Saturday, September 16, 2017

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep.66 - Social Justice Kills

 




Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the podcast! This one was almost late thanks to that non-happening at Berkeley, but I managed to crank it out in time! In this episode I demonstrate that social justice kills businesses and industries, go over some nice reviews that we got for our books from DimensionBucket Media (available now via the store page on the blog), and break down an article about writing outside of your race. 

Diversity & Comics:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrlzSqLSGj8GIOeT5jrQsJA

Daddy Warpig's Twitter Moment About Hatred of Femininity:  
https://twitter.com/i/moments/908534672405143552

New Geek Gab: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrlEr9Ou0t8

Let's Talk Concrete Evidence & Tactics by me: http://jimfear138.blogspot.com/2017/09/lets-talk-concrete-evidence-and-tactics.html

Ben Cheah on Steemit:  https://steemit.com/@cheah

I'm Indian. Can I Write Black Characters:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/14/opinion/sunday/when-a-novelist-writes-across-race.html?smid=tw-nytopinion&smtyp=cur

MP3 download of this episode: https://ia600408.us.archive.org/25/items/jimfear_audio_productions/Ep66.mp3


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 Opening Music:
Honey Bee by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100755
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Friday, September 15, 2017

Let's Talk Concrete Evidence And Tactics

Do you love comic books? Are you ready to be depressed as shit? Well have I got the cure for your happiness! Just watch this video by Diversity&Comics, and you'll feel so down in the dumps you'll be looking for the gun to just end it all now!

Seriously, though, go watch the video. This is something you need to see, whether you like comic books or not. Because this is illustrative of what happens when social justice invades a medium. Look at those numbers D&C brings up there. Take a real good fucking look. 

Burn that shit into your god damned brain.

Because this is what's going, not might, not maybe, it's a fucking certainty, going to happen to any industry sjw's invade.

Comic books are, like the video says, dead. They're dead. The indie market in comics is the only thing that matters, and the market share for that is so small it will never become the industry it once was. Something as enduring and American as comic books, and they killed it. This medium has been around since before World War II, and now, thanks to the machinations of shitty writers who care more about their political agenda than the thing they're creating, it's dead.

Those sales numbers are fucking garbage, fam. Hot, nasty garbage. I want to be very clear about this, Marvel, DC, and companies like them have murdered an industry through peddling shitty comics with bad characters, bad character designs, horrible artwork, inane plots, diversity over story, and god only knows how many other failings. Enjoy your local comic book store while you can, because these companies have put every single one in America that can't supplant their flagging Big 2-4 sales with indie sales on a fast track to the slaughterhouse. Unless lots of people are showing up and spending money monthly, they're going to soon go extinct. I have no doubt that digital distribution will be fine, and there'll be a thriving used market for years, but mainstream hot-off-the-presses comic books that you buy in a shop are fucking dead.

So let's use this as a springboard to talk about something constructive, because that's very depressing (especially to people like me who love the comic medium despite the high cost-entertainment ratio). I want to talk about the tactics of these people, how to recognize them, and how to stop them. Comic books are the canary in the coalmine, and we're all in the coalmine in some form or another.

For novels and fiction, these people have managed to turn the market to their purposes because readers are very stubborn. They put a lot of time and money into big books, and they're not as willing to just stop reading if the material takes a nosedive in quality. Although in the past couple of decades that has been happening. But there's a serious buyer's justification when it comes to the book market that you don't have with comics. Books cost more, they take more time to read, and avid readers are nearly rabid for more. The market is not fragile, and they haven't been able to destroy it despite working since the 30's. 

Video games is another inherently anti-fragile market. With indie teams cropping up all the time putting out mostly quality games, people doing it for free, and sites like Steam and GOG out there to facilitate distribution, you can try to destroy games, but since anyone can come along and make a game, the only real gatekeepers are the console companies, who can not allow your game on their console. In which case you can just release the PC version and still do okay if you market it properly. Not only this, but gamers are comprised of a contingent of people that defeat agendas for fun every day. Something like Gamergate, to date the only successful repulsion of SJW tactics, was a godsend to these people because they were able to apply the lessons they'd learned in vidya to an actual, tangible, real life evil that needed to be defeated. So this market is pretty antifragile, and the SJW's haven't been able to destroy it yet, although not for lack of trying. That I can promise you. Go read a game journalism website if you don't believe me.

