Friday, May 16, 2008

screwed by the New York Times culture department

After eight years as the New York Times' video game reviewer, I have been unceremoniously dumped as of one month from now. The reason given is that the Culture Department, a.k.a. Arts & Entertainment, convinced the powers that be that video game reviews should be in their section rather than in Circuits, which is part of the Business section.

This infuriates me, because at one point my column was in Culture and the editors treated me like shit.

I was in Circuits for years, but when it stopped being its own section and was made a part of Business I was tossed to Culture. I ran on Fridays in Arts & Entertainment. Arts & Entertainment was, and probably still is, in two sections, the top section, with movies and TV, and the other section with opera, classical music and restaurant reviews. Culture put my column on the back page of the second section, right beside the restaurant review. That pretty much guaranteed it was going to be ignored, but that's what they did.

But I kept writing, occasionally sending email questions and requests to an editor who absolutely never replied (and who, when I started, told me how he was determined to make the Times as important to video games as it was to Broadway).

Then one day I was told that I was being transferred to the Sports section where my column would be paired with one on poker.

That's right, Culture, which just took my job because they had to have video game reviews for themselves, once had video game reviews and tossed them away.

Sports hated me even more than Culture. On the website they never even bothered to tout my column. There would be a tout for the poker column describing what it was about, and then below that a link that just said "video game column." Then the poker column was canceled, because WHO THE FUCK WANTS TO READ A POKER COLUMN, and thankfully, I was transferred back to Circuits, where I had a few more good years.

I think the problem is that Culture didn't want me, they wanted Seth Schiesel, because he's their guy. Seth is a good reporter, but is he as good a columnist as I am? Circuits didn't think so; he was one of the applicants for the game review position and they hired me (and Peter Olafson, with whom I alternated the column until it was turned biweekly and Peter was let go) rather than him. I'll admit I'm biased, but compare my review of God of War II with Seth's and decide for yourself.

So what's in my future? Fuck if I know. If anyone knows of any openings for video game reviewers, or, for that matter, television or movie reviewers (which is what I wanted to be years ago before I ever played video games), let me know.

Maybe I should just finally sit down and write that book on storytelling in video games I've been talking about for the last 9 years?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

go fuck yourself up the ass, Microsoft

Excuse my language, I'm just feeling pissed. I've been meaning to write a rant about Windows Vista, which I foolishly "upgraded" to some time ago, and I never have time to get into all the things done wrong (the "security," of course, being the biggest issue, causing many problems with upgrading and removing programs and also just being annoying as hell, followed by problems with stuff not working, including myriad games from small developers), but here is something that just particularly bugged me.

I have Office 2002. It is not fully compatible with Vista. That's right, 5 years after releasing a product, Microsoft released an operating system that breaks their product, and they don't support it because their attitude is, pay us more money for a newer version. This is why I switched from Outlook to Thunderbird (which is at this point a very good program), since Outlook 2002 is no longer capable of storing my email password when running under Vista.

Anyway, when I exited Word today it crashed, and as usual after a crash Windows searched for an "online solution." These are almost never actual solutions. They either tell you there's a bug they don't have a fix for or they tell you they couldn't find anything at all, so it's just a huge waste of time.

Word has crashed before, but this time I got a "solution" for the World 2002 crash I haven't seen before, so it must have been recently added. It says:

Problem caused by Microsoft Word 2002: consider upgrading

The problem was caused by Microsoft Word 2002, which was created by Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft Word 2002 is in its "Extended Support" phase. This phase of support for Microsoft Word 2002 began on July 11, 2006. Only security-related solutions are created by Microsoft for this version of Microsoft Office.

To translate:
Hi, your software doesn't work because we are incapable of designing an operating system that supports any kind of backwards compatibility, even for our own products. Of course in theory you can set programs to run with compatibility settings that are the equivalent of letting them run under one of our older OSes that actually worked halfway decently, but that's fairly broken. Please help us profit from our arrogance and incompetence by spending a shit load of money on our latest software, which is probably also riddled with bugs and which we will stop supporting in a few years.

Fuck you Microsoft. Go jump off a fucking cliff and fucking die. Just fuck off.