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Reader Comments (52)

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 10:21AM (Unverified) said

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My impression of AoC wasn't one of "adult" content but of "romanticized" teenage urban hip hop fantasy culture. At the character selection screen my PoM pounds his chest and poses like he's out of some hollywoodization of urban gangster culture, which really only exists on the big screen. And the degredation of the female character is purely a teenage boy's fantasy of what "strong" women would be like, as if the female body doesn't require the same protection that a males would during armed combat (though this has been a fantasy portrayal for a while now, still a pet peeve of mine for either sex).

That said, I enjoy the gameplay and the sandboxiness of AoC that doesn't exist in a lot of other fantasy based mmos. In my opinion, it's the open PvP and player controlled/built assets that sets AoC apart from the rest of the genre and make it more "adult" then the pretty pathetic teenage boy fantasy aesthetic. ;)

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 10:45AM Thac0 said

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If anyone is complaining about nudity and chest pounding barbarians; I think you have no idea about the IP the game was based on. Especially if you think its based off of hip hop culture? Perhaps hip hop culture is barbaric? LOL
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 10:55AM (Unverified) said

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There is an aesthetic to it that is not so much "barbarian" in the german tribes sacking roman boarder towns kind of way but more of a reference to the percieved modern urban culture. How old are you THAC0? It might be that you are too young to recognize an obvious popular culture reference as NOT the norm?
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 11:13AM Thac0 said

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I've seen the one animation you are talking about and i can understand the inference, but i don't understand how you can say the game is all based off of hip-hop culture because of one animation? I'm 31 btw, I're read the REH stories and seen the films and while Funcom may not have been as eloquent with portraying the subtler side of savagery I can't see how this is based off of selling drugs, demeaning women, petty crimes and killing each other for the rights to a corner. I've lived in those places where "hip hop" culture was the norm.

Humans are humans though, certain gestures have been repeated throughout history regardless of culture. People have been fighting for land and exploiting each other since before time so in that regard the game IS like hip hop culture i guess. Do you really think chest pounding and objectification of women are a new and primarily black phenomenon? really?
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 11:29AM (Unverified) said

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I think that the character animations are a direct reference to popular culture, which at this time is the urban hip hop culture. Not everything in the game is a reference to that but those animations were a deliberate creative decision to appeal to your age group. My comment in regards to the half naked women is separate but just as relevant. The half naked "warrior women" is indeed a teenage fantasy, maturity has brought to me a different image of the "strong/warrior women". ;)

I'm aware of the history of the Conan setting and I understand that there is a long standing aesthetic to Conan's Barbarian world. Still, I wouldn't go so far as to say that AoC's aethetic was "harsh, lived in, and somehow more authentic than other fantasy games on the market" so much as deliberately design to appeal to a certain market, which, in my opinion is the more raunchy and urban, hip hop if you will, culture of our time.
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 12:31PM (Unverified) said

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Somewhere, I probably still have a copy of Dragon magazine (or one of the similar D&D mags), circa 1990, with a "beginner's guide to customising miniatures." The author specifically suggested that new painters should stick to male minis because armor was easier to paint than skin tones - and most fantasy women were sculpted "according the 'nickels and band-aids' school" of armorsmithing. Mongols wore silk into battle because the silk caught on barbed arrows, making them easier to pull out without ripping your organs apart, and even at 12 I was pretty well aware that a woman in silk could be a lot more fun to look at than one who was naked, so I always had a bit of a hard time understanding fantasy art.

Now, I know that Renaissance sculptors would often create statues of nudes who were draped in cloth but still baring all, so the sculptors could show off how they *could* do realistic cloth and still demonstrate a perfect human form.

We still can't really render perfect cloth in video game engines, so if I'm making a game and I have to choose between unrealistic but archetypal portrayal of women and a personally dissatisfying attempt at realism that also costs me fanboy dollars ... I'd be writing a royalty check to the Nickels and Bandaids people.

