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Results: I Spy... Videogame Animals

Here are the results of the recent I Spy minigame. If an animal has scored, I've only listed the game that scored (and who mentioned it), but if no-one scored any points I've put in all the games mentioned that were never verified. For responses with no answer, I have added my own comments.

  1. Arctic Hare: Final Fantasy VI (Bezman), Space Station Silicon Valley (Spencer Greenwood). The game I was thinking of here was indeed Space Station Silicon Valley which is one of my favourite games (I've played it through many times).

  2. Pomeranian Dog: since this isn't in Nintendogs, it seems this isn't in any game anyone knows of!

  3. Giant Squid: Endless Ocean (Spencer Greenwood). Shame no-one verified this. Yes, Endless Ocean was what I was thinking of. Scared the hell out of me when I first came across it! Even though nothing can actually harm you in this game, seeing a Giant Squid was quite a shock!

  4. Kiwi: New Zealand Story Revolution (Spencer Greenwood = 2, Bezman = 1). Well, I would have gone for the original arcade game, but fair enough. Stephen Knightly complains that it looks more like a chicken – well, maybe so, bu the makers definitely call it a Kiwi. I'm pretty sure one of the Ty the Tasmanian Tiger games had a Kiwi too, but I don't know which.

  5. Norwegian Lobster: any game with a lobster tank in a restaurant would have scored for this one. I can't think of one off hand, but there must be one...

  6. Indian Elephant: Civilization III (Darius = 2, Katherine = 1, Bezman = 1). I was thinking Dynasty Warriors 3 for this one.

  7. Rhamphorhynchus: Dinosaur World (Spencer Greenwood). I was thinking of the classic arcade shooter Prehistoric Isle in 1930. It was a boss in that.

  8. Echidna: Sonic & Knuckles (Bezman = 2, Cyranix = 1). Nice easy one here!

  9. Mole Cricket: this is one of the insects in Animal Crossing.

  10. Marmot: I don't know of any game containing a Marmot.

  11. Baiji (Yangtze River Dolphin): I don't believe there has ever been a game featuring this endangered species.

  12. Osprey: It slips my mind where I have seen an osprey, but there is one to be found. 

  13. Hallucigenia: I'd be very surprised if this has been in any game!

  14. Wombat: Magic: The Gathering Online (Bezman = 2, Katherine = 1)

  15. Chameleon: Knuckles Chaotix (Spencer Greenwood = 2, Bezman = 1)

  16. Arapaima: Animal Crossing (Bezman). Yes, of course, this is what I was thinking. Shame nobody came behind you to verify, Bezman!

  17. Styracosaur: Starfox Adventures, Turok 3 (Spencer Greenwood), Raptor Safari (Bezman). Almost any of the Turok games would have scored here, but alas, no verification!

  18. Pangolin: not in any game I know about.

  19. Lynx: there's a Lynx somewhere out there, but I don't know the title.

  20. Emu: I think there's one in one of the Ty the Tasmanian Tiger games...

  21. Goliath Beetle: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (Bezman). This is also an insect in Animal Crossing, but again, no verification.

  22. Capybara: I'd be very surprised if this was in any game.

  23. Marine Iguana: Finally, this charming little fellow appears in Endless Ocean.

So after all that, only three of these twenty-three animals scored! Was the problem that people didn't like the I Spy format, or were the animals just too hard a subject? I liked this minigame, and I'd like to give it another go, so any advice as to how to make it more fun next time just let me know. (Happy to change the rules, too, since the verification system didn't quite work out for us).

Here are the final scores:

  • Behrooz 'Bezman' Shahriari: 5 points

  • Spencer Greenwood: 4 points

  • Katherine/Darius: 2 points

  • Cyranix: 1 point

Congratulations on the win, Bezman! If you go to the ihobo site and use the contact link to send us your postal address, we will email you a list of things in the ihobo surplus stock cupboard for you to choose as a prize. Thanks to everyone who played in this one!


Returning to normal service gradually, I will be replying to comments today, then scoring the I Spy Minigame on Thursday morning UK time - so players of this have about forty eight hours left to score points. Then next week I'll be announcing the new plans for my blogging. Hope everyone is well!

Hope of Change

Earthrise Obama's victory has engendered a feeling of hope that things might change. Although I do not want to sour this intoxicating feeling, I do feel that people often misunderstand what change entails. Change is not the purview of our leaders, although they may inspire us to change - change is the responsibility of the individual.  It is your responsibility, and it is mine. For the world to change, we must change.

When people think about change, they tend to think in terms of how other people must change to better reflect their values (which they tend to see as the only correct values). If your idea of change is getting what you want, having more people believe what you believe, your hope is naught but vanity.  The harder road is to see how you might change to respect other people's values, or other people's needs, or even needs beyond people. It is this change - the change from the view of the self to the view beyond self - that offers the most remarkable depth of hope.

What appeals to me about the Kantian project is the idea of striving for an impossible goal where all our conflicting demands might be reconciled - perhaps not in actuality, but at least in hope. Kant called it "the Realm of Ends"; I call it communal autonomy. As I wrote about this before:

The ‘realm of ends’ is the confluence of the goals of all people, where everyone is systematically united and offering mutual support towards their various ends. Kant does not believe that this is wholly achievable – he says it is “merely possible” – but he asserts strongly the value of this ideal as a guiding principle in ethics.

I know many of you hold neo-Nietzschean values in which you want to fight solely for your own corner, and not for everyone nor everything, and the great thing about the Kantian project is that because this is what you want, I have to reconcile your need for private gain against my own goal of mutual benefit. This is not easy! But nothing worthwhile ever was.

Mahatma Gandhi said "You must be the change you want to see in the world". This is the foundation upon which all change must rest. The hope of change begins with you, and the hope of change begins with us. It begins with recognising all that is not you. It begins with learning to communicate between different beliefs, different metaphysics, different worlds. It begins when you ask yourself not how other people should change, but how you might change yourself to become what you wish you could be. In this change lies our greatest hope.

Only a Game will return later this month.

Poll 12: Failure in Videogames

This poll asks you to consider how you react to failure in a videogame - do you continue to push for victory, do you fight on because you don't want to feel that the makers of the game have beaten you, do you keep trying until you're too angry to continue, or do you just get bored and give up?

As ever with polls, it can be hard to abstract to a single answer, especially as different games will produce different reactions. I suggest simply looking at the answers on offer and picking the one that you feel best describes your behaviour in this context and not worrying about the niggling details. No-one knows how you play games better than you do!

I Spy... Videogame Animals

Since I will be away for a few weeks, here is a minigame to keep you amused in the interim!

Below are twenty three different animals that might be spotted in videogames. To score points, simply post comments saying which of these animals you have seen in which games.


  • 2 points for the first person to spot each of these animals in a videogame, but only if their sighting is also the first to be verified
  • 1 point for the first two people to verify a sighting that scores

So, for instance, if you have seen a marmot in Metal Gear Solid (say) you get 2 points if and only if at least one other person confirms this sighting before anyone else verifies a sighting in another game. At least half of the animals listed are things I have personally seen in videogames, and some are easier to find than others, but I'm categorically not guaranteeing that everything in this list can be spotted!

All videogames count, including adaptations of board and card games, arcade games and even trivia DVDs (provided you can get that all important verification!) Publishing your own gamelet featuring a particular animal is fair game, but only if you post a link to it here so everyone can see it. For the purposes of scoring, verification of sightings will trump taxonomic accuracy provided there are no competing claims, so some creative explanations can turn into points if you persuade anyone with your tortured logic!

Winner is the person with the highest score when I close the minigame later this month. I'm not offering a formal prize, but I might let the top scorer pick something from the ihobo "surplus stock" cupboard provided getting the winner's postal address isn't a Herculean effort!

Here's the list of animals to search for!

I Spy...

  1. Arctic Hare
  2. Pomeranian Dog
  3. Giant Squid
  4. Kiwi
  5. Norwegian Lobster
  6. Indian Elephant
  7. Rhamphorhynchus
  8. Echidna
  9. Mole Cricket
  10. Marmot
  11. Baiji (Yangtze River Dolphin)
  12. Osprey 
  13. Hallucigenia
  14. Wombat
  15. Chameleon
  16. Arapaima
  17. Styracosaur
  18. Pangolin
  19. Lynx
  20. Emu
  21. Goliath Beetle
  22. Capybara
  23. Marine Iguana

Good luck!

Rules Update (6 November 08)

The verification rule works as follows: no points are scored until a sighting in a particular videogame is verified by another player. So if there are competing claims, the first game to be verified scores, irrespective of which was first mentioned. The other game scores nothing.

However, if you get a verification which is taxonomically inaccurate (as judged by me) and someone comes back with an accurate sighting that is verified, the accurate sighting gets the points. So spurious logic only scores if no-one comes back and beats you on the facts.

Game Over!

This minigame is concluded. You can see the results here.

Also Available

It speaks badly of Sony's market position right now that videogame advertisements on TV in the UK now say "also available on PS3", flagging the Xbox 360 as the platform of choice. This could be because of a contribution towards marketing funds from Microsoft, of course, but its not implausible that this is a shift in retail focus. What's the situation with this in US commercials right now? What about elsewhere in the world? Has anyone used the fatal phrase "also available on PS3" yet?

Changing the Game

Without wanting to say anything too specific at this stage, change is in the wind here at Only a Game. When I started blogging back in July 2005, I had no idea what I was doing except finally shutting up Matt Mower (whose IT-focussed blog is here), who had been bugging me to try it for years. But now, three years on, I have a fair idea of what I'm doing - and also the limits of the form.

The split personality of Only a Game - between my love of philosophy, and my career as a game designer - is starting to become a liability. When a games post pulls in tens of thousands of visitors that's potentially great for promoting my company, International Hobo Ltd, but it's less helpful for maintaining the dialogues in the comments that are the real purpose of this exercise for me.

Similarly, the four-posts-a-week schedule seems rather better at building up community than it is at allowing for discussions, since one popular games post can stiffle discussions on all the others. But the community size (in terms of my philosophy) is already roughly where I want it to be, and now even the traffic calming measures I once employed to reduce visitors aren't working. It used to be I could write a post on religion and dozens of militant atheists would vanish in disgust, cooling down the rate of comments. Now, I post on religion and dozens of entertaining crackpots come out of the woodwork (and we had plenty of these to begin with, your truly included!)

The details have yet to be confirmed, but a change is definitely in the air.

This is my last week blogging before the Wheel of Fortune, so after Friday I'll be on hiatus until Thanksgiving. When I return, I hope to have an announcement for you...