Mr. Robot: The Final Discussion

gamclub2.jpgOK, time to kick off the final discussion for Mr. Robot. Hit up the link below to join in the campfire. Remember this time around we are discussing the game up to the end of the cryo room. Joining us today is Georgia Tech professor Ian Bogost, the author of Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames and a recent guest on the Cobert Report. So get your questions ready and hop on the link. If the room is full please follow along here, I'll be keeping an eye on the discussion and trying to post questions from here into the room.

CampfireBrian C. Alright folks lets get this party started. Settle down and no more talking with out the OK. Ian B. I'm usually pretty chill about that shodanjr_gr kk, ill shut up now Brian C. As a reminder our special guest tonight is Georgia Tech professor Ian Bogost, the author of Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames and a recent guest on the Cobert Report. Brian C. if you want to ask a question or make a comment, just aim kotakugameclub Brian C. Just to get everyone up to speed. This is the last discussion of Mr. Robot. So you should have, thought might not have, finished the game. Brian C. Go ahead and AIM if you have any questions to start out with Brian C. Let's talk about the moral dilemma Asimov faces in the game. Should he put his faith in the bodyless human and potentially lose his chance at being truly alive, or should he just kill the crew? Paul C. has left the room Brian C. Ian, I'd like to ask if you think that a puzzle game, which is what this essentially is, has the ability to teach moral lessons Brent has entered the room Brian C. Ian has the floor dghdfh has entered the room Ian B. There is a famous conflict in game studies about that very question Aug 16 9:50 PM Moose has left the room Ian B. Janet Murray, one of my colleagues at Georgia Tech, once suggested that Tetris represents the ethics of work in contemporary society. Always sorting, moving tasks, papers, calls, whatever, and still more come. Ian B. So, she saw it as a kind of allegory for what work is all about. FloatingWorld has entered the room Ian B. This really riled up a Finnish researcher named Markku Eskelinen, who thought that Murray's suggestion was absurd Ian B. But I think puzzles can abstractly represent real human experience, including moral dilemmas datafox With respect to the first question I think it is interesting how much faith is going on in the mind of Asimov. The only two humans you know are Zasamova and the Engineer. So you do not get a range of human personalities to draw from. Asimov is putting a lot of faith in the best of humanity. Brian C. As a reminder please if you want to ask a question or make a comment, just aim kotakugameclub Brian C. Atomicvege has the floor Atomicvege on that topic, how many people actually wiped the crew and how many left them alone? Personally, i didn't feel right doing that as a player so continued on Lawinator has left the room fuck y. has entered the room Aug 16 9:55 PM fuck y. hello Brian C. I wonder if in this case the inclusion of a story actually got in the way of the lesson the game was trying to teach. Or was it trying to teach a question Brian C. As a reminder please if you want to ask a question or make a comment, just aim kotakugameclub Brian C. ian has the floor Ian B. I was listening to a recording of a GDC talk today, a Harmonix talk Ian B. I was listening to a recording of a GDC talk today, a Harmonix talk Ian B. and they were talking about the differences between Frequency and, say, Guitar Hero Ian B. and the importance of coupling the mechanics of music creation (in their case) to a specific context... this being one of the reasons Frequency and Amplitude were critical successes but commercial failures Ian B. Back to Tetris, with this in mind: Ian B. right, so Ian B. If you wanted to argue that Tetris is an allegory for work, you could do that by telling a story between or beside each level, right? This is what a lot of games do Aug 16 Ian B. But it's less tightly coupled to the mechanics than other ways of contextualizing meaning. For example, the Boss Key ezrid has entered the room ezrid Woa Ian B. in Tetris, brought up this fake spreadsheet in case you got caught playing while you were at work. Brian C. As a reminder please if you want to ask a question or make a comment, just aim kotakugameclub Ian B. And for me, that's a much more compelling reason to talk about the puzzle mechanic of the game as relating to work than if we had some capitalist storyline running through it Brian C. datafox has the floor datafox I think the game left out a lot of story for you to make judgements on the humans. You are asked if you want them to live or die but you do not have much interation with people. If it was more like System Shock 2 with e-mails or logs