It Doesn’t Matter If Pewdiepie Didn’t Mean It

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Pewdiepie is in trouble for expressing racist sentiment. Again.

In the first half of 2017, Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg came under fire for paying a couple of men to hold a banner which said “Death to all Jews.” He claims he did this to prove just how crazy the world is, as there’s a website – which I won’t mention here because, well, fuck them – where you can pay people $5 to do pretty much anything. Why that ‘thing’ had to be something so hateful and discriminating, I don’t know. He just as easily could have asked someone on this website to smack themselves in the dick with a hammer, but nope, he went straight for Nazi rhetoric. Anyway, as a result of this – as well as other racially or religious sensitive things that appeared on his channel before – Pewdiepie lost a deal with Disney’s Maker Studios, which canceled plans for TV, apps, and merchandise to be produced under his brand. Youtube also canceled the production of Scare Pewdiepie Season 2 (for Youtube Red), and his channel was also removed from Google Preferred.

You think he would have learned his lesson… but nope, he’s doubled down on his stupidity. Well, maybe tripled, because he also did a Hitler-esque video after all this.

But more recently while streaming, Pewdiepie was caught saying:

Pewdiepie: “What a fucking n****r! Jeez, oh my God, what the fuck. Sorry, but, what the fuck. What a fucking asshole. I don’t mean that in a bad (unintelligible and laughing a little). Why would he do that? Legit, why would he do that? Fuck sake.”

Immediately after those words escaped his mouth, he knew what he had done. His words that followed made that clear. But too bad, so sad, the damage has been done. Pewdiepie, already seen by many as anti-Semitic and racist, said the worst thing possible.

Now, it’s entirely possible that Pewdiepie is neither of those things. He very well may be a nice guy that just happened to use a racial slur while venting… which is still dumb. Very, very dumb. A lot of people say stupid things not because they’re evil, but because they lack a brain-to-mouth filter. I get that. And because I’m not one of those people that care about political correctness just for the sake of appeasing people, I don’t even care what he says or does in his personal life. If he wants to spout off the n-word from the comfort of his computer chair, then fine. That’s his prerogative. However, I’m also free to think and say whatever I want, so I also reserve the right to call Pewdiepie an epic piece of shit for doing so. I do think that you can joke about ANYTHING – some people in this life seriously need to lighten up – but Pewdiepie wasn’t making a joke. He let a racial slur slip out of his mouth because he was upset. At a video game. Who does that?

A lot of people have tried to justify this by saying, “Well, it wasn’t contextually insulting. He just said it because he was mad.” So, what are those people trying to say? That saying the n-word is cool just because you’re caught off guard and pissed off by something? That’s news to me! So I guess any time I stub my toe, hit my funny-bone, hit my head, my son spits up on me, or my foot falls asleep, I should let the n-word fly?

Here’s what it all boils down to: If Pewdiepie let this slip during a live stream, especially considering the history of racial insensitivity behind him, then that means he says this regularly, or at least regularly enough. It’s something he likely says when he’s playing away from prying eyes… which is shitty. I’ve never once uttered the phrase ‘check your privilege’, because it’s become synonymous with ‘white people can’t have an opinion’… but Pewdiepie is the kind of person that saying is meant for. Or at least ONE of the kinds of people it’s meant for. The n-word isn’t some ‘say it because you’re angry’ sort of thing. Most people I know use ‘shit’ or ‘fuck’. If you’re associating anger with the n-word… well, problems, son. Problems.

Youtubers generally use alternate personas for their channels. What you see on-screen is meant to entertain you, and doesn’t necessarily represent the person behind the gamer/entertainer tag. That’s all well and good, but if you’re not professional enough an entertainer to separate those two distinct personalities (one for home, one for work), then it becomes an issue… especially if you’re an idiot like this guy.

Now Pewdiepie is, predictably, being punished by others on the development side of things.

