September 08, 2006
Welcome to the first Only a Game minigame! We've been enjoying some rousing debate about EA, and it inspires me to have us play a little game to weigh EA's corporate soul, in the grand tradition of Anubis weighing the souls of the dead.
Disclaimer: This game is for entertainment purposes only, and should not be used to establish the real weight of EA's soul!
How to Play
1. Players decide whether they weigh EA's soul as Good or Evil. They then post a comment explaining their decision, and their reasoning.
- When someone weighs EA's soul as Good, I'll repost with an extra Angel icon.
- When someone weighs EA's soul as Evil, I'll repost with an extra Devil icon.
- I'll also write a generalised version of the point raised by the icon.
3. Only entirely new points will be counted! (I am the arbiter of what constitutes a new point).
4. Players may only score one point each, but if their point is rejected they may try again. Players may recruit supporters for their cause on their own blog or elsewhere.
5. Next Friday morning when I wake up, the game will end.
- If there are more Angels than Devils, everyone who weighed EA's soul as Good wins!
- If there are more Devils than Angels, everyone who weighed EA's soul as Evil wins!
To get the ball rolling, I am going to give EA's soul 1 Angel and 1 Devil. Best of luck!
And remember, this is just for fun! I will accept all issues, no matter how petty or ridiculous, as long as I deem them as new points. So if you want to give EA a Devil because you cut yourself on their shrinkwrap, or give EA an Angel because of that cute artist you met at GDC - it's all fair game!
The Weight of EA's Soul
Will Wright, and all his marvellous games
Hire people with amusing voices
Polished products make everyone try harder
Policy of "corporate sponsored exploration"
Structured work environment
Smallest investor in original games of all major publishers
Confuses emotional content with graphical quality
Bad reputation for development sweatshops
Scorched Earth policy (Origin, Bullfrog et al)
Monopoly on sports licences reduces game quality
Final Totals: 7 Angels, 6 Devils
EA's Soul: Glows slightly
This minigame has now ended - it seems that despite EA's flaws they still manage to be a slight force for good as well! Congratulations to the winning side - Neil, zenBen, translucy, Colm, Darius, and Chico! You saved EA's corporate soul from being eaten by crocodiles or something. Good job!
Comments to this post are now closed. If you wish to comment, please feel free to do so in the Green Room. And thanks for taking part!
Evil: turning every intelligent discussion about the need for emotional content in games into an excuse to talk about better graphics. For example, last year when they actually claimed individually rendered strands of hair would be important for building an emotional connection to characters.
Posted by: Corvus | September 08, 2006 at 09:55 AM
Aw... heck. I can't help but be a little balanced.
Good: For giving Carnegie Melon a huge helping hand by devoting their crack team of graphics card experts to improving the open source game engine, Panda 3D.
Notice, however, that both suggestions revolve around graphics *nirg*.
Posted by: Corvus | September 08, 2006 at 10:03 AM
Well, the rules state that each player can only score one point... It's supposed to prevent ballot stuffing, rather than cancelling out one's vote, but still...
So I'm going to have to take your first point and count you as weighing EA's soul as Evil - but you can always ask someone else to put forward your other point for you. :)
I'll accept a comment from anyone saying "I'll adopt Corvus' good point" or some such. :)
Posted by: Chris | September 08, 2006 at 11:40 AM
I'm pleased that my mark is going towards evil, actually. I only tossed in the second because a) you got two *kniw* and b) I have a hard time projecting myself as a moral absolutist.
So, please, someone, feel free to adopt my second point. I don't have enough capitol to feed another vote and this second mortgage on my soul is killing me as it is!
Posted by: Corvus | September 08, 2006 at 12:22 PM
"you got two"
But I'm the arbiter - I'm not a player. >:D
Posted by: Chris | September 08, 2006 at 12:36 PM
"But I'm the arbiter"
Oh, indeed! I meant that as a tongue in cheek point.
Posted by: Corvus | September 08, 2006 at 12:38 PM
Evil: They have traditionally been one of the worst shops for sweating their staff. Whether the current (apparent) improvement is temporary or permanent remains to be seen.
Posted by: Peter Crowther | September 08, 2006 at 12:48 PM
Oh, well, umm, I am gonna go for Good, simply because I liked Shox more than I should have, and for some reason am amused by the guy's voice who did the "E.A... BIG!" Sound bite.......
Posted by: Neil | September 08, 2006 at 02:50 PM
In a principle discussion, I can't deal in moral argumentation...morals are relative and practical. Relative to me, EA don't really figure as all that evil or good, possibly because I don't acutally develop games, just research them. I suppose the best I can say is - they make computer games. Is that not a good thing?
Posted by: zenBen | September 08, 2006 at 03:26 PM
My angle would be that the funded American McGee's Alice, which while not terribly innovative on it own, was a stylistic innovation which focused on more emotional sophistication, even if only a little.
My devil would be the gutting of Origin.
Hmmm, one interesting game vs. the company that launched one of the greatest franchises of all time and the first MMO.
I stant over Origin's henpecked corpse with a little tear crawling down my cheek, like the native american in those commercials. My point goes against EA.
Posted by: Patrick | September 08, 2006 at 03:40 PM
It's a hotly contested battle to save EA's soul from hell! ;D
ZenBen: you said 'good', I took this as weighing for Good. If you want to recant and abstain just let me know. :D
Patrick: Although you only mention Origin, I've generalised this to EA's apparent "Scorched Earth" policy with regards to developer acquisitions. They did it with Bullfrog in 2000-2001, and Origin in 2004.
