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The Not-So-Big Question: You Have a Hole in Your Pop

The Not-So-Big Question: You Have a Hole in Your Pop
The Not-So-Big Question: You Have a Hole in Your Pop...
In his review of Tuesday night’s episode of The GoldbergsPaste reviewer Mark Rozeman revealed his shameful secret—he had never seen that B-level touchstone of the 1980s, The Goonies. For a pop culture aficionado of that very decade (and a few others, at that) like Mark, this was a brave admission, indeed. But he also pointed out that he had “heard enough Goonies quotes and seen enough clips to believe at one point that I had seen the movie.”
So we’d like to throw out this question to you, gentle Paste reader:
What film has so saturated your own pop culture bubble, that you practically think you’ve seen it (though you haven’t, have you, you horrible, horrible person)?
Post your answer(s) in the comments below (with pictures, even). Come on—it’s time to come clean!

The 20 Best Summer Blockbusters of All Time: 'Jaws' is No. 1


When I was growing up on the Jersey Shore, mere miles from the 1916 shark attacks that Peter Benchley used as inspiration for his best-selling novel, Steven Spielberg’s Jawshad a profound effect on my summers. Whenever I was alone in the water, I inevitably began to fear that I was being stalked by something beneath the surface. The panic would grow and grow — as John Williams’ daaa-dum music grew louder in my head — until I finally felt compelled to make a break for it. Swimming for my life, my flailing arms furiously pounded the water and my lungs felt about to burst because my face never turned to gulp more air. In my mind, the Great White from Jaws was inches behind me, his mouth wide open, about to turn me into lunch. I never dared slow down or look back until my entire body was out of the water… and safely back on the deck of the pool.

