I feel like these are relevant to this conversation:
On the subject of bullshit AAA publisher shenanigans:
Dead Space 3 has microtransactions because mobile gamers
Not much to actually say on that one, just throwing out some more anecdotal evidence about EA being awful.
On the subject of bad video game writing:
Apparently Far Cry 3
is a truly brilliant masterpiece of mega subtle mind-blowing writing. At least, according to the writer. But for some reason nobody else understood the writer's extra-nuanced references to Alice in Wonderland that he made by flashing quotes from Alice in Wonderland on the screen for 40 unskippable seconds at many points during the game.
You know what, though, I liked Far Cry 3. It was a very fun game, in spite of the cassowary genocide. When I was playing it, I actually didn't even think that the writing was that bad. It wasn't amazing, but it at least had some more ambition than "Here's a gun, here are the bad guys," and wasn't completely offensive. Essentially, the writing was "good enough for a video game." Which I guess is the entire problem that video game writing has.
But then I stumble across this little discussion being had between the lead writer of Far Cry 3 and, well... I guess anyone who would listen. He's claiming that Far Cry 3 is misunderstood, because the internet was not set ablaze with people throwing praise on his metaphors. Due to reading his comments, I've reconsidered the plot of Far Cry 3, taking into consideration what the writer was trying to do. Now I think that it's kinda terrible.
I'm left wondering what it means when I was accepting of the writing when I took it at face value, as
some rich white kid trying to save his friends, but at the same time becoming distant from them by the things he has to do to save them
, but then I think that the writing's terrible when the writer says that it was supposed to be interpreted as some kind of metaphor about video games themselves.
On the subject of good video game writing:
There was another game this year that actually DID receive lots of praise for being a metaphor about video games, and that was SpecOps: The Line
Most of you guys have probably already heard about it. I think this is a really good example of how writing can be done well in video games. I don't think that it's absolutely perfect, despite all the praise I'll heap onto it, but I think that it's very, very interesting. I want to talk about it, but I also don't want to use spoilers.
It's a modern military shooter that is essentially about how modern military shooters are terrible. It uses video game tropes and conventions and looks at the connections between the player and the player's character, and the motivations for both over the course of the game. And in the player's case, the player's motivations for playing games like CoD or Battlefield.
So if you haven't played it, you should take a look at SpecOps: The Line. For those saying that no video game ever has good writing these days, give it a try. Again, it's not perfect. It can be a bit heavy-handed, and transparent at times. But I still think that overall, it's quite good, and it offers an experience that actually makes use of the interactivity of our medium. Hopefully we can see more of this sort of thing in the future, even if it is out of the way and hard to find, and not in AAA games.
And similarly to Far Cry 3, the lead writer of SpecOps: The Line has spoken some on the internet about the story. He, however, offered one interpretation of the game, but also suggested that players should reach their own conclusions about the story. And it came off infinitely less assholish than "Nobody understands my vision of Far Cry 3!"