The serious business of making games

The world of board games can be serious business, too!

Ion Games has announced that it will no longer include historical notes in the games of Phil Eklund, who has used them to praise British colonialism, question climate science, and also recently promoted the notion that COVID is not a pandemic and doesn’t warrant lockdowns.

And at about the same time, publishers of games by Italian designer Daniele Tascini (Teotihuican, Tzolk’in) are distancing themselves after he made remarks about skin color in the context of a discussion of fantasy races. The dust-up was exacerbated by Tascini’s “I’m sorry if you were offended”-style apology.

There is also fulfillment company FunAgainGames which jumped to the defense of Phil Eklund and went downright condescending and 1950s misogynistic on a female streamer associated with Ion Game Design:

That’s how you talk to women when your company motto is that everyone is welcome to the table, right? Be cheerful and cordial. And you are living with a man you aren’t married to? j/k smiley face…

Needless to say, they are also losing business.

Rodney Smith (Watch It Played) also had a good take on the: “it’s cultural differences and not racist” defence of Tascini.

Wow, yikes. That Funagain guy seems like someone who has f-ed up ideas AND no sense for how to communicate online.

Affirming that Rodney is a good person makes the world a little brighter.

I remember watching his videos back when he started before he got big.
Today is a day for warming of my cold black heart, I guess.

I try to drive it home to my students who are in the Game Studio, preparing for careers in the game industry, that there is no such thing as “just a game.” Games are culture, as well as commerce. They may entertain, sure, but like all entertainment worthy of our attention they have meaning. Games communicate ideas, and not just overtly. This is one reason why games are so powerful, so addictive, so enjoyable; they get us involved, they motivate us, and they mean something at some level. It’s not just ponderous “message” games that have meaning. They all do, at some level.

If game developers, of any sort, want to be taken seriously, to have people willing to spend money for their products, and to have them reviewed and critiqued as something other than fungible commodities, they have to accept that their work has weight and what they do has ramifications. They can, and should, feel free to do what they want from the standpoint of what they want to say, but they also have to understand that in the big leagues of cultural production, there will be consequences ffor what you do as well.

Phil Eklund playing the “I am Jesus who is dying for your free speech sins” card. What an ass.

In reality a private company has just decided they dont think a boorish loudmouth is helping their business.

Get over yourself Phil. Want to make a point? Go make a game, thats what you are good at, stop whining you are bad at that.

Hmmm, from the linked dice breaker article, it seems Tascini was saying something along the lines of:

In fantasy, dark/black is used to depict evil, and this “black” has nothing to do with real life Africans, who aren’t actually black.
Also, between myself and my “black” Italian friends, we sometimes use pejorative words for blacks, but that’s ok.

I don’t know if that’s an accurate summation, as I haven’t read the original conversation, because it is on Facebook and in Italian, but if so, and given that he does apologize, seems like his publishing company are maybe a bit too eager to paint themselves as heroes…?

Edit: I’m not commenting on the validity of lack thereof of his remarks, more the immediacy and extent of the company reaction.

In the case of PE, seems much more clear cut.

I would say companies don’t need to be hailed as paragons for stuff like this; I always look at such decisions as risk avoidance/damage control first and principled actions a distant second. Sometimes the two align, sometimes not.

That’s not surprising. They sell a ton of stuff in the Warzone/Cold War/Modern Warfare stores. It’s all cosmetics, but they are almost universally high quality blueprints and player skins and the cheapest among them are $5.00. Most of the really good stuff is $20 and up. Throw in the Battle Pass (which can be earned for free every season after one initial purchase of $10 mind you…), and you can easily see where that money is pouring in from.

Warzone is a great game. Cold War is very solid and I don’t even play Zombies which a lot of people love. Modern Warfare, as I noted in another thread, is a Game of the Generation with Warzone included as part of the overall package. It was groundbreaking in its streamlining of “realistic” FPS combat. If I had voted in the Qt3 Quarterlies, I would have had Warzone at number one for 2020. It’s brilliant.

Nothing has left as bad a taste in my mouth as having to play MP codblops against the QA team in a room with a massive sound system, with a migraine, after beating the single-player in more or less one sitting.

At one point I was so fried I couldn’t remember the controls and the QA guys are all running around knives-only for lulz and gifting me pity kills when the PR flack remembers to yell at them.

But hey, at least we didn’t do the whole helicopter-trip-to-an-aircraft-carrier thing. Fuckin’ Activision.

homer

“Call of Duty: So realistic, you can get PTSD just from playing!”

Tencent buys another one…

Oof, that one hurts.

Going forward, the Vicarious Visions team of about 200 people will be employees of Blizzard and “fully dedicated to existing Blizzard games and initiatives,” which means the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 studio will no longer be creating games as the lead developer.

Well that’s depressing and dumb after the awesome Tony Hawk 1+2.

I wonder how much turnover there is at a small company like Vicarious Visions over the years. I remember waiting so eagerly for Terminus, the Privateer-like game with realistic physics that turned out to have a really ugly font and HUD. Then I remember being amazed at what VV did with the Xbox Doom 3 port. They made the game so much better than id software’s original. They’ve had their share of really interesting or faithful ports.

The Resident Evil 4 remake has essentially switched developers and has been rebooted following disagreements between Capcom and the M-Two (Resi 3 developer) over how much should be changed.


That bums me out a bit, I really liked what they did with the RE 2 and 3 remakes. I wasn’t a huge fan of RE4, so I’m curious what they’re planning to do with it.