Borderlands 2: A Tiny Bit Racist?

Tiny Tina

Over the weekend, an argument/discussion broke out on Twitter between Anthony Burch, lead writer for Borderlands 2, and Mike Sacco, a (now former) game designer at Cryptozoic, about Borderlands 2’s Tiny Tina, a character that Sacco felt was “problematic”. Kotaku has the run-down, but, as always, don’t read the comments section unless you feel like bleaching out your brain afterwards. Sacco wasn’t fired for starting the discussion, but when Cryptozoic asked him to disassociate himself from the company online and stop talking about Tiny Tina, he didn’t think the second requirement was appropriate, so he quit.

Sacco’s main concern was that Tiny Tina is white but uses what he considers “urban” slang. When I heard that, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it, especially because Sacco insists that the character is “actively racist” for using slang terms like “crunk” and “badonkadonk” that have been common in pop culture for decades. Now, it’s obviously true that there are slang terms that are off-limits to white people; for example, one of my favorite songs by A Tribe Called Quest has a chorus I can’t sing along with. However, while it’s completely understandable why a loaded slur would be off-limits, it’s think it’s a bit of a stretch to say that goofy slang terms without negative connotations should also be off-limits.

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On Videogame Cut Scenes and Filmmaking

Mass Effect 2

Over the years, the advancements in video game technology and the bigger budgets associated with AAA games have helped the games industry compete with movies in terms of their appeal and their business. The experiences are bigger, bolder and more akin to Hollywood blockbusters than ever. We expect more out of games these days – and a lot of that mindset is owed to the cut scenes that were introduced several generations ago. Cut scenes stretched our idea of what games could be. But do games still do cut scenes right?

That’s the question Wired asks in a new piece titled 5 Film-School Violations in Videogame Cut Scenes. In it, writer Jason Schreier takes a look at some of the things that modern cut scenes still get wrong, even after all these years. While I think the list is sort of ill aimed (it’s more about writing and editing than actual direction), Schreier raises some great issues. In terms of writing, many games just can’t seem to cut it compared to the movies they’re trying so desperately to be.

While I’d have to disagree with him on Mass Effect 2 (one of my friends was a cinematic designer on that game and knows his crap), I’ve long maintained that many game cut scenes don’t really know what they’re doing in terms of the actual craft of film – shots are set up all wrong, and are more about flash and spectacle than about the story itself. To me, one of the most grievous recent examples is Final Fantasy XIII. For all the flack that the game takes, I felt like very little of it was directed at its cut scenes, which were often a jumbled mess. During action sequences, I often found it hard to follow what exactly was going on in the scene, to the point where I had to re-watch them several times.

So how do you guys feel about this list? How do you feel about cut scenes in gaming? Which games do it right and which ones do it wrong?

Source – Wired

Does Metal Gear Solid Need Better Writing?

mgs4-lolFor the last decade, Metal Gear Solid has been one of the staple franchises for the Playstation brand. It made its mark on home consoles with incredible action, awesome 3D gameplay, cinematic presentation and also, its twisty story. However, how has the writing held up over the years?

A recent CNET article blasted Kojima productions for saying that they’re going to be building a new graphical engine for the next MGS game. The author asserts that what is needed is better writing, rather than better graphics. While some Sony fanboys have jumped into the fracas, I can’t help but wonder if the author has a point. Sure, MGS has a pretty cool story. But writing and story are two different animals. You can tell a good story but still be an awful writer, and vice versa.

Personally, I found some of the writing in the latest MGS game to be ridiculously heavy handed, preachy and nonsensical at its worst. However, the story still stands among gaming’s greats, easily. So what do you guys think? Does MGS need better writing? Do video games need better writing in general?

Source- CNET