Electron Dance
2Dec/14Off

Siteseeing: Clones, Simulations and Male Escorts

It’s been awhile since the last link roundup. This week, Link Drag is called Siteseeing.

  • When is a clone not a clone?
  • What does Slingo reveal about casual game design?
  • Why are professional computer simulations becoming more like games?
  • How do you run a store like itch.io?
  • What’s wrong with game journalism?
  • What does the male escort market tell us about sexuality?
  • Why am I watching this anime music video oh my god jesus god?

Find the links below.

Click to Escape

“When is a clone” - Raph Koster

That said, the folk process virtually demands that games be cloned, experimented on, reskinned, and otherwise evolved as machines. Look at the tafl family of games, for example, or Nine Men’s Morris. Arguably a game that does not get cloned can never become a family or genre.

“Slingo’s 19-year history shows how casual game design has developed” - Zoya Street

This review seems to anticipate everything that Slingo became later on. The game itself is simple and uninteresting, but that’s not necessarily a problem. Bingo is simple too, but it’s the context in which it is played that makes it fun. Slingo’s history of redesigns have always been about producing that context, socially through chat and multiplayer, and mythically through backdrops, animations and additional elements that appear over the course of the game.

“How Games And Simulations Will Save Us From Disaster” - Dan Griliopoulos

Drawing them in is key because so many of the strategies and tactics thrown up by the engineers’ highly complex mathematical systems are counter-intuitive. “Now, (the executives) say ‘Well, no. The math must be wrong, the model must be wrong. My mental model is accurate.’ That’s because their mental model is based on flawed functions, because they’re limited by human cognitive biases… Humans over millions of years have evolved incredible pattern recognition skills. What we are unable to do is solve non-linear equations in our head. No one can. I don’t care how clever you think you are. You can’t do it. It’s only in this collaboration with our computers that we can overcome it.”

“Running an indie game store” - Leaf Corcoran

Originally itch.io had no way to browse games, the philosophy was that the site would provide the tools but not the distribution. I’ve since changed my mind and added plenty of ways to discover games on the site. I’m not sure what my target percentage for internal purchases should be but I’m actively trying to increase it with features like the recently released game recommendation system. To me, it’s an indicator of how well I’m doing in distributing games. I get very excited when I release a new way for people to discover games and it results in additional purchases that might have otherwise never happened.

“& this week in gaming news” - Shaun Green

How embarrassing! “Hopefully people won’t do that”. It is difficult to imagine something as lazy and uncritical appearing outside of games journalism, though perhaps I have my shit-blinkers on because I don’t greatly follow film, comics or TV coverage. In any case it’s particularly egregious that said vacant utteration is immediately followed by a half-arsed paraphrase of Voltaire, a philosopher and essayist who loved clarity and reason, though in fairness this may actually have been intended as a misquote of Wing Commander IV.

“Male escorts and female sexuality” - Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore

The reality is more complex, on both sides. Some women hire escorts to enjoy sex on demand, without complications. Some men hire female sex workers merely to talk. At Platinum X, a popular option is the ‘girlfriend experience’. Missy explains: ‘Some guys want to watch TV, cuddle up and have an intelligent conversation.’ Not everyone desires a flawless porn-star type either. ‘They ask: do you have a middle-aged woman who isn’t perfect? They don’t want a little 20-year-old with perky breasts. They want someone realistic.’

NSFW VID “ME!ME!ME!”

John Thyer referred to this in his Twitter feed as "short psychosexual body horror anime". It seems to offer the worst of anime's pornographic excesses, but it has a critical bite to it.

Small Print

I have had enough of "Link Drag" as a title and am currently brainstorming alternatives.

Some of these links are sourced from recommendations and apologies for not acknowledging where they came from. I throw scores of links into Instapaper every week and I have no record of their origins.

Also, if you get really bored, the Weapons of Progress Twitter account slowly dribbles out links which may or may not be related to my not-gonna-be-finished-for-a-while book on videogame economics. Actually that account has been a bit quiet too, whoops.

Download my FREE eBook on the collapse of indie game prices an accessible and comprehensive explanation of what has happened to the market.