So how did they destroy comic books? That's easy to answer. Just look at the ranks of the comic book creators. Artists, writers, all of them. Their ranks are filled to the brim with SJW's. These people, despite being terrible artists and writers, despite actively driving fans away with their shitty comics, have somehow been put into the position where not only do they control an outlet of creation for this thing that millions of people love, they control the most popular outlets of creation for this thing that millions of people love. 

This is important. Even as the gatekeepers in publishing they haven't been able to kill the fiction industry, because it's been a fairly gradual decline over the decades. A slow boiling of the frog, if you will. In video games literally anyone can make one. If I wanted to I could learn the requisite skills and take three or four years and design a video game, publish it on Steam or my own website, and there you go. Instant workaround. But with comics, Marvel, DC, and companies like them are the big fish. There is almost nowhere else to go to get your comics other than indie publishers which may or may not be featured in local comic stores. Because they've been able to install themselves as the almost sole important creators, they've been able to destroy comic books faster than any other industry they've invaded. 

I don't know if you know this, but comic books take an astounding amount of money to produce. Especially serials and ongoing stories. You have to have a writer(s), artist(s), inker(s), colorist(s), and on. Then you have to mass-produce it and distribute it via a company like Diamond. So if you get a spot at one of the biggest companies out there (and there are only 4 or so really big ones), you gain control of the choke point defined by the prohibitive cost. This is how the destruction of comics was able to be achieved so quickly.

So how do we stop them? Well, with comics, that's dead. Find manga or indie comics that aren't shit. Support crowdfunded efforts at making comics fun again like Alt-Hero and Patriotika. The industry as a major cultural force might be dead, but the indies will always be there. Support up and coming companies like Alterna, or reasonably big companies with some cool titles like Valiant (although as an aside with Valiant, support good comics like X-0 Manowar and Bloodshot, and kill diversity comics like Faith dead by simply not buying it. The worms haven't dug so deep at Valiant that they're beyond help, but they'll need to have that lesson beaten into them with sales figures). 

But so far as other mediums go, there is hope, and to find this hope I turn to the wisdom of O'Sullivan's Law, which states that any enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time. Now, before you get upset at my partisan bullshit, let me explain.

I am not saying that you have to be expressly right wing to keep the SJW's out of your industry. Because god knows with the amount of shit actual liberals get from these creeps they're a danger to everybody, not just the political right. But the simple fact is that if you are not an SJW enterprise, SJW's will attempt to take it over, usually with some success. 

Valiant Comics is a perfect example of this. Valiant is not expressly right or left wing, and obvious right winger and friend of mine Jon Del Arroz has spoken favorably about their new X-0 Manowar series. But they also run Faith, which is an SJW comic, no mistake. They're not beyond help, but they need to cut the cancer out before it invades the brain. 

So you don't have to be completely right wing, you just need to recognize this behavior and get rid of any individuals it manifests itself in. Now, you might call this a McCarthyist communist hunt, and you're only partially wrong. People like to forget that McCarthy actually did catch Communist agents in his hunts, and he might've, just maybe, actually done some good. Maybe. 

But McCarthy aside, this doesn't require a confrontation on the level of, "ARE YOU NOW OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN A MEMBER OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY?!?!" All this requires is application of an heuristic. 

An heuristic is a method of problem solving that, while not perfect, is sufficient for the goals one might be striving towards. So if we have a profile of SJW mentality and methods, which we do, we can apply that as an heuristic and immediately ax people who show symptoms of that behavior and aren't amenable to correction. 

That last part is important. "...Aren't amenable to correction."

I'm going to be frank with you. We have proof now. The comic sales numbers do not lie. Take a walk through Diversity&Comics' channel if you need any more convincing. It's a bleak stroll, my dudes. We not only know, we can definitively prove that SJW's destroy industries. That isn't a side effect, that isn't some random happenstance that just happened to hit comics fairly hard, it's the actual, expressed goal. 

It's what they want to do. If they didn't, they'd amend their stories and try to assuage flagging sales by appealing to their audience instead of their political agenda. But numbers have no effects on ideologues, the only thing that matters to these people is their ideology.