It’s true that
 Jaws was the first summer blockbuster, a national event that consumed the culture for an entire sweltering season — and then some. The summer movie season had traditionally been a Hollywood dumping ground, but Jaws was a beast as soon as it opened on June 20, 1975, changing every element of the movie business forever. It was an immediate smash, winning 14 straight weekends at the box office, and broke most all the important box-office records. It helped that the movie was brilliant pure entertainment, but Universal marketed the movie in a bold new way. Before Jaws, most promising studio pictures opened gradually, first in major cities before branching out to the suburbs and more rural areas. That would allow word of mouth, and hopefully positive reviews, to pave the way for a long, profitable run in theaters. Instead, Universal exec Lew Wasserman adopted a technique that was typically reserved for stinkers: saturate the airwaves with massive TV advertising and open across the country simultaneously in order to bypass the critics. Jaws opened in more than 400 theaters, which was a lot at the time, and the reaction was immediate. Everybody was talking about Jaws. Everybody wanted to see what the fuss was about. Everybody then wanted to see it again. And again. And again.See, that was the thing about Jaws. The fear was so visceral — and irrational — that even a dip in a chlorinated swimming pool seemed like a risky proposition to a kid whose imagination was much deeper than the pool’s diving well.
As most fans know, the making of Jaws was a complete nightmare for 27-year-old Steven Spielberg. The script was nebulous, the clunky mechanical shark nicknamed Bruce wouldn’t work properly, and the budget ballooned from $3.5 million to about $10 million as the 55-day shoot in Martha’s Vineyard stretched to 159 days. “If any of us had any sense, we’d all bail out now,” said Richard Dreyfuss, during one of the first days that Bruce refused to cooperate. Spielberg woke up every day fearing — and perhaps occasionally hoping — that he would be fired from the project and his career would be over before it really got started. But it turned out that the shark’s chronic malfunctions were a blessing in disguise, forcing Spielberg to repackage the creature as a more Hitchcockian device that is seen less but felt more. Audiences don’t see the shark in the movie until the final act, when Roy Scheider’s Chief Brody backs away from chumming the sea and tells the salty Melvillian captain played by Robert Shaw, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
What was supposed to be a historic bomb became the biggest movie of its time, but the film’s phenomenal success isn’t the only reason it tops our list of summer blockbusters. Before Jaws, the idea of a movie about a rogue shark terrorizing a small seafaring village was not taken seriously by the studios. This was the realm of Roger Corman’s B-movies, cheap schlock that was made in a hurry to play on the drive-ins in the sticks. Before Jaws, there were films and movies — and never the twain shall meet — but Jawsbridged the gap. The day after audiences watched Scheider blow up the shark, every studio started digging in their basement for their own summer blockbuster. Jawsopened the door for science-fiction odysseys, comic book heroes, and Disney theme-park rides to dominate the big screen, and Hollywood has never been the same since.
Jaws ultimately grossed more than twice the year’s second biggest movie (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and was nominated for four Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture. Beginning a trend, Spielberg was not nominated despite all the blood and sweat he had put into it. Nor was Shaw, whose portrayal of the grizzled shark-killer, Quint, is now considered one of the all-time great performances. For a movie about a killer shark, its most harrowing moment isn’t the pretty skinny-dipper being pulled under or the shark finally smiling for Brody, but Quint’s half-drunken story about the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the World War II vessel that was torpedoed in 1945 and left to be preyed upon by sharks.
Here’s to swimming with bow-legged women. Jaws, oft-imitated but never equaled, the greatest summer blockbuster of them all.
Rank: 1
Release Date: June 20, 1975
Box Office: $260 million domestic ($7.0 million opening weekend), $470.7 million global; $1.02 billion domestic in 2014 dollars, adjusted for inflation. (All numbers fromBox Office Mojo.)
The Competition: There was no competition. Jaws swallowed the competition whole, including Nashville, which had been the No. 1 movie the week before. Who else had the misfortune of opening in the summer of 1975? The Apple Dumpling Gang with Bill Bixby and Tim Conway, The Rocky Horror Picture ShowThe Other Side of the MountainRollerball, and Woody Allen’s Love and Death.
What TIME said: “Like all the best thrillers — with which this movie is good enough to keep company — Jaws relies on both the immediacy of illusion and the safety it provides. The menace so cunningly created and enlarged comes close enough to have caused loud screams and small tremors of terror at pre-release screenings. Yet Jaws is vicarious, not vicious, a fantasy far more than an assault. It is a dread dream that weds the viewer’s own apprehensions with the survival of the heroes. It puts everyone in harm’s way and brings the audience back alive. And in Jaws, the only thing you have to fear is fear itself.”
Cultural Impact Then: People flocked to theaters in the summer of ’75 to see Jaws, but the movie had an adverse impact on beach attendance, with anecdotal reports that people were staying away from the water. The film was so effective that sharks — especially Great White sharks — were demonized, and nearly 40 years later, they remain feared and misunderstood based on the misconceptions presented in Jaws and its sequels. The enormous success of Jaws demanded a sequel, and Jaws II was quickly green-lit with Scheider starring. (Spielberg and Dreyfuss escaped the follow-up because they were busy making Close Encounters of the Third Kind.) Other studios quickly generated their own Jaws rip-offs, with OrcaThe DeepTentacles, and Piranha soon swimming into theaters.
John Williams’ chilling, immediately iconic score won him an Oscar and became the summer’s most repeated two notes. A new NBC sketch show that would become known as Saturday Night Live featured a recurring Land Shark who duped naive people into answering their door.
Most long-lasting, Jaws‘ success didn’t end at the box office, as the public was in a frenzy for movie-related T-shirts, posters, toys and lunchboxes. It paved the way for the kind of merchandizing that would explode two years later for Star Wars, which took theJaws blockbuster blueprint to another level.
Cultural Staying Power: People are still terrified of sharks, so there’s that. And people still sit up straight when Williams’ score gets played. But the most important cultural impact of Jaws was the advent of the summer blockbuster. Hollywood wholeheartedly embraced huge event movies that became the centerpiece of their strategy. Some blame Jaws, and subsequently Star Wars, for the demise of the auteur-led Hollywood by replacing pseudo-artistic entertainment geared for adults with frivolous fodder for kids. Then there was Jaws II and Jaws 3-D, and The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi. Studios suddenly demanded blockbusters that could be made into more blockbusters; i.e., franchises. That’s a lot to hang around the neck of one nearly perfect movie that many predicted would be a total disaster. Jaws didn’t kill Robert Altman, but perhaps it made making his brand of movies that much more difficult.
Steven Spielberg became the master of the summer blockbuster, as our list attests. Making Jaws gave him near-complete freedom to make any movie he wanted for the rest of his career, and he’s delivered on that promise time and time again, in movies likeRaider of the Lost ArkE.T.Jurassic Park, and Saving Private Ryan, to name but a few.
Jaws also influenced an entire generation of filmmakers who aspire to tell a big-budget, high-concept story as perfectly as Spielberg did — though many have wisely steered clear of filming on the water. His nightmare experience off the coast of Massachusetts has become legend, with multiple documentaries picking through the production headaches and the personality conflicts that plagued the shoot. Last year, two different scripts about the making of the movie were included on the annual Black List, which highlights the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. Jaws also gave us the annual Shark Week, and Sharknado 2, so there’s no denying that it has become one of the most important movies of all time, for better and worse.
The Best Summer Blockbusters of All Time
30. Bridesmaids
29. The Hangover
28. Rambo: First Blood Part II
27. There’s Something About Mary26. Shrek
25. Inception
24. Spider-Man
23. Saving Private Ryan
22. Gladiator
21. Independence Day
20. Toy Story 3
19. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
18. Grease
17. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
16. The Avengers
15. Back to the Future
14. Superman II
13. The Lion King
12. The Sixth Sense
11. Top Gun
10. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
9. Animal House
8. Ghostbusters
7. Forrest Gump
6. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark
4. The Dark Knight
3. Jurassic Park
2. Star Wars
1. Jaws

