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MKSKILLZ16's blog

2:34 AM on 04.11.2011

Quick Hit: Academic Stress and Games

So, strikes. They suck tremendous and copious amounts of ass. It's all about who's getting paid and who's getting laid, off, that is (har har). As a student in the University level of education, I have had the recent pleasure of living over 28 days of strike induced bliss, rather I've been stinking drunk until 4 in the morning thanks to my abusive friend rum. This strike has invoked within my very gooey center a hard and sharp shell of loathing and resentment to the classroom, and thought to myself: what if games made me feel the same way this current predicament does?

Answer: It would be a fucking step up, in pain (oh god).

Rather than the "cool story,I guess" reaction from most games of late (see COD BLOPS, Dead Space 2, and Bulletstorm), I could get a game that instills within my being an intense feeling of dread and helplessness; much in the same way a student facing 14 days to finish research projects, exams, and lab exams does. I would not know how to implement this style of stress into a game, and am not even sure if it requires it's own classification, but if games could make me feel the same way I do about situations I come across in life, that would be next gen to me (excuse hokey use of next gen).

However as this is a quick hit, and more a means to slap at my lap top in typical rage at school, I just think that this would definitely pique my interest much more than quirky characters and nazi-eye-meltingly beautiful graphics.

This would also maybe make a ton of people tell games with this stress to fuck off and die for an eternity, but still, stress is a fascinating thing (see some parts of Dead Space 2, I did like that game).

Also fml school is hard and not nearly as fun as +28 days of binge drinking and zero responsiblity.   read

10:52 PM on 08.14.2010

Brief Thought: Trying Something New is Fun (Obviously)

Recently, out of an odd sense of impulse, I purchased Halo Wars for approximately twenty bucks. It is an RTS game, a genre I have actively avoided since I can remember, but after enjoying the recent crop of fighting games (another genre I openly used to ignore) I decided giving an RTS a chance would be nice. I'm not going to go into the mechanics of the gameplay or depth of the narrative, however, I wish to bring up the fact that just the experience of trying something entirely foreign is a great way to extend one's personal boundaries of enjoyment. Moving at one's own pace and testing the waters is a great way to experience something new from videogames, as I for one normally stick to genres I know that I will like, and interact with the game accordingly (as in obliterate the face of every tango on screen as fast as possible). Just thought I would share this, and hopefully it may spur others to extend their gaming vocabularies.   read

1:28 AM on 08.13.2010

The Value of People

With all of the recent discussion regarding price and the value one places on a particular game, I thought it would be a bit refreshing to see another thing's price talked about. Since the advent of the videogame (I know flowery right?), people have always wanted to play these games with each other, and have found numerous ways to do so. From the slick arcade cabinet crowded around by many a slack-jawed enthusiast, to the link cables and LAN parties of decades past, we as a "community" have evolved our means to play games with each other and in doing so have also lost a fair amount of interpersonal interactions (anonymous head-set crowned imbeciles say: "What up, son!"). All of these cables and systems cost dough, as do the games we as consumers decide to purchase. We may spend hours listening to podcast hosts debate back and forth over the subject of how much a game is worth to them, and read lousy forum topics containing similar arguments, but has anyone ever stopped to think about how much the people they share these impossibly long hours with are worth?

Now I don't mean to go on a long diatribe about emotional crap regarding how we really don't appreciate the people in our lives sometimes (which we don't). But there is a colossal value that one should consider when they think about the value they are receiving from their gaming experience, and how the human being is an integral part of that.

