Electron Dance
17Jan/1715

The Death of Ideas

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You can now download the first two chapters of The Weapons of Progress: From Videogame Revolution to Control.

I've made the fatal mistake of committing a ton of changes in the hours before final publication. Which probably means there'll be a flurry of error corrections over the next week. Oh well, I'm only human.

And other news: I am a finalist for New York Game Critics' Circle Game Journalism Award.

(Sorry this is so brief but I'm utterly spent!)

Update 20 Jan: David Wolinsky won the award, who has been writing a long-running series of longform interviews.

The Unbearable Now received lots of attention after Austin Walker published an article about it on Waypoint. It's reeled in a few more thousand views since.

Download my FREE eBook on the collapse of indie game prices an accessible and comprehensive explanation of what has happened to the market.

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Comments (15) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Wow, my congratulationes! You are the right man for the prize, as far as I can see from everything I read here. Now I’ll be into the next book chapters.

  2. Congratulations! Richly deserved!

  3. Thanks Merzmensch and Matt! I’ve been off work sick today which all makes horrible sense considering how hard it was trying to get this “finished”. Just looking forward to chilling out for awhile.

    Unless I win the award of course, then I guess I hand in my notice and wait for the riches. The previous winner was Cara Ellison who left game journalism before winning the award because it just wasn’t paying the bills.

  4. Nice crowd, that there. Fingers crossed, etc.

    And congrats on releasing the chapters!

  5. Congratulations! I’ve downloaded and cannot wait to read. Get! In! My! Kindle!

  6. Thanks Ketchua and Steerpike!

    Seems I got a writeup over at Waypoint as well. Book downloads are slow so far, but I think this is to be expected until people actually start reading it and getting angry, or something.

  7. Really happy for you Joel, not just for the nomination but for hitting the milestone of getting your first two chapters out! I look forward to sitting down with them and having a good read.

  8. Thanks Gregg! The awards were last night and the winner was David Wolinsky for No Don’t Die, who you may recognise as I throw his interviews into the newsletter links from time to time. So my mission is now to sell the hell out of being a Finalist :)

    An article on Waypoint by Austin Walker sent a few more thousands views to The Unbearable Now and that’s the been the big news this week.

    The book chapters have been doing okay. There’s been around 180 downloads so far.

  9. Added an update to the post.

  10. Congratulations on being placed as a finalist, and on the Waypoint link! I checked your video’s views the next day, and was heartened to see they were up since I’d last checked.

    It’s no shame to lose to Wolinsky. There have been some great in-depth interviews with interesting people via No Don’t Die.

    More importantly, congratulations on ushering these chapters out into the world! Now we know you’re serious, Joel.

    I just sat down and read both chapters in one sitting. I had a glass of whiskey on the go, which turned out to be an excellent accompaniment. Chapter 2 is quite the rollercoaster.

    I do want to preface this paragraph by saying that I think the chapter is great. It introduces economic concepts simply and accessibly, your humour is peppered throughout, the writing is readable but smart and incisive, there’s a wide range of perspectives on a variety of aspects of the pricing issue and it all feels very even-handed. There’s even a wonderful subtle bit where you bring the chapter back around to your choice of title. But there is an elephant in the room, which is free-to-play mobile. You do mention it here and there, but add that you’re mostly concerned with the PC space (okay, that may have been specifically in reference to casual games). It’s a glaring omission. Is that to be addressed in a separate chapter? Jolly good if so (might be worth dropping in a mention, as you do on a couple of other occasions).

    I did note that on page 5 (in the introduction) there was a bit of a jarring transition to the “gatekeepers” paragraph. I get where you’re going there but I feel the dichotomy needs setting up a little more. And in a few other places I felt like the shift in focus threw me a little. But there are minor quibbles to be ironed out in editing. Great work!

  11. Hi Shaun,

    The views are slowing down now and I imagine we’ll make it to 15,000 but not sure how far beyond that. I’m still far from the million of my favourite competitor, Joseph Anderson’s The Witness: A Great Game You Shouldn’t Play. That traffic gap seems impossible to bridge!

    Great! You’ve read the chapters!

    Okay, these are easy complaints to dispense with. GET OUT AND DON’T DIRTY MY BOOK AGAIN WITH YOUR GRUBBY MITTS

    Yes, Chapter V will look into F2P more closely. There’s a lot of ground to cover there. Chapter II is meant to look at the collapse of the standard pricing model. I think originally I mentioned a lot more “if you don’t want to use a zero-pricing model” and possibly the zero pricing model reference to Chapter V has been lost. I had a quick look and I don’t see one.

    And I think your – admittedly minor – point about the gatekeepers graph is a sound one. I’ve never been quite at ease with the first chapter. And I never quite wanted to “tip my hand” about the conclusions and overall direction but, you know, you have to tell people what the book is about, right? I have a feeling it will become easier to write once the book is closer to completion. It’s a shame that it becomes the face of the book for many people…

    Thanks again. I’m adding you to the “acknowledgements” list which I’ve just decided would be a good idea to start…

  12. Hey Joel!

    I considered typing out a proper fanmail but figured an uptick on the comment counter might be more satisfying than a (1) on the e-mail tab!

    Too bad you didn’t snag that award. I guess asking some leading questions is more impressive than having original thoughts! (I jest – David Wolinsky does good work, and while I personally prefer your reflections, the subjective taste of the judges apparently differed this time around)

    Like many other new followers I was introduced to your YouTube channel through The Unbearable Now (which I found not via Waypoint, but some comment on Reddit a few months back). I’ve read a fair bit of your articles on here, and watched most of your videos on your channel – as for the latter I’m extremely impressed by both the editing and the direction! I’ve watched both The Unbearable Now and the Bioshock video multiple times. I can’t imagine the time and effort you must put into making them. I hope you’ll eventually build up a following that matches the great quality of your content, even though that’s not always a given transition. After all, just like selling videogames, the business of most content creation is rather fucked!

    As for The Weapons of Progress, I was glad to find that you manage to put some of your wit into it while still maintaining a serious tone. The Egyptologist bit caught me off guard in a good way! I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the book.

    A piece of minor feedback: on page 26, in the “zero, the seducer” sub-chapter, I’m not quite getting the paragraph about Shampan’er and Ariely’s paper. While I always enjoy bashing Comic Sans, the first and the second sentence doesn’t make sense together for me. I read it as “zero is the ultimate seducer, despite this paper using Comic Sans”! I suspect it’s some editing artifact.

    Finally: I was looking for a Patreon to support you through, and was sad that I couldn’t find one, which meant I now had to show my appreciation like some human being with kind words and such. Will we be able to pay for the book once it’s finished, though? That would be a nice way of showing the kind of capitalistic gratitude we’ve all been conditioned to love, and we’d actually be paying for a tangible product, removing the icky tendrils of shame associated with missing deadlines whilst getting filthy rich off Patreon!

    So, uh, what I’m trying to say is that I’m really impressed with the stuff you make. I hope you keep finding time to put into Electron Dance, which I’m sure is hard between raising kids, playing games and farming paychecks!

    Keep up the good work, and have a splendid continuation of your day! :)

  13. Hi Teddy,

    Thanks for the lovely comment! I can totally understand David getting the award, especially as he’s (a) quite prolific and (b) an actual journalist! I wasn’t expecting to win and was really surprised to learn I had been nominated in the first place. David and I were trying to collaborate on an article together a year ago and we never quite found the time to do it. Ha ha maybe I should’ve tried harder :)

    Thanks for the feedback for the book and I’ve noted it down in my “corrections to review” document. It’s all useful. Minor stuff doesn’t stress me out as I can usually take a look and fix it quickly. The book gets better. On the other hand, we had a discussion here a couple of weeks back about the whether the Gilead example was good enough or not and that was a proper time sink. I also had a DM conversation with Sean Barrett about the role of copyright/patent which led to a somewhat more significant retooling of that section. Even this tough stuff, though, it’s all welcome.

    I have a thing about Patreons. I’ve struggled for years trying to manage the Electron Dance work/life balance and failed much of that time, feeling that I had to write to maintain audience. I used to a post every single week (in the beginning it was two!) but reached a point where I decided I had to give up on that commitment. But a Patreon would re-ignite that urgency to produce posts. Admittedly, I know there are variations on Patreon, like “pay per article” but I feel more in charge, more aloof, leaving it this way. But the book was always intended to be a financial commodity…

    The plan is to release later chapters for $1 each as a way of “funding” the book’s progress. When the whole thing is completed, I intend to get some proper cover art, pay for proofreading and sort out a paper version. That seems some way off, but I’d like to hope I might have Chapter III done by middle of the year – considering it took six years to get to this point!!! At least I have momentum now and *all* of the hard problems have been dealt with.

    Right, I think it’s time I signed off the internet for today. Once again, thanks for the comment which was a nice way to round off this fine week!

  14. I’ve had a very good evening sitting with this last night

  15. Thank you, Henrique. It’s good to hear readers are getting something out of it!


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