Twitch Also Bans Art Games With Subversive Sexual Focus

Twitch bans game with sexual focus

Leigh Alexander has a really good Boing Boing post on Twitch TV's latest banhammer move against a series of games by Robert Yang which simulate interactive male nudity and sexuality for provocative, artistic ends:

These games are playful, funny, and sexy, and they provoke reflection and dialogue. Yang often reveals a thought process behind the technical decisions in his work that can be fascinatingly-congruent with the spiritual ones. But just four days after its release, Rinse and Repeat was banned from all broadcast on the online streaming community Twitch, just as Cobra Club previously was. Yang is among the most-banned developers on Twitch—perhaps an exciting status for an artist, but evidence of troubled standards for content. Twitch rules say that while occurrences of nudity or sex acts in games are "okay, so long as you do not make them a primary focus of your stream," games with nudity as a "core focus or feature" are disallowed. Under this rule, video games that feature sexualized bodies (usually women) for titillation are okay to stream, but that Yang's work centers on the vulnerability of nudity in a consensual space and other meaningful issues apparently makes it obscene.

As NWN readers know, Twitch banned Second Life from their service on similar grounds, even though SL is abundant with art installations (along with content where nudity and sex is a core feature). Fortunately, Twitch competitor YouTube Gaming has raised no such objections -- even against impromptu penis.

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Jonathan Blow's Long-Awaited Open-World Puzzle Game "Witness" Coming Next January

Follow-up to his acclaimed game Braid, Jonathan Blow just announced the launch date for The Witness, his open-world puzzle game for PCs and PS4, in an intriguing and beautiful new trailer:

If you're catching a distinctly Myst vibe, there's a very good reason for that:

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Compare Minecraft Player Personality With Players of SL, Europa Universalis IV, Candy Crush & Crash Bandicoot

Minecraft player personality Nick Yee

Here's Quantic Foundry's latest blog post summarizing the gaming personality of over 100,000 people. On Wedesday, I shared the results related to Second Life, now you compare that profile to players of not just Minecraft, but Europa Universalis IV, Candy Crush & Crash Bandicoot. Notably, Minecraft players put significantly less value on Design (i.e. generated content) than SLers: 53% versus 77%.

"We had about 1600 gamers who wrote down Minecraft as one of their favorite games," Nick Yee tells me. "We actually weren't planning to analyze the data like this. We included the 'favorite games' question as a way to potentially debug problems with the Gamer Motivation Profile.... But as we started to poke around with favorite games for each motivation and dug deeper, we realized how clear the profiles were. And that we had enough data not just for all the popular games, but for many niche/less well-known games as well."

Another notable finding with Minecraft: The survey respondents are actually more male than Google data suggests:

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YouTube Gaming Adds Second Life Channel, So Of Course Its Most Popular Videos Are SL Griefing

Second Life YouTube Channel

Second Life has a channel on YouTube Gaming, a new YouTube service that's seen as a direct competitor to the massive Twitch/live game streaming phenomenon. (Hat tip Ciaran, who has some thoughts.)

Fittingly (if annoyingly), the most popular videos on the Second Life channel now are the ever-popular SL griefer videos loved by the Twitch crowd, or at least the twerpier subset of that audience. (See above.) I've said it before, and I'll say it again, just more emphatically: Now that Second Life is a popular griefing target for "Let's Play" video creators, it's more crucial than ever to start creating "Let's Play" videos with more emphasis on great SL content, less SL dickwads.

