The Answer to Everything

To the Editor: I love The Escapist. As a magazine it does more than inform about games – anyone can do that. You on the other hand inform about the society and sociology created by the existence of games, which is as important, in my opinion, as the games themselves.

I have been captured recently by an undercurrent that seems to thread through many of the latest articles: The need for diversity, but also the need for emotional connection and varying consequences. In the articles “Where Games Lost My Emotion” the “Gaming at the Margins” series and even “The Play Is the Thing,” you described the need for games that show the consequences of our actions, and allow us to make decisions that will affect the outcome of the game. In our society there are fewer and fewer people willing to take responsibility for their actions or believe that their actions have no consequences. Many of these people are in the marketing demographic for video games. It is great to see a group of people who are interested in showing the need to understand and account for the effect our actions will have on others, and I thank you for stressing this need in your articles.

I would ask one thing, if it is at all possible, please report on how this need is being filled. I am sure that your plea has not fallen on deaf ears, nor would I think that you are the only ones in the industry to discover this need. So if there are games meeting your described needs, what are they and who is making them? Where can I get them? Maybe if people were to see that others have successfully accomplished (or are currently attempting to accomplish) this goal, they would be likely to follow suit.

Keep up the good work.

A loyal reader,
-Nathan Jeles

To the Editor: First, let’s get the usual pleasantries dispensed with. I love the magazine, read it every week, enjoy thinking about the issues it throws up, and love that other people think games are more than they may first appear.

There’s one game, one, that has made me cry. Others have made me feel various things, anger (thank you WoW ganking), frustration (Ninja Gaiden really is Nintendo hard), and satisfaction (but it’s so rewarding when you finally manage to beat up the nunchaku guy).

But, for making me cry, that honor goes to Xenogears, the Japanese RPG by Squaresoft that was remade into the more recent Xenosaga series.

The game is two CDs of complex, interwoven, thematically fascinating story. In what other game do you find out not only that you have to kill God, but that God is in fact the power source for an ancient planet-killing biological weapon that has created everyone on Earth to use as spare parts in its 10,000 year regeneration process?

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In what other game would you have a love story between two people that get continuously reincarnated for the whole 10,000 years, only to have the woman die in the man’s arms every time?

Even now, I still get goosebumps.

To be honest, I’m probably not the only one who will say that a Japanese RPG made them cry. Currently, they have two factors in their favor for producing strong emotions: They’re long, letting you build up feeling for the characters and get to know them, and they’re very narrative-based, meaning that there actually are characters, and that stuff happens to them.

Thanks for the awesome read.


To the Editor: [re: Dom Camus on Warren Spector] One point perhaps lost is that the current situation is one of games stuck in one rather specific niche. Game design can advance without becoming “mainstream” (Though I see nothing wrong with that – to each his own), for there are many more interesting niches waiting to be filled. As Julianne mentioned in this week’s editorial, no game has made her cry. Surely there could exist a tragedy niche, just as action-adventure is a niche already well-addressed by games.

-Peter Robinett

To the Editor: In the Wal-Mart article in issue 40, you quoted the programmer of Deer Hunter as having said that its target audience had been “ignored by the game market (or worse, ridiculed by games like Redneck Rampage).” He’s right about the ignoring, but wrong in his implication of Redneck Rampage.

Your redneck has a deep sense of humor, and is not too concerned about maintaining a politically correct stance to avoid offending those who occasionally fry up a possum and serve it with Moon Pies and corn liquor. Redneck Rampage was fun and not mean-spirited. The series sold several hundred thousand units, a large percentage having been sold from the shelves of Wal-Mart. The “Wal-Mart audience,” as you call it, bought more copies than did the wired, black-clothes-wearing, Marin-County-dwelling, $4,000-computer-having audience.


-Bill Dugan
President, Torpex Games
(Producer, Interplay, Redneck Rampage, 1997)

To the Editor: I enjoyed your magazine. There are lots and lots of men on every single article … except the sexuality one. Then there are all women.

What gives?


To the Editor: I wanted to applaud The Escapist and the content it’s publishing. It summarizes the current flaws in gaming in today’s world and makes me feel a little better about being a game designer.


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