It Goes Without Saying

No it doesn’t! For any completely obvious observation you might make, you can also find someone who has obviously forgotten or failed to observe it, and you can probably find someone who sincerely disagrees with it. You can find someone who has failed to observe it at high stakes, like millions of dollars or at the risk of his/her life. People mess up the obvious all the time.

This observation probably also seems obvious to you. You know that people make obvious mistakes all the time. And yet you are still surprised by it sometimes. You can be oblivious to the obviousness of obviousness.

The Declaration of Independence holds these truths to be self-evident and then goes on to spell them out. It seemed kind of important to make them explicit. Also, you can name more than a dozen countries where you can still be killed for saying all of them in public.

So Ravious’s title is quite apt, and even if the principles seem patronizingly obvious, how long will it take you to name a dozen games that violate them? How many seconds will it take you to name a company that spent nine-digit sums developing a single-player MMO? You’ve seen me post about the obvious or trivial or review years-old games. Beyond the (obvious) fact that there are always new people to whom old insights are new, we forget old insights or forget to apply them because they seem so obvious. There are new implications to be found in old data. There are unknown knowns.

: Zubon

6 thoughts on “It Goes Without Saying

  1. Naqaj

    On that note, the most common thing about common sense is that it seems to be missing whenever it is needed the most.

  2. Aly

    The only thing that goes without saying is that phrase because we wouldn’t need it before any sentiment that went without saying because we wouldn’t be having to say it. That one’s right there with “it is what it is” for me.

    That, and piggy-backing off the other comment, people often confuse things that are subjective or even things that are objective but require learning (grammar, spelling) or experimentation (game design, business models) with common sense. Common sense is universal. There’s nothing common sense about gaming or game design. You could argue that common sense says not to make a game that’s boring but what people do and don’t find boring is purely subjective. Developers need to spell it out so consumers know if they have the same definition of fun and boring.

  3. pjharvey

    It goes without saying that it is also a euphemistic phrase that can be used to avoid conflict.

    ‘Wash your hands after handling any item that has cadmium dust on it.’
    ‘Duh, what do you take me for, a moron?’

    ‘It goes without saying that you should wash your hands after handling any item that has cadmium dust on it.’
    ‘Naturally.’

    In either case, the person being told may actually not know of what is being said and the information is useful, but if one side treats the information as blindingly obvious some insult or patronising could be construed were it not for the caveat. The phrase lets you impart important information without assuming too much or too little from the other party.

  4. Hornedcatmonkey

    So… there are things we know, and things we don’t know. And there are things we know that we know, things that we know we don’t know, things that we don’t know we know, and things that we don’t know we don’t know. And then thare’s things that we don’t know that that can’t be know, things we know we don’t know but attempt to find out anyways, and things are unknowably unknown that we know but can’t express. There may be others, but I don’t known if I know or don’t know or not.

    …I think I have rendered the word “know” meaningless :/

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