carol monahan

carol monahan

Okay, my name is Carol Monahan. I live in Seattle. I'm the vice president of Cheapass Games, a tabletop game publishing company, and I'm the business manager of Studio Foglio, where Phil and Kaja Folgio make the Girl Genius webcomic. I -- wow. I used to be director of sales of a little company called Wizards of the Coast. [Laughs.]

And I'm 51 years old and I probably haven't played much in the way of videogames in the last couple of years.

It was a gradual process. That's where this is gonna be less of a straightforward thing. There was no, like, one thing. Though I have pinpointed, probably, the last time I bought a videogame or rather picked one out for myself. [Laughs.] That was Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, and I asked for it for Christmas, and I got it, and I'm not really good at those kinds of games, but I still enjoy them and both my husband and my kid were like, "You're awful at this!" [Laughs.]

This is gonna be a sad story.

[Laughs.] I know.

I was already shaking my head, because you talked about this in your email. It's obviously in good fun, but it's obviously a little harmful to be told, "You're awful at this thing."

Yeah, yeah. It was. "Oh man, really?"

And part of it is things that are very specific and personal, like the television that has that game system hooked up to it is basically in my husband's office. So he can't get away from it when somebody's playing on that TV. [Laughs.] If he's trying to get anything done, he's in the same room, and so it's a little hard not to see what's going on and be like, "I can't believe you just did that for the eighth time and ran into a wall and wound up in a canal or something." [Laughs.]

But were you having fun?

I was having fun but it started not being as fun when I was getting judged about it, I think. That took away some of the joy.

[Laughs.] Imagine that.

Yup, yup.

Insert

Before we started you said I should see your house because you have a lot of systems set up to a lot of TVs and in the house you're in, it's pretty absurd you're not playing games.

Yeah. My husband, James Ernest, who's the designer and head of Cheapass Games, he actually worked in the videogame industry for a few years. He wrote the pub games for Fable 2 when he worked at Microsoft. And then he worked at Amazing Society on the Marvel Super Hero Squad MMO for kids and then after that folded up, he came back and we did tabletop again.

So, yeah, there have been -- we've had this short lived professional relationship with the videogame industry. Yeah. So, we have lots and lots of videogames in the house and systems hooked up and whatever.

Insert

You said it's not really a straight line to -- the way you phrased it is you just "lost the inclination."

I did. I did.

I think it had probably been tapering off, and my brief fling with Assassin's Creed was trying to get caught back up because we'd never been able to play much in the way of, like, first-person shooters because literally I get motion sick from most of those.

But that one, I don't know. For whatever reason, it worked for me. I didn't have that thing I would get when I would try to play something like Halo or whatever.

Plus, those didn't have a story and they didn't engage me. I would try. I'm a social person. If my friends are playing a game, I would go play it with them and then usually go, "Ah, yup. That's enough of that." [Laughs.]

Yeah, I think you said you would be at a friend's house and see them or their kids playing WoW and you'd go, "Yup, that's Azeroth" and then shrug. You said, "They seemed to be having fun, but I can't picture myself trying to join in."

Yeah. Because we played Warcraft in this house for a couple years.

You know, I had five or six 50th level characters, but I never got past that point. I never maxed anything out and it started all kind of being the same.

I got bored with it.

And I have friends who are kind of in my demographic who are still playing. They're in their forties and they're still having a good time but I'm like, "Ah, man. It feels like a chore. It feels like they're giving you a shopping list: Go out and get two dozen eggs." [Laughs.]

I mean, you had said that you had played games for a long time. You had mentioned in your email that you were in Ireland in the '70s --

Yeah.

-- and you first encountered a videogame. What captivated you about it?

Well, I was on the car ferry to or from France on a student exchange and we had, like, never seen one of these things before. I mean, when I was a little kid in Michigan, my neighbors had Pong. [Laughs.] And that was just a huge mysterious thing to me.

It was like, "Oh my God! It makes the TV do things!" [Laughs.]

But then I was a teenager, and I believe it was Space Invaders, and after that somewhere I saw an Asteroids machine. You know, it was like -- I just hadn't seen anything like it. It was novel, it was cool. And you would die immediately. [Laughs.]

Insert

Well, yeah, they wanted your quarters.

Yeah, they wanted -- or in this, case, 10-penny pieces, I believe they were. [Laughs.]

That's right. Thank you. [Laughs.]

But then I started up again when I was in college, and I had a friend who worked at the arcade. I used to have the third high score on the Star Wars machine.

And I loved that game. I spent a lot of time playing that game. [Laughs.]

Insert

It's interesting, with your background: Do you feel like the board-game industry or the comics industry -- do they do more to keep people as lifers than the videogame industry?

That's interesting.

Again, when I look at comics, I have read comics for a long time, but I used to read Cerebus and they were never mainstream titles. [Laughs.] And now, you know, I work with Girl Genius, which is not a superhero comic. It's sort of a steampunk fantasy comic.

Yeah. That's interesting.

I guess -- I don't know. This is an interesting thing. I hadn't thought of it that way.

The questions will only get harder from here. [Laughs.]

[Laughs.] No, it's about -- what is it that appeals to me generally?

And, I mean, some of these things -- I was talking to some friends of mine last night, and they're still playing Halo and Borderlands, I think. This friend of mine, she's 45, and she mentioned how she didn't like it if it was just sort of explosions and just competition. There has to be enough story to hook her. There had to be enough story, there had to be some purpose to whatever it was you were doing.

Yeah.

For me, I think I'm even more that way. I kind of like things that are long-form, things with puzzles, things with stories. Not hyper-competitive. That's a turn-off for me.

And I was talking to someone about comic books earlier today and it was a question of, you know, talking about this thing with "fake geek girls." There was a time when I was very, very glad that male friends of mine would go and buy the comic books I wanted for me because that way I wouldn't have to go into the comic-book store and deal with that.

Deal with what? I know what you're referring to, but for people who might not.

Comic-book stores in the 1980's? They were not female-friendly spaces, a lot of them. They would be lookin' at you funny if you walked in and just the setup of the place, sometimes they were pretty [gross] -- I did have a friend who ran a really nice comic-book store that I liked going to, but that was an exception to the rule.

So it wasn't like a friendly, welcoming, communal place. [Laughs.]

Do you think videogames -- are they just lagging behind comics? Is that what's going on?

Wow. I don't know. Because some comic-book stores are still -- there's always that thing. And now I'm just thinking about like why we hauled out the PlayStation this week, is that somebody opened a new store in the mall near us that's got all retro stuff. It's got all the NES cartridges and you name it.

I saw, like, my husband got this huge pang of nostalgia and my kid is like, "Oh, this is cool!"

And I'm like -- [Sighs.]

It just sorta made my tired. [Laughs.]

What do you mean? [Laughs.]

Well, I do remember hours and hours and hours. I remember some five-hour marathon Zelda session.

Yeah, you had mentioned that in your emails. You said it was "like hitting your head against the wall."

Yeah, but it was fun, though, back when we would spend five hours playing Zelda. And now I can't imagine sort of dedicating that chunk of time.

Why do you think this happens, that videogames become so important to people and then lose that importance? What's lacking from videogames where you can't get to your thirties, your forties, and still be interested in them?

Mmhmm. Well, I think one of the things is not specific to videogames. It may be generally anything that -- you get to this point, I think, maybe it has to do with family life.

And this may be stronger for women than for men. You feel like if you take a big chunk of time for yourself, you're being selfish. You know, you're not available to do whatever is needing to get done in the home sphere, for instance. If you spend four hours on the computer playing Warcraft in the evening, you're not doing something with your kid, you're not cooking dinner, you're not getting the laundry done. You're not, you're not, you're not.

And the fact that maybe you're on Tumblr instead, that's a little more plausible deniability because you might be answering your email. [Laughs.]

True, yeah.

So I think -- and it could be self-imposed social pressure to not be selfish and be just doing something that's like "a waste of time."

Meanwhile, you know -- maybe it's also because I don't have much in the way of a day job, anymore. And when you have a day job you're like, "I deserve to waste my evening doing something fun because I was just out earning money all day long." [Laughs.]

But when you're self-employed, or not, say, earning as much money as you used to: "Do I get to do this?"

And that's a female problem, like, do you "deserve" your fun? Do you get your fun? Is your fun taking up too much of your time?

Well, no, I've been in that situation for -- time starts to blend together after a while, but at least half a decade. But I think there is that feeling of you want to feel like you put in a good day by however you measure that.

Yeah, yeah.

For some people it's, "Well, I put a thing in the mail." For other people it's like, "Well, I earned X number of dollars."

Yeah.

But is part of it that we expect games to just be "fun," and fun is more the domain for children than adults?

There might be that, or it might be the responsible thing is to spend your time on something more productive or something like that.

