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Episode 150

The Indoor Kids

Time Capsule: SexMen and Video Game Writing with Tom Bissell

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The Indoor Kids #150: Time Capsule: SexMen and Video Game Writing with Tom Bissell

Welcome to the final time capsule episode of The Indoor Kids (relax, that just means we’re going back to all-new episodes next week!), and by far one of the most thought-provoking episodes we’ve ever done. This one was recorded in 2013: We welcome Tom Bissell, video game critic turned video game writer, to talk about how wrong he was in approaching video game criticism. Plus you also get Kumail and Emily, in the here and now, talking about our week in entertainment consumption and everything else worth discussing.

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6 comments

  • I think Tom is right when he expects the big budget action games to drift away from storytelling. Story should either be part of the development process from the start, or made as minimal as possible. Bringing someone in late to try to shove some exposition into the nooks and crannies between action setpieces isn’t doing anyone favours.

  • It’s interesting to hear Tom’s perspective having gone from outside looking in to being on the inside.  As a developer I always wonder just how out of touch reviewers are with the actual process of making games and from Tom’s experience it seems that they are pretty out of touch.
    I think he’s slightly off base with where he thinks the AAA industry is going re: narrative games.  I do think that narrative is going somewhat to the wayside, but not for the reasons he thinks.  Max Payne 3 was disappointing to the fans of that game series but not necessarily because of the story. It was because it just wasn’t that good of a game, period.  It was rushed, it was shoehorned with all sorts of content that didn’t mesh, and the gameplay was cheap.  And while he’s right that AAA companies will see those metrics and shrink away from making more titles like that, I think that they are choosing to do so by only allowing certain studios and concentrated efforts in that narrative based game genre to make it through their respective machines.  Which, I think, is a good thing for consumers.
    The Indie scene is where the idea of narrative is being re-energized in a more organic, and meaningful way: Ether One being a great, great example of this.  

  • Timing of the rerun was great re: the discussion of the the emotional impact of names on dog-tag pickups. I’m playing Watch Dogs right now, and I’m noticing a similar effect. The way the names and personal details show when you “profile” pretty much any NPC has a really interesting effect; among other things it makes the game MUCH harder, because I find myself really hesitant to kill anyone who I know is working on his novel. I’m collecting an arsenal of firearms that are mostly gathering dust.

    Also, great seeing you guys at MFC, hope you’re feeling better Kumail!