A Brief Statement

Gametrodon condemns the behavior of the abusers at Activision-Blizzard, and the management that enabled them.

The next several months will likely determine if the company has any chance for reform, or will just act to save public face without making any actual commitment to demolishing a culture of sexism and abuse.

California Department of Fair Employment & Housing Complaint

NPR Coverage of the Complaint

An Open Letter from Blizzard Employees to Management

Jason Schreier’s Twitter – Writer for Bloomberg, and coverage of the unfolding events.

We encourage our readers to review the links above for more information and context.

The most valuable voices to listen to at this time are those who have had to endure this discrimination and abuse.

“Secret Lair Survey” Survey Results

I was curious, and created a bad survey to try to answer my curiosity. Here’s the data, why the survey was bad, and my attempt at a better one.

TLDR: MTG sent out a survey about possible future directions for Secret Lair subscriptions and pricing. I was curious who received the survey, so I sent out my own survey about their survey. Here is the raw data I collected as a CSV, minus contact info if it was provided. I didn’t do a great job following up on this one. I’ve also made a better version of the survey, trying to learn from my mistakes.

About three weeks back, a lot of people who had purchased Secret Lair products received an email asking them to take a survey about Secret Lair products. I did not receive this email, but I heard from friends who did.

I don’t have any screenshots of the survey (if you do, please send them over to me, I’d like to include them in this article), but I reached out to a few of the folks who received the it. The general gist I got from talking to folks was something like this:

  1. The survey contained a variety of offers, most related to different subscriptions/subscription offers.
  2. The specific pricing on these offers ranged price based on the survey, and some folks who opened the survey multiple times stated that they saw the amount change, which implies there was some A/B testing going on regarding price point.

Regarding the specific offers themselves, there were a few different types I saw mentioned. These included same day shipping on orders, a discount on purchases, and subscriptions to all Secret Lair products for a year.

Now, all of this is very interesting, and I’d write about it more if I actually had the link to said survey, and screenshots. But I don’t. What I’m interested in is who WoTC sent the survey to. It seems like they were primarily targeting individuals who spend large sums of money on Secret Lair with this survey.

So, I did what any bored motherfucker who thought they could get a clickbait article for their blog out of it reasonable person would: I put up a Google form, posted it to Reddit and Twitter, and waited for some responses.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I got enough responses to reasonably answer my question, but I did promise to release my data in those posts, so here it is in csv format. I’ve removed the column that included contact information, but left everything else.

I do want to quickly go over why I don’t believe this data can be used to support my hypothesis which went something like “WoTC was specifically targeting folks who had spent lots of money.”

Lets start with the big one: this is an incredibly small set of responses. I’m incredibly grateful to the folks who took the time to fill it out, but 38 data points is nowhere near enough to begin drawing meaningful conclusions, and not everyone who responded had even purchased Secret Lair products.

In addition to this, this survey was from a specific subset of the population of folks who might have even seen it, i.e., Twitter and Reddit users. So we have a fairly heavy sampling bias to add to that as well.

(I think it’s actually fairly easy to manipulate this data to make the argument you want. For example, if you look at the average spend of folks who received the survey, they spent more than folks who didn’t. But if you look at actual numbers of folks who bought Secret Lair products and received the survey versus those who didn’t, there’s no clear cutoff. This is also why I’m not comfortable drawing conclusions with this data.)

On the other hand, I think there are some valuable lessons to be learned here, at least from my side. Let’s go over them briefly, shall we?

  1. Have a testable hypothesis before you randomly ask strangers to give you info. Pretty sure any science or stats teacher would smack me for what I did here, at least in terms of going “Hey, lets just gather a bunch of data, and then think about it.”
  2. If I’m going to try to do something that is time sensitive, I need to actually move quickly. Plenty of people gave me contact info. I didn’t reach out to them, partly because I had other work stuff, mostly because the new Path of Exile league came out, and I started playing that non-stop. (It turns out that doing meaningful data analysis and journalism is hard, who would have thought.)
  3. Reach out to the company involved. I probably could have just emailed WoTC. I mean, I doubt they would have responded, but who knows. It couldn’t have hurt to have tried.

So, in the spirit of being curious if WoTC is about to lean hard into whale fracking learning from my own mistakes, I’ve created a brand new survey that attempts to fix the problems with the first one. This time, we’re only interested in two things: if you received the survey, and how much you spent on Secret Lair in 2020, and 2021.

You can fill it out here.

Again, I greatly appreciate anyone who takes the time to do so, and while I doubt this second survey will hit the numbers required to do meaningful analysis, I’ve tried my best to fix some of the flaws I noticed with the first one. And just like the first one, I’ll release whatever data I get publicly.

Dota: Dragon’s Blood – Spoiler-ish

What the ever loving fuck.

I have played a lot of Dota. Like a lot. Not as much as some people, but still over several thousand hours. I also like anime, animated shows, and have low expectations for non-game media based off of games.

As such, I think I might be the exact audience for Netflix’s new show Dota: Dragons Blood. As I sit here having finished it, my only thought is:

What the fuck did I just watch?

