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Veganism in gamedesign

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Martin_H, Mar 24, 2018.

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  1. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    I mentioned making this topic as a joke once, but since then I've thought about it more seriously and I think it's actually worth discussing. I swear I'm not just trolling! And also I still eat meat, so I'm not trying to push anything on anyone, you can all eat what you want, I don't care. This thread is about games.

    There were two experiences that got me to think about this some more. One is a video by a vegan freelance illustrator on youtube, who does a lot of food illustration. She once made a video where she announced that she will no longe be doing food illustration of meat-based products. At first I thought this is a little extreme, but since food illustration often is used in some form of product marketing, I can see where she's coming from. Are any of you making concient choices about mechanics in your games based on things like that? Wouldn't that have very concerning implications about violence in videogames in general? Or do you think that's something different entirely?

    The other thing is, I've been playing FarCry 4 recently and the game offers a lot of "player-choice" on how to play and how to customize the gaming experience. I like turning all HUD elements except objective markers off, use the bow and throwing knives a lot, replay many of the Outpost challenges, and only occasionally follow the main story quests. I feel like I can play pretty much how I want, and still have a good time in the game. In FarCry 3 I always wanted to do more stealth for taking down Outposts, but I always messed up the first try and iirc there was no way to try again. So far they seem to have fixed almost all the things that I disliked about FC3. What it does not offer any choices on however, is the hunting aspect of the game. If you want upgrades to very essential equipment pieces, you have to kill animals. Like if you want to be able to carry more than 1 weapon around at a time, you have to slay your way up the food chain and skin oddly specific critters. I really don't enjoy that part of the game. It feels forced and arbitrary, I feel bad for most of the animals, it's not a very interesting interaction in terms of gameplay mechanics, and some of the wildlife in the game is obnoxiously aggressive. When I see a bear/tiger/badger and choose to spare it, more often then not 10 seconds later I'll be hearing the screams of a civilian being torn to shreds by it. So no matter what choice I make, I'll be feeling bad about it in some way. Once I saw some dog-like creature hunt after a deer, and I thought I'll help the deer out with my AK47, but even though I hit the predator, it didn't die, chased the deer over a hilltop, and killed it before I caught up. Now I was there, didn't reach my goal, and also had to shoot down four other predators that I had run into and were attacking me now. I'd really rather turn off the whole animal aspect of the game. I don't use them in combat, I don't enjoy fighting them, and gating for the equipment progression could easily be done any other way, like with money or looting dead soldiers...

    When I go into my supermarket, I see even parts of the meat industry bend over backwards to offer vegan alternatives for those who want them. We have TV commercials from companies that used to sell only meat, that now market their vegetarian meat-alternatives to carnivores who are just looking to eat less meat instead of quitting entirely. The shelf for vegan and vegetarian products keeps getting bigger and bigger and I think we're only 10 - 20 years away from vegan and lab-grown artificial meat products outselling real meat. I'm wondering when the games industry will acknowledge these demographic changes and rethink how that element of choice can be put into games, because I'm fairly certain that at some point in the future it will make a small but measureable difference in sales, whether such a game as FarCry has an optional "vegan mode" or not.

    I think it is inevitable that at some point, some big AAA game will be the first to try this (or has it already happened and I missed it?). I'm curious how this will be received by the public. Would it be a worthwhile marketing stunt or just the start of another S***storm? The recent lootbox controversies and statements by publishers have turned "player choice" into a dirty word of sorts. On the other hand people seem to generally prefer having more choices when asked.

    Thoughts?
     
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  2. SnowInChina

    SnowInChina

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    i am not against the vegan lifestyle, it's a choice everyone has to make for himself
    but i don't get this idea
    videogames are not real, there's no actual harm to animals if you kill them in a game
    so i would like to leave games out of all this social/political discussions
    we as a society are already at a point where even stating facts will offend people and start S***storms, if possible i would like to leave this out of games, because otherwise this whole thing we have here will be ruined for everyone
    and i say this because there are a lot of extremists who would love to push their agenda onto everyone else
    example : https://www.pcgamer.com/peta-wants-warhammer-characters-to-stop-wearing-furs-now/

    if game companies would start to alter their game for every interest group out there, it would propably be impossible to ship any game
     
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  3. AcidArrow

    AcidArrow

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    Why was it a little extreme? I don't know the situation you're talking about, but I'm guessing she's at a point where she's doing okay, so she can pick and choose a little what she draws, so she chooses to draw things she likes.

    I certainly do try to not put things into my games that I don't enjoy. I'm not sure what you mean with "things like that".
     
  4. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    Fair point, but I think we are headed there anyway because of this:


    It didn't sound like a situation like you describe, more like a categoric "I'm gonna stop doing this now and it will noticable hurt my business in the short term, and possibly also in the long term". That's a scary step to take. With "things like that" I mean prioritizing personal convictions for gamedesign choices over sensible business decisions, actively taking unpopular stances while accepting possible negative consequences to your business.


    I too wish there wasn't such an "outrage culture" and things would be much more chill, no matter what side of what fence one stands on. But we live in times where I see more and more games commentary videos on youtube titled like "Game X wasn't killed, it was murdered!", instead of "My thoughts on Game X". I think this is really the wrong direction to move into as a society, but because of how brains and social media algorithms work, I think it's inevitable that this gets worse and worse and worse...
     
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  5. Blacklight

    Blacklight

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    There have been S***storms over far more inconsequential things than trying to appeal to a particular group's political/lifestyle choices. Anyone remember the controversy when that Bioware employee suggested that the game include a difficulty option that would remove combat from the game so people could just get the narrative parts? I also recall a Subnautica developer stating that they deliberately excluded guns from the game as a political statement. I didn't see much controversy around that but that might have been because it was overshadowed by the firing of their sound designer for politically related tweet.

