The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for recovering after another Saturday wedding. Before we slip into another long Phantom Pain session, best spend a couple of hours rounding up the week’s best words about games from around the internet.

  • The New York Review of Books looks at Michael Clune’s Gamelife, a memoir which looks at the author’s childhood through the prism of the videogames he was playing at the time. It sounds great.
  • Clune’s book shows just how intense and intimate an engagement with video games can be. The book’s structure equates the passage of time with the passage from game to game—seven chapters cover both seven games and seven years of his life, from Suspended (1983), a text-only adventure Clune plays as a seven-year-old, to Might and Magic II (1988), a fantasy role-playing game with 3-D graphics in which he takes refuge at thirteen, during the final months of middle school. The events of these years—friendships made and betrayed, conflicts with teachers and schoolmates, the divorce of his parents, a move from one suburb of Chicago to another—are mostly familiar in kind; but as Clune describes them, the games let him burrow beneath, to depict the fraught, ever-changing mental life that underlies these childhood incidents, all the time spent alone, staring inward, becoming himself.

  • The author of that article, Gabriel Winslow-Yost, wrote another piece for the NYROB a few years ago, on the Stalker series. Also worth a read – although it’s currently behind a paywall, so I suspect few here can do so.
  • It may at first seem improbable that a decades-old art film in which very little happens could be embellished with firefights and mutant psychics and converted into violent video games. Originally adapted from the popular Russian science-fiction novel Roadside Picnic (1971) by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Stalker depicts three men (“Writer,” “Professor,” and “Stalker,” their guide and the film’s protagonist) journeying into the deadly “Zone,” with its mysterious “Room.” This fraught, high-stakes quest consists mainly of the three men walking a couple hundred yards in a grassy, abandoned landscape and talking (with a break for a nap); the film ends after 163 minutes without anyone entering the Room and with no wishes apparently made or granted.

  • Nathan Ditum does a difficult thing at the New Statesman, by writing about popular YouTube personality KSI – who is often rightly derided – and admitting that he likes him, or parts of him. He explains why in detail, without forgetting or ignoring the uglier parts of KSI’s work.
  • But – and this is a dangerous but – I like him. Not entirely or unambiguously, but I like him. Aside from the talent agents and publicists who occasionally try to translate his online following into TV or promotional appearances, it’s rare to hear people other than young fans acknowledge how good he is. Olatunji output is funny, and sly. He still edits his own videos, which have a very particular style – abrupt and caustic, undercutting expectation as if bored with the video it thinks you might be watching – that hide intelligence in clumsiness.

  • This isn’t about videogames, but it’s hard not to see the relevance: is Bridge a sport or a game? Funding body Sport England recently ruled it was the latter, but there’s a judicial review underway to decide whether that was fair. Keep in mind: this is more than a semantic argument, as there’s funding at stake. Fascinating.
  • Lawyers for the English Bridge Union (EBU), which has 55,000 members, told the High Court bridge was based on rules, fairness and competition – just like other activities classified as sports.

    Richard Clayton QC argued that the meaning of “sport” in the 1996 Royal Charter which established Sport England was sufficiently broad not necessarily to require physical activity.

    He also said bridge was one of a smaller number of sports available to older people, to whom it brought a vital sense of inclusion and community.

  • This has little to do with videogames, either – or esports or LoL, for that matter – but you might have heard the story this past week about the CEO of company Turing Pharmaceuticals who was deemed responsible for dramatically increasing the price of a decades-old drug used to fight infections. As Eurogamer write, the same CEO is also the founder of competitive League of Legends team Odyssey.
  • While the team’s results have been solid enough, Shkreli has gained infamy for his role as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Within a short period of acquiring the rights to Daraprim, a decades-old drug used to treat diseases such as malaria and toxoplasmosis, the price of the tablet was quickly increased from $13.50 to $750.

    The response to the price increase was predictable enough, with reaction pieces from the likes of the New York Times and Forbes. More vocal criticism was found on social media platforms, and some have even asked if developer Riot should step in and investigate whether Shrekli should be considered fit to control a League of Legends team.

