Why I don’t write about video games

My brother, Alex, writes for Computer World. Now, you’d think that his obscure little blog would be safe from 14-year-olds everywhere. But, he posted his thoughts about Xbox vs. Play Station 3 and the kiddies show up and start bashing him.

Here’s the quality of the commentary that’s showing up:

“Let me just say Alex Scoble is incredibly naive one sided, retard, You sir have revealed your stupidity in this pointless article. Xbox360 is yesterdays news. You’re reading up on way too much Xbox crap, because if you get your head out of your ass and research a little, you’d know there are thousands if not millions who would plunk down $600 for a PS3. (What the heck is Microsoft thinking releasing external HD DVD drive? Who’s gonna buy it???)”

Oh, boy. That kind of commentary makes Slashdot’ers anonymous cowards look downright erudite.

What the 14-year-old fanboys totally don’t get is there’s a new gameplaying market out there that’s going to prove many many times bigger than the 14-year-old market.

You’re looking at it.

That’s Kim Sacha who has one of the world’s highest scores on Zuma on Xbox 360. My son totally thinks that game is lame, but Kim has introduced me to a whole subculture of people who play Xbox 360 games that you wouldn’t expect to see.

One thing about these women? They have money. And time. And they kick ass.

That’s Kim playing during my party. She played the entire game through, losing only one guy. It’s a joy to watch someone like that.

Hint to the guys who want a big HDTV screen: bring your women over some guy’s house who has an Xbox 360. Let her play Zuma for a few minutes. Then watch what happens.

One downside of doing that? You’ll never be able to play your Xbox without getting her out of the house.

Yes, Maryam, I’m talking about you.

Shhh, don’t you DARE tell Maryam that they released Pacman on the 360. I’ll never get to play if you do.

As to the kids. Patrick says the Xbox 360 rocks. To tell the truth, he took it home while we were moving the big screen and he hasn’t brought the thing back. Sigh. I might have to buy another one.

My brother is right. The games are what sells the console. But there’s more to the Xbox too. Media Center is gonna be important here (you can play your pictures, audio, video that’s kept on a PC somewhere else in the house on your Xbox through its Wifi connections).

It’s stunningly sharp. Every kid who came over and played this summer was jealous.

I just hope those kids don’t come over and flame me. Go talk to my brother. :-)

Hint to the kids: if you think this kind of evangelism impresses anyone, keep doing it.

88 thoughts on “Why I don’t write about video games

  1. I know many peoples who are playng Zuma. It is funny to play once but major are playing to obtain the best time. I think that this game is good for children helping them to learn colors, to use the mouse and to improve their reactions.

  2. I know many peoples who are playng Zuma. It is funny to play once but major are playing to obtain the best time. I think that this game is good for children helping them to learn colors, to use the mouse and to improve their reactions.

  3. @43, i totally agree, the 2 things I truely think that MS does right is MS Word and most of their games. Age of Empires and Age of Mythology both kick ass.

    but enough of rambling about which games kick more ass, you are totally right Robert, there is a huge market out there that doesnt just include the 14 year old kids with too much time on their hands (raises hand for being guilty of the previous statement, although im 15)

    women gamers rock…

  4. @43, i totally agree, the 2 things I truely think that MS does right is MS Word and most of their games. Age of Empires and Age of Mythology both kick ass.

    but enough of rambling about which games kick more ass, you are totally right Robert, there is a huge market out there that doesnt just include the 14 year old kids with too much time on their hands (raises hand for being guilty of the previous statement, although im 15)

    women gamers rock…

  5. Bah! Consoles.
    I’m a pc gamer all the way (insert narrow minded bashing of console games comment here). Either way microsoft wins though since I’m still playing on a Microsoft OS and some of my favourite PC games are published by MS (such as the age of empires series and recent mechwarrior games).

