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Casey Baker's blog
destructoid  Contributor

11:28 PM on 05.13.2014

Brief Intermission - "Web Comic"

I finally caved and bought the rest of the art tools for the Paper App by 53. Next up will be the actual stylus so I'm not doing these with my fat fingers anymore.

This is based on a true story and the characters within are inspired by real people.

...Wow, I just got interrupted by an ad while editing and couldn't even access the editing script. What fuckery is this, guys?   read

6:10 PM on 05.12.2014

The day I got real fired...part V My 'Pretend' Job

Hey all! I had to take a hiatus this weekend for Mother's Day and for a Finals essay. But I will be finishing off this series today, Wednesday and Thursday...

When HUGE became a integrated part of the site, I was happy that editors could be more directly supported by the community.

It was also at this time that I struggled with what direction I wanted to go with Destructoid. A part of me would have loved to be a full time writer and news editor, but considering I had so many other obligations with work, school and family – I didn’t have the kind of time needed to be a full contributor. So for a long time, I floated. I wrote stories when I could and didn’t commit to certain stories when it just wasn’t going to happen. I thought this would be fine, though I felt terrible every time I didn’t get stories written. As I mentioned, this happened with the big indie game events. Some really great games got later coverage because I just simply dropped the ball.
On that note, I have only the utmost respect for the editors currently working at Destructoid, especially those who have been around for such a long time – Dale North is Corgi-tastic and exudes charisma in person without even trying, Jordan Devore has made so many of my articles not sound like the blabbering words of a mindless idiot and I can’t thank him enough for it, Chris Carter is a goddamned machine, Steven Hansen is a super-powered jack of all trades (and master of puns), Hamza might bite legs off, and so on and so forth. They are all incredibly hard-working individuals.
From the outside, a casual observer imagines writing for a gaming site and they believe that it would be such an easy gig where everything is always handed to you, and you get so many perks like free games or access to really awesome events. From the inside, writing about anything can get really tedious and frustrating after a long enough period of time, especially when your livelihood depends on writing a certain number of stories to make money. The truth about being an editor for Destructoid lies somewhere between these lines.
A few months ago, Hamza wrote me an e-mail to try work out something where I’d get monetary compensation for what I wrote – but it also meant I’d have to be much more committed than I could promise. At the time, I had just left my long stint as a restaurant server so that I could focus on college full time and finally get my Undergrad degree and credentials for teaching. I was really busy with school and couldn’t commit much time to writing for the site.
Basically, I knew that if I were to make a modest compensation, I couldn’t just do the odd preview now and then, I’d also have to write up news stories, and possibly create features that garnered a lot of popularity. It takes a lot of content writing to make a buck in the field of journalism these days. The nature of the beast was changing for me and for Destructoid.
I asked Hamza if it would be okay for me to just freelance for awhile longer, no money compensation or expectation - to float and take jobs when I could. He never really got back to me in an official measure, but the next time an event came up and I was available, I offered to do it and was given the go-ahead. I took that as a sign that this was all right.
Now, the site seems to have a plan that is essentially a hope for returning to a more core team like in the old days so that there’s a more cohesive group of currently contributing writers that the community always recognizes and responds to. I totally understand this, it’s how Destructoid has worked in the old days too. “Lay-offs” of contributors and editors alike have happened in the past, the site generally trims the fat if you’re not a regular contributor. I can’t comment on the success of this particular skimming in the long run, but it has certainly worked just fine before.
I’m certainly not bitter about the decision. I enjoyed my time writing for Destructoid and being that part of the video game industry. But I also knew that in some capacity, I was moving on. I’m now seeking a career as a teacher because I want a career that can positively affect the world and also afford me at least a stable amount of money with a fair amount of time off. I’m not entirely sure journalism is the career that will do that for me. I simply can’t commit the amount of energy needed to write the amount of content that makes a moderate sum.
I also have some hang-ups with turning writing into my only livelihood. I write short stories in my free time, and have always loved writing in general. I’ve never wanted to be a slave to it in any way. My love for writing slightly trumps my love for video games, so what I perceive as enslaving my writing ability by forcing myself to write some number of news stories every day to make money - in order to get more access to the video game industry - is a personal conflict of interest.