So, what I'm advocating, in plain terms, is that if someone begins to show the traits of the writers and artists at Marvel, the game journalists, or the people at fiction outlets like Escape Artists or Uncanny Magazine, you talk to them. You bring them into a business meeting, and let them know that this shit is poison, and if they don't stop, they will be let go. If they let it go, then fine. If they don't, fire them immediately. 

This is a definable and describable pattern of behavior. At this point we have no excuse other than laziness for not addressing it. We have the proof at this point. SJW values and tactics are incredibly bad for business.

Stop putting up with them.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

You're Fake, And You Need To Leave


I think I've hit upon why I personally despise games journalism so much. Yes, this is another Very Angry About Video Games post, but bear with me, because this is important. I also think this explains the reaction to Dean Takahashi's Cuphead gameplay footage, as well as the reaction to that reaction by the games press. So grab a snack, this could take a while.

So, as I and many others have said before, Dean failed at basic reading and gameplay so simple a literal 4 year old can figure it out. This is because he's not a gamer. Neither are the people defending him. I don't care how long you've been in "tech journalism", because "games" and "tech" are not the same thing.

Allow me to explain.

In "tech journalism" I can learn about companies manufacturing technology, and this could be anything from robots on assembly lines to computer parts. I can also get reviews of products in the "tech world." So I can go to a tech journalist and get a review for a new graphics card for my computer I'm looking at getting, and if the journalist is competent and knows what they're talking about I can find out if it's going to be worth my money to upgrade. So this is not an interactive medium, here. I'm not going to be interacting with the graphics card in an active way, I'm just going to be getting the benefits of it as I go about my computer-related tasks. 

"Games journalism," on the other hand, is strictly about an interactive storytelling medium. I don't care what graphics engine, or physics engine the game was made with. I care about how the game plays, whether the story is any good, whether the mechanics work or not during gameplay, and other aspects that you have to actually know how to play games to be able to talk about competently. That's what I go to games journalism, when I go at all, for. 

That explained, wouldn't it concern you if the person writing about a certain technology had fuck all knowledge of it? It would damn sure concern me. I'd be wasting my money, hundreds of dollars worth, because the fucking retards that hired this mongoloid didn't vet him to make sure that he could competently write about technology. Wouldn't that make you very upset? Because that would make me very upset.

Likewise, in the games journalism world, if someone is writing reviews of video games and (I wish I was joking) didn't know how to read words on the screen and apply them to gameplay when that's what the words are there for, couldn't master basic commands like "walk," "jump," "dash," and "shoot," and didn't know the most basic aspects of RPG's and gave a game a bad review because he couldn't figure out how to level up his character, that person should not be reviewing games, because they don't understand them. I'm almost certain this last is a problem that ONLY Dean encountered. So you can see how this astounding level of incompetence will absolutely affect not only his journalism, but the industry itself in a very negative way. 

This is because Dean and his ilk are not gamers. They can whinge about their "experience in tech journalism" until they're blue in the face, they're not fucking gamers. I've been playing video games longer than I can remember. My parents used to put the original NES controller in my hands when I was a baby to make me think I was playing a game. I play platformers, RPG's, match-3's, shooters, puzzles, stealth, and horror games. I'm reasonably certain that if you put any game in the world in my hands, within a few minutes I would be able to play it with at least more competence than Dean showed. 

Because I'm a gamer. An actual one who's been playing video games since I could hold the controller and has sunk more money into this hobby than I care to think about. It's in the thousands, almost certainly. I've spent millions of hours getting the requisite skill to be able to play almost anything because I love video games. I love to play them, I love the challenge, I love the stories, all of that. 

So when I see someone come in to my hobby, that I've loved and cared about for damn near 30 years now, and start shitting it up, I tend to get upset. And the reason they're shitting it up is because they don't care about the hobby. They care about themselves. Which is where we have this problem. 

When I see game journos coming out with articles saying "Gamers are dead," or I see someone like Dean fucking up so monstrously (multiple times) and trying to excuse it, and when I see other articles saying that expecting game journos to actually do their fucking jobs is "elitist and toxic gamer culture," I start to think that these people aren't real gamers. The real kicker for me is the "Who cares about games journalism? It's only video games!" line. 

Any games journalist who has said that and meant it should lose their job and never work in the industry again.

It's only a hobby that I and millions of people like me, you know, the gamers, care about very much. But if the love and money and time and sweat we've sunk into this hobby don't convince, how about the fact that it's literally the biggest entertainment industry in the world, grossing more annually than films and music combined. That alone means that people should care about who's reporting on this.