it would be more interesting since you can decide how humans thought of robots. datafox I did save the people. Brian C. dilan manatunga has the floor Dilan M. In response to Ian, his comments about Markuu remind me of why I really couldn't stand English class. At some point, I thought a poem was just a poem and the author really didn't intend to make some grand metaphor on the passage of life (not to say they don't ever mean to make a point). But then I realized, what's not important is what the author/creator means with his creation, but what you as a person gets out of it. For me, the story is what brought out the whole abstraction of what makes us people, or better put, sentient beings that have certain unalienable rights. The puzzle aspects, on the other hand, I'm really not sure what to get out of it though. Sorta like staring at a piece of abstract art. You feel like you should be getting something out of the piece of art, but you are not sure what. Hence, I really appreciate the story since it guides you in a way. Aug 16 10:05 PM Brian C. MTVernon has the floor MTVERNON I wiped the crew. I find it interesting that [whoever it was, sorry]"didn't feel right doing that as a player." I felt obligated. Maybe that's a consequence of the way games have taught me to play: there are rewards all over the place, so leave no stone unturned. I'm still moments from finishing the game, though. It's possible I'm going to regret my decision. (PS - Don't worry about spoiling anything...) Brian C. ataomicvege has the floor Atomicvege In response to Ian: but argument aside, tetris doesn't have an obvious narrative implied by the designer. Mr. Robot does have such a narrative, but in that game particularly i found it was the story pushing me through, and the rooms that made great use of the puzzle mechanics of the game were far and few between, at leat for my liking Brian C. Ian has the floor Ian B. So, here's a maybe strange question that follows these good responses: how much story do you think is needed or useful to contextualize the meaning of the puzzles? For example: structurally, poems are much more like puzzles than prose is — do you think a more abstract narrative would have been more or less convincing in this case? Brian C. baseballt682 has the floor tyler-LORDofDANCE I don't think that the puzzles were meant to symbolize anything. They were just a means to deliver the story and to provide gameplay. Personally, I was extremely disappointed by the story. I thought there was a chance for a great one, but the opportunity was lost. Brian C. Interesting point Ian. This all goes back to the basic argument against deconstructionism, which seems to imply that it doesn't matter what the creator of the work had in mind when the wrote the book, the song, the video game, all that matters is what the user or reader or the listener gets out of it. Brian C. Putting aside that issue for a moment. What did everyone think of the game as a whole? Was it fun? Was it thought provoking? Was it both? Was it neither? Brian C. ian has the floor Ian B. So, here's a maybe strange question that follows these good responses: how much story do you think is needed or useful to contextualize the meaning of the puzzles? For example: structurally, poems are much more like puzzles than prose is — do you think a more abstract narrative would have been more or less convincing in this case? Brian C. baseballt682 has the floor tyler-LORDofDANCE I don't think that the puzzles were meant to symbolize anything. They were just a means to deliver the story and to provide gameplay. Personally, I was extremely disappointed by the story. I thought there was a chance for a great one, but the opportunity was lost. Brian C. Interesting point Ian. This all goes back to the basic argument against deconstructionism, which seems to imply that it doesn't matter what the creator of the work had in mind when the wrote the book, the song, the video game, all that matters is what the user or reader or the listener gets out of it. rian C. Putting aside that issue for a moment. What did everyone think of the game as a whole? Was it fun? Was it thought provoking? Was it both? Was it neither? Brian C. ian has the floor Ian B. Brian opened the door for us to get philosophical here. A lot of folks thing that deconstruction means that things can have any meaning we want, but the practice is really about the idea that meaning escapes its origins and integrates into new contexts in ways a creator could never anticipate or expect. So we can find new meaning in works, but those meanings are still emanating from the actual text — or in this case mechanics — that the creator fashioned. Brian C. So the creation is greater than the creator? (Or worse.) Ian B. Well, here's something to think about: Ian B. What does moving blocks around mean anyway? Brian C. Man's