Thursday, August 28, 2008

Something that took me too long to learn

Man, people comment without reading, don't they? Like, MOST of the time. I thought GSW and Gamasutra could maybe-be-just-a-little-bit-different-please but nope.

I don't know whether I should at least be happy people are reading, or upset that people don't read and thus don't like and may not read anymore?

An exhaustive analysis of my gaming habits

I want a new game
One that won't make me cheat
One that won't make me throw my pad
One that is possible to beat

I want a new game
One that won't count the score
One that won't have stupid kids
Or make me feel too bored

I have this cycle where I need games I can play for a long time. I'm a voracious feeder. Some people, such as reviewers, play an average of one new game every one or two workdays, every year.

I don't have that luxury. What I do instead is feast at the buffets that some games offer until I've absorbed it into my DNA; then the pleasure decreases, and my Darwininan compulsions send me in search of new traits.

Here are the games I sunk many, many hours into. Let us analyze this pattern by looking at my feast games in roughly chronological order:

Final Fantasy

For the old 8-bit NES. As a 9-year-old with a strategy guide, this game seemed so, so long to me. I probably really only spent 20-30 hours on it, but it's the only NES game I remember consuming me.

Street Fighter II

My love for this started in the arcade. When it came out to the Super NES, I played it with my friends a lot. I made sure to see all the endings, too. Once, at an arcade, when I was 11 or 12, this guy in his 20s gave me a noogie for beating him like 10 times in a row. If only I were so Asian now!

(One time I played Marvel vs. Capcom and this little kid challenged me; he had to stand on his tip-toes just to see his power bar at the bottom. He usually beat me.)

Saturday Night Slam Masters

Another Capcom favorite, the 4-player action for this was stupendous. It was awesomely ported and me and my friends would play it for hours at a time.

Mario Kart 64

The first 4-player edition of the series. Battle mode and racing were had in abundance.


The N64 had lots of 4-player games, but THIS one we played the most. Grenade launchers in a 3 v 1 was their favorite: they hated how good I was. I have spent more time on this game more than any other game on the console. I also played the single player a lot because the unlocks made for awesome multiplayer options. The second level in under two minutes was difficult and had a random chance element to it.

Super Smash Brothers

My mom told me I couldn't use the computer and I was hardly ever on the TV anymore due to the next game on this list. So I decided to buy this one. Link had the most kills: over 1,000, I think. So much data!

Starcraft: Brood Wars

This game is the only one to negatively affect my life for more than a period of one month. I used money from my job at McDonald's to find out that we needed more RAM, to buy said RAM, and have a guy install it for us.

Eviltoasteroven had more than a thousand games, Rhymeswithloser had more than 500, and who knows how many alts I had. At the end of the day I had 54% wins. So mediocre.

Unreal Tournament

This was a beautiful game. My first college roommate was often gone because he was more social than I was, and was on the racquetball team and went on some away games. Awesome Internet connections were rare then, but I had one. This took over Starcraft; SC faded away.


Between February 2001 and March 2003 I was indisposed in ways that did not allow me to game anymore. (Haha: this is the Utahn in me. In Utah, you avoid all possible mentions of going on a mission for the LDS church unless you are at said church.) I was in Australia with the name tag being hit on by gay guys, told off by straight guys, yelled at by old guys, and ignored by women. Anyway, no games, but one time in the mall I saw the Warcraft 3 display in an Aussified version of Game Stop and I looked at the box. It was one of the few moments I yearned for home.

So anyway, I got back and got a really awesome deal on a Dell (dude, better than any offer you could get now, considering I later sold it for more than I got it) because I was going back to school and had nothing to type with. So the natural platform of choice was the PC.

I played through the campaigns, bought the Frozen Throne when it came out, and discovered that DOTA was much, much better than regular WC 3's multiplayer.


I'm really an Unreal Tournament guy more than I am a Quake guy. I played this for quite a bit when I was at school. Friday nights, I was usually doing this.

Call of Duty

This game was awesome beyond belief. I overheard mention of it somewhere in a game I was playing, so I looked it up, and bought it. I devoured the campaign and played online and in tournament play. I wasn't too bad.

Call of Duty 2

Between March of 2004 and September of 2005, I didn't play games much. I sold my PC, got a laptop, and got a life. I got engaged and unengaged. I had some seriously crazy college happenings afterward, enough in a year that I could write a book about it. I literally gave up games and got a life. It was pretty cool. Almost a year after the engagement broke off, I realized it was okay to like video games, and that they weren't the source of my problems.

