Letters From America
By Wolf - Game Designer, Writer & Nationalist
As a writer, I've covered mostly the MMORPG industry for far longer than I worked in the video game industry but as time has passed it has been hard not to notice many changes. When I was working directly in the video game industrial complex, we had a small team creating games for major publishers. While some of us were given a chance to attend E3 in Los Angeles, we didn’t have time to theorize, read blogs, or attend GDC. Those were luxuries that the only Studio Director and the company director could afford. We were just ploughing away making the absolute best video games we could and trying to hit milestones along the way.
Many of the games made in our studio were handheld games based on films and big franchises like Star Wars. Even if we wanted to, we would never have dared to include gay characters and other controversial issues into the games because publishers like Lucasfilm were very strict about the implementation of their lore in video games. Besides, our target audience was male kids and teens.
As technology got better, video games became ubiquitous. Suddenly gamers were not just the hardcore gamers and nerds, now everyone could play and call themselves a “gamer.” As gaming technology improved so did the reach and influence of the Internet.
Another big trend that happened after I left my studio as a mobile. Since our studio made handheld games, the transition to mobile was a natural one. Mobile is a huge part of the video game landscape in 2020.
One trend worth mentioning that happened after the explosion of mobile phones was the massive popularity of Facebook games like Farmville. Zynga was making millions of dollars hand over fist with that addictive game and they were hiring like crazy. Lots of people started believing that social casual games were the future. In addition, more women started playing video games because of Facebook. Thankfully, the fad of vapid "slot machine" Facebook games died.
Now that we are in 2020, I can say that the biggest change that has happened to the video game industry is that video games are no longer made exclusively for the amusement and entertainment of the player. Video games have become a haven for identity politics activists and are now seen as vehicles for social change. Most hardcore gamers despise this. Gamers by nature are not political; they just wanted to escape the drudgery of life and have fun.
Many of my fellow teammates at the studio I worked for, were people of the left. Artists have always been left of centre -- progressives if you will -- that like to push boundaries. Most art comes from pain. Happy people don’t generally produce good art. The Police's Sting once said, “if you want to great songs, go get some pain”. While there were a few hardcore leftists in our studio the mid-2000s, we did not dare push identity politics into our games. Back in those golden years, it was not something a professional would do nor would our executives tolerate it.
The contagion of identity politics activism grew in proportion to the widespread acceptance of video games in our culture and because of the influx of female gamers via Facebook and casual games like Angry Birds. But the main vector point of this disease entered the cultural bloodstream via so-called video game journalists and a handful of grifters masquerading as indie game developers.
These days, anyone can qualify to be a video game journalist. Anyone who’s ever played a video game and can form a sentence is instantly qualified to be a video game journalist. Add to that, our education industrial complex is graduating hundreds of thousands of people with useless college degrees in English literature and gender studies. Since these people are unemployable, the only thing they are qualified to do is to become video game journalists, politicians, or work for a socially conscious non-profit.
Years ago, being a sportswriter was the easiest way to become a journalist. It’s not widely known to the public, but many sportswriters were perverts and deviants who loved reporting on men’s and women’s sports for prurient reasons. Back in the day, being a music critic was another way to enter the realm of journalism. I spent quite a few years in the music industry before I became a video game designer and left due to the unethical and distasteful nature of the business. Like video games journalism, I have found that the genres of sports and music seem to attract a disproportionate number of unsavoury characters due to the glamour factor.
Now, the fastest way to become a journalist is to cover video games. As a result, we have a tidal wave of amateurism that has cheapened our culture. Thanks to Twitter, everyone feels they must have a “voice” and chime in on things that they have absolutely no expertise in. Couple this with the big promises that the Internet would help democratize the world and you have a recipe for chaos and noise.
