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Q & ABUSE
WIMBLEDON BEFUDDLEMENT
Chapter III: In Which We Learn That My Goddess Has Wings
2007.11.21

Lusipurr - 17:30 GMT

Here I am once again, paying service to you muppets. Thanksgiving is tomorrow, supposedly a time of rest from work, and yet my columns will embrace it like a pair of elderly aunts, trotted out once a year, both a little tipsy on dessert wine.

Your usual host, the affable Sean Kepper, was recently discovered to be nothing more than a cleverly disguised alien robot from the planet Louis Farrakhan V. The final proof came when I immolated him with a flamethrower. His exoskeleton melted like a wax candle, leaving behind a clicking, dysfunctional, robotic core. Thankfully, it could not function without its human exterior. I currently use the remains as a blender for my mixed drinks.

Let us set aside pleasant thoughts and confront the sad truth: the entire world is shutting down. Our Fearless Leader has pardoned the turkey, sounding the all clear for the commoners to flee from their jobs, paralysing the industrial sector and leaving me without a place from which to purchase vintage port. I am in a frightful mood. Cross me today, and you won't just get burned. You will be baked to a golden brown, served amongst a spread of the finest Thanksgiving provender, and washed down by a drink mixed using the remains of your former host.

I will now address your tiresome and annoying questions.




Let's DO IT!
A Good Question


Hello Lusipurr,

You don't take crap, so I'll be brief here. First, why do you think people care little about the editorials or of QnA these days? I read both daily, I love the editorials since they give somewhat educated opinion and analysis on RPGs, and I love QnA since Google and Andrew were around. So, in your opinion as part of the editorial staff, why do you think readership is down in both sections?

Lusipurr

Someone is asking for my opinion? Now this is more like it. Behold! This is the way to write a letter. He even separated his individual questions into paragraphs. I owe him a thoughtful response. Bear with me.

The recent waning of interest in RPGamer's editorials, and to some lesser degree in the Q&A column, grieves me more than I let on. Viewing the situation positively, I could say it is the result of a shifting user base, the members of which are increasingly viewing us as a traditional news site rather than a social centre around which they can gather. After all, with the rise of Myspace, Facebook, and the like, there is less demand for RPGamer's social networking through the forums, letters, and editorial discussions. There will always be people using these features--just as there will always be USEnet members and D&D 2.5 players despite the advent of mainstream competition--but these features are increasingly marginalised as the social nature of the internet becomes more integrated in the most basic user experience.

The alternate view is much more negative. According to this view, the decline in readership and participation is because we at RPGamer are failing our readers, turning them off and pushing them away. In this view, we are directly responsible for driving our readers away, and only by identifying and reversing the policies causing this can we ever hope to rectify the situation.

Personally, I lean much more towards the first, more positive outlook. Of course, I do everything I can to drive our readers away, but it doesn't seem to be having much of an effect. After all, here I am and there you are. I guess we can't have everything.


Second, the last few columns in QnA have dealing with what qualities actually constitute an RPG. I think one way to figure this mystery is to look at wikipedia at this. I quote, an RPG is "a game in which the participants assume the roles of fictional characters and collaboratively create or follow stories. Participants determine the actions of their characters based on their characterization, and the actions succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines. Within the rules, players can improvise freely; their choices shape the direction and outcome of the games."

According to wikipedia, another reason RPGs are different from most other games that they are "typically more collaborative and social than competitive. A typical role-playing game unifies its participants into a single team, known as a "party", that plays as a group. Like serials or novel sequences, these episodic games are often played in weekly sessions over a period of months or even years, although some gamers prefer playing one session games."

Finally, according to wikipedia again, "Role-playing games are a form of interactive and collaborative storytelling. Like novels or films, role-playing games appeal because they engage the imagination. Interactivity is the crucial difference between role-playing games and traditional fiction. Whereas a viewer of a television show is a passive observer, a player at a role-playing game makes choices that affect the story. Such role-playing games extend an older tradition of storytelling games where a small party of friends collaborate to create a story."

This gives you a headache to read, I know, so let's finish this right. One way this argument seems to have no end is that games that questionably could be RPGs but aren't (like Halo, GTA3, and Metal Gear Solid 3) are referenced in the hopes of truly understanding what makes an RPG an RPG. In order for this argument to have an end at some point, how about referencing RPGs that actually ARE RPGs and then comparing their traits so we readers and columnists can agree on a unified definition of what makes an RPG, shall we? I KNOW that the series of Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Suikoden, and Pokemon (yes, the devil's spawn making c onsumers out of 10-year-old counts, too) are legitimately RPGs. Any others you like to add, Lusipurr?