Travel and Videogames: Missing Play in Beijing

Travel and Videogames: Missing Play in Beijing
Travel and Videogames: Missing Play in BeijingI often get cheap dinners in Beijing. I can get a plate of green peppers with chicken in a spicy sauce with rice for less than $2. Beijing is fun, but it’s not the easiest place to live in. There’s the long gray streets, the dust (from construction and sand blown in from Mongolia), and the air pollution, a silent danger to everyone.
On the subway to work, it’s crammed with people and the smell of sweat in the evenings. In China you’ll spot rural migrants with great bundles on their backs mixing with wealthy ladies in the most elegant of coats. On the subway, they’ll be crushed together in the same, tight space.
The smell of Beijing is often acrid with exhaust fumes, and loud honks from taxi cabs ring out, creating stress. The bars are no less full-on, filled as they are with cigarette smoke, cheap beer and the great potential for sex.
I grew up in Hastings, a small, run-down seaside town in England. Seagulls would try to steal your fish and chips, and the smell and sound of the sea is always near. It’s the kind of town where you either stay the rest of your life, or you escape to something bigger.
I often did escape, although perhaps that’s not the right word. After school, my attention focused on the gradual mastery of a videogame. My favorites were either extreme sports games with precise controls or adventure games in which you’re a secret operative, a gangster or a fantasy character carrying around a sword.
I loved my consoles, first an SNES, then a Playstation. I’m afraid Sony ensnared me pretty tightly (they always had great propaganda), and the PS3, although never really taking off like its previous kin, burned slow with incomparable experiences offered by the likes of Metal Gear Solid 4 and The Last of Us.
My PS3 is in England now, unused, my character languishing somewhere deep within Skyrim. I didn’t bring it with me to Beijing—I don’t have a TV anyway—and I miss it sorely. I miss it more than most things in fact. I think about it, and how much I miss playing games, more than I think about family, friends and other markers of home.
I think I can understand this. When I was young, my mum often said that I shouldn’t be playing so much on my console, that I should be studying or doing something more wholesome. I knew that I should be having adventures and experiences for real, too. For myself, rather than through a virtual character. That I should get to know “reality”.
When I was 18, I decided to go abroad. I lived in a small town thousands of miles away from home. I learnt a lot about relationships, what I want and how to get it, all that stuff. I felt temporary joys and the sadness of departures, the elation of love, crushing loneliness and hard-won knowledge.
I’ve felt some of those things while invested in the imaginary worlds of videogames too, but when you’re abroad and alone for the first time, the reality of experience is magnified so much that every moment becomes an opportunity to mature.
I started university when I was 20. I kept up the videogame habit. I played online properly for the first time, refining my reflexes shooting shit up. There were the late night duels and drunken multiplayer. They were fun, sure. And then in my final year, I brought my PS3 with me to my university town (other times I played on friends’ consoles), and I learnt about mood, texture and narrative playing Heavy Rain and Bioshock.
I played Portal the whole way through in one sitting on a German roommate’s Macbook. That perfect little game, which lasted less than three hours, lingers in the memory. Thanks, German guy. On the other hand my trip to Cyprus, much longer in duration, and occurring around the same period in my life, I hardly think about. But I wouldn’t say Portal was more important, as an experience. That would be perverse.
Tom Bissell, author and journalist, has argued that the act of playing videogames is a valid endeavor: “What have games given me?”, he asks in an essay on his attachment to Grand Theft Auto IV. “Experiences. Not surrogate experiences, but actual experiences, many of which are as important to me as any real memories”. It’s a sentiment that underlines what many people who grew up on games know and understand, that certain games and their moments unfolded as proper emotional touchstones in our youth.
In China, those experiences are vastly different. Here, the main way people play videogames is on a mobile phone or tablet, whiling away their time on puzzlers or Candy Crush, simple side-scrollers (“endless runner” games), and Chinese variations featuring dragons and lions and Chinese artwork. Otherwise it’s boys at internet cafes playing MMORPGs, with games drawing influences from well-known Chinese legends.
Consoles are banned in China, but in big cities at least they are actually not that hard to find. In Beijing, there is an area where there are a sizable number of small, independent shops selling PS4s, Xbox Ones, 3DS’ and games. They are often Japanese region-specific and there are significant mark ups in terms of price. PS Vitas are quite popular here, and the previous Sony handheld—the PSP—was even more so.
I tend to prefer games with well-made worlds, environments you can get drawn into. A console like the 3DS seems perfect for that right now. The innovative handheld, with charming, absorbing titles like The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a transporting little device.
But I don’t have one. The ones sold here only play Japanese games and I can’t understand Japanese. It’s frustrating. The sense of achievement, exploration and play is something I hunger for. In Beijing I wake up in my tiny rented bedroom, commute to work and sometimes walk around spaced out that I live in a city so alien not just to “home”, but to what my sense of a world should be.
So why do I miss playing videogames so much? When I traveled to Thailand or Taiwan or around China, my game-playing desire waned a little. Traveling wasn’t just life but a game itself, an adventure where I was the only constant while the scenery, characters and the soundtrack changed all around me.
But living in Beijing, at age 25, not making huge amounts of money seems too real to be dramatic, too unusual to be mundane. I like living here, I made that choice and I like what I’ve done since I’ve moved here. Is it nostalgia then, a feeling of loss as I drift farther from childhood?
I am not sentimental. Rather I think it’s a need for joy, to be unsprung, to be lost in the flow, unworried about past and futures, which so many of us try to control. It’s a craving for comfort and play; to be enthralled by the notion that reality, wherever it may be, maybe replaced by a game—if only temporarily.
Lu-Hai Liang is a British-Chinese writer based in Beijing. He has written for IGN, The Guardian, New Statesman & The Atlantic among others.

Irony-Free Friday: A Close Reading of Pitbull's "Timber"

Irony-Free Friday: A Close Reading of Pitbull's "Timber"
Irony-Free Friday: A Close Reading of Pitbull's "Timber"
Every once in a while, we here at Paste are going to try to slough off the lens of irony through which so much modern entertainment is viewed. We’re going to give the so-bad-it’s-goods their sincere due and take an earnest look at the things you might think can only be enjoyed ironically. It’s Irony-Free Friday.
Pitbull Must Be Stopped
There’s an old philosopher; his name is Kant. He came up with a pretty brilliant thing that he called the Categorical Imperative, which, to paraphrase, roughly translates to “you should only do something if you think the rest of the world should also be able to do that thing.” (“Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction.”) Kant thought that a being could only claim worth, or be fully human, if he/she could articulate the Categorical Imperative. Kant, mind you, has been dead for over 200 years.
This brings me to Pitbull. If we were to apply the Categorical Imperative to Pitbull, which is to say, if we were to take Pitbull’s lyrics, or at least the ones that could be interpreted as being morally prescriptive, and live by them, what kind of world would it be? That’s what we’re here to answer this week, focusing on the totally ubiquitous pop-hit “Timber,” a tune that’s enormous fun to liquor up and dance to, which we decided could use a close reading.
[lyrics cut-and-pasted from A-Z Lyrics
[Kesha]
It’s going down, I’m yelling timber

You better move, you better dance

Let’s make a night you won’t remember

I’ll be the one you won’t forget


Wooooah (timber), wooooah (timber), wooooah (it’s going down)

Wooooah (timber), wooooah (timber), wooooah (it’s going down)


[Pitbull]

