Home > Video Games > When Being a Contrarian Becomes a Shtick on the Ragged Edge of Mania

When Being a Contrarian Becomes a Shtick on the Ragged Edge of Mania

Fast Fact: Exposure to Metroids Can Induce Severe Dementia in Gaming Pundits

Listen: I like Malstrom–I think he makes a lot of good points about ‘disruption’ and the foolish direction that much of the gaming ‘biz’ seems hell-bent on pursuing without reason or forethought–Hell, I even agree with the, up until today, over-emphasis on meaningless, absolutely terrible, cinematics in Other M–but once you start believing your own hype and shtick it can, if you’re not careful, leap right over constructive and headlong into shark-jumping “batsh*t insane”:

You have to laugh at how many people don’t even know the difference between a teaser trailer and a gameplay trailer. A gameplay trailer is footage of someone playing the game. A teaser trailer is little more than cherry picked parts placed in a montage that doesn’t really show the game being played.

No, a gameplay trailer is anything that shows gameplay but, even if it weren’t, who thinks this is ‘funny’, even in a sardonic, petulant, sort of way??

But wait, the hair-splitting continues…

Where is the gameplay footage? There are only flashes of a montage strung together. Only at the end there is footage that is longer than two seconds and even that is nothing more than to show Samus bouncing around with auto-aiming doing the weapon work.

So, is he annoyed that they aren’t showing gameplay (they are) or is he annoyed at the auto-aim mechanic? And, uh, those “flashes of a montage” contain…gameplay footage.

Nintendo has had people play the game. Why not actually show them playing the game? What is the harm in just watching someone play it? Why is there so much darkness over the game?

Because the vast, vast, vast majority of us, not living in Malstrom-land, DO NOT WANT to see someone, in the frame, blocking/obscuring/diluting the video. We want to see the game not some fat/skinny/ugly/hot (OK, maybe hot) person flailing away at the controls–we want to see what the game, played by someone that knows what they’re doing, looks like.

(If you want to see raw ‘footage’ of people fucking up while they play, well, there’s always IGN.)

The marketing strategy for Other M appears to be selling the game on its style as opposed to its substance. With Mario games, they show gameplay footage. With Zelda games, they show gameplay footage. With the Metroid Prime games, they even showed gameplay footage.

They’re showing gameplay footage here. Again.

But, in addition, the game still isn’t out for several months and it’s pretty typical marketing practice (even on games like Mario and Zelda) to gradually ladle out the good stuff in measured doses to build hype.

What’s more is he surely knows this implicitly and pretending this isn’t how it’s normally done or that this is some bizarre departure from SOP is a little…disingenuous?

Also (and bear with me, as this might sound “batsh*t insane”), maybe the game wasn’t in complete enough shape, until very recently, to show off anything except cinemas? Is that a possibility? Maybe? I’m pretty certain Malstrom has never done any development work before1, but I (and anyone working in the biz reading this) can attest to how a lot of games don’t really ‘come together’ until the 11th hour. (And it even happens to the wunderkinds at NCL once in a while.)

(Even beyond that, it isn’t like people that haven’t worked in the ‘biz’ haven’t been regaled with all manner of horror stories about the monstrous ‘crunch culture’ that is part and parcel with this biz and, hell, even Hollywood these days where it’s pretty normal to work on a film up until days from its release.)

Other M’s teasers have been so cinematic heavy that people are confusing no cinematics to mean ‘gameplay footage’. Gameplay footage means showing the substance of the game. It means showing someone playing it as is. It does not mean cutting and pasting a montage of three to six second clips intermixed with yet more flashes from the cinematics (cinematics are still highlighted in this trailer). Gameplay footage means footage. Three to five second clips are not footage in any shape or way.

OK, maybe it’s just not getting through:

Footage: a motion-picture scene or scenes: newsreel footage; jungle footage.

Hmm, looks like footage, by definition, to me.

Anyway, this continues for another thousand or so, rambling, words as it gradually moves away from flogging the ‘what is footage/is it a trailer or teaser’ (‘you’re a moron for calling a teaser a trailer…moron’), foaming-at-the-mouth, near-mania (into other, foaming-at-the-mouth, near-mania), and then this kinda jumps out at you towards the end:

So what is going on here? Why all this Metroid batshit insanity? Why the hostility to people who hold disinterest?

I dunno, Malstrom: you seem to have most of the answers already, but might I suggest, just this once, that the answer you’re looking for might lie in the mirror?

Edit: I should also note that Malstrom holds anything but “disinterest” in this game as this post, ironically, drives home with the fury of a 20-ton hammer: he’s been going on and on and on (and on and on) about how this game is violating his childhood since it was announced (which has morphed into pedantry over what makes up “footage” and a “trailer”), so bemoaning that the lunatics on the other end of the spectrum are pissed off would seem to be Internet physics2 in action.

(No, I am not saying it’s OK to kick his ass, but, really, how lacking in self-awareness does one need to be to state that he is ‘disinterested’ when all the evidence–from his own pen!–points in the opposite direction, i.e. he’s ‘disinterested in Metroid like I’m ‘disinterested’ in Big Macs or video games or chicks with sizable, err, endowments. If he doesn’t want to be picked on–like everyone with a strong opinion in human history–he needs to either tone down his over-the-top rhetoric (I probably wouldn’t, but I’m thick-headed on such things) or he can just ignore the clowns giving him grief and, voila!, most of them will stop, but the surest way to egg them on is to feed the bloody fire–this is elementary and, again, he surely knows this.)

Here, by the way, is the offending (not) footage:

1 A commenter notes that Malstrom has been in development, which actually makes this worse.
2 Every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction–which is basically the law that keeps the seething pit of mental illness that is the Internet going.

  1. Joe Blow
    03/31/2010 at 13:46

    Actually, you are wrong. Malstrom was both a game developer at one point and a game journalist. Not recently, mind you.

    I understand your arguments in other respects though. I wouldn’t split hairs about whether its a montage or gameplay.

    Nonetheless, he is right. There is total batshit insanity coming from Metroid fans who shout down ANYONE who raises a criticism of Other M. I know this because I have been subject to it. Even when I logically question something like going overly cinematic or inserting a ridiculous narrative. I appreciate him taking a stance on that and standing up for people who are being yelled at. Besides, you ignore the fact that those psychotic Metroid fans from the Metroid Database 1) took it upon themselves to make their own thread on him and call him stupid and threaten him with violence due to something he posted on his own blog which was simply discussing the game (not that website), and 2) told him to take down his response when he addressed them calling him stupid and threatened him with violence.

    Be a little more fair would you?

    • ECM
      03/31/2010 at 14:00

      More fair? The man goes on, at-length, about whether something is footage or not (over and over and over, in fact), flogging a dead horse ad infinitum despite that he is utterly wrong; proceeds to misrepresent how marketing and PR are handled for nearly every big release even though he surely knows better; and you think I’m being unfair for pointing out that *he* has pretty much lost the plot? Really??

      Now, it would have been one thing had half that post simply not existed, but most of his ‘points’ are entirely invalid on their face–he’s simply begun to drink too deeply from the well of his own self-importance when he starts lashing out at *everyone* that disagrees with him on *anything* (after all, how much more trivial can you get when harping on what constitutes “gameplay” or “footage”) which is what is going on through the length and breadth of that post.

      And as for threats of violence, all I have to say to that is: man up. Some child lashing out at you on the Internet is a dime a dozen–if Malstrom (or you) can’t take the heat of having some faceless, nameless, coward threatening to beat him up, he needs to start covering needlepoint. (I’ve, personally, had death threats leveled against me in the past, but I didn’t freak out or start screaming like a “stuck pig” because of it–I just blew it off for what it was: the over-heated warblings of someone far-too-invested in their own opinion, and I sure as hell didn’t take to the Internet to bemoan it because I realize that a microscopic number of any fandom are overheated hotheads (like Malstrom).)

  2. 03/31/2010 at 14:23

    The above message has been approved by the Regency of Canadian Arch-Nerds.

  3. kog3100_edw
    03/31/2010 at 15:11

    To be fair ECM, a lot of people– paid or otherwise– are in the business of getting things emotional… and frequently over nothing. As you yourself are doing with Malstrom’s approach to this game.

    Now granted what appears on teh iterwebs is not necessarily reflecting the actual state of mind of the writer. Malstrom (or you) could be perfectly cool and level-headed about Other M, only getting worked up online for the sake of (hyperbole-injected) dramatic fun.

    But dude, and I’d say this to anyone really online or no, they ARE just games. Malstrom spent umpteen words on his peeve/annoyance/gripe. Now you’ve posted a fair sized ‘blog entry (and now decent-sized comment) complete with links and ‘footage’. Whether or not you are actually emotionally invested in the game, or Malstrom’s BS readers can only react or comment on what they see.

    My point is again: just games everyone. Even if they are your livlihood, you aren’t doing brain surgery, managing security at an ICBM silo, or pulling children out of burning skyscrapers. You know I’d be the LAST person to tell you that you are expending effort over nothing, but the internet fan-traffic IN GENERAL really needs to take a chill pill.

    • ECM
      03/31/2010 at 15:24

      Good point, but I’m not angry about his antipathy towards Other M or any, one, game–I’m irritated because he’s now begun the process of bending and warping reality to suit his argument, i.e. this is an issue of rhetoric, not about liking/disliking a game.

      You see this happen every single day, usually from the mouths of politicians (or a shyster trying to sell you a product or worldview) who thrive on twisting the plain meaning of language to suit their ends and, of course, as is the case a great many times, nobody stands up and shouts “no, you are full of it, what you are saying, based on your own words and the plain meaning of them to the vast majority of humanity, is false or severely flawed.” It’s all the worse when it’s someone you actually put stock in at one point.

