Double Agent
We can't have perfection with you here - February 25, 2002 - Erin Mehlos

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this column are those of the participants and the moderator, and do not necessarily reflect those of the GIA. There is coarse language and potentially offensive material afoot. You must be bored again. Don't say we didn't warn you.

I have come to the realization that I ... am .... Luigi.

Well, a blonde female facsimile, at least.

But enough about me.... Let's go.

The Good, the Bad, and the Kick-Ass

Dear [insert random variation on the name 'Erin' or 'Mehos'],

I've always longed for a video magazine. Now, with the forthcoming of DVD, this is finally possible (as far as including as much content as a single magazine and/or month of site news might bring). There's just something about a video review, a visual interpretation of what the reviewer is praising or putting down, that gives me that much more of an understanding about a game. For example, Andrew Vestal could be explaining how fantastic the inventory system in XenoSaga is, while a clip of the game demonstrates his points on-screen. I also like video reviews because they tend to present their 'case' a bit more naturally, as if you were hearing about it from a friend deep within the industry. Gamespot and, before its demise, (it's okay to mention 'other' sites on DA, isn't it...?) have provided us with this great medium, but the fact is, you really can't get a good feel for a game in those low-res, low-frame rate, artifact-laden MPEGs. This is where DVD comes in.

Another thing that drives me nuts about certain publications, and something I'd like to see addressed in my utopia of a game mag/site, is a score system. Sites that cover limited genres, like The GIA, need a more refined score system than an all-encompassing site like Gamespot or IGN. The one-through-five score is great, but (and this works in conjunction with the video review, as no real 'score' should be given), I believe a BAD, GOOD, and KICK-ASS ratings system is all that really needs to be provided, when you're writing for a niche audience. I mean, that's the most natural type of ed/op on a game you can have, right? As a gamer, I don't pick up an RPG and say, "Wow, this is a four!" I'm either happy I bought it, or not. And in some cases, I'm through the roof happy. For people that play so many RPG's (and those, uh, other genres you cover ;-D), nothing much else is needed. ... ... ... *I'm not trying to tell you how to run your site, I'm just explaining what my ideal game site would be like, just as the topic asked of me.

Whelp, chief, looks like that's all you'll be getting from me tonight; I'm exhausted For, you see, Drew waited until two in the morning before updating DA with a mere five letters, one of which had the contents of the following: "Pendy the DQ/DW guy".

I must go and recharge my batteries.

-- Estéban S. Freítas

I'm gonna have to disagree with your chosen good/bad/kick-ass rating system. Yes, games can be categorized into things I was happy to have bought, things I would gladly trade in for an anesthetic-free hysterectomy , and things whose babies I'd proudly give birth to were it physically possible and had I not just elected to undergo a stick-bitingly painful operation to have my reproduction center removed rather than play Granstream Saga, but some kind of incremental ratings continuum helps me to prioritize in buying my games. When a shitload of "kick-ass"-quality titles hit the market, how do I decide which to tackle first, if one isn't a 5 while another is only 4, or one doesn't pull ahead of the pack with a 10 instead of a mere 9.3?

Since this is all a matter of personal preference it hardly matters, though -- you and I will simply have to subscribe to different make-believe ultimate gaming mags: you going with who delivers a stark good/bad/next-best-thing-to-life-altering-sex scale, me jumping aboard with whoever promises a boring, conventional percentage or point system.

You knew she was gonna say it

The perfect gaming mag has already long come and gone, and its name was Game Players. How soon we forget.

The perfect gaming website, however, would be a genre sweeping page run by robot monkeys. Is there nothing those robot monkeys can't accomplish? Honestly.

-Brooke B.

Creep ... you gotta let go. Bill would've wanted it that way.

The perks of wishful thinking
Ummm...The best gaming site and/or magazine would definitely hafta be a site that let unexperienced gamers like myself get paid to have a job description like THIS: you must play video games all day and do absolutely NO work and also whine about whatever you want.And they would give you a crew of people who have to agree with you on everything!!!!Rahahahaha!!!Wouldn't that be great?

Momo Jones-who will now commence to scrub her father's golfclubs with a toothbrush for loose change

That would indeed be scrumptious.

Sucks living in the real world, don't it?