  • Quinns and Leigh recently attended a Netrunner tournament in the UK, and they’ve combined their considerable talents to write about it over at Shut Up & Sit Down.
  • Ruination is a hallmark of Netrunner tournaments.

    It’s partially to do with how they’re structured. The first phase of any tournament is swiss pairings, where you and your opponent play both sides of a match of Netrunner (your corp vs. their runner, and vice versa). You play further rounds against people who’ve won as many games as you, so success only ever means tougher opponents.

  • At The Guardian, the ever productive Simon Parkin writes about how Twitch is helping disabled gamers to earn a living, when ordinary jobs would be unavailable to them.
  • Around the time she was dismissed, Mackenzie had started watching Twitch.tv, the online video streaming service on which you can log in to watch so-called “streamers” present live TV broadcasts. She’d heard that some of these presenters, who usually played video games on air, were popular enough that they were able to earn a living from their broadcasts. Moreover, many of these streamers were unable to work other jobs. There was NoHandsKen, a quadriplegic streamer who is dependent on a ventilator to breathe; Brolylegs, who, despite having no arms, is an expert player of Street Fighter, a game that requires immense dexterity (he describes himself as the “best Chun-Li with no hands”); DHHGamers, which stands for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers, a Twitch community for hearing-impaired gamers who stream and play a variety of online games; and a slew of others. Sensing a problem-solving opportunity, Mackenzie set up an account. Rather than trying to disguise her illness, she instead decided to advertise it via the droll handle Mackenseize.

  • Newsgrounds is still alive and kicking, but Paste recently ran a retrospective of the site. It’s about more than games – there’s animations, too – but it might still scratch a nostalgic itch for anyone who was wasting time on school computers in the early ’00s.
  • Newgrounds, which began as a way for creator Tom Fulp to host his own games back in 1996, was probably not the first site to allow users to submit their Macromedia Flash works—but it was certainly the first to have such an organized and popular system for both submitting creations and allowing users to play or view them. The Portal, as it was known then (and is known to this day), keeps tabs on the latest submissions, allowing users not only to access them but also to rate them as well. If a Flash submission is particularly awful, it can be BLAMMED into oblivion by enough negative user votes. Submissions that the community becomes enamored with can rise up through the ranks to a spot on the Best of the Week box and maybe even a coveted position on The Best of All Time rankings, guaranteeing that a huge number of users will play it.

  • Chris Donlan over at Eurogamer writes about the Ubisoft division where accountants and HR managers make games. I wanted to write about this and now I don’t have to.
  • There becomes a point, then, when a company becomes so big that it must hire people to shortcircuit parts of it. This is where Plourde’s current job comes in, as the boss of Fun House, a new Ubisoft initiative run out of Ubisoft Montreal. Fun House is weird. The best description I’ve heard is that it operates a bit like an internal venture capitalist organisation: it draws in strange new ideas that might take off, and it speculates on them, investing time and effort and people.

  • Also at Eurogamer, Simon Parkin writes about Zach Gage’s attempt at redesigning “the world’s most played PC game”, which is supposedly Solitaire. Gage is the co-creator of Ridiculous Fishing and this is an interesting read.
  • Gage believes that modern variants of Solitaire have dumbed down much of the intricacy that gave the original variation its near-mystical appeal. “We’re used to modern video games which trade out the raw complexity for simpler things like score, animation, and level design,” he says. Popular solitaire variants have devolved into mutant forms of their original selves, he argues, most notably Klondike, which in many cases lost its requirement that the deck is gone through three cards at a time in favour of the simpler one card at a time, or which allows you to opt to be dealt a winning deal that’s guaranteed to be solvable.

  • Everything Is A Remix was a good, serialised video series about how ideas spread through media, first released between 2010 and 2012. To celebrate its fifth year anniversary, its creator has released a polished version that rolls all parts into one.

