Device Connected - Episode 9 (27/3/2012)

Posted by aurahack (2282 posts) -

I’m honestly a little surprised that I even got a blog up this week. It’s a little late, but I had a lot of homework to do and the Formula 1 race lasted significantly longer than I expected. Silly rain. Monday edit: And I’m even later! Sunday caught up fast, and I spent almost all of the day writing. Sorry, guys. :( Tuesday edit: HEY GUESS WHAT I HAD TO DO ON MONDAY NIGHT? DID YOU GUESS HOMEWORK? Well, you were half-right. The other half was Call of Duty, and going to bed early. But this is seriously the last edit before I post this damned thing.

This week was the first week returning from March break, which I think the entire class was sure would be a little bit easy on us. You know, return from vacation, ease into things or whatever. But no. Instead, we had to build a creature out of tin foil and soldering wire, start reproducing Vermire’s Girl With a Pearl Earring, and render a set design through technical drawing within a week and due for the following week.

I’ve done two out of three, but haven’t been able to finish the painting. I fell victim to an absolutely terrible migraine on Saturday, something I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before. My eyes felt like they were being crushed and my brain felt like it was swelling so much that my skull was splitting open. I think breaking my collarbone was the worst kind of pain in the long run, but I could deal with that again. After the initial unbearable pain, a back-brace and weeks off physical activity weren’t so bad. That migraine, though? I never want to feel that ever again. Ever. I couldn’t even rest, because lying down made my head hurt on whatever side I’d lie on. Thankfully, it went away later in the night. It only lasted a small, reasonable 8 fucking hours, but it has passed and hopefully will never come back.

Last Sunday, (the 18th) after a long stretch of homework, I sat down in front of my TV and decided to play Journey. After a strong recommendation from fellow duders Xeiphyer and Ossi101 to play it in a single sitting, I shut off all the lights, plugged in my wonderful monitor headphones and started playing.

I should preface: I really hate the “games as art” argument. What art means is a topic unbelievably subjective. In addition to that, going to college in an art program really enlightens you to how full of shit the majority of the arguments are. I don’t like talking about, I don’t like hearing it, and it sucks that I need to bring the topic, and words that could be associated to said topic, to light.

With that said, what followed for the next 90 minutes was the single most meaningful experience in videogames I have ever played.

And yet for as incredible as it was to play, it is incredibly difficult to describe. What mechanically makes Journey isn’t anything to laud over, really. It’s linear, it’s an adventure game, and it is fully functional in both those aspects. No, what makes Journey is the experience of completing the adventure with the help of another anonymous person, and the emotions and lessons you take from it.

Throughout the game, you are never told who your partner is. You’re left to cooperate with a complete stranger through a very limited language, and you are “given” the task to help each other reach an end goal. The sense of comradery becomes strong very quickly once you find out that being near each other recharges your jumping meter, and it creates a sort of personal attachment to that person. You feel connected to them, like they’re a really close person you can count on. It’s simulates a lifelong-like friendship within minutes, and it comes with a similar kind of heartbreak when you end up losing your partner. Maybe they left, maybe you both got lost-- whatever the case, having them vanish brings a sense of loss, and I never thought I could actually feel that from a game.

I ended up sticking with the same person throughout the later half of the game, and the final task Journey imposes on you was one of the most tear-jerking, unbelievably powerful moments I have ever seen. I can’t bring myself to spoil it for someone who hasn’t played it, but you just have to know that nothing will impact you like this does. Something else in life will, but not like Journey does. The entire adventure, and the people you meet along the way, is unique to Journey, and I don’t know if any other form of entertainment will mark me like it did.

Art.

And here’s where I get sappy. In both art and life, I try to be as literal as possible. I don’t take to the “hidden meaning” school of thought, which makes Illustration far more lovable to me than Fine Arts is. I don’t like pretending like my art means something when, really, I just want to make something awesome for people to enjoy. Journey, however, is one of the very few things to make me think differently. There’s a beautiful metaphor for life to be found in the game, where you are constantly fighting life to reach your personal goal. You’ll meet people along the way who will be of great help to you, who will grow close to you, and will, sometimes, unfortunately leave your side. But every person will have played a part in helping you reach your peak, and this will let you share with others your experience and stories about getting there. I never, ever thought I could actually see a game, or any form of media really, this way, but I couldn’t be more serious about it.

