It’s not just games that need Beta-testing

Humans need beta-testing too, bug-reports and patches. And some of us, like me, need everything explained in detail -stuff I’m doing wrong, stuff that needs changing, stuff that could be better- explained in excruciating detail or I won’t be able to think about it.

There are gaps in each of our experiences, so expecting someone to be able to do something that you need them to do, without asking them, is illogical. They might not be able, because they might never have done it before and they may never have needed anyone to do it before, so it just won’t occur to them.

To take an example from The Man of Feeling, by Henry Mackenzie, “…she fell back lifeless in the chair… It was not until some minutes after, that it occurred to him to ring the bell [for assistance]”. The thought “occurs” to Harley significantly late, because this kind of thing has never happened to him before; he’s probably sitting there with an internal monologue of “Oh my god, she’s fainted, what do I do, help, the prostitute lady has fainted, is she dead, please someone help, oh god, what do I do?”, ya know?

For me it’s emotional-people stuff, people start crying and I’m just there like “oh my god, they’re crying, what do I do, help” and then I go and get a friend and point them in the direction of the crying person.

I made a mistake, long ago, Year 4. Turns out you don’t laugh when someone explains their grandfather, who is suffering from dementia, called them a banana because he couldn’t remember her name. From then on I have been terrified of dealing with emotional people, believing that whatever I say or do, I’ll just make it worse. My one successful fallback is tea and food, throw one of them at a crying person and you’re on to a winner, in my experience.

This, as it has recently turned out, is not a sufficient response when the relationship that you have is a continuing one where you are a main support for the person. “Talking” is apparently a thing that needs to go on longer than a couple of sentences clearly stating a problem, an explanation and an apology. Who knew? (not me) Some people are talky-emotional-people, they need to be listened to, and responded to. In my opinion, these responses are not always genuinely felt or are, in general, meaningless nothings that achieve nothing- there is no practical solution to be generated from them, so why waste the breath on them. It’s not the person, it’s the problem that needs to be solved.

But I’m wrong, this is not always the case. Sometimes all that is needed is an ear and a few sympathetic (ingenuine) phrases. Which freaks me the f’ out, but I’ll try.

Quick: Something that was totally not supposed to be my next post

So, tweeting, a lot (William Shatner has replied to me twice, Timothy Omundson and Brad Barker have liked 2 tweets each, had a convo with David Slack, and a discussion over NYT’s lexis choice with Yogscast Hannah/Lomadia; #actuallyspeechless) and suddenly up on my feed pops a Polygon link to a Final Fantasy 7: Oral History.

Now, I have no interest in FF, never have, never even knew they existed till 2/3years ago so I’ve never played any, at all. But the featured pic grabbed me:


This is, according to my very quick research, a conceptual sketch for FF7 by Yoshitaka Amano, artist for many of the FF games among other work such as the absolutely exquisite The Sandman: Dream Hunters, by Neil Gaiman, currently occupying a prime position on my bookshelves, and in my heart.

As soon as I saw this though, I could think of nothing but Chris Riddell’s wonderful illustration for Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle, a take upon the good old Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty.. ish. What struck me was the similarity to the same bed scene in this later book, though heaven forbid I actually be able to find a pic of it online now to compare against! And no, to my shame, I haven’t actually bought it yet. Here is a similar picture that if I’m right, occurs just after the page I’m thinking of:


It is possible that I am completely misrembering from my quick scan through at Waterstones, when I decided to come back and buy it later, (I will update this post when I have actually bought it) buuuuuut, I am so very interested to know, if I’m correct, why this stylistic choice was made. Knowing nothing of FF7 I can only guess at it’s possible implications, and as I can find nothing anywhere comparing them- I’m stuck.


Crystal glass terrarium,
soft, smooth, glide, prove.

Inside, a male & female pair,
Dolls with whom this glass cave I share.

Performing for them everyday, ironic,
Encouraging breaking, reaching out.

And on my knees, head bowed I pray,
Learning whatever lesson it is today.

Punching, punching hard, on glass walls.
Punching my way out, for them.

Breaking free like shadow out of sun,
Like sun out of clouds, rushing air out of glass.

Shock wave force from out my heart,
Shatters the smooth glass cage I’m in.

That air, once trapped, now free,
Out I go flying, singing, “Follow me.”

Out I go, like kite in air,
but no string to reel me back again.

There, they sit and stare. Achieved
what they said, not wanted.

Aim and aspiration as lines to stay inside,
As safe space, not pathway to another place.

Crumble inwards little pair, separate and fall.
No longer are those walls so safe,

Nor comforting to little minds, I’m sure.
Come fly, fly free, but do not follow me.

Never-ending little space fractured by the power,
that you nurtured (unknowing, unwanted) in me.

This was not what you expected, for me,
To rise to such heights as to finally be free,

And wanted, and strong, and, well, me.
But in you go, and in you stay,

So crumple, little worry-dolls,
And no more think of me.


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Warm hand upon my back,
As beneath my arms,
Upon which my head rests,
The emery board granite sits,
Sprayed, as I, by gusts of sea,
Mingled, lost, in the tears upon my face.

Pretty bird, small, hops on,
White painted panels,
Of a holiday shack,
By our promenade.
Light blue surrounds my bird;
Towels and flags, deck chair fabric.
Hopping little creature,
In a sea of its own.

Hide and seek played in,
Great woods of pine,
and bracken. Tall, and gone.
We never meant for it to end.
An endless time, joyful,
Spent together in love.

Crashing, cliche, but true,
Breakers crash on the wall.
Shore submerged, sinking,
and suffocated below.
Else the wind gusts, no respite,
Cold, but needed.

Held in but one hand,
I squeezed and squeezed,
Pressing nails into skin,
Leaving marks upon palm,
That would die off only hours later.
The bird died quicker.

Blue tit, great tit, wagtail,
I can’t decide.
Whichever one, it was not wise,
For now, I have nothing left,
But memories of those shifting sands,
And lies.



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