Music this week is Erroll Garner, who I heard for the first time via this recent episode of Geoffrey Smith’s jazz programme on BBC Radio 3. Worth a listen.

73 Comments

  1. GameCat says:

    I can choose bridge in sport class (we can choose from various activities) at my uni in Poland.

    • Nasarius says:

      In high school in New York, we played bridge in math class.

      As with cakes or vegetables, legal distinctions about what a thing is really aren’t very interesting, except to those who stand to profit from it. They tell us something about how government works, but nothing more.

  2. Nasarius says:

    The article about KSI strikes me as something that could be written about literally any human being with some modicum of talent. There’s a whole lot of “wow, he’s a person and not literally Hitler.” Is that interesting just because he has a few million YouTube subscribers? I dunno.

    Also, the phrase “unchecked authenticity” has to be a joke when you’re talking about that genre of YouTube personality.

    • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

      Very good post, totally agreed.

    • Dominare says:

      I had never heard of this KSI fellow until 5 minutes ago. Having spent the time between then and now doing some light skimming of the first couple pages of search results I now know the following things:

      1) He’s of Nigerian descent

      2) He’s got lots of Youtube views

      3) He’s a complete wanker

      To say that I don’t “get it” with this dude would be a bit of an understatement.

  3. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    Brilliant, now I’m going to have the Fun House theme stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Thanks a LOT, Ubisoft.

    Anyway, I think Bridge is a really good game to consider not for the sport question (though that’s interesting) but for the approach to balance through the duplicate scoring system. Basically (for this form of the game)a team consists of two pairs of players. A pair plays a hand against their opponents, then the cards are swapped between the tables/pairs. Their teammates now play with the cards their opponents had and vice versa (so their teammates’ opponents now have the cards they just played, if that all makes sense). Although one side or the other may have better cards, the scoring is based on who does best with the given situation. It removes luck entirely and means that, at a team level, things are entirely decided by skill.

    I think it might be an interesting way for esports to go – rather than striving for a map to be perfectly balanced (e.g. the map is designed such that terrorists and counter-terrorists reach a given intersection at EXACTLY the same time) you can have an unbalanced map or situation and see which team plays it better each way round. I think it would be a more interesting test of skill than simply swapping sides mid-round, and enable a variety of maps and scenarios to be used (I personally would enjoy watching improvisation in unknown situations more than people who’ve memorised the map and what to do on it to the last millimetre). I know there’s some that have tried asymmetry (Evolve had ambitions that way for example) but I’m not sure anyone’s cracked it yet.

  4. Blackcompany says:

    Ugh, Solitaire is perhaps the worst game in the world. I am all for challenge. But I refuse to waste time playing a game where you have zero chance of winning at all. Or worse, where you MIGHT have zero chance of winning but wont even know that until halfway through your wasted time.

    No thanks. Call it unpure or unwholesome if you want to, but anything that changes the rules of a game to eliminate that sort of time wasting is in my opinion a positive.

    A hard game you can win is a challenge to be overcome. A rigged game you cant win isnt a game, its a waste of time.

    • mashkeyboardgetusername says:

      To give the perspective of someone that does play Solitaire a lot, personally I don’t play it for the game, but as something to do while listening to music/podcasts/the cricket. It just occupies my hands and eyes while my mind’s elsewhere. For that purpose, the simple game with one card turnover is perfect, I don’t want extra intricacy. Or adverts.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        I used to do that too, but with the removal from Win10 and the rise of idle games I’ve switched to those.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      I… thought the point of Solitaire was specifically to waste some time. I mean, that’s how I’ve always used it. As a means of distraction on a night shift or if I’m waiting for something and don’t have a book. That sort of thing.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Tell that to 90% of roguelikes.

      • Baines says:

        A Roguelike where you could be guaranteed from the start to be unable to win a game used to be considered bad design, and developers went through much effort to prevent such situations from happening. This sentiment also applied to sessions that, while not outright impossible, would be abnormally hard to beat. (No, Rogue didn’t guarantee that no-chance-to-win games wouldn’t happen. But it is excused for fathering the genre. Still, developers that came after wanted to avoid such situations when possible in their own games.)