The GIA remains King of all that it surveys

Two Words:
Hot. Babes.

'Nuff said

I can dig that -- by your standards the GIA is automatically acquitted of any other inadequacies by virtue of keeping Cozy and myself on staff.

Can we still be friends?

Somewhere under the rainbow, just to the left of the pot of gold, there lies a network of computers that hosts the most glorious of websites,

It is here at The Gaming Site that one is never bored. Updates appear two to three times per day and if there is little gaming news to be had, a clever feature will take its place. Games are reviewed with nothing but the utmost scrutiny, and always receive a score that somehow accurately reflects its subjective, relative value in an objective scientific manner.

The Gaming Site always has the most updated information, the most hilarious and obscure references in its images' tooltips, and marks each and every spoiler for every game, every time. Spoilers are even color-coded and sized differently so that more recent games receive a more urgent spoiler status. No one ever has their gaming experience ruined beforehand when they come to TGS.

There's a daily column at TGS that discusses gaming's ins and outs. Every topic day is a revelation and, of course, an utter pleasure to read. No one EVER uses elite speak, even in jest. My letters are ALWAYS printed, and responded to with a well-conceived counter-point and a humorous anecdote. has the coolest promotional T-shirt, ever. When people see you wearing it, they wish that they could be you, or at least have sexual relations with you someday. It will never happen though, because they are SO lame.

Of course no organization can be completely perfect, even The Gaming Site. There is the occasion when TGS may need a few thousand dollars. Luckily for them, everyone loves this Shangri La of gaming, and is more than willing to donate what they can to keep it going. In gratitude, the industrious staff at TGS have been known to pull crazy stunts, like playing enough crappy RPGs to collectively slay an African elephant. Naturally, the reviews for these games are all available in a couple of months, at the most. It's just that kind of go-out-of-your-way, try-to-keep-your-promises-sometime-this-decade kind of service that has made The Gaming Site the only place that an intelligent gamer would dare to go.

El Cactuar


No, seriously ... Thanks for ripping us a new asshole with such understated finesse.

It's all right.... it happens to a lot of sites....

This topic is easy! all you need is:

The GIA's In depth coverage, special not-quite-gaming related news (i.e. soundtrack releases, game merchandise etc) and sheer coolness + GameSpot's humongous size = the perfect gaming site

Jordan Roffman, who can't think of a funny closing comment

I'm going to ignore the fact that you've just made the classically tactless error of calling us small, and just go ahead and thank you....

Chu rock my world, Fritz!

What would be the best gaming site? The GIA of course! I hate to seem obvious, but with people like Fritz on the staff I really can't chu-se anything else.. Revamped with a database, new layout, direct user-user interaction, access to the database, and above all, a "Play this Game" link that doesn't actually forward you to or something but lets you play the game instead. :D


R. Choudhury

So, basically, gut the GIA and start anew with some type of hands-on-Fritz interface that just puts out without the benefit of monetary support..? I'll pitch it to the rest of the staff, dude, and see what they think.

Stay on your side!

My idea of a perfect gaming site would be a very large one that covered all genres in a specialized way. Instead of like IGN with it's Xbox, GC, PS2, ect. sections, there would be sports, RPG, fighters, shooters, ect. sections. Each section would have the standard array of reviews, message boards, letters column, polls, previews, and news stories. Each section would have people specializing in that particular genre. In each section these people would cover all gaming platforms. Then there wouldn't have as much internal fueding as IGN often has, trying to overhype their specific console they are covering over the other ones. Of course the sections would have to change as new genres pop up or die, but that's just like IGN has to change it's sections as new consoles pop up or die. Plus the site would have a general video game news section like Gamespot has to cover all the big stories, espcially all the news about the consoles themselves. The site would also try to sponsor special contests all the time too for various video game related prizes. It would also have a section that covered Japanese games that don't make it over here or that are a lot more popular in Japan.

Pendy the DQ/DW guy

I really enjoy the idea of genre-specific sections, actually. There are quite a few larger sites out there that organize in the IGN fashion, which isn't, I'll agree, always conducive to searching for info in your particular area of interest.

Also of note, your proposal for an import section. PSM had (and may still have -- I haven't actually read an issue in quite some time) a feature called "Nihon Game Otaku," that, despite its unfortunately fanboyish name, always had a fair bit of interesting info pertaining to the Japanese gaming scene, which I'd imagine was helpful to potential importers and other obsessive types.

This does, however, remind me to bring up what I think would be more of a selling point (for a website, at any rate), considering that Japan, genesis of all that is sweet and gooey in the world of electronica, ends up getting quite a bit of coverage anyway; something that readers have brought up occasionally and that I've agreed with entirely. Why not devote some time to the Euro/PAL scene? The majority of websites don't even cover European release dates, when clearly there are quite a few much-neglected European gamers out scouring the far-flung reaches of the web for the faintest rays of hope that the industry hasn't forgotten them.

A man who knows what he wants

Well, I can honestly say that I know what I want for a perfect magazine/website. For starters, nix the idea of a magazine. The internet is constantly growing and expanding - as a result magazines are having a hard time keeping up with the fast paced evolution of online gaming information. Personally speaking, I have dropped subscriptions to all gaming magazines because of the profusion of websites available online that offer much of the same information, if not more and more quickly. Naturally, I am just one angry clown but I feel that this will be the trend for the future (witness the demise of Next Gen.).

Anywho, on to the subject at hand, the perfect website. I want a website that is dripping with any and all information available, from obscure rumours to reviews of the latest games. Frequent updates, on the order of daily would be a must. A clear and pleasant user interface is also a neccesity. Image uploads should be as quick as possible, with billions (I can dream, ya bastards!) of images availabe of all of the latest games here and abroad. More importantly, all of this wonderful content should be made freely available to the public (..........[cricket chirps].........). Something else that should not be overlooked, message boards allowing visitors to vent their frustrations and chat about strategy and what not as well as a letter column similiar to what the GIA offers. Game downloads (this is more for PC games) should not be overlooked as well, it is rather frustrating having to travel to different websites looking for the latest dowloads for popular PC games.

[sigh]...I think that covers the majority but I am sure there are more features that I would like to see on the 'perfect' website. I suppose that is one more thing I can add, the perfect website should always try to expand and include new features as they are made available over the internet. Oh well, due to the tremendous server requirements associated with such an uber-site, I suppose we may never see anything of the like. Still, the proliferation of websites currently available insure that we can all tailor our browsing as we see fit.

- Justin

Oh, come on ... Unlimited bandwidth isn't too much to ask, is it...?

High hopes


First, I'll put a disclaimer on here...I'm a staffer for RPGFan, so I guess you can consider me biased. Of course, my letter is going to be mostly sarcastic, so what does it matter anyway? Jaded sarcasm knows no bounds.

Anyway, we recently conducted a survey of our readers and while it was mostly boring demographics, we did allow our friendly visitors to make use of a lovely suggestions box. While there were quite a few great and constructive comments, there were about as many silly, absurd ones as well. Based on these, I think we now have a great understanding of what goes into making The Ultimate Gaming Site (tm).

Here's my top 10 list:

10) Unlimited bandwidth so that one can have access to an instant selection of movies from every game ever created---all encoded at 640x480 lossless AVI, of course.
9) As an addendum to the unlimited bandwidth policy, its sister rule is that users must never have to put up with any form of advertising whatsoever. Even more, any of those obnoxious attempt to fund the site must be eliminated. Who wants to put up with looking at that crap anyway?
8) No less than 30 news updates per day. Period.
7) A "smart" website that can generate 30 news stories a day AND will cater to the users exact tastes. So, the Final Fantasy fan must get 30 updates solely based on the latest Square happenings, while the Sakura Taisen fan must see nothing but pages upon pages of dating simulation stories daily. No exceptions.
6) At least 1,000 screens for every game in existence. Preferably all at 1024x768, but 800x600 will do if need be.
5) Management that "cares". Of course, this means that if one reader complains about any certain staff member in any capacity, fire them. That's all there is to it. A zero-tolerance policy MUST be enforced. (No more terrible situations like TheGIA keeping Nich on staff after his completely offensive Legend of Dragoon review. Such betrayal of the readers must not be tolerated!)
4) Reviews of games weeks before they come out. Of course, these reviews shouldn't be based on beta versions either, because that would be bad too. Hey, if possible, it would be best if the game developers would let the staff camp out in the studio and write about every detail of the game as it's in development--including every word and revision of the plot. (Of course, will all spoilers appropriately marked.)
3) While the staff is busy camping out in the offices of Konami and Square, reporting on the newest texture realignment as mentioned above, they may as well get free copies of the game for all their readers, right? Or, at least talk the companies into giving it away for free. Who has $50 to waste on a new game?
2) Cover all platforms equally. Any site which writes more PS2-based stories in any day as opposed to GC ones is obviously comprised of nothing more than a bunch of Sony-whores. Not at The Ultimate Site (tm), however. 1:1 platform ratio on all daily stories, reviews, and picture galleries. PS2, GC, Xbox, DC, GBA, and even the NeoGeo Pocket all get equal coverage. Isn't life just grand now?
1) Zero bias whatsoever. Of course, this also means that the site shouldn't say anything, either negative or positive, about any game at all. This is also helped by the review crew adopting an "A for Effort" scoring policy. Every game gets a 92% score no matter what. No more of that worthless "opinion" stuff that does nothing but get in the way of a fair, just, and neutral review.

