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Innovative, Intuitive. Meet the newest member of the Overused Word Club: Pretentious

Firestorm

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Feb 2, 2006
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Not only that, this newest member wasn't voted in by the gaming press, it was voted in by our very own Gaming Age Forum. Let's give good 'ol Pretentious some applause, shall we?

We whine incessantly about how the state of the gaming press. The very idea of gaming journalism makes us snort with laughter like junkwaffles' caricatures. This is all good. We want the games media to improve itself. Stop pandering to the lowest common denominator we say. Stop disguising the bullet points in press releases as hands-on previews. Stop giving us five page "Top 5" articles every week. For the love of all that is holy, stop treating us like we're still twelve years old. However, every time anybody tries to break the mold and take the job seriously, it's considered "pretentious". Analyzing a game as more than just a toy? Pretentious. Reviewing a game as more than just a product? Pretentious. Using a word that we didn't learn in grade school? Pretentious.

Hypocritical? Undoubtedly. But that's not where this ends. When the mainstream media cover games as for children and balk at the idea that they could be considered serious contenders for an adult's entertainment time alongside film and literature, what do we do? Bitch and moan. Hey, guess what? Maybe if we let our reporters, critics, reviewers, and editors actually cover games in a way that appeals to adults, we wouldn't have the mainstream press thinking that they're children's toys.

Yes, although I'd been thinking this for a while now, this topic was finally brought upon by the latest N'Gai Croal thread where instead of focusing on the editorial, people decided to talk about whether or not the usage of the word "verisimilitude" was pretentious. I understand games are going to have to become more mature before they're taken seriously by the mainstream press as well, but gamers aren't helping matters. We seem to want them to be covered as children's toys but have the legitimacy of a mainstream entertainment medium.
 

Firestorm

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Feb 2, 2006
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JDSN said:
I thought this was going to be a stealth LTTP:Braid thread.
It annoys me when people call that (and MGS) pretentious too. God forbid a man actually tries to convey a message, as convoluted or silly as it may be, in his work.

TheGreatDave said:
Pretty pretentious post, bro.
I was going to end with "inb4 pretentious" but I thought it might ruin the tone, ya know? ^_^
 

Mamesj

Banned
Jul 30, 2007
8,125
0
0
nah, innovative and intuitive are words that can be attached to real phenomena. "Pretentious" is like the "she's a witch!" of the 21st century. Something used by dumb people to explain away things they don't understand.
 

KTallguy

Member
Jul 20, 2006
11,254
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0
Osaka, Japan
Firestorm said:
It annoys me when people call that (and MGS) pretentious too. God forbid a man actually tries to convey a message, as convoluted or silly as it may be, in his work.
But I just want to shoot things! Stop making me think!
 

JDSN

Banned
Sep 13, 2006
23,949
0
0
Firestorm said:
It annoys me when people call that (and MGS) pretentious too. God forbid a man actually tries to convey a message, as convoluted or silly as it may be, in his work.
Seriously, its so funny how you see people here having no problem dropping $60 for a game just based on the hype and its graphics but troll anything that tries to deliver so sort of message because apparently, gaming is just about gameplay...or graphics.
 

freddy

Banned
Jun 7, 2007
8,296
0
0
I think it's safe to assume that a lot of game journalists futures will be affected by the way this thread pans out. I implore you all to take this seriously and to give some thought to your posts before you hit the reply button.
 

zaidr

Member
Jun 30, 2007
1,412
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0
bryehn said:
I flat out said "that sounded pretentious" in the other thread though it was related to N'Gai's entire article, not the use of a perfectly good word.
And thats whats being questioned here in this thread. Why is it considered pretentious to talk about games in any other light than how fun they are, or how awesome their graphics are? What struck you as pretentious in N'Gai's article / blog post?
 

