Take note, game developers

Here are the results of a poll at GameSpot:

Are developers using violence and sex as crutches to make up for bad game design?
Yes 1837 (76%)
No 369 (15%)
Huh? 192 (8%)

Another poll answered solely by the hardcore segment, who are still weeping over Nintendo’s third-place run this generation. If their opinion mattered in the marketplace, we’d all be playing Gamecube right now.

I dunno. I think Nintendo is for kids (no offense Dave) and I loved GTA3 but I think in many cases there’s a focus on sex and violence for sake of sales rather than on good design ideas.

This is what I imagine Acclaim’s marketing people must think like. ;) Yes, the folks that decided BMX XXX was a great idea and were dumbfounded by the backlash they received. “What are you talking about? We’re just like GTA3!”

I dunno. A large percentage of games still involve war or combat of some kind so of course they’re violent. It’s just that graphics keep getting better so the violence is less abstract. It’d be interesting to try to do up completely nonviolent versions of the RTS, FPS and RPG genres, for example. Probably be a yawn, but who knows.

As for sex… I must be playing all the wrong games. :(

Its all about that Nerf game.

Does “many cases” refer to television, movies, or gangsta rap? :shock:

I’d like to see all these games using violence and sex as crutches.

Mostly, I see generic third-person action-platformers like Haven, Dr. Muto, that Skittles game, Vexx et al, or generic racing games. If we’re going to blame anything, blame the PSX/N64-era game design, which dictated that you either made a bland racer or a generic action-platformer. None of these games prominently feature sex and violence (although the latter is a theme that comes as baggage with the edgy Goth look adored by several Western devs). The reliance on crappy mascots (Ty) and novelty themes (Luigi’s Mansion) is just as bad as “sex and violence”, I estimate. And then, of course, there are the yearly sports rehashes.

There’s really isn’t that many games that balls out feature sex and violence, although their advertisers certainly try to spin games that way. And, of course, the Nintendo crowd loves to shriek and point fingers at the PS2/Xbox for the decline of videogaming and point to the occasional Lara Croft clone (as if that’s sex) or Def Jam Vendetta (which is also on the GC) or Max Payne as “violence” (neither of which were bad games). About the worst offender I can immediately summon to mind is BloodRayne, which was just mediocre. DoAXVB gets unwarranted trashing from Nintendo fans, but at least it tried something different; it’s not my bag, but it’s also not a game that gets traded back very often.

Me, I think the biggest crutch is racing games, none of which really try to add anything new to the genre (especially rally and street racing). It’s all about silly bullet points now: degree of environment mapping, poly counts, number of licensed vehicles ad nauseum. Online is a nice boost, but even that doesn’t help when it’s the same mechanics and formula we’ve been using since Ridge Racer and Gran Turismo 1. Boo.

The other big crutch is still using a movie license to excuse a generic game, and that’s been going on since the 2600 days. Why? Because it works. And if a movie’s big draw is sex and violence, of course that game is going to feature that in spades, because that’s what they think the audience also wants.

The appeal of the big “war”-themed sellers like Ghost Recon, SOCOM, Counterstrike is the team-based play in a cool, macho setting. I don’t think anyone is going to argue that the gameplay in those titles sucks, considering their success and avid online presence.

What about that paintball mod for HL?

Not to sound too bitter, but it seems that every other person has a solution on how to make the games industry better. If you honestly think you have the master plan, then get a company going and lead by example. Or possibly even consult and show people how to improve games. I am seeing editorial comments a lot these days that start with phrases like, “If developers only did…”, “Games should be made like this…”, “If anyone ever made a game like that it would be incredibly succesful…”. It’s all well and good to dispense these nuggets of wisdom, but how about putting yourself in our shoes and see why “bad” choices are made sometimes.

[Spelling error due to the “e” and “w” being so close]

I hadn’t seen the poll but “yes” is a no-brainer as an answer.

Got some spare venture capital lying around, Dave? The barrier to entry into the games industry is enormous. You either take a low pay job to get your foot in the door, effectively ending any reasonably comfortable life you had beforehand, or you have a huge inheritance fall into your lap to live off of until you can make something yourself.

Sorry…it’s just not that easy for many folks to get going in the games industry. A lot of people with great ideas are out there making mods…and they often still can’t get a decent job somewhere after producing a mild hit in that community.

Of course, the other problem with your theory is it assumes that everyone wants to make games, and not just offer suggestions on how to make them better so they can enjoy them more. You don’t have to be building games in your spare time to criticize something you don’t like in a title.

