Spider-Man video games have a dubious track record. Your friendly neighborhood blogger doesn’t play many video games these days, but over the years I have made time for the web slinger’s adventures. Playstation 4 will soon bring fans a new installment, courtesy of Insomniac Games. The trailer was released at Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, California, and it looks awesome.
More impressive, however, was the way Insomniac’s Bryan Intihar — the title’s creative director — presented himself during an interview with Sony Interactive America Entertainment’s Sid Shuman on June 13. The guy’s enthusiasm and excitement for Peter Parker bursts out of him at 100 mph, but in a professional way. He is smart. He is articulate. Most importantly, he demonstrates a level of reverence for the character that has been missing within the comics division for years.
Mr. Intihar said:
“We understand how important this character is to a lot of people. It’s important to us. Everybody at Insomniac at least want to do it justice. That’s the thing: We just want to make sure that people walk away unbelievably happy, and this is kind of the first taste of that journey that we’re going on.”
On Team ASM, the job isn’t to make readers happy. They instead use anger to drives sales while treating Peter Parker like a “meat puppet.” Let that sink in for awhile.
Mr. Intihar continued:
“For me it’s about respecting the traditions of the franchise, but mixing things up. It’s that blending… I mean, honestly, that the thing that I’ve been so surprised with, but also so excited that […] we have a lot of freedom. […] We ask the question ‘Why?’ a lot. ‘Well, why are we doing this? How does it tie into the universe? How does that tie into our main character? What’s the ramifications?’ Like, cause and effect. We’re always talking about that because we want everything to be buttoned up. We talk a lot bout being cohesive, everything being a cohesive package. I feel like that’s what makes a great video game — a great story. […] We talk a lot about Peter Parker. For us, Peter is as integral as Spider-Man. We talk a lot about telling the story of the man behind the mask. For us, Peter is as important as the Spider-Man character.“
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you think ASM writer Dan Slott demands his peers grill him with “Why? Why are you doing this? What are the ramifications?”
- Does ASM read like its lead writer wants “everything to be buttoned up”?
- Does “cohesive package” or anything resembling that idea ever enter your mind when you read ASM these days?
- Do you honestly believe “Peter is as important as the Spider-Man character” to Dan Slott?
The answer to most, if not all, of those questions is likely “No.” Meanwhile, Mr. Intihar talks about respecting Peter Parker with a look in his eyes like he’s five years old again on Christmas morning — and he just got a puppy.
The guys at Insomniac were even kind enough to throw in Mr. Slott’s admittedly cool villain, Mr. Negative, given that his goons show up in the trailer.
The only thing that fans may have an issue with at this point is the new costume and its giant white spider. When I first saw it I said, “What the heck is this?” and then the more I thought about it the more I liked it.
Besides Captain America, Spider-Man is a character whose essence screams “I’m an American.”
- He is the “ordinary” man who regularly shows the world that there is something extraordinary in all of us.
- He is fiercely independent. He can work on a team, but working alone allows his unique abilities and knack for improvisation to shine.
- He can be annoying, but all that wise-guy talk is just his way of hiding real fears. Underneath the mask, it’s obvious that he is a good and decent man who believes “with great power comes great responsibility.”
One can go on and on, but the point is this: This is a superhero who deserves to wear red, white, and blue.
The white spider, in its own weird way, also looks a bit like a star. It’s a very “spidery” star, but still a good fit for America’s favorite wall-crawler.
I seldom make predictions on this blog, but I will do so now in light of the performance by Insomniac Games’ Bryan Intihar: Spider-Man for PS4 is going to blow fans away.
Perhaps it will even prompt Peter Parker fans to ask Marvel why so many of its writers shun Mr. Intihar’s “we just want to make sure that people walk away unbelievably happy” approach.
Editor’s Note: Our good friend Stillanerd did not like the white spider on the new suit. Yes, it’s true, even Stillanerd can be wrong on occasion. (Zing!) But seriously, what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments section below.
Kudos to Mr. Intihar for a top-notch interview.
A funny thing happens in old video games when players reach a point that exceeds the cartridge’s available memory: the “kill screen.” The character may die, although sometimes users can continue playing a jumbled mess that ostensibly makes no sense. The reality that Donald Trump will square off against Hillary Clinton to be the next U.S. commander in chief is a clear indicator America has reached its own kill screen.
