Our Category: Commentary

Top 5 Tips for Nice Guys: #4 Will SHOCK You!

2 Commentary 2 Comments

(Please note this article is written in a CIS/Heteronormative voice. Probably everything in this article can be considered applicable to a variety of different types of interaction on the sexual fluidity/Relationship diversity scale, however at our core we are still coming to grips with the very concept of gender and whether it’s an outdated way to look at things. From that perspective I felt the topics addressed here would be best spoken in that voice and isn’t meant to be dismissive of the entire spectrum. Secondly, this is a touchy subject. I accept I might be COMPLETELY WRONG in the positions I take here. Keep the discussion lively but civil. Remember, I used to ban people for a living.)

So you’re a nice guy. I know, it sucks. You’ve had an encounter with someone that you felt was far more meaningful than they did. You didn’t even think of it sexually even; you just want someone to love. You abhor the very concept of sexual violence, disrespect, or sexism. You go out of your way when interacting with potential partners to really listen and internalize what is important to them. You’re not a prowler or a creeper, and don’t believe anyone owes you anything. Sex would be nice, but you’re ok with that not being an immediate outcome.

You really are a nice guy. You feel like crap however because that doesn’t seem to be getting you anywhere.

First off, congratulations! I’m proud of you. A lot of people would argue that you shouldn’t be congratulated or get a pat on the back for being a decent person, that the very concept of you being a truly nice guy doesn’t deserve to be pointed out because it should be the default state.


We’re all human. We all fall short of who we want to be sometimes. We should pat people on the back (metaphorically!) if only to remind ourselves to be better than our lowest nature. So… deep breath. Take some solace in the fact that more often than not you are great partner material.

But you still feel like crap. With that in mind, here are some tips that might help you navigate the current thinking and behavior going on in the psychosexual realm that drives a lot of our reconciliation of emotional needs and physical ones (or lack thereof if applicable). And by tips I mean “useful bits of context” not “strategies for getting her into bed.”

#1. Assess the situation.

I’ll say it again, the current environment for discourse on this type of subject sucks for you. However, you have to appreciate how we got here. Generations of abuse, assault, and murder have left a huge swath of our species either afraid to talk or silenced by societal role enforcement. Women in particular are speaking out on these topics precisely because their voice is needed to affect change. Believe me, I have tons of opinions about human sexual and relationship dynamics and I choose not to talk about them accept in certain small audience of friends because now is the time to shut up and listen. No one wants to hear right now about how tough it is to be a truly nice guy in this environment. I know, again that sucks. But sometimes shutting up and absorbing all the viewpoints, even if not applicable to you, is the right thing to do. Everyone deserves an opinion, but not every opinion deserves to have an audience 100% of the time.

No. Sometimes you have to just drop it. Because you have to…

#2: Cope with being privileged.

Being told you’re privileged is ultimately a dismissal. It devalues you as a person and stereotypes you into a societal bucket because no matter what you do that bucket is deeper than any method you could use to climb out of it. Everything you say or do can be dismissed with “You’re privileged and can’t see past it.”

It’s also, unfortunately for your emotions, probably true.

If you’re a white straight male especially: congratulations you are privileged in a large segment of Western society! No, you didn’t ask for it. No, you don’t feel comfortable with it. Yes, you can fight to end it. But you have to cope with the fact you have both hands in the Palmolive and are soaking in it. I’ve even seen guys say out loud, “If I’d known it was going to be this tortuous I would not have taken the choice to be privileged if offered!” or “It’s been tough for me too!”

Stop that. The very fact you are saying things like that reflects your privilege because…

#3: You have to accept the alternative is far worse.

Aw, you’re feeling some sadness over a girl you love who likes men you think are horrible for her? That’s adorable. Try growing up with brown skin in most sections of the United States. Or being female just about anywhere in the world. Sorry but it’s time for some tough love. Your sadness is a valid feeling. What you do with it is what should be your focus. The temporary sadness over a relationship situation will fade, constant fear of sexual assault or harassment or getting shot just walking around whether you’re 8 or 80 doesn’t fade. You have to learn to walk away at some level emotionally and put things into a greater context.