I will probably continue to write here on this community blog from time to time. I still love writing just as I love video gaming. In fact, I already have an opinionated blog in mind comparing and contrasting Trials Fusion with Trials Frontier. Look out for it after I’m done with my 'confessional.'
(Stay tuned for next two installments: Recounting some of the more awesome experiences I’ve had working for Destructoid – and following that will be some of the lower points…)   read

4:31 PM on 05.09.2014

The Day I Got Real Fired...Part IV: Facing My Failures

I should touch back on the whole indie games thing, because it’s really where I started to drift away from my duties as a contributor.  If anything makes me feel bad about my time with Destructoid, it has always been my spotty indie game coverage.
What often happened was that I’d go to some huge indie event, be really excited for 6 or 7 games, create posts and start write-ups for each game, and then manage to finish two before I became too busy with life/money obligations to follow through. For larger games from big publishers, it was always a bit easier to keep focus – and I’ll be honest – a large part of that was because I knew that if I didn’t cover the game properly, I’d hear pretty quickly from my Destructoid higher-ups. Especially Hamza. I respect and fear Hamza to this day.

During the last PAX, I had the chance to see some truly great games in the Indie Megabooth. I even told Niero I was planning to do several write-ups about them. Then I got home, got back into the routine of my college semester, and those stories sat empty and unpublished. Every day that passed by just made me feel guiltier about my broken promises.
Granted, that was the same semester that I spent a good deal of time writing up a rather large research paper about the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco - which also meant travelling to them for the fourth time and conducting/compiling an interview with the head researcher who seasonally works on the islands to get insight into the biodiversity there. So yeah - I had my work cut out for me elsewhere.
Regardless, I deeply regret my lesser coverage of so many great indie games I’ve had the chance to play. Fortunately, many of the other editors and contributors came across those same lesser known games at some point. So the credit for discovering them goes rightfully to them, and history is written.

I think I’ve carried a lot of that guilt relating to never writing about some of those games for awhile now, and thus I’ve distanced myself from Destructoid’s inner circle. I’ve been doubly frustrated that I’ve put so much coverage on big name games that I may or may not necessarily care about simply because the flame felt hotter and thus pushed me to get that stuff written up in a timely manner. Another consideration has been length – as these blog posts may make clear, I have difficulty keeping things short and succinct. Most of my indie game write-ups (both published and unpublished) were meant to be just that, but either ended up getting cut down by an editor or else just seemed too daunting to even finish.
I know the inevitable e-mail regarding my cut was around the corner, but the e-mail that eventually did arrive didn’t mention my largest crime at all. In my mind, I had already let myself go in a sense quite awhile earlier due to my flakiness in that regard. However, in the long scheme of Destructoid as a site, the cut isn’t some terrible sentence that has sent me out to space. I’m still going to be around, though admittedly my future potential career choices have already been leaving the video game sphere for awhile. This isn’t to say I won’t stop playing, writing, or talking about video games. I can’t be shut up that easily.


I used to run into Max and Tara all of the time when they were regulars for the Dtoid Show. I think they’re both truly great people and I don’t think Max’s return to Destructoid deserves the vitriol he was getting on the forums a couple days ago. Back in the day, I’d also see Nick Chester and Chad Concelmo at events and exchanged the odd e-mail with them from time to time – though pretty rarely, as I didn’t really write reviews at the time or feature pieces. I was sad to see them go, although both moved on to much bigger and better things.
I finally met Jim Sterling at the last PAX and ‘closed the loop’ between myself and him – Years ago, by complete random and weird coincidence - he posted a quite terrible joke photo I once took of me and my sister in law and used it as a header for a story about anti-video game controversy. I was jazzed that he even managed to find the picture at all, as it was wasting away in the obscure corner of the internet known as my livejournal. In fact, that was part of what made become even more active at Destructoid, as I already felt involved in some way.

Very soon after I finally met him in person, Jim left to write for the Escapist on a more full time scale.

I’m certainly no stranger to the entrance and departure of contributors. Throughout my time writing for the site, both contributors and core team members have come and gone. Some have moved on to better things, while others have simply moved on. Some have returned to the site. At this point in time, I’m interested in pursuing other goals. The video game industry is too volatile, and journalism is a hard career to keep up.

