Faking Video Game Familiarity

I noticed some faking.

He lists wall jumping as a skill players learn from super mario bros. 1. Wall jumps are more like a speedrunner technique that exploits a physics glitch. Wall jumping as an intentional game mechanic that players learn was added in later games (SM64 was first). It also existed in other games like Super Metroid, as he brings up.

Then later he suggests in zelda 1 you can use the boomerang to attack enemies, like the sword but with range. that’s not how it works (in short, sword does damage, boomerang stuns – to attack from a distance get e.g. bow and arrows). he wrote “In Zelda you start off with nothing. Then you get a sword that allows you to attack enemies. Eventually you get a boomerang that lets you attack enemies from a distance.”

Not only could he know this by actually playing the games he’s talking about and remembering what they’re like, he also could ask an expert or web search it:

He wants us to trust his expertise but he’s making errors that indicate he’s going by vague memory, mixing up mechanics from different games (but then using examples he’s less familiar with due to their prestige? i think that’s how he chose), and not very experienced with the gameplay stuff he’s trying to teach us about.

Something has to go wrong for a person who has likely never done a single wall jump in SMB1 to report wall jumps on a list of skills the game teaches players. How do you add made up stuff to the list that readers would think comes from experience? There’s some dishonesty involved. He’s pretending to have a lot more expertise with the topic of his talk than he actually has, and he chose a topic he lacks expertise in (probably to try to get more attention, e.g. he got a patio11 link and then I saw it, which may not have happened without the gamer stuff), and he chose not to consult an expert or look it up.

Also the thing SMB1 speedrunners call jumps are not actually wall jumps (they know that). They look similar to wall jumps from other games that have wall jumps and allow somewhat similar gameplay (not really that similar because games with wall jumps have sections where you jump back and forth between two walls, but SMB1 levels aren’t designed for that and the wall jumps I recall seeing are single wall jumps not chains).

An actual wall jump involves jumping off the side of a block.

In SMB1, the glitched “wall jump” involves clipping into a wall then jumping off the top of the block beneath you, not the side of the block you clip inside. Because you only clip a few pixels into the wall, it looks similar to jumping off the side of the wall, but it isn’t. You jump off the top of something. It’s in fact the regular jump mechanic. You’re just standing on top of something unintended.

I just noticed the slides are from 2008. That goes to show why he chose the theming and used popular games with a specific subculture despite his own lack of familiarity with them. It helped him get a link from a prominent person many years later. That kind of social climbing works. And it doesn’t require being honest with yourself about your expertise, being honest with your audience about your expertise, consulting experts, or looking stuff up.

Very few readers notice the faking. They are impressed by SMB1 stuff but they don’t know what they’re talking about regarding that game either. They have some vague memories of it, some secondhand (some of them have never played it but know stories; people who did play it also have heard some stories). They are told they learn wall jumping in SMB1 and are impressed that the guy is a fellow SMB1 nerd. Neither the speaker nor audience knows that isn’t in the game. That doesn’t stop them for connecting over their shared fake love of the old ultra-popular game.

BTW this site says SMB1 has sold over 40,000,000 copies. Mario | Video Game Sales Wiki | Fandom.

Somehow people see some of the best selling games as especially nerdy. In my (second-hand) understanding, it’s different with music. You can’t just say you like the most popular or best selling band and convince people. You have to know something that not everyone knows, e.g. the name of a song they did which wasn’t on the radio which you can say is your favorite in order to show you’re a real fan.

Somehow a lot of gamers see some extremely high selling commercial stuff as special, obscure nerd culture. Music people seem more aware of these issues and a little harder to fool. (My source, who has more familiarity with music culture than I do, says his knowledge could be dated. It may have changed. It’s possible people are more gullible/accepting now. Not saying they are. It’s just the video game gullibility is from a later time period so isn’t necessarily comparable.)

BTW reminds me of the popularity of Ready Player One, an awful book from a author who was faking like hell. But a lot of people apparently liked it. I think people get away with faking because they know their stuff better than most of the audience, or about the same. There’s a big audience of similar or worse fakers.

When a script writer for The Big Bang theory makes up a story about Sheldon visiting a comic book store, people don’t give that writer credit for being a comic book nerd. But somehow I think the Ready Player One author, or the talk giver, gets nerd credit. I think they’re actually similar to the script writer though – trying to guess what nerds like and make up some stuff to pander to it. And it’s not fully made up, but they aren’t experts and get stuff wrong. And most of the audience aren’t experts either and don’t notice the errors but still somehow like it and feel connected like they have shared experiences when neither party actually has much connection to the game. People remember they played SMB1 some but don’t remember details like whether the game features a second type of jump or not, and they don’t care about details.

Maybe it’s because people don’t see the script writer or know who he is. So they aren’t even thinking about him. I think they’re more likely to give nerd credit to the actor who plays Sheldon, who they do see. But he’s an actor, it’s a fake and scripted TV show, and people know that. Whereas with a book or talk it’s not supposed to be so fake. People don’t see it the same way. Authors are assumed to write stuff that fits their interests and knowledge (or if not that, to do research. that’s more expected with books than TV scripts. Ayn Rand researched architecture and railroads. Lots of authors actually research stuff to make their novels better. That’s not unusual.). The talk giver did a lot to present himself as an expert on the subject matter of his talk, as you’d expect him to be (it’s inappropriate to go stand up in front of a group and try to teach them if you don’t know what you’re talking about and having no knowledge to share).

More info on how popular super mario bros. is

on a related note, i think people actually do connect over “omg u play minecraft too?” and there’s a lot of faking from people who just played it a little because it’s popular and then pretend to like it.


So I continued reading the patio11 article that linked the princess rescuing slides with the faking.

patio11 starts talking about Genshin Impact.

Consider MiHoYo’s Genshin Impact, which I’ll use as an example because I think it is up there with Fortnite or WoW in terms of future expected impact on games industry practices.[1] Genshin Impact is an extremely well-implemented gacha game.

I think he’s tweeted something similar before and he acts a bit like it’s some kind of novel or insightful claim. But I watched Upper Echelon Gamers saying it before I even played the game. He warned us it was going to normalize gacha and make monetization worse in the Western and PC game markets. That it was spreading mobile monetization to a PC audience.

  1. A full discussion of why would include Chinese developers’ arrival onto the global AAA scene, Chinese/Japanese/Western gaming cultures and storytelling cultural tropes being interpreted through a Chinese lens, and the game just being rollickingly good fun. It has a phase as an exploration game almost as well-executed as Breath of the Wild (which it draws inevitable comparisons to) and another phase as a fascinatingly deep combat puzzler with thousands of interesting strategic choices and a fair bit of mechanical skill required. :leftwards_arrow_with_hook:

patio11’s footnote makes him sound like he knows what he’s talking about and gives himself too much expertise, and also is misleading about the BotW comparisons. Genshin egregiously violated Nintendo’s rights and ought to pay huge damages. They ripped off a huge amount from BotW, from art style and high level gameplay concepts down to specific animations.

patio11 is whitewashing initiation of force in this paragraph. And he isn’t linking to any of the ppl like UEG who already knew what was going on last year. He could find sources like that. My guess is he just doesn’t know the industry well, doesn’t keep up with such sources, and doesn’t want to take the time to look them up now. But he also wants to present himself as an expert to his readers.

That’s just preliminaries. The faking gets worse as soon as he talks details of the game:

Genshin Impact has a few hundred currencies. The one which converts into gacha pulls is called primogems. The game trains you early to do things for primogems. Open any chest in the game, get 2 primogems. Complete a main quest line, 100 primogems. Complete your daily commissions (short quests), 40 primogems.

Dailies are worth 60 primogems. Has he actually done dailies? If not, why not look it up? Popular games have wikis.

