Weekend Confirmed 148 - Disney Infinity, Path of Exile, CES 2013, video game legislation

By Jeff Mattas, Jan 18, 2013 11:00am PST

On this week's episode of Weekend Confirmed, hosts Garnett Lee and Jeff Cannata are joined by "Indie" Jeff Mattas and Machinima's Andrea Rene. This time out, everyone heads up a segment of the show. Andrea kicks things off with some Disney Infinity discussion, Garnett talks about CES 2013 and the magic of 4K televisions, Mattas starts a chat about the recent legislative action surrounding video game violence, and Cannata shares some positive impressions about the Path of Exile closed beta. Finishing Moves puts a bow on it all, and is followed by another playoff edition of the post-show NFL TailGate.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 148: 1/18/2013

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Weekend Confirmed comes in four segments to make it easy to listen to in segments or all at once. Here's the timing for this week's episode:

    Show Breakdown:

    Round 1 - 00:00:34 - 00:28:37

    Whatcha' Been Playin Part 1 - 00:29:58 - 00:59:30

    Whatcha Been Playin Part 2 01:00:11 - 01:30:18

    Listener Feedback/Front Page News - 01:30:56 - 02:04:03

    Tailgate: 02:04:47 – 02:12:00

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Andrea Rene @andrearene

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Original music in the show by Del Rio. Get his latest Album, Club Tipsy on iTunes. Check out more, including the Super Mega Worm mix and other mash-ups on his ReverbNation page or Facebook page, and follow him on twitter @delriomusic.

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  • On violence and video games...

    Although I agree on many things brought up on the podcast, especially the role of marketing, I think it's easy to miss the bigger picture. To me it's no big surprise that school shootings of various magnitudes are not uncommon in the States. America has a hurting economy and is getting increasingly insecure in terms of social welfare and labor. Combine this with very lax weapon regulations and powerful lobbyist groups - it's a seedbed for trouble.

    Now, I actually do believe that video games influence people to some degree. Most of the times though, it's something that most people are able to cope with. The key thing to understand is that while violent games (as well as other media) are not the actual CAUSE of real-life violence, they might serve as the EXPRESSION for how real-life violence manifests itself. While regulating the games industry to some degree would probably be a good thing, the root cause of the problem lies somewhere else.

  • i found you discussion about violence in video games very interesting, because i'm only 14 a lot of my friends go for the big triple A tiles like a halo,COD or AC because lets be honest teenagers aren't looking for a deep story they are looking for a fast paced game that gets there adrenaline running. but i find myself different i seem to enjoy games like journey and fez. as well. don't get me wrong i like the triple A titles it's just i play them for the story and the connections i get with other charcters. Another thing is i'm Australian so we don't have a R rating for games so Games like the walking dead, Syndicate and Mortal combat never came out here because are government hasn't woken up and realized games aren't like pong or space invaders anymore. So the sooner the non gamers realize that games like journey can show kids and adults that life is one big journey rather then think games like COD are to practice killing for the real world.

  • I think the discussion on realistic video game violence in this episode was interesting because it is indicative of how the community as a whole views violence in the medium. As soon as Andrea expressed her opinion on violence in games being too realistic, everyone was quick to put her in the "well that's your opinion" box.

    So does anyone think that video games can ever go too far or be too realistic as far as violence is concerned? Is there a too much? Most people agree that violence against women, sexual violence, violence targeting minorities, and violence against children are too far. I agree but I'm not talking about those categories. People also like to set the narrative/artistic context requirement and fine, lets say that whatever violent act in a game that we are discussing has that. Even under those circumstances, is there a limit to how violent a game should be? Is there a line for you personally that you prefer not to cross even in the most artistic game? If so, what is it?

  • Final fantasy all the bravest is getting awful reviews, and I completely agree and disagree????

    All right let me explain the music is awesome, and the combat looks great. Then when looking for depth it never really shows up, but I LOVE the game.