And just the chunk of time thing, too, I know that comes up with role-playing games. Like, tabletop role-playing games. A lot of people as they get older or get busier or whatever, they may still be able to wedge in time for some card games or something like that where they feel like, "Okay, that's an hour."

Or, "That's a half an hour."

And, you know, the fact that they may spend the whole evening doing that, but they aren't committing to days and hours and scheduling stuff out in advance and having time to get their whole group together and follow some huge campaign, that gets much rarer 'cause of the time commitment.

You had said, too, on Twitter before we hopped on that, like -- you used the word "demographic" in quotes about --

I don't think I fit very well. I'm a demographic of one. [Laughs.]

Well, you were saying that you didn't feel there were videogames being made with you in mind.

Well, and there may be, like, games that I would love but due to the way information filters its way through to people, they may not be finding any way to tell me about it.

And I was trying to, again talk to my friend last night about a game that was kind of cool that really grabbed me and I spent a bit of time playing. And I was thinking about Braid.

That one, I wound up -- I think I finished it. That may be the only game I ever finished. [Laughs.] In that way, except for, like, some Mario thing. Like, years ago.

And that was definitely this quirky little artistic game, and it was sheer random friend of a friend of a friend, somebody, was like, "You should try this."

Yeah.

And somebody could make something like that and I’d never know it existed unless some person I know, like, sort of put it in front of me. [Laughs.]

Do you think there are too many games?

Wow. Yeah. There's so much -- what is your [Twitter] thing? "Signal to noise?" Or whatever? [Laughs.]

It's all context. It all depends on who you are, and it all depends. Who am I to say?

That's true. It's like there's this whole world and how we find our way to various parts of it has become an interesting topic because it is all word of mouth and in the Internet people self-select into various groups due to comfort and whatever. And I think this morning when I was getting annoyed at somebody about comic books, I mentioned -- a bunch of my friends are at Gen Con right now. My husband's at Gen Con right now.

And this friend of mine, she took a photo that was, like, outside of her booth, I believe.

And I just saw that sea of guys. And I'm used to that. I've worked in the tabletop industry since '93 and I'm like, "Yeah, it's the sea of guys. It's still the sea of guys." And I kind of thought about being there and I was in a little way kind of glad I wasn't. I thought -- the last thing I went to, I was at San Diego Comic-Con, which was great, and I went to a Sherlock party where there were, like, four guys there. [Laughs.]

Everybody else was women.

I thought, "Okay, maybe I'm self-selecting into spaces that are more comfortable for me, I don't know."

And online, one does that. You know, you only follow the blogs that you can stand reading and that entertain you. [Laughs.]

What tends to be insulting about games that are "made for women?"

Oh, yeah. It often seems like they haven't maybe gotten actual women involved.

Does that sound right?

Because we joke about -- oh, back in the day, when I was working at Wizards, they kept the guys in R&D, and I say that because I think there was one lady over there and she definitely had her special thing that she was a magic developer and she had a very narrow focus. But the guys in R&D were sitting around going, "We need to get more women into games!"

And my husband's response to that was, "Yeah, and we need to get more guys into knitting!" [Laughs.]

And it was like a horrible joke, you know, but if you want to get more men into knitting you should maybe talk to guys and see if there's anything about it that appeals to them and maybe have just guy-knitting things. [Laughs.]

Having a bunch of dudes sitting around, trying to figure out what might appeal to women as if they were an exotic, foreign species that they knew nothing about. I was like -- oh, this is just painful. [Laughs.]

In a company that was 50 percent women, but R&D was 100 percent guys. There was, at that point, one woman in there. One. And she worked on the main product line. She was not in any of these, "Oh, let's write some different product."

What's the result of that? What do the attempts at olive branches --

It's usually going for stereotypes.

And of course stereotypes are -- well, they don't tend to get executed well.

I mean, maybe they're stereotypes for a reason. Like, I like cute things. I like kittens and whatever.[Laughs.] But the way that someone markets a kitten to me can be really offensive to me.

If that makes sense. [Laughs.]

It does.

Like, oh man, somebody had a cute thing on Tumblr and they had taken some little video of -- I don't know, like a little dog going up to a door and there's a cat there and they interact in some way and then the dog leaves and then says, "Oh yeah, that cat was a quest-giver!"

I thought, "Wow, that might actually be -- if Warcraft were actually little cute dogs and cats, maybe I'd play it." But they wouldn't manage to make it look the way I want it. They would somehow make it be, like, for kids or whatever.

Or they'd make me feel bad for liking it. [Laughs.]

