Standing Silent in the Echo Chamber

I know that we've had enough articles and opinions on what's been going on last month running to last us all a lifetime, but I feel like I've reached some sort of closure on the matter I would like to share with everyone who may be interested.

Before I begin, I feel I should provide a little background. I pride myself an informed gamer. I like to read the reviews, the previews, the upcoming games, the framerates, etc. etc. The only thing I probably spend more money on than Video Games, is digital hats for Dota 2 and as a consumer of both video games and digital hats, I like to keep myself informed. I've been involved in video games strictly as a consumer, for 20 years thus far (my first console was an old NES) and most of my friends I still hang out with I've met through gaming. Despite having families of our own, almost every event we plan is somehow centered around video games or a game of DnD.

Last week was such an event. All of us got together to play DnD 5e for the first time (So much fun!) and curiosity got the better of me. I decided to gauge their opinion on the events of last month.

"So what did you think of that whole Jenn Frank thing?" I asked, as I thumbed through the new list of wizard spells.

"Who's that?" one of my friends asked.

"Uh, she's some reporter that quit because she was being harassed on Twitter because of this whole GamerGate thing."

"What's that?" the other one asked looking at me like I was stupid.

I didn't know how to respond. Three of my closest gaming friends were literally oblivious to every thing that had occurred the month prior. Justin, the WoW-fiend of the group, knew all about the new graphical overhaul that was coming to WoW on the PTR. Dustin, the JRPG player amongst us, later brought up Tales of Xillia 2, and how he probably wasn't going to pick it up because he doesn't like Tales game sequels. Micheal, my friend and Halo partner asked my opinion on Destiny and whether I thought it was worth buying a new console for. They were living their happy little lives completely unaware of the social war currently targeted on their beloved media. After bringing it up, and seeing their confusion, I was all too happy to move on to another subject.

Going home that night, I came to a realization. They're the real gamers. While all the 140 character fury is flung back and forth, the blissfully ignore it and buy the games that interest them. They don't know how many women work on their games. They probably don't care if a women rights the reviews they read. They just play video games, not because it's a culture to them, or because games represent something akin to art, but because they only like playing them.

I have lots of opinions on GamerGate and gaming journalism, and Anita Sarkeesian. I think both sides have good points and bad points and if they'd see past the current blowups, they'd realize their goals don't really conflict with each other at all. We can embrace women as journalists, developers, characters and most importantly players. At the same time, we can define what games journalism means, who they market to and whose interests they have in mind. These are BOTH longstanding issues and I don't expect them to go away tomorrow.

I think we all need to have a discussion on these issues. Not have a listen, not a twitter debate, but genuine back and forth, two way street discussion. Because we're gamers, we don't learn from being told, we learn from being involved.

And I think we'd all be a lot happier if we'd just go back to playing video games.

338 Comments

Breath of Fire III: Great RPG of the 90s or Greatest?

 Okay, maybe that's a bit exaggerate, but going back and playing this classic and not just remembering it with nostalgia-vision has allowed me to say that this is one of the most underrated RPGs of the PS1 era.  Sure it has it's  flaws, considering it was a flagship RPG to herald in the new age of memory cards and 32 bit animation, but despite the slow pacing at times it has one of the best stories in the series and character development that current game designs could take a note of. 
 
Describing the game to a friend last night, I related that this game was not a simple "save the world // do good" story.  It focuses more on a coming of age story, a young dragon turned boy finding his place among the world, discovering his true heritage and the role they played of years past.  A common theme of the game is the blurry lines of good and evil, so that even by the end you'll find yourself faced with a huge question that determines whether you fight the last boss or not.  Sure it's not hard to come up with the right answer, but if you've been playing and getting involved with the characters you still feel that decision is your decision. 
 
I don't want to ruin it for those who haven't had the fortune to enjoy this title, but suffice it to say despite one particular test of endurance near the end of the game which involves you walking aimlessly through a desert with limited water (you can suffer Max HP damage and an oversight gives you conflicting direction on which way to go), the game is an overall success for any who enjoy turn based RPGs. 
 
So, anyone have experiences with this title or any other particular passed over gems amongst rabble from this era?

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Rockdalf's Top 10: 2010

This is my Top 10: 2010 list.  Seeing as I'm not a video game reviewer, I'm including games that I experienced for the first time in 2010, not only games that are released in 2010.  Some games didn't make the cut, simply because I've yet to get around to them (Mass Effect 2 and Red Dead Redemption I'm looking at you).  The list is in reverse order for you confused about the layout, didn't know how to get my list to start with 10, so sorry about the formatting.  Just go to the bottom and work your way up, but I did type it starting from number 1.

