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The Ideology of the Games Industry

It’s hard to believe that Horkheimer and Adorno’s landmark essay The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception was written as far back as 1944. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you use the link here to check it out. While I certainly don’t agree with everything in it–it seems to leave me with a feeling of hopelessness rather than empowerment–some of their criticisms really strike a chord with me. I thought it’d be worthwhile to make some connections between their essay and the “games industry.” My point for doing so is that the “games industry” is seemingly unabashedly committed to ally with a purely capitalist ideology–that is, to openly admit that the whole affair is driven only by profits, catering solely to the lowest common denominator, content to reify the status quo and all its inequities, and completely uninterested in producing anything resembling art in the fine arts sense or criticism in any sense. I know many game designers who do aspire to do much more than provide cheap, soulless amusement for the masses, but their aspirations are as worthless as the games they make instead.

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Matt Chat 246: Robert Sirotek on Wizardry 1-5

Robert Sirotek, co-founder of Sir-Tech, returns this week to give us the behind-the-scenes stories of the first five Wizardries. How did the collaboration between Andrew Greenberg and Robert Woodhead work out? How did Brenda Brathwaite work her way up from hot line operator to game designer? And what was up with the insane difficulty of Wizardry 4?

Support Matt Chat with Patreon–it’s the best way to support the YouTubers you love: http://www.patreon.com/blacklily8

Brazil’s answer to Matt Chat?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=516c6TqzPbA&feature=youtu.be&t=15m49s

Player’s Primer of Ark
http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/131260/Players-Primer-of-Ark

Massive GOG Sale:
http://www.gog.com/?pp=12f0de3dc76e067d21ed85125716e02e9f1e69f0

Download the episode here.

Matt Chat 245: Robert Sirotek on Wizardry

In part 2, Robert talks about Wizardy’s creation, evolution, and reception. We also chat about copy protection (and the benefits of piracy!) and Richard “Lord British” Garriott. Who influenced whom?

Download the episode here.

Support Matt Chat with Patreon–it’s the best way to support the YouTubers you love: http://www.patreon.com/blacklily8

Matt’s GOG affiliate link:
http://www.gog.com/?pp=12f0de3dc76e067d21ed85125716e02e9f1e69f0

Frayed Knights Greenlit on steam!
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=92946846

The Matt Chat Gold Box Special

Only you can get this video into production.

Only you can get this video into production.

I announced in this week’s episode a project I’ve had incubating for some months now–a lengthy special feature covering my favorite CRPG franchise–the one that got me started in this business. Of course, I’m talking about the Gold Box series. It’s been awhile since I’ve played them, but I have played almost all of them from start to finish on my trusty ol’ Commodore 64. I’ve also recently had the pleasure of interviewing several key folks on their design teams. In short, I love this series, and I think (and from what I’ve gathered from my informal polls of you guys), a feature on them is just the sort of bait I need to grow the show.

You see, this special won’t get made unless (or, hopefully, until!) I reach 25,000 subscribers on YouTube. I need to grow the show for various reasons, but the main one is attracting a steady stream of designers and other professionals to be my guests. The bigger my audience, the more likely I am hear to a big fat “YES!” to my requests to have them on. Matt Chat has its fans, but, sadly, the numbers just aren’t as appealing as they could be.

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It's time to retire the Saitek.

What’s my Type?: Thoughts on a New Gaming Keyboard

I finally get fed up with the hair, bugs, eye lashes, and various toxic waste that had been building up in my Saitek keyboard for the past–decades???—and tossed it. Now I’m in the market for a new one, and preferably sooner–the silly HP Wireless thing I’m using right now came with my PC and doesn’t even have real keys to type on. UGH!

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Son of Down with Pots

urlJay Rampant Coyote Barnson has written a nice post responding to my earlier post about pots in CRPGs. In his post, Jay writes in defense of consumable items, although he shares a lot of the same issues–the ol’ wand of fireballs that you keep on toting around because you just know you’re going to really need it for another battle. Eventually, of course, you find it still sitting in your inventory at such a late point in the game that any  monster you used it on would laugh at you.

As I was reading his post, though, I had a couple ideas. One was to make items specific for a particular boss battle. WOW does this all the time, giving you, say, a gnomish thingamajig that will shrink down an elite water giant so you can easily smite him. However, my friends and I always have to try killing one in his elite form–just to prove we got the guts to do it. Unfortunately, usually the only way you can actually complete the quest is to shrink them with the device.

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Down with pots!

Damn them all to hell!

Damn them all to hell!

By the Gods, I’ll quaff no more.

I’ve been having a small discussion on my last YouTube video about hoarding potions, scrolls, and the other sorts of temporary power-ups you tend to collect in most CRPGs. It seems that I’m not alone in saving all of these for some perceived future battle, in which I’ll need to use them all to overcome a particularly nasty fight. However, what usually happens is I simply never use them, and by the end of the game have a huge, mostly obsolete stack of low-level stat boosting and emergency stuff. For the sake of convenience, I’ll just say “potions” here, though I also mean things like healing scrolls or anything else that either grants a temporary bonus or is considered an “emergency” item, such as a healing or mana recovery potion.

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On Sublime Videogames: Games for All Ages

On the Sublime is a classic treatise, apparently wrongly attributed to Longinus, that has long been one of my favorite works of literary and rhetorical criticism. Essentially, what the author wants to do is figure out why some works of poetry, or prose, for that matter, are sublime. What exactly the author means by the term “sublime” is, of course, most interesting to academics and of little interest to anyone else. For our purposes, though, I will merely point out a few characteristics the author attributes to the term:

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