Experienced Points: Screen Time and Summer Releases

By Shamus
on May 5, 2015
Filed under:
Column

My column this week is basically a mailbag episode.

Also, this is a pretty good illustration of how important titles are on a site like The Escapist. I knew the title was kinda flat. It doesn’t state anything bold, or ask a question, mention a current controversy, or promise to explain something. It just mentions two disparate topics. As of this writing, my column has been up for about three hours and doesn’t have a single response. On other weeks, I’d have at least a dozen by now.

A few Past titles with more “grabby” headlines:
What the Heck is a Fractal…
These Games Were Ruined by…
5 Things to Do if…

All of those performed far better than this one.

I know we’ll get a discussion here on the blog, but that’s because you’re here looking for stuff “by Shamus”. That’s fundamentally different than looking for, “Stuff to kill a few minutes”.

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20202020There are now 80 comments. Almost a hundred!

From the Archives:

  1. Dragmire says:

    Do you think your original title would have fared better considering the “How to” angle?

    Unrelated to the topic at hand, how do you feel your productivity’s been lately, if you don’t mind me asking? Have you shaken off the… whatever you were feeling for now(was going to call it a funk but that seemed inappropriate)?

    Apologies if this is too personal, feel free to ignore or even delete the question if it rubs you the wrong way. I’m just curious as to how you’re faring.

    • Dude, IIRC Shamus has never deleted questions, even if they rub him the wrong way, he can always choose not to answer them after all. (he may not answer questions even if they rub him the right way)
      As long as you don’t ask him about his nocturnal escapades then I think you’ll be fine. *laughs*

    • Thomas says:

      The “how to” title seems more effective to me. Parents managing screens is controversy material to at least a small degree.

      Maybe the Escapist just didn’t like the length of it

  2. One of the issues with The Escapist (and sites like it), there are only headlines and some artwork behind it.

    There is no one paragraph synopsis about what the heck the article is about.

    For people whom the title works for will click through.
    Those whom the title does not work for might find the artwork interesting.
    But then there are those like me. If a article title does not catch my interest and the artwork is generic, I’d want some text (even if it’s just a short one) describing what the article is about.

    For example “Why Ghosts ‘n Goblins Is One of the Most Difficult Games Ever”.
    Is that a review of a old or new game? Or is not a review but a article about game difficulty?

    Now on The Escapist there is a huge “Screen Time and Summer Releases” banner at the top. But it tells me nothing what it’s about.
    However way down the front page to the right there is “Screen Time and Summer Releases” plus a paragraph of text giving some more insight.

    The ideal here would be to show that text in the huge banner on top.
    I don’t think that many bother to scroll down.
    Also the rightside of many sites are also where ads and similar stuff is placed.
    And sometimes the left side too, so people may just scan down the center column for attention grabbing titles.

    Then again there are people like me, I tend to just scroll to the bottom and right click to open a new tab (or several) from the weekly calendar shown down there.
    And I don’t comment on The Escapist posts/forums, so *shrug*.

    Rest assured that I always check out and read your Escapist articles though.

    • Cybron says:

      Many articles on a site like this are so short or light on content that a paragraph of summary would equate to the entire article. If they gave you that, you’d have no reason to click through.

  3. Andy_Panthro says:

    The second letter amused me slightly with the comment that last year was a “bad” year for gaming, and this year a “good” one. There were probably years past when I might have thought like that, but I think I was always playing things a bit behind schedule anyway, it was rare that I would get a game close to release date even when I was younger (with occasional exceptions, like Street Fighter II Championship Edition back in 1993!)

    I have a backlog of games so extensive that I can rarely remember which games came out on which years, not to mention all those kickstarter projects. Mind you, it doesn’t help my backlog that I spend a lot of my time replaying older games rather than starting new ones (current project, replaying Space Quest 1 VGA in preparation for blogging about it, and I’ll be replaying Space Quest IV also). Also trying to finish a game of Xenonauts (restarted about three times, but I’m going to stick with it this time!), and occasionally PES2015 on the PS4.

    • Good point.