1. Team Fortress 2

Finally got a gaming PC this fall and the first thing I wanted to try out was that Team Fortress 2 everyone has been talking about. Fast forward a few months to the end of this year and I've only put damn near 200 hours into this game (no idling!). In short, addicted to the best FPS I've played in years.

2. LittleBigPlanet

Also bought a PS3 this year and the one title I've been interested in for a while now is the first I picked up. And I was not disappointed. I'm not being disingenuous when I say the upcoming sequel is the only game I have pre-ordered right now (Collectors addition baby!). Great platforming fun, great change of pace that doesn't include gunning down aliens or cutting up the undead. Aced and 100% every level.

3. Halo: Reach

Halo: Reach is what caused my friend to buy a 360 this year, and it's been a recurring habit every night to put in a couple hours of multiplayer. As of now we're both Brigadiers and quite the formidable team, winning most of our matches even with his girlfriend who ranges from -2 to -10 K/D ratio every game. Great ending to a great series, I just need to finish up the campaign on Legendary to finish my S-Rank for this title.

4. Super Meat Boy

Goes without saying this title is not for the feint of heart. Played the original flash game a year or so ago and it's nice to see everything that made that game good emphasized and made better. Tons of unlockable characters? Done. Crazy cutscene references to video game lore of old? Done. Replay function so I can see my Meat Boy army meet their untimely demise with only one persevering to the end and claim the prize? Done. It's like watching the miracle of life happening on scale of the sperm cell at the end of every level.

5. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

So I was discussing earlier with a friend that if Blizzard released a new game tomorrow for 60.00 USD, I would buy it, sight unseen. I guess it's not the safest practice but I have that much faith in Blizzard as a developer. They release great game after great game, but this isn't news. It's no surprise then Starcraft II is a great addition, nay I say, a necessary addition to any computer library capable of running it. The campaign is very well made, my only complaint being the lackluster ending which one could kind of expect seeing as this is the first part of a bigger series. Hopefully when other titles die out, I'll have more time for some Starcraft II.

6. The Witcher

One of three titles that wasn't released this year but damn have I played the hell out of it. Nevermind that Steam says I've logged 25 hours in on it since it went on sale this Christmas, I've restarted the game three times because of missing side quest content. I will not stop until Geralt bangs every chick The Witcher has to offer!!!

7. Heavy Rain

I must admit that I only rented Heavy Rain, however, after playing through the game and getting the best ending (and from what I gather the only acceptable ending), I have a new respect for a game so story focused. Though I felt there were some flaws in the story one had to overlook, never has a game questioned my actions so much as this one. I don't want to give to much away as to the choices I had to make, but if you truly put yourself in the shoes of the character, you will come across some morally grey areas that will challenge your own decision making skills.

8. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

It's no secret amongst friends that I'm a classic Metroidvania fan from way back. I mean, Shadow Complex was probably within top 3 games I played last year and for good reason. And though this doesn't have the classic 2-D scrolling nature of those games, I feel this is a great descendant of such titles. An upgradeable character, using your skills to unlock extra areas in previous levels and a challenge system that gives you reason to go back and play said levels again. Sure the game had a little hack and slash to it, but if Castlevania wasn't the prototypic hack and slash, what was? The re-imagining of the story was excellent, and the ending left as many questions as it did answers. I was thoroughly impressed and look forward to where this series may go. (Here's hoping we play a REAL Belmont next game).

9. Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Only played this game in 30 minute bursts, not because I was quickly bored with the puzzle, monster, puzzle, monster gameplay, but because the game scared the hell outta me. I can't count the times I was legitimately crouching behind a barrel at the end of a hallway frightened out of my mind because of something was standing in the way of my only way out. Or my aversion to ANY water in the level because of the first creature you encounter. Lovecraftian horror has always chilled to the bone, triggering that instinctual fear in the back of your head that only activates whenever you're unsure of what it is you're afraid of. The haunting environment is the real enemy here, and with naught but your torch to defend you. If anyone has any respect for the horror genre, pick this game up.

10. Call of Duty: Black Ops

It is sad that I had to include this game on my list, but I truly had no choice. Any game that I've sinked 50 hours into in such a short time span is worthy of note. Sure I'm tired of hell of the franchise and wouldn't buy a sequel anytime soon. But next year when another one rolls out... :3 It's just a blast going 30:4 calling in chopper gunners and cutting down fools on Nuketown who just don't know anybetter than to stay the fuck inside. It's a great game, though completely forgettable. When the next in the series comes out, we'll be referencing that as the next big thing and this will collect dust on my hard drive.

   
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3v3 Gone South!

