The Remarkable Notability Of Old Man Murray

By John Walker on March 4th, 2011 at 2:00 pm.

It's ridiculous how long these take me.

This is something special.

If you saw Wednesday’s article about Old Man Murray’s temporary deletion from Wikipedia, you’ll know that it was originally deemed “not notable” due to a lack of references. That’s been fixed now, thanks to the very hard work of Wikipedia editors. (It’s probably wise not to dismiss one of the greatest works of humanity over a single, dodgy admin settling personal grudges. Compare and contrast with when we turned our attention to Fox News. Nothing changed. Wikipedia addresses the issue professionally within 24 hours.) And we want to help it stay that way.

Since Rock, Paper, Shotgun is regarded by Wikipedia to be a notable source for other entries, we thought it would be a good idea to ask some leading industry figures why they hold Old Man Murray in such high regard. To create the ultimate citation. So we approached people in the games industry to tell us why the site was important to them. Below you can see, in no particular order, responses from the likes of Gabe Newell, Harvey Smith, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Martin “GoldenEye” Hollis, and many others.

Two paragraphs.

Gabe Newell – Co-founder and Managing Director, Valve

“Old Man Murray were the Velvet Underground of post-print journalism.”

Chris Baker – Senior Editor, Wired Magazine

“When I first got to San Francisco ten or 11 years ago, the game devs and game journos I met cited two sources with Talmudic reverence: Penny Arcade and OMM. Any conversation about Seaman, Shenmue, American McGee, Daikatana, point-and-click adventure games, or Serious Sam inevitably led to a reference to OMM’s definitive pieces on those topics.”

Matthew Breit – Lightbox Interactive

“OMM will be immortal to me, as it probably is for a lot of level designers, for the “Start to Crate Time” review system. It was the first actual critical look at a level design trend I remember ever reading, and by God it saved my career. (Being a rude parody only made it so much more effective.) I used to treat crates like a kind of industrial landscaping tool – any time a design in my head called for a more intriguing shape than “big empty room,” my solution was to make a big empty room and pile crates all over. I once made a Q2DM map with a secret vent in it, and there were crates *inside the vent*. They were bigger than the vent opening, for God’s sake, they wouldn’t have even realistically fit in there to begin with. What was I thinking?

The start-to-crate-time review system made me self-conscious, and it made me self-critical, and that made me better. In fact, I took it so far I’m basically a hopeless art-game hipster now who won’t play anything less original than Dear Esther rendered in software. If it weren’t for OMM, I’d still be manufacturing Aliens fan-wank levels. Thank you, Old Man Murray.”

Bryan Lee O’Malley – Creator, Scott Pilgrim

“As far as I’m concerned, Old Man Murray invented the internet, and also invented making jokes about video games, two things which are maybe the foundation of everything I hold dear. I think it may be fair to say that my somewhat-notable “Scott Pilgrim” books couldn’t exist in a world where OMM never did.”

Eric Church – Ass. Lead Designer, EA LA; Lead Designer, BreakAway Ltd

“As one of the designers on Medal of Honor: Frontline and Call of Duty: Finest Hour I can honestly say that Old Man Murray, in particular the Time to Crate review system, had a direct effect on our level design. Sometimes as a point of criticism, sometimes as a point of homage. I don’t think there was a designer of first person shooters from the time who wasn’t influenced by OMM. It was satire at its most effective. It triggered serious thought and discussions about the assumptions of game design.”

Stephen Robertson – Senior Game Designer

“I have fond memories of Old Man Murray because Chet was a massive fan of the I-War space sim game (Called Independence War in the US), which I was fortunate enough to be involved with as a designer at Particle Systems working on the US release. The Old Man Murray site gave the game some great publicity after getting hold of the original European release, and then followed its US release closely, and even ran an I-War competition.

My boss Michael Powell went to E3 to demo the game for the US release in 1998 and met Chet. I remember seeing some photos of my boss and Chet on the I-War stand. I think we gave him a T-Shirt. It’s a long time ago so my memory is kind of fuzzy :) Ah, here it is – confirmed that Chet loved I-War and met Michael Powell at E3.”

Tyler Sample – Designer, Cavewars

“I was one of the devs on Cavewars, and was and am a big fan of OMM. I also think they are responsible for why the industry is what it is today. I’m speaking somewhat of development, but more so of marketing. I’m also not entirely sure it was all a positive influence, but to say it wasn’t notable would be insane. However, I remember being more relieved than bummed that we weren’t mentioned on OMM. Their negativity could get pretty over the top… Hilariously so, provided it wasn’t directed at you.”

Mike Wilson – Co-Founder and CEO of Gathering of Developers; Devolver Digital

“I can tell with absolute certainty that OMM’s article and interest in the original Serious Sam demo was the reason GodGames found Croteam (via our partners at 3DRealms) and signed the game as quickly as we did. Which is important, since surely someone else would have signed the game eventually, but there’s no way Croteam would have been allowed to retain the IP rights with another publisher, nor made a truly fair share of the money from the games. And therefore, the series would likely have died in the hands of whatever internal team the property was handed to, rather it being revived and continued by the guys who created it in the first place.

OMM was something we looked forward to reading every time it was published, even though some of us were the ones getting raked over the ingeniously incendiary coals from time to time. ;) They are truly missed, and the idea that they aren’t regarded as ‘important enough’ to remain on Wikipedia is ridiculous considering the number of gaming sites they paved the way for and the type of writing they pioneered for our industry.”

Harry Miller – CEO Ritual Entertainment; Devolver Digital

“Well said Mike.”

Kieron Gillen – Former Deputy Editor, PC Gamer; Co-Founder and Director, RPS Ltd.

“Anyone in a generation of writers worth giving a fuck about worshipped them. Or, at least, the ones I knew. From Big Jim McCauley shouting over the office when they’d update to Ste Curran and me crouching in a dingy venue and yelping like schoolgirls when they came up in conversation, OMM were basically as cool as they got. Their key innovation was an embracing of a wildfire idiom that personified an age suddenly grasping what the Internet really REALLY was about (for studiers of the form, look at their use of image in their stories and remember this is 12 years ago). They clearly saw the difference between being funny and joking. They’re easy to overlook as critics because of the stylistic flourishes, but they had a genuine impact in how people thought about games (something which few more serious critics can even dream of claiming)

No-one was vicious and cruel in such a balletic way before in front of a US audience. If you want the bad side of OMM’s influence, you’ll find it there there, and the half-formed nihilistic spunk-stains doing bad pastiche of others’ bad pastiche of genius. Oh yeah – when I coined the phrase New Games Journalism a few years later, I suspect I’d have got in far less trouble if I linked to their annihilation of the Deus Ex’s demo rather than the more pseudy examples I leaned towards.
Frankly, PCG tried to give them the biggest compliment we could. We tried to get an interview with them, which they started and never finished. Which I stopped chasing because I realised that, on some level, it was only right they avoided it, and we were trying to steal a little lightning from their bottle. I know that Mr Newell has described them as the VU of post-press games journalism, but that’s a lot like how it felt (though I’d have said the Stooges rather than VU). We’d have never have asked any other journo for an interview. And we were happy for it not to appear, because they were frankly too cool for us. We’ve been catching up ever since.”

Martin Hollis – Director, GoldenEye 007; former Head of Software, Rare; CEO, Zoonami

“They were very funny, but so offensive it was difficult to recommend widely. They used a picture of Ayn Rand as a bit of visual interest on one of their pieces. They captioned it: This way to the gas chamber, retards. The fact that I can remember this years and years later says a lot about their writing. I loved them and I miss them.”

Dean O’Donnell – Assoc. Director of IMGD, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (US)

“I’m neither a developer nor a journalist. I’m a college professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the Interactive Media and Game Development program.

OMM is notable, and specifically Death of Adventure Games is required reading for my freshmen students in the IMGD1000 course, Critical Studies of Interactive Media and Game Development. I use it both as a great piece of analysis and as a basic design lesson for my budding game designers.”

Rod Humble – Former Executive Vice President, EA Play; CEO, Linden Lab

I loved the “great moments in game writing”. That style is common nowadays, but back then it was new and OMM was the first place I saw them. My favourite was,

“The first sentence of a recent Deus Ex 2 preview on pc.ign.com: ‘There’s a tendency among the press to attribute the creation of a game to a single person,’ says Warren Spector, creator of Thief and Deus Ex.”

Greg Noe – Owner, The First Hour

“I started a game review site in 2007 called The First Hour which is, hopefully obviously, a site that plays the first hour of video games and answers the question on whether they’re worth playing or not. It was inspired a bit by OMM’s Crate Review feature and includes a time on “Minutes to Action.” My theory is that gamers can only spend so long reading walls of text and watching cutscenes when they expect to be playing a game, and this first impression can leave a very bad (or good) taste as long as they keep playing.”

Ed Stern – Lead Writer, Spash Damage

“OMM. Even its initials lent it a meditatory incantational air, best intoned while slowly nodding, lit from within by paradigm-shattering revelation and nested gags. To be honest, I was intimidated by OMM at the time. It was usually too hip, too polished and too raw for me. At the time, much to my own detriment, I was merely an intermittent reader: I was too busy familiarizing myself pedantically with the peaks from the foothills to deal with OMM kicking those selfsame peaks over to demonstrate which were just flat cutouts held up with a belief-stick. Going back since, cursing myself for not having immersed myself in it from the start, even allowing for insta-nostalgia, it’s hard not see it as some sort of golden age. The writing was just so damn good. I still don’t really understand how they did/do it. I’ve spent innumerable (OK, 12.3) hours puzzling over how they manage to get not just three jokes, but three entirely different kinds of joke into simple subject-verb-object sentences, with the joke-images time-delayed to all explode at the same time. Leaving aside this current Trollplay Wiki-Eek, OMM’s actual merits, relevance and influence are clear. Illuminating, rigorous and vivid, supplying as much Why as What, OMM was – and is – a high water mark. Take this, where Faliszek and Wolpaw enthuse about some screenshots. You suspect roughly how it’s going to go: comic exaggeration, parodic fanboyism, extreme imagery possibly tempered with pace-defeating you-see-what-we’re-doing-here specificity. But look how they array the laughs and syncopate the crescendo.

