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Opinion: Why Leisure Suit Larry should never have been remade Exclusive
Opinion: Why  Leisure Suit Larry  should never have been remade
July 23, 2013 | By Leigh Alexander

July 23, 2013 | By Leigh Alexander
Comments
    41 comments
More: Crowdfunding, Indie, Art, Design, Exclusive



Leigh Alexander reflects on the subtle humor of the original Leisure Suit Larry as she levies her disappointment at the Kickstarter-funded remake.

Very early in my games writing career, I got an email from Leisure Suit Larry creator Al Lowe. It was only one line, if I remember correctly, but it seemed at the time like an indisputable laurel of victory, evidence I was on the right track. Until that day the man had been a legend in neon pixels and nothing else.

My early career in games writing, like anyone's, was a series of luckless almosts and accidents, a few bylines that seemed, intellectually, like Excellent Gains, things to tell friends about, even though I privately wasn't terribly sure of my own meaningful progress. I felt confident and accomplished and crowned and yet not-so for many years, projecting a sort of grinning confidence, a rehearsed smoothness I hadn't yet owned, playing the success game only as adeptly as the person next to me, all the while feeling like facility with the form at which I so desperately wanted to excel was a fleeting and complicated thing. Like there were incredible figurines just out of my reach who'd mastered this thing, whose fealty I could earn with the precisely-right combination of words, items, actions.

When Mr. Lowe wrote me in response to a minor notation in a sex game article in which I said I'd learned the word "prophylactic" from Leisuire Suit Larry at an incredibly young age, I thought, yes, I'm getting somewhere. He wrote: "You played Leisure Suit Larry when you were 8?!"

The very idea that Mr. Lowe would read something I wrote whatsoever was surreal. I spent a good portion of my childhood banging my little Curly-Sue head against Leisure Suit Larry: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards -- I thought if I persisted in it I'd arrive at some mythical alter-world where genuine lizards sprawled in poolside lounge chairs. That's how young I was.

Yet even back then I sort of knew intrinsically it wasn't a game for young people: The abstract vocabulary of bright cursive and angular palm trees and fluorescent signage, the seedy swing music, the setting of "Lost Wages," something I immediately grokked as a sad, sticky and wrung-out simulacrum of the Las Vegas ideal. As a child one can outline, loosely, the shiny pink sketch-lines around things that are meant to be adult, perceive a certain naughtiness about them, even if one isn't really at the age where sex makes sense. I intuited that there had to be some illicit reason that Leisure Suit Larry: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards was profoundly an Adult Game, even if that reasoning floated above my grasp like an inflatable love doll borne on the winds.

***

That original Leisure Suit Larry game is ostensibly a relic, a game about a man small in every way, hunting earnestly for sex. I learned this way, way later, when I became one of those purse-lipped, humorless feminists forever angrily disassembling, dispossessing, the unexamined and eternally-creepy male power fantasies that lie like a still black seam at the root of video games.

But, you know? I never stopped loving Leisure Suit Larry. I never lost my empathy for that comically height-disadvantaged, greasy-quiffed little dude who wants sex only until he learns that the manufactured, candy-and-roses vision of sexual success is just a media-generated vehicle to True Love. It's romance and partnership that Larry seeks -- Larry Laffer, his name, Laffer, a piquant little homage to laughter and the sad life of the stand-up comic who bares his soul and his manhood for the amusement of others, hoping against hope that brutal honesty and the gut-rooted humor that comes with it will generate an empathetic connection with the rest of humankind.


Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards


Seriously, to call Leisure Suit Larry a game about a creepy guy looking for sex would be to do it a disservice, and this is coming from a woman who has maybe-regrettably little pity for creepy guys seeking sex. So, okay. I think a lot about the old days of Sierra On-Line, and how in 1988 Roberta Williams spearheaded King's Quest IV, a lovely yet properly-brutal traditional parser adventure about a dispossessed princess navigating sprawling fairy-tale tropes at great peril. Come the 1990s and the great appetite for capital-M maturity in computer games: the technology was there, so why not the thematic sophistication, and so forth?

