Hey! Hello! And welcome to Motherboard's Letters to the Editor section, where we read and respond to reader mail.
It's been a couple of weeks since we've done this because the Motherboard team is scattered across the globe on a variety of secret missions. Personally, I just got back from E3, one of the biggest video game trade shows in the world, where I had very little time to play video games because I was busy talking to people like Nintendo of America's president Reggie Fils-Aimé.
While we're on the subject of video games, let's jump right into our first reader email about the Warcraft movie.
Like you, I'm a fan of Duncan Jones previous work. Moon has became one of my favorite hard science fiction movies of all times. And Source Code reveals his ability to go deeper into what many other directors would just simply turn into Yet Another Sci-Fi Thriller. And it is because you agree that Warcraft is already one of the best game to movie conversions out there, that Duncan Jones already achieved something. And that alone will secure his position as a good director. I'm not worried about his future. I don't intend to see the movie, or even read much about it. Maybe I will watch it one day when it moves to the TV screen. I don't even plan to get the BluRay. Despite being an avid computer games player, I'm not blind to this industry appalling capacity to generate meaningful stories. Games have yet to cross the barrier of good writing, notwithstanding the few exceptions coming mostly from the indie arena.
And so Duncan Jones didn't really have much to hold on to. Warcraft, the MMO, demolished any storytelling capabilities. And the way MMOs are played, the fact players identify so easily with—and have been experiencing so intensely over the years—both sides of the in-movie conflict, makes it hard to tell a story that doesn't involve humans and orcs getting along and come up with some sob story to justify the action expected of fantasy movies. Warcraft, the RTS, would tell a different story altogether. That would probably be a movie where he would be much more at home and come up with a more interesting story. But alas, few would have understood why there is a movie about Warcraft in which Humans and Orcs would indeed fight for the extinction of the other and eventually win.
So, my only regret is that Duncan Jones purposely put himself into a corner. Maybe he didn't want to. Maybe he wanted to make another Moon, but the producers just wanted a straight shot at fantasy boredom. That's typical of this god forsaken industry. No matter what, if this is indeed the best of the game-to-movie adaptions, he once again proved his worth, no matter how bad the movie is.
Thank you so much for your letter!
You make a very good point about storytelling in MMOs versus storytelling in other types of games. World of Warcraft is an amazing game because it's a persistent world where millions of players create their own narratives by playing the game, but that structure doesn't at all translate to the traditional narrative structure of movies, with a protagonist, antagonist, three acts, etc. In an MMO, any player can be an antagonist and protagonist at the same time. There isn't a three act structure because the world is constantly evolving.
Lore is fun and makes for a great backdrop for video games. Warcraft has great lore, but if there's a good story to be found, it's in the events of the earlier real-time strategy games, which is closer to the era where Warcraft the movie is set! Warcraft 3 in particular had some great characters and turns, which I don't want to spoil here. It's a classic that everyone should probably play. Sadly, those aren't in the movie.
Emanuel, Motherboard Weekend Editor
I've been interested in this topic ever since I attended some renaissance festivals many years ago. How did older cultures ever exist without daily showers? Was everyone just stinky? What about primitive cultures living today?
1) If I'm doing this, does just one shower wipe out my entire microbiome and I have to start my two weeks from the beginning?
2) Or, is it more durable, and one shower/week, before going out on Saturday evening, will be a hesitant step in the right direction?
3) As stated in another article, what about just washing armpits and crotch each morning, but only rinsing off the rest of one's body?
4) Did everyone have athlete's foot in older cultures, or did a microbiome develop between the toes in those days?
5) Are probiotics necessary/useful, or do microbiomes just develop on their own, anyway.
I understand you can't answer every email, but I'd really appreciate knowing further thoughts on these questions.
Thanks for your letter about my piece on not showering! You raise some interesting questions.
While we'll probably never know what people smelled like in ancient times (before modern hygiene, I mean), I think it's likely that most people smelled a bit foul. I've read that some folks doused themselves in perfume to hide the smell. Of course, oral hygiene back then wasn't so great either.
And, no, I don't think that one should should wipe free your whole microbiome. As I noted in the piece, the human skin microbiome is extremely stable over time! The people at Mother Dirt will tell you that the "ammonia-oxidizing bacteria" they study (which is supposed to counteract a sweaty BO smell) can be wiped out fairly easily by harsh soaps and shampoos. But the impact of these products on the human microbiome still hasn't been well-studied, so we can't say much about it yet.
As for probiotics, I think there's growing evidence that they can be useful in some circumstances, and in the future we'll know more. For now, though, scientists are just starting to figure out if and what they're good for.
(And, as for whether everybody had athletes foot hundreds of years ago, I have no idea! Interesting question, though!)
All the best to you,
Kate Lunau, Motherboard Editor, Canada
I really enjoyed the new pilot Greatest Moments in Hacking History! Please do make this a regular show, it's a great way to show the world that hackers aren't necessarily scary people hidden in basements wearing hoodies.
Have a great weekend,
We are definitely listening to all the feedback on Motherboard's pilot week, and Greatest Moments in Hacking History was easily the favorite across the board.