A Mass Effect 3 designer is helping the industry understand how social justice advocacy can help reduce the skyrocketing costs of AAA development by insulating games against criticism.
“Mass Effect 3 came under a lot of scrutiny,” Manveer Heir conceded, during a speech at GDC 14. “Gamers complained they sunk almost $200 into this narrative over three games, and then we dropped the ball by not giving them a satisfying resolution. They said our endings were exactly the same and ultimately resolved nothing.”
Manveer got a standing ovation lasting almost two minutes from a room of overworked game developers who came out in support of reducing the stress of big game development. Manveer’s proposed method? Immunize their work from criticism by linking game narratives with social justice positions only a “complete stinkfist” could disagree with.
“In Mass Effect 3, the ending was pick A for red, pick B for blue, C for green, and watch the same cutscene no matter what. The Internet bullied us for that. What if we could have reduced budget costs and crunch time by linking the ending of Mass Effect 3 to Commander Shephard’s experiences as a bisexual post-op transgendered person of color in a racist, bigoted galaxy much like modern-day America? I can tell you, if we did that, not one of you would have had to work a single hour of overtime during crunch, because the actual quality of the game wouldn’t have mattered. Nobody would have said shit. As an industry, we have to start doing this, because my wife told me if I miss one more anniversary because I have to make sure headshot physics work right before a ship date, she’s leaving me. I like my wife, so let’s give this a shot.”
AAA development has been plagued for years by subpar licensed projects that serve only to cash in on their host franchises. The indie market is currently saturated with games that have no compelling mechanics, no engrossing story, no reason for existing. These things suck on their own, but what if you could combine two awful scourges into a fetid apocalypse of terrible; a sort of synergistic, transmedia peanut butter and chocolate dribbling straight from Satan’s shit dispenser?
One graphic artist is aiming to do just that with Jerry’s Place VR, a downloadable first-person walking simulator set inside Jerry’s apartment from Seinfeld. Subtle Blend is currently investigating reports that the title’s “real” plot involves finding notes from George Costanza hidden around the apartment, in which Seinfeld’s best friend confesses his struggles with his latent homosexuality. Read one leaked diary: “A man gave me a massage. He was touching and rubbing. I took my pants off. He got about 4 inches from there. I think it moved.“
Dudes, what would you do if you could inhabit the body of a woman for a day? If you answered anything but “gawk/poke at my own ladybits,” you’re a liar. Luckily, hardware exists to bring this Xanadu one step closer to reality: For only slightly more than the cost of taping water balloons under your shirt ($1370 to be exact), the folks at BeAnotherLab can let you pretend to have boobs. Ben Kuchera takes the thing for a spin in this report, leading one to wonder if, having finally touched one for “real,” Ben still thinks boobs feel like PS4 controllers.
Naturally, Polygon frames this glorified, primitive sex simulator as a more high-minded opportunity to “experience” the lives of other people in order to better empathize with them, or treat gender dysphoria. (An anonymous representative responds: “Polygon is mandated to mention gender issues a given number of times per week, lest Arthur Gies come forth to eat the heart of a small child. It happened before. Twice, I think. It wasn’t pretty. Alexa cried, and she’s an ugly crier.”)
Alas, the road to the holodeck isn’t a cheap one, and project spokesperson Philipe Bertrand mentions he is “looking for partners in the scientific or art world to help with taking the next steps, and of course funding is a part of that process,” which is industry speak for “trying to drum up a bidding war between Vivid, Wicked, Playboy and Brazzers.”
Far from the “male power fantasy” charge put forth by frauds, Grand Theft Auto V is the closest a game has ever come to fully exploring what it means to be a man in middle-age with unfulfilled ambitions, or ambitions fulfilled-but-unfulfilling. It also happens to be this generation’s capstone technical achievement, and a hell of a video game.
Recently, I was very happy to have a post run at one of my longtime favorite websites, Ruthless Reviews: “The ABCs of Game Journalism”
Apparently, this humble piece has sparked something of a shitstorm on Twitter, as game journalists of all stripes (and their many sycophants) have taken to deriding it as the work of a lunatic/manchild/virgin/men’s rights advocate/(insert tired ad hominem insult here).
I’m not interested in the tedious business of responding to trollbait. Instead, I’ll simply let a poster from the now-locked NEOGAF discussion speak for me: