Ep. 205 - A Richness of Embarrassments, with Kelsey Lewin

squid game is very much kaiji+hunger games. the last few episodes they really draw it out (classic kaiji tactic though of course), but it's pretty good.

Who is this For? is one of the weaker Lightning Round prompts; it always seems to degrade into knee-jerk incomprehensible insults about a hypothetical person's choice of favourite game. Kind of feels against the spirit of the show to me. Also, Yoshi's Island rules.

Re Q No.6: This isn't necessarily surprising, but _Death Stranding_ does a great job of making the player inhabit the character. Maybe not in cut-scenes, where there's the "Keifer Sutherland in MGS5 problem" of Sam barely responding as other characters talk his ear off (although his looks of jaded ambivalence exactly emulated my reaction during certain cut-scenes), but the physicality of the game play, along with his groans and exclamations are so engaging to me that I feel personally exhausted after trudging up a big, rocky hill carrying 300kg of cargo on my back.


@“pizzascrub”#p45323 now we know why brandon does not like Mario. when brandon plays Mario he does not “WAHOOOO” or “YIPPEEEE”

This is true. I was ambivalent about Mario games until I started doing this and now they're some of my favourite experiences.

Speaking of U2, I translated a review of a concert from a Japanese magazine for U2's PR team, and boy howdy the person writing that review liked U2 in a way that I had never even conceived of being possible. Jaffe is absolutely correct that you either love them or don't care.


@“wickedcestus”#p45359 Who is this For? is one of the weaker Lightning Round prompts; it always seems to degrade into knee-jerk incomprehensible insults about a hypothetical person’s choice of favourite game. Kind of feels against the spirit of the show to me. Also, Yoshi’s Island rules.

This is a good point. Especially about Yoshi’s Island. I will probably retire this game now.


@“wickedcestus”#p45359 Death Stranding does a great job of making the player inhabit the character.

I think maybe we all have a different definition of inhabit the character. maybe it does a good job of making me care about sam or norman reedus but I feel like death stranding specifically lets me know that sam is a different character than me - wants to use the bathroom at certain times, winks at me, etc etc. to me that is the ultimate in "that's a different guy than I am" - no!?

@“exodus”#p45367 I suppose I might be conflating the ideas of “inhabiting” and “empathizing with” the character.

When people used to talk about "immersion" a lot, I never understood what they meant, because I always felt aware that I'm sitting around playing a video game. But now I think it's likely that people were not using the term literally, and just mean that they are having fun in a world that feels complete and tangible. So when I talk about "inhabiting" a character, it's not me saying "I AM Sam Bridges," it's more me empathizing with Sam Bridges climbing up a mountain with 300kg of cargo on his back so wholly that it feels as if Sam and myself are having the same experience.

So maybe this is an instance where you are taking the concept literally and saying, "Well I never do that," and everyone else is using the word in a different way to mean something more abstract.

Now I am thinking about when people (mostly people who don't play a lot of games) move their body in coordination with / in reaction to the prompts they are putting into the controller. I would consider that a case of "inhabiting" the character, despite the fact that such a player fully understands intellectually that they are not Mario. So maybe it is a question of physical/mental engagement and not necessarily empathy.

Regarding U2, long ago I chose to side with Negativland so I hope you'll pardon the vulgarity but fuck U2

i guess i missed the thread, but the first question seemed very clear to me and it was frustrating to hear it be fumbled. i guess i can just check out the thread, but instead i'll spout off: the question is, is it an artistic merit to be commercially successful and an artistic demerit not to be, or is it the reverse, or is there no correlation? i can see arguments for all three.

and i'm with you @"exodus"#3, i don't associate myself in any meaningful way with the player character in a game. the only exception is in asteroids, which i assume is because i still had baby brain at the time i played it.

the fact that i can control the character makes it impossible for me to put myself in the character's place. it's the same way i don't put myself in the place of the knife i'm using to cut a sandwich.

@“Jaffe”#205 eve oncrime was the correct thing to say, but the conversation moved on before anyone could mention it. :+1:

Aw man, I like U2.

I probably wouldn’t pay to see them live.

I probably wouldn’t want to hang out with Bono.

But I feel like their oeuvre is so decade- and genre- spanning that your tastes can change and you can still find something to enjoy. Maybe that’s damning as a creative endeavor, that they shouldn’t need to exist as the same band coming up with new stuff for literal decades.

I don’t know, although the 80s anthems are a little preachy and overly earnest, there are some moving and mature / romantic songs on Achtung Baby. I am looking at this a little out of the cultural context, as my own enjoyment changed through the years. My secret opinion is that Songs of Innocence, the free virus album, is Actually Good. If you told me the name of any song from that album, I could probably start singing the hook, or launch into the chorus just based on word association of the title. It’s too bad that it was released in a lame way! (I might also know it well because it’s the only music downloaded on my phone, so it will just start playing in my car if I hit the wrong switch?!)

Let’s make this a little more Insert Credit:
I used to watch a YouTube AMV of Final Fantasy Advent Children set to Vertigo by U2. I watched it… a lot.

