Archive for category miscellaneous
I’ve decided to slightly alter the way I go about posting my “bits” entries.
Over the 2+ year existence of this blog, the “bits” posts have become more thorough summaries of games rather than quick bullet-point lists. The reason for this is that the elements I often want to mention require some context to be understood by everyone. Unfortunately this slows down the process quite a bit, so I’ll be limiting it from now on.
Additionally, I’ve tried to post about titles I have completed at least once. Like most people, though, I don’t actually finish the majority of the games I play. This means that many games never get mentioned even if they are pretty noteworthy, so that will change as well.
Summary: Taking a cue from Michael Clarkson’s capsules, this will be a quick “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of each game.
Bits: A bullet-point list of standout gameplay mechanics, presentation techniques, and any other notable elements.
Extras: Links to reviews, videos, and fan-sites (if any exist) pertaining to the game.
As the games-journalism debate of consumer evaluations vs. artistic critiques continues, it’s almost refreshing to look back on the sordid history of GameFan Magazine.
DieHard GameFan Magazine was an unabashedly fanboy-ish publication that spawned in the backroom of a videogame store. It started off as a catalogue promoting Western and import titles, but quickly grew to a widely syndicated magazine that competed with the likes of EGM and GamePro. It was filled with hyperboles, factual errors and made-up rumours, but it also had lovingly arranged layouts, superior print quality and a contagious enthusiasm for the medium.
I fondly recall pouring over GameFan’s spreads of popular games like Earthworm Jim and Street Fighter Alpha, and lesser known titles — which I didn’t hear much about in other publications but was pleased to discover — such as Dark Savior and Lucienne’s Quest. Like many young videogame enthusiasts, I eagerly awaited the treasure trove of text and colour that came with each issue, but I was oblivious to the magazine’s crazy behind-the-scenes antics:
- The company behind GameFan was perpetually on the verge of bankruptcy, resulting in re-enactments of Cannonball Run by its employees who did not want their checks to bounce.
- Review copies were burned and leaked out, much to the dismay of Capcom.
- Dubious lawsuits were launched.
- Writers took on multiple roles, including those of fans writing to the magazine, and of the Postmeister responding to said letters.
- Illegal workers were employed while magazine covers were sometimes given to the most attractive PR girl.
- Drug binges and reviews occasionally went hand in hand.
- Fake ID’s were obtained under the name of “Guile.”
- Dogs were routinely jerked off.
- Investors were swindled, with the boss allegedly breaking into company property so he could purchase expensive videogame memorabilia.
- Event budgets were spent on prostitutes.
- Racial slurs occasionally slipped through the cracks and made it into print.
It’s hard to defend GameFan after reading the above, and the magazine itself was as far from real journalism as videogame publications got, but for many it was also a labour of love. As such, it still stands heads and shoulders above all the other fanzines, and its tumultuous history is rich enough to fill a book.
If it ever does, I’d sure like to read it.
The IGDA is electing 5 new board members, and if you’re a videogame developer, you might want to cast your vote(s). The minimum $48 Core membership is required to do this, but it’s a pretty important election that will have a large impact on the organization.
I’ve already submitted my ballot, and I hope that David Edery gets one of the eligible spots. I’ve only ever spoken to David a few times, but he was very approachable, and his business acumen would certainly benefit the IGDA. Being the former head of XBLA’s world-wide portfolio, David has given out various lectures on digital distribution, and continues to write insightful commentaries on the ever changing videogame market. I believe his knowledge could prove very beneficial to the IDGA and its members, and would help us adapt to the trends (and sometimes the hard-to-accept realities) of the business.
For a more robust assessment of the candidates, though, feel free to check out Scott Macmillan’s analyses of the entrants.
Whatever the results, I hope they’ll bring some concrete improvements to the oft-criticized IGDA.
Jason Rohrer made a big name for himself at the gamma 256 event with the release of Passage. It was a great use of the videogame medium, conveying a message and evoking emotions. It also created enough mainstream buzz to garner Jason a very interesting article in Esquire. His humble and spiritual lifestyle made him an indie darling, and no one very few people dared to say anything negative about him.
Not too many people seemed to notice that Jason wasn’t just a gentle “hippie” developer, though. For example, his article on non-randomized, “infinitely replayable” single-player games was a cold, hard look at game mechanics. The piece was almost an antithesis to the game that made him famous, showcasing his range as a designer.
In recent days, it was announced that Jason would be joining Tool, an advertising agency. At first glance, this seemed like a good fit. Jason has proven himself a very creative individual, capable of using a medium in unique and unexplored ways. Logically speaking, this makes him a potentially great fit for advertising, and kudos to Tool for recognizing it.
However, what I failed to initially grasp is that this also makes him a sellout.
“http://bit.ly/TOOLROHRER jason rohrer your parents are rich you don’t have to sell out. i’m sure TOOL will be a good fit for you though”
““i see video games not as addicting time-wasters, but…tools for communication and expression” you’re going to make ads for fucking verizon”
“jason rohrer won’t plug in a refrigerator for fear of killing chinese children but he apparently has no qualms about selling refrigerators.”
OK, let’s break down this vitriol a bit:
- First of all, glad to know some of us are not above the low-hanging fruit that is calling Jason Rohrer a sellout by referencing “TOOL,” the name of his new employer.
- How is not mooching off your parents a bad thing?
- What does Verizon have to do with Jason’s view of videogames?
- Where is it stated that Jason will be creating ads for refrigerators? Isn’t that a bit presumptuous? Also, when did he state that ridding the world of refrigerators was his life goal? Maybe he’s just someone who follows his own personal beliefs without shoving them down the throats of others?
I mean, isn’t this all just a bit silly? The guy has made a modest living off of creating small — and for the most part — freeware games. Obviously the donations he received for these titles have not kept him financially secure. Wanting to improve his monetary situation, he’s found a gig at a company that seems to value his skill-set. The details of this job are unknown, and Jason has not stated anything about the future of his games.
And yet, this is enough to crucify him?
Seriously, get off your high-horse people and stop shitting on a talented guy who’s done nothing but try to enrich the culture you hold so dear.