    Why you ask? Well my 18 month daughter, that's right! Most of the stuff she uses on the iPhone or iPad is fisher price, but she absolutely adores this game. She just swipes the whole screen and stuff happens to really good music. She can only take so much of numbers, shapes, and letters after all:)

  • So I have been thinking about Jeffs idea of a "physical object" being included in games to help with resale and piracy. This is what I've been thinking. What if the new consoles had some kind of NFC built into the box itself and games came simply with a small card. Each console would come with a folder of sorts with slots for the cards so that they would be easy to store without loss. Upon opening the game you would simply pull out the card and place it in the folder which is kept on top of the console. When you started the game it would link your user name to the card which in turn would grant you the license for the game. The cards would be single user so that if the game disc was sold it would require the new owner to purchase a new card to play the full game (the disc itself would allow a trial version of the game to be played), which would allow publishers to make money on used games. Cards could be customized for each game and save game data could be held on them as well so that if I wanted to take my save game to another xbox I would just place my folder near my buddies XBox and my save game would become available. With no save game data held on the hard disk itself it would free up more memory on the console. Not to mention you wouldn't need a display case to hold a bunch figures, just a simple folder.

  • It's my first post here, but I've been listening to you guys for the past 2 years, and I watch the daily show on YouTube (you really should make that a bigger show). Thought I'd just comment on a couple of things:

    The new format is interesting, and it worked well enough, though when I first listened to how it was supposed to work my first thought was: "Isn't that just a ridiculously long Finishing Move?' It's not that different from what you guys normally do, it's more focused. Most pre-show videos I saw had guests including things they wanted to talk about on the list of show topics. I wonder how the format will work when there is more to talk about (come March it'll probably be chaos).

    I agree with Jeff Mattis, that I want to punch hipster Dante in the face... Yet is it worth a buy?

    About The Big Bang Theory... I think we're giving too much credit to someone's tumbler article, even more since it makes some ridiculously silly points. After listening to the show I went out and read it, and in fairness I should have known what I was getting into when I read that the author was sick and tired of having people defend the show. When the very notion of people liking a show makes someone angry, you can know a pretty close-minded rambling is to follow.

    Some of the points are really baffling, saying that if you think the show's funny you're looking at the show through Penny's eyes... The show creates a contrast between how 'normal people' and geeks behave. And the vast majority of the time, the nerds are shown in a majorly positive light. And if we're laughing 'at' them... Guess what, that's what every sitcom does. Community does it... a lot. The difference is that Abed is one of the characters, so it's not focused entirely on his behaviour. That Jeff Winger gives a speech on the pilot episode, where he praises every character having barely met them in a rather ridiculous manner only so the group can be together and he can get together with Britta (the joke there is the cynicism of his character), is used as evidence to Abed's treatment by the group should tell you quite a lot about the reasoning within the article.

    The article specifically brings up the fact that nerds have always been described as people the protagonists avoided. Here's a show where geeks are at the forefront, being described as really nice, professionally successful people who have their own passions and are not, for the most part, afraid of showing their love for fantasy, sci-fi, etc, and it's wrong because it accurately reflects that outside their comfort zone their demeanor would be considered 'weird'? Yes people, it's weird to be out late to watch a new cut of Indiana Jones. And the ultimate message of the show is somewhat similar to what I feel: Yes it's normally considered 'weird' to be ridiculously excited by wanting to buy a new issue of 'The Boys', or the Blu-Ray collector's edition of Blade Runner, but this is my passion and I'm excited about this. So to hell with all the rest.

    In every sitcom we know the characters, experience moments where they are ridiculed, laugh at the situation, and because of what they went through we feel closer to them. Just because a show is making fun of stuff I like, suddenly it's wrong and 'offensive' (I'm really beggining to hate this word)? Like it or not, if we live in a world where it's more acceptable to behave like a nerd (like Jeff said on a TRS episode: 'We won'), quite a large portion (I hesitate in saying 'the majority') of the reason why comes directly from this show. Hating it because it dares to make fun of something we like, or of people we identify with, really doesn't negate any of that.

    In the end, if we're laughing 'at' them yet at the same time advancing the acceptance of Nerd culture, our culture, to more and more people, then that, to me, is the deffiniton of us laughing 'with' them.

