In this weeks bulletin, we discuss Ghost of Tushima, Game Dev Tycoon, Baldur’s Gate 3, Minecraft Archaeology, misconduct at Ubisoft, Assassin’s Creed Podcasts, Orientalism in Cyberpunk 2077, a doll about gaming history and Oakland’s ‘The MADE’ video game museum!
Ghost of Tsushima
It’s back! We’re talking about Ghost of Tsushima again. But what do we actually talk about when we talk about the game? There have been a lot of opinions on the game, some very hot takes, some claims of nationalism, some claims of historical inaccuracies. I could go on, but the list is very long. Point being: how do media outlets talk about the game? David Shimomura of The Washington Post wrote a feature on exactly this question. He writes on the different reviews of the game, and how these were recieved in Japan. David even branches out to futher discussions about cultural products (like video games) from creators with different cultural backgrounds than the represented. Conclusion of David’s piece: audiences make these discussions very difficult. Read more on The Washington Post.
Ubisoft employees witnissed workplace misconduct
Over the past couple of months, Ubisoft hasn’t been in the most of positive lights. Numerous claims of workplace misconduct, executive pressure and other misbehaviours by people of power in the company (and their respective departure from the company) came to light. In a recent employee survey, about 25% of 14.000 employees witnessed or experienced workplace misconduct. Of these 25%, men were the least likely to have experienced misconduct. Women experienced misconduct 30% more than men, with that number going up to 43% for non-ninary people. More shockingly, only 66% of the 25% claimed that they were supported by the management in a proper way. With these numbers and the recent scandals, a change at Ubisoft is dearly needed. The company has already announced changes to the HR-function, the management teams, and tries to create a more inclusive work enviroment where everyone can work freely and safely. Read more on the steps Ubisoft is taking to become a more inclusive and safe company on gamesindustry.biz.
Archaeology in Minecraft
It’s here! And I’m not talking about a mod or a user-generated map (VALUE exacavates Çatalhöyük in Minecraft): Minecraft has added an Archaeology System to the game! Mojang has added excavation sites to the game. On these sites, players can use brushes to uncover artifacts (but be careful, as you can break stuff). The artifacts, often shards of pottery, can be used by players to make their own stories about the history of their Minecraft seeds. For example, you can make an exhibition, or make some beautiful vases with depictions. It’s very awesome! You can check out more about the Archaeology System in the Miencraft Live 2020 video below (from about 2:05:00. While you’re at it, you can check the entire show if you want (but it’s quite the watch).
Game Dev Tycoon available on Nintendo Switch
The awesome Game Dev Tycoon is now available for Nintendo Switch! The management where you build up your own game studio from a garage in the 80’s until a AAA game studio and create gaming history can now be played on multiple platforms (PC, mobiles, tablets and the Switch). Even cooler, the game now has cross-platform saves, meaning that you can play the same game over four different devices. Pretty cool!
Orientalism in video games
Cyberpunk 2077‘s recent trailer has upset quite some gamers, especially people with an Asian background/heritage. In the new trailer, we can see an in-game gang, called the Tyger Claws. They’re, partly, wielding katana’s. Now a katana in itself isn’t the problem, the problem here is the fact that it was combined with multiple other ‘Asian’ tropes (mostly Japanese in the case of Cyberpunk 2077). This use of Orientalist features in video games is not new, as discussed by Sisi Jiang in a feature on Kotaku. Jiang points out more games and features where (often Western) devs used one set of general tropes to represent non-Western characters. To quote Jiang: ‘[…], I just want western studios to demonstrate more care for Asian stories. If an Asian character gets a qiang (Chinese polearm), then I think it’s only fair that at least one European character gets a glaive. If carrying a medieval French weapon seems ridiculous in a serious modern setting, then katanas should seem equally ludicrous.’ Let’s hope that in the future, these kind of tropes will become less common.
Brush up on your Viking History through podcasts
With the upcoming launch of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, the devs have created a five-part podcasts series on the Vikings called Echos of Valhalla. Each episode is just 15 minutes, so don’t expect an entire overview of Viking history. However, these short crash courses can provide some much needed context for the players who are out of their depth when it comes to the Vikings. Check out more on PC Gamer.
Oakland’s Video Game Museum ‘The MADE’
The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment, aka ‘The MADE’ is a museum dedicated to video game history in Oakland. For the past decade, it has been preserving video game history, and educating about video games and their heritage. Like many museums, the current crisis has put their future in doubt. It was mainly funded through visitors and events, but with that flow of money gone, the museum is desperately seeking new ways to create funding. Notable donors have already stepped up, but more is needed. The people over at Noclip, creators of video game documentaries, recently created a video about the MADE, their collection and what they neeed to keep their heads above water. Check out Noclip’s video below!
How a doll is reimagining Gaming History
Well, here we are: I’m writing a piece on a doll. Not any doll, but the new American Girl doll called Courtney, an 80’s female gamer. Carly Kocurek of VICE wrote a very extensive feature on the doll (more than I want to write at least). You might wonder what this has to do with the bulletin, but it’s all about how the doll is used to tell a certain story. Courtney is the girl who goes to the arcade and plays Pac-Man: ‘it not only features as a history, but also as a message to children of today: “American Girl doesn’t tell history—of video games or anything else […]. But, that isn’t really the point. ‘By putting girls at the center of historical fiction, we help to restore some balance in the historical narrative,'[…]. ‘If girls can’t see themselves in history, how can they see themselves as changemakers in the future? American Girl tells girls that they matter, that their place in history matters and has always mattered.” Read more on VICE!
Baldur’s Gate would like a RTX 3080 please
So this is just a little meme, but if you’re up to speed with new hardware, the launch of Nividia’s RTX 3080 was quite the (shit)show. Nvidia said they weren’t ready for the launch (Rock Paper Shotgun), which meant that many people didn’t get their hands on one. The devs of Baldur’s Gate 3, Larian, were among those who didn’t get one and were quite upset. They even claim that the RTX 3080 just plain doesn’t exist! Jokes aside, it’s quite weird that devs can’t even patch their game to the highest hardware standards, just because they can’t get their hands on new pieces of equipment. More to follow surely. Read more on Rock Paper Shotgun.