Game Front 1-on-1: Bob Case Of Tasteful, Understated Nerd Rage


Game Front 1-on-1 is a continuing series featuring interviews with and personality profiles on a variety of people in the vast and diverse community of gaming, including creative fans, passionate players, amateur developers and everyone in between.


WARNING: There are probably spoilers from Mass Effect 3 herein, as well as the “Marauder Shields” web comic. Read at your own risk.

While the endings of Mass Effect 3 left thousands — possibly a majority, though we’ll never know for certain — of players deeply disappointed, BioWare’s legendary misstep had a surprisingly wonderful side-effect: the proliferation of some of the most intense fan-based commentary to emerge in any medium in recent memory. But while an intemperate few made fools of themselves with their reactions to the controversy (mainly expressing outrage at the fans for complaining), the truly remarkable thing about the discussion has been the creativity and thoughtfulness displayed by the gaming community at large.

This has ranged from touching, like Retake Mass Effect’s charity drive, to artistic, like the excellent Marauder Shields comic series. Fans have also produced intellectual output on the matter that puts those of us who do so professionally to shame, and in the weeks following the release of Mass Effect 3, perhaps the best example of this was a video produced in late March by San Diego-based Bob Case, called “Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage”:

What set it apart from other, similar examinations is how dense it managed to be. Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, “Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage” expertly dismissed various defenses of the Mass Effect 3 ending and examined, from a business, literary and artistic perspective, what went wrong. (We highly recommend taking some time to watch.) It also ended up becoming a minor hit, garnering more than 300,000 hits as of this writing. Not bad for an aspiring accountant doing this in his free time.

“Wait,” you’re asking, “an accountant?” Yes. Case has a background in both literature and math.

“One of my majors in college was in English literature,” Case told Game Front. “At one point I was planning to go to graduate school for it, but some combination of not getting accepted and reaizing that it wasn’t a good idea led me to change my plans.” He’s since received another degree in accounting and is currently preparing to take the CPA exam. In the meantime, he works for an undisclosed San Diego nonprofit and has expanded “Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage” into a series.

Case came to create “Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage” thanks to a tendency to obsess over his interests, and a need to channel his frustration with the endings.

“Basically, the role playing game is probably my favorite genre,” he said. “[W]henever a new one comes out, it occupies my thoughts for several months after release.” Like a lot of fans, his original plan was to play through Mass Effect 3 and then replay the entire series from start to finish in order to generate new outcomes. After experiencing the endings BioWare came up with, “I just wasn’t interested in playing the series anymore,” he said.

“But I was still in Mass Effect 3 mode,” Case added, “[and] I had to have some kind of outlet for all the time I was wasting thinking about it. That’s where the video came from.” Case’s analysis came out just in time to tap into the larger outpouring from the fans at a moment when it still wasn’t apparent BioWare planned to respond to it substantially. “One thing that’s happened since I made it is that I get a lot of messages from people who’ve watched it. They’ve done something very similar to what I did; one guy has a 40-page google document with all sorts of diagrams.”

Why did so many people take to the web as he did? Case believes it’s because the endings failed in a way that fans consistently noticed. “I personally suspect that the ending did not provide the catharsis an ending is supposed to provide,” he said. “So people who were invested in the game, in an attempt to find that catharsis, through a process similar to what I did, they tried to just think through what was unsatisfying about it, and channel it toward something. I think the process I went through is similar to what a lot of people did, I just happened to put mine on YouTube.”

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11 Comments on Game Front 1-on-1: Bob Case Of Tasteful, Understated Nerd Rage

Tom

On July 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Heh, he should go work for RedLetterMedia so they’ll have someone more interesting than Rich Evans to talk about video games.

Ultenth

On July 24, 2012 at 11:33 am

Thanks for giving this man some press Gamefront. Been a huge fan of his work since the first video, and really like all his stuff, even though I may not always agree 100%.

His channel on Youtube is like an Oasis, where everyone is polite, intelligent, and patient for his next video. He’ll release videos about how he is behind schedule and apologizing, and 99.9999% of the comments on it are always “Take as much time as you need, just make it right”. It’s almost like it’s not even on Youtube, and just an illusion.

Mosaic

On July 24, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I understand the video Mass Effect 3 Ending: Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage (SPOILERS) is good, however you go on to say ” It also ended up becoming a minor hit, garnering more than 300,000 hits as of this writing.”. But couldn’t you have included more videos in this write up? Like perhaps angry joe’s video ” 10 Reasons We Hate Mass Effect 3′s Ending”. Which garnered a much higher number of hits (934,844) and was to my knowledge much more of a hit video for ME3 rage?

R.J.

On July 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm

@mosaic

Keep in mind that much of what Angry Joe brought up has been discussed on this site, and Angry Joe is another reviewer. This article is about somebody who isn’t looking to do reviews of lots of games and happens to focus on ME3. TUN was started because of ME3.

Anyway, I’m not surprised to find out that the man behind TUN has an accounting degree in addition to a literature degree. I also have an accounting degree, and much of his analysis was very much how I would have analyzed it. Not just in terms of what he says, but how he does it.

And I agree with him that while certain things were addressed by the EC, unfortunately the biggest problem is still there. The Catalyst still doesn’t fit and is still based on flawed logic.