Firestorm

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Feb 2, 2006
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bryehn said:
I flat out said "that sounded pretentious" in the other thread though it was related to N'Gai's entire article, not the use of a perfectly good word.
Oh. I thought you were making fun of how everyone says "Pretentious!" in Croal's threads. I didn't realize you were being serious :lol
 

Irnbru

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Oct 8, 2008
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Firestorm said:
I couldn't think of a better way to express what I meant. I meant like movies, novels, television... Communication media might have been a better term for it.
Who dictates that it's not? I mean, compared to years past, video games have already come a long way.
 

Firestorm

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Feb 2, 2006
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Mr. Spinnington said:
wtf is this homo shit, OP. don't be a noob and stop being so elitist
Proposition 8 Thread was last year.

vicktormerv said:
Who dictates that it's not? I mean, compared to years past, video games have already come a long way.
The public at large. We are definitely further along than we were in the 80s and early 90s, but I'd say both coverage of games and the games themselves still have a lot of maturing to do before they're taken as seriously as film and literature. And there's absolutely no reason they shouldn't be at some point in time. I'm not saying it needs to be one or the other. We can have our Pirates of the Caribbean and our Slumdog Millionaire at the same time.
 

zaidr

Member
Jun 30, 2007
1,412
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0
I think what the OP is trying to say is (and correct me if I'm wrong OP), gamers are not helping the issue, but actually making it worse. We are the ones consuming the deluge of information and opinion that comes our way, and our reactions to it shape how future content will be. We decry the marginalization of games and people who play them in the larger media, but when it comes to honest discussion within the gaming community, we balk and hide behind the "its just a game" argument - or laugh it off as being "pretentious".

Its happened, it seems, a lot with N'Gai's articles. The depiction of race in RE5 discussion, and now this. Thats why I feel its a huge loss to us as a community to lose such a voice as N'Gai, since he inspired so much discussion in our midst.
 

Irnbru

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Firestorm said:
The public at large. We are definitely further along than we were in the 80s and early 90s, but I'd say both coverage of games and the games themselves still have a lot of maturing to do before they're taken as seriously as film and literature. And there's absolutely no reason they shouldn't be at some point in time. I'm not saying it needs to be one or the other. We can have our Pirates of the Caribbean and our Slumdog Millionaire at the same time.
True, true. I mean, well, the issue there in lies I believe in two things. The audience. We have a market leader thats mostly pandering to children. Not saying it's a bad thing, but, thats the first issue we have to pass. Secondly, maturity. We've come a long way as it is, and we can have and I think we do have those kind of quality games, its just, movies [which you can trace back to plays and screen writes] and literature are set mediums in this world. Video games are still very young in the world, although they establish themselves as an interactive form of entertainment. I still think, it's not all AS BAD as you put it. Yes, we have many in the public at large think that games are silly things for children, but I think in the next generation, probably sooner, it will simply not be that way. It's no longer a niche market in my opinion. As for journalists, well, they should mature as the brand of video game matures. heh.
 

K.Jack

Knowledge is power, guard it well
Mar 10, 2007
24,188
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How is "visceral" not at the top of your list, Firestorm?
 

godhandiscen

There are millions of whiny 5-year olds on Earth, and I AM THEIR KING.
Mar 15, 2007
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I agree. However, I believe N'gai was bashed today because he criticized a title many people love.
 

Attack You

Member
Aug 26, 2004
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People trolling MGS have numbed me on "pretentious" as a valid criticism some time ago. Same for "repetitive" and "cliché" for reasons I'm too lazy to start on here.
 

aeolist

Banned
Oct 31, 2006
17,538
0
0
Attack You said:
People trolling MGS have numbed me on "pretentious" as a valid criticism some time ago. Same for "repetitive" and "cliché" for reasons I'm too lazy to start on here.
Do you no longer register the words "awkward", "clunky", and "Jesus Christ why does this game have such shitty controls" too?

Just checking.
 

Attack You

Member
Aug 26, 2004
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aeolist said:
Do you no longer register the words "awkward", "clunky", and "Jesus Christ why does this game have such shitty controls" too?