@“BluntForceMama”#p45379 u2 was overplayed for a time and accumulated scorn. they also changed in such a way as to feel more… hmm, more like oprah winfrey. i'm not sure what i mean by that but it feels right.

but i think anyone could sit and listen to joshua tree and walk away appreciating it.

but maybe my view on that particular album is colored by the fact that my dad played it on the drive camping everytime we went. on the occasion i catch one of those songs on the radio, i say, "hi dad."

i don't know though. yes, i may have a certain personal attachment to that album, but how many copies did it sell? all those people didn't see nothing in it.

i am firmly in the “could not give a shit about u2” camp

My favourite U2 music (and the only U2 music I like) came from their most-hated records, Zootopia and Pop, when they flirted with disco sounds and 90s “electronica” and made a song called Mofo.

There's probably some circa-2004 cultural studies stuff to be said about that.

U2 is like paint on walls. It's everywhere, and it's hard to have an opinion about most of the time, but every once in a while, it makes you stop and say, "That's kind of nice." Or, "Ugh, they did a bad job with that, didn't they."

@“exodus”#p45320 made me laugh!

@“Jaffe”#p45314 what. That's an interesting opinion. Personally I feel like the episodes just fly by. Easy breezy.

@“BluntForceMama”#p45379 Appreciate you writing this because it‘s easy to forget that a lot of cultural opinions are, in essence, a meme (in the traditional sense of the word) and just as Brandon conjectured that people only like U2 because they are there, there are plenty of people (including me) who only hold a passive dislike of U2 out of apathy and a sense that that’s how i should feel about them, given my opinion about other things. But what I‘ve heard of them certainly isn’t bad, it just didn‘t grab me, and to be honest I’ve never really listened to them with much attention.

I once had a person make fun of me for having every Modest Mouse album on my iPod, because they considered Modest Mouse a one-hit wonder band who only made "Float On," and couldn't conceive that anything else they made could be worth listening to. And i was sorta just like "what the heck dude! i like 'em! gimme a break!"

There's so much image and identity caught up in music-liking that sometimes one needs to be reminded that it's music, and you either like to listen to it or not.

I wonder how my life would be different if I had had Rock Band U2 instead of Guitar Hero Aerosmith when I was like 7

@“wickedcestus”#p45368 yeah, I often take stuff literally when others aren‘t doing that! I can see empathizing or caring about the character, but embodying or inserting oneself into a character is really something else. Like I don’t make choices I wouldn‘t make in mass effect games or whatever, but sam shepherd isn’t me, I wouldn‘t be in that situation and can’t really imagine myself realistically in that situation etc. I do feel like the whole turning the body while turning the car thing is more of an embodiment - I may have told this story on the show before but my old coworker, a marketing manager who hadn't played many games, was curious to try something on the then-new PSP. She started playing whatever wipeout was on there, and she hit a wall after a few seconds and said “OH SORRY!!!” and put the console down. I think in those 30 seconds she embodied a character and had a more meaningful experience with video games than I ever will!

@"pasquinelli"#461 I struggle putting artistry on any level alongside commercial success, it feels to me like kind of a false equivalence. The Thing (1982), one of the best-made action/scifi/horror movies of all time, was a total flop, with one reviewer calling it "offensive to filmmaking." Now it's universally lauded. It's possible that some of the hate from the time had to do with it already being a flop and critics knowing it but none of the renewed interest has anything to do with it, and being successful or otherwise has nothing to do with how good the movie is.

But maybe I still don't get the question. To me the question asks whether an external factor can determine artistic quality which to me is a tough one in general.


@“pasquinelli”#p45382 but i think anyone could sit and listen to joshua tree and walk away appreciating it.

I don't want to crap on anybody but I frankly cannot sit through joshua tree. but the overplayed-ness is a significant factor there! I will also admit that I find it difficult to stand up for anything popular because it doesn't need the help lol. Also as a young metalhead I was offended that a guy called The Edge played such mild guitar.

Haven‘t listened to the episode and generally don’t have anything of an opinion on U2 but I declare with my two music degrees (which are good for absolutely nothing else) that Vertigo is a good song, it's got a good hook, I think the drumming is doing a lot of the heavy lifting but not in a bad way, that main riff is hot.

Could not name or think of another song by U2 to save my life atm

It's hard for me to separate an album like Joshua Tree from the use of it in Mega Churches, the banal post grunge that it left in its wake, the post 9/11 Superbowl Halftime Show, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the dancing silhouette iPod commercials, “unos dos tres catorce”, the iPhone debacle, etc.

It's hard to think of a band with more baggage. Not even that it's the worst possible baggage, just that there's an immense amount of it. Led Zeppelin is overplayed, U2 is more...overdiscussed? I feel like I can't experience a U2 song on its own merits even if I haven't heard it before. I just end up thinking about how much money Bono has. Or about Creed.


@“exodus”#p45403 To me the question asks whether an external factor can determine artistic quality which to me is a tough one in general.

yeah. a more general question is what role do accidents of history play in the perception of artistic merit. commercial success is just a historical fact. similarly, music getting played on the radio a lot is just a historical fact. these facts play a role, though, in one's perception of the artistic merit of a thing. what role? it's complicated.