The Evolution of the 8-Bit Culture

I’m getting on in years, I’m getting ridiculously close to the big 4-0 and being a gamer since my youth I was knee-deep in the 8-bit era when it was the only way to play. Art is just like fashion, everything old is new again and I’m definitely appreciating the return of 8-bit into pop culture, be it art, music or even right back to its origin with the latest indie video games.

Beginning with early Atari and Nintendo video games, the 8-bit aesthetic has been a part of our culture for over 30 years. As it moved through the generations, 8-bit earned its independence from its video game roots. The idea of 8-bit now stands for a refreshing level of simplicity and minimalism, is capable of sonic and visual beauty, and points to the layer of technology that suffuses our modern lives. No longer just nostalgia art, contemporary 8-bit artists and chiptunes musicians have elevated the form to new levels of creativity and cultural reflection.

Ubisoft’s Complexed Message

Here’s a quick description, what you see here is a promotional video created by and Ubisoft to help advertise the upcoming video game Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon.

I knew this video was unique the moment I saw the thumbnail in my Facebook feed.  I’ve tried to wrap my head around it since I first watched it. This video is wrong on so many levels but for the sake of our short attention spans, I’ll concentrate on the most important ones.

Here’s the top 5 reasons the “Complex Team Ghost: Coco” video sucks.

1 – The overall concept and message is just blatantly sexist. Complex or Ubisoft may reply saying that it was all done in satire and that I should just relax or lighten up. That’s not an excuse. Using satire as a reason and trying to make nothing out of this is a form of subtle discrimination. I think Katie Cunningham put it in her article about discrimination when she said: “The main problem with subtle discrimination is that it leaves those that it affects the most powerless against it and quietly discourages them”.

2 –  It stereotypes gamers as all male and stupid, which makes me believe that they are out of touch with the real gamers. This doesn’t make sense to me, I mean the information is right out there for everybody to find. The average gamer is 37 years old and 45% of them are women! In fact, adult women represent a greater part of the game-playing population (37 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (13 percent)

3 – They are creating false expectations and implying that all girl gamers dress like strippers and that you will get laid by playing with them. There are so many fantastic and vocal female gamers out there why didn’t they use one of them? What makes even less sense is that Ubisoft has been sponsoring a whole community of female gamers for years called the FragDolls to promote its games for years! These are much more appealing women to hire who actually to play video games because they like it. Why not use one of them? Am I wrong in thinking they’d be insulted by this promotion?

4 – The ads use a female gamer saying that girls play games, but if you know Ghost Recon, there are no lead female playable characters. The player does not have a choice of a female avatar in both the single-player story storyline and the multiplayer part of the game. Tom Clancy games have always pushed realistic military situation and gameplay. Last time I checked, there are women in the military today, this game is set in the future. Are there no women special forces in the future?

5 – The feel and tone of this promotion is not something I would have expected to see for a Tom Clancy title. It’s no secret what that UbiSoft is trying to steal gamers off the juggernaut that is Call of Duty but that’s not what Ghost Recon is. Lowering it the this kind of message does a disservice to the gamer and its fans. In the past, Ghost Recon has always been the thinking man’s shooter, it’s not a pickup and play game like the CoD series.

From a marketers perspective, synergy in your marketing and messaging is important. Especially when Ubisoft spends millions of dollars to create a serious Hollywood type movie focusing on the seriousness and realism to in turn create something like what we see above.

In my opinion, this message paints a bad portrait of all gamers and gamer culture. That said I hope that Ubisoft and Complex pull this ad and work on showing us real gamers and concentrates on what makes its product worth buying.

At least it’s encouraging to see that the YouTube community has the same reaction I do which gives me hope for humanity.

In the end, I’m still buying Ghost Recon when it’s released next week and I also plan to pick up future Ubi titles because they are great products.

Most of the time I have no issues telling friends and colleagues that I’ve been playing games for over 20 years and that I still regularly play. I’m a mature gamer but messages like this make it harder to use the term “mature”.

Elder Scrolls Online

So Bethezda (Skyrim) officially announced the Elder Scrolls Online MMO RPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game for the non gamers). 

Kiss your social life goodbye! 

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Official Reveal Trailer

Here’s the official announcement trailer for the worst secret in the video game industry. Activision has confirmed the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 on November 13th, 2012. As as per usual, Activision is doing a bang up job of getting gamers all hyped up about it. I’m a little surprised by the new set in the future storyline.

The Art of Video Games Smithsonian Exhibition

Chris Melissinos, guest curator of an exhibit about video games explains what makes the genre an art form. The art of video games exhibit is at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in D.C. from March 16th to September 30th.

It’s amazing how times change, the subject of video games as art or not has been going on for years with most gamers and those in the industry on the side of games being art. Even Roger Ebert’s chimed in with a controversial post a few years ago where he proclaimed that video games could never be considered art then backtracked saying that one day it will. I think that day has officially come.

I need to figure out a need to travel to D.C. in the next few months!