Kill screens may be fun to watch — there is no doubt that cable news networks are thrilled with the 2016 election season — but on another level (no pun intended), they are sad affairs. If you do not believe the U.S. is at its own kill screen, then ask yourself the following two questions:
- What led to the rise in popularity of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (a self-described socialist), and Donald Trump?
- Will the election of Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump mitigate or exacerbate the nation’s underlying problems?
Hillary Clinton has vowed to continue doing exactly what President Obama has done for eight years, which was a catalyst for Sanders’ groundswell of Democrat support.
Donald Trump’s popularity is based on the illusion that he is a political outsider who will “make America great again” via giant walls along U.S. border with Mexico and “great” deals with Congress. Ironically, the same people who have deified Mr. Trump regularly go apoplectic when “deals” are made in Congress. Unless Trump plans on becoming a dictator, his own supporters are in for a rude awakening if he wins in November.
Here is what the 45th president of the United States will encounter on Day One:
- The U.S. is $19 trillion in debt, but there is no political will to get spending under control. This is due to economic illiteracy (thanks public education and academia), greed (it’s easy to rob from future generations when you know you’ll be old or dead when the bill comes due), lying politicians, and a whole host of other issues. There will be a day of reckoning.
- The U.S. is culturally lost. Multiple generations have simmered in a stew of cultural relativism. Tens of millions of people have no idea why they believe what they believe — they just do. They have been taught to loathe the principles that made America the freest nation in the history. They have been conditioned to yearn for tyranny and not to care about it as long mindless viral videos, Facebook “likes,” and free pornography flows on their computers.
- American media outlets are corrupt. The news long ago ceased to be about informing people and turned into a never-ending quest for “clicks” and “shares” and “tweets” and ratings. Journalists are usually more interested in showing they’re as witty and cool as John Stewart in his heyday than objectively reporting facts. Cable news shows are inspired by WWE wrestling matches and reality television shows, which is why the more appealing option is to just watch Food Network or turn off the TV all together.
In short, unless someone rewrites the U.S. “code” in the near future, we will soon disappear in the “integer overflow.”
Welcome to the kill screen. I look forward to seeing you after the “reset” button is pushed.
It was only a matter of time before feminist Anita Sarkeesian worked her way into my Facebook feed. The last time this blog mentioned her was when Stephen Colbert was treating her like a delicate flower on Comedy Central in 2014 — and she still had a hard time articulating her point of view. Her website, Feminist Frequency, has released a new video, “Strategic Butt Coverings – Tropes vs Women in Video Games,” where she complains about pixelated female behinds for almost seven minutes.
As a man who cannot walk into Target or Panera Bread on a weekly basis without being bombarded with Jen Selter wannabes in yoga pants, I must laugh.
As a man who watches as millions of young girls and women idolize butt-obsessed Kim Kardashian and Beyonce, I cannot help but scoff at feminist rage over digital behinds.
This is what modern-American feminism has come to: YouTube videos griping over how hard it is to look at Batman’s butt under his cape compared with Lara Croft of Tomb Raider. Women are literally sold as sex slaves in the Middle East and North Africa, and the struggle for Ms. Sarkeesian is putting countless hours of time, money and resources into exposing the nefarious game designers who dare to have Catwoman walk…like a cat.
But here is the most telling thing about modern feminists: They are so confident in their claims that they must block the comments section of their highly-viewed videos.
The reason why Feminist Frequency does not allow comments on its videos is because guys like me would mention Beyonce — alleged uber feminst — playing dice on another woman’s butt in her music videos. Video game butts are unacceptable, but Beyonce objectifying another woman with “smack it” underwear in videos seen by millions of little girls gets a pass. Got it.
Here is a suggestion for American feminists — either don’t buy games you don’t like, or become game designers.
Don’t wear yoga pants with your mom in Target that show off every curve of your body, and then expect guys like me to show you sympathy when you complain about the curves of imaginary characters in a video game.
Until American feminists believably target female icons who objectify themselves on a regular basis — you know, real human beings who actually hold sway over popular culture — they will have zero moral authority to harangue gamers over what they find aesthetically pleasing.