Of course you should tell this person how you feel. And, should it not work out (despite psychosexual programming from Hollywood movies and top 10 pop hits where the persistent suitor usually prevails) you have to take a deep breath and go invest your time and effort with someone else. Yes, friendship is less a life than you hoped with this person. But to hinge everything that makes them valuable as an individual on romantic emotions devalues them as much as being bucketed as “privileged” makes you feel when you read about it. If you can’t get over that simple fact then…

#4: Go attach live jumper cables to your nipples.


#5: You have to learn the hardest fact: The universe and people in particular don’t by default owe you anything, up to and including having the precise relationship you want with precisely the individual you have chosen.

So you have a deep emotional connection with someone that isn’t reciprocated at the same level, and you just want this person to understand how deeply you feel despite their choice and want to tell them. Your mind continually bombards you with the phrase you most want to say “You don’t understand! I’m a nice guy!” When what you are really saying is “I don’t understand! Why aren’t you connecting at the same level?”

You have to drop it. Seeking relationships is like random atoms colliding. I do not believe in any way in the “soul mate” theory, and judging from society’s propensity to have second, or third marriages (five if you are a Republican politician legislating morality SHOTSFIRED) most people actually don’t either. But our songs and books and movies and our culture celebrate the idea such that it makes it hard to let go when the other person just isn’t that into you. If you have to say to someone “But I’m a nice guy…” you have to ask yourself why you are communicating that. To reiterate, what you are saying is “You’re wrong! Rethink your choice!” You’re devaluing one of the most important decisions someone can make: Who they choose to be with. Worse, you are doing it in a way that countless men have coopted as a tactic to emotionally punish a woman for not having sex with him, even if you individually didn’t expect that as the immediate outcome.


I’m 43 and divorced. By no means do I look at this list as a “I figured it out! Just do what I do!” list. But each of these tips (#4 is bracing!) at some level actually can make things better because they allow you to see your immediate gut emotions in a far larger context, which allows you use them to further your own happiness.

I would not want to be with someone I had to badger for months or years to be with me. I’ve certainly had that experience. You always end up sabotaging yourself by forcing a situation because you believe that all relationships (if the person could just see the real you) would yield your soul mate. I’ve failed at that and most likely will do so again. You will too!

It’s how you deal with it that matters.

You’re a nice guy. Again, I congratulate you. But as the old storytelling adage goes, “Show. Don’t Tell.” (why is it called Storytelling then and not Storyshowing…I digress)

Women have a hard enough time dealing with the guys who aren’t nice. I would imagine that as a general group they don’t need another vector by which to have to worry about the choices they should feel free to make.

(Please note this article is written in a CIS/Heteronormative voice. Probably everything in this article can be considered applicable to a variety of different types of interaction on the sexual fluidity/Relationship diversity scale, however at our core we are still coming to grips with the very concept of gender and whether it’s an outdated way […]

No there ain’t no rest for the wicked, till we close our eyes for good.

4 Commentary | Misc | Reflection 4 Comments

I’m sitting in a posh hotel bar in San Francisco. Just a couple of months ago, I was looking at the city from a much different view, that of an ICU bed at Pacific Medical Center.

I sit here now, like I sit each day, wondering a little bit about what I am going to do with the gift I have been given. You see I was dead for a short bit. Well, mostly dead. At one point the Neurologists had concluded they could detect little electrical activity in my brain, my foot and ocular reflexes were zero: no response, that of a person brain dead or with severe brain damage. An ammonia buildup in my brain combined with a septic infection in my lungs had put me into a coma. The verdict was that I was either already gone, or so far gone I would not return in anything resembling a normal state.

Then something happened. Thanks to the charity of my friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook and just awesome people in general, my family was able to all fly in to San Francisco from Dallas to say goodbye and decide when to pull the plug. Things were that bad.
Then I woke up. Then I got better. Then I got a lot better. Then I got almost normal. Then I got pretty much normal. And now I sit here awaiting my dinner (Salad!) and a ginger beer three months later, and I stop often to think about this continue button I got to press.