Just a year earlier, 1987, Al Lowe had made Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards like a sullen nerd throwing a paper plane from the back of the class. Like, oh, c'mon, kids, really? Awkward dorks engaging with the high-class world of Vegas glamour, sensuality, prostitution, seamy saxophones? Seemed like the hay for humor to Lowe, who'd made a properly-brutal traditional parser adventure game about the sheer absurdity of outsiders, of video game nerds -- of anyone, really, approaching life as if a man wanting to connect with a woman romantically were really the sort of thing one could sexualize, bling up, gamify.

Leisure Suit Larry is, at every twist and kink, a lavish essay on the sadness of that dream: You're a socially awkward "funny" guy trying to forge his way through the land of the polyester fashionistas, the dice-slinging gamblers, the pneumatic vinyl ladies in strapless slinkies. These people are depressing and disappointing. You demean yourself by trying to be one of them. Your innocence, your naivete, the gooey disingenuousness of your oiled hairdo and your try-hard leisure suit a tribute to both the grotesqueness of the ideal and the disappointment of your failing to achieve it.

As an old-school graphics-assisted parser game, it would probably qualify for a "bad design" description these days -- in other words, there are a lot of things you can 'do wrong' without realizing you've done them wrong, or failed to do them, or done them in the wrong order until it's too late. You can Save-Game yourself into a corner. Be a little kinder to the 1980s, though: The objective was to make these games, handfuls of kilobytes, last their consumers months and months, seriously. To meticulously spend several hours in pursuit of the wrong answer, only to have to start again, was basically the only solution people had to games being too-consumable too-quickly. It was the only way they'd learned back then to prolong the magic rather than satisfy too intuitively, finish too quickly, like an inadequate lover.

Leisure Suit Larry was an abuse of the player, intentionally. These days, a lot of the traits of old-school adventure games are held up as bad design logic -- that you should have to fail at the game, be tricked by it, in order to learn the correct path just seems unfair, a relic whose purpose is only to extend engagement and not to please the player.

But let's just presume the idea is to send-up that particular sort of man for whom wooing women is a poorly-understood objective: The very idea that a game should be "mature," for Lowe, illuminated the hilarious conflict between applied game design logic and the human urge. It was funny, to him -- the player's unconsidered pursuit of ass, a world where your adventure can abruptly end if it doesn't occur to you to remove a condom and zip your trousers. Where you fail again and again, you sleazy polyester-try-hard nerd, you. That was the joke.

***

That's why Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded, Replay Games' Kickstarter-funded, fully-animated and voiced remake of the original seems so grotesque and offensive. It's a high-res (being generous) re-rendering of that intentionally-frustrated world, except the joke is missed, lost. The thing that was funny about Leisure Suit Larry wasn't the sex jokes, or the sticky-nasty world of Lost Wages, but the fact such a universe was created as a computer game at all.

References to the high-tension world that was Sierra On-Line at the time are everywhere. Should players lose, they're treated to a comical "inside look" at the re-assembly of their new avatar, another Larry being reconstituted and ready to resume along similar assembly-line constructions of the protagonists from the company's other franchises, Space Quest and King's Quest.


Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded


Yet more transparently-damning, in order to access a bar back room where a paid hooker is available, the player needs to tell a pimp speaking through a slot in a Naugahyde door that "Ken sent me," a jab at Sierra overlord Ken Williams. The games of the 80s were rife with self-conscious references to the fatiguing machinery of game-making, and a game about lonesome perverts was even more weighted in that context.

The game isn't excellent or worthwhile in a vacuum, but as a sign of its times, as an expression of its creator illustrating the vast, weird gulf between sex-chasing dorks and neon-washed lounge lizards. Upgrade it and it just seems sad, fan-pandering to gamers who still haven't gotten the joke.

The original game is misogynistic -- women are just objects to be wooed and pursued, who ultimately reveal themselves to be opportunists ready to infect the player with disease or to steal his hard-earned money. And its quaint racism, like the funny-talking shopkeeper or the shady muggers, taxi-drivers, pimps and horny security guards, is best left in our uncomfortable past. But I like to think the original game wants the player to be victimized for perpetuating the misogyny, laughed at for seeing sex as a goal. Wants the player to be pathetic and empathetic alike for not really knowing any better.