Games aren't some niche hobby for loser nerds anymore. Those loser nerds grew up, got jobs, and started spending their money on video games, as did a shitload of non-loser nerds, for example people who like sports games. It's a big damned industry, and if the car industry had a bunch of people writing about it who knew fuck all about cars, there'd be a justified push to get rid of them and bring in people who know what they're talking about. 

Which is what we need to do with these fake gamers. They wanna stay in the hobby? Fine, they can do it without a position of influence. I have no problem with them going back to being customers, because I know they were never customers in the first place. They're journalism majors that couldn't get jobs at respectable news outlets, so they picked games journalism precisely because "who cares? This should be easy."

Well fuck your meal ticket. Go report on something else. You're fake, and you need to leave, before the entire industry is irreparably fucked thanks to game devs thinking they have to go through you and get good reviews from your lazy asses to sell a product. Because not only are you fake, not only are you idiots, you're actively trying to ruin our hobby. You need to get gone so that somebody competent can come in and do your job properly.

Because the people backlashing against you aren't "Gamergaters," they're regular customers and gamers who love this hobby and realize that you people are not qualified for the job you're doing. And not to appeal to majority, but when everybody who loves a certain thing and is involved with it in some way except for the press surrounding that thing think that the press is fucking up, maybe it's time for the press to take a fucking knee on this one. Just saying, some humility would do you good. And you leaving the industry would do all of us some good.

Go do something more your speed, like flip burgers. If you can work out how a fucking spatula works.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Nothing's Original. Get Over It.

Here's a link to the image so you can read it for yourself because fuck trying to copy all that into the blog post. Hat tip to Grames Barnaby (@overunderwriter) on twitter for linking to me when he capped and posted this garbage fire of a comment. Now this comment deals primarily with manga and anime, but I don't want to talk about that right now. I'm going to use this as a springboard to talk about something that's a hangup for many writers, and that we all need to collectively just get the fuck over.

Nothing, I repeat NOTHING is original.

None of it. 

I'll guaran-fucking-tee that whatever you think is original, isn't. Punisher? Punisher's an edgier Batman clone. Batman? He's a less edgy Shadow clone. And on and on back because they're embodiments of the Dark Avenger Archetype. You can do this with any character out there. They all fit into archetypes, they all have a lineage that can be traced back through various influences both implicit and explicit. 

I, for example, am writing a story wherein the main character is based HEAVILY on Mad Max, specifically Max from The Road Warrior. The character of Max is cool and I like that archetype that he fits in, so I'm going to make my own Mad Max type character. The setting is also borrowing from the idea of the Gate anime, because I like the idea of fantasy creatures invading the modern world. I'm unoriginal, and I know it. I just want to be able to do it WELL.

And that's the important thing. Doing it well.

If you want originality, go read Gilgamesh. It's literally the oldest piece of literature humanity has ever created. So far as we know it's completely original, but the legends that it talks about had to come from somewhere, right? The giant in the forest, for instance. That had to have been a legend before it was put down in Gilgamesh. So not even Gilgamesh is completely original.

So if you're sitting there with what you think is a really neat story idea, but you're worried that it's not original, stop worrying. So long as it isn't plagiarism, nobody cares. There's a meme I've seen floating around tumblr that I can't be arsed to dig up at the moment, but it's relevant so I'll give you the rundown.

It depicts a baker bringing a cake to a table and setting it next to a much nicer cake, and the baker is thinking, "Oh man, my cake's not as nice as that guy's." The next panel depicts another person with a fork and a goofy look on their face in front of the cakes saying, "Holy shit, two cakes!"

EDIT: I found the image while scrolling tumblr after writing this, so here it is

 

The reason I bring this up is that this is the mindset most people have towards "original content" as well as how people view art. Nobody cares that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle already made stories about a great detective and yours looks similar. Nobody cares that he also wrote a story about a lost land where dinosaurs still exist. 

That last one is actually a good example. The Lost World (NOT CRICHTON'S) has been redone in film and print so many times it would make your head spin. Not all of them are great, but most of them are at least fun to sit through or read. Marvel did it with The Savage Land. The Valley of Gwangi did it as well (which you should totally look up that movie, as an aside. Cowboys vs dinosaurs. Prime cheesecake awesomeness. Amazon affiliate link to where you can rent or buy it. Do yourself a favor). And so on and so forth.