Has he ever been to https://www.reddit.com/r/GenshinImpactTips/ ? when new genshin patches come out people post info about how many free to play primogems are available so they can budget wishes. those calculations always include the primos from dailies.

He’s also wrong about how chests work.

He’s wrong in both directions. The wiki has a chart. Some chests reward more than 2 primogems. And some reward 0.

And look at this:

Complete a main quest line, 100 primogems.

The numbers vary. I take the 100 as an example. But you get primos from each sub-quest in the quest line, not as a reward at the end for completing the whole line.

And is 100 even a real number?


The article " Genshin Impact: Every Quest In Liyue That Gives Primogems" does not contain the string “100”.

There’s no 100 for monstadt either: https://www.thegamer.com/genshin-impact-mondstadt-quests-primogems/

You can also look at some quest rewards in the wiki e.g. at Archon Quests | Genshin Impact Wiki | Fandom . You might notice that For a Tomorrow Without Tears rewards 100 primogems. Except that’s a quest line with 13 quests and the final quest rewards only 20 primogems because rewards are spread out incrementally instead of giving for completing a line of quests as patio11 claims.

That’s a lot of errors in only a little text.

patio11 routinely presents himself as an especially thoughtful and mathy gamer. but it looks like he hasn’t played Genshin for a while, forgot all the numbers, and is too careless to look them up. he’s too busy posturing as insightful to predict a game will be influential while not mentioning 1) the people who said that nearly a year ago 2) how well the game has sold (it sold around a billion dollars in the first 6 months). Saying the sales figures would make him look less insightful since if a game sells that well you don’t need any expertise to guess it’ll have some influence on the industry. It’s an easy way to recognize notable games.

You can e.g. see Genshin at spots 3-4 on these charts:

On this chart you can imagine if Genshin existed for all of 2020 with revenue around 2B range. (It’s hard to make a good estimate based on 1B in 6 months. The player base grows over time but the game launch gets a sales peak. It’s still doing well now. It’s not on that chart due to not yet being on sale for the majority of 2020, but you can see it would be on the chart if it had sales for the full year and it could realistically be above Candy Crush.)


Genshin Impact has a few hundred currencies. The one which converts into gacha pulls is called primogems.

False. Stardust and starglitter convert to gacha pulls too.

Genshin Impact has transacted more than a billion dollars through app stores to date. Imagine that you are the PM of revenue for it. Not implementing this costs millions of dollars per week you delay .

patio11 knows about Genshin sales and brings it up later, to say how big a deal his point is, after not mentioning it when claiming to have insight into Genshin being important.

“Many whales are simply employed professionals who enjoy what they enjoy, and professionals historically spend a lot of money on what they enjoy. Why should we have contempt for this in a video game when we don’t if it is e.g. figure skating or wine?”

patio11 summarizing the reason he became convinced that gacha/mobile/etc monetization is fine.


the whole footnote 2 is:

  1. There’s an interesting discourse about whether gacha games are anti-consumer or not which I don’t have enough space to do justice to here. Broadly I think they have some challenges similar to gambling, insofar as many adults gamble recreationally and enjoy it, while some are clearly harmed by it. I used to think that free-to-play games’ dependence on whales was strong evidence that they were a negative development, but I heard an argument from the CEO of Kongregate which changed my mind. Distilled to its essence, it is that “Many whales are simply employed professionals who enjoy what they enjoy, and professionals historically spend a lot of money on what they enjoy. Why should we have contempt for this in a video game when we don’t if it is e.g. figure skating or wine?” I recommend reading or watching the entire talk if you’re interested in this topic. :leftwards_arrow_with_hook:

i’m pretty disgusted that patio11 could change his mind over that argument. 1) it blatantly ignores huge problems 2) it’s pretty obvious. how did he fail to think of that himself?

i now want to rewatch the South Park ep that attacks this monetization stuff.

there have been lots of of good criticisms of the monetization elsewhere too, e.g. YouTube videos from Upper Echelon Gaming and others. i think i’ve linked some before.