My timing was good: Call of Duty 2 came out a month or so after I ordered a new rig after I sold my laptop. I played on a team that was in a tournament for money and we played very hard. One time on a Saturday we practiced for 6 hours and got pissy with each other just because we were starting to feel like family to each other. Our coach / team leader managed to calm us down and effectively dismiss us from practice. I wish I'd written more about what it was like. They were fun times.

World of Warcraft

In December 2005, I had to replace my car engine. That coupled with a new landlord who booted me out forced me to live with my mother (oh, the cliches!), but not in a basement, thank God, just the room I had uh, grown up in since the age of 10.

One of my best friends from elementary school and beyond had also moved back in with his family, apparently because they missed him (I don't know, they were kind of weird about it). I had coincidentally run into him at an FHE in Salt Lake when I was buying something for someone, before I'd moved back. He was always the first to suggest we stop playing and actually go outside, so I was surprised when I found out he had purchased a PC and played WoW; I was still in the mentality that subscription fees sucked.

Like all people who play WoW, someone else got me in. At my mom's house, I started playing WoW. Good gravy. I moved out in only 4 months, which was a shorter stay than anyone had anticipated. I got married 4 months later and deleted my level 55 character. My friend pressured me again, so I asked the wife if I could play again. She said yes, and soon after she asked if she could have a character. I couldn't get my homework done (she had graduated, I had not) and her character was level 30-something, so I bought her a computer. Now, we have two of them next to each other.

A month ago, I got tired of it. It stopped being fun. I try to enjoy it, but I really only play when Muschie asks me to. My friend isn't on that often anymore and Muschie and I rolled Alliance to 70 just for him. She's rolling some Horde again. I'm considering Warhammer. I have a review copy coming my way.

Team Fortress 2

This is something I had an eye on for a long time. I made the mistake of buying a gold LIVE account instead of this. Big mistake. I had to wait for it.
Just this last week or two, I've gotten a little tired of it. Only 328 hours! Nothing on Goldeneye or Starcraft. It has more time left, though.

My brother, a 30-year-old doctor, got a computer because they didn't have one, but mainly so he could play this. Sometimes we play.


I got a DS on Friday for our anniversary. It gives me an enormous sense of security. Not even contentment, just security. It's like I'm packing heat, only more fun and without the anxiety or precautions.

Maybe it's because there's a huge inexpensive library of RPGs, strategy games, and few other decent games, but in reality, they will only be the equivalent of ONE of these games; and it's more expensive. LIVE arcade has a few coming too. GTA IV couldn't do it for me. I finished the main storyline of Mass Effect in 26 hours. Bioshock and Portal were snacks.

Here's hoping on Warhammer, Spore, Streetfighter IV, or Starcraft II get it for me.

I guess I see patterns now. I'm still competitive and need that to feed me. I have nothing against single-player, but I chew those up.

Maybe I should try to be a reviewer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The mega interview journey, part 6: everyone else

The last three people I talked to were Chris, Shawn, and Mitch. Because I had formed many conclusions by this point and in order to avoid overkill, I'm going to cover all three of them together. The quality of these interviews was not lower because of the subjects, it was because of the interviewer. I'm stressing that because I don't want anyone getting the idea that the first four subjects were "better" in anyway.

Chris Dahlen and I talked for an hour; our conversation was clearly the most comfortable one of all, even more comfortable than the one I had with Michael, who sounds like a Rogerian therapist. I misunderstood him from the beginning. First, he's in New Hampshire, and second, he doesn't seem to really consider himself a "game writer"; he'd likely more say he's a publications writer and that gaming is just one of his topics. At this point, I'd formed some conclusions from my previous interviews, and they probably shined through in my questioning. I don't think I lead him, though; it was more like I got so comfortable he could tell what I was thinking when asking the questions, and we then descended into a friendly and polite bitchfest. It was fun to complain with him.

Shawn Elliott was someone I was lucky to interview. I didn't even think to talk to him except that N'Gai suggested he would be interested. I had to message him by making a 1Up account and giving him my email address. Given his experience, I think he pretty much knows how things are right now and how they'll be in the future, but considering my naivety, my preformed conclusions, and the questions I asked him, the interview was very short. If there is one interview I could do over again, it would be the one with him. Recently on Neogaf he commented in a Braid thread that this really is the "lost generation."

