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Croal vs. Totilo - The Manhunt 2 Letters 42

Posted by Zonk
from the putting-your-press-hat-on dept.
N'Gai Croal (of Newsweek) and Stephen Totilo (of MTV) once again match wits in a textual format, this time over the Manhunt 2 controversy. In Round One, the two reporters discuss the process of playing the game for the first time, and wonder what the experience must have been like for the ESRB raters. Round Two sees them take things up a notch, discussing what exactly it is about the game that's so violent. Round Three ... has them questioning the nature of gaming itself. As always, these are two smart guys with some interesting insights into the medium. Well worth your time. From N'Gai's final letter: "It's difficult to 'read' or derive much meaning from a game. That's why in our three Vs. Modes, we ultimately don't spend very much time talking about or analyzing the experience of playing a game, because it's hard to do so without turning our emails into "I went here. I did this. I picked that up." Which is, after all, what games are. So if the essence of a game is located in what we do, is a walkthrough--go here, do this, pick up that--the most truthful way to write about the experience of playing a game? I hope not. But it's something we should consider. Once again, if the essence of any game is located in its action, reaction, interaction, and the rules which circumscribe those three elements, what does the narrative do?"
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Croal vs. Totilo - The Manhunt 2 Letters

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  • Obvious... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday June 29, 2007 @12:29PM (#19690263)
    Once again, if the essence of any game is located in its action, reaction, interaction, and the rules which circumscribe those three elements, what does the narrative do?

    Here's an example of a writer trying to sound smart by taking something obvious and "deconstructing" it to make it look not obvious. ("Deconstructing" is in quotes because that's not actually what deconstruction is, but it's how some writers define it if they don't know any better.)

    The answer is the narrative guides your action, reaction and interaction, and it describes the rules which circumscribe those three elements.

    There - happy? It really is that simple. The narrative exists for the purposes of guiding you to various places to do various things, and to tell you what you are and aren't allowed to do in those places and with those things with which you can interact.

    Which is just a fancy way of saying what we've all known narratives do since time began. Questioning it now doesn't make it any less true.

    (You can question anything - is the sun hot? Is ice cold? Does gravity = 9.8? But those questions don't in themselves form indictments or arguments against tradition or fact, which means they really have no point.)
    • by ravyne (858869)
      ("Deconstructing" is in quotes because that's not actually what deconstruction is, but it's how some writers define it if they don't know any better.)

      Here's an example of a writer trying to sound smart by taking something obvious and "deconstructing" it to make it look not obvious.

      Sorry, couldn't resist!
    • I think you miss several points to be made about this.

      It's "obvious" but at the same time it's obfuscated. How often when playing games, or at any time for that matter, do gamers stop and consider the "obvious" in full detail? Despite the fact that the repetitiveness of many games is clear to the player and any viewers nearby, how often does anyone bring this up?

      Despite being "obvious", or perhaps because it is, no one stops to actually talk or discuss these things. Decomposing the essence of video games in
    • by brkello (642429)
      Here's an example of a writer trying to sound smart by taking something obvious and "deconstructing" it to make it look not obvious. ("Deconstructing" is in quotes because that's not actually what deconstruction is, but it's how some writers define it if they don't know any better.)

      Here is an example of a slashdot poster trying to sound smart by taking a snippet of someone's work and "pwning" it to make him look superior. ("Pwning" in quotes because that's not actually a word used in association with Slas
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lord Bitman (95493)
        I read and re-read the gp, and nowhere did it imply that its writing was somehow "superior" to the article in question's. ("superior" in quotes because I'm quoting you). The poster seems annoyed by assholes, and doesn't at all bring up whether or not /he/ may be an asshole, as it is not strictly relevant to his annoyance.