I, for one, am thrilled that there is a vibrant market in different ways to pay and be paid. It is clearly in the best interests of customers and businesses, and platforms ultimately succeed if and only if both sides of their marketplace are successful, so I expect it is (over the long run) positive for platforms as well.

This seems like biased propaganda. He has a conflict of interest but doesn’t mention having one. It benefits Stripe if sales go through web payment processing instead of an Apple or Google store.

Instead of admitting a conflict of interest, what patio11 said was more of a denial:

(Disclaimer: while I work at Stripe, these are my own opinions.)

and that was at the start, while the undisclosed conflict is at the end.

conflict of interest disclosures are reasonably common in this genre of writing. i’ve seen them before in the subculture.

patio11 has 109,000 twitter followers. It was a lot less when I started following him. Near-zero actually since I read him on Hacker News first (where he did have especially high karma). He’s been climbing.

I think I need to look harder for unpopular people and treat anyone with that big a following as really suspect.

But I’ve done that. I’ve had many, many conversations with people with zero credentials, or often the one credential of wanting to talk with me, liking something I wrote. I’ve been – and continue to be – willing to look at one blog post per person from random people.

I think maybe the thing to look for is unpopular accomplishments. Something the author made, which is significant – like a series of 50 blog posts – which they think is great, but not many people like. And of those people, the majority will not be very good. But the rate of finding someone awesome and unknown should be higher. I don’t know a better group to look in. I don’t know how to find people in this group very effectively though. I think having something you think is a notable accomplishment, which you can show me, is a good filter, though. I think it’s a good way to limit what I look at more instead of just looking at anyone. It’s more problematic with younger people but if you’re 30 and haven’t done anything you claim is good, then that’s a bad sign. Even at 25, ok now you’re 3 years past college age (if you went for more higher education that’s a sign of conformity and bad judgment), you’ve had time to do something, make something. A lot of people have some e.g. blog posts before that age, so a great person certainly could have some too, and those posts could stand out to a great reader but fail to stand out to most people.

patio11’s new newsletter said in the first issue:

Obligatory disclaimer: these are my own views, not those of anyone I am associated with.

This is basically the opposite of a conflict of interest disclosure. He’s distancing himself from any and all associations, conflicts, etc., without naming any. He’s trying to take full personal individual independent responsibility for whatever he writes. He does mention that he works at Stripe in passing in the previous paragraph; that is not a secret.

But now look at his second newsletter:

the number one request from businesses of almost all sizes at Stripe is accelerating payout timing. It turns out there are many ways to do this at an acceptable cost for acceptable levels of marginal risk if one is creative, and we continue to be very, very creative. That helps to turn Stripe into an overlay network on the global financial system. We can do internal settlement at Internet speed even between businesses that have a very complicated least-cost route between them through existing financial institutions.

This is not independent, non-conflicted writing. This is advertising his employer and bragging about how great his employer is. While not presenting Stripe as his employer or mentioning that there’s a conflict. He even uses “we” like he’s writing for Stripe.

we continue to be very, very creative

This is advertising the person who pays you as “very, very creative”, and presenting it as your own personal unaffiliated newsletter with no conflicts of interest. He’s literally speaking for/as Stripe, as its representative or agent, using “we” not “I”, while just saying it’s purely his own views. What the hell.

I think this is essentially an extension of his job, and he won’t admit it and is misleading readers.


Continuing to read the 2nd newsletter:

The best provider in the market used to charge $40 plus a (conveniently underdisclosed) ~2% spread on the currency conversion.

He’s sensitive to underdisclosure in other cases…

Also the article has a lot of writing errors. He’s trying to do fancy, impressive writing but in many ways he doesn’t know how to do it correctly. But I think the type of person who is impressed by it won’t notice the errors anyway…

EDIT 2: newsletter ends like this!