Sean Vanaman of Campo Santo games has stated they’ll be filing DMCA takedown notices for all of Pewdiepie’s Firewatch content, as well as any future Campo Santo games. His Tweet storm is as follows:

“There is a bit of leeway you have to have with the internet when u wake up every day and make video games. There’s also a breaking point. I am sick of this child getting more and more chances to make money off of what we make. He’s worse than a closeted racist: he’s a propagator of despicable garbage that does real damage to the culture around this industry. I’d urge other developers & will be reaching out to folks much larger than us to cut him off from the content that has made him a millionaire. Furthermore, we’re complicit: I’m sure we’ve made money off of the 5.7M views that video has and that’s something for us to think about. Lastly: I love streamers. I watch them daily and we sent out over 3000 keys to professional and amateur streamers of FW.”

This introduces another wrinkle though, and one that’s not actually problematic for Pewdiepie, but Campo Santo themselves. In the ‘about’ section on firewatchgame.com, there’s some intriguing information:

Can I stream this game? Can I make money off of those streams?

Yes. We love that people stream and share their experiences in the game. You are free to monetize your videos as well. It doesn’t hurt to let us know on Twitter when you’re live. We might show up in your chat!

But when questioned about the legality of using DMCA takedowns because of a racial slur used by a streamer, Sean had this to say:

“All streaming is infringement but devs and pubs allow it because it makes us money too.”

This, of course, has created a huge can of worms. The first thing some people have said in response is, WTFU, which stands for, ‘where’s the fair use’? This is something Youtubers have clung to each time a developer has issued a takedown for one of their videos. Word quickly spreads among the Youtuber community, and they band together in order to save their collective asses. “We can do what we want because fair use” isn’t exactly true, though. It’s more of a gray area. Criticism is specifically protected under fair use, but Let’s Plays are basically the wild west of content. Some lawyers, per some of John “Totalbiscuit” Bain’s tweets, believe developers can do whatever they want with Let’s Play videos:

Totalbiscuit: “Spoke to an actual lawyer. Opinion was Campo Santo is 100% within legal rights, DMCA applies, LPs (Let’s Plays) are not fair use. Website (referencing the ‘we like streamers’ bit on Firewatchgame.com) non-binding. So those arguments are basically out the window, leaving “should they shouldn’t they” which is up to them really. What a mess.”

But the interpretation of law seems to vary attorney by attorney, and judge by judge. So while the attorney Totalbiscuit was in touch with says LP’s aren’t protected by fair use, Leonard French, a respected legal interpreter on Youtube, believes this would be DMCA abuse. His argument is that, yes, posting the ‘ok to stream’ message on the Firewatch website grants Youtubers permission, and that they had more than enough time to request Pewdiepie’s video get taken down if they had a problem with it… except they didn’t. Until now. After Pewdiepie said something racist. On a video that had nothing to do with Firewatch. The argument is basically, ‘The video was legal, for years, until they didn’t like something Pewdiepie said on his own stream of a different game?’ And not only does Campo Santo likely not have any room for legal action at this point – especially since Pewdiepie undoubtedly received one of those keys direct from the developer – but if anyone had the right to issue copyright claims, it’s Pewdiepie, as he could target anyone using his gameplay footage without some form of criticism to accompany it (as criticism is expressly permitted under fair use).

See how sticky this whole thing gets?

But it gets worse. If you’re a fan of Youtube, regardless if you’re a viewer or content creator, things have been getting hairy.

Jim Sterling has pointed out that, at this point, Pewdiepie is a liability for the entire industry of gamers and Youtubers, and he’s absolutely correct.

Pewdiepie’s flub from earlier in the year is one of the many reasons why advertisers began to pull away from Youtube. Their ads could pop up during any video, regardless of the content it contained… but that creates a huge marketing problem. Advertisers are spending good money to shill their products, and they want to have the ability to decide what content their ads are appearing in. After all, that’s how it works on television. But Youtube never did much to appease the advertisers, so they started withdrawing their money after the Pewdiepie incident.

