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joined 2022 September 13 13:37:36 UTC



User ID: 1175



5 followers   follows 0 users   joined 2022 September 13 13:37:36 UTC







User ID: 1175

And is it really possible for an intelligent human to both understand a book like Crime and Punishment and read it and be emotionally indifferent to it?

Why not? There are lots of stories which I understand perfectly well but which leave me cold.

Thanks for the tip, it's not mentioned anywhere on the Wikipedia page.

What a triumph The Prestige is.

That and Memento are probably the only films of his I'd put in the W column without major qualifications.

Last of Us,God of War + GOW Ragnarok, Warcraft 3, Witcher 3, Sekiro

Can't comment, not having played any of them for the reasons outlined in the last paragraph. Pretty much everyone tells me that Last of Us is great, annoying that it still hasn't received a PC port.

I don't know why you can't just take their word for it. In any other profession, when someone says "I got into this line of work because I'm good at it and it pays well", we generally take that at face value (surely no one believes that every doctor went to medical school because they "want to help people" - the ones volunteering for MSF, sure, but not a dermatologist in the Hamptons). Why, as a culture, are we married to this romantic ideal of the tortured artist, slitting his wrists over the typewriter in pursuit of his muse? Why do I have to believe that the artist sacrificed something of himself in order to produce his masterwork? My opinion of how entertaining a film Dirty Harry is isn't changed by the knowledge that Don Siegel only directed it for the money, and I don't see that my opinion should have changed.

I took the OP's question as one of asking "among the subset of games which tell linear narrative stories with plots, characters, dialogue etc., have these stories declined in quality over time?" I think that's a fundamentally different question to the question of whether games without such narratives have improved or declined in quality. In Frostpunk, there is no "narrative": the narrative is the player's experience in the game, enabled by the mechanics. It's the difference between a novel and a DnD campaign. Everyone intuitively understands that Frostpunk is trying to do something fundamentally different from what Call of Duty is trying to do, at a mechanical and experiential level - it's confusing that "success" in game design is invariably described in reference to how "fun" the game is, when this descriptor hides more than it illuminates.

And maybe this is part of the story: maybe at the start of the PS4 era, all the smart game designers in the indie space collectively realised that trying to use video games to tell stories the same way that books or films do was a lost cause, and focused instead on crafting organic, player-directed simulations with more intuitive interfaces and better production values compared to their 90s forebears. This would mean that the last ten years of AAA games still doing the lame "Hollywood action movie but you're the main character" thing isn't evidence that video games have lost their way or are on the verge of another crash: it just means that the lumbering AAA game studios haven't cottoned to the new hot trend, which is intentionally narrative-light organic player-directed simulations. If this were the case, it would be a fascinating narrative to describe the last decade and a half.

but I don't believe him.

Then your hypothesis is unfalsifiable.

The first example to come to mind is Chinatown, widely considered Roman Polanski's best film, which he himself said that he took on as a commercial project only, as a favour to Jack Nicholson.

Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo were paid by the line.

To quote TV Tropes (I've never read Pet Sematary but my understanding is that it's considered one of King's best novels):

Pet Sematary: While it was marketed as "the book so scary Stephen King didn't want to publish it," the real truth is that King wanted out of his Doubleday contract due to the publisher holding onto a huge backlog of his royalties. Doubleday refused to give the money back unless King delivered two more books. Having previously shelved the story for being too nihilistic for his liking, King threw the manuscript at them to settle half of the contract.

The Money, Dear Boy article includes the following examples:

  • John Ford (6 Oscars, widely considered one of the greatest directors ever) 'repeatedly maintained over the years that moviemaking was just a way for him to make a living, which he stuck with because it paid well and he found it easy.'
  • 'Don Siegel once said of his work "Most of my pictures, I'm sorry to say, are about nothing. Because I'm a whore. I work for money. It's the American way."'
  • 'Anthony Burgess basically belched out A Clockwork Orange in a matter of weeks to pay off some debts. He regretted its glorification of violence and was annoyed by the way it overshadowed the rest of his work, causing quite a bit of Creator Backlash.' [I will grant that the film adaptation is more critically acclaimed than the source novel; on the other hand, the source novel is the only thing Burgess is known for in the popular imagination.]
  • 'Orson Scott Card, a prolific author of fiction in genres ranging from science fiction to pious fiction, once answered the question, "Why do you write? What is your inspiration?" with the answer, "I write because nobody will pay me to do anything else. My inspiration is that from time to time we run out of money."'
  • 'Thomas Hardy always wanted to be a poet and said that poetry has a "supreme place in literature". However, he wrote novels only because, in his early years, he would not make a living as a poet. With the success of Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure (not to mention the latter novel's very harsh reception upon publication), he returned to the less-lucrative career of poetry and spent the rest of his life writing poems.'

