Sunday, March 17, 2013

KISS: "Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots"

Keep It Simple, Stupid:
A Concise Analysis of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

SCENARIO
The setting of Metal Gear Solid 4 depicts a world where the battlefield is under total control, and war is a commodity. The income gained by war serves as a major pillar of the First World Economy, with even countries like the US and Great Britain being largely dependent on it. Wars are fought not for ideology or nationalism or even ethnicity, but instead are simply ordered by private companies to continue a string of proxy conflicts and keep the so-called "war economy" rolling. Nanomachines are used to connect soldiers to a control network, preventing them from experiencing fear, doubt, remorse or even pain, and essentially turning the entire experience into a video game. This entire arrangement is the master plan of an AI system known as "The Patriots", which plans to control society through automated censorship and control.

The concept is explained in further detail in this briefing.



There are several glaring issues with this scenario.

Firstly, despite the ostensible nature of warfare in the MGS4 world, the conflicts seen in the game (an ethnic conflict in the Middle East, a governmental clash in South America, and a rebellion in Eastern Europe) are all based on classical grounds rather than being two PMCs fighting for no other reason than "they were told to". Despite the opening narration focusing on how meaningless and purposeless these wars are, every war depicted in the game has a "classic" reason for it, of the kind that is supposed to be obsolete. This is not only problematic in its own right, but also connects to the other two issues.

Secondly, the "War Economy" exists apparently just to connect the entire first world population to warmongering. Rather than simply saying "the military-industrial complex is intentionally starting wars for their own profit" or something along those lines, the game suggests that the entire first world is wholly dependent on war as a factor for economics. This concept violates the basic tenets of the Broken Window Fallacy. In short, "war as a business" only controls the entire economy if there is enough money coming into make up for everything else being spent on war. In our existing economy, private contractors are paid by governments. The question is "who is buying the services of these PMCs, and where are they getting the money and/or resources to do so?" While mercenary service can boost one country's economy (Switzerland managed to pull this off in the Renaissance), the idea of suspending the entire first world economy on income from the third world seems suspect.

Thirdly - and this is something brought up in both MGS4 and Metal Gear Rising - the relation between this state of affairs and the plans of the Patriot AI System are extremely unclear. In MGS2 the goal of the Patriots is to censor and control world politics, keeping them as docile and controlled as possible. Despite this, MGS4 depicts a war erupting into constant warfare (again, not just proxy wars but actual civil wars and conflicts). In both MGS4 and MGR, the characters simply conclude that the Patriots AIs must have gone "off the rails" from their creators' original intentions. To me, this isn't enough to justify a totally inexplicable state of affairs, especially when those same AIs had a clear (and contradictory) plan in MGS2.

ALTERNATIVES
To be perfectly fair there are plenty of neat and interesting things about MGS4, especially in a sci-fi "what if" sense. For example, in MGS4 the rise of private armies means that sleek corporate advertising and appeals to thrillseeking (or escaping from poverty) have replaced duty and patriotism as the primary motivators for recruitment. This, almost unbelievably, serves as actual commentary on the practices used by actual recruiters today, as well as a critical look at an amoral corporate culture.

This scenario could be further compounded by the SOP system, which releases chemicals into the bloodstream that control emotions like fear and remorse, and reward soldiers for killing enemy combatants. In essence, the "thrill" of war is sharply increased, serving as an outlet for a huge amount of masculine cultural output - again, a point where commentary on society could quite easily have been made. The SOP system essentially turns war into a videogame, a metaphor made repeatedly during the course of MGS4 but never really acted upon despite numerous opportunities. We never see the world through the eyes of the PMCs, or talk to them as people. Instead, they are video game enemies just like every other set of video game enemies, with no characterization or humanization. Even a scene as simple as seeing unmasked PMCs relaxing in a camp (perhaps playing video games in their spare time?) could have helped with this. Instead, there is nothing.

Even the basic idea of SOP "makes sense" from a story perspective - after all, the Patriots want to control everything, and exercising complete control over the US Army (down to the individual soldier) makes complete sense. However, it mostly comes into conflict with the existence and proliferation of PMCs, which is also part of their plan despite running entirely contradictory to it. The idea of controlling PMCs with the System makes sense, since it would serve as a failsafe, but the necessity of the PMCs does not.