In an attempt to bring the advertisers back, Youtube finally made some changes, by way of allowing bots to flag inappropriate content. This impacted a lot of the major Youtubers we know and love, as much of their content was flagged for one reason or another. It was awful for anyone who relied solely on the money from Youtube ad views, although some planned ahead and have Patreons up for support. Still, it’s horrifying to think that all this content was being threatened to have monetization removed, merely because some bot heard one ‘fuck’ too many. This is something that should be done by a dedicated staff, not some bargain bin AI. Context should matter, and a bot can’t distinguish between an acceptable piece of content or something that’s truly objectionable. As a result, content creators suffer as a whole. This hands off approach is, frankly, disgusting. It’s the most despicable form of censorship I’ve seen.

Well, maybe censorship is the wrong word. Youtube still allows you to post your content… you just won’t be paid for it. And they, as a company, have every right to make that call. To be fair, Youtubers should understand that they’re not as ‘free enterprise’ as they believe. They’re relying on a hosting platform for a living. Unless they get a website and pay for their own traffic, they’re at the whim of whatever Youtube decides to do.

Anyway, Pewdiepie should have been smart enough to know that couldn’t play the system forever. He’s always used controversy as a way to gain subscribers, but he never took into consideration how his actions would affect everyone. He’s not the only Youtuber saying nasty or insensitive things – in fact, he’s quite tame compared to countless others – but whether he likes it or not, Pewdiepie shoulders more responsibility for his actions than others. With over 50 million subscribers, he represents Youtube, content creators, and gamers. People who don’t even game or watch Youtube all that often know who this guy is, so there was an especially heavy burden on him to remain professional at all times. But unfortunately, he didn’t, and now everyone else is paying the price.

That’s the worst part, honestly. Because of Pewdiepie’s decision to use shock value as a way to gain subscribers, content creators are sitting at the edge of their seats and biting their nails, wondering if DMCA takedowns will be abused more than ever and upheld by law. Even if Pewdiepie wins, it’s not exactly a positive for content creators, and Google/Youtube are most certainly looking at ways to better monitor and/or restrict content.

Good luck to all of the content creators out there…

 

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First Time Out: Resident Evil VII

I had absolutely zero interest in playing this game.  A first person Resident Evil?  Pfft.  Get out of here.  To me, it just seemed like Capcom, who don’t really seem to know how to perform these days, were just trying to cash in on the P.T. demo craze.

Well, as I usually do after a game’s launch, I watched someone play the game for about 45 minutes… and to my surprise, it looked quite good.  So, here it is!  My first couple of hours with Resident Evil VII.  Enjoy!

Generation Without Definition

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In preparation for the 2016 in review conversation we’ll be having on the podcast in about a week, I decided to write down a list of all the games I’ve played.  Not just the games from this past year, mind you, but ALL of them.  Didn’t matter if it’s a game from 2002 I was playing for the first time, or if it was an old favorite I was revisiting for the 18th time.  Old games are just as much a part of our ‘gaming makeup’ each year as the new stuff we play, so here’s what I came up with:

Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures

Assassin’s Creed: Rogue

Far Cry 4

Absolute Drift

Batman: Akrham Knight

The Witness

The Division

Doom

Uncharted 4

No Man’s Sky

Final Fantasy XV

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Battlefield 1

Dark Souls

Dying Light

Life Is Strange

The Witcher 3 (restarted)

Dark Souls 3

Forza Horizon 3

Gear of War 4

Dead Rising 4

Kirby: Planet Robobot

PvZ: Garden Warfare 2

Mafia III

Street Fighter V

Inside

Grim Dawn (official release date)

Pokken Tournament

Overwatch

Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Pokemon Go

Super Mario Run

Skyrim Special Edition

Dragon Quest VII

Earth Defense Force 4.1

Super Mario 3D Land

Contra 4

Grand Theft Auto Online

Grand Theft Auto 4

Super Mario 64

Super Scribblenauts

Mega Man 2

Mega Man 3

I obviously didn’t play all of these games from start to finish.  Some I may have only played for a couple of hours.  But even so, that’s one hell of a list, isn’t it?  Great titles, alright ones, and even a few stinkers, but overall, I’d say 2016 was rather enjoyable.  Still, this list presents a bit of a problem, namely the inadequacies of the gaming industry as a whole.  Forty-three games, and you know what I noticed about them?  Thirty-two are either sequels or stem iteratively from existing IP’s.  Mmhmm.  Thirty.  Two.  That’s insane.  Even if we take older games off my list, we’re still talking close to 20.

Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with sequels or reboots.  Doom makes a compelling argument for being my favorite game of the year.  Hell, Dark Souls III is up there, too.  Oh, and surprisingly, Gears of War 4 has proven to be quite memorable, as well.  I also don’t care how many times Nintendo throws Mario at me, because he always amounts to a good time.  Point is, I don’t personally mind when studios lean on formulas that’s proven to work them.  No, it’s when they cross that line… when they insist on using that mindset as a crutch, that’s when I get worried.

And I’m worried now.

Gamers routinely say this is the best generation of gaming to date.  Sure, they’ve conveniently overlooked the unnecessary iterative consoles and the sea of unfinished games that’s been released… but vidyagames, right?!

But seriously, I can’t deny there’s been some titles genuinely worth swooning over, but that’s not unique to the here and now.  There have always been great video games, and there always will be.

But from a first party perspective, Sony and Microsoft have been playing things far too safe.  They’ve relied once again on the likes of Killzone, Infamous, Gears of War, God of War, Forza, Halo, Ratchet and Clank, Little Big Planet, Uncharted, The Last of Us, and a handful of others.  These are franchises that also defined the LAST generation of gaming, and while I understand the desire for studios to milk a cow’s supple teats until they’re coughing up powder, they’re leaving the PS4 and Xbox One without identities of their own.

The Xbox 360 was defined by Forza, Fable, and Gears of War.  But what does the Xbox One have?  Sunset Overdrive was largely overlooked, and Quantum Break was disappointing.

The Playstation 3 had Infamous, Uncharted and The Last of Us.  But PS4?  Well, it has Bloodborne… but that’s about it.  Nobody cared about Knack, and while Until Dawn is great, it isn’t a title that’s going to sell systems.  Driveclub has its fans, but still hasn’t managed to evade the stink left behind by its troubled launch.  And it’s not even worth mentioning The Order: 1886 (I didn’t think it was terrible, but it’s certainly frowned upon by most of the gaming community).

So, if video games aren’t giving this generation a definitive voice, what is?

Well, the struggle over resolution and frame-rate, for one.  But outside of that, this generation will likely be remembered for the releases of the PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio.  I mean, their very existence could very well change the way consoles are developed and sold from here on out.  I don’t have a crystal ball or anything, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we never saw a Playstation 5.  If each console is only somewhat better than the version before it, a new naming convention could take over:  Playstation Nitro, Playstation Beyond, Playstation Zen, etc.  All only somewhat better than the previous iteration, and yet still years behind what PC hardware brings to the table.

And if I were Sony and Microsoft, I’d start thinking about how big a problem that might be.

This isn’t rocket science.  GAMES should define how we feel about any given generation.  Sure, we’ll also develop an attachment to hardware designs, but games are what matter most.  Unfortunately, the gaming industry has lost sight of that, and that could very well bite console developers in the end.  If Microsoft and Sony want to continue down the path of pushing consoles more than first party exclusives, they’ll eventually be perceived as third-party machines.  If that happens, it leaves the door WIDE open for Steam machines to make another push, and with Steam having almost any third party title you can dream of, and for less money, that platform could finally become a contender in the living room.

And speaking of third-party, it’s pretty clear the AAA heavies have gotten lazy, too.  They’re just too afraid to let go of moneymaking franchises.  People often complain about being bored of the same old crap, but how do these companies respond?

“We’ll make our games look better.  Cool?”

But people aren’t complaining about graphics anymore.  That narrative just isn’t driving the industry as much as it used to… at least from the perspective of consumers.  Gamers want better writing, character depth, enemy AI, etc.  But nooooo… all anyone has done is say, “Better volumetric fog, god rays, and particle effects!  That’ll revolutionize everything!”

Ugh.

