The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page, July 9, 2021 – Tutorials, survival and clubhouse management

The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page

Good afternoon everyone! It’s the end of another week and I’ve accidentally locked myself out of my Final Fantasy XIV account, so unfortunately I’m afraid we cannot provide another installment of The Returner this week — even though I was so fired up to get back on track with the game after last week’s column.

But anyway. Enough about that — this is the Friday Letters Page, where you have the opportunity to tell us things, show us things you’ve been working on, ask us questions and just generally be seen in a more “public” way than the comments section offers.

So let’s kick right off with a simple but important question:

Tutorial time

Dear Rice,

How does this work

Olivia


Hi Olivia, and welcome to the Rice Digital Friday Letters page. It works exactly as you’ve already discovered! All you need to do is click the “Write to Rice!” widget that should be visible on the right-hand side of every page (click the black arrow if it isn’t) and then fill out the form.

Rice Digital Friday Letters page

See that? Click that. You should be able to see it over on the right of every page, whether you’re browsing the side on desktop, mobile or tablet.

Rice Digital Friday Letters page

Then just fill in your message! You don’t have to use your real name or provide your email address, and no personal information is collected — just your message and whatever you decide to call yourself. Every Friday, we go through all the submissions, publish them in this column and provide a response.

It’s a great way to make sure something you have to say gets heard by the team and the community, because not everyone bothers to look at the comments — with good reason, sometimes — and this is basically a means of all but guaranteeing you get your thoughts in print. Within reason, obviously.

Hope that’s clearer for you now — and we look forward to more letters from you in the future!

Re-enter the survival horror

Dear Rice,

What happened to the Resident Evil retrospective? I was enjoying the in-depth look at the latest versions of the old games, but then it sort of stopped.

Joe


Hi Joe, thanks for contributing to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page! I wondered when someone was going to ask about this, and the simple answer is “time happened”. The Resident Evil Retrospective will be back as soon as I can make time for it, but we’ve all been pretty busy around here of late (not always on “visible” projects, either) so stuff about older games sometimes falls a little by the wayside around here when that happens. We’re a small team, after all, and there are only so many hours in the day.

As I type this (well, not literally, but you know what I mean) I’m getting stuck into the Resident Evil 3 reimagining, which seems to have divided attention among certain parts of the Internet, but I’m having a blast with it so far. It feels like it’s striking a nice balance between classic-style survival horror and a more action-oriented approach — certainly more so than the rather jarring change between the original PlayStation version of Resident Evil 3 and the eventual Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 3 was always supposed to be more “actiony”, but I kind of never felt it in the PS1 version; in this new one, however, I definitely do!

Resident Evil 3 - Letters page

Anyway, I need to make some time to sit down and play it some more, then we’ll get back on with the series. Resident Evil is a franchise worth exploring in detail, after all — particularly with how well Resident Evil Village went down with a lot of people — and thus we’re keen to celebrate it in its entirety, or at the very least in terms of all its mainline installments.

Thanks for asking, though — it’s always nice to know people are reading the things that take a bit more time and preparation!

Cleaning up the clubhouse

Hi,

Could you please clarify your commenting policy? In a recent article I expressed negative opinions towards a company (Hololive) and a specific V-Tuber for things that she’s done. Is this not allowed? Pete Davison said that I can’t use specific words – which words are banned here on Rice Digital? He also mentioned that the topic of the on-going culture war is forbidden, which is weird since I can point to articles on here being against Sony’s censorship policy, which is very much a part of the culture war.

Another question – why were thousands of comments deleted from the website regardless of their contents – some positive, some negative and some neutral. Some my deleted comments were even approved by RD staff. The little blurb plastered below the articles asks for respectful comments and yet deleting so many without a warning is the furthest thing from respect. Why should I keep visiting this website if all the effort and thought I put into my comments was disrespected and destroyed on a whim?

I doubt this letter will make it to the Newsletter, but I would appreciate some openness.

Regards,
(Name withheld by the Editor)


To everyone else reading: I’m going to address this, because the sender of this letter (whose name I have removed for reasons that will likely be obvious) has been dominating Rice Digital’s comment section for a long time, and I suspect it’s been putting a lot of others off from participating in the community.

With that in mind, given the direct complaints I’ve received from multiple people this week, it’s time to address this firmly, once and for all, with a mind to moving forward as a more pleasant place for everyone to hang out and chat.


Hello [REDACTED], I had a feeling we’d be seeing you in this week’s Letters Page.