Destructoid itself went through so many changes as a site. I can’t argue whether they’ve been entirely good or bad changes as I don’t really see the metrics or concern myself with the stats of the site regarding viewership, though at the time they were announced, they seemed like a great idea.
That was when I was still writing pretty regularly for Destructoid. After Huge was announced, I excitedly told my partner that the structure of the site was changing, and that I might actually see some sort of more tangible perks and benefits from my writing.  At the back of my mind though, I had other concerns marinating.

Tomorrow: Part V: My 'Pretend' Job   read

2:18 PM on 05.08.2014

The Day I Got Real Fired...Part 3: Preview Party

As a previews editor, I naturally tried to focus more on the positives of an upcoming game rather than the negatives. Writing previews isn’t easy – You’re trying to garner an idea of the finished product off of a build that might be still in alpha, or barely past conception. You don’t want to diss a game before it’s even released – not only is this highly unprofessional, it just makes you look like a troll and a huge dick. Furthermore, a publisher isn’t going to be calling you back when they have a new IP or revival of a franchise that’s actually really well done and redeems the company in the future – which does happen – so tact is simply a built-in necessity.

I both loved and hated doing previews. I loved preview events that were basically me meeting up with either a couple of developers, or a couple of developers and their PR people, and chilling in their cool, laid back office (or hotel room, or around a table near the rooftop pool, etc) while chatting about the game I was previewing. This was always the most honest setting, and I opened up a lot more as a writer and editor in these settings because I could let the developers actually speak for themselves and I would insert the difficult questions when necessary. This was when I felt like I was doing something I had always dreamed of doing – interfacing with developers and imagining if I had taken that route in my life when I was younger and into the idea of creating video games.
I usually disliked the much larger preview party events. They were always put on by some huge publisher, and always filled with so much pomp and circumstance. They also required schmoozing with other journalists – something I was not good at and at times, downright avoided. When I met a journalist I greatly admired, I generally made myself look small - like some frightened monkey in the presence of a majestic lion.  Often though, I ran into journalists from sites with names like or – basically, sheep in wolves’ clothing who sort of annoyed me for no real good reason other than that I knew they probably created their website the week before. That’s the nature of the industry, just as there are new small game companies popping up every day or week, there are also new small gaming-related sites appearing in like numbers.

However, the worst aspect of the larger preview events is that you usually don’t really get a good idea of how the developers feel about their project. Everything is done for the camera, and when you don’t bring a camera to the proceedings, it’s not like you’re going to get some really strong insight in a loud venue where a whole bunch of journalists are engaged in playing whatever game. You end up having a conversation with one of the bigger heads of the company that usually has a lot of “We can’t answer that right now” or “We will comment on that feature on a later date.” You tend to get nowhere unless you’re one of those really aggressive sensationalist journalists who doesn’t mind crossing boundaries of ethics and civility to milk out just a little more information from a developer that you later exaggerate to incredible proportions.
That said - The irony is that my biggest crime ended up being that I let way too many excellent indie games by the wayside and a few potentially really good stories left unpublished because of other real life obligations that gave me money or a tangible chance to earn money, such as my job as a part-time restaurant server (which pays pretty well in the city,) or my continuing stint as a full time student.
However, when I could, I loved covering indie games. I also loved covering new IP’s that were awesome, and franchises that have successfully stuck around for a long time and that brought back cherished childhood memories.
But I have to tell you – there were days where I was standing face to face with a PR person or a Publisher Head V.P. of Bullshit Sequel Racer/Shooter for X Franchise, holding my awesomely technological Radioshack recorder out and trying to think of polite questions that weren’t summarily, “So, do you think gamers the world over are going to be really f*cking g-damned pissed at you for releasing such a shameless and soulless cash-in?”

I had to be polite and I had to try to be positive.
After all, if I were completely honest all of the time, I might hurt the site, and I definitely could sever relationship ties with big Publisher of X franchise. Even though I certainly never got any pay-offs, there is an implicit agreement between yourself as a journalist and a publisher showing off an early copy of the game that you’ll both be professional -- you in your coverage, and they in their various amenities such as the free open bar, live wild animal sitting in a cage three feet away from you, and weird hors d'oeuvres that taste like grass and seaweed.

Yet, despite all of that, I did soldier on the best I could. I feel like I’ve been generally pretty honest in the previews I’ve done – at least in terms of indicating real concerns I have at the time of preview.

