Keyboard Geniuses

Super Debate 20XX

Big Bird, Black Hole, Or Dynamite?

Highlights from the week’s comment threads.

By Matt Kodner • December 21, 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.


As the year comes to an end, Gameological looked back to the events that shaped our 2012, by letting you play those moments. In Play The Year, we tapped a handful of talented indie developers to present four original video games based on events of the year. One team, Peter Malamud Smith and John Lynch, gave us Super Debate 20XX, which reimagined the American presidential debates as a fierce battle of Rock, Paper, Scissors between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. The comments turned toward “lava”—the Rock, Paper, Scissors move of dubious legality that supposedly trumps all three. Merve thought back to his grammar school days:

At my elementary school, we didn’t use Lava as the trump. We used Big Bird, Black Hole, or Dynamite. Eventually, we just started playing the trumps against each other, at which point we realized that Big Bird, Black Hole, Dynamite was isomorphic to Rock, Paper, Scissors. We went back to regular Rock, Paper, Scissors after that. (Then we discovered Rock, Paper, Scissors, JINX!, and we realized that robbing each other of the right to speak was far more fun than actually playing Rock, Paper, Scissors.)

Toal Lang Syne
The 2012 'Gestys: Day One

The Oscars. The Grammys. The Daytime Regional Emmys. The Golden Globes. And now, The ‘Gestys. In honor of the annual year-end award show rush, we threw our inaugural hat into ring with this week’s very special edition of The Digest. Both Drew Toal and Steve Heisler joined John Teti to anoint the winners in the Very Serious categories of iPhone Game Most Likely To Make You Miss Your Subway Stop and Games We’ll Still Be Playing This Time Next Year. John’s nomination of The Binding Of Isaac: Wrath Of The Lamb took home the top prize in the latter category. Drew was shocked. Gameological contributor Derrick Sanskrit made a GIF:

Drew Toal is shocked!
Itch To Glitch

A little more than a year since its release, the online game Glitch closed down for good. Todd VanDerWerff chronicled its unfortunate ending and described how the game’s community came to be one of the few friendly niches found online. With firsthand experience, Girard commented on the “diaspora” effect when online communities wind down:

I’ve been a member of a number of really rewarding online and real-life communities that eventually dissolved, and that’s always a little sad. Online diaspora is a little more melancholic than real-life to me, as I can still keep in touch with my real-life college friends wherever they are, and visit them from time to time, but assorted pseudonymous internet folks who I had years of positive interactions with are now either totally out of touch because we never exchanged real names/contacts, or because lines of communication have atrophied without the convenient substrate of a shared forum or comment board. It’s weird.

I’ve since become comfortable with the ephemerality of such things, and developed a kind of Tralfamadorian awareness that those lost periods still exist in the landscape of time and my life, they just don’t happen to exist now, and that’s okay.

Further down, Effigy Power kicked in her own thoughts on the sanguine feeling of trying to regroup a community that lost its outpost:

I imagine that when online communities such as this end, the people left behind are basically fugitives, from a cultural standpoint. The desperate search for a new home, the heightened nostalgia for the place left behind, the breakup of friendships, and the loss of cultural identity. All those things appear to resound in what Todd is writing here.

Most of us know the end of a connection with such a community due to ourselves moving away from it, usually on our own terms. I have stopped playing quite a few online games with communities, a few of which afforded me to get to know some decent people. But in the end, there were always other ways to communicate without the staleness of a game that didn’t satisfy anymore. I already had the email addresses and online handles of the people I liked, so the community had done its deed.

The breakup of a community such as described here, however, throws all of that around, especially if you don’t know people beyond the game. Glitch appears to have made secondary lines of communication redundant, so the loss of it almost assuredly equals the loss of contact altogether. Sure, maybe you will find each other on a lifeboat or refugee-camp such as a forum or chat, but many will be lost along the way.

With online communities creating groups of tightly knit individuals, who share common goals and interact through play and discussions, the loss of a meeting hub can be socially devastating. If The Gameological Society just went and left tomorrow, for example, my social group here would be limited to the few people who frequent the Steam Group. Merve, Hobbes, Mooy, DJSub… to name a few. These are people to which I have a secondary line of communication, so they represent a family rather than friends. I would however lose contact with everyone else, perhaps never to talk to Stew Bum or Girard ever again.

Perish the thought! We plan on sticking around for a while.