The bigger they are, the harder they fall

These big-iddy boys are dig-gidy dogs

I have ‘em like Miley Cyrus, clothes off

Twerking in their bras and thongs, timber

Face down, booty up, timber

That’s the way we like to-what?-timber

I’m slicker than an oil spill

She say she won’t, but I bet she will, timber
The first part is Kesha (finally free of her dollar sign), inserting the only lyric with any cleverness at all into the song, there at the beginning. She addresses the narrator, telling him that he is going to end this night so (to use the parlance of our time) turnt that he won’t remember anything about it save for the physics-breaking sensuality of Kesha herself.
Pitbull, for his part, spouts a couple of size-of-the-dog-in-the-fight grade aphorisms, before dispensing with the pleasantries and getting straight to what is essentially his thesis statement: Pitbull is swarthy enough that women who don’t think they want to have sex with him are mistaken. This idea stretches back to the song “Give Me Everything,” where Mr. Bull suggests a world wherein if you see someone sexy on the street, your appropriate reaction is to grab them, tell them “hey,” and demand literally everything from them (in his defense, the idea that this is built on, that we “might not get tomorrow,” is totally valid, if awkwardly worded).
If we’re applying Kant to the lyrics, Pitbull is prescribing a world where every sentient being has the right to accost every other sentient being, provided they are sexy. A similar application to the lyrics of “Timber” suggests that an interaction between man and woman that doesn’t end in the woman accepting the man’s advances is an issue of said man’s “slickness,” not the woman in question’s agency. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, here meaning that the more fight a woman puts up, the more gratifying it is when the walls of her self-respect come tumbling down.
[Pitbull]
Swing your partner round and round

End of the night, it’s going down

One more shot, another round

End of the night, it’s going down

Swing your partner round and round

End of the night, it’s going down

One more shot, another round

End of the night, it’s going down


[Kesha]

It’s going down, I’m yelling timber

You better move, you better dance

Let’s make a night you won’t remember

I’ll be the one you won’t forget


It’s going down (it’s going down), I’m yelling timber

You better move (you better move), you better dance (you better dance)

Let’s make a night you won’t remember

I’ll be the one you won’t forget (you won’t forget)



Wooooah (timber), wooooah (timber), wooooah (it’s going down)

Wooooah (timber), wooooah (timber), wooooah (it’s going down)
Gibberish.
[Pitbull]

Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane

Nah, it’s just me, ain’t a damn thing changed

Live in hotels, swing on planes

Blessed to say, money ain’t a thing

Club jumping like LeBron now, Volí

Order me another round, homie

We about to clown. Why? ‘Cause it’s about to go down


Swing your partner round and round

End of the night, it’s going down

One more shot, another round

End of the night, it’s going down

Swing your partner round and round

End of the night, it’s going down

One more shot, another round

End of the night, it’s going down



[Kesha]

It’s going down, I’m yelling timber

You better move, you better dance

Let’s make a night you won’t remember

I’ll be the one you won’t forget

It’s going down (it’s going down), I’m yelling timber

You better move, you better dance (you better dance)

Let’s make a night (let’s make a night) you won’t remember

I’ll be the one (I’ll be the one) you won’t forget (you won’t forget)



Wooooah (timber), wooooah (timber), (hey), wooooah (it’s going down) (Pitbull)

Wooooah (timber), wooooah (timber), wooooah (it’s going down)


Wooooah (timber), wooooah (c’mon), wooooah (it’s going down)

Wooooah (timber), wooooah (you won’t forget), wooooah (timber)
Here Pitbull evokes the classic imagery of Superman, one of America’s most thoroughly enmeshed mythological figures, to highlight the excitement of living the pop-star lifestyle, hotel to hotel, fornicating on airplanes. Which, look, I’m sure is great. It has to be one of the most exciting things in the world. But if we apply Pitbull morality to our everyday life, what we end up with is swarms of otherwise contained gentlemen, determining that any women saying “no” to them is a woman who really just wants to be persuaded to say “yes.” This isn’t an issue unique to Mr. Armando Christian Pérez, who has by all accounts, through hard work and dedication to the craft of rap emerged from monetary struggles to salable fame. It is admirable that he has, in his own words, taken his life “from negative to positive” (again, from “Give Me Everything”).
A fun thing to do when watching the music video for “Timber” is to imagine this scenario: Kesha is a disgraced mermaid, who somehow wronged malevolent sea-dictator Pitbull (perhaps she said no and stuck). She is cursed to bartend and lick her fingernails in America’s heartland while Pitbull shoots thumbs-up and frolics and cavorts with sharks and generally has fun in close proximity to the world’s oceans, which Kesha misses so terribly. It’s an apt metaphor for a guy who has a stranglehold on Top 40 radio and thus the psyche of America’s youth.
The Verdict
Kesha deserves better, Pitbull must be stopped, for the sake of everyone’s Kantian well being.

Learning to Let Go: Time and Memory in Games

Learning to Let Go: Time and Memory in Games
Learning to Let Go: Time and Memory in Games
On Thursday at this year’s GDC, I attended game designer Yoko Taro’s talk “Making Weird Games for Weird People”. The Japanese director of Drakengard andNier first talked about his design process, but it was the latter half of the talk, where he began making a distinction between what games can and can’t do, that was the most interesting.
A light circle represented what games “can” do. The dark field around it, what cames “can’t”. A dotted-line circle within the light was, according to Taro, the perceived and accepted ideas of what games “can” do.
He labeled the area between the dotted line and the darkness “unknown”, and I love that division. That section where people who seriously ask but is it a game?” get uncomfortable and start to itch.
I’ve only played one of Taro’s games: Nier. Many games like Nier allow you to start them over once you’ve finished, keeping all your abilities from the previous playthrough. Nier messes with this formula. The second playthrough starts about halfway into the game and adds additional dialogue and cutscenes for the enemies. A few small additions make what was already a bleak experience even bleaker. Unlike games like Spec Ops: The Line, which tell you that what you’ve done is Bad, these scenes provide insight into what’s going on when you’re not around and explain the motivations behind what, in the first playthrough, seem like mindlessly violent monsters. It’s changed the context of your actions and hints at costs that maybe you hadn’t considered.
Taro used another example from the end of Nier in his explanation about creating emotions in the player. If, on a later playthrough, you meet certain conditions (collecting all weapons, etc), the player character is given a choice at the end of the game. If he sacrifices himself, he can save one of his companions. It’s not just a death, though: He is told that he will be erased from history.
Small potatoes for the player, though, right? The character doesn’t exist in the game anymore, but you can always load up the save and play again.
Except choosing the sacrifice triggers an in-game warning: To save your friend, you have to lose your save data. It will literally be like you, the player, never existed in that game world. The game itself will have no memory of you.
Which is terrifying, because in games, memory is everything.
nier screenshot.jpg
Nier
Shadow of Destiny is an old PS2 game about time travel and paradoxes and a European city that changes a bit in the present depending on what you do in the past. Time Hollow is a later DS game written by the same person.
Well, they don’t change a lot, because neither one has a very good memory.
There are two kinds of time, when a story is involved: Myy time (as watcher, player, listener, reader) and the story’s time (you know, what the characters experience). Everything I see or read or play or hear happens in order for me. I’m no Billy Pilgrim.
But in a book, for example, a flashback in chapter four takes place before the events of chapters 1-3, but I read it afterward. But I understand it happened before chapters 1-3 because it doesn’t change what has happened in them. It might change my understanding of those chapters.
The present remembers the past, and not just in memory. I don’t have a memory of cutting my eyebrow on a coffee table when I was a toddler, but my skin sure does.
Do you know the difference between ROM and RAM? I’m going to force them into a metaphor here.
A book, or a film, is solely ROM. They don’t have any way to remember anything new after they have been fixed in place.
A game built on software, though, it can remember. It’s got RAM. Of course, it can only remember the things its code allows it to remember, which may or may not line up with what its code’s authors intended for it to remember.
Things that can be encoded in binary can be remembered. This is what progress in a game is: what the game remembers about what you’ve done. A book (well, one printed on paper) doesn’t dole out its later parts based on it remembering your reading of its earlier parts. You can jump to any page in a book at any time you want, read in any order you want (though it’s a little more difficult with certain ebook readers).
Frank talk: If you think a book is inherently a linear, narrative medium I’d say you think the message is the medium.
It’s funny, for all their championing as nonlinear media, there’s very little less linear than, say, Super Mario Brothers. You’re always trying to get it right, to make sure that Mario avoids or destroys the koopa troopa instead of running into it. A mistake is to be punished; the system’s built to forget everything that leads up to them.
The game forgetting what you do—resetting your score, making you start at the beginning—is a punishment. So if a narrative game doesn’t remember what you do and change its ending accordingly, is it kind of the same kind of failure?
Shadow of Destiny and Time Hollow aren’t built on systems with a wide array of possibilities. The rules don’t react to you and generate new scenarios, however brief. Mario has a relatively wide variety of ways to achieve his goal (getting to the right side of the screen); Eike and Ethan, protagonists of Destiny and Hollow, not so much. But where Mario’s failures are resets, the game willfully forgetting what you’ve done, Eike and Ethan have failures that move them closer to their goal.
This is a super-important distinction for what games can mean. There is so much trial-and-error inherent in goal-achieving games, ones that don’t know how (or don’t care) to remember your failures, in a way, say, the tries don’t matter. Only the one success does.
I used to think that games were unique in the way they could hold your time hostage. One mistake and suddenly all your progress is undone. The game forgets what you’ve achieved, and you go back to zero.
But that’s a narrow view, putting things in terms of the destination rather than the journey. Just because a game can remember some things doesn’t mean that what it can’t remember is worthless.
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The past is what is remembered by everything in the present. Memory and scars and trace evidence, gained skills and lost flexibility. It’s not just the ending, not just the choices that marketing can sell you.
Peter Molyneaux’s promise that in Fable you could plant trees as a child and they would grow alongside your character, or the Bioware promise of choices mattering before apparently undermining them with a series-ending palette swap: These are consumer technofetishist at heart, a promise of technology that places meaningfulness on the “choice”, as if which brand we choose or which crew member we save is an insight into our essential being.
But when we can only choose the options we’re given, there are whole worlds of possibilities not offered. And if we try to say that what matters is only what can be stored in binary memories, well, what are we missing then?
Taro presented Nier’s save-game erasing as a failure to push the medium. It’s not. It’s brilliant.
To succeed, you have to let go. You have to accept that material proof of your progress is irrelevant. Players not being able to accept that was not a failure of the game, but a critique by it.

