Some say he never sleeps and eats only gourmet amaretto cupcakes. Others claim he's a hyperactive optimist. To citizens of the Destructoid empire, though, he's Captain Starkey, Intergalactic Games Journalist.
Disclosure: In my undergrad at the University of Minnesota, I did do PR and event promotion for Microsoft. It does not and has not affected any of the pieces I have written, but it is something that you, as a reader, should know.
Okay, look. I can kinda be a little obnoxious about how long I've been a fan of Destructoid. I get that. Sometimes I just can't help but bring it up. It's just... it's been such a significant part of my life for so long, that I really don't remember what life was like in the before time... in the long long ago.
Back in 2005 some friends and I started putting some serious time in creating our own gaming website. We were really green, didn't even have the faintest idea what we were doing really. Still we did the best we could.
One day, one of our readers mentions Destructoid. he said that there was this rebel site that was doing a lot of what we were working on. The difference being they actually had some cash and a small cadre of elite word warriors. I added it to my usual rotation of news blogs and kept careful tabs on the growing army of little green robots.
By December of 2006, the zany folks on the forums (looking at you Poopface) convinced me to sign up, if only to kill time here and there. Soon after that I hopped on the vent server where I said precisely nothing. I still remember running through Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy while listening two guys by the name of Puppetpallmitch and Namelessted trading Pulp Fiction quotes.
Towards about April of 2007, the forum goers of yesteryear started pushing my 16 year old self to fly over 2,000 miles, to a city I'd never visited, and share a hotel room with a bunch of random guys I met online at PAX. I told my mom about it, and she didn't see any problem with this plan. After a summer of mowing lawns I skipped out on my first week of classes to go play games in Seattle.
My god... what a week...
All at once I met people I'd been following for the better part of two years, I met about 30 people for the first time in real life, I took my first trip alone, and I got picked up by the cops.
I didn't technically do anything wrong, but I was in a hotel room with Hamza, Niero, Collette and pals when they received a noise complaint. They noticed alcohol in the room and saw two people that looked a bit younger than the rest -- myself and some dude from Canada. They escorted me back to my room with King3vbo and Bacon Sandwich at the 6th Avenue Inn.
That's just one of few dozen memories from that trip that stick with me to this day. One night, Earnest Cavelli and I talked about how broken the American healthcare system was. Lauren Wainwright and some other folks took me in for a few days after another guy I supposed to stay with screwed me over. I went to see Dale North play with his band the 1UPs -- I still have a signed album.
King3vbo and I took a stroll down to the Seattle Fish Market, I wore the Dtoid helment for the first time -- the OG Silver one. Hell while he was more than a little drunk Hamza and I got into some conversations that, in hindsight were pretty messed up.
I got my introduction to more varied board games like Munchkin and Apples to Apples. I learned who Fruit Fucker was. I met Gabe and Tycho. I talked to Chris Priestly for a good 30 minutes after a Mass Effect demo, and I almost put myself in the hospital by chugging an obscene amount of Bawls.
More important than all of that though? When I first stepped onto the show floor, when I saw the lights and the people and the games, I felt like I had found a new home. I felt like I belonged somewhere.
Now, I'm not going to lie and get all gushy and pretend that I was one of those alienated teenagers that never had friends. Quite the contrary. But this was different. I found a brand new world in that convention center. It opened my eyes and set me on the path I'm taking now. Most game journalists will tell you that if you legitimately want to be in this business, you're probably insane. It's long hours with no set schedule for very little money. And yet... now that I've finally got my fancy college degree and everything, instead of doing all those other things I wanted to as a kid, I'm here. I'm doing this.
Yeah I'm insane but it's only because something got into my bones six years ago, and it hasn't let me go since.
Hey broskis, I will be heading to LA for E3 in a week, and while there I will have a chance to speak with Blizzard about Heart of the Swarm. I want to know, what questions the Dtoid community would like to ask Blizzard. This stuff will go on the front page too, so let me know, and I'll include your name and all that jazz when I ask it.
The United States is the undisputed birthplace of the games industry. Built on brands like Magnavox and Atari, the seeds for interactive media were sewn in the west. And then... we cocked it up. After the great Video Game Crash of 1983, Nintendo had an opportunity to make its move, releasing the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985. This gave Japanese developers their shot at the American and European markets. Throughout the late 80ís and 90ís, the Land of the Rising Sun cranked out a lot of creative titles. We saw many of the first games with narrative, the adventure and RPG genres, and countless other innovations
Nothing lasts forever; any institution which does not adapt will inevitably fail. By the sixth console generation, the Japanese games industry was beginning to show signs of stagnation. The fact that Microsoft was confident enough to push the first real American console in over 15 years was indicative of their belief in the decline of the East. It seems a lot of people are still fighting this transition and I honestly cannot, for the life of me grasp why.