      Personally I don’t think there are any good or bad years.
      There is so much now compared with the past.
      It is possibly that the amount of crap has increased and that good games have remained somewhat the same number wise.

      I wonder how the ratio of good vs bad games are over the last decade or so.
      And how many more games (inflation) is there this last decade compared to the previous.

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        Both the Adventure Gamer and CRPG Addict blogs are quite instructive in this, since they are attempting to play all of the games released in order (year-by-year), and there have certainly been years that were better than others so far. But cRPGs and Adventure games are merely a small part of games as a whole (not to mention console games), so there have always been plenty of games available, but these days it’s almost ridiculous how many (old and new) games you can choose from.

    • Mephane says:

      Two words: Cities Skylines.

      This is a good year for gaming. :)

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      I think people who say last year was bad mostly think in term of AAA releases. A lot of those were pretty meh, mired by bugs and technical issues or both. Also bear in mind that the negative usually sticks better to memory than the positive.

      Also, same problem with the backlog.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      For some reason people think 2014 was a bad year.Not just for games,but for movies and music as well.

    • Wooji says:

      Thanks to all Steams stupid sales i have a backlog of around 350 games so far and it just keeps growing.
      At the current rate i think i could manage through atleast 2-3 years of really crappy releases before i run out of things to play, and with a new summer sale around the corner and the Beta fo GOG Galaxy i fear that the backlog is goning to grow even faster then usual…

      *mumblemumble* stupid cheep good games taking all my free time… When i was young you had to walk 10 miles upphill in the snow just to rent a game AND WE LIKED IT THAT WAY!..*hurumpf*

  4. And to veer off topic.
    New Wolfenstein game (was to be two DLCs but are now a standalone game instead) coming out/is out.
    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

    They motion capped “drunk soldiers” using actors, but decided to use guys from the dev team (who had to learn a few words german) and get them drunk and recorded that instead..

    Well played, well played, but I’m on to you. That was probably just a recording at a German pub probably.

    Anyway, I wonder if it’s half as good as Wolfenstein: The New Order was.

  5. EricF says:

    Weren’t there some studies that showed that looking at a screen (ie a light source rather than reflected light) can alter brain patterns?

    That was the reason my mom gave for limiting our screen time back in the 90’s.

    • Shamus says:

      My take on it:

      Technically *EVERYTHING* you experience alters brain patterns, so I don’t know what specific ill this study might have been warning against. Like, books alter your brain patterns in a pretty big way, and I don’t see parents trying to limit access to those.

      Sure, staring at this slightly blue light alters sleep patterns subtly, but so does sunlight, lack of sunlight, food intake, length of the day, medication, stress, and hormones. Is the change made by screens even meaningful when measured against those other factors? Doubtful. Is that possible slight downside offset by the manifest usefulness of the most powerful tool / teaching / entertainment device ever invented? No way.

      I’ve heard a lot of studies over the years and seen a lot of moral panics. People get worked up. A researcher gets a few funding dollars. Some news articles get written. The world spins on. The vast majority of it comes to nothing.

      • Kevin Wagner says:

        Also if your really really concerned about exposure to too much blue light messing up your sleeping pattern you can always just use f.lux set it to turn the blue-light down based on your personal preference and your done.

        • djw says:

          I struggled with insomnia for several years. About two years ago I bought a pair of sunglasses for $15 that block 100% of UV and quite a bit of the blue part of the visible spectrum. I put them on an hour before I go to bed, and for half an hour after I get out of bed. My ability to sleep has improved dramatically.

          I am aware that it is entirely possible this is a placebo effect, but I really don’t care as long as it works…

          The glasses have an advantage over changing the settings on your monitor, which is that they also affect other sources of light (without forcing me to get into a fight with my SO about whether the lights in the house should be bright or dim).

      • Cuthalion says:

        The only warning from an actual medical professional I got was our eye doctor warning me to look at other things, further away, regularly. It wasn’t even anything to do with the screen or its light itself; focusing on a fixed distance for long periods of time just risks messing up the ability to switch focus distance. Something like that.

        • Kathryn says:

          My eye doctor said the same. A while back, she advised me to take up a long-distance hobby (like target shooting or archery) so that I was at least focusing at a different distance for a while.

