Rundown (5/22-5/28) Here’s to Ten More Years!

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I recorded a video of me reading this, with EXTRA CONTENT! Also, it’s subtitled, because otherwise it would be MOSTLY unintelligible! It was bad and I invested over 3 hours into it in total! Mostly because of closed captioning.

Wherein I discuss how happy I am that Nigma Box has lasted for a full decade, the North American game industry’s first union, topical politics, and insights into my hometown.

Nigma Box has now, officially, been around for over 10 years. In that time, the site has amassed over 1.1 million views from over 295,000 visitors across 1,290 posts containing over 3 million words. I have put an incalculable amount of time into Nigma Box, spending the core of my young adulthood making content for this site. And while I might regret specific things, as I have made thousands of mistakes and said hundreds of stupid things, I do not regret the thousands of hours I’ve invested into Nigma Box. Because over that time, this site has become my creative outlet. A place that I can truly and fully call my own. And it is something that I have been doing for so long that I feel confident in saying that Nigma Box will continue for as long as possible. Or, at the very least, another ten years.

I want to thank each and every one of you reading this for letting me into your life. Even if it was only for a moment. Even if it was to read one review or grab a flowchart. I am grateful that I have been able to create something that people care about, as I remember when I was putting out things where I was lucky to get any views. 

I want to thank the developers of Student Transfer and Press-Switch for giving me a niche that I could, to some degree, service with my work. I want to thank my Indonesian readers, because you’re number two in terms of Nigma Box readership. And I want to thank everybody who has left a comment, because you all remind me that real flesh and bone humans actually read my stuff.

No acquisition news this week, other than how Take Two’s acquisition of Zynga has been completed. 

For the past few years, there has been a major push for unionization across the games industry, and for good reason. Despite being a thriving and incredibly successful industry, game developers are routinely treated like garbage by those who employ them. Management frequently sets unrealistic deadlines that force developers to crunch. Jobs are notoriously insecure, as developers are routinely laid off after completing projects. And it is considered ‘the norm’ for workers to be treated as if they are ‘disposable,’ when there is no such thing as a disposable worker in a skill-based position.

But back in January, the Quality Assurance testers at Raven Software, one of Activision Blizzard’s many Call of Duty studios, fought against this trend by launching an effort to unionize and demand better conditions from their multi-billion-dollar taskmasters. Now, after several months of progress, the QA testers have won their bid to become a union, and unless an objection is filed by May 31st, then the union will become official. 

Meaning that, unless something goes very wrong, this will mark the establishment of the first union of video game developers in North America, which I hope inspires both a precedent and trend for the industry to follow. Because I am sick of hearing about rampant abuse throughout the industry, and believe that a union is the best way to force publishers and developers to behave themselves.

I did not spot any other particularly noteworthy stories this week, presumably because of two factors: A lot of companies are holding off on major announcements until sometime in early to mid-June; during the void that E3 previously occupied. And secondly, the PR cycle for most things was probably stalled after the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Which is a developing story (one that seems to be getting worse by the day) and something that I don’t have much to say beyond the usual leftward talking points: Gun control should be stricter, as there is no good reason why any American citizen should own a functional assault weapon. That people should remain angry about how routine these shootings are, as anger is one of the best tools to spur meaningful change. And while I think it is a tad gauche to just say ‘ACAB,’ the profession is rampant with people who abuse or misuse their power.

This event naturally caused a minor resurgence in the American Political Circus (I don’t know if that’s a term people actually use), which is something that I have become deeply exhausted by over the past few months, as bad things keep happening. Trans people are under constant assault by state governments who desire systematic genocide. Abortion and reproductive rights are at risk of being shattered. And white terrorists are still given the benefit of the doubt by people whose value systems lack any logical or thematic cohesion greater than white nationalism.

Something that I have been trying to understand over the past… five or so years is how people who don’t want people like me to exist think the way they do. What drives their hatred and why don’t they have the same basic-Kindergarten-ass values that I have held all my life. That you should try to be nice and get along with people. The fact that people are and look different should be celebrated. That safety (including healthcare) is important. That sharing (welfare) is good. That you should apologize when you hurt somebody, either physically or emotionally, and explain why the thing you did was a bad thing. And so forth. 