When I was out at the deepest level, the “he’s pretty much brain dead” level, I was locked in. I was aware, but unable to communicate or move. I was able to prove this later by recounting conversations around me that happened at that time that I otherwise could not have known about. During that, I lived other lifetimes. I had no temporal sense at all. It was the single worst thing I have ever experienced, by far, because I was just gone enough mentally to be so confused I thought it was normal. When I awoke they could have told me I had been out for 5 years, 5 weeks, or the 5 days I was actually out and I would have believed them. It is, for all methods I could possibly think of, impossible to describe. This isn’t a case of “It felt like forever”, this is a case of being left out in forever entirely, so deep you have no frame of reference for the word “forever.” I moved from fragments of lucidity to dreamstates to…well something I simply cannot describe to you.

There was no tunnel with a light at the end, there was no sense of anything guiding me or spiritual. There was simply this existence out of time, experiences so far reaching sometimes they hit me out of the blue, not in a traumatic way, but in a way that makes me feel somehow much older. I feel, on occasion, weary mentally. Not unlike I’ve been around in this universe way way too long. It’s not especially unpleasant, and some of the experiences I remember were positive. But it tends to take me by surprise when it happens and it’s sometimes hard to shove aside.

Again, these…reveries I suppose they could be called, are not unpleasant or traumatic. I recovered physically such that I am out of any apparent danger, exercising and trying to eat well. They serve to give me pause and reflection about what happened to me, which is a good thing because I don’t want to forget and become complacent about getting a second chance at so many things. I’m extraordinary lucky to get my health back. I live in a beautiful house on a large plot of land in a beautiful part of the country. I have my dog Basil whose unbridled joy at discovering a simple rock in the back yard never fails to make me smile, and I have a life and more full of friends and people who care about me who I inadvertently scared the shit out of.

Being a writer I am of course mining as much of the experience as possible for pieces to perform, believe it or not there is a tremendous amount of humor to be found in the situation once you’re past it. There will be news on that version of events pretty soon.

But for some reason tonight I thought it best to think about the poignant part of what happened to me, that sense of immense age that hits me out of nowhere sometimes. I’m still me, I escaped any lasting brain impacting issues. My follow-ups are all a-ok.

And even with all the time I felt like I lived in that very weird block of darkness, it still would not be enough time to thank everyone properly who came to my aid, from family to friends. From people I’ve known for decades to people I don’t know at all, but who know me through my writing or performances or work. From people I’ve worked with in the past, and people I work with now at HackerOne. The Internet is a wondrous and complicated thing, full at once with 1’s that are angry at 0’s and vice versa. But it also brings us closer together, and I like to think that as loud and painful as the bad parts are, they are still overall in the minority. Something I try to minimize but sometimes falter at.

Next to me a couple is arguing, from the snippets it sounds like a breakup. Across the restaurant there’s a guy sitting alone like me, reading what I think is the latest Jack Reacher book. My salad is half gone, as is the ginger beer. Moments feel immeasurably longer than that every once in a while, just for a brief bit. But that’s more or less where I’m at too.

I’m only half done.

I’m sitting in a posh hotel bar in San Francisco. Just a couple of months ago, I was looking at the city from a much different view, that of an ICU bed at Pacific Medical Center. I sit here now, like I sit each day, wondering a little bit about what I am going to […]

And We Give Thanks So That There May Be An Accounting In Our Hearts Of Blessings

0 Commentary | Life | Misc | Reflection No Comments

First Thanksgiving alone and spent it awake all night.

That doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for things. I’m thankful for all the good parts of my marriage to Rochelle. I’m thankful for all our pets here and gone (Illusion, Isabeau, Hennessey, Adia, Buddy, Remington Martin, Eowyn Marie, Medallion, Basil Hayden, and Aspen Blue).

I’m thankful for family, heroes, and friends both here and gone (quite literally too many for my brain to hold)

I’m thankful for HBO and Microsoft and the opportunities they have afforded me. I’m thankful for my job now at Black Tusk Studios getting to work on Gears of War. And the apartment I’m in that bridged a difficult gap into a new little place that has a nice sandy beach for Basil to play on that I start moving into this weekend.

I’m thankful for Ikea. If nothing else I will have a bed.

