Alex Battaglia: The Definitive Interview
On Digital Foundry, creative burnout, the technology behind video games, unionization in the industry, his passion for theater, and so much more.
The medium of video games is quite young, but even younger is the journalistic structure picking apart its technological underpinnings–we’ve grown accustomed to benchmarks and resolution/framerate analyses of PC games, but Digital Foundry was arguably the first to democratize coverage of game rendering technologies agnostic of which platform developer technical magic occurs on. One relatively-recent addition to the team—Alexander Battaglia—exudes so clearly a profound passion for games’ technological makeup that as a dilettante in engine documentations and SIGGRAPH presentations, it was hard for me to deny him an invitation to speak on a topic we both share a great affinity for–I approached him hardly expecting a response, but Alex proved my assumption wrong and gleefully obliged.
To contrast my formative experiences with video games against Alex’s, the first machine I’d ever truly played games on was an old Pentium 4 PC with 128MB of RAM—about as big as some modern CPUs’ L3 cache—and an SiS AGP discrete GPU, later upgraded to a GeForce FX 5500–it was a time when computer graphics were not very sophisticated, but early dabblings into 3D gaming inspired awe regardless. I’d play and gawk over the id Tech-powered Return to Castle Wolfenstein as its low-poly look sufficed plenty then–as it turns out, Alex’s experiences were not too dissimilar. “[What first spurred my interest was] seeing my father playing Wolfenstein 3D on PC, the first one. So it was that, Doom, and Doom 2 thereafter I watched my father play through and I tried to get at it myself but I found it terrifying and also I was a little too young and probably frustrated with the controls to actually beat a lot of levels other than the first couple,” he told me. “After that, I did get into playing PC games with my brothers and friends from down the street where I grew up, but the things that actually got me into the technological aspect behind games were landmark titles where I was starting to read more about [them] on the internet–not just being interested in them casually through friends or just in a social context. It was [then] when I started to nerd out about video games by myself and in my own [leisure] time.”
It wasn’t long until what was a morbid curiosity for Alex turned into deep intellectual fascination with the inner workings of real-time rendering–whether it was Doom’s early command of 3D spaces, Half-Life’s renowned feats in physics simulation and script-driven storytelling, Halo’s pioneering of techniques that would become a staple in modern game engines, or Crysis venturing far beyond what any hardware of the era could conceivably render with acceptable results; the history of computer graphics is made richer by the divergent paths developers took to increase complexity, regardless of the hardware’s readiness to accommodate them at any given era. “I do remember Halo coming out for the original Xbox—my brother had one—and being extremely floored by seeing all these early shader model effects like bump mapping, texture detail maps—which I’d seen before, but it was the first time I saw them used really really well—and also just the little bit of blur that you have when you bring up the default pistol’s sight. [They’re] things that I have seen in games before that I started to wonder “how are they doing this?” and [it just] kept building on after that,” he told me. “It solidified in the year 2007 by the time Crysis came out and I was just so… enamored with the game before it came out. [...] It was like peering into the future for me and I wanted to know how they did every single thing–that’s when I went on the CryDev/CryMod website at that time and posted a lot there over the years, played around with the editor, got to learn how the engine works on the backend, and that solidified what I was really into and I just kept keeping up with it when I realized that it’s not just [simple fanfare]–there’s also developer presentations about these things at GDC, SIGGRAPH and all these other places and that’s when I started reading about not just the engines that interest me, but every single thing that I could [get my hands on].”
One thing leads to another, and the winds of fate eventually blew Alex in Digital Foundry’s direction. Like most of the current company roster, they were once mere avid consumers of Richard Leadbetter’s writings on the Eurogamer-hosted blog before he enlisted their help–Alex recounts his journey from fan to insider, the transition being one that happened at a pivotal moment in his life. “I would read Digital Foundry like any other person interested in tech, I’d post a lot on what at the time was known as NeoGAF before the large exodus that happened there, and then [that lead me] to get into contact with John Linneman. Him and I would exchange DMs over a couple of years just talking about games he was going to cover, or he had maybe my opinion on something that he saw in a game and he wanted to see what I thought of it—which was really neat and nice of John to even consider my opinion to have any value—then one day John was visiting Berlin, he knew I lived here, we decide to meet up, and it was kind of a fateful day where we went out and just talked. It was a trying time in my life so John was not only there to just talk to me about technology, games, rendering and all those things, but we talked about life and all [that surrounds it],” he says. “We kept into contact after that fact, and I was kind of in-between periods of my life where I studied something completely different from my Master’s, I was looking for work–meanwhile working a translation job–and John just wrote me up and was like “Alex, we should probably work on a DF Retro video together, because I know you’re a really big fan of Crysis and want to cover it one day” and I answered positively.”
