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This Will Not End Well
You Are A Pirate
It's been a long time coming, but as the Christmas holiday approaches it is finally time to weigh in on one of the heaviest issues plauging both OSN and the fanboy fanbase in general: that of piracy.

"Piracy" in modern terms, refers to the transferring, copying, or somehow unauthorized use of various media. Either that or a group of Somalians hijacking your yacht, but obviously I refer to the former. The advent of the internet has enabled piracy of all sorts of stuff: games, movies, anime, games, tv, music, games, books, games, books about games, and games. I won't go into the specific details or methods of piracy, but suffice to say that bandwith increases made available to the public have been a huge factor in the whole thing. The point is that these days, almost no media industry is safe from e-piracy.

Lets see Timberlake make a movie out of this one
Not even the social media industry.

I want to be mind-blowingly clear on my position in the matter: I am 100% pro-pirate. In spirit, I completely support the sharing of all media for those who have the means to do so. For some reason, this is not the popular position with today's youth: probably cause Microsoft paid off Nintendo to brainwash the little brats using Pokemon episodes (No more on that though, I've already said too much). And like an atheist trying to get noticed during the holiday season, my feeling is that I can win this argument easily by simply shooting down my opponents claims.

They say that piracy is theft, but I ask you this: what exactly is being stolen in the e-piracy process? Let's say computer user A goes online and downloads the movie Avatar online, cause while being a pirate is something I'm all for, it does not necessarily constitute good taste. Computer user B (of even worse taste) has...ugh...actually purchased the Avatar DVD and copied it onto his computer's hard drive, then made it available for download. Computer user A initiates said download, copies the movie onto HIS hardrive, then copies the movie onto a blank DVD.

Now I ask again, where is the theft?

The irony is this one is a pretty popular torrent
This doesn't count!

Computer user B owned the physical DVD copy, and told the DVD drive on his computer to read the bits on that DVD. The DVD drive then told the hard drive nearby what those bits were, and the hard drive changed its 1's and 0's to look something like those on the DVD. Now here comes computer user A from across the internet, asking computer user B's hard drive what 1's and 0's it has currently been transformed into. The hard drive answers helpfully, yelling across the internet, which Computer user A's network card hears loud and clear, and then proceeds to repeat everything it just heard to user A's hard drive. Now user A asks his hard drive what 1's and 0's IT has transformed into, and the hard drive tells user A's DVD burner, which tells a blank DVD.

What we have here is a giant, drawn out game of telephone. All these little computer components are talking to each other and individually changing themselves depending on what they hear from their neighbors, but at no point is anything actually being stolen. That Avatar DVD isn't being sucked into a computer and sent through the phone lines into user A's greedy palms, its still resting comfortably in the hands of user B, who actually bought it. In other words, e-piracy does not involve any sort of physical theft. Nothing is being TAKEN. At best, the only thing your computer is guilty of is spoiling the movie for you, assuming you can read binary.

Its the matrix neo
Above: The code for one of Luke's nose hairs in the new Star Wars films. True story.

So the next time someone likens piracy to shoplifting, point and laugh.

"But wait!" I hear you cry, "This is copyrighted material! It's the IDEA that's being stolen, not the physical manifestation of it!"

Your argument certainly hits home. Personally, I'm a writer, and have copyrighted a few works in my time. You know what the first thing the copyright office tells you is? YOU CANNOT COPYRIGHT AN IDEA. Yep. An idea cannot, by definition, be stolen, and therefore cannot be copyrighted. What is copyrighted is the manifestation of an idea, meaning the work iteself. Side note: technically a work is copyrighted the moment it is created. All that legal mumbo jumbo is just to help make things official in court cases. Seriously, this is what the U.S. government says.

But ok, let's play devil's advocate for a single sentence and say that the manifestation of ideas is indeed being stolen by a really long, complex game of telephone between a bunch of pieces of computer hardware. Well, if that's true, what is being gained in terms of monetary value? The RIAA has asked for millions in damages from a few "stolen" mp3's from a single person. Considering most music CD's are valued at under $20, does this supposed copyright infringement really jive with the going economic value of the idea itself?

Let's caluculate the physical into this, again. You're a rock star, baby. You and your band go out and cut a CD. Let's say it takes you a month of writing, a month of studio time. Then you have to pay your studio crew, calculate in the amount you paid for your intstruments, and then factor in the cost of pressing the CD. Well, how much has it cost you to produce that album? $5000? $7000? Let's go out on a limb and say the whole shebang cost you $10,000.

On a nationwide release at $12 per disc, you would have to sell 834 albums in order to recover the costs of your album AND get paid handsomely for your hard work, and you get to keep the instruments. 834 CD's...we aren't exactly talking Lady Gaga numbers here, folks. This isn't triple platinum. That's 16 albums PER STATE, not even throwing in Canada. You could make these numbers out of the back of a fact, shit! I think I just found a new career path.

This will not end well: The album cover

So where do they get the idea that piracy results in the thiveing of billions from poor, innocent little rock stars like yourself? Put plainly: the media industries set the price of their items and literally just decided that was what it was worth: a CD costs less than a dollar to press. The remaining $11 involved in selling it is pure profit, minus maybe an extra dollar or two for recording costs. The only reason the price is set at $12 is because (and this actually happened) a bunch of shmucks in suits sat around a table and decided YOU THE CONSUMER SHOULD PAY THAT AMOUNT. And since they established this as the "going market value" they feel they are entitled to that same amount, every time someone downloads their crappy music.

Then when they actually bring about a lawsuit, they tack on a few extra million. Just because.

So in addition to the fact that nothing is actually being stolen, the imaginary concept that an idea is somehow being stolen is worth far less than everyone says it is. Oh, and that reminds me, all of numbers I just factored in only count if EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD was pirating. In reality, you have dozens of non-computer savvy consumers, collectors, old people, flat out fans, who ARE NOT indulging in piracy and are still paying the unrealistic prices as set by the industries. NOBODY IS STARVING FROM THIS. Trust me, Tomonobu Itagaki still has plenty of Ninja Gaiden money left over to grope Japanese lolitas with, even though a bunch of American pigs copied the game.

But you know what my biggest gripe is with all these anti-piracy advocates? The ones who criticize you for downloading the games and anime you honest to goodness cannot afford, but are desperate to indulge in just to pass the time in your life?

You just know they're all sporting at least a gig worth of illegal MP3's on their IPODs.
12/21/2010 2 Comments | Add Comment
If I Was At New York Comic-Con Tomorrow

I can't go to New York Comic Con tomorrow because the radiator on my car is leaking. I've been working on getting it fixed all day, but its still leaking and I have to get more work done on it tomorrow.

This is a good thing for everyone, because if I was at New York Comic Con tomorrow, there's a few things I'd do that some people might not appreciate.

I will list them now.

If I was at New York Comic Con tomorrow, I'd beat the ever living shit out of the first security guard that tries to over-scrutinize my press badge again. What exactly are you going to do if you see me walking toward the entrance, wearing the wrong kind of badge? Hit me? I'll fucking kill you!

If I was at New York Comic Con tomorrow, I'd win the Square Enix Front Mission Evolved tournament. Nobody plays Front Mission except me, and I'm better at it than you. Yes, you. 

If I was at New York Comic Con tomorrow, I'd slap any cosplay girl that gave me a dirty look, just because she's used to giving guys dirty looks. YOU' ARE DRESSED IN A LEOTARD YOU DUMB BITCH. YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO CRAVE THE ATTENTION.

If I was at New York Comic Con tomorrow, I'd bring a bunch of food in and eat it in front of all my sister's friends. And I'd repeatedly remind them that they can't have any, because its not our duty to feed your broke ass.

If I was at New York Comic Con tomorrow, I'd take a shit on every table run by an independent publisher that scoffs at my script submissions. You've been at it for 12 years already and Stan Lee hasn't come knocking on your 1 title, ya little prick. Try a new story for a change!

If I was at New York Comic Con tomorrow, I'd tell every Asian I see to grow a damn spine already.

If I was at New York Comic Con tomorrow, I'd test drive the new Ford Fiesta...right into the Javits center lobby, running over every happy looking couple in sight. Try being a real fan for once and suffer for your scene like the rest of us had to for the past decades.

If I was at New York Comic Con tomorrow, I'd find the OSN table, and berate them for having such an obscure, impossible to find table.

If I was at New York Comic Con tomorrow, I'd bludgeon everyone spouting their knowledge of comic history with a hammer.

If I was at New York Comic Con tomorrow, I'd hack the Square Enix Final Fantasy XIV set up and play my normal goddamn character. Damn noobs need to see some real questing for once.

If I was at New York Comic Con tomorrow, I'd hold Tommy Yune at gunpoint and force him to provide me with a detailed description of everything I missed at this year's Robotech panel. While we're at it, I'd make him blow me. You know, for posterity.

If I was at New York Comic Con tomorrow, I'd point out to everyone how much of our precious scenes are being taken over by corporate money, and how limited the creativity is the whole damn con. I'd point out specific ads where geeks, the very core audience reading the ads, get made fun of...and we just sit there and take it.

In fact, you know what?

If I was at New York Comic Con tomorrow, I'd just burn the place to the ground.
10/08/2010 0 Comments | Add Comment
Angels In Their Underwear
The other day I was having a religious debate with my mother. Normally I try to keep family matters and conversations out of the public eye, but I felt that this one warranted some second opinions from other acquaintances. Those opinions were unanimously: "Holy shit you need to post this online, right now!"

Fair enough. So the topic of discussion was the metaphors used in the Bible, and how they are often misinterpreted or taken too literally. I was quite satisfied to hear that my mom, a devout Catholic believer, did not take the view that absolutely everything in the King James Bible factually happened, and in fact she acknowledged that even some of what is said to be historical account was embellished for the sake of making a point.

"Take the ascension into Heaven, for example." said Mom, "We say that Jesus ascended into Heaven, but we also believe that his mother Mary did too. That doesn't seem right to me. What would be the purpose of her keeping her Earthly form in Heaven?"

"Yeah," I heartly agreed. "And plus, they'd be the only two walking around with any clothes."

"What do you mean?" My mom asked. And this is where the debate ensued.

"Well, everyone in Heaven is naked, right?"

"I don't think so." she laughed.

Night Elf porn. The bottom rung of nerd activity.
Perhaps only in Azeroth then.

"Well sure they are!" I said, "Think about it. You arrive on this planet in the nude, right? Adam and Eve were nude. Even angels are often pictured in the nude. That's the whole point of Heaven. Everyone is naked because the shame of the flesh doesn't matter."

"That's disgusting!" my mother exclaimed.

"No its not! The whole point is that its NOT disgusting. I'm not saying its some giant orgy up there, I'm just saying everyone in heaven is butt ass naked! What do you think, they got an Abercrombie and Fitch store up there?"

"Sure." My mom countered. "God is divine, he could create one."

"What the hell for?!" I yelled, "What do you need a pair of flair jeans and a cardigan for when you're surrounded by the final ecstacy? Nothing!"

"Well when you die, your clothes go with you."

"No they don't! Hence the phrase 'you can't take it with you'. If your clothes go with you, bury me with my laptop." I ordered.

"Sure your clothes go with you!" My mom replied. "When your late aunt appears to me in my dreams, she always has clothes on."

Hmmmm I should stop here for a second and explain. See, most Italian mothers tend to be of the belief that they are divinely imbued with psychic energies. And as most Italian kids can attest, sometimes they are. I think it has something to do with that whole "Catholic church is based in Rome" thing.

Mmmm sweet telepathy
Also mom trained under Charles Xavier for a bit.

Anyway with a short snicker I responded. "Well, that's because when her spirit comes to you in your dream, she's being filtered through your mind. So you see as you last remember her."

My mom was dead silent.

"Your relatives are all in a giant nude populous in the afterlife." I punctuated the point.

Mom grabbed the broom violently. "Alright, that's it!"

And as I ran for the nearby staircase leading to my bedroom I yelled back over my shoulder, "I'm just sayin!"
09/14/2010 1 Comments | Add Comment
Quick Comment
There was a poll recently asking Americans what religion President Obama is. 1 in 5 said he's Muslim. This is incorrect, he's Christian. OK fine, fair enough, he's Christian. 

However, there is now a massive inquiry across the press about WHY so many Americans believe that their obviously Christian president is *gasp* a Muslim! Is the President being too secretive about his religion? Are the American people being ignorant? Why? Why? Why?

Allow me to very quickly answer this question for you.


End of discussion.
08/19/2010 0 Comments | Add Comment
What Would You Do?
Here in New York, there is a show on national television called What Would You Do? that parallels the ABC network's nightly news broadcasts. Its a mini-series in which an investigative team places hidden cameras around a given area and then hires actors to create an uncomfortable social situation while others are present. The cameras video tape the reactions of those in the immediate area, and after they leave the head reporter ambushes them and interviews them with badgering questions about what they did/didn't do, and why. Its sort of like experimental journalism, but with guerilla tactics.

This man has cheez whiz in his underwear. I can tell.
Excuse me sir, may I ask you some questions?

So a good example of what you might see on the show is, say, a clothing store where an actor posing as a clerk yells racial slurs at another actor posing as a customer. The cameras then film other subsequent real customers, gauge their reactions and tries to see if they get involved or not, and then questions their morals or supposed lack thereof. Then they do the ambush interview, reveal the experiment, and ask the legit customers why they chose that course of action, usually to the backdrop of "how could you be such a horrible person?"

I want to be on this show more than anything else in the world. Oh, I don't mean just once, to get my face on the camera. No, I want to be on this show every goddamn minute of filming. The reason for this is simple: because regardless of whatever falsified situation this show put me in, my course of action would be exactly the same, every time:

The right idea

Racist store clerk? Mind your own goddamn business. Little old lady gets her hand bag stolen? Mind your own goddamn business. Cop harasses a girl in a club outfit? Mind your own goddamn business.

See, I grew up in New York, which is where most of this stupid show is taped. It makes sense in  some ways; New York City is full of diverse cultures and is known for being an often dangerous city. To run a journalistic piece on people's reactions, in theory, makes more sense there than in any other place in the world.

But there's a flip side to it. See, because I was raised in New York, I was also taught how to avoid the dangers of New York. And rule #1 of avoiding danger in New York is (all together now): MIND YOUR OWN GODDAMN BUSINESS.

we are the boys of chorus, we hope you like our show. we know your rootin for us, but now we have to goooo
I think I hear a chorus coming on.

There is no need to get involved in any social situation that doesn't involve you directly already. To do otherwise is just plain nosy, if not fueled by a desire for drama at least. In the store clerk example, why do I have to intercede on another customer's behalf? Call the better business bureau. Lady with the handbag? Call the police, I'm not getting stabbed or shot so you can have your wallet back. Cop harasses a girl? Fuck her, its not like she's going out with me if I say something.

Good samaritans eat knives in the back. How many times has ABC reported that a young man tried to stop an attempted mugging, only to find that the original victim was secretly in league with the mugger, killing the would be hero in the process? A single report of that alone makes their whole show hypocritical. UFC star Roger Huerta saved a young girl from being assaulted, and now he might be looking at prison time because he used martial arts to do it. Its all well and good to try to expose the hypocrisy of others as a journalist, but what happens when someone does the right thing and gets hurt for it anyway? Where's the special report on that?

seriously though the movie was actually better
Must've gotten lost in the crank file.

So kiss my ass, John Quinones. You want to know what I would do, when placed in a dangerous situation with no viable reward in sight? Well here's my answer in advance: I would do like Gantz episode 1, only without that whole turning stupid and dying part. I would mind my own business, stay on schedule, stay happy, and most importantly stay safe. 
08/08/2010 0 Comments | Add Comment
Fat-Riddled Death Awaits Us All
Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty was released this week and unlike the rest of the prepubescents on this site, I am ancient enough to remember the glory that was the original game. As a consequence, I spent the past 2 days playing through the single player campaign with little to no rest until it was conquered, all in a feeble attempt to relive the glory days when I was young and had something in common with other people. I actually don't have too many complaints about the content of the game itself. So I'll spare the rant and just list the few things about it that irk me.

1) No LAN play.
2) Have to buy the stupid game three times over to experience the true story.
3) Can't pause the game and chat at the same time.
4) Bonus objectives annoy the hell out of me.
5) Not all the characters are terribly appealing.

whyyyyyy whyyyyyyyy
Especially Kerrigan.

Apart from those minor issues, the gameplay was fun and engaging enough to actually remind us why this sequel was so highly anticipated in the first place. I dug myself into the role of a terran commander with reckless abandon, glued as my flat screen monitor revealed to me the continuing story of Jim Raynor and his battle to save the galaxy. I was hooked, from the first SCV built, all the way to the final blast against the zerg. I watched SC2's ending cinematic with satisfaction, breezed through the credits, and shut the game down.

Then I stood up, and everything went to shit.

Let me quickly describe the space upon which my computer rests; it probably isn't much different from yours. I've got an L-shape corner computer desk purchased about a month or two ago from Staples with a modified set of shelving on one side, my Xbox, cable box, secondary computer and router on the other. In the center rests two keyboards, a mouse, speakers, the flat screen and various bric-a-brac. I can move stuff around for the purpose of eating meals, studying, paperwork, etc etc. My computer chair is a hybrid of two chairs from Staples with two arms intact and the back set to a comfortable medium between upright and full tilt back, made of fake leather.

Dont let him fool you, he rapes altar boys
You win this round, god cow.

I used to shake my head when I would hear that Asian kids, provided with a similar setup at their local PC BANG (internet cafe) were often heard to play Starcraft or World of Warcraft for days or weeks on end without eating or sleeping. I personally found such claims unbelieveable because, ye gods, don't you start to notice when the room starts spinning and the Protoss begin talking to you about your personal life? These kids seem to be going to great lengths to ignore their own bodies, all for the purpose of notching another win on their record.

But oh, how wrong I was. My time spent with SC2 gave me full disclosure on the health problems involved in playing extended rounds of real time strategy games in a standard environment. Oh, it all seems fine while you are gathering your resources and raising your virtual army, but just wait until the battle ends and you have to get up to get the naugahide off your fat sweaty thighs.

Its like the five finger death palm from Kill Bill, I tell you. It's like the delayed head explodey from Fist of the North Star. First your weight shifts down to your legs, which have no blood in them, so you feel like your knees are resting on top of vibrating pockets of air. Meanwhile, all that blood had to go somewhere, and you aren't sure where but it was probably wherever that 7 layer burrito from taco bell that you ate while reading the details on Blizzcon earlier in the day. Well, either there, or straight up to your brain, which has been wired on pretty warp portals and shiny crystal minerals, and is ripe for an aneurysm. 

Anyone else hear a choir of angels?
You can feel the swelling already.

Then you go to move your hand, but that doesn't work either because its been locked in optimal mouse position for the past two hours. It wouldn't hurt so much if you had any potassium or water in your system, but its the middle of freaking july and you had Starcraft to play, so good luck on that there Jimmy boy.

Now you're stumbling around like the walking dead and your family, friends, or fellow netcafe customers think you've been dipping into the vicodin again, so when you DO finally fall on your ass into a flash flood pool of your own saliva and start crying blood, they don't wanna touch you for fear of accidentally making your heart explode; which, depending on whether you had hot sauce with that burrito, it probably will. Now you have to wait for the paramedics to show, and that's where the best part of your day comes in because here in the States the surgeons can just vacuum the olive oil-based lipids outta your bloodstream and you get to go through the process two or three more times. The Chinamen, with their delusions of fitness and communist healthcare system aren't so lucky.

I literally don't remember where I was going with all this, but Starcraft 2 is really good. Just get on a treadmill at some point. Preferably before playing.

07/29/2010 0 Comments | Add Comment
Bring Me the Head of Ramin Bahrani
Before this beer wears off, I want to rant about something that affects the Otaku nation as a whole. A plague that has been quickly burning its way past our best immune systems and playing god with our very cells like no virus ever before.

That's right, it's M NIGHT SHYAMALAN.

But before I continue I have to put up a few disclaimers. First off, from this point forward I shall no longer spell Shamalan's last name correctly. As an English major and long time net writer, I do pride myself on spelling, but there are some words I just can't be bothered with. Shamalan's name is one of them. Resteurant is another.

There's TWO ways to spell it now?!
Oh screw you!

The other thing I need to mention is the purpose of this post: I'm actually NOT here to decry Shamalan's butchering of Avatar: The Last Airbender on the movie screen. More than enough has been written of that debacle already, and I didn't even see the movie. I will mention, however, that not one single trusted source of mine who has seen the movie has enjoyed it. I have several of these sources.

No, what we need to discuss is Shamalan's pure lack of originality as a writer/director. More specifically, the man is a copycat of the worst kind...he takes stories from other sources, usually juvenile ones, then hits them with the rolling pin of his script writing and pops out a 2 hour movie, which the viewing public STILL goes to see. correctly points out that Shamalan's most epic work, The Sixth Sense was actually copied from an episode of Nickelodeon's Are You Afraid of the Dark series. That was a good episode, too. I remember it well, because I wanted to tap the ghost chick in the varsity jacket.

This is actually how I imagine the girls of the OSN chat room look...

Well the original run of Are You Afraid of the Dark went until 1996, a mere 3 years before The Sixth Sense was released. 3 years is about adequate time to write, pitch, and shoot a feature film. Had the TV show been viewed more widely, people might have noticed the similarity between the plots long before we had to deal with half a decade of Haley Joel Osmand being considered a "star". Ugh.

But the problem is that Shamalan is back at it again. In just a few weeks, he's releasing a brand new movie called Devil. Here's IMDB's plot synopsis:

A group of people trapped in a elevator realize that the devil is among them.

Having actually watched the trailer for this one, I'm pretty sure that by "Devil" they mean a really violent murderer. Fair enough. A group of people trapped in an elevator realize a murderer is among them.

Here's the plot synosis for Blackout, a movie from 2007:

Three people from different walks of life find themselves trapped inside a stalled elevator. What at first seems like an inconvenience rapidly escalates into a nightmare. 

Sound familiar? Oh, and 2007 to 2010...why, it's been another 3 years! Just in time for good ol' M Night to see something that wasn't widely distributed, rewrite it, pitch it, and shoot it. Will wonders never cease.

But what really bothers me is the short memory span of society. Look, I'm not exactly a horror movie fanatic. I think I caught Blackout while it was on TV once. But there's several thousands of people that had to be watching the channel that day...and at least one tenth of those people have to have the memory capacity to remember that movie...and have some sort of a connection to voice their opinions to the outside world...

Broadcast yourself. Or go fuck yourself. Same difference.
It ain't the better business bureau, but it'll do!

So how in the hell does Shamalan keep getting away with this?! How is society's memory so short and our voices so quiet that nobody points out when someone else clearly isn't playing by the rules? I mean I understand directing Bruce Willis on multiple occasions makes you a big star and all, but come on...the plagiarism is obvious!

I'll actually leave it up to the Otaku to fix this one. You want adulterated far Eastern plot lines done properly? Tell Hollywood. Make snide comments. Boycott their garbage media, and buy into your own. Manga comics, good novels, whatever. And yes I know most of you are already doing that. But this fraud's millions are coming from somewhere. Let none of it come from our pockets, or those of our friends and families.
07/22/2010 1 Comments | Add Comment
Seeking Camaraderie
Yesterday I was whisked away to Flushing, Queens, which (this being an Otaku site) is where most of you are from. Known for a hefty Chinese and Korean population, Flushing is possibly the only place a man can get a cheeseburger AND bulgogi barbecue at 3 in the morning. 

It's the OTHER Chinatown
In other words, it's heaven on Earth

Still, Flushing is an Asian neighborhood, and hanging out in Asian neighborhoods will get you a reputation for being a rice chaser, which I cannot abide. I'm not saying I'm NOT a rice chaser, I'm just saying I can't abide having the reputation of BEING one. The point is I was there for a purpose, and that purpose was to commit mass genocide on the undead. Yep, I was there to participate in Cybercraft's Left 4 Dead 2 3D tournament.

Cybercraft is a 24 hour LAN cafe with some serious gaming stations. The Dell gaming pc's and wire headsets they use are par for the course (apart from the fact that none of this equipment has been defaced or stolen) but that's only the beginning. This place is fully endorsed by Steam and Valve games, making it a haven for classic first person shooter mouse and keyboard gameplay. If that doesn't appeal to you, no worries, Cybercraft has consoles and chat lounges set up as well, plus a versatile open area that can be anything from a Wii sports arena to a J-POP dance floor.

