Keyboard Geniuses

Ni No Kuni

Ni No Comments

Highlights from the week’s comment threads.

By Matt Kodner • February 1, 2013

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.

Bod Mod Squad

In this week’s Inventory, we compiled a list of not-so-”handy” body modifications. As usual, the list grew in the comments as more examples filtered in. Kilzor suggested a fingerless instance from Assassin’s Creed:

Can we count the cutting off of the middle finger in Assassin’s Creed to accommodate the hidden blade as an inconvenient body modification? Imagine all those times some jerk could be riding the bumper of your horse and cart and you would want to express your outrage with a hand gesture but couldn’t? Totally inconvenient.

Elsewhere, there was some confusion over the hero of the 2009 Bionic Commando reboot—specifically, the fact that he apparently has a robo-arm who is also his wife. Improbable as it may sound, Pgoodso confirmed it and explained the convoluted story behind it:

Basically, the game’s antagonist reveals in the final minutes of the game that the protagonist’s wife, who has been missing, was actually killed, had her brain harvested, then inserted into his bionic arm during its initial construction, because bionic arms have to love the the people they’re attached to to work.

No, this is not a joke by me, or by the game designers. Not meant to be one, anyway.

Cause And Effect

Steve Heisler noted in his weekly release roundup that by some stroke of fate, every game had to do with the killing of people, or fish, or fish-people. Of particular note was Omerta: City Of Gangsters, a bootlegging fantasy with some of the worst artwork in recent history. Spacemonkey Mafia broke down the fiasco:

That promotional image for Omerta is a Photoshop nightmare. I know this isn’t a AAA release, but I’d figure somewhere along the design approval process, someone would point out it’s a touch strange to have clouds floating behind the moon.

Unless the game is an alternate take on Majora’s Mask or the video game adaption of Un Chien Andalou, in which case I rescind my criticism.

In an off-topic thread, HobbesMkii posted a letter from a game-industry lobbyist calling on supporters to help discredit the link between video game violence and real-world violence. The conversation wandered from there, and Valondar offered thoughts on how readily available firearms pose a bigger cultural threat:

Speaking as a non-American, I don’t think games are anywhere near as culpable as assault weapons. The hyper violent Grand Theft Auto series originated in the United Kingdom, which, while it has violent crimes, does not have comparable kinds and rates of violent crimes.

Now as a kid, I played a lot of Doom. A lot of kids here in Ireland did. Just like the Columbine killers. But unlike the killers in Columbine, I didn’t have easy access to the obscene amounts of weapons they had at their disposal.

Interestingly, probably one the biggest differences between European and American games in terms of content is you’re slightly more likely to get explicitly sexual material here; Witcher had to tone that stuff down for its U.S. release. To suggest the solution is just less bloodshed and more nudity would be silly, surely.

Taking a different approach to the letter, Girard questioned the military’s use of violent video games in their official training exercises:

It seems like there’s an interesting conversation to be had about the relationship between sanctioned and unsanctioned violence within America’s “culture of violence” and how various media, including games, contribute to that.

Histrionic culture warriors point to games as a cause of violent crime (unsanctioned violence), and defenders (rightly) point out that violent crime has decreased over the lifespan of the artform. However, has anyone done an analysis on the statistics surrounding American military involvement around the world (sanctioned violence) over the same time frame? We know that various school shooters probably weren’t driven to kill by digital “murder simulators,” but we also know that American soldiers are trained to kill with very carefully designed digital murder simulators, that games are used as a legal minor-recruitment tool by the military, and that soldiers have described both mechanized and drone-based warfare as being “like a video game.”

It would also be interesting to see if the increased production of violent games corresponded not just with actual military intervention, but with social perception of that intervention. Are civilian citizens in the Call of Duty age any more likely to be jingoistic? (Not that the causality would necessarily go one way or the other with that stuff.)

Just because games don’t contribute to a culture of criminal violence doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t contributing (with the rest of the media) to a culture of violence. Admittedly, I haven’t looked at the numbers.* But what surprises me a bit is that, to my knowledge, no one has.

*More explicitly admittedly: I’m totally talking out of my ass.