The DF team being as small as it was—merely comprised of Linneman, Leadbetter and Thomas Morgan at the time—there were coverage blindspots bound to be remedied by Alex’s arrival. Linneman tasked him with shouldering the burden of PC coverage, but as things would have it over time, the team would just shift around responsibilities based on what was needed at any given moment. “John and Richard are actually pretty PC-oriented in a lot of ways–it maybe doesn’t come across [always well] in the content, but it’s kind of the preferred place to play a game [for them] usually due to the control over the game that you have technologically. But in terms of the people that they would get on the channel, there was so much workload that covering a game on PC, console and all these different versions, they just couldn’t do it–so they wanted someone to have it dedicated to. John said “you know, you’d probably be pretty great for this job” and I thought “okay, this is an awesome break for me in my life. I’ll be able to do something that I’ve had as a passion on the side for a long time, maybe as my full-time thing.”,” he says. “John told me to take a game that is very PC, and describe it in PC terms in video form. I leaned a lot on [his] work in the past to even get a style and a form, then I produced a video on Arma 3 that was 17 minutes long or so where I first described what’s kind of interesting about Arma at all, and then went into a performance analysis. That video took me an eternity to make—two months [if memory serves]—because I had no idea what I was doing, and then I send it off to John and he sends it off immediately to Rich, and he watched it, probably got a good chuckle out of some of the delivery quirks, but thought it was compelling enough [such that] we met up together in Frankfurt am Main—that’s around where John lives—and we just talked. Rich brought with him a bit of hardware, and also we ended up talking about what kind of work I’d be doing and we planned out at that moment the first couple weeks to a month of what kind of content could I get into.”
Though fanciful as Alex’s gig may appear, he ultimately has to put a roof over his head and food on the table–before he settled into his DF role, juggling that and his translation work was an ongoing struggle. “The first video I ever worked on was us commentating on the Sony E3 2005 conference when they initially showed off the PlayStation 3. I was at that point and time still working freelance–for the first year of Digital Foundry work, it wasn’t my full-time job actually. I worked my translation job during the week, and then on the weekends, I would work on a DF video where I had essentially three to four days from Friday on to try to cook something up by Sunday morning,” he says. “It wasn't until the summer of 2019 that I actually started doing DF full-time where I would work on that during the week, and have weekends off finally.”
Creating content for a channel with a million subscribers and counting is a tall order, so it’s natural to occasionally exhibit signs of burnout as the reception to videos doesn’t always match the effort put into them. The industrial nature of content creation online makes it so creators are compelled to repress feelings of burnout out of fear that it may set them behind, which is why Alex’s earnest take on it is refreshing by contrast. “Sometimes it can happen because you’re covering something for a while that you’re not particularly personally invested in, but it’s really good for the channel, engagement and morale. It happened [to me] technically a little bit after the launch of the next-gen consoles where... I’m interested in them in a purely-intellectual capacity where it’s just like “oh, that’s interesting what they’re doing. I’m curious what’s going on there” but I myself won’t ever [voluntarily] turn on a console to play a game. [It also occurs] when you invest a lot of time into producing something that could be your heart’s work, something you’re really interested in–it takes you a long time [to make], and the audience reaction is [just] negative and/or [apathetic],” he says. “You’re at the mercy of this YouTube content mill that it’s very depressing at times when you feel like you’ve worked a lot on something and you don’t see the return in numbers–you may see a good return in really kind commentary online—which I always really love reading—but you may not see it in the numbers and then therefore the chance of you doing it in the future becomes less likely because well… the numbers don’t support you working on that type of content anymore.”
