Sean Malstrom: Game culture never truly existed.

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Kai Dracon

Writing a dinosaur space opera symphony
Jun 7, 2004
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#1
Did a search, didn't find this.

Sean Malstrom lays the wisdom down again:

http://seanmalstrom.wordpress.com/2...ck-obsession-of-culture-in-the-game-industry/

SPOILER ALERT:

He concludes that game culture never existed in the first place after firing a full-scale broadside at "hardcore" gamers and game journalists. Also he rambles on for a few pages about how, I think, the word "culture" itself does not really exist or something and free market commerce is the soul of humanity. Or something like that.

He does open this can of worms:

"The purpose of games, just like all entertainment, is to please the customers. This is why games with high sales are the best since it shows these games are pleasing the most people."

Once again, it is this old chestnut. It must be simple and convincing logic from the marketer's point of view where the only concern is to shove Product (TM) out the door* but it seems like a pure dodge at answering the question, "what is quality?" For example, is a poorly made, generic, un-fun game that sells decently because it's a movie tie-in or part of a popular franchise superior to a well-made game that sells poorly because it had bad marketing or was released at a bad time?

Malstrom loves to argue at extreme length about how the "casual gamer" is a myth that hardcore / enthusiast gamers perpetuate to feel better about themselves. That doesn't account for so-called "casual" audiences having the potential to be more guilible and less knowledgeable /even purely as consumers/ when it comes to the game market. I think Malstrom would cite a game like GTA IV as being a classical example of 'diseased' hardcore game mentality, but in every instance I've seen the backbone of GTA's popularity rests on the mass market; not the "core audience". Somehow, I think he would not admit GTA IV was any good, therefore, by his own definitions.



Edit: *yes I realize this bit makes it sound as if I am commerce-phobic and attempting to separate "real" gaming from mere commerce in precisely the way Malstrom waxes long about, but actually, I refer to /bad/, cheap, soulless, or thoughtlessly crafted product here. Game companies have to make money; big whoops, that doesn't bother me.
 

Brobzoid

how do I slip unnoticed out of a gloryhole booth?
May 8, 2006
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The best games are the ones that sell the most? that isn't true for any other form of entertainment, so why should it be so for games? gon read it, but if there are too many stupids in it I'll go away.
 
Apr 11, 2007
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#9
Kaijima said:
For example, is a poorly made, generic, un-fun game that sells decently because it's a movie tie-in or part of a popular franchise superior to a well-made game that sells poorly because it had bad marketing or was released at a bad time?
The un-fun game is not un-fun if people have fun with it.

By well-made, I'm assuming you mean code structuring and memory optimization and such? Not that any of it actually matters. If your game is made in such a way that it's difficult to market it, then it's not well made.

And there's no bad time during the year to release high-selling games. (see also: Nintendogs)
 
Dec 2, 2007
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Sean Malstrom said:
This is why games with high sales are the best since it shows these games are pleasing the most people.
Just because someone purchased a copy of a game, it doesn't mean that they were pleased by it.

I hate this fallacy.
 
Aug 28, 2008
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#17
"Gaming Culture" people actually believe that there is "culture" to gaming?

I can understand gaming tieing into a culture but being a culture itself? Seriously?

Gaming is a medium just films and music. Gaming, music, and film are built by the building blocks of culture, they aren't culture themselves.
 

Kai Dracon

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#18
Aeris130 said:
The un-fun game is not un-fun if people have fun with it.

By well-made, I'm assuming you mean code structuring and memory optimization and such? Not that any of it actually matters. If your game is made in such a way that it's difficult to market it, then it's not well made.

And there's no bad time during the year to release high-selling games. (see also: Nintendogs)
Actually, I have seen plenty of "casual" (or let us say "light") gamers buy into popular titles and be bored with them or feel they're not really good. This is in fact a reason why bad games are actually bad for the industry: release too many un-fun games, such as when cashing in on a trend, and people will get bored of it and stop playing videogames.