All’s Well…
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor

Day Two of The ’Gestys kicked Steve Heisler to the curb, and picked up one Anthony John Agnello (plus one rather…interesting brown jacket) for Anthony’s first ever appearance on The Digest. The writers presented awards for the categories of Sawbuck Game We’d Like To See In A “Super” Version, Best Ending, and, in the words of John Teti, “also some other stupid awards at the end.” While the whole affair was a silly process, Jackbert322 nonetheless came up with a few worthy nominees overlooked by the devious ’Gestys Academy—here’s a sample:

Best Ending Of A Game I Played This Year—Nominees: Infamous 2 and Persona 3 Portable

Infamous 2: In the first Infamous, endings weren’t that different. Whether you were good or evil, the only thing that changed in Empire City was the sky color. Infamous 2 is completely on the other end of the spectrum. Evil? EVERYBODY DIES! Good? YOU DIE! Is it a bit extreme? Sure! But it’s not the end result; it’s the things you do during the ending. For example, in the evil ending, you have to kill your best friend, and it’s done well. It’s not trite. It’s even a bit moving. And, really, even the end results are done well if you think deeper than probably was intended, about the distillation of slave morality. So yeah, great ending.

Persona 3 Portable: The ending is very good. No spoilers here. Finish it, Caspiancomic!

And the winner is…Mass Effect 3! Nah, it’s Infamous 2. Great ending to a great game.

Comments For Cats
The 'Gestys, Day 3

In further ’Gestys-related news, there was a third and final day of it! Wow! In an extreme upset, all four official nominees for Game Of The Year were shunned in favor of an underdog so extreme it was not even formally nominated: Game For Cats for the iPad took home the most prestigious award in Gameological’s history. Votes were tabulated by the bow tie-clad all-cat firm of Soupy T. Cat Accounting. Soupy declined to comment when contacted for this feature. In the holiday spirit of spreading joy and thanks, Fluka left us one the year’s cutest and most cat-tastic comments:

Aw, man. I have been up all night struggling with my job’s godawful code framework, doing crap science, and writing a terrible powerpoint presentation. This video was just the right combination of Rambling and Cat that I needed right now.

In gratitude for a great video and a *fantastic* first Gameological year, here is my namesake all dressed up for the occasion as well.


So cute! Elsewhere, the idea of an iPad game for a non-human audience sparked a comment from Chum Joely on the place of video games geared towards tots instead of teens and adults:

I saw something amazing at the toy store the other day: a Fisher-Price iPad holder, basically to make it look like a nursery toy with shiny stuff around the edges, etc., but also to protect it when your toddler throws it on the floor. I have two young kids, and I don’t think kids should have iPads. They should draw and read in real life. (Some TV and/or video games, okay; but not the concentrated electronic crack that is an iPad.)

And Spacemonkey Mafia responded with his own perspective:

My kid watches videos and plays games on the iPad, and it doesn’t take up any more of her play time than other, more tactile pursuits. I guess I don’t really see the ethical gradation between TV-based media and tablet based media.

For the first time the other day, I had her sit on my lap and draw in MS Paint with the Wacom tablet, and that was really satisfying. She still prefers crayons and markers for all the obvious reasons, but it was satisfying to see her excited by being able to use almost every imaginable color.

Wars Of Wisdom
Star Wars: Sequel Debacle Simulatron

Back to yesterday’s Play The Year. Ben Johnson and Joe Kuwalski dug into Disney’s controversial purchase of George Lucas’ Lucasfilm with Star Wars: Sequel Debacle Simulator, riffing off the now-imminent Star Wars sequels to come. Presented with a high-tech interface (complete with wood paneling!), players are in control of exactly what kind of movie the next Star Wars will be. Without fail, commenters came up with a bunch of hilarious visions of the future. Here are a few, coming from Unexpected Dave, Feisto, and Raging Bear, respectfully:

Lucas writes, directs AND stars in the 93% Romance Master Of The Deathless. Not one person came to see this movie.

You would think the P. T. Anderson-scripted, Michael Bay-directed Fistful Of Wookies starring Jeff Goldblum would be an epic disaster, but nope, it gets an A- from The A.V. Club AND makes a $224 million profit. Hollywood producers suddenly realize they understand even less than they did before.

I want to personally thank everyone responsible for letting me imagine a movie with the subtitle “Queen Of The Princesses.”

Hey all, it’s been an amazing year, and we can’t thank all you commenters enough for making this site what it is—because Gameological would be very different, and not nearly as much fun, if it weren’t for the community that has formed here. (Seriously. We’re frankly tired of hearing Teti gush about you all.) We’ve got just one more little surprise for you before we sign off for 2012, so happy holidays, and we’ll see you all in the new year!

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855 Responses to “Big Bird, Black Hole, Or Dynamite?”

  1. Effigy_Power says:

    It is good to be me.
    Sorry about not yet having the Digest Comic ready. I was otherwise engaged all week and couldn’t quite make it. Rest assured that a quartet as prolific and stylish as the one we were honored with will not go down without some drawn musings, likely next week. Or whenever.

