Archive for the ‘Game Politics’ Category

GP Timing

Posted by Stropp on April 30, 2008

What timing.

I'd just posted an article on game politics and what does Game Politics the blog do?

They report on a rant by Richard Bartle in the UK Newspaper, The Guardian.

Bartle, love him or hate him, is the co-creator of the MUD, the text based predecessor of our beloved MMORPG. He's also a great voice out there for the gamer generation and he doesn't pull any punches when he's talking game politics.

Bartle directs his ire at the following:

I’m talking to you, you self-righteous politicians and newspaper columnists, you relics who beat on computer games:...

He has some word of prophecy for this generations politicians and media moguls.

15 years from now, the prime minister of the day will have grown up playing computer games… Gamers vote. Gamers buy newspapers. They won’t vote for you, or buy your newspapers, if you trash their entertainment with your ignorant ravings. Call them social inadequates if you like, but when they have more friends in World of Warcraft than you have in your entire sad little booze-oriented culture of a real life, the most you’ll get from them is pity…

In the immortal words (paraphrased) of Monty Python: He's a cruel man - but fair.

Like I said in my previous post about game politics, there are powerful groups with a vested interested in knobbling the gaming community. Richard Bartles perspective is that they have already lost, that there are now more gamers in the community than non gamers.

While I don't agree completely -- just because someone is born in the post-game generation doesn't mean they are a gamer, or respect games -- Bartle makes a great point. Games are here to stay. The longer this media exists, the more entrenched it becomes.

Game Politics

Posted by Stropp on April 29, 2008

One of the many (too many) blogs that I have in my RSS feedreader is Game Politics. It's a fairly recent addition, even though I visit the site occassionally, and an important addition. It keeps a fairly up to date, though gamer biased, perspective on the social and political issues surrounding our favorite hobby.

If you're a regular reader of Stropp's World, you may have noticed that I occassionally get my rant on when it comes to the old media portrayal of computer games. The reason is that I believe that the old media companies have an awfully large amount of gold invested in their properties.

Television and print media are the big losers when it comes to all things computer related. Newspapers have been losing out big time to the new online forms of publishing like this (and other) blogs. Television is also being hit big time. A couple of years ago I saw some statistics that revealed that the 18 to 34 male demographic was simply not watching TV at the levels it used to. You can probably thank computer games, the Internet, and alternative video sources like YouTube for that.

It's not hard to come to the conclusion then, that the people with a lot to lose are not going to be saying nice things about the media that are threatening them. It's probably not a stretch to believe that these same old media moguls are not above putting their large resources to work discrediting the new media forms and making life generally difficult.

Fox News for example is one of the more alarmist and extreme services around. (I hesitate to call them a news service.) We've seen examples of their behavior in the recent past with the whole Mass Effect scandal. While the academic at the center of that actually recanted and apologized, Fox News made no further comment. Does this mean they're more interested in the scandal than the truth?

It was only a few days ago that a US based morality watchdog group referred to the US Constitution as a suicide pact. They were upset that the constitution allowed game developers and the producers of other violent media the same freedom of speech that they themselves enjoyed.

In other countries like Brazil, the judiciary are busy banning games, some of them over nine years old, saying that they undermine the public order and that players are subversives -- that's not all that far from saying that computer game players are terrorists. In recent days there have been reports of the new US installed government in Afghanistan banning, or discussing the banning, of computer games including consoles. So much for democracy.

Even here in my home state, there are politicians who don't want to give computer games the same ratings that are available to movies. These politicians are actively against an R18 rating for games. Ironically, an R rating would help parents make better informed decisions on their game purchases. Blocking an R18 rating works against parents who want to do the right thing and buy appropriately rated games for their kids.

It seems the whole world is arrayed against computer games and the people who play them.

I know some of you guys could care less about what other people, especially politicians and watchdog groups, think about the games that you play. After all, you'll go out and play GTA IV or Age of Conan regardless.

And if you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone. Right?


Publisher vs Journalist

Posted by Stropp on March 31, 2008

DM Osbon over at Sweet Flag is currently doing a journalism course during his, somewhat spare free time, and has an interesting post up about game journalism. It's a series of YouTube videos from an American TV show called GT. I'm not familiar with it, but it looks like it's from the G4 network.

