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"This is The Police" and the Banality of Evil

"This is the Police" was a top down simulation game, in the vein of Sim City where, you play as a police chief. It happened to be released during the rise of Black Lives Matter and Gamergate, but went out of its way to say it was "not a political game but a human one", or at least that is what the developers claimed.

This is the Police, as game has a fail state, you have to make certain decisions or the game will end. In the case of your player character you are fired or killed for making decisions that could or would be read as moral, for example, not firing certain officers for their race or investigating crimes that mafia members don’t want you to.

Hannah Arendt, wrote of Eichmann, how he wasn’t amoral, wasn’t a monster, and instead of how ordinary he was. How his motivation to send millions to their death wasn’t motivated by sadism but shallowness and carelessness. He didn’t think of the consequences of those actions.

Within the narrative of This is the Police, the player is faced with various situations were their own morality may come into conflict with the story. And that should be examined as even if the game is "not political" it does reflect a volatile political situation.

Why are you as a player character rewarded for being corrupt? Examinations of police corruption merit discussion but the game seems more than comfortable in presenting the idea of corruption without inspecting it. It’s the nature of the system and as such is immutable.

This gives room for analysis of the actions the game forces you to take, why are those the only possible actions, why were some scenarios added and why not others? Moreover, what does it say about this "human game" as per the developers and its commentary on the nature of humans?

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    Fire Emblem and the "Justifiable Conquest"

    Fire Emblem, a pre-eminent franchise in the strategy RPG genre, has long worn its tropes. The rightful ruler in exile, fighting an evil empire with a color cast of allies and in the end bringing justice, order, and balance back to the world.

    Within the franchise however there have been times, were the player, knowingly or not has played less of a liberator, and more as conqueror in their own right. Notable examples of this are in Fire Emblem Gaiden and it’s remake Shadows of Valencia where the male protagonist Alm, settles the entire continent as its Emperor.
    Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest also sees the player character, Corrin, take the role of conqueror, at the behest of the Evil King/Slime Demon Garon. Throughout the story the player is constantly exposed to the truly villainous nature of the Nohrian conquest but at no point is their an option to rebel and the ending resolves with Hoshido, a now conquered land acquiescent to the new high king on the promise that relations will now be warmer.

    A key flaw in the narratives is the player’s agency is completely absent. To win you must conquer and while some justification are offered, it could be argued that they’re insufficient compared to the players actions. You conquer because that is the objective of the game, the impact of that on the people is immaterial, inconsequential and that’s an extremely interesting writing decision.

    Is there a such thing as a justifiable conquest?

    • Agree with first person; interesting topic; the only thing I would do is keep all wording in 3rd person. Take out you so the writer can remain objective in their writing. – Montayj79 2 months ago
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    • I would love to see someone discuss Fire Emblem: Three Houses as well. – Sean Gadus 1 month ago
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    Subscriptions: Game developers moving toward subscriptions

    This article will analyze the growing trend of game developers and publishers moving towards subscription models instead of one-time purchases. Examples: Apple Arcade, Google Stadia, Microsoft’s Game Pass (old, but now more aggressive than ever push towards subscription-only titles and removing one-time purchase options swifter than ever), Ubisoft , EA Play, PlayStation Now. Studios with a single game or franchise are also going the subscription route. Is this good? Bad? Subscriptions of the Game Pass, for example, have increased by millions in the last year. And it’s true that indie games, when they come to Game Pass, earn more than they could ever make solo. Xbox Game Pass is a unique case which will need its own section here. Instead of subscribing to a service that gives free delivery (like Amazon) or TV shows (like Netflix) – a game can be anywhere from 20 hours of fun for hardcore games or 1,000 hours of play and replays – how is it fair that you pay less than I do for the same game in this case? A headline: "GDC has released its annual State of the Industry survey of 4,000 developers, over one-fourth of which were concerned such models would devalue games." Another topic to cover is games-as-a-service (or more broadly tech-as-a-service) models being adopted by videogame publishers and developers. Even gaming hardware seems to be moving in that direction, with Nvidia providing subscription to RTX 30-series gaming capabilities instead of actually owning a video card. Starting from newspapers and magazines; then moving to TV shows, movies, and software; and now to games – subscriptions seem to be the way forward. But is it really better to have a monthly subscription to play games than to own the games and judging by the current pace of things, even renting your hardware and not owning it?