          As for the light, anecdotally, I notice that when I don’t look at computers/TV/smartphone after supper, I get “it’s time to go to sleep” signals from my brain/body much earlier and sleep noticeably better. I can, of course, readily imagine that others would have a different experience.

          • Cuthalion says:

            I think I get mixed signals. My eyes feel tired much more quickly if I look at a self-lit screen when my eyes are already somewhat tired. But I also tend to keep going for awhile then. So, not sure what’s science and what’s just that I’m actively thinking and reading and stuff instead of getting bored.

            I have heard recently that your monitor should be the same brightness as the light around it; that it shouldn’t look like it’s emitting light. Don’t know if that is true.

          • AileTheAlien says:

            For me, the soft, evenly-lit, can-be-dimmed-very-dark light from my Kobo book reader* was very useful for helping me sleep. Possibly also the mentally-taxing, but kind-of-boring act of reading my scifi/fantasy junk of the week.

            Basically, if I don’t look at any screens in the 30-60 minutes before going to bed, I have neutral ability to sleep. If I look at a computer or my phone, I have a difficult time getting to sleep for at least two hours after laying down. If I read my Kobo, I fall asleep almost as soon as I turn off the device, and it also makes me feel tired and want to turn it off.

            * Before I bricked it trying to install a custom (read: better) firmware.

        • Yeah, my eye doc said the same thing, so now I use my computer facing a window and every so often look up and out and focus on the farthest tree branch.
          I even remember one eye doc warning my mom to take my books away from me every so often (I was/am addicted to reading) so I wouldn’t get near-sighted. She didn’t listen and my vision is near perfect.

      • evileeyore says:

        “Like, books alter your brain patterns in a pretty big way, and I don’t see parents trying to limit access to those.”

        My step-dad did. He was a firm believer in “boys need to play outside”.

        So I’d just put books through my window, go outside, pick them up, and go read somewhere.

      • warbright says:

        I’m a family doc, and the only info about screen time I discuss is that it correlates with increased rates of obesity. I don’t know about anything else that has any significant evidence. The idea is to promote a well rounded lifestyle, that includes more active…err activities.

        P.s. I’m aware that correlate doesn’t equal cause. I tell my patients (or their parents) specifically that this a correlation noted, so they can decide what makes the most sense for their family. Some folks are more zealous.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          correlates with increased rates of obesity.

          I think it comes down more to the fact that usually people who sit in front of monitors the most are people who arent physically active much in the first place.If they didnt have access to the computer,they would probably do something else that enables them to be physically inactive a lot.

          • silver Harloe says:

            we need more exerbike chairs in offices and homes :)

          • warbright says:

            Definitely some truth to this. My own anecdotal example being that if I didn’t have screen time, I’d increase my book time. That being said, obesity is more prevalent now than 30 years ago (for lots of reasons) and there is some evidence screen time is related (again, correlational evidence). I just wanted to point out there is a reason that this idea of screen time being something to think about stems from something other than ‘rock and roll is bad’-like panic. Though I do feel people elevate this and many other issues to that level.

            Whether or not one agrees with that concern is a whole ‘nother thing. It just feels odd for a conversation about screen time to have no reference to this, hence my comment.

            I will now return to lurking. Thank you.

      • Lanthanide says:

        About the only thing that seems to be impacted by ‘screen time’ is sleeping patterns, if you use screens late(r) at night when you should be going to sleep, or just winding down and resting.

        Melatonin production in the brain is influenced by light. Incandescent household lighting is also harmful, but as it’s generally yellow and warmer, and obviously filling up an entire room, it’s not too bad. Staring intently at a bright LED-lit screen so it takes up a good portion of your visual field for moderate to long lengths of time is worse.

        Of course, if you use screens late at night and don’t have any problems with your sleep cycle, then it’s obviously not a problem for you and you can just keep doing it.

        • Humanoid says:

          So that’s why Human Revolution and New Vegas had those yellow-orange filters. How considerate of the devs. :D

          Incentive for people to calibrate their screens to the proper white point too, given that’d make the vast majority of consumer screens warmer.