Altho' NVIDIA's APEX is coming close: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrtwESnTOwY
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 1:03PM (Unverified) said

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In response to the OP zena, I disagree that the game is all about a romanticized urban tough guy mentality. A simpler and more feminine explanation to the game I don't think I have heard in a long time.The simple fact is that Age of Conan is set in a time period where men were still men ( violent, owned everything around them including thier families) and all arguments were usually settled in a swordfight. Todays effeminate society by and large doesn't identify with those times anymore because we feel we have "evolved" past our grandfathers, when the reality coulndt be farther from the truth, the only thing thats evolved from then till now is 2 things, one is human rights and the other is gunpowder. The latter is what keeps men under control.
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 10:36AM Bhagpuss said

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As an adult, one of the things I most disliked about Fallen Earth was having to hear my character swear. I didn't object to the swearing per se, although it was repetetive and irritating. I objected to the game deciding for me whether or not my character would swear. Having the option to cuss is one thing, not having the option not to cuss is entirely another.

I haven't played AoC so I can't comment directly, but on what little exposure I've had to Funcom's marketing of the game I have to agree with Zenasprime that it looks a lot more teenage than genuinely adult. The "mature" tag has been a prime factor in AoC still being one of the few major MMOs I've not even tried in free trial mode.

I don't particularly want my MMOs to be "family friendly", but equally I don't want a load of gratuitous swearing and nudity. A genuinely adult game would be a real novelty.

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 12:34PM (Unverified) said

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Not even the free trial? I guess I'm just greedy, but AOC had a thing last year where if you signed up for a trial account before a certain time period, you got an eternal free trial - play as many characters as you want up to level 20 forever and ever.

I think I made it to, like, level 10 before I got bored, but I sure as hell tried it.
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 10:46AM Jef Reahard said

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I hear what you're both saying, but I guess for me, having the option is what amounts to it being a mature game (as opposed to the devs or the censors deciding what is/isn't appropriate).

I'm sure there are teenage boys who run around making low-level female alts and playing with the breast sliders, but the game doesn't feature a lot of in-your-face nudity at all (certainly not on the level of something like Mortal Online). Instead, there's just a feeling of sensuality that permeates the whole enterprise. That probably sounds weird, but it's the best way I can describe it.

Maybe it's Howard's world, combined with the lush graphics, but whatever it is, I wish more games had it.

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 1:14PM Wisdomandlore said

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Sensuality? Wow. That's bold.

The first woman you meet is is tied up in her underwear. Soon after you meet a (presumably gay) slaver and rapist. If sensuality is the conflation of violence and sex with outright references to sexual abusre...then sure, that's the right word.

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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 1:48PM (Unverified) said

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Wisdomandlore: by that method of judgement, one could project that World of Warcraft is a game about being a game warden, since almost every starting town send you out to cull wildlife whose population has grown too large; or that EQ2 is too easy because you "grey out" the starter islands before you can complete all the quests and kill all the named monsters for special loot.

Taking another point of view, in the first half-hour of AOC, you survive a(n albeit minor) natural disaster - casting your defiance at the uncaring gods - and escape slavery, savagely crush those immediately responsible and rescue a fellow slave, then destroy the "civilized" but deeply corrupt and amoral man who had been profiting from the institutionalization of misery. That's pretty classic R.E. Howard.
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 1:50PM Cendres said

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That's not underwear, that's a really nice golden piece that shouldn't even have been on a Tortage prostitute, must have been a gift from a really rich patron... It's the kind of armor/clothing I would have expected on a boss or a Queen of some kind. ^_^

As for the abuse it's part of the violence, the baseness of what we can do is what you end up fighting against. These stories, games and movies, are the same things. Ways to explore our natures and understand them. But not everyone is going to be suited for each level. So if something insults your sensibilities, it's not for you.

As for if inferred rape is sensual or not.... That's best discussed somewhere else I think. ;)
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 2:22PM Wisdomandlore said

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I never said AoC was a game about rape, I only pointed out that a prevailing theme (at least in Tortage) is rape, bondage, and torture. There's nothing "sensual" about that.

And sure, our heroes fight against such things, but Funcom is simultaneously exploiting it for entertainment. I'm not saying games need to teach us morality, but heralding AoC as mature is ridiculous. It's no more mature than Spike TV.
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 2:38PM Jef Reahard said

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Sensuality was a term I applied to the game as a whole, and you chose to infer that I meant rape, torture, et al since they happen to be in the game. Using that logic, you could also infer that slaughtering boars or crafting swords is sensual, which is obviously silly.

As to the game not being mature, I think the article and the comments makes it pretty clear that that is a highly subjective term. Mature can mean 'not for kids' due to violence/sex/whatever. It can also mean 'having reached full development' or something similar.