Maddy Myers and Samantha Allen on Manveer Heir's GDC Talk

Maddy Myers and Samantha Allen on Manveer Heir's GDC Talk
Maddy Myers and Samantha Allen on Manveer Heir's GDC Talk
In her Game Developers Conference recap earlier todayPaste’s assistant games editor Maddy Myers discussed Manveer Heir’s GDC talk about diversity. Here are some notes Maddy passed with fellow Paste contributor Samantha Allen during Heir’s lecture.
MADDY: I’m not wild about this talk so far. I feel like he’s really focused on studies and jargon.
SAMANTHA: Yeah. This line about stereotypes being about the efficiency of grouping people together just totally absolves bigots of their imbrication with concrete tangible systems of power. The media effects discourse is a fragile peg to hang your hat on, too. We should represent people because it’s about justice, not because the media supposedly shapes identity.
MADDY: He’s also trying so hard to back up his points with evidence, as though this all isn’t already apparent. It’s almost a citation every other slide. I guess it’s because this stuff is already obvious to me. It’s like how all of GDC is about proving that inclusivity matters for some tangible reason (financial, etc.) These studies are basically just proof that media affects people. How many times do we have to show a variant on that same study? We get it. Why is that the whole argument here?
SAMANTHA: He’s also just generously optimistic about the audience in the way that only a man can afford to be. Like the privilege of people who buy and play games, and the sort of toxic social attitudes that accompany that privilege are real — they’re not just “good people” who happen to have a homophobia problem.
MADDY: Yeah. I also wish he would talk about how we reach audiences that aren’t playing these games and also aren’t seeing themselves represented in games. He’s blanketing all of that as “marketing,” but actually, marketing games like Tomb Raider and Gone Home to men was difficult and possibly not even useful. It’s that old problem of men not being able to identify with women because they’ve never had to, whereas women grow up being used to identifying with male heroes because they’ve always had to.
SAMANTHA(Heir has just brought up the prospect of playing as a gay character in a game and being in a position where you have to stay closeted.) I kind of don’t want to experience that in a game …
(Meanwhile, Todd Harper tweets that same thing at the same time without seeing our notes. The next day, the two of them would appear on a panel about this very topic.)
MADDY: Me, either. Also, I’m irritated that all of his “strong female character” examples are women doing classically masculine roles, even cross-dressing (his examples are Brienne and Arya from Game of Thrones, and Aveline from Assassin’s Creed).
SAMANTHA: It’s almost like oppression sims are still for straight white men.
SAMANTHA: Because god knows we don’t want to play a game where we simulate being female, queer, etc., in the same fucked-up world we already live in.
MADDY: Fuck that. We already live there.
Hyper Mode is an occasional column by Paste’s assistant games editor Maddy Myers. Her work has also appeared in the Boston Phoenix, Kill Screen and at the Border House. She also blogs at her personal website Metroidpolitan and tweets@samusclone.
Samantha Allen writes about gender, sexuality and videogames. She writes regularly for the feminist gaming blog Border House. Her work has also appeared on Jacobin, Salon, Paste, Kotaku, Kinsey Confidential and in Adult Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @CousinDangereux.

