Pre-ordering or buying used games: an open letter to Boogie

The following is an open letter to YouTube user Boogie2988. His channel is absolutely amazing, and his opinions related to gaming are invaluable to me. He’s also well-known for his comical characters Francis and Jessie. However, this one particular video, regarding why he believes people should not buy from gaming store GameStop, I take issue with. That is what the letter is addressing:

Hey Boogie, I’m sorry, I love your videos, but I have to say I disagree with you here. I hate EB games (which is what our local equivalent of GameStop is known as), and refuse to buy from them. However second-hand games, I love, and I’ve got nothing wrong with buying them through a store. In reality, I actually don’t buy from any physical stores, because the prices in Australia are stupid ($100 or more for what would be $60 in the US: despite the exchange rate being more or less 1:1), but in principle I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. I have a friend in the UK who will buy second hand from GAME because she can get second hand games super cheap (much more than the $5 discount you talk about). If that were an option for me you bet I’d take it, and be happy for it. I don’t think that giving more money to EA or Ubisoft is an aspect that should cross my mind at all.

To take things off on a slight tangent, how about Steam? Steam is lauded for the way they revolutionised the gaming industry, and yet they’ve created a culture where many people refuse to pay full price because “it’ll be on sale in a few weeks”. One could argue that this is as big an issue as second hand games. It means people won’t pay the developers the full price of the game that they’ve worked so hard to create.

Regarding pre-orders, I personally don’t pre-order games because I prefer to wait and see what it’s like, and also wait for any day-one bugs to be ironed out. However, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with pre-ordering either. Often it enables you to get the game cheaper than it otherwise would be, and you can get cool stuff for it. I agree that taking extra gameplay features out of the main game for people who don’t pre-order is terrible, but getting the OST thrown in, or an action figure, model, map, logbook, or other physical item is totally fine. The same is true for in-game aspects that don’t affect gameplay, like custom skins or whatever. Day one DLC is shitty. Removing content for those that don’t pre-order is shitty. But pre-ordering itself, for extragame features (i.e., features outside of the game) or to get the game cheaper, is a great way to show support to devs while getting a better deal yourself, or to get a hot-button game immediately at release (if that’s what you would prefer to do) when it may be sold out otherwise.

On a similar note, what do you feel about Kickstarting games? Planetary Annihilation would almost certainly have never been made without Kickstarter, and yet Kickstarting a game is fundamentally very similar to pre-ordering the game (only without necessarily the guarantee it will end up being a real game). You’re giving the devs money well in advance of when you will be able to receive the actual game, in exchange for cheaper prices or extra stuff, and for allowing them the ability to create the game in the first place. This isn’t necessarily the same as pre-orders, but it seems a similar issue.

So while I personally follow your advice on both second hand and pre-ordered games, I don’t see why it should be a general rule. It seems unfair to expect everyone to pay full price when they can’t always afford that, and when there are perfectly viable alternatives that exist.

P.S., Boogie, you’ve got some trolls wondering around the comments of your videos, you might wanna do something about mustacheftw, in particular. He was being an awful troll in the comments of the video in question.

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The benefits of publicness

My YouTube videos and comments now show my real name.

My YouTube videos and comments now show my real name.

I recently made the move of switching my usernames on various websites to be my real name. Previously, many websites I went on used the name “Zagorath”, or some form of it, like LOTRzagorath which I used on YouTube. Most notably, I linked my YouTube with my Google+ so that it is now using my real name for comments and uploads, and I changed from @zagorath to @jimcullenaus on Twitter.

But why would I go to the effort of making the change, potentially losing recognition among the few people that have come to know me (a few smaller YouTubers, particularly, on whose videos I regularly comment), and gaining a longer Twitter name?

For me, the main reason is simply consistency. I have a Google+ account tied to my real name, and I wanted the benefits of linking my YouTube account to that. In addition, I liked the idea that people could see my real name on both, so it was immediately clear that they were the same person. This second reason is also part of the benefit of changing Twitter along with them. Previously many of my accounts online could be split into two categories: those where I used my real name, and those where I used the handle Zagorath (or some variation thereof). Facebook, email, and Google accounts were probably the only ones that fall into the former category, while most others used Zagorath. However, even for this latter group, it has always been easy to find out my real name because in many cases that same account had my real name entered into another field. The best example of this is my Twitter account, where my real name has always been visible along with the handle.

Other than that, I believe that by using my real name people will be able to trust in what I have to say. By knowing this is a real person attaching their real name to what they do, I believe people will be less inclined to subconsciously discount or devalue what I have to say because of my anonymity.

Over time, I’ll see about changing over what I haven’t already changed (this blog, for example—Wordpress does not allow you to change your username, although you can change the URL), but for the moment I’ve made the changes on the majority of the accounts that I use regularly that I would wish to change

After I had drafted most of this post, I realised that this was something journalist and advocate of openness Jeff Jarvis (who I know from the This Week in Google podcast he co-hosts weekly on the TWiT Network) probably had something to say about, so I did a quick search and it turns out he’s done a post with the exact same title. His post is a far better one at actually describing the general benefits of being public and open. It’s a brilliant read, based on a chapter from his book “Public Parts” which—from what little I’ve read about it—looks like a really enlightening book. That post brings up some great benefits to publicness in a more general sense, and talks about being public not necessarily (or, not only) with your name, but with sharing information and knowledge in a public and open way. It’s a sentiment I can definitely agree with.

I definitely see the advantage of anonymity. It can allow people to express unpopular viewpoints without fear of potential retribution—social, political, or otherwise—but for me personally I think the benefits of publicness outweigh the negatives.

YouTube Easter Egg: Let Google Rick Roll you!

I just discovered a cool little Easter Egg that YouTube has included in its HTML5 version.

By going to http://youtube.com/html5 and joining the experiment, the right click menu on a video will give you the option to ‘Save Video As…’ If you click that option, it takes you to a video of Rick Astley’s song ‘Never Gonna Give You Up, better known as the Rick Roll video.

Why not use this as a clever way to Rick Roll your friends?

Picture instructions on how to join the HTML5 experimentA picture showing the context menu when you right click on a YouTube video

A quick side note, this will only work with videos that do not display ads. The HTML5 player can’t display ads, so YouTube reverts to the normal Flash player, even if you’re in HTML5 mode.

To switch back to the normal Flash mode permanently, just go to the same page, and click ‘Leave the HTML5 Trial’

If you liked this post, please consider sharing it with friends and leaving a comment.

Just my luck

I seem to get everything I need right after I need it.

I recently helped in making a film, and just a few days after the deadline for submission, the rainy season finally started. We had been waiting to try and film in the rain for weeks prior to that, and ended up doing the scene without the rain.

The day after the actual screening, my YouTubesubscriber box had a video titled “HOW TO MAKE FAKE BLOOD! – Special FX!“. The film had a scene with some fake blood in it, and although our props manager did a pretty good job of making the blood, it wasn’t perfect. On the plus side, the lower quality projectors actual made the blood seem better than it was on a high quality screen, by seeming darker and thicker.

Similar, but not quite identical, Final Cut Pro X was announced literally days after I finally finished downloading the older version of Final Cut Studio.

I’m sure if I went into it I could think of many more examples if I went into it. What examples of something like this can you think of that happened to you? I’m interested in seeing your feedback.