        That mindset fell to the back with the rise of Roguelites. Since you could make progress even on a losing game, there seemed to be less interest in trying to guarantee that every session would be beatable. This took an even further hit with Roguelites that were built upon the idea of the player having to replay multiple times to unlock the items or level up to have the necessary resources available meant for a serious chance of winning.

    • jonahcutter says:

      As others have pointed out, some of the appeal of Solitaire is as much as an activity as a game. It can become rhythmic and meditative, not unlike, well… meditation.

      • Blackcompany says:

        Good points all. And the Roguelike comment made me laugh!

      • freedomispopular says:

        Minecraft comes to mind here, and for a lot of Minecraft players, I think the same thought applies. Why can’t a game be enjoyed as just an activity? Does it really HAVE to have an objective or be winnable?

  5. GWOP says:

    I don’t know if RPS has already posted an article on it, but here’s Wil Wheaton arguing for a strike by voice actors. Interesting conundrum: should voice actors and motion capture artists not be given concessions even core developers aren’t allowed, or is it time developers themselves unionize?

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      Grizzly says:

      Defintely, defenitely the latter.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        I mean, that’s obvious. That’s always the solution.

      • Synesthesia says:

        Of course, how is that even a question.

        • malkav11 says:

          Because some people really hate unions, apparently. Or at least, that’s the only takeaway I’ve been able to form from arguments for the former.

          • Cederic says:

            Sorry, I speak purely from personal experience of unions and what they do to the companies I’ve worked for, and to the staff they claim to represent.

            I’d rather make my own arrangements.

        • GWOP says:

          I mean, I agree with you, but I framed it as a question because of the hostility devs showed towards the SAG-AFTRA demands.

        • Josh W says:

          Well I’ll probably keep on asking “isn’t it time developers unionise?” until it is evidently time because they are actually doing it.

          Not incessantly though, maybe every few months.

      • Superpat says:

        I feel like unions are mostly useful in situations where there arent really any other opportunities for employment and employees are very vulnerable to to their employers. So it stands to reason that developpers. whose skills can be useful in any number of industries (or even all alone), would not benefit as much from an union.

    • James says:

      How there isn’t a developers union I have no clue.

    • melancholicthug says:

      The problem with devs, even lowly code monkeys, is that most of them think of themselves as the ‘next Bill Gates’ instead of working class wage slaves, which is what they are. That’s why unions will never catch in that industry.

      • LionsPhil says:

        How many devs do you know, out of interest?

        Because most of my colleages know full well that they’re replacable parts in a largely indifferent machine, and whatever dreams they have are well away from their dayjob.

        (…actually, if you’re using Gates as an example, I’m guessing the answer might be “zero”.)

      • Emeraude says:

        That’s been a big reason about why the balance in class warfare has been tipping in the favor of the upper class for a good 30-40 years now, there’s been the appearance of a whole layering of classes that made things more complex, whole subgroups of “white collar” workers that are, on level or another, economically on the worker side of things yet symbolically feel themselves part of the owning classes.

    • Cederic says:

      Wasn’t going to respond, but since it’s 3-0 in favour of unionisation: No.

      Form a professional body, develop a code of ethics, sue employers that force people to break it.
      Live somewhere with laws that protect employees.
      Be good enough that the company wont screw you over anyway.

      But don’t start giving your money to a political organisation that will prioritise self-perpetuation and senior official salaries ahead of the needs and rights of the people that fund it.

      Unions don’t have to be bad, it’s just that the evidence suggests they don’t realise this.

      • malkav11 says:

        If you live somewhere with laws that protect employees, 95% of the time it’s because unions lobbied for them. Nobody else has a vested interest in that sort of protection. And you just can’t rely on being “so good that your employer won’t treat you badly”. Not only is that an entirely arbitrary standard that may not be attainable, but that assumes they’re even looking at your personal performance when they make the decisions that are going to screw you over. And a lot of the time? They aren’t. It quite probably isn’t personal. Doesn’t leave you in any better a position.