Chet: “Get out the drool cup!”
Erik: “In use, my friend! Drooool!”
Chet: “Then break out the scraper, because someone’s gonna have to scrape my jaw off the floor!”
Erik: “That’s also in use, to scrape my spooge off the monitor! Spoooge!”
Chet: “Ouch! Fetch me my eye medicine, because I have an eyeache from watching a whole mixed bag of eye candy!”
Erik: “All of the eye medicine’s already in my eye! I’m done with the scraper, though.”

This, friends, is writing. But where are Chet and Erik now? They were so promising. Anyone heard from them? Anyone? LALALALALALAH”

It's Harry and Roman! An 11 year relationship started by OMM.

Roman Ribaric – CEO, Croteam

“Doing a garage development for a long time and with only limited self-funding, if it weren’t for OMM and especially my “crate” interview with Erik, I am pretty certain we (Croteam) would most likely close our garage before finally nailing that much needed publishing deal for Serious Sam. OMM hamered all other big game sites for not noticing us, which resulted in us finally getting some press attention – and brought GoD. Thank God to OMM. And after 10 years we are still working with the same ex GoD guys and still talking about OMM, waiting to do that promissed third interview. Btw, Erik, yes, there will be no crate in Serious Sam 3: BFE.”

Ian Smithers – Developer, Squeaky Cow

“I remember way back I used to read OMM a mere games tester, clawing his way up through the ranks. OMM was one of my regular readings, and one of my favourite articles was the Rainbow Six one, especially because the game failed on the TTC review system as I believe you started off in one level facing a crate, which was quite hilarious. But Rainbow Six was a game I played in a clan, it was a super-realistic, hard as nails tactical shooter, where 1 bullet killed, and if you stepped off a ledge too high, you suffered a broken leg and had to limp noisily around the levels. Teamwork was paramount. However OMM played it differently, his words, and I’m paraphrasing here, but I recall their message went along the lines of – “If I reached the end of a level, and there were surviving members of blue team, I had to ask myself, had I done enough to ensure my own survival?” which became somewhat of an in-joke with our clan, and who can forget the death of adventure games, probably another favourite!”

Greg Kasavin – Executive Editor, Gamespot; Creative Director, Supergiant Games

“My perspective on Old Man Murray is unusual in that I believe I was the first editor in the gaming press to see past Erik and Chet’s shocking irreverence and offer them paying work to write for a so-called professional outlet (GameSpot in our case). My editor at the time, Ron Dulin, agreed that OMM was beyond brilliant — something whose insight was so sharp and use of language so efficient that it was, undeniably we thought, the best writing about games in any medium. OMM was bursting with profanity, though, while GameSpot was clean and dry — so it seemed scary to offer Erik and Chet some freelance work, even more when they said yes. Erik became the more prolific of the two and went on to write dozens of smart, funny reviews for the site. When he called me one day to say he didn’t think he could write for us anymore because he was offered a job at a company called Double Fine, I was very happy for him because I had a feeling his unique voice and talent would be better served writing for games.

My favorite Old Man Murray pieces were the more experimental ones, things like Final Fight Stratego or the filtered Voodoo Extreme that kept the news but removed the editorializing. To me this stuff wasn’t humor… it was art. It changed the way I thought people could communicate about games. And today I continue to hold Erik and Chet’s work in the highest regard. I don’t know if their memory of starting work for GameSpot matches mine but if I’m in any way part of their journey of getting into game development, then I’m very thankful for it. Their work continues to be an inspiration to me. And Erik is the best writer I’ve ever known.”

Daniel Stubbs – Independent Developer, Organiser of Plymouth Game Jam

“I’ve introduced dozens of people to OMM. Its critiques of gameplay are still 100% relevant, and some of the funniest, intelligent and most observant videogame writing out there. CRS was one of the all-time classics, along with Death of Adventures games, Alien vs Child Predator and the Alice and Mortyr reviews. I’ve used the Wikipedia page in the past, and directed other people to it, so the fact that it was deleted by those with bullshit grudges has me ever-so-slightly annoyed.”

Robb Sherwin – Forum Manager, Caltrops

“OMM’s solution for all the extra blood donated after 9/11 was to airdrop it on the fleeing Taliban. When tasked to play with a “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” shovelware title, they threw the box at each other. Every time they updated, it was a glimpse into a world funnier than ours, filled to bursting with brown-colored sewers. OMM blended the best comedy and game criticism writing in the world, and everything I’ve ever tried to write has been against their standard. I fall short. We all fall short. But those of us who write about games anyway take a shot and hope that Noam Chomsky playing goal for Al-Qaeda doesn’t block it.