What A Blast
Black Ops

Ryan Smith delved into the origins of the Call Of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer stage “Nuketown” in an On The Level column. While he knew that the game’s nuclear test site town was based on a scene from the most recent Indiana Jones movie, Ryan was surprised to find out that such faux suburban sprawls actually existed and were put to use in the ’50s. Caspiancomic, fresh off some idle Wikipedia browsing, brought up the Czar bomb, a Russian nuclear weapon with a blast strength of 57 megatons. Asinus gave some additional info on this fearsome beast:

My “favorite” things about the Czar bomb: it blew out windows in Finland, over 600 miles away, and the shock wave circled the Earth three times, if I recall correctly. This stuff is so horrible and awe-inspiring (though in a bad way). A good book that I wish I’d bought when I saw it on sale is A Hundred Suns. It has high-speed images of detonations and some that are in that strange phase when they just look like a blob.

Some of the stories in it are pretty terrifying, too. One U.S. test was supposed to be (and I’m trying to remember the numbers correctly) seven megatons, but the chain reaction just kind of kept going, and the yield at the test ended up at 15 megatons. Yeah, it’s not the Czar bomb, but that had to be really, really pants-shittingly unexpected. I mean, there had to be a split second where at least a few of the scientists there who understood what was happening thought they just might be killing themselves and everyone else, for that matter.

And Caspiancomic expanded on the story, linking to a crazy story of a fishing boat affected by the blast.

Arrrgggh, yeah, Castle Bravo, the biggest explosion ever managed by the Americans. Yield was supposed to be five to seven megatons, but someone forgot to carry the two, and it ended up being two to three times as powerful as it was supposed to be. Poisoned a bunch of the locals who were supposed to be outside the danger zone, and also nailed something like 100 fishing boats who were just minding their own business. The story of Lucky Dragon No.5, the Japanese fishing boat with the worst luck in history, is actually relatively famous. The entire crew, and their entire haul of fish, were badly poisoned by the fallout.

Ni No Kuni

Steve Heisler was taken with Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch, a whimsical RPG with whimsical artwork by the whimsical Studio Ghibli—the folks responsible for My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, among other well-regarded animated films. In response to Steve’s stated preference of the Japanese voice work in Ni No Kuni—players can choose to hear English actors or the original Japanese with subtitles—a discussion brewed over the need for “literal” translations, as articulated by Chum Joely:

It would really be asking a lot to want “literal” translations from Japanese to English anyway (depending on how literally you mean “literal”). The languages and cultures are so different that, unless you already know the whole culture very well, anything approaching a word-for-word translation would be incomprehensible, or just bizarre. For example, I think Japanese speakers address each other by name or by honorific title (“big brother,” etc.) way more often than English speakers would do in a similar context, so you can’t translate that literally.

Heart Of The Cards
Magic The Gathering Appraisal

Revisiting a high school obsession, Steve Heisler recently busted out his collection of Magic: The Gathering cards, in hopes of cashing in on his cardboard investment. Many of you had Magic reminiscences of your own to share, with a lot of fun stories in the comment threads. Vinnybushes, for example, mopped the floor against hapless young campers:

I started playing when Magic first came out, and I would occasionally pick it up again at summer camp throughout my childhood. When things really went through the looking glass was when I worked at the same camp in my late teens, and I started playing again with the campers I helped take care of. It’s both amazing and exceedingly strange to tell a 9- or 10-year-old kid that “I beat you with cards that were made before you were born!” Play a card like “Wrath Of God,” and a kid who didn’t even know it existed will unfailingly lose his shit. I picked it up again in my mid-20s, but consistently losing to my adult friends wasn’t nearly as fun. It really speaks to the staying power of the game that it now spans generations. It makes me feel like an old fart too.

And making perhaps the most important comment of 2013 to date, Steve himself dropped in with an intriguing addendum to his tale:

LIFE UPDATE: I just sold my squirrel token to John Teti’s mom. This is a real story.

Craigslist, eat your heart out. The Gameological classified ads get results. As always, thanks for reading and commenting, and we’ll see you next week.

Share this with your friends and enemies

Write a scintillating comment

68 Responses to “Ni No Comments”

  1. PaganPoet says:

    Does that mean John Teti’s mom frequents these articles!? *tucks in shirt, and sits up straight*

  2. Effigy_Power says:

    So, I don’t post anything really all week and I get no mention?
    All that tuna I sent that damn cat… how dare he break his loyalties like that?

    • stakkalee says:

      C’mon, everyone knows you can’t bribe a cat.  They just assume you’re giving them something they were already owed anyway.

      • Fluka says:

        I was bribing my cats with catnip treats for good behavior.

