The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

Nintendo Stockholm Syndrome, Part I

<Doctor, it hurts when I lift my arms>.

<Then stop lifting your arms>.

– An ol’ joke.

Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

– ¡Rrrring! ¡Bing! Carlos Marukusu

There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.

– George W. Bush

2 interesting news items have hit my way; & what’s most interesting is how li’l people are talking ’bout their connection to each other.

The 1st is a lament that, much as Mario “died”1 on March 31, 2021 ’cause Nintendo stopped selling some laughably shitty remake o’ games that have been round for decades, the original Super Mario Maker for the Wii-U has been removed from the Wii-U eShop & will no longer accept level uploads. People “lament” this as if they’re surprised. As someone who paid a whopping $2 for a used copy o’ WarioWare D.I.Y. after its main selling point, letting players upload & play each other’s custom-made microgames, was mooted by Nintendo shutting down their DS servers, I wasn’t surprised whatsoe’er, much as I remember when I put my hand on a hot stove & burn my hand that said stove is hot & I shouldn’t put my hand on it. Unfortunately, it seems the gaming populace @ large has the memory o’ dogs ( which is why gamers also howl when 5 whole years go by without yet ’nother sequel to their favorite series — in gamer years 5 years is an eternity ).

The 2nd is excitement o’er Nintendo’s new “maker” game, Game Builder Garage, which is ’bout making general games, rather than specifically Mario levels.

You have to give Nintendo credit for their ballsiness o’ reminding people in the loudest way possible o’ what a waste o’ money their maker gamers are — specially compared to superior works, like Lunar Magic or Game Maker, which are still going strong several decades after the 1st came out — just before announcing yet ’nother maker game. & as expected, rather than do the basic logic & put 2 & 2 together & show the slightest bit o’ skepticism toward yet ’nother expensive rental, the internet has nothing but acclaim for this new brilliant scam o’ Nintendo’s. I can’t wait for all these people to buy this & then, a mere 6 years down the line, lament when Nintendo brings down the server, & all the hard work people have put into making games.

Also interesting is the # o’ journalists treating Game Builder Garage as a brilliant new idea, & not an e’en-mo’-inferior bootleg o’ Game Maker. I could understand journalists not mentioning Lunar Magic when discussing Super Mario Maker, as rom-hacking is a bit mo’ niche & journalists tend to be worshippers o’ their corporate gods, & put their fingers up in cross shapes when faced with the seamy underground o’ emulation or the idea o’ anyone but Grand Daddy Nintendo making works with Mario in it. But Game Maker isn’t some obscure gem ( for 1, it’s no gem ): games like Undertale & the original version o’ Spelunky were made in it2. Yes, I know Game Builder Garage tries to set itself apart with generic emoticon characters as a part o’ their “visual programming” gimmick, which doesn’t seem to do much beyond putting boxes & lines round the same conditional statements that are the bread & button o’ all game maker GUIs, like Game Maker.

Which is also why I’m much less appreciative o’ Game Builder Garage than Super Mario Maker, e’en me, who you could probably call a “centrist” in the copyright wars, can a’least understand Nintendo wanting to take leadership o’ the creation o’ Mario content from Lunar Magic, e’en if the nature o’ Nintendo’s business practices severely hamper their works: their inability to maintain these makers for mo’ than a decade; their need to keep heavy-handed control, including not allowing custom graphics ( ¿what if some edgelord drew penises everywhere & some churchmom began ranting @ Nintendo to politicians on the teevee? ) or patches or custom sprites; & their insistence on making people who want to play your creations buy the game-maker ( imagine in everyone who bought Undertale had to buy Game Maker, too ) — all o’ which are limitations that don’t hobble the rom-hacking scene or Game Maker @ all. Nintendo is a company that makes products, it doesn’t deliver services; & tho Nintendo may not realize it, creation tools like game makers are services, not products. But it’s hard for me not to think a company that is pushing their way into the general game-maker scene despite their obvious incompetence in such cases is a bit arrogant. It may be right for Nintendo to assert ownership o’ Mario, but it’s definitely wrong for Nintendo to assert ownership o’ creating games in general.