Not exactly Para Para dancing, but it'll do
I think I wanna have my next birthday party there.

If you haven't got the message yet, just scroll down to my second blog entry. Know that Cybercraft does everything right that NY-T game nights did horribly, horribly wrong.</plug>

Anyway, upon entering Cybercraft I was thrust into an impromptu team of teenagers, going up against a not-so-impromptu team of teenagers. Then I was handed a pair of 3D glasses and sent into battle. I'll spoil the story for you here and say that our team won big time, despite one of my comrades suspiciously getting kicked out of the game early; he just HAPPENED to spend the rest of the match chatting it up with the opposing team's female cheerleader. Uh huh.

But more significant than winning was the sense of teamwork that I got from playing the game directly alongside other gamers. Sure, Xbox Live is great and all, but there is something about being able to shout orders at your team sitting right next to you while also shouting obscenities at the opposition sitting across from you. When I first sat down the kids grilled me on what other tournaments and games I was good at. I told them I had won Quake Wars: Enemy Territory and that I was a former Dance Dance Revolution champion. They'd never heard of Quake Wars, and the few who knew what DDR was weren't exactly convinced of my headshot prowess. That's fair enough, but DDR had a community built around it for years, all based on social interaction. People teaching each other, helping each other through rough spots, designing dance routines and setting up tournaments and clubs: it all plays a part in developing team work that playing over a high speed internet connection can't recreate.

As arcades and game cafes die out, we lose that sense of fellowship, of belonging to a community. Our skill levels suffer as a result, especially in the case of game like Left 4 Dead 2 where strategically lining up your team is key to survival. When I started grilling the Cybercraft owners about when their peak usage times were, they probably didn't realize how badly I was feening for game-related companionship. I probably made it sound like I was going to declare Jihad and bomb the place.

Jihad me at hello
Would that be so bad?

Come to think of it, that's probably what I'm doing here at the Otaku Social Network. While OSN may not transcend the boundaries of online gaming that I mentioned previously, its a bold reminder that each person you interact with has their own back story, preferences, and unique view points. And when you can bend those unique traits to serve you, you'll make it past the zombie horde every time.

07/15/2010 0 Comments | Add Comment
Lyrical Battle Royale: More Reasons Why I'm a Shut-In
I am fascinated by the pop song You and Your Hand by Pink. I think its a perfect representation of why I prefer sitting at home and playing through Dead Space for the fourth time instead of going out to clubs and socializing. I take a lot of flack for my supposed anxiety disorders, and people tend to act like I'm nuts when I tell them I can feel everyone at the bar judging me and that I'd rather go take a nap in the car. But its not just some shit a chemical imbalance in my twisted brain is causing, there's actual logic behind the madness and this song illustrates it beautifully.

Pink is a pretty popular singer, no? She's on the radio all the time and she sells alot of albums, we can make a logical inference that many people enjoy her music. Since many (the majority) of her fans are women, and since people often enjoy music they identify with, we can also infer that many women identify with Pink's music, I.E., You and Your Hand. So You and Your Hand is a somewhat accurate representation of the thoughts and feelings, the general attitude if you will, of a very large populous of women in North America.

Still with me? Ok Good.

You and Your Hand is a song about a woman having an issue with a man at a club who is trying to approach her for some sort of physical or romantic rendezvous. Let's break it down using the actual lyrics, shall we?

Check it out going out on the late night

Ok so she's going to a club. We established that. I'm not going to comment on each line, I just had to break it up for this next part:

Looking tight, feeling nice, It's a **** fight

I have to mention here that some of the lyric sites mark that as "It's a cat fight". I have no idea what possible profanity you can put in there so I'm just gonna assume it's bleeped out for censorship purposes.

I can tell I just know that it's going down tonight
At the door we don't wait cause we know them
At the bar six shots just beginning
That's when dick head put his hands on me
But you see

Oh no nigga didn't!

Ok, let's pause here like Zack from Saved By The Bell in the early years. So the image we get is that its a girl's night out type of get together and they are going out to this club they frequent, and I guess the girls all look good so the bouncers let them in (also since they are familiar). Now some guy approaches the young lady and is very aggressive, crossing the physical border a tad quickly. He's either drunk, horny, pushy or a mixture of these three. Terribly undesirable! So far, nothing too unrealistic going on here. What's my problem then? Well, let's skip the first chorus for now, and move on to the second verse.

Midnight, I'm drunk, I don't give a fuck
Wanna dance by myself guess you're outta luck

Aaaaaand PAUSE!
If you want to dance by yourself WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING IN A CLUB FULL OF PEOPLE? Don't most nightclubs have, at the very least, an even ratio of men to women? Even if you don't want to be approached by a guy and would just rather dance with your girlfriends, how is ANY GUY supposed to know that before actually approaching you? If you want to be by yourself, why are you in a public place at all??

Don't touch, back up, I'm not the one, buh bye
Listen up it's just not happening
You can say what you want to your boyfriends
Just let me have my fun tonight, Aiight

See, this is what I don't get. Why does "having your fun" entail going out to a social location when the last thing you want to do is be social? And when someone at that social venue is approaching you, attempting to socialize, why are you getting angry? You are literally putting yourself in a situation to be approached, only to then get upset when you are.

There's nothing in the song about the guy saying the wrong thing or being rude. He didn't make any tasteless comments or grab her inappropriately (if you are referring to the first verse now, note that a seriously inappropriate cross of physical contact really should have ended the song and been reported to the bouncers in the first place) He tried to dance with the girl, and she bit his head off. In some twisted logic, the world has somehow accepted this as normal behavior. 

In the corner with your boys you bet 'em five bucks
You'd get the girl that just walked in but she thinks you suck

There is no way in hell you know for certain this happened. Also, nobody over the age of 21 would take a weak ass $5 bet.

We didn't get all dressed up just for you to see
So quit spilling your drinks on me

Even Alex Trebek is puzzled
I'll take the rapists for $500

And at last we come to the great date rape debate. If you didn't get dressed up to attract a mate, why did you get dressed up? You know people are going to look at you and possibly approach you, and that is not what you wanted to happen. Don't get me wrong, women have a right to dress up how they want, when they want; but in doing so, why get upset when someone is addressing you in a perfectly normal, social, legal manner? In fact, if you get "all dressed up" in club wear, the ONLY THING THAT CAN POSSIBLY HAPPEN is that people will see and possibly approach you. There is literally no other benefit to dressing up like that. It doesn't make you dance better (a jogging outfit would be ideal for that) and it doesn't make you Solid Snake-stealthy or inconspicuous. It makes you a fuckin sexual beacon, especially when placed in a SOCIAL GATHERING HUB.

Fuck, you don't even have to take my word for it! You pop music people like Jason Derulo, right? Let's hear what he's got to say:

Everybody's looking for love- Oh, oh. 
Ain't that the reason you're at this club?- Oh, oh.

Apparantly Jason Derulo is just as confused as the rest of us as to Pink's intentions. In Jason Derulo's case, this might be par for the cerebral course since he seems to also think its necessary to sing your own name at the beginning of each of your songs.

Also he has not mastered wearing proper hats
I literally came across this pic over an hour after writing the above paragraph.
Sometimes its scary how correct I actually am.

......Let's get back to Pink!

You know who you are
High fivin, talking shit, but you're going home alone arentcha?

Lastly, we come to the grand finale of my social paradox. The same people who claim that I'm not being judged at bars and clubs also constantly tell me that in order to attract the opposite sex I need to have "confidence" Well, someone needs to map out how much confidence is too much, because the dude in the song seems pretty confident. I thought that was supposed to be an attractive quality. Instead, that confidence the guy has is supposedly shot down, and he looks like a loser for "going home alone", or being rejected from the social gathering.

I've stated before that I'm not terribly good looking and I tend to face a lot of rejection. So if all I need is confidence, but this will likely get me laughed at and rejected from the gathering, WHY DON'T I JUST STAY HOME AND PLAY XBOX 360 IN THE FIRST PLACE? Why would I go somewhere I'm obviously not wanted?

I'm not here for your entertainment
You don't really want to mess with me tonight
Just stop and take a second
I was fine before you walked into my life
Cause you know it's over before it began
Keep your drink just give me the money...

There's that whore assumption thing again.

...It's just you and your hand tonight

You know what? I'd like to make a lyrical response of my own. Here's something I heard on a Sublime album that seems to appropriate for Pink to hear:

Early man walked away as modern man took control
There mind's weren't all the same, to conquer was their goal
So he built his great empire and he slaughtered his own kind
He died a confused man and killed himself in his own mind
06/17/2010 0 Comments | Add Comment
East VS West: Battle of the Crappy RPG Writing
One of my few friends has accused me, wrongfully I might add, of favoring "JRPGs", which is the new gamer slang for Japanese Role Playing Games, specifically on the console video game format. Strangely, the opposite of a JRPG is apparantly a WRPG, which is the abbreviation for Western Role Playing Game. Yet again, this proves my theory that in Asia there is Japan, and then there is NOTHING ELSE.

Probably ripped this off from Dragonball
That whole "China" thing is some shit your friends just made up.

I really don't have a favoritism towards JRPGs though! In fact, up until the supposed characteristics of JRPGs and WRPGs were laid out for me completely did I even grasp the concept of the difference. The idea is that JRPGs are very linear and have very little in terms of sidequests, and they tend to have more gimmicky or less serious characters and storylines. WRPGs, in contrast, are supposed to be very serious and open ended which in my opinion is a direct contradiction, but I'll get to that in a second.

This weekened, in an attempt to disprove my accusers of my alleged racial RPG bias, I whipped out two clearly defined and established role playing games that both the nation of Japan, would generally get behind as positive examples of each genre. These were Final Fantasy XIII and Mass Effect.
Paul rolling in his grave
It's Iron Chef for retards!

Now the main crux of my argument here is that, while I did enjoy both games to a degree, their flaws shone through like diamonds. And none of these flaws had anything to do with which country produced the RPG in the first place. In fact, the more pressing issue had to do with each game's storyline.

I'll start with FFXIII, and simplify as best as I can. In the setting for FFXIII, there are 2 worlds and they both at war. Each world has a bunch of gods that create a bunch of slaves to do their bidding and you become one of them. You find out that what the gods want you to do is kill one of them, and blow up one of the worlds to bring gods. Fair enough! So at the end of the game, rather than fall into the evil trap of killing one of the gods and blowing up the world, one of the gods and blow up the world.

Oh yeah and two of the people in your party kill themselves so the world doesn't blow up that badly.

I'm not really doing it justice, but what you need to understand is that this situation could have been resolved far earlier in the game (you fight the final boss like 8 times throughout the whole game) and what is written to be an unresolvable situation just magically resolves at the end in the weakest way possible. Square-Enix isn't exactly know for endings making a ton of sense, but FFXIII wraps things up rather nicely at the just breaks all of its own plot rules to do it.

And why? Say it with me now: Final Fantasy VII! See, the whole reason for confusing plot points in JRPGs is that Final Fantasy VII had confusing plot points and a ridiculous ending, but fans ate it up as a legendary game anyway. Ever since that time, Square-Enix and Japan have been trying to catch lightning in a bottle twice, and the result is inane shit like the red herring plot of FFXIII. Its one big cock tease: you never see the big bad super gods they are talking about raising, and there's no deviation from a plot that is basically explained to you in entirety midway through the game. You just blindly fight your way through the game while some old guy keeps telling you that fighting is useless and the only way to win is to join him (after which point he fights you, repeatedly). Then at the end you fight him again and win. Yay.

Your faith in your friends is your weakness, young Vanille
Wait a second, that sounds kinda familiar...

If Japan is forever trying to recreate Final Fantasy VII, then the Americas are forever trying to create a new Grand Theft Auto. One of the few things we've learned from Rockstar Games' endless media stunts is that young video game delinquents love to have the option to give into their ADHD and start randomly killing things at any point in a given game. Case in point: Mass Effect and all other "western" RPGs.

Mass Effect was created by Bioware, which is a Canadien game studio. Like most Canadien organizations, Bioware loves to provide the idiot masses with the illusion of choice. In Mass Effect, this is realized in two ways: 1) You can whip out your laser pistol and shoot anyone at anytime. 2) You have a bunch of pre-written responses to choose during various conversations throughout the game which will result in you being labeled good or evil. 

So unlike JRPGs, which I am supposedly ever so partial toward, Mass Effect offers an open ended universe. It allows you to jump to any planet at any time, pursue endless optional sidequests, and choose the very personality you want your character to portray in a multitude of situations! Wow, so much different than that nasty ol' battle system and simple linear story the Japanese have to offer!

Well, not really.

See, with Mass Effect, and most of Bioware's RPG element games, the choices offered are not really well written or logical at all. Sure, you CAN tell your long beloved captain to go suck a dick because you are taking over his ship and his command, but it goes completely against the nature of the script and dialogue presented beforehand. Worst of all, in games like Bioshock, gamers are outright punished for indulging in the open ended world and choices with which they are presented. Sure, you can kill all the little sisters in rapture, but you'll be weak as a terminal cancer patient by the end of the game. 

If this were Grey's Anatomy, they'd be banging right now
"He relapsed after trying to become a Sith Lord in KotoR."

If you explore the endless reaches of the Mass Effect universe, you'll mostly be met with lifeless landscapes at lots of wasted time, as opposed to chances to grind and beef up your character before taking on the story. In S.T.A.L.K.E.R. or Fallout, your mission goals or also time sensitive, so taking too long to run around that open field means you lose your quests, your potential powers, and any hope of the game's endings making sense as well.

In other words, it puts you right back where the JRPG's started you: confused, frustrated, and ultimately glad this lengthy bs is over.

I rest my case.
06/16/2010 0 Comments | Add Comment
An Ode To My Xbox Live Headset
My Xbox Live Headset is set to mute. Specifically, it is set to mute any and all players on Xbox Live who are not specifically on my friends list. I only have about 20 people on my friends list, so the number of people I have muted is about 3,000,000 minus 20. That's a lot of people, and its a lot of noise that I no longer have to listen to.

Why have I done this? Well, let me start by saying that I rather enjoy playing online multiplayer games. I love the thrill of competition in fighting and racing games, the camaraderie in first and third person shooters, and yes I even love sending my friends little pets and trinkets in Viva Pinata. But what I don't enjoy about online multiplayer games are having to listen to people talk about the most inane, pointless garbage I've ever heard.

 heh, you tapped Roger Ebert
Its kinda like watching Oprah that way.

Seriously, almost nobody on Xbox Live says anything that interests me. To be fair, when I say that I should also mention that the only things I'm interested in on Xbox are where the shortcuts are, where the snipers are stationed, etc. But all that stuff, the stuff that actually has to do with the game, seems to be the very last thing on anyone's mind. Instead, most people tend to use their Xbox microphones as a conduit to hurl curse words at lightning speed, so as to relieve the stress from their every day lives. (They mostly use their Xbox Live webcams to show their private parts to the world too, but that is another topic for another day) Since the majority of gamers on Xbox live are younger, don't work and therefore should have very little stress, the observation I just typed is either really flawed or freakin' disturbing.

When most players aren't cursing or yelling racial slurs at one another, they are either singing, blabbing on public chat to their friends about things no one else cares about, or simply voicing their disapproval every time something bad happens to them in the game. None of these are valid reasons to chat over a video game, but this still makes up the bulk of voice over internet protocol technology as used on the Xbox Live network.

heh, you're divorced
When Al Gore invented the internet, is this what he had in mind?

But the worst part about the whole thing is that there is a sociological hierarchy, a STEREOTYPE if you will, going on over Xbox Live that specifically coordinates to real life races and social groups. This blog being what it is, I will now list and identify those groups and their unique misbehaviors for you.

White Kids: Feeling pressured by their own parents' politically correct media dominance, white kids LOVE TO SAY THE N WORD over Xbox Live. They've got hundreds of them, prepped and ready to get hurled out across the online airwaves at the slightest sign of hostility. The worst part is the WAY they say it. There is this emphasis on the NI part of the word where, if you listen close, you can almost hear what your virtual caucasian assailant is thinking. There is so much intent and emphasis in that one half of a syllable, you can smell the angst just pouring out of them. "I'm gonna let loose!" it says, "This'll REALLY get their attention." Yeah, like the whole world hasn't heard it a billion times before. These kids still think sex and drugs are brand new inventions too. Just wait till they hit their 30's, mid-life crisis ahoy!

Actually, this dude probably still says the N word alot...
He only bought it to save on gas mileage.

Black Kids: Black kids LOVE hip hop music, and they need to make sure you know it too. This is why the moment they join an Xbox Live game they will either begin spouting out hip hop lyrics they may or may not have written themselves, or they will blast one of their favorite records over the microphone which will sound less like a pirated radio station and more like screeching owls gunning for your throat. Why do black kids do this? Is Simon Cowell playing on the opposing team in Modern Warfare 2? Has anyone ever heard someone else rapping over Xbox Live and said "Holy shit you're too dope, brah, lemme sign you to my label right quick!" I doubt it, and I doubt that blasting 2Pac slow jams over Gears of War ever netted anyone a girlfriend either.

She's got an arm like a rocket. mmhmm.
"When Darnell started playin R.Kelly on Blood Drive, it was LUV."

Little Kids: The thing about little kids playing on Xbox is that 90% of the time they aren't supposed to be playing in the first place (since most of the games feature mature content they shouldn't necessarily have access to). To make matters worse, the issue with what they actually say it two-fold. See, little kids get on Xbox Live (and counter strike) trying to make friends. They do this by talking as much as possible about things they know almost nothing about. Combined with their high pitched, tinny voices, this can drive anyone insane, which leads to problem 2: People going a little TOO insane. For some reason, older players (specifically college kids) tend to go absolutely bat shit crazy whenever a little kid even momentarily opens his mouth over a live microphone. They begin swearing up and down and wishing the apocalypse upon the little tyke, yelling out whatever curses they can think of that will scar and maim the child for life. A little overkill, no?

Asian Kids: Americanized Asian kids pride themselves on having hacked their Xbox consoles and therefore do not use the Xbox Live service for fear of having their hard drives remotely wiped by Microsoft.

Foreign Asian Kids: Foreign Asian kids have access to the Asian servers of Xbox Live, so the very fact that they appear in a Westernized game is a sign of bad intentions. Specifically the Japanese, but also Chinese and Hong Kong-based players that show up on Xbox Live are there to use their distance and lag to their advantage in every game they can't outright cheat at. They never talk, and never display their profile as being signed online. Essentially, they are untrustworthy thieves in the night.

I'd run
They do their forefathers proud.

Mexicans: Mexicans are exactly like the foreign Asian kids except they allow their profiles to be displayed online, and they have a close proximity to the Western Xbox Live servers. Therefore, the only thing you can blame their horrible lag on is the fact they have somehow managed to hook up an ethernet-only Xbox 360 console to a 56k external modem. How this is possible remains as ominous as the origins of the vampires in From Dusk Till Dawn.

Those are pretty much all the groups that piss me off on Xbox. Doesn't leave too many left to play with, does it? Honorable mention goes to English, who, while quite friendly, just suck at games in general and tend to make horrible allies in any action game. As it stands there isn't much hope for voice chat online, but if you feel like you do have something valid to say, you can give it a shot by adding DamianOnPaxil to your friends list. 
06/02/2010 1 Comments | Add Comment
At The Movies
So Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time hit theaters recently, and has once again fallen into the common pattern of video game-based movie releases. That's where top movie critics write off game-based flicks as nothing more than 2 hour cash-ins for Hollywood to entertain short sighted riff raff with no attention span seeking nothing more from film than the average summer blockbuster. The gamers watching the film, meanwhile, shake their heads at the horrid plots and terrible writing their precious franchise has been subjected to, while lamenting how tongue-in-cheek lame as hell the actors portraying their favorite characters look. Audiences waste a bunch of money and kinda sorta like the movie but not really, and in the end everyone loses.

I'd tap everyone in this picture
sort of like Gamestop's new "point rewards" program

Everyone seems so certain that games and movies can never successfully intermix unless Angelina Jolie's tightened incestuous body is on display the whole time. However, I would argue that quite a few game-based flicks have done their source material quite well, and that jaded fans simply missed the value by comparing the movie to the game, while movie critics compared the source material to Gone With The Wind.

Brett! I'm out of money! Wherever shall I go, whatever shall I do!
...which would make sense, if it were the slot machine version.

Here's a few game-based movies I honestly feel only slightly missed the mark, and why.

Resident Evil - Anyone who complains the initial big screen installment of this franchise wasn't scary never actually played the Resident Evil games. Mila Jovovich takes on all your favorite T-Virus monsters and a pedophile's dream computer in a more or less unidentified Umbrella facility, serving as a lovely prequel to the prequel of the game franchise that reveals the origins of the "Nemesis" monster. Personally I never understood why Nemesis was such a big deal. By the third RE game, I was more than used to being chased down by Tyrant monsters in human clothes.

Still, this movie holds up well...on its own. When you factor in the 18 sequels that take the Resident Evil universe into a completely unhinged and mindless direction, even the original flick starts to cheapen. I caught this one on cable the other day, but how can you enjoy it knowing that "Alice" will go on to develop Naruto's cloning and gymnastics powers while Racoon City turns into Thunderdome? You can't. It ruins the whole thing.

we don't need another hero

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within - Technically not related to much of the video game source material, which opened up cans of nerd rage worldwide; somewhat understandably so. See, you can't bait and switch your fans, especially after you've just served up what will long be considered the creme de la creme of your franchise. In the case of The Spirits Within, fans were already wearing out the muscles in their arms from holding up signs reading "WE WANT MORE CLOUD, DAMMIT" and instead what they were given was some lackluster action that couldn't hold a candle to the previous entry.

bring back triple triad. DO IT!
No, not that one! ...well actually...

The Spirits Within was a Final Fantasy product in spirit only, taking the art style of the games and a few core concepts and names. The plot, while relatively simple, was mired in dialogue that made things seem far more complicated than they actually were. I caught this one on TV recently as well, and its interesting to note that the artwork still holds up to top CGI productions today. Better plot description and release date timing would've made this a winner, but even to this day no one can deny it as a technical animation breakthrough. It would pave the way for Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children years later, long after fans no longer cared.

mmm sweet polygons
there's really only one purpose for this image.

Super Mario Bros - Don't close the browser window! Let me explain! Yes casting John Leguizamo as Luigi was racial sacriledge, and literaly nothing in the movie makes any lick of sense, but look at the script! Look at it, damn you! They literally managed to pack all the nuances of the SMB games into this movie, and if there is one unavoidable fact it opened our eyes to, its that the SMB games don't make much sense in the first place either.

The movie was terrible, but you can see where the writers thought they were being innovative and clever. The super jump boots, Yoshi as a raptor, the de-evolution of goombas into mindless side scrolling creatures...its all in there, just not in the form you expected. Essentially where the SMB movie went wrong was right at the beginning, where the directors considered more of what type of movie was popular at the time (Judge Dredd) instead of whether or not the actual on screen visuals were believable. I can buy Dennis Hopper with a funny haircut as King Bowser, but I'm pretty sure I would've noticed vast cities and flying cars in the Super Mario games.

can't you just see him saying 'yo mah nigs check this air right here'
That doesn't count dammit!

Anyway what I'm basically saying is, don't give up hope for a good game based movie. We've come alot closer in the past than jaded movie-goers might realize.

But for the record, I'm not necessarily endorsing Prince of Persia either. Not even slightly.
05/31/2010 0 Comments | Add Comment
True Geek Aggression
I just finished reading an article in a copy of Game Informer about how many gamers tend to impose their hobby on others, specifically parents trying to pass down their gaming habits to kids. The article insisted that there is no need to be so aggressive in advertising our hobbies, trying to will them onto other people who might not be interested at that exact moment. In the case of kids, the article argued, there is the least need to force games upon them. Simply keep a gaming platform in the vicinity, and they will get curious about it sooner or later.

The article really stressed the point of confusion as to why gamers are so aggressive with touting their hobby in the first place. I wanted to shout at the pages, write a rebuttle letter, but I realized that both of these actions would go unheard. So here is my rebuttle, for others to read.