Editor’s note: I normally link to videos or embed them within the actual post. I will not do so for this video since Feminist Frequency has blocked all feedback.
It only took the U.S. one week to move from the horrific actions of a lone racist who killed nine churchgoers in South Carolina to companies banning “Dukes of Hazzard” collectibles and Civil War games. Millions of Americans are, ironically, slaves to the past. They are slaves to an inanimate object. They cower in fear of a flag, even though common sense tells them that symbols can only be infused with meanings we permit.
Kotaku reported June 25:
Today, Apple decided to start yanking games that use the Confederate flag in any way (via TouchArcade). For example, you can now no longer buy the strategy iOS games Civil War: 1862, Civil War: 1863, Civil War: 1864, and Civil War: Gettysburg, which, as you might guess, use the Confederate flag because they’re video games about the Civil War.
Andrew Mulholland, director of these Civil War games, told me this morning that Apple pulled them today without any warning.
“It seems disappointing that they would remove it as they weren’t being used in an offensive way, being that they were historical war games and hence it was the flag used at the time,” Mulholland said in an e-mail. “At the moment we’re reworking the games to replace the flags that are deemed offensive. We’re going to use the Confederate flag from 1861 and 1862 as the one that’s considered offensive wasn’t introduced until late 1862.”
The note Apple sent, according to Mulholland: “We are writing to notify you that your app has been removed from the App Store because it includes images of the Confederate flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways.”
What is happening here is only a few steps removed from book burning. It is the second cousin of book burning. We have found ourselves in a place where it is permissible to use a tragedy to target goods and services totally unrelated to the event. In an attempt to expunge certain elements of the past from our collective cultural consciousness, Civil War games are now deemed “mean spirited” merely for being about the Civil War.
This behavior indicates that the United States is culturally insane or a slave to its past. Businesses are beholden to the bottom line, and right now the bottom line is that prudence and reason are dangerously unprofitable. When a company looks out at its potential customers and it preemptively engages in absolute lunacy to please them, then red (not Confederate) flags should go up.
The nation would be wise to consider the words of Saint Francis de Sales, who said:
“‘Know thyself’ — that saying so celebrated among the ancients — may be understood as applying to the knowledge of the greatness and excellence of the soul (so that it may not be debased or profaned by things unworthy of its nobility); but it also may be taken to refer to the knowledge of our unworthiness, imperfection, and misery.” — Saint Francis de Sales, The Art of Loving God.
“Know thyself” is not high on America’s priority list these days. To the extent it is, Americans only want to think about their “greatness and excellence.”
Only sad people avoid confrontation with the worst parts of their nature, and only sick and twisted souls seek to live in complete denial of sins past. No matter how you slice it, America is in a pathetic place in 2015 — and it has nothing to do with slavery.
For those who have followed GamerGate, Wednesday was a great day. Stephen Colbert interviewed feminist Anita Sarkeesian and, ironically, treated her like a delicate little flower. For the entire interview he offered up softballs down the middle of the plate, which Ms. Sarkeesian only managed to hit for singles instead of home runs.
Regardless, the most telling moment came when Mr. Colbert attempted to discredit what GamerGate is all about — an industry of liberal activist journalists who are so buddy-buddy with one another that they ultimately hurt the gaming community they’re supposed to support.
Colbert: “What about the accusations of collusion between designers, feminists and journalists? Do you understand how important it is? Why are talking about ethics in gaming journalism. Do you understand how huge that is? What if there was no ethics in Hollywood journalism? If we can’t trust Entertainment Tonight or TMZ, where would we be? Is that what you want for gamer journalism?”
Anita Sarkeesian: I think that is a compelling way to reframe the way that this is actually attacks on women. Ethics in journalism is not what’s happening in any way. It’s actually men going after women in really hostile aggressive ways. That’s what GamerGate is about. It’s about terrorizing women for being in this industry, for involved in this hobby.
The reason why Colbert tries to tear down accusations of media collusion is because he too is an activist who has made a nice life for himself saying the right things, making the right friends, ignoring inconvenient truths and sending out marching orders as prescribed by his powerful liberal friends in media and politics.