      So no, I disagree with your assessment since I’m not talking about anything quite so trivial as his like/dislike of a particular game. (You can bang me for taking a stand on his corruption of facts/language/meaning, but this is most certainly not about Other M, except that it happens to be, tangentially, the thrust of his post.)

  4. kog3100_edw
    03/31/2010 at 15:34

    No, I know the overall argument is about warping language (and ideas) but it is in the context of video games. My point is that Malstrom is NOT a politician or someone particularly important in the grand scheme.

    His crap isn’t something to ignore OR not be annoyed about necessarily. It is a question of degrees. If game buying is important to someone and they found out they’ve been ripped off on something they just purchased, if they have a ‘blog they might go on and rant about it. I’m saying the degree of ire probably should be nuanced based on magnitude of the offense, ie it isn’t necessarily a huge post-worth if some small ebay seller ripped you off, but it would be bigger if it was Play-Asia, and even bigger if Microsoft direct. Like posts about the SanDisk thing I get. It is a larger economics issue, one of small person wallets and corporate greed, sure.

    Malstrom is a tiny d**k in a digital sea of d**ks. Getting strident about him (over just about any topic) seems to be kind of an echo of ALL the immature online bitchery, doesn’t it?

    • ECM
      03/31/2010 at 15:54

      Yes, in the scheme of things *everything* I write about is *utterly* trivial, just like everything you choose to write about is *utterly* trivial–literally *all* of it, across the board. (Up to and including price checks on USB drives.)

      But what I don’t quite grasp is:

      1. You say that this isn’t worth going on about and, yet, here you are…going on about it. Where does one draw the line? Do you have to have the last word? If that is the case, then you’ve refuted your own premise on getting worked up over the trivial, yes? I acn appreciate the irony of my posts (all of them!) but can you appreciate the irony of yours? (I mean, certainly, arguing about something that is trivial is…really trivial, right?)

      2. So what if you think it’s trivial? As I’ve explained, I find the trashing of language and the degradation of rhetoric to be an offense that shouldn’t be ignored, en toto, even if it’s over something that 99.9% of humanity finds to be trivial. I find that the ‘broken windows’ theory works pretty well over such matters, i.e. if you stamp out the small offenses, the larger, non-trivial, ones will necesarrily follow, so you pick your battles–as offensive to your sensibilities at they may or may not be–and make a difference where you can. (Since I can’t very well change the course of history from my computer in northern New Englad, my scope will, by neccesity, be much narrower and limited to matters where I have some expertise, i.e. video games, rhetoric and women that like to dress up like Mai Shiranui.)

      All that said, I appreciate your comments but we’re either talking past one another (I don’t think I am at this point) or you’ve undone your own argument…by arguing.

      (Also, since I’m not going to go on and on and on about this (even I have my limits!) you may have the last word…if you want to keep arguing about it 😉

      Edit: And if you think what I’ve written in this post is strident (I really don’t think this is even remotely strident), thank God you never read (or don’t remember) what I wrote in GameFan–you’d have an aneurysm.

  5. kog3100_edw
    03/31/2010 at 16:11

    I think you are taking the tone of my posts rather too seriously. I am in no way trying to get the last word. I thought what you and I were doing was discussing something almost off-to-the-side. And if I learn something from you, for my personal benefit, or about how you think and handle things that’s all to the good. So words spent on you-and-me interaction, assuming they are civil and not injurious would seem to me to be all to the good.

    OF COURSE, what I write is trivial. And at the end of the day may be only important to me. That’s okay. What you write is important to you… certainly enough you felt the need to write it in the first place. ECM, I will continue to read the ‘blog and find it interesting and cool. If you’ve read archives in my ‘blog you will find a number of posts that generally call for the ‘heat’ to be turned down on internet-based discussion.

    Please don’t take what I wrote to you as some kind of dig. It isn’t. Your voice on the internet is a welcome one.

  6. ECM
    03/31/2010 at 16:17

    And your post proves another Internet axiom:

    If something can be misinterpreted, it will.

    I’m sorry if my posts came across as overbearing, but I was trying to articulate my argument *and* be tongue-in-cheek/ironic/self-deprecating all at the same time and, it seems, I’ve failed 😦

    Next time I’ll have to use a lot more emotes 😉

  7. kog3100_edw
    03/31/2010 at 16:22

    No prob.
    You may notice in my comments that I did allow for detachment that may not come across in posts… separate online persona possibilities and all that.

    And I do remember some strident GameFan stuff! I just chalked that up to youthful exuberance! Hot blooded youth on fire!

    But you’re an old guy now. You need to take it easy. And carefully stay on your meds.

    • ECM
      03/31/2010 at 16:25

      I do take my meds, see? Wait, what? Skittles and Diet Coke aren’t medicine? Sonofa…

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