chainsaw, Mr Cage, when Beyond Two Souls has a QTE tribute to the rape scene from The Accused. Was that supposed  to elicit emotions Dave? Well I got some, disgust and annoyance. And fuck Ryan, he's a wanker and if BTS was written to a standard akin to the best TV or film, Ellen Page would of told that divorced twat to fuck off in a heartbeat.

Suicide Gaming- An end of year piece nearly four weeks into the new year? God, Ben Parfitt is right, I really am a shit writer. Ironically, when I joked about quitting, some people believed it. I should of paid attention to the popular opinion and should of actually stopped. I don't know, I need a fucking holiday.

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