No Man’s Sky and Gamer Backlash

I was awakened out of a sound sleep last night by shouting and swearing. It was a gamer.

Let me explain. Once I have fallen asleep, I sleep like a log — but I have trouble dozing off. If I don’t have something to focus my thoughts on, my mind runs like a hamster in a wheel. It has to be something familiar enough to be relaxing, but still interesting enough to stop the wheel from spinning. Sometimes I listen to audiobooks or podcasts; lately I’ve been listening to familiar videos. Noah Gervais is a favorite (I’ve watched or listened to his videos multiple times). Last night I drifted off to his review of No Man’s Sky. But it turns out I had left my You Tube setting on “autoplay”… and so at 4 am I was awakened by someone yelling F-bombs in my ear. It was a gamer, ranting about No Man’s Sky.

I hurriedly hit “X” to close the window; I don’t even know who was speaking. The intensity of the anger was like the shouting I hear when there’s been a car accident in front of our house. Or the way our apartment neighbors used to yell at each other in the months before their divorce.

And I know it’s not just the one guy who is angry.

steam-review-nmsThat’s 65% negative reviews. If you actually READ the reviews, they are enough to blister your eyeballs. The hostility continues in the comment sections after articles (here’s an example at Kotaku). And the Reddit environment is caustic enough to challenge the most extreme of extremophiles.

Even my son, who is normally a soft-spoken person, howled in outrage when I started up the game. Something about the loading screen wasn’t right? I don’t understand. It seemed fine to me.  And as he watched over my shoulder, he kept doing this


This is frustrating for me, though. It’s hard to listen to. I LOVE the game (OK, I loved it more after my son hacked into it and added 2 billion credits to my account). I worry that the negative backlash will make it harder for such groundbreaking games to be produced in the future.

My son and his friends have been gaming since they were 10 and have experienced (I’m estimating) HUNDREDS of games. They are connoisseurs. They have very clear cut ideas on how things should be done.

I’ve had very little experience with gaming, but I’ve been a musician for years. I have clear cut expectations about what an instrument should be like. I have to admit, if I ordered a keyboard instrument online, and instead of this I got this


…I would probably be upset.




But I’d like to think that I could get over my disappointment, put my expectations aside, and at least give the new instrument a try. Noodle around with it. Find out what it actually was good at. Who knows, maybe it was actually something like this?




I hope that instead of dropping F-bombs and howling in outrage, my review would be something like “I wanted a piano, and this sure as hell isn’t a piano. If you were looking for a traditional piano, don’t buy this. But if you would like to try out some groundbreaking new technology, all I can say is…”




Credits and Notes

The colorful “definitely not a piano” thing is by Knock On Wood Quality Wooden Toys.

And for you youngs, the thing with all the knobs and wires is a Moog Synthesizer, which started to become popular around 1967 ( I was about 10). Nowadays the technology has become so mind-bogglingly advanced that the whole thing can be emulated, realtime, in your PC. Whoa. It’s available here



Notch and the Saber Toothed Tiger

What if you bought a tiny, adorable kitten

Young_Maine_Coon_in_paper_bag wiki com

And it grew and grew, getting harder and harder to handle, adding more and more stress to your life…


Saber toothed tiger 2

…and finally it started to attack you?


Saber toothed tiger

What would you do? I know in that situation I would  research the options, and then (sadly) turn the creature over to an organization that was able to handle it. Maybe a zoo or a museum.

After hearing the news yesterday about Notch selling Mojang to Microsoft, I was very upset — and as I often do when I’m upset, I stayed up late  reading about it. I’m sure that I still don’t understand the story very well, but I certainly feel differently than I did when I first got the news.

One of the things I read was Notch’s statement here

It’s worth reading in its entirety. My heart went out to him. Notch’s statement concludes “It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity”.

One of the things Notch mentions that influenced his decision was the following video. It tells the story of another game designer, Phil Fish. The video talks about how, although Fish was sort of a mixed bag as a person (and who of us isn’t?), the internet attacked him, chewed him up and spit him out in little pieces. It turned him into a symbol, then attacked the symbol.

This video is a sad but fascinating commentary on internet culture. I can see why Notch was moved by it. It also makes me hope that I never, never, never achieve internet fame.



By the way, if you’re wondering what is that that strange looking cat in the middle — it is a Pallas’ cat, described here: