Casey Baker is passionate about all things video game, and has been this way since very young. His earliest memories involve trying to get E.T. out of a hole.
Casey plays nearly all genres of games, excluding most sports games (save Super Dodgeball for the NES), and pretty much any fitness games.
Casey has been partnered with his 'domestic partner' (will be husband soon!) Mike for 8 years, and though Mike doesn't share quite the same passion for games as he does, Mike can kick his ass at Mega Man 2 and Castle Crashers, and loves Journey and Rez.
Casey also plays several online games with his twin brother, and is always happy to find others to play online with.
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:
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
Condemned 2: Bloodshot
Living dolls and tar monsters
Still with the hobos.
Gotta get those orbs
Sproing! Gotta get those orbs. Sproing!
Oh look, some bad guys.
"Cloak Engaged" again.
You should probably shut up.
wish I had PC.
My partner saw this
"What the hell are you playing?"
"I don't even know."
Frank West, journalist
Has trouble navigating
Oh wait, that's just me.
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)
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 writes
and wanders into forests
flashlight, coffee mugs.
Altair is quick
though animations are slow
Assassin's Creed 2
Ezio fights well
through beautiful Italy
Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts
I like to build things
Banjo holds place in my heart
Battlefield Bad Company
So many matches
I dominated the field
Enter twin brother
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.
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...
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.
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? ....hot.
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."
Before I even begin this post, I'm going to start with a blunt disclaimer: I am an insular person, with a more introverted way of approaching social situations. I tend to only select a close few people as good friends, and as I get older and watch people change with different life situations - I find my social circle becoming smaller and smaller. My partner is of course, my best friend and has been for the past seven years (yeah, I'm getting pretty old but at 31 I still consider myself comparatively young in the modern age of gamers. I worked a stint training people during the 2010 Census and met a guy in his 60's who was obsessed with Assassin's Creed. He was kinda my hero in a way.)
However, when I chose to start writing for Destructoid, I was drawn to the community and I still am. Even though I don't show my face around the forums enough or go out to enough community events, I still consider myself a strong part of the Destructoid community, even among the trolls and haters.
Which is why it feels weird to me that as I spend more time writing (auto correct changed that to "doing rioting"...that works too I guess) for the site, I feel more alienated from the core group, the real personalities of Dtoid.
This doesn't mean I dislike any of Dtoid. I've spent time with Dale, Hamza, Max, Tara, Conrad, Jordan, Niero, and of course many of the interns like myself. They're all incredibly talented and motivated people. Honestly, the alienation may mostly spring from my own struggles with what I want to prioritize in life and how that is perceived by others and how I juggle with my priorities constantly.
If my priorities in life were in a list, they'd go something like this:
1. Family. This includes my partner, my mother and stepfather, my siblings including my twin who I game with from time to time, and my closest friends. I have a lot of family and I spend as much of my time with them as I can, because life is short and often unfair, and the closest people in one's life can easily disappear forever. An example of this is my Aunt Barbara, who retired to Green Valley, Az after years of living near me in Walnut Creek, years that I spent not getting back to her about getting together for some fun. I spent one wonderful week of summer with her in Arizona where she drank me and my partner under the table and showed me that she had kept the whole magic eye 3d hidden images collection I once gave her when I was 8, and the next summer she passed away due to complications from simply falling down the wrong way. After that, family has become the highest priority in my life.
2. Video games. Not just playing them but appreciating them at a deeper level. I used to program my own games with QBasic (yeah, I know, it's the simpleton's version of c++ et al), and I got such a thrill out of creating games with actual objectives, like one I made once where your little dot represented a bank robber and you had to outrun other little dots, who were the cops. I actually created a pretty damn good AI routine for the cops if I do say so myself. My IT military buddy Nathan recently told me that he always considered me the better programmer, and that was a huge compliment coming from him. That was when I was maybe 11 years old though. I haven't touched code beyond simple HTML since then. I'm a total idiot to that stuff now. But the point of all that tangential information is this: I think video games are as important to creatively minded people as art or movies or comic books are. Anyone with even the slightest hint of an imagination needs to feed that constantly, or they might go mad. Video games can provide a form of imaginative escapism to those who play them and a wonderful outlet for amazing bursts of creativity for those who make them.