  6. Bah! Consoles.
    I’m a pc gamer all the way (insert narrow minded bashing of console games comment here). Either way microsoft wins though since I’m still playing on a Microsoft OS and some of my favourite PC games are published by MS (such as the age of empires series and recent mechwarrior games).

  7. I distrust anything someone attributes to “influentials”. That’s usually code for “me and whoever I know because we’re so cool”, and it’s bunk. As is anecdotal evidence. Give me cold hard sales figures.

    We know the Wii launch lineup, and we know Sony has a history of getting dev support for killer titles (although not necessarily at launch). As your brother referenced at the start of his article, this is Sony’s market, and it’s Sony’s to lose. Microsoft is either a distant second or an awful third, depending on whether you use the metric of popularity or profitability.

  8. I distrust anything someone attributes to “influentials”. That’s usually code for “me and whoever I know because we’re so cool”, and it’s bunk. As is anecdotal evidence. Give me cold hard sales figures.

    We know the Wii launch lineup, and we know Sony has a history of getting dev support for killer titles (although not necessarily at launch). As your brother referenced at the start of his article, this is Sony’s market, and it’s Sony’s to lose. Microsoft is either a distant second or an awful third, depending on whether you use the metric of popularity or profitability.

  9. Brad…transcoding is going to introduce artifacts, unless you’re going uncompressed to well…uncompressed. There is also a not insignificant time requirement to transcode 2+ hours of HD video. Why bother.

  10. Brad…transcoding is going to introduce artifacts, unless you’re going uncompressed to well…uncompressed. There is also a not insignificant time requirement to transcode 2+ hours of HD video. Why bother.

  11. Mark – check out runtime360.com for the Transcode project. It will transcode your stuff on the fly to WMV so that you can play it on your XBox.

  12. Mark – check out runtime360.com for the Transcode project. It will transcode your stuff on the fly to WMV so that you can play it on your XBox.

  13. The Media Center capabilities on the 360 are useless if you use any of the non-Microsoft supported Codecs like DivX. Which for me, makes it useless. My 360 sits on top of my MCE PC in the entertainment center.

  14. The Media Center capabilities on the 360 are useless if you use any of the non-Microsoft supported Codecs like DivX. Which for me, makes it useless. My 360 sits on top of my MCE PC in the entertainment center.

  15. Greetings,
    I admit, I bought an XBox 360 for Oblivion for my wife to play. (I play Oblivion on my desktop, and short of kittenwar, it’s one of the most dramatic drains on my personal productivity.) And yes, Oblivion/360 looks unbelievable on my $5K LCD TV; a sunset shot of the hills and ocean off Anvil (iirc) beats Discovery/HD as my new HDTV demo.

    However, I am in a circle of many avid gamers, and none of them are buying the XBox 360. Why? No good games. If they want Oblivion, they play it on their PC. Nearly everything else for the platform is…well, to be charitable, not worth the expense.

    That the best exclusive games for the platform are little $5 arcade games (and I’d argue that’s the truth) is kind of sad. I love playing Geometry Wars, but I’m very aware that it’s just a stopover, while waiting for SOMEBODY to come out with a decent game specifically for the platform. Also, after several painful attempts we have given up on any form of multiplayer XBox Live as the home of drunken fratboys. (WTF are they playing *UNO* for?!?)

    The reason the PS3 fanbois are dissing the 360, is the games. Sony *HISTORICALLY* has been exceptionally good at getting really, really good quality, entertaining, value-for-the-price games for their platform. With the 360 still, so long after its release, not really hitting its stride with any ‘big’ exclusive games, they are looking to the PS3 to deliver a real next-gen experience with good games.

    It’s not just me who believes that the ‘big’ game selection for the 360 is terrible, either. I actually think the level of backwards compatibility was a MISTAKE for the 360, because it led to games being ‘ported’ instead of ‘designed for the platform’. A lot of the 360 games are XBox games with marginally better graphics; this makes for a lackluster game lineup. The worst part is that many of them are LACKING features found in the original XBox versions. (Sports games specifically, often lack certain modes like career modes or other pieces, which were in the earlier XBox versions.) Nobody’s explained this, either.

