This Just In: Asinine Topics Prove Popular

I should probably apologize for the previous post. My New Years resolution is to stop reading internet forums (except the one here, of course) because I realized that I was spending a huge amount of my valuable free time reading and participating in arguments about topics that have absolutely no value whatsoever. I really enjoy online discussion when it’s interesting and informative; there’s nothing better than reading a really insightful post by some anonymous internet guy and feeling like you’ve actually just learned something. But I quit forums because 99% of the posts seemed to be argument for the sake of argument, with almost zero actual interesting discussion. So I just went cold turkey a few weeks back and I have to say that the effect has been like quitting smoking–all of a sudden I have much more free time and energy than I had before.

But I’m sort of interested in what it is about the internet that causes people to defend some meaningless, trivial point as if it is a matter of life and death. I mean, look at Wikipedia’s list of Lamest Edit Wars Ever for an excruciating number of examples of people getting into intense verbal battles over the spelling of a word, the heritage of some long-dead aristocrat, or whether or not a particular comic is really the first appearance of a particular character. So much energy spent for so little return! These discussions are, as I said in the previous post, asinine because they are not constructive. You can debate whether Resident Evil 4 is horror, action-horror, survival horror, or whatever until the cows come home and neither side will have actually learned anything.

So the previous post was something of an experiment, and it was a little underhanded, which is why I apologize. I deliberately constructed that post to first complain about asinine arguments and then proceed to make such an argument myself (though I did try to actually include some interesting stuff). I was interested in which point would garner the most responses: the point about opinion wars of trivial topics being stupid, or the point about whether Resident Evil 4 is a horror game or not.

Well, it’s been about 48 hours since that post, and I’m not sure whether to call the experiment a success or a failure. On the one hand, the post worked as designed: it prompted a huge amount of discussion about one of the points and very little about the other. On the other hand, the level of “discussion” was much more intense than I was expecting. The test wasn’t exactly fair because once people started to respond, I sort of egged the discussion on by reiterating my arguments from the post. As of this writing there are 29 comments (including a few of my own) to the previous post, which I think makes it the most commented-on piece I’ve ever written. That’s right, the post about whether or not Resident Evil 4 is horror or not got more responses than the post on racism in Resident Evil 5, more responses than the article on Japanese horror that I spent months writing, and even more responses than my controversial decrying of Cold Fear. While a couple of people got my poorly-communicated point, a lot of other people took the proposed argument far too seriously. To tell you the truth, it’s pretty depressing that some asinine (if inflammatory) post can generate this level of response while the much more constructive and informative posts hardly garner a comment.

So, in light of the rather scary result of this experiment, I have a request and a proposal. First, I would like to humbly request that we spend our time on this site at least attempting to have constructive discourse. I don’t mind arguments of opinion, but if you are going to post something about how you feel, please go into detail about why you feel that way; even if we don’t agree with you, it’s much more interesting to learn about your perspective than if you just say “No, wrong, here’s how it is.” The previous post was an experiment that I’m not excited to repeat. I know it’s like this all over the internet, but my request is that we at least try to rise above squabbling about truly trivial topics.

In addition, I’d like to propose some topics that, while related to the argument put forth in my previous post, are infinitely more interesting. Maybe we can spend some time talking the following things:

  • What about Resident Evil 4 is different than previous games in the series. What is similar? Why do you think Capcom changed the formula the way they did?
  • What design aspects of Resident Evil 4 improve the game’s ability to scare the player? Which aspects damage that ability?
  • If you enjoyed Resident Evil 4, what did you like about it (be specific!). If you hated it, what was the problem (again, specificity is key here–ranting usually has a very low signal to noise ratio).

Or we can talk about some other topic; we don’t have to stick to these prompts. I hope that future discussions will be more like conversations and reflections rather than opinion wars.

12 thoughts on “This Just In: Asinine Topics Prove Popular

  1. I felt the three big improvements towards making RE4 a highly enjoyable game were the following:

    #1 – The addition of RPG elements with the introduction of gun upgrading. This gave the player an additional feeling of progress and incentive to keep playing plus it greatly increased replay value.

