December 13, 2005

Crime Story


At the New Yorker holiday party last week, a slightly tipsy editor let me in on the secret that governs whether freelance pitches are accepted or not: it's one big behavioral reinforcement experiment. "We reward you just enough to keep you pressing the lever," he said.

I guess someone sensed that, nine and a half months since I last got something in the magazine, my lever paw was getting tired, because this week I finally got another thumbs up. In the new issue: Cyber City (headline most definitely not my idea), in which professional tour guides road test the new video game, True Crime: New York City. New Yorkers will appreciate the screengrab above after reading the article. That's Marcus with George M. Cohan.

You might remember that I did a little research for this game in early 2004. When I wrote the New Yorker piece I made sure to shoehorn in a parenthetical disclosure, but it was taken out by the editors. I don't know exactly why, but I guess it was a combination of things. First, It was one of those awkward sentences that draws more attention to the disclaimer than is warranted. Second, not much attention was warranted because I pretty clearly have no stake in the game's success. And finally, I learned that practically none of the research I did actually ended up in the game. All that stuff they wanted to do with unique non-player characters turned out to be too time consuming (and I guess, though Activision didn't say so, expensive).

In case you're wondering, I haven't yet played much of the game other than for the purpose of exploring virtual Manhattan. That part is definitely fun, but the rest of it is, I think, geared to gamers who are more hardcore than myself. There's a lot going on and I just can't see myself devoting the kind of time and energy that it apparently requires to really get into it. On the other hand, I owe Rockstar an apology for this post. The Warriors game is pretty great, at least the few levels I've gotten through. Yes, it's largely a brawling game, but it's not only that (it's also a mugging, stealing, and smashing stuff up game) and each level is a pretty decent sized open arena that nicely evokes 1979 New York. The acting (they got most of the original performers, which I guess isn't a surprise) and script are very true to the spirit of the movie too.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


Umm... by running your Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest, are you perhaps hurting your chances of getting your pieces run? Or do they have a better sense of humor than you think?

You mean a better sense of humor than you think? I had plenty of reason to believe that folks there would find the contest funny when I started it. Subsequent conversations (unfortunately private) have confirmed this. No -- I have to blame my own crappy pitches, I guess.

Rushed in here to ask my question, only to see it has already been asked by theophylact, only I was totally not going to use that "a better sense of humor than you think" phrasing.

Didn't mean that they had good taste in cartoon captions, only that they could take a joke: "Whassa matta, aincha gotta sensa yuma?"

Why would you write for someone who makes you jump through hoops like that?

Fuck the New Yorker.

As Brad Pitt said in True Romance, "don't condescend to me, you bastards."

Nyx-- if the NYer offered YOU hoops to jump through, you would not jump through--over and over?

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