Just checking.
Probably not, since I don't have to make excuses for my inability to play a game like you apparently do.
 

Darkpen

Banned
Mar 14, 2007
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Attack You said:
Probably not, since I don't have to make excuses for my inability to play a game like you apparently do.
oh buuuurn :lol :lol :lol

Firestorm said:
It annoys me when people call that (and MGS) pretentious too. God forbid a man actually tries to convey a message, as convoluted or silly as it may be, in his work.
This. Annoys the hell out of me. I can understand calling something convoluted, but pretentious? There's gotta be a good reason for that, and 99% of the time that anyone on GAF uses it, there isn't.

If MGS is pretentious, god knows how many other classic stories, novels, and movies are also pretentious.

zaidr said:
Why can't games just be games?
Why can't pretty pictures be pretty pictures? Why do people think there's a God? People search for meaning in places whether they like it or not. Games don't have to stop at the base level of cause and effect. Humans identify by symbols, and symbols have meanings. To ask why games can't just be games is asking why the color red can't just be the color red, when to one it represents the color of death, while another looks at the color red and thinks life.

Games can't be "just games."
 

GhaleonQ

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Aug 24, 2006
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Firestorm said:
It annoys me when people call [Braid] (and MGS) pretentious too. God forbid a man actually tries to convey a message, as convoluted or silly as it may be, in his work.
Wait, so you object to "pretentious" even if it's a valid charge? I mean, Croal's stuff can be criticized in much more exact ways, but I'm pretty sure that Metal Gear Solid and Braid (Jonathan Blow, if we want to split hairs) fully embody pretentiousness. They cannot be discussed without accounting for it. There is no more fitting way to describe the disparity between their ambition/emotional demands/intellectual demands and what they've earned. Let's be judicious with our backlash.
 

Darkpen

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GhaleonQ said:
Wait, so you object to "pretentious" even if it's a valid charge? I mean, Croal's stuff can be criticized in much more exact ways, but I'm pretty sure that Metal Gear Solid and Braid (Jonathan Blow, if we want to split hairs) fully embody pretentiousness. They cannot be discussed without accounting for it. There is no more fitting way to describe the disparity between their ambition/emotional demands/intellectual demands and what they've earned. Let's be judicious with our backlash.
pretentious
adjective
1: characterized by pretension: as a: making usually unjustified or excessive claims (as of value or standing) <the pretentious fraud who assumes a love of culture that is alien to him — Richard Watts> b: expressive of affected, unwarranted, or exaggerated importance, worth, or stature <pretentious language> <pretentious houses>
2: making demands on one's skill, ability, or means : ambitious <the pretentious daring of the Green Mountain Boys in crossing the lake — American Guide Series: Vermont>

I think we're using different definitions here.

As far as I'm concerned, the MGS series has always been a very smooth ride as far as understanding what the game had to say. Unless you live under a rock, I really don't know how MGS can be pretentious when it explains everything to you with long cutscenes to begin with :/
 

GhaleonQ

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Aug 24, 2006
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Darkpen said:
As far as I'm concerned, the MGS series has always been a very smooth ride as far as understanding what the game had to say.
Which has nothing to do with the definition:

Darkpen said:
1: characterized by pretension: as a: making usually unjustified or excessive claims (as of value or standing)
1. Is Metal Gear's universe coherent? 2. Does the universe support Kojima's claims? 3. Do they support his claims to the extent (read: HUGE extent) that Kojima wants? No, no, and no.

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=11582867&postcount=275
http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=8772271&publicUserId=4551247
 

Firestorm

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Feb 2, 2006
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zaidr said:
I think what the OP is trying to say is (and correct me if I'm wrong OP), gamers are not helping the issue, but actually making it worse. We are the ones consuming the deluge of information and opinion that comes our way, and our reactions to it shape how future content will be. We decry the marginalization of games and people who play them in the larger media, but when it comes to honest discussion within the gaming community, we balk and hide behind the "its just a game" argument - or laugh it off as being "pretentious".