The for-profit nature of DF’s work isn’t so much a feature of the company’s ethos as it is a simple prerequisite of a media production operation beholden to YouTube’s opaque engagement machinations and the simple need for staff to actually provide for themselves while they indulge the labor-intensive nature of benchmarking and graphics/performance analysis–Alex is cognizant of that and wishes things would settle down occasionally for him and his colleagues to not break down at the seams. “You have maybe a four to five days max [turnover rate]–I don’t know if a lot of viewers know that we have to produce videos really quickly, so that means putting in a lot of overtime. It happens multiple times a year to I think every single one that works at DF, [even though] you may not even see it visible in our content at all,” he says. “ It’s the way unfortunately the video game industry works–it’s always constantly turning and moving, the news cycle is really really fast, and… the release date thing is also something that’s really painful. You don’t know about a release sometimes until like 5 seconds before it releases, or you don’t get a game until it’s already released and you have to work overtime as a result of that. [It’s evident in] the way media's output is about generating interest from consumers, and obviously not about respecting the work-life balance of the gaming press.”
For the work to not be back-breaking and sustainable long-term, DF had to come up with ways to reduce their workload without necessarily decreasing output. This compelled Richard et al to experiment with new formats—some more conversational and less scripted—to tackle the needs of the ever-unsatiated hunger of the YouTube algorithm. “Every single [creator] on [the platform] has my utmost respect as someone who is spending their time making long-form edited content. I wish the industry [accommodated more our schedule], and that’s why we’ve developed a number of tactics to cope with [how hectic it all is]. One of them is having more people on the team—we just brought Audi in, who is a wonderful human being—and more people working means less pressure on individual members to produce content by a certain time period since there’s more content on the pipeline being made, which helps us all out. Another thing we do is we try and lean less and less over time on YouTube, which is volatile and capricious–so our Patreon growing over time, us investing more time and effort into the platform and making people want to support us for our content regardless of what the topic is,” he tells me detailing such efforts. “Another thing is we changed how we produce certain videos–we’ve decided that some content is really not worth the [extra polish], which is why we started doing dual voice-over videos, and also to a certain degree, DF Direct Weekly fulfills a similar role where we can be a bit more loose with the way we talk because what we’ll do is just play the game to the same amount that we usually would before more-or-less, while simultaneously spending less time on the production side of it. It’s maybe a little bit disappointing for the audience when they see something like that because it does suffer in terms of production quality—we know that—but it’s also the reality of what we need to do. On a technical level, I also think it’s a little bit more approachable sometimes for certain people out there who feel overwhelmed by a longer-form video and they just want to listen to people talk about something, so they do have their advantages but… we’re just constantly trying to think of new ways to cope with the really large workload that is [constantly] thrust upon us.”
In an era where public collaboration is marked by streamer houses splintering over the pettiest of beefs, Digital Foundry stands as an example of what a harmonious effort in video production looks like–Alex thinks it all comes down to basic communication. “It’s just normal human bonding where you actually do engage in discussions with people, and you can get a feel for what they’re saying as they’re saying it–that is kind of almost the way a band works. When you’re just jamming out, you can get a sense of what the person is going to do before they do it. Having an aligned set of interests, a similar upbringing, a similar line of values—moral, ethical and otherwise—all these kinds of things [merge] together in discussion, and for us on the team, I feel like we tend to be very aligned regarding what our interests are in tech, on a political and social axis as well too, and we just… we’d never [put each other down],” he says. “It’s okay to be wrong at DF–it’s another thing that we came up with in terms of our internal discussions that it’s okay to ask questions. It’s better to ask questions and sound dumb than to sit for hours trying to figure something out that you don’t have the wherewithal in that moment to actually parse. We’ve had heated discussions with one another–usually I don’t even [remember] why. But after the fact we’ll also be like “yeah we probably should’ve been more calm about that”–heated discussions still happen, but like any group of [rational human beings], if you work towards [harmony], you can put [conflict] well-behind.”
Though animosity is rather fleeting from the inside, it can take on ugly forms when expressed by a small—but vocal—naive and overly-entitled portion of DF’s audience. Alex chalks it up to editorial disapproval, but ultimately, he thinks if expressed measuredly and from a position of good faith, criticism is well-worth engaging regardless. “Since we’re talking about things that are clear-cut—and there’s only one way to describe a shadow map or something [of the sort]—we live in the realm of the objective for a lot of things. You can reference that and put up links to say a paper or referencing your own technical knowledge, but what we’ve seen lately is, the usual criticism is actually about editorializing–essentially, it’s [about how we do triage]. Journalists don’t cover every single thing that exists–they pick and choose,” he says. “The first rule of editorialism is picking and choosing the topic itself and its framing, so that is where we see criticism that I think is much more appropriate, and I’m fine with that actually. I'm very fine with someone saying “oh Alex, why didn’t you cover this” or “Alex why did you frame X thing in Y manner” and I think that is what every reasonable human being should do when they look at journalism–it’s all very important.”
But when criticism veers into claiming authority over authorial expression and intent, it can become counterproductive to its whole raison d’être. “It goes too far [sometimes] because people presume things that just [have no basis in reality]–like that we have some sort of behind-the-scenes monetary incentive or connections with certain brands or developers to do things; that is just not the case,” Alex affirmed. “We really want to have as independent an authority [over our own content] as possible, and so that’s where it goes too far sometimes–but I’m fine with anybody criticizing why I chose a given topic and what I said about it as long as it’s not about claiming that I said something wrong on an objective level that was in fact, factually correct. Disputing the facts is something I don’t want people to do–but questioning why they are presented? Yeah, talk to me about that–please.”
As much as Alex is enthusiastically welcoming of critique, he questions whether the format of social media is at all conducive to fostering good forms of it. “Any sort of pathological negativity, harassment and all those things that happen to people who engage in the social media sphere, all the people that write about them [deridingly]..I don’t know if it’s an unhealthy life-balance issue or if it’s also some sort of systemic [quirk] in the way we structure discourse in our society,” he says. “As much as [the internet] enables my work and got me interested in what I’m interested in now in my life, the way it currently works is pretty unhealthy. [Social media] is constantly boiling with discussion nudged by algorithms, [and] I would just recommend it to anyone to diversify their interests more to give them a more nuanced perspective on the world, life and everything else [to maintain a sound input].”
Though some may feel like DF’s editorial focus gives them little in the way of subjective assessment, Alex sees it crucial that subjectivity plays a prominent role in the literature–he sees that in some distant future when the technology becomes far too complex to abstract into simple terms, the role DF would conceivably play in such a world will be one of pure subjective analysis. “From DF’s earliest days and up until 2015-ish, it was really about hard numbers of what is the resolution count and the performance–it was through John’s work really that the realm of subjectivity in our reviews and our technical analyses [opened up]. He’s the one who I would credit with inventing the video form subjective analysis of a video game’s technology–I don’t know if it really existed before John kind of came out there,” he says. “[A rendering technique] may be interesting because it’s really hardcore and requires a lot of processing power, but what if it only changes one pixel on-screen? You have to subjectively evaluate that and determine whether it even warrants a mention. That’s why the subjective analysis is interesting because it’s only the human eye that can say “this is soft, or this is sharp, or this conveys a certain amount of detail.” But in general, I think increasing the subjectivity in the way we describe things in our analysis, it’s just going to increase over time because eventually, whenever everything’s path-traced, proceduralized, or running on some sort of AI algorithm that’s finding the perfect fit sum for a square at that exact one moment to make the image better… it’s already so detached from the way we can describe things, that the descriptions of the objective content differences behind-the-scenes may actually be just so out-of-grasp for the average user that we can’t talk about them anymore as much we’d like.”
Alex likes to credit his affinity for subjective analysis to existing staples that have pioneered the art of video game reviews, bolstered by an unabashed deference to subjectivity whenever possible. “Some of my favorite people out there making editorials and essays about video games have a large subjective component in them. I really like Tim Rogers, and LGR [just to mention a few]–Rogers for example, he’s describing objective phenomena through his personal lens, and it’s extremely compelling,” he says. “I think we all—at least John and I most-definitely—are really interested in that kind of content, so I don’t mind moving in that direction. If that one day means that I don’t work at DF [anymore] because I’m more interested in doing that kind of work, that would be the reason why–maybe I’d have felt like I’ve talked enough about pixel-counts and I need to move onto something else.”
