Keyboard Geniuses

Tetrisman's Fortress Of Solitude

Tetrisman To The Rescue

Highlights from the week’s comment threads.

By Matt Kodner • July 27, 2012

Keyboard Geniuses is our weekly glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the Gameological discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity. You can follow the links to see the full threads.

The Sun Also Sets

In his latest To The Bitter End column, Anthony John Agnello looked at the ending of Enslaved and found a strange endorsement for blissful slavery encased in a slim love story. Though adapted from the 500-year-old Chinese novel Journey To The West, Agnello found it unfaithful to Journey’s original conclusion. However, Arthur Drake believed the ending wasn’t so much an endorsement of slavery, but rather an extension of Journey’s Buddhist ideals:

This is actually one of my favorite video game endings, although I think I had a different read on it than Anthony did. I saw it more as a direct mirror of the ending to the original text, where the heroes bring Buddhism to the people. I saw the virtual-reality happy land as a kind of false nirvana. Everyone is happy, but they are purposeless and incapable of the kind of relationship we saw develop (all quality issues aside) throughout the game. It’s worth pointing out that when [Trip] destroys the Overlord, she also wakes up all the other slaves, sucking them out of their fake heaven and into their harsh, but more meaningful reality. This all seemed very Buddhist to me, but I might be seeing more than is actually there.

It’s not perfect, but there’s a pretty low bar when it comes to video game endings. I liked that this one tried to do something different, rather than just give us a musical montage of all the characters we met along the way followed by a slow fade as our heroes ride off into the sunset, or some such nonsense.

Tetrisman Action Figure Sold Separately
Gene Luen Yang

This week, we also published Evan Narcisse’s interview with Gene Luen Yang, author of the coming-of-age graphic novel Level Up. Narcisse remarked in his introduction that “a recent slew of game-based comics hasn’t produced any must-read material.” Staggering Stew Bum took exception to that:

Clearly you haven’t read my self-produced limited run of graphic novels called TETRISMAN—a dark and gritty story of the red L-shaped block driven, or should I say rotated, to vigilantism to avenge the senseless murder of his wife and child, instigated by the ruthless crime boss green square block. The twist? Green square block is red L-shaped block’s long lost father. And clone. And our hero is also an alcoholic because he has inner demons, you know? The green of the villain is SYMBOLISM of envy of our hero, who had a better life with his family until the brutal murderings. The red is symbolism for anger, man. Deep, I know.

Reviewers of my masterpieces have been raving, mostly just for me to untie the ropes, but also with these pearlers:

“The best and only comic book—sorry, son, ‘graphic novel’—that I’ve been forced to read all week.” —My mum (love you mum!)

“I’ll call the police, I mean it!” —Some random guy in the street

“Your crayon technique needs a lot of work. Apply yourself!” —My Grade One teacher, Mrs. Wilson.

“I want a divorce.” —Mrs. Stew Bum

I am currently waiting for the movie deals to pour in.

Level Up deals with the tension between an American child and his Chinese immigrant parents, who implore their video game-loving son to develop a stronger work ethic, and one of Yang’s previous works, American Born Chinese, similarly dealt with the life of a second-generation Chinese-American. Yang remarked that while pop culture often casts strict immigrant parents as narrow-minded villains, this portrayal gives short shrift to their wisdom and their earnest desire to see their kids succeed. Keying off this theme, Effigy_Power talked about her own experience gaining acceptance for pursuing a career in comics, and ultimately for being herself:

My girlfriend, herself the daughter of Korean immigrants, is a pretty big fan of American Born Chinese, which I for some reason haven’t read yet. Her thoughts about her upbringing and her parents’ “zeal” to make sure they’d done everything to make their children succeed, if it was appreciated or not, very much mirror that of Gene Luen Yang, so it interests me on a personal level. On the other hand, she only got into gaming really after she got together with me, which means that Level Up appeals much more to my own upbringing. We have different backgrounds, but I do share a lot of memories about having to fight them tooth and nail about “wasting my life” with comics and games.