If I have ever missed important information, it's usually the result of being at one of the larger events, not a one-one with the devs. When I've been able to speak directly to the developers, I've always been very thorough in my line of questioning. At larger events, I've often been met with resistance regarding specific details, and have figured it would be covered by another Dtoid editor at a later event.

Of course, the few reviews I've done have always been an entirely different story...

Which is why I always tell people to "wait for the review" - I myself generally don't buy a game based on previews and only put five bucks down on a pre-order unless I absolutely know that I'll love the game even despite potential faults. I check all the big sites at review time, and get a general sense of what the internet at large is saying. I think it's more important to be a knowledgeable consumer than it is to slag a preview of a game simply because it's in an early stage and hasn't worked out all the kinks yet (which has happened - off of the top of my head, Sleeping Dogs is a game I previewed that had earlier previews from around the web looking down their nose at the game...)

So please, please - take previews for what they are, not for how they do or don't confirm your hate or love of a company. There's simply no way to know the final product until it's actually in the hands of reviewers.

Tomorrow: Part IV: Facing My Failures...   read

10:58 AM on 05.07.2014

The Day I Got Real Fired from my Pretend Job: The 'Hiring' Process (Part II)

Meeting Niero for the first time was as awkward as anything I’ve done socially for the first time. I tried to pretend to play it cool, wherein I ordered a coffee, sat at a random table and waited, thinking I had gotten to the designated location before him. I tend to show up early to interviews for jobs because I’m not charismatic enough to appear late and act as if it were intentional. Several minutes passed before I noticed a dude chilling at a corner table with a Destructoid messenger bag. I made a few hesitant steps towards his table, and when he looked up I asked, “Niero?”
He smiled and said, “Yeah. Casey, right?” – and from there launched a new chapter for the role of video games in my life. Niero basically just showed me the site’s editing tool, explained the basic html layout, and let me know that he’d create a gmail account for me. And that was that. It was 2011. I went home that day and told my partner Mike that I sort of got hired as an intern for
“So what does that entail?”
“I’m not sure exactly. But I’ll keep checking the e-mail.”
I was so excited to have the power to write whatever I wanted that I immediately contacted Chad, who was the features editor at the time, and wrote an overly long e-mail about my excitement for creating a new weekly feature that was going to talk about specific video game mechanics and how they added to or took away from the evolution of video games. I started with something easy – the hookshot in Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I wrote an excited, probably terrible article about it and then proceeded to accidently publish it. It went live for about ten minutes before I realized my mistake and it garnered a total of about five comments.
I let Hamza and Niero know of my mistake, and they briefly freaked out (via e-mail anyhow) and realized I had already “un-lived” the post. A couple days later, Chad got back to me with some really great feedback, but he also said he wasn’t a fan of starting with something so easy and often talked about (I believe Anthony Burch had even touched upon it in one of his rants.) The fact was, he was right – but the effect it had on me as a newly minted editor was that my balloon was deflated. I took my toys and went home for the day. I ended up deleting that post. I never followed through with that feature. It was through no fault of Chad’s, I was just trying to figure out my bearings and was new to getting feedback. No writer likes an editor at first.
Eventually though, I began to fall into the role of one of the SF preview editors. I even created a business card certifying that this was my official title, on the suggestion of the Core Team. Of course, I was the Emperor with No Clothes – I wasn’t getting paid, and it felt weird giving myself a title, but I went with it because it gave me the respect I needed when speaking to developers and PR people. I knew I was fully capable of acting in that capacity anyhow - and this lead me onto some really great interviews and meet-up sessions with really cool developers. My self-created business card was my Golden Ticket to the Wonka Factory of my dreams - i.e., The actual video game industry.

And to clarify - Honestly, I haven't really cared much about pay and I’ve written for the site for around three years.  This isn’t a complaint, just a clarification for those wonderful trolls who believed I was only allowed to talk about games through the funnel of certain publishers.