I think there is a sort of shaming of -- this thing about feeling like if they market stuff to you and it's too kiddy or whatever or it doesn't hit whatever little ironic funny thing -- and I do remember when we played Warcraft, a lot of it was looking for those ridiculous things.

They would let you go in the town square and do a little dance or whatever and you'd be like, "Okay." And you'd have the people who'd be like, "You're not serious." We were on some role-playing server and not some PVP server because we're like, "Yeah, we don't do that. We're not those kind of gamers." [Laughs.]

Do you feel like -- are videogames getting stale? What's your view of what's out there, the things you do hear about?

And this is hard for me because I don't know. I have moved into these online spaces where mostly what I hear about videogames is, sadly, people who I know who work there -- if somebody works in one of the big companies, their constant refrain is, well, it takes forever. They're having work problems of trying to make something and it's gonna take three years to come to fruition, and even then maybe it'll just fail.

And that was actually my husband's biggest frustration. This is a guy who can write five or six or 10 games in a year and to work somewhere where the pace is to his mind, glacial, work-wise that was just frustrating.

So I hear it on that side, and I get to hear all of the journalism controversy about, yeah, all the horrible stuff last year and continuing on. And that was terrible.

I'm sort of in this constant "trying to explain feminism to people" space on the Internet. [Laughs.] And that's sort of wearing.

It's obvious, but for people who may not understand: Can you explain why that is exhausting?

Yeah, no, it's emotional energy. I do have those moments where I'm like, "Why am I engaging in a semi-public space, even among my friends and my extended acquaintance group? I could take up knitting." [Laughs.]

"I wouldn't have to deal with this!"

But I don't know. I used to be a political activist. I went through my 10 years of doing that and I just have this urge to make the world a better place somehow and make the places that I am online, which, which I enjoy being on Facebook and Twitter and all those places. I just want them to be better places.

And so I invest a lot of emotional energy in that, and the more resistance there is, the more you're trying to figure out, "Okay, am I doing this the right way? Is there a better way to go about it?"

I've been thinking a lot about this. Is there, like, just a natural void that needs to be filled with awful energy, and someone's gonna fill it?

[Laughs.]

Do we just need that as an ecosystem?

Yeah, I don't know. It's like -- I was watching the TED Talk from the woman who was talking about people being wrong and how we have that innate constant sense that we're right, and how that makes us view other people. [Laughs.]

So we're trying to decide, "Are they just ignorant? Are they dumb? Or are they evil if they don't agree with us?" Then it's like, "Okay, what do we have to do if we're gonna engage with people and realize that none of those three are probably the case?"

Though in some cases, it is the case. [Laughs.]

And you try to figure out which is which.

I wonder if it's just online, because we're so smooshed together, it's really hard to just say, "You know what? I don't really like this person and I don't want to listen to them and I won't."
And then I don't need to hate them or hope they get fired or hope somebody hurts them.

Yeah, yeah.

You know, sort of like playground rules?

Well, and for certain when I go to manage my Twitter list or manage my Facebook list, I definitely have a line where I'm like, "Okay. This is not productive." I'm not necessarily gonna put an absolute judgment on whoever the person is on the other side. But, "Okay, this isn't productive, but this is where the block and mute and de-friend comes up."

But then there's that whole gray area of people where you're like, "Okay, some sort of productive interaction can happen here." And then you're investing emotional energy into trying to come to some kind of understanding because you want to understand other people -- they're fascinating.

Believe me. I understand.

[Laughs.]

I do have many, many friends and some of them, certain topics are little red flags for them and they will get worked up and then I will feel, as I said, the need to engage and have those discussions and try and bring some sort of positive conclusion out of the discussion instead of having it devolve into something terrible.

And that's work. It's work.

You were talking about the colleagues and friends you have who work in the industry. Do you ever talk to them or have they shared any insights or thoughts about why it is game companies let employees take the fall for digital pitchforks and torches? Be it the Internet deciding an individual at a company "ruined" an entire series or anything.

Well, at that point, you're kinda getting into corporate structure and the way companies work.

That's a big one.

Oh, I know, and I'm not putting flowers into shotguns. I guess I'm just wondering if there was more acknowledgment from the companies it might change much.

Well, my main sort of viewpoint on this is that if you go out to the audience and the general public and you ask them about a company, be it Nintendo or be it Cheapass Games. [Laughs.] Huge corporations or tiny corporations. People have some mental image of that company. They personify it in some way.