The remake brings the world into awkwardly-glossy, highly-detailed modernity -- if you can call it that -- and as such misses the opportunity for actual humor, downgrades the wittiness of the original Leisure Suit Larry into the gross and stupid. That was never what it was about, really. And that's why the original game, with its humble pixels and opaque, reserved breath-holding until the players made horrible revelations, is wincing-funny, pity-piquing, having posed a question about the possibility of "adult" games and having come up with the awkward and distinctly-unsexy universe of pink-flamingo Vegas pornography. It's even funnier that gamers backed the remake without really realizing the fun being had at their expense.

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards is an amusing and important signpost of history. It's shocking that it got remade, that the sheer tidal wall of gamer nostalgia moves forward with such inconsiderate force. The original game posed some interesting and funny questions of what migrating computer gaming into a poorly-conceived vision of "Adults Only" would look like. We still wrestle with those questions, writing glossy Hollywood-style profiles of today's industry creative directors, pointing to Real Actors brought into our world as evidence of maturity and legitimacy.

Indeed, though, even in the 90s when Sierra would ultimately doom itself by bringing absurd cinematic ideals to its adventure games, hyping absurdly-expensive, realistic and "dark" actor-driven games like Phantasmagoria, someone still thought a modern incarnation of Larry would not divest the original statement of its meaning. This isn't maturity, this isn't a beneficial use of advanced technology. Expanding its puzzles now means grotesquery, vulgar over-descriptions, nasty excess that makes a joke of itself, not of its subject matter.

And what was an important cautionary tale about the ignorance inherent in gaming's ideas about "sexuality" and "adulthood" has now, through the Leisure Suit Larry remake, become a cautionary tale about the blind nostalgia and brand loyalty that drove an early vein of game investments on Kickstarter. Let me be blunt: Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded should just not have happened. It's unsettling, should prompt some self-examination, that it happened. It should make us leery of popular brands, retro-remakes, needless revisitations made possible thanks to the "magic" of crowdfunding.

***

Let me think back: I'm eight years old. A computer game wants me to prove I am an adult by asking me questions about the Cold War, about the 1980s political climate, about the Beatles. These days I struggle to answer some of 'em, to be honest. But back then it felt exciting, delightful. Of course, like other kids in those days, I passed the gatekeeping through trial and error, because I was determined, although I learned nothing. Sigh.


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Comments


Dane MacMahon
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I find Larry crass and early Sierra design to be horrible, but this game was not made for me. And that's okay.

The "HD" effect making it worse is interesting and likely, but from what I have seen on forums the people who backed this are very happy. It likely just makes those of us predisposed to not getting it not get it even more.

In the end not everything has to appeal to mainstream values or gameplay desires, and Kickstarter is about niche audiences funding niche stuff. If Wasteland 2 has quest arrows, a long tutorial and colored loot I will be pretty upset, even though I know reviewers will complain about the lack of all three.

Michael Ball
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"In the end not everything has to appeal to mainstream values or gameplay desires"

YES!
YES!
YES!
[repeat ad infinitum]

Kyle Redd
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Right. I don't want gaming to turn into any more of a safe, dull, rigidly politically-correct world than it already is. There needs to be room for tasteless and offensive content to exist and be enjoyed by those who want it, just as such content in films, books, music, and art already is.

Ian Fisch
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I think you're missing the point here. She's not condemning the remake simply because it's non-PC and juvenile.

She's condemning it because it's not funny nor satirical anymore. Taken out of its context, the joke is lost.

Dane MacMahon
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@ Ian

But the people who paid to make this wanted something from that time and just like this.

Vincent Hyne
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Opinion: Leisure Suit Larry should never have been made.

benn rice
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if what you're saying was that its no worse today than it was back then,
then i would agree.

Thomas Schenck
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I think the addition of graphics to SoftPorn Adventure was a big step backwards, and it's been downhill since.

Michael Joseph
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Maybe they'd have been better off writing a sort of noir-ish 1980s America nostalgia game more than a LL nostalgia game.

Soundtrack Possibilities
- Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be Happy
- Michael Jackson - Billie Jean / Thriller / Various
- Survivor - Eye of the Tiger
- The Pointer Sisters - I'm So Excited
- Harold Faltermeyer - Axel F
- Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun / Time After Time
- Duran Duran - Hungry Like the Wolf
- Salt-N-Pepa - Push It
- Phil Collins - In the Air Tonight
- Sade - Is it a Crime / Smooth Operator
- Grand Master Flash - The Message (although this might undercut the illusion of the greatness of the 80s)

Recurring Themes
- optimism and reaffirmation of values (Berlin Wall falls, dissolution of USSR, dominating in Olympics)
- big hair & flamboyant clothes
- high rolling materialism, jet settings, the world is yours
- showtime basketball and the new era of sports coverage and broadcasting
- blockbuster action flicks celebrating & promoting American power & superiority

yeah i know they didn't come close to raising enough money for something like that...