When I write that I’m passionate about video games, that passion has extended not only to writing with no expectation of pay as a freelance editor, but also spending my own dime to fly to PAX and stay at hotels in Seattle, or take several buses to get somewhere in the city or get home. It's true that I would get the coveted PAX Media pass or access to some really great events where I met some of my most respected game developers, but everything surrounding these events came out of my own pocket.
When I first met Niero, he explained that the site was independent and community-run and that he couldn’t offer pay. That was the agreement, and though I had mixed feelings about it at first, I was excited about the chance that I’d be be able to tuck myself into the industry (A “sleeper cell” as Tim Schafer once referred to me in reference to being a Destructoid writer…but I’ll get to that later…)
There were times where I would get a little irritated or pissed off because of the fact that I wasn’t getting paid for taking a few buses to out of the way areas just to see a game that I ended up feeling somewhat neutral about (I often was not the only one creating my headline titles, by the way - it has always been a collaborative effort with my editor), but then I’d always remember the meeting with Niero at the coffee shop, and the freedom I had to be honest about video games.
Of course, there was also some fun swag, pretty good food, and open bars at many of the preview events, so I figured that was compensation enough.
Even if it took two buses out to some corporate studio in the South of Market district.

In the rain and blustery wind.

Tomorrow: Part III - Welcome to the SF Events Team   read

9:28 PM on 05.06.2014

The Day I Got Real Fired from my Pretend Job: A Confessional Tell-All (Part I)

Disclaimer: This series of blog posts that I will be releasing once a day for probably a week or so is in no way meant to slander Destructoid or the awesome editors who work for it. It is more written in the interest of revealing the inner workings of the Destructoid site, and my personal reflections on writing for The last two posts of this series will focus on the greatest moments of my Destructoid 'career' and then the lowest moments respectively. For the second one, I probably won't use names and will certainly not be talking about anyone currently employed by the site.

Also, as an aside, I never signed anything saying I wouldn't talk about my experience with the site. ;p

Also also: All images drawn by finger on iPad app, Paper.
In life, I tend to work best as a jack of many trades. I’ve worked as a laborer on  family-owned apartments down in Southern California, as a restaurant server, as a camp counselor, as a caterer, as a freelance writer of short stories, as a trainer to new job hires, and now my next career-oriented goal is to become a teacher.
Throughout all of these different job opportunities, one thing has been consistent – the fact that I am obsessed with the video game industry. It goes so far back that I was once a nerdy little boy who coded my own complex game ideas in the shittiest of all programming codes, QBasic.

This obsession is what first lead me to Destructoid as my favorite go-to site some time as early as 2007 or 2008. The genesis of my knowledge of good video game sites came from when I once loved IGN when it was called and then even when it went through a couple of changes and became more than just Mark Bozon and Matt Casamassina talking excitedly about video games.

Eventually, I fell deeply out of love with the site as it became the frat-house of video game sites, and it seems to generally continue in this trend today. I’ll be fair – I think Greg Miller –for all of his archetypical nerd-trying-to-be-one-of-the-frat-guys glory - does a pretty good job and has been there long enough to be a veteran. I’ve certainly seen his talent first-hand during a couple events where I sat right next to the guy. Of course, he probably had no idea who I was as I’ve always been a ghoster at preview events, but that’s irrelevant.

The point being - overall, IGN shut someone like me out - mainly in that it quite often has had a reputation for a stringent focus on boobs and 'hot chicks' doing the news, and frankly I’m more interested in actually reading about or watching videos on certain video games. Sorry girls, not really that interested. You’d be much more interesting if you weren’t always trying to pretend you weren’t disgusted by some of those guys.
I did read Gamespot for awhile, but after the Jeff Gerstmann scandal it was never really the same. I absolutely loved and adored everyone on the 1UP Show – but the site was soon hit with massive layoffs and I felt a weird sort of ill will towards the journalists who stuck around. I apologize for ranting so trollishly on one of your reviews, Jeremy Parish.

But I digress.
Destructoid was different.
Destructoid was like the Wild West of video game journalism. I began reading the site when Anthony Burch, Chad Concelmo, Nick Chester and the old core staff used to sing insane shit about dolphins on podcasts. I used to love and hate Rev Rants, and would often join the comments as “Rigby” or some such silly user name to bitch at Anthony about how wrong he was about the games I loved. I loved Destructoid for the incredible community and independent spirit it had. It was the idealized form of a video game site in my mind – where the true minds of the gamers were at the helm and guiding the discussion. There seemed to be no filter created by the behavior of publishers.

So naturally, when the site made a call for interns, I jumped at the chance. I shot an e-mail to Niero on the off-chance that he might consider me to write for the site. I was surprised to get a response back rather quickly, asking if I’d be cool with meeting up in a coffee shop in the Mission.

Stay Tuned for Part II: The 'Hiring' Process, coming in tomorrow.   read

10:32 PM on 05.03.2014

Farewell and Hello again!

Hey Destructoid people,

Just letting everyone know I too got the proverbial axe yesterday within the cuts, so I won't be writing for Dtoid or previewing events anymore. Unfortunate, yes - but I actually was more surprised by some of the other people leaving - I've been technically available to write and be an active part of the Destructoid site less and less, as I'm a full-time student working towards teaching credentials now and have a bazillion constant family obligations between my own family and my partner's family out on the East Coast. I harbor no ill will though, I've loved my time with Dtoid as a writer and the opportunities I've had to attend cool events, go to PAX a couple of times as a journalist, and review the odd game or two.

However, I will never stop being an avid gamer - (Currently I'm playing Kirby Triple Deluxe on my 3DS, Dishonored's The Knife of Dunwall on my 360, Trials Fusion and Mercenary Kings on my PS4, Guacamelee on my Vita, and whatever latest PSPlus game on my PS3 I feel like playing...) and I do plan to still be around in the comments here and there, possibly to engage in heated discussions with trolls and fellow gamers alike. ;) <-what the hell is this

Anyhow, Don't cry for me Destructoid-ina, the truth is I've never left you.

I'll be around. :)   read

10:50 PM on 07.03.2013

Animal Crossing New Leaf: Better with friends.

Greetings Destructoid Community!

I have been playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf obssessively lately and my needy villagers want me to sign petitions now. Problem is, I have only about 20 3DS friends and only one is as into the game as I am.

After playing with the one friend I have who also obsessively plays the game, I've realized that playing with more people adds a lot more depth to the game and more access to good stuff. And yeah, I realize that there is a forum thread for this, but frankly I'd rather friend people here, where I post stuff and have contributed in the past, then somewhere where my posts are moderated by mysterious mods.

Here are things I will and won't do as an Animal Crossing friend:


- send you rare gifts in nice letters when I visit your town.
- talk to your villagers a lot. Maybe even send them letters too, if the game lets me.
- bury random treasures in your town when you're not looking.
- plant flowers if the mood arises
- Be a huge dork and dance at Club LOL with you for a bit!


- run around crazily and trample the grass
- dig holes
- axe trees
- be mean to you or your villagers, unless you want me to

I'm all about friendly nice play and I love Animal Crossing, as my house may attest to!

So please, give me your friend codes, let's exchange, and open your gates from time to time! I try to keep mine open unless I'm on the island!

Also, in case it's not listing correctly in the sidebar, my 3DS code:


;)   read

1:03 AM on 10.15.2012

Haiku Reviews Chapter 2

Since I'm already trying to get into a writing mood for college-related (read: boring) stuff, I'm going to continue doing these haiku reviews. I'll be sporadically updating with more when I can. I will try to go for daily - but...we'll see.

Call of Duty 3

After so many
World War II FPS'es
You are forgotten.

Call of Juarez

Billy Candle and
Native American Tropes
The mountain was fun.

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

Decent Western Style
No true cooperation
Why so linear?

Condemned: Criminal Origins

Holy shit hobos
I live in San Francisco
Nightmares forever

Condemned 2: Bloodshot

'Spooky' elements
Living dolls and tar monsters
Still with the hobos.


Gotta get those orbs
Sproing! Gotta get those orbs. Sproing!
Oh look, some bad guys.

Crysis 2

"Cloak Engaged" again.
You should probably shut up.
wish I had PC.

Deadly Premonition

My partner saw this
"What the hell are you playing?"
"I don't even know."

Dead Rising

Frank West, journalist
Has trouble navigating
Oh wait, that's just me.

Dead Space

Basketball in Space
Necromorphs must lurk nearby
Eh, I scored a point.

And that concludes the second row of my shelf. Tune in next time to learn what other games I've been duped into buying! (Though I must admit, none of my poorest choices will ever appear here, as I traded them in. *cough* Fuel *cough)   read

4:51 AM on 10.14.2012

Haiku Reviews.

For the hell of it, I'm going to start doing short haiku 'reviews' for all of the games I've had and/or completed. They're sort of in alphabetical order, but some are out of the shelf space because I'm playing them or they're sitting elsewhere. I'll get to those eventually.

