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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Jeff Mattas @JeffMattas

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.


  • 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.