['Bell, Game, and Candle' is a regular GameSetWatch column by game commentator Alex Litel, discussing stuff that happens in the game business. This time - a [verbally NSFW] discussion with a unicorn and a fundraiser foray provide insight into earthly troubles.]

“Oh fuck, Alex, I already have to deal with enough fucking demos; I don’t need different species to come into the fucking equation…. Wait, ‘unicorns,’ are you on 2C-I? (By the way, I must clarify my mention of 2C-I is not at all informed by any actual experiences I have partaken in.)”

“Slow down there, Machiavelli, you know that Sharon wants to have children, and the sailor is not as revered an occupation as it once was. Also, I do not actually know what ‘2C-I’ is, but I’m going to guess it is recreational drug and not automotive nomenclature at its most mundane.”

“Unicorns aren’t real.”

“I know; before Wii Sports, you would have said women over thirty were not a real demographic.”

“Isn’t it a bit demeaning to compare women to unicorns? And there’s no empirical evidence suggesting that unicorns are real. Alas, this industry is so counterintuitive to creative visionaries; I have great ideas like poaching Diablo Cody to bring Variety’s ‘slanguage’ to the twenty-first century and a daytime talk show strip hosted by Shalom Auslander.”


As Machiavelli pointed out above, unicorns kind of do not exist; thus, I took from the Ailes school of journalism and pretended that they do (obviously, the Ailes school of pretending, like that done in preschool, entails no research).

I searched far and wide for a unicorn gaming; I almost was about to just give up and just go for the Shetland pony in Creswick that watches television. But then, I discovered a gaming unicorn named Roger, who agreed to let me interview him.

Me: Hello there, would you like to start off by telling the readership a little about yourself.
Roger: Well, my name is Roger, I am a 23-year-old unicorn who is unemployed, dropped out of college, and enjoys media.
Me: I see. What games have you played recently?
Roger: While…about a week ago, while playing I was playing that artsy Adderall advergame—The Unchronological Undertaking of Stopwatch Strauss—with the puzzle pieces and the time-travelling, I discovered I had adult attention-deficit disorder.
Me: It is called Braid; I think I should say it is not an Adderall advergame. Do you really have adult-attention deficit disorder or were you saying that to be clever?
Roger: Yes, I played Oblivion, but I never understood what was actually occurring at all.

Me: Did you just make fun of my question?
Roger: No, I had an amusing anecdote related to the question. But I really realized I had adult attention-deficit disorder while playing Braid. Anyways, that game was no Primer.
Me: You have ADD and you understood Primer? But the juxtaposition of Braid to Primer is very interesting—both subvert a certain form of their medium, obviously deal with the time-travel, and fables that work on multiple levels.
Roger: Yeah. But Primer trumps Braid qualitatively, the latter is wholly stupidly Delphic artificiality, which is the antipode of the former. Not complementary, but ersatz. Not to mention that the creator of the latter blatantly stole from Proust and Time’s Arrow.
Me: Don’t you think that’s a pretty lofty accusation to make?
Roger: No, I’m pretty familiar with the former and the latter is amongst favorite texts; I know its sideways and byways. Braid is a reductionist derivative of Time’s Arrow; the book’s staggering specialness becomes infinitesimal, unprofound non-insights on people and sheer gimmickry. On a side note, [Time’s Arrow author Martin] Amis is actually a gamer, or once was—he penned Invasion of the Space Invaders back in 1982. And much like that of Proust, Tim’s prose is a puzzle in itself, there is a litany of layers simultaneously, the theoretics of memory, et cetera, et cetera.
Me: From the ways you speak, the influences of the works seem to be mutually exclusive; there could be no overlap. Also, you have ADD and you got through the 4,200 pages of In Search of Lost Time?
Roger: No, no, that definitely—certainly—is not the case. Yes, I did.
Me: I think you have misdiagnosed yourself. Have you asked a doctor about this?
Roger: No, but you really think this is misdiagnosis?
Me: Absolutely. But back to games, what did you think of Portal and what gaming journalists do you admire?
Roger: All the subversion of E.T. Interplanetary Mission with slightly better writing. And I’m a big fan of the guy who was on The West Wing and The Office—Thomas Chickedee.
Me: You mean Tom Chick?
Roger: Yeah, yeah, that’s the guy.
Me: What is your favorite game moment ever?
Roger: Indigo Prophecy’s Simon Says rooftop battle sequence with the Oracle is unimpeachably awesome.
Me: I think that is it, so thank you for your time.
Roger: Not a problem.

John McCain

Recently, while at Beverly Hills café, I noticed a news story on the television about John McCain throwing a fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton. Being the intrepid human I am, I had to find some way into the aforementioned fundraiser.

Naturally, I called up a vintage clothing store owner I knew, and bluntly asked if he had any conservative t-shirts; he did not, but agreed to make a “Dukakis Sucks” shirt on the spot and “put it through the trenches to feign twenty years of wear and tear.” Obviously, I was going to put on a nice coat and slacks—this was not Denver where all-out informality is largely apropos.

Unfortunately, I could not pass for campaign staff, so I had to cough up the young folks fee of five hundred dollars.

While walking into the ballroom, I passed by a monacled mister who looked like he did not know that the auditions for Nolan’s next Bat-flick were not happening quite yet. I said to the manacled mister, “I wonder if John Edwards is here,” and monacled mister let loose many guffaws. Monacled mister proceeded to ask me if I was the evening’s entertainment.

On a game-related note, I saw Bobby Kotick chat it up with John McCain, but nothing game-related came up. I imagine Kotick had evaded the games and technology issue for the same reason I avoid such topic with my mother—there is enough confusion from the older party about something simple that it makes the younger party feel like their brain is going to explode.

Despite me violating my own ethical codes, I could not get face-to-face with McCain but I did find his senior campaign folk.

Of course, I inquired to Rick Davis and others about the Veep selection. I was told “we want a pick that will nab her voters” and “John wants to lose us voters with Joseph or Tom, but neither of those have lady parts—the only way to attract the chicks.”

Offended, I responded quite hastily that females are not a voting block that can be attracted by the mere presence of one of their own and “can see through the transparency of pandering.”

An aide whose name I do not know ominously told me “we don’t pander; we decide. We are thinking the Alaskan chick—Palin.”

Davis threw out a non-sequitur, “Every time John McCain pauses, a bald eagle is impregnated.”

“Are you just taking Chuck Norris facts and replacing Chuck Norris with John McCain?” I queried.

“John McCain pees liberty. John McCain is strong like a bull; John McCain is strong like a moose,” said Davis.

I posed what I thought to be a fairly probing question to Davis, “Don’t you think that having the RNC foot the bill for ads that dub McCain as a ‘maverick’ leaves the campaign open to excoriation?”

Then I was kicked out faster than you can say “Vicki Isemen.” As McCain surrogate and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot star Rocky “Sylvester Stallone” Balboa once said, “Yeah, I thought I was history too. What the hell happened? All of a sudden, this car turned into a cannoli.”

Outside of the hotel, I run into acclaimed German director Hanswuhl—talk of cinema because his surprisingly successful, recently released art house film Flechten.

Said Hanswuhl: “I am infallible; I cannot ever err. If you are unable to complete my grand work, it is impossible but your own reckless doing. Your theories are utterly ridiculous, likely arbitrary; there is only one beholder here—myself. There is no providence, but only the factual actual which I am expert of. You are all wrong, I was inspired by the great literary work Sphereland—but Fletchen is no derivative of number9dream.”

The novelty of his accent quickly wore off and his pomposity became tiresome, so I left.

Oh, oh, oh, the answer to the question posed by the title is Peggle, of course!…hold on, hold on, our friends at Electronic Arts are informing me that all of these folks will be on their Macs and PCs playing Spore, the new masterpiece from The Sims creator Will Wright and his team at Maxis which sees release on Friday in Europe and Monday in Asia and North America. Our friends at Electronic Arts also have a mobile version for iPods, iPhones and cell phones called Spore Origins and a version for the Nintendo DS called Spore Creatures.

[Alex Litel can be reached at [email protected] and occasionally found at alexlitel.blogspot.com.]