    A lot of people say they don't want social/political messages in media at all but in all honestly any piece of media that includes any aspect of human society is probably going to touch on one of those issues in some way. People tend to only notice and criticize things as political when those things show politics they don't agree with.

    I don't have a problem with more options for players to experience games the way they want. Mods are popular for a reason, after all. Things can get kinda tricky when dealing with aspects as large as animals/hunting in Far Cry and I don't know if they'd be willing to go as far as to remove it. It's easy to argue that wild animals are core to Far Cry's identity. Look at the kind of promotion they did for FC4:


    Making all that content optional would would require a lot of work, providing alternatives for unlocks, changing AI behaviour, redesigning combat encounters and missions, etc. I can't see them doing something like that just to try an appeal to a minor group. And I have no doubt that a move like that would enrage a lot of fans.

    That's not to say options like that could be implemented. I hear the most recently Thief game had a great deal of customization options for its difficulty and the new Prey game had option to choose either a male or female protagonist. As far as I know it has no effect on the gameplay and I can't recall anyone getting upset over it. It all really comes down to what kind of game you're making and how important the parts you want to customize are to the intended experience.
     
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  6. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    I have seen a video about that yesterday. It looks like an example of a "hand being forced" by the fear of what angry mobs could do to a company. I find that rather troubling.


    Right now I don't see them doing that either, but I'm assuming a constant rise in veganism in the coming years, caused by both social factors and (probably even more so) advancements in the creation of alternative products. Imho it's just a matter of time till it might make economical sense to include such options. The question is, is there an upside to be among the first to offer it? I'm not sure because I don't always understand what people get so riled up about in the big controversies. Do you think it would be different for a game that starts a new franchise than it would be for something with a "hunting tradition" like FarCry?


    The options in Thief were indeed quite extensive. I didn't like the game at all, but that aspect was commendable in my opinion.
    Prey had lots of choice right inside the game, defined through your actions. I really liked how they did this, felt kind of more like an RPG to me in that way, than Fallout 4 did. I think that's kind of the optimal way to go: allowing the player to organically make choices during play and explore different positions along the whole spectrum. That's what bothers me about FarCry, it's not a choice at all there.
    Iirc the first System Shock had different difficulty levels for puzzles, combat, story, and hacking (or something like that, I never really played it). I thought dividing it accross those different aspects makes sense and improves replayability. I think Dishonored 2 also had some more granular difficulty settings than is common nowadays.


    Some vegan black metal chef to lighten the mood:
     
  7. Blacklight

    Blacklight

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    It would definitely be easier when starting a new title than modifying an existing one. A significant portion of gamers tend to try and gatekeep their hobby and have a bad habit of taking alterations on products they like as personal insults. Think back again to the uproar over the Bioware designer suggesting a no-combat mode for Mass Effect. I guess people get it into their heads that there are specific ways a game should be played, or that adding a difficulty option like that is going to consume so much development resources that they might not get something else.

    For the AAA giants, the big decider for more extensive options is going to be "will this make more money?". If the recent lootbox and microtransaction debacles have shown me anything, it's that the larger companies don't really give a damn if their playerbase gets salty as long as they make money.
     
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  8. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Your first (or second, but first on topic) paragraph is describing a creator deliberately manipulating their output based on their own views.

    The remaining paragraphs are discussing creators deliberately manipulating their output based on consumer views.

    These are two different things. Keep that in mind.

    In fact, one could argue that Far Cry's insistence on violence-based gameplay is just as much of a moral stand as this vegan illustrator, because it's a creator designing their output based on their own beliefs, and not someone else's.


    That aside...

    I do tend to incorporate my own beliefs into my work to some extent. Heretofore I've done my utmost to design my experiences to not have killing or even combat with human beings, outside of places specific to a story. That said, I think I'm going to be forced to include it in one of my games--I don't see any way to avoid it.

    As far as pandering to an audience's views...no thanks. I'm sure there's potential there. I'm sure one can take such ideas and build interesting things from them, but I have plenty to work on without doing anything like that, and I'm not chasing numbers, I'm interested in building something I "believe" in. It's definitely possible to build something skillfully that you may not necessarily agree with, but I don't see any reason to for myself.

    And yes, some AAAs are already doing this (not for veganism in particular, but other types of similar "moral" stances). EA is the big one.

    We're a decade past this, mate. Ain't gonna happen.
     
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  9. FMark92

    FMark92

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    Yeah this is like the second time now. How do you feel about your impending ban? >:)
    This is exactly, word for word, what a troll would say.
    The game I'm currently prototyping is about concentration/work/death camp management. I think "what characters eat" in game will be the the last of my concerns if this game ever goes public.
    Yeah, lack of free market does that. State imposed currency is worthless so the only way to make a better living seems to be selling weapons and ammo to local insurgents. Realistically, how much could a citizen earn if they started producing and selling gun slings, molle belts and pouches? Would it be more than the earnings from the heirloom pig farm? What about the required effort? Combatants don't even use rifle slings... they just kind of... stick rifles to their backs? My point is that nobody bothers producing anything because they won't turn a profit/royalist will shoot them for not accepting king Min's gifts and expecting more.
    People also don't like debt and bigger taxes when asked but consistently vote for bigger government and more spending.
    Lately I've been reading about dangers of offering too much choice to customers (as a business). There are many examples and comparisons where offering less choice to customer made business more attractive. It COULD all be a monopoly-ist scam to get stores to sell their product while excluding other brands. But studies don't lie.
     