    #2 – The over the shoulder viewpoint. Finally a viewpoint where tank controls actually made sense. By limiting what players could see at one time compared to standard FPS games, tension was maintained.

    #3 – The aiming mechanism. This added a much needed new level of skill to the gameplay. By removing the ability to move while shooting (a common feature in FPS), tension is further increased.

  2. > RD


    I also thought it was pretty interesting how they mapped old RE ideas into new shapes. Item management has always been a core gameplay element in the RE games, and because of the way safe rooms were placed, it traditionally has been a part of the traversal puzzle. But in RE4 they mostly did away with the traversal puzzle, so the format of item management also changed. I really liked the suitcase system, and trying to cram everything in there. Eventually it served the same purpose as the previous system: at some point you have to make a tough decision about what items to take and which to leave behind.

  3. Can’t you just…I don’t know…maybe review something and just skip the asinine topics altogether.

  4. > Xombie

    Yeah, you’re right. This was an experiment, and I won’t do it again. I was trying to prove a point because often people will take interesting topics and argue some asinine detail of them, but you are right: probably the best course of action for me is just to concentrate on quality posts.

  5. Not to try to contribute to any further ‘asinine’ discussion, but I would like to make a note…

    I see it this way: if Ghost Hunter can be considered survival horror, RE4 deserves the same. Both maintained an excellent amount of atmosphere and contained at least some amount of horrific content – regardless of whether or not that content actually had an effect on the player varied.

    I’ve heard of those who were scared by GH’s content; ditto for RE4.

  6. I have to hand it to you, Chris – you really seem to have an intelligent, well thought out perspective on things.

    I was struck by how frenzied this post became in such a short period of time. Your observation that it generated so much more debate that the post on racism in Resident Evil was poignant. Just a quick comment about that – maybe part of the reason it didn’t generate as much comment is that it is such a sensitive subject and people are hesitant to bring up a dialogue about it in this type of venue. But, on the other hand, people don’t seem to be too concerned about pissing people off over the internet. I don’t know. But, with regard to the racism issue, it really doesn’t seem to make sense that there are complaints of racism in the RE5 previews when nobody was upset about Leon killing zombied-out spanish people in spain. It seems a double standard. However, the history of Spanish people in the United States is not as well known and notorious as that of history of African-Americans, i.e. slavery. Because of this, I think that for many people the site of racism against people in Africa may strike a stronger emotional chord than seeing racism among Spanish people. This is just speculation on my part, trying to understand things, I could be wrong.

    Onto the more fun topics. To put this in context, let me say that RE4 was the very first game I played on a video game console since probably 1994. I’ve played alot since then, but RE4 was my first. I loved it. Specifically, for example, I loved the camera angle. To me, no other camera angle brings me into a game like that one or first-person. I just really like it. Also, the controls made sense and were pretty simple, really. The environments and variability in environments I thought was awesome. They really contributed to the story, sense of adventure, and atmosphere. I really felt like I had an experience after finishing the game. Though it would have been nice to have had more of a stealth/sneaking aspect to it, and it could have been “creepier” (whatever that means), there is just something rewarding to me about popping off zombies, etc. This may sound blasphemous to RE purists, but I really just didn’t enjoy earlier RE games that much after playing RE4. Now, to balance things out, Im gonna go to the other side of the horror spectrum and give Siren a shot. It seems really cool so far.

    Anyway, thanks for the post and for all the contributions. Its fun to read.

  7. I totally agree with your viewpoint on asinine arguments. What is the point of joining a side when there is no possible way to define either one as being “correct”? Very well written, I look forward to whatever articles come up next on here.

  8. Another thing that I loved about RE4 came to me while I was playing Bioshock. Now, don’t get me wrong, I thought Bioshock was a highly enjoyable game and one of the very best games of the year. However, about halfway through the game, I felt like I had seen most of what it had to offer. Latter enemies were just old enemies with more HP, new spells were just upgraded forms of old spells that did more damage (but didn’t feel like it because of the new enemy’s greater HP), and so on. RE4, on the other hand, was constantly surprising the player with creative uses of old elements (like clever level layouts with old enemies) and the introduction of new elements (new enemies show up on a regular basis plus the awesome boss encounters).

