Designing Police Quest V.

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adeyke
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Re: Designing Police Quest V.

Post by adeyke » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:06 am

Rath Darkblade wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:33 am
As for police misbehaviour, the obvious question - the one that everyone has been asking since the days of Juvenal in his Satires, in the early days of the Roman Empire - is this: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards? That is, when the police break the law, who will police them? Who should have the power to stand up and tell the emperor that he has no clothes on? (Or, as Lisa says: Who will police the police?)
Er, while Juvenal did come up with that phrase, it wasn't actually about the police, but about marital fidelity. That is, in the context the phrase was used, it was saying that you can't have guards making sure your wife doesn't cheat on you because she might cheat on you with those guards.

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Re: Designing Police Quest V.

Post by MusicallyInspired » Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:59 am

Whatever happened to just playing games for escapism?
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Re: Designing Police Quest V.

Post by adeyke » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:06 pm

I think there two broad views when it comes to these matters.

One of them is about escapism. That is, the real world may be terrible in many ways, but that's no reason to replicate that in games. Games are able to just omit those bad parts, either to let the player just forget about them while playing the game or to show a vision of what a world without those bad parts could be like.

The other view, however, is that this constitutes whitewashing, and that it means pretending those problems don't exist. This can both be disrespectful of the people who are/were affected by them and can let others think that these people must not have it that bad. Even if people aren't thinking about the messages in the game, they'll still absorb them subconsciously. Also, too much of idealization might make the game's world harder to accept as believable. And a game's usefulness for escapism is going to vary a lot with what the game is saying and who the audience is. Just to state the obvious, if someone is having a hard life because of the police, then they're not going to get any escapism from a game that paints the police as perfect heroes.

Now, this isn't an either/or situation. Games generally aren't 100% escapism or 100% realism; they'll be somewhere in the middle.

And PQ in particular isn't really high on the escapism scale. They're about a town invaded by Crime and Drugs. These can strike anyone. Sonny Bond's significant other is first abducted, then brutally attacked. Another officer's daughter dies of an overdose. The police in the games are heroes, but any victories are only temporary. Also, because you need to constantly follow police procedures or face a game-over, and because you're given very little agency, it's not much of a power fantasy.

Also, PQ3 did have a case of an officer abusing their authority and suspects. It just wasn't portrayed as any sort of systemic issue.

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Re: Designing Police Quest V.

Post by Tawmis » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:51 pm

adeyke wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:06 pm
Now, this isn't an either/or situation. Games generally aren't 100% escapism or 100% realism; they'll be somewhere in the middle.
And PQ in particular isn't really high on the escapism scale. They're about a town invaded by Crime and Drugs. These can strike anyone. Sonny Bond's significant other is first abducted, then brutally attacked. Another officer's daughter dies of an overdose. The police in the games are heroes, but any victories are only temporary. Also, because you need to constantly follow police procedures or face a game-over, and because you're given very little agency, it's not much of a power fantasy.
Also, PQ3 did have a case of an officer abusing their authority and suspects. It just wasn't portrayed as any sort of systemic issue.
It all goes back to what you take out of the game.
One person could see that it's not complete escapism in Police Quest, because of the murders, the drugs, etc.

But myself, in my youth (when these games first came out), I was playing them just to play them, because they were Sierra games. There really wasn't an internet or 3 million channels on TV (it was like 30 channels, at the most - and some of those were pay channels). So it was much easier to be disconnected from the events around the world. So back then, I was literally playing it because it was a Sierra game - nothing more, nothing less. I wholly admit how oblivious I was about the world beyond San Diego, back then.

But now, older - I can still see it as a complete escapism, because you're controlling a hero and doing something about it. Where as (unless you're actually an Officer of the law, or something along those lines) - you hear on the news about kidnappings, murder, etc., and typically can't do much about it. So Police Quest, in this case, puts that power in your hands to at least, through this manner of escape - do something about crime (albeit, in a fictional world).

So it really is depending on how one views the game they're diving into.

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Re: Designing Police Quest V.

Post by adeyke » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:08 pm

I can definitely empathize with having been oblivious andplaying games just because they were Sierra.

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Re: Designing Police Quest V.

Post by Rath Darkblade » Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:04 am

adeyke wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:06 am
Rath Darkblade wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:33 am
As for police misbehaviour, the obvious question - the one that everyone has been asking since the days of Juvenal in his Satires, in the early days of the Roman Empire - is this: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards? That is, when the police break the law, who will police them? Who should have the power to stand up and tell the emperor that he has no clothes on? (Or, as Lisa says: Who will police the police?)
Er, while Juvenal did come up with that phrase, it wasn't actually about the police, but about marital fidelity. That is, in the context the phrase was used, it was saying that you can't have guards making sure your wife doesn't cheat on you because she might cheat on you with those guards.
Absolutely! I agree. There was no police as we know it during the days of Juvenal.