Lastly, I run a forum filled with OMM fans. When the Old Man Murray forums were disabled, we created a place to bloviate among ourselves, because the site attracted intelligent, witty, creative people. We agree on nothing, save for the deft, nuanced genius of Chet and Erik. I have received legal threats, cease and desist orders, everything – and I don’t mind, because being around people who have a love of OMM means so much. The Wikipedia needs Old Man Murray more than Chet, Erik (and Marvin) need any Wiki.”

Samrat Sharma – Associate Producer, Ubisoft Singapore

“OMM made me want to make videogames, and better ones. I spent the first three years of my career making an aborted FPS where the entire studio was given a recitation of the crates article by me whenever I saw one in any level. We managed to ship it as a budget title with great difficulty, but by God, it had no random crates. But ultimately it’s not the criticism or lessons learnt, it’s the humour – the legacy of the website is that the industry and fans of it can at times look at it from a distance and laugh at the absurdity of it. It’s the anti Digital Foundry – instead of getting deeper into the machinations of videogames, OMM’s legacy is the power to distance yourself from your hobby – something that stokes no small amount of passion – and bemusedly see it for what it is (the very essence of good comedy).

All of the videogame commenters I enjoy (RPS, OLL, some of the Eurogamer staff, and I realise there’s a lot of overlap here) are in varied degrees the product of that thought process. As a developer, it has helped me and my friends gain that ability to laugh at our own absurdity and contribute that humour or a vision that is tempered with that dissonance to everything we have made. I forever will remember that site that taught us that, and I thank you for having the wherewithal to stand up for it.”

Harvey Smith – Lead Designer, Deus Ex; Game Director, Arkane Studios

“Obviously, Old Man Murray was a hilarious part of game culture. But specifically I will always love OMM for the Deus Ex walkthrough.”

Jack Monahan – Gausswerks Design Reboot

“I need not tell you what it is to have been in (American) high school from 1996-2000, playing Quake, and reading OMM. A chord that was struck that sustains and reverberates to this day; it reminds me a bit of how there’s talk about which bands are the new Talking Heads. The Talking Heads are still the Talking Heads, just as Old Man Murray is still the Old Man Murray of games-related commentary and review. We do better – speaking as both a game player and as a game developer – when we invoke the spirit of OMM. (Hint: that spirit is admonishing us for our crates and assorted laziness.)

Anyhow, a couple of years ago I sent a belated celebration/tribute of the 10 year+ anniversary of OMM to Chet and Erik. Response was positive though brief (a single word: “awesome”). Marvin, the hateful mascot of OMM, as well you remember is from the dystopic distant future, which I wanted to portray. If this puts me into dorky fanboy territory, they’re among the only few for whom I’d deem it an honor. I’d like to believe Marvin has the same message to impart from the future, now, to short-sighted wikipedia editors.”

Click to see the full pic.

[Click to see the full, amazing image]

Thank you SO much to everyone who got in touch with comments. It’s an amazing mix, and an article that makes the notability of Old Man Murray pretty undeniable. And thank you Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw, for having been such a source of inspiration and humour for us all. Stress: “having been”. They’re terrible now.

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79 Comments »

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  1. Saker says:

    Woah!!

  2. jordanwise says:

    fantastic games journalism journalism

  3. Premium User Badge

    Arvind says:

    Quite the superstar list I daresay.

  4. Vandalbarg says:

    That’s do John. That’ll do.

  5. Urael says:

    Wow. Considering my long history playing and reading about games it’s quite fantastically amazing, then, that I’d actually never heard of them before this week. But look at the frankly stunning list of people proclaiming it as their best thing ever…the effect it had…

    (sadface)

    • El Stevo says:

      The site isn’t updated anymore, but it’s still there. Get reading!

  6. Premium User Badge

    Anthile says:

    Consider me impressed.

    • 12kill4 says:

      “Say, doesn’t that Anthile fellow look impressed?”
      “Why yes, he does.”
      “You should probably stop talking to yourself…”
      “Positively brilliant idea.”
      “Quite.”

  7. 12kill4 says:

    Jeff Green, former CGW/GFW EiC would have been another good one to get on their, he positively babble with enthusiasm for OMM when they interviewed Erik Wolpaw for Portal post GDC award bonanza. Same goes for Shawn Elliott (also CGW/GFW) and Chris Remo (of defunct Idle Thumbs fame), both now with Irrational. still, amazing work John, the internet thanks you.

  8. Shatners Bassoon says:

    Ahh I miss OMM. I loved it so, like an ex lover it lingers and stirs memories from time to time but I have to focus on you now my sweet RPS, focus on you lest it all becomes too much.

  9. Premium User Badge

    shoptroll says:

    Wow. That’s a lot of people. Didn’t expect to see one of my college professors getting a word in either!

  10. skyler88 says:

    Dude RPS just showed me it’s a powerhouse.

  11. Tei says:

    OH MY GOD!.
    I can’t read all this atm. I just peek around and found this ” I once made a Q2DM map with a secret vent in it, and there were crates *inside the vent*”. Thats like a YO DAWG joke before YD jokes where invented!.