I'll start with the first row (of 8 rows) of Xbox 360/PS3 games and sort of just go from there (including Wii games).

I'm doing this mostly to remind myself of what I haven't finished yet, and how I'd quickly summarize what I have finished.

Okay, without further ado (These are all Xbox 360)...

Alan Wake

Alan Wake writes
and wanders into forests
flashlight, coffee mugs.

Assassin's Creed

Altair is quick
though animations are slow
much repetition

Assassin's Creed 2

Ezio fights well
through beautiful Italy
welcome's overstayed.

Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts

I like to build things
Banjo holds place in my heart
fly gyrocopter!

Battlefield Bad Company

So many matches
I dominated the field
Enter twin brother

Bionic Commando

Swinging around here
to avoid the purple haze
Hate my metal wife.


Andrew Ryan's dream
will be your fucked up nightmare
and you will love it.

Burnout Paradise

The critics loved it
Open world race takedowns
Hate the handling


Hey you there dicktits
Let's snap into a slim jim
Slick arcade shooter

All right, that's the first batch of many, many more to come...   read

2:49 AM on 07.22.2012

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Demonizes the 99%

I was recently looking at a trailer for Black Ops 2 and thinking that I might just be interested in the CoD series again. I mentioned this to my partner, who told me he had read something recently about how the game seems to have "a bit of a Repulican bent" and that it was written by the same guy who did The Dark Knight Rises, David Goyer.

In curiosity, I looked up the article my partner was referring to and was further linked to This Article that also contains a trailer detailing the next game's villain and his involvement in the story.

Holy fuckballs, Batman, to the propaganda machine!

Now, I understand the idea of a terrorist influencing an angry mass to do his bidding is a familiar war story trope, but it's incredibly irresponsible of Activision of all companies to think it's cool to release a game that's effectively telling its core audience, "You're all a bunch of sheeple and potential terrorists!"

I'm also casting a leery eye at Goyer, as his common theme seems to be to help villainize the 99% and if this a common theme of his, he can go fuck off on a private jet to the moon.

Granted, I haven't yet seen The Dark Knight Rises and I hear it's an excellent film, but I'm not a huge fan of this sudden turn to make it seem like the discontent masses are potential weapons for any terrorist to funnel their specified rage at their desired target.

Furthermore, that trailer for Black Ops 2 is so disgustingly condescending towards pretty much everyone who actually buys and plays video games, I.e. the 99%. This is an Activision game, so calling it anything other than propaganda will make me laugh heartily.

For this purpose, I will be making a stand by buying the game USED when it's pretty cheap, partly as a cultural artifact and partly just to satiate my curiosity of whether the game itself will actually be any good.

Of course I expect to only be able to play a portion of the actual game (mainly the general single player campaign) without being asked to dole out more for DLC, but then again...that's pretty much all I'm interested in.

Way to go Activision.   read

1:40 AM on 06.14.2012

Video games and the strange culture of misogyny...

Lately, news stories revolving around the game culture have had a disconcertingly similar theme. This theme has existed for awhile now, though with a couple of specific recent examples, the controversy has reached new levels of Internet drama and debate.

The first and most disheartening example of this recurring theme of misogyny comes with the ugly yet ultimately redeeming story about Anita Sarkeesian's Kickstarter project that will be a meaningful attempt at examining female tropes in video games, and all of the incredibly moronic backlash that resulted from her idea. Ironically, much of the anger and hatred she had to deal with just strengthens any argument she may present in her film.

Then came the sensationalist Hitman: Absolution trailer, which found its lightest offense in featuring persons of the cloth wielding deadly weapons against the antihero assassin.

And of course, barely needing yet another mention would be Ron Rosenberg's comments on the delicate nature of the new, younger version of Lara Croft that - paired with an E3 trailer that rubbed some people the wrong way - came off to many as a reinforcement of the existing misogyny/sexism in the portrayal of female characters in video games.

Personally, while I wouldn't go quite as far as calling the recurring and seemingly growing misogynistic culture that exists in video games a so-called "rape culture" because of the connotations with brutes and jocks that this inevitably conjures, the culture perpetuated is undeniably a culture that by and large portrays women in a negative light and very actively discourages the female voice in gaming.