Like clockwork, Ars Technica, Gawker, Salon, The Huffington Post and all of the usual suspects were there to write fawning stories over the segment. Indeed, if one were to believe Ms. Sarkeesian, then the GamerGate community is all about men who want to “terrorize” women.
In the real world, most fair-minded individuals know that if you take to social media and say really dumb things to instigate people (e.g., calling Rainbow 6 misogynistic because it has a female hostage), then out of the millions upon millions of gamers, some of them will respond in a rude — or possibly threatening — manner.
Taking heat from random internet jerks, many of them teenagers, is completely different than, say, having the director of big-budget Marvel Studios films liken you to a member of the KKK because you disagree with him. Yes, that’s right, Joss Whedon lumped the GamerGate community together with one of the most infamous racist organizations of all time. Stay classy, Mr. Whedon.
In the real world, having to suffer the slings and arrows of immature jerks online is expected. What isn’t expected is that a writer for Gawker would call for those who disagree with him to be bullied. Yes, that’s right, that was Sam Biddle who wanted to “bring back bullying” like Justin Timberlake wanted to bring sexy back.
If Colbert wasn’t a liberal activist, then he would talk about women like Helena Horton — a writer who has worked for Ampp3d, Vice, The Guardian, The Mirror, and Gay Times —who thinks society needs to “kill all men.” But he doesn’t. He gives feminists like Ms. Sarkeesian the floor to talk about all the mean, nasty, and sexist men out there who live to “terrorize” her.
How many gamers grew up idolizing Stephen Colbert, only to find out yesterday that he has utter contempt for them? How many Joss Whedon fans thought that they were liberal until they found out that liberal “tolerance” is only extended to those who parrot the precise talking points of the day without question. Disagree with the likes of Joss Whedon, and you’re a racist. Disagree with Ms. Horton, and you apparently need to die. Disagree with Ms. Sarkeesian, and you’re a terrorist.
If you are a gamer who has suddenly found yourself on the receiving end of personal attacks from the so-called “journalists” that you trusted for years, then take note: Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, The Huffington Post, and most of the websites you’ve relied upon to stay abreast of world events are of the same mold as Joss Whedon. If you are a gamer who now realizes that gaming “journalists” lie to you on a regular basis, then it is time to think long and hard about the worldview you’ve been shown by men like Stephen Colbert.
Editor’s Note: If you want to get an honest appraisal of GamerGate, then check out The Main Event’s YouTube page. His coverage of the issue since the very beginning has been superb.
Say that you’re a raging feminist and you’re upset about “rape culture, male patriarchy, male privilege,” and a whole host of other issues that your Gender Studies professor talks about on a regular basis. You want to change the cultural landscape, but you have limited resources. Do you go after the male gamers who just want to play Watch Dogs in peace? Do you go after aging male comic book artists who create variant covers that might sell a couple thousand copies? Or do you go after multi-platinum millionaire female entertainers who grace the covers of countless magazines, get significant radio play, and air time on national television shows?
The answer, of course, is to ignore very real singers and entertainers objectifying themselves under the banner of feminism while going after men whose hobbies deal almost exclusively in fantasy. Why? Because they’re easy targets. If you were a feminist, would you rather go after comic book writer Dan Slott, or Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj? The answer is simple.
Take a look at the variant comic book cover for Spider-Woman that ignited a solar burst of feminist anger in August.
Now look at Jennifer Lopez from her new video “Booty,” featuring Iggy Azalea:
Now look at Nicki Minaj in her new video “Anaconda”:
Now look at Beyonce in her recent video “Partition”:
Now consider the fact that with the ongoing “GamerGate” controversy, feminists have called gamers “terrorists” on par with “Holocaust deniers.” Who is really degrading the culture?
If one were to use the explosive rhetoric of terror, who is more of a cultural terrorist — the video game maker who gets guys excited about playing Final Fantasy XV, or the woman who objectifies herself to get men of all ages to lust over her? Who is more guilty of perpetuating “rape culture” — the guy who just wants to play the latest installment of Metal Gear, or the woman who strips down to almost nothing, bends over, sticks her butt in the air as high as possible, and then invites you to watch her do it again and again and again on her record label’s YouTube channel?
