Taking a step back to look forward

cary:

In case you hadn’t noticed, I write about video games, a lot. Not a lot compared to some bloggers, but a lot for me. And because I’m the one to blame for starting this train, there are times when I feel that I have to keep it going no matter the cost. In the recent past, this has driven my gaming down a path strewn with debris from the outside. This approach doesn’t quell my inner desire to play as much as it makes me feel like I MUST play only because…I MUST! I MUST CONTRIBUTE TO THE COMMUNITY! That’s all well and good sometimes, but the feelings that comes with this self-fulfilling prophecy turn out to be hollow and meaningless. In this post I wrote for United We Game, I take a step back from my current reality to reflect on why I play games in the first place and to answer the question “what do I want from gaming?”

Originally posted on United We Game:

Image by Flickr user Ian Muttoo

Image by Flickr user Ian Muttoo

As the summer gets rolling, my time with games grows thinner and thinner. Just this past weekend I turned on the ol’ 360 to play a little South Park: The Stick of Truth for the first time in nearly 3 weeks. I picked up a couple new games in Steam and put in a few minutes of gameplay, but I’ve no idea when I’ll next have any substantial time to become further frustrated with Guacamelee or return to whatever the heck I was doing in The Witcher. Summertime has been like that for me for awhile – gaming has to take a backseat to things like vacations, renovations, work, and life in general. I’m not complaining, I’m used to the cycle by now, and I’ve even come to welcome it, this time “off.” With summer generally being a time scant of new game releases, it’s sometimes spoken…

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Totally 80s: Denise Huxtable/The Cosby Show

Welcome the next installment of my year-long look back at the decade that was ruled by big hair and bigger egos. Every other week I’ll be covering pop culture tidbits from the 1980s, sharing memories, choking on the ridiculousness, and maybe offering an insight or two into what made the 1980s so great/bad/silly. Serving as my inspiration are two lists from Buzzfeed, and I’ll include links to the original list items in each post. So throw on your neon windbreaker, lace up your hi-tops, and adjust your Wayfarers, because this DeLorean is taking off! (Ugh. Did I really just type that? Gag me with spoon, seriously.)

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List item #32 from 53 Things Only 80s Girls Can Understand

The unrivaled style icon that was Denise Huxtable.

DH3

Don’t ask me how, but it works. (Though if you did ask me, I’d say it’s the shape that make the outfit work.)

I’m not afraid to say it. I was, and still am an unabashed fan of The Cosby Show. I watched the show religiously from its first, now-classic episodes when the Huxtables were in their odd little apartment/house until the appearance of young Olivia near the turn of the decade. Once high school was in full swing, I kept up with the show irregularly and mostly through summer re-runs. Though the show ended in 1992, I caught at various points during its afterlife in syndication and had a particularly nostalgic run with the Cosbys when the show was picked up by Nick At Night some ten or twelve years ago.  I’ve read and heard all the bad things people have had to say about the show over the years, and I just don’t give a damn about any of it. I love The Cosby Show. Period.

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Project 151: Slow going but making progress

My last Project 151 post was almost a month ago (seems like a year ago). Since several weeks have passed, you might assume that I’d have LeafGreen in the can by now, but the truth is, I’m faaaaar from done.

Four weeks equals five hours of gameplay. ...sounds about right for me.

Four weeks equals five hours of gameplay. …sounds about right for me.

When I do have time to submit to LeafGreen’s charms, it’s very hard to come out of that stupor! I get its addictive nature now — there’s just something to exploring and battling and capturing that make the game very hard to put down at a moments notice. Those few hours I managed to put in simply flew by!

Anyhoo, even though I’ve not played my Pokemon-flavored ass off over the past weeks, I think I’ve knocked out some important objectives. Here’s the rundown of where my progress stands today:

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Having a bloody fine time in Bloody Roar

In the past, when video game commercials popped up like rare and illicit gems on mainstream television, there was no turning away. You watched intently as Mario soared to the clouds and Sonic speedily captured ring after ring. Outside of catching games in action at the arcade or seeing them advertised in magazines, commercials were once the only ways to see games in actions before purchasing them. To boot, they had to be catchy, funny, and oftentimes plain ol’ weird in order to get people to pay attention. When the PlayStation arrived on the scene, Sony took “weird” to the extreme…er…I’m sorry…I mean XTREME, now with MORE XTREMENESS!!!® Some of their early commercials were downright loopy, even unsettling at times. One of the most memorable in this regard has to be the commercial for Bloody Roar.