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  10. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    True, though it seems BF2 was bad enough to finally cause some change:



    Yikes! I wonder what got you started on that project?!
    Maybe if you add cannibalism...
    That's a good point. If you are interested in that sort of behavioral economics then I suggest watching some talks by Dan Gilbert on youtube.

    That's a very good distinction that I didn't quite made, good point!

    Yeah, this is probably something indies shouldn't worry about. I see such options to be more likely to happen in AAA games because they're all about "mass appeal" and in a way providing options instead of clear stances that would be one more way to be more "generic".



    Alright, seems like not many people have this topic on their mind while working on their games, and I can consider my curiosity satisfied.
     
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  11. FMark92

    FMark92

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    I took it upon myself to attempt to show the currently self proclaimed "anti-fascists" and Marxists the future they are creating.
    Genius.
    I'll check them out, thank you.
     
  12. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    Hm, I doubt you'll reach your goal with that, but I don't have any great suggestions either. Also this is getting too close to the politics category which shall not be touched here.
    You might want to look into these for research:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gulag_Archipelago
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_incidents_of_cannibalism#1940–49

    Wikipedia really has a list for almost everything...
     
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  13. FMark92

    FMark92

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    It's probably a lost cause and I'm just wasting time.
     
  14. chingwa

    chingwa

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    I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
    Edit: Nevermind... I laughed. :D
     
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  15. SnowInChina

    SnowInChina

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    oh, i wanted to reply and pressed like. well, there you go !

    what i wanted to say:
    it sounds more funny than it actually is. i mean, most likely this is a moral thing.
    this person thinks that its morally wrong to kill animals for food. while i don't agree with her, i can totally understand her point of view.
    Many people here would not do work for military purpose, because its against their morals. and that's also completly fine.
    and there are many more topics where people will have different opinions

    whats driving me nuts are the preachers, that talk down to you from their high horse because they think their moral standpoint is above all others and every opinion that differs from their is wrong.
    luckily we're able to have mostly civil discussions on this board (thanks to the mods), even if they sometimes drift away from gamedesign
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2018
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  16. chingwa

    chingwa

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    Yeah, no kidding. Her announcing to the world that she is not going to be doing meat-based illustrations is simply virtue-signalling. She is making this statement in order to shore up her participation in a certain group, and (perhaps unconsciously) to shame others. She could just quietly turn down jobs that would require her to draw anything approximating animal protein, but she is compelled to shout it from the rooftops to any passing stranger who might come across such a statement. Religion makes people do weird stuff. #ProselytizingForPlants

    Back on topic though, If you're going to put politics into your game then it better cut both ways. It's difficult to take something serious when it's pushing someone's personal agenda.
     
  17. LaneFox

    LaneFox

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    Sounds like a great idea.

    Do it, attract the eccentric and hyper-opinionated culture crowd then let them retweet your stand into a media blitz. Cry about how you're oppressed by the standards of our day and poof, you've got 200k pre-orders and an army of nonconformists doing your marketing for free.
     
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  18. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    I've never understood the stand against killing animals in video games. These are virtual animals, and you can kill as many of them as you want and no real animal will be hurt. What I do know is there are some people who do in fact feel this way, so I can totally understand creating a game for that target market.
     
  19. Player7

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    Some people don't like killing the pigs in minecraft for the bacon because they are cute.... personally I don't care and that's what games are for, though always liked that you could employ more efficient methods of leaving fire around and they would walk over it, burn and then die dropping pre cooked bacon.. .. notch clearly wasn't vegan at the time of making that game he went the extra mile to add that gameplay sophistication :p

    "use the bow and throwing knives a lot,"

    I like all games that cater to basic weaponry.. is more of sense of skill with it, where point and unload gun just doesn't fill me with hunting skill satisfaction... Especially when those basics are really polished.. unlike games like 7dtd where bow and arrow is basically trash in comparison to the farcry series.. or rust which also has bow for about 5mins and then you move onto better killing weapons as its the only way.

    "Thoughts?"

    yeh lots but i'm stopping here.
     
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  20. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    I Play Dwarf Fortress as a vegetarian because I can't figure out how to make the lazy buggers go hunting. ;)

    But seriously, this is a good topic, with some interesting implications. Here are a few thoughts:
    • Making vegan completion of the game an achievement. Could be an easy way to get people to do an extra play through.
    • A regular game where veganism is a valid option, but the player is penalized for it in some way. You could penalize meat in a different way, making veganism a choice about play style and mechanics.
    • A game where you play as a strict vegan, which explores the consequences of veganism in a world where you would be better off as a meat eater.
     
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  21. angrypenguin

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    I find this interesting, in that you're choosing to play a game where a primary activity is shooting people, but hunting animals is a turnoff. It could be that I misunderstand veganism, but I'd have thought that if harming or killing animals is bad then doing the same to humans, who are also technically animals, would be ruled out as well?

    It did occur to me that this could be justified by the fact that the soldiers attack you, but as you point out, so do the animals. And interestingly, in this game quite specifically, I'm pretty sure that violence from the player begins only after the rebels start a fight and you actively choose to join them. (If you don't get involved I hear that the game is very different and quite short, though I must admit to not having watched the alternate start/end in full.)

    That said, I definitely agree that the design of that section of the game is... somewhat less than perfect. I don't at all like the way that the hunting challenges are tied to the upgrade system. For starters, the whole idea that "I couldn't possibly carry more ammunition unless it's wrapped in just the right shade of rare threads" is just distractingly out of character. The game is scattered with such humor and most of the other characters are mad in their own way, but that's the only bit (which I remember) that implies madness on behalf of the otherwise blank-slate of Ajay.
     
