So, this last week I returned to a game I first played in 2015. Prison Architect is a management simulation game where you run all aspects of a prison. The game might be comparable to games like SimCity or Cities Skylines on a much smaller and more violent scale. The game represents figures in the world in a style akin to stick figures. Initially, when I played Prison Architect I was very particular about caring for individual prisoners. I think I even had a good sense of prisoner names and the troublemakers. Now I treat them a bit like cattle in an abattoir. So that’s what I wanted to talk about. When is a human not a human in games?
So, I’ve just started watching Netflix’s adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events because I’m always six months behind the conversation. Earlier this year, the second season dropped and I’ve been enjoying it more than the first. Now, I did read the series when I was younger. My memory of the books is hazy but from my memories, the show is rather faithful. The area in which it probably differs the most is in expanding the role of the adults in the series. Now, as I made my way through the series I had a thought. A Series of Unfortunate Events reflects the Trump era in an interesting way. Now for me to explain why I am going to spoil both series to a point. The discussion of the series will probably spoil The Vile Village and all preceding episodes. With that out of the way, let’s begin.
So recently the social media account for CD Projekt Red, of Witcher and Cyberpunk 2077 fame, made an off-colour ‘joke’ relying on the played-out line “Did you just assume my gender?”. Their apology was that classic non-apology ‘Sorry if you were offended’. Now, I read the replies to that tweet and boy howdy, I hate gamers. In the same way that a high school bully defends themselves when consequences come knocking, most of the replies boiled down to ‘it’s just a joke,’. Is it though? I’m going to explain why these sorts of ‘jokes’ are tired.
No Man’s Sky is a game I’ve discussed before on this website. Now, two years on, No Man’s Sky has changed, and so have I. No Man’s Sky recently released its most recent, most ambitious update for the game. This is known as No Man’s Sky Next. Surrounding the game is a lot of discussion about the game as the developers poke their heads out to see if it’s safe. Back when the game launched, there was a whole fiasco about how big the gulf was between the marketing and the finished product. In my previous discussion of the game, I noted that the game was enjoyable enough albeit overpriced. As part of all this, it seems that No Man’s Sky is now remembered as a game that overpromised and underwhelmed. Discussion centred around a cynicism about returning to No Man’s Sky now that it had the “promised” features. The language around the game is about meeting a standard that was previously lied about. Here’s the thing, I certainly think there were deceptive elements to the pre-release marketing. However, No Man’s Sky is a perfect storm in a teacup to examine gaming culture’s attitude towards developers as a whole.
[Spoilers for Infinity War]
So, you might recall the news story from the past few weeks about those Thai boys stuck in a cave. The world watched as qualified professionals led a dangerous mission to rescue them. Tragically one of the divers lost his life. However, all twelve boys managed to get out alive. What a heartwarming story! Then Elon Musk. Musk began to insert himself in the news story by building a submarine that no-one asked him to build and travelling to the already-crowded rescue site. Now, you might be thinking that there’s nothing wrong with a wealthy individual using their money to try and help. Sure, if that were the end of the story Musk would come out of this smelling no worse than he did before. Oh. Oh no. Following some comments made on social media, Musk has taken a Twitter-sized beating. Now, how does this relate to the menacing villain of Infinity War, Space Grimace?
So, this past week I’ve been writing up elements of the world that I run D&D in. Now in my campaign, I have three players new to the world of D&D and one player who has been running his own games of D&D for ten years. Often, I will add elements of the lore of D&D into my world. When these elements are discussed, there is a back-and-forth about how they are typically portrayed in the canon of the lore and where my world differs. While writing up the deities of my world, I’ve thought more about where the stories that have been told about the gods differ. So, that’s a fun writing topic, what are the benefits of writing in an established universe?
So recently there has been a small and vocal group who are dedicated to remaking the Last Jedi. Attempting to remake a movie that was a success at the box office by professionals from one of the richest studios with crowdfunded money and fan support, not even a year after the film was released, does shine a light on the absurdity of remakes. Remakes are often lambasted when they are announced. Why remake something that is already great? More importantly, what is the purpose of a remake?