        I mean, sure, unions can become corrupt or dysfunctional. They’re organizations made up of human beings. It comes with the territory. But there’s nothing about them that makes that happen automatically or universally, and the people that argue that they are automatically or universally corrupt or dysfunctional are more often than not buying into messaging from people with a vested interest in removing employee protections.

        • Synesthesia says:

          Exactly this. Also, I’ve noticed it’s mostly americans that dislike unions. Is this a cultural “YOU FILTHY COMMIE” thing, that’s become ingrained in their culture? I don’t know. I mean, it’s painfully obvious that employers and employees have opposing objectives. Unions are in most cases, an absolute necessity.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        That’s nonsense.

        The only reason some places have laws protecting employees is because unions made that happen.

        You can never be good enough the the employer wont dick you over if there is benefit in it. The employer is *never* on the employees side. They are never your friend. You can have a cordial relationship, sure, but at the end of the day, you’re opponents. Most employers know this and I’m sure they’re more than happy that so many employees have been deluded into thinking they don’t need a union.

        Having recently moved to a country with weak unions I’m constantly shocked at what my company can get away with when it comes to mistreating employees.

        There is never a good reason to not have a union. It’s against your own self interest and it’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of labour.

        The class struggle, to use an old fashioned term, is very much still a thing. It’s just moved up a rung. Society is still fundamentally defined by labour struggle. Only, some people refuse to understand that, to everyones detriment.

        • Cederic says:

          The thing is, if my company dicks me over, I’ll leave. Unions did make a difference, in preventing indenture, establishing basic employment rights, boosting health and safety legislation.

          We now have that. Unions in my country are now overtly and explicitly political organisations, pushing political agendas and screwing over people like me that built up good transferable skills and don’t want to be held back by the blinkered politics of envy.

          Good developers can always find a new job. Great developers don’t have to.

          Unions didn’t stop offshore outsourcing, they aren’t stopping h1b visas in the US and they wont help developers. Adopting the exclusionary US approach to unionism would kill a company that needs developers, adopting the political UK approach to unionism would add cost and kill working conditions for developers. Just don’t go there.

          • malkav11 says:

            Hate to break it to you, but rights aren’t something you fight for once and then you just have them forever, no questions asked. The types of people who benefit from weak employee rights and the financial forces pushing towards exploitation didn’t just up and disappear. They continue to exist and exert political pressure.

          • Emeraude says:

            The thing is, if my company dicks me over, I’ll leave.

            I guess it’s nice that you’re not getting old, sick, attached to a family that makes you less mobile, and have a set of skills that is more in demand that there is offer.

            I’m sure this olds true for most of the workforce.

            Hell, this debate about developers union wouldn’t even exist if workers weren’t in a position where there’s so much more offer than demand that companies can afford to treat them like dirt.
            The very condition that makes union a good idea.

            Unions didn’t stop offshore outsourcing

            Unions don’t work when companies have found ways to bypass and ignore them wholeheartedly ? Color me surprised.

        • Emeraude says:

          at the end of the day, you’re opponents

          That’s the saddest thing at the end of the day, we should be *partners*.

          There was an interesting contrast between what happened to the car industries in the US and what happened to financial groups right after the last speculative crisis burst.

          The car industries, working in a highly unionized context, had interlocutors for the collective workforce,and managed to negotiate reducing of hours and temporary diminishing/freezing of pays to prevent the industries from dying outright, and prolong its existence.
          The highly individualistic finance employees took their money and ran, and the companies died.

          The thing a company and it’s worker’s aims don’t always align, but it does often enough that you could have a cordial conflict over how to do things. But really the upper echelons of companies will have none of it. Which shouldn’t come as a suprise in a world that defins work hours as a margin cost to diminish to raise profit rather than an investment.

