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Thursday, August 12, 2021

Tencent-Backed Ex-Google Stadia Indie Attacked by Shallow Game Journalists for Hiring White Men

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I'm going to explain that... loaded headline as the basis of the article content.

Recall half a year ago I wrote about Google shutting down Stadia Games and Entertainment, which was supposed to produce Google Stadia-exclusive games. That never actually happened before it was vanquished. (The Stadia is still around to this day, by the way. I'm not sure why, though I also wasn't sure why it ever existed to begin with.)

One of the acquisitions Google did to prop up the Stadia was of Typhoon Studios, developer of Journey to the Savage Planet. ...That was their only game. You may remember (but hopefully you don't) that they talked about it at The Game Awards 2018—before the Stadia was ever announced. That means that Google allowed it to release as a multi-platform game as intended (you can get it on the Switch or any other console. It seems like a quirky exploration-based adventure game), so again, it was never Stadia exclusive. But it does mean the next game in the series would be owned by Google... had Google not ended their first-party development because it's way too much effort and Google didn't anticipate that making games is hard and risky. Anyway, the Typhoon Studios people went and regrouped to make a new studio called Raccoon Logic—with the help from investment from Tencent, who owns a minority stake in the Montreal-based company. They even got the rights to the Journey to the Savage Planet intellectual property back from Google according to this Gamasutra interview so they can make a sequel or whatever.

Let's talk about Tencent real quick. I mean, I already wrote about them just last week and the nefarious activities going on with the Chinese Communist Party that somewhat directly controls the company. Here's what Typhoon Studios/Raccoon Logic co-founder Alex Hutchinson has to say about Tencent, per that Gamasutra interview:


“It’s great to have found a group like Tencent who believe in us and are coming in with a strong investment. It’s not a worry this time as it’s a pure investment, and they’ve taken a minority stake in the studio, so we still have full creative control. And this time around we are very interested in getting our games out in the Chinese market and we think they’ll be a huge help in that regard.”
I believe the “worry this time” is a reference to when Google bought out Typhoon. This isn't Tencent buying out Raccoon, and there are real differences between majority stakes and minority stakes—and Tencent has been buying many majority stakes lately. You, the reader, want to avoid companies where they have a majority stake. A minority one just means they will financially profit off the game's success, but the problematic issues of being associated with China don't really come to play. ...They could if that minority ends up being a majority later on, and that's certainly possible, but until that happens, there's a distinction. (That said, you might be inherently be turned off by games designed for the Chinese consumer anyway.)

Anyway, in that same Gamasutra interview, there was a photo of the Raccoon Logic team... or part of it. FAKE NEWS Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier (formerly of Kotaku) tweeted out this tweet, which seemed to be all of what he got out of that Gamasutra interview:


Jason Schreier Twitter Raccoon Logic white males new game studio looks like this
Here's an archived version of the Twitter thread,
in case Jason Schreier ever feels ashamed of himself and deletes it.


If it's not clear, Jason Schreier's criticism is that he doesn't like seeing a bunch of people who appear to exclusively be men and appear to have lighter-coloured skin posing in a photo. Does he know any of the people in the photo? Does he know their backgrounds and life experiences? No, he's just judging them by their external, first-glance appearances. (Some of the people might identify as women for all he knows!)

This prompted a follow-up interview with Gamasutra and Raccoon Logic about the “pushback”. It's a bad sign when gaming journalists are the subject of the news instead of just reporting the news. Raccoon Logic explained that their lead producer is a woman named Noémie L'Ecuyer, but she wasn't in the photo because of the Chinese Communist Party Virus keeping her away. The premise of Jason Schreier's criticism is contrary to the facts... that he didn't bother investigating (as he could've seen from their website), in true FAKE NEWS journalist fashion.

Curiously, there are twenty people listed in the About Us section, and twenty people depicted in the photo, but Noémie L'Ecuyer the producer isn't in the photo... so something doesn't add up. Either someone in the photo isn't in the company, or their About Us page isn't exhaustive. (Or it's an old photo and they fired someone/someone quit already.)

Schreier and people who think he is making a good point may then say, “Okay, they have ONE woman and she is in a high position. That's not DIVERSE enough!” Aside from ignoring how people self-identify (I don't know this for a fact, but I doubt Schreier asked for everyone's pronouns), it also creates a completely arbitrary (yet undefined) expectation of what the visual makeup of any given group of people should look like... for no reason, really. Schreier goes on to say that “different perspectives improve your product.” But how does he know what perspectives those Raccoon Logic employees bring?

He says that his three-person podcast improved upon having the third person, a woman (Maddy Myers), but not because she's a woman, but because she's a “great podcaster” because of her experience being a woman (that is the meaning of the words “inextricable from her identity”). I'm not really sure what the distinction between those is supposed to be (and having listened to a recent podcast episode they had about how they like visual novels and Ace Attorney, I don't think her podcasting ability is tied to her gender), but apparently the other guy's (Kirk Hamilton) personality was shaped from his experience playing Returnal, which is a game that came out a whole year after his podcast began (so let's not take that bit seriously), while Schreier's “personality and perspectives were shaped by growing up Jewish”... Whatever that means. Do all Jewish people have the same life experiences and personality... or the “same perspective” that doesn't improve a product when paired with another Jewish person? (No.) Because apparently, all non-Jewish white people do, according to the views of shallow people like Jason Schreier. (In reality, they don't, but thinking about people as individuals is too much mental load and doesn't let you make blanket assumptions.)

I think they view game development—any project, really—to be like a Pokémon team. Except a really surface-level interpretation of it. They think all of the Pokémon have to have different types or the team won't work, but they're not taking into account factors like abilities, stats, and movepool. Competitive Pokémon has a long history of type stacking, especially Flying, Dragon, and Steel types. They might also be the kind of people who think that you can only use one Paladin on a Fire Emblem roster, and using multiple is heresy... and that you HAVE to use a Swordmaster. You know, even if you can beat the game regardless. They really believe that there is a cap to the quality of your deliverable if your team members’ outward appearances don't conform to their arbitrary quotas, which is what Schreier meant when he dismissed “all that matters is game quality”.

Let's not accept this shallow level of thinking.



Good luck to Raccoon Logic on their new existence. Be careful about Tencent's presence and investment! It's pretty close to selling your soul to the devil. Also, be careful about crossing gaming journalists. They have no problems with lying and engaging in unethical behaviour, and unfortunately, a lot of people (potential customers) are still influenced by them.


For more on the author's thoughts on the gaming industry's diversity myth (based on outward appearances), click here. He illustrated his point with cat photos.
KoopaTV's very next article is also about another so-called journalist, who actually has a personal hatred of a specific music composer in the game industry enough that they concocted a grand global scandal about their music.

2 comments :

  1. I don’t know why people still trust game journalists. Probably the worst kind of journalist out there. The only review I trust is the one from the audience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still gotta figure out how trustworthy watch journalists are.

      Delete

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