CONCLUSION
There are two axes that MGS4 must be judged on. The first is whether or not it made sense as a story, and that is the root of my criticisms. The second is whether or not it teaches lessons that are applicable to reality, and that is the root of my suggestions. The first deals with whether or not MGS4 had a good setting, and the second deals with whether or not MGS4 teaches lessons or has any artistic value.

I'm sure there are many individual keen to say that they felt MGS4 was incredibly moving and emotional, but before those people show up I'd like to note something. The second aspect - the idea of learning from MGS4's setting - isn't some sideshow. It's not some strawman I'm setting up in order to make gamers look like uneducated nerds eager to grasp at any signs of legitimacy.  A huge number of reviewers and gamers thought that MGS4 was legitimately insightful, in most cases because they didn't know that much about PMCs themselves. Like SpecOps, MGS4 represents a false savior for many - it failed to teach them reality, but convinced them that they knew what reality was. I think this represents more clearly than anything why I am so leery of the idea of games being treated like art, and the sort of community that endorses it while stifling criticism and analysis.

41 comments:

  1. Soldiers on MGS games in general are given some humanity. In MGS4 they show confidence, happiness, fear, insecurity, they rely on each other, show some camaraderie. Their barks feature all sorts of voices and tones, from the typical grunt to a guy that seems a greenhorn. You can see them suffer, you can find them bed ridden. This happens both in cutscenes and during gameplay.

    http://youtu.be/FzYhv0Rw9jw?t=1h12m31s

    This has always been a thing in MGS games, giving enemy soldiers some manner of humanity. Even if it is for comedic value, you won't find soldiers who get horny in many other games. It is no coincidence that MGS games reward you for not killing anyone. This trait, in fact, is what makes fucking around with soldiers so much fun in MGS.

    Just now, to remember this right, I put the game on. Eastern Europe level, shot next to a soldier. He warns of the attack, runs to investigate. Went to another screen, did the same, similar reaction but this time the soldier has fear in his voice, first instinct is running to hide, after a while he comes out, then his buddy shows up and investigates while he kept hiding. I was spotted, fought two soldiers while the coward soldier watched me from a distance.

    Also, I thought the story was a little more than what you described there. Look, I'm not some blind fan, the game has its share of flaws. I just don't think you are touching the heart of the issue the game has. I also don't think those people who are awed with PMCs or whatever in MGS4 really do exist or are substantial, the one link you showed had just one guy saying that.

    Plus, MGS games in general have always packed interesting information and/or insights. You could get a huge lecture on nuclear weapons from Natasha in MGS1 if you had the patience. You yourself commented on how war is "sold" to recruits in MGS4. I know you're not attacking all of the series here, I'm not trying to defend it either. I'm just reminding you of something that happens in MGS4 that is a trend in the MGS series.

    Of course I'm not saying this is THE GREATEST THING EVER. I'm just saying it isn't all or nothing and perhaps, just perhaps, people found the game interesting aren't "uneducated nerds eager to grasp at any signs of legitimacy". People can like and dislike parts of things.

    Lastly, remember people can see the game from different perspectives. Yours was the game failed to teach people about reality. When I started the game, my perspective had nothing to do with learning about PMCs, in fact throughout the game that wasn't what I focused on.

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    1. Those are worthy points, but let me go through them one by one because they are the kinds of things I take into consideration.

      Firstly: the game humanizes its enemies far more than a LOT of games do, but they still aren't "human". The fact that a soldier ran away, or that you have the option to avoid killing people, is GREAT, but it's not really enough when you're talking about actual human beings. It doesn't make them into "people", it makes them into goofy videogame enemies. Again, that's better than what games usually do ("always-hostile always-attacking videogame enemies") but it's still not actually human and it detracts from the setting.