In the end, my parents came around, also because my three siblings all turned out to be fairly successful, which took a lot of the pressure off me. Also, the moment they accepted that I would direct my life the way I wanted to, they somehow were much better prepared for me coming out of the closet. Again, my siblings already having a slew of children took some more pressure off my poor birthing hips. So, while I had different challenges, I feel passionate about gaming and comics as an outlet, a reactive agent for creativity and an indication about what I wanted to do with my life.

I find the notion that Dennis uses gaming to deal with real-life tragedy and difficulty (if I got this right) is very reminiscent of Maus, which also tries to explain the inexplicable by filtering it through something maybe a little less malevolent. And I have not yet met a comic artist who doesn’t like being compared to Art Spiegelman.

Barbie’s Climbing Up The Walls

Derrick Sanskrit paired Limbo with Radiohead’s album Insomniac in Alternate Soundtrack, linking the two works’ strong sense of doubt and despair. As a kid, blue vodka lemonade took a slightly different approach to gaming with Radiohead:

Spinning plates, spinning saws, spinning brain because that video was way more engrossing than it should have been because I haven’t slept in a very long time.

I really like the uncertainty/unease connection. The tense, frickety-frackety anxious sound of “Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors” paired with the spider gave me some deep-set heebie-jeebies.

OK Computer used to be my default soundtrack to playing Barbie Riding Club. (I was a weird, weird kid.) It was a weird, somewhat “open” game with a very slow pace and not much to do, but with the right music was a very zen kind of experience—staring between a horse’s ears, headphones on, and once in a while the horse would whinny at an opportune moment during “Karma Police,” and it was as close to being stoned as I could get at seven or eight [years old].

As always, thanks for reading and commenting. We’ll see you all next week.

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363 Responses to “Tetrisman To The Rescue”

  1. Effigy_Power says:

    Once again I am chosen for honest sentiment instead of my off-putting jokes.
    Comment Cat seems to want me to stop trying this humor-thing.
    I do feel a little bad for apparently out-emotioning @caspiancomic:disqus who wrote something similarly meaningful, which I think deserves mention.

    • Staggering Stew Bum says:

      How do you think I feel, the one time I post a rambling incoherent comment portraying myself as some sort of crazy loser nutbag, Comment Cat pounces.

      Soupy has issues, man.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        It’s for the best, then, that your screen name isn’t Faulkner McTennessee Williams, or your post would make you seem even more unhinged than it does coming from one who goes by the handle of a colloquial drunkard.

    • caspiancomic says:

       I appreciate the proxy Comment Cat nod! In fairness, your comment didn’t allude to having medical equipment inserted into your anus, which I think gave you the edge.

    • doyourealize says:

      How do you tag a name when the commenter hasn’t commented on the thread yet?

      Meant to ask this earlier, when @caspiancomic:disqus  wasn’t here yet.

      • Merve says:

        @ username : disqus
        without the spaces should work, as long as the poster uses a Disqus account. I don’t know if a similar approach works for Google and Twitter commenters.

  2. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Comment Cat has become my Wire Mommy.
       My need for feline avatar praise is going to force me to finally unveil my story about smuggling a group of Bosnian Orphans out of Bijeljina in a wooden crate of NES ‘Marble Madness’ cartridges and how I can no longer play isometric games without thinking of the Bosniak diaspora.

    • George_Liquor says:

      Comment Cat doesn’t go for pathos.

    • caspiancomic says:

       For what it’s worth, I’d like to officially nominate @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus as my own personal commenter of the week. You were on fire this week dood. The phrase pastry-handed is totally going into regular rotation on my end.

  3. stakkalee says:

    So I was bored waiting for some servers to finish patching today, and since I’m anal-retentive I went through and added up the Comment Cat selections.  I want to post them, but I’m worried it’ll make things weird.  Will it make things weird?  It’s not really a competition, and I don’t want to make it a competition, but I do love data.  Tell me what to do folks.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      I say collect all the data; then print it out, feed the sheet of paper to a songbird, feed the songbird to a duck, feed the duck to a swan, place the swan in a box of cedar, seal the box with a kiss from the virgin daughter of a virgin daughter, place it on a stone inside a church, under a lake, on an island that rests behind the curtain of the sky.