    • Urthman says:

      “The thing I like about crates is that they’re so mysterious.  What’s in the crate?   Is it ammo?  Is it health?  It could be either! “

  12. Premium User Badge

    heretic says:

    rps is the best

  13. GallonOfAlan says:

    Their post September 11th update is still poignant.

  14. The Tupper says:

    Does anybody know if the Wiki admin who allegedly nixed the original OMM entry now has his own wikipedia article that relates to this tawdry episode? That would be rather poetic.

    • Premium User Badge

      shoptroll says:

      Eh, let it be I guess. I’m not going to lose any sleep if this administrator isn’t defrocked. He made a mistake and I think the situation was handled appropriately. Even without the likely COI there was still a chance someone else would’ve put up a request for deletion (look at what happened with Blue’s). In the end we’ve ended up with a stronger article that will hopefully survive any future challenges and that’s probably why this campaign was probably started in the first place. Hopefully this will encourage others to go check on other notable gaming sites and improve their articles to a level of quality deemed appropriate by the wiki editors/admins.

      I somewhat agree with the Wikipedians who claim that the system worked. I do wish there wasn’t nearly as much casual dismissal of the sources brought forth by non-established editors listed in the second AfD. The amount of xenophobia and disregard for good intent on display during this incident was highly disconcerting.

      On a side note, I’m a bit annoyed by the editors claiming my submission to Slashdot (and Blue’s News) was perpetuated by PoE. I’d never heard of the site before this incident despite recognizing OMM via past references to its legacy on this site and others. I had no intent of hounding the admin. I was just getting the word out so people would see this article, bring forth more references and hopefully submit something to John. I would’ve submitted the same article regardless of who originally requested the deletion in the first place.

    • The Tupper says:

      @shoptroll re. 5:29 pm
      “Hopefully this will encourage others to go check on other notable gaming sites and improve their articles to a level of quality deemed appropriate by the wiki editors/admins”.

      I admire your sentiment, but it reinforces my belief that (if indeed it had any real value in the first place) Wikipedia is now dead as a concept. When a layer of self-selected bureaucracy is required to maintain standards (that themselves are arbirary) in an open encyclopaedia the purpose of the entire venture collapses.

  15. Freud says:

    I enjoyed OMM back in the days but this love bombing just because of a Wikipedia entry is starting to get weird.

    What next, people not paying enough attention to Acts of Gord these days?

    • John Walker says:

      Just move on to the next article if you don’t like something, for goodness sake. What do you gain by leaving a little deposit underneath a tribute that was really important to us?

    • Torgen says:

      Why? to get someone to pay attention to him. /forever alone

    • The Tupper says:

      Freud is projecting.

    • Rhin says:

      Internet man is outraged that the internet doesn’t share exact same set of interests as he does. News at 11.

      See also: protests that RPS posts too much about Minecraft and Deus Ex.

  16. Tatourmi says:

    When I saw the name gabe newell I told myself that this article couldn’t get more awesome. Then I read it.

  17. JohnnyK says:

    Thank god for punctuation: “Eric Church – Ass. Lead Designer”.

  18. Gary W says:

    What’s going on? I feel like I’ve just walked onto the set of one of those Channel 4 “best of the 90s” shows with everyone reminiscing and backslapping.

    Just wait until gaming finally gets its Citizen Kane Watchmen. Then, even David Cameron can pretend that he was reading OMM from day one.

  19. HilariousCow says:

    Oh yeah, I remember OMM. Lowtax was great!

  20. Premium User Badge

    Newblade says:

    I loved this quote: “The first sentence of a recent Deus Ex 2 preview on pc.ign.com: ‘There’s a tendency among the press to attribute the creation of a game to a single person,’ says Warren Spector, creator of Thief and Deus Ex.”

    Wow.

  21. Greg Noe says:

    Greg here from the First Hour, just wanted to apologize for coming off as a shill in my comment above. Old Man Murray was a fun influence for my site and I had no idea John would reprint my email, I appreciate it though! Keep up the great work and glad to see the article reinstated.

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      How dare you, sir? I contrast your behavior with that of Kyle Orland and his noble silence. I did not see the staff of First Impressions using the near-deletion of the Wikipedia page about a defunct video game criticism site as a springboard for their own one-hour review site marketing campaign. For shame.

      Please don’t be so hard on yourself, guy!

    • Dozer says:

      The irony is that I only went to look at your site in response to this comment where you apologise for mentioning your site. I like! But you’ve already done a First Hour review of Dwarf Fortress, which was the first thing that came to mind when I heard of First Hour reviews. Nice site!

  22. Hoaxfish says:

    So… now game journalism has to talk about itself in order to be notable… oh the huge vanity.

    This is what Wikipedia brings to the world!

    Still, history never hurt anyone… unless it is grudges

    • Shjade says:

      I’m not highly familiar with Wikipedia’s draconian system of acceptability. Nor am I familiar with OMM – and believe me, I have no idea how the latter is possible given I’ve been gaming since…forever, and OMM appears to be the origin point for a number of things I greatly enjoy.