Its happened, it seems, a lot with N'Gai's articles. The depiction of race in RE5 discussion, and now this. Thats why I feel its a huge loss to us as a community to lose such a voice as N'Gai, since he inspired so much discussion in our midst.
Yes.

vicktormerv said:
True, true. I mean, well, the issue there in lies I believe in two things. The audience. We have a market leader thats mostly pandering to children. Not saying it's a bad thing, but, thats the first issue we have to pass. Secondly, maturity. We've come a long way as it is, and we can have and I think we do have those kind of quality games, its just, movies [which you can trace back to plays and screen writes] and literature are set mediums in this world. Video games are still very young in the world, although they establish themselves as an interactive form of entertainment. I still think, it's not all AS BAD as you put it. Yes, we have many in the public at large think that games are silly things for children, but I think in the next generation, probably sooner, it will simply not be that way. It's no longer a niche market in my opinion. As for journalists, well, they should mature as the brand of video game matures. heh.
I always believed that as our generation takes positions of power, we might see gaming take its position among other established forms of media. However, that's one of the issues I'm seeing with people downplaying anything remotely intelligent as "pretentious". This is our generation that's saying this. Not only that, it's the "hardest of the hardcore" that's saying this. If even the gamers this generation think gaming is for children, then are we waiting for our kids' generation to step up and wait for us to die off?

K.Jack said:
How is "visceral" not at the top of your list, Firestorm?
Character limit, dude. I couldn't fit "revolutionary" either :(

GhaleonQ said:
Wait, so you object to "pretentious" even if it's a valid charge? I mean, Croal's stuff can be criticized in much more exact ways, but I'm pretty sure that Metal Gear Solid and Braid (Jonathan Blow, if we want to split hairs) fully embody pretentiousness. They cannot be discussed without accounting for it. There is no more fitting way to describe the disparity between their ambition/emotional demands/intellectual demands and what they've earned. Let's be judicious with our backlash.
Personally, no. I thought Braid offered a very interesting metaphor for
the difficulties of a man working on a weapon of mass destruction
. I also think the Metal Gear Solid series is interesting and that Kojima does have some interesting opinions on warfare. I think people who call it pretentious are reacting more to the people who gush about it, like in the quotes on Shawn Elliot's 1up blog.

I did like Braid's writing quite a bit although I think Metal Gear Solid 4 had a lot of flaws. Metal Gear Solid 3 is still my favourite =)
 

Darkpen

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Mar 14, 2007
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GhaleonQ said:
Which has nothing to do with the definition:



1. Is Metal Gear's universe coherent? 2. Does the universe support Kojima's claims? 3. Do they support his claims to the extent (read: HUGE extent) that Kojima wants? No, no, and no.

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=11582867&postcount=275
http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=8772271&publicUserId=4551247
1. Is Metal Gear's universe coherent?
Yes.

2. Does the universe support Kojima's claims?
Yes.

3. Do they support his claims to the extent (read: HUGE extent) that Kojima wants?
Yes.

A lot of time has passed since those posts, and its given time for coherence, beyond the hype and the emotion. You want to know what MGS4 was about? What MGS2, and MGS3, and MGS1 was about? It wasn't just about the military industrial complex. It wasn't just about PMCs, nor internet technology and censorship. It wasn't just about the Cold War and the fears that came with it during the 60's and 70's, and it wasn't just about WMDs.

Ever since MGS1, the Metal Gear Solid series have been about Kojima, his thoughts, his life, and his extrapolations. There's a lesson or two that's taught in each game, most of which are simply food for thought. Everything in the links you posted are simply reactions of people to what they felt immediately, what they thought immediately, and what they knew immediately. They still felt the buzz, while others still didn't know what to think, or how to perceive what was being perceived by others.

At a very base level, the Metal Gear Solid series has been about what it means to be human in the 21st century, and it asks and answers its own questions of what could be, should something drastic happen.