Journey isn’t just a wonderful game. It isn’t just one of the best PlayStation 3 games, either. It is the shining example of the maturity of a medium. It lives in a form of entertainment driven by the constant thrill of self-reward and self-satisfaction. It is an escapist experience that explores the trials and tribulations of life, and the true impact of human interaction. It makes you feel. It doesn’t make you feel happy or sad, it actually pulls at the various strings of your psyche to make you feel like something important and meaningful happened.

It goes without saying that it is, without a doubt, my favorite PS3 game. And not just that, but I truly believe it is a highlight of this generation.

Any more than that, and I’ll basically be circlejerking with myself about the game. But seriously, go play Journey if you haven’t. Borrow a friend’s PS3, even. Just make sure you play it, because this really is an important game.

Well, what a weekend of racing that was. Malaysia is always a fun race because it seems that the track itself eats tyres for dinner every year. Qualifying and practice was a close repeat of last year, with Schumacher placing third and Raikkonen in 5th (but starting 9th) being exciting changes. The race was the real surprise, though. For one, Grosjean’s start was fucking incredible. Launching from 6th to 3rd before the first turn? Unbelievable. Such a shame that we was knocked out early once more. His bump with Schumacher seemed to be a mutual error, but sucks none-the-less. He has great promise, but he’s yet to show it in real competition.

Then came the rain. And not just regular rain, but a full-on storm, too. Lightning on the track! Bringing out the red flag was wise, considering cars were practically flying off the track in turn 9. Took what seemed like forever for the race to start again, but it finally started again and... well, things were weird. Button smashed into the tourist of a driver Kartheykian, Vettel ran into similar problems with the same HRT driver, Williams suffered poor lap times, and Hamilton messed up his pit stop. The series of mishaps let Alonso take the lead pretty quickly, (with Massa continuing to do terribly) but the real surprise came in the form of Sergio Perez and his incredible performance. Despite being on intermediate tyres in slick conditions, Perez destroyed sector times lap after lap all while quickly gaining on Alonso for the pole position. The battle between the two for First was amazing to watch. Perez just wouldn’t let up, and I’m confident that had he not slipped up a few laps before the end, he’d of walked out of that car a winner. But still, second place for him and Sauber is nothing to scoff at. With his fantastic defensive skills in Australia and his performance in Malaysia, he is seriously proving himself to be a threat this year. I can’t wait to see him next in China.

__________

And that’s it! See you next week. :]

(Also sorry for the lack of pictures and stuff. I need to get back to this shitty painting, so no time to divulge to hunting down the perfect accompanying pictures.)

#1 Posted by aurahack (2282 posts) -

I’m honestly a little surprised that I even got a blog up this week. It’s a little late, but I had a lot of homework to do and the Formula 1 race lasted significantly longer than I expected. Silly rain. Monday edit: And I’m even later! Sunday caught up fast, and I spent almost all of the day writing. Sorry, guys. :( Tuesday edit: HEY GUESS WHAT I HAD TO DO ON MONDAY NIGHT? DID YOU GUESS HOMEWORK? Well, you were half-right. The other half was Call of Duty, and going to bed early. But this is seriously the last edit before I post this damned thing.

This week was the first week returning from March break, which I think the entire class was sure would be a little bit easy on us. You know, return from vacation, ease into things or whatever. But no. Instead, we had to build a creature out of tin foil and soldering wire, start reproducing Vermire’s Girl With a Pearl Earring, and render a set design through technical drawing within a week and due for the following week.