      Secondly: the link I showed had several people - including multiple high-ranking games journalists - saying that. The fact that you're pointing out Nastasha in MGS1 doesn't really help, in fact it hurts your case. Have you DOUBLE CHECKED everything Nastasha told you? Are you SURE it's actually true and not just the game making things up? Look at all the ways THIS game was inaccurate or inapplicable. How can you trust MGS1 to be accurate or true when none of the other games are?

      Thirdly: It doesn't really matter what you "focus on". I'm addressing the setting. If you didn't think there was anything realistic about it, and you didn't care about internal consistency, then shrug and move on. These are not criteria you care about if that's how you feel.

      Anyways, I do see merit to a lot of your points and I'm glad you organized them in a way that allowed for discussion.

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    2. I'm sure someone could come up with simple, good ideas to further enhance how human the soldiers were in that game, after all nothing is perfect. But I also think we should expect the game to have its limitations and deal with them, there's only so much we can realistically want a game to do before it turns into something else.

      I think what's important is what was the intent in the game and whether or not it achieved it. For me, it succeeded in planting empathy for the enemy. It doesn't mean I cared about them the same way I cared about Snake, that couldn't possibly happen, and in fact it shouldn't. It just means the game invites the player to see enemies from a different perspective.

      I think that's all it needed, after all the game is still deeply concerned with its crazy plot, its setting doesn't leave room for much else other than the action.

      I know it is kind of bad when we start using "video game standards" like when people praise a bad story just because it isn't as bad as the story in other games. And in a way, some of this happens here when I say the soldiers in the game are human.

      But on other hand, I think sometimes small, simple touches are more than enough. Just planting an idea and letting the audience cultivate it, instead of taking charge and fully developing it. That requires trust on the audience, and the video game audience isn't one to be trusted, but still.

      For a game that's already juggling way more than it should, the simple ways it found to put a human face on the soldiers I thought were pretty nice, and it shows the game had the intent. Did it achieve it though?

      That effect I fully expect will change from player to player, and even on how the player's feeling on any given day. So I understand if you felt characters weren't human enough, or at all, I just don't think it is fair to say there was "no character or humanization" as you put it.

      Anyway, I hope you see what I'm talking about here. You know, like what we learn from how Bond asks for his martini.

      As for Natasha, I haven't checked everything she has said but I have read on some of it. Didn't sound like it was inaccurate, either way that's not really the point. The point was maybe go easier on MGS when trying to look at it as something that adds worthwhile information to your repertoire, or to somebody else's. Because even if Natasha's info weren't accurate, she got a player interested in a subject.

      I recall MGS2 taught me about memes (that was before meme took on a new meaning) which lead me to read the Selfish Gene. MGS3 invited me to read more on the cold war. MGS1 on nuclear weapons. MGS series in general got me to seek out more information on a whole lot of things.

      None of those games ever went too in depth in those subjects, and thank god it didn't as MGS games already take way too long with cutscenes. Similarly to what I mentioned about simple touches to convey something, I believe in MGS's case the same applies to how it deals with the story elements connected to the real world.

      I don't want MGS2 to be a full examination of the concept of meme, it'd be a different game if it did that, it shouldn't do that, I can't expect it to do that. What does happen is the game tries to put some extra flair into its story in a way that may lead you towards learning new things.

      So really my goal here was to call you to take another look at the MGS series, I think some of your conclusions on the article were hasty.

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    3. I'm sorry, man, but I absolutely cannot take the "well it gets people interested!" thing seriously. You might as well say that Transformers is good because it has Egypt in it and that means people will want to learn about the modern Egyptian government. The events of MGS are so far removed from ANYTHING in reality - nukes included - that all it's doing is using the cheapest possible backdrop.

      You say MGS games "invited" you to learn about things. I have no doubt that this is true...for you. Maybe for other gamers. But the fact of the matter is that nothing you learned in the games was really actually that useful - all it did was tell you they existed. And what if you HADN'T looked it up? Your view - like the people who think they learned about PMCs - would be totally based on this inaccurate material. MGS4 doesn't teach people about PMCs. It tells people they are a thing that exists, yes, but so does Far Cry 2 or The Hurt Locker or a bunch of other things. They're not "uncommon". Same with MGS3 and the Cold War - if MGS is your only exposure to the concept, something is wrong.