These people… don’t seem to have learned or internalized these values. Instead, they adopt a belief system that lies somewhere between ‘interpreted’ ‘Christian’ values and outright Naziism. I understand people are and can be radicalized through misinformation and by offering them a sense of community. But I do not understand how they don’t have something in their brain that goes off when they hear someone preaching for literal or systematic genocide.

I guess my problem is two-fold. One, I tend to assume that people are a lot more caring and rational than they often are. I like to think the best of people, and I struggle to believe that people would do bad things without having a ‘sensible’ reason supporting their actions. And I consider ‘because it makes my genitals feel good’ to be a sensible reason, by the way. Two, I was probably raised in an environment different from most other U.S. citizens, which affects my ability to view what a ‘normal’ upbringing is like in America.

I have not mentioned this (outside of one bad 2013 game review) but I have lived in Skokie, Illinois for my entire life. It’s a Northern Chicago suburb that’s… probably best known for its run-in with Nazis. In the mid-1970s, a Neo-Nazi group was attempting to march in Skokie. Why Skokie? Well, Skokie’s population at the time was estimated at 70,000 people, with a Jewish population of over 40,000… and about 7,000 Holocaust survivors

As you can imagine, the Nazis were met with adamant protests from the citizens of Skokie, and sparked a supreme court case, National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie. …Where the ACLU backed the Nazis in order to protect free speech, but the Nazis never marched, because the residents of Skokie probably would have fucked them up something fierce. 

Something like this sends a ripple effect throughout a village. It changes its underlying culture, the internal policies of its government, it affects the ideologies of those who lived through it, and it alters the education curriculum of its school districts. 

When I was in sixth grade, in 2006, my middle school dedicated a whole week to teaching my class why the Holocaust was one of the greatest tragedies in history. My class went to the old Main Street Holocaust Museum, because the current one off of Eden’s Expressway wasn’t built yet. My class saw a Holocaust survivor speak at the public library. We watched films that expressed how dangerous Nazi rhetoric is. And a bunch of other stuff I’m probably forgetting.

So Skokie made sure to emphasize that Nazis were the greatest evil fo the 20th century, good job for them. But what really helped sell this idea that Skokie was against Nazis, that Skokie was open to anyone, was how the village managed to endear a, by US standards, large non-white population. Based on the 2000 Census, only about 65.6% of the population was white, 21.28% was Asian, and while the black and Hispanic populations were only at 4.51% and 5.71% respectively, that at least meant that they were a pretty common sight. Over the past 20 years, these figures have grown even more diverse. With the 2020 census actually putting the non-hispanic white population at under 50%, which, as a white person, I think is pretty cool. 

Or in other words, Skokie is a place that was pretty diverse, by US standards, when I was a kid, and has gotten even more diverse as time went on. Being in an environment like this shapes one’s values, their views on race, and generally makes them more open when it comes to policies that evenly distribute rights along implicit or explicit racial lines. But when one lives in a place that is overwhelmingly white, or where people are heavily segregated based on race, they don’t really get this experience.

Goodness, I’m making myself sound like I know a thing or three when it comes to the topic of race, when I’m really dumb when it comes to this topic, and I’ve always been. Actually, here’s an anecdote to show just how dumb I am. Back when I was in elementary school, I made friends with a lot of kids. 3 white kids, 3 black kids, 4 Asian kids, 1 Assyrian kid. But, most of the time, I didn’t actually understand what their race was. I thought the only racial feature was the color of one’s skin, so I thought some Asian kids were black, and thought Hispanic kids were Asian. Hell, I don’t think I understood that Hispanic was an ethnic group until I was, like, 14? 