Jorge Ramos
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Growing up, I didn't really have access to pc games then, outside of a school campus. It wasn't till high school that most fiscally starved campuses even had computers strong enough to play Duke3D, for example, much less anything that required a dedicated graphics card to run.

LSL might have been before my time, but even now I am aware of the impact it had. That said, the 3D-ifying that seems to be a requirement to get a game picked up by a publisher nowadays is likely one of the many symptoms that ruined any chance of this remake to be good. That and if memory serves correctly, Leisure Suit Larry suffered from the "warped adventure game logic" syndrome that would serve to irk most people who weren't already expecting it.

Dane MacMahon
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For more mainstream success and better reviews they shouldn't have remade it so faithfully. However, a faithful remake is what people kickstarted.

Kenneth Poirier
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I'm against a remake of LL1 for other reasons. Mostly because LL1 was already remade into a VGA point and click by Sierra in 1991 and is still quite playable additionally there are plenty of modern LL games like Box office bust and magna cum laude (with little commercial success I might add).

If the object is preservation of the past (or even to throw some work to Al Lowe), then let's remake LL2 and LL3 the only two games that still run on that awful parser engine. Or better yet, Finally release "LL4: the lost floppies" that I know several people have wrapped their brain around trying to guess what happened on that never released adventure.

Dane MacMahon
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They definitely should have kickstarted a new game in "4." I guess that would have required more money though.

Paul Marzagalli
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4 was always on the table, but I think they wanted to build up a new audience first. At least that's what I recall reading around the time that the Kickstarter launched.

Dave Hagewood
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I was backer for this game knowing full well it would be a nostalgic, but ultimately disappointing experience. I've tried to recapture the thrill of old games enough to know there are reasons we moved on from the old ways.

However, as a game developer it is discovering those reasons that makes it valuable to me and I think to society as a whole. I'm not just talking about game mechanics, but the crassness, stereotyping, and misogyny as well.
Without the HD remake this article would not have been written and there is real value in that. If it had been remade into a brand new game with a new story and still contained the same controversial elements I would have no interest in it. But a faithful remake to me is an exposition of history that allows a broader audience to re-experience the past and learn from it.

Rod Humble
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"....disassembling, dispossessing, the unexamined and eternally-creepy male power fantasies that lie like a still black seam at the root of video games. "

The article was worth it for this. Thats a hell of a memorable line with a lot packed into it.

Joshua Wilson
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I had a bit of a hard time following the article honestly.

In my opinion LSL was "trash" (like a daily soap or bad romance novel) in the 90s and not particularly well designed or noteworthy. I remember seeing it, or one of it's spinoffs/sequels, as a kid and barely spared it a glance and brief try before moving on. There were better, far more interesting and compelling games.

Last I checked it's still trash (although I haven't tried the remake). The fact that it appeals to some people is not remarkable or reflective on them or our industry. And is not even a bad thing. There is trash in every entertainment medium and I'm pretty sure everyone has their guilty pleasure, even if they "know better".

But most of all however, I don't understand how there is a "black seam at the root of video games" and find the comment slightly offensive, or riling at the very least, but can't tell whether it's meant to be sarcasm given what seems to be slightly self-deprecating phrasing (I hope you're not purse-lipped, humorless, or forever angry).

Power fantasies, whether sexual or otherwise - male or female, are perfectly normal and legitimate fantasies to have. Why is that not ok for gaming? Especially since fantasy is a large part of what we make and sell.

I don't know that anyone has the right to cast judgement on another person's fantasies. Especially if you're going to decry them as "creepy". A loaded term at the best of times. We need more understanding and less judgement in general, and there seems to be a lot of judgement in this article.

With that said, if LSL was the only type of game we made, or was made, then I would be worried but that's not the case. It's a niche game that has every right to be made and sold to people who want to play it.