      I'm harsh on MGS because I think out of all the AAA games it has the most POTENTIAL to be good - a potential it always squanders because it wants to be a fun video game. Your comments about the enemies pretty much nails this: "don't be too harsh on it because it's just a game". Exactly. Instead of going a little bit further with the characterization and making the player actually feel like this is realistic, they just make the PMCs into video game badguys who all wear masks 24/7 and shout out canned lines in the middle of battle (my favorite being "Show 'em who's boss!" Are these guys literally children?)

      I think MGS could be really legitimately good. But right now, it can't be. It can't be because too much has to change to make that happen.

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  2. Yeah, it tells people something exists. Though in the PMC case I wouldn't say it is done as in other examples. PMCs are made an important part of the plot and explained in the game as much as they need to be explained in order to work, plus they are treated as a fantastic element of the story, not a realistic one.

    But other things in MGS games are non-chalantly thrown at you without any explanation but at the same time are somewhat important for what is being discussed. You are left clueless when they start talking about some equipment you've never heard of. Sometimes the result is bad, too distracting, other times it is well measured and you won't feel lost.

    I see introducing things to the player a worthwhile thing to do. There's nothing inferior in that, it is just a different goal. You can't expect the game to go on and on about every single thing, because as I said, it isn't the same game anymore.

    And also, I think you are misinterpreting me. As with the cold war example, it got me to read more on it, but it is impossible for anyone who went to school to be introduced to that only through metal gear. As I said earlier, it isn't all or nothing. I don't expect the game to be completely thorough about something and I won't assume whatever new thing a person learns from a game is the only thing the person has ever learned on that subject.

    So anyway, the difference between Transformers and some of the things in MGS is how relevant that element is.

    For an instance, Modern Warfare. Is the war on the middle east at all relevant for the game? Or is it just a backdrop? Playing through the first level there is nothing to induce any curiosity on the setting, you just go forwards. Yet, in the same game, when you are going to take a shot at the bad guy and your partner tells you to take into account gravity, wind speed and the coriolis effect.

    You, the player, is left thinking that all of this is important, but I don't think most people know what coriolis effect is. This is introducing the player to something new and inducing him/her to look it up. Because it is made relevant. Of course MW just pretends it is relevant, you can aim however you like and the game makes the shot count.

    In the end I learned that in MW coriolis effect was misused, but still. It is something that it is important for the gameplay or story(or you are lead to believe it is)and that you probably didn't know about.

    MGS series in general does a lot of that. Going back to that cold war example I gave, I didn't know who Francis Gray Powers was and I learned that from MGS3. I didn't know about the Davy Crockett. MGS games are very dense in information, you only walk out of an MGS game not having learned anything new or interesting if you skip over the codec calls (which is expected) or if you are already very knowledgeable on a number of things, from obscure treaties to random trivia on snakes.

    Also, MGS games often go beyond sparking interest in something. Like the example I gave from Natasha. If you are interested in weapons, you can learn a whole bunch from Signit in MGS3. MGS2 goes on about some of nasty details of what's done to child soldiers and where they are used. MGS4 unfortunately was really light on codec calls.

    I know I'm dereailing here, bringing other MGS games into the talk. The point I'm trying to make is that MGS4 isn't as alienated and divorced from reality as you said. As for MGS4, info on PMC is as inaccurate as info on robots, as in it is clearly exaggerated for the sake of the story and not supposed to represent something real, just based on something real. In a way it is like science fiction really, an examination of how future technologies will affect us.

    continues next post

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    1. I hate to be a contrarian here but no, MGS4 is EXACTLY as "alienated from reality" as I think it is. Again: "it makes people interested in things" is not the same as actually teaching. Call of Duty Black Ops teaches about a shitload of Cold War events and secret CIA projects and I don't see people praising IT as a learning tool. And, again, MGS4 doesn't just "not teach", it "anti-teaches". You are learning less about reality if you trust the version of it provided by MGS - between genetics in MGS1, digital censorship in MGS2, the Cold War in MGS3, and a "war economy" in MGS4, all the themes of MGS are actively working against the idea of real education. As entertainment, sure, they're fine, but they're not just entertainment, or at least they're not trying to be. "Just fun" doesn't mandate hour-long codecs on the nature of information control - and if something's going to be that long it might as well have real info attached to it.

