As I’ve written in the past, Twitter Hulks are an increasingly common sight on the web, their all-caps pronouncements smashing topics from feminism to food. The Hulk as specialist is a commentator unrestricted by the usual boundaries of etiquette, bringing passion to whatever turf they claim. I asked Hulk Game Critic to drop in (virtually, of course, as hulk-smashing isn’t covered in our site insurance) and chat a bit about what brought him into cyberspace and where he thinks the future of gaming is heading.
Hulk Game Critic is a recent arrival to Twitter, but he’s already attracted attention. He’s engaged in conversations with celebrities from the game design world and offered his comments on everything from Pokemon to Portal. Moving on from short-form smashing, he recently started a blog where he maintains an ongoing “do not smash” list. He’s even gotten accolades from Jane McGonigal, who tweeted that he was “so hulky yet so smart.” He occasionally relies on his counterpart to fill in the gaps that all-capital pronouncements tend to leave behind.
A: Hi Hulk Game Critic, thanks for joining us.
H: BEFORE HULK ANSWERS QUESTIONS! HULK WOULD LIKE TO INTRODUCE HIS BROTHER IN ARMS CLAYTON!
C: A little over top… nonetheless hi! Everyone here can just call me Clay…
A: Why is Twitter such a popular space for hulks? How did you two end up there?
H: HULK GETS INSTANT FEEDBACK + LOW BARRIER OF ENTRY!
C: We are both able to talk to game designers with relative ease. It’s the greatest experience we both have ever had. That object that has been placed so vicariously on that pedestal is talking to us, in a way they go from being a symbol to being someone you can joke with. Could be anything from “DLC is teh evil!!” to who is the more sexy character? Ezio or Altair? With twitter, you could hear someone say something on TV ,the radio, a magazine, and let them know what you think at that exact moment. It’s a revolution that makes us both listen and speak to our audience.
H: SILENT PEOPLE NOW ON PEDESTAL!
C: That as well… Those of us who feel passion about a subject, but haven’t necessarily had the right medium or a place to speak now have twitter! We can go from being the anonymous guy who accidentally lost the Bronx Zoo cobra to being the next Caboose! I just pray we learn from our mistakes, and don’t bring about the second coming of dickwolves…
A: What made you interested in smashing the gaming industry in particular?
H: HULK HAS BEEN WATCHING INDUSTRY ALL OF HULKS LIFE! HULK HAS SEEN THEM STUMBLE ALONG FOR LONG TIME NOW! HULK WANTS CHANGE!
C: Hulk and I have been avid players for years now and are preparing to join the industry. What ultimately fueled the anger in our heart was the ridiculousness of 2010. We saw studios being canceled left and right, companies experimenting with some very dark things like 15 dollar map packs, the explosion of social media, the rising of twitter, talks of metrics, gamification, the list goes on and on!
H:MANY THINGS TO SMASH, MANY GOOD THINGS NOT TO SMASH, TOO LITTLE TIME!
C: Yes Hulk exactly, and what was even more surprising is that other industries are now following us closely, just like a creepy stalker … our every move is now being followed. For once the game industry is in the spotlight with very little negative reaction, no school shootings being blamed on us, or lawyers in Florida trying to ban video games.
This however, showed us another problem…. from a PR perspective our industry is making a huge amount of mistakes. Recently we’ve become so invested in micro transactions, pushing out as many products as humanly possible as fast as possible that we don’t spend anywhere near enough time watching people’s reactions. Companies like EA, Activision, and Valve (yes, even Valve) say they have our best interest at heart, but do not in any way act like it, or watch what they say for that matter. In the end, we both feel like the industry needs to grow up a little, communicate with its audience more, and ultimately do a better job when they are sitting on that pedestal.
H: ” ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS SAY ONE STUPID THING ON THE INTERNET FOR ALL UR BASE R BELONG TO SOMEONE ELSE!!”
A: Since you brought it up, “gamification” is one of those buzzwords that tends to bring out the smashing in lots of people. How do you feel about gamification?
H: : )
C: We both find it to be a very exciting avenue for game design. We were both even contacted for further insight into gamification, and game theory around gamification so both Hulk, and I now think it’s the future…. both the good and the bad. (Extra Credits did some amazing work on it)
H: CREDIT CARDS…..GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!
C: Down boy! Hulk is rather apprehensive about going to deeply into gamification. We both don’t like how credit card companies and transportation have already adapted. We just pray designers use some common sense before showing them how to get “Chevos” on their master cards.
H: IF THAT DAY COMES… HULK WILL HARASS YOU ON TWITTER!
FOLLOW THANE’S EXAMPLE!
MAKE WORLD BRIGHTER PLACE BEFORE LIFE OVER ,NOT DARKER!
A: As long as they aren’t involving credit cards, do hulks like “Chevos”?
H: BLEEP BLOOP!
C: We looove chevos! What we don’t like is when we play through the whole game, do a whole s***** load of stuff and only get 3% on the trophy list / gamerscore. To avoid this we advise some kind of pacing. Some trophies are earned as you play through the story, second set is for something special that required effort, and final bit require things like multiplayer, and increased difficulty.
H: HULK USED TO PET MOUSE IN THE SKINNER BOX EVERYDAY!
…. UNTIL PETA YELLED AT HULK FOR WHAT THEY CALLED EXCESSIVE PETTING ! 🙁
A: What makes games a good method for smashing?