I think gamers suffer from a malignant nostalgia. Japanese games were innovative in their time, but they have stubbornly refused to keep pace with their contemporaries. The country desperately clings to positively ancient design philosophy. Non-interactive cut scenes, flat character archetypes, the persistence of menu battles, and a host of other equally vexing traits are not at all conducive to telling good stories or even entertaining modern audiences. I dare you to find one significant aspect of Final Fantasy XIII that is strictly better than any of its predecessors (graphics don't count). The story is more unnecessarily convoluted, the absolute dependence on non-interactive story-telling makes the game cinematic (which I think is positively criminal in this day and age), the player has less control over characters than ever before, and the barrier to entry is so absurd that many never make it to the ďgood partĒ. I really do take offense when people claim that Japanese games always have better writing and better stories. I think, that if we are using any rational set of definitions that hasn't been true since Bill Clinton was in office.
In the West, especially with indie games, we have seen the exact opposite- modernization. Say what you will about Call of Duty, but the first Modern Warfare had some incredible moments. Assassinís Creed and Prince of Persia both took fantastic gameplay concepts and fleshed them out over the course of several titles. BioWare and Bethesda have moved from being minor players in a niche market to titans in the industry. Bioshock revolutionized the way we think about weaving narrative elements into the environment. Valve has shown us just what a precise art game design really is, and Blizzard practically invented E-Sports. Even if you think each of these games suck, you cannot deny the impact they have had on the face of gaming. Our medium will never be the same. What has Japan done to move us forward in the past decade, even?
A Japanese-developed game has not won Game of the Year at the DICE summit since Ocarina of Time. These are the people that make games. It is the closest thing we have to an Academy, and it is far more open to foreign productions. What does this say about the state of games in Japan? Tomonobu Itagaki, Hideo Kojima, the New York Times, and even our own Bob Muir have all commented on this phenomenon. Japanese games havenít been competitive in a long time. Itís really sad, but as Bob points out, the handful of brilliantly creative titles that do get the green light have to struggle, desperately, just to break even. While the West may not be perfect, the rise of indie gaming, and the general support for innovation in North America and Europe have given us a cultural watershed.
Japan had its day, and it may yet have another, but for now, it is over.
*Also thanks to ManWithNoName, because I totally stole his image.
So... I've decided to hold a NARP at my place in Minneapolis in a few months (exact date is TBD). In the meantime, I want to advertise a get together for people in Oklahoma and Northern Texas. I'm keeping it to just those, because it would be a day, maybe two at most. I'll be returning to my home in Oklahoma City this winter break.
Joanna Mueller, aka Zodiac Eclipse and M4trix (or however the hell you spell his handle) are both semi-confirmed. The target date is Friday Dec. 30th or Sat 31st. The current plan has us going down to Bricktown in Oklahoma City and getting some brews and steak. Anyone who wants to come is more than welcome and we can definitely find you a place to stay for the evening if need be. I can also provide rides within an hour or so radius of OKC (I'd be willing to go as far as Tulsa).
I want to make some sort of pathetic attempt to keep this active, though it seems that is getting harder by the day. A growing problem for me has been the amount of time I am spending on non-gaming things. I haven't really sat-down and played anything outside of a LAN since LA Noire came out.
I've had the same two games out from Gamefly since the start of the summer, and Steam hasn't really helped my situation.
On the to-play list right now:
Saboteur GTA4 The Darkness Condemned 1 and 2 Ilo Milo Bastion Scrapland Bit.Trip everything Atom Zombie Smasher Alpha Protocol Amnesia: The Dark Descent Dear Esther Europa Universalis 3 Far Cry 2 Machinarium The longest Journey Dreamfall the Longest Journey Torchlight Left 4 Dead 2 Infamous the new need for speed game Heavy Rain Metal Gear Solid 4
Just a few months ago I had no backlog... now I'm wondering how I will finish these before the end of the year. I really need to stop buying so many games. :(
My name is Daniel Starkey. Iím one of about a dozen new Destructoid interns. We're pretty awesome. I was born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and Iím currently attending the University of Minnesota for some liberal arts bullsh!t. Iíve been around Destructoid since about a month after it was founded. I was heavy on the forums starting in December 2006 going by the handle Ėthe_mole-. I know Iíve met a lot of you at PAX í07 and again in PAX í09 and I will be coming back for PAX Prime í11. Maybe we can chill and have a beer or something.
So, as you probably guessed, I love games.Western RPGís, RTSís and old Xbox games have a special place in my heart. I believe that Majoraís Mask is probably the best game ever made and I will defend that opinion to the death. With fists. And stuff.
My favorite games tend to be those that are unique enough to keep me engaged for more than a few seconds, and those that encourage exploration. A few favorites: Butcher Bay, Paper Mario 2, Fallout (all of them), Killer 7, every Bioware or Bethesda game and Majoraís Mask.
As for experience, I have been writing about games in one capacity or another since about 2005. A few friends and I tried to start a nice gaming blog but it went belly-up sometime around í08. Since then Iíve been writing for my own amusement, posting random things on the C-Blogs and working as an editor for some pretty cool dudes at the University of Minnesota.
Iím pretty big into GamePolitics and thinking about legitimizing gaming as a medium for an artistic expression, but thatís a whole Ďnother thing....