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Shadow of Mordor had the right idea with the Nemesis System.  It was basic, yes, but I was convinced it was the first baby-step in this industry’s journey to develop better AI… and yet nobody has tried to emulate, let alone best that system since.  Nope, every other game still features enemies that either stand against a single guard post, or walk in the same L-shaped pattern over and over.

So let me ask:  Is this truly the best that AAA developers could pull off in 2016?  Is this REALLY the best generation of gaming ever?  I don’t think so, and furthermore, I think the industry CAN do better.  Not only CAN it do better, but there’s nothing wrong with EXPECTING better, either.  But with so many people literally buying products before they’re finalized, what incentive does this industry have to change its unfriendly business tactics?

Well, consumers have to realize that more powerful hardware isn’t going to solve a damn thing.  If you want better quality products, you have to stop pre-ordering games.  Stop telling studios you’re willing to buy their crap sight unseen.  Also, if you’re not having much fun playing the games being released on the PS4 or Xbox One, playing them on a PS4 Pro or Xbox One S (or even the Xbox Scorpio) isn’t going to change that.  Your gameplay will be enhanced, but enhancement of non-enjoyment is still just that… non-enjoyment.

If you want newer, better IP’s, and advancement in storytelling and AI, then all you need to do is keep those conversations in the public eye.  Keep those narratives strong so AAA publishers and developers can see that they’re no longer going to get away with repackaging the same two or three gameplay formats time and time again.  Make damn sure they know you want more than just:  FPS – The Game / Blasting From Behind Cover – The Game / Stealthily Wipe-Out Poor Enemy AI – The Game / Detective Mode – The Game.

Not that AAA games should be villainized, though.  Again, I still find them to be quite enjoyable.  I’m just disappointed that the industry refuses to broaden its horizons in the ways that are most needed.

The good news?  As long as you’re willing to wander outside the AAA scene, there’s plenty of great games being released by smaller and/or independent studios.  Ori and the Blind Forest, The Witness, Inside, Limbo, Absolute Drift, Stardew Valley, Shovel Knight, Axiom Verge, Grow Home, Child of Light, Never Alone, Outlast, Trine, Braid, Undertale, Owlboy, Soma… and these are only some of the most notable choices.  And hey, if none of these pique your curiosity, there’s still decades worth of games for you to go back and enjoy.

It’s easy to forget that gaming isn’t a ‘box’, but an art form that we can enjoy… well, pretty much whenever.  Games take a bit longer to digest than music albums, movies, and even a number of books, and as a result, people always feel like they have to play the newest stuff and never look back on the old… and that’s just simply not true.  If you find yourself in a rut, just look at your back catalog or start working on games that you may have missed.  Sure, there are some titles that may not have aged as gracefully as others, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that most hold their own quite well.

 

 

More Exclusive Batman Details and Suicide Squad Put On Ice

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We have recently dropped additional details about the upcoming Batman game – currently under development by WB Montreal – on our podcast, but for those that haven’t listened in, I figured it’d be a good time to put those details into writing.  But first, here’s links to the previous information that was brought to you exclusively by Byte-Size Impressions:

New Batman Game May Be On The Horizon – May, 2016

New Batman Game Still In Development, New Villain Expected – September, 2016

Who IS Batman In The Next Open World Game? – September, 2016

First Podcast Discussion

Second Podcast Discussion

In our last couple of podcasts, Gabriel Galliani – journalist with the Official Playstation Magazine in Italy – decided to drop some new bits of information and even field questions from a comic book savvy audience (a big thank to Slcmof of Youtube and Twitter for that).  Here’s what Gabe had to say:

He’s seen a vertical slice of the game and also has evidence to support that claim.  The visual aesthetic is bleaker than that of previous Batman games.  The city gives off a ‘something happened here’ vibe, and there’s even a bit of fog to help push the darker atmosphere that much further.  There’s still neon lighting in Gotham, but doesn’t seem as prevalent as it did in Arkham Knight (of course, things can always change during the course of development).  Featured landmarks we can expect to see are the Monarch Theater, Goth Corp., and even a rundown version of Wayne Enterprises.