        Last night, the smart little bastards discovered how to open my desk drawer, and I discovered the empty treat bag on the floor this morning.

        Don’t bribe cats.

        • PaganPoet says:

          The next day, Billy’s planet was destroyed by aliens. Have you guessed the name of Billy’s planet? IT WAS EARTH! Don’t bribe cats!

        • Fluka says:

          @PaganPoet:disqus Well, my namesake *did* then vomit on the carpet!

        • Girard says:

          The thing with bribing cats is that it doesn’t work because they think they’re entitled to awesome rewards just for being cats.

          The other thing about cats is that they’re right.

  3. stakkalee says:

    So some of us will be watching the Super Bowl this weekend.  For those of you not so inclined, why not play a game of tag?
    The most-commented article this week, no surprise, was the WAYPTW thread with 165 comments.  And the Top 5 Most Liked (non-KG) comments:
    1) With 31 likes, @The_Asinus:disqus quotes regulations at us.
    2) With 16 likes, @Staggering_Stew_Bum:disqus has a hell of a time with some OTHER bureaucrats.
    2) Tied for second, @Paraclete_Pizza:disqus gets 16 likes thinking like a tool.
    3) @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus gets 14 likes with some regret sprinkled with some good advice.
    3) And in another tie, @His_Space_Holiness:disqus gets 14 likes for channeling Ken Burns.
    Good job everyone!  Now, on to Soupy’s picks for the Plaid Jacket Society.  We have 3 new inductees today – everybody give a big welcome to @Kilzor:disqus, @vinnybushes:disqus and Valondar (@google-ad11b5fc6e812fcfddafc59b953591fe:disqus)!  Welcome aboard one and all!  In addition, @PGoodso:disqus and @ChumJoely:disqus are each getting their first stud, and @The_Asinus:disqus is getting a fourth mention!
    And now the leaderboard – @caspiancomic:disqus is still in third place with 17 mentions, @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus moves into a tie for second with @Effigy_Power:disqus, both of whom have 18 mentions, and @Paraclete_Pizza:disqus, the biggest stud fiend of all, is back in Soupy’s good graces, getting his 20th mention!  Exciting stuff!
    And finally, Linkdump: Minecraft Edition.  Here you can see a video of a recreation of the city of Rapture (on a Hunger Games-themed Minecraft server for some reason.)  Not cool enough?  How about King’s Landing from A Game Of Thrones?  Still not grand enough for you?  Well then, how about the whole world?  That’s what I love about Minecraft – not that it necessarily encourages you to think big, it just doesn’t discourage it either.  As always, enjoy your gaming this weekend, and remember to keep it scintillating!

    • Chum Joely says:

      Now hold on there. I don’t know who maintains your records, buddy (I’m imagining an overstuffed filing cabinet at the back of a smoky office somewhere), but this is definitely my SECOND appearance in the Comment Cat feature. Look it up.

      Also, can we agree that “WAYPTW” is pronounced “Waypoint W”?

      • stakkalee says:

        Yeah, I wanted to jigger the wording because it was a little confusing.  You get your plaid jacket for your first mention, then you get studs for every subsequent mention.

        In my head I’ve been pronouncing it “WAP-tew!”

        • Chum Joely says:

          Ah, got it. The jacket and studs are based on some sort of golf thing, right? I don’t know golf.

        • stakkalee says:

          @ChumJoely:disqus The jackets are from Mr. Teti’s and Mr. Toal’s impeccable fashion sense, and from the Masters Tournament practice of awarding the winner a green jacket.  I forget the origin of the “stud fiend” comment; I think that was from a podcast.

        • Girard says:

          John Teti naively described himself as a “stud fiend” in a podcast, describing the zeal with which he collects studs in Lego video games. The commenters took it from there.

      • PaganPoet says:

        No, you get a “stud” after you get a “plaid jacket.” So on your first appearance, you got a jacket, now you’re getting your first stud.

        Beware, the more of them you receive, the more desperate you get to impress Soupy. I think I have 4 studs so far, and I’ve lost 30 pounds in the last month since I haven’t been recognized in a while [citation needed].

    • Chum Joely says:

      The King’s Landing link doesn’t work. It seems to be busted even if you search “King’s Landing” at, too.

    • Drew Toal says:

      I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the 14 pity likes for my sober edit.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        You hallucinated those likes in the throes of your delirium tremens.