    • Syal says:

      Sounds like something that can be solved by putting a mirror behind the TV and watching that.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Maybe that was true for the screens of the past,that had high radiation and low screen frequency,but modern monitors should be quite safe.

  6. poiumty says:

    Well, I read it. Though the title isn’t really descriptive of what the article contains (I thought it was about movies at first). So maybe not having a clickbaity title isn’t the only issue.

    • Theminimanx says:

      Yeah, same here. It wasn’t until the link to Penny Arcade that I figured out what you meant by Screen Time.

      • Cuthalion says:

        I think my parents always referred to “screen time” this way. I wonder how common that actually is, if not everyone is getting the meaning?

        • Really huge use amongst current (with school age and littler) parents, not so much with older generation and not so much with younger demographic (the Escapist’s demographic for example). As homeschoolers we hear it ALL. THE. TIME. It is a constant battle against fear of new technology.

          • Mephane says:

            It’s also probably that the term is still rather new and non-native English speakers like myself would have other associations with it. I immediately knew what it would be about because Shamus had briefly mentioned the topic here once or twice, otherwise I’d likely also have thought it might have to do with movies.

          • MrGuy says:

            I remember when I was growing up, when “screen time” meant a TV (and later videogames), my parents took steps to actively limit TV time. And, in retrospect, I’m not 100% sure they entirely wrong. My friends and I would sit inside and passively watch cartoon reruns instead of going outside to play, and sometimes we needed a little push outside. Maybe if they’d never pushed we’d have self regulated, but looking back I do feel I’d have done less active playing outdoors if I wasn’t pushed as much on it.

            I think one issue with the current “screen time” debate is that what a “screen” means is very different than it was in my day. It’s no longer passive absorbing of prepackaged content. Now it’s interactive. There are learning apps/games. The internet is an amazing way for kids to discover answers to complex interesting questions. You can create art or music. It’s a completely different experience than “watching TV” was. And I’m not sure that parenting has caught up with that new reality.

            I wonder how much of the issue is related to parenting advice for old technology not being updated/rethought in the light of new technology that works differently?

  7. Incunabulum says:

    As of this writing, my column has been up for about three hours and doesn’t have a single response. On other weeks, I’d have at least a dozen by now.

    You’d probably get more comments (certainly from me, for whatever that’s worth) if The Escapist didn’t require Facebook to comment.

    • Thomas says:

      Just to let you know, it doesn’t require facebook to comment, at the top of the article there is a number in a quotation bubble, if you click on that it takes you to the comment page based off the Escapist forums system.

      It requires an account, but just an escapist account and Facebook doesn’t have to be linked.

      I think there’s even the option in the settings when you have an Escapist account to turn off all Facebook features on the site. When I look at a page it doesn’t even show me the facebook comment system, (and Ive had it like that for so long Id forgotten one even exists)

      EDIT: This is a link to the comment page for Shamus’ article, as an example
      http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/6.874929-Screen-Time-and-Summer-Releases

      • Incunabulum says:

        Thank you.

      • Mephane says:

        Still, requiring an account is a massive barrier to entry. It’s not uncommon that I would like to comment somewhere, but I can’t really be bothered to create yet another account on yet another site for just a single comment.

        • Thomas says:

          It’s true, but I think comment systems often work better with some kind of barrier for entry. If the people who comment are people who are part of the sites community then you have a chance to encourage and foster good behaviour and interesting comments.

      • Chad says:

        Thank you for that. I never was a commentor on Shamus’ Escapist articles, but like here, I enjoyed reading the thread, and I was disappointed when they changed over to the Facebook thing. Mainly cause it’s hard to read on my phone.

  8. evileeyore says:

    “I know we’ll get a discussion here on the blog, but that’s because you’re here looking for stuff “by Shamus”.”

    Except this time we know the truth; you were taking the day off and made poor Ron Whitaker sub in for you!

    ;)

  9. MichaelG says:

    Since I’m too lazy to actually look at your full Twitter conversations, can you tell us what you are mad about on the Internet?