This may seem dramatic, but I want to emphasize my point ’bout Nintendo’s heavy-handed control o’er their makers. I don’t e’en need to waste my breath telling you that these tools are not open-source ( granted, neither are Game Maker & e’en Lunar Magic, which is a flaw in both o’ them ). For as much as incompetent but highly-paid ( a’least ’nough to buy all these expensive games ) journalists like to thumb their nose @ the elitist programmers ’cause they’re o’erpaid for doing somewhat intelligent work, as opposed to journalists, who are o’erpaid for doing work without the smallest shred o’ intelligence or quality ( not unlike the Republicans they pretend to be different from ), they don’t mention that no programmer would be caught dead using a language or compilers that weren’t open source ’cause it leads to this thing called “vendor lock-in”, which is particularly pernicious if said vendor abandons their tool — which is precisely what Nintendo does.

This is fine for games themselves, since those are relatively passive mediums where I am just a user o’ art. But I won’t lie, the idea o’ creating art that’s locked down in a corporate-owned tool & which could be permanently disappeared @ the whim o’ business executives like Trotsky from Soviet photos makes we want to vomit. This is why I don’t e’en fuck with rom-hacking or fan games anymo’, much less would I ne’er in a million years put effort into making levels for Super Mario Maker. If I make a work o’ art, I want — no, demand — complete & utter control. That is a bare necessity for this work to be mine.

Which is to say, ’cause o’ Nintendo’s opaque grip on your creations, it is wrong to say that Game Builder Garage will allow you to create your own games — ’cause they’re not yours, they’re Nintendo’s. Part o’ me has the immense urge to put on my Marxist hat — it is a nice-looking hat — & say something ’bout Nintendo leveling up to the next wrung on the strange loop o’ capitalism’s decadence3 by figuring out how to convince fools into paying money to allow Nintendo to exploit their labor. After all, a big part o’ the appeal o’ Super Mario Maker is being able to play others’ levels — levels not made by Nintendo, but made by other users. Ne’ertheless, Nintendo gets all the profits & users pay for the privilege o’ doing work for Nintendo. Such is the brilliance o’ the “gamification” o’ labor: if you can convince the proles that work is fun ( & if they don’t think work is fun, they can go work somewhere else, ’course… ), you can convince them to pay to do it. It’s only fair: business executives, after all, don’t get to join in any o’ the fun, since they don’t do any work.

So, yeah, I’ll pass. I know not being exploited is bougie as fuck, but I think I’ll stick to my elitist art that I actually have control o’er & could maybe e’en make money off myself — I know the idea o’ people making money doing hard work programming is ridiculously pretentious; a much better economy is for people to make money making videos & articles that suck off corporations while they scam people using their irrational devotion to imaginary cartoon characters.

Anyway, we can’t end this article without some MSTing o’ terrible articles, so roll the clips:

Probably the most revoltingly pretentious — while pretending to be raising their fist gainst the elitists — is the generic-named The Gamer’s “Game Builder Garage Could Be The Most Important Game Of The Year”. Someone please get this cum off me.

I don’t mean it will be my favourite. I’m not even sure I’ll play it. I don’t want to make games, in fact, I hate games – that’s why I became a games journalist.

You may think this is an absurd statement to make — perhaps that was part o’ the “joke”, if one had been attempted. But since we’ve established the major theme o’ gamers being masochistic, it actually makes perfect sense that someone who despises games as much as themselves would force themselves to form a career out o’ playing them & writing ’bout them.

But while the game of the year lists will be full of open-world adventures, ambitious new shooters, funky indie hits, and stellar RPGs[…]

Thank you for reminding me o’ what a black hole o’ creativity the game industry is.

Game Builder Garage is putting in the work to ensure that games like that – and genres we haven’t even conceived of yet – can be made in the future.

Until our great god Nintendo came round, making games was impossible. I’m so glad that Nintendo bestowed us with this ability like Prometheus fire to mere mortals. Let’s hope Nintendo is generous ’nough not to patent making games.