As gamers, we play games, talk games, hear games, and dream games. Someone has to make and play the games we play. Someone has to listen and read the things we say and think about games. And someone has to knock you out with some sleeping gas so that they force themselves into your mind and plunder the secrets guarded by your sub-conscience. We are human beings, we are naturally inclined to seek out other like minded (or not) individuals to share, communicate, and pontificate with. Those are the rules. Enjoying games with other people is possibly the greatest draw to the gaming scene nowadays, joining in on the nightly MW2 Hardcore Search and Destroy matches, and being part of Left for Dead zombie genocide crews, are two such examples. Whether we choose to accept it or not, we thrive on the presence and interactions with other people. Being able to regale each other with tales of great conquest for the Horde, or auctions won on the latest Zynga 'Ville game, keep our fervor for gaming even stronger. Notice that many of the games mentioned have varying pricing structures, but all incorporate a strong emphasis on player to player interaction. One initially thinks only of the single player experience and/or how many hours of playtime that they will get from a game, and ultimately what price that amounts to. What one doesn't think of is just how rich of an experience they may get from playing this game with others or discussing one's thoughts about the game they just bought. For example, Limbo (that game that sparked this debate all over again) has zero multi-player options and has a relatively short single player "campaign", all for the price of 1200 MS points or $15. But, couldn't one argue that the discussions and time spent interacting with other people all because of this game was worth the $15? Discussions could have been about anything, but probably would not of occurred if one hadn't spent the money to purchase the game and play through it. When paying that $15 or whatever price one pays for a particular title, I always find that I base my purchase on every aspect of enjoyment and thought I may gain from the next game I purchase.

Can we put a cash value on the time spent with friends and foes? And if we could, would it be much higher than that of our initial console and game purchases? Would anyone even be able to justify a price? And why even bother trying to enjoy things if you are constantly worrying about the cost (even though it is paramount that one lives within one's means)?   read

11:06 PM on 07.05.2010

A Funny Thing About Menus

Quick thought due to my recent playing of Red Dead Redemption, which luckily blossomed into deeper thought about the games I play. The engrossing nature of RDR's delivery of its storyline is quite appealing: it places me in a world of hostility in which I squint into the horizon for anyone who may require assistance, be it for dastardly or helpful ends. I quickly become immersed in the fiction of the game; but just as I am about to move on to the next activity, I am forced to bring up a menu to gain access to the map and get my bearings right for the direction I must next head. And then, just as immediate as the immersion in the Wild West rose, it plummets as the sound of the birds and wind are cut off and the disembodied cursor roams the old map.

It appears to me that in many games, that quick stop to the map or inventory screen can break one from the experience of the game, and make the player quite aware that they are a normal person staring in front of bright screen trying to find the next capital letter to set their waypoint to or equip the party with the appropriate items. It may not be a great big break in the flow of a game, but it is a break nontheless, and its quite noticeable the more I think about it. A menu/pause screen in a game is quite functional and essential to the "playing" of the game, however, it still manages to halt the immersive quality a game is able to give to the participating individual.

A game that I hope (and know) many people have played, Bioshock, manages the use of a menu screen quite well, and to a similar extent so does Mass Effect 2. Bioshock's "menu", for lack of a better word at the time of writing, causes the action to pause while the player chooses their plasmid or weapon of choice in order to tackle the next situation. While instances in which the typical player may access the selection wheel of death only occur for no longer than a few seconds at a time, they are stylized in a manner that keeps the player feeling as though everything is consistent with the world they currently "inhabiting". This quick solution to pausing the action keeps the player engaged in what is happenning around them in the game and doesn't make them aware of the reality of what they are doing outside of the screen. Mass Effect 2 does this as well, but also relies on more sophisticated menu applications.

I hope I do not sound as though I am incriminating the menu and making all games that use them sound terrible because that is not what I'm trying to do with this Destructoid Community Blog Post. I just wish to share my observations on the games I play and hear what others think regarding similar topics. The menu can be wonderfully useful tool for the player to use to enhance their character and the overall experience of the game. They empower the player, weaken their enemies, and provide room for personal expression through the items the player chooses to utilize. The mighty menu, if understated in may games and player's minds, has both the power to wrestle the individual from their warm place inside Rapture (not really warm, more wet) or keep them even more interested in the place they are interacting with and give them a strong sense of belonging as their eyes roam the screen and take in all of the gear and items they have amassed over the course of their time invested in their game of choice.   read

12:36 AM on 06.22.2010

My Secret Identity

Meet Mike. He's fearless, enjoys the most depressing moments of other people's lives (characterized by their losses in various online fps games), and will be a dastardly maverick who will abscond with all of the guns dropped by goons in Borderlands. Somedays he is a hardcore shooting nut who will scream "MAN TIME!" over and over into the mic, others he is a thoughtful gamer only interested in the latest from the Indie Channel in the XBL Marketplace. Mike is me, I am Mike... but only when my 360 or PS3 is turned on.