    P.S.: As a disclaimer, I've seen the first, what, three seasons of TBBT, and a few episodes here and there since then. I do think Community is a better show, and my favorite comedy, though when Arrested Development season 4 comes out on Netflix that may change.

  • About BBT: The show does nothing more or less for a subset of archetypes than any sitcom past or present. Some get offended by it - some point out that the nerds are successful and are making strides in their lives by getting through their emotional quirks and boundaries. Some don't think it's funny, some think it's endearing. All I know is, the focus on discussing whether or not BBT is worthwhile is tantamount to acting just like the nerds from the show. A criticism that came up is that the show is shallow - outside of gameplay experiences that range from completely derivative to actual originality, how shallow are the worlds, characters, and stories we get in most video games? I'd much rather discuss how we can change that - to the extent that we can, given the juggernauts of the industry glorify violence, and what company is really going to give that up? Isn't this much more interesting than trying to state that Penny is the foil to the nerds' nerd exploits when in reality she's a failed actress working part time at the Cheesecake factory while the nerds have masters/Ph.Ds and actually have character growth, unlike the 'jock' stereotype on the show?

    Glorifying violence: ya no, Hunger Games doesn't do it.

    About the new format: I love it, but you have to stick with it. Work out the kinks! Don't just give it up, the old format was stale.

    About Disney Infinity, re: creativity ala LBP and Minecraft: Definitely, Infinity looks much more like LBP than MC. Repurposing assets to create something fun and exciting - I don't get what's wrong with this? Minecraft is literally creating everything from the ground up, but there are people (like myself), who don't enjoy it. It's also really bizarre that Jeff brought up, as a negative, that you have to create your own games in DI, that he dislikes re-purposing assets as opposed to ground-up creation, but doesn't bring up that in Minecraft, there's very little to do before you use your imagination. Just a weird little quirk in the discussion. At least I can use Disney characters for some fun little racer as opposed to having to create that same Disney character, then the racer.

  • Having read the post on The Big Bang Theory, referenced in this week’s show, I came away wondering what show was being described – and really, in a larger sense, what comedy show *isn’t* guilty of some or all of the exact same criticisms being leveled here and, more importantly, if they really should be treated as valid in the first place?

    If you think TBBT sets up the audience to laugh only ‘at’ the characters I think you’re missing the point and you’re dead wrong. I don’t think there’s been a sitcom, since the dawn of the art form, that doesn’t include characters whom we are meant to laugh ‘at’ so I’m not sure how TBBT stands out in this regard or should be somehow set aside as a special case.

    Furthermore the suggestion that Penny is the person the audience is meant to identify with as the, “normal”, person in this group is wholly untrue. I have little in common with this woman and I’m not sure why anyone would suggest that a wannabe actress whose only accomplishment on the show has been a hemorrhoid commercial and rep-theatre production of RENT over a bowling alley, is somehow the ‘safe zone’ for the rest of us is, well, just not seeing the same show I’m seeing.

    TBBT is successful as a comedy for many reasons. Yes there is referential humor but I’m not prepared to ditch Family Guy, Seinfeld and countless others for exactly the same reason as Jeff C alluded to I think. We all share quirks of personality - all sitcoms are ‘guilty’ of exaggerating these traits to bring about amusement. Where this tumblr commentary goes off the rails for me is in the assertion that we, the audience, are somehow in on the joke and are mean-spirited because of it – that these characters are people we wouldn’t associate with otherwise. That’s just plain ridiculous.

    Putting it more bluntly, the way-over-the-top insensitivity ascribed to the creative impulse behind TBBT is simply unfair in my opinion. To suggest that simple ridicule and debasement of these characters is the only reason they get laughs would also be to suggest that I Love Lucy should be torn down as a bad example of what a housewife should be, or Felix Unger for being fastidiously tidy, that Deputy Barney Fife can’t tie his shoes straight much less catch crooks or that Ted Baxter is just a blow-hard in an empty suit doing the news. I’m sorry, if you’re going to suggest the laughter I found in the portrayal of Edith Bunker was ONLY because she was somewhat of a nincompoop, then you’re missing out on a lot of what makes comedy such a strong and, yes sometimes, meaningful escape.

