Electron Dance
4May/2024

Discussion: The Path to Hell

Welcome to the slightly late April newsletter (sign up if you want to read it):

This is anecdotal but it seems, at least in my local middle-class suburbo-bunker, kids are satisfied with a monogame experience that muscles everything else out of the spotlight. These games have successfully harvested the attention of young children and won’t let them go. This makes me sad.

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  1. I personally love Uzumaki (gift from a friend last year); its creepiness is off the charts, and it’s horrifically inventive. Agree about the dialogue, but for some reason it didn’t bother me greatly; it might be because, having watched a fair bit of anime, I have a box in my brain marked “things that don’t sound quite right but are spoken very enthusiastically by voice actors in a Japanese media property so it’s all fine”.

    Couldn’t agree more about the NHS claps. I don’t want to spiral into a Politics but I hope the tories are eventually held accountable for making the country particularly vulnerable to this kind of disaster.

  2. Hi James! I was surprised to discover today that some critics had problems with the ending of Uzumaki but I thought the complete coming apart of reality was exceptional.

    I don’t want to sound too cynical about the claps because plenty of people feel positively about them. But my instant reaction when I saw the first call to hands: NHS wants resources, people and money, so, hmm, let’s get together and give them a jolly good clap.

  3. As an NHS worker, I would have loved the public to have been this concerned about us during the years when our wages were frozen and inflation was running above 3%.

    I’ll see your subversive critique of RPS and raise you a subversive link to a relevant Penny Arcade strip.

    Uzumaki is part of a rich vein of Japanese horror I want absolutely nothing to do with, and yet still feel pangs of missing out on. If there’s a gene that allows people to enjoy horror, I don’t have it. I have a sneaking suspicion this has equipped me poorly for life.

  4. “If only RPS hadn’t become the same videogame site as every other videogame site”

    Ouch. That wound is still sore.

  5. CA Ah, jeez,. that explains your not from-homeable job you mentioned last month. Stay safe.

    That PA strip – that is the shit that worries me ALL THE TIME. Plus, on your horror “deficiency”: you are also worrying me that I’ll never be able to bring my daughter into my late night horror film sessions. My son enjoys the occasional frightfest but my daughter hides under a cushion whenever there is a hint of threat. She enjoys Harry Potter, though! And somehow she got through Forbidden Planet with us, which was a total surprise to me. She walked into the room and stayed.

    Andy Obviously more nuance here than I’d let on in a punchy sentence like that but, yeah. I still miss it.

  6. We have a similar dynamic in the USA with The Troops. It is mandatory to Support The Troops and Honor The Troops so long as that does not entail spending money to take care of the troops or questioning policies that get them killed for no good reason.

  7. I was sorry to read your Twitter comments about Supraland. I thought the movement mechanics felt especially great, some of the best first-person jumping and grappling and swinging and bouncing (and more stuff later — it keeps getting better) I’ve played.

    And the puzzles are so darn clever.

    I agree that the combat gets annoying when you are trying to explore and keep getting attacked, but it means that the little rewards for finding secret places that buff your health and weapons a little bit never stop feeling worthwhile, which is a trick very few games pull off. And there’s always plenty of health around. Also you get increasing abilities to destroy the various kinds of monster spawners which is very satisfying.

    But other than the combat, I think the game does a lot to try not to waste your time, like how you don’t have to go into a dialogue tree to buy stuff. You just see it on a table and, if you have the coin, grab it as you run by. Or how the bits of dialogue appear as a speech bubble above NPC’s heads and you don’t have to click on them unless you miss it or want to read it again. And of course all the jump pads for quick backtracking that give you a direct birds-eye view of the landscape instead of a map.

  8. I thought your story about Rollercoaster Tycoon raises a very important point. When we see an inferior version of an existing game genre inside Minecraft or Fortnite or whatever, we can’t discount the value of being able to play it using an interface the user is already comfortable with.

    Like it’s kinda crazy that my ability to fluently play a game like Kairo relies on skills with a mouse and keyboard I learned playing Quake 15 years earlier.

  9. Hey Urthman!

    There’s a rash of jingoism these days which calls to some people because it simplifies the world and puts everything in order. But, damn, it just seems like a tool of bad government more than ever.

    There have been some bits of Supraland where I’ve been doing jumping which is so frustrating that I can’t believe I’ve got the right approach. I spent a long time inside the first chamber in the blue crystal area – there’s this sequence of jumps across to a platform and then across to another that I continued to fail repeatedly. I actually fell into a wrong groove where a way that seemed “easier” was actually harder.

    I can see why it clicks for some. The exploration for me isn’t a big draw because the map design is largely functional. You solve puzzles to open new areas to solve new puzzles. There’s nothing wrong with that design, it just makes it less interesting from an exploration viewpoint.

    I guess the thing is that it feels like my brain was switched off for a lot of it, that I was just going through the motions than being engaged. I have to grab the thing, put it on that, drop a purple cube here, grab a yellow ball to shoot there – occasionally interrupted with an attack of skeletions. But some of the puzzles are indeed clever and I like them.

    I’ll probably carry on with it, though, because the children like to watch. I just have to remember where all those blue roofs are. I don’t know why they are important yet but they probably are :)

    On Planet Coaster: I expected it to offer a pretty standard WASD/mouse camera and my daughter is comfy with that, having graduated from Minecraft school. But NO. Let’s make an interface no one in the world is used to.

  10. Thank you for the cautionary tale! My son is not quite 3, and all I know is that I have no idea how to turn gaming into something that will bring us both joy.

    Besides minecraft have you really found any games that all four of you have been into at the same time? Is that kind of your holy grail? Right now it seems like that is my long-term parenting quest.

  11. “When we see an inferior version of an existing game genre inside Minecraft or Fortnite or whatever, we can’t discount the value of being able to play it using an interface the user is already comfortable with.”

    I had a kind of inverse thought to this, which is that when you have a game where you can implement another game in a cool way inside this game’s mechanics, often the initial “oh, cool” factor will be overridden by the mismatch between the implemented game’s interface and the interface of the game you’re playing. Or the mismatch between the implemented game’s style and the style of the game you’re playing.

    One of the more recent prompts to this was The Witness. I mentioned that I finally tapped out on The Witness–uninstalled it because of a disk space crunch. But there were other things I could have done if I weren’t looking for an excuse to uninstall it. And the puzzle where I just sighed and gave up wasn’t one of the “guess what Blow is thinking” kinds; it was a Tetris-piece puzzle where, judging by the number of squares involved, the puzzle was to find a way of drawing a line that took in all but two squares of the grid, so that the remainder could be made by assembling the tetrominoes. And I realized that it probably would not be a difficult puzzle if it were done in an interface where you could move and rotate the tetrominoes to lay them on the board; and in fact, that if I wanted to do it, I was probably going to have to make a little grid and cut out little tetrominoes myself; and that I was absolutely not going to do that.

    There are other examples too, like in DROD and English Country Tune there are puzzles that are effectively “make a path that meets certain criteria” like in The Witness and Cosmic Express and Lyne (in ECT you have to tile a surface, in DROD you have to walk over every trapdoor exactly once), but since these games are generally about moving an avatar around you have to step through the path with your movement keys instead of tracing the path with your mouse, and it’d be better if you were able to trace the path instead of doing it in this different engine.

    Then the ones where it’s like “I didn’t come to this game to do this thing” include the Snake (or as you call it “Glutton”) levels of Snakebird, which are like Snake in that you have to eat fruit that lengthens you without running into yourself–but they’re totally different since they’re precise puzzles instead of timed. And it’s a bit cool to be actually simulating Snake, but in practice they’re not good puzzles. Another one is the bosses on levels 2 and 3 of Bit.Trip Beat, where the thrill of “Ooh I’m playing Game X in the Bit.Trip Beat engine” turns into “Ahh, this turned from a game of finding your groove and moving to the beat to a supercharged version of Game X where everything is off beat from the rhythm and I don’t like it.” For me.

