Commentary


Regarding the .ac in insomnia.ac

By Alex Kierkegaard / May 02, 2007


There's a common misconception regarding this site which it is time I cleared up. A lot of readers seem to have assumed that insomnia is a website more or less dedicated to covering the arcade scene, and that my favorite genre of games is shoot 'em ups.


If you've somehow got that impression, please understand that that is simply not true. My intention has always been to review all kinds of games, regardless of genre or hardware required, and shooters are most certainly not my favorite kind of games.


On that second point it's worth noting that I don't even have a favorite genre, thought I've always had two least-favorite ones (sports and puzzle -- the first because I prefer spending my time playing real-life sports, and the second because, well, let's face it, puzzle games are not really all that exciting now, are they? I mean they are not exactly what got me into gaming in the first place).


My taste in games is therefore similar to my taste in everything else (movies, music, girls, food, etc.): extremely wide in genre, but within each genre, as time goes by, increasingly selective. This seems to me a desirable trait for a critic to have, don't you think? At any rate, it's not a bad one.


So I want this website to reflect that, and treat all kinds of electronic games with the same consideration. But the way things are in this field at the moment, that's not something I can allow myself to do. In the last ten or fifteen years specialist publications have stopped giving a shit about arcade games and imports, restricting themselves to their respective (and often extremely dull) domestic markets. So "Games of the Year" are being released in Japanese arcades and stores every year, and no one in the West seems to ever find out about them. At best, some amateur sites might mention them in passing and post a few details, images, etc., but no one sits down to play them at length and write about them, comparing them to everything else that's out there, and to everything else that's come before. If you know where to look you can find out a fair amount of basic info on these games, but no in-depth discussion (and this is usually true even if you keep an eye on hardcore online communities -- the sort of discussion to be found there hardly ever amounts to more than "this game rocks/sucks").


There's a balance somewhere that's seriously out of whack, and what I want to do is redress it.


So if I sometimes focus more on arcade and import releases it's only because I am trying to do just that. And if I give five stars to Espgaluda II and three to Resistance: Fall of Man it's only because I believe that the first is a much more competent and worthwhile game than the second. There's no hidden elitist agenda involved, and I certainly enjoy Crackdown as much as After Burner Climax. It's just that I'll always give priority to the second, if only because no one else does.


As for the .ac in the url, I understand that it throws people off, so I'll explain briefly how that came about.


Basically, for reasons which I'll go into at some other time, when I set out to make a website about games I knew I wanted to call it insomnia. But since the .com, .net, .org, etc. TLDs were already taken I had to look for something more unusual. For a while I went with the domain gameinsomnia.com, but I never felt comfortable with it. It was far too long to type and it definitely didn't sound cool. So eventually I sat down and examined a list of all possible TLDs for the word insomnia, and ended up picking .ac. I considered some other options, .us, for example, but I didn't want to associate the site with a specific country (.ac is the top-level domain for Ascension Island, a British overseas territory, but no one seems to have heard of it anyway, which suits me just fine). Other options, like .biz, for example, simply sounded stupid. And the cool thing about the .ac TLD was the allusion to gaming (arcade gaming, at any rate), which is something that even the desirable .com and .net endings lacked.


That this choice would end up reinforcing the notion that I am mainly interested in arcade games was not something I had foreseen. But though, as I explained here, it's certainly not true, it's also not something I view as altogether undesirable. You see there's something really cool about being big into arcade gaming in this day and age. Perhaps you know what that is -- if so, good on you.


If you don't, though, be sure to check back in a few days and I'll let you in on that little secret.