Jakub Majewski
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Oh, don't be silly. Of course we have a right to cast judgement on other people's fantasies.

These days, "you don't have the right to criticise me" is a misconception so popular, most people repeat it without ever spending a second actually thinking about it. I know this is the case, because it so happens that if you spend a second thinking about it, you'd understand how utterly idiotic this notion is, and you'd never dare to repeat it.

Rather than discussing the sexual fantasy example, let me take a shortcut with a "reductio ad Hitlerum": if someone declares that it is his fantasy to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth, most people will agree that he is nuts, that we need to knock that fantasy out of his head, as well as physically knocking his head off should he ever actually try to turn that fantasy into reality.

Closer to home - I don't know if you're married or not, but supposing that you are. If I approach you and tell you that I fantasize about raping your wife, you most definitely will take offence, and there's a solid chance I'd wind up with a well-earned fist in my face.

All in all, statements like "no one has the right to cast judgement on another person's fantasies" are sheer nonsense. Judgement is a perfectly healthy and reasonable thing to do - just as you have judged and criticised (hey, in your mouth "judgement" is virtually an offensive word, so how should Leigh feel about you saying there's a lot of judgement in her article?) this article, and just as I have judged and criticised your comments.

Joshua Wilson
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@Jakub: Kind of expected that, these things usually go to the extremes, but I think I made it clear I was talking about fantasy and not imagined crime with a target.

GTA is a good example of this fine line in my opinion. I personally don't enjoy that fantasy but I don't disparage others who do.

And I wasn't really looking to get into semantics here. I was trying to make the point that it would be better if people would try to understand others rather than just say "hey you're creepy" because I don't get/agree with you.

There just seemed to be a lot of disparaging comments being thrown about which I thought was unfortunate. Obviously Leigh is welcome to her own opinion just like everyone else.

benn rice
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you might have a (fairly tangential) point, and spinning it off into insanity DID in fact help illustrate your point,

but its legit to be offended by a SPECIFIC judgement here, which could easily be seen as:
any man looking for sex would necessarily be considered a creep by a female.

i'm sure you can build a good case for "that's not what she meant. she's not a sexist if you knew her", but things are ALWAYS taken the way they are NOT meant.

it doesn't mean they shouldn't be avoided when possible.

Michael Joseph
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"Power fantasies, whether sexual or otherwise - male or female, are perfectly normal and legitimate fantasies to have"
-
normal yes but legitimate is just a value judgement on your part. Spouses cheating is normal too but the legitimacy of that cannot be determined. It's personal opinion. In the specific context of legal legitimacy you can find places where it's legal and others where it is not. Regardless the question of legitimacy is not absolute. There are cultures past and present that view power fantasies as signs of mental illness.

"I don't know that anyone has the right to cast judgement on another person's fantasies."
-
Casting judgement (aka mentioning things we don't like) may not always be polite but everyone has a "right" to their opinions.

Joshua Wilson
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@Michael: Of course people can do whatever they want when it comes down to it. With my comment I was leaning towards the politeness or the "should" of casting judgement.

Also, the reasons for someone cheating are rarely clear cut. And there are people who enjoy "open" marriages - fantasies around extramarital affairs can be played out with consent. Which is, a lot of time, what separates a fantasy from a crime. I'm not one of those people but that doesn't mean those people are wrong to want that. If people felt more comfortable actually looking for what they wanted in a relationship maybe there would be less cheating. Who knows.

Kind of outside the scope of my expertise.

Alex Branin
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Why an opinion article like this is featured on top of everything? I enjoy reading gamasutra very much, but this is puzzling to me..

Justin Sawchuk
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It was remade because the creator wanted to and the fans wanted it. If you dont like it dont buy it.

Michael Joseph
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The fans wanted it? Not so fast Captain Tryin' to Be Obvious. It was funded but that doesn't mean the fans wanted the end product. I wanted Episodes 1, 2 and 3 but... I didn't want CRAPPY episodes 1, 2 and 3.

And the following suggestion comes from the "let's tell other people what to do as smugly as we can" side of the tracks:

Next time the waiter brings you a badly burned steak, just be quiet and eat it because you wanted it.

Justin Sawchuk
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Her point wasnt that LSL shouldnt be remade because it was a poorly made game, it was because it didnt fit in with her overly PC sensibilities of what she considers to be the new "status quo". Anything that ruffles the feathers of the PC police is a good thing.