The thing is, though, I think this phrase applies just as easily to the police today. In Juvenal's day, if you hired guards to stop your wife from any hanky-panky (so to speak), then you didn't want them to indulge in it themselves - hence "who will guard the guards?" But the saying equally applies to the Praetorian Guard, who were the Emperor's bodyguard. They were famous for being corrupt, as well as abusing their power by lording it over the general populace. Who will save us from the Praetorian Guard?

The same principle applies to corrupt police today. Most police, I hope, are as honourable and good as Sonny Bonds. As for the others... who will guard the guards? :|

In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels (at least those that feature the City Watch), this is often rephrased as "Who watches the watchmen?" Commander Sir Samuel Vimes, who commands the watch, has the answer: "I do. We all watch each other, all the time." While he tolerates petty thievery among the watch (because so much worse goes on), he doesn't tolerate corruption or bribes, even small ones. I wish more police officers were like him. :?

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Re: Designing Police Quest V.

Post by adeyke » Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:05 am

Oh, I certainly agree that the modern concept of the phrase, about authority needing to be held accountable, is a very important one. I just wouldn't want to give Juvenal too much credit for that, if he was really just talking about how untrustworthy women are.

The Watch books are among my favorites in the Discworld series. I really like Vimes. But I also think the fantasy setting makes it clear that this isn't supposed to be a realistic depiction.

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Re: Designing Police Quest V.

Post by Rath Darkblade » Sat Jun 16, 2018 8:08 pm

Oh? I'm not sure. I thought the Discworld watch is pretty realistic - after all, if you substitute the word "human" for "dwarf", "troll", "zombie", "vampire", "golem" etc., then the Ankh-Morpork City Watch could be a pretty modern police force. They have:

- A forensic department (i.e. Cheri Littlebottom);
- Cops on the beat (whoever happens to be on the beat - most often it's Carrot and Angua, or Colon and Nobby);
- CCTV footage (Constable Downspout, the gargoyle);
- A Traffic Division (Colon and Nobby);
- A plain-clothes division (the Cable Street Particulars);
- Airborne Division (Corporal Buggy Swires and his buzzard);
- A search warrant/ram (Detritus and his crossbow - i.e. a siege ballista - which also doubles as crowd control! :lol:);
- Riot police (everyone all together!) :lol:


...and so on. There's even a Watch Academy to match the real-world police academies. The only things they lack, compared with a modern police force, are things like computers and air conditioning... ;)

So I'm not sure what you mean by "fantasy setting". Sure, in the first book ("Guards! Guards!") they deal with a dragon that's been released by a rogue wizard. But after that, they deal with a gun ("Men at Arms"), a secret poisoner ("Feet of Clay"), international politics and racism/speciesism ("Jingo"), political crime ("The Fifth Elephant"), a mass murderer ("Night Watch"), murder and racism (or speciesism, in "Thud!"), and 'crime in the countryside' ("Snuff"). These are all things that the modern police deal with every day - albeit done by humans rather than dwarves and trolls, etc. :)

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Re: Designing Police Quest V.

Post by MusicallyInspired » Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:19 pm

So adeyke, do you think it's impossible to enjoy a game completely unplugged and separated from reality, or do you just think it shouldn't be possible and that one must always consider ramifications in reality while enjoying fiction?
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Re: Designing Police Quest V.

Post by adeyke » Sat Jun 16, 2018 11:03 pm

Rath Darkblade wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 8:08 pm
Oh? I'm not sure. I thought the Discworld watch is pretty realistic - after all, if you substitute the word "human" for "dwarf", "troll", "zombie", "vampire", "golem" etc., then the Ankh-Morpork City Watch could be a pretty modern police force. They have:

- A forensic department (i.e. Cheri Littlebottom);
- Cops on the beat (whoever happens to be on the beat - most often it's Carrot and Angua, or Colon and Nobby);
- CCTV footage (Constable Downspout, the gargoyle);
- A Traffic Division (Colon and Nobby);
- A plain-clothes division (the Cable Street Particulars);
- Airborne Division (Corporal Buggy Swires and his buzzard);
- A search warrant/ram (Detritus and his crossbow - i.e. a siege ballista - which also doubles as crowd control! :lol:);
- Riot police (everyone all together!) :lol:


...and so on. There's even a Watch Academy to match the real-world police academies. The only things they lack, compared with a modern police force, are things like computers and air conditioning... ;)

So I'm not sure what you mean by "fantasy setting". Sure, in the first book ("Guards! Guards!") they deal with a dragon that's been released by a rogue wizard. But after that, they deal with a gun ("Men at Arms"), a secret poisoner ("Feet of Clay"), international politics and racism/speciesism ("Jingo"), political crime ("The Fifth Elephant"), a mass murderer ("Night Watch"), murder and racism (or speciesism, in "Thud!"), and 'crime in the countryside' ("Snuff"). These are all things that the modern police deal with every day - albeit done by humans rather than dwarves and trolls, etc. :)
Discworld is a fantasy setting. I... don't think I should need to explain that. It is very clear and unambiguously not the same world we live in.

Now, a big theme of those books, especially the ones set in Ankh-Morpork, is modern life and technology, but the books play with those concepts. The technologies themselves aren't the same (e.g. imps with paints and paintbrushes as cameras, rather than photosensitive film), and the setting isn't the same (even though there are computers, PDAs, and cinemas, the overall technology level is still very much pre-modern; there are no cars or electricity, for example). This sort of disconnect is a source of humor (the books are, to a significant extent, comedic), but it's also a way to shed preconceptions and really think about those technologies (i.e. we take a lot of technology for granted, but what effects would it have on a society that didn't previously have anything like it?).

That also goes for the Watch. Much of what you listed was developed over the course of the series, and we can generally see some of reasoning for why that thing is needed and what benefits that particular solution to the problem has. The pre-Vimes Night Watch we see in the eponymous book is very different. Overall, the sense is absolutely not "this is a realistic portrayal of how police works; if you read the books, you'll have a good understanding of how a typical police force operates" and much more "suppose we had a fantasy world but wanted to introduce a modern police system to it, inventing and building it from the ground up; what might that look like?".

For a work that's purporting to realistically depict something in our actual world, it's possible to point out when that portrayal isn't accurate. For a work that isn't at all trying to do that, however, such a critique would be nonsensical.
MusicallyInspired wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:19 pm
So adeyke, do you think it's impossible to enjoy a game completely unplugged and separated from reality, or do you just think it shouldn't be possible and that one must always consider reality when enjoying fiction?
I think it will neither please nor surprise you that my answer is: "it's complicated". If you want a simple "yes" or "no" answer, I can't give you one.

Everything about who are (our personalities, our beliefs, our values, etc.) ultimately comes from either our genetics or our experiences. There's no doubt that we can be affected by our experiences. And there isn't any reason to think the games we play would somehow be excluded from that. I'm not making a simplistic "playing this game will cause you to have this belief" argument, but the cumulative effect of all our experiences, including the games we play, will shape who we are.

The distinction between what we perceive as fiction and what we perceive as reality is also not clear-cut as we might like. I mean, it's easy to play Police Quest and understand that there is no Lytton or Sonny Bonds and to understand that the events that happen in the game aren't things that actually happened in real life. However, the way we make sense of the game is by matching the concepts within it to those we already understand. That is, we already know what cars, humans, the police, and sadness are, so we can understand them when they show up in PQ. Of course, there's also the understanding that things in fiction work differently from those in real life, but here's where things get fuzzy. If we see something in a work of fiction, can we be certain that we're only updating our model of how that works in fiction, or does that also affect our model of it works in real life? I'd be willing to bet that there are many things you think you know about the world even though the only source of that information is something you know to be fiction.

And when it comes to the politics, it's easy to not notice them when you already agree with them, or if you at least aren't strongly opposed to them. And whether it's good to do that or not depends on the nature of the politics.

I'm also no purist. I play some games I know are trash, and if I did try to be really selective and only play games with nothing objectionable in them, I'd have real trouble finding them.

I suppose I could draw a parallel to food. All food has some nutritional value, which will do various things to the body. It would be best for a person's health if they ate such food that they got all the nutrients they needed, as little harmful stuff as possible, as well as the right number of calories. However, understandably, not everyone has the time, money, or opportunity to spend on getting such a perfect meal. And yet, if someone argued that it really didn't matter at all what's in the food, as long as it tastes good, that would be misguided, and I'd be concerned for their health. And if a food manufacturer argued that their food was only about taste and that the whole concept of nutritional value doesn't apply to it, they'd just lying.

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Re: Designing Police Quest V.