People have talked before about lots of lapsed gamers after the 16-bit generation, people who got tired of games in the Playstation generation. I know some of them. When questioned directly, they told me that one reason why they lost interest in games is that they "weren't fun anymore", referring to the early 32-bit wave of awkward games that tossed all the good design lessons of earlier eras out the window as they grappled with untested technology and genres.

It is actually possible for a game that is no fun for anyone to sell, just like it's possible for a mediocre flavor of soda to sell for a while, or a mediocre movie to get a lot of initial profit due to hype.

The PS2 era had plenty of people who didn't play that many games and had their PS2 collecting dust in a closet because they just bought a bunch of games with to them, popular themes (movies, sports), wondered what all the fuss was about as after a while, it wasn't that fun, and stopped buying more games. They never stayed with it long enough to learn the ropes of the game market.

Then on the other hand, I've introduced plenty of people over the years to games that they never would have known existed and magically, they thought they were far more interesting than they would have ever thought. They didn't have to be "hardcore" to appreciate them. Sorry but, I can't see how poor timing and other factors cannot cause a decent product to fail when it doesn't get attention. The best game in the world won't sell big numbers of nobody knows it exists. I'm sure Nintendog's sales had nothing to do with Nintendo's new brand power, a market eager for what they were selling, and the fact that they came up with significant marketing campaign and exposed the game everywhere at DS kiosks for months.
 
Jan 3, 2008
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#19
I'm still not quite sure why he's regarded as a fool and a tool. (rhymes :p)

If you have read his stuff, ACTUALLY read them, he's most definitely not a shill. His interest is with disruption and disruption only. With that lens, his analysis is absolutely true.
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
May 21, 2006
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#20
Pennslyvania is now red

Take to the bank, folks, Pennslyvania is turning red this election.
I’ve been talking Pennslyvania for the last couple of election posts so might as well continue. Pennslyvania is the *special state* of this election, the state that everyone will be talking about after the election. In that regards, Pennslyvania is to 2008 as Florida is to 2000 and Ohio is to 2004.
Why anyone believes FiveThirtyEight is anything but a tentacle from the Obama Campaign is beyond me as it is obvious he is spoonfeeding ‘correct thought’ to Obama fans.
It is electorally impossible for Obama to become president without winning Ohio and Pennslyvania. Scenarios of Obama winning all these other little states just isn’t realistic. Maybe the Western states, but not the more red states in the East.
The biggest plum of the Rust Belt is Pennslyvania which the McCain Campaign has, obviously, targeted heavily. Pennslyvania was razor thin in 2000 and 2004. Since Obama is a weaker candidate than Kerry and Gore, especially in the Rust Belt, McCain Campaign believes Pennslyvania is winnable. He’s right. It is.
Pennslyvania has been grossly misreported on this election cycle. During the Democrat primary, union bosses approached Hillary Clinton and said, “Promise us you will not put Obama as your Veep and you will have our support.” The moment Obama become the nominee was when he lost Pennslyvania.
Obama does not have the Democrat base solidified behind him. In states that massively swung to Clinton, such as Pennslyvania, a sizable number of Hillary Clinton supporters are voting for McCain under the banner of ‘Party Unity My Ass’ or ‘PUMA’s.
McCain’s choice of Palin and push against ‘Socialism’, since the nominee is head of the political party, has swung the party back into the control of the conservatives rather than Republicans
The polls are way, way off this election cycle.
The Bradley Effect is occuring with the undecideds. I suspect there is oversampling from the urban population as well. Another big factor is the pollsters putting in the additional Democrat registrations as if these are new voters.
Why I Will Be Right

While the election was originally a referendum on Obama, it has now become a referendum on socialism.