Mitch has no email posted anywhere either--I had to leave a comment on an old post on Insult Swordfighting to get a hold of him. He was the last I interviewed, and his interview was also short; he was the last one I talked to, and after two interviews where I heard unique perspectives and voices but not many unique thoughts (I was coming to the common realizations now), I was very burnt out. Truth be told, after the first four I was burnt out and I just got worse as it went along.

They had the following in common:

--They were all generally disappointed with most games coverage.
--They all liked literature and/or came from "literary backgrounds" and commented on it when I asked about games criticism. Basically, when they think "criticism" they think of it the way that it's done for books. A point: games have a lot in common with books, too, not just movies.
--Under this definition, yeah, some of it has been done, but not very much.
--All had a fatalistic approach: things will be the way they will be; that's just the nature of publications and the gaming world and the world of gaming publications. Chris was stumped. Mitch pointed out: "The more games are accepted by the mainstream, the more games writing can change. The New York Times, the Phoenix, and other mainstream publications aren't relying on video game advertising dollars--that's why they read differently." Shawn perhaps made the most qualified and specified declarations about what to actually do. "Many games writers today are chosen by their love of games and not their love of writing. Their needs to more attention paid to writing skill and a desire to write well about games." Also: "First we need to establish the possibilities; after that, we need to let people take the time to appreciate it; if enough people do, they will demand it." Ooh, a mantra.
--A label of a gaming community wasn't needed or necessary, not as far as this writing is concerned.
--All commented that this change in maturity in our writing was inevitable as the maturity of the games, games industry, and the people who write about and play games.
--All lamented that there wasn't much space, and all made a few comments about the actual writing itself and what makes the good good and the bad bad. We've already driven that nail through the wall.
--Chris has written for a variety of outlets and a variety of topics, so I asked about game writing in the broad public space. How can we get more of it in there? He actually said, "1-2 years ago I'd have said we simply need more outlets. Now I'd say there are some outlets that try to publish more thoughtful content. Now we need more outlets, but we need more writers than outlets."

The sad thing is I still need to write a summary and conclusion of it all, and I'm wondering how much space or seriousness I should give it. I'm debating whether to put it on GSW considering that it seems like for some people it's been over analyzed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Someone make me a database, please

By now you've made up your mind about Wikipedia; you either use it to justify your pretensions about technology, or perhaps bemoan the fate of how we view academic information. Or, hopefully, you'll actually have a real opinion about it; perhaps something like "I have issues with its infrastructure and can't take it as seriously as some people do, but generally, I'd say it's a commendable success, especially when dealing with the online world."

Intelligent and educated discussion doesn't occur often outside of certain settings, and it certainly doesn't occur very often with certain topics (games are one obvious example). One thing that I've seen in some corners of games writing is the desire to cover new ground, new territory, to say what's not been said before. That feels to me a lot more like academia than it does the simple blogosphere or world of journalistic outlets, which are mainly simply there (and this isn't a criticism) to enlighten and entertain.

And is it just me, or do you ever worry about being accused of plagiarism, even when you're just writing on a forum? On the Internet, someone probably already said it. And if you're going to participate in discussions or write op-ed pieces or columns, wouldn't you want to make sure you say something original? I've occasionally come across comments that say "oh, someone already said this" or even "this point was also made in this other article that had a different topic."

So, I've got an idea and I'm guessing no one else has done it yet. What if there were a site that had listings of all relevant content on a particular topic?

Let's take Braid again. Much material has surfaced on it; in fact, one forum post in particular has generated much discussion on it but it doesn't seem that it is well-spread in news outlets. It was such a convincing theory, though, that it quickly surfaced on the Penny Arcade epi-thread and it prompted a question by Destructoid to Jonathan Blow in their podcast with him. He spent minutes commenting on it.

I'm aware that much of what is produced in popular periodicals is repeated; it disappoints, but it's not changing anytime soon. But what if there were a type of wiki where, for a given topic (say Braid), I could see all material that has even been said on it, serious or no, intelligent or no. All memes, videos, graphics, music, sites and written text on it. It could be in roughly this kind of format and instead of simply being a summary, an encyclopedia where everyone argues over what the best summary is, it could be a gathering of all relevant links and works on the topic. Write one or two lines summarizing the link.