    Or to put it another way, the core mechanics of RE4 are solid, but if that was all there was to the game, it would merely be a good game. The reason why the game is so incredibly good is because it combined solid mechanics with amazing level design.

  9. I think its very interesting indeed that every article I usually read of yours chris, that I reach the comment box but then I strangely find it pointless to add my own ideas and thoughts. Because usually they have already been stated and rinse and repeating praise is a little contrived. Its also strange that now.. I am commenting on this article not the re5 racism post or the re4 article.

    I could care less if resident evil 4 was a horror, survival horror, or action horror.
    You know what it was to me?
    Great Entertainment and Art.


    Well, I think that you knew that it could happen (the asinine)

    1- I think that Capcom felt that the series were repeating itself too much, and the formula was becoming too old. It’s not good when a series become old and repetitive. They have nothing left to do with Umbrella and Zombies, at least not much more than yet another type of virus and another B.O.W. . The origins was explained, well explained, the various types were well-elaborated and the Umbrella seemed doomed in CV. So it was time to give the series a new breath and re-invent the series, keeping the old gamers and trying to introduce new gamers (even the ones who aren’t too found of survival horror formula and zombies)
    2 – I think that the limited vision (over the shoulder), the manual aim and the AI of the enemies helped to create a tension. It was unusual for a RE, but it was well-implanted. I didn’t like much the shop. I’m the type used to resources management, I think it’s make the tension go up. If I can buy ammo with the money the enemies drop, why I should save my bullets? Easier just to play “Rambo” if I fell corned somehow or just for fun
    3- I’m the type who don’t be scared easily. Last time I got a jump-scare (like that ‘Jack-In-Box’ stuff) was playing a game sleepy, a bit high, thinking about going to sleep when part of the scenario felt. The only time I got a scare on a RE was when the dog jumped the window on the first game. So, if I didn’t found the previous scary, this one is by far the least scary… But it got some tension factor. It wasn’t really appealing to me, but it is a game that I would play if I’m bored and don’t have anything else to play. RE never was one of my faves, and this one is one of the last of my choices. It didn’t caught my attention but I can recognize that Capcom tried something different to ressurect the franchise (and as the sales tell us, they did well, that’s whats matter)

  11. I was thinking about your comments about Asinine comments and conversation. Just to get a bit metaphysical on things, I suppose what can be described as asinine depends on how what definition of asinine you yourself take. This, for me, means that something that other people may find asinine or particulary irrelevant, I may indeed feel it to be quite the opposite.

    The reason why I am makign this point is that often particular aspects of games that generate a particular reaction in me, generate a totally different reaction for others. Obviously this is just to the subjectivity of games, and i realise that asinie are those aspects that are unimportant. But this is why I feel discussion of these aspects are important, if only to determine their importance.

    For me, the classification of games is interesting, particulary in RE4’s case. The reason is that through classification of the game you can often determine the most effective elements of games to different people (as in why one person classifies it as horror).

    Anyhow, for me, i do indeed classify RE4 as horror given the often horrific situations the lead protagonist finds himself in. For me, horror and action oriented games are two things that arent mutually exclusive.

    My final comment (this has probably been an assinine post!) is as to why I enjoyed RE4. For me, one of the stand out aspects of the game was the pacing. I liked the change of pacing, where the lead was constantly changing areas, constantly traveling to new locations. Though this differentiated from the earlier RE games where alot of fear (and game progression) was derived from the revisitation of areas, the constantly tackling somehting new, for me at least created a sense of unkown. Though I know that this makes it harder for the game players to engage with the environment (look at Silent hill and RE1 where the environment are practically characters in their own right) i think the constant pace and changing of environement led to a game where the horror was relentless.


    apologies if that was rambling.

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