In 2008, Andrew Keen published “The Cult of the Amateur”. He predicted how culture would be ravaged by mobs of amateurs. We see this happening today where Twitter mobs have immense power to influence big corporations via moral extortion. These mobs – mostly insecure tragic people suffering from gender dysphoria – are now dictating how video games should be made. Cowardly video game studio executives who want to be adored by the females who work for them are letting the monkeys run the zoo.
As our culture has become fully woke, many developers who had progressive leanings now are out of the closet with their views in their respective studios. To my dismay, several designers who I really respect have outed themselves to be radical leftists. The converse is not true. Conservatives and people of faith who are crazy enough to be a part of the industry dare not reveal their beliefs.
I think the big-budget AAA video game genre is living on borrowed time. Companies like Blizzard Entertainment are well past the point of no return and are unsalvageable at this point. Yesterday, Bloomberg News reported that Blizzard employees are revolting and are having trouble surviving on the low wages. Meanwhile, Activision/Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick pulls in $40 million a year and upper echelon Blizzard staff are circulating pictures of them and their families at Disneyland. Basically Blizzard 2.0 has become a plantation where the aristocrats' owners reap all the benefits created by the slaves.
Thanks to platforms like Unreal, Unity and Godot, games made by one person or a small team in the future. With tools like Unity’s new visual scripting system BOLT, designers and artists don’t have to learn programming languages like C#. Visual scripting has really opened things up for non-coders and makes the creation of video games more accessible. Together with Kickstarter, Early Access on Steam, making a successful indie game is possible. Even more good news is that video games can be made in your home office. There is no need to move to the People’s Socialist Soviet Republic of California and endure the outrageous cost of living there if you want to make video games. Thanks to platforms like Unreal, Unity and Godot, games made by one person or a small team in the future. With tools like Unity’s new visual scripting system BOLT, designers and artists don’t have to learn programming languages like C#. Visual scripting has really opened things up to make the creation of video games more accessible. Together with Kickstarter, Early Access on Steam, making a successful indie game is possible. Even more good news is that video games can be made in your home office. There is no need to move to the People’s Socialist Soviet Republic of California and endure the outrageous cost of living there if you want to make video games.
One indie studio to watch out for is Rob Pardo’s Bonfire Studios. I suspect he left Blizzard in 2014 after Blizzard became obsessed with identity politics. His studio is embracing the Unity platform and I’m extremely impressed with the studio culture that he and his team are trying to cultivate. Rob is one of the most brilliant minds in the industry today. Clearly, he’s taken the lessons learned at Blizzard and applied them to his new studio. Rob is a visionary who has taken the time to reimagine how video games are made and have put a lot of time into carefully crafting a cohesive and nurturing studio culture.
He sees the future of video games as being driven by indie studios who have smaller more tight knight cohesive teams. There are no titles at his studio. It's more of an egalitarian cooperative approach. Rob has taken a keen interest in other indie games and the late Brad McQuaid of EverQuest fame revealed to me he was advising him behind the scenes with his Pantheon MMORPG. Although Bonfire Studios has not yet announced their first title I’m sure it’s going to be successful given Rob Pardo’s stewardship.
By Mr K - American, Conservative, Erudite, Likes His Whiskey
Two weeks ago, we observed the 51st anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon. Neil Armstrong first set foot upon the moon on July 20, 1969, followed by Buzz Aldrin (whom I had the pleasure of hearing speak a couple of years ago at the Printers Row Lit Fest) while Michael Collins circled above, waiting for them to reunite and ferry them safely home. The moon landing was one of America’s singular achievements of the 20th century and all of America was transfixed by this scientific, engineering and, yes, government accomplishment.
Armstrong’s death, like his life, was observed in a rather low key and modest fashion. It was reported in the news and PBS ran a special on his life, but his modest funeral service was attended by a few hundred people and he was buried at sea with little fanfare. There are only a couple of statues of him – one at Purdue and one at USC (thankfully, not destroyed yet).
