Letters to the Editor

Refrigerators to Eskimos …


To The Editor: I’m not sure how computer games are becoming more significant each day given the fact that only very few people worldwide have access to computers. From what I know, there are only around 600 million computers worldwide, or something like one for every ten people. The ratio might even be smaller if most of those computers are obsolete and if many users own or use more than one computer. And with the possibility of both peak oil and global warming, we might industry and technology going the other way round during the next few years.

– Paenggoy

To The Editor: Thank you for your article “Frag Doll on Frag Dolls” in issue 58. I could have been that Frag Doll who talked in the interview, as I made it down to the last 15 applicants to be a UK FD. But I turned down an interview for the job for the exact same reasons as Voodoo left it – it seemed to be a massive publicity stunt hiding under the respectable facade of being about gender equality in gaming.

I’ve always wondered if I should have gone for it anyway, if only to become well known in the gaming world and hopefully, playfully, cheese-off my games-obsessed male friends. But reading your article has convinced me that the Frag Dolls are not to be taken seriously and if girls want to game, they should just get on with it.

– Hannah

In Response to “Back in The Day” from The Escapist Forum: I became a SysOp of my own BBS when I was 12, using my parents’ fax line. I was soon hooked into a network of local BBSs. For me, this was truly the precursor of the internet. People had a great sense of loyalty to the BBSs they logged onto regularly, and some good friendships developed between the SysOps and their users.

Now, I too am a game developer, and games like Trade Wars 2002 (my personal favourite back then) will always be an influence on me, because these games were 100% about design and gameplay. There were a lot of great BBS games and a lot of poor ones. When all you had was ASCII (or later, extended ANSI) graphics, you really needed a creative knack to make a game that people could get addicted to.

– kbeam

In Response to ” Who Really Makes the Games” from The Escapist Forum: I think the Retro-metroid example is an interesting one to bring up here. The fact that retro is a first party to Nintendo had more of an impact in that game becoming great than a standard developer-publisher relationship.

I remember reading interviews with the retro guys during the development of the original Metroid Prime and they would often mention how often the Nintendo guys would visit, looking over their shoulders and offering suggestions to make sure the final product was good. I’m sure the same could be said for many of the other games that Nintendo outsources.

In research, it doesn’t matter how much of the work was performed by the student, the supervisor will always get their name on the final product and 99% of the time it is well deserved, because without the supervisors input the end result would never have become what it finally did.

In the video game industry a lot of publishers seem to claim this sort of credit by default but let’s not rush into saying that it is always undeserved. While it does seem necessary for the actual developers to get more credit than they are at this point, I would have no problem with EA taking credit for some of the games they publish if they were to offer Will Wright up as a supervisor, both to help increase the quality of the games and at the same time teach the developers how to make better games.

– Goofonian

In Response to “Working in Games” from The Escapist Forum: Good article, kudos to Dana.

One thing that wasn’t approached in this article is the rapidly expanding game industries in the Far East. In some countries game developers are paid a fraction of what they get in the West and typically work well over 60 hours a week. The same and worse apply to outsourcing companies where many western game developers elect to give their work out to. I’m not just talking about the “sweatshop” factor coming to play here. Work ethic in Japan for example is much different than in the West. It’s not uncommon for game developers to work over 90 hours a week, not get paid overtime, and love it.

Competition from the Far East is increasingly becoming a factor for market share, even in western markets. These trends could steadily drive salaries down and demands on human resources higher.

– Tasos

In Response to ‘Why We Haven’t Lapsed” from The Escapist Forum: Wonderful essay. I’m a big fan of what you’ve done, Erin. In many ways, we are saying the same things, though the particular piece of mine you linked to was a bit on the dark side.

  • Focus on people-centric development methodologies. Game development really doesn’t need to model itself on the practices of Mr. Disney circa 1941.
  • Take advantage of growth markets such as casual games, the DS, and online games.
  • Value experience.

I also believe that it is okay to leave the game industry and see how things are done outside our mildly inbred community. Perspective and an omnivorous liberal arts appetite for different ideas can still have a positive impact on game development. As any great game designer will tell you, making a good game isn’t just about referencing other games. We all need to pull our heads out of the sand occasionally and sample outside influences.

Many of these gloom and doom comments ultimately stem from a passionate belief in the immense potential that games offer as a creative and social medium. It is customer service 101: the ones who complain the loudest love you the most. It is good to have some prickly characters that rile things up occasionally, because they still believe that our industry has the ability to better itself. That warms my heart immensely.

– Danc

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