I’d Like a Really Massive Order of Entitlement With a Side of BRAAAAAINS

Let me get this straight: Valve Software promises to follow up its absolutely and terrifyingly awesome zombie FPS Left 4 Dead with a sequel a year after the original, with new characters, new zombies, new bosses, better AI direction, new and more maps, and a whole slew of new guns and melee weapons… and some people want to boycott the thing, apparently because they feel that all of that doesn’t actually warrant a full release price. What they’d really like is for Valve to release it for free, and barring that, maybe at an expansion pack price.

Screw that, you appallingly cheap bastards. Valve knocked the ball right out of the park with L4D — I haven’t played a game as much, or with as much enjoyment, since Unreal Tournament 2004. Now they’re offering me a new, full, hopefully even better game in that same universe just a few months from now? Sweet zombie Jesus, sign me up. $50 is not nearly too much to pay for a game I know I’m going to waste precious working hours spend lots of time playing obsessively after my work day is done. Hell, on a per-hour basis, I’ll be paying pennies, if that.

More than that, Valve has earned my trust, because a) they have never once put out a crappy game and b) have never been cheap with their content: There may have been better a gameplay value than The Orange Box, which bundled Half-Life 2 and both its expansions, Team Fortress 2 and the little jewel of a game-changer known as Portal, but if there has been, I’m hard-pressed to name it off the top of my head. Valve regularly updates and expands their games as well; it’s difficult to bitch about them being stingy in that regard, unless your sense of entitlement is so monstrously large you couldn’t fit it into the Black Mesa test chamber.

All of which is why when Valve says, “You know what? We’re releasing Left 4 Dead 2 as a full game, because we’ve invested that much time in it and it’s just that good,” I believe them. They haven’t lied to me before, and they’ve had plenty of opportunities to do that, and to steal my money from me. Hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t  expect it will happen now.

Now, realize I’m saying this not entirely impartially: I know several people at Valve, and they’ve had me out to their shop to look around and chat with the crew there. But this in itself gives me an opportunity to point out how much I think these guys have earned my money: Before Valve had me out, they offered to comp me their entire line of games. I told them “no.” First, I already owned most of their games anyway. Second, the ones I didn’t yet own, I wanted to pay them for. Because I figured they were going to be worth it, and I wanted to show that fact. Yes, I suppose I could have just baked them “thank you” cookies or something, but I thought maybe pitching in to help pay for their salaries might be more appropriate.

So, hell no, I won’t be boycotting Valve for having the sheer unmitigated gall to look at the work they’ve done on this upcoming game and decide it merits a full release, and a full release price. As far as I can see, given their past games, and their past business practices, they wouldn’t say it’s worth me spending that much money unless it was. So I’ll be putting my money down, and happily so. And then I’m gonna get me some undead. Because, dude: Cost of Left 4 Dead 2: $50. Going after cajun zombies with a chainsaw and a frying pan: Priceless.


I’ll Get Back to You When I Get Back To You

The New York Times with a piece on how smartphones have morphed from luxury to necessity, which includes this following observation regarding responding when people e-mail or text you:

“The social norm is that you should respond within a couple of hours, if not immediately,” said David E. Meyer, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. “If you don’t, it is assumed you are out to lunch mentally, out of it socially, or don’t like the person who sent the e-mail.”

All together, now: Bullshit.

First: If you are the sort of person who believes that all your e-mails/texts must be responded to instantaneously or sooner, you may be a self-absorbed twit. Please entertain the idea that your responder may have a life of his or her own, with priorities which may not conform to yours. Chimpanzees, dogs and certain species of squid have all developed a theory of mind — you can too, if you try. We’re all rooting for you out here.

Second: If you’re the sort of person who believes that all e-mails/texts must be responded to instantaneously or sooner, that probably means you’re ignoring something important right in front of you, like the other person at the table, or traffic on the freeway, or a large dog about to savage you because you’re carelessly walking on his lawn. For your own safety and the courtesy of others, please do pay attention to the real world. Just because an e-mail or text wants your attention doesn’t mean you’re obliged to give it.

Third: Can we all agree that we don’t want to live in a world where we are obliged to respond to e-mails/text in an unrealistically short period of time, lest we be thought an enormous douchenozzle? I think trying to respond to your e-mails/texts over a course of a day or even two is perfectly reasonable, coupled with the understanding that, in fact, not every e-mail/text requires a response, so you might not get one. If you really need an immediate response, you can ask for one in the e-mail/text — again, with the understanding that a) abusing the “please respond asap” privilege dumps you into the “self-absorbed twit” category, and b) that person may still not respond immediately.

Basically, if we all agree that we can act like people who don’t have to be ZOMG the centaar of Teh Univarse!!!one!! for every other person and thing, things will be a lot more pleasant overall.

Mind you, even if we can’t all agree with this, I’m still going to answer my e-mail/texts on my own sweet schedule, not anyone else’s. Yes, I have a smartphone. And yes, I do in fact answer e-mails and texts with it; it’s fun to do so. But the main reason I have the phone is so that if my car flips and I’m pinned under two tons of Honda steel, I can call for help. I may or may not answer texts/e-mails any sooner because I have the phone. Not answering immediately does not mean I don’t like you; it means I have my own life and I’m busy with it. If you can’t manage to grasp that basic and obvious fact, that goes into the bin marked “your problems,” not mine.

Note that this formulation does not apply if you are my wife. If you are my wife, your e-mails and texts are returned immediately. Because I totally love you, babe. Everyone else: Eh. I think this is a fair set of priorities, personally.

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