People like the stories, they don't care that yours is "unoriginal." To return to anime for a moment, observe the pedantic dude in that screencap above. The type of anime he's sperging out over is pretty popular. So popular that the industry has started making a shitload more of it, because that's what the fans want. Yes, it's derivative. Yes, it's unoriginal. Yes, it's pandering. Yes, it's also fanservice (people like tits, get over that as well). 

But nobody cares. They still eat it up. The harem anime trope has been around since Christ only knows. Tenchi Muyo is an example from the early to mid 1990's, but I'll guarantee there's older ones I don't know about. And despite this, people still buy shit like Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou. Shit, I buy stuff like that. Because it's usually funny, sometimes has decent action, and everybody likes tits. It also does the harem genre well, which, as I said earlier, is the most important thing.

So you can put aside your worries of whether or not your main character is too much like Aragorn, or whether your fantasy world is too much like The Forgotten Realms, or whether your plot sounds a little too much like one of Robert Howard's Conan stories. I'll tell you what people are going to say, if it is.

"Yeah, it was a little similar to (insert influence here), but I still liked it."

That's all. If you did it well. So stop focusing on originality, and start focusing on doing it well. Make your characters people, your worlds vibrant, and your plot fun. 

Originality?

It's really not as important as some people seem to think it is. All that really matters to the audience is now they have two cakes to nosh on. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep. 65 - The Apocalypse, Sobornost!, New Anthologies, and Sakura Dungeon



Hello everyone and welcome to another podcast! In this episode I tell you all how I want to be remembered if I die in the apocalypse, go over the interesting concept of Sobornost and how I reject it as a personal philosophy, talk about some new SFF anthologies coming out from EXTANT! SF and Silver Empire, and go off about a visual novel and R9K people.

Individualism? Collectivism? Sobornost!: http://www.socialmatter.net/2016/11/08/individualism-collectivism-sobornost/

Gynocentric Grooming Gangs by Turd Flinging Monkey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc5OaARO04E

Superversive SF's Planetary Fiction: http://www.superversivesf.com/2017/03/06/planetary-fiction/

Lyonesse: https://lyonesse.silverempire.org/for-readers/

Silver Empire: https://silverempire.org/

Bradford C. Walker:  https://twitter.com/MrBCWalker

Jesse Abraham Lucas: https://twitter.com/JesseLucasSaga

Dawn Witzke:  https://twitter.com/dawnwitzke


MP3 download of this episode: https://ia800408.us.archive.org/25/items/jimfear_audio_productions/Ep65.mp3

Social Media Dump:

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 Opening Music:
Honey Bee by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100755
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Pedantry: Let's Kill Fantasy!




Apologies for subjecting you to that spergout of a tweetstorm, but I was scrolling tumblr today and saw this, and felt that it was a perfect way to illustrate a point. Now I could go through and address all of this idiot's points line by line and show exactly how much of a fucking retard he really is, but I don't need to. You see, this person thinks they're smart, and bringing up serious problems that fantasy needs to solve, but in reality what he's trying to do is actively kill the fantasy genre. And being someone who loves fantasy literature above all other forms of literature (except maybe science-fantasy westerns, but there's so few of those), this sets my parsnips a-boiling in particular. 

But just to do one point here because as an alcoholic I feel I can speak with some authority. Also because fuck this guy. People in fantasy novels are able to drink beer year-round because they store it in casks and tap the cask when they need to. So, you can see, this person clearly has not a fucking wingding of a clue what they're talking about, and he's trying to appear intelligent while asking questions that are so insipid any fantasy fan could answer them straight away or, even better, explain how they're the wrong questions to be asking.

Now I'm the first person to tell you that if world-building and planning to this level of ridiculousness is how your writing method works, go to and good luck. It doesn't work for me, but if it does for you, then that's great. This is not a screed against building a world and then turning your characters loose in it. 

However, very often many of the things he brings up literally don't matter to the story being told. A couple of examples: "Your middle class. Where are they?" Probably in the background being background, if they're even brought up at all. They're most often not important to the actual story itself. "Why are there no small businesspeople?" Tavern and other shop owners. Have you ever read a fantasy novel before? Etc, etc ad nauseum. These are middling background details that could add more flavor to the novel, but they are completely unnecessary to telling a good story. Even an epic fantasy story.