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    2. Well you just like totally went over a bunch of stuff I said there and went back to something you were already saying. A really important point I made there is how it incorporates something into the game, specially in that part I talk about MW.

      You are right that MGS mix its fiction with facts to tell its story, but it is about what I talked about earlier, how it incorporates it into the game. Also you aren't really learning less about reality, you are just watching the game's fiction. Science fiction doesn't teach people less about the world because it mixes fiction with reality.

      Just don't imagine a game's to be the go-to encyclopedia for something, and accept that it is okay to learn a thing or two for the game. Also, because I say this I don't mean the game is now a superior thing because of it.

      I feel that a lot of people who play games have this weird prejudice against games, as if they were all so below us we can't admit that they influenced us in any way. But you can learn something new even from toilet door graffiti.

      Once again, I question what do you expect from the game versus what the game does. You use the word "real education" there, you say MGS isn't trying to be just entertainment, you say that if it has an hour long codec call then it needs to have real info attached to it. Think about those things. I feel they're all about your expectations versus what the game does.

      I'd interpret all those things differently. MGS has always been deeply concerned with its lore, and that's part of what it makes it entertaining. MGS has hour long codec calls because Kojima is bad at editing. MGS isn't meant to be real education but Kojima likes random factoids and how it builds the lore.

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  3. So you got to think what kind of game MGS4 was trying to be and what you wanted from it. Could the game still be what it tried to be if it followed your expectations? Is it at all fair to expect a game to be what you want it to be and harshly judge it for not following that? Are there any other worthwhile traits in the game that are being looked over?

    Remember I said earlier about having a different perspective on the game, focusing on something different. For me, since the first game, the series has been about merging gameplay and story. Despite all of its long cutscenes, it does that so much better than many other games.

    MGS games have many brilliant examples of how story and gameplay can be made one, of creating a coherent experience. For me the problem isn't that a soldier wasn't human enough or that I didn't learn something new, the problems are regarding pacing, the writing, etc.

    So that's why I don't think it is realistic to say MGS4 is bad because of some of the things you bring up, because that'd be like me thinking ArmA is lame because my health doesn't regenerate. The game is clearly trying to do something, let's see how well it does it. I think you end up looking over a lot of the game's goal and you are looking at it with the wrong lenses..? Not sure about the word "wrong" there.

    I totally see your perspective here. Expecting something more from games, something more when it comes to how it handles violence, how it can show you something new about our world. In fact these aren't "wrong" lenses, this is a necessary way to look at games and we should look at MGS4 from that angle.

    What I think happened is that your view of it, from that perspective, distorted what you could see in the game. Which is what I've been trying to show here, how indeed the game takes steps at humanizing soldiers, whether or not that succeeded is partially up to each individual, and how it indeed does teach players something new about our world, once again partially dependent on the audience.

    And I can say it stands apart from most games because of its unique traits that, for better or for worse, are lacking in other games, such as its obsession with long cutscenes or how the AI works. So I couldn't say the same about transformers.

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    1. "Could the game still be what it tried to be if it followed your expectations?"

      Let me say one thing here: the game wasn't what it said it WOULD be. The game was literally supposed to be BASED AROUND sneaking through a battlefield with walls crumbling around you, an ambition that was curtailed by Kojima's desire to go pointlessly globetrotting.

      And also, again, things like "how it handles enemies" are not just trivial points. They're not just a gameplay mechanic - it's supposed to be the entire concept behind the game. The difference between soldiers with and without nanomachines. The difference between humans - scared, angry, emotional - and nano-augmented combatants is a key difference that fails to be explored largely due to the fact that the faction setup is so lackluster. Guerillas and rebels will run away and panic, but why would Snake ever fight them? There's literally no reason to do so. By contrast, the PMCs are supposed to be reacting to combat like it's not abnormal, so the fact that we never see them out of combat weakens what should be an interesting look into the kind of mentality that "normalizes" that sort of thing.