And they don't necessarily, unless they work inside of a similar company, they don't have a lot of data to go on. [Laughs.] You know, they'll be like this faceless monolith that does this thing you don't like. And if you are somehow offered up a face, then everything will focus on that person. If somehow a name gets attached to it, then that's where all the ire goes that had been attached to Faceless Monolithic Corporation X.

And companies are very messy places, you know? They're conglomerations of people who all have their own agendas, who are all trying to accomplish what they're trying to accomplish. Sometimes at cross-purposes within the same company. [Laughs.]

And that's a lot of nuance and that doesn't make a good story.

We take our whole lives and make them into stories.

That's what we do. And so people have their battle against Corporation X who ruined their thing or decide that, yeah, it's this one developer. They'll do that. They'll attach those emotions to people they don't know and situations they don't understand. We all do it.

Drawing from your different backgrounds, do you think that there's more tenacity to people needing their fantasies or mental pictures being true in videogames compared to board games or comics?

Well, they're interestingly different industries.

In comics, there's sort of Marvel, DC, and then other people.

And I think in tabletop games, there's Hasbro, that now owns Wizards of the Coast and is huge, and then most of the other companies range from kind of barely mid-sized down to tiny. Like, individual people.

And the videogame industry, there's those few companies that do this AAA, big-budget stuff. And then you've got, like, little indie devs out there and I am not as familiar with the videogame -- like, the business end. I have some friends who have their own little shop and make their own little games, and that's my only window onto the world.

All of my business behind the scenes stuff is from tabletop, really, and just seeing the difference -- I was dealing with Magic: The Gathering when it was new. And the stories that got out on the street about how that brand was being managed, how business decisions were being made versus what was going on inside the company. I mean, there was, like, no relation.

And even now, 20 years later, I'm having to kind of follow up threads where some huge piece of misinformation has become gospel.

What sort of stuff were they saying?

Oh, I don't know. Did you ever play Magic: The Gathering?

I had a starter pack I was nudged into getting by a friend down the street I had growing up, but I don't think I ever even opened it.

[Laughs.] It is its own thing. But there's still a sort of a collector's aspect to it as well as the game aspect. And there was one set in particular, early on, that was massively over-produced.

Massively.

And the story that had become gospel was that this was done purposely to destroy the collector aspect of Magic: The Gathering. And furthermore, the gospel story says, that it was the guys in R&D who came up with this brilliant idea to scuttle the secondary market.

Well, I was the director of sales at that company at the time, and I can tell you that's not true. That's not what happened.

But that's a whole 'nother thing.

But just seeing that dichotomy of what sort of becomes the public legend about any business decision versus what happened in the conference room on the phone with the customers where the rubber was actually hitting the road, it's just -- oh man. Anytime I hear about some business decision, I have this little mental check that goes, "I wonder if that's really what happened." [Laughs.] "I wonder if that's really what they were trying to do."

I think there's a possibility that maybe something else happened and that this was just some result that then was interpreted. Because, yeah, I've been on the wrong side of that one. [Laughs.]

Do you think the game industry does invite -- what impact do you think it has with the lack of information that they allow to go out and the types of information? It typically tends to be just stuff in relation to a product and when it's coming out, and even when there is "behind the scenes" stuff, it's mainly a few people talking about how hard it was to make the game and how they're really proud of it. But that's not the full picture.

I was just thinking about Hollywood movies, where you get all that stuff from the set where, you know, the director fighting with the star and everything else. [Laughs.]

I don't know. I mean, the fact that a lot of people wouldn't necessarily -- they wouldn't be interested. Unless there's some sort of lurid tale or some sort of big story, the business stuff is just dull to most people. You have to be a business geek to be interested in that stuff.

This is how I wound up in all these jobs that I have, doing small business consulting and crowd consulting. "Oh, this is very glamorous." [Laughs.]

When you were more actively into videogames, what was your games media consumption like?

I think, wow, we used to get some magazine or two that came to the house that would have what were new things and reviews. Back in those days, they had ones for movies as well. I remember getting, like, Premiere. But you'd have -- and there'd be some magazines with, like, a section in the back which would be, "What are this month's movies? What are this month's games?" Whatever.

And now that stuff's all gone away.

Somebody you should probably talk to is my 13-year-old daughter, who spends all day of her summer vacation online watching YouTube. Watching other people play videogames and listening to reviews about games and she just -- hours everyday.

I know nothing about that. I mean, she's the one who brought Minecraft into the house and everything else and we're like, "Oh, that's cool." And she was like, "Oh mom, you should play Minecraft!" And I went and built a little house and I built a little thing and I built another thing and I dug a hole in the ground and then I was like, "Okay, I'm done!" [Laughs.]

