TSM Episode 62: The Unhappy Orchard

Despite its formidable size and appearance, you will note the conspicuous lack of FRUIT on the tree.

The Video-Game Industry

Produced 2012.08.26

Feeling more than usually bilious, Lusipurr, SiliconNooB, and Blitzmage again survey the industry. In the resultant fit of pique, Lusipurr decides to give up game reporting and convert Lusipurr.com into the internet’s first Cricket-and-Cooking website.

15 comments on “TSM Episode 62: The Unhappy Orchard”

  1. Just going to throw this here before listening, but I have begun early my playthrough of FF12. I even bought a PS2 slim for the occasion as well as another copy of FF12 (since I lent both out to a friend and feel rude about asking for them back). I could go on about my experience, but I’ll save it for when we actually do this thing.

  2. I think its great to voice our concerns on the state of the industry. There’s so many people blindly defending companies no matter how shady their practices are. I don’t know if they feel mature or superior by doing so but a consumer defending anti-consumer practices makes no sense to me. They’re not on your side nor they have your best interests in mind. The day companies like Valve or Falcom start joining in the current trends is the day I give up modern gaming, I have a backlog worth decades anyways.

    Great podcast. Wish more sites were more open and critical instead of just gushing about how awesome the industry is. Oh, and Exdeath a tree all along. He was a great tree that became a monster during the war againts Enuo. Awesome final boss music.

  3. @Epy:

    You write:
    “I don’t know if they feel mature or superior by doing so but a consumer defending anti-consumer practices makes no sense to me. They’re not on your side nor they have your best interests in mind.”

    This goes back to what I referred to a few weeks ago as “The Veil of Opulence” — a philosophical approach which contrasts against The Veil of Ignorance, put forward by John Rawls in his A Theory of Justice.

    To simplify the entire book, Rawls argues that if we want to create just societies (and, by extension, systems), we need to adopt a ‘veil of ignorance’ when we are constructing them. This isn’t a bad thing. What he means by ‘ignorance’ is an ignorance of what our position will be within those systems.

    In other words, Rawls says that the best way to devise a broadly equal system is to assume, when we are creating it, that we have no idea where in the system we will end up: that we do not know how much money we will have, how much influence, what sort of birth, what sort of resources, what sort of physical capabilities, etc. In short, we have to be completely ignorant about where we will fit into the system. Only then, by completely taking our own interests out of the equation, can we start to create a fair system.

    The reason for this is simple. If one is not aware whether or not one will be rich or poor, one is certainly going to be less inclined to support a system where the rich have everything and the poor have nothing–after all, one could end up being one of the poor. Still less likely would one devise a system where the majority of people are made to be financially or educationally inferior to the minority because, after all, it is more likely that one will be in the majority rather than the minority.

    In fact, one would try to level society as much as possible, to avoid the possibility of ending up in a position where someone else is better off and more powerful than oneself. And, one would try to create a system that assists those who do happen to end up worse-off as a result of the inescapable vagaries of fate; so that, if one ends up being born poor or Irish, there will be lots of systemic ways to easily overcome the issues and bridge the gap between oneself and those who were born under happier auspices.

    Over the past few decades, some very devious and unethical thinking has sprung up (often pushed by conservative media backed by wealthy interests). This type of thinking has been referred to as “The Veil of Opulence”. This approach masquerades as morally superior empathy, when in fact it is just a co-opting of one group by another.

    According to the veil of opulence, one should put oneself in the position of those who are best-off in a society, and use that to frame its systems. This leads to people saying, “Well, if I made a million dollars a year, I wouldn’t want the government to take 40% of it, either!” The speaker can then pat themselves on the back for being able to rise above their own actual financial hardship and imagine what it might be like to be one of the landed elites.

    But stepping out of one’s shoes and into those of another is not, by itself, an act of moral or ethical superiority. Nor is setting aside one’s interest for those of someone else automatically a laudable act of altruism. If, as you approach your house, a hooded man runs out, clutching your valuables in his arms, you cannot reasonably vest yourself in moral superiority because you say, “Well, if I were him, I wouldn’t want to be apprehended by the homeowner.”

    But the Veil of Opulence is even less teneable than that, for it requires the actual existence of external equality for it to be plausible, since if the equality will not come from within the system, for the system to be equal, it must be built on another, pre-existing system of equality. And this is where the smiling advocates of Opulence say, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” right?