         Then rule for a thousand years before you are slain by a plucky child-hero. 

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        can you make data in duck songbird data so data come out when opened? then if data is back after data, use songbird swan on duck, and swan will be ducked after data is out.

      • stakkalee says:

        Well, I’ve flushed it down the drain; it’s with the cyberchuds now.

        Really, I just wanted to use the title I came up with for the top spot.  I’m stuck between The Keyboard Genius, Soupy’s Choice or Beloved of Comment Cat.

      • blue vodka lemonade says:

         Are you sure that first paragraph isn’t a verbatim quote from the latest Bon Iver album?

  4. doyourealize says:

    I enjoyed reading that comment from @Staggering_Stew_Bum:disqus  the first time, but re-reading it, I think what makes me happiest is the suggestion that someone somewhere is named Mrs. Stew Bum.

  5. stakkalee says:

    After watching Mary Poppins save the National Health Service from Voldemort (#London2012) I battled the cyberchuds and got the file back.
    I’m going to gather more data, but here’s what I have for now.  There’s 77 members of the Plaid Jacket Society.  @Staggering_Stew_Bum:disqus Arthur Drake and blue vodka lemonade are all new inductees (incidentally, how the hell do I tag names with spaces?)  Tied for third at 4 mentions apiece, we have  @The_Misanthrope:disqus and Aaron Riccio.  Three people have 5 mentions apiece, @HobbesMkii:disqus @Merve2:disqus and Raging Bear.  And Soupy can’t make up his mind, because @bakana42:disqus @caspiancomic:disqus and @Effigy_Power:disqus have all been chosen 6 times.

    I’ll see what I can come up with for next week.  For now I’m off to New Vegas.  Until next time, keep it scintillating.

    • stakkalee says:

      Just saw @Merve2:disqus with the Disqus info.  I’m tagging @Aaron Riccio:disqus @Raging Bear:disqus @Arthur Drake:disqus and @blue vodka lemonade:disqus.

      EDIT: Well that didn’t work.

      • Merve says:

        Sorry, it’s worked before to tag usernames that didn’t even exist. I don’t know why it’s not working now.

      • doyourealize says:

        In Disqus, people have user names and display names, so I wonder if those are all just display names.

        @ragingbear:disqus @illogicaljoker:disqus , and I don’t know the others. And that’s without the “:disqus”.

      • blue vodka lemonade says:

         Even I don’t understand the inner workings of my username. Disqus curse, etc.

      • Aaron Riccio says:

        That’s weird — so Disqus won’t allow me to be tagged in a post because I’m enrolled through Google? Unfortunate. Good thing I read almost every post, eventually. I’m sure Soupy will notice that dedication, even if my mass-posting has ceased. 

    • doyourealize says:

      Just in case anyone was wondering, tagging Raging Bear without the space, as I did before, tags someone who’s avatar is a large back tattoo and whose motto is, “Renassaince man, FOR corpral punishment, I am a bear.” Is this our cute, plushy @Raging_Bear:disqus ?

      • Raging Bear says:

        Not me. That person is clearly some kind of weirdo, and probably not even really raging.

        • Effigy_Power says:

           Agreed. A lot of people don’t know the fine difference between raging and just being a bit obnoxious. Accept no substitutes.

        • Aaron Riccio says:

          I don’t know. He might ACTUALLY be raging. A raging alcoholic. A raging psychopath. Just not a friendly neighborhood raging bear. OUR raging bear.

        • Enkidum says:

          Flaming, perhaps, raging, unlikely.

    • caspiancomic says:

       *spikes football, does obnoxious dance*

    • Effigy_Power says:

      -graciously waves to fellow Number 1 candidates, then hires assassins heading for @bakana42:disqus’s and @caspiancomic:disqus’s houses-

    • doyourealize says:


    • The_Misanthrope says:

       I accept my fleeting honor with dignity and grace. 

      Note:  I suppose I could’ve put a joke there, but since there is no Metacomment Marsupial, I’m not about to waste my “A” material here.