constant struggle with nature, himself. A reference to Sisyphus? Brian C. Floatingworld has the floor FloatingWorld Well for one, its monotonous. I imagine that you could strike a correlation between the robot's original reason for being created, without a true purpose. I would have to go out there and say that it wasn't moonpod's intention for this correlation to be made. Regardless, perhaps the entrance of the rpg element is symbolic of the robot's rise into some kind of meaning, a break from the monotony you could say? Brian C. atomicvege has the floor Atomicvege i have 2 comments, both for Ian. Atomicvege One is on the topic a little while ago of narrative Atomicvege it's that problem of the purpose of narrative of games isn't it. I just finished a paper on game and narrative and found that while its purpose is to push you through longer games, it is very easy for the story to overshadow the gameplay. I don't believe Mr. Robot had its gameplay overshadowed. Dilan M. The manipulation of our lives by some unknown source that has a greater plan intended. Or maybe the subjugation of supposedly lesser objects for the good of one overarching power, something which was happening to the robots. Atomicvege the other is in response to the blocks question Atomicvege Is the question in context of the game Mr. Robot or as a game mechanic? Aug 16 Brian C. ownageof night has the floor datafox I felt the game was ok. It had fun fighting aspects and some puzzles were novel but I was frustrated by the use of an isometric view point and jumping puzzles. Brian C. shaunomacx has the floor datafox With respect to moving blocks, it teaches you manual labor sucks no matter if you are in real life or on the computer. shaunomacx As a gamer, I'm curious to what was the intention with this title? Aside from recoup costs and turn a profit of course. People talk about EA throwing out the same stuff every year and not enough original IP just to keep the money flowing but as a relatively unknown developer what do you think the main and primary goal with Mr. Robot was? A question really moreso about the mindset of developers of original products in that there must be some sort of logical decision to make Mr Robot the way they did knowing or hoping rather that it would have had some sort of effect on the end user or result for the team who made it. Brian C. SemperDemens has the floor Dilan M. Sorry for putting this in earlier, (and SemperDemens is me so I am not going out of place again) but to me the moving blocks could mean: 1. The manipulation of our lives by some unknown source that has a greater plan intended. 2. the subjugation of supposedly lesser objects for the good of one overarching power, which is exactly what people are doing to robots. Aug 16 10:25 PM Brian C. tyler-LORDofDANCE has the floor tyler-LORDofDANCE ok, I'm going to have some fun here. Asimov seems to rise in status and gain respect as the game goes on. This is to show the American Dream, and that with enough hard work anything is possible. The pushing of blocks is to symbolize the monotony of an everyday life and, as FloatingWorld stated, the RPG elements show the breaking of that monotony. Brian C. OK, we're about to run out of time. Let's hope back to the most important question: Was it worth it? Knowing what you know now do you think that you'd play Mr. Robot again? tyler-LORDofDANCE has the floor tyler-LORDofDANCE Definitely. The first part was a little off putting, but the overall value of the game was great. For $15 dollars that is. Brian C. NYLatenite has the floor NYLatenite That's a negative - when I look at the time it took to finish the game, I think of all the other truly great titles I could have played. While it was a nice change of pace to try a game I normally would have overlooked, and the questions the game raised certainly are worthwhile, towards the end the gameplay (especially the JRPG style battles) had become so repetitive, all I wanted to do was get it over with. Brian C. SemperDemens has the floor Dilan M. No, for me, the story was left too unresolved. I wouldn't want to go through all the trouble again to be unsatisfied at the end. Especially since it was the story at the beginning that pushed me to beat the game, but now I know what happens, it is all sorta blah. And the platforming, puzzle, and rpg elements were just too repetitive and unoriginal for another play. Brian C. atomicvegetable has the floor Aug 16 10:30 PM JCtheMC Are you still talking about Mr. Robot Dilan? Atomicvege there is a small urge to see what happens when you wipe the crew, but the gameplay frustrated me too much to make it worth my while. That being said, the length of the game and the discussion it caused made me not regret the purchase price. Brian C. I personally think it was worth it, not because the game was exceptionally good, but because