    Again, this is another devious equivocation. Jefferson was writing about equality before the law–that the rich and powerful should be treated identically to the destitute and powerless. He did not think, nor do any reasonable people think, that everyone is actually created equal. And this is demonstrably not the case: there are both geniuses and idiots born every day; men of reason and mentally damaged sociopaths; athletes and invalids; those born into supportive societies and those born into destructive ones; good parents and bad parents; rich and poor; educated and uneducated; and so on–and the idea that a person may, by their own devices, transcend all of these differences is a fantasy–not a fantasy that never comes true, but one that comes true only rarely, whatever the defenders of opulence may claim to the contrary. I assure you, the starving masses in India and Somalia have, amidst the filth and the offal, determined and dedicated individuals starving and dying in miserable conditions alongside their less earnest brethren–and their location there is not of itself a sign that they somehow lack a work ethic or a quality of determination which an American C.E.O. possesses. What they lacked was the opportunity.

    It is this inequality of opportunity which the Veil of Opulence ignores, just as it misrepresents as empathy the act of abstractly imagining what others might like–even when those others have no natural right to what they might like; even when those desires are contrary to what is fair; and yes, even when those desires work against the privileges, and indeed the rights, of the subject.

    This is what has taken root in our society. We see it today in video games, where the beleaguered masses hurry to defend those who are categorically stripping their long-standing rights and expectations from them. But it is not limited to this industry. Rather, as I hope my explanation has given you cause to think, it is merely a sign of a much wider and more pernicious issue of poor critical thinking taking place in wider society.

  4. @Mel:

    I am absolutely agog that you feel bad about asking for the return of (valuable!) things which BELONG TO YOU. –And to the point where you’d rather just rebuy them than risk the terribly offensive confrontation inherent in expecting the return of your own possessions.

    I am going to edit your login so that every time you comment, there will be a Dunce’s Cap where your user icon should be.

  5. Hey Lusipurr, found for you a new bedtime buddy to replace Mr. Bigglesworth. a 13″ Pyro Plushy. details here:
    http://www.toyark.com/news/video-game-toy-news-8/team-fortress-2-scout-and-pyro-plush-6371/
    also, for november playthrough howabout a REAL OLDSCHOOL Dungeon crawler RPG from the early 80’s? the title is Dungeons of Daggorath and was originally released on the TRS-80 in 1984. it’s a vector graphic 1st person RPG where your lifebar is really the heartbeat you hear and things such as rings may give clues of type, but you have to guess them. there’s a fanrom for the PSP out there for you to try. Sabin 1001 was too scared to play it.

  6. Lets see if it happened!

    Also, I’m just being a good friend. If I’m out money so that a friend of mine can enjoy when I gave him then so be it. When I said I lent these items to him, the truth of it was more that I gave them to him. It really works out like I bought him a PS2 and a copy of ff12, which I would have been more than happy to do, seeing as it was a birthday gift in the first place.

  7. @Mel: I can’t tell who you are talking to!

    @Drachonus: Two forty-hour RPG playthroughs, and a contest around the latest PKMN game, all inside of four months are probably more than enough to be doing during the school year without adding an old-style dungeon-crawler playthrough into the equation as well.

    Incidentally, I’ve actually played Dungeons of Daggorath. Back in 1986, I thought it was simply the most amazing game ever designed–but I didn’t have much fun with it because 1) I didn’t own a computer of my own on which to play it and 2) I kept dying, as it was totally unlike anything I had ever played. The graphics, however, blew me away.

    I’ve always liked vector graphics, though. Red Alarm, for the Virtual Boy, is one of my favourite space shooters of all time, and the sucessors of those old games–Star Fox, for example–are way up there as well.

    Speaking of VB games, am I the only person who DESPERATELY wants to see a Mario Clash remake for 3DS? Why don’t they port VB games to the 3DS? They could do so easily.

  8. OK, there is a vector racing game on the 3ds now, but howabout the vector Star Wars Game in 3d? also what did you think of the pyro plushie shown in that link?

  9. @Drachonus: I’ve never been much for collectibles, but it seems to me that the Pyro plushie lacks the original’s ability to convey its psychopathic desire to spread rainbows and happiness (burn everyone to death).

  10. @Lusipurr: That was a great read, very insighful. Could it be made into an article?

  11. Yeah, that read like it was something Lusipurr wanted to get out in the open in a real bad way. And I liked it very much, as well.

  12. @Epy/Mel: Thank you.

    Could it be made into an article? Possibly. Or, one could just read Rawls instead!

    A few weeks ago, I tweeted about an opinion piece in the NYT about the application of this issue to politics. It is from there that I adopted the term ‘Veil of Opulence’, which I previously referred to as Stockholm Empathy. (Opulence is better and more apt.)

  13. Damn, I was just about to post my DS copy of Pokemon Black to America when I listen to this podcast.

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