I'm half way through watching, but so far seems pretty fair and balanced. The interviewer is talking to three people, one of them a journalist who writes for one of the bigger print magazines, and a couple of representatives from the big gaming companies. From what has been said so far, they're all in agreement about game reviews being fair and balanced, but there are some stories about the companies not appreciating low reviews, and the consequences of those reviews.

If you are at all interested in game journalism, perhaps you have dreams of writing for a game magazine one day, maybe even going so far as writing for Stropp's World - such a dream is rarely achieved - then have a look at the videos. All up you'll need around half an hour to run through them all.

You can find DMs article here.

I Couldn’t Have Said It Better

Posted by Stropp on February 12, 2008

Well said.

Cool Link: More Terrorism Commentary

Posted by Stropp on August 3, 2007

A little update on yesterdays mocking of Australian bureaucracy regarding terrorists using World of Warcraft and Second Life to conduct training for their nefarious schemes.

Terra Nova has put up an article; More Dots! Cried the Terrorist, that gives their take on the Australian Newspaper article. As usual Terra Nova takes a thoughtful approach to the topic. Not perhaps as derisive and mocking as I.

My favorite quote from the article.

But we're always haunted by the prophetic imagination of Gibson, Stephenson, Sterling, Stross: even those who have never heard of them or the Metaverse have been affected by a collective unconscious that expects there to be only a few steps between raiding Blackwing Lair and post-Singularity downloads of our consciousness into Moravecian cyborgs striding through AI-generated simulacra.

Definitely worth a read, even if just for the colorful phraseology.

Virtual Terrorists

Posted by Stropp on August 2, 2007

While I have fairly strong political opinions, I don't discuss them on this blog. Partly because I don't want to offend my readers, but mostly because this is a blog about games. And while games have all sorts of politics in them (guild politics, developer/player politics) they don't usually have much to do with the real world body politik. Games are meant to be fun, relaxing, and a diversion from the real world.

Until now.

Sometimes you read something like this article in The Australian newspaper which makes you grieve for the future of intelligence. Terrorists Practice on Cyber Game. Here's a quote.

The head of the Australian High Tech Crime Centre in Canberra, Kevin Zuccato, has warned that terrorists can gain training in games such as Second Life and another game known as the World of Warcraft, using weapons similar to those in the real world.


As far as I know, the only weapon World of Warcraft has that is in any way similar to real world (modern) weapons are the guns. And they're pretty slow. Take a soldier in any of the worlds poorest armies, and he's probably packing an AK47 which has a much higher rate of fire than the most epic WoW gun. I doubt that even an army of a thousand berserking Orc Jihadists would in any way pose much of a threat to a squad of well armed US or Aussie soldiers.

I don't know about Second Life though since I've never played it. From what I understand, players can create almost anything in the game. This means there is a lot more scope for evil mischief. Maybe the terrorists are planning on sending a million flying penises to disrupt the next sitting of Congress or the Australian Parliment. As that Dwarf in the Burning Steppes says, (I can't remember his name) that will certainly scare the children.

Here's another quote.

International terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna says the use of the virtual world for terrorist training is a new phenomenon that has not been discussed outside intelligence agencies.

And do you know why it hasn't been discussed outside of intelligence agencies?

Because they don't want to look like bloody idiots.

This is the same sort of rubbish that was spouted about how children were using Doom to practice using guns, after the Columbine High School shooting. I'm sorry, but I can't see how swinging a mouse around in a game gives you any skills towards the real world use of a gun. That's akin to saying that a high level Command and Conquer player should be directing a real world army, since he's really good at strategy.

The scary thing is that our governments are using the terrorism angle to tread on our freedoms. Last Friday, while driving home from work, there was a news report that said that the Australian Government was considering legislation to ban Film, Literature, and Games that in any way promote terrorism.

With reports like the one in The Australian being presented does this mean that the government would consider banning WoW?

You could play as a team of terrorists in Counterstrike. Does that count as promoting terrorism?

And what about movies like V for Vendetta that promote the violent overthrow of a government. Will the Australian government ban those sort of movies?

I'm wondering where it will all end.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. No more politics. I promise. :)