Ironically, Kotaku doesn't understand the concept of NPCs at all; or further proof that their staff doesn't really know much about games.

... Much of that has to do with its people and how they exist only for my benefit. It’s not even about being more “realistic”, or creating better AI; it’s about allowing these entities lives independent of their service to the player. These people don’t align with the world they’re in and they certainly don’t always have to exist for me...
Alright, normally I click and move on, but fuck it: I've seen some shit in my years on the 'net. Some weird, strange, un-Godly things, and some amazing, engrossing glimmers of brilliance. The bolded is, quite literally, the dumbest, poorly informed, barely cognisant chain of human thought I've ever seen vomited out into the digital abyss. This is not a thought provoking article, conjuring deep inner reflection in its audience through a dazzling array of poignant observations, composed of such sheer quality as to demand contemplation. Neither is this an article that presents timely or relevant reflection upon a piece of popular culture, offering its audience professional-level insight, or simply presenting an opinion that one might enjoy or find entertaining long enough to finish. No, this is a cobbled together scrap of barely coherent thought, based solely around: "Hey, this is a western - like WestWorld! Yeah, that's popular, and people think its really smart, I'll write about that! Sure, its completely disconnected from the game and its: setting, story, narrative, dialogue, themes, presentation, structure and gameplay, but fuck it - its close enough to WestWorld that I'm going to write a really smart article!" This half-aborted malformed chain of thought is premised and justified within the opening paragraph in a single demonstrably false sentence:
Red Dead Redemption 2’s excessively detailed world tries to suggest reality. Fall and you get covered in mud; while covered in mud someone might make a coy comment about how they hope it’s not shit. The world is full of little flourishes and behaviors that suggest its NPCs are real people with genuine reactions. But the more I play, the more they feel like puppets putting on a show. More so than any other game I’ve played.
What? What?! Someone who writes about video games for a living believes that the environmental facsimile within RDR2 bares the marks of its digital machination more so than, according to their own words, literally every game ever made?
It embarrasses me that the word 'author' is used to describe the "author" of this article, and Liz Jackson, James Agee, Walter Lippmann, and other actual writers and journalists worth reading. I weep that something so poorly informed, poorly written, and so badly premised is the legacy of their craft.
 
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This encounter meant to give my actions consequences, but the reward and the scripted nature of our interaction rang false. For all of Red Dead Redemption 2’s attention to detail, this NPC wasn’t an entity who existed before I found him. Which is to say he literally exists because of me and my importance as a player. He was spawned in as I came near, solely to be rescued by me, and then again to reward me for it. Enemies are magically summoned for me to gun down; I’ve watched them blip into existence on my radar during certain events. NPCs exist in orbit of the player, for the player. This is true to a certain extent in all games, but it feels particular pronounced due to Red Dead Redemption 2's aspiration for creating a meticulous and believable space. As a result, Red Dead Redemption 2’s open world often captures the beauty and detail of real spaces—I’ve never seen grass of these particularly perfect colors before—but it never manages to treat its citizens with empathy or give them life beyond their service to the player. How can it, when these people exist to serve me and when I can decide to kill them with the single press of a button?
congratulations, you described "videogames". Have a cookie.

I'm cringing more every day.
 
"they [NPCs] are woefully artificial. The seams start to show, and it’s obvious that Red Dead Redemption 2’s people only exist in relation to me and are defined solely by what I can do to them. "



Also, the author really must enjoy video games when saying something like this:

I avoid towns more often than not in the game. I get too distracted by the animatronic people and their play-acting lives.
 
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I dunno, the "severity" of the terms are on completely different scales. With NPC, it is used to criticize how you are just using the same terms and thought processes devoid of any critical thinking. However, you can learn to have thoughts of your own and convey those thoughts in a meaningful way. With Nazi/Alt-Right, it is a direct attack at the core identity of the person. You are being told you are not better than a racist murderer who despises large swaths of humanity and want them removed.

As a liberal myself, NPC is a "meme" that holds some water (even if it is a tad childish). Calling people Nazi/Alt-Right is on a far different level and should never be normalized.
Great post.
 
"they [NPCs] are woefully artificial. The seams start to show, and it’s obvious that Red Dead Redemption 2’s people only exist in relation to me and are defined solely by what I can do to them. "

These are the same people who are so disconnected from reality, they legit post on forums (mainly the other place) that the agency of a female NPC/PC is important, and talk down to people for taking away "her agency".

I swear it was trolling, but then I see these articles, and... just wow.
 
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they legit post on forums (mainly the other place) that the agency of a female NPC/PC is important, and talk down to people for taking away "her agency".
Could you give more context or examples? I'm curios and rather new to the debatte and topic – maybe for the better... to leave it. But I can't help it right now... I'd like to read some of this stuff you have mentioned.

I'm relatively active on ERA, but mostly in, let's say, 'non-critical' conversations. You know, mostly the stuff you normally talk about a game, like its performance and art design and so on, and less the political agendas.
 
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Could you give more context or examples? I'm curios and rather new to the debatte and topic – maybe for the better... to leave it. But I can't help it right now... I'd like to read some of this stuff you have mentioned.

I'm relatively active on ERA, but mostly in, let's say, 'non-critical' conversations. You know, mostly the stuff you normally talk about a game, like its performance and art design and so on, and less the political agendas.
I do not have any links on hand, but Google might (and other forums that log these posts). I have seen posts where they talk down to people, saying the NPC, "she cannot consent", and other such batshit insane posts compounding upon that with use of "agency" and the like when it comes to sexualized designs, etc..

Hell, they used to post those types here before they exited to la la land.
 
i usually check the writer hair color before reading their articles to decide if it's worth or not, and i see it applies here as well
 
From the article:

"Arthur and the player’s actions are expressions of a mythic masculinity. We rescue women and lesser men—after all, better men would be able to fight off bandits and manage their horses— "

Gotta love this line, modern identity politics laid bare. A jab at masculinity, highlighting only its own stupidity. The text "after all, better men" is clearly trying to present criticism, Judgment of the Judgment of what makes better men. But here's the problem . The original judgment stands . It absolutely is better to be able to fight off aggressors then not to be able to be able to fight off aggressors. It absolutely is better to be able to manage horses when they are your primary means of conveyance than to not be able to manage them.

I mean, a cowboy should be able to manage cattle and horses, and should be able to stop rustlers. Like, literally that is their job. And yes, being better at it is a good thing. Taking a clear indicator of competence and implying it's some sort of mythical masculinity to be avoided, or at least rethought in this Modern Age is ridiculous.
 
From the article:

"Arthur and the player’s actions are expressions of a mythic masculinity. We rescue women and lesser men—after all, better men would be able to fight off bandits and manage their horses— "

Gotta love this line, modern identity politics laid bare. A jab at masculinity, highlighting only its own stupidity. The text "after all, better men" is clearly trying to present criticism, Judgment of the Judgment of what makes better men. But here's the problem . The original judgment stands . It absolutely is better to be able to fight off aggressors then not to be able to be able to fight off aggressors. It absolutely is better to be able to manage horses when they are your primary means of conveyance than to not be able to manage them.

I mean, a cowboy should be able to manage cattle and horses, and should be able to stop rustlers. Like, literally that is their job. And yes, being better at it is a good thing. Taking a clear indicator of competence and implying it's some sort of mythical masculinity to be avoided, or at least rethought in this Modern Age is ridiculous.
The privilege of not having to grow up in the times this took place, is all this article and line read like to me.