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PolyCast Episode 218: "Not Just a Lame Clip Show XV"

Discussion in 'CivBE - General Discussions' started by DanQ, Jan 10, 2015.

  1. DanQ

    DanQ Chieftain

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    More gaming goodness. The two-hundred-and-eighteenth episode of PolyCast, "Not Just a Lame Clip Show XV", features regular co-hosts Daniel "DanQ" Quick, "Makahlua", Philip "TheMeInTeam" Bellew and "MadDjinn" with 6 first-time and returning guest co-hosts in the fifteenth compilation of segments archived from previous episode recordings and not released previously. With a runtime of 59m59s, the summary of topics of this outing is as follows:

    - 00m37s | Miscellaneous
    Seeing is worth more than words as examples of Civilization V's various map types (recorded for Episode 206); then, the first beta video of Civilization Online from developer XLGames (04m42s), a Civ programmer takes callout in stride (05m46s) and getting one's hands on a physical copy of Civilization: Beyond Earth (07m53s; recorded for Episode 210).
    - 09m31s | Forum Talk
    CivBE Co-Lead Designers discuss restraints in its development (recorded for Episode 214); then, working through the gaming industry through Quality Assurance (16m10s), tricks for getting going with Civilization: Beyond Earth (22m24s; recorded for Episode 215), tips to getting started (36m23s) and then critiquing a critical take on the game (41m27s; recorded for Episode 216).

    Recording live every other Saturday, PolyCast is a bi-weekly audio production in an ongoing effort to give the Civ community an interactive voice on game strategy; sibling show RevCast focuses on Civilization: Revolution, ModCast on Civ modding, SCivCast on Civ social gaming and TurnCast on Civ multiplay. The start of PolyCast's ninth season continues with the release of the first episode recorded for 2015 expected January 17th.
     
  2. Eklinaar

    Eklinaar Chieftain

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    Just listened to this episode. I just wanted to point out that you guys are misinterpreting a lot of what Errant Signal is saying. He's obviously a humanities scholar. I recognize this immediately because I am also a humanities scholar. He's talking like a humanities scholar. When he criticizes various aspects of the game, especially in terms of its relationship with social justice, he's not necessarily saying "this game sucks". In Academia, criticism != low opinion of what is being criticized. Humanities scholars criticize things in order to point out their faults, understand them better, understand their context better, and prompt discussion that will hopefully lead to positive change. So really, when he's critical of the game in terms of how it portrays issues like consumerism, environmental stewardship, oppression and social justice, etc, he's not saying "this game sucks", he's saying "this game deals with difficult issues in a way that is problematic, and here are the reasons why."

    However, there are a lot of problems with what he's doing and the way he's doing it. It's just not any of the problems you listed.

    The first problem with Errant Signal is that he's not communicating well with his audience. Assuming his audience is gamers, he's simply not speaking their language. If he wants to bring academic criticism into gaming, using academic jargon simply isn't going to work, because most gamers don't have graduate degrees that required them to take critical theory courses. It is possible to bring academic criticism into gaming, and Extra Credits does this quite well, but notice that they use gamer jargon, not academic jargon. They occasionally introduce an academic term, but they always make it clear they are doing so, and they define it. But sticking with a wholly academic tone doesn't work because it will always elicit the reaction that you, the panel of Polycast, had. He's really not being pedantic and trolly, but it sure SOUNDS like he is in the ears of gamers. He's talking the way academics talk to each other, which works perfectly fine among academics. But it's not how gamers talk to each other. Imagine if you walked into a dissertation defense in a philosophy department and started talking in gamer jargon and acting like everyone should understand what you're saying. Most people wouldn't have a clue, and a lot of them would probably be offended, and a few would think you're pulling some kind of really obnoxious prank. That's basically what he's managing to accomplish.

    The second problem with Errant Signal is that he's mixing messages. The content of his videos are often both a game review AND a critical deconstruction. Frankly, this just doesn't work. He should have those be separate segments. In this case, he would be much better served to write a review of Beyond Earth on its merits of being an enjoyable video game worthy of your time and money, and then write a separate criticism of Beyond Earth as a work of allegorical science fiction engaging with ethical and social issues. Don't get me wrong, he does say a couple times that Beyond Earth is a bad game, but he's mixing various kinds of criticism, and it's really confusing.

    The third problem is that while he clearly has a strong traditional education in critical theory, he lacks understanding of game theory. He understands the basics, but if he's going to be so analytical, he could really do with a brush-up on the fundamentals of game design and game strategy. A lot of his comments Beyond Earth as a video game, not as social commentary, demonstrate his lack of understanding in this regard. His critique of Beyond Earth as social commentary is actually pretty solid, academically.

    Ultimately, though, the flaw in Errant Signal's mission comes down to an epic failure to communicate. When I hear him criticizing the game's portrayal of deforestation, for example, I know to read that as a prompt to engage in an academic discussion, because he's using all the non-verbal clues and contextual scripts that would be present in a 500-level humanities seminar. But gamer communities have completely different non-verbal clues and contextual scripts, so it gets misinterpreted. I actually have taken some of his videos to humanities classrooms, and the people there find them quite interesting. His videos would make great term papers, but they make terrible game reviews. But if he's going to come to gamer communities to deliver his message, he needs to translate it first. He might as well be speaking a foreign language.

    (Note, I didn't even touch on the flaws of Academia, I just pointed out how communication within humanities departments works. I have a LOT of problems with the way academics talk to each other and with how they evaluate each other's work, but I'm not going into that right now.)
     
  3. DanQ

    DanQ Chieftain

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    Eklinaar, thank you for your detailed feedback. I have made note for it to be discussed, as well as acknowledged, on the recording of the next episode (#223).

    At least on occasion I understand you have been listening to the show since at least last summer: thank you for doing so.
     
  4. Eklinaar

    Eklinaar Chieftain

    Joined:
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    Thanks, Dan. I think I've been listening since around the launch of Civ 5, though I rarely comment and I'm usually busy during the live recordings. I enjoy your show a lot. Keep up the good work.
     
  5. DanQ

    DanQ Chieftain

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    I always enjoy the opportunity to connect with a long-time listener such as yourself :), as you can offer a 'timelapsed' perspective on what you feel did work, didn't work, is working and isn't working all-in-one.

    Should you choose to do so, it could be sent in point-form, essay format, spoken and recorded as an MP3 sent via email or in reply to this thread; in terms of structure it could be one or more "Top 10" lists even as an example :mischief:.
     

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