    (One exception: At the end of And Yet It Moves there was a sequence where I was like “I’m just remembering moves now like Simon,” and then shortly thereafter there was a sequence which was literally exactly Simon, and I found that charming.)

    Which brings me to another thing from the newsletter… why it seems like I’m finding that I don’t like Bit.Trip Runner 2 because it’s easier than Bit.Trip Runner 1, even though I’m not gud enough to beat 1. Laters!

  12. Dan

    Finding a game for all of us together isn’t really my goal: I just want to ensure the children’s gaming diets are varied and I’ve tried offering my daughter Hidden Folks, Metamorphabet, Toca Hair Studio 3 and more over the years. I just wanted to wrest control from Roblox which seemed to be filling up the space that more decent games could take. She did enjoy The Room although she needed support here and there.

    But there’s actually only one game we’ve all played simultaneously time and again – and that’s Sumer.

    Matt

    My son was trying to impress me with someone having rebuilt the start of Half-Life 2 in Roblox and it being “just like the real thing”. It looks like someone stole a bunch of assets to me, but I may be wrong :) It has that cool factor but I’m so over this sort of thing these days. Hey I rebuilt Minecraft in Twine. I made DOOM in Factorio. I constructed Sonic the Hedgehog in Mario Kart 8. They’re like portfolio work for a game industry position rather than something that people really want to play.

    I’ve never heard JB say it, but I imagine he wanted people to cut out little tetrominoes and move them around. It lines up (!!) with this idea that he wanted the game to keep reaching outside of the screen. Of that I never cut out little tetrominoes, I drew the puzzle and then drew thick lined solutions on top of it until it was illegible. Then I drew them again. And so on. This was probably a bad idea but it was my lazy halfway house.

    I swear “I didn’t come to this game to do this thing” is the reason for 50% of bad reviews of a game! I get your meaning though. A game will encourage you to inhabit a particular mental space and if it pulls the rug out, you’ll shout one of two things: (a) this is genius inspired (b) I didn’t come to this game to do this thing.

    I remember a similar mechanic-abuse in the original Scoregasm. The whole game had been about bullet hell and moving fast out of trouble. The last level had you fly through narrow passageways with laser doors etc. Nothing in the game had been like this. And the controls were designed for bullet hell not fine positional adjustments! It was horrible and I never made it through. The developer more than a few players were having trouble and eventually took it out and replaced it with a “normal boss”.

    I guess I should be careful about mixing up these different issues? The game design being an ill-fit for alternate mechanics vs deliberate attempts to push the player in a different direction.

  13. Oh, boy. This newsletter ticks a lot of boxes for me. Thanks, Joel!

    I also picked up Theme Rollercoaster Planet Tycoon recently, and also bounced off it thanks to its interface. I have a few years on your daughter. Just a few, mind. So I don’t blame either of you for giving up on it.

    I’ve been a fan of Junji Ito since I saw a scanned copy of the Enigma of Amigara Fault a few decades ago, and Uzimaki’s the best of his I’ve read. I don’t remember the dialogue being exceptionally risible, so maybe I also share James’ built-in mental filter. Although I tried watching Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure when lockdown began, as lots of people seem to love it, and I just couldn’t get on with… the dialogue.

    I’ll address your boring questions one at a time. (1) A game is a thing with Graphics, Sound, Levels, Story… *checks notes* …Replayability, and can be rated out of 10.0 in each of those. (2) Games cannot be art, but they can have art in them. This is what we call Content. (3) There should only be an easy mode if you do not want to look at the art in the game. (This does reduce the Replayability score.)

    Clapping for the NHS is one of those cartoonish manifestations of British antipolitics* that just looks even weirder when you’re no longer surrounded by it. Reminds me of the way poppies have grown into this weird fetish for some of the worst people in British public life. But unlike with poppies, here we as a society might at least provide people who are still alive with, say, a decent income and work/life balance in return for their public service, rather than pretending symbolic gestures are in any way adequate. Incidentally, I hear four postboxes were painted blue today.