Because, again, it was like -- I didn't want to spend a huge chunk of time, and meanwhile they're making powered roller coasters and setting up servers where they have basically role-playing campaigns running. Wow! This is amazing. And yet, I have no time for it.

[Laughs.]

Well, when it comes to the games media -- what's your sense of trends in what they would cover or would never cover?

Wow. It's been so long now. I mean, this had to have been more than 10 years ago, yeah? Because I just remember there'd be those nice glossy articles of, like, nice screenshots and a little review and at least you'd know what the names of the things were.

You can just sorta flip through and go, "Okay, there's a new one of those." Or, "Now they've made another one of these." And a lot of them were at that point tons of first-person shooters and military crap where I'm just like, "I don't care about it."

And it always seemed to be a surprise when there'd be, like, some puzzle-y game or bright-colored candy-colored game that was actually a big deal. And what difference does that make? I like that. [Laughs.]

Was there some form of fulfillment you used to get from videogames that you just stopped getting?

I mean, I kinda think for me it was just sorta changes to my sort of life and time allotment. Because this whole stuff, like, really fell off a couple years ago and, you know, I started writing a novel. [Laughs.] Which still isn't done, but I started writing a novel and my kid got a little older and when she was little, that was a thing we did together. And then she started having stuff that she was playing with her friends online or, you know, she certainly doesn't need me to come help her. Like, when she first started playing Portal, she was like, "I kinda know I need to get through that wall and get there, but I don't know how to do it." And so I would get called in as reinforcements. You know, she's her own gamer now. She doesn't need me to do that.

So that was just a phase of life change.

Do you miss it?

Yeah, I'd have to say I do. But in the same way you miss having a little kid. It's like, "I have a teenager and that's awesome." But it was kinda cool having a little kid, too. [Laughs.]

And God knows, in another 20 years it'll probably be like, "Oh yeah, I can play these games with my grandkids or something!" [Laughs.] Maybe I'll be picking something up back again then.

Well, originally, like you said in the beginning: These were meant to bring us together. Even if it was in the arcade over quarters, it was about physically, literally coming together.

Yeah, yeah.

And that's probably -- I'm even sort of a bad tabletop gamer, which is a terrible thing for me to admit since I'm the vice president of a tabletop company. [Laughs.] But I have that sort of embarrassment of riches where people are play-testing games at my house almost every week and I'm that person who winds up needing to edit the rules when they're finalized, and if I get too familiar with the playtest versions, it can kind of cloud my judgment when I go to read the rules and see if they are correct and if it's explained right.

So I have a tendency to kind of try and stay hands off until the game is done and then get involved. But then that leads to accusations, like: "Don't you wanna play this yet?" "Well, yes, I want to play it, but professionally, I should wait until it's done." [Laughs.]

What would you like to see more of out of videogames?

My goodness.

I wish there were games that would hit some sort of sweet spot about being short and sociable but not being those damn Facebook games or something where they're trying to get all my money. [Laughs.]

Yeah, you had mentioned that's never been part of the equation for you.

No, I mean, the only something like that I'm playing right now is when I'm waiting in the car, I sit and play Candy Crush and my victory condition is "never pay them any money."

That's my victory condition. [Laughs.] To have not given them any money. So, so far I'm winning.

But that's a very solitary -- that's like doing Sudoku, you know. It's just an activity, it's not really a game -- except that I have a victory condition.

As long as you're winning, I'm happy.

Something that I would consider a game. Yeah. Somehow if they could find something that I didn't feel was, like, laying claim to a huge chunk of my time, and yet it's fun and social and not big and violent and whatever, something that's a little bit more intimate.

And then they'd have to get me to find out it existed.

And that'd likely be a challenge. They'd have to get on Tumblr -- I don't know.

What do you think videogames have accomplished?

I guess I never thought they were trying to accomplish anything, except the basic function of entertainment. I did tell you about Wizards of the Coast's early motto: "We'll help you pass the time until you die". That's sort of what I expect games of any kind to be striving for, and videogames certainly do that. They could entertain more people, and do a better job of it, I guess. And the fact that businesses don't know what to do about an ugly, loud segment of the customer base? I just hope that they'll wade through to the other side, if for no other reason then because this sort of nonsense is bad for business.

To invoke Godwin: Even if the Hitler Youth are lucrative customers, I believe that anyone looking at the bigger picture will eventually eschew National Socialism, or get run over by someone who will.

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