Hope you enjoyed my list. I can assure you that we're making great headway in becoming The Ultimate Site (tm), so you folks over at TheGIA better start throwing a little elbow-grease into it. It may seem practically impossible to create unlimited free bandwidth, get developers and publishers to bend to your every whim, please exactly 100% of your entire audience, and give every game a perfect score with a clear conscience...but, hey. If the readers demand it, that's that.


Believe me, we wanted to fire Nich, but the Union wouldn't have it -- so we gave him a raise instead, doubling his former wage of three specks of dust and tacking on the hefty holiday bonus of a subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club.

Good luck in your efforts, RPGFan. God knows we've a long way before we can reach such stringent standards as you've opposed upon yourselves; Alex is still crying out in his sleep after being forced to give Azurik that lofty 1.

I want to search for my name and savor every smartass remark..!

You guys, if you put a search engine in already.

Lazy bastards.

~Ian P.

Once again I'm faced with the grim truth that you and I, Ian P., share a curious sort of psionic kinship: a search engine has been my one and only suggestion for the GIA since a coon's age prior to my coronation.

Imply that the rest of the staff is in any way not at the top of their game again and I'm testing our preternatural bond with an X-acto blade to the airspace wherein I'd store my love-spuds had I been born male.

Like having my toes nibbled by spiders in the family way....

Yo Erin,

I might not be the first one to bring this up, but I thought this was well worth contributing to Double Agent:

From Gamespot: According to Bloomberg, Microsoft sold approximately 123,000 Xbox units during the console's Japanese launch this past weekend. Microsoft reportedly shipped around 250,000 units for the launch, 50,000 of which were the limited-edition version of the console. Twelve games were available at launch, but only an average of 1.59 games were actually sold with each console. The fact that Microsoft is new to the console market, as well as the Xbox's high price point when compared with that of the PlayStation 2 and the GameCube, were cited as possible reasons for the relatively low launch numbers. Hell yeah! The road to X-Box becoming an obsolete chunk of ugly black plastic has begun. Here's a topic for tomorrow: Do you see this as being the first real evidence that the X-Box is destined to fail? If so, how much longer does it have?

Evil Lights, who's feeling surprisingly non-evil right now

... you know how my heart fairly glimmers at the opportunity to be flamed into the next century for even invoking the console's name! Nevertheless....

Closing Comments:

... my sanguine appraisal of Gates' beast's showing in Japan last week was perhaps premature.

Still and all, there are a lot of reasons that may or may not factor in to these somewhat lackluster early sales, and while its a bit early to be looking critically at the situation, that's simply not the DA way! If we actually waited to see how things played out we'd be robbing ourselves of the fun that is ignorant deduction and ill-informed conjecture!

So for tomorrow, clue me in on what you think has contributed to the Xbox's selling like Lisa Douglas' hotcakes thusfar, and what this bodes (if it in fact bodes anything whatsoever) for the console's Japanese future. Don't skimp on the games, either! What's made DoA such a success on Rising Sun soil, while the rest of the lineup languishes on store shelves?

See you next time.

- Erin Mehlos

Recent Columns  
Double Agent Archives
"Slow 'n steady" or some other mercilessly hackneyed turn of phrase
FAQ? It's on the list.