    * “antipolitics” doesn’t mean what I thought it did. For now it’ll have to stand in, because I’m not sure what a suitable term is for symbolic acts deliberately evacuated of political meaning…

  14. Shaun I’m not quite sure how the “personal news” section grew so large but, hey, I guess that’s what happens when the newsletter runs late. Actually, that’s a complete lie. I had that list in place over a week ago.

    I actually haven’t touched Planet Tycoon Rollers myself apart from trying to figure out the camera a little bit! Hence it doesn’t get a mention in my monthly playlist. But I think after seeing what my wife has produced, it’s now game over anyway. I can’t beat that.

    Anime dialogue! Now there’s a subject, Shaun! Back in the olden times, when watching an anime import from “Manga Video”, those Japanese stories really seemed pretty cool. We only had the dubbing back then and gave the dialogue a pass because it’s so difficult for Western actors to do “huh!?!?!” with quite the conviction the Japanese script usually calls for. But over time, my brows have become more and more furrowed about how popular anime tends to deal with women. Putting aside how they look, their characters in a lot of shows are pretty monodimensional. I love Death Note but, for the love of God, the characterisation of its primary female presence, Misa Amane, is unforgiveable. Steins;Gate was a big surprise but it too has this sort of nerdy-drool-for-women thing going on. I remember watching Urotsukidoji (hah defo NSFW if you don’t know what it is) and thinking, well, that was different – although I’m not sure I’d want to watch it again now.

    I think if you add the points of Graphics Sound Level and Story they always come to 42. We obviously haven’t asked the right question about games yet.

    Finally: I tolerated British pride, that patriotic streak, because it seemed important enough to a lot of people, a lot of decent people. A belief in a nation can be a positive thing, as religion can be. I’m not fond of religion myself but I’m not about to go out and burn religions down. But after seeing the nationalist spirit refashioned as a weapon in the forge of Brexit, after seeing a sharp increase in domestic racism, after seeing us slide towards an authoritarian-style government that calls out oppositional media as disloyal, after seeing the country decide that feelings are more important than facts… well, basically, it’s fuck your poppies. They don’t represent past tragedy any more, they represent a very British tragedy of a fucked present and future.

  15. A) Could be worse, an neonazi alt-right as president incentivizing his minions to attack health workers in the street… If the world continues this path, it won’t take long before ideologies like fascism and nazism reborn in many countries.

    B) Junji Ito, is a mangaka know for making horror stories, but his principal thing is the ero-guro genre, very underground and offensive for westerns, is a type of genre that depicts eroticism in scenes of violence, nonsense and grotesque, principally woman defenseless situations, that’s why you won’t see much stories for this type going out the misogyny sphere, worse even…

    C) Most of Animes are adaptations of Mangas and what is called Light Novels. Mangas itself has a sort of editorial divisions that makes genres that are based in the public targeted, so e.g. Naturo, Dragon Ball, Death Note, they are Shounen, it’s a genre made for boys, kids or early teenagers, the vocabulary is simple, more straightforward action, silly dialogues, uncomplicated events, easy narrative, the protagonist’s, well, boys, as you can see, Naruto, Goku, Raito, they are all boys under 10 to 17 years, and to be even more clear in my example these titles are from the famous Weekly Shonen Jump, as the name implies, it’s a magazine that is specialized in this sort of publication. Other genres like Gekiga and Seinen are more mature and for adults. It’s common to call Gekiga and Seinen as synonyms, but it’s not like that, their differences it’s more complicate to explain, so I leave it to Google.

    D) For further discussions on horror I recommend the book: The Philosophy of Horror, or Paradoxes of the Heart, from Noël Carroll.

