Let me make something clear: I love each and every person who stops here to read. I love doing this, and I’m happy to give you neat stuff to mull over. But I feel a special amount of appreciation for the people who decide to support me by giving me a little extra money, and so I show them a little extra appreciation in the form of bonus articles.
All of the articles linked below are password-protected, each using a unique password that Patreon backers are given when the article goes live. This page, then, serves as both a roundup of all these articles and a useful way of seeing what those lovely patrons are getting, along with a brief excerpt of each piece. If there are any problems with either the passwords not showing up correctly or with links not working, please, let me know.
March 2014: When can I stop playing?
How long would you keep playing if a game never told you it was finished? How much of our understanding of games comes into play chiefly because we’re conditioned to think about the goalposts? Are achievements and such really just a game’s way of telling us that we can stop now?
April 2014: Advancing isn’t winning
The problem creeps in around the edges when advancement stops being about planning and building your character and starts being about whether you win or lose. Advancement can be seen as a project or a win condition, but as the latter it makes a game damn near unplayable.
May 2014: Uninstalled (or, how to say goodbye and mean it)
There’s no need for me to leave it on my hard drive. Games take up more and more space, and while I still have a third of my hard drive free that space does shrink on a regular basis. Things need to be uninstalled and reinstalled later. That’s the nature of the beast, isn’t it?
June 2014: The moment
Every gamer feels the movement. If you identify yourself as a gamer, I think it’s inevitable – if you’re just someone who plays video games, all right, but if you’re a gamer you’ve dedicated part of your life to the pursuit and creation of these moments. Were it not veering into dangerous territory, I’d capitalize moment there simply out of magnitude.
July 2014: The core of the game
A good developer knows what they want the game to be from the start. But there are challenges along the way, things that do or don’t work well, and all of that feeds into finding out what the real appeal of the game is. What can make a by-the-numbers entry into something unique. Why players want to play your game.
August 2014: We need that story
I charged into battle with the fury of someone who felt betrayed by extending an enemy a moment of trust, and when he finally fell beneath me, I jumped up and cheered with a whoop of triumph. Because sure, you could argue that it was all my fault in the first place, and it was – but it had put me in the game. It had invested me.
September 2014: Why don’t we finish?
Failing to finish games we don’t like is not a mystery, it’s a defense mechanism to avoid wasting our lives on things that we hate. But everyone who plays has stories of games they were enjoying that they didn’t finish while at the same time liking the game. Why don’t we finish? What stops us?
October 2014: Polybius filter
That should be the last word on the subject of Polybius: it’s not real. But it keeps getting spread around, despite the fact that pretty much everyone knows it was nothing, despite the fact that the story changes forms and bears all the marks of being pure fiction. For whatever reason, we really want it to be true.
November 2014: Disconnection
Even if it was just for a few hours, I could slip out of myself and into another world, step away from the reality. Just enough of a buffer zone between my real life and a world where any of my actions had impact, however small. It kept me rolling.
December 2014: Elephant hatred
It’s like the old joke about blind men describing an elephant from their own fragmentary perceptions, except it’s something that we do on a regular basis for pop culture, and yet no matter how many times we fail to see the whole picture we still think that the bit of tail we’re holding is the whole of the creature.
January 2015: Not of the culture
I don’t begrudge companies trying to sell me a shirt because I’m a gamer and I remember these things, that’s legitimate. I don’t adore it, but I also recognize that it is what it is and what it was always going to be. And yet I look at this and I think to myself that it doesn’t define me. It doesn’t represent me.
February 2015: How gaming turned me into a better person
Saying that video games have defined my life would be no exaggeration. But even when you leave aside the values of the stories several of them tell, there are a lot of things to be gleaned in terms of life lessons from the games themselves.
March 2015: The journey
I never actively sought out game journalism as a career path so much as I stumbled into it; I liked video games, I wrote about them, and after several years that turned into something approaching a job. Then it turned into an actual job, and now I’m here twelve years later and it feels fair to call this an actual career.
April 2015: Powerless
There’s a scary part of games that no one ever really talks about, despite the fact that it’s as much a part of video games as controllers and graphics. It’s the sense of learned powerlessness instilled in players over the years.