…What was my point again? Right! I fundamentally do not understand how people wind up being against the freedoms and safety of others. I do not understand this because of the environment I grew up in. Many of the things that I consider innate and obvious are things that people living in the same country, state, or even county as me, were not exposed to. I consider my beliefs to be based on reason, but… how do you reason with someone who does not want to reason? With those who interpret the world in a way so different from you, you can barely hold a discussion with them? I don’t know, and… that scares me.

Also, I feel the need to add two things. 

One, Skokie is my home, so I’m always going to be biased toward it, and I do not have enough experience to compare it to other places. It’s not perfect, there are scuzzballs in the community, same as anywhere else, but I do think that it offers an environment far more tolerant than those found in other communities across America. 

Two, considering the large Jewish population of Skokie, you might be wondering if I am Jewish, and I am not. I went to Catholic Sunday school until I was about 7, my mother, father, and sister are not religious people, and neither am I. Religion has never been a significant part of my life or identity. 

…Anyway, that closes things off for what has been the busiest week on Nigma Box in quite a while. I felt the need to put out an update explaining where I was at with the 10th anniversary goals, I put out my Kirby Discovery review, and I had a twopart 27,000-word essay as the main celebration. So, what’s next for Nigma Box? Well, I don’t like to give schedules, because promises are ‘the big danger’ but I’ll throw down what I currently have queued on my docket:

  • An annual re-review of re:Dreamer on June 3rd
  • Student Transfer Scenario review – Under The Skin by Kisara on June 8th
  • TSF Series #006-3 on June 23rd
  • AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative review in early July
  • Mice Tea review in late July
  • TSF Series #014 in late July
  • TBD Student Transfer Scenario review in July
  • TBD Student Transfer Scenario review in August
  • TSF Series #004-3 on August 31st
  • TBD Student Transfer Scenario review in September
  • Natalie Rambles About Dragalia Lost – THE FINAL in September(?) (EoS date has not been announced)
  • TBD Student Transfer Scenario review in October
  • TBD Student Transfer Scenario review in November
  • Novel #7: The Dominance of Abigale Quinlan on November 18th
  • Pokémon Violet review in early December
  • TBD Student Transfer Scenario review in December
  • TSF Series #005-2 on December 21st
  • Natalie Rambles About 2022 on December 28th

Everything is subject to change due to many reasons, not limited to the fact that I do not know when new versions of Press-Switch and Student Transfer will be released.

Currently, my biggest priority is actually The Dominance of Abigale Quinlan. I outlined it back in March, finally started writing it, and because I have time off work (my boss went on vacation and without him, I have no work), I’ve enacted a 3,000-words-a-day writing goal. And seeing as how the novel should be in the range of 80k to 90k words long, I should easily make my November 18th deadline while doing other stuff.

That’s all for now. Until next time, see ya!

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. ajh040915

    Congratulations!As a newcomer to this website,I am glad to have found such a excellent place so that i can enjoy the highly-valued content and be grateful to find somebody else that like TSF/TG/gender bender .Also thanks for this website open to China.Due to the work of the government,you can hardly find something about TSF in the chinese website.Finally, hope this website can last for another ten years!(forgive my poor English,i cannot even type cant!)

    1. Natalie Neumann

      I’m glad that you found and have been enjoying my website. I am a bit surprised to hear that Nigma Box is available in China though, considering I know how restricted Chinese internet could be. Nigma Box might be a bit too obscure to meet any censorship criteria.

      Thank you for your kind words, and your English is not bad. I understand what you are saying. ^^

  2. Tasnica

    Congrats on the anniversary! I think it’s really awesome to have a “core” creative outlet that can serve as a means of expression and communication, and it sounds like this blog has been just that for you this past decade. You’ve clearly got a lot of passion for what you write about and put a lot of thought into things, and it makes for some good reads. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

    1. Natalie Neumann

      Thank you for your kind words. ^^
      As you said, Nigma Box has served as my core creative outlet over the past decade, and I’ve put A LOT of myself into it.
      I’m more than comfortable with sharing myself with the world through Nigma Box, but what truly makes me happy is knowing that people, even if it is only a handful, read my work and enjoy it. :D