Yeah, there’s this one ridiculous conspiracy theory going around that women, LGBTQ folks, and people of color don’t actually play videogames, and any criticism they bring up is not the legitimate concerns of dedicated fans and consumers, but rather a shadowy crusade by disinterested outsiders to destroy anything fun and make everything “politically correct” - for some as-yet-unknown (but clearly unacceptable) reason.
Eran Efrati reports, “Soldiers in two different units inside Gaza leaked information about the murdering of Palestinians by sniper fire in Shuja’eyya neighborhood as punishment for the death of soldiers in their units. After the shooting on the Israeli armored personnel carriers, which killed seven soldiers of the Golani Brigade, the Israeli army carried out a massacre in Shuja’eyya neighborhood.
Let’s remember that 120 Palestinians died that night in Shejaia. This was no accident. They weren’t collateral damage. They were the targets.
Every one of the 112 pages in the booklet is marked “not for distribution or publication” and it is easy to see why. The Luntz report, officially entitled “The Israel project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary, was leaked almost immediately to Newsweek Online, but its true importance has seldom been appreciated. It should be required reading for everybody, especially journalists, interested in any aspect of Israeli policy because of its “dos and don’ts” for Israeli spokesmen.
These are highly illuminating about the gap between what Israeli officials and politicians really believe, and what they say, the latter shaped in minute detail by polling to determine what Americans want to hear. Certainly, no journalist interviewing an Israeli spokesman should do so without reading this preview of many of the themes and phrases employed by Mr Regev and his colleagues.
The booklet is full of meaty advice about how they should shape their answers for different audiences. For example, the study says that “Americans agree that Israel ‘has a right to defensible borders’. But it does you no good to define exactly what those borders should be. Avoid talking about borders in terms of pre- or post-1967, because it only serves to remind Americans of Israel’s military history. Particularly on the left this does you harm. For instance, support for Israel’s right to defensible borders drops from a heady 89 per cent to under 60 per cent when you talk about it in terms of 1967.”
How about the right of return for Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled in 1948 and in the following years, and who are not allowed to go back to their homes? Here Dr Luntz has subtle advice for spokesmen, saying that “the right of return is a tough issue for Israelis to communicate effectively because much of Israeli language sounds like the ‘separate but equal’ words of the 1950s segregationists and the 1980s advocates of Apartheid. The fact is, Americans don’t like, don’t believe and don’t accept the concept of ‘separate but equal’.”
So how should spokesmen deal with what the booklet admits is a tough question? They should call it a “demand”, on the grounds that Americans don’t like people who make demands. “Then say ‘Palestinians aren’t content with their own state. Now they’re demanding territory inside Israel’.” Other suggestions for an effective Israeli response include saying that the right of return might become part of a final settlement “at some point in the future”.
Dr Luntz notes that Americans as a whole are fearful of mass immigration into the US, so mention of “mass Palestinian immigration” into Israel will not go down well with them. If nothing else works, say that the return of Palestinians would “derail the effort to achieve peace”.
The study admits that the Israeli government does not really want a two-state solution, but says this should be masked because 78 per cent of Americans do. Hopes for the economic betterment of Palestinians should be emphasised.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is quoted with approval for saying that it is “time for someone to ask Hamas: what exactly are YOU doing to bring prosperity to your people”. The hypocrisy of this beggars belief: it is the seven-year-old Israeli economic siege that has reduced the Gaza to poverty and misery.
“…the dominant ideology of the Western countries is clearly that Anglo-American empirical realism for which all dialectical thinking represents a threat, and whose mission is essentially to serve as a check on social consciousnsess: allowing legal and ethical answers to be given to economic questions, substituting the language of political equality for that of economic inequality and considerations about freedom for doubts about capitalism itself. The method of such thinking in its various forms and guises, consists in separating reality into airtight compartments, carefully distinguishing the political from the economic, the legal from the political, and sociological from the historical, so that the full implications of any given problem can never come into view; and in limiting all statements to the discrete and immediately verifiable, in order to rule out any speculative and totalizing thought which might lead to a vision of social life as a whole.”—Fredric Jameson throwing some mad shade in Marxism and Form: Twentieth-Century Dialectical Theories of Literature, pg.367-8 (via bemusedbibliophile)
I’m working this morning, but in the afternoon I’ll be ready to write about games or whatever. If you want to drop some questions or topics in my ask box I’ll be happy to answer/blather on about them when I get home.