There are dozens more.

I think it's possible to write a great story when you don't feel emotionally invested in it, and equally possible to write a terrible story in spite of feeling very emotionally invested in it.

Agreed on both counts.

I want to do a sense-check to see if I agree with your core hypothesis. Here are a list of video games which I consider particularly well-written:

  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (2004)
  • Spec Ops: The Line (2012)
  • Soma (2015)
  • Max Payne (2001)
  • Metal Gear Solid: 1 (1998), 2 (2001), 3 (2003)
  • System Shock 2 (1999)
  • BioShock (2007)
  • BioShock Infinite (2013)
  • Portal (2007)
  • Psychonauts (2005)
  • Detention (2016)
  • Oxenfree (2016)
  • Gone Home (2013)
  • The Stanley Parable (2013)
  • Bastion (2011)
  • Silent Hill 2 (2001)
  • Far Cry 3 (2012)
  • Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (1999)
  • Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (1996)

I count three games which came out in the past ten years, ten which came out in the ten years prior to that, and eight which came out in the ten years prior to that. This suggests that stories in games were finding their feet in the PS1 era, achieved a creative peak in the late PS2-PS3 era, and have been declining in quality since the onset of the PS4 era, with most of the interesting creative stuff happening in the indie space. However, this is a biased sample, as all of my gaming is done on PC and prior to a few months ago my laptop wasn't powerful enough to run any game which came out in the past five years.

See also this article. TL;DR: National Book Award winners (and American novelists in general, by extension) used to come from all walks of life, but in recent years winners and nominees have been dominated almost to the exclusion of all else by college-educated novelists who have completed MFAs. This has the effect of making recent acclaimed literary novels insular and hermetic, with little of the grit, colour or life experience of literary novels from decades past.

To be fair, he could well have changed his mind in the intervening two years.

let me know if anything actually happens

Unanimously approved.

It may be related to Geeks, MOPs and sociopaths. When video games were a niche interest, the only people making them were nerds who were passionate about what they were making and had a vision in mind. Over time, the medium swelled into a multi-billion dollar industry, which attracted a bunch of people who didn't care about the video games for their own sake and were only in it for the money/as a stepping stone in their careers/using video games as a vehicle to advance a social agenda/all of the above. I don't know if this is true of video games, but it is definitely true of video game journalism.

This is not to say that passion is a necessary component of great writing (no one is more passionate about their art than some dork writing Sonic fan fiction), but a clumsy story written by someone who cares about what they're writing at least has an endearing quality compared to a mediocre story written by someone who only cares about the paycheque.

Whenever I watch a film directed by John Carney, I'm left with this very unsettling feeling. Watching his films makes me feel like he's never actually met another human being in his life, that his entire knowledge of what people are like comes from watching other people's movies.

This wasn't always true of Christopher Nolan (the performances in Memento are remarkably naturalistic in spite of the contrived plot), but has become the case over time. No one in Inception, Interstellar, Tenet or Oppenheimer talks or acts like a real person (particularly damning in the latter case, given that 95% of the characters are based on real people who actually existed).

I worked as a cyclist for Deliveroo for three months. By the end of it I knew practically every back alley in the city centre, and would just glance at the address on the app, not needing to consult Google Maps to find my way. I don't know what the equivalent food delivery service is in your city, but a lot of these services are pretty chill about letting you pick your own hours. Even if you worked one shift a week you'd probably see a big improvement in your navigation skills.

the stronger one gets the backlash because they are the ones committing the attrocities.

I find the use of the definite article here fascinating.

Trembling Mad calls this gerrymandering power. When comparing Germany and Poland, Germany is stronger, ergo Germany's the bad guy - boooo! When comparing Germany and the USA, the USA is stronger, ergo Germany's the good guy - yaaaaay! It entirely depends on how close you zoom in.

