Garwulf’s Corner #28: Emails from the Edge Goes Forth

Hello, my dear readers. Another seven installments, and it’s time for another Emails from the Edge column. I always love getting reader mail; I’ve said before that I have some of the most intelligent readers on the Internet, and almost every letter I get confirms it.

On a personal note, I have to apologize to anybody who showed up at WorldFantasyCon hoping to find me. I was unable to go due to financial difficulties. Happily, I can now report that these difficulties have all been solved (although I really wish they had been solved a month earlier, so that I could go).

And so it’s now time to sift through my mailbox, and share some of the gems I’ve received in the last three and a half months.

Garwulf #22 (“Once Upon a Time”) managed to generate a fair amount of discussion. Neil Frederick wrote:

“As for the Diablo 2 Expansion Pack—all I can really add is that most of the people who bought it couldn’t care less about the story. They bought it for the new character classes, new monsters, and new items. Maybe they should have been in the original; that’s not for me to judge. But Blizzard is a business, and they set the prices that the market could bear, which it most certainly did, if the sales figures and charts mean anything.”

Keith Blank agreed, writing:

“I do not play or did not buy Diablo 1 or 2 or the explanation for the story line; personally I think it is watered down like most books to movies/games. I play Diablo 1 and 2 because I find it fun to play with friends and [when] leveling up my character, I enjoy the RPG features of the game (besides the story). If Diablo 2 was mostly story (like that book series you mentioned), I would play it through once and set aside to collect dust, but the game is more than just story.”

Between issues 22 and what had been planned as 23, one of the most horrifying events in modern history occurred. As a result, a different column ran as Garwulf #23. I got several letters thanking me for my words, and some very moving letters from people who had lost family or themselves been in the buildings when the airplanes hit, but I think one of the most representative letters came from Grant Wellington of London, England:

“I read your words. Here in the UK we are trying to make sense of it all as well. As you already know many people all over the planet worked there; many English people have lost their lives as well. I hope you are wrong regarding the dawn of a new world war. Who knows what the next few days will bring, but it goes without [saying] that here in the UK we stand arm-to-arm, hand-in-hand with our American allies to stamp out the people who are responsible.

“Our Hearts and prayers go out to those people who have lost there loved ones and friends; they will all be in our prayers.”

As it turns out, at least for now, it appears I was wrong about this being the start to a new world war. When I heard that the Taliban had caved in, I actually looked at my watch in shock and thought, “this soon?” Well, here’s hoping that the war will be over soon, and that it will be an end to the entire affair.

Freeman Ng actually managed to wrap his mind around the matter the day after, a rather impressive feat (it was at least a week before I was able to). He wrote, after making it absolutely clear that he wasn’t trying to justify the attack, but rather to put it into context:

“Writing the terrorists off as crazies only serves to deny the political dimensions of this tragedy, and justifies the crime and punishment model that our response will no doubt take…The toll of civilian casualties (we call it “collateral damage” when the civilians are foreigners) resulting from US military action in the past couple of decades is probably much higher than the World Trade Center body count will turn out to be. As is the count of civilians tortured or killed by repressive regimes directly supported and trained by the US. (Can you say, “School of the Americas?”)”

Garwulf #24, an issue about how the computer game market is maturing, managed to stir up a fair bit of controversy. Rhett Yurgin respectfully disagreed with me, writing:

“I’ve been an avid gamer since the age of five. Now, at the age of eighteen, I see video games degrading.

“Seriously, take the Quality to Quantity ratio back in 1994, and compare it to today’s market. Were you to take this seriously, you’d find that the games produced back then were absolutely amazing; they had everything, save graphics.”

Bill Brimstone had a different point of view on it:

“I just read your article on the computer games attracting the attention of older people and the reason it struck me was I and my friends are between the ages of 18-21: young adults. My friends and I have been playing video games since Nintendo and earlier (what was that…‘88 or something?). My parents never got into video games of any type, but several members in a clan I’m a part of are over the age of 35. I think, though, the number of players are still of young ages. My point is I don’t think that mature audiences are becoming more attracted to video games, I think all the players are growing up.”

For the next three issues, the column was in anniversary mode, and as a result most of the mail was regarding older installments. As usual, number six, Walking with the Dead, is still generating email. However, I prefer in these feedback columns to deal with mail directly related to the previous seven installments, so I won’t quote them here. However, I will say that they are as moving and thoughtful as ever.

I will close with a letter from Michiel Otting regarding installment number 27, which focused on role-playing stories. While most of the reader mail from that issue tended to be new role playing stories (some of which I may print in the future), Michiel, who lives in Holland, wrote in regarding my example of the church outside of Prague:

“A looong time ago, one of the priests or bishops or whatever from the cathedral went to the ‘holy land’, and took some earth with him. He spread out the earth over the burial ground of the cathedral. To many people, this made the ground truly sacred. So for them to be buried under the ground of the holy land was the phunkiest sh*t they could imagine. So the burial grounds became extremely popular. Soon, when the plague hit the lands, the burial grounds became too full. So one of the monks, an old blind one, started using the old bones to decorate the church.

“So basically, it wasn’t a sick bastard, but rather someone who didn’t know what to do with the overflow of customers for the burial ground. They didn’t want to deny them the chance to be buried in holy ground, so they had to remove the bones. Back then, there weren’t all too many ways to dispose of bones like we have nowadays, so they used it in a somewhat unorthodox, artistic manner.

“Don’t call it sick man. It looks great!”

Well, I stand corrected.

(As great looking as it is, it’s still one of the most morbid types of art I’ve ever seen, and I wouldn’t put it into my fiction on a bet.)

Until next time, my dear readers. Remember, even though I may not get a chance to respond to all of your mail, I do read every single letter that comes my way, and I love getting it. So, keep reading, and keep writing!

Next installment: Are You Eating That Ration?, in which the noble author examines realism in fantasy games.

Garwulf’s Corner was written from 2000-2002, by Robert Marks and published on Garwulf’s Corner covered gaming culture, fantasy literature, computers, and more. Robert Marks was also the author of Demonsbane, a work in the Diablo series of novels published by Blizzard Entertainment.

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