“Just learn to code,” has become something of a meme – a quick turn of phrase indicative of the cruel and unhelpful advice offered to hard working people whose jobs have been made obsolete by the changes of the modern world. If you’re a 47 year old coal miner, “just learn to code,” may as well be “just jump to the moon.”

If you’re a 47-year-ol’ coal miner, you probably can’t afford to slap down a quick $300 for a Switch, so I fail to see how this helps them any better. I seriously doubt businesses are rushing out to hire people who can make games controlled by Nintendo, which can’t be sold. I’d believe a poor person checking out books from the library to learn coding & receiving cheap laptops from some kind o’ welfare system & mooching off a library’s Wi-Fi4 mo’ than I would believe a poor person buying an expensive video game system, an expensive video game, & an expensive TV. But, yes, tell me ’gain why doing work & learning is much mo’ bougie than buying the newest extravagant trinket. Nothing pleases me mo’ than people who have obviously ne’er done a blue-collar job in their life trying to pretend that their expensive toys ’bout cartoon characters jumping on turtles are the hammers & sickles by which the working class will finally o’erthrow their corporate masters. It’s a wonder that so many people tar millennial like me as lazy when clowns like these loudly proclaim their belief that working & learning is for uppity people; ¡only buying luxuries is proletarian!

But if you’re a 12 year old kid who loves video games? Absolutely learn to code.

Only young ( middle class ) people can learn things. I guess the 47-year-ol’ coal workers should just go out & die in the pasture. It’s people like these, who probably think o’ themselves as “progressive”, that really drill in how hard it is to improve poverty, when e’en people who consider themselves to be in favor o’ helping impoverished people, almost certainly from utter ignorance, have such strikingly contempt for so many impoverished people while trying to vouch for them.

There are no borders online, no immigration. If you’re the only queer kid in your town, you don’t need to go through it alone – there’s a whole community out there. If you’re disabled and unable to leave your home, the digital world can still allow you to make the most of your talents and creativity without physical obstacles.

This reminds me o’ those stories I’ve heard recently o’ LEGO trying to sell some new rainbow-colored LEGO people or something to show their support for LGBTQ+ fleece gullible progressives out o’ their money. But a’least what LEGO did was relevant to LGBTQ+ people. ¿What the fuck does this game have to do with queer rights or immigration rights?

Game Builder Garage is not the first game of its kind, but it nestles into a niche that could make it the most impactful.

It’s not innovative, but since Nintendo’s mo’ popular than some indie nobody who could do a better job, it’s better. & people wonder why our media is becoming so monopolist when people think like this.

The world is becoming more digital, and a kid that knows how to code will have far more opportunities. Some schools are already including coding and binary modules into their ICT programs, but schools often lack the budget to roll these out across the student body – especially in poorer districts. Game Builder Garage not only makes these vital lessons more readily available to kids, it also makes them far more fun than sitting in school and listening to a teacher.

I ask ’gain: ¿how does an expensive game for an expensive system help poor people who are defined by their lack o’ money? People oft scoff cynically @ rich “philanthropists” like Bill Gates who give billions to help poverty without improving the political system to improve poverty @ the root level while exploiting people thru their businesses; but a’least they give to poor people ( something far too few people with plenty o’ money to spend on Switch games do ). This writer is arguing that Nintendo selling people a commodity should be treated like some kind o’ Lyndon-Johnson-level social program.

Even the good ones are nowhere near as interesting as the Nintendo Switch. You can play Fortnite on the Switch! Can you play Fortnite on your Maths teacher? Didn’t think so. Case closed.

“Kids are dumb & shallow & can only learn if you jingle keys in front o’ their face while doing it”. This writer shouldn’t mistake everyone else’s idiocy with their own.

Even the most well funded schools with the best resources would struggle to match that level of individual tailoring and room for expression, and even fewer again would then let you fly a spaceship you just built and blast aliens out of the sky.