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  22. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    I don't have anything to say on the topic of veganism itself, but I want to say that as a developer, you should create exactly the game you want to make, and deal with the consequences. Part of being an artist is being able to explore things that you want to, even things that (unlike hunting) are almost universally agreed upon as being immoral. And there's a reason for that - as people we are born with a lot of parts of ourselves that are difficult to deal with, and conscious thought about it is the only way to figure out how to carry them around without running into destructive conflicts with ourselves and other people.

    Of course I think there are gratuitous ways of portraying things that are potentially destructive, but I'm not sure that's the biggest problem right now.

    If the question is "should we make more games for vegans" then yeah, sure, I'm sure there are a lot of vegan game designers out there who will be able to make something meaningful around veganism that's not simply politically correct. But should games be wrangled to remove elements of hunting or whatever to cater to vegans? Absolutely not. Far Cry for example is not just an 'anything', it's a 'thing' - it has an identity of some sort. Artistic integrity comes first.

    Maybe I don't have the same perspective on the purpose of video games as a lot of other people do - I don't consider games to be valuable whatsoever in terms of the player's ability to sort of construct their own ideal world around them. I'm inclined to think that games are pathological (or at least have the potential to become much more pathological) that way. I see games, like any form of art, as experiences that a player dives into at a certain psychological peril, a way of facing the idea of something that you don't quite understand, delivered by someone who knows far more about it than you do. The idea of making something that caters to players in order to make them feel comfortable and not simply in order to connect them more deeply with the experience is, in my opinion, contrary to what games are useful for.
     
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  23. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    I like it. That is very similar to how Prey handles the use of the human/alien powers from the skilltree.


    Good points, but I think I'm making a different distincting between games that I see more like "toys" (to me FarCry clearly belongs in that category), and games that offer a very specific and designed experience like for example This War of Mine or Papers Please. I think the latter are better off making all the choices for the player and the former are better off with offering the players more choices about how to enjoy their gaming experience. For example I also think the looting in FarCry 4 is stupid and I've turned off all the onscreen messages related to it. I still open the chests because I know I can't turn off the entire game mechanic and still need to get cash from somewhere to finance my frequent ammo restocks, but I'm happy I don't have the messages about stuff I don't care about popping up anymore. Same with looting and animal skinning animations, I'm very happy I can just turn them off, it considerably enhances my gaming experience to have less boring downtime where I'm watching the same animations over and over again.


    I'm not coming from any moral standpoint and I don't try to be morally consistent either. I even ate some really tasty chicken today, I'm nowhere close to being a vegan myself.
    To put it bluntly, I enjoy the shooting/stabbing/killing of hordes of badguys in games like FarCry, Dishonored, Homefront Revolution, Wolfenstein, etc., but I don't get the same enjoyment out of killing animals in games. Replacing the human foes with robots like in the censored German version of Halflife 1 would also negatively impact the fun for me. Since a very early age I've seen games as a cathartic release for all my frustrations with humanity, so maybe it's just a case of me not having that same kind of frustration with animals? Or an "uncanny valley" thing that makes it harder to empathize with generic Soldier MacSoldierface number 351 in his ridiculously impractical red Uniform, compared to some fluffy bear that doesn't know any better?
    The last time I played Minecraft I ended up releasing all my pigs back into the wild because they made me kind of sad...

    I haven't finished FarCry 4 yet, so I'll check that link out when I'm done with the campaign story. Right now I've just unlocked the arena, to give you an idea where I am in the game.

    I really strongly disliked the endings of FarCry 3. I don't remember all of them clearly (were there 2 or 3?), but those that I remember both felt totally unsatisfying and like "you've done something wrong".

    From the little spoilers that I couldn't avoid and how the story is starting to develop, I fear that aspect might turn out not to be too different in FC4. Usually in such games I'd rather not make branching choices in the narrative and would prefer to go through it more like a movie that I may or may not end up liking. But if I don't, at least it's not my own fault. E.g. the choice in the first of the latest Wolfenstein reboots for who you want to save and who you want to let die doesn't add anything to the game for me that I care for. I didn't enjoy the game enough to go through a full second playthrough, on the path I took the guy I saved berated me for having made the wrong choice, and I feel like I'm missing out on part of the content that I have purchased. That's also why I don't like the Telltale games. I love "systemic freedom" like in all immersive sim games, but I don't like "freedom to pick your story branch".
     
  24. chingwa

    chingwa

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    I once spent 2 hours of my time running around GTA5 doing nothing but stomping cats. It was great fun. I would never stomp cats in real life, I love cats! But I think the ability of games to allow you to explore and interact is paramount.
     
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  25. Martin_H

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    As long as you're having fun I think all is fine. But imho it would be a dumb mechanic if e.g. you had to stomp 10 cats for each new weapon unlock, or collect 1 cat per 9 shots of a silenced gun (I think Postal 2 did that).
     
  26. EternalAmbiguity

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    You may already know this, but that design began in Far Cry 3. And it sounds like you have a problem with the believability of the design, because from a gameplay perspective it's pretty much perfect--a gameplay loop for the player to engage in that has meaningful progression. It's a similar idea to RPG mechanics (or at least experience in an RPG).

    Spoilers for FC3:

    In the end of the game, Jason finds himself basically a psychopath who enjoys killing people. On one hand, his friends are all leaving and they want him to return with them to civilization. But that doesn't jive with the "monster" he has become. On the other hand, the natives want him to stay there, and if he does so he can continue to pursue his new nature.

