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About
Howdy, I go by Blindfire. Welcome to my blog on Destructoid.

I was a late bloomer when it comes to videogames. Growing up, my family has never been especially affluent, and we pretty much just didn't have the cash to throw down on Nintendo or Sega.

I didn't really play a lot of games outside of the occasional visits to family friends in Phoenix, where I got acquainted with classics like Sonic, Donkey Kong, and Mortal Kombat. I was awful at them but I didn't care, I knew then and there that I'd fallen in love with videogames. The next time I'd get to play videogames would be on a PC, home-built basically from scratch by my uncle and my mother. It was a piece of crap that housed everything I could cram onto it, from Doom to WarCraft II. It underwent several hardware mods as time went on, but eventually we moved on to pre-built equipment and haven't looked back since. Some of my fondest memories, though, are of starting up DOS and typing in the command string to start up Rise of the Triad. I still have a huge soft spot for RTS games, as WarCraft II was the first game I really understood all the mechanics of.

The PlayStation was my first console. It was a pastime for me more than anything, really. A handful of decent games that I played occasionally when I wasn't doing something else. It wasn't until Metal Gear Solid that I really started to grasp gaming as a kind of physical concept. Metal Gear Solid made gaming a tangible thing for me, and I still have a powerful love for that series to this day.

I didn't become a real gamer until around 2004. That year, my gaming collection grew exponentially for the PS2, and for my newly-acquired Xbox. I made so many discoveries about games and gaming that year that I literally can't quantify it; it was an epiphany that has led me to expanding my horizons and seeking every new game experience I can find.

These days I try to keep an open mind about games, and let anything surprise me.
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Well, it seems like today is the day to weigh in on concerns over Sony’s place in the industry, what with all the discussion over price cuts and lack thereof, and the statements made by Tretton. So, here goes:

I think the price cut is a distraction from bigger problems. I honestly think it isn’t price that’s really killing Sony right now, it’s the absolutely atrocious marketing strategies Sony’s been utilizing. Their attempts to market their console and their games have had more stops and starts than a traffic jam in New York City during rush hour, and it’s almost as frustrating, too.

Instead of focusing on the differences between themselves and their competitors, Sony decided instead to play up their ability to best their opponents in the hardware department. Sony has repeatedly failed to recognize the beauty of the marketing strategies of Microsoft and Nintendo. Microsoft’s aggressive expansion into the consumer base allowed them to absolutely destroy Sony on the software front; it doesn’t matter if the PS3 is a more powerful system or not (which, frankly, I don’t think it really is, and if it is it doesn‘t matter nearly as much as Sony wants it to) when every home has an Xbox 360 and they have essentially the same games. Nintendo’s brilliant strategy of offering something different allowed them to slip into previously untouched markets.

Sony’s initial marketing strategy was a complete disaster. It basically consisted of “Wait for us, we’ve got better hardware.” Some waited, but others recognized the value of the 360 early, with its quickly expanding library thanks to its lightning fast explosion into the consumer base. And while Sony was still working on their console, Microsoft had already begun the second stage of its marketing plan: get more developers working on their framework and producing games.

Microsoft had done the inconceivable; they had gotten their console into so many households that most games that might have been exclusives instead go multi-platform in order to take advantage of the massive install base of the Xbox 360. Remember how Assassin’s Creed was a PS3 exclusive, and then it wasn’t? Or Final Fantasy XIII, perhaps?

Now, rather than admit or realize they’re actually in trouble, Sony has the sheer audacity to expect that their hardware will still come out on top because it’s “better”. Then, in a not-so-quiet fashion they start stripping down PS3s in order to cut the cost of making them. For me, this was basically like Sony screaming “Oh God, oh God, we screwed this up, but we can fix it!”, just without the honesty of actually saying it.

It was in this interim between terrible marketing that Sony had its one brilliant ad campaign. It reminded me why I was interested in the PS3, and why I still had a little inkling of hope for Sony: Metal Gear Solid 4 was on the way.

Remember this ad?



I thought this was where it was going to turn around for Sony. They’d finally caught on and began to advertise the PS3 primarily as a game system, only gently touching upon the concept that the PS3 could be a multimedia platform of monolithic proportions. It was like somebody smacked Sony over the head with a 2x4 and the amnesia finally cleared up. There’s the Sony I know and love, it’s still in there!

It was during this interim that I finally got a PS3; the 80GB model, packaged with MGS4. That’s right, I bought the PS3 for ONE GAME, and the potential promise of another in Killzone 2. Since then my library has expanded to include Valkyria Chronicles, Resident Evil 5 (didn’t feel right to be buying that on the 360), Dead Space, Street Fighter IV, and a few others.

Then they got conked on the head again and dove headfirst into the miserable joke that has become of Home. Sony’s attempt to market Home as a reason to buy their console is just flat out ridiculous. It’s gone from being a little sideshow to becoming Sony’s main “draw” for the online community; it’s a great big joke that everybody seems to get, except for Sony.

From there Sony moved to their networking campaign, PSPs on the go, in the hands of every trendy kid on every street corner, Playstation Network providing movies and demos and games. Oh no, Sony! No, no, no! Don’t tell me I need to spend another $150 to $250 to get the most out of your service!

And still Sony has the audacity to claim that the PS3 will conquer because they’re committed to a decade of service. So when we’re buying the next Xbox, and Microsoft’s still got a leg up on Sony, that’s when the PS3 will really start to kick into gear?

In the end, I love my PS3. I love everything it can do. I can seamlessly go from direct connect to wireless at the press of a few buttons, thanks to internal WiFi. My model can do backwards compatibility. My controllers don’t need batteries. The PSN store is easier to navigate than Microsoft’s Xbox Live Marketplace. There’s no hidden extra charges thanks to a wacky, self-determined currency. The cost of the PS3 isn’t the problem; Sony’s schizophrenic ad campaigns and marketing strategies have confused the consumer base so much that people don’t know what the identity of the PS3 is. Does it cure cancer, Sony, or does it play videogames?

I think, price cut or not, the real problem is that Sony hasn’t figured out how to market its console yet. I think this problem is driven by Sony’s inability to recognize that it is no longer the top dog, and it’s only getting worse with every day that they have the sheer gall to claim that the battle hasn’t been fought yet. The battle’s been fought, Sony, and you’ve lost. You’ve lost hard. And the war’s not over yet, though it soon will be if you don’t recognize what’s happening to you, and why.








There are games in which the player serves as a driving force in completion. We shepherd the little characters on the screen onwards toward some inevitable final victory, and we taste the sweet, sweet nectar of success at the end of the rainbow. The story is told without taking us too greatly into account, and we serve primarily as some kind of mind-control device for the main character of the story, inhabiting their body to wring every delicious ounce of fun we can from their experience and their story.

However, there exists an arena in which the stories of many gamers are told. Where there is no boundary of story or character development to be had. It is a place where skill and luck mingle like no other place on Earth. It is a place where we shed the paper-thin caricatures constructed for us on linear pathways, and we take to the field with our own chosen name.

I am talking, of course, about multiplayer.

The multiplayer arena offers a space in which there is nothing to be had except the gamers’ story. Your story. My story. We all have one; that perfect headshot, that one-in-a-million rocket, that lucky break you never saw coming, that one second you saw your opponent’s guard come down, that first “GODLIKE”. These are truly our stories and no one else’s. While clever plot twists are interesting, and events culminating in the defeat of a CPU opponent still offer the sweet taste of victory, nothing else provides the same delicious sense of purpose and connection as the multiplayer experience. It is what keeps us coming back to games like Call of Duty, Killzone, Battlefield, SOCOM, Unreal Tournament.

Perhaps it is just the presence of a human opponent that creates this atmosphere. Another gamer, like you or me, is standing on the opposite side, ready to do everything they can to stop you. You have to be better, faster, and luckier than they are to stop them, and they feel the same way about you. The strange combination of human opponents and sheer luck ensures that most of our best moments will never repeat themselves. I’ll never jump out of a helicopter in Battlefield 2 and watch as it careens toward the Earth, only to collide in mid-air with a jet again. I’ll never get that double-headshot with a Scout in Counter-Strike again. These are moments written exclusively by us, to be recounted among gaming brethren, for no other community would understand them.

Now, with that said, I’d like to share some of those unique moments from my gaming memory.

The Legend of the Terrible Wheelmen.