    Yes, it’s all about the games. And Sony has a better *history* of getting genre-busting and 5-star games for its platforms. I trust them to make the right decisions going forwards because they’ve made the right ones before.

    I bought a 360 (only when they finally became commonly available) because it let me put off buying my wife a new computer until later this year, not because any of the 360-exclusive games were any good yet. I’ll buy a Wii, despite the name, when it has a good exclusive game I really want to play. I’ll buy a PS3 *at release* because I TRUST Sony to come out with good games that I really want to play.

    See the difference?

  16. Greetings,
    I admit, I bought an XBox 360 for Oblivion for my wife to play. (I play Oblivion on my desktop, and short of kittenwar, it’s one of the most dramatic drains on my personal productivity.) And yes, Oblivion/360 looks unbelievable on my $5K LCD TV; a sunset shot of the hills and ocean off Anvil (iirc) beats Discovery/HD as my new HDTV demo.

    However, I am in a circle of many avid gamers, and none of them are buying the XBox 360. Why? No good games. If they want Oblivion, they play it on their PC. Nearly everything else for the platform is…well, to be charitable, not worth the expense.

    That the best exclusive games for the platform are little $5 arcade games (and I’d argue that’s the truth) is kind of sad. I love playing Geometry Wars, but I’m very aware that it’s just a stopover, while waiting for SOMEBODY to come out with a decent game specifically for the platform. Also, after several painful attempts we have given up on any form of multiplayer XBox Live as the home of drunken fratboys. (WTF are they playing *UNO* for?!?)

    The reason the PS3 fanbois are dissing the 360, is the games. Sony *HISTORICALLY* has been exceptionally good at getting really, really good quality, entertaining, value-for-the-price games for their platform. With the 360 still, so long after its release, not really hitting its stride with any ‘big’ exclusive games, they are looking to the PS3 to deliver a real next-gen experience with good games.

    It’s not just me who believes that the ‘big’ game selection for the 360 is terrible, either. I actually think the level of backwards compatibility was a MISTAKE for the 360, because it led to games being ‘ported’ instead of ‘designed for the platform’. A lot of the 360 games are XBox games with marginally better graphics; this makes for a lackluster game lineup. The worst part is that many of them are LACKING features found in the original XBox versions. (Sports games specifically, often lack certain modes like career modes or other pieces, which were in the earlier XBox versions.) Nobody’s explained this, either.

    Yes, it’s all about the games. And Sony has a better *history* of getting genre-busting and 5-star games for its platforms. I trust them to make the right decisions going forwards because they’ve made the right ones before.

    I bought a 360 (only when they finally became commonly available) because it let me put off buying my wife a new computer until later this year, not because any of the 360-exclusive games were any good yet. I’ll buy a Wii, despite the name, when it has a good exclusive game I really want to play. I’ll buy a PS3 *at release* because I TRUST Sony to come out with good games that I really want to play.

    See the difference?

  17. Paul – (comment #33)

    I don’t think your facts are straight on the PSP – everything I have read puts the DS as the clear winner in number of units sold. I have a PSP, and I know I rarely see anyone else with one – but I do see a lot of people in the wild with the DS – hell, even my dentist has a DS at every chair in the waiting room!

  18. Paul – (comment #33)

    I don’t think your facts are straight on the PSP – everything I have read puts the DS as the clear winner in number of units sold. I have a PSP, and I know I rarely see anyone else with one – but I do see a lot of people in the wild with the DS – hell, even my dentist has a DS at every chair in the waiting room!

  19. Paul: it’s interesting how you expect ANYONE to write authoritatively on Wii or PS3 seeing that they aren’t out yet.

    Why is the PS2 outselling the others? Cause of game choice. It’s been out for, what, four years now? Most people buy consoles for games.

