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In response to “Conan’s B-List Problem” from The Escapist Forum: I agree wholeheartedly with this – gaming needs to not just probe the realm of expression and intellectual challenge, but charge in headlong and do someting crazy.

Admittedly, some of these tend to lack financial success, just look at Psychonauts and Giants: Citizen Kabuto. Both were incredibly interesting, fun and imaginative games, but lacked the financial success over, say, Shoot Them In The Crotch III: This Time They’re Slighty Less Pixellated.

One notable exception is Bioshock, drawing from some really interesting literary and philosophical sources, it also delivered in gameplay and value for money (overall, don’t start bashing my opinion of this).

So, what to say? We can push for more challenging and engrossing styles, plots and characters, but if it doesn’t bring in the readies, you won’t get past the front door. We need to take baby steps into new territory, not giant, blind leaps.


Hi! I’m the Tom Smith mentioned in the article. I was Creative Manager on this Conan.

Nice article. I’m a big fan of artistic games and love playing them. Using the REH Conan method and sneaking deep meaning into otherwise popular entertainment is a good concept that games like Bioshock exemplify well (as Surggical_Scar mentioned).

When I said that our game isn’t a deep philosophical exploration of REH’s themes, I wasn’t saying that such a thing couldn’t be done. Heck, I’d welcome it. But it wasn’t the direction we took. For various reasons, we were just making a philosophically simple, fun game with a light touch of REH’s themes on top.

The_root_of_all: REH’s Conan was a little bit of everything – inexperienced thief, pirate in love, warlord, but always a barbarian at heart. But Groo, that’s a B-list (C-list?) with some deep philosophical underpinnings. See, cheese dip is a metaphor for capitalist materialism, and…

LB/Narrator: Some of the themes PopMatters noticed were intentional. We did try to carry a little of REH’s philosophy into it. Admittedly, that article finds more than we intended, at least from the discussions I was part of. But thanks for bringing it up.

General Ma Chao: Definitely go back to the REH stories. You’ll be surprised. There really is a lot more depth there than in any subsequent version of Conan, in addition to some excellent action scenes and half-naked women. Those stories rock.

And for the record, I’m ‘a’ Creative Manager at THQ, not ‘the’ CM – there’s one for every project or two.


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Am I the only one who thinks people are reading into this a little too much? I admit my experience with Conan is the two movies and the cartoon “Conan the Adventurer” but I still don’t see why people are analyzing it so much.

Here’s where I start talking about “lizard brains” again. Conan and so many other B-heroes are just ways for us to safely revel in boyish sex and violence fantasies. It doesn’t matter how old and mature you get.

On some primitive level, it still resonates with you. And that’s all right. Those shots of raw testosterone and adrenaline are better than all the drugs in the world in changing your mood. Every time I watch Fist of the North Star, I get that feeling every time I hear Kenshiro doing his iconic “ATATATATATA-WATAH!”

General Ma Chao


In response to “Idea Sex in the Classroom” from The Escapist Forum: As the article initially points out, the problem with learning has so much more to do with entertainment than anything else. If the learning material (or how that material is being taught) isn’t entertaining, then of course its dreaded and loathed by reluctant students.

But that’s not where it ends. Simply educating the educators does nothing. A teacher’s attitude, beliefs, charisma, and commanding respect are all factors on how well a student learns. You can give someone all of the materials, and teach them how to use those materials, and they’ll still fail. But what sticks out the most with bad teachers, more so than mean and horrible teachers, are when they don’t have faith in what they teach, or when they don’t have faith in who they teach. When either of those two are lacking, at least half of the class is bound for failure.

With the rise of bad parenting and weak family ties ever since the 60’s (or was it earlier?), the TV, more or less, became a parenting tool, and children grew up with weak connections to their in-home role-models. Instead of having a reliable parent to look up to, they instead escaped to the sit-a-thon that is tv programming, and when they did look to their parents, received near to nothing, or an entirely wrong message. Teachers are really surrogate parents, and when they fail at that, the child fails, with no one to blame.

Sorry for the rant. For me, education and parenting are closely tied, as I imagine it is for a lot of people, and is something that I personally feel is poor.


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