Q:Help me out. I don't understand how people could be offended by Luftrauser's graphic style. Yes, the nazis were bad but these are cartoonish caricatures in an arcadey video game where you can fly a knife plane. There is no plot. I'm usually with people on these things but I'm totally lost. Let me rephrase, I can understand why people could be offended, but I don't understand why there is an uproar. No artist should cave because some people aren't happy. Not trying to fight, just confused.
Let’s start unpacking this.
"I don’t understand how people could be offended by Luftrauser’s graphic style."
The first step is realizing you might not understand someone else’s position but can respect them for having it. That’s basic empathy. You don’t have to agree with them, but given your life experiences are different from this other person, it’s possible to, at least, realize they have a reason for it.
Now, let’s look at what Elizabeth Simins (a terrific artist whose work you might be familiar with on Kotaku) and Rob Dubbin (a writer on The Colbert Report) originally said. From what I understand, Simins started publicly talking about this issue, and Dubbin later came to her defense.
I have a question about Luftrausers: is there some political point to playing as nazis or is it supposed to be funny?— Elizabeth Simins (@ElizSimins)April 4, 2014
Aaaand I feel like it’s a bit weird that there’s this v popular indie game where you play as funny nazis and nobody is talking about that?— Elizabeth Simins (@ElizSimins)April 4, 2014
It’s easy to give the benefit of the doubt to Beloved Indies but I’m telling you I’ve heard lots of fans say “you play as nazis, right?”— Elizabeth Simins (@ElizSimins)April 4, 2014\
So I guess if you are playing Luftrausers, just at least keep in mind what it would feel like for a Jew to play it? Because ugh— Elizabeth Simins (@ElizSimins)April 4, 2014
Simins does not ask for developer Vlambeer to change the way Luftrausers looks, but simply raises the question about whether its aesthetic could be reasonably seen as leveraging nazi imagery in a way that’s been glossed over because the game is so damn fun to play. (Which it is.) This is what we call criticism, and it’s especially important to be critical of that which we love. That’s often the hardest.
A few hours later, Dubbin weighed in on Twitter, as well.
so luftrausers: as a jew, what offends me is the aesthetic. as a game designer, what offends me is the absence of critical distance from it.— Rob Dubbin (@robdubbin)April 4, 2014
most jews of my generation grew up hearing “never again” from their relatives and hebrew schools. easy to dismiss as pablum, but here we are— Rob Dubbin (@robdubbin)April 4, 2014
i don’t believe vlambeer are nazi sympathizers or anything vile like that. seems more to me like *fascination*. which is its own problem.— Rob Dubbin (@robdubbin)April 4, 2014
more broadly, it’s all of our problem that it’s only coming up now + normalized to where “nazi stuff” is at worst a “con” in a review— Rob Dubbin (@robdubbin)April 4, 2014
and you know i was a part of that, in the sense that i only talked about this privately until @elizsimins was braver than i was and spoke up— Rob Dubbin (@robdubbin)April 4, 2014
so: let’s not pile on vlambeer, let’s definitely not pile on @elizsimins. the cure for this is education/awareness/sensitivity. never again.— Rob Dubbin (@robdubbin)April 4, 2014
A-ha. Dubbin underscores the subtext of the aesthetic content in Luftrausers: maybe we’ve become desensitized to nazi imagery as a culture, likely in a way less true in Jewish circles for…obvious reasons. This big picture cultural question isn’t easy to digest but worth asking.
Vlambeer doesn’t have to respond to this. Dubbin and Simins expressed their opinions, and that could have easily been the end of this. But Rami Ismail has proven himself to be an intensely empathetic figure who is OK listening to the opinions of others, even if it’s critical of his own work. It’s not easy to acknowledge criticism, and even harder to grant it any merit.
Yet, Ismail does exactly this in a blog post. There’s far too much to quote, but here’s the part that underscores what I’m talking about:
"We do have to accept that our game could make some people uncomfortable. We’re extremely sad about that, and we sincerely apologise for that discomfort.
