The truth about “To defeat the Cyberdemon, shoot at it until it dies”

Doom has returned, and with it, an old wound has been opened. Over the years, the GamePro ProTip “To defeat the Cyberdemon, shoot at it until it dies” has become something of a meme. It’s inspired websites. It’s come full circle to become an achievement in the newest game. But mostly, it’s been held up as an example of lazy game journalism. “Ha ha, that kiddy vid rag was so bad, they think this is good advice.”

The trouble is, it never existed. The ProTip never appeared in GamePro, the kiddy vid rag where I worked for seven years.  Continue reading

How to Prepare for PAX

This originally appeared on the old 1oS blog, but I’m updating and reposting it here, as I think it might still be useful. 

Someone asked me if I had any advice on what they should expect when attending PAX, or how they should prepare for their first gamer convention. I do! And some of this advice is also good for any gaming or nerd gathering (SDCC, E3, etc) and some is specifically for the PAX culture. But I hope you find it all helpful.
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Three Answers to Impossible Gaming Questions

I wrote this editorial back in 2011 for One of Swords and just found it again. Now that the sun has set on 1oS, I’d like to post it here in hopes it might do more good.


I get a lot of questions from gamers every day. I try to answer as many as I can with sourced facts or, failing that, honesty. Sometimes it’s simple stuff that the Customer Support team can handle without breaking a sweat. But if I don’t know the answer and I don’t have much hope of finding one, I’ll tell you so you don’t feel jerked around.  But I have noticed that there are three lines of questioning that I often cannot answer to anyone’s satisfaction. It’s not that I don’t have an answer, or even that an answer does not exist — it’s that the answer is either incomplete or simply not accepted by the person asking. So they ask again, hoping for a different answer that matches what they wanted to hear in the first place. And that doesn’t work out so well.

Here are the answers I have the most trouble explaining:
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My PAX Prime 2014 schedule

Yes, I’ll be there! So will Kat!

FRIDAY 8/29 | 8:00PM – 9:00PM | HEDGEHOG
Game Show Night: Jeopardy!
This…is…Jeopardy! Well, no it’s not – since all the answers and questions are going to be about gaming and geek culture, it’s more like Mild Peril. The contestants will be you, the PAX attendees, so bring your thinking caps to this panel—you might be on the show! Just don’t wear anything that will clash with host Dan Amrich’s incredibly blinding red jacket. Part of Game Show Night at PAX Prime 2014!

Note: This is the middle block of Game Show Night, between Pyramid and Blankety Blank. The show really starts at 7 — but show up early if you want to be considered as a contestant for any of the games!

All three games will be livestreamed on Twitch here, starting at 7pm on Friday night! 

SATURDAY 8/30 | 2:30PM – 3:30PM | SPHINX
Help Design Game Journalism Story!
You’ve been invited to help design a games journalism simulator, a majestic open-world universe featuring Doritos-stained keyboards and fantastic bribes for reviewing games. This satirical panel, featuring game press veterans, invites the audience to participate in the faux-design meeting, allowing for honest and humorous discussion about some of game journalism’s most persistent myths.

SATURDAY 8/30 | 5:30PM – ??? | TABLETOP FREEPLAY
Our annual PAX tradition continues — The Great Dalmuti! All are welcome, as it’s a card game you can learn on the spot. Or watch this. But we’ll do that for a while Saturday night.

SUNDAY 8/31 | 8:00PM – 9:00PM | WYVERN
Three Old Guys Play Falling-Block Games
Join us for the 30-year history of falling-block puzzle games, from the genre granddaddy Tetris through clones and milestones like Columns, Super Puzzle Fighter, and even a few you’ve probably never heard of before. As usual, our panelists will demonstrate how not to play.

The real problem with Monopoly is you

A rather elderly blog post focusing on one key Monopoly rule that people don’t follow went viral earlier this year, leading to headlines of “Monopoly: You’re Playing It Wrong.” The author’s follow-up to the viral outbreak is worth reading as well. I am a lifelong Monopoly fan and student, and now that I’ve had time to let this topic simmer a bit, I’m going to go further still: I’m going to point out all the other things you’re doing wrong when you play Monopoly.  Continue reading

A rare instance of making a difference as a game journalist

The problem with writing about videogames is that it’s all transient. As soon as someone reads your review or feature, they internalize it and move on to something else. You only hope that what you wrote helped them out in some way; you dream of making an impact.

Years ago I wrote a story for OXM where I tried to create my own XNA game. I failed — spectacularly! — but I thought the article chronicling that failure was worth writing.

I was simultaneously super proud and totally humbled to find that I was right.

Dean’s long-anticipated game Dust: An Elysian Tail comes out this week on XBLA. I’m gonna buy it.

Only YOU can break the cycle of boring annual games

Gather ’round, haters. It’s that time of year again, when idiots start celebrating an annual game that never changes. Seriously: Every year, it’s the same thing — and yet every year it seems like people are even more eager to throw their money on the same repetitive game and call it entertainment.

Sometimes they change something minor — something new graphically, maybe a different logo, or a new catchphrase. It’s all superficial, though; the core gameplay never changes. It’s still just guys going at each other over and over to see who can score the most points. It’s so boring. Week in, week out, it’s the same exact thing.

And it kills me to see the people — sorry, the sheeple — who support this annual travesty, just throwing their money at it. It’s not cheap. Some morons pay even more for a deluxe experience. Why would anybody just keep wasting their money on the same game over and over again?

Ask any of these drones why they do it and you get weak answers. “I like it.” “I look forward to it every fall.” “My friends and I enjoy games together. It’s social.” These are the same idiots who shell out real cash money to buy, like, logo hats and shirts and crap like that, so they can literally wear their fandom on their sleeve. It’s bad enough they support it in their own homes and sit in front of the TV, mesmerized by the banality — now they have to go out in public and shove it down your throat, and be a walking billboard for their favorite game’s mediocrity.

So there you have it: A vicious cycle as society continually supports an annual game that makes crazy money but never innovates, never improves, never gets any better — just the same mind-numbing repetition as alpha males try to prove themselves as superior to the other meatheads. And every year around this time, it kicks off with a whole lot of speculation from armchair quarterbacks about what might happen this fall. And yet even though nobody really knows what they’re talking about because nothing has happened yet beyond pre-release hype, everybody seems brainwashed to agree: It’s going to be a great year for fans.

When are we, as a community, going to stand up and reject not only the NFL draft, but pro football itself?