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Firewatch Revisited

17 Sep, 2017

Were we right? Was I right? This seems like a good time to go back to Firewatch, what with the PewLePepe controversy and all. What did we think about the game? What does this crazy Gamergate craziness mean? Mojo investigates.

First, to get it out of the way, I feel my conclusion was correct: This was a very good game — I’m even going to say very, very good — but not quite excellent. That’s not a reason to write an additional article about it, of course, but I do think it’s worth revisiting certain aspects I should have given more attention to.

"The music is so-so, going from atmospheric to cheesy out-in-the-woods guitar playing. One of the weaker parts of the game.” — This was a completely wrong conclusion, and I assume I was on acid while coming up with it. Having later picked up the LP and having enjoyed it immensely, I think I might have had expected a different soundtrack at the time, which is not a good reason to pan anything. Take a step back, toss away expectations, and you often see something unexpectedly great. That, to me, is Firewatch’s soundtrack.

Voices, as I pointed out, were great, but particularly Rich Sommer should have been given more attention for his work as Henry. The actor — recently awesome-ing it up in Wet Hot American Summer and Glow — does something absolutely special for the flawed protagonist. Cissy Jones, too, does a great job. They make the game in many ways, and that was by design: find actors that emphasize the characters.

That’s all audio, I suppose, but that’s an important aspect of any game — walking simulator as evil tongues will call it in this case — and I feel somewhat like an idiot for not having emphasized it properly in my original review.

That’s not to say the flaws are not there: a lot of going back and forth without much reason for it; oddities like not being able to traverse small rocks… But those don’t really matter that much, as the story and dialogue are great. The atmosphere is absolutely excellent.

On the off-chance you didn’t pick up the game because of a Mojo review — we do pretty much run your life I would assume — you should get it now. It’s a good time to do so, with Gamergate being what they are with negative-review-bombing and all. And what a segue that is to…

Gamers — what the actual what?

I mean, good grief, I think here at Mojo we’ve made our opinions about Gamergate clear. If you’re part of this white, angry, self-pitying for no reason male clique, then get out of here and get help. Or don’t read this. And before you (for so many reasons) get snarky about that, yes, we both got blacklisted (or as I see it, whitelisted) and attackedattacked I say! — on the internet for being normal, empathetic human beings. It was our finest moment.

Why would anyone support an anti-semitic racist like PewLePepe? It’s strange. I’m with South Park that PC-ness has gotten a bit off-track, but what’s happening here is not what they’re talking about — Gamergate is not satire. It doesn’t matter if the show featured the aforementioned racist on their show. None of this was part of the original point

PewLePepe needs help, and we should pity him. When a person’s reaction to anything is yelling a historically horrible word is the sign of someone in dire need for mental health care. Worse, so, are those who defend him, who had the time to think of what happened, yet still considers it OK. That’s scary.

DMCA and Campo Santo

I find DMCA — Digital Millennium Copyright Act — to be a smack in the face of free speech, but it’s here and we have to live with it. For now. It’s clear Campo Santo does not love it either, but when faced with the challenge of getting Firewatch removed from PewLePepe’s YouTube channel, it’s the weapon they chose to arm themselves with. The nuclear option. And in this case, I kind of get it.

As do other detractors of the DMCA. A discussion is being held around the action, but it has been interesting seeing very few people (Gamergate aside) screaming outrage. With the choice of two evils, DMCA made sense. Hopefully, it’s a good stopgap and nothing more. Creators should not have to be put in a position of having to see their work being utilized to make racists an incredible amount of money — PewLeMeeehhh is pulling in more than $10 million a year.

Yeah, it’s all odd. My take, for what is it worth, can be reduced to three thoughts:

Going through Firewatch, it was better than I remembered. Play it if you haven’t. Give it an honest review on whatever service you bought it from — Gamergate are polluting the waters with their negatives.

Gamergate is in general poisonous. Don’t victimize yourself if you’re not a victim. At Mojo we might be snarky at times, but I’d like to think we’re not downright angry, at least not against the worlds (rather mostly against ourselves). We’re privileged people; let’s not forget that.

PewLePepe is sadly the face of gaming now, and he’s making us all look bad. Show sympathy or empathy or whatever for him. It’s fine to be angry — clearly Mojo in general is — but we can still hope his almost 60 million viewers will get an idol who actually says something good at some point.

Mojo, still, is here for you, admitting to an occasional fault or error, and making that all OK with a general rant on the world. That is how we’ve survived for 20 years.

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