On Hong Kong

Blizzard’s (a)moral, and incredibly fast-moving Hong Kong fumble (repeated over the past few days by the NBA, and by extension, Disney’s ESPN) has suddenly become a lightning rod of a reminder of the nature of the gaming business. Companies and corporations aren’t our friends, and keeping a healthy distance informed by a baseline antagonism (someone wins, someone loses, and the winner is never you) is always the way to go.

On the China microblogging site Weibo, Blizzard’s statement in Chinese was: “We will, as always, resolutely safeguard the country’s dignity.”


The above statement is just so unbelievably bad. B-A-D. That’s what really got me over the hurdle: A video game company defending the “dignity” of a government, of any government? I’m sure this message was not intended to ever come out of China, but I don’t think the general response (from dubious congressmen, no less) to it has been overstated, at all, given the magnitude of this mistake of a comment, and in fact has turned the situation from a gaming moment into something of an international-level incident.

Our world is worth fighting fo… wait, what?

I know, I know, some of y’all already can’t wait for this to blow over to get back to WoW Classic in peace: consumer “activism” 1)“grassroots collective organization of consumption or its withdrawal” per Lawrence Glickman is no-one’s idea of fun, exactly, and there’s actually something of a point to the idea that we shouldn’t grow too attached to our “consumer” identity (shoutout to Jason Schreier).

Buying games doesn’t make anyone a gamer (shoutout to my Steam backlog) – playing ’em does. So there’s that.

Still, many such consumerrilla camps have indeed sprung up in a matter of hours, not days: The Blizzard portion of Reddit is pretty much on fire right now (and will continue to burn, surely), there are pro-Hong Kong Mei memes popping up, and fans are sending GDPR requests en masse.


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1. “grassroots collective organization of consumption or its withdrawal” per Lawrence Glickman

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The Source of a Bloody Good Time

One of the most surprising video game announcements in recent memory – honest! – is Bloody Good Time, a new eight-player multiplayer game “regrouping ambitious teen actors ready to kill for fame” from Scottish The Ship developers Outerlight, who have suddenly made their return to the gaming headlines. Bloody Good Time, launching today on the 29th of October and available on XBLA and from Steam, has the ignoble distinction of only being the second Source title to be published by Ubisoft, the first being the classic Dark Messiah of Might and Magic.

As perhaps evident from the trailer above, the game pits eight hopeful first-time auditioners against each other in an audition to the death on three different movie sets. The game’s cast of characters is a who’s who of movie caricatures, ranging from a surfer dude to a mall goth. Players will get their chance to off the rest of the competing aspirants in four different game modes: Hunt, Elimination, Revenge and Deathmatch.


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E3 2010 Ubisoft Press Conference

What decade is it again – the 1970s? I ask this for what just went on during Ubisoft’s press conference was totally psychedelic, dude, even discounting the fact that the host, Joel McHale of “The Soup,” apparently took his part in the proceedings very, very seriously and quite possibly ingested beforehand a wide assortment of magic mushrooms.

In any case, let us just linger on for a moment on these fantastic quotes I pulled from the show – a veritable checklist of games marketing bullshit:

“Games you can feel.”
“Full body experience.”
“A magic inner journey.”
“The mind and body are controllers.”
“The player is a design pillar.”
“Playing in the real world.”
“Feel the magic of my environment.”

McHale’s off-kilter performance equally reminded me of a story from CVG’s Vernon Kay, called “How NOT to host a games event” (Kay’s list delightfully also includes what can be classified as the Pong Trap.)

The host’s constant barrage of sarcastic interjections and one-liners came relatively close to Jamie Kennedy’s classic E3 2007 Activision press conference, which he started off with “This is exciting. We’re at E3 and… I just wanna say… this place is the only place… that makes the guys at ComicCon… look like Ocean’s 13.” 1)http://www.gametrailers.com/video/e3-2007-activision/22401, instantly breaking Kay’s final rule of “Assume your audience are a bunch of closeted shut-ins.”

Another example of game-changing hosts is Jay Mohr, who single-handedly soured the 13th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards. You can watch his potty-mouthed performance at Joystiq – this was a show after which 3D Realms’ George Broussard asked for his contract terminated “so he *never* does another AIAS awards show.” 2)http://twitter.com/georgeb3dr/status/9321107453

The difference between McHale on the one hand and Kennedy and Mohr on the other, though, is that McHale actually focused on the relative ludicrousness of Ubisoft’s line-up instead of lingering on the apparent deficiencies of the crowd and the industry overall.

This minor detail made for vastly more amusing a show!

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