Praise for The Secret World – treatment of religion and general diversity

The Secret World really seems to have polarised the MMO world. As we know, not many people are playing it – but the people who are seem to love the game.

Today we’ve got two bloggers waxing lyrical about aspects of the MMO which you might not have considered. Will they be enough to tempt more people to try the game? Who knows?

Syp is first – he’s talking about the game’s treatment of religion. As a person with strong religious beliefs, he was concerned about how TSW would handle religion – but as it turns out, he’s very impressed

“Still, I didn’t especially want to be playing a game where my faith was vilified or belittled, and there could have been a real possibility of that. Instead, what I sense is that the writers are striking an interesting balance of skirting near subjects pertinent to religions but not going so far as to levy judgment on any of them. There’s this sense of sampling the most interesting elements and then weaving those together in a bizarre tapestry that still doesn’t make sense to me. It just seems bigger than what we can get a hold of, and I suppose that’s one of the goals of the game.

Plus, there does seem to be a wide sampling of faiths, including Native American, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Norse, Hindu, and probably tons of the Eastern ones over on the Dragon side. If there’s a subversive agenda at work to subtly dig at any of these, I don’t see it.

But the question of belief and faith is quite prominent in many of the characters’ lives, and the events of the game certainly uphold the notion that there are forces at work that are quite supernatural in origin. There’s a real hell in the game, for example. There are miracles. There are genuine people of faith and there are false prophets and cults (such as the Morning Light).”

Meanwhile, Healing The Masses is waxing lyrical about TSW’s unusual level of diversity in almost all meanings of the phrase

“The environment has a small part to play, mostly though it is the rather cooky collection of characters on display. There is an amazing range of characters available that cover a fair amount of ethnicities and backgrounds which on its own is rare to see, and then you have in depth backgrounds to explore. Each of these main characters has a rich story, they have their own interests they attend to, glaring flaws, external and internal pressures they are trying to work around or with, and then lots and lots of baggage. It is a great view of human eccentricities and personal backgrounds you would never have even thought about.

It is all very inclusive with a wide spectrum of humanity included, and what’s more is they explore themes like ethnicity, gender, and sexuality well. There is no contrived token placements on offer just flesh and blood humans full of emotions. Nothing is hidden from the view of the public in mountains of lore but right there for everyone to witness. It is an epic drama of human emotion playing out for all to witness, the impact and the joy, sadness and courage that is there to make you think or even inspire.

The great story and writing feels very engaging from a character perspective but even as a cohesive whole across the different areas. The writing team has a great understanding of people and culture it seems which reflects on the immersive world. Even the story structure and themes are quite removed from the usual tropes, they are aware of them but twist and mold these to fit with the story, they are even so familiar with them they are able to poke fun highlighting the hilarity of such overused story elements.”

All interesting stuff – perhaps The Secret World will gain second wind from all the word of mouth praise? I wonder…

Might you be tempted to try The Secret World one day? If you’re playing it, do you think it’ll start gathering steam?

Read more →

Diversity, Patronage, Small Skyrim, And Giving It All Away

From Skyrim for Kids to a very good point on the diversity of game developers, we’ve got it all today:

  • Entombed at Divinity’s Reach makes a very telling points about the diversity of most game developers compared with other industries“Next time you watch a “Tour of the Company’s Headquarters” or “Meet the Developers” take a look at the diversity.  And I don’t just mean race, I mean gender, religion, sexual orientation, geographical background, and you start to notice something striking. “
  • The Brainy Gamer has a really fascinating piece – particularly for parents – on the ways in which playing Skyrim with your child can be a really positive experience for them“I spared Zoe the Fellglow Keep gore, but let her face The Caller boss at the end of the quest for a reason. We were given the choice of fighting her or negotiating with her, but we found a third option we liked better. We cast an Invisibility spell, grabbed the stolen books, picked her pocket for the exit key, and escaped the dungeon. “We were smarter than her, Daddy!” You bet we were.”
  • The Gold Queen’s covering an interesting topic for a gold blog – how and why to give all your gold away – “I’d consider giving my gold to the best character of my class on my server, class leader in the top raiding guild.  He or she will have been an inspiration to you, and a moving target at which you can aim.”
  • And finally, Zubon at Kill Ten Rats gives us a fascinating look at an oldschool alternative to guilds – Asheron’s Call and its patronage system” Experience is similarly passed upwards to your patron’s patron, all the way to the top person who has no patron, the “monarch.” As far as game mechanics go, that’s it; the rest of the system comes from secondary and social effects.”

On the first topic – one of the things that really struck me in the many Guild Wars 2 developer videos was the unusually high number of female developers there. Has that changed the game design? Who knows? But it’s clear that both the developer is more diverse than normal and the game’s doing a lot of things differently…

Enjoyed today’s posts? Please consider sharing them!

Read more →