    It has similarities to Lord of the Flies. Honestly the plot of that game is really good for a game. As for the choice at the end, I personally like the idea that you can choose it yourself, partially because it's an FPS where the player identifies more with the character than perhaps in some third person games.

    *independent from the above*

    I notice that a lot of people here seem to feel any kind of content is okay in a video game, mostly because it's a video game (Billy's point is somewhat different, but I'll explore it if requested).

    I have to wonder if you feel that way about all content. I'm mainly thinking about sexual content. One extreme example I won't mention directly is a game that garnered a great deal of controversy in 2009, but even today the Japanese industry freely sexualizes underage girls (excuse me, 1000 year old dragons), and in some visual novels has actual sexual content in such cases (incest is another social taboo they include frequently).

    Do you guys feel these things are also acceptable? Most views in the west are lax on violence, but very strict on sexual content.
     
  27. Kiwasi

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    Which is kind of why the vegan game appeals to me. In real life, I'm never going to give up my steak. But in a game, exploring veganism could be quite interesting.
     
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  28. chingwa

    chingwa

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    LOL Exactly.
     
  29. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    I don't have a problem with it mechanically. I have a problem with its presentation.

    If they'd simply changed it so that it was presented as being practical then it'd have worked fine to me. "I need to hunt a bigger boar to get stronger leather to hold more guns" is much more action-hero-believable than requiring a specific rare pelt purely because a mad fashionista tells you it'll look fantastic. I know they were playing this for laughs, but for me it just didn't work within the greater context of the game.

    I played a bunch of Far Cry 3 and from memory (I could well be wrong) it had the same mechanics but didn't highlight the fashion side of things. Same deal with Primal. I didn't have an issue with it in either of those even though I think it was pretty much mechanically identical.
     
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  30. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    Rather than "extreme", I'd say it is approaching "crazy".

    I would not want to make products for people who are incapable of tolerating alternative worldviews in a fictional world.

    Hence, I'd rather not do "vegan-compliant" products, at least when I'm working for myself. I see this issue as not significant enough to consider.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018
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  31. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    Well the question of how much a game is about message vs mechanics is simply a design question for each case, imo, and not something that can be worked out as a universal standard. I wouldn't be too sure that Far Cry is a 'toy' - there are a bunch of games/movies that seem to me to be ridiculous/cartoony/toy-like with what seems like a savagely loyal following.

    I want to make it clear, I don't object to the idea of a veganism-centric game, or even for something like the option not to hunt in a game like Far Cry (although in this specific example I really don't think it would work). But I don't think that a game should cater to a specific preference just for the sake of not being offensive. To begin with, where are all the FPS games that offer a 'tranquiliser gun mode' or 'love dart mode' for those who don't like killing? I don't want to sound like I'm trying to ridicule your argument, but I just want to provide an exaggerated example of why I think that catering to preferences won't generally work.

    Also, I'm all for player choice. I like games that offer as much variety as possible in the routes a player can take to achieve the end goal, whether that is through love, war, or collecting cabbages so much the better. But I think these mechanics should arise out of a desire to expand the player experience and not for politically correct reasons. And there should be space for any game to deliver a specific message or player experience that may or may not be to some people's tastes.

    From a personal point of view, I don't like games that engage in controversial stuff just for the sake of being gratuitous. Unlike all these post-modern ideas about art, I think that there's no such thing as art without a message, or art that 'you can look at however you like'. Art without a message, in my opinion, is typically gratuitous hedonism trying to obscure itself as something more complex.

    That said, I feel that in all art forms there has to be space to deliver a message without being too encumbered by political correctness. I suppose that games are somewhat different from books and movies in that there is an element of intent and agency on the part of the player. I do think that psychologically that makes a difference. But is there value in a player experiencing themselves intentionally doing things that are morally ambiguous or outright immoral? There's certainly value in a person thinking about what they might be capable of doing in the wrong circumstances (so that they know themselves better) but I think there's a limit to what games can add to that experience without making it potentially destructive. If delivered in the right context and with the right message though, I think it can constitute a constructive experience.

    Without knowing too much about the specific example you gave, I can't help but feel like this is an example of gratuitous fantasizing - designed for the player, to some extent, to be able to fantasize about some kind of ideal world where there is a looser definition of morality and they can engage in pleasurable things that are not socially acceptable. In a game context, I think that's the kind of thing that can easily become pathological - I'm not saying that it would necessarily cause the person to do something immoral in the real world, but at least this sort of thing can essentially rot someone from the inside out, the same way that certain kinds of porn habits can do. But although it's pathetic and possibly destructive to the player's wellbeing, I'm still not sure that it's something society should try to ban if it's a virtual experience and does not involve any real girls.

    So I don't pretend to know how to regulate this sort of thing, or where to draw the line, but if I was trying to decide my own opinion the first thing I would ask is "what is the message?" and if there is none or it's a dubious one, it's probably not something I'd want to play.
     
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  32. snacktime

    snacktime

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    I think it's fine to include culture in games even relatively small interest groups if it provides something to the gameplay.

    I don't really get developers who try to push their own political agenda's. The reality is that they aren't going to convince anyone that way, so at best it's basically just a middle finger to some segment of their user base. They are of course entitled to do it, it's just not really smart on their part.

    Conversely, you have consumers who will get tweaked at the slightest slight to their political viewpoints also. So even touching on any political subject in a game is going to tweak some group of people.

