Depicting Alcohol Use in a Game

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Re: Depicting Alcohol Use in a Game

Postby Tawmis » Fri Sep 29, 2017 5:00 pm

Datadog wrote:I wanted to use games like Monkey Island, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango as a general guideline, but I think the social climate has changed over 20 years.


I think this is his main concern - that the social climate as to what is "acceptable" has changed. Before, in the 80's, you could find cigarette ads all over your TV guide in the US.
Now you can't. (Or at least the last time I checked).

"Back in the day" it was more socially accepted - and even "cool" if you smoked. The same has been applied to drinking.

So the old school Disney cartoons, and the old school games, probably aren't good examples. :)
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Re: Depicting Alcohol Use in a Game

Postby Datadog » Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:50 pm

Tawmis wrote:Before, in the 80's, you could find cigarette ads all over your TV guide in the US.
Now you can't. (Or at least the last time I checked). "Back in the day" it was more socially accepted - and even "cool" if you smoked. The same has been applied to drinking.


I brought this up with my team at lunch today, and the younger half's takeaway was that drunken comic relief is sort of an "old man" thing. Like, to them, social drinking is fine, but drunk as a punchline isn't.

It sounds like it's all contextual, and the "goal of the work in question" might be the answer. Rum and scotch are suitable background elements in a pirate or detective game because they fit the theme, but if my goal involved a broader age range, I'd only want to show the drinks be used for atmosphere or character, and not require younger players to understand the side-effects of alcohol to get the joke or a puzzle solution.

I'm glad I opened up and got some input on this. After a couple rewrites, I found some creative opportunities to focus on the character's flaws, and now the drink in her hand is more of a symbolic thing. I'll try this method out and see how it goes.
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Re: Depicting Alcohol Use in a Game

Postby Collector » Fri Sep 29, 2017 10:10 pm

Datadog wrote:I brought this up with my team at lunch today, and the younger half's takeaway was that drunken comic relief is sort of an "old man" thing. Like, to them, social drinking is fine, but drunk as a punchline isn't.

Beware of anecdotal evidence, especially from such a small sample. Your "younger half" may not be all that representative of that demographic. I am not saying that they are wrong, just that they might not be on the mark. Remember that drinking and getting drunk has been a common thing for millennia. You cannot compare it to smoking, which has been a common thing for mere few centuries.

That said, even if they perceive it as an "old man" thing, maybe that would still work for your purpose.
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Re: Depicting Alcohol Use in a Game

Postby DeadPoolX » Sat Sep 30, 2017 7:15 am

Datadog wrote:I think this is mainly a sensitive issue in US/Canada. I've worked on a few TV shows with very strict guidelines for behaviour. Like in some shows, you can never show a fist contacting a head, or a hand around a neck.

TV shows are very different from games. When you make a TV show, you have broadcasting rules to deal with and advertisers to appease.

Games, on the other hand, can — and often do — get away with stuff that you could NEVER show on TV, even in Canada after 9PM on Showcase.

Besides... there are still TONS of TV shows where teenagers get drunk (when they're legally too young to do so) and do stupid stuff. It's practically the go-to trope when it comes to writing teens.

My advice is, don't worry about the depiction of alcohol in the game if the story or characters necessitate it.
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Re: Depicting Alcohol Use in a Game

Postby Rath Darkblade » Sat Sep 30, 2017 7:26 am

Collector wrote:
Datadog wrote:I brought this up with my team at lunch today, and the younger half's takeaway was that drunken comic relief is sort of an "old man" thing. Like, to them, social drinking is fine, but drunk as a punchline isn't.

Beware of anecdotal evidence, especially from such a small sample. Your "younger half" may not be all that representative of that demographic. I am not saying that they are wrong, just that they might not be on the mark. Remember that drinking and getting drunk has been a common thing for millennia. You cannot compare it to smoking, which has been a common thing for mere few centuries.

That said, even if they perceive it as an "old man" thing, maybe that would still work for your purpose.


Hmm, this is only half-true. People have been brewing beer or honeyed wine ever since the ancient Babylonians - roughly 5,000 years ago. Archaeologists have found a 3,900-year-old Sumerian poem honouring Ninkasi, the patron goddess of brewing; the poem contains the oldest surviving beer recipe, describing the production of beer from barley via bread. Meanwhile, in China, residue on pottery dating from between 5,400 and 4,900 years ago shows beer was brewed using barley and other grains.

Tobacco smoking is almost as old; the practice was believed to begin as early as 5,000–3,000 BC, when the agricultural product began to be cultivated in Mesoamerica and South America. Many ancient civilizations — such as the Babylonians, the Indians, and the Chinese — burnt incense during religious rituals. Smoking in the Americas probably had its origins in the incense-burning ceremonies of shamans, but was later adopted for pleasure or as a social tool. The smoking of tobacco and various hallucinogenic drugs was used to achieve trances and to come into contact with the spirit world.