The Best Responses to the Facebook Acquisition of Oculus VR

The Best Responses to the Facebook Acquisition of Oculus VR
The Best Responses to the Facebook Acquisition of Oculus VR
Tuesday was a heavy news day. Gwyneth Paltrow broke up with Chris Martin, Google flipped off Amazon by cutting its cloud platform prices, and the Kimye marriage still looked like it was going to happen.
And then, before the day was over, a news bomb went off: Facebook announced that it was acquiring Oculus, the tech startup behind the Rift virtual reality headset that spawned this beautiful Tumblr. The deal is valued around $2 billion in cash and stock, with an additional $300 million payout on the table if Oculus hits “certain unspecified milestones,” according to news site TechCrunch. That’s a significantly lower number compared to Facebook’s $19 billion major Facebook acquisition, the messaging service WhatsApp, which took place earlier this year.
Oculus is a company with a significant amount of geek cred, given its symbolic status as the edge frontier of gaming and its populist origins as a Kickstarter project. Hence, how did the Internet react? Loudly, it turned out, and quite angrily.
Here are the best responses we found from across the Internet:
1. The r/Oculus Subreddit
The r/Oculus subreddit provided what are perhaps the most devastated responses to the deal. As The Daily Dot noted, in less than an hour after the announcement, the r/Oculus subreddit “dropped more than 100 F-bombs in roughly 600 comments discussing the news.” Notable posts include: “Not like this. Not like this.” and “I feel bad for all the Kickstarter contributors that thought they were helping a small group of people become a company. Not just waiting to be acquired.”
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Sticking to the r/Oculus subreddit, a redditor posted about a month ago that his friend, who worked in the same building as Oculus, ran into Mark Zuckerberg in the elevator. After the announcement, the redditor made two additions to the post: “I told you so,” and video of a cat eating Campbell’s soup to express sympathy.
2. PandoDaily Piece
Tech news website PandoDaily published an admirably fierce opinion piece by James Robinson titled “With Oculus Purchase, Facebook chokes VR innovation in the womb.” Far from settling with a vivacious headline, Robison argued:
Until today, Oculus Rift was the leader in a space that at some stage—not today, or tomorrow—could have been revolutionary. But now it’s the property of Facebook, a company with no track record of developing hardware, let alone virtual reality hardware, and a spotty-at-best success rate trying to innovate outside their core area of social media.
Sizzling stuff.
3. Minecraft Creator notch
The creator of Minecraft, notch (or Markus Persson, if we’re being technical), very quickly took to Twitter to announce that he was canceling plans to develop an Oculus Rift version of the popular game, stating that “Facebook creeps me out.”Notch later expanded on his decision through his blog, writing
Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers.
You can read notch’s full statement here.
4. The Comments Section On Zuck’s Original Facebook Post
Further fine reading can be found in the comments of Mark Zuckerberg’s own Facebook post on the matter. While a great deal of the “top comments” listed are congratulatory (it is Zuckerberg’s home ground, after all), there are some notable rumbles of dissent. Notable comments include:
* No….no no no no non onono non ooo no oooh no oooooh no OOOOHH NOO
  • Does this mean we are going to see a bunch of terrible FB social games on the Oculus now?
  • Do you have to pay to promote your own posts?
And of course,
* fuck
5. Twitter
And of course, Twitter is always a great source of reaction material.




While a startling number of people are fairly disconcerted by the Oculus-Facebook deal, it should also be noted that arguments have been made in favor of Zuckerberg’s encroachment into the virtual reality space. Rami Ismail, CEO of the Dutch game company that created the recently released LUFTRAUSERS, raised the point on Twitter that this acquisition could well truly bring virtual reality into the mainstream conversation—it has, after all, sparked this entire furor on a very public level, and competitors are bound to spring out more fervently in search of acquisitions now.
That said, I’m personally a little concerned about Zuckerberg flexing his hoodie-covered in this way. Buzzfeed’s Charlie Warzel was quick to observe that the Oculus acquisition can be interpreted as Facebook’s “moon-shot”—the concept commonly associated with Google’s crazy long-term projects, like self-driving cars and that one company trying to cure death. With this move, Zuckerberg is officially joining Google in playing the truly long game; that is to say, the game of the future, the game of humanity’s future.
It appears that we’re heading steadily into a world where tech titans are literally battling over the trajectory of the human race—and though it might be crazy to state such a dramatic thing, it’s crazier that it’s officially more or less 100% accurate.