I think you’re right, you are bitter. But since that bitterness probably comes from your foolish flirtation with Evil Avatar, we’ll let it slide. ;)

Oh…I think Doug’s bitter too. But I don’t know why or what he’s so bitter about. I don’t think I’ve seen him compliment a game…well…ever, at least on these boards.

–Dave

No the Acclaim guy said they were just like The Sopranos.

Btw. The poll doesn’t ask if developers should stop using sex and violence in games. It asks if they use it as a “crutch to make up for bad game design”. That’s pretty clear. This has nothing to do with Nintendo or non-violent games like A Tale in the Desert, or with violent games that are well-designed (GTA3). It has to do with bad game design… like BMX XXX and Postal 2.

I see no reason to discuss what I like - if I don’t complain about it, assume I like it or simply don’t care.

I don’t see much point in Internet circle jerks; they don’t galvanize discussion, and are usually completely redundant. Most positive threads don’t pick up until someone gainsays the flood of effusive praise. That said, if I do see some clever bit of game design I feel went unobserved, I’ll most certainly bring it up, and you’re certainly free to disagree.

If negativity makes you feel bad, don’t read it. It doesn’t bother me, because I know what I like in games and don’t really care if other folks validate my tastes.

I like criticism and negativity, especially on forums like this. It makes people examine their tastes, and forces them to actually elaborate on why the enjoyed a particular piece of game design, rather than just babble in generic, hyperbolic terms about how the game touched them somewhere special.

DaveC,

If someone will pay me more than I make now to design games and consult on mechanics, I’ll be more than happy to turn my narrow and egocentric insights into a real product.

Until then, this is a message board, and I’m offering my opinion on a hobby. I’m not proclaiming expertise, here. I’m just doing what people who like a certain hobby do: discuss that hobby. Out of fairness, I try to qualify my opinions, but don’t take earnest criticism as the desire to make games. Nobody’s making you take me seriously. I don’t think I take anyone seriously here, except Steve, because I’m afraid Archangel 2 might become a reality someday.

Hey, by the same token, you’re not allowed to complain about the game press Dave, until you put yourself in our shows. :)

No the Acclaim guy said they were just like The Sopranos.[/quote]
I think you’re confusing them w/ Rockstar, unless I missed something… I know Rockstar has compared GTA to The Sopranos. And that makes sense.

Acclaim was comparing BMX XXX to GTA saying that they both used extreme sex/violence. The thing they didn’t get was that GTA sold not because of the violence (though the controversy surely helped sell a few more units), but because of the good gameplay.

And that was my point w/ posting this in the first place. Some devs/publishers think you can add some boobs or extreme violence and that will sell a game or help make up for shoddy design. Sorry, but it ain’t that easy and it’s a pathetic thing to do. Games need GAMEPLAY. If the violence/sex makes sense in the game (like it does in GTA because you’re in the Mafia) then that’s a different story.

Btw. The poll doesn’t ask if developers should stop using sex and violence in games. It asks if they use it as a “crutch to make up for bad game design”. That’s pretty clear. This has nothing to do with Nintendo or non-violent games like A Tale in the Desert, or with violent games that are well-designed (GTA3). It has to do with bad game design… like BMX XXX and Postal 2.

Exactly, I don’t how Nintendo got involved with this. It’s not like the poll was on a Nintendo fanboy site or something.

No the Acclaim guy said they were just like The Sopranos.[/quote]
I think you’re confusing them w/ Rockstar, unless I missed something… I know Rockstar has compared GTA to The Sopranos. And that makes sense.[/quote]

I’m sorry, I was making an inside joke. I wrote a newstory for CGM where the Acclaim guy actually used the nudity in the Sopranos as ajustification for BMX XXX.

Given the story quality and voice acting/subject matter in GTA 3 I don’t think Rockstar would be too far off the mark comparing their game to The Sopranos. So long as they didn’t push the comparison too hard.

Yes, thankfully I was Uncle McDuck’s favorite niece.

OK, here’s the mother of all business plans. First, we need some hot babe, and we pay her a $250 modeling fee to do some provocative poses whilst ostensibly coding in Visual Studio. Now, we use these photos in the webpage for www.savegameplay.com

If it worked for Karyn, it can work for entire segments of the tech industry. 200,000 hardcore gamers can all spare $10, right?

Damn, I think I better patent this before someone steals the idea!

Anyone got some spare change for www.helpmebuyapatent.com?