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Okay, so for full disclosure, yes I work in the video game development industry. But many of these thoughts of mine that will be presented in the next few posts predate such employment. They’ve just been closer to the surface as of late. These next few posts, which will be a mish-mash of several topics, may involve some inconsistency between rants. Try to think of inconsistencies as me looking at multiple sides of complex issues…

The first rant will be on used video games sales. I used to think this was a great idea. After all, games can be expensive, so it was great that I could just buy, play, and sell it back to the retailer. They can then resell it to someone else at a reduced price. Everybody wins, right? Wrong. There is a big loser in all this, hidden because I started that money chain too late in the process. The real process goes like this: First is the fuzzy bit that involves a game developer, and likely a publisher, spending lots of money over several years in making a video game. They then spend a good amount of money in promoting said game to the public so people will want to buy it. The physical copies of the games get passed to the retailer at a price point that will allow them to recover their development and marketing costs (us programmers don’t work for free for those years, so a lot of money was already spent) plus profit, and the the retailer sells it to you at an increased price so they can run their store and make a profit. Okay, so that was incredibly simplified, but let’s go with it. Now you can sell that game back to the retailer because you’re done with it, and they sell it to someone else. Then that person sells it back to the retailer, who again sells it to someone else. Then that person sells it back to the retailer, who again sells it to someone else. Wait a minute, did the retailer just sell the same physical product to four different people, making profit on it each and every time? Yes. And did the developers and publishers just make money off that copy of the game four times?

No. No they did not.

And therein lies a part of a very big problem. Why are games as expensive as they are? There are many many factors, but a part is because the publishers need to recoup the cost of production, and developers need to recoup the cost of development, through just a fraction of the “legitimate” sales that occur at the retail outlets. And how bad is that problem? I just visited a local store location of a major retailer of video games. I will not mention which store it is, but they only sell games, have stores in at least Canada and the USA, and have an online store as well. All of these outlets also sell used games. While I was just browsing through the store it dawned on me that over half of the games on the main displays were used games!

That’s right. There were more second/third/etc hand games in main displays than new games. And on top of that there were bins of used games that can only be loosely classified as displays. Many of these used games on display were recent releases!

Am I completely against used video game sales? No. I believe they have a purpose. When I’m looking for out of print and difficult to find games, I will turn to used games as the sole source for those games. These are found in those bins I mentioned. But please – used copies of new-release games on sale for just a few dollars less that the new copies? The retail stores are raking in their customer’s cash while the publishers and developers are wondering why their highly regarded work that everyone is playing is suffering poorer than expected sales.

Now for icing on the cake, this particular retail chain will sell you a yearly subscription that gives you a discount on used games. Yes, they will charge you for a program that allows you to give them money to buy products they have already sold to someone else, possible to several other people, further discouraging you from supporting the people who are actually making the products! You (not necessarily YOU you, but the general public you) are thrilled because you can save 5-10 dollars per game (less the price of the subscription), and the video game makers are forced to incrementally raise their prices because not enough new copies are being sold. This allows the retailer to also incrementally increase their used game prices, which are ALL profit.

Now for the badly frosted flowers on the icing on the cake, more and more of the large consumer electronics chains are noticing this cash cow and starting their own used game departments.

The more I think about it, the worse it looks. I’m going to stop now. Thank you for reading.

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Yes, my Facebook hiatus lasted about two months, which apparently is the space between two blog posts. So the question is, why did I go back? The answer is really just as non-committal as the reason I left. I didn’t hate the face book. I just didn’t particularly care for it. I did in the intervening two months really fall in love with Twitter. There was only one thing missing from Twitter – the people I knew.

It was not Mark Zuckerberg’s charisma, it was not the coding savvy developers, it was not the myriad swarms of time wasting face book games that won me back. It wasn’t any fixes to privacy policies, or anything that face book did to bring me back. It was the people who I’d left behind. I just missed being able to check in on their lives occasionally. I would have returned to wherever they were, which right now just happens to be Facebook.

I did, however, crack open the block application controls, so the notifications page is much more bearable now.

Well, I’m done here. Time to spend some more time with the wife.

At about eight in the morning on September eighth 2010, I left Facebook, and to this day, I don’t really know why I did it. So I thought I would go through some self reflection in the public sphere to maybe work out what drove me to leave.