    We can’t all like the same thing so I’m glad we have a variety of choices in our entertainment. If you think TBBT’s purpose is simply to give you a virtual wedgie and take your lunch money well I’m sorry you feel that way. Please know that I don’t think you are worthless as a person because you like to alphabetize your DVD’s or attend the odd comic book convention. (I do both as well.) If that’s truly a source of insecurity for you then television is probably too much for you in general - much less the mostly benign, and sometimes banal, humor found in The Big Bang Theory.

  • You know the argument that never seems to come up is that almost every kid in America has grown up while we have been at war. No kid under the age 11/12 has known a day where were not at war. Every young adult in there early twenties had their formative years shaped around an active war. That means their friends, fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, etc could all be involved in this protracted conflict.

    While we are siting all the games, books, and movies why not talk about one of the biggest influences real life conflict going on all the time. I am not pro or anti war, but to ignore the elephant in the corner seems odd to me.

  • Hey guys, just thought I'd dip in and give my two cents about the new format:

    I really do like the idea. I'm generally less a fan of rigidly structured media, but it's hard to strike a balance between that and anarchy, I know. This seems like it could be really cool. The only thing I would really have to suggest - and I know I'm not the first - is to really trust each person to host their own segment. I know that it's the first time, and it's human nature to want to take control (if you want a job done well, do it yourself right?), but it was a little jarring to hear "OK Andrea, it's your segment, take it away... oh, but first, here's something I was thinking of."

    As well as that, I think this idea will only really work to its full potential if each segment discusses multiple things. Variety is the spice of life and all that. If you talk about Disney Infinity for the entire segment, that's fine, but you'll have covered so much in such detail that the next time you want to bring it up, you'll be running into similar territories of conversation, and run into danger of boring the listener in subsequent episodes.

    One way to counteract the problem discussed in the first paragraph, I think, would be to have whoever is hosting the first segment to do the intro. That way there's a smooth, easily noticeable host for the first part; otherwise, it's Garnett-time and oh wait no he isn't the host for the first segment it's actually someone else.

    Again, these are just my ideas. Keep going w/it! It makes an interesting change.

    PS: Yay Brendon Chung (not Chang).

  • To Jeff's point about turning video games into happy meals, I think what he's getting at is meta games and social media. So basically the realistic equivalent of that now is Playstation Home where you get a Chun Li avatar or whatever for buying Street Fighter. The thing is that no one actually thinks Home is fun (similar to the reaction to this Disney concept). Maybe it would be if it was a lot less clunky and there was more creation inside the game, rather than just acquiring/buying things. Like maybe if in Home there was a really intricate game system for designing and constructing custom outfits, and like the cloth all draped realistically, and different fabrics had different physics and so forth. Then you could get like special patterns to use for clothing you make---like for Chun Li a blue with gold accents---from games rather than a pre-made recreation of an outfit.

  • To me the problem with the Dead Island statue is not that its a gorified woman, but that the presentation doesn't account for a zombie context. The bikini woman is just beheaded and delimbed. Like if it was just a zombie girl in a bikini, and it actually informed the setting, it could work and be kind of cool. But zombies don't carve up their victims like a turkey, they just eat them. So really its just an example of lurid debauchery from man babies.

    So the problem to me is that as the game industry has become so hit driven and based online gameplay, it has also become increasingly homogeneous as a culture and demographically oriented. The result is that when you make content for these games it only has to be not offensive to the 18-24 male mindset its meant to sell to. Essentially the "hardcore" aspects of the video game industry has become like The Howard Stern Show or something.

    That said, Andrea's point that the violence should be fantasy based does not really solve the problem. What this argument does is reduce the video game debate to "they either have to be these violent chauvinist things or really infantile and for one's "inner child" and/or actual children." It is exactly the kind of fogey antiquated perspective the people in congress want to promote. The problem isn't that violence can't make legitimate entertainment. Its that the violence in games as of late is really dumb, and comes from a place of fulfilling banal power fantasies.