I feel first hand the bemoaned effects of online anonymity, but I feel it is an essential part of my life. Now don't go and say get a life to me because I have one: I am quite the strong individual due to my many hours spent lifting countless masses of steel above my head and chest, but I suffer from being a quiet and independent young man. Mike allows me to let go of my inhibitions regarding what people might think of me. Mike allows me to make off collar jokes to total strangers, and in return, hear strings of vowels and consonants that I never imagined possible. When I allow Mike to manifest, he always knows what to say, he's my funny side. He's the side of my personality I only let my family and a very few select aquaintances experience; Mike can be a total jock and a total geek out in the open for anyone listening to hear.

This is my main fault as a human being I'm afraid. I feel as though I can never truly express myself in public (and I don't mean streaking in front of public elementary schools), I mean actually be the witty geek who loves to get "jacked" every afternoon for a couple of hours. This blog, in its own way, is tremendously cathartic for me and hopefully over the coming months I can finally obliterate the shameful shell of self-loathing that I currently occupy in Canada.

Now onto the broader idea I wanted to discuss: What do our online personalities afford us as individuals?

My answer: They allow us to behave in a way we consider impossible or too awkward to share in public. Just like the games we play empower us with uncanny abilities to do things such as produce electricity from our fingertips and roam across many fun shaped planets in galaxies far far away, the online infrastructures of various videogames allow us to edit our own lives and customize our appearance to whole new set of cohorts. We can be flirty, we can be racist, we can be trolls, we can be anything we want basically. For me, I get to be Mike any evening I pick, and let my loose from the tethers of self-moderation. I think a big part of what attracts many people to games nowadays is the online integration and interaction offered by services on almost all gaming platforms.

My question to any who read and wish to post a comment: Please take an honest moral inventory of your online or "real" self, and if you feel so inclined share with the rest of the Dtoid Community Blog Memebers. Hopefully I don't come off as bipolar or whatever one may wish to name it, this was just something I felt need to be written in some form or another.

P.S. Getting jacked is a term I may use in the future that merely refers to lifting weights and training one's body.

P.P.S. I hope this was a bit thought provoking, I have been quite busy lately, and will try to write something on a weekly basis.

Thanks so much for reading and feel free to inquire, give feedback/tips, and remember that I am a bit lazy when it concerns adding pics with comments.   read

12:51 AM on 06.09.2010

MKSKILLZ16 says: Oh, Hi

Who the heck am I? Besides starting with an "original" intro paragraph (as you'll read or not), I consider myself a pretty awesome individual. Ouch, that sounds full of egotism if I've ever seen it. I'll start with my screen name: MKSKILLZ16. The "MK" segment of the name suggests immense lust over the infamously violent fighting series, sadly, those are just my initials. "SKILLZ"? Well, my uncanny abilities to rage quit many an online fps game lobby, mixed with my talents in the realm of utter dissappointment and loss, speak for themsleves. And "16" is not my age, rather I have an affintiy for this number for multiple reasons. By being the proud owner of a laptop computing system, and a relatively cheap internet service, I am able to place my thoughts on these intangible pages displayed on one of my favourite gaming sites. I appreciate any any and all feedback on blog posts, and promise to not waste anyone's time (that's Kurt Vonnegut's rule for a successful writer).
Question: What does MKSKILLZ16 like?
Answer: Videogames, movies, books, etc.
Here be ye olde liste of proverbial "likes":

Videogames: Dr. Mario (the unabashed Tetris rip-off), God of War series, Dead Space, Batman Arkham Asylum, GTA IV, Jet Moto, Mario Kart 64, Sly Cooper series (I'm not a furry, just a fan of SuckerPunch), Galaga, and Call of Duty Modern Warfare (the first one for anyone who may think I missed the foul sequel digit). These are just a few that come surging to memory at the moment of writing, however, there are many more just as entitled yet unmentioned.