Hardcore video game fans are quite similar to harcore mixed martial arts fans. They are usually males, 18-34, who not only enjoy the activities they subscribe to but also take a great interest in their respective industries as well. 

Also we regularly try to murder each other.

Why is that? Well its simple: both of these groups have been ostracized in their past. For a long period in the history of mixed martial arts, fans of the sport were unable to view all the brutal in-cage action they had come to love. This was because a lack of rules and weight classes caused the sport to get banned nearly across all 50 of the United States, and media coverage of MMA events was rather scarce during those dark days. Since then, the sport has exploded with the addition of rules and weight classes, and hardcore fans now are often heard to click their tongues in disapproval when something they deem "bad for the sport" (i.e. an incident or action that will lead to public criticism of MMA) happens. They do this because they remember what it was like to have their precious MMA witheld by law, and regardless of whether or not the sport is secure in its current state and well accepted by the mainstream, die hard fans do not ever want to go back to those (literally) dark days. NEVER AGAIN.

Don't fake like you didn't love this album
It's what you swore, the time before.

The exact same thing is true of video game fans. These days, games are getting more and more accepted into the mainstream as a form of entertainment. Its "cool" to be a gamer now, or at the very least, accepted. But back around the popularization of video games in the 1980's and 1990's, gamers were an ostracized group. Games were looked at as a waste of time, rotting young people's brains and keeping teenagers and adults in a juvenile state. Games were played by fat kids and scrawny dweebs only, and these kids were regularly mocked for enjoying something that kept them out of the physical social loophole.

As games, computers, and media have grown closer and closer together, this has all changed. Now we have Maxim cover girls on G4TV claiming that they have been hardcore gamers for years, and trendy looking young men as the hosts of MTV specials on our favorite games. So to the lament observer or casual gamer, hardcore players look like hyperactive morons. Why are we so concerned? They are just video games, they were here yesterday, they'll be here tomorrow.

But aye, there's the rub. For those of us who remember what it is like to be ostracized, to be persecuted for our hobbies, we still feel the urgency to spread our hobbies and cling to this loving activity society yearns to take away from us. Oliva Munn can be all happy and smiley and bounce her boobs into a million nerd masturbatory fantasies, but she is not a geek. She never will be. Neither are her thin, sweater wearing, trendy co-hosts. 

She either just ate a cherry or pledged herself to dracula
Pictured above: NOT A GEEK

Being a geek is not a happy thing. Its a miserable life, often chosen by those who have no other option. If gamers were a clan in the masquerade, they'd be required to take at least one anxiety disorder as a character flaw. If you have no clue what I just said, you aren't a geek. If you were never beaten up for your lunch money, you aren't a geek. If you had more than one significant other in high school or prior, you aren't a geek. 

I am a geek. I am ugly, overweight, overly concerned about things that don't affect the real world. (Because really, who WOULD win a battle between Inuyasha and Wolverine? This shit is important!) I shun outdoor activities in favor of MMO quests. So forgive me if I'm a little "aggressive" with my hobby, Game Informer. Unlike you, sometimes, its all I have.
05/23/2010 0 Comments | Add Comment
A Lesson in Fractions (for video game journalists)
I just got back from Gamestop, where I decided to splurge some of my hard earned cash on a pre-owned (the sticker used to say used...what happened? Are we buying certified BMW's now?) copy of Capcom's infamous Super Street Fighter IV for the Xbox 360. When I saw the box sitting there for a mere $34.99, I knew I had to have it. I'd been hearing about it for months! It has characters I absolutely love such as Adon, Dudley, and an entirely new balanced fighting system. I knew all this, because Capcom had been making the rounds on every piece of video game media available, from magazines to videos to web articles, touting how much content would be available in the game and more than justifying their need to sell it as a complete game rather than a mere expansion to the original Street Fighter IV, which also sits proudly on my shelf. Heck, by now, I'd read so much on the game I felt I knew everything about it already!

Little did I realize how right I actually was.

Enough ass to sell a lot of model kits
Which version of the game is this from? ...actually, who cares?

Super Street Fighter IV is NOT A COMPLETE GAME ON ITS OWN. Its price tag is NOT JUSTIFIED. It is a re-release of Street Fighter IV with a few minor changes, a few extra characters, and that is all. The entire content of the game could have easily been released as downloadable content on Xbox Live and the Playstation Network, and nobody is going to tell me different. To prove my point, I will now list everything new that I encountered in playing the game from the time I popped the disc in my console up until the time of this writing a few minutes later.

1) New opening cut scene (news flash: no one cares about this)

2) New menu screen (news update: no one cares about this either)

3) Characters come pre-unlocked, thus removing any sense of accomplishment or need to beat the game with all characters

4) New storyline cutscenes and endings which barely animate.

5) New characters which fight like palette swaps of the old ones.

6) Oh yeah, they changed the announcer's voice so it sounds like he hit puberty.

If I promise not to steal your standup routine, will you rethink bombing times square?
They grow up so fast!

As for the actual play experience, NOTHING has changed. I loaded up the game, put it on the hardest difficulty, chose the same fighter I used in regular old Street Fighter IV, and did the exact same moves with the exact same results in the exact same stages as the previous game. 

Where is all the new balance? Where are the new stages representing the new characters? Are you seriously telling me that all the time spent in developing this piece of garbage was spent adding in the new opening cut scene?

This has to do with the price of peas in China
It can change the very soul of a game.

But hey, I understand. Capcom is out to make money, and in order to do that, they have to milk their licenses for all they are worth. That makes sense, because Capcom is a business. Its what a business is supposed to do.

But what about all these video game journalists who jump on the bandwagon and do endless interviews with the Capcom staff, singing the studio's praises while ranting about all the supposed new content available, and decrying anyone who says otherwise? Do these dweeby bastards really think they are helping the game industry by forcing us to buy retreads of the same goddamn game over and over again?

SSFIV got 9's and 10's rated across the board in most game media, but there's absolutely nothing in the disc to substantiate that claim. The same thing happened when Left4Dead2 came out, and the few poor gamers who had their eyes open long enough to see the logic of releasing a sequel so fast after the first game were lambasted by the gaming community based solely on pressure from the studios themselves. These few souls who could tell the emperor was stark raving naked were insulted up and down from blogs to cable television, and the whole time THEY WERE THE ONES WHO WERE RIGHT. But they folded like a house of cards after Valve studios, the creators of L4D2, gave them a tour of the studio and told them to keep their mouths shut.

How Valve feels about their fans
...or else.

Like good little industry supporters, they thought they were doing the right thing. 

So let's review: When a game development studio re-releases a game within 2 years of its original release, and swears up and down that it is loaded with new content that warrants the new release, what are they actually saying? Class? Anyone? You, you there, in the back!

"They're saying that there's no way in hell they are gonna pass up on all the potential money to be made by releasing minimum content for maximum price!"

Correct! You get the gold star!

Remember when games had value?
Use it in good health.

05/20/2010 0 Comments | Add Comment
Tokyo Game Nights
You would think that working two full-time jobs, which I do at the time of this writing, would leave very little time for socialization and downtime. And on the whole, you'd be right, though in the literal sense, having two sets of coworkers automatically results in more of a social life than I would rather actually have. The point that I'm making is that while I am forced to spend day and night listening to people prattle on about insignificant matters in their lives I really could care less about, I rarely find myself partaking in those social activities I personally enjoy.

What activities, you ask? I have no idea. I get nervous at bars cause everyone looks better than I do. The era of arcades is over and there are hardly any of these facilities to be found worldwide (plus, I'm too old for them anyway). Heck, I don't even like eating around other people cause I can tell they're judging me. Couple this with an inhuman work schedule, and the result is that I can't remember the last time I entered a facility for the singular purpose of having a good time.

I call dibs on the one with the bandanna
unless you count that time at the Moonlight Bunny Ranch...

So when I received an email from regarding their weekly "game night" event, I was all over it. Here was a can't-miss social situation practically custom engineered for me. Picture the setting: a downtown New York City bar/resteurant/lounge adorned with game consoles, an endless river of beer available for cheap purchase, and even a DJ spinning the latest in ear-splitting J-POP and 8-bit tunes. The best part was that it takes place on a Tuesday, so there wouldn't be any of the annoying usual drunk crowd standing around trying to comprehend what fool would rather play video games than court disinterested  women and thus spoiling my good time. No, what I expected was an endless sausage fest of geeks of age...old enough in body to consume alcohol, but young enough in mind to dress improperly and waste away their few outdoor hours staring at giant electronic screen.

who exactly thought posting this pic online was a good idea?