Thats the difference between libertarians and liberals, the liberals want to ban anything they disagree with, the libertarian simply votes with there wallet.

Rob B
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The point is very clear, the original game was a mockery, the new game takes that mockery too seriously.

Its failed in exactly the same way Duke Nukem did; it missed half the joke. Duke and Larry arnt polished heroes to be lauded, they are losers and send ups of cliched moronic characters. You feel empathy for them despite their idiocy because of an equally cliche world that knows and abuses them as losers and morons.

When you start stripping away the idea that Larry and Duke are awful, start making them in to genuine heroes then youve crippled the central premise of the character. Why would I feel empathy for that? There is nothing left but their generally arseholish behaviour.

This has little to do with PC, the article went out of its way to say that it was fond of LSL, and LSL was pretty much famous for not ruffling feathers. That whole nonsense that I see coming up time and time again is just the usual over protective crowd terrified of illusory forces trying to take away their soft core fluff.

Nobody is going to stop you playing LSL nobody really cares that much, they just wanted a better game out of it.

and where the heck did the simple minded political drivel come from? Utterly irrelevant.

Michael Joseph
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"Thats the difference between libertarians and liberals..."

@Justin Sawchuk

Philosophically I think libertarianism is a distinctive ideological fantasy. It seems to me more akin to a religion than a political philosophy and is held by a section of the population that feels marginalized. In practice, libertarians are just another breed of liberal if you examine how they live their lives. I should say that I believe modern day conservatives are liberals too. I think the differences between your average modern day self identifying conservative, libertarian or liberal are largely imaginary. There is very little difference in how libertarians, liberals and neo-conservatives live their lives.

So I find most of these "that's the difference between..." comments ironic but baseless.

Our culture is a liberal culture and it produces liberal citizens that are nihilistic money, status, power, fun and entertainment, pleasure seekers. Our economy is liberal, our media is liberal, the way we live our lives is liberal. Perceived differences are largely political constructs drummed up by politicians and the media and they exploit a psychological desire by people to feel special and frankly superior. But non ideological reason based political thought and discourse is truly dead... unfortunately. The reason we cannot solve global issues is because we lack sufficient reasonable and rational people. These are skills that are not promoted by our culture.

The first step is to throw away all these divisive political labels that serve no purpose except to fool us into thinking we're all fundamentally, irreconcilably different from one another.

It's religion.

Johnathon Tieman
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As Joshua Wilson mentioned, I too found the article is hard to follow. Several things bugged me about it, and it took a while to figure out exactly what, because everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, everyone is not entitled to their own facts, and the article is factually incorrect in some places. In order to correct those problems, I offer this additional information (easily retrieved from Wikipedia, which the author may want to use next time before forming their opinion).

LSL is basically a graphical version of Softporn Adventure, a game produced by someone entirely different than Al Lowe. Based on numerous articles read over the years, my basic impression is that Al Lowe added in some humor to the basic design while otherwise just implementing Softporn's design on (then) modern computers, and produced the first version Leisure Suit Larry (note, I'm not trying to play down his contribution to the other LSL titles over the years, just give context to the first game, which is the only one remade so far and the subject of this opinion). This opinion piece entirely leaves out that history, and implies the entire thing sprung from the mind of Al Lowe, which just isn't the case. I would suspect that even Ken and Roberta Williams both had input to Softporn Adventure, as the box cover for that title (seen on Wikipedia) was shot on their property, with Roberta Williams herself being one of the topless women.

What I find most interesting about this article is the author's mindset, most specifically that the author views it as some sort of mocking of the player, for playing a game where the goal is getting laid. If that's what it takes for the author to enjoy the old LSL, then so be it. The great thing about art is that it can mean different things to different people. I had never thought of LSL as a mocking exposť on the desire to get laid, but I can see how that would be a valid interpretation. Personally, I see it as taking Gilligan off his island, putting him in a leisure suit, and dropping him in fictionalized Las Vegas with the goal of getting laid, and that works too. Which of these is designer's intent? We can't entirely know, as it is the result of at least two, and possibly more, people.

