An Open Letter to Gaming Developers
By Misty “Beans” Matonis
Happy belated Turkey Day to all our American readers! I hope that turkey you PK’d came out nicely!
Today I’m going to go in a different direction than you’re used to when it comes to reading my articles. Today, I feel like writing a letter to game developers. You see, I’ve been rejected – ignored, really — for quite a lot of beta tests lately due to my computer specs. My PC isn’t bad; it isn’t overly old, and my one true limitation is my graphics card. However, I’m beginning to feel a bit left out, and I think that I’m not alone in my frustration.
So, in honor of those of us who just never seem to get into a really cool beta test: this one is for you.
Copy and Paste the Item Below
To Whom It May Concern:
Recently I applied as a beta applicant for [Name Of Game] and found myself staring at a [rejection letter | nothing | my belly button], and to be quite honest, I was rather disappointed at the results.
According to your Web site, you are currently interested in potential beta tester candidates who have the following hardware capabilities:
- The computer must have a processor that could handle the entire computing processes for both the U.S. Federal Government and every citizen’s personal computer.
- The computer must have more RAM than you can shake a 20-mile long stick at.
- The video card must have the ability to view the microscopic details of Ben Affleck’s acne, or, to put it in a gaming sense, must have the ability to count the grey hairs on my avatar’s head as I try to figure out the logic behind your spec requirements.
- The sound card should have the ability to play every note that Mariah Carey can hit, specifically those sounds within dog-hearing range.
- My mouse must have the ability to not only serve up beer on demand, but massage my tendons as carpal tunnel syndrome sets in due to repeated click-click-clicking while playing your game.
While I applaud your effort to push — nay, tackle — and decimate the limits of current PC technology, I must sincerely question your (flawed?) logic in this matter as I attempt to convince you why I, and those like me, would make interesting and effective beta testers for your product.
Firstly, let us consider Every Man. I know Mr. Man personally. In fact, I’m Miss Man, his much better half. But, for gender-neutral purposes, I will refer to Every Man as Mr. Man. Mr. Man is generally computer-literate in a vague sense. If Mr. Man does not go out and purchase his computer from the local shop that sells cheap PCs in the back part of the second level of the basement, then he will most likely order a pre-made PC from some of those really tacky PC makers like Dell, Compaq or Gateway. His concern is not the latest super-quick-I-rock-you processor, nor the amount of SDRAM that comes with the package, nor the l337 video card, nor the size of his monitor. It’s price. If it’s cheap enough, he will buy it, no matter what doohickeys may or may not be included.
Occasionally Mr. Man likes to humor himself and purchases video games. He most probably doesn’t look at the game’s required specs, as Mr. Man is confident that his newly purchased PC can handle atomic bombs being tossed at it. It’s quite probable that Mr. Man doesn’t even consider game reqs when he makes his purchase. “This title looks cool,” he says, as he pays the underage counter person some highly inflated price for a title that will shortly prove itself to be buggy, assuming it doesn’t crash and reformat his PC.
Not only does Mr. Man not have the hardware to run the game at its most basic stripped-down level, but he also has a dial-up connection. So even when he can get your game to play, chances are he will spend a lot of time s l o w l y m o v i n g a b o u t your rather gorgeous gaming environment (And I must say, the use of fuchsia in the sky … magnificent choice!).
This all frustrates Mr. Man. Mr. Man wonders if the company that developed the game ever considered making game titles that did not require some high-end NASA security pass to gain access to that rather kick-ass PC the tech guys have been hogging for their Quake games.
And, you know what? I’m right there with Mr. Man.
Is it entirely possible that you can consider allowing us little people in on your beta tests? You know … those of us with low-end specs. We can tell you a thing or two about your product that would really help you as you continue working on the game. After all, not everyone has a 97000 Ghz processor with 6488368 megs of RAM and an Nvidia card. Except maybe you.
Well, I will leave you to ponder that thought now. I’m gonna go ahead and wallpaper my computer room with your rejection to my beta test application. It will fit in nicely with all the others.
Originally published on GameSpy 11/24/01