Letters to the Editor

I Like to Move It


In response to “Philosophy of Game Design, Part Two” from The Escapist Forum: These articles are such a hodgepodge of concepts and ideas so loosely put together and made to relate to gaming that it gives me a headache. Each article contains six good ideas for articles trampled over like a frog on a freeway. Reading it has been more depressing than Kafka.

Since Gamestop doesn’t exist in my country and so I don’t care about it at all, there are now two ongoing four-article series I’ll just skip every week.

The Escapist should be glad that I am a calm and considerate man, or I could go and do something drastic like complain about it on the internet.

The Random One

Wow, that was a rambling mess.

Once again, there’s no actual insight provided here. You bring up subjects, ask some obvious questions, then switch topics. Hume, neoliberalism, and logical positivism are shoved in where they bring no value to the article.

You don’t seem to have any actual ideas. Is this entire series going to be nothing more than a transparent excuse for philosophical name-dropping?



In response to “Geeks in the Mist” from The Escapist Forum:

I read this article in my head with that tone of voice that one normally reserves for those nature-show commentators. You know what I’m talking about… “See here how the honey bee dances gently this way and that, all in an elaborate dance to show her companions where the sugar is.” I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed the humour. Hat’s off to you 🙂

Personally I heard Sir David Attenborough’s voice.

Seriously, though, how many of us haven’t had to put away our “childish things” to some extent because of the demands of everyday adult life? Sure, I’d love to veg out at my computer and play games all day, but I have that pesky full-time job, food shopping, and all other kinds of self-maintenence chores to handle. And while the whole Geek thing may be more socially acceptable than it was in the past- I was chatting about FPS games with a couple of co-workers outside the office during a fire drill recently, for example- it’s still not something we go around bragging about.

Why? Because games- a whole and distinct other area from sports- are still labled as “childish things”, something grown adults are no longer supposed to hold an interest in. And that ties into the greater pressure to “keep up appearances”, to show the world that you are a Mature Adult and a Contributing Member of Society. Games are still considered a waste of time, when you could be doing something more valuable, like getting drunk with friends at a sports bar, or shopping. Older people, of course, are given a pass on this, because they’ve already done all they can for society and are entitled to their leisure time. That’s why people think it’s cute when Grandma bowls a perfect game on the Wii, but shake their heads in disgust when a 30-year-old man talks about being in a Modern Warfare 2 clan. Why isn’t he putting in overtime for a promotion so he can buy his wife better clothes and his kids more expensive toys? And doesn’t the lawn need mowing?

The Rogue Wolf

As a fellow anthropologist, I am simultaneously amused by the intended satire and cringing because I have read reports that read exactly like this. Real life, scientific reports about real people–which is pretty scary. The next time you read about some study that looked at a given group and determined something, think back to this article and question their results!



In response to “Confessions of a Gamestop Employee, Part Two” from The Escapist Forum:

Wow.. Is it just me or does ‘Ben’ kind off come of like a bit of a dick in this article?

Retail does this to you. It grinds away your soul and replaces you with a furious little husk of your former self.

Fortunately for me, I get commission, so not only am I allowed to cheapskate my customers, I’m actually encouraged by the boss. Also I have a lot of fun with customers. Had one guy call up to give me this 10 minute (no, seriously) rant about how his GPS handset which he didn’t even buy from us, was faulty. At the end of the 10 minutes, I just said “Sounds like a tech issue” and transferred him to the tech bay. He must have been mad, but I was grinning for the rest of the day.

“I’m looking for this ink, but it’s not on your shelf. Can you check out the back for me?”
“We don’t keep ink out the back. If it’s not on the shelf, it’s not in store.”
“Well can you at least check for me?”

Also had a guy try to trade in his 3 year old 500g External Hard Drive (which requires power source) for a new 500g portable pocket Hard Drive (portable and far more expensive for the same storage). I told him we wouldn’t do it. He demanded to speak to the manager. I just said:
“I’m not going to get the manager for you. Your proposition is quite frankly, ridiculous.”
He was not pleased. When I told my manager later, he said “Hahahaha, what a dickhead.”



here seems to be two types on this thread, and I’m pretty sure they break down into “worked in retail interacting with customers” and “never had to deal with customers in a retail enviroment”.

Everyone who’s worked a job even close to this, (mine was the meat/fish deapartment of a grocery store) knows the warm feeling of a customer walking away insulted because they wanted something that doesn’t exist/isn’t realistic.

The only difference between this guy and everyone else is that you’re finding out what he thinks when you ask stupid questions or walk away.



In response to “Spoiled Rotten” from The Escapist Forum: I completely disagree with your premise. You say that you gain hours of enriched experience by being spoiled by sacrificing the split second of surprise, but your experience wasn’t so much “enriched” as “different.” Knowing Vader is Luke’s/Leia’s father brings a whole new light into all of their interactions, yes. Watching Star Wars again after that discovery is practically a whole new experience. But NOT knowing isn’t just about the surprise, it’s about the subtle details leading up to the surprise. It’s about the limited 3rd-person perspective given to the viewer so they can experience the journey with the protagonists.

I remember reading Into Thin Air (a good book) and being incredibly frustrated when it started with the equivalent of, “But most of us would die before we got off the mountain.” Without giving me that information, it would have been a great book. I would have been able to share in the trials getting up Everest, the triumph at finally reaching the summit, and, finally, the despair, horror, and confusion as people died coming down. Instead, the trials seemed irrelevant; reaching the top only meant people would start dying soon; and the despair, horror, and confusion was nonexistent, I’d prepared myself over the past 200 pages. The spoiler had inoculated me against feeling any strong emotion while reading the book.

Further, spoilers ruin Fridge Brilliance. Knowing Luke and Leia are siblings will cause a squick when you watch Empire Strikes Back. NOT knowing will cause a squick after watching Return of the Jedi when you remember that they kissed earlier. Which is the better experience? I prefer Fridge Brilliance.

Finally, as theexhippy said, you can only experience the game/book/movie in one way: knowing the end. By not being spoiled you can have it all: the experience of not knowing, and the suspense/surprise associated with it AND the experience of knowing when you play through again to see all the subtleties that led up to the twist.

Back when Roger Ebert said games weren’t art, there was a lot of argument about what, exactly, constituted art, with a strong faction saying art evoked emotion. In my mind, spoilers ruin the emotional experience. In my mind, spoilers are the equivalent of painting a mustache on the actual Mona Lisa, taking a sledgehammer to the Taj Mahal, or burning 80 frames, at random, out of the last copy of A New Hope. In my mind, spoilers destroy art.


I can agree with the idea that playing a game knowing its plot is not a ruined experience, even if its for the first time. As you say, Bioshock is a case in point – the first time through was fantastic, plot and all, but the second time allowed me to appreciate the nuances in the writing, admire the level design, listen closer to the music and stare out of the windows onto the strangely beautiful city outside. Its only my opinion, but the first playthrough of plot-driven games is about the story with all other elements serving to drive it on, whereas the second allows for a different experience, perhaps a greater appreciation of the work of the developers.

However, I disagree with some of the things the author of this article mentioned. Firstly, just because a spoiled game is a great experience doesn’t mean that it becomes equal to an un-spoiled experience in terms of its emotive power. Again, this is just an opinion, but that first playthrough with the plot’s secrets intact is the thing that makes me really love a game. Subsequent playthroughs can expand on that, but they could never have built up the connection in the first place, for me at least.

I also have an issue with the final paragraph, which seems a little ridiculous. Saying that without spoilers, ‘anyone could have been Luke’s father’ is absurd. The comparison of a person wary of spoilers to a child leaving their Christmas presents unwrapped is a completely broken analogy – it suggests that a viewer would pause the DVD of the Empire Strikes Back just before Vader’s revelation because they can’t bear to know what it is and would rather remain in the dark (if they somehow knew when in the film said revelation happened). Maybe I’ve misunderstood the writer’s meaning, but this statement is just ridiculous.

Spoilers are bad when revealed outside of the game’s story. When revealed in it, they are (when well-executed) powerful moments of real emotive impact. There is still merit in playing a game where you know the story (I agree with this) but everyone should have the chance to have that first playthrough without knowing the plot. Which is why I’m disappointed that this article contained spoilers for Shadow of the Colossus, a game I haven’t played but would really want to. I’m glad to hear the author’s views about spoilers, but not to have them subtly imposed on me.


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