To add to the roster of characters that have already been leaked, Gabe was also able to add:

-Katana

-Talon

-The Dee Dee Twins

-Mr. Freeze

He also confirmed a rumor – which originally circulated on Neogaf – about the Black Mask being female this time around.  The villain’s identity should make sense and not seem ‘out of left field’, her costume will be extremely sexy yet maintain a dose of class, and seems to enjoy treating her victims with both syringe and hammer.

Jason Schreier of Kotaku has spilled a few beans about the game recently as well, up-to-and including an appearance by the Penguin.  What’s interesting about this is that Gabe, who has an extensive list of the characters that should appear in-game, knows nothing about that character appearing in this game.  That doesn’t mean The Penguin won’t be in it, just that this information hasn’t also come his way.

Another interesting bit of news from Mr. Schreier is that the long rumored Suicide Squad game is being canned, as WB Montreal have been shifting things internally for various reasons.  While this may have put a temporary hold on the Batman project while the dust settles, they’ll probably get back to it with an even bigger push until the game is ready to be revealed and eventually released.

For future updates on this game – as we’re able to reveal more once bits of information are verified by multiple sources within WB Montreal – make sure to keep an eye pressed against the site’s news feed, Twitter account, and an ear glued to the podcast, because you never know when or where the info will drop!

CD Projekt Red May Be Preparing To Protect Against Hostile Takeover


Earlier this year, video game media made everyone aware that this industry isn’t just about selling games. No, there’s backroom deals, corruption, and of course major moves that may be construed as hostile. This information had come as a result of Vivendi’s continual attempt to take over Ubisoft, and that tug-of-war still wages today. 

A lot of people assumed Vivendi taking over Ubisoft would be a good thing. Gamers began to fantasize about a world where in-game protagonists would no longer have to climb towers in order to reveal more pieces of map, but the reality of the situation is that if the company taking things over isn’t competent, the game developer could eventually cease to exist. Vivendi has a track record of soaking up game industry assets, mismanaging their funds, and then allowing those assets to go belly up. That’s not a good thing for anyone. Even if you loathe a company like Ubisoft, we need more competition in this industry, not less.

And one such contender has been rising over the years: CD Projekt RED. They gained a bit of notoriety with The Witcher and especially its sequel, but The Witcher 3 has propelled them to the next level. They’ve proven they can make games just as large and intricately detailed as anybody in the business – including Rockstar – and that they can do so with a fraction of the budget and staff members on hand. This has not only made the company financially successful, but their consumer friendly practices have also generated a lot of good will… and the industry as a whole has taken notice, with multiple offers having been made to acquire the company. They’ve all been turned down, of course, but CDPR are no longer a private company. They’re public, meaning there’s ways for companies to wedge themselves in if they play their cards right.

Well, it seems that CDPR have called for an emergency meeting. The gist is that they’re exploring the possibility of buying back around 60 million dollars’ worth of their own shares. I’m not an expert, so maybe this is just a case of the studio wanting to go back to their independent status. However, the urgency of this meeting and what it entails more than likely means they’re preparing to protect themselves against threat of a hostile takeover.  

I’ll keep you posted as more information becomes available.

EDIT:

Other reports are now flooding online. Since the early details we broke on Byte-Size Impressions, Neogaf member ‘boskee’ has posted some additional details about the meeting, being held November 29th:

One – Vote on whether or not to allow the company to buy back part of its own shares for 250 million PLN ($64 million)

Two – Vote on whether to merge CD Projekt Brand (fully owned subsidiary that holds trademarks to the Witcher and Cyberpunk games) into the holding company

Three – Vote on the change of the company’s statute.

“Now, the 1st and the 3rd point seem to be the most interesting, particularly the last one. The proposed change will put restrictions on the voting ability of shareholders who exceed 20% of the ownership in the company. It will only be lifted if said shareholder makes a call to buy all the remaining shares for a set price and exceeds 50% of the total vote.

According to the company’s board, this is designed to protect the interest of all shareholders in case of a major investor who would try to acquire remaining shares without offering a ‘decent price’.”

Again, more details will be reported as they become available.