Armstrong was truly an American hero, an iconic and yet modest man that risked much to do what America asked of him (the lunar module had only about 15 seconds of fuel remaining when it set down on the lunar surface).
Fast forward about a half-century to the funerals of George Floyd. His death came at the hands of an overzealous rouge police officer with a string of complaints of rough treatment of citizens. But Floyd himself had quite a record of criminal behaviour, imprisoned for 5 years for assault and battery of a pregnant woman. His run-in with Chauvin arose out of passing counterfeit money and he had fentanyl and meth in his system.
However the trial of Chauvin turns out, the fact remains that Floyd was not someone you would want as your neighbour. Yet Floyd’s passing was marked by 4 funerals, a gilded casket, wall-to-wall news coverage and sobbing and wailing by liberal politicians.
The contrast between George Floyd’s funeral with Armstrong’s memorial service couldn’t be starker. In 50 short years, this is where we are.
The criminal inversion has been brewing for some time. Barack Obama gave it legs by claiming the police acted “stupidly” in the arrest of Henry Louis Gates and then welcomed Black Lives Matter into the White House with open arms.
Like most really bad ideas, the criminal inversion—lionizing and freeing criminals and punishing law-abiding citizens began in the university system. It began at Oberlin College where the local bakery had 3 black youths prosecuted for shoplifting. The university began a campaign to drive out the bakery, organized protests and cancelled its contract with the bakery, claiming the bakery was “racist.” The bakery sued for libel and obtained a $25 million judgment (reduced to $11 million). The Gibson’s Bakery case was the first significant case of an attempt to turn the victim of a crime into the perpetrator.
But with pandemic and the George Floyd incident, things have rolled downhill very quickly. While prison reform was passed, COVID19 gave progressive (read: Marxist) politicians the excuse to empty prisons. Bail reform and feckless prosecutors like Kim Foxx declined to prosecute cases. And then with the George Floyd incident, the insane “defund the police” movement gained traction, with New York, Minneapolis, Portland and other cities substantially reducing resources devoted to policing (Chicago had quietly done this over time) with a concomitant spike in violent crime.
The citizenry noticed when, during the pandemic, criminals were set free and rioters were let loose to wreak havoc, smash retail establishments and steal goods, while normal, law-abiding citizens were arrested at beaches, playgrounds and parks for violating social distancing rules. Local governments gave protesters a free pass to gather in masses while ordinary working people were forbidden to attend church services.
In Atlanta, the police officer that shot Rayshard Brooks after Brooks stole the officer’s taser and fired at him was charged with felony murder.
Brooks, like George Floyd, was lionized by the press and even some politicians like Indiana senator Mike Braun. ABC wrote a glowing profile of Brooks, calling him a “dedicated family man” even though he beat his wife and child and had multiple felonies on his record.
Most egregiously, the McCluskeys of St. Louis were charged with a felony for the unlawful use of a weapon when they responded to a mob that had broken down their gate and threatened to overrun their home. None of the threatening mob was charged. And now there are reports of prosecutorial misconduct as there are allegations that the prosecutor's office tampered with Mrs McCluskey’s gun to make it operable (it was heretofore inoperable).
Beginning with the Obama administration, there was a concerted effort to degrade police officers, distort the true incidences of police brutality, and criminalize the police and private citizens while at the same time liberating criminals through “criminal justice reform,” low or no bail and the pretext of COVID19 risk (while placing the risk of criminal behaviour on law-abiding citizens).
What’s behind this? Nothing less than the wholesale destruction of American society. Saddam Hussein emptied his prisons on the eve of the U.S. invasion figuring that dispersing criminal elements would make the country ungovernable by an occupying force. The Radical Left is using the exact same tactic to fracture American society. By demonizing the people whose job it is to keep the peace and freeing and lionizing those that would do us harm, they are making our society ungovernable. If this continues, only a totalitarian right or left leader will be able to regain control, and the Radical Left is betting that it will be the latter.