Wouldn't it be awesome to have a site where every single review, metacritic or no, and every single thing ever on a game (say, Metal Gear Solid 4, this time) was listed? Updated continually? Some games get an enormous amount of coverage (say, Too Human), yet if someone's interested in knowing everything that went down and wants to know a lot of the commentary, he'd have to have awesome search engine skills.

Blogs and publications do this with "tags", but that only gives you all the information done by a particular publication. And some places don't have tags. And some places don't write about games very often, but have interesting or amusing material about a certain game or type of game.

I can only hope. And meanwhile, if I want to do it on any other particular topic, I'll have to do it myself. When I do, I'll post it here. And to Simon Carless and Neuroanthropology, thanks for sifting through gobs and gobs of links and presenting us with good and intelligent ones. Much appreciated.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I have only about half a dozen topics left for my GSW column. That's actually 3 months worth, but it can't hurt to ask anyway.

What communities in the game world deserve / need coverage? What's interesting?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A new division of games: some ideas on how to push innovation in a way that makes everyone happy

The most common division of games is "hardcore" vs. "casual." While there have been plenty of arguments saying "the game market is simply more complex than that", I'd like to make two arguments of my own. The first is that some games blend both of these genres (most notably the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises), which has likely already been said. I mention it in context of my second argument, however: games can be easily divided into two camps. It's just the wrong two.

A daring argument to make, but hear me out. I watched the most recent episode of Pure Pwnage the other day, lighter fare to be sure. The main reason it caught my attention was that it parodied Yahtzee's Zero Punctuation as Zero Coordination. The doctrine it preached was the one Pure Pwnage has preached (or parodied, if you will) all along: that games are games, not stories, and the satisfaction that comes from them is being good at them. The criticism of games as stories or art, childish as it were, was pretty scathing and convincing. The only reason I don't fully side with them is because I've been capable of this type of appreciation of games in the past, and I also know that games have the potential to be a beautiful, inspiring medium.

But potential is all we've really been discussing. Even Leigh, whom I believe to be a champion of game criticism, has said that there is no game that has justified game criticism to the mainstream, to those who aren't already invested in them. And I believe her.

What we're doing is hoping. Witness Braid. Artistically, it is small potatoes, in fact, vastly inferior potatoes to everything in other mediums. We're all excited about it. We're only excited because it's actually making a step, even if it's not a very big one. Those were the victories Bioshock, Portal, and GTA IV presented us with too.

Still, Braid actually wasn't that good--not as a game, or as a piece of art. And deep down, we all know it. But it still had something to say, and what's more, it did it in a way that required a lot of vision. So we forgive it for its flaws. In fact, I was planning and am still planning to write on Braid later.

To build up to this division, I present two more small anecdotes. The first is the day I talked to Leigh. As noted in my article, the day I interviewed her, later at dinner I asked my dad and my wife what it would take to get women interested in games. My wife had said about the mainstream, "convince people they are more mainstream, popular, and relevant than they think." On women and games, she wasn't sure--she has OCD and a strange relationship to games (right now she plays WoW and only WoW, and part of that is for some personal and obviously idiosyncratic reasons). Anyway, my dad. He said, "they'd have to feel something. If it doesn't influence their feelings, it's not going to occupy their minds."

A few days later, I noticed a comment on Gamasutra on a long, theoretical game design article, probably by an adolescent male. It said, in effect, "But in a game, you have to be DOING something. You can't not be doing things or not have an influence on your surroundings, otherwise they're not really games anymore." About men, my dad had said "it has to be something that is impressive to them. Like, you can further your status in some way by playing them."

Yin and yang? Male and female? Games as sports and games as art? Well, I'm wary of labels for obvious reasons, but use all of those and you'll get what I mean. Anyway, I'm becoming more and more convinced that there are only two basic contexts in which people take games seriously: one is game-playing skill, and the other is games as a medium, a context for aesthetics, theme, philosophy, and art.

As mentioned earlier, a few games blend these; but the blending isn't possible, doesn't work well. Again, for example, Braid. (But [MASSIVE SPOILER] then again, maybe it was purposeful. It seems clear that it was about the A-Bomb, a failure of a solution to peace. But science isn't a solution to peace, it's simply a method to produce desired effects on the physical world; perhaps symbolically, the binary and scientific systems video games create can't allow us the full proposed interactivity AND created art; no having our cake and eating it too; notice the contrast between the princess being a woman and an object [END SPOILER]).