          • Josh W says:

            Yeah that’s a really good point, once you have systems in place that make sure that people are taking working people’s needs into account, then you don’t need to worry as much about war. It’s more like the “fights” that happen between marketing and manufacturing, or between people focusing on quality and people focusing on cost. There’s loads of scope for productive tension in a workplace.

      • Sin Vega says:

        Be good enough that the company wont screw you over anyway.

        Yes, nobody in authority ever screwed over someone who was great at their job. Definitely.

      • Sin Vega says:

        Also:

        But don’t start giving your money to a political organisation that will prioritise self-perpetuation and senior official salaries ahead of the needs and rights of the people that fund it.

        Congratulations, you just described a business, the very thing that makes unions necessary.

        • Blackcompany says:

          And he also described a Union perfectly as well. They both have their faults, but at least in America, unions are a blatant political machine with zero interest beyond a certain ideology. anything that resists perpetuating that ideology, they oppose, period. The interest of those they represent is in no way relevant to their real cause.

          • pepperfez says:

            I’m having trouble attaching any meaning to this comment beyond the act of sneering, “Ideology.”

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Its only down to the experience, knowledge and tenacity of my union rep that I still have a job after my “colleagues” almost forced me out. My union’s assistance was the only thing that stopped me from getting crushed between the gears of HR bureaucracy and ensured I had the right support through my ASD diagnosis.

        You aren’t paying for the people at the top of the union, you are paying for the reps.

        • malkav11 says:

          I have a salary I can live on due to union representation. The equivalent to the work I do pays something like $8-10 less an hour in non-union positions elsewhere in the workforce. That’s about half what I make. I don’t live high on the hog, either: I have a modest apartment and no vehicle. I have some discretionary income for luxuries like my computer and videogames, but only because I’m single, debt-free and healthy. So I have to call bullshit on any suggestion that it’s acceptable to pay anyone half what I make and pretend that it’s viable.

          Moreover, I have my job because my union set up a system where people can transfer between positions with the same classification through a bidding process. I’ve had to do that twice now because of positions being eliminated from under me. If I were with a non-union employer, I would have ended up unemployed instead.

          • Jenks says:

            I’d never have advanced to what I’m being paid in a union shop in the time I did. For people like myself who are excellent at what we do and bring enormous value to our employers, the idea of being in a union sounds like a prison.

            I’m also biased as growing up my father was in a union, and the daily corruption horror stories were so over the top that they were comedy gold.

      • jalf says:

        Live somewhere with laws that protect employees.

        You mean, a country with historically strong unions?

    • Scandalon says:

      The only thing worse than unions (after they’ve started legitimately and then devolved into the monster they usually do), is no unions, when a business (or group of businesses) start legitimately and then devolved into the monster that *they* usually do.

      So once again, none of this would be a problem if people just treated other people like, well, people, humans with some respect and dignity.

  6. Shazbut says:

    Erroll Garner was a legend. Campus concert was the best but it’s a bit hard to find

  7. WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

    Re: KSI (a man who I have watched perhaps five times in my life, and enjoyed only once, purely by virtue of the banter of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain):

    The online (frequently left-wing) arts commentariat have now reached such a level of virtue-signalling that anyone widely considered to be “problematic” has to be praised in the most hushed terms, lest the speaker be excluded from the “moral” in-group. The idea that one can just say “I like KSI’s FIFA videos, bit of harmless fun” WITHOUT implicitly endorsing everything from his gender politics to his manner of speech to his whole way of life is unthinkable to such people, as I am coming to the conclusion that they have a need to split the world into goodies and baddies.

    Like so much of online culture (without wishing to exclude myself from that assessment), I think it’s infantile. Then again, 2/3 of the UK seriously believe that David Cameron put his penis in a pig with no evidence apart from the fact that they don’t like his welfare policy, so I suppose it is a curse that is becoming far-reaching.

    • Fiyenyaa says:

      Why is it bad to give a caveat?
      I think that’s a perfectly fine thing to do. If you don’t want to – that’s fine, and hopefully people won’t automatically assume things about you – but if someone wants to say “I like X despite Y” I fail to see how that’s some great sin.

      • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

        It is perfectly legitimate to use Y against X if X and Y are inherently related, for example if one were to say “I agree with John’s recent essay on apricot jam, though I am somewhat perturbed by his recent admission that he has never in fact tried it”. In that example, Y directly informs the validity of X, and is therefore a relevant point to bring up. If on the other hand I say “I agree with John’s recent essay on apricot jam, but I am loath to admit this due to his recent convictions for assault and battery” then Y does NOT inform X. I am merely signalling to my audience that I am not a criminal, do not approve of that sort of thing, and that neither should you if you want to remain part of the in-group. KSI makes throwaway (and to my mind not especially good, though I don’t mind if people disagree) videos about FIFA and the like, his perceived political incorrectness (whether real or not) is neither here nor there.

        Now, if Kotaku or whoever want to make a separate article or video about harassment by KSI then more power to them, but I think it’s a complete nonsense to suggest that the standard of his scriptwriting, editing, content, etc is in any way affected or modified by his alleged political misdemeanours, or vice versa. It’s meaningless to say “KSI’s videos are slick but I disagree with his gender politics”, because the latter point has no bearing on the former. Two articles on each point disaggregated would be much better.

        • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

          tl;dr for the wall of text:

          “KSI is a surprisingly good technician/youtuber” -VALID POINT
          “KSI has previously behaved in a way that I found problematic” -VALID POINT
          “KSI is a surprisingly good technician/youtuber, even though I found some of his stuff problematic” -FALSE EQUIVALENCE, second point does not meaningfully relate to the first.

          • Geebs says:

            Just try not to have an apoplexy when the guy mellows a bit, and the chattering classes start writing smug treatises obliquely claiming credit for his ‘rehabilitation’, interspersed liberally with editorials complaining that he seems to have lost his uniquely urban edge.

          • pepperfez says:

            I don’t think that’s what “false equivalence” means?
            And anyway, “I enjoy parts of this product even though there are parts I loathe” is as established a critical trope as any. Pretending that a Youtube personality’s, uh, personality isn’t part of their product is just silly.

          • minkiii says:

            Uh, yeah – what Pepperfez said. Presumably ppl enjoy his videos because they enjoy him – his personality; whether it irks you personally or not, his political views are most certainly part of that persona.

        • malkav11 says:

          It’s relevant if he’s monetizing his videos, because some people don’t want to contribute financially to supporting someone whose views (or actions) they find distasteful. Most people that do serious Youtube production do monetize (and some are lucky enough to make a living from it), so I suspect this guy probably does too.

  8. daphne says:

    The number of easy links to Eurogamer and other familiar faces appear to be increasing as of late. I count three in this edition alone, let alone the “might-as-well-be-Eurogamer” Parkin article. You should consider that most of RPS readership probably visits Eurogamer as well — none of the articles you link here were new to me.

    But linking to an article behind a paywall, I don’t remember that happening before. I suppose that’s just what Saturday weddings do to a person…

    • Cederic says:

      You should consider that most of RPS readership probably visits Eurogamer as well — none of the articles you link here were new to me.

      I suspect they have better information than you about the overlap in readership, and don’t need me to point out that I don’t visit Eurogamer and hadn’t read those articles.

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      Phasma Felis says:

      I don’t.

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      Aerothorn says:

      I was going to say the same thing – but, honestly, I haven’t seen mainstream non-Eurogamer (non-British) sources coming up with such interesting articles. There’s a reason they almost never link to Gamespot or IGN.

      Admittedly, there is a lot of work left to be done on digging up lesser-known bloggers (Critical Distance puts in a lot of effort on that front, but they are only a few editors all with other jobs!) but that’s also really hard.