That's where that ends. That's where the discussion of anything superficial ends. PMCs, A.I.s, Metal Gear, they're all just tools being used to work the machine, not the cogs themselves, and that's the first mistake that people make.

Things like "war economy" and "nanomachines" are just nouns, objects that people can refer to, and due to how easy they are to grasp (or at least they assume so), they use them as talking points, and miss the point entirely when discussing what is Metal Gear.
 

timetokill

Banned
Oct 19, 2004
32,841
0
0
Los Angeles, CA
Eliminating a useful and sometimes, yes, even APT word from our vocabulary does nothing to further the cause. I agree with the call to deepen the level of discourse but saying we should be removing words from the vocabulary to try and push the medium forward is no way to do it. There are definitely games that I feel would qualify as "pretentious" and I'm not going to hold back on calling them on it.

As far as N'Gai's stuff, I don't think he was being pretentious... maybe some people do. And sure, some people are using the word incorrectly.

But as far as game criticism, there has to be back and forth, and deconstruction going on -- and if something is being pretentious, ostentatious, or maybe just self-important then it's a valid criticism.
 

Darkpen

Banned
Mar 14, 2007
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Just for fun, let's take apart what you posted

GhaleonQ said:
The reason that it takes place in an alternate history of the world is that every single theme or talking point Kojima wrote has been proved wrong, sometimes within the fabric of the game. Genetic engineering, the merits of pacifism (the Philosophers were who, again?), the fundamental corruption of national governments, nuclear deterrence, the lucrativeness of war? Kojima is clearly not paying attention to world affairs. How's it go, again? "War's no longer between nations, ethnicities, or ideologies"? Ooh, eerily prescient, Kojima! Too bad your ages-long development time caused Metal Gear Solid 4 to be released right in a massive worldwide resurgence of exactly that.
The bold: Yes and no. There's still enough human investment for at least a little bit of all of those things to still be part of wars that are waged now. The point of MGS4 was to be an evolution of MGS2's own computer-controlled information censorship, which was simply an extreme take on what happened w/ Napster and government involvement of the case. The difference being that in the world of MGS, with nanomachine technology and A.I.s, its all computer controlled, all information aggregated, sorted, and censored. As far as I can tell, that's yet to happen in the real world.

As for what you think are the "talking points" that have been proven wrong in the fabric of the game's universe, I'd like to know exactly what you're referring to, because I have no idea what you mean by that.

Shawn's blog said:
Shane Bettenhausen, 1UP Yours: "When I see MGS transcending the medium, pushing the envelope... When I hear [people complain that there are] 'too many cutscenes,' I think, 'you're a peasant.' MGS 4 made me think about PMCs -- which, in a way, I hadn't before. The fact that [Kojima] brings up these real issues and brings them to light for people who don't really think about them...."

What exactly is it encouraging us to think, though? We're certainly not asking ourselves who pays Metal Gear's private military companies or how this take on a total war economy sustains itself. In the world we live in, the U.S. State Department spends American money to pay for security contractors. If in MGS 4's world, failed states are the PMCs chief clients, we should ask why. Smart money says the answers would involve "nations, ideologies, or ethnicities" -- the very motivators that almost everyone of the game's characters continually says are moot in an age of "endless proxy battles."

Nor are we asking who these militias are or what they're fighting for. Not once does the game give these militia members a face or voice. When twenty die beside us in battle, we don't see corpses; we see guns and unredeemed Drebin points -- a missed opportunity, considering the sense it makes for a living relic (Snake) to sympathize with rebels who defeat nano-tech stormtroopers and their battle bots with nothing but old-fashioned human resources and bulldozers.

Regardless, I have a "real issue" for Shane: Since when does indifference to Saturday morning melodrama, and lines like "If you won't be a prisoner to fate, then go fulfill your destiny!" make someone a peasant? Isn't it more incriminating to look at MGS 4's good fun as though it were a window on our future? And what about needing its flimflam to awaken an interest in the world around us? I'll leave that to NeoGaf's Linkzg, who jokingly writes, "I didn't understand that Nazis were evil until I came face to face with Hitler in a mech suit in Wolfenstein 3D."

