Letters to the Editor

Join or Die


To the Editor: I love your web magazine. Just plain love it.

Though, like many of your readers, it seems, my mind is not set on your layout. On odd days, I just find it gorgeous, on even days gorgeous but cumbersome and slow to load (here, at least). Still, the answer already exist, and I’m surprised you’re not advertising it much more: that little “text” link at the bottom of every article, which displays a printer-friendly version that’s also quite comfortable to read “weblog-like.”

But, there is still a little problem: Schematics are incrusted in the full-colored layout, and they don’t make it into the “text” version (see “Death to the Games Industry, Part II”, for example). That’s (a little) bad. Do something about it, you will have a magazine pleasing to everyone!


To the Editor: Mr. Costikyan’s piece is a valuable contribution to the game-developer zeitgeist; he makes strong, well-defended points. Kudos to you for publicizing his work.

That said, why not use The Escapist as a platform to bring more light to the underappreciated, community-based, under-marketed games he recommends? Even without a traditionally-inspired “reviews” section, you could run a weekly feature linking to reviews (or websites) for smaller games. I want to play more indie games, but I don’t know where to find them. I’d like to have a reliable aggregator.

-Dan Davies Brackett

To the Editor: I guess I am one of the first “indie aesthetics” Greg Costikyan talks about in his second part of “Death to the Games Industry“. I have not bought a game at a retail store in three months (last one was GTA SanAn) even though I consider myself a hardcore gamer and spend at least two hours a day on games. I even write game reviews for a small website (gamefreaks365.com). What do I play? Here is a list:

Chromadrome, Democracy, Global Defense Network, Bike or Die, Arvale, Gloop Zero

I have not had this much fun playing games since my family got the first PC back in 1998. I can only recommend people to join me. You probably did not notice but half of the games I mentioned are handheld games that I play on my PalmOS gaming PDA, the Zodiac from Tapwave (dead for 6 weeks now).

In the PalmOS scene I have seen how online distribution can go bad: Two huge ESD sites are controlling the market and taking away 50% of the money you spend on a game just for selling it online. Advertising costs extra! I just thought people should be warned before they wish for central market sites on the Internet. Everyone will stay a heartless capitalist with independent games, too.

-Ortwin Regel

To the Editor: It’s quite refreshing that a “true” game development magazine exists. I’ve been feeling the same things towards the industry and I’m glad that your team of researchers and writers have the opportunity to openly discuss them.

I’ve been an independent game developer for around 2 1/2 years and currently on the very final stretch of releasing my company’s first project, The Adventures of El Ballo for the Mac operating system. Our game hopefully demonstrates your discussion of developers choosing to push the “indie” label into the hands of the players. Yes, we are using AmbrosiaSW as our publisher, but even the film and book “independents” need a publisher to push their content to the media.

My company is very focused on bringing high-quality, yet smaller-scale (indie) games to the market via the Mac platform. Yes, we may be old-school in thought, but still feel that there is an inherent magic to games released only for one platform.

In addition, you can count on us to bastardize games in all the indie-level glory. We plan on slapping the censorship critics in the face. Please check out http://www.elballo.com and look at the star of the game on the front page to see what I mean.

Thanks for your time.

-Casey Gatti

To the Editor: Games need a revolution and I celebrate the article published from Mr. Costikyan. When I heard his views on the industry at the last GDC, I felt for the first time the need to do something about it, for real.

We need to start spreading the idea that Games are, above all things, Culture. A genuine form of expression in the digital era. And not just toys for kids or superficial entertainment.

Let me compare our young industry with movies: Today, it is common for us to think of movies as the Seventh Art. But back in the ages of pioneering film makers, in the same sense that today happens with videogames, movies were considered just a mere entertainment. It took a couple of decades for the movie industry to get its technology mature enough so to become a major form of expression, and so, to be seriously considered as Art.

Developers must try to change the rules of this industry like independent filmmakers did back in the 20’s when after years of fighting, the Supreme Court of the US declared that films were a cultural expression that needed to be protected by the first amendment. When that happened, big studios that controlled all the movie-theatres suddenly found that they no longer had that control.

I would like to invite all readers of The Escapist, the staff of your magazine and anyone who really cares about games, to a site specially made to work as a Think Tank and place to express our views on the industry, share development experience and games made, and change the industry for good: GamesAreArt.com

-Santiago Siri

To the Editor: The problem with RMT in MMOGs is not that people are trading in virtual items. It’s that the outside world encroaches on the fantasy. It’s the inevitable sense of inequality that this creates for the “simple people” in the game. People who can afford to buy their way to greatness in the game are the Old Money of the game world, and they create a sinking feeling for the rest of us that they got there unfairly, not through hard work in the game-world, but by having money in RL.

So yes, you have the entrepreneurs that managed to use their skills and gain fame and property through in-game channels, but for the “middle-class” of the game world, the “Old Money” players are a constant reminder of the realities outside the game world, of their own disadvantage as players who cannot afford a $150 suit of armor or a $500 ass-whooping sword.

The game world is an escapist frontier, and it has no room for 19th century-like Old Money, just like the Wild West had not a place for those not willing to strap on their boots and work for a living.

I don’t know how common this feeling is, but it’s very strong for me whenever I play an MMOG. It’s a feeling that the one place where skill and craftsmanship should have mattered most – a true manifestation of Adam Smith’s vision – was changed completely by the introduction of RMT.

-Dubi Kanengisser

To the Editor: I really love this magazine. The articles are insightful and the quality of the writing is refreshing in a world where game marketing passes for game literature most of the time. Well done!

With regard to the web version of the magazine, I really dislike the way the navigation bar at the bottom right gets in the way of the text. I use Firefox as my main web browser, and I increase the font size so I don’t have to squint at my high resolution display. Your web page doesn’t make it easy, and I end up having to change screen resolutions to read the page comfortably without constantly increasing and decreasing the font size and squinting just to read the paragraph or two that get obscured. Could you at the very least move the nav bar to the top so that increasing the font size won’t pose such a problem? It would at least solve that issue for readers, and I won’t feel that printing out the PDF is my only recourse.

With regard to the articles, can we please refrain from referring to paying and potential customers as “consumers?” With all the recent talk about abolishing the old publishing model, we sure stick to the same thought processes easily enough. When you call a person a consumer, you are basically relegating that person to an unthinking creature suitable for commercial exploitation. Is that who we really want as our gaming public? I would think we would prefer smart, savvy customers who appreciate a good game and won’t salivate over the latest blinking light show.

Also, is there a reason why the editorial calendar is available only in an Excel document? Why not just convert it to an HTML or PDF document? It would be way more web friendly in either format compared to Office documents.


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