      • stakkalee says:

        I confess, I debate on whether to include the writers in the most-liked list, but the more I think about it it’s kind of shitty of me to exclude you guys, so please accept my apologies for leaving you out; here, have a moustache spoon as my way of saying it won’t happen again.

        • Drew Toal says:

          I don’t know. This is your space, after all. I wouldn’t include me in any club worth having.

        • Girard says:

          A quote from another great (albeit often greasepaint) moustache.

        • HobbesMkii says:

           Maybe writers should get a bonus ranking. Like, @andrewtoal:disqus would also have T3* but there would still be five of us run-of-the-mill commenters.

        • stakkalee says:

          Well, come on @andrewtoal:disqus , I mean, us lowly commenters have to fight for every scrap of attention we can.  But you writers, man, you’re living the dream: getting paid to write about video games, knee-deep in studs, free moustache wax in the GS offices, and as much pussy as you can pet.  Living the dream, man.

    • caspiancomic says:

       I think I was in fourth last week… caspiancomic is goin’ places again! *enthusiastic shadow-boxing*

      Oh, and dood! I watched The Atomic Cafe the other day, thanks for the link! I really dig all that postwar scaremongering, particularly because it was all a hair’s breadth away from being totally accurate, so I really enjoyed the film. The same channel also has a film called “Atomic Wounds” about a Japanese doctor treating the survivors of Hiroshima, I’m probably going to check that out next.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      Should I even bother to tell you all to rue the day and such or has that bit played out now?

    • vinnybushes says:

       Holy crap I was not expecting this.

    • HobbesMkii says:

       Does it only count if Soupy selects your actual comment, rather than just bolding your name and referencing it?

      • stakkalee says:

        Sorry, no link to the comment, so no stud.  I don’t claim to understand Soupy’s Law, I just enforce it.  I did credit you with the assist; one of these days I’ll even get around to writing the assists down.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          Curses, foiled again.

        • Chum Joely says:

          Yeah, you could compile statistics with “points” like in hockey (where both goals and assists count for points)…

          You didn’t realize what you were getting into with this little project, did you?

  4. Chum Joely says:

    I always feel out of place when one of my posts turns up on Comment Cat, and I think I’ve figured out why. Almost everyone who shows up here on the regular has a likes-to-comments ratio that’s greater than 1. Mine is closer to 0.5.

    I have a theory that there’s a tipping point when you get to about 1.1, and once you hit that mark then it will increase at an ever-faster rate. So all I have to do is figure out how to hack the collective intelligence that governs this process among Gameological readers, and soon I shall stand higher than even Effigy_Power (ratio just over 1.5) or Girard (an intimidating 2.66)!  Mwahahahaha!

    Why yes, it is a slow day at work today, why do you ask?

    • PaganPoet says:

      Awww. There you go, buddy. Have a ‘Like’ on me =]

    • Jackbert322 says:

      403 comments (404 counting this one), 394 likes. I’m always tipping above and below a 1.0 L/C ratio. I had 40 likes on one comment on one of my first comments here. I haven’t lived up to my potential :( 

    • Fluka says:

      Looking at my Disqus stats, I apparently have a 2.60 like/comment ratio, which I am very surprised by and have no idea how I got, until I realize that it’s profoundly inflated by a 200+ like AVClub firstie I once got (four words, one of which was “fuck”!).  

    • Cloks says:

      The balance can be upset by only posting really snarky insights. I’m trying to even it out by posting a lot of semi-terrible and boring comments that don’t get liked.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      I’ve manipulated my average by tying this Disqus account to a parenting message board and post how my daughter tells me we’re a snake family with my wife being ‘Big Snake’, my daughter being ‘Baby Snake’ and I am ‘Spicy Snake’.
         Then I can just sit back and watch the ‘likes’ tick off like the price counter at the gas pump.
         Also, I have an idea to pitch for Hideo Kojima’s next project. 

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      Oh god, I have 2972 likes over 1410 comments. But I’ve been using this account over on the AVC for years now, so it’s ok, right? I’ve also been featured on Keyboard Geniuses only once (twice if you count the steam group thing, but I don’t).

    • Effigy_Power says:

      If you think you can claim to beat me and then get a like out of me, you’ve got another thing coming, mister…

      Oh well, fine. But beat me and you will face the consequences.

    • Girard says:

      You “like” me! You “really” “like” me!

  5. Steve McCoy says:

    Article-wise, there was some major Heisler hegemony this week. Selling the squirrel to Teti’s mom is like the jewel in his crown.