    • A couple of articles here in The Artifice have already explored similar problems (micro-transactions, in-app purchases, and yearly-releases) in the gaming world. The progressive increase of an economic model based on subscriptions in the video game business can be an interesting topic to explore, as long as it frames the phenomenon in larger and more meaningful terms than “good” or “bad.” The question “Is adopting the subscription model in videogames development good or bad?” needs to be reformulated. Good for whom? Bad for whom? It is certainly good for the business. It might be good or bad for consumers, depending on what they get from the deal. But and outstanding article about this topic would need a stronger and more daring approach. – T. Palomino 2 months ago
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    Taken by Richard (PM) 2 months ago.
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    How Arcane Changed the Game

    Video game adaptations have been in a slow but steady trend. It’s produced under a variety of important factors such as storyline and fanbase that can make or break the adaptation. League of Legends’ Arcane, produced by Netflix, not only succeeds the expectations of longtime LoL and Runeterra fans but also captivates the interests of the non-gaming audience. Its release reignited both adaptations and animated media into what video game lore can achieve.

    Analyze the thematic aspects of Arcane that contributed to its engagement and how it relates to the lore of Runeterra, especially since LoL is not an action-adventure game. Take into consideration that Riot Games also has a history of well-made cinematics for promotion of game updates, events, etc.

    You can also explore the relevance (and perhaps, risk) of the fanbase in adapting Arcane. Riot Games is known for its heavy fanservice and focus on its community. Is Arcane a gift to the LoL fans? And of course, how has Arcane effectively introduced LoL to a new market? Has it affected the toxic reputation of the game, or has it enticed new players to join?

    • Castlevania is the other great video game adaption, but both Arcane and Castlevania debuted on Netflix. – Sean Gadus 7 months ago
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    The 'Dadification' of Male narratives in Video Games

    I did a bit of research on ‘The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt’ last year while preparing to write a piece on the Video Game industry and its treatment of minority groups. The Witcher, of course, is written by Andrzej Sapkowski who is very obvious about what types of groups are being discussed, even if allegorically. I picked on the Witcher because it is among many of the power fantasy narratives that come with the genre.

    There are currently several iterations of Geralt of Rivia, and similarly, this trend can be seen in The Last of Us and God of War. Our protagonists are fathers first, and the plot follows this innate connection between parent and child.

    I’m interested to see where this came from? To what extent is it really a trend, or just a few notable additions to the AAA RPGs?

    • The Lone Wolf, and Cub Saga 1976, The Last of Us 2013 Until Death do Us Part 2006, Leon the Professional 1994, True Grit 2010, Berserk (after the golden age arc) Resident Evil 2 1998, and honestly God of War 3 2010 (and some of the spin off games). This trope has been popular for years, as the young child is almost always paired with an adult with some type of dark past or they are in situation (like a zombie outbreak) where the child is a liability due to them not being able to defend themselves. This usually forces the adult to have a moral dilemma where they have to decide whether they'll to put themself endanger or abandon the child. This trope is usually paired with some type of redemption arc. But, to answer your first question this trope isn't new. I don't know what was the first story to do this trope is, but I can say it predates its modern 2010's trend. I believe the main reason people are noticing it more often now and potentially the reason we are seeing an increased amount of stories using this trope is because its easy Oscar/Award bait as much of the series I've mentioned have won numerous awards. Not saying that awards are purely the reason this is done. But success is a good incentive for imitators. – Blackcat130 3 months ago
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    • Maybe "dadification" is not the appropriate term to use here, given its sexual connotations. – T. Palomino 3 months ago
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    Taken by Sunni Ago (PM) 2 months ago.
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    Is Depression An Over-Explored Concept In Indie Games?

    It’s literally become a meme at this point; top text saying "oh this indie RPG uses pixel art and is really an allegory for depression-", accompanied with a gif or short video of somebody leaving a room or closing a door. It’s certainly not an idea that spawned from nowhere; LISA The Painful, OMORI, Yume Nikki, Celeste, just to name a few, all have strong themes of depression or mental anguish of some sort as their main focus. And there seems to be a consensus amongst some gamers that it’s beginning to become unoriginal. Just two days ago my recommendation of LISA was shot down by a close gaming buddy, on the grounds that it’s "just another indie game about depression". But is this negative reputation deserved? Are these games just treading old ground, or do they still have more to say about mental health, a topic that is becoming all the more relevant in an age dedicated to squashing the stigma? And even if they don’t, do they still have value in our modern gaming landscape?