  16. Joel: yeah, the handling of female characters is often appalling in shonen anime. As Comrade Pedro points out it’s targeted at a very specific demographic, though understanding that doesn’t in any way excuse it.

    I just started watching an anime that appeared on Netflix here in Finland; Drifting Dragons. Right off the bat I have to acknowledge that it’s obviously inspired by some imagined golden age of whale hunting, and that’s… well, let’s just say it’s a contested issue and outside a few countries it’s a problematic thing to romanticise. I’ll see where they go with that concept as the show progresses. But the reason I mentioned it is because its handling of everyday sexism has stuck out to me, mostly in the little things (e.g. two male characters run into a room having been ordered to assist; they salute the older man who is present, who glances at them and jerks his head toward the woman behind him, who is actually in charge). Small things like this don’t necessarily mean much, but in the context of the production cycle of animation their inclusion is obviously very deliberate and has been planned for some time, and that’s either because the writers thought it an important aspect of human life to represent, or it ties into their larger story and themes in some way. Either way, I like it. I hope I’m not reading too much into minutiae since so much anime is so fucking bad (like how pretty much every iteration of GITS can’t stop itself from fetishising and lingering over every curve of the Major’s body).

    I acquired a bunch of the white poppies a few years back through a donation to… whatever the fund is called that makes them. I liked that they clearly established themselves as being about remembrance, in the same way as red poppies are supposed to be, but are also unequivocally positioned as anti-war. Last I was aware they weren’t widely recognised but when they were, there was some astonishing spite and bile from the usual bevy of pro-war poppy ornamentalists, the giant poppy shitheads, the tedious sadists of the British commentariat. No surprise, huh? How dare anyone remember a great war and think other wars are not good things. But yeah, you’re quite right, red poppies have steadily seen their symbolical meaning twisted as the last generation of veterans and survivors have died off.

    So, uh, how about those video games, huh?

    Comrade Pedro: sadly, I share your fears in (A) that this is the path we as a civilization are walking down. Given that it is unfolding in the context of climate devastation, and the total inability & disinterest of the death-drive far right to engage with these problems, I feel as if it is socialism or barbarism for the West. I’m not optimistic.

  17. Apropos of nothing: How is qrth-phyl not a bigger game?? It’s mind boggling to me that Lumines and Braid and all sorts of “unusual” games were hits in days gone by, but this one seems to have barely made a splash. I shouldn’t be this high up the leaderboard! https://www.dropbox.com/s/n52bajam7m70oaf/qrth-phyl%20score.png?dl=0

    Did you or anyone ever figure this game out beyond the surface? I don’t want to search online, but it seems like it might have more going on in the mystery side of things besides just the slides in a “museum” you showed on your stream.

    Joel: “Finding a game for all of us together isn’t really my goal” – It’s not your goal for this situation specifically, or not a particularly salient goal generally? Sometimes it feels like my only parenting goal, and the second one isn’t even born yet. Sumer did look fun, though. For some reason we don’t really do competitive games here, but maybe that will change once the 2 year old can start playing with us.

  18. Ahahaha. I actually searched for the rot13’d equivalent before thinking that ‘qrth-phyl’ might be the name of a real actual game. Too many sausage comments from a certain pair of individuals on here.

    To take a stab at the question: the indie saturation point is a tiny speck in the rear-view mirror in 2020. You didn’t have to be Super Meat Boy to conjure breathless excitement among the scenesters in 2010; today there are Ed McMillen games that have gone the entire development and release cycles that I’ve never even heard of. (The End is Neigh anyone?)

    It’s not just that more indies are coming out – I also feel like discussion and assessment of them has dried up at the places that I go for coverage. In fact I was reading about Landlord’s Super yesterday, and it really felt like the first time in a long time I got the sense of ‘what the hell is this crazy thing’ excitement which was a weekly occurrence back in the late ’00s. But I suspect the change is as much in me and my perspective as anything.