Hope you have a tolerable Thanksgiving with your family,

BLG

Lusipurr

Before getting started, I have to say that I think debating the question of what constitues an RPG is one of the most bootless uses of time any fool could possibly embark upon. Yet, my job description could be said to be, more or less, "go and suffer fools gladly", so let's have a try at it.

Wikipedia's sage descriptions don't convince me. Written by one gamer or another, they merely reflect the opinions of an author who may or may not be representative of the average population. A dictionary seems a better choice (by appeal to an authority likely without a vested interest), but most dictionaries (even the thoroughly respectable and excellent Oxford English Dictionary) are woefully inadequate for defining video game terminology. This leaves us a predicament. Any definition suitable to our ends must needs be written by someone with knowledge of the ouvre, and therefore such definition is likely to reflect the bias of the individual author.

Are we, then, without hope? Is the search for a definition impossible? Perhaps. If the definition must please everyone, it is impossible to attain. By their very nature, definitions are exclusive--they exclude things from their categorisation. A definition of a cat excludes rocks, for example. Everyone has their idea of what should be considered an RPG and what should not. Though we might be able to reach a majority consensus about what games are RPGs (Final Fantasy IV springs to mind), there will still be much argument about what games we feel do not belong in that category (The Legend of Zelda is easily one of the most controversial).

If we take the meaning of RPG to be no more than that expressed by the literal meaning of its component words: Role-Playing Game, then it can be extended almost indefinitely to any game in which the player performs a role different from their real-life persona. Halo fits the bill, but so too does Super Mario Bros., Gradius, and unbelievably, Meteos. Any narrower view will have to start by codifying what an RPG requires and thus will necessarily exclude any game failing to meet those requirements. In fact, it may even include games not typically held to be RPGs.

We also have to be careful with our definitions. Let us say that RPGs must have, as one characteristic, a hit point count for the player's character(s). Is Castlevania an RPG? Is The Legend of Zelda? Is Unreal Tournament? Are meters expressions of hit points? What about health percentages? What about fighting games? F-Zero has a 'health meter' too. Is it an RPG?

What I am trying to show is that the quest to somehow define RPGs cannot be described as aught but vainglorious. Trying to somehow come to a consensus about any of the various definitions within the definition is enough of a task to occupy any group of gamers forever. Better to simply examine each game on its merits and see if the majority of people think it is an RPG. This will result in a slightly more inclusive definition than some might like, and a somewhat less inclusive definition than others would like, but it seems to me to be the best way forward, and the way likely to satisfy the largest amount of people.

Your questions were excellent. I commend you. Next!



Yuna Speaks


Hey there, Sean!

I have an ans- wait, you're not Sean. In fact, you look a lot like Lusipurr.

Lusipurr

You are clearly a master of deduction.


Well, you probably won't care, but I have an answer for a question posed in Sean's last column by Annalou. I quote:

"Also, something random: I was watching the Japanese ending on Youtube and Yuna says "Thank you" (Japanese version) not "I love you" (English version) I wonder why that is. The people on Youtube seem to think it had to do with making the syllables fit the image. (a-ri-ga-tou, four syllables; thank you, two syllables; I love you, three syllables) I wonder if any of the other scenes are different?"

I read an interview just the other day from the lead translator himself, Alexander O. Smith, where he answered exactly that question.

"Oh, and one thing I've already seen in print from an interview with Nojima, so I know it's okay to talk about: yes, I specifically went to Nojima ahead of time to discuss the pros and cons of translating Yuna's last line to Tidus from "arigatou" to "I love you." I've actually written a whole article about that decision for a Japanese literary magazine, Subaru, if anyone cares to look it up. I think it's a great example of translating a cultural context, like I mentioned above."

It looks like it was a cultural thing and not translating to match lips, but unfortunately I was unable to find the article so I can't say for absolute certain.

Hope this helps?

-CW

Lusipurr

You're absolutely right, I don't care. Someone out there apparently does, so I'm happy to print your answer anyway. That's just one less question for me to deal with.

Honestly, your response did surprise me. I had always assumed that Final Fantasy X was translated by monkeys and voiced by a high-school drama troupe. It's interesting to note that professional people were behind it.