For example, The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb is an excellent epic fantasy series, and even addresses a few of these...I'll be generous and call them "concerns" this person brings up. But for the entirety of the book the action is situated around the main character and narrator, Fitz. There are plots for assassination, power plays with Dukes, King Shrewd is on top of everything, and a whole lot more court intrigue goes on. But we never see the foresters keeping the palace supplied with wood, we never see the brewers making the beer, and we never find out who domesticated the wheat they use in their bread.

Because those aspects have no bearing whatsoever on the story at hand. They literally do not matter. They couldn't matter less to the story if they tried. 

So what is the point of all this?

The point, my friends, is the slow death of fantasy literature. This idiot can't figure all this out on his own (which collections of teenage girls do on tumblr all day, every day, for free), therefore it is the duty of the author to do all of this for him. This demand that all authors meet these expectations is going to kill fantasy literature dead. Imagine, if you will, in five years time after this "advice" (the worst kind of vice) is applied universally. It will quickly become a trope that every fantasy novel has a history of the domestication of wheat somewhere in it, a short biography of the man who first created ale and casked it, and so on and so forth. All of this will become fucking ridiculous very quickly.

And what it will do is make the novels about 2/3's longer than they need to be. Epic fantasy books are already long as fuck, usually 400+ pages, sometimes 900 per book. Thanks for that, Vox, by the way. These books are already a time sink from hell. 400 pages takes time to read through, and if most of that is pedantic padding about piddly little shit that doesn't effect the story (despite what that fucking autist with the tweetstorm might think about their affect on the story), people are going to drop the book, stop reading it, and not buy anything else like it.

It always comes back to this, doesn't it? Honestly I stopped reading after "More gay sex, for everyone," and "Gender. Get rid of it." Yeah no fuck you, buddy. What this does is drive the audience away. They stop spending their money. And if there's no audience spending their money on these books, there's literally no incentive for writers to write these stories. When you get to this level of sped you're making shit worse for everyone.

The market is not your personal tard-wrangler. If you're unable to deal with epic fantasy novels because they don't meet your personal, pedantic, ridiculous list of demands that you probably think make the world "more organic" but in reality just make the story boring, that's on you. 

You don't get to foist that on authors as some kind of authoritative list that epic fantasy should live and die by. Go write your own goddamned book. If you think you can do it better, why not? Maybe attempt to put in the work these "lazy history nerds" put in and see how well you do coming out the other end of it. 


Just don't be surprised when nobody wants to read your boring, pedantic bullshit because it's boring and pedantic.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Thinking For Yourself is HARD!

Transcript of the tweets in case you can't read them from the screencap:
Ian Miles Cheong: Game journalists are incredibly bad at video games. It's painful to watch this. How do they think they're qualified to write about games?
Zach Gage: This hateful tweet is zooming around the internet but whoa what a great moment to talk about tutorials! my favorite subject (sort of. It may seem weird to players, but if ur a dev you have almost certainly had the experience of watching someone play your game like this. What's going wrong in this tutorial is that it's asking players to follow instructions and think for themselves within the same step.

Okay, fair warning. I'm about to get Very Angry About Video Games for the next one or two thousand words. There are some videos I need you to watch for context before we get into this. The first is Dean Takahashi of GamesBeat utterly forgetting the face of his father while trying to play the demo for the new action-platformer Cuphead. You don't have to watch the whole thing, trust me I didn't. A couple of minutes should do you fine.

Video Here.

The second is Arin Hanson (a.k.a. Egoraptor) explaining why the original Mega Man series is so good, and why Mega Man X is basically the best game of all time.

Video Here.

There's also a NicheGamer op-ed that you should probably peruse as well, talking about how games journalists should, you know, actually understand how to play video games so they're able to write about them.

Article Here.

Did you watch and read? Good, because there are no brakes on this train, we're going until I run out of steam.

First let me say that Cuphead does not look like all that difficult a game. It's a side-scrolling 2-D platformer, like Mega Man, in which you can jump, duck, run, dash, and shoot. This is basically every game on the NES and SuperNES, Street Fighter notwithstanding. I may not have played the original Mega Man games until recently, but there were dozens of games like this I did play. Contra, Ninja Gaiden, Kung-fu, Super Mario Bros., Bayou fucking Bill, the list is nigh inexhaustible. Games like this were also a staple of the libraries of consoles like the PSX and Nintendo 64 (although the 64 was more focused on 3-D games like Super Mario 64 and Goldeneye, as well as things like Mario Kart 64). 

