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Venom on NPR re: Call of Juarez - The Cartel

I've recently found myself decrying the Republican slashing of NPR's budget, defending our nation's publically-funded liberal media outlet as a pillar of journalistic excellence and integrity in a landscape otherwise corrupted by pandering and money-chasing.

Then they go and make me look bad by running a story like this:

This is shameful sensationalism, not journalism.  The piece reflects a complete lack of any attempt at veracity -- to wit:

"...a video game that glorifies murder and mayhem..."
It's pretty stupid to assume that artwork automatically glorifies its subject matter, especially if you haven't read/seen/played it.  Which I know you haven't, since nobody has, since the game is still months away from completion.

"...critics on the border are already condemning its bad taste."
Again, how could anyone outside of the publisher/dev team be in any position to judge whether or not this particular work is in bad taste?

"A screen shot of the game pictures an outlaw in a flak jacket and cowboy hat..."
Dead wrong.  He is the opposite of an outlaw.  He is a law enforcement officer.

"...people see it as really the ultimate dehumanization of people of Juarez..."
Even though this statement about what "people see" is technically true, doesn't a reporter have a responsibility to distinguish between misconceptions and facts?  Al Franken describes a technique employed by Fox News, the "Echo Chamber," whereby a speculative, baseless quote or sound bite is repeated so often that it loses the context of subjectivity and is perceived as true.

"Critics say the video game dehumanizes the people who have been killed in the Juarez drug wars."
Critics say a lot of things.  I'm a critic.  I claim that playing this game will make seven beautiful, naked virgins magically appear in your living room.  Why doesn't NPR run a story on that?

"...for people to mock them and make light of them is very, very insulting," Campbell says. "I mean, more than 8,000 people have been killed in the last four years; and it's not something to joke about." 
This guy is either misinformed, misquoted, or a total jumping-to-conclusions jackass.  Back in 2000, the movie "Traffic" won widespread praise for its depiction of the terrible situation at the Mexican border (as well as four academy awards). Nobody accused the filmmakers of trying to cash in on human misery. Nobody leveled charges that the film was "dehumanizing" or "mocking" or "making light of the situation" or "joking about" it.  And certainly nobody would have made such comments on the sole basis of looking at screenshots before the film's trailer had even been released. And CERTAINLY certainly no respectable journalist would report on such wildly inaccurate, unfounded speculation as matters of fact.

Obviously, video games still have plenty of new-medium stigma to overcome.  Venom on you, NPR, for helping to make our fight that much harder.  And here I thought you were the good guys.


Miel a "Redención Rojo Muerto"

As a nod to all my Spanish-speaking readers, I present my bilingual analysis of Red Dead Redemption, Spanish first.
El mejor videojuego nuevo del año pasado es, en mi opinión, Red Dead Redemption.  Con este no lineal de disparos en tercera persona, Rockstar ha logrado trasladar el formulario de Grand Theft Auto al Viejo Oeste de una manera inmersiva que nunca se ha visto antes.

RDR -- siguiente a Red Dead Revolver (2004) pero sin tener mucho que ver con él -- relata la historia de John Marsden, bandido que quiere dejar de vivir así y se encarga de buscar y matar a su ex-compañero.  El jugador se mete en la frontera entre Tejas y México en el año 1911, al principio de la revolución Mexicana y al cabo del Viejo Oeste, lo que va modernizando rápidamente con la llegada de electricidad y el ferrocarril.

Se encuentre la mayoría de los mecánicos familiares de GTA.  Marsden puede cumplir misiones a su gusto para progresar o hacer colectas al lado para ganar dinero que gastar en armas y otras cosas.  En vez de manejar autos, monta a caballo (o por diligencia) tras el yermo.

Lo más disfrutable del juego no es solo perseguir el cuento bien escrito y lleno de personajes interesantes, pero además pasar tiempo en el mundo detallado y realístico que ha construido Rockstar. La gente de los pueblos (hablando el inglés y el español, donde sea apropiado) vive por los ciclos de día y noche tal como los aves y animales salvajes de la tierra poco poblada.  Los efectos del tiempo, cielos hermosas y paisaje rico son de una calidad muy alta, todo acompañada por música linda, y cualquier imagen del juego merece colgar en la pared como pintura.  ¡No sería difícil imaginar que el mundo persiste aunque se ha apagado el Xbox!

Red Dead Redemption entretiene los jugadores bien familiarizados con el género y ambos los que no jueguen y tienen la curiosidad de ver lo fascinante que se puede fabricar los desarrolladores con la tecnología del actual.
Last year’s best game, in my opinion, is Red Dead Redemption.  With this open-world third-person shooter, Rockstar has succeeded in bringing the Grand Theft Auto formula to the Old West for an immersive, altogether unprecedented experience.

RDR -- technically the sequel to Red Dead Revolver (2004), though barely related -- tells the tale of one John Marsden, an outlaw who must hunt down and kill his former partner in order to leave his past behind.  The game is set near the Texas/Mexico border in 1911, on the eve of the Mexican revolution and at the twilight of an American West now facing modern encroachment, electricity, and railroads.

Most of GTA’s familiar mechanics are present.  Marsden may complete missions at his leisure to advance the story or perform side quests to earn money for guns and other items.  Instead of racing around by car, he traverses the wilderness via horseback and stagecoach.

As fun as it is following the game’s well-crafted story full of interesting characters, the real joy lies in the detailed and realistic world Rockstar has constructed.  Townspeople (speaking both English and Spanish, depending on their location) lead busy day-night cycle lives, as do the birds and wild animals of the open range.  The high quality weather effects, beautiful skies, and epic landscapes are accompanied by a masterful soundtrack, and any given screenshot is worth framing and hanging on the wall.  It’s not hard to imagine this world persisting even after the Xbox has been switched off.

Red Dead Redemption is sure to satisfy both hardcore fans of the genre and non-gamers interested in seeing the best of what developers, armed with modern technology, are capable of.