Letters to the Editor

Canadian Makin’


In response to “mEssen With Your Head” from The Escapist Forum: I also like his idea of making disorientation one of the challenges of the game. Games will often throw challenges at you one at a time, letting you complete each largely at your own pace. Overwhelming a person with sensory overload certainly adds a challenge — one that requires a skill that, unlike most involved in today’s games, is worth learning: how to filter out noise and concentrate on what’s important.

Imagine having ADD or autism and being overwhelmed and distracted constantly. People with these conditions often learn to live with them and control them to the point where they can lead a normal life. Now imagine gaining those same skills as a regular person — you would have an amazing ability to concentrate. Since concentration is key to performance in many tasks, this would be quite an advantage.

I can’t wait to try out some of these games. Just don’t forget the sick pail.


Well, “unfair” doesn’t necessarily mean “unwinnable”. The Simpsons arcade game, for instance, can be won pretty easily, but it is impossible to avoid getting hit, and very close to impossible to avoid losing a life, because the point of the game was to eat coins. That’s unfair, too. Or games where a random event hurts or kills you but doesn’t harm another player, or doesn’t happen at all in a second play through. Or some event that requires long repetition of an easy action over a period of time that isn’t feasible, like the “lightning dodge” in one of the final fantasies someone mentioned in another thread, where you have to dodge the lightning – which is easy – 200 times – which is not. Or when a game is made artificially hard through the removal of save points. Or when an enemy can see you in a “dark” level or room, even though you wouldn’t be able to see them in the same situation.

Fairness can be broken many different ways. But I agree his games, hard though they may be, do seek to keep things as fair as possible, within the scope of being games that don’t want you to win, and will try their hardest to make that so – which is arguably unfair in itself, since as players we’re forced to play by the game’s rules to begin with, but not so unfair that you’d suspect the game of overtly cheating.



In response to “Zen and the Art of Speedrunning” from The Escapist Forum: But don’t you see? In order to find the fastest possible route through the game you HAVE to have explored every corner. One of the misunderstandings is that these people simply rush through the game as fast as possible, and then try to get faster and faster. Not so.

It’s fascinating to get in on the ground floor – as a new game is released and people start talking about running it. You all play through the game and enjoy it. Then you can put it down if you like. Or, you can start looking at optimising, finding tricks, really exploring the game. Personally, I don’t make the runs. I don’t have the sort of patience that drives me to make a perfect run.

But I love finding the tricks. Maybe it’s just a single battle, maybe it’s 5 minutes worth of gameplay, whatever it is. You find the method, you reveal it, and someone takes that and adds it to their run. It is a collaboration. There are few who will put it all together, but there are many who will casually run through their favourite part of a game.

I love the speedrunning community and I never understood how people could look at the result and simply think “What a waste of time”.


I’ve been following the Speedrunning community for some time now, despite the fact I’ve never actually tried to speed run a game, ever since I first saw that amazing video Quake Done Quick, way back in 1998? 1999? I can’t recall the exact date, but I was simply gobsmacked by the way the runners had taken the game, which I had played for quite a while, and had dissected into its base components (the irony being, of course, when Quake done Quicker and Quake Done Quick With a Vengeance obliterated the previous run).

After that, I’d periodically check up on Speedrunning sites (above all Speed Demos Archive) and although it’s rare, on occasion I still get that amazing sensation of utter awe, of seeing something I’d previously thought to be impossible, not only happening before my very eyes but usually followed by something other mind-blowing stunt. The classic examples are games like Contra III or Super Metroid (which I heartily recommend watching to anyone who’s ever seen this game and that you can find at http://speeddemosarchive.com/SuperMetroid.html ), where the level of precision, skill and just plain awesomeness reaches ridiculous levels.

Even games that don’t reach this level of amazing can still be a joy to watch, specially when you see tricks you’ve never seen before, or when the player manages to get the timing just right, or even when the sheer dumb luck (as in one famous Castlevania: Symphony of the Night run) that sometimes occur. It’s a very satisfying experience.



In response to “Wired Differently” from The Escapist Forum: An enlightening article. My friend and I have had the occasional bout of something that at least resembles this. I gave him a go at Portal one night he came over while I played on the PC. As soon as he got control over both portals he shot one at the ceiling, the other at the floor and let out a scream as he went into constant free-fall, and expressed a desire not to play any more.

A similar thing happened in Crackdown when he turned on all the cheats and found himself running faster than the cars. I found myself with an uneasy feeling when flying over open water in Grand Theft Auto. Not having anything in the distance to relate my distance to overwhelmed me with dizziness and a little bit of panic, though I suppose this could be more akin to Agoraphobia than VSS.


This is exactly the reason I turned off the head bobbing in FEAR. Too much unnecessary movement makes me feel nauseous. When it comes to videogames for entertainment, I always felt that there should be a threshold for realism. Because, if you think about it, being realistic for the sake of realism will compromise gameplay at one point (unless you’re gunning for an all-out simulation, then by all means be as realistic as you want). Luckily for FEAR, there was an option, however, take a game like MGS3, which has “forest survival” as one of its main features. As good as that game was, the survival aspect of eating, resting and treating injuries just broke the flow all too often. Granted, it might be a limit of the technology to not be able to implement it in a better way, but still.

Oh, and this is probably the reason why I don’t feel nauseous when I play Prototype, even if it is a faster-moving game. Even if the game goes all chaotic on you from time to time, you can easily keep your orientation on everything that’s going on around you. I do feel my stomach sinking when I take Alex atop a very high building, then jump off it. Though that happens to me in a lot of games where falling from high places is a normal occurrence.

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In response to “The Glory of the Last Stand” from The Escapist Forum: Ahhh the Last Stand. Only the other day was I looking up last stand scenes from movies on Youtube. For me it’s one of the most interesting things to read about from WWII and military history in general; Dunkirk, El Alamein, the Battle of Sevastopol, Battle of Berlin… pretty much every battle in the Pacific island-hopping campaign became a last stand for the Japanese defenders.
Then of course it’s been used extensively in films and other fiction creating some of the most memorable scenes, whether it’s against humans, aliens or zombies etc.

Now in videogames we can get as close as possible (without actually being there) to living out these sorts of heroic scenarios. If there’s a level in a game that culminates in a last stand, you can bet I’ll replay that level eventually, with the difficulty turned up a notch if possible.

I dunno what the psychology is behind what makes this sort of thing so appealing. I guess it’s just the resourcefulness and spirit to carry on in the face of defeat which makes it such a romantic and, to me, genuinely interesting scenario.



In response to “The Escapist On: Frustrating Gaming Experiences” from The Escapist Forum: My frustrating moment was back when I played Runescape.

I was a young child. I was undertaking a quest to slay a dragon. The quest is one of the harder non-members quests, but I was a member. I had played the game for a long time and could easily complete the quest. I just never got around to doing it. One day, I finally decided to try completing it.

Before I continue, I should explain the death system in Runescape. When you die, it doesn’t give you a second chance. You lose everything except your 3 most valuable items if you die. So obviously dying will really fuck you up as it takes a long time to replace the items you lost. Now this Dragon I had to kill was special. It’s fire breath could kill you in one hit. regardless of your defense and HP. That’s why you need a special shield to kill it. Now the shield is good against the dragon but piss weak against everything else. So while traveling to the dragon I had my superior shield equipped.

I entered the dragons chamber, charged at it with my long sword, only to fall dead in one hit. I had forgotten to equip the shield.

I don’t need to explain what I did next.

Internet Kraken

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