They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving at the same time we do up here in Canada (Canadian Thanksgiving was in October), so today is a work day. I have not decided what bird to cook tonight, it can’t be a turkey of course, too big. But I’ll have my tiny celebration nonetheless and begin to pack for the weekend move.

I hope you and yours have a wonderful day.

First Thanksgiving alone and spent it awake all night. That doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for things. I’m thankful for all the good parts of my marriage to Rochelle. I’m thankful for all our pets here and gone (Illusion, Isabeau, Hennessey, Adia, Buddy, Remington Martin, Eowyn Marie, Medallion, Basil Hayden, and Aspen Blue). I’m thankful […]

In Defense of the Customer Advocate, We Need a Software Ombudsman Role

4 Commentary | Microsoft | Misc 4 Comments

Over the summer I assisted on a whitepaper regarding "Second screen experiences" for major video game and entertainment properties. (Second screen really just refers to extending games and movie experiences to tablets and phones, etc). I found myself continually surprised over major property holders’ reticence to actually own this, rather than simply do "me too" features developed by outsourced dev houses. To put it another way, people with an almost George Lucas level of control over a particular entertainment property when it came to books or comics or other experiences with their storylines were perfectly happy for a third rate development firm to make their iPhone app or iPad version of their game.

When I asked why there wasn’t someone overseeing the efforts with the same level of "end to end" customer viewpoint that they maintained for their quality of writing or story continuity they looked surprised and said that customers really didn’t expect too much out of alternate experiences yet. They said customers’ expectations of games on tablets and phones were more cartoony and casual as opposed to high fidelity or were relegated to simply being a nice front for a web page or data view rather than a true added value to the experience. Not a single one of the IP owners I talked to had a "butt on the line" for the end-to-end quality of their game’s experience being awesome whether it was on Console, PC, web, or other device. They were designing for the lowest common denominator both of the technology and the customer expectation, without having someone truly own looking at both and trying to maximize the impact and value to the people buying the product.

I asked what if a customer could suspend their game on a console, then grab their tablet and continue where they left off on the bus. I was told no customer expected their tablet to be able to give them the same experience so why bother? I noted tablets now have quad core 64 bit processors, more RAM than the console, and separate GPU’s, why not at least try? Besides, who mandated it had to be the exact same experience? Reasonable customers would know there would have to be minor changes. I even pointed out the potential brand damage to an intellectual property if a third party app contradicted continuity or was so unpleasant or unstable it hurt the game. I was told that wasn’t a big deal either, since customers should have lower expectations of experiences outside the main one in terms of quality. None of these people had invested in a point of contact in the company to oversee the total and complete experience of all their offerings for their top shelf brands and experiences, other than perhaps their executives (who are great at the “Vision” level but notoriously bad at the execution level).

This isn’t new. Back in the early to mid 1990’s, one of the single most powerful divisions inside the Microsoft Corporation was Product Support Services (PSS). This was the group inside the company that supported all of Microsoft’s products either by phone, Compuserv forums, on site support for corporations, or even Fax (Really!). When a Microsoft product had reached its final milestone, which was typically called a Final Release Candidate, the build was handed over to PSS for something called "Sign Off."

Product Support Services was the customer representative. It was the first group within Microsoft that would deal with the full ramifications of releasing a product out to millions and tens of millions of customer configurations. As such, PSS had to monitor both how much it cost to support a product, and how well a product worked based on the assumptions that developers made about customer expectations. A year or so after a product was released, PSS would gather all the lessons learned and customer feedback gathered and present it to the product teams for incorporation into the next version. In this way, customer wants and needs were represented in real world scenarios, not just sales meetings where customers tended to ask for the sky and sales people might promise it. This process also meant that PSS could halt a product from shipping, even if development considered it finished. That was what the sign off process was all about. PSS oversaw the complete end to end use of a product both during development and after.