Stripe believes that financial services for businesses are also getting better, through measured and responsible innovation happening at financial institutions, software companies, and elsewhere. We partner with leading financial institutions to make capabilities that either didn’t exist or were limited to only the most sophisticated businesses more widely available. This helps put startups on a level playing field with incumbents, increase the pace of innovation for all industries, and improve the lives of everyone who transacts on the Internet.

That’s why I work there. If building better financial infrastructure for the Internet to enable the next few decades of financial innovation sounds like an interesting challenge, we’re hiring aggressively.

Not a word that marketing and recruiting for stripe is part of his job and this is a huge conflict of interest. He’s openly writing for/as Stripe. It’s not like he’s a programmer at stripe who is writing this as a personal hobby, but he doesn’t explain that.

This is just like his Twitter where he advertises for Stripe, helps make Stripe money, helps recruit engineers to Stripe … but never admits that his Twitter is part of his job and that he’s being paid to say that stuff.

In the footer of the email version, but not the webpage, patio says:

I work for the Internet at Stripe, but this is my own point of view.

He’s just lying. He’s absolutely sharing some of his employers point of view. I get that it’s not an official Stripe publication and that Stripe doesn’t want to take responsibility for it, but it’s also not an independent, unconflicted, unpaid personal point of view.

“Bits about Money” is an intentionally humble title, downplaying the value.

it’s social manipulative/pandering

it’s trendy (similar things have been trendy for decades)

it’s like Levine’s “Money Stuff” which is a big, high status professional newsletter for bloomberg that’s purposefully titled to sound unimportant and non-arrogant

I think patio11 is oblivious to what he’s doing wrong re promoting Stripe with his personal stuff without explaining the conflict of interest.

Also he did this disclosure wrong in multiple ways. One is he put it at the end of a tweet thread promoting Opendoor, not immediately when bringing the company up like Levine does. patio’s way means many readers won’t see the disclosure, or will be biased by the thread, then read the disclosure and inadequately adjust the believes they just formed. Also, patio downplays the importance of the disclosure which hints at a bad attitude to such disclosures and is inappropriate. He also gives a share count with no dollar number and you might assume the stock is worth e.g. $1 a share since he was so dismissive. Actually patio has ~$5k of the stock currently.

From the email version of How credit cards make money , patio11 writes:

This is the first part in a mini-series about how the payments ecosystem works. I’d like to reiterate my usual disclaimer: while I work at Stripe, these are my own views.

But they aren’t just his own views, though. He literally pitched/plugged people to apply to work at Stripe in the previous issue. I believe that’s part of his job description – a fact that may be unclear to e.g. people who think he’s still primarily a coder. (He has not attempted to explain what his role at Stripe is and how his personal Stripe-related writing does and doesn’t connect with that. My impression is he now works in marketing and public relations, and so telling the world that Stripe is awesome, and recruiting for Stripe, are both part of his job. He also hasn’t said whether he owns stock in Stripe – but IIRC he once hinted that he does – or given a conflict of interest disclaimer re promoting a company, Stripe, that he owns stock in.)

This LinkedIn entry seems consistent with your hypothesis:

Another long Stripe ad without anything like reasonable disclosure. It’s on his personal Twitter. His profile says he works for Stripe. But he doesn’t disclose things like whether this thread is part of his job, or what his job duties are, or what factors into his pay (it might not just be cash, benefits and equity per time worked, don’t know, he hasn’t said – he did say something years ago implying he negotiated a good and special deal or he wouldn’t be working there, and before Stripe he used to do consulting and got his rate up to like 30k/wk or something big).

He also doesn’t disclose whether this is an official communication from Stripe. I take it that it’s not and he’d say it’s just his own personal opinion on his personal account. But I think it is work related, and not purely personal…

On a related but much worse note, today I watched some videos exposing stuff about the Chinese Communist Party secretly paying Westerners to do propaganda.

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The escalation from tourism type stuff to genocide-denial reminded me of something. I remember reading something somewhere about US POWs, maybe in Vietnam, being made to write letters or essays or something that were at first mildly critical of US policy. Once they accepted doing that, it was much easier to get them to escalate.