Again, the best games are the ones that only stick to one simple purpose. You can make a game that is a good context for competition and skill, or one that is good aesthetically and artistically, but you can't do both. How are you going to explore the themes people have noticed are absent? Sex? Relationships? Family? How can a game of skill, so object-oriented, possibly explore with depth issues that are so metaphysical?

A split isn't so ridiculous. Before TV and movies, there were picture shows. Some showed the news. Some were for entertainment. TV and movies broke off from each other, though they use the same methods of creation and presentation. Why not (insert name for "art games" here) and (insert name for skill-based games here)? Sure, there are exceptions, some games train doctors and some present political issues, but they aren't thought of as "games", really.

The split has already begun, and one of the revealing places that show this split is the kind of community Pure Pwnage fosters, based in competition. In Korea, of course, games are sports. The term "esports" is scoffed at about anywhere else, but if they become as successful as they aspire to be, laughing will stop. Sports weren't always taken seriously, but anything that can make money for a family is something men and women everywhere will accept, at least as a society. High school, college, pro. Football, hockey, baseball, basketball. Not everyone's cup of tea. Lots of worlds in those worlds. But love it or leave it, sports flourish and sports are seen as a matter of preference, which is what video games have largely become (like it or not, believe it or not).

If Esports does well, this split can continue comfortably. But, for obvious reasons, I'm worried. Profitable esports is difficult, especially in the U.S. And those who participate, train anonymously--you can become good without learning social skills on the playground or in a rec league. The poster kids for esports don't always sound or look good on the camera, and that's bad for business.

It's an odd spot to focus our hopes on, but really: if Esports does well, it will be good for both types of games. Hell, even Halo 3 was developed with input from the MLG. Rainbow Six Vegas 2 was designed with input from the competitive community. They become sport games, as in games that are played for sport.

As for "art games", most of its opposition comes from "hardcore" gamers who worry that they will ruin their fun experiences. But if esports grows, and the games they want continue to be released, they will complain less.

There's no reason we can't have both skill-based games and art-based games. Just make sure that "both" doesn't mean "at the same time, in the same game."

Monday, August 11, 2008

A heads up

An unspoken rule if you're trying to use your blog as a tool of ambition: be sparse on details about real life.

A corollary: if something in real life will affect blog content, or still has to do with the blog's topic, mention is permissible if it's not overly personal.

One day, during my last semester, I read something by a popular game writer who writes terribly. I said to myself, "I can write a hell of a lot better than that guy, and he's published, so it only follows that I, too, can be published." My confidence magically increased. I got my column at GSW, an article (that still isn't published) that was accepted at Gamasutra, and an article in the works at Eurogamer.

I've hinted at my current life position, but let me give you a brief summary: I just finished my schooling this year. The economy sucks. I pitched while I tried to get jobs.

Well, now I have a job (my first week was last week), and less time to write and think. I have pitched/applied in quite a few other capacities. One, on my second pitch, told me almost, but no. I will try with them again and am confident I will eventually write an article for them, but I don't know where to go from here. I'm still going to do GSW. I'm just saying to my literally 20 (max) readers: I don't know if I'll ever be a games writer, and one day I may stop. And I don't really know yet how my job will affect this blog, or my attitudes to game writing.

Anyway, I am in a position of relief--one that pays bills. Writing while waiting for employment and writing during employment are different things; I'm simply saying I don't comprehend those differences yet, or their implications. Reduction in quantity, and even quality? Possibly.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The mega interview journey, part 5: Michael

Sorry, there have been some moderately large life changes recently. I need to finish these up!

Of the seven people I interviewed, Michael Abbott is the only one who is not a game journalist; he is, however, accurately classified as a games writer. His persona matches his writing: confident, mild, wise, and academic. Still, the two words that keep coming to my mind are "gentle" and "enthusiastic." While the Brainy Gamer is an experiment, he is not far removed from his subject material. It isn't just in text that he gets really excited about games and even more excited that people are talking about them with maturity in an open forum.

Brainy Gamer started in August 2007, a blog dedicated to "thoughtful conversation about video games". Before one year had passed, it had received over 270,000 unique visits, 1,000 RSS subscribers, and an average of 15-20 comments per post. (For those who dig Google Page Rank: 5, purely by word of mouth and text.)