      That said, one argument was raised in that ridiculously lengthy debate over whether or not OMM should have a Wiki page that actually gave me pause regarding its deserving status:

      “Endorse deletion – As soon as gaming journalists start actually writing about gaming history instead of relying on Wikipedia to do it for them, maybe there will be some real sources to base this article on. Kaldari (talk) 20:58, 3 March 2011 (UTC)”

      Yes, you could interpret that as requiring vain self-aggrandizement by gaming journalism sites, and from that point of view it seems silly. On the other hand, it brings up the worthwhile point that, on the whole, gaming journalism, particularly online, is still pretty new on the whole and, as searching for outside coverage of OMM probably made clear, isn’t widely covered or known outside its intended audience. It’s not exactly hush-hush, but it’s not exactly mainstream, either.

      Obviously OMM has been hugely influential to a number of people in the gaming industry and related fields (teaching in the field of game design, etc.). That said, if the argument regarding whether to include it on Wikipedia as things stand now is all about how much information ABOUT the site exists that isn’t ON the site, I find myself wondering why the flood of objections took the form of, “Put it back on Wikipedia now! It deserves to be there!” rather than, say, a well thought out article about what exactly Old Man Murray is (was?), what it contained, what it accomplished – in other words, persons in a position to create the kind of source respected by Wikipedia creating such a source for OMM.

      There’s no rush to get a Wiki page, is there? If the argument is “it’s not notable because no one’s written about it,” why quibble over whether obscure (and not so obscure) references qualify when you can simply nullify that argument by generating the necessary material?

      Yes, it takes longer.

      Yes, it’s more work than honing your Google-Fu.

      Yes, it’s worth having the information concrete and readily available in the end.

      I can’t say I would have seen it as a tragedy if this page had ended up deleted if it was what the discussion makes it out to have originally been – a description with few reliable sources to support it – as it has no special significance to me one way or the other. In a few weeks, or months, or years, or however long it took for journalists to write a retrospective of gaming influences that looked back to examine just how much of an impact Old Man Murray had on the modern face of gaming, if the page was STILL refused a legitimate space on Wikipedia, then I’d probably feel some righteous indignation on principle; but if it’s just “the best gaming site ever to exist on the internet” as shared between friends, even heavy-hitters in the industry, I dunno, that doesn’t seem like much of a basis for an informative reference piece, does it?

      Just trying to make space for objective perspective on the topic.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      What on earth do you think this article is other than that?

      KG

    • Shjade says:

      A great start?

      I was more addressing the various forms of less-informative outrage and “It is SO notable!” and so on that led up to this article being written. More than a little late to the party, you could say.

  23. Hybrid says:

    What a list!

  24. edit says:

    If a tree falls in a forest and there are no published references to prove its notability, did it make a sound?

    Of course, it sucks when you’ve got footage of the damn tree falling and someone is still yelling “no”.

    Great to see that this thing got cleared up quickly and that it brought some fresh interest to a site which has evidently meant a lot to many.

    • Rhin says:

      If the net result of this incident is to encourage people to take more footage of falling trees, I’m glad it happened.

  25. Tokjos says:

    Cave Wars! That brings back memories!

  26. Urthman says:

    More greatest hits from OMM (links omitted to avoid the spam filter)

    From the interview with Ralph Bagley, maker of the “Christian” game Catechumen:

    If you had made a serious game about Christianity, but presented it from the viewpoint of Satan, you’d be hailed as a cultural hero.  It would probably inspire Wagner James Au to write one of his classic forbidden-fruity style essays for Salon in which he’d call Catechumen a post-post-modernist revisionist anti-fascist masterpiece and compare it to the works of Pier Pasolini.  By deciding to align yourself with the Bible’s protagonists, however, you’re going to get nothing but snide dismissal from second-rate gaming sites.  Ultimately, that’s preferable to having Au mention you, but, still, you must know you’re in for a world of hurt.  What inspires you to keep going?

    One of the hottest trends in shooters is the ability to target specific body parts. Instead of killing people, Catechumen has you converting them with swords that shoot the word of God. Does your engine support intra-model targeting? For instance, can I convert just the legs of a Roman soldier so that he starts running to church while his torso is still poking me with a spear? Cause that’d be wicked.

    From the Serious Sam interview:

    I contacted Roman Ribaric, CEO of Croteam, and asked him if he’d be willing to let me interview him for my Serious Sam fansite, Old Man Murray.  It was a delicate operation.  If he didn’t speak English, there could be no interview.   If he spoke English too well and understood the American idiom, he’d be able to fully comprehend Old Man Murray, and there could be no interview.  Luckily, he spoke English just well enough to be extremely polite to me and answer my hard-hitting and often unfair questions and badmouth John Carmack. 

    Erik: I know that every member of Croteam has experienced actual combat, unlike certain flabby American developers who I’ve taken the liberty of codenaming “All Of Them”.  In honor of this fact, I’m going to lodge my first complaint using army slang.  The American military has an acronym called FUBAR that stands for “fucked up something something something”. The point is, you say it when something gets fucked up. In our first interview, you promised me Serious Sam wouldn’t have any sewers. I’d now like to point to People’s exhibit Bravo, the title of Serious Sam level nine: “SEWERS”. Who FUBAR’d that one, Roman?

    From a news post about Max Payne:

    We can’t remember exactly, but we hope we’ve never written anything about how stupid and bad Max Payne was going to be, because boy would we be embarrassed now…In fact, work on on our negative review is not going well mainly because the game’s so good. 

    …the game’s only ten hours from start to finish.  That doesn’t bother us too much, but we know that it’s an important factor for many of our readers.  I think reader George Broussard, owner of 3D Realms and publisher of Max Payne, said it best last September:

    [regarding a game by one of his competitors, Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force] I’m all for shorter game with more quality that know when to quit…But I’m sorry a 10 hour game sucks.

    In a frankly unbelievable turn of events, Old Man Murray is now in the position of telling you a game is good, against the explicit negative testimony of the game’s publisher.   

  27. D3xter says:

    Let it be known, that after learning about this site’s existence here I went ahead and browsed and read it for about 4 entire hours resulting in glorious tears caused by repeated laughter.

    Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Wikipedia-deleter-guy.

  28. bascule42 says:

    Absolutely fantastic job. This is why RPS is the best. Keep it up.

  29. Premium User Badge

    Diziet Sma says:

    *scuttles off to find jaw*

  30. bildo says:

    I really want to know what erik and chet think of all this

  31. Urthman says:

    A couple more:

    [On the death of “edgy” publisher G.O.D. Games]

    Last week, as news of the closure of G.O.D. reached the public, pundits scrambled to live up to their name and squeeze one last pun out of the hard, dusty G.O.D. Games pun sponge. Quickly giving up, they settled on “G.O.D. is dead.”

    For all its overwrought, manufactured edginess, the only GOD game to ever really make an impact on gamers was the seriously rock-n-roll-less Railroad Tycoon 2.

    Between their employer’s name, its offices in an old church, its highly subversive Last Supper promotional photos, its Bible satirizing press kits, and all the bravely confrontational E3 Jesus costumes that I’m sure scandalized the powerful “your Grandma” lobby, G.O.D. employees should thank whatever pan-denominational bullshit Unitarian false idol they won’t admit to praying to when the airplane hits bad turbulence that most of them got off with just losing their shitty day jobs.  If your preferred method of acting tough is to beat up the myths people create to give them comfort when everyone they love eventually drops dead, at least pick one whose motto isn’t “turn the other cheek.”  Pussy. 

    [no one should be allowed to make fun of our own Derek Smart unless they can do it this well]

    it seems that Dr. Derek Smart Ph.D. reacts to negative reviews in much the same way cranky old suburbanites respond to having their houses egged by teenagers: he stands outside in his bathrobe stamping his little feet and muttering to himself for three hours.  Computer Games Online reviewed Smart’s life’s work, BC3K, giving it a rather generous F- (1.5/5).  Within hours, the good doctor had crafted a multi-thousand word thesis the gist of which is that they should have, like the much more competent reviewers at the print rag Voodoo Magazine, awarded the game an F+ (5/10).

    [from their review of No One Lives Forever]

    Being the only website who cares about you has its drawbacks.  For instance, if a developer we’ve attacked mercilessly for three straight years* manages to make a good game, we’re honor-bound to eat the poop and tell you about it. We don’t want to make a bigger deal of this than it deserves, but No One Lives Forever is a Lithtech powered game by Monolith that – in a whole bunch of non-trivial ways – is better than Half Life. 

    We always figured [Monolith’s] Jason Hall would get his revenge.  But we thought it’d be by crushing our prominent adam’s apples between his thumb and the winner of the 1998 Mr. Universe Finger, his forefinger.  Or by clean and jerking us in such a way that we both died.  At one point, we compiled a list of the ways that we thought Jason Hall might get back at us.  According to that list, “Stack all the unsold copies of Sanity into one big pile so that it collapses onto itself, forms a black hole and sucks us into a dimension where we get shot  by cowboys” was more likely than “make a good game”, which didn’t even occur to us

    *typical example of OMM abuse of Monolith: We’re broke.  Broke, broke.  Broke like creaky old Harrison Ford’s hip or the AI in the unpatched retail version of Monolith’s next four games.

    • eclipse mattaru says:

      For a UK-based website, I think this is a rather appropriate quote:

      [From their as-user-unfriendly-as-it-gets but worth-getting-lost-inside News section]

      “Realizing that many of our UK clan mates are right buggered by the ever increasing size of our news page, I’ve archived our January and February updates and designed and programmed a handy navigational tool somewhere to the left of this sentence. I’ll archive the news about once a month so that you low bandwith european bastards don’t have to sit there nibbling your gentleman’s savory teacakes, or visit the loo, or simply daydream about pirating your next footie management simulator whilst waiting for the page to load.
      That was a cheap shot. I’m retracting it right now. I’d like to offer these Rammstein lyrics as an olive branch:

      I want to ride your tears
      Over your chin to Africa
      And search between your thighs
      For last year’s snow

      Well that was pretty stupid. What the hell’s wrong with you people? And what about that Hitler? Not to mention soccer. And France.”

