Spider-Man Story: There Are Two Sides to Every Memetic Breakup
This isn’t a gossip column, but that doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally dabble in whispers from time to time. As such, this week we’ve got a (sort of) breakup, hot news about yet another videogame making its way to TV, and some dirt on Nintendo’s long-awaited online service. Well, kinda. Bottom line: Some stories are way more complicated than they appear. Let’s rock.
There Are Two Sides to Every Memetic Breakup
It’s an old journalistic adage: There are two sides to every story. And in the story of Tyler Schultz, who attempted to use Insomniac’s recent Spider-Man to propose to his then-girlfriend, both of those sides matter a great deal. The story broke this past weekend that Schultz had requested the Easter egg in a small location of the game—a marquee that read “Maddie, will you marry me?” Only to then be “dumped” by his girlfriend before the game came out. It’s a good internet story, tragic and strange and maybe, if you’re heartless, just a little bit funny.
But, of course, that was before we heard from Maddie, who heavily disputes Tyler’s claims, puts their relationship in a pretty bad light, never wanted to be proposed to in a videogame in the first place, and has since been the recipient of intense internet harassment from those who, well, you can just imagine what they think. This story is a microcosm of the gendered harassment that’s still a constant reality in the gaming scene, and how the way we tell stories about games can shape and even incite that ire. I don’t blame the journalists covering this story for not being able to talk to Maddie before going to print, but I do blame the structures of online media that cause us to report fast and, occasionally, sloppily. In cultural situations as messy as the one in games, that can be a recipe for disaster.
Alan Wake Is Going to Be Waking Up on Television
Television’s love affair with games continues. Peter Calloway, showrunner on the critically acclaimed Legion, will be writing and showrunning an adaptation of Alan Wake, the 2010 action/adventure game starring an overworked, addled horror writer drawn into his own terrible creations. The premise, which is already halfway to being a Stephen King novel, is pretty solid TV fare, kooky and weird and structured in an episodic format.
I’m not entirely sure that Alan Wake will work as TV, though, at least not without some changes. While the game clearly adores television, styling itself as a pulpy TV drama, I’m worried that it’s too in love with TV, too much an homage to what came before to really pop without the gameplay to hold it together. But hey, homage sure did work for Stranger Things.
We Finally Know What the Deal Is With Nintendo Switch Online. Mostly. It’s a Start.
Nintendo’s elusive online service is finally launching this month. That’s right, this month! It will begin in North America on Tuesday, September 18. After a seven-day free trial period, players will be able to pay $4 per month (or $8 for three months or $20 a year) for a service that includes online play for a number of titles, online save backups for some titles, and a service that allows players to access a selection of old Nintendo games (currently limited to just the Nintendo Entertainment System, but expansions seem inevitable).
It is, admittedly, a pretty thin service, and forcing players to pay for online connectivity that up until now had been free is going to sting. But it’s also an exceptionally cheap service, compared to the PlayStation and Xbox. Nintendo has always banked on people being willing to shell out a lot to play their old games conveniently. Usually, they’ve been right.
Recommendation of the Week: Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
Some shooters are violent, thrilling, narratively gripping. Some are atmospheric. Some are just clever. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is one of those. Framed as the rollicking tall tale of an old cowboy, Gunslinger is a brightly colored romp that blends Western pastiche with strong humor and stronger shooting. The Call of Juarez series is long and uneven, with some brilliant entries and some, uh, upsettingly bad ones (don’t play Cartel, ever), but Gunslinger stands out as one of the most fun shooters of its, or any, generation. Play it.