And now I’ve been tagged by frequent Extra Life tagger AK of Everything is Bad for you! You all know the routine by now, so here we go.
1 How do you feel about content warnings and rating systems (like the MPAA and ESRB rating systems and the famous RIAA Explicit Content sticker?) Are they effective, or is the point of these ratings the same as it was when they were created?
In all honesty, I don’t really have much of an opinion on the matter. I think parents should be aware of the media their children consume, but a “Parental Advisory Sticker” isn’t going to stop them from getting their hands on those works. I think parents should try to understand their children’s interest regardless of how vulgar it may be. If nothing else, I think it’s handy in order to determine if something is age-appropriate or not because it’s not always obvious. Then again, it’s foolish to assume anything animated or drawn is for kids.
2 Do you have hard limits as far how short or long a game should be? Or a book, movie, or album — whichever you have a strong opinion on.
Honestly, I think this is on a case-by-case basis. I can definitely accept an RPG being 50+ hours long due to the sheer amount of story that goes into them, but action games should generally be between 15 and 20 hours. Any longer, and you’re basically just doing the same things over and over again. However, the caveat assumes that you have enough material to actually justify a game of that length. To wit, the Uncharted series is what happens when you write enough material for what is, at most, a two-and-a-half-hour-long film and try to stretch it out over fifteen hours or so.
The Last of Us had its own problems, but one of the very few things I give it credit for over Uncharted is that it felt more like a miniseries than a film that’s 80% filler. Indeed, The Lost Legacy, which I consider to be the second-best game in the series, is also the shortest, knowing how much mileage to get out of its story beats before they grow stale.
The same basic principle applies to short games as well. I realize it could be considered a little hypocritical from a superficial standpoint to lambast Gone Home for being three hours long when Mega Man 2, one of the best games of the 1980s isn’t that much longer. However, that’s because Gone Home has very little substance to speak of. Meanwhile, Mega Man 2 is as pure of a game as it gets, so without story factoring into the experience, the gameplay is neatly compact.
I feel this should apply to other mediums as well. Your work should be as long as it needs to be. Be pensive, be daring, be impactful, but whatever you do, don’t overstay your welcome.
3 How do you keep yourself occupied during your commute or while on a long trip?
With whatever Nintendo’s newest handheld console happens to be, natch. As of today, that would be either the 3DS or the Switch, though the former is slowly fading away.
4 Is there a certain character in a work that you strongly identify with? What is it about that character that you identify with?
As strange as it may sound, I find one character I identify with is Adol from the Ys series. He’s a character who likes to go on adventures, which is something I can totally get behind. I haven’t traveled that much, but whenever the opportunity presents itself, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it every time.
5 Have you ever read/watched/played a work with a protagonist who you ended up hating, even though you were meant to like them? Who was it and what put you off about them?
My answer to this question has been the same for quite some time: Joel from The Last of Us. He’s an example of how one shouldn’t develop their protagonist. The narrative drew me in with how sympathetic he came across as, having lost his daughter due to tragic circumstances. Fast forward twenty years and now he has become a degenerate that one would usually gun down by the boatload in a normal action game. His interactions with Ellie seemed to bring out a different side to him, but the ending ultimately failed to do justice to either character.
I maintain that Naughty Dog’s biggest problems as writers were magnified when they switched a more serious tone, and their abject refusal to allow anything bad happen to their leads and insistence on dehumanizing anyone who doesn’t matter to the narrative really worked against them. Admittedly, a lot of what I don’t like about Joel can be attributed to bad writing, but an odious character is an odious character. And this isn’t even mentioning the severe disconnect between the story and gameplay that goes on in the final act.
For films, I’d say that I didn’t particularly like the title character in Lady Bird. At best, she came across as a bland self-insert. At worst, she was a disrespectful twerp who made a joke that caused me to lose all sympathy for her. Long story short, a conservative teacher was making a pro-life speech, pointing out that had her mother gotten an abortion, she wouldn’t be standing before them. Lady Bird tactlessly replies that if the teacher’s mother had gotten the abortion, they wouldn’t have to listen to her boring speech. What I dislike about this exchange is that I know if a lead character made a joke like that at the expense of the liberal values commonly held by today’s critics, they would have hung the film out to dry. Because it was a shot at the other side, they let it off the hook (or worse, found it charming).
[DISCLAIMER: The preceding observation comes from someone who is, and always has been, an adamantly pro-choice liberal, so don’t bother going there.]
It’s a very poorly written piece of dialogue that comes across as a middle-aged person writing dialogue for a teenager, so they exaggerate the supposed tactlessness of the younger generation. Either way, it really made it impossible to connect with her. Sadly, she wasn’t even the worst character in the film – that would be her mother, Marion. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, between these two works, you shouldn’t assume characters are sympathetic just because you say so. Also, watch The Edge of Seventeen; it’s way better than Lady Bird.
6 Do you prefer to listen to studio or live albums? Or does it just depend on the band/artist you’re listening to?
Generally speaking, I prefer studio albums over live albums. There is just so much more you can do in the studio compared to on the stage, and it gives producers a chance to shine. Indeed, I can imagine recreating the intricate sounds of Trout Mask Replica would be quite difficult on the stage (if not impossible). There are a few exceptions, however, because some bands just had an energy on the stage they just didn’t have in the studio with the MC5 being the prime example.
7 Is there a series (of games, films, novels, whatever) that you used to enjoy but that eventually lost you? If so, what do you think happened to cause that?
I think the most obvious example I can think of would be The Simpsons. There really wasn’t an episode that made me swear off the show for good; I just kind of stopped watching organically around the sixteenth season or so. I heard the show got worse after I stopped, so it’s for the best I got out when I did.
And I’ll leave it at that – no tags this time, either. Thanks for reading and thank you AK for the tag again!