Monday, April 5, 2004

A Penny for Your Thoughts

I think my girlfriend wonders about my sanity sometimes.

She arrived home one recent afternoon to find me crying in my chair in front of my computer, unable to breathe. Her facial expression quickly changed from one of deep concern to one of ambivalence when she realized I was unable to breathe from laughing too hard.

The subject of my insane laughter:

Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins – the folks at Penny Arcade – have made a site that appeals to my inner geek. And my outer geek, for that matter. Penny Arcade is a news site, blog, and entertainment site about video games, card games, and other geeky things. All right up my alley.

But it is their occasional comics – two to three times a week – that win the big prize. They have a very unique and demented way of looking at the world. They even poke fun at many of the questions I have thought of from time to time (case in point, the cartoons High Employee Turnover and A Brief Index Of Difficulty)

When I was ten I would wonder at the rationale behind favorite Nintendo game bad guys and their continued attacks against me even though there were thousands of their dead friends at my feet. Penny Arcade was able to capture that wonder in a 3-frame comic strip – and make it about ninjas. Genius.

Tremendous though the site's humor and quality may be, it is troubled by the age of much of the content. The main page is refreshed every few days regarding a range of topics that more closely resembles a live journal or general blog focused on a number of relevant and contemporary gaming topics. The rest of the site, by comparison, slips a little from this current relevance – I even stumbled across an article reviewing a card game that is well-since out of print.

The creativity and hard work Krahulik and Holkins have put into Penny Arcade has helped them create a truly unique site. And for a database-driven site, running in PHP, it is also extraordinary in the quality of its design – a rarity on the web and a rant for another day. I find it amazing successfully as they do. Through their comics I am reminded of my geeky childhood – they let me escape back to those days – and, I must admit, my geeky adulthood. fb

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