    • Shamus says:

      There was some kind of controversy with director Joss Wheadon after Age of Ultron came out. He ended up leaving Twitter. I encountered the debate WAY late and wasn’t sure what was going on, and in fact I had to trace back the replies-to-replies chain for a long time to figure out it was even about him. I never did figure out what the original beef was, since all I saw was the sixth-generation meta-argument about the argument itself.

      So I was just commenting about the sheer number of people who were upset about it. I wasn’t actually mad myself.

      • Lanthanide says:

        http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-32591260

        “Director Joss Whedon has deleted his Twitter account, following criticism of his latest film, Age of Ultron.

        Its portrayal of female characters such as assassin Black Widow by Scarlett Johannsson had been called sexist.”

      • mechaninja says:

        He is apparently a sexist shitlord or something. I never did figure out quite what he did. Something to do with Scarjo/Widow, I think.

        • Awetugiw says:

          This seems to be a reasonable description of the problem (warning: spoilers for the film).

          In short (and without spoilers), it boils down to this: being the only woman on the team, Black Widow was at risk of becoming a “token female character”. A situation like that need not become a problem; if the character is well written then you could still be somewhat disappointed by the lack of diversity on the team, but the character itself would be fine. But it becomes a problem if the one female character has “is a woman” as her only characterization.

          “I’m Sarge. I’m very demanding of my troops, and I shout a lot at their small mistakes. But that’s only because I care about them and would gladly sacrifice my life for them if necessary. In fact, I will give my life for them later this movie.”
          “I’m Ben. I’m a ‘ladies man’, I have a girlfriend in every town (and this often leads to hilarious situations where I confuse their names). My character development will be that I finally find my one true love.”
          “I’m Carl. I’m a violent sociopath who is only tolerated because he is fighting for the good guys. In a while, I will encounter an orphan girl who will teach me the value of life.”
          “I’m Ellen. I’m the woman. If I have character development at all, it will be that I realize I want to have children.”
          (Yes, I’m aware that I didn’t give the men a lot of characterization either. Give me a break, I’m not a good writer and you know what I mean.)

          Of course Age of Ultron doesn’t fully fall into this “token character” trope. Black Widow does have some characterization. Still, some events in the movie push her significantly towards being defined only by her womanhood. And it is quite reasonable to criticize the movie for that. (Mind you, there being a reasonable criticism of the movie does not mean that the movie is bad. Very few things are completely flawless.) Of course, the internet being the internet, an initial reasonable point of criticism quickly turned into a mess of shouting and death threats all around. But it is worth remembering that there is a valid point somewhere beneath all the shouting and screaming.

          • guy says:

            Uh, having the only major female character do something is only a problem when you only have a single major female character. Which Age of Ultron does not. Or if they have identical characterization. Which they do not.

          • MichaelGC says:

            Where I find it a little odd is that for me, Natasha is a pretty well-defined character, with backstory, clear motivations, an arc: all that character fun-stuff. As an example: she’s nervous when she’s chatting up Bruce. However, it’s not because she’s gone stereotypically weak-at-the-knees in the presence of a guy she’s attracted to: I think she’s pretty confident in her ability to “get” a guy if that’s all she’s after. It’s because she’s allowing herself to reach for a happiness she previously believed was out-of-bounds. She’s a hero now! – she’s no longer alone, she’s been steadily addressing the balance in the ledger, and she’s ready to risk dropping the mask of sardonic flippancy for a chance at a kind of happiness that she’s beginning to believe she, after all, deserves. (And, rather than a bloke coming along and making her life all better, she has made her life better, and as a consequence of that decided: “You know what? Bloke time!”)

            Where the hell am I getting all that?; it might reasonably be asked. Almost nothing of what I’ve said can be cited to a particular quote or scene, it’s true. But that’s what you want from fictional characterisation, really: if everything was spelled out it’d be horribly clodhopping. You’re not going to have Tony Stark straight up announce: “I’m a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist.” Er, OK, bad example. But anyway … this sort of character stuff is necessarily going to be a bit amorphous, which means when assessments are made, mileages are going to hugely vary. The details can very much be argued over. However, that there are these details which can be argued over is sufficient (for me!) to show this is a proper character, not just a cardboard cutout.