I’ve done two out of three, but haven’t been able to finish the painting. I fell victim to an absolutely terrible migraine on Saturday, something I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before. My eyes felt like they were being crushed and my brain felt like it was swelling so much that my skull was splitting open. I think breaking my collarbone was the worst kind of pain in the long run, but I could deal with that again. After the initial unbearable pain, a back-brace and weeks off physical activity weren’t so bad. That migraine, though? I never want to feel that ever again. Ever. I couldn’t even rest, because lying down made my head hurt on whatever side I’d lie on. Thankfully, it went away later in the night. It only lasted a small, reasonable 8 fucking hours, but it has passed and hopefully will never come back.

Last Sunday, (the 18th) after a long stretch of homework, I sat down in front of my TV and decided to play Journey. After a strong recommendation from fellow duders Xeiphyer and Ossi101 to play it in a single sitting, I shut off all the lights, plugged in my wonderful monitor headphones and started playing.

I should preface: I really hate the “games as art” argument. What art means is a topic unbelievably subjective. In addition to that, going to college in an art program really enlightens you to how full of shit the majority of the arguments are. I don’t like talking about, I don’t like hearing it, and it sucks that I need to bring the topic, and words that could be associated to said topic, to light.

With that said, what followed for the next 90 minutes was the single most meaningful experience in videogames I have ever played.

And yet for as incredible as it was to play, it is incredibly difficult to describe. What mechanically makes Journey isn’t anything to laud over, really. It’s linear, it’s an adventure game, and it is fully functional in both those aspects. No, what makes Journey is the experience of completing the adventure with the help of another anonymous person, and the emotions and lessons you take from it.

Throughout the game, you are never told who your partner is. You’re left to cooperate with a complete stranger through a very limited language, and you are “given” the task to help each other reach an end goal. The sense of comradery becomes strong very quickly once you find out that being near each other recharges your jumping meter, and it creates a sort of personal attachment to that person. You feel connected to them, like they’re a really close person you can count on. It’s simulates a lifelong-like friendship within minutes, and it comes with a similar kind of heartbreak when you end up losing your partner. Maybe they left, maybe you both got lost-- whatever the case, having them vanish brings a sense of loss, and I never thought I could actually feel that from a game.

I ended up sticking with the same person throughout the later half of the game, and the final task Journey imposes on you was one of the most tear-jerking, unbelievably powerful moments I have ever seen. I can’t bring myself to spoil it for someone who hasn’t played it, but you just have to know that nothing will impact you like this does. Something else in life will, but not like Journey does. The entire adventure, and the people you meet along the way, is unique to Journey, and I don’t know if any other form of entertainment will mark me like it did.

Art.

And here’s where I get sappy. In both art and life, I try to be as literal as possible. I don’t take to the “hidden meaning” school of thought, which makes Illustration far more lovable to me than Fine Arts is. I don’t like pretending like my art means something when, really, I just want to make something awesome for people to enjoy. Journey, however, is one of the very few things to make me think differently. There’s a beautiful metaphor for life to be found in the game, where you are constantly fighting life to reach your personal goal. You’ll meet people along the way who will be of great help to you, who will grow close to you, and will, sometimes, unfortunately leave your side. But every person will have played a part in helping you reach your peak, and this will let you share with others your experience and stories about getting there. I never, ever thought I could actually see a game, or any form of media really, this way, but I couldn’t be more serious about it.

Journey isn’t just a wonderful game. It isn’t just one of the best PlayStation 3 games, either. It is the shining example of the maturity of a medium. It lives in a form of entertainment driven by the constant thrill of self-reward and self-satisfaction. It is an escapist experience that explores the trials and tribulations of life, and the true impact of human interaction. It makes you feel. It doesn’t make you feel happy or sad, it actually pulls at the various strings of your psyche to make you feel like something important and meaningful happened.

It goes without saying that it is, without a doubt, my favorite PS3 game. And not just that, but I truly believe it is a highlight of this generation.

Any more than that, and I’ll basically be circlejerking with myself about the game. But seriously, go play Journey if you haven’t. Borrow a friend’s PS3, even. Just make sure you play it, because this really is an important game.