Final Release Candidate CD’s or disk images were provided to PSS, and teams all over the country would pound on the product and log bugs against it. All shipping software of significant function and complexity has bugs. PSS’ job was to measure the impact, potential pain to customers, and cost of supporting the product shipping with a known issue. If those factors ran too high, PSS would refuse to allow the product to be released until the issues were brought back into line with the quality bar. One of the reasons the final shipping build of Windows 95 was build "950 r6" was that the "final" build had to be revved six times before ship due to issues found during sign off and other last minute testing. There was an enormous amount of customer advocacy talent, support talent, and quality assurance talent in the PSS organization because almost everyone involved was a full time Microsoft employee. If PSS refused to sign off, the product didn’t ship.

PSS was the "butt on the line" for shipping quality software to Microsoft’s customers.

Not long after shipping Windows 95, the process changed due almost solely to Netscape. Netscape shipped "betas" on a continual basis, just propping them to the web when built. The Internet Explorer team was in direct competition with Netscape and constantly complained about having to be held up fixing bugs found during the sign off process and the slow method of releasing.  Soon they were granted exceptions and the release of "perpetual betas" became the pressure release valve to allow the shipping of "Internet" software to be more nimble and competitive. Slowly over the next few years, sign-off as a process became less and less, outsourcing was developed and all that customer focus and expertise was trimmed, cut, then basically eliminated relative to what it used to be. Software quality and customer satisfaction suffered, and more and more products were developed in a silo mentality. I truly believe the security issues in Microsoft software in the late 90’s and early 00’s were a partial result of these changes.

These two anecdotes might seem unrelated, but they are not. I bring it up because lately the vitriolic nature of some Internet comments regarding software or hardware is obscuring a larger problem. Fanboys will be fanboys, and there will unfortunately always be someone willing to type out an anonymous death threat over a designer changing the muzzle velocity of their favorite ammo in their favorite space gun. Those individuals number in the tens of thousands.

What we’re losing all across the software industry, from a services to software to content perspective, is the view of the customer. Or, to the extent it’s taken into account it’s the lowest common denominator of what someone surmises the expectations to be on the customer’s part based on sales.

That audience, outside the vitriolic one, is in the hundreds of millions. For most things, it isn’t a big deal. Call of Duty: Ghosts sold just fine. Both the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 will sell out of their allotments for Christmas. iPads and iPhones are in high demand.

But I watch a major product launch or announce go badly and everyone asks "what were they thinking?" or I see dozens of reviews that state "it’s almost perfect except for this one glaring omission that seems so obvious" or I hear someone point out "This particular feature would add so much and detract nothing and we’ve been asking for it for years" and I realize that we have lost/are losing an essential skill in the software industry: Customer advocacy. We’ve moved it from being a role to being a checkmark box on a long list.

I get that features have to be prioritized and I understand resource triangles better than most. But why should it take a mountain of bad press, social media, or forum posts to note a major product change is a terrible idea in regards to how people actually use your product? It’s gone beyond the simple Redmond Reality Distortion field, Youtube’s recent comment changes are the biggest indicator. Decisions are being made based on what the user base will bear with trying to monetize or compete, not as much on what the user base wants in order to keep choosing your product.

And there’s no reason the two things cannot work together.

We need to establish (are re-establish) the concept of the Ombudsman. People whose job it is to own the end to end experience in both development and release, and serve as the point of feedback publicly when something goes horrible pear shaped on Steam or a new policy or Terms of Use change is announced on Twitter that angers everyone. People who have real veto power when it is needed and can balance the worse angels of the development culture. People who actually get paid to pay attention to what customers like and want and need as opposed to biasing every decision on "We need to make this change because our competitor made it and we need to be the thought leader here. Try and implement it so that customers like it."

We sometimes lose sight that *customers* are the ones who use our products and are important, even when the offerings are (for now) free.

If you don’t believe in strong customer advocacy and making that an actual discipline and separate section of your process then you run the risk of not just failure of your product, but obsolescence of your brand. Usability studies and surveys can only tell you so much.

To use a sportsball metaphor: When competing if you aren’t truly listening to customers you can’t swing for the fences because you will have no idea where the pitch is coming from.

inb4 strawmen:

“But customers will ask for everything!”

Some might, a good Ombudsman will balance this out.

“Apple doesn’t care what customers think, and they sell pretty well!”