      It's not just me saying "this is what I want the game to be". This is the game saying "this is what I want to be" and failing.

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    2. You actually see some enemies outside of combat, as I pointed out earlier. Personally, like you said it is a game about sneaking. Part of this was "no place to hide", throwing Snake in the middle of wars. Every game has been about Snake crawling through enemy lines, enemies that were there to do their job. Sometimes you'd see them outside of combat, like some guy taking a piss in MGS1, that was a nice extra, never the goal.

      So is this really what's going on...
      "And also, again, things like "how it handles enemies" are not just trivial points. They're not just a gameplay mechanic - it's supposed to be the entire concept behind the game. "

      Is it really supposed to be the entire concept of the game? The concept seemed to be about what Kojima oddly called "sense", which was how Snake kept going on even though he didn't need to, about how he couldn't quit old habits and about passing something on. Remember his cigarettes, Sunny, cooking eggs, Meryl and Johnny, etc. Think how all of this ties up with the what Kojima said about the game.

      Snake fighting everyone is part of the "no place to hide" theme, because everywhere is hostile, but still, if Snake helps the rebels they won't fight him. Snake fighting everyone is part of the "sense" theme, because he just has to do it all on his own.

      If you find the setup is lackluster, could it be because the setting isn't the one you're thinking it is? For me, MGS4 was a lot more about MGS series than any other game. It was about wrapping things up, hence all the stupidly long cutscenes, all the self serving lore. Kojima even said MGS3 was supposed to be the last one and he did MGS4 because people wanted questions answered.

      So, take another look at it.
      This is a game that does some of things you say it doesn't.
      It isn't a completely alienated game
      It shows soldier's emotions, it shows them outside of combat behaving as people
      It lets Snake ally with the rebels.

      The game actually gives cooking eggs more screentime than it does some of the things you say are supposed to be the goal of the game.

      Think about all of this. Also, try to see what's between the extremes. I think this entire time you just kept looking at the extremes.

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  4. Why do people even humor this guy? He's just some pretentious blogger with an inflated ego, spitting his opinions onto some badly-designed, backwater corner of the web. You and that Al guy are seriously wasting your time (even though it is fun to watch this guy grasp at thinner and thinner straws until every one of his arguments is decimated.).

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    1. A good argument is worthwhile to read. Your jeering, not so much. Are you the guy who writes all the PWNED comments on YouTube?

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    2. I guess I shouldn't jeer, then? Okay. Still, I wonder what a "good" argument is, coming from a guy who believes anything that doesn't teach empathy or reality isn't art. Read; pretty much ever single painting, sculpture, movie, piece of music, stage play, television show, novel, video game, etc. It's an argument so inherently flawed in even the most basic semantics that humoring it seems like a joke in poor taste to me.

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    3. I mean, the man is incredibly entitled and ridiculously self-important. He wants literally the entire games industry to change itself to suit his highly subjective ideal of what constitutes art. This is coming from a man who most likely doesn't believe that Monet's water lilies or Bach's Cello Suites are art. I mean, can't you see the comedy in any of this? He doesn't like Shadow of the Colossus because it doesn't teach people about reality. That sort of thing can't be met with any legitimate criticism. It just can't. He's created a false definition and shouts inanities from behind his wall.

      This person explains it far better than I can, so just read this instead.
      http://drayfish.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/no-more-vegetables-until-you-eat-your-dessert-why-art-is-fun-people/

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    4. I suppose I might as well answer this one with a precedent:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_for_art's_sake#Criticisms

      "It can't be met with any legitimate criticism" because the only value you can derive from those things stems from an undefinable value you take from the art itself.

      How petty you are. How simple.

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    6. You haven't explained why you're owed an answer for that. Funny, isn't it?

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    8. "Far different from arguing with somebody"

      Are you under the impression that your constant attempts at defacing my comments section constitute an "argument"? Especially when you can't explain, right now, why I owe you an answer?