        I defend because I can sympathize.
  • They allow wit on MTV? o_O
  • Ouch... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by travdaddy (527149) <travoNO@SPAMlinuxmail.org> on Friday June 29, 2007 @01:31PM (#19691087)
    Anybody see anything wrong with this? It's a quote from Croal in the article:

    It's hard to argue that games have anything approaching the depth of theater, novels, movies or television given the medium's newness; its requirement of repetitive action, reaction and interaction to maintain the player's interest; the thinness of its characters; the perfunctoriness of its plots; the lack of complex or even complicated psychology. It would be like arguing that an activity--a mountain hike, laps in a pool or a game of chess--is profound.
    • by lmnfrs (829146)
      That makes me unsure whether or not I actually want to RTFA. I haven't read much of what Croal or Totilo have said in the past, but I had the impression Croal wrote some good stuff.
      Please tell me that the rest of his words don't come off as an uninformed diatribe to those of us who are able to appreciate gaming..
      • Only read "Round 1" so far, but the article is, dubious quotes that really don't give a fair impression of the article aside, pretty much one of the most interesting things I've read in a while. I do recommend RTFAing.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The quote is missing context. I'm not sure I can do his position justice through a summary and highly recommend you RTFAs. It's probably the best set of articles on Video Games I've read in ages.

        That said, here's my limited understanding.

        Croal's position is not that video games, hiking mountains, etc. can't be profound or deep. It's that they are not analogous or similar to movies, books, theatre etc. in that regard. In movies and books, we are merely viewers who are plunging the depths of someone else's co
      • by lmnfrs (829146)
        I've only had time to get through part of Round 1 so far, but it's quite good. I agree with the siblings that I should read the rest.. thanks guys.
    • by Pluvius (734915)
      Anybody see anything wrong with this?

      No. Croal is pretty much straight on the mark with his assessment of the current artistic value of video games for two reasons:

      1. Video games have only been around in any meaningful form for about 30 years. Television has been around for over 60 (disregarding the fact that it's a fairly natural extension of cinema anyway), cinema for over 100, theatre since centuries before the birth of Christ, and prose (whether spoken or written) since the dawn of civilization. In
  • the article discusses what the raters "were thinking as they played the game." and i know exactly what they were thinking: nothing! the ESRB raters don't actually sit down and play, instead, they watch a several-minutes long reel featuring the most violent stuff from the game. does anyone else see a problem with this method?
    • by OoZz (997149)
      Out of curioisty where did you come across this information?
      • its fairly common knowledge. do a bit of research on the ESRB ratings system, you'll find it. this is how things like Oblivion got re-rated after release: the video may not have shown the rotting zombies with the bones and meat sticking out of them, but rather, just the basic up-fronts of the combat system.
        • by OoZz (997149)
          Yeah after doing my research I found that you are correct. Which really disturbs me. Because although the game may be gory and violent, how are a group of video game raters supposed to come to a conclusion of whether or not it is acceptable amount or not if they don't even see the true context of what they are rating.

          If the people rating games decide to give a game a rating of AO there needs to be some sort of appeal process that forces the raters to actually play the game and work through the levels, ra
  • Actually... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Omeger (939765)
    " In Round One, the two reporters discuss the process of playing the game for the first time, and wonder what the experience must have been like for the ESRB raters." Actually, the ESRB rarely, if ever, actually plays the games it rates. They look at footage sent to them by the publisher.
  • These letters were a surprisingly broad look at the issues surrounding video games. What I thought was especially nice was some discussion of implications on the gamer who chooses to play the game, which is rare since most of the time these are just defense or attack pieces. It's funny because this sort of discussion is what actually makes me interested in the game. When the previews came out it always centered on action and mechanics which were quite frankly droll in the first game. In Manhunt the killing
  • Just finished reading round 1, I'll get to the other rounds soon. Something I am in complete agreement with though was this statement...

    "Unless they have good reason to believe that this game is an imminent threat to the public order, or that it will in and of itself incite adults to violence, their decision seems to me to be based on taste, and I will never believe in substituting anyone else's tastes for my own."

    As far as I know, there is no true scientific evidence that videogames are indeed the cause

    • by Sly-Ry (1121577)
      "And when you think about the amount of clinical death and destruction in real-time strategy games like "Supreme Commander" and "Command & Conquer Generals 3," perhaps Stalin was right: one death is a tragedy, 200 gruesome deaths is ban-worthy, and a million clinical deaths is E10+ for Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language."

      Perhaps the most entertaining and also most insightful comment in round 3. Enough said.

      I was disappointed to hear that N'Gai found Manhunt 1 a more engaging experience

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