The only thing ridiculous here is trying to make black and white statements like 'AoC is not mature!' Clearly it is in some contexts.

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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 2:56PM (Unverified) said

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@CindyL:
"So if something insults your sensibilities, it's not for you."
Agreed, 100%. At the same point, if you tap out, offended, in the first half-hour of a game with over a hundred hours of content, you probably don't need to assume that you've a statistically relevant sampling.
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 12:03PM (Unverified) said

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Sounds to me like he doesn't like the hip-hop culture period and is probably looking for it in whatever game he plays,so he can be disgusted by it. But,probably thinks the dance emotes in WOW are cool. Regardless the game plays nothing like or resembles hip-hop culture in any way. As far as an adult feel,it really does set itself apart in a number of ways that make it feel more mature and realistic if you will.

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 12:15PM (Unverified) said

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You would be right in that regard. I don't hold hip hop culture in high esteem at all. Referencing to it in a game that should have it's own culture is a shallow marketing ploy and downright uncreative in my opinion. Saying that AoC (or hip hop culture in general) contains "mature" content because of it is rather ridiculous, which is what I'm pointing out with my comments.

To dumb down what I'm saying, just because you have naked women and gory violence does not make content "mature" as was implied in the original article.
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 12:51PM (Unverified) said

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zenasprime: I ... have no idea what you're talking about. Did you actually read any of the Conan books or anything?

You referenced Germanic tribes sacking Roman border towns. Unless my time in the AOC trials coincided with a heretofore unknown exposure to ergot, the player characters are all working with/for Conan's kingdom; you should have known by the end of the game's intro cutscene that you wouldn't be sacking border towns.

Sure, it's easy to find a gangsta rap video with certain themes: the rapper will show himself surrounded by a group of attractive, scantily-clad women who serve no purpose but to highlight the rapper's sexual prowess; there will be excessive opulence, or if you prefer, bling; the rapper will be portrayed as an imposing person, prepared to indulge in wanton violence.

You seem to think these themes' presence in AOC is due to Funcom's attempt to cater to "urban youth culture," when, in fact, if you distill those themes to their essence, and remove the modern touches like glocks, gold clocks, and stiletto shoes with clear heels, *all of those themes can be found in both the Conan novels and ancient cultures.*

Assyrian kings - Assyrians being the first to use iron, which could easily puncture bronze shields and armor - portrayed themselves as blood-drinking immortal demons; the more you terrify your foes, the more likely their people will quietly accept your invasion. Conan's rule of Aquilonia ended with him; he did not found a dynasty because, while he a large harem and many children, he would not take a wife. And if you've ever walked past, let alone into, a Catholic church that's more than 100 years old, you've seen the kind of wasteful and excessive splendor that "old school" institutions swaddle themselves in. (If you haven't, compare the Oxford Refectory - the "Harry Potter dining room" - to your high school's cafeteria, and realize they were built for the same purpose, to feed young adults.)


So ... basically, stop acting like a goddamn racist moron.
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 1:42PM (Unverified) said

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The word "barbarian" is a direct reference to Greek and Roman culture. Just because Conan is THE barbarian doesn't mean that the images of the Greek/Roman cultural impressions of the barbarian do not apply. Much of Howard's imagery stems from Greek and Roman literature on the subject. If you are indeed interested in "barbarian" cultures you should do a little bit of research into the subject rather then simply relying on the pop culture references from modern movies and even Howard's short stories, to which the concept of barbarianism is not novel.

Also, my distaste for Hip Hop culture has nothing to do with race, hence the word culture. Calling me a racist does little more then highlight my point about "maturity". Regardless of my preferences, however, putting such obvious references into AoC is, in my opinion, cheap, uncreative, and certainly not "mature" in nature.

There's more to hip hop culture then guns and bling. There's hair styles, clothing, gestures, language, and a general aesthetic that is pervasive in that culture as well. Perhaps, being of that culture, you don't recognize these things outside of the norm that's been established for you by TV and other media, but for someone outside of it, it is obvious. I would like to point out, however, that I did state very early on that there was a "Hollywood" vibe to the portrayal of such things in the game, like I'm watching some bad ganster movie, and that more then anything makes it feel, inauthentic.

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