      • evileeyore says:

        He put Baby in the corner… err… I mean Black Widow in a cell.

        A bunch of Tumblr and Twitter tween feminists had a fit (because anything bad happening to a female character is SEXISM!). It snowballed and escalated into a twit-storm all raining down on the once feminist darling Joss Whedon.

        He sensibly left Twitter rather than deal with their idiocy.

        • Ronixis says:

          That’s not his own story on the matter. He’s interviewed here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/adambvary/joss-whedon-on-leaving-twitter#.qf3BqlL1O

          • MrGuy says:

            How dare you inject facts into a conversation when we can make judgements about people on the internet based on our belief about what their motivations probably are because we think we know exactly how they think? You’re worse than Hitler!

          • evileeyore says:

            Reread the article with a critical eye.

            It begins with “He didn’t leave because of internet hate machine” then spends the rest of article explaining how the internet hate machine is terrible and drives people off Twitter.

            Here’s a nugget of insight from Joss:
            “The real issue is me,” he said. “Twitter is an addictive little thing, and if it’s there, I gotta check it. When you keep doing something after it stops giving you pleasure, that’s kind of rock bottom for an addict. … I just had a little moment of clarity where I’m like, You know what? If I want to get stuff done, I need to not constantly hit this thing for a news item or a joke or some praise, and then be suddenly sad when there’s hate and then hate and then hate.”

            Then in the last paragraph he says: [paraphrasing] I can find the news stuff I want elsewhere, I’ll miss the jokes and praise, but I can go get that elsewhere, here look at this other reason to leave “I’m old and this is new”.

            So sure. Maybe Joss wasn’t driven off by the internet hate machine. Or maybe he’s just licking his wounds and putting up a false bravado. Believe whichever you like.

            • CaptainBooshi says:

              When you have to say “This person I’m trying to defend is straight-up lying,” you should probably just let it go. There were plenty of ways Joss could have responded that just avoided saying anything definite, and he chose to directly deny it and give another, completely plausible reason to leave Twitter. After that, you’re really just trying to jam the facts in to further an agenda, and it’s pretty much always a better idea to use a real incident to do that. This is the internet, it’s not like there a shortage of awful things you can get angry at.

              • Blackbird71 says:

                “…and then be suddenly sad when there’s hate and then hate and then hate.”

                That sounds to me like an admission that the hate being spewed was at least part of the reason he quit, so it’s rather odd to argue that the previous comments claim Joss Whedon was lying.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        What?!A controversy on the web?!!!That makes me so angry!!!

      • MichaelGC says:

        You can’t calm everyone down all of the time, but you can calm some of the people down some of the time! That you try would itself be admirable even if, counterfactually, it were never effective.

  10. Tizzy says:

    Summer: the problem has nothing to do with gaming. As far as I know, all media see a huge dip in audience, and have no idea what kind of content to put out. You don’t want to put out anything too good, since it’s a given that it wil go unnoticed.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “Why don’t gaming sites publish more X?” is usually, “Because nobody would read it.”

    But sometimes it turns out that people fear that no one would do X,yet when that one bold guy attempts X,everyone jumps on it hungrily and that one guy becomes a millionaire.

    Heck,wasnt it true that no one wanted to adapt lord of the rings into a movie because “no one would want to watch dozens of hours it would require to do it properly”,and the few attempts to condense it were crappy,yet when someone did make dozen hours of a movie everyone swarmed to watch it.And now its pretty much standard for movie epics to be several movies oh 2+ hours in length each.

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    All of those performed far better than this one.

    I wouldnt be so quick to use number of responses as a metric for success.If a single person reads the whole thing and leaves a single well thought out and insightful comment Id call that infinitely better than a hundred people reading just the title and leaving poor inflammatory comments.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Tied to the “screen time” limitation is the social network limitation as well.I cant even count the times I had the conversation with people who think that you cant have meaningful conversation with someone unless you can physically touch them.

    Though,granted,some conversations on the web would be much better if you were able to punch the other person in the face.