Battlefield 2 was a game I played extensively. I was so into Battlefield that I recounted stories of triumph and victory snatched from the jaws of defeat to anyone who would listen. It took months of browbeating, but finally I’d gotten two of my friends to join in. Together we were a formidable three man strike force of Medic, Special Ops, and Sniper. I led us into battle, C4 in hand. Our Medic was never far behind. And the Sniper always had our six covered. On the ground we were practically unstoppable.

It wasn’t until one of us got behind the wheel that things turned sour. We all had our distinct habits when it came to driving. I, ever the ground-fighter, avoided driving unless it was necessary to get from Point A to Point B. Jax (our medic) would plow directly into the thick of things and grab the turret to lay down hot lead death from relative safety, and Libra (our Sniper) preferred to approach all objectives on foot, so he often bailed out at a suitable sniping position before we got anywhere near our targets.

The problem was, none of us could drive worth a damn. Each of us had the tendency to profoundly foul things up repeatedly every time we got behind the wheel. Jax, a “leap before you look” kind of guy, once drove all three of us off a cliff and directly into the only tree in sight in Mashtuur City. Libra, who tended to lose all sense of direction and path finding behind the wheel, took us all for a swim by launching our patrol vehicle into a pond in Gulf of Oman. And I, perhaps the most terrible of all, had a peculiar habit of running into tanks and large clusters of infantry wherever they might be.

No matter how calm or how quiet it was, if I got behind the wheel, you could be certain a tank would be around the next corner, or an infantryman on a TOW launcher, or just some cleverly hidden mines. If it could kill us, I could find it, and it’s been that way since we started playing, and it’s still that way today. God help any of you who dare to jump into a vehicle with us at the wheel.

The Night of the Hacker.

Counter-Strike was the first game I played where the word Hacker was thrown out at every turn. This trend, of course, continued into Counter-Strike: Source. I can’t count the times I saw “HACKER!” appear in the text box, but I can clearly remember the first time I ever pulled off something crazy enough to be called one.

It was de_dust, and it was 2 in the morning. The match had gone downhill from the get-go; we‘d lost three rounds already due to slow starts. We needed a win, if only for morale. The rush we set up for the next round as Terrorists was bound to be messy, but it was worse than I expected. Half our team was gone in the hallway, flash bangs and frag grenades going off everywhere, with a lot of gunfire sprinkled on top. The survivors were ambushed at the bombsite, but we‘d made it in. It was even now, down to two of us, and two of them. I planted the bomb I’d picked up off one of my comrades during the bloody massacre in the hallway, and we waited. It didn’t take them long.

My partner in terror was dropped by an AWP shot to the face. His body crumpled where he’d stood, watching the end of the tunnel. I had no time, I had to take my shot before they got in the bombsite, if they got too close my Scout would be useless, and my Glock wouldn‘t stop two CTs armed to the teeth. I took a deep breath and rounded the corner, but there was nothing at the end of the hallway. My heart was beating so hard in my ears I thought artillery was dropping around me. They had to be going around, coming through the doors to surprise me.

I snapped out of my scope, and knife out, moved as quick as I could. I forgot everything I knew about tactics and rushed out the door, and there they were, running strait at me from the little walkway that comes around the outside of the building that contained our nearly-failed rush. The AWPer had his pistol out, I had a chance!

A weapon switch never took so much time. I mashed the Q key with all my might and watched as the lead CT opened up on me with his M4. Bullets started hitting around me just as my Scout came up. The scope finally lifted and those crosshairs lined up perfectly. You couldn’t ask for a prettier shot. The Scout’s snap of a gunshot rang out, and two bodies dropped where they stood. I was dumbstruck. I stared, mouth gaping, at the two headshots I’d just tagged with one bullet from the Scout. "Terrorists Win."

The entire CT team went nuts; “Hacker!” “Cheater!” and other words I won’t repeat on this article filled the chatbox. I was greeted with the cheers of my teammates at the start of the next round. I have never laid a hand on a Scout since, to avoid tarnishing that wondrous event.

I have felt similar levels of accomplishment since then, in a variety of games. But nothing will ever be as sweet as the first time.

The multiplayer arena is where our stories are written. Victory, heartbreak, intensity, fear, loathing, and pure delight. No one else can write these moments for us. I am the Author of these, and many other unique stories. I pulled off those stunning victories, and I was stung by those crushing defeats. It was my story to experience and to tell, not an analogue and not a character. They are and always will be mine.

What are yours?