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Worth a Look

Worth a Look

Source: SAG-AFTRA

It may surprise some reading this that the voice actor’s strike against the video game industry is still in effect. We discussed it back in October on Episode 112, around when it started, and even though the media coverage around it has died down, many voice actors are still struggling to get their voices heard, pardon the pun. In fact, the loudest spike I’ve heard on the incident since that initial furor was at the beginning of December during the 2016 Video Game Awards. Video game voice actor monolith, Nolan North, won the award for Best Performance through his work on Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and had some choice words to say about the strike, albeit in vague––and, perhaps, surprising––terms:

Ian William’s article highlights the major developments that have happened since the strike began, but a point relevant to North’s speech stuck out to me. This strike is not about voice actor vs. developer––let’s be honest, each needs the other. However, North sees it this way, as do many others, and it makes me wonder if this narrative is constructed by certain parties or one that organically surfaced due to the limited media attention as well as general reader ignorance of how games are made. Perhaps it’s both. Either way, this false conflict between developer and performer isn’t good for either side and, especially, for the creative side of the industry as a whole:

“I know who wins the battle between game developers and voice actors. It’s the game corporations.” -Keythe Farley, National Chair of the Interactive Negotiating Committee

While the plight of voice actors in video games have been only recently brought to light through the strike (and mostly forgotten), a highly visible topic over the last five years or so has been the rather horrible working conditions developers have to slog through to get games done. From the frightening revelations of the dying giant, Konami, to the recent issue of Crytek employees not getting paid for months only to have the company shut down a bunch of its studios once the news went public (which highly reeked of the almost immediate implosion that was 38 Studios). However, if the voice actors can get the deals they need to be able to do their best work, it could be the first step the industry needs to reconstruct as a whole. The squeaky wheels get the grease, but a smart mechanic realizes it may be indicative of a larger problem.

Not to get somber, but Bill Coberly’s article hits on something I think we’re only going to see more of as, especially, my generation extends into old(er) age. A big aspect of our parents’ culture that my culture (basically Generation X and Millennials) have rejected is the idea that the things which brought us joy as children must be abandoned to be successful or healthy as adults. Some people fully embrace all of nerd culture and plaster their homes and themselves completely in things that they loved as children (tattoos of cartoon characters, clothes patterned with triforces, or shelves lined with Marvel toys, for example), others have that one activity––playing video games, reading comic books, loving science fiction––that they bring with them into adulthood, expectations be damned. As time moves on, more and more people will have experiences like Coberly did with his father. “My Name is Ozymandias” is a touching piece about Coberly finding save files for Civilization IV on his father’s computer after his father died. His dad was a “normal” guy whose “quirk” (by old world standards, that is) was that he loved strategy games and RPGS, and apparently played Civ IV nigh obsessively. The piece is a powerful reflection on their relationship, how games unite father and son, and what to do with the digital data left behind for survivors.

This last aspect is incredibly interesting because save files are, in essence, verbs in stasis. They are records of us doing something and stopping so that we can come back later and pick up from where we left off to continue to do. In this case, the “do” is to play Civ IV.

Screenshot of Civilization IV. Source: Ontological Geek

Coberly inadvertently points to a larger cultural place video games (and other sundry nerdy things) will inevitably play in family relations. There may be, if not games, then franchises or love for a genre that may be passed on from parent to child. Or, perhaps, even save files. I think of games built around crafting and creation––can servers of Minecraft be part of a heritage? Can we inherit the hard drive with my mother’s Steam library downloaded on to it?

While not involving a death, I have had a moment where video games, in this case, played a particularly powerful role in my relationship with my father. My dad is decidedly “old school.” He does not dalliance with video games beyond Tetris or Spider Solitaire. When he was young, he buried himself in the science fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Ross Macdonald‘s world of crime and detection and expressed himself by drawing Martian vistas and alien women in gauzy veils that hugged their curves. But he abandoned most of that with maturity. By the time he was my father, he was an academic of philosophy and history, and was nerdy about them as long as they were huge books with full indices and academic references.

I took a chance one day as he was up visiting my wife and me for a weekend. As mentioned, my dad is a history buff, especially of California transportation––especially of Los Angeles, where he was born and raised. Having played through Rockstar’s L.A. Noire, and knowing how much effort they put into recreating late 1940s Los Angeles, I figured he would at least have fun tearing it apart as I drove around in old cars and showed him a digitized version of his former home.