So, I just had my first experience of a full 1v3.   It was a placement match with 3v3, when both of my allies just happened to disconnect before the match even started.  Rather than whimpering in the corner or "gg"-ing out of it, I reached deep, found a pair, and went down in a blaze of glory Tassadar himself would be proud of.  (Post-spoiler alert for those who have yet to play Starcraft).  
 
  

  
 
Anyways, as the video shows, my defeat was inevitable, but I hope I left a raw taste in their mouth after my ass kicking.  Made sure to save the replay and get a screenshot of the final score.  
 

 We all know who really won here...
 
Still quite new to Starcraft 2, but I have to say I'm damn impressed with what I did there.  Hopefully I can have some real 2v2 or 3v3 with some guys over here at Giantbomb, without fear of getting gutterstomped because my teammates d/c'd. 
 
Enjoy the video and be sure to post critiques of the presentation, I'm hoping to put more of these up as they come. 
 
Note:  Video was still in processing when this was embedded and posted.  Hopefully it comes out alright.  If not, I'll edit and fix.
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We are GO!

I know there wasn't a huge response to my last blog post about going retro with the SNES and posting my video playthrough on here via Youtube, but I started experimenting with it and it's going to work great on my current computer.  The only thing I'm short now is a mic, so I can record commentary for the video.  I've got a few friends who might be able to help me out, but push come to shove, I can always purchase one.  :D
 
So now, all I have to do is really decide the game I want to play and get an audience.  If you'd like to help me with the latter, just make sure you follow me, by clicking the word follow (shock!) underneath of my avatar. 
 
Also, you can help me with deciding what SNES game you think deserves a playthrough, by simply posting a response with the games name in it (bonus points if you give a reason why).
 
Right now, big candidates are:

  1. Zelda: A Link to the Past
  2. Super Metroid
  3. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
  4. Final Fantasy III (VI)
  5. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
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Back to the glory days.

I've been thinking lately (stand clear gentlemen) and something I've really been enjoying, slightly more so than playing the 360 or PS3, is playing my old 64 or the SNES games I once cherished.  Not that I'm as smug to think that the gaming in my growing up years was better in anyway then what we have now, but they are a combination of nostalgia and key fundamentals current franchises get their gameplay mechanics from.  So as someone who considers themselves a gamer of the early 90's, I enjoy slaving over the titles that pre-occupied many a school night of my childhood.
 
The only problem is, I don't feel constructive in the least as I'm droning through these titles.  With today's achievement points or trophies or in game challenges, just simply playing through Mega Man X doesn't cut it.  Sure I could go through on an X-buster only run as a self made challenge, but what I've had in mind is more of setting up something for you guys to participate in.
 
To cut to the quick, I want to record a run through of a SNES game for my blog, complete with commentary, but I'd like to have suggestions of what you'd be interested in seeing and how you'd like to see it done.  I plan on uploading my progress to Youtube in 10 minute segments, so take that into consideration, as well as how often you'd like to see a new segment added and what the name of the series could be.
 
Hopefully, my computer will up for this task, but if not, I'm expecting a new computer (for school) shortly, which would be more than up to standard for my plans.
 
My overall goal is to invoke nostalgia and maybe spark interest in an earlier form of gaming to kiddies from a later generation.
 
Thoughts and feedback are appreciated.

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A guitar player's opinion

I know this is opening a can of worms, but I was wondering what people thought of this upcoming rhythm game and controller, which doubles as a real playable guitar.  Seven45 studios is a sister company to First Act, the people who introduced extremely low quality musical instruments to common retailers like Wal-Mart and Target.
 
Personally, I've been playing for about 6 years and I don't understand this.  It seems like a gimmick to me, and unless the price is dirt cheap, you could get an astoundingly better guitar and amp for probably the same price as the game and controller will run.  Combine that with learning lessons on easily free available sites such as this, and you could accomplish the same thing without feeling like a tool.  
 
Just to clarify my personal stance on this, I love Guitar Hero and Rockband, even though I don't own the games.  They're exciting to play, even more so with someone else who isn't solo-ing circles around you, but this new peripheral comes off as a lame attempt to make those games out to be something they're not... actually playing guitar. 


 Typical Rock Band Haters

  I dunno, I could be wrong about this, but if I'm actually going to be playing guitar, I'd rather be jamming with friends or playing on a street corner for people passing by.  When was playing a video game where you pretended to play guitar and drums not enough?  Why must we blur the lines between playing music and video games and see what ugly mess becomes of it?  Are we really ready to push ourselves into escapism that much?
 
Maybe this is another step in turning video game musicians into real ones, but I think it's a step that can be circumvented.  If playing GH or RB interests you in the actual thing, I encourage you to strap on a pair and learn it yourself like those before you.  There are no shortcuts. 

 One does not simply ROCK into Mordor.
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