Contrary to the intentional false information put out, the GOP get-out-the-vote is extremely strong for Karl Rove invested a significant amount of money and created the machine in the first place. The Democrats are catching up, but some of the Obama ‘get out the vote’ efforts remind me of pouring a bottle of water on an ant pile. The ants run around like crazy, trying to do everything to stop it, but end up accomplishing nothing.
There will be none of that delay in 2008. I suspect we will have many states called for Obama before the voting is even done. The state that will be erroneously called for Obama will be Pennslyvania.
Obama will take New Mexico. Iowa is a true toss-up. Nevada leans McCain. Colorado won’t be called until very late in the night because it will be close. Virginia will go to McCain but the networks won’t call it, because they won’t believe McCain has won it. NC, IN, GA will, of course, go McCain. NH will also go McCain.
In the end, I expect McCain to win with around 300 + electoral votes and Republicans gaining seats in the House. To make this short, the reasons why is:

-Republican base is energized.

-Reagan Democrats are voting Republican which they haven’t really done since Reagan.

-PUMAs are going for MCCain.

-Many Democrats will refuse to vote for Obama. This ’soft’ blue support will appear throughout the country and will be the reason why Pennslyvania turns red.
Exit polls will be off as well. PUMAs have instructed their members to lie to them, to say they voted for Obama. Others, so pissed off with the media and pollsters, will lie and say Obama simply because they want to see anchors and ‘analysts’ make history by having the first strokes on live TV
America is right of center. While Carter and LBJ were the last Democrats to win over 50% of the vote, LBJ didn’t bother to run for a second term due to how despised he had become over Vietnam, and Carter was flushed out during theelection of 1980. The point is that there is an acceptable level of leftness the electorate will accept. Clinton campaigned and acted a little left which was acceptable to the electorate. But LBJ and Carter went way too far and the electorate sank them. Obama has likely gone too far left which is why the ’socialism’ charge is sticking to him.


BOY THAT MALSTROM! SO PERCEPTIVE!

... and does he admit that he wasn't only wrong in outcome, but just wildly off base in every respect? NOPE!

Well, I was wrong.

Political analysts will be crunching the post-election data for quite some time. In the end, I believe it will come down to people seeing Obama as a ‘fresh face’, McCain being totally inconsistent on message (when you think of Obama, you think ‘change’. When you think of McCain, you don’t think of a slogan) Of course, when he spent paragraphs congratulating McCain for being so consistently on message with the socialism attack, that was McCain being inconsistent. In the end, you must have people vote for you, not against another guy. McCain gave plenty of reasons to vote against Obama, but not too many to vote for him. I figured Palin would have solidified the Republican base enough but that didn’t occur. The old saying appears true: people only vote for the top of the ticket. (Do you think people voted for Quayle when voting for Bush senior? Of course not.) See--it's not that Palin was a bad pick or that he was wrong about her, it's that PEOPLE didn't vote for her!

Pennslyvania was far, far closer than people gave credit for. It is quite annoying when networks project states based on 1% of voting. Not that he's wrong--that the NETWORKS WERE WRONG even though they were right and he was wrong

The PUMA factor looks like it was well overstated. PUMAs were loud, but they didn’t exist in any sizable numbers. He wasn't wrong about PUMAs! PUMAs were wrong about themselves!
totally fucking looney tunes
 
Jun 22, 2006
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#21
TheGrayGhost said:
If you have read his stuff, ACTUALLY read them,
then you have far more patience than I do. I'm not usually one to say "tl;dr", but he goes on and ON AND ON for far longer than he needs to to make his point. Also, I found his claims about casual/hardcore unconvincing; someone on GAF pointed out how he simultaneously tried to make the claim that WOW is a multi-tier game that lures in casuals and caters to the hardcore and that game devs needed to make more purely casual games because you can't satisfy all parts of the audience with one game.

Why anyone believes FiveThirtyEight is anything but a tentacle from the Obama Campaign is beyond me as it is obvious he is spoonfeeding 'correct thought' to Obama fans.
hahaha. In retrospect, FiveThirtyEight was as dead-on as any poll aggregator/analyst could reasonably expect to be.
 
Feb 25, 2006
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#23
LOL Stump. I hunted down that blog post and it was made the day before the election. Virtually every sentence in it was proven wrong. It's impossible to take this guy seriously after that, especially when he talked shit about 538.com which turned out to be almost exactly correct. Man with prognostications like that I am surprised he's not working for CNN or MSNBC or Fox News, to be honest. They have no problem paying people to talk bullshit.
 
