Wednesday, June 06, 2007

PC Gamer: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Stupid

I have a giant list of things to write about today, but sometimes a topic just falls into your lap. Thanks to David Hoffman for letting me know about this.

PC Gamer has the upcoming Penny Arcade game ("On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness") on its July cover. Actually, they have five different Penny Arcade covers for the July issue, which you can see here.

I've never actually shared how I feel about the guys from Penny Arcade making their own game, but here it is: I'm glad. When so many other people have made shitty games, why shouldn't Gabe and Tycho get their chance to make a shitty game, too?

Besides, I think there's a much better chance that their game will be entertaining and fun than average.

So the July issue of PC Gamer is big, big, big on Penny Arcade. Except, bizarrely, for the editorial written by editor-in-chief Greg Vederman, which Scott Kurtz of PVP scanned and posted here. Kurtz was basically enraged by the tone of the editorial, and his own screed is here.

Here are a few excerpts from Vederman's editorial, although I encourage you to read the full article for yourself.
Lasagna. Penny Arcade comics remind me of lasagna. More specifically, the Penny Arcade phenomenon reminds me of the Garfield phenomenon, which reminds me of lasagna, which reminds me of Penny Arcade. Allow me to explain.

At this point, Vederman goes on a long diversion back to his childhood--half the editorial, actually, to establish that Garfield wasn't really funny:
...The enormous orange cat in the room was that Garfield wasn't actually funny. Not even a little. Back in the early 80's, kids my age just sort of decided the strip was wonderful because we thought everyone else thought it was. A textbook example of groupthink.

After spending all his time doing that, though, he then denies what he's implying:
Now, having said all that, I don't mean to imply that I think Penny Arcade is much like Garfield--hell no; I actually find a large number of Gabe's and Tycho's strips genuinely entertaining, and I recognize their talent. At the same time, I've never quite understood the fanatical following the strip and its creators enjoy.

Vederman then talks about his friend Josh, who IS the quintessential hardcore Penny Arcade fan. Then he mentions Josh sending him strips regularly:
"Come on, dude, you've got to admit that this one is pretty funny," Josh says after e-mailing me yet another PA strip. To which I reply, "Nope. It's lasagna," signaling to him that I believe he only thinks the strip is amusing because he and his fellow fanbois are suffering from a mass Garfield-like delusion.

It's much more interesting if you read the full editorial (here it is again), but those excepts should give you an idea of the grinding awkwardness of Vederman's entire editorial. He presents a premise, denies that it's his premise, then reinforces the premise as his conclusion.

The obvious conclusion after reading both Penny Arcade and Greg Vederman's editorial is that Penny Arcade is far, far better at what they do than Vederman is at what he does.

And besides that, when Vederman's magazine is whoring FIVE different covers of the same issue to boost its sales, using "fanbois" at the same time you're deriding them is poor sportsmanship. Extremely poor.

I've never weighed in on what I thought of Penny Arcade, either, so I might as well do that now as well.

They're making a living writing a web comic.

No one thought that was possible when they started doing it--in fact, it was considered a totally ridiculous idea.

Over the years, as they've continued to be consistently funny, and become more and more important, they have been widely derided by many print cartoonists (some of whom seem to be an exceptionally bitter lot). For some reason, many people have a grudging, resentful attitude toward their success, and their success, by any measure, has been gigantic.

They're still very funny. Gabe, I think, is an absolutely terrific artist. And they haven't just created web comics. They've created an absolutely gargantuan gaming expo that huge numbers of gamers enjoy. They've created the Child's Play charity, which has contributed well over a million dollars of games and other gifts to children's hospitals.

Unless they've blown it all on hookers, booze, and blow, they're probably quite wealthy by now. And unless I missed the memo, they did it honestly, without screwing anyone else over.

In my book, that would be called scoreboard.

Good for them.

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