The first offense that many video games incur is to treat women like objects. This can be seen with the popularity of the Dead or Alive games and their "jiggle physics" (That term always makes me think of Jiggle Billy from Aqua Teen Hunger Force - commence the jigglin'!) and of Lara Croft's original character design, causing many sweaty hands to massage the controller while Lara swam to get a peak of pixelated...something. Black squares?

Next, like the Tomb Raider revival controversy, many video games treat women as vulnerable and weak. Even one of my favorite games of all commits this offense, with Ico's sidekick Yorda seeming to be the most useless female creature to exist. Unless you compare her to the female character in Shadow of the Colossus, who certainly gives you a compelling protaganist with a main role as "unconscious/possibly dead love"

Our own Sophie Prell ran into controversy awhile back when she suggested that Skyrim reinforced this trope, and while I didn't quite agree with her talking points on this matter I definitely understood where she was coming from. Though your character can be a strong female lead, many of the women in the game who are not you are either conniving temptresses or are willing to bow down to their male counterparts when leadership roles are handed out.

Strong female lead characters in video games have to always be sexy, always wear revealing clothing, and always be appealing to the average heterosexual male gamer.

Which is fine, if games existed in a vacuum where all gamers were male and females really did only exist as objects of lust or as obediently kept women who gladly cooked and cleaned for their brawny and heroic male counterpart.

Honestly, what really bothers me about the obvious vibrant misogynist culture that is present today in gaming is simply that it isn't what I grew up with - it isn't really what any of us grew up with.

While it's true that Mario and Link were on a quest to save their once useless princesses, neither of those games actively reinforced any idea that the princesses were (excuse the term) helpless hot bitches who would expose 8 bit breasts as soon as they had a chance. In fact, Zelda has matured into many admirable female characters, especially notable in Wind Waker as the tomboyish pirate who goads Link on in the first half of the game. And Peach...well, I'm sorry but your princess may truly be in another castle. Maybe next year.

While it's true that Samus did her best to die sexily in 8 bits in the original Metroid series, just the fact that she played an incredibly strong role of a space adventurer and the average gamer imagined her to be a brawny male until her first death (I remember being incredibly confused at seeing Samus Aran die the first time, but I didn't really care after that) made her a figure to admire, at least until the new gaming culture reared its ugly head and gave the protagonist in Other M an annoying vulnerability.

True, many of the games we grew up with did have an absence of females, but instead featured action hero males, action hero earthworms, spiky blue hedgehogs that had to go fast, Italian plumber brothers, kids with magical power-granting helmets, and Polterguy. The point of games was once to appeal - not so much to children - as to the power of all of our collective imaginations, not specifically to heterosexual dudes and their carnal needs.

Hell, one of my cherished memories growing up was playing Super Mario Bros. 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Boogerman with my cousins - male and female. We were certainly not exclusive about our video game habits, and shared all of our games and devices,

I find it strange that a common argument raised by commenters to stories on Destructoid or elsewhere about this recurring theme is that it's "just video games" - as if this portrayal of women that has emerged and grown stronger through both Western and Japanese influences is "just games" and has always been part of that dynamic, that part of what makes games fun is not ruining them with too much critical thinking.

Uh, it hasn't always been part of that dynamic and if you think it has you are either too young to know better or too ignorant to think critically about the issue.

If I may be so bold to state the obvious here - it seems to me that as video games evolve, they also regress by decades. Now we have glorified violence towards women, women with godly powers that run around naked save for their magical ass kicking hair, and sexy cheerleaders who fight zombies. Is any of this really very imaginative or creative? Sure, the games that involve these characters or acts may actually be fun to many, have incredibly imaginative elements, and have solid gameplay - but where the hell is the true creativity in appealing to the basest root of a supposed majority population?

Especially when this population is actually diversifying and becoming a much larger crowd of both men and women from all walks of life?

And before I get ahead of myself - I don't mind adult themes in games. I don't even mind if games sometimes come off as exploitative for these very same reasons. What I mind is the incredible imbalance between the incredible popularity of these types of games and the smaller support for games that are creative for creativity's sake. What I mind is that there continues to exist a culture that says that exploiting women is cool as long as it's "just a game."

Clearly, as in the case of how Sarkeesian was treated for her desire to critically examine an important topic regarding the portrayal of women in video games - to many of these male gamers, it's much more than "just a game."   read

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