H: HULK WAS ONCE TOLD YOU CAN SMASH THE WORLD BUT YOU HAD BETTER HAVE A GOOD WAY TO FIX IT AFTERWORDS!
C: Ahh, Adjunct Hulk is never going to forgive us now…
Hulk is referring to how we had an argument with adjunct hulk on who can or cannot be a hulk…. I also believe Hulk is trying to say that games at the top of their game are trying to push forward messages whether it be ” there is no cake”, ” we can save the world”, “love conquers all things” ” I’ll need an army or at least a really good team”, or perhaps even “Hats and keys are awesome” most of the messages are rather ridiculous… having an equally ridiculous green dude running around on twitter smashing these topics will ultimately make the messages better… perhaps even simpler.
H: INCEPTION THAT SH@#%!
C: That was rather subtle for Hulk…..it should also be stated that game designers are still people… it’s better to smash an idea, or game then smash an individual. Unless they really REALLY have earned your ire. At that point however there will be many others involved with the smashing , and its becomes a type of leisure activity. “#not intended to be a factual statement”, “this is not a bill”, “dear john”,” Dilbert is a sexist”, and “don’t be a dickwolf” all come to mind.
A: So, what video games does Hulk find particularly smash-worthy?
H: HULKS LATEST VICTIM IS THQ AND RED FACTION : BATTLE GROUND!
C: When we decide to review a game or smash it… it doesn’t just depend on how good the game is. It also depends on how the PR was done, how the team responded to questions/ what exactly are they saying, the experience of the game, and finally how both Hulk, and I feel after finishing the game.
H: FOR THE MANY FAILURES THERE WILL BE SOME WHO SUCCEED! SLAM BOLT SCRAPPERS HAS EARNED HULKS RESPECT!
C: An excellent example of how to win in Hulk court would be to play Slam Bolt Scrappers. The game took the basic idea of Tetris , then transformed it into a fist fight with an obsession for demolition. They took a very serious risk by experimenting with more then one genre, and is ultimately why a lot of titles like Red Faction : Battleground don’t get the reviews the developers feel they so rightly deserve/justified to hold. They stick so hard to existing themes, and attributes that they forget they need to constantly evolve and change.
H : SHOULD GO ON RECORD THAT MAKING A GAME THAT IS A SUPPOSED TIE-IN TO ANOTHER GAME IS NOT THE DEFINITION OF INNOVATION!
A: What upcoming ideas, hardware or games are you looking forward to? Why?
H: THE SEA OF SEQUELS IS COMING YET AGAIN! HULK IS KINDA EXCITED!…..SORT OF
C: Hulk certainly enjoyed what the Mass Effect, and Assassins creed series has done. I liked them too, however the real golden gem I never expected were things like Valchyria, Steambot, and Infinite Space. These 5 titles didn’t just handle a genre or theme well, but they also touched on things you normally never see like character development, morality, seamless music fitting to the theme, puzzles, mystery, suspense, Romance, Cell Shading, and a heavy level of depth in the storyline, and gameplay. Basically they were a full package. When we played these games we were emotionally attached, and beginning to wonder what exactly we had gotten ourselves into. So right now I just really want to see proper sequels on their native platforms for these titles.
C: Alot of the talk I’ve heard on re designing old programs in “certain” industries has been rather exciting! They’re talking about stuff game designers have either theorized done, or thrown on cutting room floor because they said it was impossible. Makes me smile to hear they were wrong. Industry-wise the play with your mind conversations have been interesting, holograms are the future has also peaked my interest, AR is always a novel, and the recent obsession with metrics scares me. (We don’t need math numbers deciding a storyline.)
A: Do you think the audience for games is changing? Or likely to change?
H: AUDIENCE HAS GONE FROM QUIET OBSERVER TO ONE THAT OPENLY SMASHES WHEN YOU DISAPPOINT!
C:The gaming audience is a substance full of form and fluidity. All it takes is a simple ripple for anything to happen. This can result in either massive successes like Steambot Chronicles and Valchyria Chronicles receiving massive boosts in sales through word of mouth, or absolute failures like what happened with Battleground…. at least THQ was able to vent. Smashing your audience however, is never advised nor should it be practiced.
H: AUDIENCE IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING AND GROWING! MEANS WE DEVELOPERS HAVE TO BE MORE AND MORE CAREFUL WITH WHAT WE DECIDE TO SHOW THAT AUDIENCE! CANT GO AROUND SELLING EARTHQUAKE GAME IN JAPAN!
A: What role do you think young designers will play in changing the future of gaming? Or the future of society?
H: THEY’LL SMASH THE OLD DESIGNERS WHO REFUSE TO CONFORM OR CHANGE! “TOGETHER OUR CRESCENDO SHALL BURN THE DARKNESS CLEAN FROM THE SKY!”
C: Hulk shame on you! That was a horribly morbid Mass Effect 2 reference!
Regardless Hulk is right, The students leaving colleges right now did not need to figure out game design the hard way. We also have the benefit of constant expansion since companies can exists of 50 – 200 where once it was only 1… maybe 2 per project. We also have the opportunity to watch the industry, and discuss it every day. No serious risk, no chance of bankruptcy, and we don’t have to fear many deadlines. If we took the learning seriously we should know about most of the major problems that have showed up in the game industry, and how the industry responded to them.
This base of knowledge is essential for the AAA studio, is what made the indie scene so successful, and is ultimately what the industries that watch us are going to need if they wish to use game design for other endeavors.