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Relationships in Games: The Loner, The Rebel

cary:

Over on United We Game, I recently completed a trilogy of posts on relationships in games. Having played some varied titles of late, I considered the importance of the company we keep in game and how those relationships, virtual though they may be, affect the way we play. In this, the third installment, I explore the notion that in some games, the path alone may be the best one taken. If you’d like to check out the previous posts in the series, click below.
Relationships in Games: The Teammates
Relationships in Games: The Romance(s)

Originally posted on United We Game:

Image by Flickr user emalord

Image by Flickr user emalord

Sometimes the best relationships we have in games don’t involve other characters. Sometimes the road traveled alone is the best path, the most fulfilling path, the most sensible path.  For every game that offers plenty of opportunities for teamwork and romance, there are dozens of others where these choices don’t exist. Your character — the John Marstons, Nathan Drakes, Batmans, and Altaïrs – are alone in the world with nothing at their disposals except their wits and the person at the other end of the controller. Sure, you (the character) will interact with other characters during the game to various ends, but you (the player) don’t have a stake in those relationships. No matter what saintly or nefarious paths you follow, John Marston will always save his wife and son; Nathan Drake will always choose Elena; Batman will always save the city from the…

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Totally 80s: Blowing into video game cartridges

Welcome the next installment of my year-long look back at the decade that was ruled by big hair and bigger egos. Every other week I’ll be covering pop culture tidbits from the 1980s, sharing memories, choking on the ridiculousness, and maybe offering an insight or two into what made the 1980s so great/bad/silly. Serving as my inspiration are two lists from Buzzfeed, and I’ll include links to the original list items in each post. So throw on your neon windbreaker, lace up your hi-tops, and adjust your Wayfarers, because this DeLorean is taking off! (Ugh. Did I really just type that? Gag me with spoon, seriously.)

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List item #37 from 50 Things only ’80s Kids Can Understand

The frustration of having to blow into your cartridges in order to get them to work.

By Evan-Amos (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Evan-Amos (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s a shame that a good portion of you wonderful readers out there will never know the maddening joy incited by blowing upon electronics, video game cartridges in particular.

Come to think of it, we no longer have to abuse, physically or otherwise, our electronics in general. There aren’t components in them anymore that come unstuck or need to be jiggled just right in order to get the things to work. Blowing on your phone might make Siri happy, but it won’t cause its screen to become uncracked or it to send text messages any faster. Plus, what would you blow on, exactly? Phones, tablets, laptops, game systems…none have exposed parts. Save for the USB/charging connections, I guess. But even then, when was the last time you had to blow into a USB port?

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iTunes Diaries, entry #18: Grand Theft Auto IV edition

I was once a little…um, okay, terribly obsessed with iTunes.  I got my first iPod in 2004 and became immediately entranced by Apple’s seeming infinite lists of music for sale.  Over the years, I spent way too much time on iTunes and spent way too much money on music, some of which was great, and some of which was not.  In 2011, for the sake of my sanity and my bank account, I went cold turkey.  I suspended my iTunes activities and completely stopped visiting site.  With the iTunes Diaries, I take a look back, highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly in music that I just had to have in the moment. 

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One of the things that instantly hooked me on Grand Theft Auto IV was the music.

Don't worry, we're still talkin' music here.

Don’t worry, we’re still talkin’ music here.

I had never played a GTA game before, but I had heard that some of the previous titles had really great soundtracks utilizing known, popular music rather than ambient backing tracks. I sunk nearly 100 hours into the game before moving onto less chaotic pastures, and during that time I paid close attention to the music, from the songs that played on the radio station(s) of my choosing to the songs that played in stores and clubs. And of all the beats appearing on GTA IV’s grandiose soundtrack, I latched onto two songs with which I became obsessed and later purchased: “Flashing Lights” by Kayne West featuring Dwele from Graduation (2007) and “Ooh La La” by Goldfrapp from Supernature (2005).

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Video games, will you still love me when I’m 64?

cary:

Ah, the joys and trials of being an aging gamer. Shoot, just being a regular gamer is challenging enough! Add on heaps of “adult responsibilities” and “time commitments,” and well, it become damn near impossible for some of us (i.e. me) to squeeze in some precious game time. Yet someday, I shall all rest comfortably on that cloud called Retirement (maybe, if I’m lucky), and perhaps then and there those beloved days of gaming without limits will return. And maybe games will become fun again. Gaming simply to game? Now there’s the ticket. Hop the train to Geek Force Network and read on, my friends, read on.

Originally posted on Geek Force Network:

Another year, another birthday – that’s life. There’s no avoiding it; it just happens. A certain day goes by and poof!, suddenly you’re one whole year older than the day before.  My birthday is still several months away, but it’s an unsettling one with terrible thoughts of MID-LIFE CRISIS AHEAD looming in the back of my mind. But throwing personal messes aside, this year has really had me questioning my future with video games. Not questioning their perceptual existence in my life but questioning the role that they will fulfill in the future.

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