I think this illustrates that "sympathising with the underdog" is a fundamentally wrongheaded approach to take in assessing which of two more parties has the moral high ground - once we've established that the weaker party is morally superior, that incentivises bad actors to contrive a narrative in which they're the weak victimised party, Goodhart's law-style. But even in cases where everyone pretty much agrees on which of two parties is strongest and weakest - well, it's still possible to be both strong and morally upstanding, or weak and morally degenerate. Common, even.

The Axis powers were not the weaker party in WW2. They invaded and defeated various countries that were weaker than them.

It can simultaneously be true that Germany is stronger than Poland and that the USA is stronger than Germany.

I replied to you prior to your edit - I'm just about as aggressively anti-communist and anti-Soviet as they come.

Heck, if you look at ratios of civilian casualties -- as I've seen some argue makes Israel's actions unjustified -- America had almost none (generally counted as a few thousand if you include territories and civilian ship crews). The British claim 70,000. More civilians than that died in the Battle of Berlin alone, and Allied bombing campaigns killed hundreds of thousands. Not to mention the nuclear weapons.

A good article on this.

I have trouble embracing the progressive worldview on Gaza because those same principles, applied to WWII, would have me side with the Axis powers.

To quote myself:

Freddie deBoer confuses me on this point, because he was once writing about the Israel-Palestine conflict and stated “Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg. Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how wrong the egg.”

But he has also argued repeatedly that "punching up" and "punching down" is a meaningless framework through which to look at humour, interpersonal relationships or anything else.

If I'm reading this correctly, he means that in a conflict between a weaker party ("egg") and a stronger party ("high, solid wall"), he will always take the side of the weaker party, even if they're wrong and the stronger party is right. Which logically implies that, were Hamas ever to gain the upper hand, Freddie would immediately start supporting Israel. It likewise implies that he ought to have supported the Axis powers in the second world war.

Not original to me, to clarify.

"Please Just Fucking Tell Me What Term I Am Allowed to Use for the Sweeping Social and Political Changes You Demand". Didn't realise that @roystgnr linked to this article in their comment, making my link redundant.

which Zack's spent a lot of time disagreeing with

As someone who expended a lot of words taking a public figure to task over his perceived hypocrisy/cognitive dissonance on the trans issue, it will not surprise you that I found this post very absorbing. It's so weird how this specific issue seems to break so many people's brains, even (especially?) people who built their reputations on being no-nonsense straight-shooters who don't care whose toes they step on in pursuit of Truth. As soon as the word "gender" is mentioned, they look at their feet and start mumbling about "why do you care anyway it doesn't affect you".

Zack hypothesises that the overrepresentation of trans women in the rat-adjacent sphere is Rationalism's shield against accusations of being insufficiently progressive - if they were to start saying things that run the risk of driving trans women away, the accusations would be substantially harder to defend against. I must admit this sounds grimly plausible to me, but it doesn't explain why Freddie deBoer has the same reaction to this issue.

I mean, the leg amputated in the 1990s I quoted above.

Sorry, I missed that.

I'm not claiming it has no relationship to trans activism, just that "The Anglophone medical establishment appears to be fully ideologically captured" isn't a justified conclusion from this particular amputation and a single paper connecting BID to transgender people.

Fair point.

Amputating a few fingers is somewhat more invasive than putting a hairdryer in your car. But it's the same principle, right?

I don't see how placing a hairdryer in your car violates Primum non nocere.

It amazes me to think that I once found Scott's argument in "the categories were made for man" persuasive. Rationalists are all about defining words in ways which "cleave reality at the joints", and yet Scott apparently thinks that "anyone who claims membership in this category" is a better definition of "woman" than "adult human female".

do indeed appear to improve after taking them

Well, some and some. From my understanding, having read Jesse Singal's deep dives into this issue, the evidence base is a lot more mixed than trans activists would have us believe.

If A is evidence for B, B should be evidence for A, yes? "One man’s modus ponens is another man’s modus tollens?" If we took this case being a novel case of unnecessary amputation as evidence that trans ideology has thoroughly captured the medical system, or something like that, and then we observe that this isn't novel - I think we should doubt the reasoning that led to the claim of ideological capture.

If you have examples of cases of bodily integrity disorder being treated with amputation prior to the modern trans activist movement, I would love to see them. Or perhaps I should say - what gives me pause is not that amputations for sufferers of bodily integrity disorder are being carried out, but that they're being carried out using precisely the same reasoning that "gender-affirming care" providers use to justify removing breasts and penises.