      Try to read that and /not/ imagine Erik making an intentionally horrible British accent.

  32. Premium User Badge

    whitebrice says:

    Gabe Newell is the Velvet Underground of game developers.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Wouldn’t the VU of game developers be, I dunno, someone who pioneered game development? Like Nolan Bushnell or someone? Or maybe Allan Alcorn, with Nolan being the creepy Andy Warhol overseeing the whole thing. And then you have Gabe Newell as Malcolm McLaren coming around later and being all “hey look at how polished this is.”

    • MountainDont says:

      No, Bushnell and Alcorn are the Bill Haley or Chuch Berry of game development. OMM is indeed the Velvet Underground.

    • Nick says:

      Nah it would be someone who took way too much heroin.

    • Muzman says:

      The Phil Spector maybe? (with somewhat less crazy murderousness, so maybe not)
      The Dave Geffen?

  33. nuh uh no way says:

    Heh heh, Ass Lead. Heh.

  34. Mayjori says:

    so what happened to OMM?

    • MadTinkerer says:

      They found work which paid more. Which is good, because Portal and Portal 2 (for starters) wouldn’t have / will not be as good without them.

  35. EliteGamer says:

    Epic level games journalism.

  36. Muzman says:

    Carpet cite-bombing (or bo-bomb if you prefer)

  37. eclipse mattaru says:

    So you couldn’t get Surreal’s Tom Vykruta to comment? Bummer.

    Seriously, though. The frequent and quite vocal shoutouts of respect towards OMM is one of the things that in turn make me respect RPS so much. Oh, and there’s your good writing and shit too.

    Anecdote tiem: I made my own backup of the entire Old Man Murray site with the entire official backup plus a bunch of lost stuff that I picked from The Wayback Machine, so my hard drive holds the single most complete version of Old Man Murray there is in the world (you won’t find the original “OldManMurray Named Official Game Site Of US Postal Service” piece in the official site, for instance; it is in my version). How’s that for a fanboi?

    As a side note, OMG it’s Caltrops’ Ice Cream Jonesy up there on the newspaper! I 4-packed my BioShock 2 with that guy! I kind of marginally knew a somewhat famous person!

  38. MadTinkerer says:

    Well one good thing came out of the whole deletion mess: this article.

  39. Skeez187 says:

    So impressive, RPS just became legendary today.

  40. Miles of the Machination says:

    The word on the street is an astounding “Wow”.

  41. Matthew says:

    This is sad and at the same time good. Sad because there’s always that negative intentions that destroy for personal reasons. And good because there are those who don’t let this kind of things pass through. I have to respect the people behind the gaming industry — it’s really not just a game as some people sees it.

    I am from a company whose business is Used Laser Cutting Machines and Nitrogen Generation Equipment.

    I happen to like playing games — enjoy them. So this destructive issue, I should stay away from but it might affect how games are gonna be in the near future so — my two cents — stop the negative and accentuate the positive — peace!

    • Consumatopia says:

      Is this manually written, almost on-topic spam? Weird.

    • Oak says:

      I wasn’t initially in the market for refurbished industrial-grade machinery, but after reading his poignant commentary…

    • realityflaw says:

      Its almost as if he was writing an honest response to the topic at hand when suddenly a spambot possessed his body.

      Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn

      Stranger still, after injecting its completely irrelevant reproductive matter into the text box, it left without him even being aware of being violated.
      … I feel cold.

  42. jeep says:

    Hey this is great, wikipedia’s always been a bitch about keeping interesting stuff around. If it was the 50s they’d probably delete the Cahiers du cinéma page next.

  43. Jakkar says:

    “Eric Church – Ass. Lead Designer, EA LA; Lead Designer, BreakAway Ltd.”

    That was uncalled-for.

  44. outoffeelinsobad says:

    This is amazing.

  45. noclip says:

    I think this was touched on a few times but never said outright — it strikes me that OMM is not only notable but immensely so, not in hindsight but for the impact it had on what followed. These kinds of things are intrinsically notable for being first, and for those who have only experienced things that came after it can be difficult grasp the idea that something that seems so self-evident today was once new and uncharted territory. It’s kind of like someone who’s never seen The Matrix or played Ocarina of Time looking back today and not seeing what makes them special — they shaped their mediums into what they are today.

  46. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    Just saw that Mr Schumin – the guy who called for the deletion of the OMM page – once blocked the entirity of old college (Trinity College Dublin) from Wikipedia: small world!

    http://issuu.com/trinitynews/docs/tn1-20vol-2054-20issue-202 (see bottom right).

    P.

  47. PUKED says:

    deleted

  48. NPC says:

    Shouldn’t it be “Splash Damage”, instead of “Spash Damage”? Just thinking…

    • Bilbo says:

      Ssh, don’t correct him! He hates that. Mail or twitter it, but if you put it here BRACE FOR WRATH