We Dig Through the Post-Apocalyptic Politics of 'Mad Max'


#1

On this late-but-great edition of Waypoint 101, Austin and Rob are joined by regular Waypoint freelancers Cameron Kunzelman and Dante Douglas for a deep dive on Mad Max, Avalanche's 2015 open world game based on the post-apocalyptic, car-crazed world. They dig into the game's world, characters (including... character names) and politics, with a healthy dose of Waypoint forum discussion. Content warning for a brief discussion of violence and misogynistic content in the game.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/wjbvxq/mad-max-politics-fury-road

#2

Woo! Looking forward to this. Its such a conflicted game and yet it fascinates.


#3

Yay❤️ Quick query: should I expect spoilers for Fury Road?


#4

There are some light spoilers, but I don’t think you’ll get much out of some of the comparisons that we make without having seen the film. So you should watch the film first.


#5

Cheers, Camshaft. I, life happened years ago and broke me with regards to movies (especially).:slightly_smiling_face:


#6

Enjoyed the listening. Was playing the game at the same time, and that together with the discussion sort of cemented that I don’t want to play the game ever again. There really is something alluring about the vistas, and driving around in them, and the explosions, but nothing else works for me.

Besides that the game is just square, square, square, triangle, square square, triangle. I’m not very far, but I don’t see why I should keep playing since the game never shows me anything new. I know exactly what every mission or place will give me. Pressing square and triangle, and scrap so I can do the that thing supposedly better.


#7

Some interesting stuff in this episode, but boy it would have been nice to have any women in the discussion! Austin’s perfunctory “also the women stuff was bad” really didn’t feel like enough compared to how long they spent detailing the game’s other flaws, and given how much time they’ve historically spent on e.g. deadnaming in Red Strings Club.


#8

I very much liked having Douglas and Kunzelman on the episode to represent the site’s freelancers/columnists. While I already follow those two respectively, there are writers on the site I don’t and hopefully look forward to being introduced to them if you continue the practice. Also it’s always nice hearing Austin and Rob converse with people they may not do so publicly all that often.


#9

Really liked the discussion! I fall more into Rob’s camp — when I played the game last year I fell for it surprisingly hard, and its beautiful vistas & bleak bleak nihilism wormed its way under my skin. It’s really flawed, but I appreciate the things it’s trying to do, and the setting is just so darn evocative (and refreshingly different from wandering around cities or green woodsy medieval fantasy lands, which I am tired of). Great choice as one of those 7/10 games with a lot to dissect about it.

Also, just, those dust storms.


#10

As someone who hasn’t played this game, but recently went back and watched all the movies, it was a very interesting listen. It’s on my wishlist and I’ve been wavering, but too busy for a decision to be urgent, for ages.

In the course of the discussion I went from wanting to get it, to not wanting to, back to wanting to pick it up because ultimately I find Rob’s perspective persuasive. I have a fondness for ambitious, but flawed messes and this seems very much that.

I’m also very interested in Rage 2 because I suspect that the game we’re getting there is actually Mad Max 2, but thanks to the rights mess Austin referred to Bethesda decided to use the Rage IP. I’m hoping that lessons learned from this game, along with input from id makes for the game I’d really like.

Early in the episode either Cameron or Dante (sorry guys, couldn’t tell you apart at first) brought up the importance of Road Warrior and that hit on something I’ve felt since rewatching the movies.

I feel that since Road Warrior the events and character we see are not actually as they happened. The latter 3 movies have a mythic quality as though they are stories being told generations later. So many of the misunderstandings of pre-apocalypse technology or objects are not necessarily those of the characters, but those telling the story much later.

It’s not that Max has been around since before the apocalypse and yet is somehow contemporaneous with someone who doesn’t know how boats work.It’s more that someone later has seen a boat and it’s just a ruin for them with a story attached.

It sounds like the game lacks this mythic quality, yet the developers have imitated the misunderstandings.

Anyway, this has run long and I hope it makes sense. Enjoyed Cameron and Dante and I hope you get more guests on these 101 discussions and maybe on the main Waypoint Radio too.


#11

I’m about halfway through listening to this episode and I’m surprised. I came away from playing this game much more positively than it seems that most of them did. It has its flaws sure, but I don’t think it’s “deeply flawed” like some said and I think the positives outweigh the negatives. I especially like the dialogue and “nouns” in this game which they touched on but which the two guests of the podcast (I forget their names currently) seemed to just instantly shut down in a way that was a bit frustrating to listen to.

One thing that was really great about the game to me was just the tone. It was very bleak but so interesting. I really liked how Max would comment on things he found especially, like how he would find a picture of a family swimming at a lake and he would say something like, “all that water… seems wasteful.” It was really interesting world building to me and I’m disappointed they didn’t get into that kind of thing a bit more.


#12

I think it was the youtuber Noah Caldwell-Gervais who said it best when he called this game “the time between the movies”. The plot overall feels like its spinning its wheels and Max is kind of just going through the motions, living off the corpse of the old world, while helping some communities grow so he can easier survive that world. I don’t play many open-world games, so the standard Ubisoft formula that game apes didn’t bother me, despite playing it co-currently with Witcher 3.

It was a good game to chill with despite its post-apocalyptic setting since the story wasn’t as heavy as Witcher 3’s. Despite its flaws and kind of bland gameplay loop, I really enjoyed the game a whole lot.


#13

It’s something I really love about the movies and Miller has commented on too. Part of why he has Bruce Spence plays kinda sorta the same guy in Thunderdome as he does in Mad Max is that Miller liked the idea of there being each movie being kinda sorta about the same events but being told around a different campfire.

I find it hilarious that Bethesda’s publishing Rage 2 which is being made by Avalanche which is to be a Mad Max to because…

…WAAAAAY back in the day Bethesda had the license for The Terminator via Hemdale at that point and gave us an infamously horrible NES and some other system’s games for it*. Those games came from Bethesda sub-licensing The Terminator to Mindscape who was doing a lot of movie licensed games they would have Chris Gray (of Gray Matter, Infiltrator and such), churn out which included some other games like Dirty Harry and…

MAD MAX

Which got a sequel on the SNES and Genesis from Mindscape…who suddenly no longer had the rights to make a Mad Max game as it was being made, which is how we got Outlander.

Even more hilariously, while Outlander was intended to be a Mad Max game, the actual official Mad Max game on the NES, began life the NES version of a “Mad Max but not officially please don’t sue us” Commodore 64 game called Road Raider (or Motor Massacre depending on where you lived and what computer you played it on).

Some kind of circle just closed, somehow.

*They also did Terminator: Future Shock on PC though which is Actually Good and was super ambitious for its time AND a fully 3D FPS that predates Quake by a year, and they did a follow up to it called Skynet that’s also great.


#14

Somebody really needs to write something in defense of Batman Arkham Knight. I loved that game, even with its iterative formula and terrible Batmobile segments. I found it as close to a really perfect Batman experience as you could get without… well, Gothamites. Dante in this Waypoint kept seemingly apologizing for 100%ing that game, and as somebody who 95%ed that thing, do we Arkham Knight fans need to apologize? Can’t we be proud?

If something like Mad Max deserved this extensive second look, Arkham Knight definitely did as well.

Footnote: I kept getting Cameron and Dante mixed up so I think it was Dante who said good things about Arkham Knight. If I’m wrong, I’m sorry.