Sawbuck Gamer

First Person Tutor

Graders Gonna Hate

First Person Tutor turns the humble red pen into a weapon of vengeance.

By John Teti • July 5, 2012

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.

Who’s the villain in First Person Tutor? The most obvious candidate is Dr. Nathaniel Paynuss, the lazy, bitter professor who trolls Facebook for stray mentions of himself and then exacts vengeance on those who cross him. Everybody hates Prof. Paynuss—“he smells like the orifice he rhymes with,” says one Facebook update—and so everybody get an F-minus.

Yet the students don’t cover themselves in glory, either. Their essays are riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. As Paynuss’ teaching assistant, it’s your job to find those mistakes and mark the grades down accordingly, torpedoing GPAs with a few swishes of your red pen. This angry tedium constitutes the entire game. It’s hard to have sympathy for these kids, though. While everyone mispells a word from time to time, there remains the fact that these essays are glorified fourth-grade book reports, exploring subjects like the “Jigglypuff” monster from Pokémon. Somehow, after writing such pap, these inbred simpletons of privilege have the temerity to whine on Facebook about the derelictions of their professor?

In the end, perhaps you’re the true villain. You can make excuses for the things you do in the name of Paynuss—you have student loans to pay off, after all—but the reality is that you’re a tool of spite. As the game advances and the time to grade each paper grows shorter, it’s not practical to attempt even a cursory reading anymore—instead, you have to just skim for mistakes. So in your hands, the words lose their final vestige of meaning, and academia completes its slide into petty warfare. Of course, maybe you won’t try to finish the game. Maybe you’ll take a stand, put down your red pen, and declare that “just following orders” is no excuse for sacrificing your dignity. If so, you’re a better person than I. Forgive me, readers, for I have graded.

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437 Responses to “Graders Gonna Hate”

  1. Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

    So Paynuss is supposed to sound like penis, right? A penis isn’t an orifice. Wait, are they supposed to be wrong? and me correcting them is playing the game? Whoa….

  2. JudgeReinhold says:

    Was this reviewed because a commenter here mentioned it? I think I remember seeing someone bring this game up in the comments. 

    • HobbesMkii says:

       I was gonna ask if this is being reviewed because Teti enjoys people who assign grades to things being portrayed as villains.

    • Limeade Youth says:

      I had suggested it on the basis that the central conceit was one of the most editor-of-a-game-site-without-grades-centric ideas one could come up with. This is almost more of an art game,with the fun being the idea of the game more so than the gameplay itself. 

      (That said, I got my loans down to about $100k before giving up.)

    • John Teti says:

      Someone suggested it on Twitter — I believe it was Limeade Youth — and I thought it was funny, so I did it up.

  3. Merve says:

    I was only able to make it up to stage 8, which makes sense, because I’m the kind of grader who writes lengthy comments on students’ math assignments.

    • innocent_passerby says:

      Yeah, I kept reaching for my stored comments that we had on our online grading system to mark out the specific grammatical error.  Took some time off the clock.

  4. PaganPoet says:

    I only made it to Stage 6. Those student loans will be the death of me.

  5. doyourealize says:

    Wanna know what I’ve been looking for as a high school English teacher on summer vacation? A way to grade bad papers.

    • HobbesMkii says:

       I’m surprised you’re paid well enough to be able to actually be on vacation.

      • doyourealize says:

        The secret is to get married. People give you money when you get married. I think I’m going to do it again next summer. Or else I’ll be back at summer school like last year.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      I made little pew-pew sounds as I was editing away, although this is hardly “editing.” Still, it was a fun enough distraction that I passed it on to my proofreader friends.

      • Merve says:

        I must admit to feeling a sick sense of satisfaction at giving someone a grade of -148% on a paper.

        • Aaron Riccio says:

          To be fair, if I ever saw a paper that was as bad as the ones showing up in this game, I probably WOULD seek to give it a negative grade. Why should I stop deducting points? They obviously haven’t learned the most basic of lessons.

      • doyourealize says:

        I’ll admit to enjoying this game. I actually get a kind of satisfaction out of correcting people’s grammar, and this made me realize that if all I had to do was read through papers and look for grammar mistakes (not to mention merely clicking on them instead of actually crossing them out and changing them), I wouldn’t mind it so much. I had no idea what I was reading while playing this game, but I was good at finding mistakes.

  6. ImANarc says:

    The time limit on these things is fucking awful.  I know what’s wrong but having to go through it all in less than 30 seconds is insane.

  7. innocent_passerby says:

    This was fun, but way too close to actual grading, and I felt like a scientist watching a disaster movie.  The spelling mistakes are too obvious (should be more homophones and fewer typos since the advent of AutoCorrect) and the grammar is too easily fixed.  The sentences should be so twisted, complex and nonsensical that they’ll break your mind unless you slash away at the paper until the offending passage is completely obscured with ink.  While it’s bad to reach the point where you’re only reading for mistakes, it’s worse to have to read super-closely in order to try to understand if what you’re reading is actually what the author intended.  I had a paper argue that free will was an illusion because if we had it we couldn’t punish criminals and it took me probably 45 minutes to conclude that that was actually the argument. 

  8. caspiancomic says:

    I played this game using my pen and Wacom tablet for extra immersion. It was like playing some kind of academic Guitar Hero.

  9. apathymonger says:

    Got up to stage 9, but still had $150,000 debt. Very addictive. Plus, it’s educational!

  10. George_Liquor says:

    Another fun-for-five-minutes browser game. I get that it’s part of a game development contest, but why make it so crushingly difficult that most people will give up & forget about it almost immediately?

    • Greg Tannahill says:

      It’s perfectly cromulent providing you’re semi-literate.  Was disappointed it ended at level 9.

  11. JosephLillo says:

    Good: the game. I love this idea, but then again, I’m a pedant.

    Bad: 1) The “Dr. Paynuss’ final bonus” graphic stays on the screen during end-of-level assessment if you play again (though reloading does resolve this).
    2) I was ROLLING on my last game (-233% on the first level, -143% on the third), and then the screen-moving mechanism decided to stick to moving up.