Now, if you watched Egoraptor's video, that's basically how all these games went. They would give you a kind of intro stage, you would have some space to work out the controls, find out your jump, attack, etc, and then you were expected to hold your own. And most of us did all right. 

As children.


While I didn't beat games like Ninja Gaiden, Donkey Kong Country, and Mega Man X as a child (my gameplay time was too limited, and memory cards weren't a thing back then), I got reasonably far in them. Like I said, I did all right. To the point where I was able to roundly stomp most 3-D platformers like Crash Bandicoot 2 and Spyro The Dragon into the ground when I got ahold of them. They weren't nearly as difficult as the games I cut my teeth on, and that trend of simplification has continued over the years as games went from kid's stuff to Serious Multi-Billion Dollar A Year World Wide Industry. They had to start appealing to normies, and I understand that. I don't have to like it, but I understand.

So the obvious problem with Dean Takahashi isn't that he doesn't know how to play Cuphead. 2-D platformers aren't everyone's thing, and that's cool. The problem is that gamers are usually able to adapt to new gameplay mechanics pretty quickly. For instance, I despise the gameplay in Undertale. It's a lot of walking around and talking to people (which is standard RPG fare and I don't mind that), but then the battles are bullet hell Touhou-style dodge-fests, and that annoyed the absolute piss out of me. Even so, I managed to get pretty far in the game before I got bored with it. I think I stopped playing around the fight with Undyne, which as I understand it is about halfway through the game. I didn't stop playing because it was "too hard," I stopped playing because I didn't like the gameplay, and at a certain point the novelty of the new (to me) bullet hell mechanics wore off and I started to get bored.

Dean has 25 years of experience in journalism. Obviously he doesn't have this much experience in actually playing the things that he's writing about. Personally I couldn't make it five minutes into that godawful almost half-hour of gameplay footage. It takes this grown man multiple minutes to do what I figured out how to do as a child. You jump over the first block in the tutorial, and you've got jumping down. The next block is too tall for you to jump over, but there's a block you can get on top of next to it. You just jumped over it. So jump on it, then follow the ON-SCREEN INSTRUCTIONS (something we did not have 25 years ago) and jump-dash to the top of the tall block. 

This is not difficult stuff.

In fact, it's really simple. The game is actually telling you what to do. Pop-ups appear on-screen that tell you in plain terms a seven year old could understand that you need to jump from the small block, and dash mid-air onto the tall block to proceed. They couldn't have made it simpler. In Mega Man X there was none of this. I'd like to get footage of him playing that game, as a matter of fact. I'd like to see how he does when he has to learn by making mistakes, and not have the game hold his hand while he trips in a ditch anyway. 

But this is a major problem with GAEMS JURBALESM. These people are fucking incompetent, and they don't care about the medium they're covering. They don't play games, they're not a fan of games, they can't even understand basic instructions when they're PRINTED ON THE FUCKING SCREEN IN FRONT OF THEM IN SIMPLE ENGLISH. Which presumably Dean speaks. But even if he doesn't, that's no excuse. Cuphead is a run-jump-and-shoot game, not a fucking RPG with a deep story that you have to read hours of text to understand. Games do get simpler, but not by a whole lot. Move right to advance, shoot enemies, duck under/jump over obstacles/attacks. When I was playing NES this was pretty much every game I rented from the local video store. 

And this isn't Ender's Game level shit, either. No armies, no command positions, no beachheads to take, no real strategy other than DON'T DIE, DUMBASS. It's a fucking 2-D platformer, for christ's sake. 

But this is the state of Games Journalism™ now. We've been trying to tell people for, what? Three years now? This business is sick. It's full of ideologues who don't care about video games, actively alienate their customers (you know, the people whose attention allows them to pay their bills), and attempt to change the medium to suit their tastes, thus destroying it. Maybe RagingGoldenEagle is right. Maybe we do need another crash. And while we're at it we can purge all people like this from games journalism, and bring in a crowd of actual gamers who know what the fuck they're talking about. 

But back to those tweets at the top. 