Implausible stories can and do spur serious thought on important topics. But Wolfenstein 3D is not Brave New World. And until someone bothers to make a case that MGS 4 has something more to say about PMCs than that a Cheshire Cat arms broker profits up to the point that a rogue agent grabs control of the computer that runs the planet, then Guns of the Patriots is not 1984. If anything, Universal Soldier is the appropriate analogy. Or Battlefield Earth.
Bold1: We certainly aren't, because if we accept everything that MGS4 tells us as being the case of the matter in the universe of the game, then we're led to believe that any and all questions are answered and dealt with by the magical Patriot A.I.s. Its one of the many deus ex machinas of MGS4, but still plausible for the reason of them being the focal point.

Bold2: If we take what Eva has to say as representing the case for why it is that militias fight, and if we accept MGS2's VR as being akin to the "videogames" of MGS4's universe, then we can assume that militiamen are simply clones of Raiden, but shallower, and only fighting in the name of revenge. In a world where even in escapism, there's war, then certainly that would be reason for delusion. Even though the militias may or may not be injected with nanomachines, they were still living under the influence of the Patriots.

Bold3+4: Snake never sympathizes with anyone in the game. He's a crude old man who's lost in his own problems. He may criticize PMC soldiers for instantly learning traits and abilities with simply having nanomachines, but that doesn't mean he eagerly sympathizes with those who don't. This is most evident in the first post-boss fight codec call, as well as how he treats Sunny. The only people he cares about are the people he knew before his rapid aging, and his mission, and even then its clear he's tired of other people's shit.

Bold5: When it comes down to it, MGS4's "story line" is about a world gone wrong due to a glitch in the computer that controls the world, and humans acting as a species to both take back their own destiny, and to give back the destiny of others, or at least what remains of it.

But that's not what you "take away" from the story. MGS4's talking point might seem to be about PMCs and a glimpse into the future at first glance, but upon further examination, you'll realize its simply the story of a man who has aged for reasons unknown to him, who feels outdated, who remains chained to an old master who left long ago, who is finally granted freedom by those around him, after being enslaved for so long. MGS2 was about two men, one who's most basic right/instinct/desire to pass on his memory had been locked away by those who created him, and sought to remove the barriers that prevented him from doing so, and another who's life was molded by others and was uncertain of both his own identity and his goals in life, who is freed from the false life he had led thus far, and becomes his own to lead his own life. MGS1 was about the relationship of a father and two sons, one of whom wished to succeed his father and his brother out of jealousy and rage, while the other was a man who was ignorant of the facts, and was simply led around by a leash, until finally learning the truth of matters, and leaving to lead a new life. MGS3 was about the love and sacrifice of a mother figure, and a man who had to figure out why things were happening the way they were, and was forced by powers beyond him to become his own by the loss of another.

When you untangle the webs and vines that criss-cross and form the structure of the MGS series, you're presented with a very simple story about one individual or two, and we can assume the reason for the simplicity is due to the nature of the medium, with MGS3's Naked Snake and MGS2's Raiden being two particularly different approaches to the blank slate model.

If you're looking for a lesson to take away, its a lesson that's been consistent since MGS1: to live life, as Naomi says. To take responsibility, as Otacon says. That's all its ever been about.
 

Worm_Buffet

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Darkpen said:
If you're looking for a lesson to take away, its a lesson that's been consistent since MGS1: to live life, as Naomi says. To take responsibility, as Otacon says. That's all its ever been about.
So you agree that the MGS series' ideas are ultimately banal? Why didn't you say so in the first place? Are you baiting to be a hero of the web?
 

HiResDes

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Dec 1, 2007
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Really I think the most overused word in the gaming community are all compound words beginning with over: overused, overrated, overall, overdone, overact, overanalyzing