      Here's an answer: "common courtesy" is the reason an apology should be given if offense is taken. Courtesy and empathy would motivate a human being to consider "hey maybe the thing I said as a joke was actually harmful", but unfortunately you seem to possess neither. Here's a counter-question: what does it cost Gabe or Tycho to give an apology? Does it break them? Does it shame them? Not in my culture. Maybe in yours. I've had to apologize to plenty of people; nowadays the only people who demand apologies from me are people like you, angry that people should be held accountable for offensive jokes.

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    10. "Was it actively harmful".

      So...really, what credentials do you think you have to judge that? I mean, I work with traumatized kids for a living, as you may have seen when you obsessively followed my twitter. I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that maybe you have some similar experience that you know about.

      I mean let's go back to your veteran friend. You don't think it would be "actively harmful" to explicitly remind him of the trauma he went through? Well, let's ask James Miller about that:

      Miller said the trouble that arose during his Katrina duties happened on the USS Iwo Jima when a sailor mimicked the whistle of a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).

      "For anybody to duplicate that sound," Miller told Smith, "they've had to hear it. Without even knowing what I'd done until after it was over, I snatched him up, I slammed him against the bulkhead, the wall, and took him to the floor, and I was on top of him."

      Huh! Sounds like he took it pretty hard even though it was meant as a joke. Man, it's almost like trauma is a complex psychological event and not something that people can "laugh off".

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    11. But someone did that IN FRONT OF HIM. Penny Arcade is a PUBLIC FUCKING COMEDY WEBCOMIC. This whole "Better not do this! Someone might get triggered!" thing is an absolute load of crock shit. You, of all people, should know that triggers can come in literally all shapes and sizes. I mean, for fuck's sake, should J.E. Sawyer and Chris Avellone apologize because Fallout: New Vegas is a fucking trigger wonderland, filled to the brim with murder and to a lesser extent rape? No. Just no. If someone plays New Vegas and gets triggered, that's no responsibility of the developers. Same thing here.

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    12. Should Spielberg apologize for Saving Private Ryan? You could get triggered with that very easily.

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  5. http://kirbyk.net/hod/image.of.africa.html

    And in such places even art may be pinned down and examined for what it is. As though there is a greater responsibility of "art" than to simply entertain.

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    2. "the duality of human nature", as seen by a person who thinks that black people are barely human.

      "It may not teach...but commentary" Yeah, there you are.

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    4. Modern, organized abolitionism has roots dating back to 1785, dude.

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    7. Do you realize that in 50 years people are going to say the same thing about our time? HOW COULD THEY BE TOLERANT OF GAY PEOPLE IN 2013. LOOK HOW COMMON HOMOPHOBIA WAS. IT'S NOT THEIR FAULT.

      Empathy is universal and timeless. Somehow you've still managed to avoid it since you don't get the concept of "apologizing", or of an action "being deserving of an apology".

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    8. PS the "vast majority of human beings" in the 1800s...were probably not white.

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    1. Yahtzee's a shitbag most of the time as you can tell by the fact that I brought up the Haze review SPECIFICALLY to contrast with his Spec Ops review.

      And RLM is basically upsetting in any context except for their Star Wars commentary, so yes I'd be willing to call them shitbags too. Why do you keep throwing these easy ones at me? Do you think that at some point a sense of hero worship will overcome my calling a spade a spade? Relatedly, why are you so hell-bent on protecting the good name of Penny Arcade when Gabe voiced his support for Tentacle Bento and said that people shouldn't be offended by it?

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    3. Yes, I mean their commentary on actual Star Wars as a story. You know, like the parts where they comment on how inappropriate it is to include Shmi's horrendous rape as a plot element in a movie that's supposed to be for kids and how jarring it is that Anakin acts like a psycho and still convinced Padme to love him? You know. Little things.

      "But you're a shitbag too!" No, I'm an asshole. To you, specifically, because you've basically proven yourself to be unworthy of respect.

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    1. "I'm sick of this" is what you said yesterday. After you said you were ~trolling~. I mean, like, 3 hours after you said you were ~trolling~. If you have any actual meritous arguments you can go ahead and come back but until then I guess you're reliant on this other guy to fight your battles for you. Ciao!

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