No, seriously, if you know, can you please tell me?

I really like Dota 2. I know my Dota 2 lore. I may be one of 12 people who enjoyed the Dota CCG, Artifact, and I’ve read all the comics. And I’m still bewildered.

The best way I can put it is that I had a set of expectations going into this show, and it did not match them. I expected a fairly generic fantasy world, maybe passable characters, and a generic but acceptable plot.

What I got was a fantasy world that feels like it’s based off a world bible that no one but the producers has ever read, surprisingly solid characters, and a plot that waltzes its way, high as a fucking kite, hither and yon, and yon and hither, giving absolutely zero fucks about things like “pacing” and “tonal consistency.” One moment, we’re in a mystical library. Next moment, there are a bunch of elves having a foursome. Then murder. Now war crimes. I think this was all the same episode.

I’m honestly not sure what to think.

I do have one absolutely massive complaint about the show: it wraps up zero of the plot points it introduces, even regarding its main characters. And honestly, that’s kind of a shame, because I would be surprised if the show gets a second season to wrap them all up. Valve historically sucks at continuing projects that don’t go gangbusters, and also the show is weird as fuck.

Edit: Since I wrote this, they’ve confirmed a “Book 2” is being made. I’m still not sure why.

The show has a lot of things I can see potentially turning folks off it. Gratuitous nudity (mostly male). A lot of violence. Swearing that some folks will see as “Well, that’s just how folks talk,” and others will see as “We’re so grimdark and cool.”

I’m not sure how you’re supposed to evaluate television. Would I tell other people to watch the show? I mean, maybe. Maybe if they already like somewhat edgy animation. Did it succeed in making me care about the characters? I mean, yes, otherwise I wouldn’t be upset with how it ended, wrapping up zero plot points, and setting up for a second season that might not ever exist.

While the motivations of the characters themselves and their actions make sense in context, the world they’re taking those actions in often feels a little pants on head crazy. While the animation is really nice at times, the end result feels like reading an independent comic book with a creator who has equal amounts of technical artistic skill and ketamine at their disposal, and has primarily opted to use the ketamine while doing the writing.

If this for some reason has made you want to watch it, it’s on Netflix.

The show can also be found in my haunted dreams, but I don’t think there’s a subscription service for that yet.

Racial Justice Bundle – Didn’t make the Cut

Wow, it’s been a while since we’ve done one of these, huh? I finally dug back into the ol’ backlog of games this weekend, looking for more treasure in the large pile of…. stuff.

Stuff that people probably worked very hard on, but still wasn’t actually all that fun or interesting.

Or (at least in my subjective opinion) wasn’t “Good.”

As always, I encourage readers to download and play these games yourself. Don’t just take my word for it if I call something stupid garbage! Experience it yourself. Join me in the digital equivalent of dumpster diving, because as they say, one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure.

Babysitter Bloodbath

I’m not sure what to say about this game, other than: it has surprisingly nice polish and production values, but I still didn’t care enough to want to keep playing it. The whole thing gave me a super old-school Resident Evil vibe, and frankly, I don’t much like horror. So after the second time the controls bugged, and I couldn’t turn left or right, I was more then happy to put it down, and pick up something else.

Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor

Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor is a game about being a spaceport janitor. You burn trash, try not to vomit everywhere from eating garbage out of a vending machine, avoid getting shaken down by cops who eat your money, and also search for a way to remove a giant weird skull that perpetually floats behind you screaming.

Okay, so my description sounds kind of cool, but the game just feels boring. You wander around, trapped in a loop of never having enough money to buy anything, within a maze-like city zone, all the while just generally having everything be shitty and sucky. Oh, and while torching garbage.

Maybe the intention of the designers was to create an atmosphere of boredom and fatigue, caused by doing the same thing every day, and feeling like a hamster trapped on a wheel. I don’t know. Apparently the giant floating skull is a metaphor for depression? Not sure I really connect with that one either. Point is, if the intention was to make something that feels boring and dreadful, they succeeded. I am bored, and I would dread ever playing this thing again.

Some neat art and a little bit of neat worldbuilding though.

Tonight We Riot

Unfair enforcement of laws in regards to minorities, and those with sexual or political orientation differing from the mainstream are a big issue. Lack of police oversight and accountability are serious problems. Capitalism has significant flaws that are having lasting impacts on our society.

I don’t think the proposed response of Tonight We Riot, which appears to be murdering riot police with cinder blocks, and torching bankers with molotov cocktails is a great solution to either of those problems.

So yeah. I don’t love the theming. And I also don’t love the controls. Many of them feel fairly wonky, and the targeting on things like ranged weapons, and controls for moving your fellow workers also don’t feel great. I played through the first big boss and called it a day.

Dorfromantik Demo

Dorfromantik ends up in a “Didn’t make the cut” article not because it’s bad, but because it’s a very barebones demo that while nice, didn’t compel me to rush to buy the full game. If there was any single item on this list right now that I would actively encourage other people to check out, Dorfromantik would be it. Given that the full game sits at 2400 reviews with an average of overwhelmingly positive on Steam, I think people other than me might like it.

Just a hunch, y’know?