Lusipurr's Quiz of the Day: Do I like or dislike Final Fantasy X? Go on, have a guess.



This is your brain on drugs.


Lusipurr or whoever gets this -

So Sean asked me to answer him how it is kids get a hold of GTA and then said he was Swayze for a couple weeks, but my personal experience with this makes me feel compelled to answer. I have actually, on several occasions, had parents confide in me that they had bought their children GTA, actually in all these occassions it was specifically San Andreas. And when I say confide, I mean it. I tend to be fairly shameless, in a Popeye, I yam what I yam kind of way, and as such have no problem telling casual aquaintances, or even strangers who've struck up a conversation in line, that I enjoy things which aren't always socially acceptable, be it weed, pornography, or even rpg videogames. I mean, I don't go out of my way to bring these things up, But if someone say's to me something along the lines of, say, "these damn potheads are ruining our country", I have no problem looking them square in the eye and telling them I smoke on a daily basis.

Lusipurr

I do not condone, approve of, or in any way, shape, or form agree with the use of illict, mind-altering substances, whatsoever they may be. Full stop. If you need drugs to have a good time, there is something seriously wrong with you.

It is especially disturbing that you are somehow placing RPGs on the same level of social unacceptability as pornography and drugs.


Now, when I say confide, what I mean is these conversations were all similar in tone to what happens when these same, suburban soccer parent type people, find out I smoke. That's when 9 times out of 10 what I get is a glance around and then "well, I used to in college, but it's too risky for me now, but it doesn't bother me" or "I still do a couple times a year, when I go backpacking with some old friends." It's a similar type of person who, when they find out I'm a gamer, gives that same glance around and says "I bought my kid GTA"

Lusipurr

Yes. I have on occasion secretly confided to people that I have, in fact, experienced Final Fantasy VII. I have to keep my voice down, of course, or risk being made a pariah in the community. If the FBI found out... Well, I don't like to think what could happen.

In my defense, I was young. It was 1997. The Playstation was in its heyday. I didn't save.


The thing about it is, in both cases they're looking for approval, but I react differently. I'm all for grown folks smoking pot. I consider it safer than alchohol, and since this is Cali and it's at least decriminalized, I tell them yeah man, that's cool. But kids shouldn't be playing these types of games, no matter how much I enjoy them. And not just because of senseless violence, that's relatively harmless. It's the realistic, purposeful violence, the type that gives kids the idea that violence is a good and effective tool to acheive your goals that is the problem, and I did tell these parents that. I know, I know, this coming from the guy who talks about backhanding Sean until he'll man-ho for me, I guess maybe I should lay off that from here on out.

I did have one mother tell me after I said she shouldn't have gotten her kid that game, that she told him not to play the bad parts. I told her that her little man was a straight hustla, there was nothing but bad in that game for him. And he was probably smoking pot.

Dolalalala lotsa paypa,

Kezzy

Lusipurr

They are looking for approval, you say. What on earth are you doing but just that? How is going on and on about your use of drugs in any way related to the point you are trying (and failing) to make?

Even more ridiculous is your implied reasoning that drugs are okay, but Grand Theft Auto is right out. I don't think GTA is great for the kiddies either, but I think drugs are worse for them by many orders of magnitude. Happily, I don't have to look for proof, because you are right here. Any case I could make would pale in comparison to the unbelievable nonsense you are postulating.



QUICKIES

Are you going to play either of the new jobs coming out in FFXI?
-CeKa

Lusipurr
I'm not too sure about Dancer, but I will definitely be levelling Scholar.

Are the Hamtaro games any good?
-Thea

Lusipurr
No. No they are not.



It's Pie Time!

There are no more letters. I have answered them all. Also, my local Gamestop has just called to inform me that my copies of Wings of the Goddess are waiting for me, so I can't be troubled to spend any more time on this frivolity.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Eat some turkey, stuff yourselves full of pumpkin pie, and celebrate the arrival of colonialism, oppression, and the destruction of the Native American community. Remember, of course, how much you have to be thankful for. Be thankful I am here to read over your dribblings. Be thankful I don't just throw up my hands and walk off.

Now I must go unlock Scholar in The Game. I'll see you boobs in two days.

~Lusipurr



Whinge via e-mail!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: ^ ^ v v < > < > B A B A [Start]

Lusipurr believes FFXI is the only game worth playing.


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