My dad actually has memories of when L.A. actually looked like this. Source: Rockstar Games

The following was a comment I wrote on the defunct gaming website, Known Griefers, as a response to their question: What is a game that you have bonded with family over? It has been edited for grammar and accuracy.

My dad was born in 1940 in Hollywood, CA. Late 1940s & 1950s L.A. was his stomping ground and he remembers it fondly. He became a professor of philosophy and taught that for forty years before retiring to become a professional historian of none other than 1920s-1950s L.A. When he drives through L.A., he sees none of the modern desolation that has descended upon that city. Instead, he still sees bright trolley cars clanging their bells down the street and dudes who wear fedoras and three-piece suits while Duesenbergs and Hudsons grumble down the street in jet-black finishes.

Basically, my dad still imagines an L.A. Noire world. So, having played the game extensively, I nervously asked him if he wanted to see a video game I owned last time he visited. He begrudgingly agreed and as soon as the game loaded and the city opened up on my television, any hint of skepticism evaporated. We looked at as many cars as possible and he drove me around the city on memory alone. We wandered through the lobby of Union Station and even got up to the rail yards. We scoped out the Hall of Records and tried to get into the Roosevelt Hotel, but couldn’t. While it isn’t an exact replica of the city (we tried to find his aunt’s house, to no avail), it was pretty damned good, enough for an old man to nearly be brought to tears by it, as if he were looking out a younger pair of his own eyes at the city he once saw so clearly and now only sees in nostalgic visits. If I had any complaints about the game (which were very few), they lost any validity because of the game’s ability to make my dad experience something he never thought he’d get a chance to do again.

While not a lineage passed down from one generation to the next like Coberly experienced, this is an instance of a “new” technology, a “nerd” technology, one pushed off as “childish” and “immature” really helped strengthen the bond between father and son in a way––and I say this without hyperbole––no other medium could have done and it will be something I never forget.

Shortcast 20 – From Behind a Comfy Jacket

Shortcast 20 – From Behind a Comfy Jacket

Despite some mild technical difficulties and some remote-location recording, Andrew and Dan bring you through the holidays with a brand new Shortcast!

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew plays some updated versions of previous Weeks in Geek, going back to Master of Orion and Civilization VI while Dan is mildly skeptical of the new Image Comics series from Mark Millar and Greg Capullo, Reborn.

Leave your thoughts about this week’s topics as comments at forallintents.net. Be sure to join the official Facebook page and subscribe to the YouTube channel for even more content and conversation. To help the show out and spread the word, please subscribe to the show on iTunes and leave a review.

For all intents and purposes, that was a Shortcast recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Thunder Busting” by Wax Audio

Episode 113 – The Lord of Clapation

Episode 113 – The Lord of Clapation

showcard113

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew wades through the neck-deep waters of Civilization VI and loves every second of it while D. Bethel watches the crowd-funded fan film, Cable: Chronicles of Hope by K&K Productions.

WHAT’S NEXT?: Considering the imminent political event happening in the United States of America, Dan and Andrew examine how television has taken a look at the presidency by comparing and contrasting the pilot episodes (mostly) of The West Wing and House of Cards (though they specifically already discussed the House of Cards pilot in Episode 37).
*Audio clip captured from The West Wing, “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen, Part II.”

INFINITE CRISES IN INFINITE MOVIES: This week, news hit that director Rick Famuyiwa left the DC/Warner Bros. film, The Flash, late into pre-production. This is the second director to leave the project, and the third to leave a film set in the DC Universe established with 2013’s Man of Steel (before this, Michelle MacLaren left Wonder Woman). Andrew and Dan examine the state of the DC Universe movies and wonder what the outcome may be for this grand experiment. Referenced in this segment is the Ghostbusters v. Star Trek Beyond discussion from Episode 101, if you want background on that controversy.

Again, D. Bethel’s webcomic, Long John, has finished up its second chapter. We encourage you to give it a look and to share if you like it.

Leave your thoughts as comments at forallintents.net. Be sure to join the official Facebook page. Subscribe to the show on iTunes and also help spread the word by leaving a review on the iTunes store. Subscribe and like the videos found on our YouTube Channel.