  19. CA: That’s a really good point. I do feel that there were fewer indie games back then, so it was easier to keep track of “the scene” and what was going on in it. You just kept tabs on what Jonathan Blow, Terry Cavanagh, Introversion, and 3 or 4 more indies of your choice were up to, and read indiegames.com, and that was that. If you wanted a palate cleanser you’d head over to freegam.es and play a quick 5-minute thing for free.

    Now it feels like there are simultaneously more indie games out there, but it’s harder to find decent coverage of them? Indiegameplus (the successor to indiegames.com) is doing a pretty good job of highlighting new stuff that looks interesting, but their coverage seems to be limited to “here’s a game, it looks cool”. Valuable for discoverability, but I need outlets that also process the meaning behind these works. Where does this stand in relation to other games? What new ground does it break? How does this compare to the author’s other work? It sometimes feels like, if I want to be informed about the current state of the art, I have to read everything, play everything, because nobody else is doing the time-consuming work of playing most of the field and getting an overview. I think I had to do that back in 2010 as well, but the field was a lot smaller.

    Anyone know any sites that do that? ED is actually the closest in some ways, but that kind of a project really needs a dedicated team.

  20. Dan

    I don’t know if you were around these parts at the time. Here’s my 2012 piece on qrth-phyl where I expand on its meaning and secrets: Returning Home, 2.

    “Finding a game for all of us” – a game for all of us is fine but getting us all together is harder and we tend to spend that full family time on board games instead. The children have their own computer time but I’m loathe to leave them to the whims of giant corporations! Also, I would guess my pair are older than yours, and the videogame equation changes a lot over the years…

    CA / James

    Oh it’s not just that sausage, there was a big Baba is You conflab I didn’t read ANY OF because I’m still playing through it. Making more progress in the last week now that I have other puzzle games put aside…

    To throw some more petrol onto this burning conversation about indie game coverage – I’ve just hundreds of unplayed games I want to get my teeth into. I’ve just started having a go at Chris Bateman’s Silk, for example, which is no longer new (Oct 2019) and that needs hours of play to become proficient with it. I sometimes I’m tempted about throwing out micro “yeah, cool game” pieces but I think that’s a waste of time, I think, for Electron Dance.

    I think videogames are now just too expansive for anyone to be “an expert”. There’s no such thing as someone who knows all of the games. There’s always some other game that already did Fabulous Mechanic X after you did a glowing review of it. There’s always some niche, well-done project tucked away someone can say: hey, did you see this? It’s partly why I’m in thrall to puzzle games at the moment because at least I feel like I have a bit of field knowledge here and can speak with a little authority.

    What’s happened to videogames is what happened to each scientific field – they became so large, they eventually split into multiple subfields. You cannot be an expert in “mathematics”, you have to be an expert in numerical analysis, or topology, or algebra, or functional analysis and so on. I think videogames are getting ever so close to that.

    There is one way, though, to simplify the world. There’s a particular category that you can get to know inside out and will always get the readers in. AAA. You’ll find plenty of videogame writers are AAA experts but after that their information becomes sketchy.

    This inability to Know Everything is also why some criticism seems to be weak: holding up an object and saying it provides unique perspective of the world, unaware that that unique perspective has been done a dozen times already. This concern is the kind of thing that worries me about my own writing much more these days than it did back in 2010.

    Sorry for the ramble!

  21. But when you find something in a game that is cool and write about it and someone else comes along and says, “These earlier games also did that, and then this other game did it better than anyone,” and another person says, “Actually this other game did that thing even better,” surely that’s a win condition for you and your readers rather than any kind of failure on your part.

  22. @Joel: I totally agree, and I think you’re spot on with the notion that most outlets are AAA experts. I guess, as you said, that’s because AAA pieces will reliably draw traffic. What would pcgamer look like if, for example, Twine games suddenly drew millions of players? A lot of writers would quickly become experts in Porpentine’s back catalogue.

    And I agree about the field “splitting”, too. That’s also true for streaming, I think: streamers tend to play certain genres. But I think it’s still possible to have each outlet focus on one thing (“wargaming.com”, or “indiepuzzlegam.es” or something). Or you could have each staff member be an expert on each area.