This makes me wonder, is the author of this article disliking the remake because it is harder to maintain the idea that LSL mocks a certain type of individual? If so, it indicates that the way the author views the game is not the way Al Lowe sees it. That should certainly generate an opinion that the new game isn't for everyone who enjoys the old game. Unfortunately, the author takes the additional step of assuming Al Lowe's view of the remake is 'never what it was about, really', and bases their opinion that the remake shouldn't have happened on that. The author provides no evidence to make that claim, and this really suggests that the author's view of the original LSL was unintentional. The remake may be a more accurate view of one of the LSL designers' original intention (or else there wasn't enough funding to fully encompass all the viewpoints, and the viewpoint implemented is the one Al Lowe/Replay Games decided to focus on).

Is the author of this piece opining that no title should be remade without covering every viewpoint? What if the creator of the original piece never realized a particular interpretation is possible? Does the author have any evidence that Al Lowe is even aware of her particular interpretation? What if her interpretation is unintentional, and the creator wants to remove it? After all, I would expect there are many people who would be uncomfortable with the idea of mocking another group of people based on their life choices, even if the author of the article is for it.

Instead of opining that the remake of LSL shouldn't exist because it doesn't include the author's viewpoint, I would suggest that the author of this article put their time and energy into doing a re-imagining that does promote their view. I personally find producing more content a more worthy goal than spending time arguing against content.

Michael Joseph
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fair enough... up until the last two sentences.

I would suggest that you spend more time and energy making me a sandwich. That is assuming you have the requisite skill to make good sandwiches. I personally find sandwiches more satisfying than your posts.

Seriously though, "suggesting" people do things is passive aggressive bs. You go beyond that by also slipping in a veiled insult that critics are beneath producers.

Michael Ball
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Dismissing his entire post just because of perceived aggression in two sentences isn't exactly becoming, either.

Michael Joseph
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@Michael Ball

I did not dismiss his entire post. Indeed I agreed that it was a fair point on his part to make.

I was very clear that I was responding to a post that was fair up until an insult. I don't dismiss people's entire posts for such things. That's just not reasonable. I'm only responding to the unnecessary low blow at the end.

It is a pet peeve of mine i must admit, but I find it offensive when people say "I'd rather you just say what I want you to say, act how I want you to act."

Johnathon Tieman
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@Michael Joseph: This is a website featuring articles on video game development not video game reviews. Development is inherently a part of why we come here. Any article that doesn't want to deal with development is missing a core piece of what distinguishes Gamasutra from, say, the PA Report or Kotaku.

That being said, if the author doesn't possess any skill or ability in creating games, she can spend time to learn. Video game development is easier than ever. Even if she doesn't want to spend her time doing that, she can attempt to reach out to like-minded developers (as Gamasutra's new director, she certainly has the contacts) and encourage them to develop such a title, using, say, Kickstarter.

However, one key difference between your statement to me that I 'make you a sandwich' and my suggestion that Leigh spend her time creating her idea, is that she is working towards something that she wants. Your suggestion is based on the idea that I should work on something you want. I don't owe you want you want, and Al Lowe doesn't owe Leigh want she wants. If you want sandwiches, I suggest you go to Subway. If Leigh wants games that have the subtext she wants, and Al Lowe doesn't have them, she should go elsewhere, and not complain that Al Lowe shouldn't remake his game because it wasn't to her satisfaction.

Second, while certainly some people use the word 'suggestion' as part of a passive aggressive attitude, that isn't my intent (I could use a synonym, but words like 'advise', 'advocate', 'propose', and 'recommend' all have that same problem, so if you have a better idea, I'm all ears). I am 100% serious that she, and as many others, should produce more content. More content helps everyone, across the board. I want as many people to produce as much content as possible, so everyone can be exposed to as many viewpoints as possible. I already pointed out that it never occurred to me how Leigh interpreted LSL, and I find it interesting.

However, to characterize what I said as a veiled insult to critics is false. Critics are content producers, and that is valuable, but this article goes well beyond criticism. Nowhere do I take issue with the fact that Leigh doesn't like the remake. I take issue with the idea that she says someone else shouldn't produce content, especially because it doesn't meet her ideals. She can talk all day and all night about how it doesn't meet her values, and as I've already said, that's cool. It helps people know where to spend their money in accordance to their values/desires. Leigh's argument is that this shouldn't even exist for anyone to spend their money on, which is quite different. I'm going to quote Joshua Wilson, as he sums it up quite well. LSL is "niche game that has every right to be made and sold to people who want to play it."

