Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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26 Responses

  1. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I really, really appreciate this sentence: “And it doesn’t seem to appreciate Tolkien’s message at all.”

    Very well done.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      I suppose that this is the problem with making exciting video games out of deeply moral works with complex moral messages.

      Fighting Sauron with Sauron looks *AWESOME*.

      But if you want to communicate that fighting that way never works, you can’t have 40+ hours of looking awesome followed by a sotto voice speech about how even though it looked awesome, it never works.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Jaybird says:

        Yup. I was thinking “this totally doesn’t understand Tolkien” before I got to the denouement. I have in recent years seen the claim made that modern video games can be Art. This example isn’t making the case. This is totally unfair, of course, in that adaptations from one medium to another almost always suffer in translation, but my (secondhand) understanding of modern video games is that the awesome awesomeness is pretty much intrinsic to the medium. Would it even be possible to have a convincing message that this awesome awesomeness is not in fact truly awesome? Maybe. What do I know? My association when I hear the word “gaming” is pushing little cardboard pieces across a map board with a hex grid laid out on it.Report

        • Has there ever been a sandwich that is the equivalent of The Mona Lisa?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

            (If so, I would like to eat this sandwich.)

            There’s huge category problems here, huge definition problems, and there’s probably some other mistakes being made.

            That said, if what you’re going for is an interactive experience that says something to the effect of “what if you took Lord of the Rings, but made it a Die Hard story?”, you’re stuck with the questions of whether Die Hard was art (as opposed to craft) and if it was art, whether it was good art (as opposed to trash) and where we go from there.

            There’s a *LOT* of moral takes hiding in the bushes of aesthetic discussions, like so many Gondorian rangers, waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting orc.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

            There’s something haunting about the shape of that slice of tomato.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          but my (secondhand) understanding of modern video games is that the awesome awesomeness is pretty much intrinsic to the medium.

          Not really. You’re thinking of AAA games, which are analogous to summer blockbusters. These generally have budgets in the tens of millions, which requires sales in the millions to recoup the investment. By necessity they’re designed to have very broad appeal. People saying that video games can be art are rarely if ever pointing to those as examples.

          Honestly, the question doesn’t really interest me. Really we’re just quibbling over what the definition of the word “art” is, which is ultimately arbitrary, and not a property inherent to the works in question.Report

        • @richard-hershberger

          Would it even be possible to have a convincing message that this awesome awesomeness is not in fact truly awesome?

          I think Undertale manages this quite well.Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    It’s basicallly fan-fiction, where the author decided to make everything more badass.Report

  3. Avatar Pinky says:

    How about if you fight Sauron with Sauron, defeat him, and become Sauron? Non-canonical, but Tolkien would approve. Maybe your One Ring replaced the original One Ring without anyone ever noticing.

    This is the kind of thing that happens all over the Diablo franchise.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Pinky says:

      While I admit that I haven’t yet beaten the game (I might be somewhere around 10% done with it and I’m going to go for a lot of 100%s where I can), I think I can confidently claim that they’re not building up to “everything you know is wrong!”Report

      • Avatar Zac Black in reply to Jaybird says:

        Without trying to spoil anything, I think your feelings toward the game might change significantly once you get to the end of it.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Zac Black says:

          I’m digging the heck out of it and I’ve no doubt that I’m going to get to the end.

          (But I still suspect that even if the moral of the story is “yeah, you can’t win that way”, the game still spent 40, 50, 60 hours giving you the endorphins from random loot drops for killing bad guys.)Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky says:

      That’s exactly why none of the real badasses (Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel) would take the Ring and defeat Sauron with it. They knew they’d turn into him.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Here’s the conceit of this one: the New One Ring that Celebrimbor and Talion make together has “none of the taint of Sauron”.

        So there’s this thought that, maybe, *THIS* ring will be different.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        I get that. They’d become Sauron-ish. Power corrupts. What I’m saying is that you could create a story where the power corrupted you, and you became known as Sauron, because you-as-evil-victor was indistinguishable from him. Not “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”, but “that’s the same guy, right?”. It could drop right into canon.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky says:

          I see what you’re saying, but I’m not sure it works. Sauron and Morgoth were both Dark Lords, but no one confused them. Saruman too: had he got the Ring, he would have been evil in yet another way. For one thing, his body hadn’t been destroyed, so he could corrupt people in person, the way Sauron did in the Second Age, rather than having to spread terror via his underlings.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            It is a somewhat open question as to what the corruption of a powerful being* would have manifested as, especially had said being used the might of the ring to destroy Sauron. It’s pretty clearly established in LOTR that in order to make the one ring strong enough to subjugate all the others Sauron had to put the greater part of himself into it. With Sauron then physically dying in the downfall of Numenor I think a pretty strong argument can be made that there was way more Sauron within the ring than left outside of it. I personally lean towards them essentially turning into a vessel of Sauron myself. The Sauron that worked outside of the ring was pretty much a shadow anchored and cast by the ring itself. The ring could function fine in the event of Saurons destruction and would draw him back but definitely not in the other direction.

            *As opposed to a human or a hobbit.Report

  4. Avatar Nevermoor says:

    Here’s my question: is the game as poorly balanced as the last one?

    I really really liked the first 45% of the first game (and there was a first-map warlord fight that was short-list best video game moments of the 2010s for me). Then they gave you a “most of what you do is now stupid-easy” ability that you just kind of… used… for the last dozens of hours.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Nevermoor says:

      I don’t know how to answer this question.

      I thought that the first game was made a lot easier by the fact that I had spent the previous months playing the Batman games rather than by the fact that they gave me a game-breaker.

      (Can you spoiler what you’re talking about in the response to this, if you don’t want to give everything away?)Report