If you want to know the root o’ the Anglo world’s ( I think this writer’s British — but as Brexit showed, the American apple doesn’t fall far from the moron tree ) stupidity, this sentence is it: “Experienced professionals are far worse @ teaching kids than a toy made by random rich people”. I’m not sure why the most well-funded school couldn’t afford to hire workers to make a game-maker no different from Nintendo, — specially since they would be actually aiming their development for instruction, so could use their years o’ knowledge regarding teaching to cater it specifically toward teaching, rather than just doing what artists think would be cool — ’less it’s just a comment on how e’en the best-funded school probably has crumbs compared to what a toy company has. This is, indeed, a sobering reminder o’ what our society values vs. what it doesn’t.

But that crappy little basic jumping platformer with a wonky stickman and off kilter blocks and bland textures – that will matter more. Because the kid who makes it will stick with it, and they’ll be able to make a proper game with a proper character and intricately designed levels. That’s an opportunity they might not have gotten without the release of a game like Game Builder Garage.

As someone who was literally doing this when I was 10 years ol’, I can only laugh & shake my head @ this inane writer’s ignorance. The opportunity has already existed for decades; Game Builder Garage hasn’t offered shit but a larger price tag & the outright promise o’ obsolescence within a decade.

I doubt it will make my yearly top ten, but in a decade’s time, my number one pick might owe it a lot.

No it won’t, ’cause in a decade’s time all o’ the games made in Game Builder Garage will be gone after Nintendo shuts down their server.

Ars Technica’s article, written by former Darth Vader stick figure owner o’ casino-machine-ruled SMBHQ ( which now apparently redirects to a page ’bout “Mountain House Essential Bucket Freeze Dried Food 24 Serving”, who I guess is the new NC President ), Kyle Orland, is much better written, acknowledging that game makers have existed for decades. In stark contrast, he seems to be trying not to show the slightest bit o’ emotion when writing ’bout this game, which could be either a desire to try & be “objective” as possible or just an utter lack o’ interest. I couldn’t blame the latter.

That said, I find it interesting how the article does acknowledge how “Nintendo maintains control over this interpersonal sharing”, but expresses this purely as an issue o’ keeping kids from experiencing “naughty content”, comparing it to updated policies by Apple to block spam or fake news from their App Store, but without any concern that people may be, you know, censored. I’m not the most hard-core free-speech advocate — I’m too cynical to advocate for anything, — but e’en I think it’d be an issue worth bringing up, specially when so many journalists keep focusing on how this will help the less fortunate get access to programming ( which I still dispute ). ¿So it’s a big problem that poor people can’t make their own games, but it’s not a big problem that poor people can supposedly only make their own games so long as they allow a large corporation carte blanche to delete their work permanently ( I’m very doubtful Nintendo will make it easy to backup your creations, given their track record ) if they don’t like it?

I do have to comment on this part, tho:

After seeing the components that go into even simple in-game objects, our Nintendo rep said he would “never make fun of a moving platform ever again… I get why it’s difficult and challenging and fun and gratifying. I have this to thank for giving me an increased appreciation for what I’m playing.”

Yeah, faceless rep, that isn’t happening. I’ve literally made my own moving platforms with actual code, & I still think they’re hokey & not very intricate — they’re just an if-else statement with adding & subtracting a # from ’nother #5. If creating moving platforms in Game Builder Garage will be complex, then I can’t imagine that players will be impressed so much as get bored by having to do apparently just as much tedium as normal programming & move on to making boss marathons in Super Mario Maker 2.

Next we have Engadget’s “Nintendo’s ‘Game Builder Garage’ is a powerful and complex game creation tool”. Apparently nobody can agree on whether this game will be complex or simple.

There are dozens of gaming tools out there that promise to teach your kids to code, because after all, they’re going to need those precious STEM skills to survive in today’s workforce. I’ve looked at a few of them and passed on many others because well, they didn’t really seem all that fun. Nintendo’s upcoming $30 Game Builder Garage for Switch might actually buck the trend, in that it’s not designed to teach your kids how to code so much as it is teaching about actual game design — not only how games run, but how to make them actually fun.

