Letters to the Editor



To the Editor: Just for the record – Trip Hawkins is not the Antichrist.

The story of the decline-and-gutting of Origin by EA is not a happy one; but let us be clear that, by the time EA did gut Origin, Trip had been long gone from EA. And while Trip is indeed a controversial figure in the field, and more than a bit of an operator (I’m reminded of Noah Fallstein’s reference to the “Trip Hawkins reality distortion field,”) I’d also like to suggest that in some ways, he has been a force for good.

Remember what EA stands for? It stands for “Electronic Arts,” and in its early days (e.g., when Trip was its co-founder and still running the joint), it ran ads asking “Can a game make you cry?” and actively promoting artists like Chris Crawford and Dan Bunten as the leading lights and innovators of a new form of digital entertainment.

That EA stands for nothing like this today is an indictment of its current management – but not of Trip.

And I don’t know if anyone else remembers this, but in its final days, as 3DO was headed for the knacker’s yard, Trip put up a big chunk of his own financial resources to try to keep it going, even as 3DO embarked on an (ultimately fruitless) quest to obtain more money to stay in business. He lost the lot. I’d venture to suggest that there are very few highly placed executives in any American business who would risk the same. He put his money where his mouth was.

In his letter in your last issue if The Escapist, Trip was, I think, understandably irate at the characterization of him as a prime mover behind the decline and fall of Origin – in a piece written by my old friend, Allen Varney. It was a well written piece, with the skeptical attitude that The Escapist has become justly renowned for – and Allen was, after all, quoting others, not saying this himself. But – when you come down to it, Trip doesn’t deserve this.

For the record, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an investor in, advisor to, or associate in any way, of EA, 3D0, or Digital Chocolate (Trip Hawkins’s current venture).

-Greg Costikyan

To the Editor:Guns, Gangs and Greed” perpetuates the illusion of race. By identifying a group of people based on physical traits and claiming they are somehow disadvantaged because no one chooses to create content that features characters having these traits, the article engages in racism. We don’t see articles bemoaning the fact that very few (any?) protagonists have red hair, and an article based on this premise would probably receive the appropriate level of befuddlement, bemusement and derision that it deserves. Please stop perpetuating the illusion of race. It does no one any service and only helps perpetuate the artificial class boundaries that other racists have constructed.

-Gregory Bloom

To the Editor: Oh, good god. What’s the deal? Trying to get some advertising revenue from MTV?

How about an edition about how amateur radio has parallelled gaming? First, they entered public consciousness with CB. Then, they broke out into the corporate big time with wi-fi… But I suppose no one fantasizes about being a 1337 HAM operator.

-Michael Hobbs

To the Editor: Oh, for the sake of all that’s holy with music, do not be calling the likes of Tupac and Biggy and Jo-Lo “hip hop.”

Ask any real hip hop head what hip hop means, and they will tell you without hesitation – MCing, DJing, Breaking and Graffiti.

These are the four elements of hip hop, as integral as Earth, Air, Fire and Water are to Magic Users in an RPG.

Without them, there is no culture. Hip hop is all about the four elements. A simple wikipedia search would reveal even this much


Most of these rappers’ ‘DJs’ wouldn’t know a tweak scratch from a crab. Hell, most of them just use CDs or, even worse, a laptop! In my interview with Grandmaster Flash, he continually talked about how the DJ created hip hop, and how ‘rap’ is losing that fundamental aspect of hip hop, burying it under a sea of bling.

You can’t “break” to rap, the beats are too slow and they don’t flow. There’s no build up or breakdown of the beat anymore. No time to spin on your back, spin on your knee and then Freeze.

None of these rappers have touched a can of spray, except maybe to fix up a chip in their Escalades. None of them are interested in street art, in pieces, and most of them have never ridden the subway. None of them feature Graf on their covers, just themselves and their stinking bling.

And as for MCing, most of these rappers have other people write their rhymes, and would be lost in a proper MC battle. And the lyrical content of the raps often seems like it’s written by George Bush!

Use the term Street, Urban, R&B (no, on second thought don’t use R&B… BB King is R&B, Usher is just pop). Just don’t be suckered into the marketing machine. It’s not hip hop.

-Funky J

To the Editor: Greg Costikyan’s “Death to the Games Industry: Part 2” practically had me in tears, so inspiring did I find the idea of a world in which games don’t suck anymore. The impact was partially dependent on the fact that this brilliant future of gaming is a long way off, if it ever comes at all, and partially because it would put me out of a job.

I work at one of the major retailers, and one of the biggest topics of discussion is the piles of over-marketed, demographic-targeting schlock we receive in boxes every day. The fact that I am expected to stifle my desire to tell customers how truly dreadful some of the games they purchase are, is bad enough. I, and the other hardcore gamer employees, feel even more defeated knowing that 90% of them won’t listen to us.

And it is not just those of us at the fringes of the industry who bemoan the situation, but those working much deeper inside it. A day after the release of The Warriors, one of the most heavily marketed games in the past few months, a regular customer who works for Rockstar came in to pick up … Stubbs the Zombie. Even as he handed us Rockstar logo emblazoned key chains/PSP screen cleaners, he complained about the lack of innovation caused by the pressures put on developers. And then he left, happy to have a quirky title to play, after months of working on a game for the mass-market. And I had a glimmer of hope that one day I might be unemployed.

-Cait O’Connor

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