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Comments (6) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I think it’s time to make a decision. For regulars, do you prefer: Link Drag, Read Out, just plain Links or Siteseeing? Or none of the above?

  2. A rose by any other name, Joel…

    Thanks for the link to my, er, not terribly well thought-out but clearly impassioned rant. :)

    (P.S. it’s probably just me reading this on a test kit on the job, but the site is rendering in its mobile view on desktop browsers. Like I said though, ’tis probably just the browser I’m using.)

  3. …oh, and after leaving a comment it’s back to normal. Not to worry!

  4. Anime is an overwhelmingly escapist bunch of shows. Correspondingly, works on the fringes are overwhelmingly anti-escapist. If you look in the right place, you’ll find that the unique factors of anime (most notably the willingness of fans to support unprofitable niche shows through merchandise) give rise to works that pursue more interesting themes, explained more properly, than any medium but literature can really match.
    The fuck of it is that, using a work like Neon Genesis Evangelion as an example, the fans never care about the protagonist’s endless struggle against himself, or the troubled and broken counter-examples of anime stereotypes; they care about the cute girls in skin-tight suits, and they care about the giant robots fighting in moody environments. Few people looked at Eva and said “We need more dark and dangerous works which answers people’s valid but undermined concerns with optimism and realistic answers”, but plenty of people said “We need more dark and dangerous”.
    It’s a fascinating situation, with dozens of works that exist equally as a criticism and celebration of their genre. “ME!ME!ME!” is obviously a subversion of anime escapism; it goes as far as explicitly referencing Eva. So, what do I think of “ME!ME!ME!”?
    Iunno. Maybe it’s deep? I mean… it’s got no optimism, and it’s got no conversation, and… what’s it trying to explain to the viewer? “Anime is a way for you to escape your own problems”. Okay! Cool! No one’s ever said that before, and I’m sure that’s all the information a person needs to completely turn their life around!
    It would seem to me that, where other works are meaningful but pretend to be mundane, this one is mundane but pretends to be meaningful. Or, rather, it’s taking advantage of this conflict between escapism and anti-escapism to produce a cheap thrill.

  5. @mwm – Interesting. The anime short is open to interpretation especially as there is no dialog to speak of (god Eva and Lain both drown in dialogue yet the average viewer still flounders). I had a slightly more bitter take on it, that it was a poke in the eye of the average anime fan fantasist: look at the harm your borderline-porn is causing you. Can’t relate to women? Well, wonder why that happened. Stop buying this shit because in the end it’s you who is being destroyed, not women. Which came first? The anime as escape from tough reality or anime as temptress? It reframes the gender apartheid of a good chunk of anime as something that is harmful to men in the long run. I can’t believe I just wrote gender apartheid. Oh well, gonna leave that there so I can laugh at it down the line.

    @Shaun: Ah. You’re not the first person to tell me the mobile theme comes up on the desktop sometimes. Sounds like I need to investigate.

    I liked your piece, Shaun. Shit blinkers are standard kit as you know.

  6. Well… the idea that anime fetishizes women has been around a while. The work that comes to my mind is, well, Eva. Here’s a quote from wrongeverytime.com:

    “…Like Asuka, ostensibly a textbook version of the classic anime “tsundere,” whose outward hostility belies an inward vulnerability. Anno made her real, and in making her real, revealed that that fantasy is a broken person – not someone to be fetishized and lusted after, someone who needs serious psychiatric help. Or Rei, the cold, doll-like girl, who accepts your presence with the same lack of reaction she accepts anything else. Anno had all sorts of things to say about that fantasy – that she’s barely a person at all, that her very existence is designed to comfort and make you feel needed, and, finally, that what you really want isn’t a partner at all – what you really want is a mother.”

    So, again, “ME!ME!ME!” is less about examining a problem in a meaningful and constructive way… it’s more about telling its audience “hahaha, you’re fucked, have fun with that”.

    And, y’know, it’s not quite right of me to say that Anime is overwhelmingly escapist. Damn near all entertainment is an attempt to escape reality; we’ve got Pixar just like they’ve got Ghibli. Rather… it feels like anime is the only medium that’s really declared war on escapism, a result of all sorts of complicated factors I’m sure.


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