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“The West Wing Opening Theme” by W. G. Snuffy Walden (performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra)
-“I Ran (So Far Away)” by A Flock of Seagulls
-“House of Cards Main Title Theme” by Jeff Beal

Episode 112 – God King Teddy Roosevelt

Episode 112 – God King Teddy Roosevelt

showcard112

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew steps into a new reality when he tries out PlaystationVR with the help and aid of friend-of-the-show, Taylor Katcher, while Dan starts watching ABC’s new procedural show, Conviction, which he instead considers to be a time-travel continuation of Agent Carter, which also starred Hayley Atwell.

I KNOW THAT VOICE: A week ago, voice actors in the SAG-AFTRA union strike against major video game developers in the hopes of renegotiating contracts for voice acting in video games. Dan and Andrew investigate.

SWITCHEROO: Nintendo released a trailer for their long-speculated, highly anticipated new console, the Nintendo Switch. Andrew and Dan examine the possibilities that seem to be promised in the trailer and whether Nintendo can make good on them.

Let us know your thoughts about this week’s topics by leaving a comment at forallintents.net. Join the official Facebook page for links, updates, and conversations with other listeners. Subscribe to the show on iTunes and leave a review to help spread the word. Also be sure to check out and subscribe to our official YouTube channel.

Dan mentioned that his webcomic, Long John, would be finishing up its second chapter on Tuesday. Head on over and check it out. If you like it, share it! Even better, buy a book!

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Sogno di Volare (‘The Dream of Flight’)” by Christopher Tin (from Civilization VI)
-“Troops March On” by Nobuo Uematsu (from Final Fantasy VI)
-“Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)” by White Denim
-“The End (Reprise)” by Jack Wall & Sam Hulick (from Mass Effect)

News Blast: The Leaders of Civilization VI

News Blast: The Leaders of Civilization VI

In May of this year, Firaxis Games announced the upcoming release of Sid Meier’s Civilization VI, the next title in the award winning Civilization series. That in itself is old news. Since the original May announcement trailer, they have been releasing details about the new game, including information about the civilizations of the game and their respective leaders. That is where the story gets interesting. Just this week, the team at Firaxis revealed the civilization of Germany with it’s new leader, Barbarosa.

All of the games in the Sid Meier’s Civilization series feature a standard array of popular civilizations to play and the nation’s corresponding leader. Civilizations like the Aztecs, Japanese, Americans, and French have always been present, led by Montezuma, Tokugawa (or Nobunaga), George Washington (or Abraham Lincoln or FDR), and Napoleon Bonaparte (or Louis XIV or Joan d’Arc). With this new game, it appears that the designers at Firaxis Games are trying to shake up the conventional array of civilizations and leaders by adding a few new faces to the game.

Civilization VI will feature a new iconic President for the American Civilization - Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt.
We can only imagine that Roosevelt’s “speak softly, and carry a big stick” diplomatic posture will feel very different from that of India’s Gandhi, who’s words are backed by NUCLEAR WEAPONS.

As each new leader has been announced, some have commented that a lot of them are quite different than what people expected. Classic, iconic leaders like Washington or Bonaparte have been replaced by Teddy Roosevelt and Catherine de Medici. In some cases, even I had to go google specific leaders (like Japan’s Hojo Tokimune) or even entire civilizations (like the Scythians, led by Queen Tomyris). In a preview video, the design team made it clear that there goal was to go for leaders with the “biggest personalities,” which (if nothing else) explains where we got Teddy Roosevelt.

The Firaxis team has also made it clear that every leader will have a distinct personal agenda or style of play to set them apart. Roosevelt will endeavor to build a large military and prevent people from waging war on his home continent. Emperor Qin Shi Huang of China will have an obsessive desire to build wonders of the world. We can only assume that India’s Gandhi will once again have a passionate urge to carpet the planet in the warming glow of nuclear weapons.

For those that missed the first Civilization game, Gandhi was quite hostile and fond of nukes.
History never mentioned his nuclear ambition.

As the October release date approaches, more and more of the new details will be released. Already, they’ve made it clear that this game will change the way cities are built and how diplomacy is handled. Will it survive the test of time? We won’t know until the game comes out (and probably one to two expansions).