Post by adeyke » Sun Jun 17, 2018 7:12 am

I should probably clarify some things:

My point isn't to shame people for what games they play (or what food they eat) or to say that this indicates a moral failing. I'm just rejecting the idea that what we consume doesn't affect us at all. And even then, I'm not saying that there's a simple causal relationship of "If you play this game, you will definitely think this way". It's more about a slow, cumulative effect of everything we experience.

But even that wasn't my initial point in this thread, which was just I personally might find a further game unpalatable if it seeks to idealize the police while simultaneously purporting to be a realistic depiction.

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Re: Designing Police Quest V.

Post by MusicallyInspired » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:21 am

And you personally can't separate what possibly might be happening in reality with the police with what I think everyone (except maybe criminals) agrees they should be? I guess my question is why does everything that resembles reality have to address real world issues and why do you think that everybody thinks this way? I mean, if you can't stomach something that is, to you, so unrealistic or ignorant then there's nothing wrong with you not playing it. I don't agree with you but that's you're choice. There's still plenty of other people who would. I just don't think your opinion that reality has to be taken into account when creating a game, fiction, or other work of art is shared by the majority at all. Of course, I could be wrong. Are you saying it's morally ambiguous to ignore real world issues in this scenario? Do you think good cops or even an entire good police force (like the one in Lytton) don't exist anywhere? If not, what's wrong with propping up and giving some honour to an example of what we all want the police force at large to be?

Do you feel the same way about Battlefield 5?
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Re: Designing Police Quest V.

Post by adeyke » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:58 am

I can again point out that PQ is trying to be realistic and is trying to portray real-life issues. If you're arguing for games being just escapist fantasies with no connection to reality, PQ isn't the sort of game you want to base that argument on.

And I think that, when not just one game, but many games, many movies, many books, etc. portray the police as perfect heroes, that will affect how people view them and how they react to reports of police malfeasance. I think it would be easier to hold them accountable if they weren't idolized to the degree that they are.

As for whether there any entirely good police forces, I don't know. But I do know that the whole criminal justice system in the US has major humanitarian problems at every level, and I do think that the system makes it much easier to be a bad cop than a good one.

And again, a game with an aspirational view of how things could be would be fine, but that's still very much not the same thing as a game purporting to realistically portray how things actually are.

As a side note, I think that a game about how a good cop manages to expose and reform a corrupt police force could be very much in line with that whole aspirational fantasy escapism thing.

As for Battlefield 5, I don't follow that series. If you mean the hubbub about being able to play as a woman in the multiplayer, I fully support that option being included, and I think it's a very different question than the one we're discussing here.

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Re: Designing Police Quest V.

Post by Rath Darkblade » Sun Jun 17, 2018 7:44 pm

adeyke wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 11:03 pm
Discworld is a fantasy setting. I... don't think I should need to explain that. It is very clear and unambiguously not the same world we live in.
Agreed! The Discworld setting is not the same as the real world. I don't argue for a moment that the real world has witches who fly on broomsticks, or an invasion of elves, or a bunch of elderly heroes who take on the gods.

What I am saying, however, is that the issues that the Ankh-Morpork City Watch deal with - e.g. racism/speciesism, murder/mass murder, diplomacy, or political crime - are all issues that real-life police forces deal with.

Furthermore, the ways that Commander Vimes deals with these issues - and keeps the Watch together - are inspirational. I would argue that Vimes is the Discworld equivalent of Sonny Bonds; a little more tarnished, perhaps - more aware of his faults - but nevertheless a thoroughly good cop, and an example to follow.
adeyke wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 11:03 pm
That also goes for the Watch. Much of what you listed was developed over the course of the series, and we can generally see some of reasoning for why that thing is needed and what benefits that particular solution to the problem has. The pre-Vimes Night Watch we see in the eponymous book is very different. Overall, the sense is absolutely not "this is a realistic portrayal of how police works; if you read the books, you'll have a good understanding of how a typical police force operates" and much more "suppose we had a fantasy world but wanted to introduce a modern police system to it, inventing and building it from the ground up; what might that look like?".
Again, I agree. Pratchett wasn't trying to realistically portray how a modern police force works, and it would be silly of him to try in a city like Ankh-Morpork.

Still, the Ankh-Morpork City Watch does have quite a few elements that we identify as parts of modern policing (or a fantasy equivalent). Just as Ankh-Morpork is obviously not L.A. or London, the City Watch is obviously not the same as the LAPD or Scotland Yard; but, nevertheless, we can see how the City Watch is modernising and becoming less medieval and more early 19th-century, at least.

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