  9. Merus says:

    Sage Solitaire doesn’t really seem to capture the interesting part of Solitaire to me, I suspect because Gage doesn’t find that at all interesting so instead he made a card-themed poker game. The appeal is the idea that it’s essentially a puzzle with a single, correct end-state (or in the case of Spider Solitaire, a variety of functionally equivalent end-states) but it’s still quite easy to get it into an unwinnable state. Each move has that tension where it could be the move that makes the game unwinnable, until that lynchpin move where the tension releases and the puzzle is obviously solvable (and then you get to gloat as you put the cards away). Essentially, it’s a permadeath puzzle game.

    Admittedly I don’t know why you’d play Solitaire if you have FreeCell and Spider Solitaire available.

  10. Sin Vega says:

    There becomes a point, then, when a company becomes so big that it must hire people to shortcircuit parts of it.

    Oh wow, I finally have a name for what I end up doing at just about every day job I take on. God it was frustrating trying to explain that to people wedded to their pointless bureaucracy.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      “The One Who Actually Makes Things Happen Despite Company Policies And Petty Personal Empire-Building That Actively Work Against It” is the title of either my job or my autobiography.

  11. Horg says:

    Regarding the Shkreli article; he has been very visible in the media over the last few weeks peddling obvious bullshit to the press. His obnoxious attitude and constant visibility has had a negative affect on stock prices, so much so that people are beginning to speculate that it may be deliberate. He previously did something very similar at another drug company, tanking the stock price by inflating the product price to ridiculous levels, buying stock for himself knowing the value would eventually recover, and then being removed from his position. There is a strong possibility that the price gouging is another attempt at a form of insider trading. Either way, this guy is shady as fuck and Riot would be doing the right thing by dissociating themselves from him.

    • pepperfez says:

      Having probably-criminal dirtbag owners is just proof that LoL is real sports. Now all that’s left is to get municipalities on the hook for billion-dollar LAN facilities.

      • Horg says:

        They even had a doping scandal with the Ritalin thing a few months back. Look at E-sports, all grown up. Brings a tear to the eye.

        • minkiii says:

          Did anyone see that show on the BBC last week called “Secrets of China”? Episode 1 looked at some aspects of gaming culture, it had some interesting footage of a top Chinese LoL team. There was something very eerie, very Hunger Games about the whole affair – seeing stony-faced adult security escorting these young adults to and from matches, the millionaire owners skimming off major profits while the kids never leave a tiny apartment where they all live and train together. Totally bizarre and pretty depressing.

    • Supahewok says:

      I was wondering about that. That malaria drug seems like it would be a constant seller, but increasing the price by x56 puts it way over the line of economic sense. Like, its pretty elementary that you don’t price your products out of the market. That sort of price increase would wipe out 99.99% of the market. That’s insanity, IF your goal is to actually sell the product.

      I just figured it had to be a typo, but it being scumbag sabotage for self-gain makes sense. You’d think these big companies would keep an eye out for previous behavior among these lines, but it seems CEOs and the like live in their own little world.

      • Supahewok says:

        Ah, meant to say thanks for the tidbit. Wish that when articles mention stuff like this, that they didn’t just drop a factoid bomb, and actually spend a line or two with some reasoning on the subject. It’s definitely rabble-rousing, and a bad habit writers should watch out for.

  12. Premium User Badge

    AtlasIsKing says:

    A shoutout for ERROLL GARNER. Thank you Graham for occasionally selecting some fantastic jazz music to recommend at the end of your column.

  13. freedomispopular says:

    Interesting article about Ubisoft. As much as we all like to hate Ubisoft (perhaps rightfully so), they do seem to be one of the very few big studios that are willing to invest in the smaller, more experimental ideas typically only found in the indie scene i.e. Child of Light or Grow Home.

  14. caff says:

    The article about disabled (or rather, less-abled) Twitch gamers is excellent. It’s worth watching the videos of NoHandsKen and appreciating how great it is that people in difficult situations can play games.

    I’d heartily recommend it to anyone making software who thinks their major challenge is to get it working on different graphics cards or versions of Windows. We should also be writing code that makes software accessible to everyone.

  15. cpt_freakout says:

    Here’s another great review of Gamelife by Ian Bogost, at the LA Review of Books: link to lareviewofbooks.org