Given that I linked to a Mega Man X video, we'll stick with that for a comparison to Cuphead. So in the first level of X, they give you all the information that you need to know to play the entirety of the game, all without annoying popups or on-screen instructions. This is assuming you know how to hold a controller and work the buttons, and don't attempt to swallow it first like a drooling mongoloid. In Cuphead, the process is far more in-your-face. They let you experiment with the controls, but also tell you what you need to do to advance via on-screen instructions and popups. 

So it's entirely possible to play the tutorial for Cuphead, completely ignore the on-screen instructions, and just figure it out yourself. I haven't even played the game and I can tell that from watching the footage. Is this really what games and games journalism has come to? I understand streamlining it for people who've never played a Cuphead-style game before, but this isn't even as big of a difference as the difference between Morrowind and Skyrim. The mechanics are still the same, they've just made figuring them out a bit easier, whereas the difference between the mechanics of those two Elder Scrolls games is immense. And jarring, if you go from 200+ hours in Skyrim to starting a new game in Morrowind. 

The reason I'm banging on about this is to lead to another point. There's been a lot of talk recently about "elitism" in video games, especially after Dark Souls kicked so many people's asses, myself included. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't meant to be. That's part of the fun. You have to learn the mechanics and then apply them properly to advance in the game. This is what's meant by the phrase "git gud." You get better at a game the more you play it. There's a learning curve.

The reason for this is that video games are an interactive storytelling medium. You need a certain level of skill to unlock the rest of the story. They're not like books, which have no quiz after a chapter to make sure you really understood it before you can advance to the next. The medium is fundamentally different, and video games shouldn't function like books, in my opinion. To interact with the game, you need to be able to learn, apply lessons, and think for yourself to come up with creative solutions to problems or develop strategies to deal with bosses. We all love Resident Evil 4, but the "tap X to not die" mechanic is the laziest shit ever introduced into video games, and I'm convinced that's what's lead to this "Let me skip the combat!" whining among lazy assholes that don't want to challenge themselves.

So, in an interactive medium like a video game, if you're not skilled or clever enough to get past a certain point, you don't deserve to get past it. It's earned. That's the entire point. Through skill, luck, persistence, and the application of lessons the game has taught you, you advance and unlock more of the story. If you're unable to do that, then you don't deserve to see the rest of the story. 

I'm not good enough to beat Ninja Gaiden. I admit it. I don't deserve to see the ending, because I can't make it there. I accept that. So why is it so difficult for people who play video games and talk about them for a living to do the same? I'm just some doof in his bedroom who's been at this hobby since I could hold a controller. These people were hired to be able to play games, and do it reasonably well. I'm not asking for MLG G.O.A.T. level gamers to take up games journalism and tell us about games, but a reasonable level of skill with the medium and love for the subject matter should be the bar for games journalists. And that's not a lot to ask. 

Film critics love movies, anime critics love anime, food critics love food, and so on and so forth. None of these people have to know how to make the thing they're commenting on, and such is the case with games journalists. It might help for parsing small details about what a game does wrong or right, but it's by no means a prerequisite. There's no excuse, and I mean none, for a game journalist being this bad at video games. I've picked up brand new games I've never touched before while so abominably drunk I literally could not see straight and done all right at the game. 

Once again, we tried to tell you all that these people really are this bad, but nobody wanted to listen because vagina. Also that whole collusion and agenda pushing thing, but that aside. What this is is blatant evidence that games journalism is precisely the cancer we've been yelling that it is for over 3 years now, and it needs to be burned to the ground and started over. Polygon, Game Informer, that scourge on the industry straight from the asshole of Gawker itself Kotaku, they're all exactly as bad as you think they are, and they need to go.

Stop clicking on their articles, stop visiting the websites, stop sharing articles that aren't archives. Just fucking stop it. Choke them off at the root. If these people aren't able to follow instructions while thinking for themselves at the same time, which is akin to walking and chewing gum at the same time, they have no business commentating on an interactive storytelling medium that rakes in more jack every year than film and music COMBINED.

These people are not proper stewards of our hobby, let alone the massive multi-billion dollar industry that grew out of that hobby. It's far beyond time to get rid of them.

All that said, Cuphead looks like a lot of fun, and I look forward to playing it when it finally comes out. Look around and see if you can find someone playing it who's not a games journalist, and take a look for yourself.