Is It a Profound Waste of Time? Thoughts on Issue Two of a Magazine Inspired by Video Games

This is part two of a three-part series of articles covering the magazine A Profound Waste of Time. Part one is a review of APWOT issue 1; part two is a review of issue 2; part three is an interview with the magazine’s editor-in-chief & creative director Caspian Whistler on the future of APWOT.


A Profound Waste of Time (APWOT) promotes the discussion of video games as an end in themselves. Its second issue continues and improves on its predecessor’s insightful writing, gorgeous presentation, and art inspired by video games. The medium’s rich history and the emotional pull that video games, these interactive design objects, have on us are enormous. APWOT makes a point of focusing on and presenting what matters most: the people that make games, those that love them, and why they are so loved.

The magazine’s creative director and editor-in-chief Caspian Whistler learned some valuable lessons from the first go around. It’s evident in the sharper writing. Within this issue, beautiful illustrations and a world-class presentation complement the riveting words committed to the magazine’s page. The lush production value has now risen to eleven.

Simply the best. Source:

Taking it Further

The main difference between this issue and the previous one, besides the fantastically kaleidoscopic Takahashi-inspired cover art by Doug John Miller, is the self-assuredness and directness found within the pages of this issue. APWOT issue one had several articles that at their core were ruminations and opinions on games that the writers considered important. Issue two focuses more on the creative process and provides high-level discussions on themes present throughout the medium. Here video games are profound.

APWOT issue two is comprised of fourteen articles of various lengths and wide-ranging perspectives. Big names appear here: interviews with Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi and Rez creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi, and author and contributor to The Guardian’s Keith Stuart pens an essay. Whistler begins the magazine with the comment that “creating can be a very difficult process”, yet APWOT’s presentation seems effortlessly put together. It is a magazine crafted with the utmost professionalism. Few Kickstarter-funded projects are released with this level of polish and care. This is an exquisitely assembled zine. This time around Whistler and company make it look easy.

I hope to see APWOT issued two used in game design and video game studies classrooms as required reading. The information in its pages warrants much discussion and elucidates the inner workings of both game development and study.

Only two essays in this issue focus on ruminations about playing specific games: John Ricciardi’s “Comfort Quest” details his fondness for the greatest video game series, Dragon Quest, and in “A Hand Taken” Stuart discusses Fumito Ueda’s games Ico and Shadow of the Colossus and how they helped him better understand his son. The rest of the articles are interviews, detailed histories, academic-esque pieces (these are my favorites and I’ll cover them below). There is even a photo essay that pairs images of real-life Tokyo with those found in several video games.

Heavy indeed. Source:

Profound Words Versus a Global Industry

In this issue, APWOT weighs in on controversial, yet important conversations. Chella Ramanan’s “The Ground We Covered” confronts the prevalence of colonialist themes and ideas in the medium. Ramanan looks to a future where games can be a force for decolonization and societal transformation. Discourse on video games is enriched by essays like this, whose thoughtfulness and insightfulness make the reader question if video games are just profound waste of time. I came away thinking that instead, they are profound things that we spend our time on.

Another stand-out essay is Holly Nielson’s “All Fair in Love and War” on how history, conflict, and the emotional trauma they cause are portrayed in the medium. She wishes that “more games will explore the emotional sides of history with the sensitivity they deserve.” I agree, and I’m hopeful that more games will explore the emotional side, yet there is much work to be done.


Video games as design objects, often try to present a functional and interactive perspective of the beyond (the past, future, or perceived present). Designers know this and try to push the envelope and often fail. The reasons for failure are various, but most are due to commercial pressures. Video games are expensive to make and take a skill set that requires a high level of technological proficiency. One doesn’t simply create a video game like an aspiring novelist seeks to write a book. The labor involved is materially different. APWOT makes this evident.

According to the United States International Trade Administration, the global video game industry is among the most massive and profitable industries in the world, and it is still expanding. It was valued at over $159 billion in 2020 with over 25% of the global population contributing to it in some form. The medium is an industry larger than Hollywood and thus like any good profit-driven industry money must be made. Maybe this is a reason why AAA games, outside of Nintendo and a few others, are so similar to one another. Going against the wheel is bad for business.

In the pages of APWOT are myriad examples of people whose attachment and lifelong propensity for video games are not based on a game selling millions of copies. They love these games because of the time they spent (or waste) in front of the screen holding a controller. The memories made and the perspectives gained while doing so were enlightening. More importantly, the lines of code projected on a screen brought joy to these people.

Expanding Horizons

With issue two A Profound Waste of Time has moved on from being inspired by video games to one day becoming an inspiration for designers and writers to discuss and create forward-looking works. These works have the potential to make video games universally understood as a profound use of time, or maybe even an enrichment of life. Who knows, one takeaway from my time with APWOT is that video games and those that engage with them are doing more than just passively spending their time. They are changing as they play, and symbiotically they are changing video games as well.

In Edward Yang’s final film Yi Yi a fictional game designer by the name of Mr. Ota is frustrated by how video games have not moved beyond portraying and using violence as a clutch. A loose translation of Yi Yi is one by one, or rather step by step. A Profound Waste of Time is ultimately an effort to push the discourse of video games beyond the typical consumer product coverage that they receive. Caspian and the contributors of the magazine’s two issues are encouraging us, one step at a time, to contemplate why video games matter – time well wasted.


APWOT has seen quite a bit of success. There are rumblings of another issue, and the magazine is now on sale through Fangamer. What is the future of APWOT? This will be the topic of the final part of this series. Part three will be an interview with the magazine’s editor-in-chief and creative director Caspian Whistler and a discussion of the future of APWOT.

Create a website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: