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Worth Reading: 05/23/2014

Both this and Worth Playing are taking a week off, so let's go out with a bang.

Change is scary as hell, but whether it happens sooner or later, change is part of life. Sometimes you know it's coming, sometimes it hits you like a pile of bricks. Often, it's a little bit of both. But change happens.

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A year after moving back to Chicago, Vinny is headed to New York. While our lives are in different places, our reasons are pretty similar: we both spent significant amounts of time on the west coast, yet our families are in other parts of the country. I'll always value the life I built on my own, away from everything I knew growing up, but some of us have to go back.

Right before my father passed away, I had dinner with my parents, and we told them we'd be moving back to Chicago. We didn't know when, but it would happen in the next year or two. Then, he died, and it wasn't even a question. But I gave myself a year to figure everything out, and leaving right after Giant Bomb was acquired by CBS seemed like a bad message to send. (I already have a reputation of leaving places that are turning into sinking ships!)

The last year has been, to borrow a reviewing cliche, a mixed bag. Coming to define what my role is at Giant Bomb, a website built on collaboration, has been tough. Not everything has worked. Quick Look Solos, for example, are born out of my back against the wall. I'm going to start bringing in various gaming writers around Chicago to hang out with me in future videos, at least videos that aren't about looking at a horror game.

But I've relished the challenge, and enjoyed the little victories. A reason I've left previous jobs is boredom. That's not the case with Giant Bomb, even if Chicago has proven the ideal situation personally but the less ideal situation professionally. But even that's changing. Super Professional Fridays has been fantastic, and while we haven't had one in a few weeks (we'll be back before E3), there are plans in motion for later this year that should make that less of an issue, and I'm curious to see where it can go when it's around longer.

Plus, we're building a community in Chicago. Our meetup earlier this month was a huge success. We'll have another one to remember Mr. Ryan Davis later in June, and I'm hoping Giant Bomb Chicago meetups can become a monthly affair. I know that some people aren't the biggest fan of the solo content that's come out of my neck of the woods, and I take every piece of feedback, both positive and negative, with humility and appreciation. The edited Kinect video, for example, is one way I'm considering tackling video subjects that just don't work as well with a single person talking. I'm considering Crusader Kings 2 as my first experiment...

In any case, I'm rambling. I'm excited for Vinny. I'm excited for Alex. I'm excited for Giant Bomb. I guarantee you some very cool stuff is coming in the not-so-distant future. It'll just be different.

Hey, You Should Play This

And You Should Read These, Too

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One of my greatest honors was the year and change I spent working at G4. More specifically, working alongside Adam. When I realized the Infinity Ward story was about to happen, I texted him some of the phrasing I would be using, and he told me to wait 20 minutes. He'd already spent the day filming, and even though he'd already sat down with a drink, he was coming back to the office. We were going to walk through the story, make sure we were happy with every single sentence and phrasing, and let history unfold. In the days ahead, he would push to have me on camera to talk about the story I was responsible for, and apologize when the network would ask him to do it instead, since he was the known quantity. The whole reason I was given an opportunity to host part of G4's E3, part of the reason I was eventually hired at Giant Bomb, was because Adam gave me a shot. Anyway, his piece is really great. Read it.

"It's 2000 in San Francisco and the dot-com boom is still governing the hedonistic strut of the city. I have no memory of ever paying for a meal or a drink during this time. A consistent stream of parties from companies long, and deservedly, forgotten, all using the same caterer that slices roast beef into a sourdough discus with mustard as an optional condiment. There's a hint of uncertainty in the air but everything unfolds in my mind as a collection of brilliant nights whose sheer propulsive determinism will withstand any obstacle to this brave new entrepreneurial future.

For months, I play Deus Ex, staying late at the office and finding any free moment during the day to jump back into this game depicting a collapsed world of misplaced power, economic disparity and paranoid motivations. I had never before played a game that meted out such satisfaction. The most distinct break from the governing game logic of finding the right path or second-guessing the designer's intentions, it was a playground of experimentation and discovery."

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While I don't agree with this piece, I wanted to share it, since the sentiment comes up all the time. It's a common argument, and one that I can, in select cases, understand. Let's put aside anything that was said about Far Cry 4, since it doesn't matter to the point I'm making here. Where Colin and I part ways is subtext surrounding the criticisms aimed at Far Cry 4. I cannot be 100% sure, but I suspect anyone who took issue with Far Cry 4's artwork wasn't saying Far Cry 4 or any other video game cannot deal in uncomfortable situations or delicate subjects, but that doing so opens yourself up to a particular line of criticism the creators should be prepared for. Games can and should tackle whatever subject they want to, but you don't get credit for being edgy: you actually have to pull it off, too.

"In short, it seemed to me to be the stuff of a good, believable antagonist. And I was excited about that. Apparently, some others weren't. I'm not surprised by the reaction some folks had to Far Cry 4's introductory artwork, even if I don't personally see it as inherently racist or otherwise problematic. What I'm surprised about, the more I think about it, is that some people see something they think is troubling, yet don't put it into the context of what they're actually looking at. Sometimes, things are designed specifically to trouble you. And as a gamer hungry for storytelling, I don't like the insinuation--and this insinuation is fairly loud--that games just aren't allowed to deal with tough issues, lest they offend someone."

If You Click It, It Will Play

These Crowdfunding Projects Look Pretty Cool

  • Flop Flop Fly is the kind of game you should back if you're into rotating models of sandals.
  • Caffeine joins the long list of sci-fi horror projects coming down the pike.
  • SumoBoy wants to tell a story about bullying with some ex-AAA developers.

A Blog Post About F2P By The Room's Creators Has Folks Talking

  • Barry Meade kicked off this conversation, arguing mobile was burning and F2P was responsible.
  • Adam Saltsman warns it's not easy to take so many lessons from one successful game.
  • Jake Simpson lays out some of the broader complexities of mobile Meade's post doesn't account for.

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

Commenter: Fuck these rich devs for Kickstarting! Me: Did you listen to why he needs help? C: No, and I won't. http://t.co/RKWbWTzSbQ

— Greg Miller (@GameOverGreggy) May 19, 2014

Publisher Kickstarter dilemma - either they made tons of money and think they don't need you - or they didn't - which says a lot as well.

— Shams Jorjani (@ShamsJorjani) May 19, 2014

i’d bet the Wolfenstein folks really mean well, but i’d prefer to dwell on the Holocaust in a context other than “action shooter”

— Jon Bois (@jon_bois) May 20, 2014

Good will is a resource companies frequently exchange for Kickstarter backing. Not sure it's always worth it to fund one project.

— Brendan Sinclair (@BrendanSinclair) May 21, 2014

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+