One Saints Row Producer Is Upset with the Promotional Focus on Porn

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Featuring a level of absurdity that would make a “Looney Toons” segment roll its eyes, the “Saints Row” series features only the barest resemblance to real life, and instead promotes a sandbox world where absurdity rules the land, and you are encouraged to exploit every corner of it with maniacal glee.

Nobody really takes it seriously, is what I’m getting at.

Well actually make that almost nobody. Producer of “Saints Row 4” Kate Nelson not only cares about the quality of the game, but is also concerned about the image of the game as it relates to the use of porn stars to promote the title. Particularly, the labeling of porn actress Tera Patrick as one of the game’s executive producers, a move which Nelson has criticized as it grants an important title within the game to someone with virtually no involvement whatsoever in it.

This wouldn’t mark the first time the series has used these tactics either, as former publisher THQ used Penthouse models, other porn actresses, and various scantily clad ladies of all walks of life to promote the game in one way or another.

Besides serving as something of an insult to the development team, the larger issue that is being brought up is that such moves cheapen certain elements of the game and instead put the focus on the outlandishness, or particularly the sex elements. Even though that is certainly a part of the series, putting all attention towards those elements does mean that the freeform inventive gameplay the series truly revolves around, starts getting downplayed not only in media coverage, but potentially in design philosophy as well.

It’s no secret that sex and video games is an awkward topic, due in large part to the awkward way that it has been handled in the medium to date. While “Saints Row” isn’t exactly a paragon of virtue when it comes to the representation of women, the buck has to stop somewhere when it comes to exploiting the matter, and even in a series as outlandish as this one, it’s nice to know there is someone behind the scenes who is thinking about the effect the matter has on gameplay above all.

Ubisoft is Interested in Buying THQ

The ongoing financial situation plaguing THQ Games has been well documented, and recently resulted in such actions as the company hosting a prolific, and somewhat successful, humble bundle sale, but still ultimately filing for bankruptcy and selling their assets to the Clearlake Capital Group for $60 million. It’s a sad situation not only for the employees of THQ, but for gamers as well, as THQ still has quite a few high quality franchises to its name, including “Metro”, the WWE games, “Darksiders”, “Company of Heroes”, “Warhammer”, and “Saints Row”. Now, though, the future of those titles, and more, is cast in serious doubt even as THQ seemingly remains active for the moment.

However, some hopeful news has emerged from the whole matter recently, as there is a rumor that Ubisoft is seriously interested in buying the properties of THQ. While the early reports suggest they will be waiting until THQ is a little more certain (and, frankly, desperate) that they will be selling their properties in order to get a better price, Ubisoft has been clear with their interest in the assets should they have the opportunity.

“We are always interested in good brands.” Says Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, “For sure, it’s something we can consider, but I can’t tell you more.”

While the option is out there for Ubisoft to snatch certain titles, it’s looking more likely they will be eyeing the entire line up. From an outside perspective, this would be a real win, win for all parties if the buyout happens, as it would not only save the reeling developer, but Ubisoft would add some substantial games to its already stacked repertoire. For gamers who are interested in THQ’s titles, there couldn’t be a better interested buyer than Ubisoft, as the two company’s philosophies concerning quality development are very similar, and Ubisoft has proved to be one of the most consistent developers and publishers of the last decade.

As bad as this whole ordeal has been for THQ, it’s good to know that it may not be game over for the company just yet.

A Serious Discussion About Comedy in Video Games

I was lucky enough to grow up a gamer during the NES era. I say lucky not just because, as a child, the NES was this mythical monolith of unlimited entertainment potential, but because I’ve been lucky to see video games evolve from the big bang moment that was Nintendo’s first console. In that time, what’s impressed me most evolution-wise isn’t the technological advancements the industry has enjoyed, but the artistic ones.

Writing quality would probably be the biggest improvement. Recently, I started playing “The Witcher 2,” and I’m finding it to be a watershed moment in video game storytelling. Sure, some of the dialog is groan-worthy, but the overall tale, and the brilliant way in which the game weaves it, is simply astounding. While it may be a beacon of writing quality in games, it’s far from the only port in the harbor. Games like “Braid,” “Bioshock,” and “Heavy Rain,” to name a few, have all gone far and beyond to prove that at their best, the stories of video games can bring out all of the same emotions as the stories in books, films and theater.

Except for humor.

Of course, I’ve laughed while playing games before, but it’s rarely been because of a specific joke made. Instead, by their general nature, video games are just light-hearted entertainment sources. Hell, the mascot of the entire industry might just be an underdeveloped Italian plumber with a hatred of reptiles, incredible jumping abilities, and a hard-on for elitist blondes. So for an artform that isn’t supposed to take itself too serious by its very nature, why is good, pure comedy so hard to come by?

Let me backtrack a little bit from that statement. I know that funny video games exist. I also know that comedy is perhaps the most subjective form of entertainment there is. What makes one person’s sides split causes another’s lips to droop. But still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t works of comedy in other mediums that are generally considered to be undisputed comedy classics. Like “Caddyshack” or “Ghostbusters” or “This is Spinal Tap.” What is gaming’s equivalent? Well, type “funniest video games of all time into Google” and the consensus answer would seem to be “Conker’s Bad Fur Day.” I’ve covered Conker before, but just as a refresher, “Conker’s Bad Fur Day” is simply the raunchiest, most parody-filled, brute force comedy video game ever made.

And it’s not that funny. Well, I mean it is, but at best it’s a decent episode of “South Park,” without any of the clever context. “Conker’s Bad Fur Day” was a machine gun of jokes that figured if it fired enough rounds, one of them would hit just about everyone that played it. Even worse, it aimed that gun square at the stereotype that gamers are only 14 year old virgins, and made its name from it. And yet, to this day when people reference it, they use the words “Adult Humor.”

The King of Video Game Comedy?

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