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Casey Baker's blog
destructoid  Contributor


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.

Edit: 
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:

Will:

- 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!

Won't

- 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:

2363-5651-9256

;)   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.


Crackdown

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.


Bioshock

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


Bulletstorm

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? ....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."   read


2:45 AM on 06.13.2012

My search for a sense of community among gamers.

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.   read


6:34 PM on 03.14.2012

The Importance of Game Narratives

While the rest of the internet has been creating a huge brouhaha over Mass Effect 3 and it's endings, I've decided to finally brave the fjords of another game and discover what dramatic secrets it holds.

...No, not Skyrim. I've played through as many possible narratives as I can in that game, and while I absolutely love the game and would willingly sink another 100 hours into it - as a whole, the game doesn't really have one cohesive narrative but a huge amalgamation of disjointed narratives that don't really add to your hero's story so much as enhance it (especially through loot, combat levelling, and learning a little more lore with every quest you discover your way through.)



Recently, after attending GDC, I posted a video of the latest 'prototype' of Quantic Dream's motion capture engine. Thinking I was being cheeky, I spent ten minutes doctoring one of the photos I took of David Cage and some random dude(tm) and used that as a header to poke fun at the "Press X to Jason" viral internet phenomenon that hit the web a few months after the game hit and everyone loved it, hated it, and generally laughed at it's awkward dialogue and hilariously scary looking children.



The dark truth I've hidden that puts my journalistic integrity into question is this: I've never actually played Heavy Rain before beyond that PSN demo, where I awkwardly walked into walls as Madison and then got killed by some creepy large dude in a broken down house.

So, while everyone else in the downtown Powell street Gamestop stood around eagerly checking out Kid Icarus for the 3DS, I walked in, proudly toting a recently acquired wooden sword (random GDC swag), and demanded to see the game for which empires have been won and lost.

Or uh, something.

"Uh, you're picking up just, uh...Heavy Rain?" The Gamestop employee - who I've probably known for years now yet still only vaguely recognizes me - asked me incredulously.

"Yep." I said, brandishing my wooden sword with a sneer so that the employee wouldn't remind me of other games I could pre-order or that trade-ins now included Ipods and Ipads for some reason. Of course, he still did.

Anyhow, after making so much fun of the game (often with my partner, who'd watch little clips of it and go, "Ugh, I see Uncanny Valley really hit that guy's face hard.") I finally decided to do at least one playthrough of Heavy Rain. I managed to keep all of my characters alive despite their insistence to pit themselves into the most dangerous situations possible, all up until the end - or I should say, my particular ending - where Scott Shelby was the serial killer because he had a shitty dad or something, and I pressed X to Shaun just enough to save him but that other idiot detective who is also a terrible voice actor failed to do anything except play with his little AR device and snort Triptocaine until his eyes bled, so that the psychopath cop ordered a swat hit on poor Ethan. Ah alas, the world is a cruel and unyielding mistress.

During my playthrough, I actually did get emotionally involved with the characters, barring the incredibly awkward and mannequin-like Ethan and Madison "Press X to vigorously hump and use thumb pad to massage off clothing" sex scene. Overall, I found the narrative to be relatively interesting and the plot twists, while not always totally feasible, at least tied in coherently with the overall storyline.

Which got me thinking - if a game that can be criticized as nothing more than a glorified series of QTE's can actually involve me so deeply into it's storyline - does that really give the angered fans of the Mass Effect series a fair leg to stand on when it comes to arguments involving the game's ending?

How important is a narrative to a game, and how important is it that the narrative is tied up neatly and offers an optimistic ending?

You see, I'm also a huge fan of the Mass Effect series, all the way from the very beginning. I have two Shepards - a male paragon Shepard - who, (spoilers ahead!) after having a fling with Liara in the first ME and then 'unmasking' Tali in the second one - decided he was actually really into guys all along and dated Cortez, and then sort of accidentally caused Tali to suicide herself because well, Casey Shepard was sorta responsible for the death of her people and the rebellion uprising of the Geth.



And a female Shepard - Queruluzz Shepard (my partner tells me she borders on racist, but I tell him that she borders on awesome), who is the greatest Shepard ever and managed to save nearly all of her crew in ME2 by simply being a bad-ass bitch. Her story is still not over.

I've beaten the game with the Male Shepard, and after watching the ending, I felt a mix of emotions. (Spoilers ahead, again)

In a weird way, I was glad that the ending was as hokey as it was. I was glad that some Starchild came out of left field and gave me such a simplified option that led to everything being pretty much ruined for everyone.