Despite my endless work obligations, NYTGN or whatever's short late night hours meant that I could still quickly check out the event while on my lunch break. So after finishing my late night game of online poker and clearing out a bunch of network alarms without thoroughly investigating them, I grabbed a coworker and headed for the bar.


Perhaps at this point, I should introduce my coworker/friend, who we will call "Jay". Jay is my hero, not solely because of his ability to casually balance two heterosexual relaitonships for an extended time period, but also because of his Chinese-American heritage. See, unlike most Asian-Americans that I have met in my life, Jay is horribly flawed, both in character and in abilities. Oh, he excels at his work, and he is wise in both advice and experience, but he fails to put up an air of holier-than-thou perfection like most of you elvish looking brightskins do. I mean, dude doesn't even SPEAK CHINESE. When he hits on the waitresses at the take-out place, and they try to say something to him in their native tongues, the look on their faces as he replies he doesn't understand a word of their alien gibberish sends rays of sunshine into the endless dark that is my life. So anyway, Jay was the perfect person to drag along with me to this little party, and I feel obligated to mention he was there too.

We arrived at Forbidden City on New York's infamous Avenue A, and were thankfully greeted by no overweight bodyguard adorned in black attempting to extort cover charges out of poor, innocent nerds. This was good business on the venue's part: if there is one crowd that isn't gonna give you any trouble with assault of other patrons, its this one.

The nerd version of a UFC title belt
although the guy on the left IS wearing MMA gloves...

But just as there was no organized security at the event, there was no real organization at all. The bar itself is large, with massive drinking area in the front and a dance/lounge area with a giant projection screen in the back. I ordered a Kirin draft and glanced around at the lack of patrons, immediately getting a feel for what was going on. The bar area was populated with what were probably the usual male AND female (gasp!) patrons who were probably going to be there on a Tuesday night anyway. The rear projection area featured an ongoing battle of hit fighting game Marvel VS Capcom 2, and the forward lounge area featured an HD TV playing the brand new Red Dead Redemption, which of course is a single player game and was hogged up by some black kid with no attention span and a rather homely looking girl who looked awkward in the few moments she did hold the controller, yet well adept at managing memory cards.

Go figure.

I drifted (CHARGED!) to the back of the room to see what the multiplayer fighting action was all about. I'm not exactly up on my endless combo and cheap-Cable skills, but I know enough about MvC2 to have a good time while buzzed. Imagine my reaction when a battle ended and returned to the character selection screen, only to reveal a whopping six characters readily available.

choose your unrealistic fascade
like this, only completely worthless

Yep, they were using the demo version of the game. I subsequently crapped my pants and demanded an explanation from the nearest kid holding a controller, but he didn't have any more information than I did. I bitched over the blaring remix of WHAM's Everything She Wants that we should just supply our own consoles and use the screens, but he pretended not to understand a world I was saying. Useless schmuck.

Heading back to the front, Jay was amazed over the lack of promotion involved in the event. It was pretty obvious what was going on; The bar was dead on Tuesdays anyway, probably playing movies on the giant screens, and someone from NewYork-Tokyo went up to them and offered to bring in a few extra heads in exchange for the use of the screens. Most of what was advertised (giveaways, competition, SOCIAL INTERACTION) was completely void.

Thus, I can't recommend NY-TK's game nights, but I can say there is a great potential for improvement here. Heck, there might even be a business opportunity, to hear Jay tell it. We left after approximately 20 minutes and headed to the nearest corner store for some candy. Best M&M's I ever had in my life, kid.

another keeper
Not pictured: fun.
05/19/2010 0 Comments | Add Comment
Decisions, Decisions
The video game industry has a nasty habit of mixing up release dates so that multiple titles within a specific genre must compete against each other for opening sales. While this makes for newsworthy stories for the beautiful geeks over G4 TV, us broke ass gamers are left to some rough decisions on how to spend our hard earned dimes. Most die hard gamers can't afford to buy both Gears of War and Resistance: Fall of Man at the same time, so we're left to choose between one or the other. In some cases, which console you own can make your decision for you, as with the above example. Other times, multiple game titles across multiple platforms make the decision that much harder.

As such, we are left with gaming "seasons", periods of time where each game genre dominates the market. The rest of the year, we are left in droughts of that genre. There's almost no new massively multiplayer rpg's out there worth playing right now, but come Fall of 2010, players will have to choose whether to shell out their subscription fees between Final Fantasy XIV, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and god knows what else. Until then though, best log your ass back onto Aion and flap your fairy wings around with the rest of the angels, you feeble woman.

ph balanced for a woman
yep, nothing feminine about this

Case in point for now: racing games. After a lengthy period with almost no arcade racers available on the video game market, April showers have brought May tire squeals instead of the highly touted floral fare. Our two contenders battling head to head over the next 30 days are Disney Interactive's Split/Second and Activision's Blur, both of which feature perfectly normal motorcars surrounded by unrealistic ways to wreck, damage, and spin out opposing vehicles. Oh, its nothing we haven't seen in games (Mario Kart, Twisted Metal) and movies (Death Race 2000, Race) but the fact that these two titles have been released just a few short days apart have left gamers going over the details of these battle system with fine toothed combs, like hippie environmentalists trying pluck BP oil out of the fur of a baby seal. What? Too soon?

The reason I chose this topic though, is because I've already chosen which game I intend to buy. Normally I'd be able to sit here and spout off reasons for that particular game's superiority, but I can't do that this time around, because I actually feel kinda guilty about my decision process.

michael bay is creaming his pants right now
Flaming speed wreckage. SO depressing.

In the interest of alleviating suspense, I'll quickly state that I decided I was going to purchase Blur over Split/Second a long, long time ago. I can admit that this had a lot to do with a slow burning addiction to Blur's online multiplayer beta, but at the same time, I never really gave Split/Second much of a chance. Hell, at the time of this writing, Blur isn't even out yet. Split/Second is, and THAT's the game I've yet to play.

The thing is, Blur just has the theme and motif that I'm looking for in my racing games. Split/Second presents itself as a reality show; a closed-set circuit scenario where the gimmick spots are all lined up for you to use against your opponent, resulting in big kabooms and environmental trickery. I read that at one point, a giant chopper comes down and shoots missiles at you. Way to keep that PG rating, Disney.

Really though, all of that is well and good. Sounds downright interesting actually. But there's all these subtle nuances that irk me about that. Split/Second is supposed to be a lawless street racer, and yet there you are...on a closed track. And ugh, it takes place in the DAY? No one races in the DAY! That's when the cops are out, nevermind all that traffic. I like my racing games out on the open streets, in the dark of night, preferably with street lamps casting a reflection on the pavement so that it constantly looks like it just rained even though that makes no sense whatsoever.

Whaddaya mean, "the sun has to come up at some point?"

I want neon glow gauges and big fat rear spoilers! I want weird ass decals that some wannabe urban graffiti artists drew up and submitted to the game companies for an undervalued prize package! This is the stuff that actual street racing culture is all about! Blur doesn't necessarily deliver on all these things but by god it comes a lot closer than Split/Second does. As for the weapons systems, yes Blur's kart-style powerups are far less realistic than Split/Second's big Hollywood explosions, but at the same time there's something lost in the arcade feel of all those mushroom clouds of apocalyptic fire. Something about it just seems..I dunno...MEAN. In Blur, you're sending out a neon colored blob of light to spin someone off their racing line, not actively attempting vehicular homicide. There's something about it that says "this is all in good fun", and with street racer culture dwindling as it is, I guess I find some sort of sick sense of camaraderie in all that. 

The worst part about it though, is that all these arcade racers have taken a lesson from Modern Warfare 2 and thrown in online leveling components to keep addictive gamers like me, coming back for more. Overshadowing that idea, like a dark cloud over mount doom? The upcoming free-to-play racing MMORPG with HD graphics, Need for Speed: World.

yes i know this isn't nfsw
er...crisis resolved?
05/18/2010 1 Comments | Add Comment
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