Talking about the abstraction layer that journalists have to fill between the often-convoluted machinations of a game engine and the distilled-down version that ends up on YouTube, I couldn’t help myself but be reminded of an interesting parallel in the empirical disparity between natural sciences and their modern counterparts–essentially, once our descriptions of the natural world became too abstract, some stubbornly stuck to the old way of doing things even though modern science had presented a far better alternative in the form of sophisticated measuring instruments that were the culmination of decades’—sometimes centuries’—worth of scientific inquiry. If DF members wish to not become natural scientists when the technology becomes far too complex for them to parse, innovation is of the utmost essence. “The abstraction of what we’re seeing is only going to get [more fickle] with time. The most recent instance of that was pixel-counting because the way pixels are generated is changing, and the actual number of them is becoming a less relevant part to [the visual presentation] but in the future as tech gets more intense and more proceduralized like I said earlier–if we all literally just had a single image at the end that we could look at, our ability to say something about it without developer input is going to become more and more limited over time,” he says. “We’ve looked into it before–there are ways on the PC side at least to get a greater understanding of what’s going on [...] where Windows captures the frame and pulls apart on a draw call basis, and tells you what’s going on...well actually, it doesn’t tell you much of anything–whoever’s interpreting it has to [make whatever information it spits out legible]. Packaging that information—of which there is a lot—into something that is interesting for an audience to watch, like, share and all of that–it’s [a different ball game altogether].”
Challenges of contemplating that transition aside, DF’s work—like much of global labor—underwent its own transformation under COVID. Since the channel’s work is hosted online, things went on mostly-uninterrupted–but the breaking down of barriers between leisure and work made it so “taking a break” is just a whole lot harder on a basic mental and emotional level. “The interesting thing about DF and a lot of people who make their living on YouTube, streaming platforms or even yourself, is that you’re doing a lot of it from home already. So there was a technical absence of change in that aspect–I’m just working from home like I always did! The slight problem that then occurs is that there’s almost no compulsion anymore to break with your work,” Alex told me. “I don’t wanna say necessarily that it made me work more often on the weekend, but it might’ve actually done it–I was not doing anything [in the way of leisure] on the weekends anymore, and I’m still not of course. When I sit down and I’m thinking about something to do, I don’t have any form of distraction like I [used to]–I could [previously] go out and meet with friends, but instead now I think “you know, next week something’s coming up and I can maybe get a little work done on that ahead of time” or “oh, I should maybe just load that up and see what’s up,” and I do that more often during this time period [as] I am unwittingly committing myself to work that I shouldn’t be doing when I should be giving myself time off.”
This has unsurprisingly affected Alex’s relationship with games–but unlike many who found that cabin fever is an excellent motivator to rekindle their attachment with the medium, the result was just a lack of interest to indulge much of it outside of what DF already requires. “[The pandemic] has heavily [influenced] how much time I personally invest in playing games for myself. I definitely do it less, which is weird because you’d think I’d just be wanting to go through my backlog of large games or just play through old ones–I try, but I just can’t do it. I think it’s just a general lack of motivation,” he says. “[Weeks and days feel alike] and the longest time, just getting up and drinking my coffee—which is great by the way—doing my work, trying to work out, making dinner, taking a bath–all these things that I would do every day, they get so similar and the lack of diversity in your everyday life just saps you out. Something about this pandemic has really taken away [my passion for playing games] for a while now–I think it will probably return once I have just different [stimuli] in my life rather than the same ol’ every single day.”
But before the pandemic compelled isolation, extracurriculars comprised little of what some might assume Alex would be into given his preoccupation–interestingly enough, he loves theater, and has no qualms expressing the degree to which he’s ensnared by its every facet. “From week to week it was different, and that was the fun part. Going to theater–I mention that very specifically because I feel like there’s a presence in theater that is missing in film and I find it so enrapturing such that I can cry during a theater performance very easily, but during film I’m usually much more detached for some reason. I think it’s actually the acting presence that really does that for me and I can be much more astounded with it on a technical level because it’s live and happening right in front of me,” he says. “I find myself very involved in the theater production, and it usually moves me on some level. What I try and do is watch it, then I discuss it with company–I have the luxury of [being able to do so] with someone who is intellectually-fierce and wonderful. And then you get into this conversation and you end up talking about not just the theater production itself, but all the topics [it aborded].”
Parallel to that is Alex’s passion for music, so the loss of being able to attend it in a live setting obviously hit pretty hard. “Another thing that I would always love to do in the pre-corona times is go to concerts. I’m really into metal, progressive rock, I like instrumentality–I’d also go to Jazz clubs; and on a nice Saturday evening, I would definitely go to a techno club, dance, drink some alcohol, and try to have a really good time with the people I love,” he says. “That [unfortunately] is 100% gone [for now]—all these culturally-relevant things like music, visits to places like a museum or a live event—things that give life a certain flavor, they’re all gone now, [and their absence] actually had a pretty profound impact on my life.”