As much as I complained ’bout the cream-filled 1st article I looked @, a’least it ne’er outright lied ’bout the game ’twas talking ’bout ( well, beyond it being 1st-o’-its-kind ). This article boldly starts out by proclaiming that this game doesn’t teach you how to code, but teaches you creativity itself, something that, ’course, is impossible — paradoxical, in fact, since creativity is defined by its break from teachable patterns. This is specially questionable when we consider that games like New Super Mario Bros. 7261 have demonstrated that Nintendo themselves have forgotten how to be creative or fun.

The company wants you to understand why certain decisions get made in terms of item placement or timing, and use that thinking going forward with your own creations.

If anything, the points this writer makes makes me e’en less genial toward this game. In a time when, if anything, the platforming genre is afflicted with levels that are too busy stumbling o’er each other to follow the rules ( when they’re not just going the other extreme & just screwing o’er players as a trolljob ), abandoning the amicable oddity & spontaneity o’ games like Super Mario Bros. 3 &, later, obscure cult classics like the Wario Land games, I hardly feel solace knowing millions will be indoctrinated into making the same levels with the same generic difficulty increases & the same cliché mechanics like falling platforms.

It’s a lot to take in, which is why Game Builder Garage makes it as cutesy as possible. Instead of dry text or even the colorful block aesthetic that so many other kids’ coding tools use, Nintendo has chosen to represent different functions as cartoony creatures called “Nodons.” Each one does something different, and is perfectly happy to tell you about it. They kind of reminded me of the binomes from the ReBoot cartoon back in the ’90s, because yes, I am old.

Apparently other millennials think you have to still be a child to not be ol’.

Actually, the screenshot this article shows made me realize how fucking creepy these fuckers look. They look like some satire o’ a kids cartoon I’d see in a Kramer’s Ergot comic.

Past those initial lessons Nintendo is taking a rather laissez faire approach to the homebrew community around Game Builder Garage after it comes out in June. There will be no central sharing place for the games you create; instead your creations will be given a unique code you can send to friends and family. Or presumably post places like Reddit, where I imagine people will use subreddits to trade tips and tricks, as well as create “tools” of their own to perform specific functions that people can embed in their own games. Nintendo is fine with all of this, including posting tutorials and real play videos on YouTube.

¿How is this any mo’ “laissez-faire” & why does this writer keep using the term “homebrew” wrong? A “laissez-faire” approach that is truly amiable to the homebrew community would be to make the compiler or virtual machine on which the game works open source & offer creators access to the underlying representation, not give them opaque codes that only work in Nintendo-controlled systems & can only be traded ’tween people who bought the game.

I am relieved to hear that Nintendo is a’least spreading the wealth ’mong their fellow large corporations by giving a free opportunity for large social media conglomerates like Google & Reddit to also add e’en mo’ millions to their Scrooge McDuck mountains o’ gold.

Given Nintendo’s famously stringent and litigious history, one may wonder: What if you decided to use Game Builder Garage to remake Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda? Well, you can, and Nintendo’s fine with that because you still had to use its product to do so — no one’s buying Game Builder Garage to avoid paying for old NES titles, after all. In fact, you’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to share anything, and NES Online already gives you access to most of the old titles you’d want to play anyway. Re-creating old games in Game Builder Garage is more about understanding how they work, and Nintendo hopes that kids raised with Game Builder Garage will eventually take the lessons learned with them into future careers in the game industry.

It’s funny you say that, as it’s just as true that since roms already give people access to most ol’ titles, no one’s playing custom-coded fan ports like the PC port o’ Super Mario 64 or disassemblies to avoid paying for games, since they already have means to do so. ¿So what do we assume people who were already making those games were doing it for?

I hope I’m not the only one slightly grossed out by the line “kids raised with Game Builder Garage”.

( Laughs ). I have to point out this comment:


The problem is, it probably is not available in my language.

Somebody start a petition for Nintendo to release a translation o’ Game Builder Garage in Ancient Greek so we can see Plato rant ’bout all the trolls creating shitty games & their wanton disregard for the laws o’ game design.

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Posted in Video Games, Yuppy Tripe