Spider-Man PS4: Insomniac’s Bryan Intihar gets Peter Parker better than ASM team

SpiderMan PS4

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.”

Insomniac’s Bryan Intihar, unlike the guys running Marvel’s comics division, had no desire to use anger to drive sales (e.g., Superior Spider-Man; Nick Spencer’s Hyrda-Captain America).

Dan Slott Twitter Scheherazade

Superior Spider-Man 9 promo
Dan Slott and Marvel decided they would fuel sales by tapping into fan anger, which is rather sad.

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:

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.

Bryan Intihar

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.

SpiderMan PS4 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.

Feminist Frequency cries over video game butts, silent on women’s yoga pants addiction

Feminst Frequency Lara Croft

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.

JS Instagram screenshot

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.

Feminist Frequency YouTube

Break Inter Instagram screenshot

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.

Feminist Frequency no comments

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.

Beyonce 711 Dice

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.

Colbert treats feminist Anita Sarkeesian like delicate flower on GamerGate; liberalism exposed

Colbert Anita SarkeesianFor 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.

Joss Whedon GamerGateIn 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.

Sam Biddle GamerGateIf 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.

Helena Horton GamerGateHow 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.

Counter Spy’s message: America was no different than the Soviet Union during the Cold War

Counter Spy Video Game

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.

Counter Spy David Nottingham

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.

Counter Spy America
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.

Counter Spy Russia

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.

Expendables 2 video game trailer delivers the testosterone

The Expendables 2 is opening in a few months, which means there will also be a video game. As luck would have it, the trailer is out now and it delivers a much-needed dose of testosterone.

It’s been a disturbing couple of months, as I see a steady trickle of search engine results bring men to douglasernstblog.com in their quest for “brosiery and mantyhose”— but what is more disturbing has been the occasional Republican buying into the claptrap that video games make kids violent. Wrong.

What makes kids inappropriately violent are bad parents. What makes kids inappropriately violent are cultures that place little value on human life. What makes kids inappropriately violent are neighborhoods and communities that tolerate it. The easiest thing to do is to blame video games and video game makers for deep-seated problems that metastasized long before computer graphics perfected the blood splatter or bone crunch.

With that said, it should also be noted that violence isn’t always a bad thing. Teaching kids to be violent — when necessary — is healthy. Does good and evil exist? If so, let’s have it displayed in a video game. And if good and evil exist, who symbolizes good and who symbolizes evil? While I haven’t had a chance to play the Expendables 2 video game, a good guess might be that Communist-thug regimes and the goons of South American dictators are the bad guys. And if that’s the case, then I say: “Put that controller into your kids’ hands and let them have at it!”

Communism is an ideology that is inherently evil. In order to work it must find ways to crush individualism and property rights, which doesn’t “lead” to totalitarianism — it is totalitarianism. And so, when an American video game symbolically destroys that evil for all the world to see, I root for high sales.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see an avatar of Sylvester Stallone blowing away North Korean soldiers, perhaps the kind who perform in Kazoo Armies by day and rape women by night? There are free nations and there are fear nations, and there is nothing wrong with portraying them in video games. The problem with many video games is that today’s characters are often anti-heroes, or the line between good and evil is so blurred that the user doesn’t know what to believe. Stallone’s movies (and I’m assuming his video games) generally don’t have that problem, which is probably a reason why I’ve been watching and loving them for ages.

Don’t let the North Korean soldiers and their kazoo army fool you. When the kazoo parties are over they go back to running modern-day gulags and oppressing their own people.

Still not convinced? Watch this workout video with Terry Crews. He seems like a genuinely nice guy and a stand-up citizen. There’s nothing cooler than a man who is physically fit, mentally strong, compassionate and in possession of a moral compass. If I had kids, I’d let them hang out with Crews any day of the week, and I’d definitely let them play the Expendables 2 video game.

Go right

The creator of ‘Go right’ makes us look back and smile with nostalgia while urging us to charge forward and battle through life’s obstacles. It’s an amazing little piece of work. If you grew up playing video games, you’ll love it.

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.