David Scott Jaffe. It’s a name that today lives in a bit of infamy, but once was a name revered by many in the gaming industry. Hard to believe now, given recent events. In case you didn’t know who he was before his life as a public laughing stock, he was the director of the original God of War and God of War 2. He also had a major hand in the direction and designing of the Twisted Metal series. The guy was pretty well regarded. Nowadays, he’s the guy who Nintendo keeps dunking on because he doesn’t know how to play video games or tell a good joke. More on that in a bit.
Let’s first begin with how we got here in the first place. It all started with a little game called Metroid Dread. You may have heard of that series, but apparently Jaffe hasn’t. During his playthrough, he hits a dead end and has trouble figuring out where to go. Surely by now if you’re reading this, you’ve seen the scene by now. In a game about exploration, he didn’t know how to explore. And instead of just taking that L on the chin and moving on, he blamed it on “bad game design.” Mind you, this is “bad game design” has been in every mainline Metroid (probably in Other M, too but I don’t remember. I think that’s for the best.)
The clip at this point is infamous; Jaffe basically bumbles about and trying to show people how terrible the game’s design is while just about everyone looks and tries to reason with him. But see, Jaffe is a proud man. He directed God of War! Except, that game was pretty simple, if we’re being honest. It really boils down to “hit the thing till it dies” or “push/pull the lever/block.” Meanwhile, Metroid rewards experimentation and paying attention to your surroundings. But for fun, let’s play Devil’s Advocate. In the opening minutes of the game, it brings you to a complete halt and tells you that if you reach a dead end to try shooting the walls. This wasn’t some well kept secret. That was the tutorial.
After this, the community had their many jabs at Jaffe. Even Nintendo had a couple of swings at him. The first was making the “5 Bounty Hunting Tips For The Demo” where the first is to locate destructible blocks. And wouldn’t you know it, one of the examples was the Jaffe room. Now, that could be seen as a coincidence. But then Nintendo of Australia tweeted out that same room again. Jaffe was tagged quite a bit. While his responses were less than humble, none of them were particularly notable. Except for one.
At the Game Awards 2021, Metroid Dread (rightfully) won best action/adventure game. I think it should have taken “Game of the Year”, but I digress. Someone tags Jaffe and basically takes a jab at how it isn’t simplistic like God of War and that it must be sad to be him not enjoying the game. Now, instead of taking this and being a composed and level headed person, Jaffe offers this retort:
Mind you, this all stemmed from him not being able to shoot a roof in a video game. To call this an overreaction was an understatement. That very tweet is still up, so you can see the retweets of people who were pissed off by this brazen display of pride and arrogance against Masayuki Uemura; a man who has left a greater mark on the industry and the world than Jaffe could ever hope to.
Finally, we reach Christmas Day where Jaffe finds it in his heart to release an almost 7 minute video of complete garbage. To address his disgusting comments, it basically boiled down to “it was just a joke bro” and the same bile he’s been spitting this entire time. What I find interesting are some of his replies to the comments, particularly the one where he claims to love Metroid as a brand. Which, I find difficult to believe. Anyone who has played an older Metroid game, then plays Dread would never call hidden blocks “bad game design.” Especially when it’s so telegraphed. Older games were WAY more cryptic. But Dread? That’s bad design. Needless to say, his excuse fell on deaf ears.
So what happens now? Jaffe has stayed true to his pride, ignorance, and insistence that he knows what good and bad game design is because he directed God of War. And as we know, that game is the pinnacle of game design. This was such an avoidable train wreck. Either Jaffe could keep his mouth shut or just admit his mistake. If he’d just done that to start, we wouldn’t be here. It would have simply been “ha-ha man bad at game” and that’s it. But I guess the guy craves the attention. Or needs it. What I will say is that I almost admire his willingness to argue with Nintendo fans. I’m smarter than to do that. But Jaffe will tussle with just about anyone who will engage with him. Will it be worth it? Probably not. We can only hope that this grown 50 year old man will learn from his mistakes and do better in the future. It’s about as likely as him finding a hidden wall, but we can hope.