You see, what I love about storyline and narrative in games is the actual 'getting there' that it involves, the travel from where your character starts to what eventually alters and changes your character. The actual cut-scene ending created by the developers is almost always an after-thought. The various endings for the various characters in Heavy Rain went from "miserable pile of secrets" to "straight up retarded" - and really, the ending of that game for me came when Ethan finally saves Shaun and then gets brutally shot down. Roll credits.

In much the same way, Mass Effect 3 really ended for me the moment that Shepard made it into that weird part of the Citadel with all of the harvested bodies, pretty much nearly burnt to death and crawling ever so slowly towards the light. This is the apex of everything Shepard has fought for, and he's arrived at his destination. Whatever happens afterward doesn't really matter - it's no longer the part of the story that you're directly engaged in.

In fact, as hokey as the story was in the Gears of War series, I still managed to get a little emotionally involved throughout - and at the end of Gears 3, when Marcus finally takes off his stupid headband and actually looks almost like a normal human being for once - I had pretty much already stopped caring about the storyline.

Like a lot of things in life, I'd compare it to Total Recall. How many people really care to remember the really terrible ending where Arnie and that weird chick are standing on some martian landscape and they kiss and it might all be a dream and - oh, who the f**k really gives a shit, that was such a terrible cop-out?

And who remembers the alien chick with three boobs, or "I got fiiii' kids to feed!" or "TWWWOOO WEEKS!"



I think I rest my case.

Any storyline of any medium can still succeed greatly even without a nice ending that wraps everything up, where Hermione marries Ron and Harry marries Ron's little sister and everyone plays a round of Quidditch in the park or whatever.



Art is supposed to be an imitation of life (or perhaps life imitates art, whichever) - and as such, it can't - and shouldn't - always be neatly tied up with a pretty bow.

For the Mass Effect series, the developers couldn't possibly please every single fan with any ending whatsoever. A happy ending where Shepard saves the universe would seem like a cop-out to a great number of fans. Furthermore, what did fans expect to see of their beloved characters?

Here, let me give fans the ending to all of the characters of Mass Effect in a perfect world:

Shepard: Becomes a has-been hero who still goes onto late night shows like Craig Ferguson and runs that same tired joke, "I am Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite mouthwash on the Citadel."

Liara: Becomes a f***Ing space librarian, guys. Seriously. She gets older and decides she likes acquiring information more than having sex and basically creates a giant library on the Citadel that always vaguely smells like the pee of those stupid monkey creatures that you find f***ing everywhere in ME2.

Tali: Goes on to take many more stock photos of herself unmasked. Gets a short gig on that stupid sitcom that people seem to love and constantly plays at Gamestop. The one with the nerds, you know which one I'm talking about.

Garrus: Retires to a space rock in the Outer Rim, shoots debris from his trailer.

Thane: Dies. I mean... seriously?

Prothy the Prothean: Kills self, like he said he would. Has a sparsely populated funeral.

Samara: Finally Kills Bill.

Morinth:



Enough said.

Miranda: Starts a reality TV show, "Lovin' the Lawson's" where she and her sister do stupid daily shit and get drunk a lot and then she gyrates her ridiculously perfect body for the next 45 minutes.

Kaiden: Dies tragically, if not already dead.

Ashley: Becomes a Libertarian, votes Ron Paul.

Mordin: Replaces Masuka's role on Dexter.

That other Salarian, the Intelligent Design One: Joins Kirk Cameron on a very special talk show about bananas.



Jacob: Probably does bro stuff with James Vega, like go to bars and watch football games together.

James Vega: See above.

Jack: Gets fired from teaching for going off on rebellious student, inadvertently killing whole class. Marries Garrus and meths out in his trailer.

Cortez: Loves Shepard 4EVER. BFF. Also loves his sweet ride. Has to decide between the two at some point, goes with ride since Shepard is a has-been.

Urdnot Wrex: Repopulates the Krogan homeworld with babies, babies everywhere. Or doesn't. Either way, he goes mental one day and kills everyone, including himself.

Grunt: Oh, maybe I mixed the two up.

Legion: Starts a galactic 4chan. Trolls every known universe.

The Reapers: Start a band. Become a huge hit (people really love the blaring horns), go through the ol' sex, drugs and rock'n'roll standards, have a biopic made about their illustrious career.

Zaeed: Who?

Kasumi Cares.



All right, now that you've seen the true ending of the series, was it really worth it?

Or can you agree that the strong narrative of a good video game, the actual playthrough - is really what makes that game so awesome?   read


12:44 AM on 10.05.2011

A Closed World - an interesting take on an LGBT game concept...

Today while doing some research for a different game preview, I stumbled across a free flash game called A Closed World that takes on lesbian and gay issues in a way that I've not really seen before.

The game, as an actual "game" is pretty easy, has repetitive dialogue, is a little narrow in focus, and gets a little hokey in times in both voice-narration and music.

