The second one is a well-reasoned response.
Originally Posted by Popehat
A game called Col*nization? You can't say that word!
He's never even heard of the original. Where did a major magazine like Variety find this guy? In a casting call for pomo litcrit grad student-types who want to branch out into gaming as new media?Civilization IV: Colonization... Wow that looks offensive.
I literally exclaimed "holy sh*t" out loud when I was reading an e-mail this morning listing the "Games for Windows" coming out this year and I came across this
Here's Kotaku's mocking take on the guy.
Here's a more prosecutorial reaction.
The second one is a well-reasoned response.
Originally Posted by Popehat
This is not the time for reason! Ban this filth!
Block Variety at the router level.
It is a movies/tv based industry publication.
It would be like a gaming mag reviewing movies, or having developers/writers/journos talk about movies they have seen.
But, this article is just ludicrous. It would be like if Geoff Keighley started ripping on Spielberg for making schindlers list, and dragging up all of those bad memories.
I think it's just the universe evening things out:
Fox News tells us games are gangbang bestiality (Mass Effect), Variety tells us games are racist propaganda. And the space-time continuum is once again in balance.
The point of Colonization (in my mind) was the rebellion against the homeland. The American declaration of independance, though of course in the game any colony could become the owners of america.
I certainly understand that there were horrible things done during this time period, and in fact as part of this process. But in history very few things dont have both a good and a bad side. Are we supposed to mark off limits all historical settings because of this?
I do think it would be in poor taste if games celebrate those bad aspects. If a WW2 game allowed you to play as the germans and gave you points for rounding up and killing jews, if Colonization incented you to spread smallpox among the indians or kick off the trail of tears.
Should we remove the Chinese dynasties from "Emporer: Rise of the Middle Kingdom" that practiced brutal genocide against their enemies? Should you be able to play as Castro in Tropico? Should I be able to play as the Aztecs in any game?
The answer is that the setting isnt inherently wrong, it has to be viewed in context. And this isn't unique to games either. There isn't anything inherently wrong with a movie about Jamestown. But if the movie celebrated the cruel treatment of the indians by the people at Jaemstown it would be in bad taste.
We have to get beyond the belief that a 10 second sound byte can distinguish between right and wrong in complex subjects, and understand that the context matters.
This guy is a retard. Where's the outrage when playing the slew of WWII games out there? They simulate a real war, where real people were killed in many different horrible ways. Or a multitude of other games where you can play evil races doing horrible things. Or complaints about Age of Empires or the original Civilization where you take real nations/races and try to destroy each other in genocide like conditions?
This is just utter garbage.
It's such utter shite I almost think it's a purposeful troll.
In most WW2 games, you are killing Nazis, which is good, not bad, because Nazis are evil.
Man, Tom Chick was far too forgiving in his response (although he undermined the guy's position with a few short sentences regardless).
I posted my far-too-measured reply here.
I don't blame Fritz for raising the question. You can't say it's "just a game" any more than you can say something is "just a movie" or "just a book". That's a cop-out that immediately negates any serious talk about games for any purpose beyond "mere" entertainment.
But the conflation of choice of subject matter with an attitude toward that subject matter is a serious critical problem, not to mention his complete ignorance of the difficult place of history in strategy gaming. Some games just dodge the issue altogether and make history some sort of Discovery Channel cartoon (Age of Empires III, for example). It is to Colonization's credit that it does force the player into making decisions about how to treat the native peoples.
I'm not all that surprised that he hadn't heard of the first Colonization. If you do most of your work in the console arena (as Fritz seems to) and you came of gaming age only a few years after I did, it would be easy to miss. It is, in the long run, a minor title in Sid Meier brand and has none of the heft of Civilization or just plain cool of Alpha Centauri.
However, once Frtiz learned about the game - which should have been pretty early on in his reading about the new one since they mention the original quite a bit - it was his duty to at least read up on the game and see what it was about. As I say in my blog post, Colonization is really about American history, not subjecting the weaker peoples of the earth.