    • I would argue that there are so many indie games, with such diverse such matter, that the amount of games listed above would not rise to the level of "over-explored". – Sean Gadus 5 months ago
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    • I've seen memes about 'indie pixel rpgs about depression/mental illness' myself, and personally I think it's an overstated connection. Yes, there are a number of indie games about mental illness, but I've seen a few comments making this statement about games that don't really fit these categories. After all, even the meme you mentioned doesn't apply to all your examples (Celeste is pixel art, but not an rpg). Also, while there are a number of games about depression and mental illness, they are not the only well-tread topic in indie games. – AnnieEM 5 months ago
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    • In an interesting parallel, I find that many Twitch streamers are tagging their streams with "anxiety", "depression" and other words associated with mental health. While this *could* be seen as trying to capitalize on the stigma, or to be "edgy", I feel that this possibly means that consumers are looking to have honest conversations surrounding these topics and are seeking safe spaces. I think that the past few years have really pushed the need for this initiative. In response to this, I feel that indie game developers want to produce and share their own versions of lived experiences with these conditions, in order to further encourage the dialogue. This is most likely much easier to accomplish in the indie scene, for sure. That could be wishful thinking, but regardless, I feel that indie games with these themes haven't unbearably oversaturated the market yet. – MadamNarwhal 3 months ago
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    The Love of Farming Games

    With most games filled with action and strong storylines, popular video games such as Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley have created a large fanbase for games highlighting slow living and farm life. What is the appeal to these types of games compared to action-packed games such as Grand Theft Auto? Is the audience different?

    • I think the audience is very markedly different but at the same time, that extends itself to a critique of the term gamer. Isn't someone who plays AC for 500 hours a hardcore gamer? In the popular conscious games like AC and Stardew, can be massive time sinks but are rarely viewed in the same ways as games like Doom, COD, and other games that are more readily seen as hardcore gamer games. Look at the motivations and understanding of the audiences of the genres could be interesting. – SunnyAgo 2 months ago
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    Do Gamers Today Complain Too Much?

    Analyze how gamers today condemn and criticize games solely based on limited information and trailers. Specifically prior to the launch of some of the most critically acclaimed games of this year Horizon: Forbidden West and Elden Ring gamers criticized reused animations and lackluster gameplay elements before getting their hands on them. This trend has been increasing over the years with developers being bombarded by complaints and criticism for rather minor transgressions in otherwise fantastic games.

    • Something worth noting about modern criticism is that outlets like Facebook and Twitter make it easier to track public opinion. Similarly before YouTube decided to hide the down vote button it was also a good source of public opinion. I think what is more likely going on is getting peoples opinions is easier, then say twenty years ago. Not only that but game reviewers often have to/will put out day one reviews with out properly analyzing the game, and may overly focus on one negative aspect of a game. Or they may intentionally misrepresent some aspects to try and make their review more entertaining. Tim Rogers in his review of Kingdom Hearts 3 admitted to being intentionally negative about some aspects when he reviewed Kingdom hearts 2 many years ago. And he simply did it to just to get more clicks on his review. (This led to fan backlash towards him and calling him out for his poorly constructed review of Kingdom hearts 2.) I would like to point out games like Cyber Punk 2077, Skyrim, and Battle Field 2042 also launched in unplayable states with frequent crashes. So, are gamer's complaints completely unwarranted or justified. ( I know you were focusing on Elden Ring and Horizon, but I think this is an interesting topic and can lead to many interesting discussions about the discourse surrounding video game critics.) – Blackcat130 4 months ago
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    • I think an interesting avenue to explore in this topic would be the nature of fandoms, the ever-increasing expectations for the next blockbuster game to blow people away (resulting in gamers critiquing and nitpicking small details such as reused animations). Fandoms have a tendency to breed extremely passionate people who will both go at ends to protect their respective franchise, or criticize aspects and expect to be completely shocked by the next entry of an artist's work, as they have been before. When gamers criticized Elden Ring for example, their judgment could have stemmed from their initial experience of game creator Miyazaki's games such as Dark Souls 1 to 3, where the same animations are used, but are part of that game and therefore part of that gamer's experience. When they notice these returning aspects, they automatically assume laziness and cop-out to try and 'impress' the player with things they have already seen and done, when those are but small features. A negative comment will always seem louder and leave a bigger impression than a positive one. – AlGrater 4 months ago
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