it did provide a change of pace and I think buried down in the middle of a game that certainly has some flaws (I hate that static isometric view) I think there was a bit of chewy goodness. Brian C. FloatingWorld has the floor oatingWorld no, I wouldn't play it again, but I'd have to disagree Brian. I actually thought the isometric view was refreshing. Everything has a dynamic camera nowadays. Even though it was a pain when you were behind things, I liked that it kept the game simple. But I wouldn't play through again, because there wouldn't really be any other outcome Brian C. jpnance has the floor jpnance Although I thought the RPG segments were largely unbearable and they felt tacked on for the sake of having a little bit of everything, the platforming and puzzling really was a whole mess of fun once I got acquainted with the controls. I doubt I would play Mr. Robot again, but I would give a look to a game which borrowed the platforming/puzzling, dropped the RPG elements, and lasted a good 15-20 hours. Aug 16 10:35 PM Brian C. shaunomacx has the floor shaunomacx I think the best thing at the minute would be to take all the feedback from the community and by extension and perhaps make a more expanded version of the game. For the price it certainly was worth the cash from the general consensus of the people who have took part in the discussion. If the title could resolve some issues such as viewpoint and length it took to achieve some tasks then in the future I think it would be worth a revisit as maybe an xbox live arcade/arcade for windows title albeit one slightly more polished. Refine Refine Refine. shaunomacx "and by extension these discussions" i meant to state Brian C. Alright folks I think we're out of time. Thanks again for joining us for The Game Club Beta. The real question is, does this format work and do you enjoy Game Club? Brian C. feel free to talk now, btb FloatingWorld yes FloatingWorld very much so FloatingWorld I had my wife log on for my, to make sure I had a spot when I got home from work FloatingWorld er my=me MTVERNON I'd definitely play more Mr. Robot. If anyone's tried the level editor, lemme know. Brian C. lol Atomicvege i liked the discussion, and the ability to talk to guests who are in the industry in some way is great shaunomacx i think so, as long as the people who join while the chat is in progress dont interrupt with "hi, hows u everyone" etc jpnance yeah, i thought it worked pretty well jpnance if anything, the discussions are too short ezrid I was just watching, but it was entertaining enough that i'd love to be in on this next time. Bioshock, maybe? jpnance but i know we all "have lives" MTVERNON yeah, i had a great time with this stuff. Dilan M. indeed, works well Atomicvege the campfire discussion needs refining i believe (or at least the transcript on the page) :) shaunomacx i personally think it should be titles which we otherwise wouldnt play brandon yea, i definitely dig the concept. Brian C. my concern about doing a modern game is twofold MTVERNON i ordered pizza to the hotel room tonight so that i could be here tyler-LORDofDANCE i agree jpnance yeah, i completely agree FloatingWorld i want to stress like i have, multiplatform games are the best idea...because not everyone owns every single console Dilan M. is beyond good and evil the next game? Brian C. first i want to make this as accessible as possible, so multiplatform and cheap titles, second I dont want anyone ever concerned about advertising Brian C. somethign i have no control over shaunomacx true i had to install Windows on my Mac tyler-LORDofDANCE i think im going to skip the next game club. give others a shot Brian C. and I'd hate to do a current game and see advertising pop up on the site ezrid Oh, good points all around. Besides, I doubt I'm going to stop playing bioshock at any point to talk... CheapyD has entered the room MTVERNON no kidding. MTVERNON hmmm Brian C. CHEAPY! tyler-LORDofDANCE oh just rub it int CheapyD whats up guys Brian C. i think the next club will have to be somethign shortish brandon yo shaunomacx maybe a discussion on the relevance of the likes of Quake 3 and its place in modern gaming next time? Atomicvege if we're discussing some titles as art, or at least defining titles in the medium, it's enevitable that by avoiding major titles, even exclusives, we might hinder ourselves in the future... but then accessibility goes out the window =/ shaunomacx CheapyD :D MTVERNON hey Cheapy. Brian C. bk i have to squeeze it in between leipzig and TGS NYLatenite The format works well - I originally expected the thing to turn out like the /ooc channel in a mmog pickup raid, but everyone actually followed the rules (must be that ginat banhammer behind your back) - I think one thing you may want to consider though is possibly talking to the developers of the next title to get