Category Archives: Videogames

Language Is a Phantom Limb

I struggled to decide whether I should write in English or Portuguese. 

English is the obvious lingua franca of the internet, and that’s where most of my works are published. There’s more competition for attention, but also a broader audience. 

I eventually decided to write in both languages, and, whenever possible, to write the same thing in both languages. I reached this decision because writing is the same as thinking, and writing the same things in different language forces you to think better, to broaden your perspective.

I don’t think Hideo Kojima’s final Metal Gear game, “The Phantom Pain” is his best work, but it was the one which had the greatest impact on me because it exposed me to the idea of how language shapes culture and thought. The English language is more than a vehicle of expression; it’s a vehicle of assimilation. 

Reading translated eastern-Europeans like Bulgakov or Dostoyevsky drove this in even further – the words are in English but the thoughts are constructed in a way that is almost alien, and I mean this in the best way possible. They make you organize your thoughts differently.

I’m very impressed by Anglo-Saxon culture, so I don’t mind being somewhat assimilated, but Kojima’s game got me thinking that I should be as serious about writing in my mother tongue as in English. It is not as profitable or practical. But I took it up as a manner of preserving my culture and, more importantly, to sharpen my way of thinking. 

Because if everyone thinks in the same language, we’re much less likely to produce interesting ideas.

One Of My Projects is Sixteen Today

Today marks the 16th anniversary of the Portuguese video games website ene3.net . While I wasn’t a founder, I have been there since nearly the beginning, and at some point, the torch was passed on to me. 

I tried to pass it along a couple of times, but like a particularly lovable but slow mutt, it kept coming back to me. I don’t actively post there anymore, but I kept it up as a repository of part of the written and spoken history of video games, in Portuguese.

I don’t actively post there mostly due to me re-evaluating my relationship with video games. I’m not entirely sure if they are something that I want to promote. I’m still figuring it out.

Still, sixteen years is a lot. This was a project that I joined pro bono, just because it was a fun thing to do. Eventually, it was instrumental in developing the skills and relationships that led me to do what I do today. Writing. Marketing. Leading teams. Weird – my little passion project ended up contributing more to my career than my alma mater ever did.

When you start something, know that’s ok to not stick with it forever. Just start it. You never know where it may lead you. Life isn’t a straight line. Leave room for serendipity.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

J.R.R. Tolkien,  The Lord of the Rings 

Life, Chance, and Hearthstone

The past couple of posts have been sort of heavy. So hey, let’s have some fun. Here’s what’s been entertaining me lately: Hearthstone.

For the uninitiated, Hearthstone is a free card game where you build your deck from a pool of cards (there’s a base pool, but as you play and/or spend money on the game, you expand it) and use it to battle other players online. 

It’s a tactical game of building armies (and wiping them out with a well-placed spell), but the luck of the draw is what keeps drawing (sorry!) me in. 

I like games that balance preparation with chance. I love the way that they mirror life, and in a way, I see them as essential training for life: a way to practice not being resentful for bad circumstances, and making the best with what you’ve got. 

Of course, winning is preferable, but there’s a mature kind of satisfaction from knowing you’ve managed to push a losing hand pretty far into the game, too.

Sure, if you start today and go against someone who’ve been collecting (or outright buying) cards for months, no amount of good fortune will prevent you from losing more games than you win. That’s also life. Some people have all they need to succeed right from the cradle, but most need to bid their time and build their resources over time until they can have a shot at doing something meaningful.

Entry into Hearthstone is an exercise in humility, then. That said, the game has never been more generous than today, throwing plenty of cards at new players, and providing an ample selection of single-player modes that do an excellent job at showing them the ropes.

Its cheerful exterior is clearly aimed at children, and I approve of this. It might just help the next generation build some backbone and feel just a little bit less entitled.

(Transparency disclaimer: if you use the link above and play until you reach level 20, I’ll get a handful of cards.)