What to I mean? Here's a good role model I blogged about last month:

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Survey of 100K+ Gamers by Play Motivation Returns Interesting Set of Results, Top Game Titles

Skyrim versus Second Life

Results for the survey of gamer motivations I mentioned last month are starting to come in, and they're pretty interesting. Compiled by Quantic Foundry, an analytics consultancy co-founded by my colleague Nick Yee, who did some landmark academic research on MMO player behavior (such as this study) at Stanford, over 100,000 gamers took Quantic's survey, a huge data sample. Here's the most popular games by gaming motivations along a number of categories we often write about on New World Notes:

Design (Expression & Customization)
The Sims Series, City of Heroes, Animal Crossing, Guild Wars 2, Final Fantasy XIV, Dragon Age Series/Origins, Mass Effect Series, Monster Hunter, Pokemon, Elder Scrolls Series/Oblivion/Skyrim [pictured above]

Discovery (Experiment, Explore, Tinker)
Elder Scrolls Series/Oblivion/ Morrowind/Skyrim, Fallout Series/3/New Vegas, Fable, Legend of Zelda Series/Ocarina of Time, GTA Series/V, Minecraft, Earthbound, Kerbal Space Program, Metal Gear Solid 3, Metroid Prime

Fantasy (Being Someone/Somewhere Else)
Dragon Age Series/Inquisition/Origins, Elder Scrolls Series/Morrowind, Dishonored, Mass Effect Series/2/3, Skyrim, Fable, Fallout New Vegas, Knights of the Old Republic, Journey, Legend of Zelda

Community (Teaming Up & Social Interaction)
Final Fantasy XIV, Battlefield Series/4, Destiny, Guild Wars Series/2, EverQuest, League of Legends, Monster Hunter, World of Warcraft, Counter Strike, DoTA Series/2

Read the full breakdown here. Notable that hardcore multiplayer action games like Battlefield and League of Legends ended up in the "Community" motivation category. Some might be surprised that Grand Theft Auto is in the Experiment, Explore, Tinker category, but seeing as how a large group of GTA players created an amazing group effort simply to discover obscure but rewarding Easter eggs like this, I'm not. 

As for what surprised Nick and his co-founder most about these results: "That fairly niche games showed up where they belonged, such as Europa Universalis IV and Kerbal Space Program," Nick tells me. "That's when we knew that our algorithm was parsing through the text input meaningfully... Also [surprised] that fairly recent games also showed up, such as Heroes of the Storm. We were worried that people's lists would lean too historical."

For statistics/survey geeks, more surprises from Nick:

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How a Spider Game's Web Creation Mechanic Inspires Wild & Unexpected Player Creativity

Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon, the new iOS/Steam title I wrote about last week, isn't exactly a sandbox creativity game in the usual sense, but its web-spinning mechanic has evoked some amazing creativity from its players -- so much so, it's surprised even the lead designer, Randy Smith, who's watched astounded as Spider's beta testers came up with creative solutions to levels he and his team never anticipated -- or even tried to prevent:

As an example, Randy just shared a couple play-through videos from "VAT", one of their best testers. In the video above, Randy explains, VAT "fills the bottom part of the porch with web. I had made it too large for that, because I wanted players to build in the corners and jump between them. But since you can build webs off of other webs (which is a big empowerer of emergent experimentation), VAT figured out a way to do it. Later in the video he makes a web intended to catch himself when he jumps from the top to the bottom to keep his combo going." (A combo ends if the spider leaps off its web onto another surface.) "That was more intentional on my part, but he still did it in a way I hadn't seen before."

"Emergent gameplay" is a term from Looking Glass Studios, creators of the first, classic Thief games, where Randy was a lead designer, and expresses the creativity the player brings to a game, transcending the designer's original intentions. "It's always a badge of honor as a game designer when you realize you've made a game system deep enough for your players to take over and master more than you have," as Randy puts it now.

Here's another example below:

"In this video," says Randy, "VAT wants to catch a scorpionfly close to the main area of the map so he can combo it. He builds a strong web (an especially large one) in an area I designed for that not to be possible, but he figured out a shape that fit in there and met the criteria anyway."


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With "MMO" Dead as a Descriptive Category, What Term Should VR Spaces Like Project Sansar & High Fidelity Use?