  14. Tsi says:

    The lack of comments on the article doesn’t necessarily mean nobody read it. I think it might be due to the fact that there is nothing to really talk about or debate. You answer a few questions and we can only agree about them or give our own personal (and often uninteresting) views to which nobody will reply to as well.

    It would be interesting to see the number of people who actually loaded that page.
    With a topic that generates comments, people will also come back to check for replies making new page loads.

    ( I hate my avatar, it makes my comments sound kind of arrogant, gotta change that )

  15. Mersadeon says:

    Just as an aside, I have to say that the comments on this blog have convinced me that you have the weirdest, most civil and polite following on the internet. Seriously, I enjoy this community very much simply because you don’t have that circle-jerking that Reddit, for example, has.

  16. BenD says:

    I know we’ll get a discussion here on the blog, but that’s because you’re here looking for stuff “by Shamus”. That’s fundamentally different than looking for, “Stuff to kill a few minutes”.

    Right! Stuff “by Shamus” can kill hours on a good day. :D

  17. Deoxy says:

    It’s a downward cycle, and a big part of it is driven by the weather.

    I suppose this sounds strange if you’re living somewhere like Southern California where it’s nice year-round. But for those of us living in the land of snow and rain, understand that those brief days of sunshine and growing things are precious, and we don’t want to miss out.

    But for those of use living in the land of “TOO BLOODY HOT TO GO OUTSIDE 3-6 MONTHS OF THE YEAR”, that’s exactly backwards – summer is the time to spend inside!

  18. I really enjoy your Experienced Points columns and read them regardless of the title, I just never comment on the Escapist these days, despite having an account. Not that I did much in the past, really. :/ I’m a very intermittent commenter at the best of times. Sorry ’bout that!

  19. RCN says:

    I remember how my parents limited mine and my siblings’ play.

    My mother had made this time table where we picked our hours. The problem is that each of us had only 6 hours to pick… a week.

    Now, it is not as draconic as it seems. We had only one computer and no consoles. In fact, the time table was called the “Computer Schedule”. And the nights and Sundays the computer was of exclusive use to our father, who would work (and play) in it.

    But we were kids and that realization came more from hindsight. Me and my brother would do everything in our power to fuddle and game the system. We decided to use our time together to play two-player games. Our mother seemed to have no problem with it because 2-player games meant mostly turn-based games where each got his turn, so for her the net total play time was the same, I guess, but this made our sister furious, as in HER eyes we were playing twice as much as her. Well, that’s what she gets when she doesn’t want to play with us and doesn’t want to share her play time with us, but there was a fair bit of sibling rivalry in there as well.

    That wasn’t the only thing we did, either. We’d milk every second our mother wasn’t there to police us and we’d encourage her to eat more at dinner so she’d sleep earlier. Our father didn’t care too much to police our play time as long as we were nowhere to be seem when he needed to use his computer.

    Eventually, I think it was when I was 14 years old, he built an actual second computer out of spare parts and gave it to me (the eldest). We already had had our first console (a Dreamcast, which our mother didn’t police as much, to her credit) but he still limited it a bit by installing Linux Ubuntu as it’s operating system. Yeah… it didn’t took me much time at all to discover Wine and every single Linux-compatible game. I remember discovering the original Civilization in it (though I already knew Civ III).

    Well, that’s my experience with games and schedules.

    Oh, and for someone who lives in Brazil and has nice-ish weather year-round the cycles of the gaming industry seem really bizarre. In my region we have a really rough dry season that can last anywhere from 4 to 8 months, but even then it is not exactly “stay at home” weather (well, unless humidity reaches below 10%, then it can get really rough, but we’re used to it. Most buildings now have vaporized water to increase humidity and we got used to have some water bowls around the house during these times).

  20. Duoae says:

    I’m sick of the “5 things a”-whatever or “one thing that makes professionals steam” headlines. They’re actually 95% misleading – as in, the thing they’re talking about does no such thing. They’re also generally completely less than light on the content and theory…. as in, you can read the article twice and leave non-the-wiser…

    So, Shamus, as one person who also contributes to your continued output I would request that you refrain from these sorts of shenanigans if at all possible! :)

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