Wherein I discuss the concept of years, the second digitizing of ‘Gamer Christmas,’ PSVR², an evil that steals men’s souls and makes them corporate slaves, and the CCP ‘coaxing’ self-censorship.
One of the thousands of things that mildly annoy me is the human tendency to lump things into years and assign years a specific identity and quality. The desire to summarize a year with a few key events and state if it was good or bad. My issue with this is the fact that, aside from finances and dates— aside from numbers— there truly is nothing that changes with a new year. Nothing resets or necessarily gets better/worse. Everything that sucked on December 30th still sucks on January 5th.
However, society is kind of stuck with this yearly fixation, as people need a way to categorize time, a way to lump activity and events together, and years are an institutional way of doing that. Like many human-made systems, it is not perfect, but it is the only one we have. This is something that I have been coupling with since I nestled into full adulthood. The realization that the world is a mess, humanity only has a vague idea of what it is doing, and things will never be ideal or perfect. Because humans are flawed creatures, and there is no true way to fix that.
“The world is wack. We can’t fix everything, but we should strive to make things better.”– The Notorious N.A.N.
2022 is still a waddling little baby of a year, but that has not stopped news from coming in, starting with the announcement that E3 2022 will be a digital event once again. This might seem a bit pre-emptive, but people can already tell that the pandemic is not going to stop anytime soon. So they may as well not even attempt to plan any in-person conventions. I know this might be upsetting to some who enjoy the splendor of the big press conferences, but I have come to view them as a massive waste of resources that could be spent elsewhere. Press conferences require travel, rehearsals, elaborate production design with custom graphics, lighting, and props, a small army of camera people— just so much needless tat.
There is definitely a value in having in-person events, but not these big conferences, oh no. The true boon of events like GDC, E3, and so forth is that they serve as a gathering point for developers, publishers, and investors. Backroom deals are a frequent thing at these events, and many games would not exist without these deals being made. Even things as simple as business cards being exchanged or casual conversation can lead to massive projects getting greenlit. And it is unfortunate that, during this global multi-year pandemic, there really is no true alternative to the networking opportunities conventions like this served.
Also, it is good that more conventions are going digital at the moment. Conventions are excellent breeding grounds for diseases, and the latest wave of Q4 2021 conventions is part of the reason why things are so bad with omicron. And one of these ‘bold’ in-person conventions was CES 2022. An event that sometimes has gaming announcements, and the one major takeaway was the reveal of PlayStation VR2. Nothing much was shown, but specs were provided and the thing looks to be… another VR headset that is pushing things forward slightly.
As I previously explained, VR is not my thing, as I like to remain aware of reality and have no desire to ‘immerse’ myself into a digital world. However, I do feel the need to question Sony’s decision to create such a device at this moment. The PSVR2 will be for the PS5, a system that has sold incredibly well, but has seen massive supply issues on account of the global chip shortage and the higher than anticipated demand thanks to the pandemic. …All I’m saying is that it is odd that Sony is trying to sell such a niche peripheral for something that many people simply cannot buy.
Moving onto something that people can buy, but probably shouldn’t, Konami recently announced the sale of a series of NFTs based on Castlevania. Looking over this page and seeing their listings on OpenSea, just further hammers home how little worth there truly is to an NFT as a digital asset. They are effectively collectibles that lack the visual appeal, tangibility, and effort seen in a normal collectible, while sporting artificial scarcity for no good reason. I normally like to give these things a chance. But seeing companies do things like this, selling the ‘ownership rights’ to artwork and gameplay snippets as one-of-a-kind items, really just demonstrates how worthless, dumb, and low-effort NFTs are as products.
I hope that these things bomb, show just how little money there is in endeavors like this, and discourage other companies from investing in NFTs going forward. Because they really are not a great source of revenue, like some news stories might imply, and they have such a negative stigma that NFTs would probably eat into profitability on a larger scale. As such, it is nice to see other companies, like Sega, retract their interest in NFTs and ‘play-to-earn’ video games. Because the sooner game companies wake up and realize what NFTs actually are and how limited their value is, the better.
Moving on from one regular punching bag to another, I often complain about the sheer number of Chinese-based acquisitions in the games industry. I do this because I don’t want the CCP to stifle creativity in the games industry by releasing strict guidelines for what is and is not acceptable in video games. While this might only result in games being censored in China, as has been the case for years, I worry that developers/publishers will begin using these guidelines as a default. I worry about Tencent issuing a mandate to its subsidiaries, commanding them to avoid any content that would be seen as unacceptable in China.
Now, that is a hyperbolic worst-case scenario, but it is something that I think could happen within a decade or two.
The reason I am bringing this up this week is because Genshin Impact recently released a series of new costumes for four female characters, giving them modified and more ‘modest’ outfits that show slightly less skin. These costumes are now the only ones available in the Chinese version of Genshin, while the international version keeps the old defaults and gives players the option to use the new designs if they are so inclined.
I generally think that these new designs look better. There is a lot that goes into character designs like this regarding color balance, making certain design elements stand out, giving the character a recognizable look. You could have a serious and thoughtful discussion about what these redesigns do right or wrong, but that is not really what the story is about.
This story is about one of the biggest games in the world redesigning characters in an attempt to appease the CCP. And I say ‘attempt’ because while CCP does have policies meant to enforce or discourage certain content, these are not hard rules or red line policies. These are policies that different members of government can interpret and enforce differently. Which is actually FAR worse than any hardline policy. Because creators do not know where the line is, and are likely afraid of crossing it. Because they do not want to get in trouble with their government for what should be obvious reasons.
On its own, this story is not a big deal. It is a minor footnote, but I cannot help but worry that it is an ill omen. A warning of what is to come as the CCP continues to target a massive industry they should be nurturing and continues to have so much power over art.
Header image comes from Yumekawa! Baku to Majiwari Yume wo Haranda Nyotaika Yankee or After Messing with a Baku, a Delinquent Turned into a Girl in His Dreams by Dann. Unlike some of the other funsies I’ve trotted out to show and tell, this one really is not too remarkable. It’s short, its story is little more than a means of facilitating a sex scene, and its premise is not that unique.
The comic follows a delinquent male who maybe has desires to be a soft and cute lady, and those desires are brought to life as the protagonist has sex with a baku. A Japanese folk monster who in this comic, is basically just a fat ugly bastard with an elephant trunk. They have sex in a dreamscape, share some fun banter, and the changes are brought into reality during the last page, because why not?
The only reason this comic stuck with me was the presentation, artwork, and sheer novelty of seeing a bootleg version of the Pokémon Drowzee have sex with a semi-distinct-looking female character. And you know what? Sometimes that’s all I need from a TSF comic.