  2. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    I am disproportionately giddy that someone took the time to drop in the be-bow tied Soupy on the cover.
       God-or-the-secular-equivalent-of-equal-or lesser-value bless us, every one.

  3. caspiancomic says:

    Last Keyboard Geniuses of the year!? stakkalee, do we have sufficient data for some sort of year-end round up?

    ALSO, TIME FOR SOME EMOTIONS YOU GUYS: THE GAMEOLOGICAL SOCIETY IS BASICALLY SUPER GREAT. This site is basically everything I could have ever asked for in a games journalism site, and I’m really thrilled I got to be a part of it. To Teti, the staff, and most importantly, to Soupy, I wanted to say thank you for making this place real and putting so much of yourselves into the site, it means a lot to all of us. And for those of us down here in the peanut gallery, thanks for showing up every week and continuing the discussion, taking it to places I didn’t know it could go, and teaching me a lot about our favoured medium and everything else. Also, thanks for participating in the, like, dozen or so pun-fueled one-upsmanship threads we were so fortunate as to have this past year. This was a really terrific year for me, thanks in no small part to having a community like this to chill in, learn from, laugh with, and hopefully also give back to.

    I’m sure we’ll all contribute to making next year every bit as great, if not greater, than 2012. Unless we all die in the apocalypse today, in which case nice knowing you guys.

    • Seconded. You guys have achieved a wonderful “neighborhood bar” feel on this site.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      -unfurls self-congratulatory flag-
      We rule.

    • Fluka says:

      My travel-time internet sucks so very much here, and I am jetlagged, so I’ll just add a very quick THANK YOU.  This is one of only blogs I’ve ever really felt moved to comment on (much less post pictures of my cat on – Prince Comment Cat noticed her, gasp!).  Thanks for making something really special, guys!

    • GhaleonQ says:

      my commenting: all-time low *sad face*
      my article reading, comments reading, and enjoyment: all-time high
      In this, 1 of my least favorite video games years ever, the writers and commenters helped pan out the precious bits of gold I may not have found otherwise.  Thank you for tolerating my import talk and continued Lovedelic obsession (try out the 30-minute inspired-by Pock’s Friend!).  Please to provide more video game-literature mashups and bow-tie-wearing in 2013.

      Thanks, all!

    • Moonside_Malcontent says:

      This really is a phenomenal site with a great commentariat. So great it’s deserving of a coat of arms or something.  Maybe something like this: Argent, an NES controller sable on a roundel gules, supporters two cats bendy or and sable.  Motto suggestions?

      • Girard says:

        I had to decipher the heraldry-speak to discover that “roundel gules” incorporates the current GS logo into the coat of arms – which is awesome.

      • Electric Dragon says:

        motto: Homines ingeniosi claviaturale [or claviaturacei?] (“ingenious people of the keyboard”)
        I’d suggest making the NES controller proper rather than sable. Also the shield to be mantled plaid.

    • stakkalee says:

      I’m finally free of today’s family obligations!  I’m cooking something up – check back later tonight.  And I agree; the GS commentariat is one of the best on the Internet, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

  4. Jackbert322 says:

    Thanks, Soupy! Mwahaha, my catnip investments are finally beginning to pay off.

  5. DiscardedPostit says:

    Fistful of FISTS X: The Ring Hand

    If only…

  6. stakkalee says:

    First things first – let’s get the regular stats out of the way.  The most-commented article this week was Day 3 of The Gestys, with 122 comments, narrowly edging out Day 2, which had 115 comments.Now, the top 5 most liked non-KG comments:1) – @Fluka:disqus gets 23 likes for telling us something we should have seen coming.2) – @Mr_Glitch:disqus gets 17 likes for reminding us of something we hadn’t forgotten.3) – @HobbesMkii:disqus gets 13 likes for this excellent idea.3) – Tying for third, @Mookalakai:disqus also get 13 likes for The Dream made reality.5) – With 12 likes, @HobbesMkii:disqus makes a stand.5) – And tied for fifth, @PaganPoet:disqus draws a parallel.And our new inductees.  I’m a bit surprised that these two guys are just now getting their plaid jackets, as they’re mainstays of the site – @Jackbert322:disqus, @ChumJoely:disqus, come on down and get those jackets!  Let’s see, are those moustaches coming in?  Remember, no less than 2, and no more than 6 inches per side, and no Hitler ‘staches!And our returning members: Unexpected Dave (of Twitter) and @feisto:disqus each get a second stud, @Fluka:disqus is at five, @Raging_Bear:disqus unlocks the “Crazy Eights” achievement with an eighth stud, @Merve2:disqus gets to 10, @Effigy_Power:disqus and @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus remain tied for second with sixteen studs apiece, and @Paraclete_Pizza:disqus maintains his lead with his nineteenth stud!  Good job folks!And now, the State of the Society.  This was our 37th Keyboard Geniuses, with 308 separate comments selected by Soupy.  Those 308 comments represent 1.1% of the 28,677 total comments on the site.  With the inclusion of Jackbert322 and Chum Joely membership now stands at 137 unique members, which represents about 7.5% of the 1819 unique commenters the site has seen.The 308 comments have gotten a total of 1307 likes, which averages to 9.5 likes per comment.  The single most-liked comment was this tribute to Dick Clark with 28 likes, penned by @MattmanBegins:disqus all the way back in April.  The member with the most likes on KG comments is @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus, who’s gotten a total of 96 likes on his 16 comments.The 308 comments contain a total of 38,711 words across 1933 sentences, for an average of 20 words per sentence.  Those 38,711 words were written with 173,270 total characters, for an average word-length of 4.5 characters.  The longest single word used in a KG comment is still ‘interconnectivity’, with 17 characters, used by @Effigy_Power:disqus all the way back in this comment.  Second place is @LimeadeYouth:disqus, who used the 16-character ‘cryptozoologists’ in this comment.  The longest single comment was this one, an impassioned defense of Spec Ops: The Line penned by @Vervack:disqus back in July.  The shortest comment ever featured in Keyboard Geniuses was this one, with only 25 characters, from @BasementBoy:disqus, featured back in the second Keyboard Geniuses.  Credit for the assist goes to @MikeMariano:disqus and @Raging_Bear:disqus.And with that we come to the end of the year.  It’s truly been a pleasure folks; I look forward to discussing games with you all next week, next month, next year.  If there’s any other data you’d like to see, let me know and I’ll try to dig it out.  Enjoy the holidays, and remember to keep it scintillating!

    • stakkalee says:

      OH MY GOD DISQUS.  If you were a person I would first-degree murder you.  I would do it with malice aforethought.  Do you not know what a goddamn line-break is?  Fuck you and your non-edit-saving ass.

      • Sleverin says:

         Honestly, I just clicked for nearly 30 seconds in all areas of the box to type in this damned thing.  This happened to me the other day, with the line break problem, and once I threatened Disqus in a different comment, all of a sudden, bam! it started working.  This is seriously the most effective troll, or the most annoying just….thing ever.

    • Jackbert322 says:

      Yay, I’m a mainstay! Incredibly vain question: was my totally deep six word “I was, but then I respawned” comment on the Resident Evil Six review the number one liked comment of the year? I need to know…I like my pickup lines factually accurate. Oh, and since it’s the end of the year, and we’re thanking things, big ups to you for these weekly roundups. It’s fun to see the most liked comments, your links are cool, and I love how your lines are always fresh when welcoming new geniuses. An enjoyable holiday to all and to all a good break!

      • stakkalee says:

        I don’t have an easy way to go back and check the current “Like” count on comments, and I only started doing the most-liked comments a few months on, so, let’s say Yes.  Congratulations!

      • Chum Joely says:

        Congrats, fellow mainstay!

    • Merve says:

      Thanks for doing these weekly roundups. They’ve been a lot of fun! Plus, as a social scientist, I love miscellaneous statistics, so thank you for indulging my love of numbers.

  7. Mr. Glitch says:

    Happy Holidays everybody! I know I’ve been slacking lately, (Damn you, gainful employment!) but I promise I’ll be back next year with brand-spanking new reviews of crusty old video games. See you in 2013!

  8. EmperorNortonI says:

    This site fucking rocks, and I’m glad to have been a part of it from the beginning.  I really am passionate about games, and am happy that the editors and commentators have turned this into a place where intellectual discussion takes a priority over fanboy flamewars, boasts about the size of one’s graphics cards, or casual dismissal.  And, the kindness and politeness of most discussions is quite refreshing. 

    As rarely as I comment, I feel thoroughly honored to have been twice chosen by Comment Cat.

    Thanks all, and may next year be even more amazing.

  9. offalWaiter says:

    Thanks for a wonderful year!  After almost a decade away from gaming I have a lot of catching up to do and humor and community of this site are rewarding on many levels.  See you in the new year!

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      I just read that this morning! It’s a terrible series of events that have enabled greater scrutiny of our cultural gun obsession, but it’s certainly a worthwhile conversation and I’m proud of Gameological for giving the topic attention when it’s not at the forefront of media topicality.
      Thanks for linking this, Hobbes. And again, good job, Mr. Smith.

      • HobbesMkii says:

         The article’s a little bit of an excitable “Explicit link! Explicit link!” but it never manages to actually veer off into Video Games = Violence (and notes the lack of credible studies proving that), so I’m pretty thankful that people are approaching this stuff with a more nuanced viewpoint than they were before.