Modern feminists have almost zero credibility. They almost exclusively go after the easiest possible targets, often times men in industries who just want to commiserate with other men and be left to their own devices. The next time a feminist tries to give you a hard time about the comic books you read or the video games you play, shove Jennifer Lopez’s butt in her face and move on.
Not to long ago I saw a preview for the upcoming video game Counter Spy. I was excited because of the Cold War look and feel, which seemingly promised users they would go toe-to-toe with the old Soviet Union. On Thursday, Gamtrailers.com released an interview with the Counter Spy’s creative director David Nottingham, and all the anticipation disappeared.
While speaking at the E3 2014, he said:
Counter Spy is a side-scrolling action-stealth game set during the Cold War. It’s kind of our absurdist take on Cold War history. In our game the super villains of our piece are kind of the superpowers. The superpowers are facing off in this space race where they’re trying to be the first to blow up the moon. You’re an agent for a spy agency called COUNTER. If you’re familiar with your Bond mythology, COUNTER is if SPECTRE were the good guys. So you’re trying to prevent both of the superpowers from doing this crazy thing — blow up the moon. And how you do that is sneak into levels — you’re going into these military sites on both sides, creating mayhem, sabotage, stealing the launch plans all geared towards getting to that final level — the big rocket — and stopping it from launching.
Got that message? During the Cold War the United States was basically a “bad” guy. It was no different than the Soviet Union. That isn’t just an “absurdist” take — it’s painfully ignorant. Creating a moral equivalence between the United States and the U.S.S.R. for a video game and then dumbing down the Cold War into a pissing match between two petulant children is, on many levels, intellectually criminal.
Why is it that so many artistic geniuses are historical nincompoops? Yes, it’s a game — and yes, it looks like a lot of fun — but it makes a mockery out of a pivotal point in world history.
Perhaps if Mr. Nottingham had taken some time to read the memoirs of former Communist Whittaker Chambers — the man who proved to the world that Communist espionage rings had penetrated the highest reaches of the U.S. government and who ultimately brought down Alger Hiss — Counter Spy would have played a lot differently.
In 1952, Mr. Chambers wrote in ‘Witness’:
The Communist Party, despite occasional pious statement to the contrary, is a terrorist organization. Its disclaimers are for the record. But its record of kidnappings, assassinations, and murders make the actions of the old Terror Brigade of the Socialist Revolutionary Party look merely romantic. …
Since the Purge, millions of men, women and children in the world have died violently. The 20th Century has put that out of its mind, because it can no longer cope with the enormity of this statistic, the millions it has exterminated in its first fifty years. …
The human horror of the Purge was too close for me to grasp clearly its historical meaning. I could not have said then, what I knew shortly afterwards, that, as Communists, Stalin and the Stalinists were absolutely justified in making the Purge. From the Communist viewpoint, Stalin could have taken no other course, so long as he believed he was right. The Purge, like the Communist-Nazi pact later on, was the true measure of Stalin as a revolutionary statesman. That was the horror of the Purge — that acting as a Communist, Stalin had acted rightly. In that fact lay the evidence that Communism is absolutely evil.
If you have never read ‘Witness,’ you should. It is one of those books that a man must read before he dies. It is soul-stirring and, quite honestly, one of the best defenses of freedom ever written. And, again, it was written by a former Communist.
As a American, I don’t want to play a game where my own country is seen as the “bad” guy. I don’t want to run around American military installations “creating mayhem” and “sabotage,” as Mr. Nottingham so gleefully puts it. I find the idea rather repugnant, even if the video game graphics just-so-happen to be inspired by the classic movie ‘The Incredibles.’
A video game that harkens back to the Cold War should not portray the U.S. as a “bad” guy. Again, Mr. Chambers came to understand quite well the stakes that were being played, even if many Americans at the time were clueless. Some things never change…
“As I stepped down into the dark hall, I found myself stopped, not by a constraint, but by a hush of my whole being. In this organic hush, a voice said with perfect distinctness: “If you will fight for freedom, all will be well with you.” The words are nothing. Perhaps there were no words, only an uttered meaning to which my mind supplied the words. What was there was the sense that, like me, time and the world stood still, an awareness of God as an envelopment, holding me in silent assurances and untroubled peace. There was a sense that in that moment I gave my promise, not with the mind, but with my whole being, and that this was a covenant that I might not break,” (Whittaker Chambers).