some ideas on what to expect so people can perhaps have questions and comments ready for the next meeting -this way there's less of a chance of getting sidetracked and there's hopefully more time to actually discuss things FloatingWorld any ideas brian? tyler-LORDofDANCE I just want to add that Ian's ideas made my brain explode. Ian B. that's my job :) brandon yea short can be good for those who werent able to keep thru a 3-parter CheapyD looks like i missed most of the fun jpnance yeah, for the future, i would love to be able to see what the developers themselves have to say bashcraft cheapy, you LATE Brian C. yeah, sorry ezrid Question: Is the chat interface a bit slow for anyone else? datafox I think I would prefer IRC with voicing. Aug 16 10:40 PM Brian C. thats another issue. People in other countries are sort of screwed jpnance or maybe how the developers respond to the criticism shaunomacx its 3.40am for me! FloatingWorld hes so cheap, he shows up late so he doesn't have to pay a fee at the door. Brian C. yeah, i need to look into IRC for the next one Brian C. lol Brian C. good lord datafox Yea I think it was slow too. jpnance i mean, you can't do anything about our international friends brandon can any other kotaku editors host gameclubs in other timezones ;) Atomicvege actually yeah, if the discussion could have more of a question/answer flow, with questions prepared ahead of time, it might work... but that limits back and forth on discussion. It's tricky ezrid Definitely. tyler-LORDofDANCE I wonder if splitting up into different groups would work. jpnance i wish i didn't have to wake up at 4 in the morning to watch the finals of the australian open, but i do ezrid IRC, or something not slowish... Brian C. thats an idea shaunomacx nope tyler def not tyler-LORDofDANCE Each editor takes a group of 10-15 datafox That would be interesting to see it done that way. shaunomacx thats a better explanation dude :) tyler-LORDofDANCE lol Brian C. any suggestions for the next club? Brian C. how long is beyond good and evil? datafox For a game? jpnance is BG&E not definitely the next game? Brian C. or :) God Hand Atomicvege i think you should definitely give irc a go Dilan M. maybe we could have breaks inbetween games Dilan M. to discuss some game industry theme shaunomacx discuss violence in games? who knows maybe you can get some anti gaming people in a chat brian? ezrid BG&E... I've been meaning to play that. datafox That sounds fun. Atomicvege with voicing, you wouldn't have to keep repeating yourself about the rules MTVERNON wow. god hand would be fun shaunomacx like you know who... JCtheMC has left the room Brian C. well we wont have another game until i get back from leipzig tyler-LORDofDANCE Anti-game people don't like reason and sense CheapyD screw JT Brian C. so the first week in september datafox No Tetris? NYLatenite maybe something without a specific end but more of an experience - something where even if you couldn't finish it, you could still discuss it's finer points - like an arcadish title FloatingWorld no GC for 2 weeks? Atomicvege BG&E and Godhand, both fine titles :) Brian C. i actually have an idea about a Kotaku Town Hall tyler-LORDofDANCE pac-man? Brian C. but that's for down the line Brian C. ;) Atomicvege maybe something a little older MTVERNON huh. like a forum you mean? Brian C. sorta CheapyD pac-man championship edition shaunomacx Thats a good break anyway, so we can hold a discussion on the I <3 Kotaku facebook page about the next one CmdrKeen has entered the room Brian C. with a guess speaker NYLatenite Pac-Man CE perhaps, but only if Namco fulfills my dream and actually removes the time :) Atomicvege how about Super Metroid? :) NYLatenite timer too CheapyD ah, the timer is the best part MTVERNON yeah; the guest thing has been really coll FloatingWorld yeah super metroid would be awesome MTVERNON cool shaunomacx we could always discuss the decline of Arcade gaming Brian C. id like to sort of rotate between retail/indie and modern and retro datafox I think games that take under 15 hours might be best since it could be broken up in an easier manner. brandon yea—except a lot of people have played it to death brandon and have well formed opinions CheapyD you can't remove the talking pie, the pie is the heart Ginko has entered the room Brian C. yeah, part of the idea of this is the concept of mutual discovery Atomicvege yeah... the last thing you need in a games discussion is "thing game has no flaws! you are stupid! lol".... but with worse typing skills =/ FloatingWorld pyschonauts? MTVERNON i'd suggest a running list of upcoming titles (3-5 items long) Brian C. that we're experiencing the game together, in a sense Brian C. like those old NBC commercials MTVERNON people would use it to get the jump on what's next


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