Bits and Pieces
I have multiple blog articles outstanding in my “draft posts” folder. But time has not been on my side of late, so very little of these are going to be completed and see the light of day, any time soon. However, there are always alternative strategies. If you’re in doubt about what to write, or more likely just pushed for time, simply create an eclectic post that allows you to reference multiple subjects and news stories without having to write a thousand words on each and then make it a regular feature. If you also want to raise a wry smile with an older demographic, make the title of this new recurring piece a particularly bad pun about a popular sixties’ song by a well-known “beat combo”. With this now explained, let’s get on with things.
There was an interesting episode of The Jimquisition that was posted on Monday 15th April. It was about PC Gamer journalist James Davenport who wrote a detailed article about how used a mod to complete the game Sekiro and its extremely tough final boss fight. The point of his post was to discuss the subject of difficulty and its wider culture. However, fundamentalist gamers didn't see things his way and were vocal in their criticism. A somewhat theatrical comment was tweeted by Fetusberry 'Ass Bastard' Crunch, which then became a meme. Ironically, this negative comment was subsequently usurped by Jim Sterling and his comic character, Duke Amiel du H'ardcore, to mock its supporters. For those who are not aware of the original tweet, here it is in all its hyperbolic glory. “You cheated not only the game, but yourself. You didn't grow. You didn't improve. You took a shortcut and gained nothing. You experienced a hollow victory. Nothing was risked and nothing was gained. It's sad that you don't know the difference”.
Like Jim Sterling, I find this perennial argument extremely tedious. I wrote a post about two years ago which covers pretty much the same ground. Back then it was the claim that people were playing MMOs “wrong”. The assumption being that there is only one orthodox way to play this genre of games and if you fail to do so, not only are you a fool to yourself, you’re somehow causing harm to others and the gaming industry. Hence self-appointed gatekeepers feel obliged to “hold the line” or something to that effect. This argument, like the latest example above, is founded upon several completely false axioms. With regard to Fetusberry’s assertions, it is not a mandatory for a player to grow, improve, or risk anything. Games are no entirely founded upon notions of self-improvement and are not primarily conduits for personal realisation. In short, some games can provide these and some gamers will seek such things but other don’t and are not mandated to do so. Games are multi-faceted mediums than can provide numerous things and serve multiple purposes to those who play them. Sadly, many still fail to comprehend this and therefore I think this “debate” is going to regularly return like a bout of malaria.
Another gaming debacle that has held my interest has been the ongoing tale of the unofficial resurrection of City of Heroes via a public server. It has been a rollercoaster of a story with copies of the defunct game’s core code publicly disseminated, alleged legal threats from the copyright holders and fans arguing among themselves. For me the matter that stands out the most is not the bellicose, emotionally dysfunctional nature of some aspects of the gaming community as that’s been a known quantity for quite a while. It’s the fact that people are still very excited, passionate and invested in an MMORPG that has been unavailable for seven years. It’s an interesting contrast to the general levels of indifference and ambivalence shown towards games in development and pending release.
In other news, Gimli has proven to be politically incorrect (insert smiley face). Hyperbole aside, the actor John Rhys-Davies recently appeared on the popular political BBC panel show Question Time. This long-standing program is based around a selection of guests, mostly politicians, journalist, and broadcasters (and in recent years the pop stars, comedians and actors) being quizzed on “hot topics” by members of the public. The panel are not aware of the questions in advance and therefore have to rely on their knowledge, ideologies and public speaking skills to address each topic. Sadly, in recent years as the quality of UK politics and public discourse has declined, so has the show. Rather than an orderly, rational and intelligent debate, it has simply become a bear pit for the worst sort of Punch and Judy politics. The audience shows evidence of being contrived and too many representatives from the fringes of politics are given the oxygen of publicity. It can be cogently argued that the show has contributed to the normalisation of extreme concepts and its associated unsavoury discourse, that would have been laughed off any respectable platform a decade ago.
Returning to the matter of Mr Rhys-Davies, he clashed with Green Party MP Caroline Lucas over President Trumps visit to the UK this summer. “He’s elected head of state of a great democracy, the last best hope for mankind of course”, he said. “He represents the American people”. Mrs Lucas pointed out that Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million, which prompted a rather unseemly outburst from Mr Rhys-Davies. The controversy is mainly due to the manner in which he expressed himself and no so much about what views were espoused. The phrases, “patronising, condescending and bombastic” spring to mind. But should we really be surprised that a man of his age group, social demographic and known political views and affiliations chooses to conduct himself in such a fashion? What has subsequently proven interesting is that the manner in which this story has been reported both online and in traditional media. Ones position on the political spectrum naturally plays a role in how you interpret this.
Star Trek Online continues to focus upon the popularity and success of Star Trek: Discovery with the release of the forthcoming update Rise of Discovery on May 14th. Actors Rehka Sharma, and Jason Issacs will be joining the already prestigious voice cast, by reprising their respective roles as Commander Ellen Landry and Captain Gabriel Lorca. Developer’s Cryptic have also announced that Tier 6 ships will become useable at any level and will scale accordingly. This is an interesting development that addresses the perennial MMO paradox of the trivialisation of gear while progressing towards level cap. It will be interesting to see how this system works in reality and whether it will be applicable to all vessels in the game or simply those bought in the in-game store for Zen. Oh and “hello to Jason Isaacs”.