Jaimz Braun

On July 25, 2012 at 3:17 am

Speaking of Angry Joe, what I really like is how this one ending has come to several different ways of analysing it. Angry Joe made a 20 minute video looking at ten specific reasons why he and many others disliked the ending. It gave enough focus on each of the problems and enough context as to why they were legitimate complaints, but it didn’t spend too long on anything. Bob Case, on the other hand, spent almost forty minutes discussing a much smaller palette of issues at the core of the problem, rather than just at skin-level, and going into a huge amount of detail on all of them. Both videos are absolutely required viewing for anyone looking for a balanced and varied view on why the ending was so poorly received. Interestingly, they both came to wildly different conclusions on the DLC – Angry Joe said it saved the series as it gave him enough data to understand the original vision and made the Catalyst seem interesting enough for possible future content and elaboration, while Case decided that the improvements were only cathartic on a superficial level because the two major tools for the ending – the Catalyst and the Crucible – both still seemed completely out of place and contrived.

Similarly, the way in which the Indoctrination Theory has been evaluated in videos has been hugely varied as well. ACAYVOS’s 21-and-a-half minute video seems to be the most popular, along with Angry Joe’s top ten list of around the same length. But then you have pro781623′s 42-minute video which doesn’t even mention the possibility of Shepard’s own indoctrination until the final wrap-up, instead focusing purely on previous precedent set by both Shepard and other characters, and it arguably ends up being even more involving for it. And then, of course, you have Julian Kluk’s two hour+ documentaries on the theory, which scrutinise almost every minute detail with very few inaccuracies, as well as introducing some interesting and occasionally downright genius new concepts. Again, if you have any interest in the theory, regardless of whether or not you think there’s a chance that this is what Bioware was going for (the EC appears to have deliberately left certain elements ambiguous, and even added a few extra details that seem to support the theory, supposedly just to keep their options open or to please as many people as possible), all of these videos are required viewing because they all hit on different points and have hugely contrasting styles of expressing them.

And that’s not even mentioning the memes – ‘His name was Marauder Shields’, ‘Shepard Face reacts to the endings’, ‘Red Explosion/Green Explosion/Blue Explosion’ dialogue options, ‘A, B or C’, ‘Yo Dawg I hear you don’t wanna be killed by synthetics…’, and so forth. Real, good-natured and collective humour has been found in the carcass of a broken promise and a pretentious premise.

While most of the mainstream elite were busy puckering up to the collective rear ends of Bioware and EA, while attacking anyone with the balls to question ‘art’ regardless of how genuine and valid the criticisms were, and attempting to undermine the massive backlash by focusing on the weakest arguments and trying to label them as lonely psychopathic nerds because of a few dozen trolls who wrote homophobic/racist bile on Metacritic (which has nothing to do with the ending) or sent death threats to Bioware, the overwhelming majority of those affected by this have channelled their understandable frustration and annoyance in a mature, objective and entertaining manner. And GameFront has been just about the only mainstream games site that has had the journalistic courage and the intellectual capacity to represent these people in a fair, non-condescending manner, for which we continue to be grateful.

wesker1984

On July 25, 2012 at 10:47 am

”That’s a lot of work, an estimated 10 hours or so by Case’s count, and all of it done for free.”
Bioware also did the Extended cut for free.

”The existence of this hologram kid, the fact that the existence of the Crucible makes no sense to me, I just feel like it was a big dump of implausible and strange things at the worst time.”
This is why we call that Sci-Fi because this not suposed to be super-realistic. And we talk about a billions years advanced civilisation here.

”This has ranged from touching, like Retake Mass Effect’s charity drive, to artistic, like the excellent Marauder Shields comic series.”
This deviant art series sucks as hell.

”We highly recommend taking some time to watch.”
No! I’m satisfied with the extended cut content and will not waste my time on some new nerdrage!

Gamefront can you just let go all those post-extended cut article and let the good Mass Effect 3 rest in peace and start making again real news around new content coming? Because you all acting like a angry child.

wesker1984

On July 25, 2012 at 11:04 am

To wallydog and Zach:
English is not my native language and i learned it by myself. At least you two have understand what i have said thus proving you are also as inteligent as you pretend to be. And i do not care if no ones want me i’m here to stay and try to live with it.

And again wallydog i’m super-inteligent is just i a have some big difficulties to write proper english.

And Zach i will defend what i want to defend. Like you did.

If you two you can’t support someone who dont agree with you please feel free to leave.

R.J.

On July 25, 2012 at 10:26 pm

@wesker

If you hate seeing ME3 articles so much, why do you keep reading them? The easiest thing for you to do would be to stop looking at these articles and find something else to read.

Daretoask

On July 26, 2012 at 7:05 am

@RJ: Please don’t feed the troll, it only fuels his rage machine and makes him feel important. Kudos to you for trying to argue in a civilized manner though! *applauds*

E

On July 28, 2012 at 4:32 am

Sounds like Game Front should just hire him. He can put out great analytic articles AND do the office accounting.

Ebalosus

On October 15, 2012 at 4:08 am

Ah, Mr B Tongue, he’s been gone for over 2 months now; I wish he’d at least tell us what’s up, as a lot of us have gotten worried :’(