Other news

I was on BBC World Service radio as part of a panel discussing the U.S. Defense Department lifting its ban on women in combat roles.

— My friend David Forbes invited me to contribute to his group blog The Breaking Time. My debut is, of course, about video games.

— And episodes 2 and 3 of my Magicka Let’s Play with the lovely @asiangrrlMN are up!

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On pewdiepie and the persistence of stupid

In the process of recording my XCOM: Enemy Unknown “Let’s Play” series, I’ve learned a bit about the online “Let’s Play” community. I’ve found a few favorites, but with the high-level of accessibility of video-capture software and relatively powerful video cards, the “community” has become very… democratized. There’s no way to see everything, but one quickly begins to understand that there’s a lot of chaff to a pretty small amount of wheat.

So, some Let’s Players rise to the top, and do so well with their YouTube uploads that they’re able to make comfortable livings from them (due to YouTube’s revenue-sharing partner program) and often find work in the professional gaming circuit as commentators. I’ve enjoyed the work of people like Sean Plott (a pro StarCraft player and “caster” who goes by Day[9]), John “TotalBiscuit” Bain, and Ryan “Northernlion” Letourneau.

As might be expected, not everyone who distinguishes themselves in YouTube’s gaming community is as professional and genuinely entertaining as these guys are. There are too many squeaky narrations of aimless Minecraft meandering to keep track of, and more shitty headset microphones than you can shake a mouse pointer at.

You don’t need to spend a whole lot of time sifting through popular Let’s Plays to find references to someone known as “pewdiepie,” whose rabid fan-base has propelled him to internet fame and wealth over the last two years.

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