The Merchant of Pixels

 Posted by (Visited 12333 times)  Game talk
Jun 272006


To bait the intelligence of our youth: if nothing else,
it will make them happy. They have disgraced me, and
hindered me many millions; laughed at my losses,
mocked at my gains, scorned my mechanics, assigned me to
bargain bins, wrecked my reputation with licensed copies
of poor games; and what’s the reason? I am non-electric.
Hath not a board game fun? hath not a board game rules, players,
winners, tension, strategy, passions? played with
the same breath, poor by the same faults, subject
to the same arguments, won by the same fortitude,
dragged and rushed by the same gamer types, as
a video game is? If you ruin us, do we not break?
if you play fancifully with us, do we not make you laugh?
If you play vengefully with us, do we not make other players
Uncomfortable? and if you steal our market share, shall we not
market back? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that. If a board game is promoted over a video game,
what is his humility? A press release. If a video game
splash the front page, what should the board game’s sufferance be by
video game’s example? Why, blogging! The marketing you
teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
will better the instruction.

  8 Responses to “The Merchant of Pixels”

  1. I wonder how many people won’t appreciate the origin of that text. Oh, wait, the link gives it away. Strange, though, that it seems he hasn’t even read the entire play nor seen it performed! Personally I find the Merchant of Venice to have a very slipshod quality to it; it seems like the parts were hastilly put together and didn’t all fit together as well as most of Shakespeare’s earlier masterpieces. The Jew’s speech is actually one of the best parts, and you would expect it to come at the climax of the work, and yet it actually comes much earlier and has very little effect on the story itself.

  2. I hope people go to the site and read the whole thing and not just this excerpt.

    Well done!

  3. ‘Tis a far far 733Tr thing I do…..err, sorry, wrong story.

  4. SirBruce: I have read the play. I just haven’t seen the movie version with Al Pachino. My wife tells me that he manages to make the character of Shylock quite sympathetic, which I find hard to believe.


  5. Yehuda,

    I read your following line:

    “I find it hard to see how this play can be anything but anti-semitic (He is forced to convert to Christianity! O joy!)”

    as meaning you hadn’t even seen the whole thing performed before. Perhaps if you had said performed/interpreted I would have understood your point about the Pacino movie. Personally I didn’t think Pacino was particularly sympathetic, but there are many modern interpretations of the play that try to make Shylock look just as much of an unwitting victim as everyone else in the play, and his “conversion” is really more of a punishment, not representative of a serious change of heart on his part.

  6. SirBruce: Understood. I could have been clearer. But then I would have had to have gone into all of the other anti-semitic aspects of the play (the daughter’s disgust and rejection of her heritage, the pathetic lust of Shylock for money over human life, his defining characteristic of revenge, and so on), which would have been besides the point of the article.

    His being forced to convert is not merely a punishment but a triumph, part and parcel of Shakespeare’s happy ending for the play. The little humanity that S offered for Shylock was detracted by his having similar to human characteristics but essentially not quite as evolved as a Christian. The ending merely confirms this.


  7. Happy ending in some bizzare sense, I suppose, but I can’t believe Shakespearean audiences actually thought the Jew’s forced Christianity was going to “save” him — he’d still be a Jew in heart, but suffer for it in life by being barred from practicing, and surely would suffer in the Afterlife for his actions as well. Anti-Semitic in that sense, sure, but equally anti-Christian. I don’t think any interpretation of the play can redeem Shylock for his actions; they just show that Christians are just as vengeful and deceiful and spiteful, if not moreso. I think interpreting the play as simply anti-Semitic misses much of what Shakespeare was trying to say; surely he could have painted the Jew in a far worse light, and Christians in a far better one, if that was his intent.

    But anyway, this does stray a bit off the point, and I’m no Shakespearean scholar, so I’ll stop here. 🙂


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