Apple works in fits and starts. It’s now on a minor decline as it has gone from epiphany regarding phones and tablets to stagnation. Think about all those lean years before the iPod and iPhone. I’d argue if they would listen just a tad more they could even out their peak and valley cycle and make even more money. One need only look to Vista or Windows 8 to see what happens when you take the platform bully pulpit too far. To think that couldn’t happen to Apple ignores a lot of Apple products that were just as bad.

Besides which, why *wouldn’t* you want to be seen to be listening to your customers instead of dictating to them? I’ve never understood how Apple somehow got away with making their customers feel dumb for things they wanted (like when they said people didn’t need customized SMS tones. Whahuh?) It’s like “I’ll let you purchase my product but I get to slap you one time first.”

“Is this really that big a problem?”

Yes and no. It’s certainly not a crisis. It’s just something I feel like the industry is truly missing out on lately and it represents incredible opportunity for companies, especially big established ones, that move to it or commit to it publicly. It’s low hanging fruit. Customers *love* accountability but better than that they love not making mistakes in the first place. Think about Microsoft’s Xbox One announce then the backpedal. What if they’d had a customer experience advocate who could have prevented the worst of those choices they had to walk back before they wasted time developing them? Someone who was paid for that as their expertise and role instead of relying on a heavily overworked team somewhere in marketing to hope they can get around to it?

Or, when the backpedaling does have to happen, it comes from one voice all at once with a clear message and clear expectation rather than dozens of executives using events over months of time slowly walking back each bad thing.

Community managers are trying to fulfill this role, but many companies simply do not understand Community management is more than just using Twitter or forums. It’s time someone high profile makes a public commitment to having someone like this on staff and actually listens to them. Someone beholden to customers not agendas.

Over the summer I assisted on a whitepaper regarding "Second screen experiences" for major video game and entertainment properties. (Second screen really just refers to extending games and movie experiences to tablets and phones, etc). I found myself continually surprised over major property holders’ reticence to actually own this, rather than simply do "me too" […]

Why Bioshock Infinite Probably Isn’t As Good As We Think It Is

4 Commentary | Fiction | Gaming 4 Comments

My mind’s bouncing a bit around the Buddy shaped hole in our lives. But I wanted to say this about Bioshock Infinite since I finished it last week.

Let me state right off the bat, Bioshock Infinite is a must play game. It’s worth your money and you should play it. No, really I’m dead serious. Stop reading this and go play it then come back so we can talk about it. I’ll wait.

Second point, this post is going to be more spoilery than that sandwich the creepy eye transplant doctor fooled Tom Cruise into eating in Minority Report.

I mean it, I am going to spoil the living hell out of Bioshock Infinite if you keep reading.



I’m serious though.


Endings are tough. As a writer they are incredibly daunting. Sometimes you get lucky and you come up with an ending before you even have a story. That’s the best scenario from a work perspective because you already understand how things turn out. Working backwards is just a matter of giving your ending some justice.

Then sometimes you come up with an ending in the middle of the story, which is harder but also a bit of a relief.

The absolute worst is starting off without an ending. Because holy shit, where is this all going?

And yet the best stories, at least in my mind, are the latter ones. Sometimes when you start off with an ending, you often can’t do it justice because in the working backwards you concentrate too much on that wonderful ending.

Bioshock Infinite has, in my opinion, a bad ending. One that it feels like someone thought was a wonderful ending.

Now, I don’t mean that the ending is cheap, or that it didn’t involve a lot of thought, or that it’s a cop out or anything.

If anything, it’s just a bridge too far. The story builds up to it backwards in a way.

Let me explain, and here is where I will TOTALLY GO INTO SPOILERS.

During the third act of the game it’s beating you over the head that all this time you are Father Comstock. They even mix Dewitt’s voice into Comstock’s voice at a couple of intervals. The Voxaphone extras are equally blunt. As I was playing, I actually said out loud once “Ok I get it I’m Comstock. Jesus, stop already.”

Then at the end, Elizabeth takes your hand and shows you the lighthouses. I was a bit annoyed because at this point I was waiting for her to just go “SURPRISE YOU’RE COMSTOCK!”