    That said, Jeff had it completely wrong with his "ejaculatory" accusation of Cyberpunk 7070. I mean perhaps there is something to that take on the imagery, but the whole point of that trailer was the subvert the conventional femme fetal, Madonna-whore pyscho drama that often plays out in media. That was a sexualized woman who couldn't simply be "put down" with a bullet because she was a crazy cyborg. The suggestion is that we will have to deal with her as a character because of the cyber punk setting.

    Speaking of which it would have been nice if you actually talked about how cool that trailer was rather than resorting to glib talking points from daytime talk shows. My only problem with this new format is that it seemed to lead you down to this place of trying to sound important rather than actually talking about video games. I was half expecting Andrea to shout out "Think of the children! Won't somebody think of the children!!!"

    The place of the video game writer/critic is to unpack game media in a constructive way. Like its very easy for an outsider to demagogue games and say "Oh but Call of Duty is worse than Saving Private Ryan because you are the one killing the people!!" lol. Where are we if people inside the industry can't get over that one confused notion? Its more significant to say "Call of Duty is dumb because its distilling war down to grown up G.I. Joes" and going into how to change that.

  • The first 25 minutes of this episode is a hilarious exercise in exasperation. If you say you're going to let someone have the floor, for the love of GOD let them have a floor. Not 30 seconds after Andrea starts her report on Disney Infinity someone jumps in talking about some element of the game she hasn't had a chance to cover yet. Time and again she tries to pull the conversation back on track, but Jeff and Garnett ride roughshod over the effort. More than once I found myself shouting "LET HER TALK FOR CRYING OUT LOUD"!

    I'm glad I kept listening, because the rest of the show was great. But, seriously, have some regard for your fellow guests!

  • I think Andrea's point about the differences between mediums is worthy of deeper discussion. Often times in the last year, listening to the show, I've heard comparisons made to video games and movies. Of course, that's completely valid on one level... they are, after all, both forms of electronic entertainment which make use of both visual and aural senses.

    But from a broader perspective, they are much different-- cinema (especially the experience of going to the movie theater) is a largely passive exercise: We sit back and the information on the screen, and from the speakers, streams into us. Yes, we identify with the characters, appreciate the aesthetics, and so forth. But we are passive participants. The media scholar Marshall McLuhan considered cinema to be a "hot" medium, meaning it did most of the work for the viewer.

    Video games, in general, are the opposite. We must be active participants-- we must control what is happening on the screen. There is an added, and very powerful, tactile sensory bias. Someone on the show this week, I think Garnett, mentioned "player agency"-- a wonderful and very accurate term. In McLuan-esque terms, this would be a trait of a "cool" medium... a medium that requires active participation on the part of the viewer.

    So when we're talking about violence in video games or even discussing the challenge of bringing about a satisfying ending to a video game, it is vital to consider the wonderful peculiarities of video games versus other media.

    To the former: I would caution that there is no evidence that the experiential, player-as-agent nature of video games is either more or less impacting in terms of engendering real world violence than, for example, television or movies. So more research is needed, yes.

    To the latter: I am firmly convinced that the disappointing endings of some games are at least partially a result of the developers' apparent need to provide a flim-like conclusion to a video game experience. As Garnett implied, it may be easier for developers, in terms of time and money, to craft a few film-like endings to a game, funneling all of the player choices into this, rather than creating endings which chain out all of the myriad of choices we, as players, can potentially make in a game.

    Take, for example, the end of Mass Effect 3. In the last minutes of the last mission of ME3, the player's agency is all but eliminated. Even the tactile control of Shepard is dramatically restricted... the character shuffles, slowly, along a very linear path. ME3 goes from "cool" to "hot", where we become passive observers (with a few dialogue choices). This, of course, does not excuse poor writing or poor game design, but I think we must conclude that the medium-defying factors exacerbate the situation... for some to intolerable levels.

    So let's remember that video games are a distinct medium with distinct properties.