Francois Verret
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Actually, Johnathon, she says it shouldn't have been made not because it does not meet her ideals of what a game should be, but because it lost what made the original LSL special, what made it work, at least in her eyes. I have never played a LSL, so I have no opinion on that front, but I just wanted to point out that she is not dictating which games should be made and which should not be made.

Johnathon Tieman
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@Francois Verret: Perhaps I just don't understand what you are saying, but it seems like you are making a circular argument. Yes, it doesn't meet her opinion of what made the original special to her, but isn't that influenced by what her ideals of what the game was and should be?

Of course, if she truly stopped her article there, then fine, because that is an opinion. But as I already pointed out, she didn't stop there. She had to go the extra step and claim that what was made is 'never what it was about, really'. That isn't an opinion, that is a statement of fact, one unsupported by any evidence, and where the article all falls apart.

This actually brings up something else I have to wonder. No where in the article did the author actually state whether or not she actually backed the Kickstarter. I almost backed it myself, and I know from checking out the reward tiers was that Al Lowe and Replay Games enabled backers to communicate with them during the development process. If Leigh backed, did she have any discussions with them? If not, did Leigh attempt to interview anyone that did, and find out what sort of design was put forward by Al Lowe and Replay Games, and how much feedback was incorporated? That would seem to be quite relevant to forming an opinion of the design/existence of a Kickstarter game.

benn rice
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@ Johnathon Tieman

excellent post, and covers a few things that bothered me about the review as well.

she seems to have a somewhat convoluted view of the intentions of the game. probably based on what she wanted it to be. maybe as a defense to it being "creepy". an 8 year old girl wasn't exactly the target audience, and i'm sure Al Lowe wouldn't be the only person to have that reaction.

IMO, its a pretty straightforward and simple concept both back then and now. i don't doubt at all that the context is entirely different from HER viewpoint. and hearing her (IMO pretty unique) perspective is worthwhile. but she shouldn't be so focused on that versus what the game was to everybody ELSE at the time. or at THIS time. afterall, she's supposed to be writing more for the public than for herself.....right?


hey, i love to think of Duke Nukem as a parody of action movie cliches. but i believe in reality, its probably more likely that the creators made him with a more straightforward mindset, and were just trying to make their own version of an action movie "hero", because they like (without irony) that sort of thing.

Michael Joseph
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"However, one key difference between "

Sorry. I'm not buying it.

I think it's perfectly good form to object to specific points in an argument, but it's poor form to put ones self in the role of the master (as in master and apprentice) when you are no such thing and instruct them directly on how they should perform their work.

john bonachon
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IMHO the mistakes of the new Larry:
a) outdated comedy, it was funny 20 years ago when the world prophylactic wasn't popular but, right now, everybody can watch porn in every site. Just a simple search to "rule *4" is more than enough to show porn image (even for a filtered search).
b) cheesy graphics.
c) Larry never was a cool game.

benn rice
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"
little dude who wants sex only until he learns that the manufactured, candy-and-roses vision of sexual success is just a media-generated vehicle to True Love. It's romance and partnership that Larry seeks

"


i can see that being a very comforting thought to certain kinds of people.

i don't however see that as being the intended message of the game. or that it even necessarily had any message.

Dane MacMahon
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It's been a long time since I played them but I certainly remember a rather unsubtle message that casual sex is bad and what people really want is love and acceptance.

Which, roughly speaking percentage wise across humanity, is more or less an accurate and good message. The problem is Larry buried it in crass humor I didn't enjoy then, and almost certainly would enjoy less so now.

Some people like it though and more power to them.

Amanda Lee Matthews
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The way I see it, as said, when we were kids, we thought the game was awesome because it was an "adult game". Because we were seeing/understanding things that we supposedly weren't suppose to.

But now that we are adults, we (those of us that do) like the remake because the grossness and stupidness is "childish" and immature, and we're "not suppose to" partake of those things, because we're adults now. And while we have many "adult" games nowadays, there are very few gross, stupid games that are stupid on purpose.

So, in my opinion, the remake is doing the exact same thing the original did. It's giving people a game that society says they're not suppose to play, and that forbidden fruit aspect is what makes it sweet.


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