    IMO the only way to win, make a game who's whole point is to tweak as many people as possible on all sides of every issue:)
     
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  33. angrypenguin

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    Branching story is one of my favorite parts of video games. It's not about content to me, it's about an interactive experience, and if it's just a linear thing you progress along the interactive component becomes pretty one dimensional. Choices are important, and if there aren't paths I might "miss out" on then I'm not actually getting the opportunity to make a choice.

    Plus, I could play multiple times to see that content. If I don't then that's my choice, I still have the opportunity.

    Regarding Wolfenstein in particular, I suspect that both characters result in an angsty outcome about why you should have picked the other guy. It's a consistent thematic aspect of the game. Every character is defined by the traumas that war has inflicted on them and how they've dealt with it. The Witcher is similar, in that a constant thematic element of the books/games is that good intentions don't necessarily lead to good results.

    Given the popularity of Game of Thrones, yeah, this stuff seems to be acceptable in media by a large number of people.
     
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  34. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    I'm not talking about sexual content in general, but stuff that's considered immoral and/or illegal. Kind of like how a lot of the violence in games is stuff that's illegal, not just "self-defense" or something.

    I've never watched Game of Thrones, but my understanding of it (please correct me if I'm wrong) is that the overwhelming majority of its sexual content is between consenting adults. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about stuff that would push boundaries if done in real life, just like some of the violent content in video games.

    Edit: and not only is the violence in games typically illegal or "immoral," it's also frequently portrayed as acceptable. Many games have you gunning down hundreds of people in the course of a campaign, yet your character is sympathetic and cries when the one person they love dies (after which they kill a couple dozen enemies as revenge). How much questionable sexual content is portrayed as acceptable?

    The most well-known example is Lolita, and it doesn't portray anything as acceptable at all, in any way shape or form.

    I know a few games that fit vaguely under the umbrella of FPS (though they're more RPGs to be honest) that have achievements for completing the game without killing anyone. One is Deus Ex Human Revolution, another is Kingdom Come Deliverance. Just an aside.

    I appreciate your comment.

    However, I kind of have to turn around and ask if you feel the same way about violent content. Do you feel that games should be telling you that it's wrong to kill animals to craft a bigger wallet even as they let you do it? If not, why not?

    I don't necessarily disagree with your conclusions on the potential effect of such things. But I also think that we downplay the effect of (illegal or "immoral") violence in games as well, so having different views on the two subjects doesn't make very much sense to me.


    And to reply to your comment another way, it looks to me like you're trying to say that your own morals determine what types of art are worthwhile (by judging the "message" of the art as dubious or whatever). I'll repeat what I said before, that your initial comment wasn't what I was targeting (i.e. this next part is not about you), but I notice a lot of people like to condemn these progressive movements as inflicting their morals on others, and yet do the exact same thing in their own judgements. And a third party governing the creation or dissemination of art based on their own views is a dicey thing, as many artists in totalitarian countries over the years could attest to.
     
  35. Martin_H

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    The question is, did it cause the acceptance or just reveal it?

    Kind of like GTA games do it? I always liked how they essentially feel like a cynical parody of reality, even down to the fake Internet you can browse, etc..

    Interesting. For me the big obvious a/b choices always are immersion breaking, so I'm not even feeling like I'm deciding e.g. what the right direction for the golden path is, I feel like I'm deciding which set of cutscenes I wanna watch on my first and possibly only playthrough. The story in FC4 is starting to feel somewhat more meaningful at the point where I am, so I'll start to finish it before I'll get back to this discussion.

    As far as I'm aware no study was ever able to prove any increase in violent behaviour from playing violent videogames. I'm not aware of any studies even having been done on the other kind of extreme games you talk about. Have there been any?

    Completely agree!

    That one I don't quite agree with, or at least our definitions of "art" might differ. I don't really like the term to begin with, because it's so "loaded". I think it's both possible and perfectly ok to make games that have no message or intentions. Usually all I'm ever working on goes in that direction because I just don't have all that many strong opinions that I would want to cram into things that I make. I see nothing wrong with some "gratuitous hedonism".
     
  36. Billy4184

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    I think I didn't quite get across my point. I didn't say that games should or should not do anything. Personally, I look for a message because I would rather spend my time thinking about something that is constructive to me than participating in someone else's dubious idea of a fantasy. But I did not say that games should always necessarily have a good message, as some sort of moral imperative.

    What I do think is that there are games that have pretty much no utility at all except the kind of 'utility' that porn has - self-destructive fantasizing on topics of moral ambiguity. I said that I don't know how or even if this stuff should be regulated, but I certainly find no value in it and would rather it didn't exist.

    The key point I want to clarify here is that there is a distinction between what I myself think is acceptable for myself, in terms of what I want to get from a game, and what I think society should allow or not. To be perfectly honest, I don't really think that regulation of art (besides the usual age-based restrictions that don't really do anything anyway) is worth attempting, since it is halfway toward the regulation of thought and speech. In terms of what should or should not be allowed, that's a question that has to do with the measurable negative effects that games have on society as a whole as opposed to individuals - which is pretty much nothing as far as I can tell so I don't think there's anything to do here.

    But to get to your main point - do I see a difference between different kinds of immorality in games. Well of course I do, and I'm not going to lay out my point of view on each specific topic because it will of course differ from everyone else's, besides derailing the thread. What I consider to be perfectly OK might bother someone else, and vice versa. But note that I do not believe my individual preferences should be taken into account whatsoever in terms of how games should be regulated. That's something that every society has to do, based on the measured effects of morally ambiguous games on society at large. Which doesn't seem to be much at all.