Mr. Chambers fled the Communist Party. He literally ran for his life. He contacted the FBI and worked with patriots in the nation’s capital to expose a far-reaching Communist infiltration into the upper echelons of the U.S. government. For that, powerful people tried to destroy his life and drove him to the brink of suicide — but he prevailed.
And now, years later, his struggle and the very real ideological winner-take-all war that he and millions of other Americans fought is a punch line in a video game, which wouldn’t be so bad if the real threat to the world — the former Soviet Union and the Communist Party — was accurately depicted.
I really wanted to play Counter Spy. Now? I think I’ll just re-read chapters of Whittaker Chambers’ ‘Witness.’
Editor’s Note for regular readers: A good portion of the book I’m working on is inspired by ‘Witness.’ My recent move out of Washington, D.C. has slightly sidetracked my writing schedule, but now that things are settling down I plan on getting back on track by next week. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
Fresh off his announcement to ban sodas, sweetened ice tea and energy drinks above 16 ounces, New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg has found a new target — the video game industry. Taking a cue from Reps. Joe Baca (D-CA) and Frank Wolf’s (R-VA), Violence in Video Games Labeling Act (which seeks to put violence warning labels on all video games, regardless of content), Bloomberg has taken it a step further: Starting next March, all video games sold in New York City will have built-in endings that will bring the storyline to a halt after 16 hours of game play.
A press release from Bloomberg’s office went out late Sunday night. Reuters reports:
It has long been established that there is a correlation between violence and video games. There is also a strong correlation between soda consumption and gamers. Both of these vices have long-term costs to the nation’s health, in terms of obesity and crime rates. While the nation waits, I will act. New Yorkers want me to “do something,” and so I will. Starting next March, I will find a way to force Big Apple gamers to understand that sitting for hours while playing video games — particularly RPGs — is unhealthy and will no longer be tolerated. I am working with the video game industry to ensure that at 16 hours ALL video games sold in New York will cut to an ending that will force gamers to either put down the controller or to keep playing a game that has, for all intents and purposes, been completed.
Conservative and libertarian groups have already voiced opposition to the power grab, calling it more evidence of the liberal urge to control every aspect of an individual’s life, now down to their PS3 and XBox controllers. Bloomberg’s liberal advocates say that the mayor is not taking away a gamer’s right to play video games per se, but merely forcing them make the conscious decision to continue playing after a “healthy portion” of entertainment has been reached.
As the news cycle begins, it will be interesting to see if gamers — generally a liberal bunch — see how the soft tyranny of Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban could be applied to many aspects of everyday life, including the games they love.
Anyone who grew up playing video games as a kid needs to watch the video ‘Go Right.’ It’s amazing. Even a lot of people who don’t like video games, don’t care for them, and wish they didn’t exist will get it.
Long story short, in most side-scrolling video games you spend a lot of your time charging forward, blasting and beating your enemies, jumping over and through obstacles and hurling yourself into the great unknown. You must time your decisions just right, but often times the environment you find yourself in is tricky and unpredictable. The game is “unfair.” Your character is unevenly matched. There are inequalities between you and your competitor. The cards are stacked against you, and you must build up your arsenal of weapons and knowledge by making prudent and wise decisions over the course of the game.
Sometimes, you get knocked down. Sometimes, you fail. Miserably. Sometimes you feel like your world is caving in on you, you can’t do anything right, and that you might as well give up. And, just like in ‘Go right’ we often try to go backwards. We try and head in the opposite direction, away from the uncertainty and the battles we know are waiting for us. It usually takes awhile, but the true hero realizes what he must do. There’s a moment where it all sinks in, and we find our inner mettle and dive back into the fray.
The battles we fight are fierce, but in the end you will either be victorious or die trying. Both outcomes are honorable. What isn’t honorable is giving up and pulling the plug when the bombs are going off around us and failure becomes a viable option.
The creator of ‘Go right’ found a way to tap into a sense of nostalgia with a message about how important it is to always drive forward. For that, I tip my hat to him.