There are of course the superficial reasons. I really only logged on to clear out the 56 notifications of friends needing my help with their farms and criminal empires, or wanting to know which cartoon princess I was most like (I mean come on, if you don’t know that, can I really call you a friend?). There is also Facebook’s much publicized privacy blunders (what, you didn’t want your friends to pass your information on to a third party? Why didn’t you go into the privacy settings and disable this feature on your own after we activated it last month?). There was the ever changing look and feel of the interface, where you never really knew where to go, because it may have been changed overnight…

But these are just part and parcel with any big service. My gas bill changed its look too, even changed the size of paper they printed on, but I didn’t put up a fuss. I get junk mail in my mailbox daily, but I still don’t have a “Please no fliers” sign out. So what was it that was driving me out of Facebook? Why did I contemplate leaving its familiar blue trappings monthly?

To be honest, I never really wanted to enter those trappings in the first place. I don’t even remember any more the breaking point that led me to clicking sign-up. I just stopped resisting at some point. And since then, Facebook became, for the most part, a burden. And now, it isn’t a burden. If people want to contact me, they are free to email me, follow me on Twitter (which I find much more to my liking than Facebook), or send me a text message. Or call me.

Ironically, since I left Facebook I have had more contact with the friends who protested my leave the most than I did before I left. Why? Maybe because they are no longer just one of several hundred “friends.” They are actually friends, no quotes.

So there you have it. No rant on any killer feature that drove me out. I just left. Oh, and if you haven’t gathered yet, this blog is not quite dead yet. You never can tell, can you?

It looks like in order to actually get some content on this blog, I need a little push. In this case, the push was some free swag from one of my addictions – and all I would need to do is answer Crazy Kinux’s call to find a way to bring more ladies into Eve Online.

It seems pretty obvious that the usual pulls are not here – and never will be. There will be no dancing spacecraft, no vanity drones, and no fashion. There is an inordinate amount of math and a lot of waiting. So what are us guys to do to get more women in here? And no, alts don’t count. I mean real, live, estrogenated women on the other side of the keyboards. What on earth can be done?

Putting ads in O magazine is not going to do it. The game is not going to pull them in all on its own. There is only one way to bring ’em, boys!

Log out, unplug, and go find them.

That’s right. As difficult as it may be, this may require talking with girls. That fantasy of having girls come to EO on their own, meeting in a chance encounter mining in null-sec, and after initiating a private chat… Nope, it’s not going to happen.

Okay, now let’s say you find one. A real one. And she doesn’t run from you. How can you bring her into our world? Are you familiar with the phrase “tit for tat?” This might hurt.

If you want her to show any interest in New Eden (assuming she doesn’t already, which is kind of the point of this post) you’re going to have to show interest in something she enjoys. They can smell it when you’re faking it. You’re going to have to give it a real chance if you want the same in return. You’re going to see some movies you wouldn’t have chosen to see, and you might be spending some time outside.

You should also pay a decent amount for a good meal together at least once.

Now maybe you can convince her to take that 21 day trial into Eve Online. This is where the balancing act is going to happen. She will not be sucked in right away. She just won’t be. This game has a brutal learning curve. You know that. Help ease her into the necessary bits and get comfortable. Fly with her. Talk with her. This works best if you can be physically in the same room with her. This is not to be done in a chat window. Repeat that point. This is not to be done in a chat window. Not yet.

Now here comes the cruel irony with this whole process – now that you have got her with one foot in New Eden, you may never be able to jump back in fully. Trust me. This is a good thing. You may have lost the 12 hour marathons, but if you keep the balance just right, maybe you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Hopefully you have learned to enjoy some of the things she has shown you, and hopefully she has enjoyed some of the things you have shown her.

And most of all, remember – she needs to be more important than Eve. IF this did not work, IF she does not enjoy it as much as you do, that is NOT a reason to cut her off and try again. But if we all try this, maybe we will get some more Sisters of Eve. Maybe not equilibrium, but better.

Just keep them off the CSM. I do not want vanity drones.

Some other random thoughts from blogs I liked the titles of:

Hmm… maybe I’ll read them…

Change of thought – this blog does not need a theme. A theme serves only to serve the reader’s hunger for order. The reader desires predictability. They say to themselves “I want to read about *blank* so I will read blog x.”

Well this then, will not be blog x. At least not yet. Maybe there will be a them at some point, but it will emerge naturally over time. For now this will be my thought du jour as it were, pardon my french.

Will this offend the reader? I think not, for as of yet, the reader does not exist. And with posts like these, is anybody really surprised?

I believe with just one more post, this blog becomes my second longest lived blog ever. What I need is a theme.

I couldn’t in good conscience call this post one, as I feel as I start writing that this post doesn’t really count. This blog has not taken a direction or theme really. So I write this as a filler for those who stumble here from nowhere. Take a short break here, and perhaps if this post is not too old now, come back later and find out what this is all about.

But if post zero stands alone in three months, feel safe to turn your back on it. It is probably dead.

Sign number 1: You haven’t moved for at least three months.