March 2006

Grimwell’s Adventures in Media

Grimwell, now back on his eponymous website, discovers the obvious:

This is no different than in any other media, there are PR people trying to ‘spin’ the news and make steaming piles of crap into hits before word of mouth kills them. This is why I don’t buy gaming magazines anymore — you can’t trust what you read. On the web you can at least find people brave enough to spout off about the truth of what they find, but those people have no chance of getting an exclusive preview of the big games for the year, or secret access to the recesses of E3 where the ‘good’ data (which has been glossed by PR) is.

So I’m at the point of decision in a quest. Do I play the game and get the exclusives that are shallow and misleading (not always, but often enough), or do I play hardball and accept that I’m not going to be able to do launch day reviews because I won’t see products until I buy them?

As Abalieno, who discovered Grimwell’s new haunt, notes:

Even here I believe who is losing more are the game companies themselves, not the players. It’s the games that are going to suffer because the quality always stands out. You can hide the dirt under the carpet but you are going to have it come out somewhere else and hurting you even more.

As can be seen from my quote in the same article (which was taken from a private email – bad ranter! no cookie!) I tend to agree. Public relations people are normally great people (they kind of have to be, being that dealing with people is their job and all) but they are at direct cross-purposes from a free flow of information which is necessary if developers are to ever get honest feedback. Which is why the best community relations teams aren’t treated as PR adjuncts, but their own seperate fiefdom, where they act more as ombudsmen then salesmen.

Workers! Farmers! Crafters! Rogues! Arise and Shed the Chains of the Class Struggle!

So the latest game from the mysterious Orient isn’t “Dead or Alive 5: Can YOU Get Into Kasumi’s Hotpants” or even “Final Fantasy 12: We’re Not Even Trying Any More, Gaijin Suckers. Now Buy More Damned Moogles”. No… now, you get to “Learn From Lei Feng Online”.

No. Really. Not making this up at all.

HAVE YOU LEARNED ANYTHING YET?This -> is Lei Feng. He’s a Hero of the Socialist Chinese Revolution who died at the age of 22 after a short career as a soldier of the People’s Liberation Army helping old ladies cross streets. We know this because Mao Zedong ordered his people to “Learn From Lei Feng”, and since this was the Cultural Revolution, this was not phrased in the form of a question. To this day, Lei Feng is the equivalent of… well, I don’t think there is any Western equivalent. We don’t tell our kids to learn from any icon, except maybe Puff Daddy.

And now we have the online MMO version, “Learn From Lei Feng Online”, which allows you to… mend socks.

Again – not making any of this up. To quote from the original Xinhua story:

“For beginners, sewing and mending socks is the only way to increase experience and to upgrade,” said Jiao Jian, a six-grade pupil in Yuexiu District, quoted by the newspaper.

He then continues.

“Every time you are promoted to a higher level, your clothes will become more average,” he said.

I’m pretty sure this isn’t a translation screw up. The longer you grind, the more you look like everyone else. I guess new users wear designer pastels or something.

And I bet right now you’re asking what the end game is in “Learn From Lei Feng Online.” I’m glad you asked!

He also said he likes to battle against the secret agents mainly. “Sometimes the enemy was very strong. The fight almost exhausted me, so I would go to talk with the Party secretary to replenish my vitality at once.”

“As long as my experience, reputation, skill and loyalty satisfy the game’s criteria, I will win and meet Chairman Mao,” Jiao noted. “I still have several tasks to go through. I will ‘work hard’ and strive to obtain the Chairman’s autograph as soon as I can.”

Yes… if you finally work through all the raids… you can MEET MAO ZEDONG. (No guarantees on what may happen to you then if your avatar is a young female – in real life, Mao believed that deflowering virgins would help him live longer.) But what is Mao like in “Learn From Lei Feng Online”? Is he the godlike Sun King of the cultural revolution?


Or perhaps, being dead for several decades, he has now returned as LICH KING MAO, ready to wreak unholy vengeance on the capitalist warlords!

If you kill him, he drops a red book.

Or maybe, taking a cue from Japanese anime, it’s not just Mao – it’s MECHA MAO! Fight, Mecha Mao! Fight for Peace and Revolutionary Justice!

The Ro-Bots Are Our Future

I trust, now, you have all learned from Lei Feng. Learned TO DEATH.

I Play Video Games And I Vote. And Occasionally I Drink. But Not To Excess.

At the AGD panel I was on Friday, I closed with a call to action for game makers to aggressively engage the political process – as long as gaming is seen as a “vice” on a par with drug addiction, politicians will continue to score cheap points by going “on the record” with wacky anti-gaming legislation.

Well, if you DO want to get involved, someone made it easy. Good timing, that.

Registering will send a PACmail off to your Senators asking them to vote against Clinton-Lieberman-Bayh. It also helps if you actually register to vote, and vote, preferably for people who aren’t actually power-mad rhesus monkeys with high ambitions. I’m looking at you, New Yorkers.

Why hasn’t Nick Yee done this study yet? Oh. Dignity. Right.

Something Awful explores that nagging question: What would YOU do for some WoW gold?

[Kaloes] whispers: who is this
To [Kaloes]: HER FATHER
[Kaloes] whispers: you gotta be kidding me

To [Clives]: my “man” left me because he wanted to play star wars galaxies
[Clives] whispers: star wars are gay
To [Clives]: tell me about it – he wanted to be an ewok seductress!

Notes from the Republic of Texas


  • Most important observation of the week: apparently, 2 liter bottles of soda do not exist here. It’s 3 liters or nothin’. I’m sort of befuddled by this.
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  • The weather’s extremely beautiful. I’m told this is the only time it’s ever like this, so am duly enjoying it.
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  • I still don’t have my Internet feed at home (it’s due to be set up this weekend). However, a neighbor of mine was kind enough to leave his or her wireless router unsecured, which I am being very gentle with. It’s only fair, we have a neighbor who has, in the short time we’ve been living here, moved from asking my wife for a smoke every time she passes (which, oddly enough, is every time my wife retires to the patio for a smoke) to merely taking one as she comes by to say Hi. I guess sharing is popular. Who knew Texas was a communist society!
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  • Speaking of communism, this is on my wall at work. Thanks go out to Sanya’s father, who is gamely serving his country in an outpost of the ex-USSR and brought back lots of kitsch.
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  • At work I’ve been on the job 3 days and no one has yet told me I’m smoking crack. Clearly they are not used to me!

ZOMG A Clue!

Greetings from Austin!

I expect it will be quite some time before I can talk about anything I’m working on. So expect to continue the same content-free bloggery as always!