    So my argument is basically "do whatever the hell you want" and people will judge you on your message for good or for worse. And political correctness should be kept out of it.

    Of course my own morals determine what art I consider worthwhile. That doesn't mean though, as I hope I've made it clear, that I think stuff I don't like should necessarily be regulated, unless some rock-solid connection can be made between it and some kind of widespread damage to society, which hasn't happened so far.

    To be perfectly honest, I find most games shallow and almost completely devoid of worth (and in fact probably destructive to the player in some small degree as well). I don't think they should be removed from circulation though, and if people want to play it that's up to them. I won't say however that I think they are worthwhile.
     
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  37. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    Well I suppose that's a fair point, but when morality comes into question enough I think it's a good idea to think about whether it's actually worth playing.
     
  38. MustardBoy

    MustardBoy

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  39. FMark92

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    Indeed.
     
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  40. pk_Holzbaum

    pk_Holzbaum

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    TL;DR
     
  41. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    I don't know of any either. But in such a case, even a change in one's view of the topic in question would be considered significant, and I think that's the main place we ignore with violence. I suspect videogame violence desensitizes us to the concept of violence, even if we're not necessarily more prone to act violent ourselves. Similarly sexual content may desensitize us to the concept of such, even if we're not more prone to act on it.

    And many would call that desensitization itself problematic in that case--but why isn't it problematic for violence too?

    Gotcha. The bolded is mainly what I was trying to bring up as a topic of discussion. Because again, lots of people (and we've seen it in this thread) try to indict things like veganism or political correctness as people inflicting their morals on others (again, you weren't one of those people). Meanwhile, in other contexts these people do the same exact thing in inflicting their own morals on others for things they don't like. So topics like these tend to bring out people who are really no better than the ones they're accusing, but they feel superior because they're being "anti-PC" or something.

    The reality is we all have some type of moral standard we judge things by. And to some extent, we all inflict our morality on others. Pretending that oneself is a better person or more "woke" because one does this in counter-culture ways is pretty myopic.
     
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  42. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    I didn't know Wolfenstein II had so much "controversy" surrounding it. Seems like a good example of what you mention. If you type "Wolfenstein 2 SJW" into youtube you'll find more videos than I'd have thought. Here is one that seems more on the neutral side:



    I'm now pretty much convinced that getting close to any such topics is likely not worth it in todays games-media landscape, unless maybe you're deliberately trying to tilt as many people as you can on all fronts.

    Personally I think that because of the uncanny valley games don't do that to any considerable extend, but of course I have nothing scientific to back that up with. I would bet that almost all players of hardcore violent videogames are pretty shocked and apalled when/if they see their first real beheading video. There's a mile of a difference between games and real violence. I find thinks like "fail compilations" much more problematic because they feature real people in a contextual framing of indifference or Schadenfreude towards their suffering. I don't seek that stuff out, but when I stumbled about such a gif compilation on imgur or a video on youtube, I remember reading comments like "how many people did I just watch die?", because of how extreme some of these "funny accidents" are. And I abhor this cultural trend of "just a prank bro!"-content. My personal opinion is that stuff like that erodes away compassion and empathy in people much quicker than any game ever could, even if it actively tried.
    But, you know, only my opinion...


    Small aside to hunting mechanics in FC4: if you need e.g. clouded leopard pelts, you just need to be in the right are (they are marked on the map), throw bait, wait 3 seconds, headshot it with a bow, skin it, and repeat till you have all the pelts you need. There's no skill whatsoever necessary to pull that off, so I can't help but still think this progression mechanic is like "go to arbitrary places at arbitrary points in time to collect some nonsensically specific things as part of your grinding excercise".

    It seems FC5 got rid of the mandatory tower climbing, is that right? If so, then good on them!
     
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  43. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Very true. The violence in games is not at all realistic compared to the sexual content in (some) games. So it's not the same. I do wonder how much of an effect it has, however, because I do believe it has some effect (everything does)

    Your example is probably one of the more incendiary ones at present, given the rise of the "alt-right" and their subsequent labeling as Nazis by progressives. You get similar extremism (on both sides) for stuff like GamerGate. That doesn't mean all issues are like this, however. Something like a character who is a vegan could be reasonably portrayed if it isn't trying to preach an ideal.

    Katawa Shoujo is a visual novel (an erotic one, so be careful with your searches ;)) where each of the "heroines" is disabled in some way. One girl is blind, another has no legs, another's body is covered in horrific burns, and another is deaf. And it came from...4-Chan, of all places. But anyway, while these disabilities undeniably form a huge part of the game experience, they're never treated as a bludgeon to argue social issues, so it feels genuine. You don't spend your time in each route learning about how these disabilities are just terrible and we need to prop up people who have them. You spend the route learning about these individual girls and their emotional states (often influenced by their disabilities, but never defined by them).

    Recently I've been thinking a bit about experiences where some revelation is shown at the end of the story that challenges your current view. Like, just as a simplistic example, a female character who has a hand hook that she hides for most of the story, but you see near the end. It might change your opinion of her...but should it? In such cases the key is to not make it into a preaching session lecturing the player about how this is totally normal, but to present it naturally and move on. Allow the player to stop for contemplation--don't force that on them.

    That's probably my main view on all of this, actually, even if it's something I disagree with. I won't mind it too much if the experience does that: allows the player/reader/viewer to stop for contemplation, and doesn't force it on them.
     
