Saturday, January 14, 2006

Must... Control... Fist... Of... Death

I can’t not write about the Weekend FT any more, it’s making me so angry. In a moment of fiscal weakness last year I arranged to have the Financial Times delivered to my flat every morning, and on Saturday mornings it’s become my habit to read the weekend edition in bed with a nice cup of coffee.

I thought this would keep me up to date with what’s happening in the world of business*, but instead it just fills me with uncontrollable, coffee-spilling RAGE.

First of all, that paper is just so straight. If you compiled a list of things that the Weekend FT deems to be cool, it would look like this: hotel lobbies, diamonds, watches, swanky restaurants, skiing, Zurich. Jesus. (That last one is an expletive, incidentally).

But in a masterstroke of poor timing, this morning the FT decided that what’s *really* cool is – gasp! – smoking cigarettes. It’s the 14th of January! I - and no doubt thousands of other FT readers - are fourteen days (give or take) into a new non-smoking régime, and what we don't need is some straight-laced business paper telling us that smoking is actually pretty hip, dontcha know.

So turning the page quickly away from the article about how smoking is really sexy and seductive and how giving it up destroys all creativity and you might as well condemn yourself to a life of eternal mediocrity etc. etc., I discovered an even more contemptible article, which was a review of a book about the economics of online gaming.

The FT seemed to want to atone for having gone slightly off the rails with the whole smoking-is-so-cool-and-bohemian thing, because this one was pure, soulless, City-boy rubbish.

“Online role-playing games are..hardly worth scholarly analysis”, sneers the reviewer, before becoming slightly aroused at the discovery that RPGs have economies that have spilled over into the real world, with people buying weapons and stuff on eBay.

He concedes that this might be quite interesting if these economies were really big, but as it stands, they’re actually quite pathetic. “All the synthetic economies put together…are about the size of Bosnia-Herzegovina,” he notes, laying the blame for this squarely at the door of the hapless losers who’ve spent years in World of Warcraft but *still* haven’t managed to create so much as a single in-game hotel lobby where one can purchase diamonds and expensive watches while planning one's next ski trip to Zurich.

Yes, according to the FT, the trouble with RPGs is that no one who plays them is sufficiently motivated by good old Western patriarchal capitalist greed. "There is no technological progress, little gain from specialisation and no opportunity to invest in capital stock," the reviewer moans about World of Warcraft. No, what these games really need is a bunch of wine-bar wankers to take over and set them straight. "For me, the interesting moment will come when - if? - a world with the popular appeal of Warcraft or Star Wars Galaxies allows entrepreneurial players to invest and invent," he says.

Which just goes to prove my theory - well, it's either mine or Antonio Gramsci's - that wherever there are people minding their own business and having a nice time, you can bet that sooner or later the whole place will be over-run by hordes of twats who want to ban it, trash it, or sell it back to them. It happened to the Neanderthals and it'll happen again. Oh yes.

On another note entirely, I had a dream last night that I was rubbing green chilli pickle into my own hair, which I found curiously erotic.

* A job that's done much better by the Economist, anyway. Plus it sometimes has jokes in it.


james henry said...

Good post, and yes, I can sense ghastly pinstriped creatures massing at the edges of online RPing, determined to find a new way of making cash from people who really just want to get away from all that in the first place. Bastards.

Read a great article about the Neopets site recently - lovely happy skippy kids online rp-ing - with a million internal ads for fast food. Utterly revolting.

I'm not too despondant though, as this kind of thing tends to just inspire people to move on and up and create something even harder to advertise on. Which has to be a good thing. Second Life looks pretty interesting, but despite my WOW-related witterings, the online RP world is still pretty damn primitive. Bashing things and solving puzzles, with very little imagination required, although the layout for something far richer and stranger is there, I'm sure...

Dave again said...

What james fails to mention is that on his blog he has just written about rubbing sand into his head.

You must both have... intertesting hair.

james henry said...

I have fabulous hair. Currently.

patroclus said...

Mine's a bit...piquant.

Dave again said...

That's all right then. I'm just off to the beach to rub pebbles into mine.

Stef the engineer said...

Green chilli pickle. Noted. Will suggest to wifey as a bedroom spice. (Whatever happened to chocolate & sweet stuff?)

patroclus said...

I should point out (in the interests of public safety) that I've never tried using green chilli pickle as an aphrodisiac in real life. I imagine it would be terribly painful. Don't do it, kids! Unless you like a bit of pain, of course, in which case please don't let me stop you.

Merkin said...

No charge!

Mister Whiskers said...

You should read something less boring than the FT.

I suggest: Lesbian Vampire Sauna!

Which is a book that...

...should be written.

Chuffy! said...

This has nothing to do with virtual economies, or with chutneyed hair products, although doubtless the hot lime would trade for thousands in EverQuest.

I saw your EHA post on NTK, and that sent me searching. Nice place you have here, even if it isn't an acronym. Any news of the others?

patroclus said...

Oo my word, Chuffy! (insert appropriate number of additional exclamation marks here). Gosh. Hello. So my cunning plan worked, eh? Welcome! How the hell are you?

As to the others, well charl and hen visit these parts occasionally, and DG has been known to lurk. No idea about Snark and his lovely lady friend - what was she called again?

Mr W: I read a lot of things that are less boring than the FT, but to date, Lesbian Vampire Sauna hasn't featured among them. You write it, and I'll read it. Can't say fairer than that. Also, welcome!

Merkin: Are you casting aspersions on my sidebar? What's wrong with my sidebar? I can't see anything amiss with my sidebar [continues in this vein for several excruciatingly tedious hours].

hen said...

Woo! Chuffy!! Long time no... err see.

I was going to make an intelligent and witty quip about an interesting aspect of the dialectic paradigm of social dynamics in virtual economics - but I could only come up with a nob gag.

Merkin said...

P, your sidebar has (on my screen, anyway) migrated to the bottom of the page, because the title of this post in the "recent posts" list is longer than the gap between the posting frame and the right hand edge of the screen.
Trust me.... I'm a pubic wig.

patroclus said...

Is that better?

It looked OK to me, but maybe that's because I'm using Firefox.

Thanks for the tip though, Merkin, very handy!

Chuffy! said...

I can't remember the name of Snark's minion, but do recall nutcase Andrea. I occasionally wonder how far she got her claws into Walliams, and exactly how much that's to blame for the complete cock that he seems to have turned into.

I'm well. Hope you and hen are to. You'll be pleased to know that the murder rate in KT is still well down on 2002 levels, although the High Street was entirely closed off on New Year's Eve following a 'Wild West Brawl' (CNJ) spilling out of an internet cafe, possibly over use of bandwidth.

Shepherd's Bush Philosopher said...

You didn't see the oasis of real cool in the previous Saturday's edition? ie my wife's terribly important views on the state of British bespoke footwear ;-)

Clearly it's all gone downhill since then.