3. Figuring out what the f**k I'm doing in school. I currently am attending city college with a cumulative 3.8 gpa and at least a couple years worth of credits at this point. I tell everyone I'm going to school to transfer back to state, where I started years ago(long story there, tl;dr drama) and eventually become an elementary school teacher. The more I take classes that have anything to do with teaching, the more discouraged and uninterested in this goal I become. I've taught before in various places including summer camps and the aforementioned Census Bureau job, and I do enjoy teaching... But I'm not sure I want to do this so I'm constantly considering other opportunities...hence why I wanted to write in a more professional manner for Destructoid. But as I continue to write for the site when I have time to do so, I know with everything I'm juggling that my freelancing comes across as a hobby and everything else I'm doing comes across as "real life" even though that couldn't be further from the truth. I know this because Hamza even recently referred to my 'outside of Dtoid' needs as such in an email.
Which brings me to 4. "Real Life" - or my current job, the same slowly soul-draining industry I've worked on and off in for the past decade, the restaurant industry, as a restaurant server. The more I continue to work in this industry, the more I dread the days I actually have to work, even when I have a flexible enough schedule that I can generally take days off when I want to. The monotony of the same shit, different day just tires me out and I find no challenge in it. The money is decent, that's it.
I face a struggle in my life constantly, where one part of me wishes I could commit to "video games jernalizm" whole hog, but because my number 4 priority takes precedence since it pays the rent and my number 1 priority tends to take up a good chunk of my free time, I'm forced to dabble from time to time and then with whatever remaining free time I have, play some video games and appreciate what they bring to my life.
Which brings me around to the whole alienation thing I started this blog post on. Gamers have a stereotype associated with them of being introverts. The core Dtoid group couldn't be further from this old stereotype, at least not what I've know of them. Yet weirdly, I often feel like the "other" around the Dtoid group, and certainly not because of stupid shit like my sexual orientation. My job forces me to be an extrovert, and I can be a social butterfly easily with other restaurant servers. Hell, small talk fuels that particular industry, because we'd all shoot ourselves if we couldn't all joke, vent and unwind.
Yet when I've spent time with Dtoid core members, I know I don't always come across the right way. It's sort of the same thing as when I work directly with developers and PR people of games versus when I'm at a big event like GDC or some big party thrown by PR of a game company.
When it's just me and the devs, it's this professional environment where I feel a connection to the developers and their games. I get what they're driving at, I know on a personal level from an earlier age how it feels to develop something you find truly awe-inspiring, that an audience will appreciate.
When it's a larger crowd or anywhere that small talk is needed and it involves fellow journalists and gamers, I lose that connection somehow. Not because I don't know my shit when it comes to games - hell, I work with servers where half the time we're just wasting the hours by chatting at a side station about how amazing that trailer for Dishonored looked or whether or not steam punk is overdone. In fact, I plan to do a podcast with a fellow restaurant worker soon that should involve a discussion on sci-fi in games.
I've been writing for Destructoid on and off for almost a year now. I've wanted more than anything to feel closer to the core group, but for some reason I feel further and further away. I think the main issue may be with myself, but I wonder sometimes if all gamers are just intrinsically introverted and that I'll never feel a deeper connection with Dtoid or the community at large because of this.
I missed out on E3. There was no room for me to stay in any hotels with the core group. Fine. I'm an intern, there's limited room, I get it. I could have maybe stayed with some friends in LA. Hell, I grew up in Orange County. My friend Christina is an assistant to some producer in Hollywood and she and I go way back...but she was just getting back from New York and I didn't want to impede upon that. Not to mention the fact I promised the next time I made it to LA I'd let her give me a tour of the town. Obviously, E3 craziness would bar me from that.
But you know something? I felt a very real and literal depression that I wasn't working E3. Video games are honestly a huge part of my life and I was bummed that I wasn't being put to task for one of the biggest gaming events of the year. I know it was partly my own fault, but I did feel a sense of alienation from the group, and I knew it partly came from my own actions preceding E3. Namely in that I've been treating Destructoid like a part time hobby, when the truth of the matter is that the whole culture of game is undeniably a huge part of my identity, so much so that I struggle to compromise with everything else I juggle.
So I guess the point is, from this moment forward I'm going to make an honest attempt to include myself more, starting at the very least with more community blog posts that aren't half-baked attempts to ape other much better humor writers like those who write for Cracked, etc.
I love games and yet I don't write on a personal level about them enough. I'm going to try to change that and hope that I can find a way to feel a kinship with the community that doesn't involve trolling fellow gamers and/or journalists.