The comments system was rebooted for a simple reason: the site has changed management numerous times over the course of the last few years, and somewhere down the line someone lost the “keys” to the comment moderation system. Leaving the comment section completely unmoderated is not something we are willing to do, as we’ve seen what happens to websites that do that. A certain (now thankfully neutered) site about a particularly hateful, furious gaming enthusiast was a longstanding joke of the broader gaming community with good reason.

With this in mind, we had no choice but to reboot the comments section completely; we took every step possible before taking this drastic option — it most certainly was not done “on a whim”. Your old comments can be found here if you’re particularly attached to them, but these old comments will no longer be found on the site itself.

The comment policy is pretty self-explanatory: in simple terms, be nice, don’t act like a dick. If you’re concerned about falling foul of “banned words”, then take a look at your comment before you post it, and if you think anything is likely to get swept up by the filters, consider rephrasing what you have to say.

Don’t be rude, don’t use slurs. Pretty straightforward. If you’re concerned about whether you’ll be allowed to say something, you probably shouldn’t be saying it.

Likewise, if you feel you might have difficulty with the core of the policy — which, just to repeat, is very simple: be nice, don’t act like a dick — then I encourage you to contemplate the way you interact with others online, and why you have an issue with this straightforward concept.

The note about the culture war is likewise self-explanatory. When there are comments complaining about “censorship” even on games where there is none — the justification being that the publisher in question “did it in the past” — that’s where a line needs to be drawn, because it’s not a productive or helpful discussion.

Moreover, this behaviour silences anyone who actually wants to genuinely discuss or express enthusiasm for the work in question, because they will then be afraid someone will come along, rant about non-existent censorship and ignore anything meaningful they have to say, thereby shutting down any productive and interesting conversation.

On this note, referring to people as “SJW” on the simple grounds of a disagreement, as I’ve seen on multiple occasions not just from you but from other commenters also, is not acceptable behaviour. Neither is bringing up an individual’s attitudes towards certain controversial aspects of erotic art — let’s be blunt here, loli hentai — when the article on which you were commenting had nothing to do with such things.

Social media at large is full of never-ending, unproductive arguments on the topic of this “culture war”, and we want this place to be a safe haven away from all that nonsense for those who desire it — that goes for both our staff and the community. This is a place to enjoy games, anime, manga and other aspects of Asian popular culture. Nothing more, nothing less.

And with that in mind, it should be abundantly clear that Rice Digital is firmly on the side of game developers, anime studios and mangaka being able to make the creative works that they want to make without interference from outside agencies. That is a completely different subject to what we clearly state is and is not acceptable behaviour in our comments section, and to argue otherwise is frankly baffling.

Rice Digital, like any other privately owned website, is a virtual clubhouse where people come to hang out, enjoy their favourite hobbies and perhaps meet some new people.

Consider this: if you were hanging out at a real clubhouse and some loudmouth came in bellowing at the top of their voice about how much they hate the activity that the people in the corner had been happily and quietly engaging with for weeks or even months, would you want that individual to stay there, or would you prefer they found somewhere else to make their noise?

As the person in charge of said clubhouse, I took the liberty of looking back over the backed-up archive of the comments you left on the old system that were full of such “effort”, “thought” and “respect”, and I’ll be honest, I had a good giggle.

I was particularly interested to see you refer to someone who enjoyed Final Fantasy VII Remake as an “SJW”, which is such a bizarre accusation I don’t even know what to make of it.

I was also impressed to see your commitment to your hatred of VTubers — whom you referred to with such “respect” as “V-Thots” on an admirably consistent basis. There’s a comment from you on literally every single article we published on the subject of VTubers since the first one in June of last year (with the exception of today’s article about Finana… at the time of writing, at least). I’m sort of impressed; it takes true passion to devote such time and energy to something you supposedly hate — generally speaking if I don’t enjoy something, I move on and do something else within a few minutes.

Let’s see, what else… describing popular free-to-play games as “Chinese cancer”, refusing to discuss Kotaro Uchikoshi’s excellent AI: The Somnium Files because of all the “virtue signalling” and what I’ve come to regard as your piece de resistance, your admission that “real lesbians ruined yuri” for you.

Did I miss anything?

This matter is now 100% closed, and there will be no further discussion. If you do not accept the terms of the new comment policy, you are free to not contribute. Further infractions of the comment policy will result in a permanent ban from participating. You have been warned multiple times at this point.

Have a lovely day!


And that’s your lot for this week! With regard to that final letter, I hope our clear statements here will encourage more of you to participate in the comments section going forward. Moderation will be rigorous but fair from hereon — we’ve got a team of mods so we will discuss any potentially controversial decisions between us rather than leaving things up to a single person — and we’d love to see some lively conversations happening once again!

Just, y’know, don’t act like a dick. We don’t think that’s too much to ask.

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