Letters to the Editor

A Wrinkle in Time


In response to “Grinding the Dating Scene” from The Escapist Forum: Yang, I’ve filled out OKCupid, eHarmony (which paired me with no one), and even a SoulGeek profile, even going so far as to meeting up with one said geek to go on an incredibly awkward date.

I should also mention that I’ve “dated” someone I accidentally met on Facebook. We decided we weren’t compatible and are still pals. About a year or so after that, I dated someone that I met online that lived on the other side of the country. Hell, I never even heard the guy’s voice in that incredibly short period of time we dated.

I haven’t gone back to the dating scene in months. It’s just not worth it. And why be in a rush to get into a relationship when there are so many single player games dying for your touch? Grab your controller, and mess with that baby all night.

Cool your jets. You’ve got so much ahead of you, man. Love will find you when it needs to.


Wow that sounds horrifyingly creepy.

I can’t say I’ve ever thought to myself “why am I alone on valentine’s day?” It is after all, just another day. And yes I know why I’m alone. I just don’t care :]

This reminds me though. After hearing about 50 EHarmony commercials a day, I finally gave and started a profile just for kicks. I don’t quite understand how they got across their “dimensions of compatibility” when I found that every match I was paired up with with mid 20 something year olds who worked at Starbucks and had a one year old. It was uncanny like I was paired with every girl in the states with low self esteem.

Needless to say I don’t often check back with them and I sure as hell am not paying their fee just to look at some photos or to get my ID verified (evidently because they want to be sure I’m not some serial rapist or something). I still get emails often that say something to the degree of “You’ve got a new match!” that I promptly delete



In response to “The Truthiness of Simulation” from The Escapist Forum: I think this is a concept that plagued Spore to some degree; the scope of the game’s concept was simply too huge to comprehend. To simulate the creation and evolution of an entire species from a single celled organism to a space-faring race of technologically advanced beings is a fantastic and whimsical endeavor to say the least, and yet that was what was promised.

Obviously the course of several million years of evolution had to somehow be squashed unceremoniously into 30+ hours of real world gameplay, and this effectively resulted in several disjointed minigames that tried desperately to mimic several other popular games, while at the same time offer a (slightly stylized) depiction of real world mechanics, biology and society.

The very idea of somehow simulating the advancement of an entire species simply isn’t plausible; at least, not until the “civilization” stage. The rest of the game is crippled by it’s own scope. The thought of simulating the evolution of an entire species using gameplay mechanics instead of actual accepted evolutionary fact (if I kill this creature, I can slap its mouth on everyone in my species? Darwin would be rolling in his grave). The truth needs to give way to gameplay sometimes, but I doubt we’re ready for even a stylized simulation of evolution on Spore’s scale yet.

I never got to the space stage, by the way. I wanted to create a peaceful, religious (peaceful, ha) race, ’cause I’m soppy that way, but I found the civilization stage was balanced too much in favor of the military and economic races, and I was bored by that point anyway.


The idea of verisimilitude, truthiness or whatever you’d like to call it is immensely important for immersion in a game.

This immersion is not based around graphics, as my experience (and that of others)of spending hours with old RPGs shows.

The illusion fails when the logic of the world collapses, and this can hinge on the smallest of details. For me, this can be the lack of available dialogue options, or perhaps my perfectly logical idea to get past a puzzle is not recognized by the game.



In response to “Cease Fire: A Look at Virtual Jihadi” from The Escapist Forum: Agreed, fantastic article which sheds some light on an aspect of video games that is rarely talked about. As Akaros says, part of the reason why people find it a problem is because they don’t understand the artists’ intent. It’s much too easy to see a videogame and write it off as just that – a simple game. The whole medium of the ‘art game’ is a relatively underground concept, once again due to the public’s pre-formed definition of the videogame.

But art can be used to violently (not in a literal sense) provoke and smash down preconceptions, break people out of their comfort zones and make them think, and this is no exception. Bilal’s game takes our previous notions of war shoot-em-ups and spins them around on our face. The result is something whose spirit is identical to the original, but which we now find extremely offensive. And that in turn should really bring us to question the message and influence of many of our own ‘war’ games.


Bravo, Mr. Balil! Many have said that art is only truly art when it annoys people. This is no proof that videogames are an art, just that true art will simply be whatever media it gets its message across more easily.

I, for one, would like to see an actual game by a big developer showing the story of a Middle Eastern fighter, trying to defend his country from a Western invasion force. Yeah, keep dreaming.

As for me, I liked CoD 4 because I like shooters, and it did a pretty good job at conveying the cacophony of war, the side you’re fighting on be damned. But when I play Battlefield 2 I always play as the Iraqis.

I personally like to think of video games as an escape from reality I personally don’t like that anyone is trying to turn my hobby into their own political statement.

Well, if you like music, will you say that people writing music about political topics in order to drive a point across is wrong?

The Random One


In response to “Attack of the Uncanny Valley” from The Escapist Forum: Saying never here is a luxury of human mortality. Likely it won’t happen in our lifetimes, but there are some obvious concerns. The things is that these advances will happen gradually and people will adjust their lives into it.

I often wonder what Ben Franklin, Jules Verne, or other forward thinkers would think of our lives if we brought them here. Certainly we are missing something of what made them “fundamentally” human, but here we are arguing to preserve our “fundamental humanness” from yet another technological creation.

Yet, we come to these forums everyday to discuss issues that a drastically smaller percentage of the human population could have during the enlightenment. Not sure if that makes us better, but it shows that the realm of technology is not simply a moral graveyard.

It seems that we are constantly concerned with obliterating ourselves. Whether it is nuclear apocalypse during the cold war or global warming now, there is always plenty of self-preserving paranoia to go around for the human race. Most of the time technology is far less sinister. Even in the instances where technology presents yet another opportunity for humans to eliminate their cherished ways of life, humans are simply creating means to demonstrate new ways in which we are not as special as we previously thought.

The great thing about the uncanny valley is that it shows us even more ways we didn’t even realize we were human. You really don’t miss it until it is gone. While we will keep defeating these little things with better imitation, reaching the other side of the valley will mean completely understanding humans. Perhaps it this is a thankfully unreachable goal, complete understanding of a dynamic organism and all its external manifestations is no simple task. But, at least it is a loftier and more moral objective than making replica humans to act out our basic instincts. As the Japanese men pointed out, you really don’t need verisimilitude for that…


The fact that the walking Christopher Reeve was obviously computer-generated and that it was a commercial aired during the Superbowl did not stop people from believing it was real. Why? Because they wanted to believe it was real. And people go a long way to get what they want.

We’re now just looking at a first step in the digitization of real people. We’re able to creating a realistic 3D model and to have that model move in a believable fashion. It’s only a small step to copy the voice pattern and have the model speak in a believable fashion. A real world application would be to fake the discovery of an unreleased recording by Tupac Shakur or Elvis Presley. Even if people knew it was a fake they might go with the fantasy if the song was based on the artist’s lyrics, or if the artist died while working on this final song and this technology was used to finish it. Ask yourself: how many people would see a holographic Michael Jackson performing his final “This Is It” concert? How much would they be willing to pay for this?

Taking this a step further we could copy a subject’s personality. There’s even no need for full-blown artificial intelligence. A chat bot that copies the subject’s behavior in a believable fashion would suffice. Imagine a museum that would allow you to talk to Che Guevara, Maximilien Robespierre or Abraham Lincoln. Or that you could talk to the representation of a deceased loved one. He would look, sound and act just like the original person.

I want to believe, therefore you are.


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