    That was my brother’s point. It doesn’t matter about the technology (so much). It matters what games are available. When Wii or PS3 comes out that’s what’ll determine its success.

    But, one thing you don’t talk about is which system the influentials are using. It ain’t PS2 anymore. Sorry, I haven’t seen anyone play one of those except at kid’s houses with lame parents. Believe me they all ended up at my house this year cause I had the cool HDTV with the cool game system.

    I was just at Frys. What system was being played? You guessed it. The Xbox 360. The others were not being played.

    The Xbox is also a VERY expensive system. If I hadn’t bought a $4,000 TV I wouldn’t have bought one. The PS3 is going to have even more pressure on it.

  20. Paul: it’s interesting how you expect ANYONE to write authoritatively on Wii or PS3 seeing that they aren’t out yet.

    Why is the PS2 outselling the others? Cause of game choice. It’s been out for, what, four years now? Most people buy consoles for games.

    That was my brother’s point. It doesn’t matter about the technology (so much). It matters what games are available. When Wii or PS3 comes out that’s what’ll determine its success.

    But, one thing you don’t talk about is which system the influentials are using. It ain’t PS2 anymore. Sorry, I haven’t seen anyone play one of those except at kid’s houses with lame parents. Believe me they all ended up at my house this year cause I had the cool HDTV with the cool game system.

    I was just at Frys. What system was being played? You guessed it. The Xbox 360. The others were not being played.

    The Xbox is also a VERY expensive system. If I hadn’t bought a $4,000 TV I wouldn’t have bought one. The PS3 is going to have even more pressure on it.

  21. Robert, you have demonstrated why you don’t write about video games: you have nothing to say other than gushing fanboiism for the 360. Which is fine, you can’t be good at everything. It’s not your fault that you haven’t done enough homework on the PS3 or Wii to say word one about them… that’s not your job.

    It is your brother’s job, though. Presumably your brother would have seen these figures: http://www.joystiq.com/2006/06/09/us-hardware-sales-in-may-ps2-on-the-rise-360-takes-a-dip/
    They make it hard to justify saying that Microsoft is a chance of “winning” at the moment, given how the lowly PS2 is outselling them in the US after a recent price drop and the release of Kingdom Hearts II, with Sony also leading the handheld market with PSP. And that’s in Microsoft’s strongest market.

  22. Robert, you have demonstrated why you don’t write about video games: you have nothing to say other than gushing fanboiism for the 360. Which is fine, you can’t be good at everything. It’s not your fault that you haven’t done enough homework on the PS3 or Wii to say word one about them… that’s not your job.

    It is your brother’s job, though. Presumably your brother would have seen these figures: http://www.joystiq.com/2006/06/09/us-hardware-sales-in-may-ps2-on-the-rise-360-takes-a-dip/
    They make it hard to justify saying that Microsoft is a chance of “winning” at the moment, given how the lowly PS2 is outselling them in the US after a recent price drop and the release of Kingdom Hearts II, with Sony also leading the handheld market with PSP. And that’s in Microsoft’s strongest market.

  23. Zuma is like crack. When I tell people I use my expensive 360 to play a $5 game, they think I’m crazy. But it’s great fun. If only I could beat 12-7!

    I’m pleased with the Xbox 360 because I’ve played a lot of great games on it. It also serves as my DVD player because it upscales well to HD. The junk I get from Live, like game demos and special features, is very cool.

  24. Zuma is like crack. When I tell people I use my expensive 360 to play a $5 game, they think I’m crazy. But it’s great fun. If only I could beat 12-7!

    I’m pleased with the Xbox 360 because I’ve played a lot of great games on it. It also serves as my DVD player because it upscales well to HD. The junk I get from Live, like game demos and special features, is very cool.

  25. Two words: The Sims.

    Incidentally, I think “casual” gamers didn’t used to be dismissed as mere “casual” gamers. You could just pick up games and have fun. When I was a kid, my child minder had an old Atari Pong game, and she told me that she used to play it with her husband. You couldn’t imagine her ever playing a first-person shooter.