I asked about why he had started it and what it was for. As many know, he is a professor at Wabash College. Brainy Gamer was initially simply a work project, but Brainy Gamer, a living and breathing creature, took on a different life. Even Abbott's opinions have been shaped by the discussion taking place, and now he has new and informed ideas about a myriad of topics, including gaming communities, their formation and evolution, and the place of games in academia.

"I took a sabbatical from teaching; this is my project. It's my attempt to bridge the gap from game community to a new form of game scholarship. Initially, my real purpose was to demonstrate at Wabash that you can be serious about games. The blog started, and it became clear to me that this is something that could be integrated into the liberal arts. It was a lightbulb moment."

"It all started as conversation, but now part of my mission with Brainy Gamer is to convince people that games can and should be a part of a curriculum. It's difficult: we have people who are saying 'just let me play games and have fun,' but there are also those who have never played games and who are saying 'how can we let this in the academy'? I think both groups are resistant, but for totally different reasons."

"What would it take to grow these kinds of communities?" I asked.

He responded, "One thing I'd like to see is for developers to join these conversations with us. Steve Gaynor is one good example, and his blog is terrific. Manveer Heir at Design Rampage is another developer who blogs about design and communicates with the wider community. Developers could add a dimension we often don't see."

"Part of what [game] criticism is doing is that there's a kind of teaching mission. We're presuming we have something interesting to say to help people understand and appreciate games better. Potentially that appreciation will enable the group to grow."

He is still optimistic, though. He added, "I think it's a bigger space than we may think. The community developed, I think, largely due to college and grad students. There are a surprisingly large number of people who write thoughtful essays and comments on my blog. Enough people are interested to make it a critical mass."

We also spoke on the difficulties of it being a stable field. I remembered out loud how many professors become friends simply because of common fields and specializations; he told me a lot about the status of games in academia. He was comfortable with the term game criticism, but had some reservations. Like the rest of us, he is nervous.

"Narrative games are barely past the infant stage, and critical commentary and analysis about them are even less developed," he warned. "Everyone is still trying to figure out who everyone else is, and in this process communities form themselves. We are on the ground floor of this effort to try to figure out how to talk intelligently about video games - how to analyze them and develop a critical language to discuss them. We're not like other disciplines (I'm not even sure I would call us a discipline yet), because we're all figuring this out together; we don't even have the terms yet."

I had mentioned the other people I was planning to interview. Intellectual discussion has a social growth that's almost academic. "A very typical example: How did I meet Mirch Krpata? Well, someone linked me to something, which linked to him somewhere. I contacted him, and he kindly responded. That's pretty much how it works."

"Well, and it's interesting," I said. "Even, or especially outside of academia people are on unsure footing; Leigh's the only one who dared to suggest a term. For the most part, people seem to be quiet about it."

He told me, "Part of our trepidation about what to call it is that there is already a field called game studies, and some of us aren't comfortable with where that's going or don't feel we quite fit in there. Game studies is taking a fairly traditional academic approach to research and scholarship, and as a professor who has done my share of papers and conferences, I'm trying to go another way. I want to write about games at the place where they are being discussed most vigorously, online and amongst gamers. I greatly respect what game studies is doing - and I've benefited from this work - but I've reached the point in my career where I'm not terribly interested in traditional academic research anymore."

Despite that, he worries about how games will function in academic curriculua. He explained why some academics aren't comfortable with games: "Schools are nervous about games becoming academic without rigor or structured pedagogy. I'm concerned about it too, frankly. I don't want it to be just discussions and nothing else."

In short, he reminded me of what Kieron had said earlier: when we discuss games, the discussion is public and usually on the Internet, and opposition can easily form there. "Between having both the common gamer and academics strongly disapproving of the way you and the rest of us talk, it sounds like you have quite the fight on your hands," I said.

"It's not a fight, it's making a case. What is the place of conversation about video games in the liberal arts? Is it possible to teach the Odyssey and the Metal Gear series in the same class? Can you leverage students' interest in games to get them to think critically, write persuasively, and discuss intelligently, all of which are goals of a liberal arts education? I obviously think the answer is yes."

Michael had a lot to say. But in briefest form, this is the most important thing I learned: the question we should be focusing on isn't if or when, it's how.