Also, online hotseat Civ V is fun and weird. I’ve been playing with my brother and his friends. Progress is very slow, but it’s interesting how Civ V feels when it’s completely removed from that “One More Turn” syndrome (since with 8 people and conflicting schedules we’ve averaged about 1.5 turns a day).
i love the Women Against Feminism that are like “I dont need feminism because i can admit i need my husband to open a jar for me and thats ok!” cause listen 1. get a towel 2. get the towel damp 3. put it on the lid and twist. BAM now men are completely useless. you, too, can open a jar. time to get a divorce
“In my opinion, then, Marxism is an instrument of research and discovery; it is valid only if one makes use of it. […] We must use it to discover what is new in the world. It is not a system or a dogma but a reference. Marxism is a method that, on the one hand, depends on a certain number of determined concepts, but, on the other hand, is analytic and critical of a certain historical process of becoming. […] Moreover, there is a strategic objective: to change the world. It is this imperative that leads us to introduce notions and ideas not found in Marx’s thinking.”—Henri Lefebvre, 'Towards a Leftist Cultural Politics: Remarks Occasioned by the Centenary of Marx's Death' (via aidsnegligee)
What would you say to the allegation that KotR is structurally very similar to Baldur's Gate and/or what are your thoughts on Baldur's Gate (1 or 2).
A lot of Bioware games have the same narrative structure and repeat a lot of the same tropes. Here’s a handy chart that points out what are being called “clichés” (attributed to Ian Miles Cheong). There are a lot of spoilers here, so I’ll try to hide it from the casual viewer:
I really enjoyed your take on Pokemon and KotOR in that last Ask. With regard to FF7, it's a very mixed topic for me, but I liked the Materia system. How did you feel about it as a magic system?
When I was a kid I thought the Materia system was the bees knees. I especially liked the idea of swapping powers around the different members of my crew. It felt like an important bit of personalization in a game that was pretty devoid of the personal, and the way you could link different materia together made it seem like a intricate set of choices I got to make. The combinations were mostly pretty simple, like giving your weapon fire damage or adding a status effect, but at the time it felt really cool. It also felt really nice to have different things to develop over the course of the game rather than just your character’s levels and stats. I felt very proud of myself when that first ALL Materia got mastered.
Now I’m not terribly enthused by it, and that has a lot to do with having played the game a lot and having played many other games since. I’ve tried a lot of combinations and even if there was a really interesting one I haven’t tried yet I don’t think it would really change too much about the game and how I interact with it now. I’ve also played other games that either had a system that was similar (I feel like FFX’s Sphere Gird was very similar, that your characters were the product of a series of advancement choices I made that were basically equally available to all characters; one crucial difference was the feeling materia gave of being a special treasure which spheres never had) or systems that were completely different (d20, for instance). It seems less novel to me now because I’ve seen other ways to make similar systems, or other systems entirely. It seemed like the greatest thing in the world because I hadn’t seen much of the world yet.
The Materia system adds a lot to FF7, and I feel like it’s very thematic to the story, which is a great thing to have in a game system, but yea it doesn’t blow me away.
The best answer I can think of for this is Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic. I’m a big fan of the Star Wars universe, and I like the Star Wars universe best when it’s not burdened so much by the source material (it doesn’t involve Luke or Leia or any of them) and lets the creator use their imagination to develop a world that has the same sense of adventure and wonder as the Original Trilogy but without trying to reproduce too much of its contents. KotOR I think does this with a lot of gusto, especially in the way the game handles the Sith: it’s a group that the movies hint to repeatedly, but never gives us many opportunities to see them and understand them. The section of the game on Korriban is one of my favorites because it gives us an image of what a society built on the ambition of powerful individuals might be like and does it while maintaining the Star Wars aesthetic.
KotOR also has the advantage, for me personally, of using a combat system (d20) that I was already familiar with from playing D&D 3rd ed. So while a lot of RPGs suffer in the combat from being obtuse or opaque, I was able to interact more consciously and purposefully with KotOR’s combat system because it was something I’m already practiced in. It gives me an appreciation for RPGs with combat systems that are mostly intelligible to a player, as opposed to something like FF7’s combat system. As much as I love that game and its characters, the combat system was kind of impenetrable. I figured that as my stats went higher my attack and magic damage and all my other parameters went higher to, but I couldn’t say for the life of me how. In KotOR, your stat increases correspond to a bonus to different parameters like skill ability and weapon damage that the game would actually tell you, so you could understand the different choices you made in regards to building up your character and using them in the game.
If you consider Pokemon an RPG (at this point I’m on the fence about that), then definitely put Pokemon up there. That’s mostly because of the way catching, collecting, training, battling, and learning about Pokemon are such a profoundly pleasurable set of experiences for me. I know some people really hate grinding, but in Pokemon I actually find it really enjoyable to walk around with my favorite team of pokemon and get into random encounters. The story elements of Pokemon are charming but hit-or-miss, but for me the story of Pokemon is your own story playing it, and I think it’s a great system for player generated storytelling. X and Y are amongst my favorite versions of the game, and if you, Anon, were interested in playing Pokemon, I would heartily recommend getting a 2DS and a copy of X or Y.
Some close runners-up would be the Mass Effect series, FF7, and Fallout 3. Some notes on these: I’ve played a lot of Mass Effect in my time (I have three Shepards I got through ME1 & 2 on the PC but couldn’t transfer since I played ME3 on Chris and Abby’s XBox, which I also played several times (with thanks and apologies to Chris and Abby for that)), and I really like a lot of aspects to its story and its combat system alike. But it felt like it had so much potential, particularly as a trilogy of games, and while I know that potential was never meant to be, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed in the series as a whole. The characters were great, and for several of the characters I thought they did an excellent job over the course of the games developing them (Garrus and Tali especially) which should be praised. It just felt like there could have been much more.
Call it nostalgia, I still like FF7 for its style and its characters. The combat system isn’t great, and a lot of it for me comes from being pressured by the ATB to press “FIGHT” a lot if I didn’t have anything else specifically in mind. But it’s so charming and cute, and while the FMVs are as bad as they ever were, I like the strained polygonal character models in all their big-fisted, chunky glory.
I should play New Vegas, but I’ve only ever gotten to the first area in that game, so it wouldn’t really be right to say it’s amongst my favorites. But I did play quite a lot of Fallout 3, and I really like how that game feels unforgiving and adventurous. I was less interested in the plot and more interested in walking around blowing strangers heads off, but that felt like that was a character I got to embody and it felt dangerous in a way very engrossing games are.
Overrated is a strange criticism, because it isn’t even direct criticism of the media involved, it’s just noting the difference between how positive your experience was compared to how you perceive other peoples experiences.
My criticism of Portal was that it lacked substance….
I dunno isn’t that what people like about it though? It’s not a revolutionary deep meaningful thing, but it’s simple and well made and does everything it sets out to do remarkably well. I’m not sure I understand what else should be expected here.
Edit: I’m not even really sure what substance means in this context or how that type of criticism applies to other games. Is substance meaning or deep thought because if so, do you apply this line of thinking to other puzzle games? Does Tetris lack substance? Again, I’m confused at the expectation here. Portal is popular because it was just a little add on to the orange box, but it surprised us with its clever little mechanics, charm, and polish. I don’t see why it needs to be anything more than that.
If the OP was about how Portal was neat and charming, we wouldn’t be discussing this. If the way people talk about Portal wasn’t as if it was a work of masterful brilliance that changed video games forever after, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Does Tetris lack substance? Yea, definitely. If you aren’t playing a version of Tetris that involves more complex systems or some competitive strategy, Tetris is a pretty shallow game. And if you’re playing Tetris you probably know that, that’s part of why you’re playing Tetris. I personally play a lot of games that don’t have a lot of substance because I like games in general and I’m happy to play a game that suits my mood. It doesn’t mean they aren’t fun, it doesn’t mean they lack economy of design, but acting like Tetris and those other games are game design perfected is silly.
If you get a lot of pleasure out of playing Portal, more power to you. But contrary to the OP, it’s not for everyone.