The game as an experience, however - is something I strongly appreciate from Gambit Game Lab in Singapore. In the game, you play as a young gay male or lesbian female - although none of that is overt or totally obvious, just something you pick up from dialogue and context clues. Your character ventures into a forest and faces demons, and you do a sort of turn-based battle with said demons until you 'vanquish' them.

The demons, however, are all representative of the people you are closest to. Your weapons for battle include logic, ethics, and passion. To battle your demons, you choose one of these as an appeal of sorts. Your health bar is indicated by your composure, which you lose steadily through the battle and regain by taking a breath every now and then.

You face enemies such as your sibling, your father, and the parents of the person of your affection. Every time you defeat an enemy, you get a cut scene of sorts that hints into the storyline of your character and the interactions he or she has had with family members regarding who you are as a person.

The game is pretty short, I beat it in maybe ten to fifteen minutes - but it left me feeling a definite sense of appreciation for the developers to approach such a topic in a surprisingly mature and emotionally appealing manner.

If I were to change something about this game, it'd be some of the responses my character uses in defense of the attacks from the so-called 'demons' - though I suppose this is more because I'd wish to tailor it more to my own personal experience as they seem incomplete and sometimes a little too weak of a response. I definitely generally agree with the common attitudes shown in the attacks by these 'demons' - whether it's simple bigoted attacks by a sibling or more "ashamed for one's own personal reputation" attacks made by a father or mother.

I don't normally have much interest in LGBT topics in video games and I generally think they're mishandled by backwards stereotypes that just perpetuate this notion that all gay men and lesbian women are a certain way and should be expected to act as such - but this one caught me a bit off-guard and I played it primarily to see just how wrong they'd get it.

I was surprised to find myself accepting that in general, they got it pretty right. I hope this game finds it's way to LGBT youth who are still struggling to figure themselves out.

More information about this project can be found here:

http://gambit.mit.edu/loadgame/aclosedworld.php   read


8:30 PM on 08.21.2011

Why I love 8tracks.com

So, there's this site that I often stop at for quite awhile while stumbling - 8tracks.com, where anyone can create a mixtape that anyone else can listen to.

Today, while futzing around on the internet, I came across this amazing mix someone made...


A++ mix, right there.   read


11:21 PM on 07.14.2011

EXCITEMENT!

Guess what guys and gals!

Much like Jim Sterling, I too got the Ocarina of Time 3DS soundtrack in the mail!

I have chronicled my excitement with this image:



However, I don't plan to actually ever open it or listen to it, because it is a COLLECTER'S ITEM AND YOU CANNOT EVER GET YOUR GREASY, SMALL AND WRINKLED HANDS ON IT.

Unfortunately, the nice people who work at my local post office don't know how to treat such priceless artifacts and upon opening I was dismayed to find a small crack in the the cheap plastic of the front of the cd case.

Oh well, someone still buy it off me from Ebay for a bazillion dollars some day.

Or not.


On that note, if you really want a good remastering of the Ocarina of Time soundtrack (and many other Zelda games), I would highly recommend not bothering with building that time machine to go back to when you could register the game to get the soundtrack by jumping through the dumb online survey hoops that NOA requires of you, but instead just downloading the awesome Zelda Reorchestrated project instead. I have listened to the songs on nearly every album from this project and highly recommend them.

That's all. Have a good day, fellow nerds and psychopaths!   read


7:37 PM on 07.09.2011

Who the F**k is Casey Baker?

Hi! I'm new here guys! How do I shot web? How babby get formed? I am 12 and what is this?

And a host of other classic internet memes, brought to you by your host, Troy McClure.



Terrible Intros aside, I'm new as an intern editor but I'm certainly no stranger to the Destructoid community.

DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?

Probably not. But if you've been lurking around the comments, chat, and community forums you may have seen my old avatar/username pop up quite often and sometimes quite annoyingly.

Some phrases you may have uttered upon seeing me include (but are not limited to:)

"Oh that guy again, what's his deal?" and "Oh, here comes that a**hole" and even "LOL COCKS!"

So who am I, exactly? Read on and find out!

I. Games I Play

Why have I chosen to write for Destructoid about videogames? This may surprise you. Did you know that 1 in 5 video game bloggers actually play videogames?

FACT.

I too play videogames! Yes, this may be pretty shocking, I know. I also like writing about them!

The best part? I live in San Francisco! Awesome!



Now I am an expert on video games and all of my opinions are actually fact. YES.

Here are some more FACTS:

My favorite video game ever is Dark Cloud 2. Yeah, I said it. The one with the anime kids and the easy world-building and some fishing and golf minigame sidequests that are for babies and stupid people.