#28
I also don't understand why he merits immediate dismissal.

That said, that appeared to be nonsense. Constructing a narrative of the industry and inventing the rules and conduct that people who care about video games follow doesn't seem to invalidate the idea of culture. It's artificial, but our perception of it directly affects our actions and provides a method for objective evaluation. That's the reason that most gamers reject horrible Wii games. The fact that most gamers also have lowbrow tastes of a different nature seems to condemn gaming culture without invalidating its existence. The example that he lied about ("You might have liked Star Wars, but the critics thought it ruined movies.") is illustrative. Sure, "A New Hope" is awful, but critical acceptance of it doesn't evaporate a constructed movie culture. It's just a lapse in critical judgment to the extent that the judgment can be objective.

Regulus Tera said:
Yeah, that's pretty much the reason why he was banned from PoliGAF threads.
Right. GAF posters need far fewer lines to post something simultaneously inane and offensive.

I am also intrigued by the extent to which the posted political stuff ties into the gaming culture stuff.
 
Dec 6, 2008
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#29
"The purpose of games, just like all entertainment, is to please the customers. This is why games with high sales are the best since it shows these games are pleasing the most people."

I hope this guy doesn't really believe on what he's saying.
 
Jan 3, 2008
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#31
Haunted said:
Why are all the American Nintendo fans conservatives? How strange.
It's actually just the opposite, judging from the alumni who frequent PoliGAF and who articulate arguments in support of Nintendo's disruption. Most are quite liberal, some are "libertopian."

And Malstrom isn't a fan. In fact, he has a general distaste for most of Nintendo's games. What he is, however, is a fan of business strategy (that is, if you take him at his word). He can learn nothing from Microsoft or SONY in that regard.

Now, as for "Toast." As he explained, he is a contrarian by nature. If McCain was projected to win in the polls, he would have supported Obama.
 
Jan 22, 2007
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#32
TheGrayGhost said:
It's actually just the opposite, judging from the alumni who frequent PoliGAF and who articulate arguments in support of Nintendo's disruption. Most are quite liberal, some are "libertopian."

And Malstrom isn't a fan. In fact, he has a general distaste for most of Nintendo's games. What he is, however, is a fan of business strategy (that is, if you take him at his word). He can learn nothing from Microsoft or SONY in that regard.

Now, as for "Toast." As he explained, he is a contrarian by nature. If McCain was projected to win in the polls, he would have supported Obama.
so he really was right, even though he got it all wrong?
 

jay

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Oct 25, 2006
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#33
GhaleonQ said:
I also don't understand why he merits immediate dismissal.
His political analysis comes off as moderately delusional at best and so we doubt his explanatory power in general.
 
Feb 25, 2006
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#35
TheGrayGhost said:
Now, as for "Toast." As he explained, he is a contrarian by nature. If McCain was projected to win in the polls, he would have supported Obama.
If you claim to be writing based on fact-based objective analysis of the topic, this is as damning as anything in the actual article. "I don't look at the facts, I just say the opposite of whatever is popular". I mean, Obama's win was not exactly a surprise.

Plus, I briefly looked at an earlier post he made where he talked about the bradley effect... something which was if anything the "conventional wisdom" (at least amongst conservative talking heads) yet which many many people (including Nate Silver) concluded probably doesn't exist, because Bradley lost for other reasons and analysis wasn't showing this effect. So what did this guy go with? The conventional wisdom about those lying devil white voters over fact-based analysis of past and present. Yea, contrarian when its convenient I guess.
 

jay

Member
Oct 25, 2006
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#36
GhaleonQ said:
This is really not a standard we should use to judge artists or commentators. Is Roger Ebert an inappropriate example for a gaming forum?
I am judging his ability to explain reality, not his political stance (though I can't help but vomit in my mouth while reading some of his stuff).

I don't entirely understand what you're asking about Ebert.
 
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