But that didn’t happen. That didn’t happen at all. Instead I spent the next few minutes gobsmacked as the game walked me through the alternate worlds and the fact that Elizabeth was my daughter, a daughter I had sold to Comstock years ago to erase my debt. What debt? Well it could have been my debt of guilt over Dewitt’s participation at Wounded Knee, or a financial debt, or perhaps even a dimensional debt required to balance the alternate universes.

I was floored, here I thought it was just going to be this cheap twist ending that I was the bad guy the whole time (which didn’t make sense that Dewitt was Comstock given his guilt over Wounded Knee but ok whatever) and instead I was offered this amazing tantalizing ending that would leave me with philosophical questions and something to ponder. What debt was I paying? The emotional payoff of Elizabeth losing her finger was deep and satisfying. The idea of the amorphous debt, the twins’ manipulations, the baptism metaphor, Dewitt killing Comstock in a rage, and the thrilling final battle sequence before the game’s end reveal left me reeling and thinking I had just played one of the best games ever written.

They had head faked me into thinking I was Comstock with the obvious voice tricks and dialogue and the baptism metaphor etc etc. I mentally congratulated the writers in their ingenuity at giving me a much more satisfying ending than just making me the villain all along and fooling me into thinking they were taking the easy way out.


I don’t think I’ve ever been more let down in a game in a long time in just a few minutes, which is a testament by the way to how good the vast vast majority of the game is.

It just makes no sense that Dewitt is Comstock, even in the multi-universe sense. It’s deeply unsatisfying. Guilt ridden Dewitt over his massacre of innocent Indians at Wounded Knee is, in an alternate universe (or maybe even the same one), racist Hitler-esque Comstock? Comstock who in at least one universe is sterile yet still Elizabeth’s father? Or bounces around dimensions made him sterile but Dewitt isn’t, so what’s the point of that except to make you think you’re not Comstock? I….there’s so much…what? Yes the baptism created a different person yet the drowning at the end…makes Comstock? Or not?

I’ve now played the ending two or three times over again and tried to make sense of it and sorry, it doesn’t work. And what’s worse is that it’s constructed in such a way that it’s somehow proud of its insights. And what are we to make of the coda at the end of the game’s credits? Dewitt is alive? Elizabeth is in the crib? I…what?

Dewitt being Comstock robs the game of some emotion and, I think, is a bridge too far. The coda at the end of the game’s credits compounds the issue.

I hate the ending of the movie Wall-E. It’s one of the best films I think I have ever seen but its ending is a cop out. When Wall-E suddenly for no reason regains his memory it negates the emotional impact of his previous sacrifice for Eve. What would have been a better ending? He loses his memory and then during the credits sequence (which features the story of humanity reclaiming the Earth), we see Wall-E slowly becoming who he was again over time and with Eve’s help. Wall-E is probably the best example I have of a movie that faltered fatally in its ending, for the payoff of not wanting to make the audience work too much. It’s almost like Bioshock Infinite failed in the same way, because the writers felt like the dimensions, the lighthouses, and how Elizabeth lost her finger just wasn’t enough twist.

I’m no expert on ending stories. I have taken that tone here I know. But at the end sequence of Bioshock Infinite when the multiple versions of Elizabeth kill Dewitt through the baptism metaphor I rolled my eyes and put my controller down.

So let me stop and remind you that if you made it this far and yet have not played the game GO PLAY IT. I might hate the ending, but I love the care that went into the game and it is, above all else, fun and beautiful and a piece of art that deserves support.

But having talked to a number of friends who have played it and were blown away by the ending I just wanted to express I think it would have been cleaner and more satisfying to stick solely with the Elizabeth emotional payoff. It feels very much that since Bioshock had a wonderful twist, they needed to one up themselves. Like a third movie from M. Night Shyamalan.

I’m saying all this only because I care about it. For sure if you hate the endings of my own stories please feel free to tell me how I don’t actually get endings at all.  Open-mouthed smile

Oh and one more time, yeah buy this game. I do want to see more like it.

My mind’s bouncing a bit around the Buddy shaped hole in our lives. But I wanted to say this about Bioshock Infinite since I finished it last week. Let me state right off the bat, Bioshock Infinite is a must play game. It’s worth your money and you should play it. No, really I’m dead […]