Well, what a weekend of racing that was. Malaysia is always a fun race because it seems that the track itself eats tyres for dinner every year. Qualifying and practice was a close repeat of last year, with Schumacher placing third and Raikkonen in 5th (but starting 9th) being exciting changes. The race was the real surprise, though. For one, Grosjean’s start was fucking incredible. Launching from 6th to 3rd before the first turn? Unbelievable. Such a shame that we was knocked out early once more. His bump with Schumacher seemed to be a mutual error, but sucks none-the-less. He has great promise, but he’s yet to show it in real competition.

Then came the rain. And not just regular rain, but a full-on storm, too. Lightning on the track! Bringing out the red flag was wise, considering cars were practically flying off the track in turn 9. Took what seemed like forever for the race to start again, but it finally started again and... well, things were weird. Button smashed into the tourist of a driver Kartheykian, Vettel ran into similar problems with the same HRT driver, Williams suffered poor lap times, and Hamilton messed up his pit stop. The series of mishaps let Alonso take the lead pretty quickly, (with Massa continuing to do terribly) but the real surprise came in the form of Sergio Perez and his incredible performance. Despite being on intermediate tyres in slick conditions, Perez destroyed sector times lap after lap all while quickly gaining on Alonso for the pole position. The battle between the two for First was amazing to watch. Perez just wouldn’t let up, and I’m confident that had he not slipped up a few laps before the end, he’d of walked out of that car a winner. But still, second place for him and Sauber is nothing to scoff at. With his fantastic defensive skills in Australia and his performance in Malaysia, he is seriously proving himself to be a threat this year. I can’t wait to see him next in China.

__________

And that’s it! See you next week. :]

(Also sorry for the lack of pictures and stuff. I need to get back to this shitty painting, so no time to divulge to hunting down the perfect accompanying pictures.)

#2 Posted by Sinclose (90 posts) -

Ah yes, Journey. Finished it recently, and opted for a single sitting due to its short length rather than any recommendation, but I'm glad that I did. For the sheer quality of the experience that it provides, the price tag doesn't come off as excessive in any way. It manages to pull emotional chords within 90 minutes that most 10 hour games try and fail to achieve. I got lucky enough to fall on a partner on the level straight after the introductory level, and we finished the entire game together! It was awesome! ^^

You're right, the game is mesmerizing, both in terms of visual and aural splendor as well as how it manages to evoke a sense of companionship with the bare minimum coop tools in place. Definitely worth the pre-order... unchanged price tag but a neat little XMB theme gifted as bonus...

...

Yeah, again in one of these blogs with only one item to comment on... But it was an entertaining little read, as always.

Take care of yourself to avoid those migraines in the future! :P Seriously though, the way they can cripple your ability to work and destroy your planned schedules can be immensely frustrating.

#3 Posted by aurahack (2282 posts) -

@Sinclose: Yeah... I've had similar types of pain before, but that migraine was just crushing. I have no parallel for what it felt like. I don't re-occurringly get them like some people do, but even still I hope that was the last one. ><

#4 Posted by mekon (287 posts) -

I don't own a PS3, but now I suddenly wish that was the case. I thought Perez kept a cool head, apart from that one slip-up, I think he'll be driving a faster car soon. I like Button's straightforwardness in interviews, but it was refreshing to see Perez's excitement after the race.

#5 Posted by CommodoreGroovy (558 posts) -

Maaaan. You make me want to go play Journey now! Too bad it will be awhile till I can. Until then I guess I can just live vicariously through player anecdotes.

#6 Posted by Meowayne (6084 posts) -

It doesn’t make you feel happy or sad, it actually pulls at the various strings of your psyche to make you feel like something important and meaningful happened.

It goes without saying that it is, without a doubt, my favorite PS3 game. And not just that, but I truly believe it is a highlight of this generation.

Well put indeed! I am slightly rueful over two things, one, that I didn't complete it in one sitting and two, that my partner for the final chapter was kinda dickish and uncooperative, which ruined the experience somewhat. But that, again, is a strength of Journey as something that embraces the medium as expressive tool: That something like that is even possible.

#7 Posted by aurahack (2282 posts) -

@Meowayne: There's nothing stopping you from playing it a second time. :) If it's any encouragement, my second playthrough was 10x better than my first. Hopefully it can be the same for you. :D

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