It took a lot of internal mojo to be able to even release the War Chiefs expansion. Age III certainly is not a hard hitting historical take, but there was a lot of somewhat incoherent internal pressure that often included simultaneously conflicting notions like "you must treat the native civs exactly like you treat the european civs" and "you must never be able to destroy native civ buildings". Either of those individually might have been defensible but both at the same time? Kind of a problem.
I have a lot of great respect for the people who really pushed for this inside Ensemble, and their counterparts within MS geopoly, to have been able to find a compromise that actually lets us have them in the base game at all, not to mention doing a whole expansion around it. It's a thorny socio-political morass.
So anyways, mad props to Firaxis for revisiting Colonization. It's one of my favorite games from that era, and always had some unique gameplay that I can't wait to revisit.
I literally yelled 'Holy Shasteriskt!!'
Christ, it's a strategy game!. Like... chess, yes, that game about brutal WAR and REGICIDE, so dehumanizing (come on, where are the faces of the soldiers in the figures?) with racist implications (white vs black omg!).
And funny his reference about the 'horrible' idea of Colonizaltion is like a hypothetical game of North vs South in the american civil war where you control the South. Because there are already a lot of games about the american civil war where you control the confederates!
He would flip out watching me play the plain ol' Civilization. When a enemy pissed me off i would attack them until the final extermination and assimilation of all their cities. Yes people, genocide.
Also, Tom said "That's actually of enlightening to read your reaction, Ben. It never occurred to me to consider the game from that angle".
Yes Tom, it never occurred to you. It never occurred to you because it is a very stupid angle, full of ignorance about history and the human race itself (apart of the whole strategy genre!). Also, it never occurred to me that people would kill themselves in terrorist actions against "the infidels", but hey, i always overestimate people.
I don't think I'm as annoyed by his moral outrage as much as his utter disbelief that the original game could have been made .. Like there ought to have been some major outcry in a society that has become apathetic to the likes of Mortal Kombat and Postal. It comes across as super naive and ignorant.
Somebody needs to send him Custer's Revenge.
This is why bloggers are not journalists and should not pretend to be.
Tom occasionally does work for Variety, though. You don't tell a colleague and potential future coworker/boss that he's an idiot, you say "Well, I can see where you're coming from, but..."
It always helps to get new perspectives - even uninformed ones. But I'm hardly an uninformed commentator and I'm always thinking about the silent curriculum of gaming. One really smart guy I know is annoyed because Stalin is a playable leader in Civilization IV.
Fritz is hardly ignorant of history; he's certainly more thoughtful about it than the Wehrmacht fetishists you find in some corners of the wargaming community. The problem is that his argument doesn't lead to a solution or understanding of how to portray history in gaming, and his lack of experience with the Colonization game or the wider genre is pretty clear I think.
Maybe the guy just takes issue with the "colon" part.
Yes, humankind has done pretty bad things. Wars, racism, slavery, ethnic cleansing fueled by hatred and self-interest, etc etc. Bud that's us, it is the history, it was how we were in another time and another society, with different education, knowlegde, values, beliefs, etc. I just accept it as it is, flipping out right now like in that article whining about how horiiiible was the abuse to the natives is kind of hilarous.
I also believe that humans weren't magically transmuted in recent times, we are still the same kind of animal. There still wars, and lots of other problems.
It's like going crazy about how they are slaves in ROME, the tv series from HBO. Yes, there was slavery in Rome. Also, they believed in a lot of gods, omg!. It's the fucking past. And what about that film, there were like people killing another people, oh wait, that's the description of a shiton of movies.
It seems to me that the author is the type of person who would erase every mention of holocaust because it may hurt the sensibilities of someone.
On a plane once with a guy who claimed he was a gamer, we got to talking about Warcraft. I eventually asked him if he'd ever played Total Annihilation. He threw his head back and laughed a big hearty laugh. He thought I was joking. He had no idea there was a game called Total Annihilation, and to him the name sounded utterly ridiculous.
It was enlightening to hear his reaction. I had never considered the game's name from that angle, the angle of how it would sound to someone who wasn't used to game names.