    Recently, I read the number of people who play video games has actually decreased since the 80′s; I have no idea if that’s true, but it certainly seems that entire market segments have been somewhat ignored. (Or maybe I stopped paying attention… Well, there have been games such as Mario Kart–but that’s Nintendo.) Not everyone wants to play 3D first-person shooters. (Personally, I find them extremely frustrating to play, and I don’t like the aesthetic, either. To me the point of digital technology is that you can create “perfection,” not replicate and amplify the ugly parts of the “real world”.)

  26. Two words: The Sims.

    Incidentally, I think “casual” gamers didn’t used to be dismissed as mere “casual” gamers. You could just pick up games and have fun. When I was a kid, my child minder had an old Atari Pong game, and she told me that she used to play it with her husband. You couldn’t imagine her ever playing a first-person shooter.

    Recently, I read the number of people who play video games has actually decreased since the 80′s; I have no idea if that’s true, but it certainly seems that entire market segments have been somewhat ignored. (Or maybe I stopped paying attention… Well, there have been games such as Mario Kart–but that’s Nintendo.) Not everyone wants to play 3D first-person shooters. (Personally, I find them extremely frustrating to play, and I don’t like the aesthetic, either. To me the point of digital technology is that you can create “perfection,” not replicate and amplify the ugly parts of the “real world”.)

  27. I find the shouting matches comparing the Xbox 360, which is a year old to the PS3, which hasn’t bared its head to the masses. Oh sure, there’s been articles about it, people raving about it, but really the fact is that one hasn’t shown up for retail. Therefore, all the talk about the pricing is “theoretical”, there haven’t been the boat-loads of people complaining that it’s broken, why doesn’t “Fill in the game here” work with the console, why isn’t the “Live service” faster, etc.

    Fanboys will try to “shout down” or “put down” approach, since there isn’t anything for the average consumer to compare it to. The longer Sony has waited, the tougher it will be to get the new audiences. There hardcore PS folks will buy the PS3, price be damned, but as you mentioned there’s a whole new world of gamers, such as “Gamerchix” (the group started by Trixie of xbox.com, average parents who previously weren’t keen on gaming, but have played many of the Xbox Live Arcade titles that bring back the memories of their youth. Finally, there are the grandparents of the world that don’t just have a console for the grandkids to play, but are playing along with them or by themselves.

    This is a different gaming world, since the Xbox 360 was released, one that isn’t controlled by one company. The consumer has their choices, but price for decent features will rule and the longer it takes for the PS3 and Wii to show up, the longer Xbox 360 has to bring in consumers and that equals $$$$$$

  28. I find the shouting matches comparing the Xbox 360, which is a year old to the PS3, which hasn’t bared its head to the masses. Oh sure, there’s been articles about it, people raving about it, but really the fact is that one hasn’t shown up for retail. Therefore, all the talk about the pricing is “theoretical”, there haven’t been the boat-loads of people complaining that it’s broken, why doesn’t “Fill in the game here” work with the console, why isn’t the “Live service” faster, etc.

    Fanboys will try to “shout down” or “put down” approach, since there isn’t anything for the average consumer to compare it to. The longer Sony has waited, the tougher it will be to get the new audiences. There hardcore PS folks will buy the PS3, price be damned, but as you mentioned there’s a whole new world of gamers, such as “Gamerchix” (the group started by Trixie of xbox.com, average parents who previously weren’t keen on gaming, but have played many of the Xbox Live Arcade titles that bring back the memories of their youth. Finally, there are the grandparents of the world that don’t just have a console for the grandkids to play, but are playing along with them or by themselves.

    This is a different gaming world, since the Xbox 360 was released, one that isn’t controlled by one company. The consumer has their choices, but price for decent features will rule and the longer it takes for the PS3 and Wii to show up, the longer Xbox 360 has to bring in consumers and that equals $$$$$$

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