The fact is that no interpretation of a game is ‘wrong’. When you create something, you leave certain implications of what you’re making. We can leave our idea of what it is in there, and for us, the game is about superweapons. We think everybody who plays LUFTRAUSERS can feel that.
But even more so in an interactive medium, we do have to accept that no way of reading those implications is ‘false’ – that if someone reads between the lines where we weren’t writing, those voids can be filled by the player, or someone else. If we accept there’s no wrong interpretation of a work, we also have to accept that some of those interpretations could not be along the lines of what we’re trying to create.”
From there, Ismail goes on to explain why he disagrees with Dubbin and Simins, even while acknowledging their opinion is a valid interpretation. That line is so critically important to having a reasonable, nuanced dialogue about difficult subjects, and it’s the part we often miss out on.
It often feels people confuse “criticism” with “censorship” in a way that is never intended when those speaking up are explaining their views.
It is unlikely Luftrausers will undergo any major aesthetic change as a result of what Simins and Dubbin said, but the conclusion of this exchange brings a better understanding of what Vlambeer intended by creating Luftrausers. No one has to agree with either side, but our understanding of Luftrausers’ place in game culture was deepened.
That’s not controversy. That’s criticism, and I wish we had way more of it.
Yay, thoughtful game criticism and thoughtful developer response!
Run an ecommerce site? You better know who your ideal customer is and tailor your experience to them.
I despise reg gates. You do too. So stop using them.
Don’t adhere to grammar rules if breaking them helps your users quickly understand what the hell is going on.
Break grammar rules for clarity and speed. In moderation.
Text lists first (more information density), but after a drill down, images help users differentiate items.
Good enough > in depth for most things.
Unless faced with life-changing information, most site visitors won’t read all of the content provided but settle for a “good-enough” answer. Better sorting and clearer writing satisfy users without exhausting the limited time they’re willing to spend on a website.
10K words on a complete revamp of a B2B app’s product and business positioning. So many things to love about it.
This button confuses me.
Super informative article about when to use UDP or TCP in game development.
Biased sample is biased.
Now’s the time to talk about sampling. Large candies are easy to see and to grab, while small candies fall through the gaps between the large ones and end up at the bottom of the bag. You can draw analogies to doing a random sample by going to the mall or by sending out an email survey and seeing who responds. Ask, How could you do a random sample. It won’t be obvious to the students that the way to do a random sample is to number each of the candies from 1 to 100 and pick numbers at random. Also, as noted above, this is an example you can use later in the semester to illustrate bias and standard error.
Great interview with Billy Beane. Useful and applicable to more than just baseball.
“Baseball, business, these are games of cycles,” said Beane. “What you want is to minimize the down cycles. Some days you’re smart and some days you’re dumb. When you’re wrong, don’t let that freeze you. Keep going and continue to make what you think are the right decisions, even if they are tough decisions.”
Another in the genre of, “Don’t do it just because other people are doing it.”
Only use facets (e.g. secondary filters) if your data set is large enough and complex enough to warrant it. Otherwise, you’re adding complexity to the UX and UI without reaping a commensurate benefit.
The terms “filters” and “faceted navigation” are often used interchangeably; while related, these concepts have important differences. Both are tools to help users narrow down large sets of content, but faceted navigation—while more flexible and powerful—is more difficult to create and maintain.
tl;dr: don’t just follow UX fads, find out if they are appropriate for the task at hand.
Summary: Endless scrolling saves people from having to attend to the mechanics of pagination in browsing tasks, but is not a good choice for websites that support goal-oriented finding tasks.
Interested in learning more about typography but don’t know where to start? This guide is for you. It links to a bunch of great typography tutorials, places them into nice categories, and collects them all in one guide.
There are many tutorials on the web on how to become better at typography, but not all of them are of high quality. Therefore I thought of gathering many tutorials that I could, that I believe create value and offer you something more than just a trick. Learning typography is important and your journey starts here, today.
Related to the previous post. And oldie but goodie.
Done is the engine of more.