Movies: The Dark Knight (I'm a semi-hardcore comic book fan), Watchmen (see!), Spiderman 2 (Lordy!), Kill Bill 1 and 2, The Big Lebowski, A Serious Man, A Clockwork Orange, Office Space, and Cold Souls.

Books: The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, 1984, Sirens of Titan, Cat's Cradle, All the Pretty Horses, The Gum Thief, JPOD, Microserfs, All Families are Psychotic, Generation X and A, Girlfriend in a Coma, and any novels with my main mang Peter Parker in them.

Authors: In no particular order: Douglas Coupland, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ayn Rand.

Thus concludes the likes portion of this introduction post, which technically isn't my virgin post on Destructoid, that honour goes to my wall of text regarding establishment of preconcieved notions regarding game quality. I hope this suffices as a pretty good get to know me, there will be more in coming weeks.

P.S. I'm new to the format of this site and how it will display future works, please be patient, I'm actively rectifying the issue. Again I promise not to waste too much of your time, time which I value as the most important thing we have on this planet, so if a post sucks similar to the latest Sex in the City movie, tell me all about it. I'm not the type of person who will get butt hurt over criticism.

One Last Thing: My language at times may be crude, simple, verbose, flagrant; however, it will always attempt to provoke thought in the reader (besides this post which will probably only provoke mild amusement or boredom at the long-winded nature of my writing).   read

2:19 PM on 06.06.2010

Do Our Expectations Decide If a Game Is Really Good?

In 2010, gamers find themselves surrounded by nearly limitless opportunities to find information about the next big releases, but I don't have to tell you that, you're reading this on Destructoid. Often times we are at the mercy of the author of said material to tell us what's new and guide us in the right direction, and more importantly, relay stories of incredible experiences they had playing the game. Those authors, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not, fundamentally shape the way a gamer outside the games industry percieves an upcoming release. I have found recently that after reading preview coverage and listening to multiple podcasts, that I am filled with a delight that I have chosen videogames as my preferred form of entertainment. Hopefully, I am not in the minority that may feel this way, but once I get my hands on the game touted as a masterpiece I end up feeling slightly underwhelmed. All through the course of multiple game's development cycles, I read the new information and internalize it; picturing the feats of daring gunplay and breath-stealing worlds get me tremendously excited to purchase the game day one and allow myself to truly experience what I have been anticipating for months. Similar to how movies based on novels are never quite as satisfying as their ink and paper counterpart, these games fail to meet my expectations. For example a game such as Dante's Inferno did such a thing to me: the developer diaries heralded this game as an incredible action experience full of hellish imagery and agressively violent options to kill the forsaken in the underworld. While this game only delivered partly on this promise, the fortitude of the attack and dodge gameplay was there and well implemented, but the surroundings failed to inspire even the slightest hint of what I was feeling this game would deliver in my head.
Are the images and vivid environments that my imagination produces in my mind wrong or any worse than playing the game that developers slaved over for many years of their lives? Dead Space (as everyone probably knows was made by the same people as Dante's Inferno) was a game that I had great hesitation when purchasing years ago in October. Would it offer a way to escape into a space that proclaimed horror and torture on every blood splattered wall? It succeeded, combining great weaponry and sense of connection to the protagonist that kept me playing well after a distressing encounter with a regenerating, Issac Clarke disemboweling monster. This game is only a singular example of a game that has surpassed the adventures that I thought would occur. Ultimately, a game's success in regards of its ability to trap you in a place that you want to be in for as long as possible is predicated on our own feelings and thoughts about a game before we place it in the disc drive or press play, and as gamers we should take it upon ourselves to decide if a game is a gem or a dull slab of graphite.

P.S. This is my first blog post ever, so hopefully it was insightful in a meaningful way to anyone who chooses to skim through it. It was just a thought I had after being burned by some of the games released this year already and that at the end of this day it was my own judgement that decided if a game I played was as worthwhile as I thought it was going to be.   read

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