The reason that we think of tobacco as more recent than beer is that it was only introduced to Eurasia in the late 17th century. But the practice of smoking, whether tobacco or some other drug (whether legal or not today) is very old indeed - and indeed, incense-burning is still carried on in many different religions.

Maybe I'm a little more tolerant of alcohol use because I've seen it happen so often here in Australia (and it was sometimes even celebrated, which I find very odd). It seems that any holiday here in Australia - Australia Day, Easter, Christmas, horse races... hell, just the weekend - is invariably marked with copious consumption of beer. I think it's strange, but there you go. ;)
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Re: Depicting Alcohol Use in a Game

Postby Collector » Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:44 am

I said common. Smoking was not commonly done across cultures and areas until Europeans picked it up from native Americans and it spread around the world. Smoking may have been an act in certain rites in primitive cultures, but not like what we consider with cigarettes or pipes as an everyday habit. Equating incense burning with smoking is a stretch.
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Re: Depicting Alcohol Use in a Game

Postby BBP » Sat Sep 30, 2017 3:10 pm

You may have noticed the Oktoberfest started last week, which is celebrated more and more in these areas in what I assume is a devious ploy to sell more Dirndls. We also have carnaval here in the south of The Netherlands, which starts on 11 November and runs right through Christmas and NYE until 40 days before Easter, in February or March, and involves and celebrates pretty heavy drinking, annoying music, dress-up and jokes that weren't even funny the first time you heard them. Australia's nowhere near alone in having mass drinking parties.


I translated an interesting article about smoking once, it was first published in 1899.
http://bonny.ploeg.ws/tabak.html
Besides that, I recall an interesting 17th century observation at the Khoi, the Hottentots, a native tribe of South Africa and Namibia. They related how everybody there was smoking, even children as young as 1 year old, and even infants were blown pre-inhaled smoke into their mouths by their mothers. I doubt that's a South American influence.
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Re: Depicting Alcohol Use in a Game

Postby Rath Darkblade » Sun Oct 01, 2017 6:51 am

Hmm... I find it strange and puzzling that - at least according to this book - doctors as long ago as 1899 knew, or at least guessed, that pure nicotine is a very potent poison. Yet people either chose to ignore this fact or blinded themselves to it.

Agatha Christie makes great use of this fact in her book Three Act Tragedy, in which the murderer kills by way of nicotine poisoning. Although her book Three Act Tragedy is a little old-fashioned (well, it was written in 1934), I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who likes detective stories. ;)
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Re: Depicting Alcohol Use in a Game

Postby BBP » Sun Oct 01, 2017 7:19 am

They KNEW, they researched it. There's a section recalling the endless testing.

Nicotine is part of the alcaloid elements, which play such a major part in poison plants. Because she is oxygen-free, she is similar to the poison of conium. Except for the tobacco, there are no known plants that contain nicotine. On the effect of nicotine on the human body, Dr R. Kissling writes:"The nicotine fumes stimulate the mucous membranes of the breathing organs, even the evaporating of a few drops of nicotine makes the air in a room unbreathable. Also the taste of nicotine is of extraordinary sharpness: even very diluted nicotine causes a disgusting, scraping feeling in the throat. This must be considered a pleasant condition, because even the amount of nicotine in a single cigar is sufficient to lethally poison a human, so that the watery extraction of a few grams of tobacco becomes a poisonous drink."

According to the physiological effect nicotine is the deadliest poison of all alcaloids. The deadly dosis is with dogs 1/2 to 2 drops, with rabbits 1/4 drop, and small birds drop down when the beaks of these little animals comes in the proximity of a glass tube dipped in nicotine. With humans, no deadly dose has been properly established yet. However, severe poison symptoms like fainting and cramps are found at 0.003 grams. The nicotine poison initially has effect on the cerebrum, in very small doses revitalising, in larger doses paralysing. It's this revitalising that makes smoking tobacco so enjoyable for people with mental work.


And but also:

The nicotine and the volatile contents (pyridine, collidine, picolline, lutidine), along with hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen sulphur, carbonoxide, water gas, which are in tobacco smoke, will not show their disadvantageous effects until immoderateness causes the borders of tolerance of the organism to be crossed: then appetite decreases and various inconveniences and illnesses show. The strange thing is the fast pulse that smokers in relation to non-smokers - of the same constitution - possess. An average pulse is 81 with smokers, and 71 with non-smokers. Of the mucous membranes, in the first place the ones in the oral cavity and in the larynx which are being stimulated by the smoke. Also the digestive organs suffer. Through dulling of the taste buds the appetite decreases: stomach pains and other unwellnesses follow; also insomnia.



This was 1899. People smoked pipes and cigars. The article relates on how people are worried about the health effects of the upcoming cigarette, particularly the consequences of inhaled paper ashes.
Further on in the article, doctors mention their concerns that cigarettes cause people to smoke too much, like 20 cigarettes a day.

'Course, 20 is a packet...
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Re: Depicting Alcohol Use in a Game

Postby Collector » Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:50 am

Nicotine used to be used as an insecticide, which is the purpose in tobacco, a builtin insecticide to protect it from insects.
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