World of Warcraft 12 million

According to former Blizzard chief creative officer Rob Pardo (so he's biased but he's still quite correct), World of Warcraft killed the "MMO" as a descriptive category:

Speaking to Develop at the recent Games First Helsinki event, Pardo said massively multiplayer online games have expanded and evolved away from how people used to describe them. He said following the runaway success ofWorld of Warcraft after its launch in 2004, a game that still boasts some 7m users to this day, a wave of companies tried to copy the winning formula. Not one of these were able to replicate the same level of success, however... “If anything, I think people are even avoiding the term MMO. A really good example is Destiny. It clearly is an MMO. But they’re really trying to avoid calling it that, and obviously it is a very different type of game. But I think that’s a good example of how with MMOs, the term has been eliminated. But you kind of continue to see the influence in games that are persistent world games that have spawned out of that. It’s just people seem to avoid the term MMO now.”

Even better than Destiny, I'd say Day Z or Minecraft are examples of MMOs or multiplayer games with MMO's best features that aren't generally called MMOs. (For that matter, League of Legends, a multiplayer fantasy strategy game, is not an MMO and is even more popular than World of Warcraft.

There's a lesson here for Project Sansar and High Fidelity, and other "virtual worlds" (as they're usually called) which are sometimes described as MMOs (since that's their closest cousin):

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Linden Lab Launches New Second Life Area Promoting Paleo Diet and/or Jurassic World-esque Game

Maybe I've already lived in LA too long, but when I read "PaleoQuest", I picture a game where you hunt down nuts, vegetables, and free range chicken... but no, this Linden Lab machinima is giving me a distinct Jurassic World/Chris Pratt vibe:

I appreciate Linden Lab adding more game areas in Second Life, with a whole back story, quests, and everything, though I have to think any new user expecting anything like this Summer's CGI-animated blockbuster with fully articulated dinosaurs will be a touch disappointed. But maybe the SL dinos have more life in Second Life than seems like in this machinima. (And BTW, Lindens: Please please please stop using lip sync in your machinima until you've fixed avatar mouth animations!)

Anyway, more info and the Destination Guide below the break:

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Fun SL Machinima from MIT Game Lab Parodies Videogame Sexism & Gender Stereotypes Within Second Life

"FREE SPEACH" is a pretty entertaining (if a bit technically rudimentary) Second Life machinima parodying videogame sexism and gender attitudes through Mario, Princess Peach, Laura Croft, and other classic characters:

Anyone who's viewed Anita Sarkeesian's videos, especially this one on the "Damsel in Distress" trope, will get a lot of the jokes. The machinima was produced by Gabrielle Trépanier-Jobin, an Associate Professor at Concordia, who tells me it spins off her PhD thesis on the role of parodies in criticizing gender representation, and is connected to a survey on the topic which you can take here.

Professor Gabrielle Trépanier-Jobin created the machinima with the MIT Game Lab and six MIT undergraduate students. "Second Life seemed to be the only online world where I could mix all video game characters and buy them on the marketplace. Second Life was a little glitchy," she allows, "and we had many technical problems during the shooting, but it was overall a great experience." (Maybe MIT should ask SL machinima master Lainy Voom to give a tutorial.)

Curiously, the title, "Free Speach", evokes the "Freeze Peach" parody of Gamergate and other online misogynists, but Gabrielle says that wasn't intentional:

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Take a Short Test to Discover Your Gaming Personality

Take this 5 minute survey to determine your gaming personality -- sort of a Myers-Briggs test for gamers. The survey is from Quantic Foundry, a game behavior analytics consultancy co-founded by my colleague Nick Yee, who's done some landmark academic research on MMO behavior, including in Second Life. And yes, philosophical debates aside, when you take the survey, Nick tells me, you can designate Second Life as a game and describe your play style within it: "The question was completely open-ended." He thinks we'll see some unique personalities emerge among SLers: "My intuition is that it should lean towards the Creativity/Immersion quadrant. And look something like this guy's profile." (That is to say: Calm, Analytical, Completionist, Independent, Deeply Immersed, and Creative.)

But go ahead and take the test, and report your findings in Comments. I did last night, and got these results:

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