However, I also love Fallout 3! Which may also include babies, though they are probably of the more dead variety.

If I were to list every game that I play obsessively or have ever played obsessively, I'd pretty much just give up actually writing any more of this post.

BECAUSE THERE ARE A LOT OF THEM GUYS, THAT'S THE JOKE!

II. Games as "Art" Debate

This has been a debate that has raged on ever since Custer's Revenge for the Atari 2600 came to the market and consumers were shocked, surprised, and perhaps even a little stimulated at the amazingly true portrayal of the awful hardships that Native American women had to endure by the White man.

Encompassing in scope, lurid in visual design, and impactful in expressing it's strong message to an audience of young and impressionable children, Custer's Revenge paved the way for the newest form of art, VIDEO GAMES!

Soon to follow were other such artful games as Night Trap for the Sega CD, Zelda's Adventure for Phillip's CD-i, and Boong-Ga Boong, seen in Japanese arcades.

These games are the shining beacon on the hill, they are the archetype of artistic video games for all others to follow and look up to. If you're not in agreement, I may argue that you have no taste and should never step foot into a Museum of Modern Art.

However, if you are with me, I would even go further to say that Video Games are to Digital Art just as Jackson Pollock is to Canvas Art and Marcel Duchamp is to Urinal Art!

Truly, many things are considered art.

III. Personal Agendas (lol)

Now, we've come to the most important part of this introductory post. Who the hell am I, seriously?

Well, if you've been keeping score - I used to go by the Destructoid username "Rigby"...

....

(Long and Awkward Pause)

Oh...oh wait. You mean that gay dude? Who got all bitchy and ranty whenever anyone challenged assumptions about "teh gays lol"

Yeah, yeah. Gay agenda. Degradation of Christianity and Modern Society. Etc, etc etc...

I only post this part because it happens to tangentially relate to who I've lurked as in the Destructoid forums. This way, when the huge scandal erupts about the real 'Casey Baker', it'll pretty much be old news.

Most likely, you don't care and wonder why I bring it up! That's great! Either do I. :)

How does this relate to video games and any discussions I may have about video games?

IT DOESN'T!! :D

The only way it may relate is to Mass Effect 3 or other games that do have a same sex option - that is, if I bother writing an actual article about them and about that option and about how realistically gays are portrayed in context, blah blah blah...

However - do I personally care about whether games should have gay characters as much as straight characters?

Not really! I happen to love Alyx Vance and would have babies with her because she is an awesome video game character, and she also loves me even though I'm a violent deaf mute! <3<3<3

That's the great thing about video games. You can place yourself in the existence of entirely different characters with backgrounds all of their own. Have I characteristically tried to only get the gay option in a video game if I've had the choice? Nope! Usually through the second playthrough I'll try it, though options as a gay character are pretty limited and often pretty absurdly stereotypical.

But the point isn't about sexual orientations of video game characters! It's about the games!

What I will most often write about is this:

Is this game fun, or is it not fun?

So stand confident in the knowledge that as I am writing, this is pretty much ALWAYS generally what is going through my head:

OMG, Should I write about how there aren't enough PONIES in the Elder Scrolls series? I mean seriously, also that costume design of the furrykin or whatever those tigers (rawrr) are called is just ATROCIOUS, EWWW. Can't they just have FABULOUS colors and maybe a rainbow paw badge on their shirts? And let's talk about those muscle-bound Nordic warriors! Rarrr!



...Or you know, probably not.

I just like games. :3

IV. My First Review!

Here is my review of a video game called "Haunting Starring Polterguy" for the Sega Genesis:

Haunting Starring Polterguy is a game for the genesis. It is a game where you play a poltergeist who is called Polterguy. In the game, you are haunting the house of a family called the Sardinis. I think that is a racist reference to Sicilians and I am offended because I get offended pretty easily! Anyhow, the Sardinis are rich and snobby and they suck. So as Polterguy you wander around and make everyday furniture HaUnTeD...OoOoOooo. Also sometimes you make the Sardinis pee their pants and it is funny!

According to The Internet, "The Haunting Starring Polterguy" is made by EA games, who are most notable for also making "One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird." which is a game about basketball.

The goal of the game "The Haunting Starring Polterguy" is to keep scaring the Sardinis away. They are really annoying though because they don't get scared easily when they move to new houses. I got to the third house and then I threw my controller because they were not scared by ANYTHING! My favorite animation happens when you go in the toilet and then a HAND comes out of the toilet, who would have thought that would happen! Ha ha ha ha.

I like this game because you are a zombie ghost and they are cool!

Final Verdict: 9.5/10
Superb: 9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme example of its genre.



So guys, am I a writer for Destructoid now?

:)   read


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