Shortly before I concluded the interview, I had Alex chime in with some thoughts on the current state of the games industry. He lamented the way that America exported its toxic workplace culture across the globe while cautioning against the woes of off-shoring work to an underpaid and poorly-treated labor workforce with little leverage to negotiate for themselves a better outcome. “The games industry is globalized, and now with a global modern infrastructure, it’s pretty “easy” to get anyone really cheaply to work for you–basically they can do contracting really easily nowadays and pay people unfair wages. As a developer applying for jobs, [you’re] now competing not only with people in your local area, but [also] an entire world of people who have entirely-different standards of living. [...] The unionization of game developers is something that needs to be done to prevent as much as possible their exploitation. That’s the way I view things, and that applies also to games journalism,” he says. “There’s been a quasi-Americanization of expectations and wants valued on the game production side–so the conditions in the US may make it so that there are expectations of how long you have to work, what a workday looks like, and all these other things that are not the usual way work was in other places globally beforehand. The proliferation of that style and mentality of working—the Silicon Valley work ethic—is not the way things should be done. A job should mean a certain amount of time–preferably 35 hours/week with a contract, paid leave benefits, healthcare and all the rest of it.”
While this may not come across in the tone of the coverage, Alex doesn’t always take charitably to covering what he knows has been tainted by the grievances expressed above. “When you realize there’s a lot of misery behind this, you just don’t feel good when covering it,” he says. “People talked about it recently because it’s outrage-inducing—Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick making a certain amount of money while laying off hundreds of people—that should make people very unhappy, and I don’t think that level of corporate greed and inequality among workers in a game company is sustainable over the long term. [...] I hope there are more equitable jobs for game developers in the future where they reap the fruits of what they’ve produced more readily.”
This in contrast to DF’s workplace culture, which Alex feels has given him enough latitude to take things slow as needed. “I think part of that is Eurogamer–they’re a pretty great place to work for, I’m well taken care of, and I feel like them and Rich have always tried to maintain my contract and made sure I’m getting paid equitably, and tried to make sure that I do get time off,” he says. “I think even Rich mentions it in the upcoming DF Direct Weekly [Update: Since the interview was conducted, the segment is now live]: How does DF reinvent itself so we don’t die, and how does it do so in service of us not suffering? We’re willing to engage with that discussion instead of working ourselves into a corner and feeling terrible all the time. That’s something that I think DF as recently in the last couple of years since I started has gotten really good at and Eurogamer’s pushing it pretty hard to make us all healthier and happier.”
If high-profile AAA developers were to mimic DF’s model and disregarded hitting babylonian standards of polish every single time, that might chip away at the channel’s very purpose of existence–Alex recognizes that the two are hard to reconcile, but he ultimately thinks there’s one right answer to the dilemma. “That’s the kind of the personal political question of how much you’re willing to sacrifice your own personal love and desire for your hobbies to make the world slightly better and well…yes, I’m totally fine with games taking longer to make and having less polish. I played games in the 90s and they were so much less polished than they are now! I hope we’re not feeding into the obsession over polish sometimes–maybe that’s a discussion we should have about the things that we do criticize on the channel, should less be about maybe polish aspects and more about the substance of the games themselves. I don’t want a game to come out late and make people go through hell because they had to make sure that a horse’s testicles contract in the cold,” he says. “I don’t want DF to just be picking at a game that has budgetary and developmental constraints and pointing out problems with it–in fact I like doing the opposite. I actually really like taking a game that is possibly less polished but does things really well [as a way of picking diamonds from a rough so to speak].”
It’s rare for me that I conduct interviews out of raw passion, but my conversation with Alex comfortably slots under that column. As someone who spent their early adolescence getting to grips with the way games were made—partly aided by Leadbetter’s escapades into graphics technology coverage on Digital Foundry—it fills me with great joy to know there are still people willing to carry the mantle long after the old-guard bids the Earth farewell.
To conclude on such melancholy seems almost unintuitive given the age of the medium, but it won’t be long after those who’ve significantly shaped it will no longer see its latter triumphs. Alex is but a mere inheritor of wisdoms past, an actor in the long play that is technical games journalism–for the three years he’s already worked on DF, he’s already set himself up for applause when the curtain call is nigh. That’s the mark of a great work ethic, and even more so an indication that his passion for the technology behind video games precedes any pretense for pursuing glory.