I've always thought that a publisher who does not want to develop IP it has acquired should sell it onwards - borderline IP can be much more valuable to smaller publishers, and the IP seller can earn goodwill with the core gaming audience by keeping it alive (as well as making *some* money from it, instead of none). But of course, this isn't the corporate way.
Someone please rescue Corvus' Good point - it's a genuinally nice thing EA did, and it should count as a point!
Okay, time for my weekend to begin... There might not be any updates over the weekend, but we'll see!
Later dudes and dudettes!
Posted by: Chris | September 08, 2006 at 04:18 PM
Consider "Corvus' Good point" rescued.
And generally speaking I'd reiterate that I've a hard time regarding EA as "evil" ...
Posted by: translucy | September 08, 2006 at 07:27 PM
Evil: sloganeering. They may have stopped it by now, but nothing says evil like an enormous corporation branding games left and right with the slogan "Challenge Everything", when all EA is set on challenging is the record for how much money they can make on a rehashed (American) football title. Every time a game started up with that whispering voice, my stomach churned.
Posted by: Jack Monahan | September 08, 2006 at 07:46 PM
One more reason why EA has to be good rather than evil:
1. In western tradition the force of creativity is (often if not always) associated with the devil. Angels by contrast are often thought of as complacent fellas (check out the movie "Dogma" over the weekend if you don't believe me).
2. EA is certainky not creative.
3. Therfore, EA cannot be the devil. They have to be angels. qed.
Could somebody please *adopt* my "good point"? Please?!
Posted by: translucy | September 08, 2006 at 08:52 PM
"The Devil has all the best games", eh? :)
(I think I'd cite Wenders 'Der Himmel über Berlin/Wings of Desire' over Smith's 'Dogma', though, as an example of angelic non-interference).
Posted by: Chris | September 09, 2006 at 09:20 AM
Good: EA forces everyone to try harder. The products EA release more than anything else are polished. Yes gameplay matters more than graphics but you have to have appropriate graphics. Related to this is the way that non-gamers can generally buy an EA-published game and be reasonably confident that it won't be too bad.
Posted by: Colm Mac | September 09, 2006 at 05:43 PM
Chris: Yes, I said 'good', so count me in for a 'Good'. I mean, they could be producing reality TV - now that would be evil.
Translucy's "Good point" about the source of creative inspiration doesn't ring true to me - the Devil may have tempted the odd artist, or gifted some guitarists down by the crossroads in exchange for their soul, but true giants of human expression would generally have felt that God was speaking through them. Or that through the perfection of their art, they were reaching God somehow.
Although I can only remember cases of mathematicians when I say this.
Posted by: zenBen | September 11, 2006 at 11:35 AM
From friends of mine who are EA developers (and really love it), I've heard that EA has a fantastic policy of a sort of corporate-sponsored "exploration" period, which is like pre-pre-pre-production where they get all their brightest designers, artists, and technologists together and just figure out what the next cool things they're going to do will be. While this is nothing super-new in general, most people would be surprised to know that EA endorses this kind of thing.
Posted by: Darius K. | September 11, 2006 at 03:35 PM
zenBen, I'd say it's Truth, Order and Beauty that come from God, yet Creativity, Spiel and Disruption come from the opposite direction - hmmm... what does that tell us about EA? =)
BTW, I definitely like your web site and your scientific work :)
Posted by: translucy | September 11, 2006 at 06:23 PM
translucy, I stand humbly corrected, for I was indeed getting a little mixed up on what was meant by creativity.
Of course, creative people might say their work is a reflection of the divine, the TOB of God...but they'd almost always need to get in touch with the 'other side' in the process of creation.
So what does this make EA, who could hardly be said to revealing divine Truth or Beauty, and in not doing so, they're not being very creative either...from the point of view of this 'creativity' argument, I guess you could say they're all too human (read: boring?) :D
BTW, thanks awfully, altho the site's in bad need of finishing, the work too :D
Posted by: zenBen | September 11, 2006 at 06:39 PM
zenBen, I agree! So if there's still hope for humanity there gotta be hope for EA, too...;-)
Posted by: translucy | September 12, 2006 at 06:54 AM
Although I love to make games more balanced, I will reinforce the winning Angel side (which I originally thought would be the underdog), this time: EA provides a structured, organized work environment that this industry frequently lacks and that makes the employee´s job easier (well, I am talking more specifically of testers here). You might dislike many of their design/managerial decisions, but they are professional, most of the time.
Posted by: chico | September 12, 2006 at 01:09 PM
I don't know which of my points is counted, so I'd like to voice a devil in counter-point to Darius' claim. Sure, its nice to have some pre-pre-production, I enjoyed about three months of this earlier this year and it made all the difference; but there's a huge difference between coming up with a UI for a dramatic character archetechture and coming up with Black.
So my devil is that all their "original" IP is really derivative as shit.
Posted by: Patrick | September 12, 2006 at 06:39 PM
Patrick: I misread your earlier comment - you gave an Angel and a Devil point, but I missed the Angel and only counted the Devil. Are you happy with this outcome (i.e. that you are backing the side weighing EA's soul as Evil)?
Let me know!
Posted by: Chris | September 13, 2006 at 08:11 AM
Evil: Single license-holder for sports franchises results in poorer quality games.
There's been nearly a 10% drop in average game score (via gamerankings) since the Madden franchise became the only NFL game in town.
Posted by: Brett Douville | September 13, 2006 at 02:14 PM