    What I’d really appreciate, though, is an indie outlet that digs into the more unusual offerings – what I would have called “art games” in 2014 but now am at a loss to label. Writers would never be able to do a perfect job – perhaps that new mechanic is not, indeed, that new – but I’d certainly value the expertise of someone with more time to get a handle on this field.

    I mean, sometimes you pick up an arts magazine and turn to a critical piece on a new, unusual theatre show opening in London. Has the writer seen every show in the history of theatre, or even every noteworthy indie play in London? No (it’s impossible), but they know more about it than I do, and as part of their job they will have been to see some of the more off-the-beaten-track performances. Even if their job isn’t perfect I’d still really appreciate that insight.

    @Urthman: exactly. I’m not expecting perfect information. The goal shouldn’t be to make every single claim made about these games be 100% accurate historically speaking. The goal should be to create a space where discussing games as mechanical, cultural artifacts, and placing them in a wider context, is encouraged. Then it doesn’t matter so much whether the “most true” fact is brought up by the writer or by the reader: the main point is that, by creating that space, you allow the dissemination and discussion of critical claims about these games in general.

  23. I always do this. I read your newsletter fresh in my inbox and then I have to wait until the evening to comment. Then I forget. And by the time I remember, or finally get round to commenting, I forget what I was going to say and then have to read the newsletter again!

    Anyway, yes, I’ve watched Hailey’s brother’s kids playing Roblox and… what is this shit you’re playing? You’ve got X, Y and Z over there and they’re eminently better! (I didn’t say that, of course, but I did do a lot of bewildered questioning!) I’m glad your wife got something out of Planet Coaster though!

    “I’m so over this sort of thing these days. Hey I rebuilt Minecraft in Twine. I made DOOM in Factorio. I constructed Sonic the Hedgehog in Mario Kart 8. They’re like portfolio work for a game industry position rather than something that people really want to play.”

    Very much this. I watched a video about Dreams on PS4 recently and it was just one massive fan wank of other games. It’s like, Media Molecule gave us these incredible tools to do anything we could imagine (it’s called Dreams for God’s sake!) and what do you show us? Zelda, Crash Bandicoot, Undertale and bloody Wipeout knock-offs. This was a fault of the YouTube channel to be fair, but it painted such a narrow and shallow picture of the potential of the software, as if those imitations were going to sell it more than something unique and creative.

    “But there’s actually only one game we’ve all played simultaneously time and again – and that’s Sumer.”

    Oh man, that’s great! I’m yet to find anyone who’s interested, sniff. The joy in that Side by Side episode is the only joy I’ve had with it! :-)

    The lockdown meme is one thing, but hearing people say they’re bored has been driving me mad. The idea that folk don’t know what to do with themselves at home when they haven’t got work is… incredibly depressing to me, especially when I’m still working and would dearly love more time to do other stuff. Can I have some of that time please? Perhaps we can do a job swap? Worse: I booked Easter off before the lockdown started and then work gave everyone that time off anyway, but my boss thought he was doing us a favour by insisting the entire team work through it because, well, what is there to do at home? I’m finally getting that week back next week and I’m so excited.

    And the clapping… I was and still am livid about that every time it happens. I’m hugely appreciative of everyone who has to work through this, from health workers to store assistants, but I won’t join in. It’s the emptiest of gestures when the nation elected these rotten bastards. It has already cost us dearly and it’s so sad.

  24. Hi Gregg. Gosh, after leaving this comment for days, I realise I have little to add!

    Looks like this week is the last week of clapping so that’s a positive. Until a second wave hits – which seems pretty likely, to be honest – and perhaps someone will suggest a re-clap.

    The one thing positive that came out of the lockdown is that I’ve spent more time with the children and there’s less worry about all the clubs and homework they have to do. So plenty more board gaming here. Any extra spare time I might have had has been gobbled up by board games…!


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