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  44. makeshiftwings

    makeshiftwings

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    I'm an actual vegan, so I have some opinions. :p

    First, I'd be worried about my personal safety if I inserted too much veganism into a game. The amount of death threats you'd get flooded with from people who are allegedly just trying to "protect free speech" or "stop political correctness" or some other half-thought-out bullshit would be huge. But second, even ignoring the death threats, I think because the people who would protest against any game that mentions veganism vastly outnumber the tiny amount of actual vegan gamers, that it would not be particularly economically advantageous. I mean, take your example... some random girl on the internet said she doesn't want to draw pictures of meat anymore. So? That's fine! People can or can not draw whatever they want! And yet there are multiple people in this thread claiming that she's literally insane, or that she's on a quest to instill maximum shame on random web passerbys, or (the best) that she's part of a nefarious culture of freedom-haters that will drive the country towards a hellscape of concentration camps and cannibalism. All this based on a second-hand account of a viewing of a single video on the internet. WHAT. In my life experience, I've had lots of people fly into a frothing rage at just hearing the word "vegan", and they vastly outnumber the actual vegans who are allegedly running around in a horde on the streets rage-stealing hamburgers from babies or whatever. ;)
     
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  45. Lurking-Ninja

    Lurking-Ninja

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    I agree with a lot of things. For example I agree with your rights to do whatever you want. You should develop your game however you see fit. If you want to show a vegan's adventure, so be it. Probably I won't be your primary market, because I don't care about if someone is vegan or eats meat. It's a personal issue and should be stay personal. I'm not teasing anyone to eat hamburger, no one should tease me to become a vegan (and miraculously vegans are telling me all the time that it is disgusting that I eat meat and I should stop, because) . End of story.

    But if you make a statement, it becomes political. The girl, who stated that she won't draw meat made a political statement. It's her choice, obviously, but still, it's political. Or have you seen anyone stating that they will draw hamburgers from now on? Or they don't draw wooden things because of the dying rain forests?
    If you did, those are political statements as well. Nothing wrong with it, it's a personal choice, but please, don't pretend like it is not a political stand, because it is.

    And I don't really care how she hurts her own business, it's her business. If she finds her market, who does not want meat on her drawings, so be it.
     
  46. makeshiftwings

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    Are they? Are they really? No, stop. Are they REALLY? Do you actually, literally, have literal vegans, in real life, "all the time", telling you that you are disgusting? And also saying the reason is "just because". Like, these are actual, not imaginary, actual real humans in the real human world who are actually talking to you all the time?

    But this is also a statement, and so you are also taking a political stand. Anything you state is a statement; any opinion about anything can be politicized. A lot of "anti-PC" people like to imagine that the things they like (shooting animals in a game) are inherently not political, but the things they don't like (NOT shooting animals in a game) are "political" or "politically correct". Eating meat is just as "political" as not eating meat... it's just the former is more popular than the latter. It's always been weird to me that the anti-PC crowd labels things that are amazingly unpopular and nearly non-existent in American politics, like, say, veganism, as "politically correct". What does that even mean? Is there a single politician out there who actually thinks veganism is correct? Doesn't it matter that almost every politician in the country thinks eating meat IS correct? Who knows. I don't get it.
     
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  47. Lurking-Ninja

    Lurking-Ninja

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    Yes, my daughter is vegan (she is one of the few exceptions, who does not pressure me or my other friends to become a vegan), and I live in the Bay Area, with a lot of people who are vegan (some because of religious, some cultural, some health and some just fashion statement - reasons).
    So yes, they are, for some interesting reason, there is someone almost every week (but let's be generous, in every month or two months...) who states that I should stop eating meat.

    Now, let's compare this to my zero occasion when I stated that anyone should eat meat.

    Yes, I am. And what? I like political statements.

    And you're wrong: having hunting in a game is not political inherently. Also not having hunting in a game isn't political inherently. Hopefully it is a sane design decision.
    Demanding to stop having hunting in a game IS political. Also demanding to have hunting in a game is political.
     
  48. makeshiftwings

    makeshiftwings

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    Having one person every two months state that you should stop eating meat sounds different than "vegans telling me all the time that it's disgusting". I mean, especially if your own daughter, whose job it is to think her dad is lame ;), and who you probably see pretty often, doesn't hassle you about it.

    As an experiment, you should walk into a steak house and yell that you are vegan, and see if the number of people who say you should eat meat outnumber the ones who have said you shouldn't. I'd bet in five minutes you'd get more anti-vegans than the six rude vegans you ran into last year. ;)

    But why? Is it just that "demanding" things is political? Is asking nicely, insinuating, implying, or voting with your wallet not political? Why use the word political when it has nothing to do with "politics" in the normal sense of the word, like "relating to laws or politicians"?
     
  49. Lurking-Ninja

    Lurking-Ninja

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    I can't even understand what are you trying to tell me with this since I stated above that she's among the rare exceptions. So IDK. Maybe you should read more carefully if you want to add something to the discussion?

    It's nothing to do with "politics", I haven't been talking about politics. You're mistaken I believe. Political statements are different from politics.
    Everything is a political statement when someone try to imply, having influence over other people's life. Directly or indirectly. Because normally you have nothing to do with other people's life. It's not your business. Like vegans who tell me that I should stop eating meat, they are trying to change my life. Which is my business, not theirs.
    When I tell someone that in my opinion, A is good and B isn't good or it's bad, that is a political statement, because naturally I want to influence other people's life. Which is fine up to a certain point.

    Everything is political which try to influence or change the way the community works. It may be local politics, it may be just group politics, or it may be cultural one (like veganism).
     
  50. makeshiftwings

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    Damn you replied in the two seconds that that post existed before I deleted it because I realized I misread the part about your daughter. That was some quick typing. ;)
     
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